WiV Founder Passes the CEO Torch
Ahead of 4th Anniversary, New CEO Announced
Written by Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek, WiV Founder
TLDR: Maddy Apple is our new CEO. I am stepping into an ex-officio Partnerships role at WiV.
Today, I’m announcing publicly that Maddy Apple is accepting to be the next CEO of Women in Voice effective June 2022.
After almost 4 years of being the Founder AND CEO, I’m delighted to see Maddy lead. I will remain the President of the Board of Directors. Maddy will execute day to day operations for our large-scale international virtual, hybrid, and in person events (hint hint).
If you’ve ever heard me speak about the founding story of Women in Voice, you’ll know that much of Women in Voice was not by design, but by accident. I was a doctoral candidate interviewing at tech companies when I launched Women in Voice. It was a social media handle that I sent into the world. I was horrified by the casual patriarchy and white supremacy that I saw in my chosen field of voice and conversational AI.
I felt called to do something.
This something turned into Women in Voice. I launched WiV in August 2018.
And wow you all were jazzed! I found I was far far far from alone in wanting more community, more education, more sharing, more connection, more innovation, and more recognition of the hard work that women have been doing in our field from the beginning. Women in Voice’s mission is to amplify, celebrate, and equip women and gender minority folks in the conversational AI and voice field. Since our launch in 2018, we’ve been scaling fast.
BIG International Impact
Today, Women in Voice has 20 chapters all over the world.
We just launched in Africa and I’m so proud of all the work my team has done. In particular, Romina Pankoke, our Chief Chapters Officer, has been working at WiV since 2019, mere months after we launched. Today, we have over 100 ambassadors all around the world who champion WiV locally and with their affinity groups.
I’m so proud of Women in Voice’s varied and impactful initiatives:
Founding and Building WiV:
→ Formal Launch 2018
→ Formal 501c3 Nonprofit Status Awarded in 2021
→ Chapters Worldwide and 100+ Ambassadors
→ Staff Full-time and Part-time at WiV Global 2021+
→ International Social Media hitting 25k+ daily and growing
→ Board of Directors and Advisors signing on 2020
→ Sponsorships that enable us to host amazing events and hire/retain a staff 2020+
Events and Programming
→ International Summits 2021+
→ Awards and Finalists for Women in Voice Awards 2021+
→ Roundtables and a Gala 2020+
→ Mentorship Matchup Program 2019+
→ Membership formally launching in 2021. We’ve connected thousands of people around the world!
Founder, Startups, and Investor Work
→ Pitch Events for Founders, Startups, and Investors 2021+
→ Researched Female Founders Trajectories in Conversational AI
→ Office Hours for Founder Mentorship and Connection 2021+
Career Development Work
→ Jobs Board sunrise 2021 and sunset 2022
→ Live Career Accelerator and Self-Paced Career Accelerator 2021+
→ Career Basics workshops and webinars for professional development 2022
From Programming to People: Representation as Leaders
One of my biggest goals was that rising women could see people who looked like them at the decision table. At the top of companies. Leading innovation. Women in Voice’s pitch events have been doing exactly that:
“I went to the elevator pitch series a couple of weeks ago, and it just has been on my mind a lot in a way that like I could imagine myself doing that.
“…Before, I never could see myself, you know just starting my own company or like doing my own thing.”
– Maryan Osman, 2021
It’s important that not only at our pitch event but across our whole organization we are always looking to center diverse perspectives and intersectionality. While I can’t say we’re perfect, we are striving to center BIPOC folks in decision maker roles.
Beyond our BLM and AAPI statements, what speaks volumes are actions, hiring, and retaining talent.
I’m proud of our Board Members, Advisors, and demographics of our WiV Global staff, see them here. While Maddy is not a person of color, she is raising the women around her to be the next C-Suite and ultimately those who might be the next leaders of the nonprofit.
We care deeply about the development of our team. Internally, we conduct 360 degree reviews which have given great opportunities for constructive feedback from the self, peer, manager, and c-suite perspectives. Staff are given constructive feedback and ability to give feedback horizontally and vertically. I learned so much about how to be a better leader and manager. I was also able to help those who report to me focus on how they can continue to rise and get promoted. We provide concrete benchmarks for promotions and quarterly checkins. My staff are each shining stars in their own ways and it’s wonderful to work with them. Read more about each of them in my Women’s Month writeup.
My Own Career Journey
As someone who worked for YEARS to finish her PhD, it was not my plan to come on to Women in Voice full time in 2021. We bootstrapped as a community organization for 2.5 years. In 2021, I chose to turn down other phenomenal opportunities in my career to fundraise and stabilize my team and come on full time to WiV.
In early 2021, I brought on Maddy Apple to run our Global Events, who has become my COO. Maddy runs events, partnerships, and is the strategy behind much of our programming. Prior to WiV, she worked at a nonprofit and led membership, marketing, strategy, and educational work. She led virtual and in-person events for thousands of people.
At WiV, Maddy upskilled in conversational AI and voice as well as all our strategic partners. She keeps our Mission and Chapters at the forefront of our work. I’m proud of how she cares and acts in the best interest of the community. She has learned from me and shadowed me. From the beginning, I told her it was not my plan to be the CEO forever. It wasn’t ever my plan to launch and lead a nonprofit in fact! 🙂
Starting in June 2022, Maddy will be the CEO of Women in Voice. Her leadership, creativity, communication, passion, and ability to fundraise are evident from the work she has already done. She has the potential to continue leading WiV for years to come. I am stepping into an ex-officio Partnerships role at WiV and will remain the President of the Board of Directors.
We want to continue to stabilize, optimize processes, and bring more programming into hybrid spaces as vaccinations help the world be a healthier place to travel around.
Gratitude and Thanks
It has been such an honor to serve as your CEO for almost 4 years. I have learned and grown with you. I’ve stumbled and made great strides. It is a JOY every time I meet a woman who says “wow this field is so welcoming and has so many women.” I am confident that Women in Voice has a part to play in that for everyone.
Thank you for believing in me and Women in Voice’s Mission and supporting us into this next exciting chapter.
Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek
Founder, Women in Voice