Semora Smith

Semora Smith

Presentation: Revelation, Evolution, Absolution, & Resolution: A Workplace Reconstructed for Success

Abstract: I believe the realities of the coronavirus pandemic forced many organizations to embrace the theme of “turning knowledge into practice.” I believe this has been especially true for organizations struggling with stagnated cultures, internal competition, silos, agility, diversity and inclusion, and goals that haven’t moved in alignment with current trends. This is especially true for those with strategic plans that have become bookshelf decorum instead of everyday workplace practices.

Let’s face it, the pandemic opened some windows that allowed us to see gaps that can hinder productivity and suggest exclusion – all of which could have a significant impact on the health of an organization and its overall success.

We were placed in a position where we had no choice but to embrace some degree of change…a lot of that change was what we needed. REVELATION – the swiftness of the pandemic’s progression revealed quite a few things about practices, processes, and unwritten policies. We learned that some of the things we thought were so detrimental to how we perform our work every day weren’t essential at all. There were some things we could do and should do for more effectiveness and efficiency. EVOLUTION – with a number of opportunities revealed, we can develop in ways that may have been unimaginable prior to the pandemic. ABSOLUTION – being at home and watching the news 24/7 as given many of us a peak into the lives of those we work with who are different from us. We’ve been given a chance to assess how we work with one another, how we treat others, and how “respect” should look in the workplace for everyone. RESOLUTION – working together we can find ways to bridge the exposed gaps and build a better work environment – a reconstruction like no other!

PMI Talent Triangle: Leadership

Biography: As a Lead Program Manager in the Office of the Secretary & General Counsel of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Washington, D.C., Semora has worked diligently for more than 13 years on programs that engage and acknowledge the achievements of her colleagues. She provides support and leadership for governance groups and their membership initiatives nation-wide. She currently manages the ACS Speaker Series – a program established to promote the organization’s core competencies (Candor, Change Agility, Continuous Improvement, Global Mindset, Partnership Building, and Solutions Focused) and increase staff’s awareness of different perspectives from a broad spectrum of speakers known for their ability to empower innovative thinking. In 2014, she was elected by her peers to lead as the ACS Staff Council Chair and serve as a liaison between staff and the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). During her time as chair, she proposed the ACS STAR Award Program (a peer-to-peer recognition program for staff) that was officially approved by the ELT in 2015. Since its inception, close to 1,000 staff members have been awarded for operational excellence. Since 2007, Semora has assisted with the ACS’s strategic planning efforts – including organizing summits, scenario planning sessions, environmental scans, and annual promotion campaigns. In 2009, she led the ACS Greening Committee that focuses on promoting sustainable practices in the workplace. Its collaboration with the Facilities Management Office, this program contributed to the Society’s current LEED status.

Semora received the ACS Catalyst Award for her contribution to the Speaker Series, two STAR Awards for Outstanding Leadership, and an Award for Outstanding Performance from the ACS Council Policy Committee on Long-Range Planning. Semora is an Advanced Toastmaster and was one of the 100 competitors in the Toastmasters International, Inc. World Championship of Public Speaking in August 2016. Her speech “Fear Didn’t Ruin Me, It Saved Me” became the platform for the work she’s done to empower women to have a voice.

Semora is a resident of Bowie, MD. She received a B.A. in Music/Vocal Performance from Albany State University in 1990 and was a student of the DeVry University MPM program from 2004-2008. She was crowned “Miss Albany State University” and has held many titles, including two national titles. She continued her leadership in the Fine Arts and garnered the opportunity to dance professionally as an NBA Cheerleader for the “New Jersey Nets” from 1990-92. Semora has shared the stage with celebrities such as Jo Marie Payton (Family Matters), Janet’ DuBois’ (Good Times), and Melba Moore. One of her most honorable performances was her rendition of the National Negro Anthem for the Princeton University Cathedral inaugural services held for two NJ governors. She is currently an Associate Director of Fine Arts in Landover, MD. She is graced by her two lovely daughters, D’Jenne and Demi.