2018 CWE Women Business Leaders Conference (WBLC)

The premier event for women in business, this event draws women interested in learning how to start or grow a business, as well as corporate supplier diversity and purchasing professionals interested in advancing and promoting their diversity programs.

Be Bold Be Brave - CWE Conference - logo

DATE: Friday, October 19, 2018
TIME: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
LOCATION: Sheraton Hotel, Framingham, MA

Morning Keynote Speaker:

Nataly Kogan
Co-founder & CEO

Afternoon Keynote Speaker:

Manisha Thakor, MBA, CFA, CFP®
Founder, Money Zen
VP, Financial Education at Brighton Jones

Mistress of Ceremonies:

Sandy Lish
The Castle Group

Chef Barbara Lynch

2017 Keynote Speakers, Stefania Mallett, Co-founder and CEO, ezCater (right) and Gillian Meek President of Keds with her daughter at the WBLC.

Schedule for the Day

Click here for speaker bios.  

Rooms and times subject to change.  For updates please check the website, conference app or ask CWE staff at the conference.


7:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Registration Open


8:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Continental Breakfast
Conference Welcome & Keynote Speaker

Nataly Kogan, Co-founder & CEO, Happier

Upper level

9:15 AM – 10:00 AM

Networking Break

Upper Level

   WBENC Corporate Speed Fair (WBENC-Certified Businesses Only) TBD

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Session I: Concurrent Workshops & Sessions

“The Future is Here: Is Your Business Ready?” Panel

The world is changing quickly. How will advancing technologies  affect your business? In this session, we will hear from experts on such topics as block chain, cyber security, privacy considerations and new laws that can impact your business.


Damon Cox, Assistant Secretary of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Commonwealth of MA (Moderator)

Louise Leduc Kennedy, Business Attorney & Founder, West Hill Technology Counsel

Raza Shaikh, Technology Entrepreneur, Board Member & Angel Investor

Lower Level

The Ins and Outs of Business Ownership: Balancing the Emotional and the Practical”

Donna Levin, Executive Director, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Upper Level

Roundtable Discussions:“Business Resources: the Public and Private Sectors” **LIMITED SEATING

Learn directly from the experts and each other!  Select a roundtable to speak with are source provider or seasoned business leader who can provide direct support to help you launch and grow your business.

Roundtable Leaders:

Tania Del Rio, Executive Director, Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement, City of Boston  
Topic:  City Resources

Susan DiPinto, SVP, Private Banking, Berkshire Bank
Topic: Bank Resources

Lisa Manning, Certified EOS Implementer
Establishing Your Business Process

Jabes Rojas, Governor's Office Deputy Chief of Staff for Access & Opportunity, Commonwealth of MA
opic: State Resources

Lower Level

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Session II: Concurrent Workshops & Sessions

“Financial Fitness: Resources and Strategies to Strengthen Your Business” Panel

Join us in this dynamic panel to explore internal and external financial strategies to take your business to the next level.  We will hear from lenders about accessing their resources, as well as from executives who have led the financial arm of their business.


Bob Nelson, District Director, SBA Massachusetts District Office

Debbie Dobbins, Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer, East Cambridge Savings Bank

Marianne Lancaster, President, Lancaster Packaging, Inc. (Moderator)

Maria Warrington, Vice President Finance, Keds

Lower Level

"The Other Four P's: Preparing Your Business for the Unexpected"

Courtney Ross Escobar, Attorney, Doucette and Associates, Ltd., Attorneys at Law

Most attendees will be familiar with the four P’s involved in the marketing of a good or service: product, price, place and promotion; often referred to as the marketing mix. “The Other Four P’s” will focus on: Policies, Personnel, Professionals, and Practices and how proper planning and management can help safeguard your business from the unexpected.

Upper Level

Roundtable Discussions:“Scale it! Take Your Business to the Next Stage” **LIMITED SEATING

At this working strategy session, the roundtables will feature unique exposure to high-profile experts who have grown businesses throughout the country. You will enjoy a close conversation with these executives, learn from their experiences and strategize on your own.

Roundtable Leaders:

Gillian Meek,President,Keds
Topic: Moving Up: Scaling Yourself and Your Business

William Schawbel,CEO, Schawbel Companies Topic:Strategic Planning for Growth

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO & Founder, Next Stage Solutions, Inc.
Topic:Executive Coaching for CEOs

Veronica Zsolcsak, President, Schawbel Group, LLC Topic: Leading Change During Growth

Lower Level

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Lunch & Leadership Awards

Grand Ballroom Upper level

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Afternoon Keynote 

Manisha Thakor, Founder, Money Zen & Vice President, Financial Education at Brighton Jones

Upper level

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Session III: Concurrent Workshops & Speakers Sessions

"Navigating Corporate Opportunities: 3 Buyer/Vendor Stories" WBENC Panel

As a vendor, navigating the corporate bidding arena is complex, and requires both savvy and stamina. As a buyer, establishing relationships with sustainable vendors is key, but it often requires multiple interactions with many vendors. Even with strong relationships and clear opportunities, it can be an arduous onboarding process on both sides. Come hear the stories of three certified women business owners and three corporate buyers from CVS Health, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and Ahold Delhaize as they talk about the ups and downs of doing business in the private sector.


Tammy Bishop, CEO, Avayle CTS, LLC

Joyce Eggers, Associate Director Supplier Diversity, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Stephanie Hernan, President, Yankee Trader Seafood

Judith Maloy, Director & CEO, Polaris Direct LLC

Terry O'Day, Global Sourcing, Center of Excellence Leader, Boston Scientific Corporation (Moderator)

Cheryl Smith, Supplier Diversity Manager, Retail Business Services, Ahold Delhaize

Raul Suarez-Rodriguez, Supplier Diversity/Strategic Procurement Manager, CVS Health

Lower Level

”Jumping off the Cliff or Climb the Mountain"

Laurie A Halloran, BSN, MS,President & CEO, Halloran Consulting Group, Inc. 

Wendy Pease, Owner, Rapport International


“From Idea to Startup, Getting Moving!”

Kristin Grimm, MBA, PMP, Founder & CEO, The Evelyn Group

In this session, we will discuss tools and techniques to help get your idea from dream to reality. We will cover:

  1. Lessons from previous generations
  2. Vision tools
  3. Planning tools
  4. Group development tools

Lower Level

WBENC Corporate Speed Fair (WBENC-Certified Businesses Only)


Everything You Need to Know in the Palm of Your Hand 


Want to check out this year’s lineup of speakers?  Get event notifications?  Build your conference schedule and more?  This year we have gone paperless and are introducing an app to help you with your conference  planning and more.

Register for the conference and download the app prior to the event Friday.  In the mobile app you will be able to:

  • Receive Notifications (schedule changes, special announcements, etc *make sure you accept push notifications on the app)
  • View the elective sessions
  • Build & customize you own schedule
  • Download materials, PowerPoints, handouts
  • Reserve your seat for a session (by adding the session to my schedule)
  • Message other attendees
  • Share your thoughts and experiences on Live Feed! 


STEP 1: Search & download CADENCE EVENT EXPERIENCES  app to your phone


iPhone/iPad download link:


Google Play download link:


STEP 2: Click "Cadence Insta-Login" email sent by: Cadence noreply@eventcadence.com The email may be in spam.

STEP 3: Log in to app

If you have received an error message:

STEP 1: Close the app
STEP 2: Click "Insta-Login" email sent by: Cadence noreply@eventcadence.com
STEP 3: You will received a “Spoiled Link” page
STEP 4: Click on “Send New Link”
STEP 5: Click on NEW "Insta-Login" email sent by: Cadence noreply@eventcadence.com
STEP 6: Still having trouble? Contact: Melinda Leon, mleon@cweonline.org


Register by September 7 to get the Early Bird rate.  Online registration ends on Friday, October 12, 2018.

Hotel Rooms

Limited number of rooms available for conference participants at a special discounted hotel rate for the evening of Thursday, October 18.  Reservations must be made by Monday, October 8.  Click here to reserve your room.


For information about tickets, sponsorship and the conference please contact Melinda Leon, mleon@cweonline.org or 617-532-0244.

WBLC Planning Committee


Sandy Lish, WBLC Co-Chair
Principal and Co-Founder
The Castle Group
Tina Benik, WBLC Co-Chair
VP & General Counsel
A.W. Chesterton Company 

Ann Barry

Director, Risk Management
Juniper Networks, Inc.
Wendy Pease
Rapport International

Daylana Ervin-Parker

Director, Financial Analysis and Supplier Diversity
Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA
Saken Pillay
Supplier Diversity Manager
Boston Scientific

Gale Golden

G2 Communications
Lilian Radke
Unic Pro

Maureen Joyce

Creative Director, Managing Partner
Twirling Tiger Press
Karil Reibold
Reibold Consulting

Deb Aurelio
Development Coordinator
Center for Women & Enterprise
Mickey Riendeau
VP Operations, Technology & Marketing
Center for Women & Enterprise

Melinda Leon

Manager - WBENC NE & Special Projects
Center for Women & Enterprise
Jessica Yamas
Director - WBENC NE
Center for Women & Enterprise

Michelle Miller

Director - Central MA
Center for Women & Enterprise