Mary-Frances Winters is president and founder of The Winters Group, a 28-year-old organization development and diversity-consulting firm, specializing in research, strategic planning, training, and public speaking with an emphasis in ethnic and multicultural issues.
Prior to founding The Winters Group in 1984, Winters was affirmative action officer and senior market analyst at Eastman Kodak Company, where she worked for 11 years. She is a graduate of the University of Rochester with undergraduate degrees in English and Psychology, and a master’s degree in business administration from the William E. Simon Executive Development Program. She received an honorary doctorate from Roberts Wesleyan College in 1997.
Winters was selected to serve as Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Continuing Education’s 1994-95 Distinguished Minett Professor where she taught a leadership course titled, 21st Century Leader: Visionary, Inspired, and Spiritually Grounded at the graduate level.
Among her other awards and honors, the Rochester Minority Enterprise Development Committee named Winters “Minority Business Person of the Year” in 1988. She was featured in the 1989 edition of Marquis “Who’s Who in American Women,” and was named the 1991 recipient of the Athena Award by the Women’s Council of the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce. In 1992 she was one of five women nationally to receive the Avon Products, Inc., and U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women of Enterprise Award. In 1994 she received the Urban League’s Outstanding Community Leader Award. Winters was selected as one of Rochester’s torchbearers for the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay. Phi Delta Kappa Education Fraternity presented Winters with its 1996 Research Award. In 1998 she was the recipient of the Hutchinson Medal, the highest alumni honor from The University of Rochester. In 2000, she was named Mother of the Year by the local March of Dimes. Winters was named a diversity pioneer by Profiles in Diversity Journal in August 2007.
A life member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Rochester, Winters has served on the boards of the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce, The United Way of Greater Rochester and the National Board of the Girl Scouts of the USA. She is also a member of the National Speakers Association. Winters has served as a mentor for the Emerging Leaders Program Sponsored by the Centers for Leadership and Public Affairs at Duke University and the University of Cape Town, South Africa and is on the boards of American Institute for Managing Diversity and Mosaica and a former board member of The National Institute for the Blind.
Winters is past chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the Greater Rochester Women’s Fund, and past president of the Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley, Inc., and the Black Business Association of Rochester. Winters was the 1994 General Campaign Chair for the United Way/Red Cross Campaign.
Winters has been a frequent contributor to the editorial page of the local newspaper and USA Today’s Forum column on workplace and diversity related issues. She has been published in the International Personnel Management Association Newsletter, Profiles in Diversity Journal, Diversity Inc Magazine, Executive Excellence Magazine, Society of Human Resource Management’s Mosaics Newsletter, The EMA Reporter and has written monographs on “Philanthropy Among People of Color” for the Council on Foundations in Washington, DC. She is the author of three books, Only Wet Babies Like Change: Workplace Wisdom for Baby Boomers, Inclusion Starts With “I” and CEO’s Who Get It: Diversity Leadership from the Heart and Soul.
Winters has two adult children. Her son, Joseph, is a graduate of Harvard, Duke and Princeton Universities. He is an assistant professor of religion at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her daughter, Mareisha, is a graduate of Spelman College and Georgia Tech with bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Masters degrees in Business Administration (MBA) and Information Systems. She is the vice president of The Winters Group.