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Celebrating Juneteenth 2024: “Their Wildest Dreams” – A Reflection on Black Excellence at WCG

In honor of Juneteenth, we celebrate the remarkable achievements of Black professionals within WCG. This year’s theme, “Their Wildest Dreams,” highlights the dedication, resilience, achievements, aspirations, and excellence of our team members. Through insightful interviews, we share the journeys, insights, and advice of Black women and men who have dared to dream boldly, pursued their aspirations, and inspired future generations.

Desiree Underwood-Williams

Director, Project Management Organization, WCG

Journey and Inspiration:

“My career has been a journey of self-discovery. Initially interested in performing arts and cultural anthropology, my experiences compelled me to engage in impactful work in health equity and access. Collaborating with NGOs and the UN to execute Millennium Development Goals enriched my perspective but made me yearn for more direct interaction with patients. This led me to further my education in Cardiovascular Science. Becoming more aware of health equity issues and the personal impact of losing loved ones to rare diseases directed me towards clinical research. Working as a cardiovascular technologist and clinical rater at WCG, I now collaborate on enterprise projects and equip project managers for success. This career is not just professional but a deeply personal mission, making every day rewarding as I contribute to giving individuals a fighting chance against serious health challenges.”

Advice for Aspiring Professionals:

“Strive for excellence in all your endeavors. Surround yourself with mentors from diverse backgrounds to gain varied perspectives. Mastering self-advocacy is crucial—know your value, communicate your needs effectively, and pursue opportunities you deserve. Though the path may be challenging, your unique contributions are invaluable and much needed in this field.”

Mel Parker

Legal Counsel, WCG

Journey and Inspiration:

“My formal education includes an undergraduate degree from Hampton University and a law degree from North Carolina Central School of Law, both HBCUs. Attending these institutions while working full-time in the clinical trial field was challenging yet rewarding. My purpose in this industry is to improve people’s lives through research, development, and the testing of new pharmaceutical treatments. The experience at Hampton University positively impacted my life and directed my career towards this fulfilling journey.”

Advice for Aspiring Professionals:

“Be strategic about your career. Seek insights from individuals further along your career path to understand challenges and best practices. Stay updated on how technology impacts your field and continuously adapt to market conditions. Your proactive approach will pave the way for success and growth.”

Marcus Lias

Client Care Lead, Client Experience, WCG

Journey and Inspiration:

“I joined WCG with the goal of excelling and growing within the institutional review board (IRB) functions. My commitment to learning and assisting clients through overtime efforts has helped me become a lead within my department. Building a strong knowledge base has allowed me to support my team effectively. My background in customer service has fueled my passion for helping others, and I now aspire to a broader management role where I can extend this support to a larger audience.”

Advice for Aspiring Professionals:

“My advice to aspiring professionals is to embrace continuous growth and knowledge acquisition. Engage in open communication with your team members and cultivate relationships beyond professional boundaries. Understanding their personal journeys enables mutual growth and strengthens team dynamics. Never stop pursuing excellence and leadership opportunities within your field.”

Keshia White

Accounting Associate, Finance, WCG

Journey and Inspiration:

“In the accounts payable department of corporate finance, my role requires wearing multiple hats. Proficiency in GAAP and accounting software is essential, alongside attention to detail and organizational skills. I value fostering a positive environment and leading by example. By treating people with respect and focusing on constructive engagement, I aim to support others effectively within our team.”

Advice for Aspiring Professionals:

“Always maintain a willingness to learn and seek new challenges. Uphold ethical standards and contribute meaningfully to your organization’s goals. Building strong customer relationships, demonstrating integrity, teamwork, and effective communication are crucial qualities for success in this field. Your commitment and skills will pave the way for a thriving career.”

Leila Darden

Enterprise Client Delivery Project Manager, Operations, WCG

Journey and Inspiration:

“Before joining WCG, my work in compliance for continuing medical education was marked by moments of self-doubt, yet I learned the importance of my presence in the industry. A turning point was realizing the need for greater Black representation in clinical trials, especially after personal experiences highlighted the disparities. This revelation fueled my passion for advocacy and deepened my commitment to driving community involvement in clinical trials to embody Diversity and Inclusion.”

Advice for Aspiring Professionals:

“Be authentic and bring your full self into every professional space. Craft a strategic plan for your career and pursue it with determination. Your unique perspective and experiences are invaluable in this industry. Remember, your voice and contributions are essential for fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.”

As we honor Juneteenth 2024 and reflect on the theme “Their Wildest Dreams,” let us continue to uplift, celebrate, and amplify the voices and contributions of Black professionals within the clinical research industry. Through solidarity, support, and collective action, we can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace where every individual can thrive and pursue their wildest dreams.