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The weekly Women of Color Webinar Series opened with a moment of silence Thursday to mark the sacrifice of American heroes on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. This week’s speaker was Theresa Spralling, chief executive officer of the Women of AT&T National Organization.

Over 18,000 members strong, Women of AT&T is organized to connect and inspire members to achieve their personal and professional goals and effect change in the community.

Spralling’s experience ranges from business development, generational learning, and relationship building, planning, conflict resolution and change management. She serves as a senior associate director for the Business Sales Leadership Development Program of AT&T Services Inc. She’s responsible for talent development and building performance sales leadership teams and sales professionals for the global leader in mobile Internet services and IP-based business communications solutions.

Spralling has worked at Avaya, Lucent Technologies, The Advisory Council and first joined AT&T in 1998 as an executive briefer. She joined AT&T Mobility as a business sales manager in 2007. She is a member of Toastmasters International and the owner of the Karmaworks Inc. motivational consulting firm.

Speaking from Detroit, in preparation for the Women of Color STEM Conference which will be held Oct. 23-25, 2014, WOC STEM Conference founder and Women of Color magazine publisher Tyrone Taborn noted that one of the things that have continued to come out of the annual conference has been an opportunity to knock down barriers. Dr. Taborn said the webinars were started partly to maintain the power of WOC STEM networking and keep participants informed about what employee resource groups offer.

“AT&T has made it a priority for employees to take advantage of such employee groups,” Spralling said, adding that there were more than 11 ERG’s or affinity groups at AT&T. “From young professionals to Asian/ Pacific islanders, veterans, Filipino Americans, African Americans, Hispanic, Tribal councils, disability advocates, gays, lesbian and gender groups, along with Asian Americans and the Women of AT&T which happens to be the largest at over 18,500 members.” AT&T subsidizes membership dues for ERGs.

Spralling said being a member of an employee resource group has been a personal value add because she needed an internal support system to leverage as she found what she needed to know within AT&T and how to move her career along at the company.

Taborn added that one of the questions participants had asked over the years at WOC STEM Conferences was how professionals could best take advantage of formal mentoring and informal mentoring in employee resource groups (ERGs). What made the Women of AT&T so successful?

Spralling said one of the reasons she joined Women of AT&T was to tap into the support system and mentoring circles for successful direction and navigation within the company.

“We’re being recognized for the success we’re having with diversity and inclusion groups, but I can assure you it started top down,” she said. “I saw a major, major difference when our Chairman Randall Stephenson get behind it with our corporate priorities and community goals.”

Stephenson is chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc. He was named to his current position in 2007. Spralling said one of AT&T’s top priorities this year is to continue to partner with STEM initiatives.

Scores of AT&T women have been recognized for their achievements in technology at the Women of Color Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Conference. In 2011. Sarita Rao, vice president, Program Management Office-Network Sourcing, received top honors as the conference’s 2011 Technologist of the Year. Women represent 40 percent of AT&T’s total workforce and 40 percent of its management ranks.

The 2014 Women of Color Webinar Series is sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corporation and created by Career Communications Group to introduce exceptional role models in the field of science, engineering, and technology through a one-on-one conversation with the 2014 Women of Color Conference awardees and conference sponsors.

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