2022 Onyx Woman Leadership Award Honoree Indea Herndon

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Name: Indea Herndon

Title: Senior Engagement and Inclusion Consultant

Company: UPMC

Industry: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion/Healthcare

What role has the support of other women played in your success?

There is no way that I would be where I am today without the support of the strong, motivational, and intelligent women in my life. I grew up in a matriarchal household with my amazing mother and grandmother, that instilled powerful values that I maintain today. They taught me that for every step forward that you take, you must reach behind to encourage the next generation of women to take another step with you. It was what was done for me, and I will honor that tradition. I have been truly blessed to have had so many wonderful women as mentors and role models in my life who have seen potential in me, so I owe all current and future successes to them.

Are you where you thought you would be, and how did you get here?

I honestly don’t believe that anyone ends up exactly where they thought they would be, and the true test is learning to let go and see the beauty in that. Life provides so many twists and turns that can be seen as challenges or opportunities, and I have chosen to see them as the latter. All of the moments that I had previously seen as stumbling points or frustrations have led me to either an important lesson, a wonderful opportunity, or both. Flexibility and resilience have definitely been key for me, as well as knowing when and how to ask for help. I may not be where I thought I would be when I was in elementary school, high school, or even college, but I learned that the growth that occurs through experience shapes you into the person you were meant to be. I’ve found, thankfully, that I really like that person.

What would you tell other women about overcoming obstacles?

I would tell them that difficult situations come and go, but having faith in yourself is what can see you through. Generations of women who came before you fought and sacrificed to give you so many opportunities, and you owe it to them and yourself to keep going. At some point, you will come out the other side stronger and more prepared for the next challenge because you trusted yourself to see it through. Life is full of obstacles, but surviving them, and seeing how you glow when you do, makes it all worth it.

What does the phrase “sis, I see you” mean to you?

When someone says, “sis, I see you,” to me, it means just that. I see you. Your beauty, your struggles, your experience, your gray hairs (and the reasons for them), your exhaustion, your resilience, your hope, and your determination. You can be who you truly are with this person; no code-switching or sugar-coating is necessary. There are so few people in this world who you can be your whole self with. When someone says, “sis, I see you,” and means it, treasure them.

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