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NEMS Panel Highlights

New England Maker Summit 2021 was a terrific event held live at MakerspaceCT with a virtual option. The Event organized by entrepreneur, Devra Sisitsky. Devra is the Executive Director and Founder of MakerspaceCT as well as a valued Mentor for Untapped Potential Inc. This year's NEMS theme was "Industry 4.0 and The Next Generation of Our Workforce."

In addition to focusing on the latest technologies such as AR/VR, AI, IOT and additive manufacturing, the day long event had speakers addressing critical issues such as: "How do we bring inclusivity and diversity to education, manufacturing and the workplace?" The Event closed with a Panel Discussion which focused on "Equity and Workforce Development Challenges including Returning Women to the Workforce".

Untapped Potential was proud to have its Founder, Candace Freedenberg as a voice on the subject within the Panel.

Moderator Wil Jacques led the discussion with panelists (left to right) Beatriz Gutierrez of CONNSTEP, Dr. Jackie Garofano of CCAT, Candace Freedenberg of Untapped Potential Inc., and Dennis Williams of Cognizant. Here are some of the highlights.

It was a lively discussion with Dennis weighing in on what DEI means to Cognizant. "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, it's a journey, it should be embedded in everything we do... We should wake up every single day being our natural selves and until we're not talking about diversity, equity, inclusion - until we get there, it will be a long journey."

Beatriz shared how the workforce has changed with respect to welcoming women.

"When I entered the workforce back in the 90s, it was the employee to adapt to the company. As a female, I knew I had to manage my emotions and not look too girly and do all these things to fit. But I think employers today, it's not the game anymore. The company is going to have to embrace the employee and embrace their needs." She concluded, "It's about thinking what you need to do and embracing the diversity out there."

Dr. Jacquelynn Garafano, shared her perspective on the next generation, "As an engineering technologist, as a research scientist and I made my way over to corporate to lead an engineering development program because I am so passionate about our next generation, passionate about having a diverse collective of young people who are truly going to change the world. I strongly believe that and we just need to get outside of ourselves."


Untapped Potential Founder, Candace Freedenberg, spoke about diversity in leadership and equity in the workplace.

"We can't get equity in senior leadership roles until there's equity at home."

"Now, we understand the value of having women on boards, the value of having diverse perspective in leadership roles."

To hear the panel in its entirety or the full day of perspectives from industry leaders, click here to join our slack channel. You will be brought to our vault of information and can find the respective video under #women_and_Work.


The attendees had the opportunity to tour MakerspaceCT. What a terrific environment to learn something new, work with your hands and be part of evolving technologies! We encourage you to sign up for a workshop. It is a great way to try out the space, learn a new skill...and have a lot of fun! To view a list of events, click here.


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