Charged with enhancing the value of membership for women and other constituencies and engaging new and diverse companies and people to join, Conexx: America Israel Business Connector brought Orna Sharon on board as development coordinator in mid-November.
She has led the launch of Conexx Women, which held its first event Jan. 28.
After talking to Conexx members, Sharon said, it became clear that women “felt that we needed to do something a little bit separate from the general membership in order to unite the women — to give more value to the women — because women connect differently, because women operate differently,” and they weren’t getting as much from their membership as they wanted.
She discovered that, because of the constraints of family and home, female Conexx members prefer events around 5:30 p.m. rather than the typical time blocks in the early morning or at night.
Sharon formed a committee of “great women”: Tova Cohen, Sheila Dalmat, Renee Rosenheck, Darrie Schlesinger, Pamela Dubin, Bracha Sokolic and Shira Rosenfeld. They decided to have four events a year.
The launch event Jan. 28 — held at 5:30 p.m., of course — was “Taking Chances in Corporate America: An Evening of Daring and Inspiration.” It featured Becky Blalock, the author of “Dare” and a former Southern Co. chief information officer, and Kris Robinson, a former Hewlett-Packard executive who is the executive vice president of ThetaRay.
Held on the 18th floor of the Promenade building, courtesy of Signature FD, and boasting food donated by Café Sababa, Bellina Alimentari and Alon’s, the event drew more than 30 women. Sharon said attendees described the program as empowering and “all about actions and being positive and strong.”
The value of networking and mentorship for the group was clear.
The second Conexx Women event, focusing on strong women in business and startup opportunities, will feature Audrey Jacobs, a vice president of OurCrowd, and Shannon Pierce, a registered nurse and founder of CareCam Health Systems, on Thursday, April 7.
Sharon acknowledged that a lot of organizations and initiatives target women, so the challenge is finding points of differentiation while collaborating with other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. For example, she recently met with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta to investigate ways to connect Women’s Philanthropy with Conexx Women, possibly through a trip to Israel with a business track.
“Our focus is professional women,” Sharon said. “We have to align ourselves with the Conexx mission, which is to connect Israelis and Americans through the platform of business,” while embracing and accommodating the different ways in which women connect and do business.
Of the ways Americans can benefit from Israeli innovation, she said, “Israelis are never inside the box. There is no concept of a box.”
Sharon said there are a lot of nuances, but the Conexx leadership supports the women’s initiative.
“We want to empower women to do business with Israeli companies, take a risk, and think outside the box, embrace technology,” Sharon said.
What: “Startups: New Opportunities for Women,” the second Conexx Women event
Who: Audrey Jacobs and Shannon Pierce
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7
More information: Contact Orna Sharon at 914-924-8642 or firstname.lastname@example.org