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Women leaders gather for round table event
women's round table
Stanislaus State University Police Department Lt. Cheri Silveira talks about the experiences that motivated her to pursue a career in law enforcement during the 4th annual 209 Women’s Leadership Round Table event (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

From the world of public relations to the field of medicine, women leaders from around the area came together to discuss their successes and the challenges that are still present for women in the workplace, as part of the 209 Women’s Leadership Round Table.

The four panelists for the annual event presented by 209 Magazine were: Dr. Sunita Saini, Board Certified Pediatrician, Stanislaus State University Police Department Lt. Cheri Silveira, Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO Christine Schweininger, and Ali Cox, founder of Ali Cox & Company Marketing.

The theme for the event was changing the culture and the panelists delved into topics ranging from pay equity to balancing career and family life, with each offering a unique perspective to the conversation.

“This is the fourth year that I have moderated the Women’s Leadership Round Table event and every year I’m grateful that such amazing women leaders in our community are willing to share their experiences. This year our panelists talked about what motivated them to succeed in their respective fields and what obstacles they faced. It was inspiring to hear that while each panelist came from a different background and took their own path in life, they shared many of the same challenges,” said 209 Magazine and Turlock Journal Editor Kristina Hacker.

“As more and more women take on leadership positions in the workplace, government and their communities, they are able to create a culture that inspires future generations of women leaders.”

Dr. Saini is a full-time pediatrician with the Scenic Faculty Medical Group. In 2018 she was elected Executive Committee (one of three head partners) of her medical group and in 2019 became the Clinical Chief of Pediatrics for the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency’s Family and Pediatric Health Center. For her, reaching a leadership role was a result of following her passion, which was using her skills to benefit the community, especially among children, and she strives to impart that life lesson to her residents.

“We tell our residents to know their passions and don’t succumb to roles that are formed for them by gender disparities or outside matters,” Dr. Saini said.

Dr. Saini also pointed out that while the number of female physicians has grown steadily, the number of women in leadership roles at hospitals, private practices, health departments, and clinics has not kept pace.

“We need to close that gender disparity in medicine,” Dr. Saini said.

Lt. Silveira has been in law enforcement for over 22 years and in May 2019, she was promoted to Police Lieutenant at the University’s Police Department, the first woman to hold that rank in Turlock. She believes every woman’s success is a success for all, but stressed that it has to be attained honestly to be deserving of respect.

“Every time a female succeeds it changes the culture; however, the caveat to that is the female does need to succeed through the hard work, the dedication and some sacrifice,” Silveira said. “It can’t be given to her, because if it’s given to her … that respect is not initially there.”

Schweininger was the president of the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2016 and was promoted to CEO in 2017. She also is the founder of Vision Magazine, which highlights inspiring and positive stories among the Latino community. The idea of inspiring and encouraging one another, especially among women, is one that Schweininger believes should be practiced more frequently.

“It’s really important to have that tribe behind you that can encourage you when you have those days that are difficult or when life is just a little over the top,” she said.

Cox said she learned the lesson of prioritizing goals and focusing in on them when she competed in the 2004 Olympics as a rower, for which she earned a silver medal. She has carried that lesson into her professional life, which she credits with making her marketing and public relations company a thriving enterprise.

“Whatever you want to focus on will grow,” Cox said. “Focus on what you want and don’t be afraid to go after it.”

Video coverage of the 209 Women’s Leadership Round Table and future event information can be found at: