CI Exclusive: AVIXA Women’s Council Co-Chairs Talk Global Expansion

Published: 2023-12-20

The AVIXA Women’s Council (AWC) is unarguably one of the biggest support groups for women and other marginalized communities in the AV industry. Formed by formidable women to empower other formidable women, people of color and allies, the AWC aims at building a global community and fostering an environment of inclusivity for everyone.

New Co-Chair of AWC

In line with their recent efforts, AWC announced a new co-chair, Christina Cruzeiro. She will serve alongside Tammy Fuqua. Together, the AWC co-chairs will lead the council, expanding networking opportunities and representation across the globe.

Commercial Integrator sought the opportunity to sit down with the co-chairs of the AWC where they discuss the importance of breaking down gender barriers, advocacy for equal footing and efforts in establishing committees in the EMEA and APAC regions.

Commercial Integrator: Describe a bit about your history in the AV industry, your connection to transformational advocacy and why you’re called to participate in the AWC as co-chairs.

Christina Cruzeiro headshot.

Christina Cruzeiro, Canadian regional sales manager, Atlona, will be the new co-chair of the AVIXA Women’s Council.
Photo courtesy: Christina Cruzeiro.

Christina Cruzeiro: Having spent more than a decade spanning various sectors within the field, including integrator, distribution and manufacturer, my [present] role as regional sales manager for Canada at Atlona allows me to share these years of expertise. I have also co-lead the Toronto AVIXA Women’s Council for five years running quarterly events for our members with a focus on networking and education. I currently manage Empowering Women’s Success at Atlona, which is one of our employee resource groups. Moreover, having a daughter entering a STEM field has made me passionate about creating equal opportunities for career advancement, equality, and removing barriers and bias.

FEATURED REPORT

Tammy Fuqua: I landed in this industry nearly 25 years ago, and it started with a company that produced CD/DVD duplicators. Boy, that was a long time ago! I then spent time with a local Los Angeles integrator and moved into manufacturing with manufacturers such as Christie, Epson, and now, with QSC.

Tammy Fuqua headshot

Tammy Fuqua, co-chair of the AVIXA Women’s Council, is currently developer partner manager at QSC.
Photo courtesy: Tammy Fuqua.

In the early years, I rarely had a positive female role model. During my time at Christie, I learned of this group of women meeting to discuss various industry topics and went to my first AWC meeting. I had never been to anything like it — I was surrounded by empowering women and learned so much from each of them. I can wholeheartedly say I would not be where I am in my career without the incredible networking and friendships I made through the council.

In 2020, I was made co-leader to the L.A./O.C. region, and in 2022, I stepped into the role of AWC chair. While there have been challenges, the positive interactions outweighed those challenges. I believe I am called to this role to give back to the next group of women coming into this industry all that I have learned throughout the years. It is my duty to help build an industry that is more equitable than the one I came into decades ago.

Commercial Integrator: The AWC is arguably the highest-profile council within the entire association. Describe a bit about its size, scope, mission and achievements to date.

Fuqua: The growth of the council is due to the hard work and dedication of its leaders and committees over the years. This dynamic council began with a breakfast every year at Infocomm, and will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024. The council grew when Brandy Alvarado-Miranda and Cory Schaeffer started the group model with the council’s first group in Los Angeles. The momentum continued when a committee was formed to seek out new groups. The council now runs globally, with groups in North America, EMEA and APAC. We have around 1,000 members across the globe and each group’s mission is to provide a safe, educational, space for women and allies to meet to be able to network and help females grow in their careers.

This mission also aligns with the mission of the council: To provide a global community of AVIXA members and other professionals committed to supporting and empowering women who work in the technology and AV industry.

Commercial Integrator: Working together, what do you hope to achieve in 2024 and beyond? What are your ambitions for the Council and for the empowerment of women in AV broadly?

Cruzeiro: We would like to continue to grow the council and have groups up and running in states and provinces that currently don’t have a group. On a larger scale, we would like to attract more women to the industry. Unfortunately, during COVID-19, our numbers fell to 11% in the US and 6% outside the U.S. Thus, we plan to include outreach to schools and other youth groups through our local leaders, to bring these numbers back up.

Fuqua: Coming into the last year of my term, I echo the growth mentioned by Christina. The whole reason I took this role as co-chair was to give back to the council and the industry. I gained an incredible amount of insight into this industry by being surrounded by like-minded women, and I want to pass that insight to every woman in the AV sphere.

Commercial Integrator: Will the AWC have a prominent presence at ISE 2024 in Barcelona? If so, what can attendees look forward to seeing, hearing and experiencing? What about InfoComm 2024?

Cruzeiro: Yes, there will be events at ISE 2024! Our DACH and Italia groups will be meeting up at the show. There will also be a “Women in AV” meet up that includes the Women’s Council. All these events will take place at the Xchange Booth.

Fuqua: For Infocomm 2024, we are already planning our renowned breakfast which is held every year on Thursday morning of the show. It is hard to beat last year’s keynote by Dr. Tarika Barret, CEO of Girls Who Code — however, I am sure everyone will be excited for the 2024 keynote. I believe you will see some added items to this year’s breakfast that will make it one of the best yet!

Commercial Integrator: The AWC has made mindful efforts to reach well beyond North America and serve a truly global community. Discuss some of those efforts and the progress you have made. What’s the next step?

Fuqua: The global outreach started with former chair, Brandy Alvarado-Miranda. Her tireless efforts allowed us to expand beyond North America so we could be represented with groups in the APAC and EMEA regions. Coming off the pandemic, 2022 and 2023 were rebuilding years. Now that we are starting to see a resurgence in the council, in 2024, we will be creating a task force to review and recommend a structure that best aligns with the global nature of this council to continue the growth efforts. This may include aspects such as restructuring the current leadership model, an agenda the task force will explore over the coming months.

Commercial Integrator: If people want to join the AVIXA Women’s Council or just learn more about your good work, how can they do that?

Cruzeiro: First, they can visit AVIXA Women’s Council | AVIXA to learn more about the council and register to become a member. The co-chairs have an “open-door” policy. Come to us with questions, concern or ideas on the council!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to the AWC co-chairs! Cruzeiro is available at [email protected] or on LinkedIn at Christina Cruzeiro | LinkedIn. Fuqua is available at [email protected] or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/tammy-fuqua.

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