WLE Growth Gurus

WLE Growth Gurus

Kristal Bergfield, Director, Strategy & Business Development
American Express OPEN


As Director, Strategy and Business Development, Kristal Bergfield leads the team at American Express OPEN responsible for developing strategies and partnerships that will help small businesses grow their revenue through digital marketing. In addition, she works with some of American Express’ largest global partners to integrate them into OPEN Forum, the online community designed to help business owners find valuable connections and gain access to information and tools to help manage and grow their businesses.

Kristal has been with American Express since 2003 in various partnership and business development roles. She was a key player in developing OPEN’s first Card distribution program with retail banks and has managed global communications programs for American Express’ global network services group. Immediately prior to her current role, Kristal was the chief-of-staff for the President of OPEN, developing business strategies, managing priorities and crafting communications.

Kristal worked in the public relations and advertising industries prior to joining American Express. She holds a bachelors degree in Journalism from University of Oregon and a MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Gail Blanke
President & CEO of Lifedesigns, LLC


Gail Blanke is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Lifedesigns, LLC, a company whose vision is to empower men and women worldwide to live truly exceptional lives.

A best selling author, Ms. Blanke’s newest book, Throw Out Fifty Things - Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life, was published March 20th, 2009, by Grand Central Publishing and has been featured on The Today Show, CNN International and CBS Sunday Morning. The book recently won the prestigious “Books-for-a-Better-Life” award from the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Ms. Blanke’s last book, Between Trapezes: Flying into a New Life with the Greatest of Ease, about thriving on change and mastering the art of self re-invention, was published by Rodale in August 2004. The website www.oprahselects.com included Between Trapezes on its list of “must have” books. In My Wildest Dreams, Living the Life You Long For was published by Simon & Schuster in June 1998 and appeared on Amazon.com’s Best Selling Books list and the New York Times Business Best Seller List. Ms. Blanke was the sole guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show in October 1998 where she used concepts from the book to help empower audience members to create the lives of their dreams. Ms. Blanke’s first book, Taking Control of Your Life: The Secrets of Successful Enterprising Women, sold more than a half million copies. Her column, “The Motivator” has appeared monthly for two years in Real Simple magazine and she is featured as a Business and Career Coach on AOL Coaches. Ms. Blanke appears monthly on Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio, and regularly on CNN International and CBS 2 Sunday Morning.

A renowned executive coach and presentation skills trainer, Ms. Blanke has advised CEO’s, presidential candidates, college presidents – and even a jazz musician. A recent presidential candidate recently remarked, “You’ve enabled me to find qualities in myself I didn’t know I had and express myself with power, grace and persuasion. What a difference you’ve made.” Ms. Blanke was called in by FOX News to critique George W. Bush’s second inaugural address.

Considered one of the finest motivational speakers in the country, she has delivered keynote addresses for scores of corporations including GE, MasterCard, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, AXA Financial, Citigroup and at events such as the “Global Summit of Women” in Taiwan, the “Decade to Democracy” conference in Budapest and Cornell University’s symposium, “Contracting Out: Danger Signal for Working Women and Men” chaired by Betty Friedan. She’s also delivered keynotes for students at Beijing University, the University of Virginia and the Stern School of New York University. Ms. Blanke has appeared on CNN, FNN, CNBC and FOX TV. Articles about Ms. Blanke have appeared in Newsweek, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook and Self. O, The Oprah Magazine, referred to Gail as “The Motivational Maven.” Recently, she delivered a keynote address for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” gala in New York and was invited to become a board member for the New York Chapter of the American Heart Association.

Ms. Blanke was one of the youngest female senior vice presidents of Avon Products, Inc., where, in addition to her responsibilities as global head of public affairs, she motivated and inspired Avon’s half million sales representatives to live the lives of their wildest dreams. A member of the Chairman’s Executive Council, she led the re-positioning of Avon as the world’s premier direct selling company for women and launched the widely acclaimed Avon Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade, which has raised more than $500 million. Prior to her experience at Avon, Ms. Blanke held numerous executive positions at CBS including manager of special promotions for the New York Yankees.

Ms. Blanke is a past president of the New York Women’s Forum and the first member to hold that position for two terms. She is a past chairman of the board of Fashion Group, International. In 1997, she was elected a corporate director of Sweetheart Paper Holdings, one of the country’s leading paper suppliers.

Ms. Blanke has received the Women Who Make A Difference Award at the 1999 International Women’s Forum Conference, the 1994 Matrix Award for Public Relations presented by New York Women in Communications, Inc. and the 1994 Star Award presented by the New York Women’s Agenda. In 2003, Ms. Blanke was named president of the New York Women in Communications Foundation which provides college and graduate school scholarships for deserving young women, and was among the first wave of women to be inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers.

Ms. Blanke is a graduate of Sweet Briar College in Virginia and majored in acting at Yale University Graduate School of Drama. She and her husband, F. James Cusick, a writer, and their two daughters, Kate and Abigail live in New York City. Please visit her website at www.throwoutfiftythings.com

Jim Blasingame, President
Small Business Network, Inc.


Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s foremost thought-leaders on small business and entrepreneurship, and the president of Small Business Network, Inc., a media company dedicated to serving small business.

Jim is the creator and award-winning host of The Small Business Advocate® Show, since 1997, the world’s only weekday radio program dedicated to small business, plus he has been simulcasting on the Internet since 1998. He conducts over 1,000 live interviews annually with his Brain Trust, the world’s largest community of small business experts.

Jim is a syndicated newspaper columnist and contributes to many print and electronic publications. He is the author of two books, Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas and Three Minutes to Success, which have sold a combined 90,000 copies.

Jim has received awards and recognition for his work and leadership on behalf of small businesses from such national organizations and publications as The SBA, American Small Business Development Centers, The American Chamber of Commerce Executives, New York Enterprise Report, FORTUNE Small Business and TALKERS magazine, to name a few. Plus Google ranks Jim as the #1 small business expert.

In addition to helping small business owners compete in the 21st century global marketplace, Jim also teaches large companies how to speak small business as a second language.

Tasha (TC) Cooper Coleman, Esq.
Social Media Consultant, & CEO, UpwardAction


Tasha (TC) Cooper Coleman, Esq. (aka "Coach TC") is a social media consultant, branding strategist and CEO of UpwardAction®.

Armed with more than a decade of legal and business experiences that include practice at a top international law firm and a federal banking regulatory agency and serving as in-house counsel and a corporate executive at a premier luxury brand, publicly-held company, TC’s unique combination of experiences fuels her ability to help clients develop and strengthen a wide array of online business generating initiatives.

She has spoken about social media, online marketing and leadership branding to organizations that include NASA, New Jersey Small Business Development Centers, Vicinity Media Group, SUNY-Levin Institute FastTrac Growth Venture and New Venture programs, Rutgers Business School Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, UNCF - Special Programs and the New Jersey Association of Women in Communications, among others.

Her company, UpwardAction®, is a brand development, social media and digital marketing company that specializes in helping growth stage businesses strengthen their online communications and develop new channels for business development through the use of social media, blogs, press releases, online community platforms and emerging web technologies.

TC is a member of NJAWBO, 85 Broads, inBiz Connection and the American Bar Association. She hosts the weekly radio show BrandingTalk on on BlogTalk radio and blogs at www.TakingUpwardAction.com.

Allisson Griesedieck, Vice President, Marketing and Media Relations
JG Black Book of Travel


Allisson joined JG Black Book of Travel with years of sales and marketing experience from a successful career in magazine publishing. At Departures, the leading luxury lifestyle magazine, she was a senior account manager. Allisson served in the same capacity at Travel + Leisure magazine, where she represented T+L, T+L Family, Travel + Romance, and six international editions of T+L. Allisson is a member of HSMAI and the Luxury Marketing Council.

Allisson manages media relations for the JG Black Book of Travel brand and collection. In addition, Allisson develops partnerships and strategic alliances that support and enhance the marketing strategies of JG Black Book and its collection members.

Beatriz Mallory
CEO & Chief Strategist, HispanAmérica


Beatriz Mallory, is a business planner and marketing strategist, and CEO & Chief Strategist of HispanAmérica, a marketing services company specialized in optimizing Hispanic market opportunity.

Beatriz brings a blend of tech savvy and consumer insight to clients in financial services, pharma and health care, retailing and entertainment. She excels at crafting data-driven marketing strategy, generating new revenue and identifying new opportunity markets.

Ms. Mallory has led varied Hispanic marketing efforts, including: multichannel advertising strategy & execution; customer acquisition; Hispanic database marketing for retailers; patient & member relationship management for pharmaceutical and health insurance companies; gamer acquisition programs for lotteries and casinos; and Latin American expansion programs. Her current efforts focus on CRM, market sizing, share growth and category dominance strategies for Hispanic marketers.

In 2009, Beatriz received the prestigious Silver Apple Award from the Direct Marketing Club of NY, recognizing 25 years of leadership in direct marketing. Previous awards include the Latina Trailblazer A.ward

Prior to founding HispanAmérica, Ms. Mallory worked as an engineer at IBM, an Accenture consultant, and in technology sales at the Data Group, Exeter Software, and Persoft. A successful Hispanic and African-American entrepreneur, she shares her expertise in multicultural marketing through seminars, speaking engagements and by judging awards in the US and Latin America. Beatriz has served on several non-profit boards, and is particularly proud to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (DMEF), working with colleges and universities to prepare students for careers in the interactive and direct marketing industry. Her activism is propelled by a passion for developing enterprises, ideas, and people.

Beatriz holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from Cornell University, and completed graduate course work at Harvard University’s Extension College. She’s fluent in Spanish, but her Portuguese and French need work. A certified yoga teacher, Beatriz lives her personal philosophies of seeking equanimity in all things, and a lifetime dedication to selflessly serving others.

Sue Malone
Founder, Strategies for Small Business


Sue Malone is the founder of Strategies For Small Business. Her sole mission for the last five years has been to help people obtain access to capital to start or expand their businesses. In doing so, one of her specialties has been small business start-up loans. And she has done so exceptionally well. She is the undisputed, number one SBA loan provider for the Community Express Loan Program in the nation. As of April 2008, she is responsible for closing over 20,000 of these much needed loans.

She is a grassroots provider of these loans, serving all communities across the United States. As one of the busiest women in America, she is on the road constantly, dispensing a plethora of capital through innumerable loan workshops to: organizations, groups, churches, associations, chambers of commerce, non-profits, colleges, franchises, and entrepreneurial organizations. She is proud, along with other banks, to work directly with the SBA, as well as SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), Womenís Business Centers, and SBA Small Business Development Centers (SBDCís).

An inspirational speaker, she has been highlighted in countless speaking engagements, as well as in newspaper articles, magazines, television, radio, conventions, and CNN. Together with her numerous awards and with the assistance of the lenders she has partnered with, she has been responsible for their achieving the #1 SBA lender status in West Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Hawaii, North Carolina, and in the top five lenders category in other districts.

Sue Malone has a degree in accounting and an MBA in finance. As such, she brings not only the requisite education and expertise, but the proven commitment to care deeply for the success of this Nationís small businesses.

Birute Regine
Author, Iron Butterflies & Leadership Expert


Birute Regine, Ed.D, (her Harvard doctorate is in human development) spent 25 years as a psychotherapist in private practice and now works as an executive / life coach, facilitator, speaker and author. She previously co-authored the critically-acclaimed The Soul at Work: Embracing Complexity Science for Business Success with her husband, noted science writer Roger Lewin. In her remarkable new book, Iron Butterflies: Women Transforming Themselves and The World, Birute puts femininity and masculinity in context and explores what it truly means to be a successful woman today. She also examines how women together can help each other become ”Iron Butterflies” and bring greater balance and well-being to a world sorely out of balance. Through her sage observations and candid stories of the 60 women interviewed, Iron Butterflies paints a picture of revolutionary changes taking place in what she calls a new “Era of Women. " As an aboriginal elder in Perth, Australia told her, "Women hold the wisdom, men hold the love. "She had it right; we have it all backwards!' That was an Aha moment that set Birute on a journey of uncovering women's wisdom.

David Meerman Scott
Marketing Strategist & Author, The New Rules of Marketing and PR


David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader, and the author of the award-winning BusinessWeek best-selling book The New Rules of Marketing and PR, now in its second edition, which is being published in 24 languages and the new hit book World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories. He is a recovering VP of marketing for two publicly traded technology companies and was also Asia marketing director for Knight-Ridder, at the time one of the world’s largest newspaper and electronic information companies. David has lived and worked in New York, Tokyo, Boston, and Hong Kong and has presented at industry conferences and events in over twenty countries. Check out his blog at www.WebInkNow.com or download his free ebook, The New Rules of Viral Marketing: How Word-of-Mouse Spreads Your Ideas for free.

Alexa Von Tobel
Founder & CEO, LearnVest, Inc.


Alexa von Tobel is the Founder and CEO of LearnVest, the leading independent personal finance website for women. Alexa came up with the idea for LearnVest in 2006, during her senior year at Harvard when she realized she, and most of her peers, had never had any formal education about how to effectively manage their finances. Alexa searched for reliable financial guidance and consistently came up overwhelmed or disappointed. Thus, the LearnVest mission was born – to make trusted personal financial information accessible to millions of women.

Since its debut as a TechCrunch50 Company in September 2009, LearnVest has helped over 100,000 women gain control of their finances. The company recently closed a $4.5 million series A round of funding led by Accel Partners (an investor in Facebook, Kayak.com, Glam Media, Etsy and more). Alexa has successfully enlisted the support of an impressive line-up of industry experts for LearnVest’s Board of Advisors including: Lee Barba (Former CEO, Investools/thinkorswim), Ann Kaplan (Former Partner, Goldman Sachs), Catherine Levene (Former CEO, DailyCandy), and Betsy Morgan (Former CEO, The Huffington Post).

Originally from Florida, Alexa received an A.B. in Psychology at Harvard College. Upon graduation, she worked as a trader at Morgan Stanley on their Proprietary Trading Desk before leaving to be the Head of Business Development at Drop.io, a venture backed start-up in NYC. She enrolled in Harvard Business School Fall of 2008 only to take a leave of absence to launch LearnVest and pursue her dream of bringing financial literacy to millions of women everywhere. In addition to LearnVest, Alexa is the co-founder of L.W.A.L.A. (www.lwala.org) a 501c3 focused on fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Lena L. West, Social Media Marketing Mentor
Influence Expansion


Lena L. West is the leading expert on how women entrepreneurs can monetize social media. She is also the Founder of InfluenceExpansion.com, the home of the Influence Expansion Academy, the only social media mastermind program created especially for women entrepreneurs.

As the CEO & Chief Social Media Strategist of Influence Expansion (formerly xynoMedia), she has helped thousands of women entrepreneurs profit from the power of Social Media and the Internet. West says, “What makes Influence Expansion different is we don’t just offer some of the best social media marketing ideas and strategy in the world; we can also uniquely identify with women CEO’s. We know they need strategies that cut to the chase and produce results not just now, but RIGHT now.”
As a certified technical expert, West learned about the intricate aspects of computers and networking while consulting with Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, Pitney Bowes, Philips Magnavox, Hyperion Software and MasterCard International. After cutting her ‘technical teeth’, she founded xynoMedia in 1997.

West’s expertise has been widely acknowledged. She is the winner of several business awards, among them: The Network Journal’s “40 Under Forty”, AlleyCat News’ “25 Women of Silicon Alley”,The Women’s Congress’ Entrepreneurial Champion for Women in Businessand was dubbed an “Entrepreneurial Hero” by NCWIT.West has also been featured as the cover story for publications such as The Westchester County Business Journal and Black Enterprise.

A sought-after writer and speaker,West writes and speaks regularly about the merits and potential pitfalls of social media. She communicates her expertise about social media, web 2.0 and online technologies through Social Media 360, herexpertblog on FastCompany.com; her Seriously Social column and blog for Entrepreneur Magazine; as well as feature articles for both InfoWorld and Jupitermedia. She has spokenon Capitol Hill and for organizations such as American Express, Wharton School of Business, SCORE, National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), Syracuse University and The Learning Annex.

A firm believer in the adage, “To whom much is given, much is required”, West is deeply committed to her pro bono work as well. She sits on the BlogHer Business Advisory Board, the Center for Women’s Business Research Advisory Council and the National Advisory Board for The Women’s Congress.

West strongly believes that social media is a catalyst to uniting the world’s people and will continue to lead businesses and individuals toward greater levels of environmental accountability, social responsibility and corporate transparency – hence her passion for the medium. Influence Expansion’s goal is to make social media profitable for women business leaders.

Marcia Wilson, President and CEO
Daffy's Inc.


Almost 50 years ago, Irving Shulman opened Daffy Dan’s Bargaintown, a small off-price establishment in the heart of Elizabeth, New Jersey, where bargain hunters flocked to find everything from orange paint to designer dresses.

More than twenty-five years ago, Marcia returned full time to the family business. Daffy’s, as the company is now known, has grown and prospered over the course of these years, but throughout has maintained a single-minded focus. Shulman’s original slogan “Clothing Bargains for Millionaires” remains the foundation for the company’s marketing philosophy. Daffy’s is still all about bargains!

Today, Daffy’s is a leading off-price retailer of clothing and home accessories. As President and CEO, Marcia is responsible for the vision, the day-to-day business operations and for energizing the team of over 1500 associates in 18 locations. Known for their unbeatable bargains and offbeat ads, Daffy’s receives raves from customers and awards from the advertising industry. They are listed in Crain’s New York Business as one of New York Area’s Top Privately Held Companies and Top Women Owned Companies. They have been featured on CNN Business, The Today Show and in numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Daffy’s was a pioneer in the off-price industry and continues to be an innovator.

Marcia has received the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World award and is a member of the Women’s Leadership Board, JFK School of Government, Harvard; The Committee of 200; The International Women’s Forum; The Belizean Grove Advisory Board; The Women's Leadership Exchange®, LEXCI; FGI; an avid volunteer for various social and environmental causes; and, the mother of four fabulous sons and now a grandson.

Pamela Adams, Regional Development Director Georgia
Constant Contact


Pamela is a technology expert with experience helping small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non profits achieve success. She has designed programs and trained numerous clients on how to enhance and improve their businesses through innovative and affordable Internet marketing strategies. Pamela uses her technology know-how and training skills to help small business and non profits in the Atlanta area maximize the power of relationship marketing.

Tina Baker
President and CEO, Cadence Group; National Partner, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)


Tina Teree Baker is the President and CEO of Cadence Group, a Records and Information Management services firm, and has a master certification in Electronic Records Management. She graduated with honors from Georgia State University and has served as an Executive Officer of Cadence Group since its founding in 1988.

Ms. Baker's role ranges from working with clients and prospects, to providing the vision and strategic direction for the company, to promoting the internal culture and diverse workplace environment that is so important to the 50 employees of Cadence Group.

Ms. Baker has over 20 years of experience in Information Management, successfully performing as Project Manager, System Architect, Records Manager, and Knowledge Management Consultant. Known for her ability to streamline business processes, Ms. Baker is a creative thinker, offering expertise in optimizing content, people and technology. Her in-depth knowledge of records compliance and information systems, gives Ms. Baker superior skills to create efficient, compliant, and adaptable Information Management solutions.

Ms. Baker is a National Partner and Georgia Chair for Women Impacting Political Policy (WIPP) and a mentor for Georgia Women’s Business Council (GWBC). Ms. Baker serves on the Executive Team of GlobalEXECWomen and the National Advisory Board for Enterprising Women. She is a member of Collared Greens, a business and sustainability association, and a number of records and information management associations such as ARMA and AIIM. Her community service activities include mentoring women business owners, sustainability projects, Habitat for Humanity, Project Open Hands, and providing leadership for youth development activities. Ms. Baker speaks at conferences, sits on panels, and has been quoted in Strategy Magazine, EContent Magazine, Atlanta Business Chronical, and KM World. She won a Enterprising Women of the Year Award in 2008.

Jewel Daniels, President
Daniels Communications Group


Jewel Daniels is president of Daniels Communications Group, a progressive Georgia-based company providing strategic marketing and corporate training services.

The company has an impressive client list that includes the Center for Disease Control/MACRO, the City of Hinesville, Clayton State University, Effingham Board of Education, the Georgia Summit of African American Business Organizations, Gulfstream Aerospace, Henry Medical Center, IKEA, Savannah State University, Savannah Technical College and US Military-Fort Stewart.

Daniels is the founder of Black Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs, a global network of practicing professionals and business owners. She is also an author, penning the books "It Takes Tenacity, 15 Power Moves to Survive the Wilderness and Weather the Economic Storm" and “The Enterprising Entrepreneur, 10 Powerful Life Lessons for Achieving Business Success” which speak volumes about leadership, weathering tough times and reaping the rewards of successfully piloting your dreams.

Her accomplishments include recognition as one of Georgia’s “40 Under 40” in Business and Politics by Georgia Trend magazine and the Savannah Business Report & Journal, as well as receiving recognition from Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes and US Rep. Jack Kingston.

As a speaker, she has presented before the Congressional Black Caucus, the Savannah Chamber of Commerce, Divas United, Blacks in Government, the GWEN Conference, and other professional groups.

She is the first Black woman accepted to Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea and is a graduate of Hampton University as well as New York University's Public Relations Institute. She is an Adjunct Instructor at Savannah Technical College, a trained Bible instructor and says her life’s greatest accomplishment is raising her daughter Jynnah.

Paula Goodman, Director of Engagement
WOLF @ Best Buy


Paula Goodman is the Director of Engagement for electronic retailer Best Buy’s Women’s Leadership Forum (WOLF). This newly created role includes creating leadership development opportunities for women at all levels of Best Buy’s business—from Blue Shirts in Best Buy’s stores to female executives and building business strategies to better serve female customers. She joined the WOLF team in August of this year and has made an immediate impact.

In Paula’s former role as District Manager, she was responsible for providing leadership for all aspects of District 18 in Atlanta Georgia amounting to more than $300 million of Best Buy’s $35 billion business. She also is a key leader responsible for Best Buy’s Winning With Women Strategy and most recently served as the Alpha WOLF in the Atlanta Waya Pack. She considers herself a role model and takes that responsibility to heart as she continues to build relationships and networks within Best Buy and the Atlanta community.

Paula built a great foundation of leadership skills with her service in the military. In this leadership work, she experienced a tour in Korea and Ft. Riley, Kansas and then she landed in Savannah, Ga. and began her career in retail. During that time she completed her Bachelor’s degree at Kansas State University.

Originally born in New, York, Paula spent her formidable years in a small town in Virginia with her identical twin, two younger sisters and her brother. It was on her parent’s farm she developed her work ethic and her commitment to family.

Lourdes Martin-Rosa, Founder
Government Business Solutions LLC


After more than ten years of lobbying in Washington, D.C. on behalf of small business & government procurement, Lourdes Martin-Rosa began to see that a void in representation existed for small businesses. She had traveled several times to argue for the rights of her clients and had won her fight. She had navigated through the maze of federal proposals and contracts and knew her formula would work for other small businesses. This is when Government Business Solutions (GBS) was born.

Lourdes founded GBS with the knowledge that the federal government is the single largest procurer in the world. Small business not only had a right to a piece of this pie, but by the government’s own standards, small businesses were entitled to a portion of this work. From her years of experience Lourdes learned two basic things small businesses needed to do: 1) as a small business you must have an “edge” in order to compete with larger more experienced companies and 2) you must take advantage of every tool the federal government offers small businesses, while making yourself known to the right people within the government…perseverance is everything.

Small business owners began to approach Lourdes for her advice and consultation on what they could do to gain the “edge”. Her answer was clear, certify your small business. The Small Business Administration offers one of the most aggressive certification programs available; the 8(a) Business Development Program. Having this certification was the first step in eligibility for the over $200 Billion annual dollars that go to small business from the federal government contracts. GBS began to offer consulting services that included certification services for Woman-owned, Veteran-owned, Hub-Zone small businesses, GSA Schedules Preparation, federal government marketing services, Government Agency Solutions and other consulting services geared specifically to small businesses.

Lourdes also serves as Advisor on Government Contracts to American Express OPEN®.

Marylyn B. Schwartz, CSP
President of Teamweavers Seminars


Speaker, trainer, business-life coach, educator, author and former vice president of a Fortune 500 company, Marylyn's career spans 32 years and 5 industries.

Marylyn is president of TEAMWEAVERS and is known nationwide as a real estate speaker/trainer and expert in the field of sales and team/management development. She is an author and a Business/Life Coach. She is a Master Trainer for Leader's Choice(TM), the most successful agent-training program to come along in 20 years. She's also an independent trainer, motivational speaker and consultant in many other facets of sales and corporate development. Marylyn is a certified meeting facilitator and has attained the prestigious designation of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) from the International Federation for Professional Speakers. Established in 1980, the CSP designation is the speaking industry's international measure of professional platform skill, and fewer than 10% of the members are awarded this designation. It is conferred only on those accomplished speakers who have met the strict criteria.

Marylyn's articles have been published in such noted periodicals as Communiqué, The Ultimate Matermind, Crain's Business Week, Mobility Magazine, Real Estate Today, Professional Speaker, Realtor® and Training Magazine. She is a featured columnist at www.RealtyTimes.com and monthly contributor to the RISMedia website.

Alison Woo
Founder, NewMediaMavens.com


Alison Woo is a journalist with extensive experience in television, print, radio and online media. She has worked for CNN Headline News, Emmy-Award winning anchor Linda Ellerbee and freelances for national news organizations, including Money Magazine, Fortune Small Business.com and MSNBC.com.

An alumnus of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Alison was an executive producer and writer for television stations in New York, Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando, Charlotte and Atlanta. She was a contributing writer for The Weekend Entrepreneur (Entrepreneur Press, May 2006) and Women’s Wire Web Directory (Macmillan, 1997).

Alison is currently a member of the International Coaching Federation and has trained at the leading coaching organization in the U.S.—The Coaches Training Institute. She is a member of eWomen Network, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Lanelle Henderson, Regional Development Director,
Constant Contact


Lanelle is a marketing expert and passionate entrepreneur with more than 18 years of experience helping small businesses, nonprofits and associations apply the power of relationship marketing to grow their organization.

She has worked with hundreds of Georgia entrepreneurs - ranging from novice to seasoned marketers - on how to grow their customer or member base through sharp business practices and smart online marketing programs, including email marketing, event marketing and social media marketing. An active member of the Georgia business community, Lanelle is a popular speaker and trainer on marketing and business topics with a special interest in hospitality, community and education, and a focus on empowering women.

Pat Lottier, Publisher & CEO
Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine


Pat Lottier is a visionary, who is committed to excellence, community involvement and making a difference in the lives of those in her community. She has accomplished most of the goals by using her publication, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, to enlighten the business community with information and articles that inform, motivate, educate and inspire.

Ms. Lottier is publisher and chief executive officer of the award winning monthly magazine that covers and reports on business-related stories affecting the African-American community in metropolitan area Atlanta. Pat and her late husband, George, purchased the tabloid-looking newspaper in 1987. The vision then and the vision now, is still the same – commitment to producing a high quality publication that effectively serves the African American business community.

Ms. Lottier holds a Master’s Degree from Emory University in Public Health Care Administration. She also has Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of Connecticut; a diploma degree from John Hopkins Hospital and was formerly a registered nurse for many years, before the publishing business beckoned.

Amy Napier Viteri , Journalist
Channel 2 Action News


Amy Napier Viteri joined Channel 2 Action News in March 2011. A native of the Washington D.C. area, she is happy to call Georgia her new home.

Before coming to Atlanta, Amy worked as a general assignment reporter in Nashville, Tennessee. While there she covered stories that made national headlines, including the shooting death of NFL quarterback Steve McNair, the historic flood of 2010 and deadly tornadoes in 2008.

Amy received a national commendation from the Humane Society of the United States for her two-part investigation into dogfighting in Middle Tennessee. In 2007, Nashville's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce named her Hispanic Professional of the Year. Before Nashville, Amy worked as a Spanish-language reporter for Telemundo 64 in Washington D.C.

Prior to that, she was a writer and segment producer at WJLA-TV in Washington. Amy grew up in a bilingual Ecuadorian-American household, speaks fluent Spanish and looks forward to helping tell the stories of Spanish speakers here in Georgia. Amy received her B.A.in Spanish Literature at the George Washington University. She spent a year after school living and working abroad in London and Madrid before getting her M.A. in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Miami. Amy is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and was on the Ambassador's Circle for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.

When not working she enjoys traveling to new places and cheering on her favorite sports teams.

Laura Ries, Co-founder
Ries & Ries


Build your brand with a Visual Hammer. Advertising isn't working the way it used to and the noise level on social media is so high, it's difficult to cut through the clutter.

So what's a marketing person supposed to do? Use a visual approach instead of a verbal one.

Laura Ries, author of the new book, "Visual Hammer," will explain how today's companies are building powerful brands with visuals.

Stella Artois and the chalice, Fidelity and the green line, Aflac and the duck, Louboutin and the red soles, and many, many more.

Alana Shepherd, Founding Board Member
Shepherd Center


Alana Shepherd, her husband, Atlanta businessman Harold Shepherd, and son James are founding board members of Shepherd Center (formerly Shepherd Spinal Center).

James Shepherd was paralyzed in a surfing accident in 1973 and recovered from his spinal cord injury at an out-of-state facility. The Shepherds were convinced that Atlanta should support a similar rehabilitation facility and, with the help of Dr. David F. Apple, Jr. and a small board of directors, they put into motion the beginnings of Shepherd Center.

Since its inception in 1975, the 152 bed, not-for-profit hospital has grown to be the country’s largest catastrophic care hospital, specializing in the treatment of people with spinal cord injuries, acquired brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders, and urological problems. Shepherd Center is a Model Center in spinal cord injury and an official Multiple Sclerosis Center, designated by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Georgia Chapter.

Esther Silver-Parker, President and CEO
SilverParker Group


Esther Silver-Parker is President and CEO of The SilverParker Group, a consultancy specializing in diversity, corporate social responsibility, reputation, strategic philanthropy, stakeholder relationships and leadership development.

Before opening her firm in 2010, Silver-Parker served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where she was charged with the strategic planning and execution of the company’s corporate responsibility, reputation, and relationships among key national and international stakeholders. She developed the company’s first diversity and inclusion strategy, grew supplier diversity procurement by $3 billion dollars, established a corporate external advisory council and developed Wal-Mart’s first stakeholder summit. She is recognized for her work in transforming Wal-Mart’s reputation. She received Wal-Mart’s Trailblazer Award. Upon her retirement, Wal-Mart established a scholarship in her name at Wake Forest University School of Business.

Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Silver-Parker served 28 years in various public relations functions for AT&T, including Vice President of Corporate Affairs and President of the AT&T Foundation. She also directed AT&T’s National Constituency Relations and Issues Management Departments and led the company’s award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility programs

A corporate leader of noted impact, she has served in leadership and volunteer positions for over 50 national and international nonprofit organizations. She has developed a next generation women’s leadership organization in South Africa and has directly support programs to assist women of color in completing their college education.

As president of the National AIDS Fund, she successfully led the organization out of bankruptcy to sustainability; and, she wrote the first diversity and inclusion strategy for the United States Tennis Association.

Silver-Parker has traveled in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America to study, write and speak about the health conditions and quality of life of women and children. She is a frequent speaker on issues pertaining to women education, empowerment, diversity and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, strategic philanthropy and public relations operations. She has been featured in books on leadership, including “Yes, I Can Do That,” “Do Your Giving While Living,” and “Organizational Champions.”

She also serves of the Women’s External Advisory Council for Deloitte and the External Advisory Council for MillerCoors and Wal-Mart Inc.

Silver-Parker received a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University School of Journalism and a Bachelors of Arts, Magna Cum Laude, in Political Science from North Carolina Central University. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University’s Executive Management Program and holds an Honorary Doctor’s in Humane Letters from Benedict College.

Nancy Freeman Balkcom, President


Nancy Freeman Balkcom has been president of MySupplies, a Freeman Forms and Supplies Company since 1986. MySupplies was established in 1970 as an independent business forms distributorship. Since becoming president Nancy has developed MySupplies into a multi-million dollar, full-line office products sales organization, guided the company through many industry challenges, and been nominated for numerous awards.

Shortly after joining the company at the age of 15, Nancy took over day-to day operations of the office products and office furniture division, which quickly became the company's largest source of revenue. Nancy is now at the helm of one of the oldest independent office products and office furniture distributors in the State of Georgia.

Nancy's ingenuity and business savvy have helped MySupplies grow in spite of competition and downturns in the economy. In the 1980's the advent of the "Super Store" office supply companies led to the demise of over 60% of the independent distributors in the United States, but Nancy refocused the company and expanded the business. They also survived a 30% drop in revenue caused by the 9/1 1 crisis after which Nancy borrowed money against her home and assets in order to invest in company upgrades. These investments allowed her business to regain lost revenue without laying-off a single employee.

Nancy's professional involvement includes leadership roles with the Greater Women's Business Council, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors. She also serves as the Chairperson for the GWBC Voice Forum Committee, Voice Forum Greater Giving Committee, she is a mentor for the GWBC Mentoring Committee and was appointed to the National WBENC Governing Forum. Nancy serves on the Advisory Board for Enterprising Women Magazine and for the SBA's Edge Connection. She is a member of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Women Presidents' Organization, CEO Netweavers, and has served as president of the Atlanta Office Products Association, Chairperson of the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce, Steering Committee member for the National Office Products Association, and Employer Committee member for the Georgia Department of Labor.

Concerned with giving back to the community, Nancy instituted MySupplies' Rewards for Charity program, which provides financial support to over 15 local charities by donating a percentage of sales to these organizations. The company also sends food and personal care items to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was featured on Atlanta's 11 Alive news for contributions make to Hurrican Katrina survivors.

Tammy Cohen, President / Founder


Tammy has been gathering hands-on, day-to-day experience in all aspects of business for over 25 years. InfoMart is one of the largestbackground screening companies in the industry, is NAPBS accredited, and is a Certified Woman-Owned Business. InfoMart and Tammy Cohen have been recognized numerous times by some of the world’s most respected organizations. InfoMart has been included on Security Magazine’s Security 500 list and Workforce Magazine’s “Hot” list for several consecutive years, and has won numerous “Best Place to Work” awards. Tammy Cohen has been honored for fostering outstanding company culture (NWBOC), for her service (CRRW), and for her entrepreneurship (YWCA of the USA).

Shan Cooper, Vice President / General Manager
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company


Shan Cooper is Vice President of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and General Manager of the company’s Marietta, Georgia, facility. She is also responsible for the company’s subassembly sites in Meridian, Mississippi, and Clarksburg, West Virginia. In addition, she serves as the company’s Vice President of Business Ethics. She was named to her current position in January 2011.

As General Manager, she is responsible for the 5,700-employee Marietta operation, which designs, produces, modifies and maintains military aircraft for the United States and countries around the world. Marietta programs include the C-130J Super Hercules, P-3 Orion, C-5M Super Galaxy and F-35 Lightning II.

Mrs. Cooper previously served as Vice President of Human Resources for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS), in Gaithersburg, Maryland. An experienced operational leader, she was responsible for all aspects of the Human Resources function for 36,000 employees in 48 U.S. states and 64 countries.

Before moving to IS&GS, Mrs. Cooper was Vice President and Deputy of Human Resources for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company with responsibility for Human Resources operations and site security for more than 27,000 employees across the country.

She joined Lockheed Martin in 2002 as Senior Manager, Diversity Workforce Management. While at corporate headquarters, she progressed through positions of increasing responsibility before being named Vice President, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Programs in 2004.

Earlier, Mrs. Cooper held leadership positions with Lucent Technologies and consulted with other Fortune 500 companies. She has received several national honors, including the Women of Color in Technology Corporate Responsibility Award and the YWCA Tribute to Women of Achievement. She was named to Diversity MBA Magazine’s 2009 Top 100 Under 50 Executives and as one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s Most Influential Georgians in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. She also received the 2013 Pioneer Award from US Black Engineer & Information Technology Magazine.

She sits on the executive boards of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee. She is on the Board of Councilors for The Carter Center and the Board of Trustees of both Emory University and the Woodruff Arts Center. She is a member of the Marietta Kiwanis Club and Atlanta Rotary Club.

She holds an MBA from the Roberto C. Goizueta Business School at Emory University and is a graduate of the Rutgers Global Executive Masters in Human Resource Leadership Program.

Lanelle Henderson, President & CMO
Oh Nellie Promos


Lanelle Henderson is Atlanta’s leading tech-savvy marketing expert and speaker. A passionate entrepreneur with more than 19 years experience, she has educated over ten thousand businesses/organizations on smart online marketing programs and speaks at chambers, conferences, organizations and hosts her own marketing workshops.

She supports clients in a variety of industries, including airline, automotive, hospitality, healthcare, real estate and technology to name a few. Lanelle’s recent accomplishments includes launching Oh Nellie Promos tv show, receiving the 2014 Creative Style Award from Atlanta Business League, Voted Best Marketing Agency in Atlanta by the Atlanta Tribune, and featured in Modern Luxury Atlantan for Women of Power and Influence issue.

She has been featured in media outlets like Headline News, Georgia Trend and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution to name a few, and contributes to several publications. Lanelle is a graduate from the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality at Georgia State University where she obtained her Bachelors of Science in Business.and recently received the “Top 40? Outstanding Alumni Award.

Lisa S. Jones, Chief EyeMail Officer
EyeMail Inc.


Lisa S. Jones is the Chief EyeMail Officer of EyeMail Inc. EyeMail is a world-class enabling marketing technology that brings email to life, with instant play audio & video. The company’s value proposition is increasing click-thru and conversion rates upwards of 70%, to enhance corporate communications & marketing department’s ability to further deliver compelling content and results. The technology solution provides an experience designed to engage, capture attention and enhance the viewer’s experience to drive for a call to action. Under her leadership, she directs and oversees the strategic roadmap and development of the corporation, to include management of the international expansion and distributorship of the EyeMail brand to include EyeMail Canada, EyeMail Germany, EyeMail India, EyeMail China, EyeMail Africa, and the brand continues to expand worldwide. Clients include The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Time Warner, Major League Baseball and a host of Fortune brands.

Prior to founding EyeMail Inc., Lisa served in the Office of Supplier Diversity for the nation’s largest wireless telecommunications provider. Prior to her career in the Telecommunication industry, Lisa worked for NASA in support of shuttle logistics and procurement operations.

Lisa has received several awards and honors recognizing her many accomplishments, including a Stevie Award for Innovator of the Year. She is recognized as an Honoree for Women in Technology, the Madam C.J. Walker Outstanding Business Achievement Award, Black Enterprise Innovator of the Year Honoree and is the winner of Season 1 of the CBS Show, The Next Tycoon. Jones was selected into The Coca-Cola Company’s Mentoring Program and Microsoft’s Mentor Protégé Program with a beta-launch in Microsoft's Incubation Program. EyeMail served as a member on the Microsoft Preferred Supplier Board to help review, manage and create policies for global supplier management. Jones is also a presenting speaker at the Institute of Supplier Management and ProcureCon on innovation and outsourcing a global team. Additionally, Lisa is a participating Speaker at the Billion Dollar Roundtable Summit.

She is rapidly emerging as a trailblazer for women owned technology companies on the rise, specializing in email and online media innovation.

She is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. Jones received both her Bachelor of Science Degree and M.B.A from Alabama A&M University, with advanced business certifications from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Marlene Kelly, President and CEO
Exhibits South Corporation


Marlene Kelly is the President and CEO of Exhibits South Corporation. Exhibits South is 100% woman owned and operated company certified by the Women’s Business Enterprises National Council and was established in 1983 as a full service design, development firm specializing in creative marketing and sales environments, primarily trade show exhibits, interiors and museums.

Marlene began her career in 1972 working straight out of high school for American National Bank in Chattanooga, TN. It was great experience, her management team was excellent and under their leadership she gained tremendous knowledge about the banking industry, and most of all the importance of customer service. It inspired her to continue her education in accounting at the University of Memphis and Oklahoma State. In 1976 her family was transferred to Memphis where she continued to work in the banking industry. Her family was transferred again in 1983 to Tulsa, Oklahoma; this gave Marlene the opportunity to work in Oil and Gas accounting. She worked for Continental Natural Gas until 1990 and then her family was transferred to Atlanta, GA. She began working with Exhibits South in 1992. In 2005 Marlene became the controlling interest owner of Exhibits South and presently serves as President and CEO. She loves sharing her working experience with the young people in her office and watching their growth and development in the exhibit industry. Exhibits South is a leader in their industry and they believe you must always be honest and loyal to your customers. They are committed to helping their clients market their products by providing them quality service and products with competitive pricing that adds value to their bottom line.

Currently Marlene serves on the board for Georgia Women’s Business Council; she is a governing forum member for the (WBENC) Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. She has pass served on the board of directors for Girls Incorporate of Greater Atlanta. She loves having the opportunity to give back to such a great organization that works hard to ensure all girls have the opportunity to be Strong, Smart and Bold. Marlene has also serviced on the SBDC Advisory Council and she is a past board member for The Edge Connection, which is an organization that supports micro-enterprise. Exhibits South has also received the Consumer’s Choice award for 10 straight years for excellence in service to their clients. In May 2007 they were presented the “Partners in the Promise Award” by The Coca-Cola Company for outstanding products and service. The Home Depot honored Marlene as one of their top women suppliers at the 2007 and 2008 WBENC Conferences. In Dec 2006 the Governor’s Mentor Prote?ge? Program chose Marlene as a prote?ge? and The Coca-Cola Company mentored her for eighteen months. In 2011 was a Metro Atlanta Chamber Business Person of the Year Finalist.

Marlene is a wife and mother of two adult daughters who are both graduates of the University of Georgia. Both daughters work for the company and recently purchased 48% of the company making Exhibits South 100% woman owned. Her husband grew up in Northern Indiana and he is a graduate of Purdue University. Marlene’s husband recently stepped back from a full time roll in the company and supporting other family investments. She is the proud grandmother of Sadie and John Dickinson along with Lucy Holliday the newest addition. She and her family are members of John’s Creek United Methodist Church and Marlene serves on the church council. Her growth as a Christian and her relationship with God is the most important thing in her life.

Ruth King, Profitability Master and CEO
Profitability Revolution Paradigm


Profitability Master Ruth King is a serial entrepreneur having owned 7 businesses in the past 30 years. One of her businesses helps small business owners truly understand and profit from their financial statements.

After twelve years on the road, she found a better way to reach entrepreneurs who wanted to build their businesses. She began Internet training in 1998 and began the first television like broadcasting in 2002. Her latest channel, www.profitabilityrevolution.com, broadcasts ideas, news, strategies and other information that matters to small business owners 24/7/365 on any Internet device, mobile or laptop.

Ruth started the Decatur, Georgia branch of the Small Business Development Center. She also founded the Women’s Entrepreneurial Center and taught a year-long course for women who wanted to start their own businesses.

Ruth holds an MBA in Finance from Georgia State University.

Ruth's best selling book, The Courage to be Profitable, is preceded by two award winning books, The Ugly Truth about Small Business and The Ugly Truth about Managing People.

Hala Moddelmog, President and CEO
Metro Atlanta Chamber


The first female president and CEO in the 154-year history of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Hala Moddelmog serves as a catalyst for business partnerships and coalitions to drive economic growth in the region. Having served for more than two decades in president and CEO roles, Hala is a multi-dimensional leader, well-respected for her expertise in strategic planning, marketing, branding and assembling and managing high performance teams.

Prior to joining MAC, Moddelmog was president of Atlanta-based Arby’s Restaurant Group, an international quick-service restaurant chain with approximately 3,500 units and annual system-wide sales of approximately $3 billion.

In 2006, she was chosen as president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest grassroots

organization working to eradicate breast cancer. While there, Moddelmog established a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Board with an annual grant of $100 million for scientific research.

Moddelmog was also the first woman to lead an international restaurant company when, in 1995 she was named president of Church’s Chicken, the world’s third largest chicken brand with more than 1,500 restaurants in 15 countries and nearly $1 billion in system sales.

Monica Pearson, Journalist, News Anchor


Monica Pearson is a renowned Atlanta television personality, with over 45 years of experience in radio, TV and newspaper. After 37 years as a news anchor and reporter with WSB-TV Atlanta, Pearson retired in 2012. She now hosts a weekly radio show on KISS 104.1 FM, writes a column, “Monica Matters” for Southern Seasons Magazine, continues her Closeups interviews on www.wsbtv.com/monica and teaches at Atlanta Metropolitan State College.

She joined WSB-TV in 1975 as Atlanta's first woman and first minority to anchor the daily 6 p.m. news. She also has anchored the 4, 5 and 11 p.m. news during her career, debuting the 4 and 5.

Pearson began her professional career at The Louisville Times, followed by a position in the public relations department of Brown-Forman Distillers before joining WHAS-TV in Louisville for three years as a reporter and later anchor.

She has received numerous accolades and honors for her distinguished bodies of work, including 33 local and regional Emmys, including an Emmy for an exclusive interview with Georgia Congressman John Lewis in 2008. The interview garnered national recognition, as Lewis changed his U.S. presidential support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama. Among her many awards, Pearson was awarded the Legacy Award from the National Association of Black Journalist in 2012; The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Team Trailblazer Award in 2013 and also that year the Interdenominational Theological Center presented her with the James H. Costen Award for Excellence in Civic and Community Affairs.

Pearson is a member of numerous civic, community and professional organizations, including the NAACP (Life Member), The National and The Atlanta Associations of Black Journalists, The Atlanta Press Club, and the Screen Actors Guild, to name a few. She was the first African American and the second woman to serve as Chairman of the Metropolitan United Way in 1988. She also serves on the boards of directors for Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre

Company and Meals on Wheels Atlanta. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

She is a native of Louisville, Ky. and grew up in what is known as Smoketown. In addition to her BA from the University of Louisville (1975) and MA from the University of Georgia (2014), she holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University), Oglethorpe University and Doctor of Public Service from Young Harris College.

Pearson is married to John E. Pearson Sr., the mother of Claire Patrice, and step-mother of John E. Pearson, II.

Romaine Seguin, President
UPS Americas Region


Romaine Seguin, president of UPS Americas Region, is responsible for all UPS package and cargo operations in Canada and more than 50 countries and territories across Latin America and the Caribbean. Additionally, she has oversight of the UPS Supply Chain Solutions operations throughout Latin America, Miami and the Caribbean. Romaine began her career with UPS in the Missouri district in 1983 as a part-time hub supervisor. She held a variety of operational and management roles in Missouri and was later promoted to hub manager. In 1989, Romaine accepted a five-year assignment in Europe as part of the integration team with F&A and operations, and lived in both the UK and France.

In 1994, Romaine returned to the U.S. as controller for the air district, based in Louisville, Kentucky. From 1996 to 1999, she returned to operations as the ramp and hub division manager in Louisville. In 1999, Romaine relocated to Detroit, Michigan as the operations division manager. In 2001, Romaine was promoted to managing director of the Gulf South district and in 2004, was named managing director of the Minnesota district.

In October 2007, Romaine moved to Milan, Italy as the managing director of UPS South Europe and was shortly promoted (March 2008) to Chief Operating Officer for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, based in Brussels, Belgium. In September 2010, Romaine was promoted to her current position as president of the UPS Americas Region based in Miami, Florida.

Romaine is a frequent speaker at community and business events and has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work in the international business community. She sits on several boards, including the Florida International University (FIU) School of Business Dean’s Council, the board of Trustees of William Woods University, the World Trade Center Miami’s board of Directors, the United Way of Miami-Dade board and the Conferencia Latinoamericana de Compañías Express (CLADEC) board – Latin America Conference of Express Companies.

Romaine holds a degree in Marketing Management from William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri and an MBA from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Marjorie Singley-Hall, President and CEO
S&A Railroad Ties, LLC


Marjorie Singley-Hall has been in business for over 40 years in the metro Atlanta area. She also lived and worked in London, England.

Marjorie is President and CEO of S & A Railroad Ties, LLC, a company that recycles, renews and repurposes used railroad ties.

Marjorie is also CEO of Ampersand Associates, Inc., a company specializing in Retained Executive Search and Board Creation and Development. The company places executives and attorneys in jobs within multiple industries as well as board members on Operating, Advisory and Specialty boards. In addition, Ampersand Associates, Inc. has a division dedicated to help women grow within their own businesses or within corporations.

Marjorie serves on the boards of EyeMail, Inc. and Harn Back Office Solutions. She also chairs the Atlanta Advisory Board and is a former Regional Executive Director of the Women's Leadership Exchange® (www.womensleadershipexchange.com). She is an Advisory Board member of the Women’s Leadership Forum, a joint organization between the Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and the Atlanta Business Chronicle. She also serves on the Board of Friends of Cathedral Music. Marjorie is a Board member and on the Executive Committee of the World Trade Center Atlanta.

Marjorie been on numerous for-profit and non-profit boards throughout her career, and she speaks nationally on board service and board creation. She is a past board member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and founded the Human Resources Society for TAG. She chaired the Atlanta Women’s Alliance for two years. She has served on the Community Board of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Shepherd Spinal Center Auxiliary.

Marjorie was honored as one of 100 women internationally and one of 12 women in the United States to receive the TIAW World of Difference Award, which recognizes women whose efforts have advanced the economic empowerment of women. She was the first winner of the Transition to Transformation Success Award in Atlanta given by w2wlink.com for "mentoring and being a guiding light to women around her". Marjorie was also named one of ten "Women of Distinction" for the State of Georgia by the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and Russell Athletic Shootout.

Marjorie is a member of the Cathedral Choir of the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, GA. She was a member of the Choir-in-Residence for a week at Westminster Abbey in London, England for one week in 2003 and again in 2007. She was a member of the Choir-in-Residence for one week each in 2013 at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England and Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, England. She enjoys singing, traveling and being with her three grandchildren.

Moira Vetter, Founder and CEO
Modo Modo


Moira Vetter is Founder & CEO Modo Modo Agency, a business-to-business marketing firm in Atlanta that has won over 175 awards in its first 8 years. Moira began her professional career 27 years ago on the client side in technology and healthcare before moving to the agency world. In her career she has helped more than 200 businesses define, launch, grow and even divest of their ventures. Moira is the author of AdVenture, An Outsider’s Inside View of Getting an Entrepreneur to Market and has appeared on national TV and radio. She is the 2015 BMA Atlanta president, serves on the Executive Advisory Board of the American Marketing Association and was the 2014 AMA Agency Marketer of the year. Also in 2014 she was a Fast-Growth Entrepreneur finalist from the Oxford Center, a 2014 Leadership Character Award finalist from Turknett Leadership Group, a Technology Association of Georgia Marketing Entrepreneur of the year finalist and an Atlanta Business Chronicle “Women Who Mean Business”. She is a 2015 Enterprising Women Entrepreneur award winner. She is a Founder Institute mentor, sits on the Georgia Department of Education marketing cluster, is Board Chairman for non-profit Sugga’s Industries International and is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Atlanta.

Jennifer Warawa, Global VP, Product Marketing
Sage Accountant Solutions


Jennifer Warawa is Global Vice President, Product Marketing for the accountant market segment Accountant for Sage. Jennifer's passion is to partner with consultants, accountants and bookkeepers to provide innovative solutions that make a difference in their business or firm, and support them in delivering an extraordinary experience to their clients.

Prior to working with Sage, Jennifer owned her own firm in Kelowna, BC for 12 years providing accounting, bookkeeping, consulting services, software training, as well as business/ financial planning and marketing.

In addition to being a regular speaker at conferences, Jennifer was also listed as one of the “10 Tweeters Worth Following” by Accounting Today and is an avid blogger, which includes being a featured writer on the Virgin Entrepreneur website. Jennifer made the Accounting Today Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting and CPA Practice Advisor’s Top 40 Under 40 lists consecutively for the last six years. In 2013, Jennifer was also recognized as one of the CRN Women of the Channel: Power 100 and has been one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Accounting for the last two years running.

David Abney, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer


David Abney, who began his career as a part-time package loader while in college, serves as chief executive officer of UPS. David was appointed CEO in 2014, and is the 11th CEO in the 108-year history of UPS. He was unanimously appointed by the Board of Directors as Chairman in 2016.

David previously served as chief operating officer since 2007, overseeing logistics, sustainability, engineering and all facets of the UPS transportation network. UPS's global transportation network serves more than 220 countries and territories, and includes a ground fleet of more than 96,000 vehicles and an air fleet of more than 500 aircraft. UPS operates major air hubs in Louisville, Kentucky; Cologne, Germany; and Shenzhen, China.

Before serving as COO, David was president of UPS International, leading the company's strategic initiative to increase its global logistics capabilities. During his career, David was also involved in a number of global acquisitions that included the Fritz Companies, Stolica, Lynxs, and Sino-Trans in China.

Earlier in his career, he served as president of SonicAir, a same-day delivery service that signaled UPS's move into the service parts logistics sector. David began his UPS career in 1974 in a small facility in Greenwood, Mississippi, while attending Delta State University.

In addition to his corporate responsibilities, David serves as a Trustee of The UPS Foundation and chairman of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta. He is also a member of the President's Export Council, the Board of Directors of Johnson Controls, and the Business Roundtable.

As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, David serves on the UPS Board of Directors’ Executive Committee.

A native of Greenwood, Miss., David earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Delta State University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Delta State University Alumni Foundation. He and his wife, Sherry, sponsor the school’s annual symposium on international business.

Jim Barber, President
UPS International


As president of UPS International since May 2013, Jim Barber oversees the company's business operations in more than 220 countries and territories outside of the U.S. Barber is also a member of the UPS Management Committee, which is responsible for the day-to-day management of the company.

Jim previously served as President of UPS Europe, with responsibility for UPS operations in more than 120 countries and territories in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Under Jim's leadership, UPS executed a growth strategy that included expanding its capabilities and enhancing the customer experience. As part of this growth strategy, Jim led key acquisitions such as Pieffe Group, an Italy-based pharmaceutical logistics company, and Lynx Express, one of the U.K.'s largest independent parcel carriers.

As part of UPS’s growing focus on e-commerce, Jim led the acquisition of Kiala S.A., a company with a network of package collection points in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. In 2013, UPS began expanding the Kiala model into Germany and the United Kingdom under the brand “UPS Access Point.” During his time in Europe, Jim also led the expansion of the Cologne air hub, the centerpiece of UPS’s express service in Europe.

Jim’s first job at UPS was as a delivery driver in 1985. Jim then held a number of accounting and finance positions before joining the Mergers and Acquisitions Group in 2000 as a transaction deal manager.

In 2002, Jim was appointed controller of the Southeast (U.S.) Region and then was named vice president of finance and accounting for the Europe Region, based out of Brussels, Belgium. After a special assignment as a package division manager in Germany, Jim was named as managing director of UPS U.K. & Ireland in 2006. Jim returned to Brussels in 2010 as chief operating officer for UPS Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Jim holds a degree in finance from Auburn University.

Myron Gray, President, US Operations


Myron Gray is president of U.S. operations for UPS with responsibility for all package delivery and logistics services for the world's largest economy. In the United States, UPS delivers and picks up more than 15 million packages each day and has 345,000 employees.

In 2010, he led a strategic transformation of the company's U.S. small package business. He also has presided over programs to expand the company's logistics services, upgrade the technology in UPS operations, and improve the delivery fleet's fuel efficiency.

Myron is a member of UPS's Management Committee, the group of senior executives responsible for the day-to-day management of the company.

Prior to his current role, Myron served as the president of the Americas Region, covering Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In this role, he led the expansion of UPS express delivery and logistics services into growing markets such as Mexico and Brazil.

Myron began his career with UPS in 1978 as a part-time package handler in the Tennessee District while attending college. He has completed advanced management programs at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and the Yale School of Business.

Throughout his career at UPS, Myron has held various positions of increasing responsibility in industrial engineering, human resources, business development and operations. In 1995, he was promoted to vice president and COO of the Southeast Texas District then held the same position in the Rocky Mountain District. In 2002, Myron was promoted to president of the Southwest Region and took over the North Central Region two years later.

Myron serves on the National Board of Governors and as a Southeast Region Trustee for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He also sits on the boards of the Atlanta Police Foundation, the National Urban League, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Airlines for America.

Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth and Management, Senior Client Advisor
Morgan Stanley


Carla Harris is a Vice Chairman, Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley. She is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She formerly headed the Emerging Manager Platform, the equity capital markets effort for the consumer and retail industries and was responsible for Equity Private Placements. Ms. Harris has extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. In August 2013, Carla Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council.

For more than a decade, Ms. Harris was a senior member of the equity syndicate desk and executed such transactions as initial public offerings for UPS, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Ariba, Redback, the General Motors sub-IPO of Delphi Automotive, and the $3.2 Billion common stock transaction for Immunex Corporation, one of the largest biotechnology common stock transaction in U.S. history.

Ms. Harris was recently named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America”, U. S. Bankers Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance (2009, 2010, 2011), Black Enterprise’s Top 75 Most Powerful Women in Business (2010), to Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top 75 African Americans on Wall Street” (2006 – 2011), and to Essence Magazine’s list of “The 50 Women Who are Shaping the World”, Ebony’s list of the Power 100 and “15 Corporate Women at the Top” and was named “Woman of the Year 2004” by the Harvard Black Men’s Forum and in 2011 by the Yale Black Men’s Forum.

Ms. Harris began her career with Morgan Stanley in the Mergers & Acquisitions department in 1987. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Carla received from Harvard Business School an MBA, Second Year Honors and an AB in economics from Harvard University, Magna Cum Laude. Carla has also received Honorary Doctorates of Laws, Humanities and Business from Marymount Manhattan College, Bloomfield College, Jacksonville University, Simmons College, the College of New Rochelle, St. Thomas Aquinas College and Fisk University respectively. Carla Harris is actively involved in her community and heartily believes that “we are blessed so that we can be a blessing to someone else.”

She is the immediate past Chair of the Board of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and sits on the boards of the Food Bank for NYC, The Executive Leadership Council, The Toigo Foundation, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), A Better Chance, Inc, Mt. Sinai and St. Vincent’s Hospitals, Xavier University, and is an active member of the St. Charles Gospelites of the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church and the Mark Howell Singers. Ms. Harris is co-chair of the National Social Action Commission of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and was a member of the Board of Overseers’ Committee on University Resources, Harvard University. She has received the Bert King Award from the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association, the 2005 Women’s Professional Achievement Award from Harvard University, the Pierre Toussaint Medallion from the Office of Black Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York, the Women of Power Award given by the National Urban League, the Women of Influence Award from The Links, Incorporated and many other awards. In her other life, Carla is a singer, and has released her third gospel CD “Unceasing Praise” (2011) , her second CD, a gospel album titled, “Joy Is Waiting”, was featured on BET Nightly News while her first CD entitled, “Carla’s First Christmas”, was a bestseller on Amazon.com in New York and in record stores, and was featured on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather in his “American Dream” segment. She is also the author of the newly released book, Strategize to Win and of Expect to Win (2009) (Hudson Press).

Ed Martinez, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
UPS; President, The UPS Foundation

 Martinez, a native of Havana, Cuba, who emigrated with his family to the United States in 1960, joined UPS in 1976 as a package handler in UPS's South Florida operation. He advanced into management two years later and then moved through a series of operational jobs while earning a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Miami.

In 1989, after assignments in industrial engineering and as national risk manager with UPS's truck leasing unit, Martinez was promoted to the Corporate Risk Management Department, then moved through assignments in Corporate Finance & Accounting and earned a law degree. He served as a corporate counsel in the UPS Legal Department before accepting his current position in 2007.

In addition to his corporate responsibilities, Martinez represents UPS and chairs the World Economic Forum's Logistics Emergency Team. He also serves as vice chair of the Forum's Global Agenda Council on Disaster Management. He is a member of the Corporate Advisory Board for The National Council of La Raza as well as the Points of Light Institutes' Corporate Service Council. He serves as the chair of the Corporate Development Council for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and sits on the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) Global Corporate Volunteer Council.

Sarah Prince, Principal


Sara Prince is a Partner in McKinsey & Company’s Atlanta Office. She leads McKinsey’s North America Sales and Marketing capability building efforts. Sara has partnered with clients in various industries with a primary focus on addressing multi-faceted organization, sales & marketing and strategy challenges. While serving clients across multiple industries, Sara spends a significant amount of her time working with consumer and consumer related companies.

In the continued pursuit of helping clients broadly in the areas of talent and capability, Sara recently co-authored McKinsey’s ground breaking work, Diversity Matters, linking financial performance and levels of gender and ethnic diversity in a company’s leadership team. Sara has also published in the area of sales capability building and performance transformation.

Prior to joining McKinsey as an Associate in 2005, Sara traded U.S. Treasuries on the Government Bonds Desk at Morgan Stanley. Sara holds an M.B.A. from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, where she was recognized as a Shermet Scholar. Sara also earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in economics from Duke University. Sara lives in Atlanta, Ga with her husband and their two children.

Elane Stock, Group President
Kimberly-Clark International


Elane Stock is currently Group President of Kimberly-Clark International — a leading Fortune 200 consumer goods company with globally recognized brands including Huggies, Kleenex, Scott, Kotex, Andrex, and Depends. In this role, Elane has P&L responsibility for Asia-Pacific, Latin America and EMEA, which together account for over $8B in sales. Since joining Kimberly-Clark in 2010, she has held several key leadership roles including Chief Strategy Officer and Group President for Kimberly-Clark Professional. She has also overseen the company’s Global Nonwovens business as well as the global practices for Continuous Improvement, Sustainability and Safety.

Elane has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing strategies to improve shareholder value, as well as significant management consulting with Fortune 500 companies in the consumer products and retail sectors. Prior to joining Kimberly-Clark, she was the national Vice President of Strategy for the American Cancer Society and had P&L responsibility for Georgia Pacific's (Koch Industries) Color Box business. She spent 11 years with McKinsey & Company, first in the Atlanta office then as partner and Managing Director for McKinsey & Company in Ireland.

Elane currently serves on serves on the Board of Directors for Yum! Brands and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. She earned her MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, received a Rotary Fellowship and Honors in International Economics from Victoria University in New Zealand, and graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois.

Having grown up among farmers in The Midwest, Elane most enjoys being outside. She and her husband, Andy, and their 3 teenage children and 2 dogs enjoy hiking, boating, and cycling around their Atlanta home.

Vicki Donlan
Author, HER TURN: Why It’s Time For Women To Lead in America


Vicki Donlan is the author of HER TURN: Why It’s Time For Women To Lead in America (Praeger Publishing 2007). Most recently she is the founder and former publisher of Women’s Business Boston, a 25,000 controlled-circulation newspaper devoted to women in business in the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island region. She is a regular guest discussing women’s business issues on New England Cable News’ Business Day.

Ms. Donlan was the first Executive Director of The Commonwealth Institute, a nonprofit organization founded by twelve prominent Boston women CEOs to assist women entrepreneurs in the growth of their businesses.

As co-founder and first Executive Director of the South Shore Women’s Business Network and founder of The Alliance of Women’s Business and Professional Organizations, Ms. Donlan has been instrumental in the growth of networking for women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. She was honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration as the Massachusetts and New England Women Business Advocate for 1994 for her efforts in working with women in small to medium businesses. In 1997, she was honored with the South Shore Women’s Business Network’s Women Mean Business Award for her continuing efforts to help women achieve business success. The Boston YWCAinducted her into their Women of Achievement Class of 1999 and she was honored, June 2000, with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus’ Abigail Adams Award as an outstanding Massachusetts woman. Pine Manor College recognized her at its 2001 graduation with a honorary Doctors of Letters degree as its most distinguished alumnae. Patriots’ Trail Girl Scout Council recognized her as a 2002 Leading Woman. The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce honored her with its Achievement in Business at the 2002 Pinnacle Awards. In 2004 the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston honored her with their Achievement Award. Bryant University recognized her in 2005 as New England Businesswoman of the Year.

At the community level, Ms. Donlan is the former president of the Patriots Trail Girl Scout Council, serves on the Campaign Cabinet of the United Way of Mass Bay and the Advisory Board of Key Bank.

Ms. Donlan fulfilled a dream launching a newspaper giving ego to women and continues this passion by sharing her vision for women’s leadership in America.

Lolita, Founder
Designs by Lolita


Sophisticated, contemporary, sexy, flirty, and fabulously fun are all words that have been used to describe Lolita and her designs. Whether it’s one of her signature Martini glasses from her “Love My Martini” collection, a pilsner from her newest collection, or a fashion accessory such as her ladies totes, Lolita’s collections show enormous attention to detail and her passion for design. Take for example her new Red-hot Martini, the base and stem of the glass are covered with exquisite crystals that make anyone holding it feel glamorous. On the bottom of the glass, as with all her designs, is the recipe for the Red-hot Martini. Lolita glasses are all about creating and celebrating the special moments that define our lives.

It was while drinking Martinis with girlfriends at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis that the idea to hand-paint crystal barware first came to Lolita. In 2000, the Love My Martini collection was born, a line of martini glasses whose designs are inspired by the everhot martini recipe. Lolita had come full circle, returning to her first love, art and design. “After being in the fashion industry, I learned how to launch a product line. I knew this is what I wanted to do. I knew it involved licensing if you wanted it to be a hit and reach as many consumers as possible,” she says. The Love My Martini collection represents a product line that has definitely hit a fantastic pool of consumers and has become a collectible. “Retired glasses are now going for over $100 on E-bay,” says Lolita, “go figure!”

When it came to naming her company, Lolita chose her given name, one that came from her grandmother’s name, Lola. It must be fate that the name Lolita means “beautiful one”. One look at her collection and there is no doubt that the company is aptly named. From the whimsical Bikini-tini to the sophisticated Cosmopolitan each glass is beautifully crafted with obvious attention to detail; note the flip flops on the base of the Bikini-tini.

Joanna Meiseles, Founder and President
The Snip-its Corporation


Joanna Meiseles is the creative mind, founder and president of Snip-its, the fastest-growing franchise of children’s hair salons in North America. Under Joanna’s direction, Snip-its has revolutionized the children’s hair salon industry by creating a branded entertainment concept designed to ease the fears and challenges experienced by parents, children and hair stylists.

The company was born in 1993 after Joanna experienced a heartbreaking hair salon experience with her then 3-year-old son, Ben. A young mother, she arrived at a local salon with baby gear in tow to videotape her son’s first cut. It soon became clear to her that the salon wasn’t interested in cutting her son’s hair nor was it trained to deal with little customers. With no business experience and motivated by her entrepreneur instincts, Joanna set out to create a magical and comfortable children’s grooming brand and salon specifically designed for young customers. After raising funding, she opened her first salon in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1995.

Today, Snip-its is a thriving franchise with 62+ salons nationwide and cuts the hair of more than 1 million children annually. Each salon is a magical and positive adventure with vibrant colors, wholesome larger-than-life animated characters such as Snips and Flyer Joe Dryer, plus games and parties.

Away from Snip-its, Joanna is active with The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and is regular blog contributor for INC.com’s Great Entrepreneurial Minds. Joanna holds a B.A. from Duke University and resides in Wayland, Massachusetts with her husband and four children.

Nancy Michaels, Author
Perfecting Your Pitch


Nancy Michaels is a nationally-known business development coach, author, speaker and consultant to women and minority business owners, as well as to companies that target women business owners. Her specialty is helping her clients -- both small business owners and large corporations -- to land and maintain long-term client relationships through creative, innovative and strategic sales and marketing strategies that distinguish them from their competitors and increase and develop their businesses.

Nancy is the author of several popular business books including; Off the Wall Marketing Ideas, which she co-authored with Debbie Karpowicz Kickham (Adams Media, 2000); and Perfecting Your Pitch (Career Press, 2005). She has also written articles for numerous business publications such as, Entrepreneur Magazine, US News & World Report, Franchise Times, New York Post, Business Week, Fortune Small Business, Area Developer, and The Costco Connection. In addition, she is often invited to speak to business groups throughout the country.

Nancy began her career in public relations and marketing as publicist for Matt Lauer, current co-host of the Today Show, when he hosted a daily television show in Boston.

Beth Polish
Director of Corporate Innovation for Hearst Corporation and Senior Vice President of Hearst Interactive Media


Beth Polish is Director of Corporate Innovation for Hearst Corporation and Senior Vice President of Hearst Interactive Media. In this newly created position, Polish is developing and leading an employee innovation program focusing on inspiring Hearst’s nearly 20,000 employees, across more than 200 businesses, to develop their creative business ideas into profitable ventures with the support of the company.

Polish has held senior management positions in media, finance, private investment and technology. She was president of Anthony Robbins’ Dreamlife, Inc., founding CFO of iVillage, Inc., CFO of Goldman Sachs Ventures, and managing director at KPMG.

“Building great ideas into thriving businesses is the cornerstone of my work and personal passion,” Polish says.

Polish is the creator and author of the multi-media program Business Plan Power: Creating a Tool that Works for Your Company and the DROOM® (Don’t Run Out Of Money) primer series, In The Market For Money. A frequent speaker on the subject of strategies for growth, Polish teaches entrepreneurship at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and has lead workshops at many WLE conferences since 2002. She serves on the executive committee of the Women's Leadership Exchange® and is the past co-chair of the New York New Media Association’s Venture Downtown Technology Showcase Conference. Polish has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Lynn Robinson
Business Intuition Coach & Author


Lynn Robinson, M.Ed., is one of the nation's leading experts on the topic of intuition. She’s a popular and widely recognized author and motivational speaker who works with businesses and individuals as an intuition consultant, offering insights into goals, decisions and strategies, and teaching the use of intuitive skills for assessment of information.

She has authored five books on the topic of intuition, including Divine Intuition: Your Guide to Creating a Life You Love (DK Books, 2001, which became a featured selection of One Spirit Book Club. Amazon.com named it a “Best of 2001” and ranked it among the top ten books of the year in the “Spirituality” category. She’s also the author of Trust Your Gut: How the Power of Intuition Can Grow Your Business (Kaplan 2006), Real Prosperity (Andrews McMeel, 2004) and Compass of the Soul: 52 Ways Intuition Can Guide You to the Life of Your Dreams (Andrews McMeel, April 2003.) Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

Lynn has been featured in the Boston Globe, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune and has been a guest on many national radio and television programs including ABC, Fox News and the Wisdom Television Network. She’s also been quoted in such publications as The New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Glamour, Self, Good Housekeeping, Woman's World, More, and First for Women. She often works directly with corporations on projects that include mergers, acquisitions, new business, marketing, key hires, and occasionally on a new product launch, such as the introduction of the Schick® Intuition® razor.

Judy George
Entrepreneur, author and mentor


Judy George is an entrepreneur, author, leading businesswoman and recognized expert in the home furnishings industry. Best known for introducing fashionable lifestyle furnishings in award winning retail formats, George broke new ground in the home furnishings industry and forever changed the way women shop for furniture. The early success of her cutting-edge business model, Domain Home, was highly praised and publicized, paving the way for competitors and creating a new retail landscape in the U.S. A pioneer throughout her career, George has taken her lifetime of achievements, expertise and business savvy to her newest consulting venture, Judy George International, a highly skilled think tank of diverse industry experts who challenge the status quo to discover alternative strategies to achieve high impact results.

Ms. George is the co-author of two books: The Domain Book of Intuitive Home Design, and The Intuitive Businesswoman Judy applies the same concept to women and business. Judy continues to sit on the Sodexo Business Advisory Board and the Secaucus, NJ-based Daffy’s Clothing Board of Advisors. In addition, Judy’s past board appointments have included Shoplink.com, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and AGA Foodservice Group.

Lisa Bergeron, Founder & CEO
Advancing Women’s Excellence


An accomplished business leader, Lisa Bergeron is the Founder & CEO of Advancing Women’s Excellence, an organization dedicated to advancing women’s leadership through education, inspiration & collaboration. Lisa brings a unique blend of strategic vision, business savvy and a tireless dedication to effectively connecting women to positive outcomes. Lisa a drives AWE's strategic growth and relationship management. Dedicated to providing impactful and engaging programming, AWE readily addresses the challenges and opportunities for women to expand their success. Supporting initiatives to retain and advance women, AWE’s partners include Pfizer, Amgen, Aipso, GTECH, Hasbro, Rockland Trust Co., Depuy Synthesis (J&J), MITRE and many more corporate affinity/resource groups and businesses who are committed to their goals for women’s advancement.

Performance oriented, Lisa consults in the areas of leadership, communication, mentoring, personal brand, sales and negotiation. Her clients describe her as an extraordinary role model who brings passion and creative thinking to her work that creates the ultimate for companies & individuals - growth!

Lisa is an active member of the business community. She serves on the Board of Directors of the American Heart Associate of Southern New England; Coastline EAP, a not for profit agency that serves employees in over 30 states. Lisa is a founding executive member of the Women's Leadership Council of the United Way and Vision 2020’s RI. She was recognized nationally by the YWCA of Northern RI as a Women of Achievement in the category of Increasing Women’s Income and named a 2014 Wise Women by the National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW). Lisa has been a featured co-host and guest in both radio and television. She is a Certified CCU Business Essential Coach, TTI Certified Behavior Analyst, RAB Certified Marketing Consultant and Certified Creativity Coach.

Prior to launching AWE, Lisa served as President of Leading Women New England for 10 years. Previously to her role at Leading Women, she spent over 18 years in major northeast markets in the broadcast industry progressing to senior leadership roles. She was a training consultant at the Center of Sales Strategy; an international consulting firm specializing in the training needs of media and marketing executives. Lisa combines her passion for travel with photography. She resides Rhode Island with her husband Phil.

Judy George, Principal
Judy George International


Judy George is an entrepreneur, author, leading businesswoman and recognized expert in the home furnishings industry. Best known for introducing fashionable lifestyle furnishings in award winning retail formats, George broke new ground in the home furnishings industry and forever changed the way women shop for furniture. The early success of her cutting edge business model, Domain Home, was highly praised and publicized, paving the way for competitors and creating a new retail landscape in the U.S. A pioneer throughout her career, George has taken her lifetime of achievements, expertise and business savvy to her newest global venture, Judy George International. JGI is a creative think-tank and group of leading home furnishings industry experts specializing in creating proprietary home furnishings concepts, custom furniture designs and turnkey business models for retailers, manufacturers and importers.

Gail Goodman, CEO
Constant Contact


Gail Goodman is the CEO of Constant Contact, the trusted provider of online marketing services for small businesses and nonprofits. A small business expert and visionary, Goodman has revolutionized the way that small organizations find and grow customer relationships. Since taking leadership of Constant Contact in 1999, she has led the company from pre-revenue to a successful IPO (NASDAQ: CTCT) and has been the architect of the company’s growth to 1,400+ employees. Today, more than 600,000 small businesses and nonprofits use Constant Contact’s online marketing tools to engage their customers and grow their businesses. Author of Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Succeeds in a Socially Connected World, Goodman has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work with small businesses and is a frequent speaker at national technology and entrepreneurial events. She serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, Blade, and SCORE.

Heather Jackson, Director, Regional Development
Constant Contact


Heather Jackson is the Director of Regional Development in New England for Constant Contact. She has over 20 years’ experience in sales and marketing, with a specialty in online and social media marketing. She has owned 2 small businesses of her own and has been a lifetime volunteer for various non-profits. She is a professional and enthusiastic speaker who enjoys helping small businesses achieve their goals, with a focus on engaging customers, growing sales, increasing ROI, and driving repeat business and customer loyalty. A California native, she loves authentic Mexican food, so be sure to tell her about your favorite burrito spot.

Jackie MacMullan, Sportscaster, NBA columnist for ESPN.com, Author, 1st woman in Basketball Hall of Fame


Jackie MacMullan is a television analyst for ESPN and a senior writer for ESPN.com, and also serves as a basketball analyst for Comcast Sports Net. From 2002 to 2007 she was a columnist and associate editor of the Boston Globe and from 1995-2000 she was a senior writer for Sports Illustrated covering the National Basketball Association.

MacMullan began her career with the Globe in 1982, where she covered a variety of sports, including the 1986 World Series, 1987 Stanley Cup Finals, the 1988 Olympic Games, as well as numerous NBA Finals and Final Four tournaments.

Her book Shaq UnCut was released in November of 2011 and was a New York Times bestseller. Previously MacMullan authored a book with Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird entitled “When the Game Was Ours,” which spent 8 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was adapted into a Broadway play. She also collaborated with Bird on a book chronicling his coaching career entitled “Bird Watching”.

In August of 2010, MacMullan was recognized by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame with the Curt Gowdy Award for a career of excellence in basketball writing and reporting. She is the first - and only - woman selected in the history of the award.

A year later, in 2011, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell honored her as its first recipient of the For the Love of Sport Award, given to the member of the community who “embodies talent, character and enthusiasm in a sports-related field."

In 2005, MacMullan was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in the media division, the youngest media member to be recognized. In 2003, she was chosen by the Institute of Sport in Society as its Hero in Sport winner, and in 2000 was named the New Fund Hall of Fame media recipient. The New England Women’s Leadership Awards honored her in 1997 and Tufts awarded her with its Distinguished Achievement Award in 1995.

MacMullan is a cum laude graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where she played four years of basketball, leading the team in scoring as a sophomore and serving as a team captain in her senior season. She was the recipient of both the Robert Perry Student-Athlete of the Year Award and the Dean Williamson Award, given to that student that “excels in scholarship, athletics and loyalty to the University.” She was inducted into the University of New Hampshire’s Hall of Honor in 2001.

For many years MacMullan has been heavily involved in charitable work for Huntington’s Disease and was honored in the fall of 2007 by its New England chapter for her tireless efforts on behalf of the organization. Tewksbury Hospital also recognized MacMullan in 2004.

The New England Patriots awarded MacMullan its prestigious Ron Burton Sr Community Service Award in 2009 for her charitble endeavors, which also include efforts on behalf of the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club, the New England Hemophilia Association and the Shooting Touch Foundation.

In addition to her duties at ESPN, which include regular appearances on Around the Horn and the Sports Reporters, MacMullan is a frequent contributor to WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and WEEI radio.

She is married to Michael Boyle and has two children, 23-year old Alyson and 19-year old Douglas.

Nancy McCabe, Coach
Results Business Coaching


I’m Nancy McCabe and I help professionals and organizations on the verge of change. My specialty is helping you find the clarity you need. So you can get to work and make things happen.

I have been a coach, trainer and speaker professionally since 2007. I coach executives, sales leaders, entrepreneurs, social activists, career changers and new college graduates.

People who come to my training and professional development sessions say, “She’ll leave your team inspired, challenged and smiling.” I create workshops and seminars for organizations including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Bentley University, Chambers of Commerce and the Center for Women and Enterprise in Boston and Providence.

I also love speaking to groups. At the New Hampshire Conference for Women, Bay Path College and other venues, I help people open up to new ideas and turn obstacles into opportunities.

My credentials include certification from the School for Coaching Mastery and membership in the National Speakers Association. I am also working on certification in Positive Psychology.

How I came to coaching: partly in pinstripes, partly in a pink Cadillac. Like many of the amazing professionals I coach, I have worn pinstripes during my career. First in banking. Then, high tech.

After that I built a successful direct sales business. Earned the famous pink Cadillac. Five years ago, my own coach asked a zinger: “What do you really want?” I knew it was time to send back that sweet set of wheels and make mentoring my official job. I have been coaching individuals and offering organizational development programs ever since.

Denise Nemchev, C-Suite Business Executive & Consultant, Private Equity


Denise Nemchev is an authentic, innovative business leader with a proven track record of delivering results and taking market share, while leading through periods of change. During her twenty year career at Stanley Black & Decker, Denise progressed rapidly through roles of increasing responsibility; including, manufacturing, engineering, procurement, supply chain, productivity manager, product management, marketing, financial planning & analysis, operations, business development, acquisitions & integrations, brand management, and strategic planning. Within ten years, Denise was President of the Assembly Technologies Division, becoming the youngest—and first woman president—of any Stanley Works division in the company's then 160 year history.

Denise continued for ten more years at Stanley Black & Decker as part of the Corporate Executive Team, running and growing several global businesses. As President (of five different business units ranging in size from $60M to $600M in revenue) she solidified a reputation of exceeding commitments, delivering profitable growth with differentiated value propositions, taking market share, instituting sustainable business process improvements, and engaging employees in an inspiring way. During her later years at Stanley, she worked in various roles strengthening her strategic growth, business development and global marketing skillsets as the then, $4B Stanley Works acquired the $5B Black & Decker Company.

Most recently, Denise was brought on to lead the business transformation at Nortek, Inc. Nortek, was a distressed $3B privately held, holding company that filed chapter 11 in 2009. As of 2013, the company was still unprofitable and in need of a “been there, done that” type of person. In many regards, Denise was considered a breath of fresh air with her matter of fact approach and deep tool box of best practices ready to implement. Her primary responsibilities included creating and implementing the global strategy deployment process, acquisition integrations, Lean Enterprise, Design to Value, and change management processes. In addition, the CEO also asked that Denise move to California to be the interim President of three struggling business units with the mission of determining the best strategic path forward while turning profits to positive territory.

She currently serves as a Board Member of Advancing Women’s Excellence. Denise graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Psychology as well as being a three sport Varsity athlete (volleyball, basketball, and softball). She also received an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), with concentrations in finance and technology. She and her husband, George, live in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Lesley Visser, Hall of Fame Sportscaster/CBS


Lesley Visser is the most highly acclaimed female sportscaster of all time. She is the first and only woman in the Pro Football Hall of Fame; the only female sportscaster to have carried the olympic torch; the only woman to have presented the championship lombardi trophy at the super bowl; the first woman on the network broadcasts of the Final Four, the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals. She was voted the outstanding female sportscaster of all time by the American Sportscasters of America and was also voted to the National Sportswriters Hall of Fame for her work at the Boston Globe, national magazines and cbs.com. Visser was the first and only women to win the Billie Jean King “Outstanding Journalist” award and was also elected to the Sports Museum of Boston. A graduate of Boston College, which awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2007, she has been on the board of the V Foundation for cancer research for more than 20 years, while also serving on the board of NYU’s “sports and society”. Visser has mentored young women for decades, while also speaking at colleges and businesses around the world. A sportscaster at CBS for more than 25 years, Visser also worked at ABC sports, where she became the first woman on “Monday Night Football”, while also covering the World Series and the Triple Crown. Visser and her husband, Bob Kanuth, a former captain of Harvard Basketball, live in Bay Harbor Islands, Florida.

Sara Arnell, CEO
Arnell Group


Sara Arnell was appointed CEO of Arnell Group in 2011. Previously, she spent 21 years directing brand and business strategy for the company's clients. In her role, Sara manages the agency's internal brand consulting group, directing consumer research, consumer insights and the development of business, brand and digital strategies which form a seamless bridge to Arnell Group's advertising and design teams.

Throughout her time at Arnell Group, Sara has been integral to the development of global brand positioning, communication platforms and innovation architecture for such clients as Jose Cuervo International, Revlon, GNC, PepsiCo, Mars, Unilever and Johnson & Johnson.

Tammy Duckworth, Black Hawk Pilot/Iraq War Veteran


2012 Mary Schnack Award Winner. Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran and Black Hawk pilot whose helicopter was shot down in Iraq. She lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in the explosion, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries. After her recovery at Walter Reed, Tammy ran for the House in 2006. After losing a close race, she became Director of Illinois' Department of Veterans' Affairs.

In 2009, President Obama appointed her Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs where she sought to improve the standard of care for Vets. She oversaw VA's effort to end Veteran homelessness and lead initiatives for female Vets and increased accessibility and accountability with the new Office of Online Communications.

Tammy continues to drill as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard. Tammy is currently running for Congress in Illinois' 8th Congressional District. She and her husband Bryan, an Army Major, live in Hoffman Estates.

Beth Goldstein, CEO
Marketing Edge Consulting Group


Known for her ability to connect with audiences, Beth Goldstein is a much sought-after speaker, workshop leader and consultant. Beth foundedMarketing Edge Consulting Group and the Edge Institute to help small business owners gain an understanding of how their customers think, what they value and what influences their purchasing decisions. She then shows them how to apply this knowledge to create targeted business growth programs that drive revenue growth while increasing profitability and customer loyalty.

Her first book, The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Toolkit (McGraw-Hill) ha been used in 30+ cities around the U.S. to teach business owners the critical skills they need to accelerate growth. In her latest book, Lucky By Design, Beth exposes the fallacies and dangers of underestimating your own ability to control the destiny of your company and create powerful business opportunities. She offers new insights and practical advice as she details what it takes to ‘get lucky’ in business and shows you simple, yet effective steps to navigate your path to success anddesign your own luck.

Beth teaches entrepreneurship courses at Babson College and marketing at the Heller School at Brandeis University. She spent 13+ years at the Boston University School of Management where she taught entrepreneurial sales & marketing courses, ran their New Venture Competition and served as the Faculty Director for the university’s nationally ranked Online Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program.

Beth conducts business growth workshops throughout the US for organizations ranging from publicly funded groups like the MA Supplier Diversity Office to Fortune 500 companies like Carrier Corporation. She served as the Lead Instructor for Interise’s nationwide training program, run in conjunction with the US Small Business Association’s Emerging Leaders (e200) Initiative. This program provides training to executives of established businesses throughout the U.S. looking to strengthen and grow their existing businesses.

Daniella Guzman, Co-Anchor
NBC 5 Chicago


Daniella Guzman is joining NBC 5 Chicago as co-anchor of  NBC 5’s weekday morning newscasts starting in March, the station announced today.

“We are pleased to add Daniella to our news team,” said Frank Whittaker, Station Manager and Vice President of News for NBC 5 Chicago.  “She will bring a fresh and new perspective to our morning team.  I know our viewers will enjoy getting to know her.” 

Guzman comes to NBC 5 News from KPRC-TV in Houston where she has been a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter since 2006.  Before joining KPRC, Guzman worked for the Telemundo station in Houston and the Univision network in Miami.    She’s also worked for Televisa Mexico and the Houston Chronicle.
Guzman graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston with a degree in bilingual journalism and communications.  She is fluent in Spanish.  She is married and has a young daughter.

Patricia Harris, Global Chief Diversity Officer
McDonald's Corporation


Pat is responsible for the development and implementation of diversity strategies throughout McDonald’s Corporation including the 31,489 restaurants in 118 countries. She began her career with McDonald’s over 30 years ago as an administrative assistant in the Corporate Legal department. Harris was quickly promoted to several positions within the Human Resources department leading to her current global leadership role.

Under her leadership, McDonald’s has been widely recognized for it’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. This recognition includes, Fortune Magazine’s “Top 50 Places for Minorities to Work”, Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top 40 Companies for Diversity”, Latina Style Magazine’s “Best Companies for Latinas”, Asian Enterprise Magazine’s
”Top 25 Companies for Asians,” and the “Disability Diversity Award” by Worklife Matters magazine.

Harris is considered an expert in the field of diversity and holds several leadership positions in many national organizations. Pat is a founder and member of the Women’s Foodservice forum, founder and past chair of the MultiCultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, and past President of the Board of Directors for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength (formerly Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization).

Pat continues her work with non-profit organizations through her work with the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and the Roosevelt University Board of Trustees. Pat was awarded an Honorary PhD from South Carolina State University.

Pat has been featured in several national and local publications including Black Enterprise, Essence magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Today’s Chicago Woman and Diversity Woman magazine. Pat was named one of the “Top 10 Diversity Champions in the Country” by Working Mother magazine, she was named “Woman of the Year” by the Roundtable for Women in Foodservice, received the “Harold Washington Professional Achievement Award” from the Roosevelt University Alumni Association, and received the Eagle award from the International Franchise Association.

Pat recently documented her experience within McDonald’s in her book, None of us is as good as all of us: How McDonald’s prospers by embracing inclusion and diversity.

Pat received her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and Personnel Administration from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Harris resides in Chicago, Illinois and has one son and granddaughter.

Lisa Leiter, Founding Anchor/Reporter
Crain’s Chicago Business' Daily Video Report


Lisa Leiter is a broadcast and print journalist with nearly two decades of experience. She was the founding anchor/reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business' daily video report, Chicago Business Today, and now fronts and produces a video series, Entrepreneurs in Action. She also has hosted award-winning small business videos and interviews with CEOs and newsmakers.

Prior to Crain’s, Leiter was an on-air reporter for Bloomberg TV, based in Chicago. She provided daily live business reports for the network and for affiliates like WGN-TV from the Chicago Board of Trade. Before joining Bloomberg, Leiter was a financial correspondent for CNN, reporting out of Chicago. Leiter joined CNN in 1996 in New York, and was a senior producer for Moneyline with Lou Dobbs.

Leiter was a finalist for the Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism in 2003 and 2006. She also was a member of the producing team that won a National Headliner award for its “Microsoft Findings” newscast.

Leiter graduated magna cum laude from The George Washington University, with a degree in journalism.

Noeleen McGrath, President
McGrath Communications


Noeleen McGrath leads McGrath Communications. The award-winning television news journalist, media trainer and video producer started out her career in TV news in 1990. McGrath was just a junior in college when she started producing stories for network news giant, CNN. After three years at CNN’s Chicago bureau, Noeleen moved in front of the camera as an anchor/reporter. McGrath received many reporting awards during her career, including a prestigious National Edward R. Murrow for Best Feature.

In 2002 Noeleen left TV news and began to focus on corporate communications, specifically media training and presentation skills training. Three years later, she founded McGrath Communications. Noeleen tailors media training, spokesperson coaching and presentation skills training programs to fit an individual’s needs and style. She has coached people from a variety of backgrounds: corporate executives, professional athletes, authors, attorneys, doctors, sales executives, politicians, school officials, beauty and fitness experts and mining industry spokespeople.

The greatest compliment Noeleen ever received from a client:

“While other media trainers I've worked with have left their students with a list of “do's and don'ts” to worry about, Noeleen left them with the two things they really need: new skills and the confidence to use them.”

Stephanie Neely, Treasurer
City of Chicago


Chicago Treasurer Stephanie Neely is a native Chicagoan with deep ties to the City and a strong commitment to its civic and financial well-being.

She grew up on the South Side and comes from a family of entrepreneurs. She learned early the value of hard work and fiscal responsibility.

Ms. Neely graduated from Smith College and earned her MBA at the University of Chicago.

She spent more than 20 years in private sector banking, serving as a VP with Northern Trust Global Investments.

She was re-elected to a second term as City Treasurer, and oversees a portfolio of $8 billion dollars. She also serves on the City’s 5 Pension Boards.

Ms. Neely has re-invented the Treasurer’s Office by streamlining its operations. She has also created a series of innovative programs, including the Small Business Loan Program and Financial Education for Chicago Public School Students.

Sheri L. Orlowitz, Founder and President


Sheri is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and mentor with over 17 years of C-level experience including CEO, COO, CMO and CFO. Sheri is currently the founder and President of Artemis Holdings which deploys its capital together with private equity firms to acquire corporate divestitures or family owned businesses seeking liquidity with revenues between $10 and $150 million.

Over her career Sheri has founded and/or acquired eight profitable domestic and international companies, employed over 1,000 people (companies ranging from 3 to 750 employees), and raised close to $100 million from financial institutions, private equity firms and investors for entrepreneurial endeavors ranging from real estate development, high and low tech manufacturing, and service businesses.

Sheri is a Founder of the Orlowitz-Lee Child Advocacy Center, a 20,000 sq. ft. Key West style, child friendly building that houses the many agencies that provide services to sexually abused and trafficked children. As a result of the Center’s work, Sheri was in Miami this June to watch Florida Governor Scott sign Anti-trafficking legislation into law in its board room.

Sheri’s past and present board and civic service includes Appointee - President’s National Women’s Business Council; Trustee, National Women’s History Museum; Trustee, Voices for America’s Children; Member, Women Corporate Directors; National Partner, Women Impacting Public Policy, Harvard University Women’s Leadership Board and numerous Advisory Boards such as Capital One and MassMutual Advisory Board;. Sheri has received numerous awards for her business and charitable activities including Leading Women Entrepreneur of the World; INC 5,000; 50 Most Influential Minorities in Business, WPO Business Star; and Enterprising Woman of the Year.

Sheri has a passion for teaching and speaking which included a stint at Dar al Hekma College in Saudi Arabia teaching Entrepreneurship and lecturing at the University of Michigan, OSU and the WPO as well as numerous speaking engagements and keynotes including United Way, International Women’s Forum and Office Depot. Sheri has been profiled in several magazines and in the best seller “A Cup of Cappacino” and quoted on the subjects of business ethics, job creation, charitable responsibility and female entrepreneurship by top tier news organizations such as CNN, MSNBC, Investor’s Business Daily, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and countless others.

Steven Robinson, Senior Regional Development Director - Illinois
Constant Contact


Steve is Constant Contact’s small business expert in Illinois and Wisconsin. A knowledgeable marketing expert with 30 years of experience, Steve has helped thousands of small businesses, associations, and nonprofits develop and implement effective email marketing, social media and online survey strategies.

A popular speaker and educator, Steve gives small businesses and nonprofits the tools, techniques, and strategies they need to grow and expand their business and to maximize the power of relationship marketing.

Steve’s experience in small business ownership, business development, sales, and fundraising help associations, small businesses and nonprofits achieve success. As a small business owner, advocate, and marketing expert, he understands the importance of staying connected with one's customer base and using affordable marketing technologies to do it. Steve strives to help associations, small businesses, and nonprofits learn how to build lasting relationships with email marketing.

Steve has developed his marketing knowledge and expertise through a variety of work experiences. His experience includes serving as President of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, as a partner in Graphic Bytes LLC, a graphic design and printing firm, and as the Business Development Director for Metropolitan Fire Restoration Services. He spent 9 years fundraising for non profit associations including the National Alzheimer’s Association, the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago and the Glenkirk Association. Steve has served on a variety of charitable Boards of Directors including two terms as Chairman of the DBR Chamber of Commerce, seven years as Vice President of Communications for Together We Influence Growth, and was twice named to Crain’s Chicago Business Who’s Who in Non-Profit Management.

Dee M. Robinson, President and Founder
Robinson Hill


2013 Compass Award Winner. Dee Robinson is a senior-level executive with extensive experience in starting and growing food & beverage and retail businesses. Ms. Robinson is a strong entrepreneurial leader with a solution-focused management approach and has a proven track record of results, growth, initiative, financial performance, creativity and team building. She founded Robinson Hill, Inc. in 1992 focusing on the core competencies of operations and growth management, strategic alliances, and food & beverage and retail development. Robinson Hill is a growth and result-oriented company with a focus on delighting the guests, operational efficiency, strategic planning, human capital development and captive markets.

Dee Robinson's strong commitment to leading by example, motivating and inspiring teams while getting results has been the foundation for developing and growing her company. Her creative business model involves matching franchises, best-of-best brands and partners with strategic locations, primarily airports. Her successes have garnered the respect and trust of major venues' management and franchise systems. Thus, Robinson Hill serves as the parent company for Ben & Jerry's Super Premium Ice Cream at Chicago's Navy Pier and Midway Airport; and Cheeburger Cheeburger and UFood Grill restaurants at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. In addition, the company manages and oversees news and gifts stores at O'Hare International Airport via a joint venture with Hudson Group; restaurants in partnership with OTG Management at Reagan National and O'Hare Airports, and with Potbelly Sandwich Works at Boston's Logan Airport. The Robinson Hill and Areas JV was selected to develop the food & beverage concessions program at the new O'Hare Airport International T5 Terminal. The venture recently opened Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill, Big Bowl, and Kofe by Intelligentsia with Hub 51 and others to follow. Robinson Hill continues to seek growth via franchise development, licensing and joint venture opportunities.

Previously, Ms. Robinson founded Unity Square which merchandised ethnic-inspired products through a strategic retail partnership with Sears, Roebuck & Company from 1995-2003. Ms. Robinson Reid was an advertising executive for Leo Burnett U.S.A. developing market research and strategies for new product introductions. She was also an Associate Product Director for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company facilitating successful national launch campaigns for new products. In her work with Ameritrust Co., as a commercial loan officer, she evaluated credit quality, structured and priced corporate loans.

Ava Youngblood, CEO
Youngblood Executive Search, Inc.


Ava D. Youngblood, Chief Executive Officer of Youngblood Executive Services, possesses over 25 years of corporate, recruiting and leadership development experience.  In 2002 Youngblood founded Youngblood Executive Search, Inc. (YES), a retained executive search firm which helps clients identify, recruit, develop, and retain wisdom-driven, innovative leaders.  YES conducts searches for senior executives and board members, and differentiates itself by presenting to clients a highly qualified, inclusive, and diverse slate of candidates with demonstrated leadership skills. YES is a Heidrick & Struggles Inclusion Network member firm.

In 2011, Youngblood founded Youngblood Executive Services (YES).   Youngblood Executive Services benefits corporations interested in accelerating the development of their multicultural executives by providing services that will enhance the executives’ development and retention. Youngblood Executive Services provides access to resources in executive and communication coaching, image and wardrobe consultation, fitness and nutrition support, organizational development and wealth management guidance.

Prior to her executive search career, Youngblood spent nineteen years in the global energy/petrochemical industry with BP (Amoco) in various roles with increasing levels of responsibility ranging from research and development, operations planning & logistics, quality management, sales and marketing, executive development, strategic planning and competitive intelligence.

In addition to an active professional career, Youngblood is involved in the community. She is currently a member of the advisory council for Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, the advisory council for Northwestern’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and a member of Northwestern’s Council of One Hundred. She was formerly a Northwestern University trustee, president of the Northwestern Alumni Association, and president of Northwestern’s Women’s Board.  For her many years of distinguished service to Northwestern, Youngblood was awarded Northwestern’s Alumni Service Award in 2009.

Youngblood also serves on the boards of Herzing Educational System, Herzing Educational Foundation, Communities in Schools of Chicago (CISC), Communities in Schools’ national board, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and the Booth School of Business’ Black Alumni Association at the University of Chicago.  Her professional organizational memberships include The Marathon Club, The Economic Club of Chicago, and The Fortnightly of Chicago.  In addition to being a frequent guest speaker, Youngblood has been featured in the book Mothers Lead Best, and in numerous magazines including Business Week, Forbes, Working Woman and Information Technology.

Youngblood earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University, and an MBA at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.  She and her husband, Haj Gueye of HAJ Designs, live in Chicago. They have five children.

Perri Irmer, Executive Vice President
Gary Harris Private Client Group, Inc.


As Executive Vice President concentrating on Business Development and Strategic Alliances, Perri Irmer brings to the Gary Harris Private Client Group a wide range of professional skills and administrative experience combined with a longstanding commitment to public service and the betterment of underserved communities. She is an architect, an attorney, and a licensed Life Insurance Producer in the State of Illinois, concentrating primarily on the ethnic and women’s markets.

Ms. Irmer earned her Professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1981, and her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1991. She has more than 36 years of experience in all facets of the real estate industry, having worked on the design side at the prestigious architectural firms of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Holabird & Root, on the development side as a project and construction manager, as a litigator with a concentration in Construction Law in both private and governmental practice, as a private sector real estate executive, and as a highly respected public official.

Prior to joining the Gary Harris Private Client Group, an established wealth management and financial services firm, Ms. Irmer served for nearly 7 years as the Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA), the government agency which owns and operates U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, and which acted as the financing authority for the redevelopment of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. Ms. Irmer was responsible for all aspects of the planning, construction, renovation and maintenance of the ballpark and surrounding property, including management of its $40+million annual budget, handling public finance and municipal bond issues, legal and legislative matters, and instituted policies that resulted in an unprecedented expansion of the Authority’s community outreach. As CEO, Irmer believed that the taxpayer-owned stadium should be more accessible to the people, and during her tenure, she ensured that tens of thousands of local youth, seniors, community groups, charitable organizations and residents enjoyed free access to White Sox baseball and other special events held at the State of Illinois facility.

Irmer enjoyed a distinguished tenure in government even prior to her leadership of the ISFA, having administered the Chicago Board of Education’s multi-billion dollar Capital Improvement Program for school construction and renovation, served as Director of Construction Services for the Public Building Commission of Chicago and as Deputy Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Buildings.

As a private sector professional, Irmer served as Senior Vice President for Mesirow Financial / Mesirow Stein Development Services, Inc., where she was responsible for regulatory coordination of the design and construction of the nearly $900 million McCormick Place West Expansion. Irmer also served as Vice President of Development for Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI), a division of Vornado Realty Trust, where she managed major construction projects and handled various legal and operational issues for The Merchandise Mart and its related properties.

To date, Perri Irmer has administered well over $6 billion in public and private construction projects in and around Chicago.

Ms. Irmer is an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, now known as Choose Chicago, and is a founding member of the Executive Advisory Board of the recently created Chicago Sports Commission. She also serves on the boards of numerous civic and charitable organizations, including Trinity United Church of Christ, The DuSable Museum of African American History, World Chicago, the Catholic Theological Union, and The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions. She is a member of The Economic Club of Chicago, and has served on the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School. Perri is a member of the Alumni Board of the Illinois Institute of Technology and serves on its International Committee, as well as being a founding member of IIT’s African American Alumni Association.

Irmer is the recipient of numerous awards, including IIT’s distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and the Chicago Defender’s Women of Excellence Award. She has been widely recognized for her leadership in supporting community and youth services organizations and for her longstanding dedication to achieving greater participation by minority and women owned businesses in public contracting. Perri Irmer is a lifelong resident of the Hyde Park ? Kenwood neighborhood, where she has raised her three daughters and continues to be active in community matters.

Kye Martin, Traffic Anchor


Kye Martin is the Morning Traffic Anchor on NBC 5 in Chicago. She's been waking WMAQ viewers up with commute times and transportation news since July of 2012. From 2008 to 2012, she worked as a Traffic Anchor at CLTV in Chicago, and as a fill-in Traffic Personality on the WGN Morning News in Chicago. Kye began her broadcasting career as a General Assignment Reporter at KMPH-TV in Fresno, CA. She held that same position at KTXL-TV in Sacramento, CA, before re-locating to Chicago. A Seattle native, Kye graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington State University with a B.A. in Communications. She was voted "One of the Reasons to Watch Local News" in 2007 by the Sacramento Bee. Kye volunteers her time in Chicago with the March of Dimes, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Chicago Canine Rescue, and Saint Jude Chicago. Kye and her husband have a rescue dog, Bo, and twin 3-year-old boys, Bodie and Tanner. She enjoys the daily challenge of balancing a job she loves, with a life full of love.

Melody Spann-Cooper, Chairman
Midway Broadcasting Corporation


Melody Spann Cooper is Chairman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, the parent company of WVON and WRLL Radio Stations in Chicago. As Chairman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, she joined an elite list of America?s female broadcast owners after purchasing the company's controlling interest in 1999.

Midway Broadcasting properties include WVON 1690AM, the oldest Black-oriented radio station in Chicago. With its urban talk format, the station is lauded as a leading source of information and community empowerment. In 2007, Spann Cooper spearheaded the corporation's expansion with the development of WRLL 1450AM, Chicago's Home for Hispanic Independent Broadcasters. WRLL is committed to preserving the authentic voice and culture of Chicago's growing Latino target market.

Other professional affiliations include: The Board of Visitors at Medill School of Journalism; Trustee of the Museum of Science & Industry; Trustee of the University Of Chicago Medical Center; Member of the Hearing Board of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois; Member of The Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs; Board Member of The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, and Board Member of The Provident Foundation.

Her accomplishments in broadcast media have been recognized by numerous organizations that have highlighted her achievements in leadership and business including Crain's Chicago Business; The Chicago Sun-Times; The Minority Supplier Development Council, The Women's Business Development Corporation; and the Community Media Workshop.

Spann Cooper holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Loyola University of Chicago. She is married, and is the daughter of legendary radio personality Pervis Spann "The Blues Man".

Genevieve Thiers, Founder


Genevieve Thiers is an entrepreneur in the Chicago area. Her first company, Sittercity.com, is America's first company to take caregiving services online. Sittercity.com now has millions of users nationwide, and serves clients like the U.S. Department of Defense, Avon, Mastercard, Monster WW and many others. With new locations in the UK and Canada, it is an international success.

Genevieve was recognized by President Bush at the White House as the Small Business Administration Young Entrepreneur Champion of the Year for 2006, her companies have won over 18 major awards, including the CEC Momentum Award, the WBDC Rising Start Award, a CNN Young Heroes feature, the UPS Out of the Box Award, the INC 500 list, and more. Genevieve has been featured thousands of times in the press for her work, by the TODAY show, Ellen, the View, the CBS Early Show, CNN, Live & Style, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Redbook, Parents, Parenting, Marie Clare, TIME, Better Homes and Gardens, Working Mother and more. She has lectured or spoken at the CEO Conference, Microsoft, Harvard business school, Kellogg, Columbia, Babson, Boston College, U Chicago and for hundreds of other entrepreneurial groups around the country. She is the author of the book Love at First Sit, and frequently writes for Crain?s Chicago, NBC.com, and the Huffington Post.

Genevieve has mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs throughout her career. She is on the board of the CEC, which has created 1871, a co-working space in Chicago. Genevieve teaches classes at 1871, is on the acceptance committee, and is a frequent mentor within the space. She is also an investor in TechStars and the Firestarter fund. When not mentoring, she can be found singing opera in the Chicago area, or playing with her one-year-old twins.

Charlotte Beers
Former Chairman/CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy & Public Affairs, and Author “I’d Rather Be in Charge”


Charlotte Beers is on a mission to empower women and help them reach their potential – hopefully in high posts throughout corporate America. Current statistics show that only 12 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women—fewer than three percent. This is particularly woeful given that women currently outnumber men in colleges, universities and even management positions. This is a statistic that troubles Beers. Why, asks Beers, when women are more educated and accomplished in the workplace than ever, are they still so underrepresented in the highest seats of power?

In her new book I’D RATHER BE IN CHARGE: A Legendary Business Leader’s Roadmap for Achieving Joy, Power, and Pride at Work (Vanguard Press; Hardcover; February 1, 2012), Beers encourages women to overcome their internal obstacles, discover their authentic
leadership style, and shoot for success. Featured on the covers of Fortune and BusinessWeek and named “the most powerful woman in advertising,” Beers stepped up and over the Mad Men who long enjoyed exclusive power, and fought hard on her climb—contending not only with office politics and sexism, but with her own internal sabotaging forces, the same ones she believes hold back women today. Now, with unvarnished tales from the front lines, she tells her story and invites readers to learn from her mistakes and triumphs.

“I’ve distilled all I’ve learned and witnessed—from my own career, from those of other powerful men and women, and from the hundreds of executive women I’ve worked with in my seminars into this book—to show you how to discover your most effective, most powerful, most fulfilled working self,” writes Beers. “I want to show you how to lead, inspire, and influence others—maybe only one or two others, maybe hundreds or thousands or even millions. You can’t accomplish this without knowing deeply the authentic you at work.”

Lindsay Gaskins, CEO
Marbles: The Brain Store


Lindsay Gaskins, CEO of Marbles: The Brain Store, has over 10 years of retail experience in retail, first as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and then as a corporate strategy member and buyer at Sears Holdings Corporation. At BCG, Lindsay worked with a premier direct to consumer specialty retailer and a high end fashion brand. At Sears, Lindsay worked on strategic initiatives in the toy and kids categories but spent the majority of her time in the Home area- ending her career there as the buyer for Fashion and Kids Bedding and Sheets. After Sears, Lindsay joined Sandbox Industries, a venture capital firm, where she led a team to take Marbles: The Brain Store from paper to reality with the first store in the fall of 2008. They now operate 28 stores across the country with a growing ecommerce presence and product development arm, The Brain Workshop. She holds a degree in Economics from Wesleyan University, is a certified high school teacher, and has 2 young kids (Lulu and Frances) with her wife Laura. In 2011, she was named to Crain’s Business 40 under 40 list.

Connie L. Lindsey, Executive Vice President
Northern Trust


Connie L. Lindsey is Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northern Trust, Chicago. She is responsible for the design and implementation of the global Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity and Inclusion strategy for Northern Trust and the development of goals, policies, and programs appropriate to the brand and business unit strategies. In addition, Ms. Lindsey provides oversight and leadership to the firm’s response to environmental matters as well as social issues, within the marketplace, workplace, and the community.

Prior to becoming the Head of CSR, Ms. Lindsey led the client servicing teams in the Public Entities and Institutions segment in the Corporate & Institutional Services business, serving public fund and not-for-profit clients. Over the course of her 20-year Northern Trust career, she has held a number of leadership roles, including Deputy Business Head in Operations and Technology, Group Head in Northern Trust’s Wealth Management business, Director of Enterprise Relationship Management, and Manager in Treasury Management Consulting and Product Management and holds the Certified Treasury Professional designation.

Ms. Lindsey is the immediate Past National Board President of Girl Scouts of the USA. She joined the Girl Scouts board in 2005 and was elected National Board President, the highest-ranking volunteer of this 3.4 million-member organization, in 2008 for a three-year term. She was re-elected to the role of National Board President at the 2011 convention for another three-year term. In this role she provided guidance in three vital areas—policy, fund-raising, and leadership. She was an integral part of the Girl Scout transformation, committed to building and sustaining membership growth and ensuring girls receive a premier leadership development experience.

Ms. Lindsey is a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Green Schools, a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, Executive Leadership Council, Executives' Club of Chicago, Friends of Prentice Women’s Board member at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a Leadership Circle Member for Vision 2020, a Board Member and Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, a Director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Metropolitan Club of Chicago.

Ms. Lindsey attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she majored in finance and has completed the Harvard Business School Executive Education Corporate Social Responsibility program. She is a public and motivational speaker on topics of diversity and inclusion, corporate responsibility, leadership, and personal and professional empowerment.

Ms. Lindsey has been profiled on national television on PBS’ 30GoodMinutes and ABC’s Heart and Soul. She has been recognized for her leadership professionally and in the community by the Chicago United’s Business Leaders of Color Award, YWCA Outstanding Leader Award in Community Leadership, National Diversity Council’s Most Powerful and Influential Women Award, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois-Advocacy Award, Ebony Magazine’s 2009 Power 150, Alpha Kappa Alpha Women Changing the World Award, Life Directions-Guiding Light Award, and the Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Award. In 2011 Ms. Lindsey was honored with the Spirit of Achievement award by Loretto Hospital Foundation. She was the first woman to receive the award in its eight year history. The recognition established the Connie L. Lindsey, Cancer Resource Center at Loretto Hospital in Chicago. She is an Inroads, Inc. Alumna and has been inducted into the Inroads Alumni Hall of Fame.

Kimberly McCullough, Director, External Affairs


As Director of External Affairs for AT&T Illinois she plans, organizes and directs efforts in various communities within the city of Chicago on behalf of the company. She is responsible for establishing relationships with community and civic leaders, elected officials and other key stakeholders. As one of AT&T’s ambassadors, she coordinates programs that promote good corporate citizenship and enhances community good will through active participation in meaningful initiatives. Kimberly is also the company’s liaison to local government - specifically working with officials in both Cook County and City of Chicago government.

Formerly, she was the Director of Business and Workforce Diversity for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the owner and operator of McCormick Place and Navy Pier, the nation’s largest convention center and Illinois’ number one tourist attraction. She directed the day-to-day operations of the Authority’s diversity initiatives, which included acting as an internal advocate for the inclusion of minorities and women in business contracting and employment. As a member of the senior management team, she established programs and policies that had a direct impact on the economic inclusion of diverse people. With Ms. McCullough at the helm of its diversity initiatives, the Authority met and exceeded expectations including on the recent $882 million state of the art expansion of the new McCormick Place West Building, which at the time was one of the largest public works projects in the country. As a result of her work, the Authority was honored by several associations and organizations such as the Federation of Women Contractors, the Chicago Minority Business Opportunity Council, the U. S. Small Business Administration, as well as the African American Contractors Association.

Prior to this position, she held progressively responsible positions within state and local government, including managing state-wide regulatory initiatives, human resource functions and assisting in the management of social service programs, as well as advocating before state and local government on various public policy initiatives.

Currently, Ms. McCullough is President of the Board of Young Women’s Leadership Charter School, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Business Leadership Council, Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, Calumet Area Industrial Commission, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Near South Planning Board, South Central Community Services and the Chicago State University Foundation Board. Previously, Ms. McCullough Chaired the Diversity Action Committee, an inter-governmental alliance dedicated to the growth and development of the minority and women owned business community.

Kimberly is a life long resident of the Chicagoland area and volunteers for various community intitiatives.

Linda McGill Boasmond, President
Cedar Concepts Corporation


Linda McGill Boasmond is owner and president of Chicago-based Cedar Concepts Corporation. CCC processes raw materials for use in a wide variety of personal-care, household, industrial, and agricultural products marketed under many brand names familiar to both consumers and businesses. Her customers include Proctor & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, Citgo Petroleum and Boeing. She runs the country’s first and only African American, woman-owned chemical manufacturing plant. Just completed the process of constructing the first ground-up chemical manufacturing facility within the City of Chicago in over fifty(50) years.

Linda’s first professional position was as a chemist in quality control for the construction division of a prestigious global chemical corporation. Four years later, she joined an international manufacturer of chemical and petroleum products. Superiors took notice when she used her own time to study and write procedures for ISO 9000, a new quality program from Europe. She progressed through a succession of positions, including managing production of a $100M, 80-employee union plant and conducting corporate-wide process-improvement analysis and implementation.

In 1998, Linda left the corporate environment for the relatively small Cedar Concepts. She soon became Operations Manager and a partner. Several years following, she acquired the company from one of the surviving founders in 2004, thus becoming the sole owner of an International Standards Organization Enterprise that manufactures surfactants, lubricants and chemical intermediates.

She has been the proud recipient of several honorable awards of mention, a sought after speaker and profiled in several publications:

  • IL DCEO Women’s Business Owners Symposium - 2014
  • Womenetics POW! Award Honoree - 2014
  • Featured in Chicago Sun Times The Minority Report, January, 2014
  • Appeared on WCIU Uniquely Chicago - 2014
  • Profiled in Chicago Sun-Times – The Grid - 2013
  • Dr. M. L. King Jr. Boys & Girls Club Award - 2013
  • Received Enterprising Woman of the Year Award - 2012
  • Featured under “Powerful CEO’s” article in MEA Magazine
  • Selected as one of the “Business Leaders of Color” by Chicago United
  • Received WBDC 2008 Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year “Rising Star” Award.
  • Speaker on The National Urban League’s 2009 conference business panel
  • Crain’s Small Business Forum featured her as a speaker for its “Women Business Owners Tell All” and “Manufacturer’s” forum
  • Profiled by Black Enterprise Magazine’s nationally televised “Business Report”
  • Harry Porterfield’s “Someone You Should Know” ABC/7 Chicago News segment
  • Profiled on NBC/5 Chicago, Art Norman’s Business segment

Linda is a member of the WBENC (WBDC Chapter), NMSDC (CMBDC Chapter) ASQ (Association Society for Quality), Alliance for Illinois Manufacturers (Board Member) and Illinois Manufacturers’ Association(Board Member). Committed to community involvement and social responsibility through programs such as “Girls 4 Science” in which she is the Board Chair, “Chicago Sinfonietta” (Board Member) and Museum of Science & Industry’s “Science Chicago”.

Today, Linda has guided Cedar Concepts to nearly 40 employees and ships more than 60 million pounds of product annually, worldwide to many Fortune 500 companies.

Sharon Melnick, Ph.D, CEO
Horizon Point, Inc.; Author, "Success Under Stress"


Sharon Melnick, Ph.D. is a leading authority on the psychology of success and on stress resilience. Her practical tools are informed by 10 years of research at Harvard Medical School and field tested by over 10,000 training participants. Her methods show women professionals how to get past their blocks to action so they can focus and earn more instead of spinning their wheels, getting distracted, or procrastinating. An internationally sought after speaker, her presentations receive highest ratings and multiple repeat invites from organizations such as Procter and Gamble, Novartis, MetLife, GE, Merck, Moody’s, Coldwell Banker and others. She regularly serves as an expert for leading conference hosts such as American Management Association, Working Mother, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (winner Best Conference Workshop, 2013), CEO Clubs, Small Biz Summits, Women Presidents Organization, Women in Cable and Telecommunications, Women in the Boardroom, and numerous associations.

Dr. Melnick is the author of the acclaimed book Success under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive when the Pressure’s On. She has the spirit of a teacher and loves having contributed her advice to Forbes.com, Fox News, Business Insider, AOL Stylelist, the Huffington Post, CBS Radio, Natural Health Magazine, USAToday.com, AmexOPEN, Smart Brief for Entrepreneurs. She works to increase women’s empowerment as a Global Ambassador for the UN Women-endorsed SmartWoman Project. Discover more at www.sharonmelnick.com.

Erika Napoletano, Head Redhead
RHW Media, Inc., Founder of the unstuck.LIFE


Where to begin? She’s taller than a taco but smaller than an Airstream trailer. That’s probably not important.

Have you ever felt stuck? Well, Erika gets companies and the people brave enough to lead them UNstuck and on to the business of being awesome. She solves tough branding, messaging, and marketing problems and makes it easier for brands to reach the people who love them. She’s been called a marketing dominatrix — and is perfectly okay with that.

While Forbes encourages folks to think of Erika as “a redheaded, tattooed Tina Fey with a special weakness for four letter words,” it’s not all funny business. Erika is also an award-winning, twice-published author, including The Power of Unpopular (Wiley), a current columnist for American Express OPEN Forum and former columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine, an TED-acclaimed speaker from TEDxBoulder 2012, and speaks at events all over the world on the inherent power of truth in business… or as she refers to it, the power of unpopularity. Connect with her uncensored brand at erikanapoletano.com and join her raucous Facebook community. And if you dare, be the first to know when her next project for restless brands and the people who lead them launches in early 2015. Get in on that here.

Sandi Abbott, Owner
Xpresso Marketing


Sandi Abbott is the owner of Xpresso Marketing, an interactive marketing agency offering email marketing solutions for small businesses. Sandi has more than twenty years of marketing and advertising experience, working for both ad agencies and Fortune 500 companies. She is now dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs grow their business through email marketing campaigns that integrate social networking strategies.

Janie Coffey, Owner/Broker
Papillon Real Estate and Construction


Janie Coffey has worn many entrepreneurial hats over the years, from the editor and publisher of an English city magazine in Germany to the owner of a general contracting and real estate brokerage in Miami with several other side projects in between. Applying her marketing education and love of new technology, Janie has embraced the growth of new media as a viable and cost effective way for small businesses to leverage their smaller marketing budgets to achieve big results. Janie now teaches, consults and speaks with small business owners on how to best (and most effectively) use new media to take their businesses to the next level. Janie is very passionate about the power of network and community building and advocates strongly for O2O (Online to Offline). She is the co-founder of WiredIn Women, an organization to help women entrepreneurs who use the internet for business, to come together to share, connect and grow. Janie is working on a graduate degree in the history of business and technology with special emphasis on entrepreneurs and marketing.

Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire
President, Berkhemer Clayton Inc. & Co-host of CBS NewsRadio LA "2MinutesWith"


A business owner for three decades, Betsy is President of Berkhemer Clayton Inc., retained executive search firm headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, specializing in senior level executive searches in corporate communications, marketing and finance. University clients include USC, UC Irvine, Caltech and University of Michigan. Corporate clients include Gap, Hilton, DirecTV, Disney, Toyota, Edison; Non-profit clients include American Lung Association of California, Kaiser Permanente, California Family Health Council and Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.

Immediate past statewide California president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Betsy co-hosts a radio show with Renee Fraser every Sunday on KFWB News Talk Radio about real business success tips for business-owners, also online at www.cbsradio.com, www.kfwb.com and at www.2minuteswith.com

Betsy is Southern California volunteer chair of Women Corporate Directors, a membership group of women who currently serve on Fortune 1000 boards of directors. She also serves on the boards of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Southern California Leadership Network (SCLN).

Before establishing Berkhemer Clayton, Betsy built and sold one of the largest public relations agencies in Los Angeles. A graduate of UCLA, Betsy began her career as a journalist and spent her early career with Disney Studios and NBC.

Jeanne Brewer, President
Acura of Glendale


As President and General Manager of Acura of Glendale, Jeanne Brewer’s responsibilities encompass every department in the dealership - ranging from new and used vehicle sales, finance, administration, service and parts. By assembling a staff of dedicated automobile professionals, the dealership emphasizes customer satisfaction and strives to keep customers for life.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree at USC, Brewer spent three years in a Los Angeles advertising agency. Her automobile career began in 1983 after responding to an ad that was looking for “achievers” and sold Hondas for Guy Martin Oldsmobile/Honda in Woodland Hills, California. After gaining experience in several departments within the Martin Organization, she was sent to open Honda’s “new” franchise in Pasadena. Two years later she became General Manager of Acura of Pasadena. To meet the needs of a growing business, Acura of Pasadena moved to the Brand Boulevard of Cars in Glendale last year where the business continues to thrive as Acura of Glendale.

While involved in the community, Brewer was named Business Woman of the Year for the City of Glendale and has served on boards and in leadership roles with the National Association of Women Business Owner’s (NAWBO-LA), Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association, Glendale and Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, Foothill Workforce Investment Board, and is active in her church.

Kelly Flint, Regional Development Director – Los Angeles and OC
Constant Contact


Kelly is Constant Contact’s local small business expert in the Los Angeles area. A knowledgeable marketing expert, Kelly has helped thousands of small businesses, associations, and nonprofits develop and implement effective email marketing and online survey strategies. A popular speaker and educator, Kelly gives small businesses and nonprofits the tools, techniques, and strategies they need to grow and expand their business and to maximize the power of relationship marketing.

Renee White Fraser
Founder, Fraser Communications & Co-host of CBS NewsRadio LA "2MinutesWith"


Renee Fraser is a social psychologist and runs a very successful ad agency - Fraser Communications which is one of the fastest growing businesses in Los Angeles with sales over $40 million and ranked #36 fastest growing woman-owned company by Diversity, Inc. in the U.S. Founded in 1992, clients include: Toyota; East West Bank; United Way of Greater LA; Metropolitan Water District; First 5 of California; Business Wire; Southern California Gas Company; UCLA Anderson School of Management and Extension; Los Angeles Department of Health, the Mayor’s Office and Whole Foods Markets. An advocate for entrepreneurship as a catalyst to success for women and people of color, Fraser and her work have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today and NPR. Fraser focuses on results for clients with all campaigns measured against solid metrics and their ROI.

Renee is the co-host of “2MinutesWith” a daily radio talk show that offers sound advice on business success. She and her co-host, Betsy Berkhemer, are long-time successful business-owners who share their own experiences and interview others to encourage and inspire entrepreneurship among listeners. The show is broadcast on KNX 1070 and KFWB 980 -- CBSNewsRadioLA – the most honored news stations in the West, which reach approximately 2.2 million listeners each week throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties. They also host “Two Minutes and More with Betsy and Renee”, an hour-long show on additional savvy business advice airing on Sundays in the greater Los Angeles area.

Renee received the Girls Inc. “Mentor of the Year Award 2009” and the “Ruby Award 2010” from Soroptimist of the West Los Angeles Chapter for her work helping women and girls with their professional development.

Renee received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Southern California. She is also an adjunct professor at the Annenberg School of Communications for their Masters Degree Program in Public Relations at USC. Renee has raised and mentored two daughters, one at UC Berkeley and the other a recent graduate of Harvard Law School.

Crissy Gershey, Director of Marketing & Business Development
Parties That Cook


Crissy Gershey is Director of Marketing and Business Development at Parties That Cook, the nation’s premiere culinary team building company with operations in San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago. With a Biology degree from Brown University, a professional culinary background, and a knack for connecting with people, Crissy brings a strategic approach and unique passion to her role.

Susan Levin, Publisher/Owner
Speaker Services


Susan Levin is an international marketing consultant and founder of Speaker Services. Her company markets, trains and offers video production services for professionals who are interested in growing their business and income through speaking. Much of her business comes through the relationships she has created through social media.

Michelle Price, CEO
A Third Mind Digital Media


“No two minds ever come together without thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind” – Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

When Michelle Price escaped from Cubicle Nation after 23 years in corporate America, she put her first expert on the map, online. Within 9 months, their online strategy landed his book on 3 national best-seller lists, including the NY Times & Wall Street Journal.

Today, Price is CEO of A Third Mind Digital Media. For 10+ years, she has been on the leading edge of using emerging technology and online social networks to discover the conversations and influencers to help accelerate her clients success.

Price is a self-professed “social media capitalist” who is recognized by peers for not being afraid to share her innovative ideas and thought leadership on turning social influence and connectivity into currency.

Already successful experts transform into even more successful and influential online thought leaders who OWN the online conversation in their industry niche, when they follow her strategies. She takes already existing proprietary business strategies, training curriculum, industry expertise and unique market position to build and rapidly expand their web presence. And in the process, create raving fans who amplify their message FOR them.

Price is passionate about teaching women experts The “Business” of Thought LeadHERship. Thought Leadhership increases a woman’s influence and income by making targeted social connections with influencers, that accelerate their business fast. Her new mantra is “Connectivity is the New Currency(tm)” and she is considered by her peers to be one of the most connected people on the planet.

Michelle contributes as a guest blogger for the Weekend Entrepreneur, a popular blog on Entrepreneur’s women’s blog network at www.WomenEntrepreneur.com…

Ever active in her community, in 2000, she co-chaired a coalition that was instrumental in getting a 9.5M donation to create 16 community technology centers to help close the digital divide and provide underserved and economically disadvantaged citizens with access to computers and the internet.

Michelle’s big vision is to create and fund a family foundation and leave a legacy in her community – to create a digital media business incubator for the forgotten ones: young urban entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-24.

Lenie Ramos, Founder and Owner
Little Twig


Founder Lenie Ramos planted the seed for Little Twig when her baby gift of bubble bath was deemed unsuitable for her niece. Her sister pointed out that the ingredient list contained substances that can irritate young skin. That sparked Ramos to get to work. She consulted with pediatricians and real-life parents to provide a safe and natural bath time alternative that is free of ingredients that are harmful to a baby’s skin. Since launching Little Twig in 2003, Ramos has built a diverse and broad collection of natural and organic bath products for babies and adults with sensitive skin.

By utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging, Ramos has identified cross-promotional opportunities to sell products, created an outlet for like-minded parents to share common interests and developed an online community where consumers can come to learn more about the company and its values.

Wendi Caplan-Carroll
Engagement Marketing Expert


Wendi is a marketing expert with over 20 years experience developing and implementing marketing strategies for businesses and organizations spanning a variety of industries. Wendi uses her expertise to provide coaching for small businesses and organizations on best practices of email marketing, designing strategic marketing initiatives and developing creative approaches to marketing with the use of online tools.

A popular speaker and educator, Wendi delivers real-world tools and strategies that drive stellar results immediately! And although the topics and strategies may be cutting edge, it doesn’t take an interactive guru to “get it.” Wendi simplifies the information and provides essential basics, secrets, and shortcuts that make it easy for seminar attendees to get on their way fast.

Wendi gives her groups the KnowHow to boost business, awareness, and customer loyalty.

Michelle Madhok, Founder and CEO
SheFinds Media


Online shopping expert Michelle Madhok has been a pioneer in women’s online content for over a decade. Following positions overseeing online content at CBS and AOL, Madhok founded SheFinds.com in 2004, and MomFinds.com two years later.

SheFinds and MomFinds are editorial websites that aim to make shopping online easy and fun for busy women, highlighting only the best products with independent reviews and links to buy. The sites aim to find people deals like this complete list of online sample sales. Madhok is currently CEO of SheFinds Media, which operates both properties.

Madhok is widely regarded as an expert in fashion, style, and online shopping, regularly appearing in print, online and on television to share “finds” and shopping strategies. She has appeared on Good Morning America and The Tyra Banks Show, on CBS and ABC, and in the New York Times, WWD, and Inc. Magazine.

Madhok is a regular contributor to Real Simple, Yahoo Shopping and Huffington Post. She frequently appears on Better.tv to share the best new products, tips and trends with viewers.

Shama Kabani, President
Click To Client, LLC


Shama Kabani is the President of Click To Client, LLC, a full service online marketing firm that serves clients around the world. She has been dubbed the “master millennial of the universe” and “an online marketing shaman” by Fast Company. Shama teaches clients how to leverage the internet to establish themselves as industry experts, acquire more clients, create valuable services and ultimately increase profit through her one-on-one consulting work, and through her company’s several online marketing services.

She holds a Masters degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Texas at Austin, and prides herself in being a constant learner. Her website, http://www.ClicktoClient.com, has turned into a high-traffic destination for people looking for advice on how to market their businesses successfully. Her clients have garnered national media attention, and companies often look to Shama to guide them when it comes to the vast world of social media marketing. She hosts a popular Web TV show on new media marketing at http://Shama.Tv. Shama has been named one of the 10 Most Influential and Powerful Women in Social Media.

Eloise Owens, President & Owner
The Momentum Company


Eloise Owens is all about creating momentum.

When she was 16, she climbed Half Dome Mountain – 7 hours straight up, on a dare – in her canvas white tennis shoes.

In college, the coach thought she had potential and made her the last pick for the collegiate volleyball team. The coach didn’t realize her power of momentum. She finished the season as an all conference player.

Momentum carried her to numerous National Sales and Leadership Awards in her 25-year sales career. She brought one office from No. 14 in the nation in sales to No.3 in just 12 short months. A testament to her momentous results.

In 1993, she walked away from corporate America, laced up her tennis shoes and began another climb straight up as a business owner and entrepreneur. A successful 15 years later she still wakes up everyday and makes it happen – just like all of us.

She now takes her momentum strategies to her clients such as Hilton Hotels, New York Times, Dave and Buster’s Restaurants and State Farm Insurance.

She has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and her new book Get off the Beach! is now in its second printing.

She is the mother of two children college graduates.

Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP, Founder
The Growth Strategist


Known as The Growth Strategist™, Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP is an award winning entrepreneur, a frequent speaker at national business conferences and corporate annual meetings, a prolific author, the host of an online radio talk show, and an intermediary who helps mid-market companies obtain growth financing all while Achieving Accelerated Growth With Sustained Profitability®. Ambler is President of the international firm AMBLER Growth Strategy Consultants, Inc. which is headquartered in Hammonton, New Jersey. Her business has grown through geographic expansion, acquisition, joint ventures, diversification, and an ESOP. The firm’s services include opportunity and resource analysis, organizational design, strategic working sessions, and executive coaching.

Ambler’s corporate clients include IKON, CertainTeed, US Honda, US Homes, H&R Block, Horizon BC/BS, Eastman Kodak, Bank One, Robert Wood Johnson, Bluegreen Resorts, Scott Paper, Knoll International, Resorts International, Caesars, and others. Over 50 corporations, (including IBM, Nortel, Verizon, SBC, Wachovia, Entrepreneurial Edge magazine, Business-to-Business Yellow Pages, Bell South, Pacific Bell, and others) have sponsored multi-city tours (spanning as long as 14 years) featuring Ambler’s speeches/seminars about business strategy and growth management. She has guided the growth of over 150 professional service firms, over 100 technology-driven businesses, and over 100 construction-related product, service, and distribution companies.

Ambler is the host of a weekly Internet radio show, The Growth Strategist™, which airs live every Tuesday at 11 am ET on the VoiceAmerica® Business Channel found at www.business.voiceamerica.com. It is a peer-to-peer show featuring CEOs of mid-market companies that have successfully executed the growth strategy featured on that week’s show. Ambler has recognized these growth strategies in her over 30 years serving the types of companies that appear on the Inc. 500/Fortune 500 lists. The show reaches thousands of listeners each week via live broadcast or download/podcast.

Janelle Brittain
President, Dynamic Performance Institute, Author, "Star Team Dynamics"


Janelle Brittain’s expertise is in guiding company’s leadership to grow to their next level, so the company can grow to its potential. She helps executives through the “tough stuff” of leadership, whether it is gaining control of the leadership team, merger, growth or downsizing.

She took the lessons she learned in 20 years of working for “others,” such as Xerox and Control Data and applied them to her own company which she founded in 1989. She quickly discovered that being an entrepreneur involves many different skills and risks, than working for others. By conquering these challenges, she has built a company with 2 major divisions:

The Dynamic Performance Institute, LLC which delivers training, speaking and consulting to large companies across the U.S. and in 6 other countries

And the Dynamic Solutions Group, which delivers consulting and training to small and mid-sized companies. For her strategies in founding DSG, she received the New Venture Award from the National Association Of Women Business Owners- Chicago Chapter.

As an internationally known consultant, trainer, speaker and executive coach, she has helped Fortune 100 companies as well as hot entrepreneurial companies in realistic strategic leadership, management development, team building, and managing corporate change.

Janelle holds an Executive MBA and the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional designation. The CSP is the highest earned certification bestowed by the National Speakers Association (only 400 speakers worldwide have been able to achieve it).

Janelle is the author of six published business books. Her last two books are, "Star Team Dynamics" and "How to Say It: Performance Reviews. Business publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily and Crain’s Business Chicago frequently seek Janelle’s insights.

As Executive Coaching Manager for Boardroom Bound, she coaches women and minorities how to advance to corporate boards. She is also a Boardroom Bound Chicago Friend. She believes that helping women advance to corporate board positions is breaking through the next glass ceiling.

Cary Broussard
Author, From Cinderella to CEO


Cary is currently touring and promoting her new book released from John Wiley publishing: From Cinderella To CEO. Before launching the tour, she was leading diversity officer for Wyndham International. She managed the marketing, public relations, human resource and sales campaigns targeted to diverse populations. She is responsible for spearheading the hotel industry’s first and most comprehensive program dedicated to women business travelers. In 2005, Wyndham’s WOMEN ON THEIR WAY program celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Under Cary’s leadership, Wyndham has increased its number of women business travelers from 20 percent to 35 percent of its business. Wyndham’s national partnerships with organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the Women On Their Way advisory board have been critical to the program’s success. She also founded the Women On Their Way Foundation, which benefits issues and organizations important to women and their families.

Cary currently chairs the board of Boardroom Bound, a non-profit organization dedicated to building a new “pipeline” to the corporate boardroom for women and diverse individuals.
Cary’s other board positions include: board trustee for American Women In Radio and Television and national board of Leadership America and the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute. She also serves on the national advisory board of Women's Leadership Exchange®, a multi-channel business resource for women entrepreneurs. She is founding chair of the Women’s Leadership Initiative for Meeting Professionals International, an 18,000-member organization, 76 percent of whom are women.
Cary began her career with Wyndham in 1993, as director of corporate communications. Prior to joining Wyndham, Cary held numerous positions, including deputy press secretary to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker in Washington, D.C.; director of public information for the American Cancer Society; director of public relations for the historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn.; and business owner of a public relations firm.

In September of 2005, John Wiley Publishing released Cary’s book, that explores issues and opportunities for women in the workplace who aspire to be at the top levels of companies and organizations. The title of the book is From Cinderella to CEO.

Robin Cohn
Author, The PR Crisis Bible


Robin Cohn, with more than 20 years of crisis public relations experience, is the author of The PR Crisis Bible (St. Martin’s Press, November 2000). Ms. Cohn has worked both with leading Fortune 500 corporations and small businesses to help prepare them for—or address—existing issues.

Ms. Cohn advises clients on a broad range of problems, including accidents, product boycotts, congressional investigations, bankruptcies, and sexual harassment issues. She has also developed a successful practice working closely with executives to maximize their presentation skills.

Ms. Cohn has written and lectured extensively on crisis management matters, and has been quoted in such publications as The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, and USA Today. She has appeared on a number of news programs, including CNN, ABC World News and the BBC. A former adjunct professor in the graduate program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, she is featured in the text books Foundations of Productions and Operations Management and The Practice of Public Relations.

Prior to opening Robin Cohn and Company, Ms. Cohn served as head of public relations for financier Ronald O. Perelman’s holding companies MacAndrews and Forbes Group and Revlon Group. Responsible for managing sensitive public relations issues within the different operating companies and on the holding company levels, Ms. Cohn managed many potentially explosive situations!

Leslie Friedrich
President, Friedrich Software Resources; Member, Houston District Export Council


Leslie Carle Friedrich founded Friedrich Software Resources in 1998, after a long tenure with IMSL, Inc, now Visual Numerics, Inc. At IMSL (International Mathematical and Statistical Libraries), as an American working mother, she was the top producing European account executive, responsible for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. After her return from Germany, she was named Southern Regional Manager at Bradmark Technologies, an established database performance monitoring company in Houston.

She is a new member of the Houston District Export Council appointed by Secretary of Commerce, Donald Evans. District Export Councils (DECs) are organizations of leaders from the local business community, appointed by successive Secretaries of Commerce, whose knowledge of international business provides a source of professional advice for local firms.

For 30 years, DECs have served the United States by assisting companies in their local communities export, thus promoting our country's economic growth and creating new and higher-paying jobs for their communities. Closely affiliated with the Commerce Department's U.S. Export Assistance Centers, the 58 DECs combine the energies of nearly 1,500 exporters and export service providers who support the U.S. Government's export promotion efforts throughout the country.
DECs volunteer their time to sponsor and participate in numerous trade promotion activities. They also supply specialized expertise to small and medium-sized businesses that are interested in exporting. The District Export Councils contribute leadership and international trade expertise to complement the U.S. Commercial Service?s export promotion efforts through counseling businesses on the exporting process and conducting trade education and community outreach.

Prior to IMSL, Ms. Friedrich spent 8 years as a manager in international air freight forwarding, first at Burlington Northern Air Freight in Memphis, opening and building its international department. She also worked in international sales at Muller Air Freight in Houston before being named Houston Station Manager. IMSL needed her international business expertise and foreign language capabilities and encouraged her to make the leap to selling software tools. Ms. Friedrich received her BA, majoring in German and French, from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas and her MA in Modern Languages and Journalism from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, and was a Non-Service Fellow and an editor of Mississippi Magazine.

She is currently a member of National Association for Women Business Owners, Association of Women in Computing, and is a volunteer for the Institute of International Education.

Kim T. Gordon, President
National Marketing Federation Inc.


Kim T. Gordon, leading small-business expert, national magazine columnist, and author of Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars: The Top 50 Ways to Grow Your Small Business.

Kim T. Gordon is one of the country's foremost experts on small-business marketing success and the author of four books, including her latest, Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars: the Top 50 Ways to Grow Your Small Business. Ms. Gordon is a popular columnist reaching between 3 million and 15 million readers each month in Entrepreneur magazine and online on AOL Small Business, Yahoo Small Business, MSNBC and other top sites.

A top-rated speaker for more than 25 years, she has spoken at the Brookings Institution before members of the Clinton Administration and at conferences and events throughout North America. As a national small-business spokesperson for select Fortune 500 companies, including Visa, Sprint, eBay, Hewlett-Packard and Office Depot, interviews with Ms. Gordon have appeared in major media from CNN and ABC World News Tonight, to the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.

Ms. Gordon is president of National Marketing Federation Inc., which provides marketing and sales coaching by telephone to small-business owners nationwide, and the creator of SmallBusinessNow.com, the largest site on the Web devoted exclusively to marketing a small business. Prior to founding NMF in 1991, she held senior-level corporate positions, as vice president of marketing and executive committee member of a $2.5 billion real estate company, and vice president of development for a $300 million marketing communications company. Ms. Gordon is a past recipient of Sales and Marketing International's Distinguished Sales Award presented by the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.

Marilyn Johnson, VP, Market Development
IBM Corporation


Marilyn Johnson is Vice President, Market Development based in White Plains, New York. In this capacity, she leads an organization responsible for developing IBM?s strategy for and marketing to businesses owned or operated by Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Women in the Americas. She recently expanded her mission to include women owned and women led businesses in selected global markets.

She is an executive with extensive management experience in sales and marketing in the information technology industry. Ms. Johnson?s previous IBM positions, with US and worldwide responsibility, include director of financial services sector marketing, director of eBusiness infrastructure, and director of worldwide sales operations. She has had executive positions in key business units including the Systems Group, the Server Division, Printing Systems Division, the Distribution Industry and marketing headquarters locations. She has had management and operational responsibility in North America, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia. In 1999 Marilyn led the merger of IBM and Sequent Corporation Web server sales.

Marilyn is a graduate of John Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia and holds two Masters in Education degrees. She has held leadership positions in and continues to be a member of the Executive Board of Directors for the National Council of Negro Women, serves on the One World Theater?s Board of Directors, the Council of Better Business Bureaus Board and Co-Chair of the Women?s Leadership Exchange Multicultural Advisory Board. She has been applauded for her active commitment to mentoring and coaching activities. Marilyn has been a featured speaker for numerous professional organizations, The World Diversity Conference in the Czech Republic of Prague and the Mayors Executive Roundtable in Paris, France. She is a member of the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) and The National Black MBA Association.

In recognition of her sales achievement, she has received numerous awards. On behalf of IBM Market Development she accepted the Center for Women?s Business Research, ?Leading By Example Award?. She was recently recognized with the ?Corporate Visionary Award? from The Count Me In - Women?s Business Growth Forum and named one of ?The Top 25 Influential Black Women? by The Network Journal Magazine. Marilyn was inducted into the YWCA of New York City?s prestigious Academy of Women Leaders and is a Sequoyah Fellow.

Marilyn has been featured in Working Mother Magazine, ESSENCE Magazine, Minority Business News, Women?s Enterprise Magazine, Financial Times ? United Kingdom, The Atlanta Tribune and The Network Journal Magazine. She has two children, Erinn and Christopher and currently resides in White Plains, New York.

Lori Lofstrom
Leading Franchise Attorney; Partner, Holmes and Lofstrom


Ms Lofstrom received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California State University, Northridge. As part of her studies, she served as a political intern with former Councilman Hal Bernson?s Office and was later appointed to Mayor Tom Bradley?s Youth Advisory Council to serve on several task forces representing her Councilmanic district. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Southwestern University School of Law. At Southwestern, Ms. Lofstrom distinguished herself as a member of both the Law Review and Moot Court Board of Governors as well as earning the Dean's nomination for recognition from Outstanding Young Women of America and Who's Who Among American Law Students.

Ms. Lofstrom began her legal career at a large law firm representing corporations and major brokerage houses in both litigation and transactional matters. With this background in securities and general transactional work, Ms. Lofstrom formed Lofstrom Law Corporation focusing on transactional matters in the areas of business and franchise law which she operated for over 10 years. In July of 2002, the firm of Holmes & Lofstrom was created to broaden the scope of legal services to include corporate, trademark and both domestic and international franchising. Holmes & Lofstrom represents businesses in over 100 different industries and professions.

Ms. Lofstrom was honored to serve as a member of the California Franchise Law Committee for four years, the last of which she was appointed Co-Chair of the Committee. She was instrumental in establishing a productive and collegial working relationship with the Department of Corporations and under her leadership, widespread changes to California?s franchise registration procedure were established, now called ?Risk Based Review.? Ms. Lofstrom has drafted proposed franchise legislation including provisions dealing with exemptions for Internet Offers and Internet advertising. She has authored articles on these issues as well as other business and franchise related issues.

Ms. Lofstrom is a member of the American Bar Association's Forum on Franchising and both the Business Law and Intellectual Property Sections of the California State Bar. She regularly attends and participates in the International Trademark Association roundtables.

Ms. Lofstrom has lectured on franchise law topics and has presented various courses on business entity formation and trademark registrations and has been an on-air guest to discuss business formation issues on WNTY radio - Connecticut. She has taught an Entrepreneurship course at California State University, Long Beach and has been featured on several cable television interviews as well as on KFWB and WNTY radio.

Ms. Lofstrom has served on the Board of Directors of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce for the past three years, as was recently appointed to serve on its Leadership Cabinet for a second year. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the Long Beach Chamber?s Women's Council, serving as President for two consecutive years for the first time in the organization?s 42 year history. She recently contributed a chapter to the book entitled, ?What No One Ever Tells You About Franchising? by Jan Norman, to be released in March 2006. She has been featured on the cover of the Long Beach Press Telegram Business Section and recently featured in an article with the Mayor of Long Beach relating to her efforts to help the business community.

Veena Mahendru, President & Co-Founder
SAVI Group


Veena Mahendru is President and co-founder of SAVI Group; a business process outsourcing firm that services healthcare providers in the US to cost effectively recover the maximum reimbursement to which they are entitled. Veena has 24 years of experience delivering innovative business solutions, optimal results and outstanding customer satisfaction. She understands business processes and enabling technologies through her years of supporting business users with technical solutions. She has a track record of merging technology and business needs to deliver real time practical solutions, some of which have survived over 15 years. Veena spent the five years prior to starting SAVI Group selling and delivering global projects leveraging India as the outsourcing destination of choice. This experience was a key cornerstone in the successful implementation of a fully distributed global model for SAVI.

Marilyn Montross, Director, Vendor Relations


Marilyn Montross was named director of vendor relations in December 1996. In this position, Montross is responsible for setting the strategic direction for and managing all aspects of QVC?s relationship with the vendor community. Under her leadership, the vendor relations team acts as one of the merchandising groups that sources and evaluates products for QVC with a primary focus on the Entrepreneurial vendor community. QVC airs approximately 250 new products each week - the vendor relations department fields over 10,000 vendor inquiries each year looking to help fill those 250 slots. Additionally, The vendor relations team supports the company?s established vendors with education, communication and recognition programs, all designed to continuously improve the quality of their relationships with QVC.

Montross joined QVC in 1994 as director of casual apparel. In that position, she was responsible for merchandising the casual apparel assortment, setting the strategic direction for the casual apparel division and the Irish product based shows.

Prior to joining QVC, Montross enjoyed a 15-year career with Bloomingdale's department store serving in various capacities in their buying and merchandising departments ? ranging from men?s and women?s designer to the children?s and bridge apparel departments of the store.

Montross received her bachelor of arts degree in Business from Immaculata College, Immaculata, Pa. and her associates degree in Buying and Merchandising from Tobe Coburn, New York, N.Y.

Anne Robinson, Group Counsel
OPEN from American Express


Anne Robinson is an attorney in the General Counsel?s Office of American Express. As Group Counsel to OPEN from American Express, Anne works with an exciting team of American Express professionals dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies.

In this role, Anne is responsible for providing legal support for all OPEN credit card and charge card products, business loan and line of credit products, loyalty and acquisition partnerships, new product development initiatives, and general marketing. She also provides legal support for human resources and communication initiatives related to OPEN. Anne?s responsibilities also include ensuring OPEN?s compliance with corporate policies related to truth in lending, equal credit opportunity, fair credit reporting, fair debt collection, electronic fund transfers and signatures, telemarketing sales and other privacy regulations as well as Patriot Act, Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Gramm-Leach Bliley Act compliance.

Prior to joining American Express, Anne spent three years at Deloitte Consulting and six years in private practice, primarily with the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy.

Anne earned a BS degree with Honors in political science from Hampton University and a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia University.

Mary Rodriguez, President & CEO
Hilrod Group Inc,


President and CEO of HilRod Group, Inc., Mary Rodriguez develops financial strategies that stimulate growth for start-up to mid-size companies. She has been in public accounting and consulting for over 25 years, concentrating on mergers and acquisitions, creation of business plans, raising capital and debt restructures. As CFO on the management team, Ms. Rodriguez has led several companies through periods of rapid growth.

Ms. Rodriguez earned her credentials not only as an accounting professional with over 10 years in public and private accounting and financial consulting for Times Mirror, OrangeCo, Scotty?s, Fotomat Corporation, and Modernage, she has also been a successful business owner. She led the buyout of a $35 million, privately owned plastics extrusion company and spent the next five years as the Vice President of Finance and Administration for the company. She was responsible for modernizing the information systems, securing multi-year supplier contracts with UPS, and improving financial performance that increased net profits and serviced the $10 million buyout debt. Ms. Rodriguez a successful entrepreneur in her own right, is also President of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Atlanta (NAWBO).

Taryn Rose, Founder
Taryn Rose International


Taryn Rose changed the footwear industry in 1998 by creating a line of luxury shoes that are as fashionable as they are functional. Her idea of being well dressed with a sense of well being touched a nerve with women from coast-to coast, creating a dedicated following for her footwear collection.

After her first year of business, she opened a boutique in Beverly Hills, California in 1999. Women traveled from as far as New Hampshire and purchased up to 20 pairs of shoes before returning home. This inspired Rose to immediately open a second boutique in New York and by 2002, opened a third in San Jose, California. Most recently adding a fourth store at the Forum Shops in Las Vegas.

Formally trained as an orthopedic surgeon, Rose saw patients with many serious foot problems that were caused by fashion footwear, high heels and pointed toes. Being a lover of beautiful footwear, her own feet ached after 14-hour days in shoes with three-inch heels.

With her own appreciation of designer goods, Rose created her collection using the most luxurious materials available and crafted the line to be worn with the finest clothing. The shoes are made by highly skilled artisans in Italy, with almost three hours of hand labor in each pair.

In fall 2003, Rose launched a complete men?s collection that spans from dress to casual. Celebrated by retailers, the men?s collection is carried in select specialty stores and Taryn Rose Boutiques.

Rose has been featured on CNN News Night with Aaron Brown, Oprah, Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer, Discovery Channel?s Berman and Berman, National Public Radio All Things Considered, Fine Living Network?s Radical Sabbatical, Later Today Show and news shows across the country. Recent editorial profiles include Fast Company, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Entrepreneur and Los Angeles Times Magazine. Fashion editorials include Instyle, O Magazine, Vanity Fair, WWD, Cargo, Vitals, Entertainment Weekly, LA Magazine, Shape and Real Simple.

In addition to earning her medical degree from University of California School of Medicine in Los Angeles, Taryn Rose has been recognized for her numerous honors: Women's President's Organization and Fast Company magazine ranked her first in a new entrepreneurial competition of distinction, "25 Women Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing The Game" (2005). New York Moves magazine recognized her as one of the most powerful women in New York City (2005), distinguished role model and entrepreneur in the city of Los Angeles during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (2003); recognized by the Women?s Venture Fund as an outstanding entrepreneur during the Highest Leaf Awards in New York (2003), and by the Small Business Administration as one of four outstanding women entrepreneurs honored during the 50th Anniversary of the SBA in Washington DC 2003). I O G R

Close to her heart, Rose regularly participates in projects to support the Breast Cancer Research Center in New York City, The Joyce Eisenberg Keefer Breast Center at John Wayne Cancer Institute, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Aids Project Los Angeles and the Clothes Off Our Back Organization.

Mary Schnack, President
Mary Schnack & Associates


A specialist in communications, Mary Schnack is an award-winning writer, reporter, public relations professional and advocate.

Mary Schnack & Associates represents sophisticated organizations from corporations and small businesses to government agencies and associations and non-profit organizations. They have placed client’s stories in national publications, regional and local newspapers, radio shows and programs, television news programs and internet-based media. They also help build their client’s branding and expertise recognition through social media.

Mary gives speeches and conducts communication trainings worldwide. She is articulate, witty and knowledgeable about communications for both business and personal relevance. During her almost 20 years as an entrepreneur she has branched out into other projects and businesses, as well. She recently created a partnership in Nairobi, Kenya, to do communications training in Africa and works with entrepreneurs in Iceland to present the global BRANDit workshop.

Mary also started “Up from the Dust: Supporting the global growth of women microenterprises.” She exhibits at various women’s conferences throughout the country, selling items made by women microenterprises in developing countries, including China, Afghanistan, Egypt, Guatemala, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana. She is expanding the business into website and home party sales, to help the women secure U.S. retail outlets for the sale of their items.

Colleen Stanley
President, Sales Leadership, Inc.; Author, Growing Great Sales Teams


Colleen Stanley, is President of SalesLeadership, a sales strategy firm specializing in hiring and selection, sales training, leadership training, sales presentation skills.

Colleen is a monthly columnist for the Denver Business Journal, a speaker for TEC International and serves on the board for Tennyson Center for Children. She is the co-author of, "Motivational Selling" and will be releasing her latest book this spring, "Growing Great Sales Teams: Lessons From The Cornfield."

She started her training career with Jazzercise, Inc. Colleen was a member of the national training team that selected and trained new franchisees. She was one of the 300 franchisees selected to appear in the Opening Ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics.

Prior to starting SalesLeadership, Colleen was vice president of sales and marketing for Varsity Spirit Corporation. Under her leadership, Varsity doubled sales from $25M to $50M in four years and was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 200 fastest growing companies in the United States in 1994 and 1995.

Clients include: Corporate Express, Vail Resorts, 3M and Siemens Corporation.

Colleen is one of those rare individuals that has "been there, done it" and can teach others to do it!

Linda Kaplan Thaler, Former Chairman
Publicis Kaplan Thaler


Linda Kaplan Thaler is responsible for some of America’s most famous, relevant and touching advertising campaigns in the industry, including the Aflac duck quack heard round the world and the daring “Yes, Yes, Yes” for Clairol Herbal Essences. Much of her work has become part of the American pop-culture landscape. She has authored and composed jingles that are among the industry’s gold standard, including “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid,” and “Kodak Moments.” Of her 13 Clio Awards, two were for Best Original Music and Lyrics. Linda has worked on several political campaigns, including the presidential runs for Clinton/Gore in 1992 and Hillary Clinton in 2008. 

Today, Linda is the Chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, a fully integrated advertising agency with digital, social and technology at its core. The agency is the U.S. flagship within the Publicis Worldwide Network, and its blue-chip client roster includes: P&G, Citi, Nestle, L’Oreal, Merck, Pfizer, Cadillac and Wendy’s, among many others.

Linda is also a best-selling author and television personality appearing on
“The Apprentice,” CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, among others, and hosting the Oxygen television series “Making It Big,” where young professionals competed for their dream job. Her three collaborations with coauthor Robin Koval have all become national best-sellers: The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference, The Power of Nice and Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World. Their new book; GRIT to GREAT, will debut this fall.

In addition to her numerous awards, Linda’s creative talents have earned her the prestigious New York Women in Communications Matrix Award, the Advertising Woman of the Year Award from Advertising Women of New York, the UJA’s Mac Dane Humanitarian Award, the Girl Scout’s Woman of Distinction Award, and was named one of Advertising Age’s “Most Influential Women in Advertising.” Linda was also presented with a New York Women in Film and Television’s Muse Award, the first woman in advertising to receive this honor. Most recently, Linda was inducted into the American Advertising Federation 2015 Advertising Hall of Fame.

A native New Yorker, Linda was a Phi Beta Kappa and Magna cum Laude graduate of CCNY, with a BA in psychology and a MA in music. Linda currently sits on the Advisory Council for The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at CCNY, and also served as the 2010/2011 President of New York Women in Communications. Linda is married to composer Fred Thaler and has two children, Michael and Emily. 

Diane Amundson
Owner, Diane Amundson & Associates; Author, Success Strategies: A High Achiever’s Guide to Success


Diane Amundson is the owner of Diane Amundson & Associates. She has over sixteen years of training, speaking and consulting experience in the areas of leadership development, generational diversity, team building, sales communication, conflict resolution and strategic planning. She has worked with Fortune 500 Companies like General Mills and Pepsi Cola and she has co-authored a book titled Success Strategies: A High Achiever’s Guide to Success. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and has served as Adjunct Professor of Organizational Behavior at Winona State University.

She is a Rotarian that has traveled the world on humanitarian projects in Mongolia and India.

Her style of speaking is informative and highly interactive.

Jan Ballman, President
Paradigm Reporting


Jan began court reporting at the age of 20. In 2010, she became president and CEO of the largest court reporting and closed-captioning company in the upper Midwest. She is the past president of the Minnesota Freelance Court Reporters Association, the 2004 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, and currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the National Court Reporters Foundation. Jan owns and operates Paradigm Reporting & Captioning, Paradigm Digital Videography, Paradigm Worldwide Videoconferencing, Paradigm Courtroom Playbacks, and Minneapolis Videoconferencing Center. She oversees a staff of 42. Under her vision, leadership and management, the firm has grown every year since its inception in 1998.

Jeff Ferrazzo, Regional Development Director - Minnesota
Constant Contact


Jeff is a business expert with over 20 years experience helping businesses initiate and build meaningful professional relationships with both organizations and individuals.

Jeff has successfully launched two small businesses, including one that designed digital display kiosks for event and tradeshow planners, and a consulting firm that trained and consulted business owners on Sales and sales training; email marketing; branding and brand development strategies.

As the Regional Development Director for Constant Contact, Jeff uses his deep consulting and training experience to help small businesses, groups and associations maximize the power of relationship marketing.

Elizabeth Kiehner, Principal
Thornberg & Forester


As one of the founders of Thornberg & Forester, Elizabeth Kiehner was a pioneer in rebuilding the traditional agency model. Elizabeth oversees all client assignments and ensures that forward thinking and innovative digital solutions remain the focus of the creative process. She brings to Thornberg & Forester years of management and business development experience that have given her a deep knowledge of how to both lead a team and produce powerful experiential branded storytelling experiences. From site specific installations for Disney and LPL to 3D campaigns for blue-chip brands like GE, Target and Microsoft, Elizabeth celebrates the marriage of technology and creativity.

Elizabeth started her career in the industry at EURO RSCG in Chicago and Suissa Miller in LA before the urge to return to the East Coast brought opportunities to run production and drive growth at some of the leading design firms in Manhattan generating award-winning creative for Apple, American Express, Samsung, Sony, HBO, Showtime, Nike, Sundance and network redesigns for Discovery, SpikeTV, CBS, AMC among others.

The great-granddaughter of a coal miner, Elizabeth left rural Pennsylvania to study visual media at American University and FAMU in Prague. She has shown her photography in Japan and Tanzania, and spoke at this year's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Promax BDA Asia, Google (New York), the Apple Store in Soho, and also founded a Digital Production Seminar which she runs with the global women's organization SheSays.

Mary Lilja, President
Lilja Inc.


Mary Lilja is president of Lilja Inc., the public relations firm she founded in 1988 to help companies, nonprofit organizations and foundations communicate more effectively. She is the founder of Lilja LifeStories, a service to help individuals share their stories, and Lilja Press, a publishing imprint.

She has 33 years of experience developing and directing internal and external communications programs. Under her direction, Lilja Inc. has received numerous honors for its work, from speeches to media relations campaigns. Her business articles and observations about life have been published in Minnesota Business, Star Tribune, Minnesota Women’s Press and St. Paul Pioneer Press. She was named an Industry Leader at Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s 2011 Women in Business Awards.

Lilja serves on the boards of Minneapolis AAA and Episcopal Homes, and enjoys yoga, hiking and singing. She and her husband have three adult children, all successfully launched in careers of their own.

Pamela Muldoon, CEO/Owner
Next Stage Media Group & Next Stage Online Radio


Pamela Muldoon is CEO/Owner of Next Stage Media Group. She blends her 20+ years of training, marketing and media to help clients with a Content Marketing 360 process of merging traditional and digital strategies to grow their business.

Pamela also brings her passion for radio into her business with Next Stage Online Radio, an internet radio station offering business and lifestyle programming by emerging and leading experts in their industries.

She is active in both the business and radio communities as a Board of Director for the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce and also for The Conclave, the longest running radio education conference in the United States.

With a rock ‘n roll spirit, an entrepreneur’s passion and a never-ending appetite for learning, Pamela brings an energetic, action-packed program to the stage every time! Learn more about Next Stage Media Group, Next Stage Online Radio and Pamela at her website: www.nextstagemediagroup.com.

Diane DiResta, Founder
DiResta Communications, Inc.


Diane DiResta is founder and president of DiResta Communications, Inc. Known as the Speaking Strategist, Diane brings over 20 years as a communications expert using her unique approach, the Science of Speaking. Her company works with Fortune 500 companies, media trains sports and entertainment celebrities and coaches transitioning C-level executives how to shine in on the platform.

As an in demand speaker, Diane has spoken in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Russia, the Middle East and South America. Prior to establishing her company, she was an AVP at Drexel Burnham, a training specialist for Salomon Brothers and a Speech Pathologist for the NYC schools. She holds a Masters Degree in Speech Pathology from Columbia University, is a graduate of CoachU, and the author of the popular book, Knockout Presentations.

Debra Duneier, President


Debra Duneier is a Feng Shui Master Practitioner, an accredited LEED® Green Associate, Certified Eco-Designer and licensed real estate broker. Ms. Duneier is the creator of the EcoChi® system of design and author of Ecochi Designing the Human Experience. Her training, background and perspective have made her a resource on topics including: Feng Shui, Real Estate, Wellness and Green Design for media outlets including Martha Stewart Radio, Brokers Weekly, Social Life Magazine, Barons.com, CNBC, MSNBC, CBS, SpaFinder.com, HealthyRadio.net, GreenCityChallenge.org, Better Homes and Gardens TV, and the Associated Press. In addition to her EcoChi consulting business, Debra is a keynote speaker and also runs workshops and seminars for a variety of corporations and trade organizations.

Carolyn Herfurth
Founder, The Biztruth


After helping launch 100 businesses in seven years, Carolyn Herfurth felt helpless as she watched 80% of her clients struggle with sales and saw the havoc it wreaked on their personal, financial and business lives. It ticked her off enough that she walked away from her multiple six-figure business to start The Biztruth.

She now boosts the sales confidence of entrepreneurs who go on to earn an additional 4 to 5 (and sometimes 6) figures each month. Carolyn specializes in working with small business owners who are super talented, experienced great success in their past corporate career, and now need help figuring out how to sell their own services without manipulation. She had to figure it out for herself when she made the transition from corporate America to starting her first business 10 years ago, so she "gets it" and shows you a way to simplify it.

Her playful style is a breath of fresh air to those who believe business, like life, is meant to be enjoyed

Pattie Simone
Entrepreneurial Activist, founder WomenCentric


Pattie is the CEO of a transmedia tech startup, WomenCentric, a hip directory & connection hub for professional women worldwide. With a core mission to foster female fiscal empowerment - WomenCentric ardently supports a variety of organizations, events,
benefits, networking and educational initiatives which attract and propel diverse, multi-faceted, and ambitious women!

As a marketer, brand specialist and new media expert, Pattie's has given lively workshops and keynotes across the country and abroad. Her insight has been featured in many publications, blogs. etc., including MORE Magazine, WCBS Radio's Wall Street Journal Small Business Report, and she has appeared on KOMU, MSNBC, ABC and FOX5 TV.

Pattie is a co-Author of a new business advice book: Jersey Women Mean Business! Big Bold Business Advice from New Jersey Business Women:
Practical Pointers,Solutions, and Strategies for Business Success (she'll be signing books on July17th!)

She is also the President of marketing-advantage.net, a new-media, strategy and branding agency specializing
in social media, pr, video, media coaching and strategic marketing mentoring services for busy CEO's
Follow her @PattieSimone and @WomenCentric, contact her at: psimone@womencentric.net or call 845-362-7880.

Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO


Susan Wilson Solovic is an award- winning entrepreneur and journalist, best-selling author, media personality, and attorney. As the CEO and co-founder of ItsYourBiz.com (formerly SBTV.com – Small Business Television) Solovic led the company from a concept to a multi-million dollar enterprise. Her successful entrepreneurial experience and legal background provides her with a unique vantage point from which to share information and insight with business owners around the world.

Solovic is a sought-after keynote speaker as well as a small business contributor for ABC News. She appears frequently on MSBNC, Fox Business News, Good Day New York, WABC, WCBS and many other stations across the country. In addition to television and radio appearances, Solovic is a featured blogger on numerous sites including Huffington Post, AllBusiness.com, Constant Contact, WSJ.com and Fast Company. In conjunction with PBS, she created a feature program called: “Reinvent Yourself Now: Become Self-Reliant in an Unpredictable World.”

Solovic has written four best-selling books: “The Girls’ Guide to Power and Success”; “Reinvent Your Career: Attain the Success You Desire and Deserve”; “The Girls’ Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business” and her latest best-seller, “It’s Your Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss”

Patrice Tanaka, Chief Creative Officer


Patrice is co-chair, chief creative officer and whatcanbe ambassador for CRT/tanaka, an entity she helped co-found in September 2005. Her agency has been recognized as the “Best Agency to Work for in America,” “Most Admired Mid-Size PR Agency in the U.S.” and “#1 Most Creative PR Agency in America,” among other accolades by various PR organizations and trade media. CRT/tanaka has also won more than 300 PR and marketing awards for client campaigns.

She has been honored by many PR, marketing, business and civic organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America (“Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service”), The Holmes Group (“Creativity All-Star” Award), New York Women in Communications (“Matrix” Award), Association for Women in Communications (“Headliner” Award), Girl Scout Council of Greater New York (“Woman of Distinction” Award), Working Mother Magazine (“Mothering That Works” Award) and Asian Women in Business (“Entrepreneurial Leadership Award”), University of Hawaii (“Distinguished Alumni” Award), among others.

Patrice’s personal philosophy is that of “whatcanbe,” CRT/tanaka’s brand vision, cultural ethos and approach to business that involves helping the agency, its clients and the community-at-large to envision and manifest a bigger, brighter, better future.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Patrice graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1974 and following that worked as an editor at Hawaii Press Newspapers in Honolulu and later served as PR Director of the Hotel Inter-Continental Maui in Wailea. In 1979, she fulfilled a life-long, whatcanbe dream of moving to New York City. Patrice joined Jessica Dee Communications, a PR agency she helped to build, which was acquired by Chiat/Day Advertising in 1987. In 1990, she led a management buyback of a group of 11 colleagues to co-found the employee-owned PT&Co. and served as the PR agency’s CEO & Chief Creative Officer. In 2005, Patrice and her co-founders sold PT&Co. to Richmond, Va.-based Carter Ryley Thomas to form CRT/tanaka, an agency founded on the brand promise of whatcanbe.

A widow since 2003, Patrice lives in Manhattan. She devotes much of her free time to serving on the boards of non-profit organizations dedicated to helping women and girls, including the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the American Friends of Phelophepa (the South African health care train) and Asian Women in Business. She also serves on the Past Presidents Council of New York Women in Communications and is a former trustee and member of the Women’s Forum New York.

Patrice is also a competitive ballroom dancer and avid tennis player. Her book entitled, Becoming Ginger Rogers…How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, a Better Partner and a Smarter CEO, is being published in September 2011 by BenBella Books.

Jacqueline Wales
Author, The Fearless Factor and When The Crow Sings


Jacqueline Wales is a speaker, leadership development coach, and the author of five books including two bestsellers The Fearless Factor and When The Crow Sings, a novel.

With over 30 years of personal development experience, Jacqueline earned a PhD in Life Skills at the School of Life, and at age 49, earned a black belt in karate. With this training, she decided to teach what she had learned about everyone's favorite four-letter word... Fear.

She is the creator of The Fearless Factor Life Mastery Blueprint for Success. This powerful program is designed to help individuals achieve their full potential by helping them to build confidence, create a strong action plan, set goals with achievable results, and learn how to communicate needs, wants and desires effectively, as well as strengthen relationships in business and in life. In short…how to develop YOUR Fearless Factor.

Jacqueline was born in Edinburgh, Scotland but considers herself a global citizen having lived in London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Amsterdam and presently New York City. She also has a home in Bali, Indonesia.

Anne Akers, Founder/Editor in Chief
GLOW Beauty, Health & Wellness Magazine


Anne Akers, Founder/Editor in Chief, GLOW Beauty, Health & Wellness Magazine and CEO, MDPress, Inc.

Daughter of an Army Colonel in the Medical Service Corps, and grandchild of a Hospital Nutritionist, the concept of healthy living and "Best Doctors" was instilled in Anne at an early age.

Over a career that has spanned over two decades, Anne has published prestigious medical journals, award winning consumer books, and educational publications in the medical field. She is also co-Founder of MDPUBLISH.com, a consumer publishing group, and owner of a business development consulting group for private physicians.

In 1998, Anne brought the concept of Educational Review Manuals to assist young Residents in passing their Board exams to Castle Connolly Medical to form a company known as Castle Connolly Graduate Medical. In a relatively short time, these manuals became the "gold standard" for medical education. Since inception, over 120,000 Residents and over 80,000 practicing physicians have used these clinical books for board exams and recertification.

Upon sale of Castle Connolly Graduate Medical, Anne fulfilled a lifelong dream to be an Editor and launched GLOW Beauty, Health and Wellness Magazine and the GLOW Speakers Bureau, whose mission is to connect its readers with the top sources in beauty, health and wellness through an interactive platform that includes print, digital, and special events. GLOW Magazine. Anne is the 2013 recipient of the SMART CEO/BRAVA Award for "entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of give back to the community".

Anne served on the Board of Advisors for the Skin Cancer Foundation, and is presently a Board advisor for Shining Service Worldwide, and a member of the Board of Directors for early detection of Ovarian Cancer, based at Mt. Sinai. Hospital. She is a member of the National Cmte for the National Osteoporosis Foundation as well as a Member of the NYC Advisory Group for the Institutute for Economic Empowerment for Women. Most proudly, she serves as Media Advisor to Shining Service Worldwide, whose mission is to serve returning female Vets from Iraq.

Anne's personal motto, borrowed from Peter Drucker, is: "The best way to predict your future is to create it".

Dianne Devitt, Founder
The DND Group, Inc.


Dianne Budion-Devitt has an over 25-year track record as an innovative leader and expert in event communication. Designer, Producer, Educator, Consultant, Speaker, Author, Dianne is known for her unique and provocative style blending creativity with inspiration. Her book, "What Color is Your Event ? the Art of Bringing People Together", creatively illustrates the communication value of the event.

As an Assistant Professor at New York University for nearly 25 years, Dianne teaches courses from event design to conference and event planning in both the Undergraduate and Certificate program. She has received and been nominated for numerous industry awards including one of the Top 20 Industry Professionals in New York as well as being the recipient of the NYU Award for Teaching Excellence. Dianne has spoken internationally at conferences in Europe and the UAE as well as domestically. Dianne is a member of the National Speakers Association, Women in Communications, Meeting Professionals International and International Special Events Society.

The DND Group, Inc. was founded in 1998 specializing in strategy and design with clients including hotel groups, government, manufacturing, and real estate.

Diane DiResta, President
DiResta Communications, Inc.


Diane DiResta is President of DiResta Communications, Inc., a New York City consultancy serving business leaders who want to communicate with maximum impact whether face-to-face, in front of a crowd or from an electronic platform. Ms DiResta has conducted training for Chase, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Federal Reserve Bank, Helena Chemical, Henry Schein, JP Morgan, KPMG, L'Oreal, Medco Health, Madison Square Garden, Merck Sharpe & Dohme (Brazil and Spain), Merrill Lynch, Mobinil (Egypt)National Basketball Association, National Grid, Palisade Capital Management, Sanofi Pasteur and Sony.

As a top speech and business communications trainer and media coach, she trains clients how to communicate with greater impact and project a more powerful presence. Ms. DiResta earned her M.S. degree from Columbia University, is a Certified Speech Pathologist and author of two books, Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz, an Amazon.com category best-seller and widely-used text in college business communication courses and Conversations on Success.

At Salomon Brothers she was a Training Specialist in the area of management development and as Assistant Vice-President at Drexel Burnham Lambert she recruited and trained MBAs for the Institutional Sales and Trading Training Program.

As Senior Associate at The Executive Technique, she delivered presentation skills seminars to corporations.

The New York City Board of Education was her first employer where as a Speech Pathologist she diagnosed and treated children with speech and language disorders.

Ms. DiResta has spoken in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and South America. She taught speech and listening courses at Cornell University and NYU, was a guest lecturer at Fels School of Government, UPenn. She's been featured on CNN, Good Day NY, Bloomberg radio, and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Entrepreneur magazine, and Investors Business Daily.

DiResta received the Golden Mic award from the NY Chapter of National Speakers Association, and the Louis K. Miller award for Business Leadership from the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. She is past president of the NYC National Speakers Association. Presently, she serves on the advisory board of Enterprising Women magazine and NYCID, a Staten Island non-profit that provides community dispute resolution services and youth programs.

Darcy Flanders, Founder/Chief Design Officer


As founder and chief design officer for BaselineGroupNY, Darcy is the visionary, project strategist and project manager. Her strength lies in her ability to interpret clients' spoken goals and translate them into impactful and targeted design solutions. She is a master at discovering her clients' unique value propositions and bringing them to light so they can shine. Her passion for design is contagious and her emphasis on teamwork leads to great collaborative solutions.

Drawing on 24+ years of expertise, you can count on Darcy to lead an information-oriented, responsive and time-sensitive creative process that considers the big picture and instinctively understands the importance of the littlest detail and the strictest schedule. Darcy has envisioned and managed large scale branding initiatives for Citigroup Alternative Investments, Citi Private Bank, HSBC and Deutsche Bank. Darcy's extensive knowledge of pre-press and print production infuses her approach to design planning and implementation.

In 2008, her passion for small business led to the establishment of their small biz branding division. She and her team work with business owners who are ready to take their company brand to the next level, or create a brand.

Her work has received awards from the Financial Communications Society, Society of Technical Communication, the Association of the Graphic Arts, and Graphic Design USA as well as numerous awards for her entrepreneurial spirit and leadership.

Lori Greiner
QVC/Shark Tank
2013 WLE Compass Award Recipient


Inventor & EntrepreneurLori Greiner started with one idea and turned it into a multi-million dollar international brand.

She is now regarded as one of the most prolific inventors of retail products, having created over 400 products, and holds 115 U.S. and international patents. A well-known celebrity personality on QVC-TV, Greiner has hosted her own show, “Clever & Unique Creations by Lori Greiner,” for over 15 years. She is also starring as a “Shark” on the ABC hit show “Shark Tank”.

Well-known for creating the most popular jewelry and cosmetic organizers of her time, Greiner’s cleverly designed products cover a large range, and she is constantly adding new items. From kitchen tools, travel bags and unique accessories to must-have organizers for all around the home, her products are enjoyed by men and women alike. Her inspiration comes from her passion to bring happiness to people by making their everyday lives easier. Her products are sold on QVC and in retailers across the U.S. and in Europe.
Greiner’s accomplishments can be attributed to her sharp instincts and strong business sense. She handles the legal and patent processes, and drives her business to the success it has achieved. An expert on patenting and a guest speaker for the United States Patent & Trademark Office, Greiner is hands-on in all facets of taking a product from concept to creation and to market within months. She has also helped many budding entrepreneurs turn their ideas into hit products. At the heart of her own success lie talent, hard work and perseverance, as well as sincere, energetic on-air appeal.
Greiner’s collection of over 400 products are regularly featured in top magazines like Town & Country, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, Family Circle and InStyle. She has also been profiled in Financial Times and Success. Her Initial Silver Safekeeper was chosen as one of Oprah’s favorite things.
A great believer that, if you are lucky enough to be successful, you have a responsibility to give back, Greiner’s most gratifying moments come when she is able to help budding entrepreneurs achieve the same success she feels lucky enough to have enjoyed. She also believes that what matters most in life is who a person is and what is in their soul. She and her company annually donate a substantial amount of their profits to a variety of charities.
Greiner’s all-American success story is a refreshing scenario in today’s challenging economy. Her inventions address the everyday needs of a wide-range of people, and her affordable pricing makes her products accessible, allowing her to spread her enthusiasm for problem- solving to millions of consumers.

Leslie Grossman, Consultant,Speaker,Trainer
Leslie Grossman Leadership


Leslie Grossman is a leadership and business development strategist, and an advocate for women business owners and leaders. She is author of Link Out: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections (Wiley, 2013) and has been traveling the country transforming the traditional sales and networking models into a new relationship-building model which delivers long term results. Grossman co-founded Women's Leadership Exchange® with Andrea March in 2002. Previously, she lead an integrated marketing agency, Communications/Marketing Action, whose clients included many national brands in the fashion, entertainment and business worlds.

Last year, Grossman was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to tour Japan, speaking to women about the opportunities of entrepreneurship, and was rated as one of the best speakers of the year. Her workshops and keynotes on entrepreneurship and leadership integrate her philosophy of achieving success by creating life-long connections, building one's personal brand and developing leadership skills.

She serves as vice chair of the global advisory board for IMPACT Leadership 21, a global organization focused on propelling women to the highest levels of influence in business, government and social change, and is on the board of Unleashed, a transformational leadership program for middle school girls. Grossman is a past NYC president and founding international chair of the National Association of Women Business Owners and has served on many boards. She speaks and leads workshops at associations, universities like Cornell, NYU and University of Maryland, and corporations, like AXA, Ameriprise, MetLife, IBM, Aetna, Northwestern Mutual and Jones NY.

Jane Hanson, Partner
The Media Masters


Emmy award winning television journalist and media coach Jane Hanson has spent over 30 years in broadcasting. Most recently she hosted a daily entertainment and lifestyle program, New York Live, for NBC4 in New York City. She has worked for the NBC Networks for over 30 years. Hanson has her own consultancy business-- among her diverse array of media and presentation training clients: top tier leaders of financial institutions; publishers and editors in chief of numerous national magazines; key opinion leaders in the pharmaceutical industry; internet entrepreneurs; and celebrity chefs. She has also hosted programs on cable channels and private satellite broadcasts, covering nearly every subject, from health care to finance to religion. And she is a frequent speaker, emcee, and panel moderator.

Hanson spent over three decades at NBC, where she began as an anchor and correspondent for WNBC New York in 1979. In 1988, Jane was named co-anchor of "Today in New York," a position she held until 2003 when she became the station's primary anchor for local programming and the host of "Jane's New York." She covered events ranging from 9/11 to Yankees victory parades to Wall Street and Washington; has interviewed presidents, prisoners, and celebrities; traveled as far as the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and the great depths miles below New York City for her special reports.

Jane has won 9 Emmy Awards. In addition, she was named "Correspondent of the Year" by New York's Police Detectives and received a similar honor from New York's Firefighters. She has also been the recipient of numerous other awards for her service to the community. Jane has served as the March of Dimes Walk-America Chairman, honorary chair for the Susan B. Komen Foundation's "Race for the Cure," and as a board member of Graham Windham, Phipps Houses, the Randall's Island Sports Foundation, the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, and Telecare. She has taught courses on television at Long Island University and Stern College. And Hanson is a Past President of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

Rika Keck, President
NY Integrated Health


Ulrike Keck was born and raised in South Africa. With a professional background in classical dance, Rika has developed a rewarding career as a popular group exercise teacher and as an exercise specialist. She has spent the last twelve years in the health and fitness industry, successfully working with clients on improving posture, achieving sports specific goals, overseeing post-rehabilitation exercise after completion of physical therapy, and in developing exercise programs to improve function.

Sharon Melnick, Ph.D, CEO
Horizon Point, Inc.


Sharon Melnick, Ph.D. is a leading authority on business psychology and stress resilience who helps accomplished women have success under stress. Her practical tools for resilience are informed by 10 years of research at Harvard Medical School and field tested by over 7500 training participants. Her trainings receive highest ratings and 100% repeat requests by women leaders around the world, at organizations such as Procter and Gamble, GE, Merck, Oracle, Moody's, Bloomberg, Coldwell Banker.

She regularly serves as an expert for leading conference hosts such as American Management Association, Working Mother, Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, Women in Cable and Telecommunications, Women Presidents Organization, Linkage, and CEO Clubs. Her advice can be found on Forbes.com, FoxNews, Huffington Post, Business Insider, NY Enterprise Report, USAToday.com and many others. She is also dedicated to showing women entrepreneurs how to 'get out of their own way' to focus and take action instead of spinning their wheels, getting distracted, or procrastinating (learn solutions for your action blocks at www.sharonmelnick.com/actionquiz). Dr. Melnick is the author of the newly released book Success under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive when the Pressure's On.

Valerie Coleman Morris, Author


Valerie Coleman Morris, a former CNN domestic and international correspondent/anchor is considered a northern California Bay Area native when it comes to television news. She began her career in the early 70s in San Francisco at KRON-TV as a reporter and then KGO-TV as a long time anchor.
Valerie was an Air Force kid who lived in England, France, Scotland and Japan by the time she was a junior in high school.  She’s a graduate of San Jose State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a graduate degree in Broadcast Communications from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
During her 12 years at CNN, her dozen daily reports were seen by more than 290 million households, businesses and airport networks. She is viewed as a financial journalist/educator with a unique point of view about money.  Valerie is a three-time Emmy Award winning journalist.  She also was part of the KCBS Radio Peabody Award winning team coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Her long running syndicated radio feature for CBS Network Radio, With the Family in Mind, has aired three times a week nationally for more than 25 years.

Valerie works as an independent contractor for multiple domestic and international clients for whom she provides services regarding personal finance and financial literacy information through blogs, appearances (both radio/TV and digital), workshops and keynote addresses.  She is a professor in the Multimedia Communications Department at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Her first book “IT’S YOUR MONEY SO TAKE IT PERSONALLY”® was published December 2011.  It gives a multi-generation approach and mindset for a financial behavioral change to help families make a sustainable recovery from the recession.  It’s available at Book Passage (http://www.bookpassage.com/book/9780615501758), at Indie Bound to find an independent bookstore in your area (http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780615501758 ) and Amazon.com.
Her website www.valeriecolemanmorris.com is the repository of Valerie’s client list, financial education messages, her three times a week CBS Network Radio reports, as well as the archives of her domestic and international blog posts.

Feel free to join Valerie on Twitter (@HerMoneyTalks) and Facebook (Valerie Coleman Morris) for upcoming events as well as financial tips.

Beth Neuhaus, Chief Corporate Counsel


Beth Neuhaus is Chief Corporate Counsel to MarketCounsel and the Hamburger Law Firm. Ms. Neuhaus has extensive experience in a wide range of corporate and securities matters, primarily representing public and private companies and their senior executives in all stages of the corporate life cycle. She has vast experience counseling entrepreneurial and growth-minded businesses as well as seasoned entities in a broad array of matters, including formation, contract negotiations, corporate finance transactions (debt and equity), mergers and acquisitions, strategic and joint ventures, license arrangements, buy/sell agreements and succession planning. She also represents borrowers and lenders in connection with both secured and unsecured bank and other financings.

Ms. Neuhaus joined MarketCounsel in 2013, after taking the entrepreneurial path for the prior two years. She is the founder of the website InteriorConnector.com which showcases home furnishings from the independents. Her personal business experience makes her ideal in representing the small and medium sized business owner.

Beth received her Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University. She earned her Bachelor's Degree at the University of Rochester. She is a member of the Bar of the State of New York and has been associated with a number of large international law firms, most recently as a partner in the corporate practice of Loeb & Loeb, working largely on complex corporate transactions for private and public entities, taking her to Asia and Europe on a regular basis.

Jana Robbins, Producer/Director/Actor
Better World Productions


Jana Robbins is a Tony nominated Broadway producer who formed BETTER WORLD PRODUCTIONS in 1995 in order to present theater and film entertainment, that not only educates, but inspires us to create a Better World. She made her Broadway producing debut with LITTLE WOMEN The Musical; a story representing the power of family, and starring Sutton Foster as Jo March who in the late 1800?s had the courage to step out into a man's world and follow her dreams. Jana earned a Tony nomination for her second Broadway production; transferring the Kennedy Center's highly successful production of RAGTIME to Broadway, and currently has a limited partnership group invested in both the Broadway and National touring companies of WAR HORSE.

Other producing credits include I LOVE YOU BECAUSE, Daniel Beaty's THROUGH THE NIGHT (Drama Desk nomination) produced with Daryl Roth, and WHITE'S LIES starring Betty Buckley. Broadway shows currently in development are: THE JAZZ AGE by Allan Knee (Little Women /Finding Neverland), ROBIN HOOD The Final Adventure by Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Hairspray) and Martin Charnin (Annie), ROOF OF THE WORLD by D. Tucker Smith, and MANAGING MAXINE by Janece Schaffer, a comedy for the baby boomer generation about being able to open yourself up and love again in the 'golden years'.

An actor, director, speaker and educator, Ms. Robbins received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Stephens College, a women's college in Columbia, Mo, where she has returned many times to speak, teach, direct, and recently serve as the Artistic Director of their summer theater. Empowering women seems to be at the center of everything she does.

As a Broadway Actress, she has appeared in leading roles in GOOD NEWS, I LOVE MY WIFE, the Pulitzer Prize winning CRIMES OF THE HEART, GYPSY - where she played Mazeppa ( the bump it with the trumpet stripper) while covering Tyne Daly in the leading role of Mama Rose - and THE TALE OF THE ALLERGIST'S WIFE, covering both Linda Lavin and Michele Lee, later starring opposite Valerie Harper in the National Tour. Jana has appeared on television in guest starring roles on CHEERS, ROSANNE, and BABYLON 5, among many others, and made her feature film debut in THE WOMEN opposite Meg Ryan, Eva Mendez and Annette Benning.

Ms. Robbins is the recipient of The Jewish National Fund's prestigious Tree Of Life Award.

Maria del Pilar Ryan, Ph.D, Colonel, ret.
US Army, President, Gandia Leadership Group
2013 WLE Compass Award Recipient


Colonel Maria del Pilar Ryan, Ph.D. is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and earned a MA and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. She has served in a variety of command and staff positions, stateside and overseas, during her 27-year Army career, including command of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery Regiment, the largest artillery battery in the United States Army at the time. In both her military and academic careers, she has studied and taught how individuals transform organizations and institutions.

Pilar's military assignments include service as executive officer of 1/30th Field Artillery, as Deputy G2 (Intelligence) of III Corps Artillery, as a political-military planner and counter-proliferation strategist for United States Forces Korea, and as the executive officer to the Assistant Chief of Staff, Strategy and Policy, United States Forces Korea/Commanding General, Marine Corps Forces-Korea.

She is the author of a number of publications. She has published essays on teaching and history in the United States and Spain. Her book, Secret Jesuit: Saint Francis Borgia, was published in Valencia, Spain in 2008. She co-edited a volume of essays about early modern Spanish history that was published in Valencia and Rome in 2011.

She has received a number of prestigious fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Fellowship at the University of Maryland-College Park, a Mellon Foundation fellowship at the University of Texas-Austin, and a fellowship from the Holocaust Education Foundation at Northwestern University.

Colonel Ryan retired from active military duty on July 1, 2013 as Professor of History and Chief, International Division, Department of History, United States Military Academy.

Maureen Ryan-Fable, President/COO
First Protocol


Prior to launching First Protocol US in 2004, Maureen held several senior event management positions, including Director of Events at Billboard Magazine and The New York Stock Exchange. Maureen leads the operational and management team in the US and brings creative leadership, strong communication skills and advanced project management expertise to the direction and strategic implementation of client initiatives. Besides her event expertise, Maureen's true strength is her mentoring and leadership abilities and the relationship management of large complex international accounts including FP's Managed Services offering. Maureen is a shareholder and Board Director of First Protocol.

Susan Wilson Solovic, The Small Business Expert


A woman of many talents, Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com top 100 and USA Today bestselling author, media personality, sought-after keynote speaker, and attorney.

An Internet pioneer, Solovic was the CEO and co-founder of one of the first video-based Internet sites, a company she grew from it’s infancy to a million dollar plus entity. In 2006, she accepted the Stevie Award (the Oscar’s of business) on behalf of the company for the Most Innovative Company under 100 employees; that same year the company was voted the Best Investment Opportunity at a Venture Forum in the Silicon Valley.

A media personality, Solovic is a former small business contributor for ABC News and hosted a syndicated radio program, It’s Your Biz. She appears regularly as a small business expert on Fox Business, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal’s “Lunch Break”, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and many other stations across the country. She hosted her own PBS special called Reinvent Yourself Now: Become Self-Reliant in an Unpredictable World. In addition to television and radio appearances, Solovic is a featured blogger on numerous sites, including Constant Contact, Entrepreneur, AT&T Business Circle and FoxBusiness.com.

Solovic was recently named in the Top 10 of both SAP’s “Top 51 Potential Human Influencers” and she consistently ranks in the top 5 of the “Top 100 Small Business Experts to Follow on Twitter” She has written four bestselling books which have been translated into multiple languages.

In addition to running her business, Solovic serves as the media director for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) is an advocacy, research, education and networking organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For more than 20 years, SBE Council has worked to strengthen the ecosystem for small business success.

Solovic received the Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship Leader of Distinction Award, and she was the first recipient of AT&T’s Innovator of the Year Award for being a pioneer in a new industry. Additionally, she has won numerous awards for small business journalism include recognition from the SBA.

Solovic is a member of the Advisory Board for the John Cook School of Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University where she also served as an adjunct professor on entrepreneurship in the MBA program. She served on the National Women’s Business Council, which counsels the President, Congress, and the SBA on issues affecting women business owners. She is a past board member of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University, the Women Presidents’ Organization, Women Impacting Public Policy and the Institute for the Economic Development of Women. Currently, she is mentoring a women entrepreneur in Rwanda.

Solovic started her career as a news anchor and reporter. Her corporate career took her to the C-Suite level of a Fortune 100 company becoming the first female executive in the company’s financial services division. She obtained a law degree from Saint Louis University and is Of Counsel with the firm Junge & Mele, LLP in New York City.

Loreen Arbus, President
Loreen Arbus Productions, Inc.


Loreen Arbus is currently the President of Loreen Arbus Productions, Inc., The Loreen Arbus Foundation and The Goldenson-Arbus Foundation. She is widely recognized as an advocate for women and girls, as well as for the world’s largest minority, people with disabilities. Arbus holds the distinction of being the first woman to head programming for a U.S. network, a feat accomplished twice (both at Showtime and Cable Health Network/Lifetime). She has established a well-respected, solid and exceptional track record as an executive in network television, pay and basic cable, syndication and the print media. This wide array of experience and talent has made her a much sought after consultant to several established and new cable networks. A prolific writer, she is the author of six books and numerous magazine/newspaper articles.

Arbus began her entertainment tenure as a Story Analyst at ABC, where she quickly rose through the ranks to Program Executive and onto Executive Producer of Variety Specials, Movies, Late Night and Early Morning Programming. As Vice President of Original Programming at Showtime, she initiated cable’s first made-for-pay movie, cable’s first scripted comedy series and cable’s first co-production(s). Subsequently, as Senior Vice President in charge of program development, production, acquisition, scheduling and on-air promotion for Cable Health Network/Lifetime, she helped launch the twenty-four hour network. In just three months, she spearheaded development, initiated production commitments, and negotiated all related deals for 1,671 half hours of programming (424 acquisitions and seventeen original series). Thereafter, she supervised program development/production for Viacom’s network and first-run syndication divisions. Concurrently she was a contributing editor Los Angeles Magazine, syndicated by Copley, and has been a free lance writer for many national publications.

Arbus left Viacom to become an independent producer. Loreen Arbus Productions, Inc. focuses on non-fiction programming for network, cable, syndication and new media. She has received two Emmy nominations and a documentary made the short list for an Oscar nomination.

Arbus is a tireless advocate for a variety of non-profit causes, and is a leading national advocate for persons with disabilities. She focuses her philanthropy on women and girls, minorities, media initiatives, medical research, animal rights, the arts and global peace.

She’s committed to the work of the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) organization, co-founded by her parents, Isabelle and Leonard H. Goldenson, Founder/Chairman of ABC* UCP is the 5th largest health agency in the U.S., and is one of the nation’s leading providers in serving and supporting the needs of over 54 million Americans with disabilities.

Ms. Arbus facilitated a partnership between UCP and Children’s Rights which resulted in stronger advocacy for the nation’s abused and neglected children. That historic union fostered ISABELLE’S KIDS, whose mission addresses the needs of hundreds of thousands of children of all ages with disabilities both in and outside foster care.

She presently serves on over a dozen non-profit boards, including: The Paley Center for Media; The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation; The Women’s Media Center; Muslim Women’s Fund; New York Women’s Forum; NAWBO L.A. Enterprise Institute; United Cerebral Palsy; Harvard Kennedy School of Government Women’s Leadership Board; Harvard School of Public Health; Harvard Medical School Advisory Committee for Neurobiology; The Weizmann Institute of Science; Town Hall Los Angeles, and is a member of the Brookings Institution, and Women Moving Millions.

Arbus has served as a two-term Governor for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; on the boards of the Producers Guild, The Caucus For Producers, Writers and Directors, Women In Film, Women in Cable and Telecommunications, and as Chair of Women In Film International. She is a member of the Writers Guild, Producers Guild, Authors Guild, SAG, and AFTRA.

She was Co-Founder and for seven years Co-Chair of the Lucy Awards for Women In Film (Los Angeles). She is Founder and Co-Chair of the annual UCP/NYC Luncheon, “Women Who Care,” and she was among the core group of Founders of the Los Angeles Donor Circle of The Women’s Foundation of California.

Sarah Atereth, Founder
Beguile Records


Sarah Atereth is a #1 hit global recording artist and founder of Beguile Records.

How did an innocent kid make her way from her first dance class in a strip mall in Colorado, to garnering 5 consecutive hit songs worldwide? Armed with her life’s joy of music and dance, Sarah set out on her determined path to figure out how to share her passion with others. Enduring struggles and rejection along the way, Sarah continued to pursue her artistic vision and breakthrough the barriers to get her music out to the world.

Sarah has 2 #1 UK hits and 4 U.S. Billboard hits. She has been the cover of Radio & Records Magazine and The Future Face of MusicWeek. Her music is played on countless radio stations, in clubs and stadiums around the world by the top DJs.

Sarah is proud to be the face and ambassador of Until.org, the global organization raising funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS with Jessica Alba, Kevin Bacon and Michael Phelps.

As an in demand speaker, Sarah has spoken at such prestigious institutions as the Jack Welch School Of Business At Sacred Heart, the National Speakers Association, NAPW and thousands of worldwide radio and television shows.

Sarah is currently in the studio recording her latest album and completing her new book on empowering others to celebrate their own individuality and create the lifestyles and businesses they deeply desire.

A graduate of Columbia University, Sarah is always up for Karaoke, exciting world travel adventures and learning new dance steps.


Adriane Berg, CEO
Generation Bold


Adriane Berg, is the creator of Longevity Planning a concept for investing throughout the age continuum. Ms. Berg is CEO of Generation Bold a leader in communication with the affluent boomer, mature adult, and family fiduciary. Ms. Berg is consultant to ASI, Asset Strategies International, a boutique provider of precious metals, currencies and rare tangible assets.

She will be one of your speed coaches today, along with Rich Checkan, President of ASI.

In addition to dozens of annual speaking engagements Ms. Berg is a New York Times Age Beat Fellow, and guest lecturer at USC Davis School of Gerontology on “\'Marketing to the Silver Markets.' She was the national keynoter for the "USA Today" retirement seminars. She has just been named the first women adjunct to the American Mexican Retirement Association.

Ms. Berg is author of 14 financial books including 'How Not To Go Broke at 102' Wiley, 'Your Kids, Your Money', 'Your Wealth Building Years' and the 'Totally Awesome Business Book for Kids.'

Ms. Berg hosted WABC’s and Westwood One’s syndicated Money Talks and FNN’s 'IRS Tax Beat,' for which she won a local Emmy. She currently hosts 'Super Aging Today Radio.'

Gabrielle Boko, Executive Vice President, Marketing
Sage North America


Gabie Boko is Executive Vice President of Global Marketing at Sage, a company focused on helping small and medium businesses achieve success. As an Alaskan native, she has innovation in her blood. For more than 20 years, Gabie has been in the high tech space following her passion for innovation, doing work that drives growth and change.

She is responsible for all areas of marketing at Sage including PR, events, brand marketing, advertising, marketing research and revenue performance management. To date Gabie has delivered major strides in re-launching a more human, digital brand that relies heavily on a fully integrated web platform for commerce and content and the singular industry defining event, Sage Summit. Gabie considers it a tremendous opportunity to reinvigorate a 30 year old brand.

Throughout her career with companies such as Cognos, Outlooksoft and SAP, Gabie has built marketing organizations from the ground up, developed, and managed high performance teams focused on marketing technology across a variety of small business drivers: accounting, payments and payroll, as well as complex enterprise solutions. Gabie’s career focus on helping companies build digital forward brands includes leveraging her SMB technology industry experience in all aspects of marketing; product marketing, corporate branding and communications, demand creation and field marketing, partner development and sales.

Gabie thrives on collaboration and conversation as catalysts for growth, and actively encourages both in her current role as Executive Vice President of Global Marketing. She believes that for brands to truly succeed, they must constantly evolve while remaining true to their mission and identity.

Rachel Braun Scherl, Co-Founder
SPARKS Solutions For Growth


A seasoned and dynamic executive, Rachel has focused on driving growth through innovation for a range of Fortune 500 clients, start-ups as well as her own businesses. Building on her Johnson & Johnson experience after graduate school working on the iconic TYLENOL brand, Rachel became a principal at Marketing Corporation of America (MCA). Rachel served as the consulting lead for J&J's global OTC, pharmaceutical and consumer products.

In 1998, Rachel joined forces with long-time partner, Mary Wallace Jaensch, to co-found SPARK Solutions for Growth. The firm provides pragmatic, business-building and innovation expertise to some of the world's best-managed companies and brands in the world, including multiple divisions of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Disney, American Express, Deloitte, Merck and Bayer. More than 90% of SPARK and Rachel's core clients buy multiple projects a year. Clients often "bring" SPARK with them as they migrate to other companies.

In another chapter of their partnership, Mary and Rachel created Semprae Laboratories, Inc., a venture-backed company created to focus on developing and marketing women's sexual health products. While building the Semprae, its products and the category, Rachel also served as the "ambassador" of the brand and the company. At the end of 2013, the company was sold to Innovus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company.

As a leading "vagipreneur" and entrepreneur, Rachel speaks frequently on issues related to female sexual health and women's leadership. Rachel has lectured at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, The Fuqua School at Duke University, Duke University, and Barnard College as well at other universities and conferences. Television appearances include ABC's Nightline, CBS News, and msnbc, among others. Rachel has been interviewed and quoted in leading publications including The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes, AOL, Huffington Post and CNN. In addition, she blogs monthly for Huffington Post on business, leadership and life.

Mary Buchzeiger, CEO
Sure Solutions


Mary Buchzeiger is the award-winning CEO of Sure Solutions, a growing and respected supplier in the automotive industry. She also maintains a position as COO of Lucerne International, a global warehousing and service provider. Mary is a respected member of the Women’s Business Enterprise, National Association of Women Business Owners and Michigan Inforum Group.

Since joining Sure Solutions in 2009, Mary has expanded operations globally by leading a development initiative throughout Asia to increase both supply base and customer base alike, by setting up multiple satellite offices in Taiwan, China, and India to better service international needs. She has also developed strategic manufacturing partnerships worldwide that has allowed Sure Solutions capabilities to grow. With these changes, sales have increased over 300% percent in just under five years.

Prior to joining Sure Solutions, Mary advanced through the positions of Materials Planner, Operations Director, and Vice President of Sales, finally landing as COO for Lucerne International, Inc., concurrently with her position with Sure Solutions. Mary was responsible for implementing key supply chain management controls that allowed Lucerne to grow and effortlessly handle the flow of product throughout their complicated supply chain, setting the company up with a management team to smoothly run day-to-day operations with minimal daily manipulation. In doing so, she increased Lucerne International’s staff by 25% in 2013, aiding a flailing local economy.

Mary holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Lawrence Technological University in Industrial and Operational Management and has accrued more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry. Mary is honored to be the recipient of the 2014 Top Ten Women in Business, Global Business Award from NAWBO. Mary’s mission is to play a role in the re-growth of Michigan’s auto industry, by creating and maintaining international relationships, stressing the significance of diversity, while also focusing on the importance of personal involvement in family and community.

Jean Criss, CEO
Jean Criss Media LLC, Founder, CRISSCROSS


Jean Criss: “A goal is simply a dream with a deadline.” That’s how she does it as a true multi-tasking entrepreneur, highly acclaimed for her sales and marketing innovation, Jean is a successful CEO, new apparel designer and passionate author in the digital media marketplace. Author of the new trilogy series, My Pain Woke Me Up® - BLISS!, Legal Injustice & LIVE Your Dreams, her books are based upon Jean’s experience …and are truly stories of inspiration, perseverance, and the promise to live our dreams.

CEO of Jean Criss Media, LLC, Jean delivers integrated, creative digital media solutions in diverse business markets, including health/wellness, fashion, spirits, music, publishing and general business. Jean was recently named both CEO of the Month in September 2014, she is the featured CEO of Women Owned Business Club owners digital Magazine reaching over 11 million subscribers, she’s a featured author in the current 2014 issue of GLOW Beauty Magazine and will be featured again in the next January issue, and has published various industry trade articles in the Press for her clients and posted them on across numerous social sites over the years.

A true entrepreneur, Jean has designed product patents creating a new Apparel Line on the fashion side and has created a Smart Mobile Device on the technology side – using her media and tech savvy expertise with whatever she innovates. Her work you can say also speaks at the intersection of politics and women's health, specifically about her experiences with the U.S. Legal system during her divorce and the onset of her experience with the legal process. As result, she was recently asked to submit her work to appear on a segment for ABC Nightline News Family Court TV show.

Jean will be launching her first Post-Surgical Bra during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 30th under the trademark CRISSCROSS™ with the UN National Council of Women of the United States and has plans for a national market rollout in 2015. She will launch a Crowd Funding campaign at that event and is also seeking investors for her Smart Mobile Device – something ever man and woman will want in our fast-paced, convenient mobile tech world. She has served on two (2) Boards and is actively involved with numerous nonprofits and women’s organizations alike (http://jeancrissmedia.com/affiliate), and she’s a proud soccer single Mom w/two teens in High School, with her eldest daughter preparing for College in the field of CSI (Criminal Investigation).

Joya Dass, TV Anchor
Business News on NY1


Joya Dass is an American TV anchor and living and working in New York City, She can currently be seen delivering business news on NY1. She has also been host of a popular Saturday morning entertainment show AVS since December 2002.

Joya is using her 15 years in television to support her a women's networking initiative called "LadyDrinks," (http://www.lady-drinks.com), which hosts monthly events designed to support the female South Asian small business entrepreneur.

Under the JOYA DASS PRODUCTIONS umbrella, she has produced and directed a series of social justic documentaries and photo essays. She's just been named the new Executive Director of the South Asian International Film Festival, presented by HBO.

Joya is a frequent speaker, emcee and moderator. Joya delivered her first TEDTALK on the topic of "Re-imagining Failure" at Barnard November 2nd, 2013.

Jane Gershon Weitzman, Executive Vice President
Stuart Weitzman


Jane Gershon Weitzman was the Executive Vice President of Stuart Weitzman and the first Vice President of Stuart Weitzman Retail. She spearheaded philanthropy for the company by generating funds to support breast and ovarian cancer research and awareness. Her efforts were brought to life through innovative charity events on the brand’s website, such as the Stuart Weitzman Celebrity Breast Cancer Shoe Auction, and its retail stores. She serves on the Trust Board of the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Jane serves on the executive committees and boards of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Greenwich UJA. She is also the author of "Art & Sole".

Carolyn Herfurth, Founder
The Biztruth


Carolyn Herfurth, a business & sales strategist and founder of The Biztruth will be leading an evening workshop about how to Do Your Life and Your Business, Your Way

Carolyn has played a hand in the launch over 100 businesses over the past 12+ years. She is fiercely dedicated to helping entrepreneurs take charge of their lives through their businesses. No more trying to squeeze into one-size-fits-none business blueprints or doing what you think you “should” do.

She’ll dip into her massive arsenal of business experience and cut to the quick to align your business with your goals, identify and assess what’s “sale-able” and capitalize on your strengths so that your business is fun, profitable and fruitful for you.

Mary-Jo P. Knight, Retirement Planning Specialist
AXA Advisors, LLC


For over 23 years, providing my clients with professional and intelligent strategies for their financial planning concerns has been my guiding principle and working to help make their money last a lifetime.

Educating our clients so that they can make smart decisions about their retirement and estate issues, and seeing their success in achieving them, is what makes me passionate about my 42+ year career in financial services.

I believe that strategic and comprehensive financial planning allows our clients to make the best and most informed decisions available. We believe that financial literacy matters...doesn't it?

  • Retirement planning.
  • 401K Rollovers and consolidating IRAs.
  • Personalized investment strategies.
  • Life insurance and long term care insurance planning.
  • Working with women in who are retiring, divorcing, inheriting or changing jobs.
  • Helping business owners plan to turn the business into retirement income.
  • Turning your accumulated assets into retirement income that can go into your checking account.
  • Helping charities build their endowments.

Alice March, Founder
The Attention Factor


Alice Aspen March has become known as The Attention Lady, by creating an innovative paradigm for enriched living: The Attention Factor ®.

She’s given keynote addresses, staff trainings, workshops and seminars, participated on various work and educational panels.  She has presented her work internationally, and at various cities around the US to hundreds of people working in various occupations, and living varied lives. Audience participants consistently ask her, “Why haven’t we heard this before?”

In the past Alice founded F.A.C.T. (Focusing Awareness on Children and Television), which helped keep Mister Rogers Neighborhood on PBS. Later she created and co-produced the Emmy-nominated documentary, “Latch-Key Kids” (hosted by Christopher Reeves). She was a California State Senate appointee to the White House Conference on the Family, and to the Commission for the Future Funding of Public Broadcasting in California. She served as a Member and Chairperson for L.A.’s KCET Community Advisory Board, KCET’s Board of Directors, the Center for Improvement of Child Caring and the International Institute of Los Angeles.

She has written two books:
 Attention: It’s the Problem---It’s the Solution
Attention: Secrets for Making It in College and Beyond

She is currently writing a third book, which people have been asking for since she expanded her target audience.
She will also have a NookBook of collected writings out this Fall.

Five years ago, Alice moved from Los Angeles to New York City to expand her mission, to teach people to communicate differently. She continues to find research, which supports her perspective that everyone needs The Attention Factor. People leave her Presentations with life changing insights, new personal power, tools and skills to create healthier living and working. A psychologist recently said to her; “The world needs you.”

Sue Matthews, President
Tay-Bandz/Kids Curing Cancer


Sue Matthews is actively involved in advocating for children with cancer in memory of her 16 year old daughter, Taylor, who was a high spirited, fun loving child whose contagious laughter and smile could brighten anyone’s day and who believed that in life… All You Need is Love. Taylor remains a beacon of hope in the battle against pediatric cancer.

Sue has emerged as an advocate for pediatric cancer awareness. As President of tay-bandz/kids curing cancer, Sue oversees all of the foundation’s grant making, fundraising, activity and event planning and financial reporting. tay-bandz has expanded its programs to a national level. Her primary focus is to raise awareness and fund research for pediatric cancer. She collaborates with other cancer foundations, associations and societies as well.

Sue holds a Bachelor of Arts degree where she majored in Accounting. She is a CPA and was a Senior Manager at Deloitte Specializing in mergers & acquisitions.

Sue is a member of The Columbia’s Children’s Council at Columbia Medical University and a member of Coalition Against Cancer Gold Awareness Project.

Sue is an Executive Mentor at Baruch College. She is currently a member of Cambridge Who’s Who, The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, The American Institute of Certified Public accountants, The Ben Applebaum Foundation, and The Woman’s Committee of the Museum of New York City.

Sue is writing a memoir of Taylor’s journey to help parents facing the tragedy of having a child diagnosed with cancer. Her memoir will include practical advice as well as highlight Taylor’s celebration of life.

  • National Gold Awareness Project, Committee Member July 2014-present
  • Woman's Leadership Exchange, Member June 2014-present
  • National Association of Italian American Woman, Member September 2014-present

Kathleen McQuiggan, Senior Vice President, Global Women's Strategies
Pax World Management LLC


Kathleen McQuiggan is Senior Vice President of Global Women's Strategies for Pax World Management LLC and Managing Director of Pax Ellevate Management LLC. In these senior management roles, Kathleen is responsible for initiatives related to gender diversity and women’s leadership. Kathleen’s responsibilities include sales and marketing for Pax Ellevate Management LLC, which manages the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund. In addition, she oversees Pax World’s broader contributions to thought leadership related to gender equality as an investment concept and women and sustainable investing. She also leads Pax World’s Women and Wealth Practice Management initiative focused on helping financial advisors to build their practices and to better engage and serve female clients.

Kathleen has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry with much of that time focused on increasing the industry’s understanding of and responsiveness to the financial planning needs of women. Prior to her current role, Kathleen was Senior Adviser to Pax World for Gender Diversity Initiatives while serving as President of Catalina Leadership, a strategic advisory organization she launched that focused on investing in women. Prior to working with Pax World, she was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 13 years, where she served as an Institutional Equity Franchise salesperson in Chicago and Boston.

Kathleen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Towson University. An advocate for women’s issues in business and the community, she currently is Co-President of the Ellevate Network Boston Chapter and serves on the YWCA Boston Board of Directors, the advisory panel for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. Women’s Initiative and the advisory board of Wealthrive.

Kathleen McQuiggan is a registered representative of ALPS Distributors, Inc.

Lisa Oz, Host
The Lisa Oz Show


Lisa is a writer, producer and entrepreneur. She is host of the Lisa Oz Show on Veria Living TV and hosted her own radio show on Sirius XM. In addition to authoring the New York Times bestseller US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most, Lisa co-authored five New York Times bestselling books, including the YOU: The Owner’s Manual series. She is also Editor at Large of the new Hearst magazine, Dr. Oz, The Good Life.

With her husband, she helped found HealthCorps, a peer-mentoring, non-profit which delivers a progressive curriculum in nutrition, fitness and mental resilience to over 32,000 teens in at-risk communities across the country.

Lisa and her work have been featured in O magazine, Redbook, Esquire and Shape. She has appeared on The View, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, The Dr. Oz Show, The Nate Berkus Show, Access Hollywood Live, Good Day LA, The Joy Beyhar Show, Extra, The Wendy Williams Show and The Chew.

Judi Rosenthal, Business Consultant and Self-Promotion Coach
Rosenthal Design Group, LLC


Business Consultant and Self-Promotion Coach Judi Rosenthal is renowned for wielding her elite sales skills and exponential charm to win sales in any situation–from 5-star restaurants to cold calls and union halls. Judi's capitalized on her selling superpowers at a national financial services company for 17 years, and she’s recognized as an industry expert at coaching financial advisors on self-promotion, personal branding and making sales. Judi's built a reputation as an ace facilitator and speaker on personal branding and high-value client acquisition at corporate events and conferences nationwide. She's in demand for speaking engagements in financial services, fashion, media, technology, and other industries. She regularly facilitates webcasts about marketing and selling. Judi’s appeared on The Today Show, CNBC’s Power Lunch and CNBC’s special live market coverage, she’s a repeat guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio, and is quoted regularly in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the New York Daily News and on TODAY.com. Judi lives in New York City with her husband Theo, their daughter Jane, and their son Miles.

Pernille Spiers-Lopez, Global Director


Pernille Spiers-Lopez is a Global Director and serves on both corporate and non-profit boards. She serves currently on the board of Meijer Corporation, Michigan and COOP DK, Copenhagen, Save The Children International, London UK and Save The Children US

Pernille was with IKEA for 21 years. Among several top executive positions, Pernille held the position as CEO & President for IKEA North America and was a member of The Executive Management Team of the IKEA Group for 10 years. Pernille decided to leave IKEA July 1, 2011 after 2 1/2 years of commuting between Chicago and Europe.

During her tenure as President of IKEA North America (2001-2009), Pernille lead the fastest expansion ever within IKEA. IKEA grew from a small ‘niche’ retailer with 23 stores to a ‘major player’ with 50 stores. She brought with her a wealth of experience in home furnishings retail, human resources and leadership. This experience was grounded in and enhanced by her commitment to the IKEA culture and values that are at the heart of the company and its success.

Most recently Pernille Spiers-Lopez was the Global HR Manager for the IKEA Group and its 135,000 employees. With her extensive business experience, she had developed and implemented a new business focused HR Strategy empowering the organization, it’s leaders and co-workers to grow business and people together. It is through this humanistic way of doing business that Pernille had brought to IKEA perhaps her greatest asset: the ambition to foster an environment of growth, inclusion, balance and empowerment – while doing good business.

A native of Denmark with a Masters in Journalism, Pernille Spiers-Lopez has lived in the United States for 30 years. Prior to joining IKEA, Pernille was an entrepreneur with a Scandinavian design business and she held several leadership positions for different retail companies in Florida and California.

Pernille recently published her first book in Denmark about personal leadership and taking responsibility for our own life and success. “ Don’t make it the most important thing in your life to find the right job, make it the most important job to find the right life”. Her book will be published in US October 7th.

She and her husband, a school administrator, live in Long Beach, California. They have two adult kids in Los Angeles.

Rachael Braun Scherl, Co-Founder
Spark Solutions For Growth


Growth strategy consultant, marketing expert and sought-after public speaker Rachel Braun Scherl has become a trusted authority on leadership and entrepreneurship. In her 20+ years as a consultant and entrepreneur, Rachel has achieved countless gains for her clients as well as her own business, from engineering product re-positioning to regain market dominance, to providing the strategy that has secured strong customer bases for numerous startups. As co-owner and principal of SPARK Solutions for Growth, a consulting firm advising businesses on strategic growth and partnerships, product development and marketing, Rachel has built an international client base that includes multiple divisions of Johnson & Johnson, Allergan, Pfizer, Merck, Bayer and Deloitte. Her firm’s client retention rate is more than 90 percent, and clients typically retain SPARK as they move to other companies and roles.

Rachel launched SPARK with business partner Mary Wallace Jaensch as a division of their consulting firm The Jannick Group in 1998, and drove its growth for 10 years before launching her next venture. In 2008 she partnered with healthcare investment firm Quaker BioVentures to create Semprae Laboratories. As President, Rachel and her team built a company that developed and marketed sexual health and wellness products for women - literally creating a new category in the process. Semprae attracted significant media attention and industry interest, and was sold to Innovus Pharmaceuticals in 2013. Rachel then returned her attention to SPARK, re-launching the company with her longtime business partner.

Prior to launching The Jannick Group and SPARK, Rachel was a principal at the Demeter Group, where she contributed to doubling revenues in the first year of her tenure. Previously, Rachel was a principal at Marketing Corporation of America, where she served as lead consultant and project manager for Johnson & Johnson's global OTC, pharmaceutical and consumer products, and managed strategic engagements for world-class brands including American Express and Disney. Rachel began her career with Johnson & Johnson, joining a team responsible for managing the company’s flagship TYLENOLTM brand as part of its McNeil consumer division.

As an accomplished speaker, Rachel is often featured at leadership and entrepreneurship events at colleges, universities and conferences, including Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Duke University, The Fuqua School at Duke University, Yale School of Management, Barnard College, the S.H.E. Summit and Entrepreneurship Week. The noted entrepreneur and motivator has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, CBS News and MSNBC, and been interviewed for major platforms such as The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes, AOL, The Huffington Post and CNN. Rachel writes a monthly blog for The Huffington Post, and has also written for INC. and contributed a chapter to Linda Ellis Eastman's book The Power of Transformation: Reinventing Your Life, an anthology of insights from business leaders.

Rachel earned an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 1992 after graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University with a B.A. in Psychology and Human Development. She currently serves on the Duke New York Women’s Executive Board as well as the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for
Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.  Rachel serves on the board of Formula XO, Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of beauty products. She is an alumnus of the Wexner Heritage Program, a learning and leadership development program for volunteer leaders in North America.

Pei-Sze Cheng, Investigative Reporter


Emmy award-winning reporter Pei-Sze Cheng is a member of NBC 4 New York’s investigative unit – the I-team, where Cheng delivers in-depth coverage of topics that range from school security, police misconduct, to the perils of online drug marketplaces.

Cheng joined NBC 4 New York in April 2005 as a general assignment reporter.  As a general assignment reporter for eight years, Cheng has covered New York’s biggest stories including Super Storm Sandy, the Sandy Hook school shooting, the Miracle on the Hudson plane crash landing,  as well as the 2005 NYC transit strike.  Cheng has also exposed immigration and real estate fraud in the New York area.  She regularly files reports for all  News 4 New York newscasts. 

Cheng is the recipient of a National Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award for team coverage of Super Storm Sandy and won a 2009 New York Emmy Award for Outstanding On-Camera Talent for General Assignment reporting.

Cheng came to NBC New York from WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut where she served as the New Haven bureau reporter and fill-in anchor. Cheng covered stories that included the bombing of the Yale Law School, the blackout of 2003, the trial of former Governor John Rowland, and the delayed execution of convicted serial killer Michael Ross. 

Prior to that, she was a reporter at News 12 in Norwalk, Conn., where she reported for the 5 p.m.  and 10 p.m. newscasts.

A graduate of Columbia University, Cheng holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. 

A trusted reporter with strong community ties, she is a member of the Asian American Journalists Association.

A native of Dix Hills, N.Y., Cheng and her family currently reside in Nassau County.

Connect with Pei-Sze Cheng on Twitter and Facebook.

Linda Fairstein, Lawyer, Former Prosecutor, and Internationally Best-Selling Crime Novelist


For three decades, from 1972 until 2002, Fairstein served in the office of the New York County District Attorney, where she was chief of the country’s pioneering Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit for twenty-six years.  In that position, she supervised the investigation and trial of Manhattan cases involving sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and homicides arising out of those crimes.  She was the lead attorney in the homicide prosecution of Robert Chambers (the “Preppy Murder” case) in 1988, and directed major litigation in these specialties, including the trial against the offenders charged with the riot in Central Park following the Puerto Rican Day parade in June, 2000.

Fairstein is an honors graduate of Vassar College (1969) and the University of Virginia School of Law (1972).  In 1998, Fairstein’s law school classmates established a scholarship fund in her honor at their alma mater, supporting law school students interested in pursuing careers in the public sector.

She has received numerous awards for her legal work and advocacy, and in many instances, was the first woman to be so honored.  These include the Federal Bar Council’s Emory Buckner Award for Public Service and the UJA Federation’s Proskauer Award.  For her pioneering work on behalf of victims of violence, she received Columbia University’s School of Medicine and School of Nursing Award for Excellence; the Anti-Violence Project “Courage” Award; Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year Award; the American Heart Association Women of Courage award, and scores of similar honors.  In 2010, Fairstein was awarded the New York Women’s Agenda Lifetime Achievement Award for her domestic violence work, and the Silver Bullet Award of the International Thriller Writers.

Ms. Fairstein is the author of an internationally best-selling series of crime novels (translated into more than a dozen languages) which feature Manhattan prosecutor Alexandra Cooper.  The seventeenth in the series – DEVIL’S BRIDGE – debuted in August 2015 and was an instant New York Times bestseller, as were the thirteen books which preceded it.  KILLER LOOK will be published in August, 2016.

She is also the author of a non-fiction work, SEXUAL VIOLENCE: OUR WAR AGAINST RAPE (1993), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.  She is a regular contributor on criminal justice issues to magazines, journals, and on-line publications like The Daily Beast, and does on-air commentary for all the major television network and cable news shows.                                                                           

Fairstein is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the International Society of Barristers.  She serves as an advisor to the National Basketball Association on domestic violence issues; and to colleges and universities on campus sexual assault.

Fairstein serves on a number of non-profit boards.  She is a trustee of Vassar College; and a founding member of the Joyful Heart Foundation (Mariska Hargitay of Law/Order: SVU’s charity to aid victims of sexual assault, where she co-chairs the national project to end the rape evidence collection kit backlog);  Safe Horizon (the country’s largest victim advocacy organization); and God’s Love We Deliver (which feeds terminally ill New Yorkers).

Louise M. Guido, CEO and Managing Partner


Louise M. Guido is the CEO and Managing Partner of ChangeCorp, a mobile content services and app developer that creates and distributes highly relevant, localized content for ‘mobile-only’ middle class consumers in emerging markets. Our primary targets are women, youth, and entrepreneurs, and our content advances their social and economic development. ChangeCorp has secured a global distribution partnership with Facebook and several local telecom operators, which offer us access to over one billion potential customers.

ChangeCorp’s flagship product, The SmartWoman Project, is a mobile service that supports the empowerment of women around the world through expert content, social networking and social impact. Our products currently help hundreds of thousands of loyal, profitable customers learn how start a business, manage their money, become a better parent, access women’s mentorship circles, and more. Each app features content written by experts, offers connection to other users, and provides access to services and resources. All are localized, yet scalable to any country.

Ms. Guido has been a Keynote speaker, panelist and participant in many events around the world, including: UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week, GSMA Mobile World Congress, Intel’s Education Summit and ChangeCorp’s own global conference at the United Nations, “Changing Lives Through Mobile: Innovation in Emerging Markets,” that highlights economically sustainable mobile services with social impact.

Ms. Guido also is the founder of the Foundation for Social Change – a not-for-profit organization that focuses on teaching women and girls life and business skills through a live training program. Trainings have reached over 5,000 women and girls in Colombia, Kashmir, Pakistan and Indonesia. In addition, each year the Foundation hosts the Global Conference for Social Change with the United Nations in New York giving a “Leader of Change” Award to the most sustainably responsible corporations and organizations around the world.

Ms. Guido has over 30 years of publishing and marketing experience with some of the world’s most recognizable publications, including: The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, House Beautiful and Town & Country magazines. Ms. Guido launched a successful international publishing company called, Living Abroad. As a guidebook for expatriate executives, Living Abroad, features day-to-day living details about 185 countries including the culture, housing, education, taxes, insurance, etc, Over 100 companies subscribe to Living Abroad’s Web service.

Ms. Guido was graduated from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in Communication Arts.
She lives and works in New York City.

Linda Kaplan Thaler, Chairman
Publicis, NY


Linda Kaplan Thaler is responsible for some of America’s most famous, relevant and touching advertising campaigns in the industry, including the Aflac duck quack heard round the world and the daring “Yes, Yes, Yes” for Clairol Herbal Essences. Much of her work has become part of the American pop-culture landscape. She has authored and composed jingles that are among the industry’s gold standard, including “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid,” and “Kodak Moments.” Of her 13 Clio Awards, two were for Best Original Music and Lyrics. Linda has worked on several political campaigns, including the presidential runs for Clinton/Gore in 1992 and Hillary Clinton in 2008. 

Today, Linda is the Chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, a fully integrated advertising agency with digital, social and technology at its core. The agency is the U.S. flagship within the Publicis Worldwide Network, and its blue-chip client roster includes: P&G, Citi, Nestle, L’Oreal, Merck, Pfizer, Cadillac and Wendy’s, among many others.

Linda is also a best-selling author and television personality appearing on
“The Apprentice,” CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, among others, and hosting the Oxygen television series “Making It Big,” where young professionals competed for their dream job. Her three collaborations with coauthor Robin Koval have all become national best-sellers: The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference, The Power of Nice and Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World. Their new book; GRIT to GREAT, will debut this fall.

In addition to her numerous awards, Linda’s creative talents have earned her the prestigious New York Women in Communications Matrix Award, the Advertising Woman of the Year Award from Advertising Women of New York, the UJA’s Mac Dane Humanitarian Award, the Girl Scout’s Woman of Distinction Award, and was named one of Advertising Age’s “Most Influential Women in Advertising.” Linda was also presented with a New York Women in Film and Television’s Muse Award, the first woman in advertising to receive this honor. Most recently, Linda was inducted into the American Advertising Federation 2015 Advertising Hall of Fame.

A native New Yorker, Linda was a Phi Beta Kappa and Magna cum Laude graduate of CCNY, with a BA in psychology and a MA in music. Linda currently sits on the Advisory Council for The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at CCNY, and also served as the 2010/2011 President of New York Women in Communications. Linda is married to composer Fred Thaler and has two children, Michael and Emily. 

Robin Koval, CEO & President
Truth Initiative


Robin Koval leads Truth Initiative, the nation’s largest public health foundation and the creator of the award winning and lifesaving truth youth tobacco prevention public education program, She joined Truth Initiative in November 2013.

As a leader in the world of advertising and marketing for more than 25 years, her impressive background pairs up perfectly with the foundation’s public education mandate, particularly in relation to its innovative youth tobacco prevention counter-marketing campaign truth and the evolution of the program for a new generation of youth and the complexities of today’s communication landscape. Prior to joining Truth Initiative Ms. Koval served as the CEO of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, New York’s fifth-largest advertising agency and was the co-founder of its predecessor, the Kaplan Thaler Group. She grew that company from a fledgling start-up in 1997 to a billion-dollar agency devoted to brands in all major categories with clients such as Procter & Gamble, Wendy’s, Pfizer and Aflac.

Committed to public service, she has developed campaigns and provided counsel to a number of nonprofit, cause-related and healthcare clients and organizations. With the Girl Scouts, she helped lead an award-winning campaign to encourage girls to stay involved in math, science and technology. On the issue of underage drinking, she led a campaign that encouraged parents to speak early to their children and young teens about the risks. Other efforts include projects with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Red Cross and work with childhood asthma.

Among her many awards, she was the 2011 recipient of the New York Women in Communications Matrix Award and a Women's Venture Fund Highest Leaf Award. She was also recognized in 2011 by Advertising Age as one of its “Most Influential Women in Advertising.” Self-Made Magazine has also named Koval one of its Top 50 “Women Entrepreneurs Who Inspire,” and she has been honored with the “Working Mother of the Year Trailblazer Award” by Advertising Women of New York.

Ms. Koval is also a best-selling author. Her three collaborations with coauthor Linda Kaplan Thaler have all received national recognition. The titles of her books are The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness; The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference and Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World. She is a sought-after speaker, making appearances on network television programming like ABC’s Good Morning America and Nightline, NBC’s Today and The Martha Stewart Show and is quoted frequently in news outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters regarding youth tobacco prevention. Ms. Koval and Ms. Kaplan Thaler have a new book, Grit to Great: How Perseverance and Pluck Can Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary that will publish in September 2015.

Ms. Koval earned her BFA from Syracuse University and an MBA from Baruch College. She is a current member of the board of directors of Partnership With Children, a nonprofit organization that works with troubled and underserved children in the New York City school system by providing social and emotional learning services. She has also served as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

Susan Lucci, TV Personality


As the most famous face in daytime television history, Susan Lucci has held audiences spellbound for years as the sexy, sassy, beautiful "woman you love to hate," Erica Kane on ABC-TV's "All My Children." In May 1999 she won the Emmy Award for "Best Actress,” which was a historic moment not only for Lucci, but for all of television. Lucci currently stars in the hit Lifetime series, “Devious Maids” as the wealthy and effervescent socialite, Genevieve Delatour. She was also the host and narrator of Investigation Discovery’s highly rated series, “Deadly Affairs.” She received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 28, 2005 and was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2006. She is the second woman in the history of the Columbus Day parade to serve as Grand Marshal – the first was Sophia Loren. She is proud to serve as an Ambassador for the newly established National Women’s Museum in Washington, DC. In August, she will be honored with the Disney Legends Award for her contribution to Disney’s reputation for creative excellence. Lucci was named one of E! Entertainment's "Top Entertainers of the Year" as well as one of Barbara Walters' "Ten Most Fascinating People."  VH-1 has also named Lucci one of its"200 Top Icons of all Time.”

In 2011, Lucci appeared in the highly rated season finale of TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” and returned for another episode in February 2012 entitled, “I Love Lucci.” She also guest starred in a recurring role on Lifetime’s “Army Wives” in 2012. Lucci competed on ABC's primetime reality show, "Dancing with the Stars,” hosted "Saturday Night Live,” and guest-starred in many successful television series and numerous movies for television throughout her career.  In March 2011 Lucci released her New York Timesbestselling autobiography, “All My Lifewith Harper Collins.  The paperback edition of All My Lifewas released on September 13th. 

Lucci’s artistic excellence afforded her the opportunity to expand to luminous careers in theater and cabaret with solo concerts across the country and nightclub performances opening for Regis Philbin.  In her 1999 Broadway debut, Lucci starred as Annie Oakley in the revival of Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun,” to amazing review.  Michael Logan of TV Guide said, "Susan Lucci didn't just take Great White Way by storm: she took it by tornado, hurricane and tsunami, too."

Acting and singing are only two of Lucci’s many passions.  Within the past 10 years she became a successful entrepreneur launching a Susan Lucci Collection of hair care products, two fragrances, jewelry, shoes, and accessory lines, and a lingerie line for "beauty of all ages.”  Her head-to-toe collection was a constant sell-out on the Home Shopping Network (HSN).  In 2002, Lucci introduced a personal microdermabrasion system with Guthy-Renker, Youthful Essence® by Susan Lucci that has sold over 8 million kits worldwide since its debut.  Lucci expanded her expertise with Guthy-Renker by also presenting "Malibu Pilates," the widely popular Pilates chair fitness program. She was recognized by the Electronic Retailing Association for her achievements in direct response marketing with the DR Icon Award at the 2014 Moxie Awards Gala.

Lucci’s commitment to her work with children has taken her to Africa in support of Feed The Children, appearing in an Emmy-award winning documentary. She and her husband have been ongoing champions of Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York and have been the spokespersons for the National AFib Campaign. She currently hosts United Cerebral Palsy of NYC Women Who Care Luncheon. She has served as the March of Dimes' National Ambassador in 2000 and as a celebrity spokesperson for AMDeC (Academic Medicine Development Company) and The New York Cancer Project. She has also been involved with Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids and is the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the prestigious New York City Gracie Award and the Muse Award for Women in Film & Television. She was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement Awards and presented with the Italian Board of Guardians Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lucci’s accomplishments and contributions to the world of television and the performing arts have truly made her an icon to millions.

Sharon Marantz Walsh, Editor-At-Large
Glow Magazine


She was awarded a "Special Thanks" for her past roles as Chairwoman of the National Osteoporosis Foundation's Generation of Strength Campaign, Creator of their Gift From Mothers to Daughters Luncheon, and Chair of NOF's National Honoree Committee, where She was responsible for spearheading NOF's two million dollar campaign.

Over the years, Sharon served as a spokeswoman, appeared on television, radio, and other media outlets for many not-for-profit Foundations, securing celebrity endorsements, significant funding, and sales, as well as in-kind-gifts for auctions from high profile vendors such as: Piaget, Bulgari, Harry Winston and J. Mendel.

Sharon is a Founding Board Member of the Pajama Program and is on the Advisory Board of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts, and was a past Board Member of the Jefferson Awards, for whom she established a strong New York City presence, as well as launching Under the Rainbow’s second year performance at the Alvin Ailey Dance theater.

Currently working on Assisting in bringing a potential solution to the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa

Bringing the world’s finest, long-lasting anti-microbial technology to leading corporations with a current focus on the healthcare, textile and transportation (airlines, cruise lines, rental vehicles) sectors, where it is needed most

Bringing the world’s first non-invasive, inexpensive, mobile, "breathprint" detection device for early stage cancer and other diseases to market through select strategic partnerships.

Vera Moore, President/CEO
Vera Moore Cosmetics


Vera Moore, former actress turned entrepreneur is President & CEO of the highly competitive family owned business, Vera Moore Cosmetics. Established in 1979, Vera Moore Cosmetics was developed from the guidance of a licensed esthetician, her husband. VMC  maintains the position that women should “clear it up” vs. “cover it up.” The brand is anchored in the belief that skincare is imperative as a complement to supporting inner beauty, coupled with the usage of cosmetics.  Thus, our mantra “SKINCARE is the TRUE foundation.”
Vera was contracted on national television as one of the first black actresses on the soap opera “Another World” NBC where she portrayed “Linda Metcalf” for ten years. She immediately realized the void in the market for quality products for women of color; specifically a natural looking foundation that didn’t rub off on your clothes. This gave birth to Vera Moore Cosmetics. Her journey has lead to national recognition on the covers of Black Enterprise Magazine, Network Journal’s 25 Influential Black Women in Business, Networking Women, featured in the Wall Street Journal, Upscale Magazine, Beauty Store Business, received the Success Stories Award from Volvo Cars of North America, has hosted her own half hour radio segment “Skin Deep & Moore on WWRL Radio and featured in Black Enterprise’s Book Collection - "Against All Odds”.

In 1982, Vera broke through the color barrier when her company became the first black-owned business to set up shop in the 50 year history at the prestigious Green Acres Mall Valley Stream, Long Island NY.

Vera’s products are used on stage, screen and television. Emmy award winning makeup artists, celebrities, news anchor women, and women from all walks of life solicit Vera’s products and services.

Vera was featured in WWD and the Wall Street Journal announcing her partnership with Duane Reade as she continues to expand and strategically position her company for growth.  Select Duane Reade’s stores within a store concept are the new destination of choice for beauty, in an upscale high-end environment called the “LOOK boutique.”  Vera’s daughter, Consuella is a key player in the business; a licensed esthetician, and the National Educational Director.

Vera continues to reach for “moore” as she goes national with Walgreens.

Beth Polish, President
The Critical Junctures Group


Beth Polish is president of The Critical Junctures Group, a company-building consultancy providing CEO, Board, Investment Advisory, and interim CXO services and expertise including growth strategy, business models, corporate development, finance and operations, and fundraising, with a specialty in identifying and navigating critical junctures.  Current clients are in big data, digital health care, remote staffing, and fashion. 

Previously, she was head of Corporate Innovation at Hearst for five years.   She has also been CFO of Goldman Sachs Ventures, founding CFO/COO of iVillage, and Vice President at Bannon & Co., Inc., an investment bank specializing in media, technology and communications.  As COO and Producer at Rabbit Ears, Inc., she produced three Grammy-nominated children’s programs, and she was producer of the Off-Broadway play “Rosetta Street.” 

A former Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at NYU, Beth is currently a mentor and coach at Springboard Enterprises and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator and has been a speaker at conferences and meetings around the world, including the Stockholm School of Economics, the Freelancer’s Union, and the European Journalism Centre.  She serves on the Board of Trust of UGA’s Grady School of Journalism and the Board of Advisors of WAHVE, Inc., and is a member of the Executive Committee and National Advisory Board of the Women's Leadership Exchange®.   She is the author of print and Internet articles and multimedia business programs, including Business Plan Power and the DROOM (Don’t Run Out Of Money) series of primers.  She received her MBA from the Harvard Business School.


Jasmine Sandler, Digital Marketing Strategist, Digital Marketing Speaker, Digital Marketing Author, Social Sales Trainer, SEO Instructor


Jasmine Sandler is a global keynote speaker, trainer, author and consultant in Digital Marketing and Social Selling for B2B global organizations and C-level executives. She is the CEO and lead Digital Strategist of Agent-cy Online Marketing, specializing in Search Marketing and B2B Social Media Marketing since she founded the agency in 2006. Jasmine has over 15 years of client experience in leading global digital marketing programs and campaigns.

Jasmine has been named (2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015) as a Top 40 Global Digital Marketing Strategist in the industry, Top SEO consultant on Twitter and Top 17 Digital Influencers in Content Marketing. She is heralded by LinkedIn as a LinkedIn Sales expert. She is a go to resource for industry media and conference leaders for insight on B2B Digital Marketing. She has been interviewed and is a regular contributor on the subject of B2B Social Marketing and Sales to WPIX, NBC, PRNEWS Digital Guidebooks, SES Global Conference, OMMA, The New York Times and other B2B media.

Jasmine owns a niche area of Social Branding Training, Online Personal Branding for C-level Executives. Through her own developed process and managed program, Jasmine helps global executives build, grow and protect strong online reputations that lead to increases in market share, CEO media visibility and sustained company gains. She is the author of How to Brand Yourself Online like a CEO”, a manual for personal branding online for business professionals. She is also contributing writer and mentor on the subject of Social CEO Branding for Incisive Media, Fast Company, Branded.Me and LinkedIn.

Jasmine is well known by LinkedIn and by business professionals around the world for her LinkedIn Marketing & Sales Training programs. Jasmine is the Author of Branding & Sales: The LinkedIn Way”, a manual for using LinkedIn for Selling, as well as multiple papers, reports, whitepapers and presentations on the subject.

Details of Jasmine Sandler’s Digital Marketing Consulting & Training programs can be found on www.jasminesandler.com 

Daniel Vaccaro, Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager


Daniel Vaccaro serves as Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager for BankUnited. He specializes in creative financing solutions for small and mid-sized businesses in the Tri-State area.  During a 30+ year career in commercial lending and risk management, he has financed business in a broad range of industries with many complex needs. Prior to joining BankUnited, at Empire State Certified Development Corporation he specialized in partnering with banks under the SBA 504 Loan Program, providing low rate 90% financing for commercial real estate and durable equipment.  Prior to joining ESCDC, he served as a Vice President and Middle Market Lender at National Westminster Bank USA, a Vice President and Project Leader in the Risk Management Group of Manufacturers Hanover Trust and Chemical Bank and a Vice President and Small Business Lender at HSBC Bank.  Mr. Vaccaro has been involved in entrepreneurial endeavors and also served as a consultant to small and mid-sized businesses.  He holds a B.S. in Management and an M.B.A. in Finance from New York University.  A Past President of the Stern School of Business Alumni Association, Mr. Vaccaro has been inducted into New York University’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

Mary Wallace Jaensch, Co-Founder
Spark Solutions For Growth


An experienced, passionate, high-energy consultant and business executive, Mary has a proven track record of driving profitable growth with innovative marketing strategies and exceptional consumer insights across a broad range of product categories and industries.
After earning her B.A. magna cum laude from Mt. Holyoke and her MBA from the Yale School of Management, Mary joined Richardson-Vicks, which was later acquired by Procter & Gamble. While at the company, Mary managed well-known brands such as NyQuil and Olay, and was instrumental in spurring their growth with breakthrough advertising and business development strategies. Mary was the architect behind Olay’s legendary campaign, “I don’t intend to age gracefully. I intend to fight it every step of the way,” which accelerated the brand’s growth and market share leadership, and won the P&G Brand Management Growth Award.
After a successful career at P&G, Mary founded The Demeter Group, a marketing strategy consultancy that helped drive growth for global consumer brands at J&J, Shiseido, Haagen-Dazs and Dannon. Building on that success and her reputation with clients, Mary co-founded The Jannick Group, LLC/SPARK Solutions for Growth with Rachel Braun Scherl in 1998. For more than 15 years, the firm has provided consulting services to start-ups as well as Fortune 100 companies including multiple divisions and operating units of Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Bayer, Deloitte and Glaxo SmithKline.
Mary and Rachel added another chapter to their successful partnership when The Jannick Group partnered with Quaker BioVentures in 2008 to create Semprae Laboratories, Inc., a venture-backed company focused on developing and marketing women's sexual health products. As CEO, Mary contributed to creating a company that provided evidence-based sexual health and wellness products, information and services for women. The company was sold to Innovus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company, in 2013.

That same year, Mary reignited SPARK Solutions for Growth with Rachel, building on their entrepreneurial and operational success to bring a powerful combination of strategic skills to the serious business of growing clients’ businesses.

Zelda Greenberg
The Bounce Back Guru


Zelda is a nationally known speaker, author, consultant and radio personality. She is recognized for her positive and enthusiastic spirit. Known as the Bounce Back Guru, Zelda draws from her 25 years of experiences s an entrepreneur to motivate and inspire individuals to bring out their entrepreneurial spirit. Zelda has launched and owned a successful event and party rental firm, several Hallmark Card and Gift stores, launched a non-profit, and was previously President of her family’s 100 year old produce distribution company, Fraden’s Produce. When she took over the helm of the family business sales grew in the first 18 months from 1 million to 4 million.

Zelda is the recipient of the United States SBA district and regional 2007 Family-Owned Business of the Year Award, Past President of Women Business Owners of Northeast Florida, board member of the National Speakers Association of North Florida Chapter, member of Florida Speakers Association and recipient of Athena Powerlink.

Her book, The Art of Bouncing Back will be released this summer. The book is a collection of true stories on how people overcame challenges and then became successful. Zelda is a graduate of the University of North Florida, mom of Alysha and Elliott and leader of the pack of her four loved and spoiled dogs; Snickers, Chance, Bruiser and Daisy.

Stephanie McFee, WIPP Membership Director
Women Impacting Public Policy/WIPP


Stephanie McFee has a history of organizational and consumer strategy development and implementation spanned between the academic, retail, and non-profit sectors. She currently supports two non-profit women’s organizations: Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a national bipartisan public policy organization, advocating on behalf of women and minorities in business, and The Network of Executive Women (NEW), an educational organization with the mission to attract, retain and advance women in the retail and consumer products industry. In her capacity with WIPP, Stephanie serves as the Director of Membership and Program Development overseeing the strategies focused on member recruitment and engagement and the development of programs focused on business growth and sustainability. She previously worked with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as the senior manager of women’s markets. She holds a master’s of science in consumer affairs from Auburn University.

Donn Miller-Kermani, Director
Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Florida Tech


Donn Miller-Kermani is the Director of the Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Florida Tech. The WBC at Florida Tech is partially funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and is an outreach for the College of Business at Florida Tech. The WBC is one of approximately 112 Women’s Business Centers in the United States, American Samoa and Guam.

Donn is an adjunct instructor at Brevard Community College teaching courses in business, advertising, business law, Microsoft Office, computer applications, and office technology. She is also an adjunct instructor at Florida Institute of Technology for the College of Business teaching courses in computer applications and information systems.

During Donn’s career, she has served as the Assistant Director of the National Center for Small Business Information, Director of the International Federation of Nonlinear Analysts, the Editorial and Technical Assistant for the journal, Nonlinear Analysis (one of the leading mathematical journals published by Elsevier Science, Ltd.), and the Executive Technical Editor of the Journal of Applied Mathematics and Stochastic Analysis.

Donn has a Ph.D. in Operations Research with an emphasis on Women-Owned Small Businesses in the U.S. and federal procurement. She also has a Master of Business Administration (Management of Technology), Master of Science in Computer Education (Instructional Technology) as well as a Graduate Certificate in Contract Management from Florida Institute of Technology. She is a member of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA), Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), WIPP Procurement Committee and Agency Chair, American Business Women’s Association (ABWA), and Association of Women Business Centers.

Photo by Cheryl Clermont Photography.

Lisa Sparks, Regional Development Director – South Florida
Constant Contact


Lisa is a marketing expert with nine years of experience developing and implementing marketing communications solutions for small and medium sized businesses. She is currently the Regional Development Director for Constant Contact in South Florida.

A small business owner herself, Lisa uses her expertise to teach small organizations in South Florida how to use technology to maximize the power of relationship marketing. She is experienced in providing guidance, instruction, and comprehensive planning advice for the development, growth, and expansion of new and existing businesses. In 2007, Lisa won the Florida State Star Award as the top small business analyst in Florida.

Shawna Vercher
CEO, Vti-Web & President, The SSW


Shawna Vercher helps small business owners get smart about marketing their businesses online utilizing Web Publicity and Web 2.0 strategies. She founded what is now VTi-Web, a web development firm, in 2002 and grew it to be one of the most successful and well respected in its market. The company has successfully completed projects for seven government agencies, several top corporations and hundreds of entrepreneurs, and coordinated over 80 programmers in 12 countries.

She played a vital role on the Obama Presidential Campaign in Florida, implementing the Web Publicity tools and techniques that she now provides - and teaches - to small business owners. During the initial stages of the campaign Shawna coordinated press coverage and ensured accurate reporting by acting as web liaison between the campaign and various national publications and journalists. During the Primary and General Election she was responsible for monitoring, shaping and enhancing viral web coverage on hundreds of blogs and news sites, as well as assisting with the coordination and management of four events for the Senator.

She is also the President of “The SSW”, an online publication for women. The SSW recently hosted the inaugural Successful Women’s Super Bowl Luncheon to benefit the NFL YET Centers of Tampa Bay. Based on the success of the event The SSW has been asked to coordinate and host the event for future Super Bowl host cities and NFL YET centers across the country.

Dana Lightman, Ph.D., President
POWER Optimism, LLC


Dr. Dana Lightman is an accomplished motivational keynote speaker and trainer specializing in the field of optimism and positive psychology. She brings over 20 years experience as a presenter, psychotherapist, coach and educator to a wide range of audiences at conferences and conventions, corporations, hospitals, non-profits, universities and schools. As the founder of POWER Optimism in 2001, Dana published her first book, POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have…Create the Success You Want in 2004, followed by Power Optimism Playbook in 2007.

After obtaining a Master's Degree in Education and teaching for ten years at the University of Pennsylvania, Dana turned her focus to psychological services. Earning her Doctorate in Behavioral Science, Dana is an expert in positive psychology. As a practicing psychotherapist, Dana has worked with a wide range of clients on issues including self-esteem, marriage and family, relationships, eating awareness and body image, substance abuse and grief. As a consultant and trainer, she has designed and conducted psychoeducational training programs, workshops and seminars. Topics include stress management, adjusting to change, building self-esteem, resiliency, maintaining healthy relationships, substance abuse prevention and sexual harassment awareness and prevention. As an educator, Dana has lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and Arcadia University.

Dana currently focuses her energies on POWER Optimism. Her mission is to increase and release the optimist in each of us. She is a member of The National Speakers Association, an Advanced Toastmaster and past president of the Professionally Speaking chapter of Toastmasters International, and has studied dramatic presentation techniques at the Walnut and Wilma Theaters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dana has been a guest speaker on television and radio.

Barbara Talley
Author, Superwoman Doesn't Live Here Anymore


Barbara Talley is a speaker, poet, author, and publisher of many value-based living products. She is a wife, mother of six, and has been an entrepreneur for over twenty years. She has had her own business since 1987 training, inspiring, or encouraging thousands of people on various meaningful topics.

Barbara speaks nationally and specializes in Goal Setting, Time Management, Balancing Work and Family, Vision, Values, Virtues (Spirituality), Diversity, Leadership, Personal Empowerment, Effective Communications, Women’s Issues and other motivational topics for businesses, associations, community groups, colleges, and government organizations.

Barbara’s high energy, honesty, and special talent for “inspiring” her listeners makes her a much sought after keynote speaker and workshop leader. Barbara even has the ability to inspire all those techie types, since she has been one herself for over thirty years.

Barbara has launched her own publishing company this year to produce value-based books and products. She also created a Diversity game called Crossworlds™ which is a non-verbal communications/ diversity presentation. It is fun, interactive, highly educational and great for team-building. Many have experienced Barbara’s unique, heart warming, and highly educational programs.

Barbara's past clients include Booz Allen Hamilton, Clemson University, USDA Graduate School, Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM), National Association of Negro Business Professional Women’s Clubs, US Postal Service, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, Naval Academy, U.S. Marine Corps (Quantico), The State of Delaware, Blacks in Government, The Department of Homeland Security, The Girl Scouts, Johns Hopkins University, among others.

Ron Cates, Director, New Market Development
Constant Contact


Ron Cates of Constant Contact is one of the country's leading email and social media marketing experts and the nation's most popular digital marketing presenter. The host of the top 2 programs on digital marketing (Email Marketing Radio, Social Media Nation), Ron is renowned for his unparalleled expertise and his ability to convey the most advanced marketing technology concepts in an entertaining style that can be easily understood by all.

Colleen Fritz, Chief Financial Officer


As Chief Financial Officer, Colleen Fritz is responsible for the financial leadership of Nextiva. Her responsibilities include assisting the team with strategy, vision and execution as well as responsibility for human resources, legal, regulatory compliance, finance and accounting.

Colleen has over 20 years of financial and operations management experience in both public and private companies. After beginning her career at Cooper’s & Lybrand, a former Big 8 Accounting Firm, Colleen joined a private $20 Million annual revenue office products distribution company which later was acquired by Corporate Express, a multi-national public company, where Colleen assumed the responsibility of a $120 Million location. Colleen’s roles included Controller and VP of Finance and Operations.

Colleen joined the Unitedweb group of companies in 2005 as VP Operations and later CFO for a $40 Million web hosting company. Her expertise in process design and development were valuable in assisting this company to transition from its growing to mature phase of business life cycle. In 2008 Nextiva launched its VoIP/internet telephone product for small to medium sized businesses and Colleen and the Unitedweb team have quickly grown this company to 100 employees and over 10,000 VoIP customers.

Colleen holds a BA in Accounting from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Sue Ellen Allen, Author, speaker, and passionate activist.
The author of The Slumber Party from Hell


Sue Ellen Allen is an author, speaker, and passionate activist. A contradiction in
appearance, she is a former University of Texas grad, former educator, former
business owner, former community leader, former inmate at Arizona State Prison who
found her passion in prison. She now serves as Executive Director for GINA's Team, an
organization that brings educational programs into prison to inspire the inmate
population to strive for a better future and a successful reentry. GINA’s Team is named
for her prison roommate who died there of medical neglect. Gina’s death was the
defining moment of Sue Ellen’s journey, giving her life a new purpose. Her motto is
“Been there. Done that. Now how can I help?”

In prison, under harsh conditions, she survived advanced breast cancer and learned
to turn pain into power. Despite incredible odds, she found her purpose and now works
with prison officials, legislators, and interns from Arizona State University to serve that
forgotten population so that upon their re-entry to society, they will join our community
as positive, contributing members.

The author of The Slumber Party from Hell, a memoir about her prison journey,
Sue Ellen was awarded the Dawson Prize in Memoir in the 2009 Prison Writing Contest for PEN American Center. Her writing was also included in Serving Productive Time by Tom & Laura Lagana, authors of Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul. Additionally, many of her poems have been published in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Jennifer H. Choate, President/Chief Strategic Officer
Combined Effort, Inc.


Jennifer H. Choate is an expert at increasing the value of corporations
for the benefit of their employees and shareholders through niche market development and acquisition. She's spent the past 17 years within the executive management of start ups and underappreciating assets, utilizing a contemporary approach which involves the design and implementation of strategic marketing initiatives that foster company growth.

Her success in strategic planning, negotiations, public relations, branding and emerging technologies has been recognized over the years by many, including The New York Times, Fast Company, Business 2.0 and the BBC.

Jodie Heisner, President
BottomLine Media Coaching and former ABC-15 Producer


Jodie Heisner is passionate about imparting the skills she has gained in her 10 years in the broadcast media industry on others to help them grow their businesses and careers.

Jodie began her career in her home state of Michigan where she produced newscasts in the State Capitol Lansing.

It was in Lansing where she met her husband, BottomLine Media Coaching’s Jeff Heisner.

She moved to Phoenix in 2004 where she produced the Emmy Award Winning lifestyle show Sonoran Living Live on ABC15/KNXV. There Jodie worked with chefs, stylists, designers, doctors and inventors helping them to create entertaining and informative segments for the magazine/talk show format.

Jodie was promoted to Special Projects/Investigative Producer at ABC 15 in 2007. In this position she produced highly promotable stories for the station’s main anchors.

She also produced investigative stories with ABC 15’s Emmy Award Winning I-Team. During this time Jodie did undercover work with hidden cameras exposing consumer fraud on multiple occasions.

Most recently viewers in Arizona woke-up with Jodie each morning when she reported on ABC 15’s Daybreak. Jodie brought viewers the latest each morning on major stories including; the Tucson shooting, the James Ray Sweat Lodge Trial, SB 1070 and Arizona Immigration as well as the Foreclosure Crisis.

Anyone who knows Jodie will tell you being a mother and wife are her most important roles.

She enjoys reading a good book, a glass of wine, hiking and spending time with her family and friends.

Teena Milldebrandt, CLU®, ChFC®, Senior Financial Planner
Intouch Wealth Advisors, an Office of MetLife


Financial planning is my passion. As a part of the Intouch Wealth Advisors team, it is my goal to empower and educate our clients, families and business owners to achieve their desired lifestyle. Our focus is on the client where we build and maintain long-term relationships and provide current and ongoing advice in all aspects of their financial lives. I strive to be a reliable resource for each and every client.

I am a certified “Retirewise” presenter for the MetLife “PlanSmart” suite of seminars, workshops and topical education opportunities available to the workplace.

Amira Nehmeh, Co founder, Co owner and CFO
Neeme Systems Solutions, Inc (NSS)


Amira Nehmeh is the Co founder, Co owner and CFO of Neeme Systems Solutions, Inc (NSS) an engineering firm specializing in the development and manufacturing of avionics and electrical systems for the aerospace industry.

NSS is a fast growing Small Business (the Company grew 30 times its original size over the past 10 years), Woman Owned, Disadvantaged, working on its 8(a) Certification, debt free, 100% privately owned by its founders.
NSS serves large aerospace companies by providing engineering services in the United States and Globally. NSS’s client base includes the major aerospace avionics and aircraft airframe firms.
NSS is an ISO9000 and AS9100 certified, and follows the FAA, EASA, and Transport Canada standards and regulations.

As a new business, Amira focused on establishing a strong business foundation. Her responsibilities included finance, contracts, financial management, & HR.
With a solid business foundation in place, Amira shifted her focus to strategic planning and providing a growth based environment to maximize customer satisfaction, and making investments in innovation and relationships that will move NSS to the next level.

Amira promotes an environment of trust, honesty, and teamwork. As the sales and marketing director, Amira also focuses on increasing the Company’s reach and reputation in the market place. While NSS relies on a dedicated sales and marketing team, every employee understands that he/ she is the face of the Company and is responsible to ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Amira’s investment strategy focuses on:
1) Strengthening NSS engineering capabilities and performance through constant training, effective and very selective recruiting, strong program management and through state of the art tools and processes, and
2) Investing in R&D of new technologies and products for the commercial aircraft industry of which, several are patent pending.
NSS has built a strong industry reputation for high quality cost effective engineering services with focus on reducing the life cycle of development programs.
Where size and long history matters, NSS has put in place teaming agreements with large companies to facilitate the introduction of its new products in the market.

As a result, NSS is growing to become a serious supplier of avionics and electrical systems, providing innovative technologies, comprehensive solutions, engineering services and consulting to its clients with special emphasis on light weight, safety, cost, energy efficiency, and productivity of the Aircraft.

NSS is being nominated for AZ Small Business of the year for 2011.

Jeffrie Story, President
Unleash Your Sales DNA


Jeffrie Story is a behavior specialist, as President of Unleash Your Sales DNA and a licensee for Sales Call Reluctance assessments and training. She works with companies to hire people who will sell, and to help eliminate call reluctance.

She is also Co-President of the Phoenix Chapter of American Association of Inside Sales Professionals and a member of the National Speakers Association. Jeffrie is author of Straight to Great: The Sales Manager’s Field Guide,

Before founding her company, Jeffrie was an executive in both sales and marketing at USWEST, now CenturyLink. She led inside sales groups covering three states and seven centers, co-founded a leading-edge sales channel, led an enterprise Product Management group for a $160 Million product line, and won two Chairman Awards.

In her personal life Jeffrie loves traveling to foreign countries is fluent in Spanish. But her overriding mission is personal transformation – whether for herself or for contributing to others.

Marcia Veidmark, President and CEO
Specialized Services Company, Inc.


Marcia Veidmark is President and CEO of Specialized Services Company, Inc. (SSC), a family business that has specialized in underground utility construction and consulting since 1969. Marcia is one of the original founders of SSC and has served in all major administrative capacities.

Over the years, Specialized Services Company has received several distinguished awards including being named one of the Top 50 Companies to Watch by the Arizona Small Business Association in 2007. Marcia herself received the Life Time Achievement Award form AZ Women Magazine in 2008 and the Top Woman in Business Award from the Phoenix Business Journal in 2009. In 2010 Marcia was recipient of the Enterprising Woman of the year Award, presented by Enterprising Women Magazine and the Construction Executive of the Year Award, presented by Construction Financial Managers Association (CFMA).

Marcia participates in the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the Board of Directors. She is a member of the Arizona Woman President’s Organization (WPO), the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and recently, along with three other local business women, founded the Executive Leaders Forum (ELF), a leadership development program for middle managers.

Marcia is currently serving as Chairman of North Mountain Business Alliance which represents six hundred local businesses in efforts to bring improvement and new commerce to this area of our city. And, she is serving as a committee member for Mayor Stanton on the My Plan Phoenix two year outreach program created to gain citizen input for the upcoming Master Plan for our city.

Marcia studied business at Western International University, NAU and AZUSA Pacific College.

Jeanne Kelly, President
The Kelly Group


Twelve years ago, Jeanne Kelly went from being a new mom in her twenties living in a new house, to a divorced, single mother living in a tiny cottage on her parent’s farm. In picking up the pieces of her life Jeanne's first priority was to create financial independence. Her goal was to get her own credit, buy her own car and eventually buy a house.

That quest for financial freedom was quickly dampened by the realization that she had bad credit. The most upsetting thing to her was that she had no idea that her credit was this bad and how it happened. All the goals she had set out for herself felt like pipe dreams.

In search of a job to make ends meet and through a series of circumstances it became a natural transition for her to get a job as a subcontractor for a credit repair company. This experience opened her eyes to what was possible. Jeanne worked hard and researched the credit industry and found out that FICO scoring is the cornerstone to financial freedom. She repaired her own credit reports, increased her FICO score and began her new life (self-directed and in financial control). Thus, The Kelly Group was born, and has since gone on to become one of the most legitimate and successful credit consulting companies in the northeast.

Jeanne and her Kelly Group provide credit counseling to individuals, businesses and groups. Understanding that maintaining a strong credit report is a lifelong process, they also coach people on managing/monitoring their credit profile. Most recently Jeanne has been heard as a guest on the radio in which the current credit crisis was the topic. She has also been quoted in several newspapers, magazines and online financial sites such as CNN, Money, and the NY Times.

Ms. Kelly lives in Rhinebeck, NY with her daughter, Cassandra.

Jessica Constable, Founder/President


My business name, Jess LC, comes from my name and initials. But I have to admit, in 1999 the company was originally named Starlette Jewelry. As a 15-year-old living in Rochester, Michigan, I taught myself to make “totally rad” star ankle bracelets at a local pool. While making these beaded ankle bracelets, four women bought them from me on the spot. These unintentional sales changed my professional life forever. Inspired to earn my “fun money” selling jewelry rather than baby-sitting, I soon learned new jewelry techniques and sold my designs to teachers, students, and stores across Michigan. When I graduated high-school, my jewelry was sold in 12 boutiques.

In 2003, I began college at the University of Michigan and studied Business Administration at the Ross School of Business. While struggling through operations management and corporate finance classes, I continued selling jewelry and re-named the business Jess LC. My junior year, I interned in New York City at Macy’s Merchandising Group within Product Development. Though the experience was great, I found myself wanting to make changes to the designs, pricing, hang-tags, even the LOGO. Needless to say, as an intern these changes were beyond my control. So I resolved to take a CEO position after graduation… at Jess LC. When I graduated I was also named “Entrepreneur of the Year.” Which sounds impressive, until you find out that I was the only student with a business, and therefore the only nominee. Ahem.

After graduation in August of 2007, I moved to Chicago and started Jess LC full-time. Setting up shop in a small studio apartment as a one-woman show was challenging (read: really hard). But I had faith and persisted. By the end of 2008 Jess LC was sold in over 100 stores nationwide. At that point I also had a lovely team of interns, part-time help, and awesome sales reps.

In January of 2009, I started a blog called MakeunderMyLife.com. This site soon became the vehicle with which I spread my message of “designing a life with intention.” Because if there is one thing I’ve learned from eleven years of self-employment, it’s that we have the ability, in large part, to create the life we want. If you’re interested in pursuing your purpose, simplifying your life, or just being more intentional, check out MML and see if it resonates with you.

Christine Dyer
Founder, BridalTweet.com & Director, Social Media Marketing for American Express OPEN


Christine Dyer is Director of Social Media Marketing for American Express OPEN, the nation's largest credit and charge card issuer for small businesses. In this role, Christine leads a team that is responsible for building relationships with small businesses through social networks, which include Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Christine is also the founder of BridalTweet.com, the new wedding community that connects brides, wedding professionals and wedding bloggers. At BridalTweet, brides can find free wedding advice, planning ideas, giveaways and more. BridalTweet is also the only place that wedding professionals can turn to for free marketing advice. Today, 20,000 people visit the BridalTweet wedding community on a monthly basis. As a testament to her success, WeFollow.com has ranked BridalTweet as the most influential wedding brand on Twitter. Christine holds an B.S. and M.B.A from Fordham University.

Stacy Gutman, Director
OPEN Forum for American Express OPEN


Stacey Gutman is Director of OPEN Forum (www.openforum.com) for American Express OPEN, the nation's largest credit and charge card issuer for small businesses. In this role, Stacey leads a team that is responsible for the OPEN Forum platform, an online community designed to help small business owners run and grow their businesses through exclusive articles and video interviews with the world's leading entrepreneurs.

Stacey has been with American Express OPEN for almost ten years, holding positions of increasing responsibility in interactive development, customer acquisition, operations, new product development and partnerships marketing. Stacey holds a B.A. from Amherst College.

Amanda Neville, Founder and Partner


An experienced content strategist, social media maven and user experience advocate, Amanda specializes in creating strategic communications, national advertising campaigns and complex websites. She credits her talent for translating jargon into plain English to her early immersion in foreign languages.

Prior to founding Thinkso, Amanda was Head of Operations at Carbone Smolan Agency where she also consulted on a range of projects, including an advertising campaign for Brides.com.

Amanda graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and earned her Master’s degree at New York University. She also holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Washington College of Law at American University, where she served as Associate Executive Editor of the International Law Review.

In her spare time, Amanda is an active volunteer and fitness enthusiast. She serves on the board of the READ Foundation, coordinates workshops for budding entrepreneurs through her alumni association, and organizes community service projects for the Thinkso team. She lives in an apartment in Park Slope that has more dogs than humans.

Doris Ng, Co-Owner
GingeRootz Asian Grill


Doris Ng is the co-owner of GingeRootz Asian Grille, a full service Asian Restaurant, located in Appleton WI. She opened the business in 2004 and 6 years later, it has become Appleton’s icon for fine Asian Cuisine. The restaurant has won the Fox Cities Golden Fork Award and Best of the Valley for Best Asian Cuisine for the past 3 years. Her personal achievements include, winner of the 2008 Make Mine a Million Dollar Business Award, a finalist in the 2009 Stevie Award for Best Young Entrepreneur and most recently winner of the 2010 Fox Cities Small Business Award.

She credits her success on hiring the right people, implementing good business practice and incorporating social media into her marketing. Her daily involvement in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has helped expand her customer base, while being able to maintain close contact with her ‘fans’.

Loretta Love Huff, President
Emerald Harvest Consulting


Loretta Love Huff, The Dream Leader for Business™, is President of Emerald Harvest Consulting. She is a seasoned executive with experience in HR, IT and commercial banking and management consulting. Loretta teaches graduate programs in Transformational Leadership, Systems Thinking, Business Communications and Conflict Management for the University of Phoenix.

As an award-winning executive/business coach and performance improvement consultant, Loretta helps corporate leaders and small business owners optimize their performance and accomplish their business objectives. Her vision is that people express their unique gifts to manifest their highest destiny and that organizations honor those gifts in pursuit of their business goals.

Loretta is also author of the book 6 Keys for Dissolving Disputes: When ‘Off with their Heads!’ Won’t Work. She has made several appearances on the Phoenix Fox10 Morning News show, radio shows across the country and has been featured in business publications including the New York Times, the Arizona Republic, the American Management Association’s Executive Matters newsletter, Arizona Woman, Working Mother and numerous association newsletters.

Loretta is a two-time recipient of the prestigious MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) Supplier of the Year award. She is certified by the International Coach Federation, holds a B.S. in Psychology from Howard University and an M.B.A in Finance from the University of Chicago.

Ann Pardo, Director of Behavioral Health
Canyon Ranch Tucson


With over thirty consecutive years as the director/manager of exemplary residential and outpatient behavioral health programs, Ann is committed to intelligent organizations, health care, and the arts.

Ann has been the Director of Behavioral Health at Canyon Ranch Tucson, since 2000. As a licensed counselor, her many areas of expertise include gerontology, grief work and supervision. She is passionate about creative solutions to common problems. With over 25 years experience with therapeutic interventions, Ann is interested in human beings as composites of spiritual, social and physical behaviors, thoughts, feelings.

In addition to her broad spectrum of experience, Ann studied dance therapy, grief therapy, belief systems, media arts, self-esteem, self-respect and self-knowledge.

As a nationally renowned public speaker, Ann is able to entertain and educate.
She addresses her audiences with incomparable knowledge and humor.

Eclectically talented, Ann is a published writer, an avid cyclist and a judge for screenplay competitions. She has had her own screenplay considered for the Sundance Film Festival and has hopes and dreams of becoming an accomplished Flamenco Dancer.

Arlene Rosenberg, Founder
Leading Achievers Institute


Arlene Rosenberg is founder of Leading Achievers™ Institute, a company dedicated to providing leading-edge expertise in human potential and personal empowerment, and author of Say It, See It, Be It™: How Visions & Affirmations Will Change Your Life. For over 25 years, Arlene has specialized in coaching, speaking and training female executives and entrepreneurs and their teams on personal and professional development. In the fall of 2006, Arlene was the featured coach for a senior IT executive on a six part coaching series for NBC affiliate, KPNX Channel 12 and is a frequent national radio guest on empowerment and coaching. She is also a certified coach and trainer for the Alliance of Technology and Women (ATW).

As an international coach, Arlene shares her expertise on leadership, interpersonal communication and the power of life balance and vision with scores of corporations and associations focusing on the financial, technology and personal services sectors. She has served clients in companies such as Citigroup, New York Life Insurance Company, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Banner Health, Computer Associates, Project Solvers, BMG Entertainment and UBS Warburg. She has spoken to the prestigious New York Society of Security Analysts, Arizona State University, Women Entrepreneur’s Small Business Boot Camp, National Association of Women Business Owners, American Business Women’s Association, the Alliance of Technology and Women and was a keynote in ATW’s Mentoring Program for the past two years in Phoenix.

Arlene’s thesis is that everyone is born to succeed, but that success is blocked internally by two major factors: individual life experiences and the mental conditioning of childhood. She bases her work on the theory that one’s current situation is the direct result of what one is thinking, feeling, and believing. She guides her clients in risk taking to reprogram their negative beliefs, attitudes and habits so they can empower themselves to create new levels of achievement in their lives.

Prior to becoming an empowerment coach, professional speaker and author Arlene was a teacher, leading sales associate for Pitney Bowes and human resources executive for Ciba Geigy. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in education from Mills College, a Master’s Equivalency from the College of New Rochelle, and participated in the Organizational Development program at Georgia State University. She is also a graduate of Coach University’s business coaching program and has been an associate with Drake Beam Morin’s Change Management program.

Arlene resides in Scottsdale, AZ with her husband and dog Ruffy.

Jane Applegate
America's Leading Small Business Expert and Author, "201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business"


Jane Applegate is one of America's most respected small business management experts. A former syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times, she is the author of four books, including "201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business," published by Bloomberg Press. She currently writes and produces small business reports for Bloomberg TV.

Applegate has spoken at hundreds of business conferences around the world and has been on a U.S. speaking tour sponsored by Bloomberg TV. The Applegate Group Inc., founded in 1991, is a multimedia communications and video production company which provides strategic marketing consulting services for big and small companies. Clients include: Sprint, the New York Times, Merrill Lynch and Hartford Life Insurance.

For more information visit: www.theapplegategroup.com.

Jennifer Kahnweiler
Speaker and Author of "The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength"


Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D. ‘s company AboutYOU, Inc. is a consulting firm that builds strong leaders through its  highly engaging speaking and coaching programs. Her company specializes in coaching introverted leaders. Jennifer is author of the book, The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength (June 2009, Berrett-Koehler). In addition, she has appeared as an expert on the WTBS show Movie and a Makeover, was the national careers columnist for AARP The Magazine and is a returning guest speaker for the American Management Association.

Jennifer presented a series of invited programs at HRD2008 in the UK for HR leaders and at the Tokyo American Club for Japanese businesswomen. Throughout her career, she has worked for top companies such as GE, AT&T, Turner Broadcasting and the Coca-Cola Company. She has also successfully coached thousands of individuals through challenging career transitions.

In 2005,  Jennifer was awarded The Career Practitioner of the Year by NCDA. Dr. Kahnweiler is on the board of the National Speakers Association of GA, a member of the National Speaker Association, an active member of the Leadership Executive Circle of the Women's Leadership Exchange® and the Technology Association of Georgia. She is based in Atlanta, GA. Visit her website at  www.aboutyouinc.com.

Maribeth Kuzmeski, President
Red Zone Marketing


Maribeth Kuzmeski is the President of the consulting firm, Red Zone Marketing. Maribeth and her firm focus on designing and improving sales and marketing strategies, customer service programs and branding and differentiation strategies for companies from high producing entrepreneurial firms to Fortune 100 companies and business units. The one goal: to increase the consistent flow of sales.

Maribeth is the author of 4 books including, "The Connectors” and “Red Zone Marketing.” She has frequently appeared on TV and radio, and has written articles on marketing strategies for hundreds of publications including Business Week and Entrepreneur. She regularly speaks to audiences on topics relating to business development, marketing, and sales strategies.

Maribeth graduated with a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and has an MBA from The George Washington University. She lives in the Chicago, IL area with her husband Rich and 2 children.

Martha Mertz, Founder
ATHENA International


Martha Mertz is the Founder of ATHENA International (formerly ATHENA Foundation); a non-profit organization that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders, inspire women to reach their full potential, and create balance in leadership worldwide. Ms. Mertz served as President of the ATHENA Foundation from its inception in 1982 to May 1999. As a spokeswoman for ATHENA she has carried the message that women are leaders around the globe. In 2000 she worked as a project designer and facilitator of Global Links to instruct college students at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates on the ATHENA Leadership Model. In May 2004, Ms. Mertz, led a group representing ATHENA to China to participate in an unprecedented women’s conference developing collaborative opportunities and connections on issues of importance to women. Martha attended inaugural ATHENA Award events in Rotherham, England, in March 2005 and in Mumbai, India in October 2006, where she presented the first ATHENA Award to a European woman and Indian woman respectively. Ms. Mertz gives presentations on women and leadership, serves as a spokesperson at ATHENA Award events, is a permanent member of the ATHENA International Board of Directors and continues to be a voice for balanced leadership worldwide.

In addition to her role with ATHENA, Martha is a successful real estate entrepreneur and is president and owner of Mayhood/Mertz Investment, Inc. She actively served her local community of Lansing, MI through her position as founding partner in several development/management partnerships in the Lansing area, as president of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and in leadership positions for many other organizations. Ms. Mertz has received numerous awards including induction into Enterprising Women’s Hall of Fame, 2006; the Visionary Award from Office Depot, 2004; the Vassilissa Award in Moscow, Russia; and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce's ATHENA Award. She was honored as one of the top 25 Women Business Owners in Michigan by NAWBO and was selected as the Michigan Women-In-Business Advocate by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Martha received her B.A. in Women’s Studies and Psychology from Michigan State University. She currently resides in Sedona, AZ with her husband, Dr. Edward Ingraham.

Adriane G. Berg
Founder, Generation Bold; International Speaker & Sales and Marketing Consultant


Adriane Berg is the founder of Generation Bold, a sales and marketing consultant to companies seeking to reach the leading edge boomer and active senior. She is also a spokesperson and message point creator for advertising and branding campaigns to reach that market, including marketing to the boom and silver generations, personal roads to successful aging, financial gerontology, care taking and public policy.

Ms. Berg is an innovator in the field of longevity, having helped found the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and introducing the concepts of longevity planning and longevity law to the financial and legal professions.

In addition to dozens of speaking engagements annually, Adriane is guest lecturer at USC Davis School of Gerontology on “Marketing to the Silver Markets” and hosts the only radio show devoted to issues of longevity and public policy: Longevity Club Radio. Ms. Berg has created the consumer use site, www.longevityclubonline.com for boomers/seniors who are committed to successful aging.

Adriane G. Berg is one of the most credentialed and recognized speakers on successful aging personal finance in the nation and internationally. She is the national keynoter for the "USA Today" retirement seminars, award winning author of 13 books on personal finance, including, most recently, "How Not To Go Broke at 102: Achieving Everlasting Wealth," John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Adriane designs and conducts seminars on marketing, product development, client outreach, and financial gerontology for home offices, branches and regions of numerous insurance carriers and financial companies, as well as designing and keynoting consumer outreach and client appreciation events. She is also a renowned speaker in the field of world travel and tourism and residential relocation as a function of worldwide aging and the passion for new experiences, and new housing concepts.

Ms. Berg is also a well-known radio and television personality, having won an Emmy for writing and hosting "IRS Tax Beat" on FNN, and has made multiple appearances on OPRAH, GOOD MORNING AMERICA and REGIS.

Ms. Berg graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Kappa Delta Pi from Brooklyn College, and was an Editor of the Law Review, NYU School of Law, where she achieved her JD degree.

Karla Brandau, President
Karla Brandau & Associates


Karla Brandau, CSP, founded her own consulting firm in 1986 with the mission of increasing executive leadership competence while building bridges between people and profits.

Through 20-plus years in the consulting industry, she has researched and customized programs for associations such as the National Kitchen and Bath Association, government agencies such as the United States State Department and Fortune 500 companies including Motorola, Coca-Cola, SAP, Nortel Networks and Panasonic. Over 85% of the organizations who have hired Karla bring her back for repeat engagements.

As a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) Karla is among the elite 8% of the National Speakers Association to have earned this designation. Her media credits include interviews on many television and radio business shows including CNN, Georgia Business Today, Business Issues with Alf Nucifora, and A Woman’s Place on the AIBTV Network. She is a regular contributor to Ask The Experts on BusinessTVChannel.com which also hosts her ten-session Expect Success personal growth video instruction.

She has written “Wake up the Winner Inside,” “101 Time Management Tips for Busy Professionals” and is the co-author of “Ready, Aim, Improve: Getting Results through Successful Change Initiatives.” She writes a monthly newsletter entitled “Competence” and has produced an audio CD entitled “Time for Results.” A number of periodicals have printed her articles including Talent Management, Executive Leadership and The Georgia Printer.

Karla will help you clear your mind and focus on what is really important as a business owner and human being. As she improves your leadership vision, she also spreads infectious enthusiasm for extraordinary achievement that permits you to loudly proclaim as you travel through life, “Wow! What a ride!”

Mimi Donaldson
Author, Necessary Roughness: New Rules for the Contact Sport of Life and Negotiating for Dummies


Mimi Donaldson excites, educates and entertains audiences all over the world. She frequently shares the stage with prominent keynote speakers such as Colin Powell, Elizabeth Dole and Maya Angelou. She has thrilled and inspired over half of the Fortune 100 companies. Before starting her own consulting business in 1984, she spent 10 years as a Human Resources Trainer at Northrop Aircraft, Rockwell International and Walt Disney Productions.

She has a B.A in Speech and Communications from the University of Iowa and a Masters Degree in Education from Columbia University. Mimi is co-author of Negotiating for Dummies, selling over a million copies, and translated into six languages. Mimi has recently been a visiting professor at Harvard University’s Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government.

Deanna Frazier
Attraction Expert and Professional Certified Coach


Deanna Frazier has been changing lives for thirty years through her thought-provoking executive leadership, coaching, and seminars. She is a catalyst for individuals and organizations that choose to transform through their own wisdom. She currently offers transformational seminars and coaching to corporate executives, creative entrepreneurs, sales professionals, managers, and individuals.

Deanna's coaching and her book, Dating 101, The Second, Third, or Fourth Time Around, has garnered national attention, including an interview with Katie Couric on The Today Show.

Her business experience includes executive roles in multiple industries. In the mid-70's, as a founding executive of one of America's most successful behavior modification firms, she led individuals to quit smoking; moreover, in the process she helped build a highly successful and profitable company. As President of a career consulting firm, she expanded it to eight offices nationally, following the mission of "Do what you love and the money will follow." Her wealth of business acumen and experience in training others has prepared her to quickly discern what her clients' needs are, where energies may be refocused, and what actions can be taken to help clients reach their goals by becoming what they want to attract.

Deanna is a member of the International Coaching Federation, the National Speakers Association, Vice President of Programs for the North Texas Chapter of the National Speakers Association, and the Women of Vision International.

Leslie Green, Managing Partner
Roffe & Green, Inc.


Leslie Green is a recognized expert in the field of building brand equities, with particular emphasis on new products, healthcare, consumer products and services.

Leslie has served in a number of C-level interim management assignments, including VP, Sales and Marketing at The French Culinary Institute in NYC, a leading trade school to train professional chefs, a 10 month assignment as interim General Manager and interim sales manager of the pharmaceutical division of a public company and VP Marketing of a manufacturer of breast MRI machines. She served as CEO and President of a $55MM turn-around in medical diagnostic imaging, a company that owned and managed 30 MRI centers in 19 states. This company was subsequently sold.

Before joining Ken Roffe in 1998, Leslie had her own consultancy. She also served as both Vice President, New Business Development and Strategic Planning and Vice President Corporate Marketing at Swiss Army Brands, Inc. At Swiss Army she was a driving force behind the team that designed, sourced, and introduced the Swiss Army Brand Watch line, as well as having marketing responsibility for all brands across 7 sales units. After less than eight years on the market, Swiss Army was named one of the Fairchild 100 (top 100 brands) by WWD in 1997. During her tenure the Company grew from $43MM to almost $150MM in sales, virtually all internally developed.

Prior to joining Swiss Army Leslie was Senior Vice President and Director of The New Products Group at Lowe Marschalk - New York (an Interpublic Group company) where she managed new product development and restage assignments for Minute-Maid Foods (Coca-Cola), Gillette, Citicorp, AT&T, S.C. Johnson, Oral-B Laboratories, Heublein, Del Monte, Economics Labs, Revlon, Norcliff-Thayer and U.S. Videotel (an on-line service which was a precursor to ISP's), among others. She also successfully spearheaded their new business efforts for several years.

Immediately prior to joining Lowe Marschalk she was an Account Supervisor at SSC&B Advertising working on Lipton and Johnson & Johnson. She also worked at American Home Products as a Product Manager, at Norton Simon Communications as a Marketing Manager on Hunt-Wesson Foods, and at Marine Midland Bank responsible for their marketing efforts to consumers.

Leslie has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.A. cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in French.

Leslie serves on the Board of Directors of Zila, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZILA) and SSOE, Inc., a privately owned international architectural and engineering firm. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Charles River Apparel.
A speaker on developing business and marketing plans, she has presented at the Women’s President’s Organization and conducted a workshop at the New York Business Forums on "Preparing Winning Business Plans for Healthcare Companies." And she is an Adjunct Faculty member at The French Culinary Institute, teaching marketing in the Restaurant Management course.

Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough, Founder
KH Consulting Group


Dr. Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough has been President of KH Consulting Group (KH) since 1986. KH specializes in strategic planning, organizational design and restructuring, marketing, human resources, information systems, and business process reengineering. She has extensive expertise in organization change, public policy, strategic planning, service delivery, community needs assessments, and stakeholder buy-in. She has consulted throughout the United States and in Europe and Australia

KH has served more than 200 clients in 25 states and 6 foreign countries.

Much of KH’s work involves local, state, and federal governmental agencies; higher education and K-12 educational systems; non-profit organizations; transportation systems; utilities; and health care providers.

Her clients include the County of Los Angeles (15 departments), City of Los Angeles (6 departments), Los Angeles World Airports (LAX, ONT, VNY, PMD airports), Telstra Enterprise & Government (Australia), University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, County of Orange (California), City of Beverly Hills, San Francisco Community College District, Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Community College District, University of Southern California, City and County of Denver, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and the County of Los Angeles Civil Grand Jury.

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