Vanessa Weaver, Ph. D.

Born into a family of African-American entrepreneurs — her father owned a well-respected St. Louis cab company — helping others and “doing her own thing” is part of Dr. Vanessa Weaver’s DNA.  Surrounded by a community of successful black role models and business leaders, she and her family considered success an attainable goal. Dr. Weaver recognized the importance and impact of African-American history and the struggle for civil rights on her as an individual, and decided, at a very young age, to make her life about supporting others and giving back.

Dr. Weaver feels extremely fortunate to be a member of the first generation of African Americans to work in large numbers in the private sector, benefitting from the Civil Rights Movement and the sacrifices her parents and others made. Because of them, she was able to walk through doors previously closed to women and people of color.

After earning her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Washington University, and her Masters and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from University of Cincinnati, Dr. Weaver spent 13 years with Procter and Gamble (P&G), one of the corporate world’s pioneers of diversity and inclusion. There she made great strides in the areas of organizational development, human resources, sales, engineering, advertising and promotion, research and development, and information technology, leading a number of successful leadership, culture change, and diversity initiatives.

P&G’s metric focused culture helped Dr. Weaver develop and articulate diversity’s all important value proposition for business. Inspired by the impact of her work and its power to help the company, teams and individuals be more successful, Dr. Weaver sought to combine her many talents and skills, and utilize them to expand her work to reach a larger, global audience. In 1990, she formed Alignment Strategies (ALS) one of the country’s first independent organizations to focus on diversity as a business driver. P&G remains one of her most important clients.

Dr. Weaver is co-author of the book Smart Women, Smart Moves and is a sought after speaker. Her many achievements include the National Council of Negro Women’s “Bethune Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement in Business” and she served as advisor to President Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet in South Africa. Passionate about media and finding new ways to leverage it to continue the diversity and inclusion conversation. She is host and executive producer of Working it Out, on SiriusXM radio and recently launched DITV.

ALS’s business model focuses on people – employees and who they are in their hearts. She and her team offer extensive leadership, diversity and inclusion interventions and training to get at the core of the issues that get in the way of people’s ability to be their authentic selves at work.

Caryliss Weaver

Caryliss Weaver’s personal work experience led her to the world of leadership, diversity and inclusion. Before joining Alignment Strategies (ALS), she spent over 18 years in management and human resources positions at Nabisco Brands, Continental Can Company, and Wausau Insurance Company. After starting out in Insurance, she transitioned to labor relations, a challenging field that she enjoyed. Her work included formulating policies for management development programs, employee relations, staffing requirements, benefits and performance review systems. Caryliss found it gratifying to help resolve grievances, working to understand the underlying causes, and reaching a conclusion that satisfied all parties.

As her career progressed, Caryliss developed extensive investigative, negotiation, and arbitration skills. However, she was often the only person of color and the only woman in the room. Despite her impressive list of qualifications and education – an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Masters in Human Resources from Loyola University, and a Certificate in Arbitration and Contract Negotiation from Cornell University – she often found herself passed over for the kinds of opportunities she wanted.

As a result, Caryliss started every new position with an exit strategy already in mind. She assumed she wouldn’t be valued for her skills and talents, so she learned what she could and eventually moved on. Caryliss believes the problem with that strategy is you never learn how to navigate an organization and its culture. She is proud of the diversity, inclusion and leadership work she now does with ALS because it helps people get perspective and learn ways to leverage their environment to make it work for them.

Through her own experience, Caryliss learned that sometimes things happen at work that may not be illegal, but are not fair. After her company refused to let her pursue a high profile opportunity, even though she was a high performer, Caryliss started making plans to leave. Her sister, Dr. Vanessa Weaver, ALS’s founder and CEO was expanding, and the time was right for her to join ALS.

Caryliss believes ALS’s work changing organization culture and mindset is extremely important. She finds it very gratifying to help leaders become more effective by finding the courage to challenge long standing norms and practices that often disempower women and people of color. She sees leaders learning to truly value different perspectives and ways of doing things that include everyone, and that is what inclusion is all about.

After many years living in the DC area, Caryliss recently relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. She likes the energy of the city and the way that it’s always reinventing itself. In her free time, she enjoys being the “cool aunt” to her nieces and nephews, reading, bike riding, sewing and collecting art.  A fan of old classic movies and music, a favorite day consists of sitting in the yard, with a book and a cup of tea, listening to an old Sarah Vaughn album with no phone in site.