Division of Diversity and Inclusion hosts Fireside Chat with Leslie Wingo

Bithia Dantoumda

Sharing her personal experiences of being a woman of color in business, Leslie Wingo pushed audience members to not let stereotypes hold them back from pursuing career goals in a talk Wednesday.

The talk, called a Fireside Chat and hosted by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, was held in the Blackstone Launchpad in the Flawn Academic Center and was open to anyone interested in entrepreneurship and self-branding. Wingo, CEO of the media company Sanders\Wingo, said she is also an advisory board member of Women’s Initiative for Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development Texas, a program launched by the Office of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship in March.

“It’s always nice to be able to speak in front of amazing women,” Wingo said. “I hope people feel empowered to ask questions they didn’t feel comfortable asking before.”

Rubén Cantú, executive director of the Office of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said the initiative aims to help women of color learn skills to become business executives within 10 years after graduation. 

“We lead opportunities to help everyone get to the table,” Cantu said.

Wingo shared her experiences running an agency of 100 people across offices in Austin, El Paso, Atlanta and New York. Ariel Lee, studio art and government senior, said Wingo has been an integral part of the agency growth, a national leader in behavioral economics and was invited to give a TED talk on her experiences.


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The Division of Diversity and Inclusion will host Fireside Chats at different locations on campus every month as a part of the new WEILD Texas program. 

“I wanted to see kind of what WEILD is about and get some information,” said Brianna McBride, a communication and leadership and government junior. “Leslie was very true to herself in that she gave really substantial and important answers to things that are relatable.”

The program’s first group of members will be accepted in December and will begin work in the spring of 2020, Cantú said.

“It’s a nice opportunity for students to focus their energy and attention into a place that will help you grow and achieve things that they never thought they could do,” Lee said.

Cantú said WEILD provides members a small grant after completing the first year of the program to help members eventually start a company of their own. He said the final amount of the grant has not been decided.