Text reads "International Women's Day" with 4 portraits of women
International Women’s Day Reflections on Leadership

International Women’s Day, March 8, celebrates the achievements of women and marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. Here at the San Diego Convention Center, I am grateful to be surrounded by talented, ambitious and supportive women. In honor of this day, I asked some colleagues to share their experiences in positions of leadership and the people who have guided them along the way.

Mardeen is second from the right at a table with her colleagues.

During her 21 years at SDCC, Chief Financial Officer Mardeen Mattix (pictured, second from right) gained a diverse base of experience through roles in Event Management, Sales, Accounting and Finance before becoming CFO in 2018. While discussing the factors contributing to her professional development and success, Mattix emphasized the strength and support of her team.

“My team has helped me along the way by having faith in my abilities, encouraging me to move forward and providing me with sound data, tools and resources to tell our story better. Without them, we couldn’t accomplish what we do,” Mattix said, adding that she strives to surround herself with people who compliment her skillset and find purpose and pride in what they do. She also noted the encouragement of SDCC President and CEO Rip Rippetoe and Director of Event Services DeeAnne Snyder. “DeeAnne has influenced my career here as she told me early on that I’d be a leader here one day.

Karen Totaro and CEO Rip Rippetoe stand with a large trophy.

When asked about women who have inspired her, Chief Operating Officer Karen Totaro (pictured, right) immediately mentioned Baltimore Convention Center Executive Director Peggy Daidakis, the first woman to run a major convention center in the United States.

“I remember a conversation with her at an International Association of Venue Managers convention years ago where she noted that women need to take more risks, even if they don’t feel they are ready for the next level position…just jump in and figure it out,” Totaro said. “She felt that was what men routinely did and women were missing out on the big jobs by not simply putting their hat in the ring. She is the reason I put myself forward to run a venue in Atlantic City and I got the top job! I learned so much about myself.”

Dorianne sits in the middle of a table with her colleagues.

Planning large-scale events inevitably brings moments of stress, as Director of Catering Sales Dorianne Mormann (pictured, center) knows well. Mormann said that she focuses on positive moments, developing trusting relationships with clients and supporting her colleagues.

“The Catering Sales Staff is 95 percent women and we all have a strong bond to help one another and look out for each other. We realize that SDCC is a desired place to be for a convention but it is also a desired place to work. We need that desire and dedication to be successful,” Mormann said. “I think all women in a leadership role inspire me. In today’s society, it’s hard managing a balance with work and life. If you can make this happen on a weekly basis then you definitely are doing something right.”

Rita smiles with large headphones on her head.

When asked about her mentors and role models, Director of Government & Community Affairs Rita de la Fuente (pictured) named a couple of key influences, including DeeAnne Snyder, who is “always willing to take time to share her knowledge”; National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, who has “shown unwavering determination and confidence to fulfill her goals”; and her mom.

“My mother has taught me that you cannot give water from an empty well. Sometimes I can be stubborn when it comes to taking care of myself, so it’s helpful to remember that I will not be as effective in my career or helping others if I am off-balance mentally or physically.”

Emerging and established women leaders: Who has inspired you? How do you maintain balance? What is one piece of career or leadership advice that has stayed with you? Share your comments on our blog, Facebook or Twitter in honor of International Women’s Day.

Maren Dougherty's picture
Posted by Maren Dougherty, on March 6, 2020

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