‘Be courageous and lean into fear’
Amazon celebrates Women’s History Month by recognizing women who stand up for – and create – justice. Our #SheIsAmazon series spotlights women at Amazon who have broken through barriers to achieve their dreams while bringing others to life along the way.
In the fourth part of the series, we introduce CaSondra Devine, who leads supplier diversity and integration for Amazon’s global sourcing organization. She is also an educator, breast cancer survivor, and advocate for people not at the table.
Tell us about yourself and your role at Amazon.
I am currently the Lead of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion (SD&I) for Amazon’s Global Procurement Organization in support of Worldwide Stores. Growing up in a small town, I witnessed the power of small businesses to help communities thrive. I’m passionate about making a difference and I’m fortunate that my work at Amazon gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact on the global communities in which we operate. I am responsible for leading the creation and implementation of an SD&I strategy that acts as an engine for local economic impact. Our team aims to build a more diverse network of suppliers by increasing the use, development and scale of small and diverse businesses.
The theme of International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. What does that mean for you?
After receiving my breast cancer diagnosis, I experienced first-hand the high medical costs of treatment. The cost of immune system boosters required after each of my chemotherapy treatments ran into the thousands. Luckily, my health insurance covered most of the costs. My husband and I learned that those without quality insurance did not receive the booster shot and were at risk of exposure. This day reaffirmed my commitment to fight for fairness for all people.
So to me, embracing justice means understanding that we don’t all start in the same place. Each of us has a role in meeting people and communities where they are and providing additional resources when needed to address imbalances. It does missionary work in South Africa with my church and dedicates wells for clean water; donating Kindles to the school district due to lack of access to books; and accommodation for an exchange student. It is implementing a funding strategy to support a women’s non-profit in transition and creating a disability label toolkit for awareness and community engagement. It hosts and supports a high school student with the resources necessary to get through college and donates to social justice initiatives. We cannot exist by turning our heads away from the people who need us most. We must do our part to raise the bar and make the world we live in fair for everyone.
What advice would you give to women and others reading this story?
When you’re being pushed out of your comfort zone or dealing with a challenging conversation, it can be difficult to feel confident. My advice is to be brave and surrender to fear – regardless of what others or the negative voices inside you may say. Even if you fall down the first time, don’t be afraid to get back up. Recognize and accept the feeling and believe in yourself. You will achieve your goal and be well positioned for future endeavors.
What woman or person do you look up to the most?
The person I look up to the most is Dr. Mabel Phifer. She is the quintessential leader and best exemplifies what this month represents. She is currently Chair and CEO of the Center for Leadership, Development and Research. She is a respected women’s rights and community leader with a career spanning 63 years in higher education, fundraising, telecommunications and institutional advancement. It goes without saying that many look up to her and have benefited from her leadership practices and wisdom. I have long admired the way she encourages others to grow, stand up for themselves and become a force for good in the community. She is a mentor, friend, advocate and someone who gives sound advice. Our deep, meaningful conversations always leave a lasting impression.
How would you like the world to see you?
At my core, I’m an educator and someone who genuinely loves people and wants them to succeed and be the best version of themselves. I don’t meet strangers, am trustworthy, dependable and a champion of social causes. I see myself as a global corporate citizen who firmly believes that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. I am a leader who is smart, resilient, strong and humble. I’m confident but check my ego at the door. I lend my voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. I bring hope and a smile in time of need. I’m someone who wakes up every day with the goal of leaving this world in a better place.
learn more about How Amazon Celebrates Women’s History Month.