WBLC Speakers

The 2018 CWE Women Business Leaders Conference Team is proud to present this year’s speakers.  Industry leaders and experts have volunteered their time to share content on subjects that matter to today’s entrepreneurs and business professionals.

Tammy Bishop, President/Owner, Avayle CTS

As a business leader with more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Tammy is responsible for streamlining the complex process of comparator procurement into an organized, centralized system that enables sponsor companies to save millions of dollars over the life of a clinical trial. As partner in a women-owned business, Tammy is a thought leader who pursues and promotes opportunities for diverse small companies in the life sciences sector.

Prior to co-founding Avayle in 2018, she worked in senior leadership roles at clinical trial supply firm CaligorRx. She served as Managing Director of the company from 2010 to 2016, overseeing significant revenue growth and geographic expansion, and later as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Commercial Officer following the acquisition of CaligorRx by private equity firm Diversis Capital, LLC.  Her industry expertise includes senior-level business development positions at Pharmarama International and IDIS Pharmaceuticals. She also has served in senior investor relations and corporate communications positions at OXiGENE, Gemini Genomics and Indevus Pharmaceuticals.

Tammy’s corporate and non-profit governance experience includes board positions with CaligorRx and Diversity Alliance for Science, a national organization that fosters diversity in the life science industry. She also has served as a member of the Drug Information Association, Healthcare Distribution Management Association, Healthcare Women’s Business Association and Institute for Supply Chain Management. Tammy received a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Simmons College School of Management.


Damon Cox, Administration, Baker-Polito

Before joining the Baker-Polito administration, Cox oversaw The Boston Foundation’s economic development portfolio of investments in workforce development, innovation, and economic mobility, where he steered capital and support to women and underrepresented minorities starting businesses. In addition, he led a joint effort with MassChallenge, to increase participant diversity, resulting in 30 women- and minority-led start-ups completing rigorous business training and mentorship. Damon held leadership roles at Boston Small Business Competition and Boston Rising, providing capital and technical assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs in Boston’s inner-city neighborhoods. Earlier in his career, Cox worked in the music industry, including 10 years at Universal Music Group in New York City.  Damon earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The University of North Florida.

Susan Yahn DiPinto, Sr. Vice President, Private Banking


Susan leads the Eastern and Central Massachusetts Private Banking team. She joined Berkshire Bank with 30 years of relationship management and leadership experience, most recently with Boston Private Bank. Consistent with Berkshire's highly personalized private banking model, Susan leverages her local experience to expand the Bank's customer relationships.



Debbie Dobbins, Vice President, East Cambridge Savings Bank


Debbie, a commercial lender for more than 25 years, currently a Vice President with East Cambridge Savings Bank, has experience stretching from lending to local businesses, for loans from $50,000 to a few million, to large corporate lending with multi-million dollar loans. Here is the truth: Smaller is more interesting!



Joyce Eriksen Eggers, Associate Director, Supplier Diversity, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International


Joyce E. Eriksen Eggers, Associate Director, Supplier Diversity for Takeda Pharmaceuticals International is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  As Takeda’s Supplier Diversity lead within Takeda’s Global Procurement Group, Joyce works closely with the Takeda’s Procurement Groups to develop and maintain partnerships with Small and Diverse Suppliers who meet their requirements for excellence and innovation, and are competitive in their offerings.  Joyce currently represents Takeda with various diversity advocacy groups:  as a Corporate Advisory Board Member of USBLN (now known as Disability:IN) and Procurement Council member, Founding Sponsor of MA LBBT Chamber of Commerce, a former board member and active member of Diversity Alliance for Science and former board member and active member of the Greater New England Supplier Development Council,  a member of NMSDC Healthcare Industry Group, and active member and 2012-2014 Co-Chair of the ISM Supplier Diversity Pharmaceutical Forum.  Takeda is also a Corporate Member and participates in events of WBENC, CWE, Diversity Alliance for Science, GMEMSDC, and Chicago MSDC, and participates various other local and national events such as the US Veterans Administration’s National Veterans Small Business Event.  Joyce has been with Takeda for 15 years, prevously as Associate Director, Contracts and Supplier Diversity, and prior to that, as Contracts Manager in various industries, including Telco, Software, and Banking. 



Courtney Ross Escobar, Attorney

Attorney Courtney Ross Escobar
works with entrepreneurs, startups, non-profits, and established businesses providing an array of legal counseling and business support. Her background also includes extensive compliance and operations management experience for state and local governments. Courtney is a recipient of the Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty Award.


Kristin Grimm, Founder/CEO, The Evelyn Group

Kristin is a third-generation female entrepreneur who leads The Evelyn Group, a design-thinking based consultancy headquartered in Boston. The firm works with private equity, fintech, and biotech startups and seasoned firms that need to organize, reorganize, or scale.
The organization is federally recognized as a female-owned organization by WBENC and provides a percentage of its profits to mentor-based charities. 


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

Laurie founded Halloran Consulting Group in 1998. Her vision in forming the company was Life Science that Works: Product, Process and People. She realized through working with early stage biotechnology companies that senior level expertise is critical at early stages of navigation through the regulatory and operational challenges of product development. She has built a successful consultancy of likeminded experts who are dedicated to the idea that every company deserves the best practices and know-how in the life science world, regardless of its size, its name or its financial situation. She is recognized as an industry expert in improving the organizational effectiveness of those companies.

Earlier in her career, Laurie worked in the outsourcing services realm during PAREXEL International’s rapid growth phase, where she developed competency based programs for several departments within the organization, and led the integration of the company’s European operating units acquired during her tenure. She later led clinical development at OXiGENE and Antigenics.

She has grown Halloran from a start-up to a highly-regarded national consultancy with over 150 ongoing clients. The self-funded business has grown between 20-30% year over year and has been profitable from its onset. She has navigated the challenges of the financial crisis in 2009/10, and refashioned the business to enable growth beyond her original biotechnology foundations to working with clients across the product development spectrum. Halloran’s clients range from pre-funded startups who require regulatory and organizational growth strategies to global life science companies who need expertise managing product development challenges. She is able to draw additional expertise from her team in  identifying and solving questions around strategy, regulatory, quality, organizational efficiency, complaint handling, human factors, manufacturing, medical affairs and compliance issues.
Advisory Board positions include Boston University’s School of Public Health, Leslie University Alumni Advisory Board, & Merck/EMD Serono’s Precision Medicine. She serves on the New England Women in Science Executive’s Board of Directors. 

Laurie was recognized in 2018 as a WBENC Star, and has won a 2017 Enterprising Women of the Year Award from Enterprising Women Magazine.  2015, Laurie was honored by the Boston Business Journal as a Woman of Influence, and the company received a ranking in the INC 500 fastest growing companies for the past 2 years. In 2010, Laurie was selected as one of the 100 Most Inspiring People in Life Science by PharmaVoice and in 2009, she was awarded Clinical Researcher of the Year by the New England Chapter of the Associate of Clinical Research Professionals.

Laurie has taught at George Washington University and Harvard University, and currently lectures at Boston University Medical School and the Tufts Center for Drug Development Post-Graduate program. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Russell Sage College and a Master of Science in Management from Leslie University. Prosci-Certified-Change-Practitioner. She is also a Prosci Certified Change Practitioner.



Stephanie Hernan, President, Yankee Trader Seafood

My father started Yankee Trader Seafood in 1978 — our small town still talks about his recipes.

In 1994, YTS was incorporated and by 1999 I put on his chef hat and apron when annual sales were 258k. Today we are a third-generation, family-owned business with sales over 20 million.

We have utilized our woman-owned minority based certification since 2010. 


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

Louise Leduc Kennedy,
is a business attorney and founder of West Hill Technology Counsel. She has extensive experience advising companies on strategic and commercial matters relating to the development, marketing and sale of products, services and software, as well as expertise in intellectual property and on-line business. Louise loves working with innovative women entrepreneurs. 

Judith Maloy, Director and CEO, Polaris Direct


As Director and CEO of Polaris Direct, Judith Maloy draws heavily from her extensive experience in the direct marketing industry, having previously worked as both an account director and vice president for several national agencies in New York City. Along with her partners, she worked to bring Polaris Direct to nationally acclaimed status with growth that ranked Polaris Direct on the INC 500/5000 for 3 consecutive years. In addition to her daily management responsibilities, Judith launched Polaris Direct’s Strategic Marketing Services department and handles marketing communications and public relations for Polaris. She is a member of the WBENC Marketing Committee and actively serves on The Forum. Judith also serves on the CWE New Hampshire Advisory Board. Polaris Direct, a nationally acclaimed direct marketing services provider and printing company, specializes in high-volume direct marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and marketing agencies, and is a member of the DMA, Idealliance, NEDMA, and DMCNY. Polaris has been a WBENC-certified supplier since 2004 and holds HITRUST and ISO-27001 certifications for data management and security. Judith was the WBENC Star in 2013 and received the CWE WBENC-Certified Women’s Business of the Year award in 2017.



Lisa Manning, Certified EOS Implementer


Lisa’s passion is working with entrepreneurs.  She has 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur and business advisor.  Over the course of that career she has specialized on successfully turning dozens of businesses around to double digit growth and profitability as well as growing an eight figure family owned business.  Lisa no longer manages the family business but rather sits on the board and spends all her time guiding other entrepreneurs to so that they too can get what they want out of their business.  Lisa’s focus in her session is to help by offering simple practical proven tools that do three things: 

  1. Vision – getting team aligned around where the business is going and how to get there.  (It’s not that companies don’t have a Vision – it’s that the leaders don’t agree.)
  2. Traction – how do you get the discipline and accountability to actually achieve the Vision.
  3. Healthy – how do you create a healthy, cohesive leadership team.

Lisa will bring copies of tools that are free and can be used immediately after the session.  In particular she will bring a two page strategic plan as well as People Analyzer that can help you make sure you have the right people in the right seats.



Gillian Meek, President, Keds

Gillian Meek joined the Keds team as President in 2016. In this role, she leads a cross-functional team which includes product creation, marketing, finance, sales and operations to deliver global growth for the Keds business.  The Keds brand dates back to 1916 and, under Meek’s leadership, is forging a new future with a vision to become the most coveted women’s sneaker brand in the world.  Prior to joining Keds, Meek led the product and marketing organization for Stride Rite Children’s Group.  She has more than 18 years of experience with increasing responsibility in creating product and brand stories for brands such as Reebok, Timberland and Stride Rite.  Gillian received her BA of Finance and Economics from the University of Western Ontario and her Masters of Business Administration from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College.  She is an active member of the Wolverine Worldwide Women’s Resource Group.  Gillian lives in Newton, MA with her husband, two children and dog.


Bob Nelson, District Director, Massachusetts - U.S. Small Business Administration


As district director, Mr. Bob Nelson is responsible for the effective delivery of SBA’s financial and business development programs with a mission to counsel, assist and protect the interest of small business statewide in order to maintain and strengthen the economy. He has 25 years of federal service,19 of which have been with the SBA

Nelson and the Massachusetts District Office staff work to help entrepreneurs to start, grow and build their businesses through access to capital, government contracting and technical assistance. On the financial side, Mr. Nelson is responsible for increasing delivery of the popular 7(a) and 504 loan programs which help small businesses obtain debt capital. During his tenure as district director, Massachusetts has seen tremendous increases in the use of SBA loan programs statewide. Massachusetts consistently ranks as one of the most productive district offices in terms of access to capital for small businesses. Nelson is also responsible for SBA oversight of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center’s (MSBDC) statewide network, the six Massachusetts chapters of SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business and the Massachusetts Women’s Business Center – the Center for Women & Enterprise. 




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

Terry O’Day heads the Center of Excellence (COE) for the Global Sourcing organization for Boston Scientific, located at the headquarters in Marlborough, MA. Terry has over 30 years of experience in finance, business operations and sourcing support. Prior to joining the sourcing organization, Terry was the VP, Finance for Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis and has held controllership positions within the company. Terry has been with Boston Scientific for 17 years. Previously, Terry held cross-functional senior management positions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Terry received her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.



Wendy Pease, Owner, Rapport International

Wendy Pease is owner of Rapport International, a company that eliminates spoken and written language barriers around the world by offering written translation, spoken interpretation, transweblation, keyword and brand name testing, global communications consulting in 200+ languages.  Prior to this, she served in corporate senior management positions in international marketing and business development.  She has an MBA from Dartmouth College, and a BA in Foreign Service from Penn State.  Wendy has lived in Mexico, Taiwan and the Philippines and is passionate about languages, cultures and communications.

Jabes Rojas, MBA MSc, Deputy Chief for Access & Opportunity and Community Affairs, Office of the Governor of Massachusetts


Following Executive Order 559 by Governor Baker, Jabes was appointed in 2015 as Deputy Chief for Access & Opportunity to serve in the Governor’s senior team.   Jabes leads the strategic diversity efforts on personnel and procurements for the Baker-Polito Administration.  In early 2017, Governor Baker expanded Jabes’ scope to include Community Affairs.  

Jabes has a record of establishing and growing innovative, win-win partnerships between major employers, leading non-profits and government institutions while convening the investments of millions of dollars towards these partnership ventures.  He has success leading and collaborating with teams that achieve results in dynamic, fast-paced and innovative settings that serve multiple stakeholders.

Previously, Jabes held senior management roles at Year Up and ALPFA, where he led both organizations’ transformational growth in millions of dollars, increased the engagement with Fortune 1000 companies and expanded the outcomes-based efforts of these premier national organizations.  He started his career at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and John Hancock Financial Services, where he held various roles of increasing responsibility while managing a portfolio of millions in corporate grants, sponsorships, employee matching gifts and volunteer programs.

Jabes holds a MBA from Boston College, a Masters of Science from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelors from Brandeis University.  He is an active alumnus of the Next Generation Executive and the Fellows programs from The Partnership Inc., as well as the Emerging Leaders program.   He has served on leadership roles in various boards, such as Conexion, The City School, ALPFA, and Ecologic.  He serves on the Advisory Committee of Eastern Bank’s Foundation for Business Equity.

Jabes immigrated to the US from Guatemala at the age of 9 years old and lives in Boston.



Bill Schawbel, CEO, Schawbel Companies

Bill Schawbel
, CEO of Schawbel Companies, was the Founder and CEO of The Schawbel Corporation, a business formed in 1981 through the acquisition of two divisions from The Gillette Company.  Bill sold The Schawbel Corporation in 2014 along with its successful ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant business and retained ThermaCELL Heated Products under Schawbel Technologies LLC.  In July of 2017, Heat Factory USA licensed the ThermaCELL Heated Products business along with its patented technology.

Prior to founding The Schawbel Corporation, Bill held senior management positions with The Gillette Company, including President of Gillette - Japan and President of Braun North America.  His marketing and management experience includes significant contributions to many of Gillette’s divisions within the United States and internationally, with particular success in the areas of acquisitions and new business development.

Over the past thirty-five years, Bill created and sold over thirty companies covering a wide array of consumer products in personal care, housewares, hardware, food and drug, and pest control.  He has built relationships with quality offshore manufacturers and, through his University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) connections, a broad and deep network of industry experts.

Bill’s in-depth knowledge and relationships in the consumer products market allow for real time assessment of opportunities with optimal results.  His experience and knowledge base is a critical competitive factor in the success of the Schawbel consulting practice.

As a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Bill served his alma mater as a Trustee, Chair of the Board of Overseers for the School of Veterinary Medicine, and Co-Chair of the James Brister Society (Penn's Diversity Board).

Bill is an alumnus of the Boston Latin School where he has served as President of the School’s Foundation and chaired its Capital Campaign Committee.  His passions related to public education, diversity, and entrepreneurship have kept him involved in Junior Achievement for over fifty years both at the local chapter level as past chair of Junior Achievement of Northern New England and internationally as board member of Junior Achievement International.  He was a founding member of the Center for Women & Enterprise, an organization that builds successful businesses through education and training and EdVestors, a school improvement organization that combines strategic philanthropy, education expertise, and implementation support to help schools create the conditions for school change.

In addition, Bill was a vice-chair of the Boston Museum of Science along with engineering projects for their facilities that required collaboration with global companies such as General Electric Company and Johnson Controls, Inc.

Bill has served in the military as a Captain in the U.S. Army.


Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, Author, Speaker, CEO & Founder, Next Stage Solutions, Inc.


Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz is a serial entrepreneur and innovator, founder of three companies specializing in finance leadership.

Her newly published book, “Stop Compromising”, reflects her years of work with small and mid-market companies. It is an exceptional, instructional business guide that leads the business owner through the myth of finance.



Raza Shaikhk, Technology Entrepreneur, Board Member and Angel Investor

Raza Shaikh
 is a technology entrepreneur, board member and angel investor and has built companies in the Big Data, Mobile and Life Science areas. He has worked at The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for large scale science, runs a team at NorthBay for Big Data consulting, and angel invests with Launchpad Venture Group and Sky Ventures Group. Raza Shaikh has been a start-up and small business advisor and mentor helping companies with strategy, fundraising and technology. Raza is member of the CWE Eastern Massachusetts - Advisory Board.

Cheryl Smith, Supplier Diversity Manager, Ahold Delhaize


Cheryl has an extensive resume in the grocery retail industry.  She has worked for a snack food manufacturer, a private label foods broker and for the last 24 years has worked for Ahold Delhaize.  In her most current role, Cheryl serves as the Supplier Diversity Manager for Ahold Delhaize.  In this role, she is responsible for connecting suppliers with the right people in the Ahold Delhaize brands as well as to educate suppliers on how to do business with Ahold Delhaize.




Raul Suarez-Rodriquez, Manager of Supplier Diversity, CVS Health

Raul Suarez-Rodrigue
z is the Manager of Supplier Diversity for CVS Health, a pharmacy innovation company that is at the forefront of a changing health care environment. Raul plans, organizes and manages supplier diversity enterprise wide program. In addition, he is responsible to develop, establish, maintain and direct the corporate diverse supplier mentoring program, diversity council, client relations, supplier relations programs, and internal and external outreach activities designed to develop opportunities for diverse suppliers on behalf CVS Health.

Under Suarez-Rodriguez’s leadership, the supplier diversity program has evolved and reached more than $1 Billion in Diverse Supplier Spending which was recently recognized by the Billion Dollar Roundtable, a top-level corporate advocacy organization that promotes supply-chain diversity excellence.

Moreover, he manages company-wide compliance of supplier diversity related contract commitments, ensure that all contract compliance goals and requirements are met, and respond to all corporate and governmental client inquiries (RFP’s /RFI’s / RFQ's).

Raul holds a Master in Business Administration with a concentration in leadership from Nova Southeastern University.



Maria Warrington, Vice President of Finance, Keds

Maria Warrington joined the Keds team as Vice President of Finance in 2017. Warrington also led the finance division for Wolverine Kids Group.  She has more than 15 years of experience with increasing responsibility in finance, accounting and corporate strategy for companies such as Stride Rite, Payless, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Bank of New York Mellon, and EzeCastle Software.  Maria is a Certified Public Accountant. She received her BA of Economics from Tufts University and her Master of Business Administration and Masters in Accounting from Northeastern University.  She is an active member of the Wolverine Worldwide Women’s Resource Group.  Maria lives in Acton, MA with her husband and two children.


Veronica Zsolcsak, President, Schawbel Group, LLC

Veronica Zsolcsak
, President of Schawbel Group, LLC, has over forty years of financial and business operations experience, including positions as Chief Financial and Operations Officer for publicly held corporations.  Her previous industry experience includes manufacturing, software services, consulting, and healthcare services.

Prior to joining Schawbel, Veronica was CFO and Treasurer for Health Gate Data Corporation.  She also held similar positions at Infinium, Inc., Renaissance Worldwide, Inc., Town and Country Corporation, and DRI/McGraw-Hill.  Earlier in her career, she held senior financial positions at Wang Laboratories and Digital Equipment Corporation building on her manufacturing and financial experience at General Tire and Rubber Company.  Veronica has extensive experience in all aspects of business strategic planning, tactical implementation, operations, and finance.  She recognizes that the ever-changing competitive market environment requires continuous innovations and adaptations of companies along with solid and sound leadership skills.  She has been able to provide clarity and influence positive change in her various positions.

Over the past five years, she led the product development efforts for the Thermacell Heated Products line at Schawbel and is named on forty-two patent filings, which reflect her creativity and ability to lead product development activities.  She also orchestrated the recent licensing agreement with Heat Factory USA for this product line.

As President of Schawbel Group, she oversees the consumer consulting business where she has managed over fifty client projects that have covered companies ranging in size from start-ups to $14 billion in revenue through Schawbel’s globally positioned consulting organization.  She is responsible for the selection of resources on projects, development of client contracts, and review and sign off on all completed projects.

Veronica earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Economics from Waynesburg University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Western New England University.  Veronica is a member and regional head of Adam Global, a network of independent firms providing corporate services.  She is also an advisory board member for Fitchburg University’s Business Administration Department and sits on their CS and CIS Industry Board.  She has also attended the Kellogg Women’s Director Development Program at Northwestern University.



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


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