WBLC Speakers and Session Leaders

The 2020 CWE Virtual 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.

Erin Allgood, Social Impact Strategist, Allgood Strategies

(Day 1-Oct 6)

A lifelong Granite Stater, Erin resides in New Hampshire’s Seacoast region and works as a social impact strategist and coach. Drawing from her background in systems thinking, intersectional feminism, and sustainability, Erin has a unique perspective on the role business plays in creating a more resilient and equitable future.

Kate Anderson, Co-founder & Operations Director, IFundWomen

(Day 1-Oct 6)

Kate Anderson is a leader in generating change and gender equality within the private fundraising space. As co-founder and Operations Director of IFundWomen, she has driven millions of dollars into the hands of female founders. IFundWomen's flexible crowdfunding platform combines a pay-it-forward model, expert startup coaching, professional video production, and a private community for its entrepreneurs, all with the goal of helping female entrepreneurs launch and grow better businesses. Kate lives in Boston with her husband and their three kids, Maggie, JR and Audrey.

Kelly Kamaka'alohi Asato, Somatic Coach and Leadership Facilitator

(Day 3-Oct 8)

As a certified Strozzi Somatic Coach and Leadership Facilitator, Kelly has partnered with global leaders to cultivate their authenticity, resilience and executive presence for over 20 years.

Kelly is an affiliate of The Weston Network, Seven Stones Leadership and part of the Core Transformational Faculty at Mobius Executive Leadership.


Kate Beeders, The Breakthrough Success Expert, Best-Selling Author & Speaker

(Day 3-Oct 8)

Kate Beeders, The Breakthrough Success Expert, best-selling author and speaker has helped thousands go from stuck to successful with her proprietary system of mindset and strategy.

Kate is an award-winning marketing professional. She started her career as a senior flight attendant which is the ultimate education in customer experience and managing the unexpected.

Emily Bernard, Co-Founder & Head of Product, Bernard & Hawkes

(Day 3-Oct 8)

Emily Bernard is the co-founder and Head of Product at Bernard & Hawkes, a New England-based travel company. Bernard & Hawkes curates getaways at unique properties across the region, including hotels, vacation rentals, inns, and more.


Michele Courton Brown, Vice President, Business Development, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

(Day 3 -Oct 8)

Michele is responsible for identifying and evaluating new business opportunities including acquisitions, strategic alliances and joint ventures that drive competitive advantage, support strategic objectives and drive profitable growth.She also sources strategic investments for Zaffre Venture Fund.

LaToia Burkley, Career Coach & Founder, Your Big Debut!

(Day 3 - October 8)

LaToia Burkley helps women develop the behavioral traits they’ll need on their career journey and helps them harness their power with a polished resume, top-notch digital presence, and a strong personal brand. LaToia is a goal-oriented, certified diversity coach, as well as a highly skilled, innovative, and energetic business professional. In her work with clients, she draws on her background identifying, prioritizing, maximizing opportunities, and orchestrating solutions in the Human Resources and Business Operations space. LaToia’s specialties include Diversity & Inclusion, Networking, Professional & Leadership Development. 

In a corporate environment, LaToia guides leaders as they put together engagement and coaching strategies designed for the call center world. She brings new ideas to customer experience education, turning customer service into a sale of product and helping employees hone their soft skills. When she’s not helping clients with professional development, LaToia dedicates her time volunteering in a faith-based foreign language ministry centered in Rhode Island. She’s called New England home since November 2019, having traded in her Georgia Peach status for the Ocean State. LaToia is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, is a travel pro and loves to take in new sites and cultures. She is known to devour books, is a self-proclaimed foodie, and enjoys having a good time with friends. LaToia’s professional memberships include:

  • Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches
  • Coach Diversity Institute Alum via Howard University School of Business
  • Mentor Rhode Island
  • Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT)
  • Habitat for Humanity – Metro Atlanta

Linda Champion, Public Figure l Attorney l Real Estate Broker

(Day 2-Oct 7)

Linda Champion graduated from Suffolk Law in 2001 and has spent the past 19 years working in the area of labor, industrial accidents, consumer protection, real estate and business transactions practicing in both the state and federal systems. Linda is a former Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney.


Jodi-Tatiana Charles, Founder,  LCG Brands

(Day 2-Oct 7)

Jodi-Tatiana Charles is the founder and “Brandographer™” of LCG Brands, a unique brand and marketing consulting firm dedicated to educating entrepreneurs, small/medium businesses (SMB/SMEs), and international professionals on the importance of growing their personal and corporate brands. When not absorbed with all things marketing, Charles dedicates her time to children, elderly and cancer causes, through road races, mentoring and volunteering.


Roxann C. Cooke, Consumer Bank Regional Director, JPMorgan Chase

(Day 2-Oct 7)

Roxann Cooke is a Consumer Bank Regional Director at JPMorgan Chase. She is a strategic leader with significant experience in consumer and community banking. Roxann is responsible for building strategic business and people priorities to drive the firm’s consumer and community bank expansion in the New England & Greater Pennsylvania Regions.

 Roxann is a social advocate who is passionate about economic and educational development and tirelessly supports programs focused on eliminating socioeconomic disparity in communities where she lives and works. She believes in the power of partnership and is uniquely skilled at cultivating collaborative relationships to achieve results. Roxann serves on the board of several organizations including the South Middlesex County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and the Museum of African American History-Boston. She received numerous recognition for her corporate and civic leadership. 

Roxann received her BA from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and her MBA from Suffolk University in Massachusetts.

Taisha Crayton, CEO, Notyarc Management Group

(Day 2-Oct 7)

Shaumba-Yandie Dibinga, CEO and Lead Instructor, ShapeUp with Shaumba

(Day 2 - Oct 7)

Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga is the CEO and Lead Instructor of ShapeUp with Shaumba, an organization created to fight obesity in children and families through innovative programs including fitness, journaling, dance, motivational speaking, teambuilding exercises and spoken word. She is also the founding Artistic Director of OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center.

Karoline Evans, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management, University of Massachusetts Lowell

(Day 3-Oct 8)

Karoline Evans, Ph.D. is a professor in the Manning School of Business at UMass Lowell where she teaches management and serves on an NSF-funded committee to combat microaggressions in STEM. Her research focuses on how social relationships, power, and diversity affects teams. Karoline previously worked in R&D at Accenture specializing in mobile technologies and developing corporate innovation best practices.

Manasi Gangan, President, Nested Bean, Inc.

(Day 3-Oct 8)

Manasi Gangan is a technology leader turned consumer goods startup Founder and President. Using her background in IT product development and inspired by her own experiences caring for her second son, she built Nested Bean, an infant sleep wellness company, to a high growth multimillion-dollar business that solves sleep deprivation faced by countless new parents.

Yvonne Garcia, Chief of Staff to State Street CEO and Chairwoman of The Greater Boston Chamber’s Women’s Network

(Day 2-Oct 7)

Yvonne Garcia serves as Chief of Staff to State Street’s CEO, Ron O’Hanley and as Global Head of Internal Communications.  Prior to State Street, Yvonne served as Director in Marketing and Distribution Strategy for Liberty Mutual and as Vice President for Bank of America’s China Construction Bank Strategic Assistance Program. In that role, Yvonne and her team created and implemented over five new Wealth Management Centers throughout China which resulted in over 80 centers currently throughout the country.

As an active leader of local and national communities, Yvonne served as the Chairwoman for the largest Latino Professional Organization in the country, ALPFA.  Yvonne is also the co-founding Chair of Milagros para Niños, a board at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Yvonne was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to serve on the state’s Latino Advisory Commission Board and was also appointed as the Chairwoman for the Greater Boston Chamber’s Women’s Network. Yvonne has been featured in Fortune magazine in partnership with ALPFA as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Latinas in the United States three years in a row and just last year was named Boston Business Journal’s Power 50.

Yvonne holds an MBA from Boston University in Finance and Marketing and a BA from SUNY Albany and is a Six Sigma Black Belt.

Mark S. Hayward, Rhode Island District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration

(Day 1-Oct 6)

Mark S. Hayward was appointed District Director of the Rhode Island District Office in March 2000. He joined the Rhode Island District Office as Deputy Director in 1991 and served as the Acting District Director from 1996 until his appointment as District Director. Hayward has served on several occasions as acting regional administrator for New England.  More specifically he served as Acting RA from June 2007 through October 2007, August 2004 through April 2005 and January 2001 through February 2002

He served simultaneously as acting director of the Massachusetts District Office from February 2004 through April 2005. Mark supervises a staff of 4 professional employees, and is responsible for the management and delivery of the SBA’s financial and technical assistance programs for the state of Rhode Island. He has served as a member of the SBA Administrator’s Field Advisory Council from 2001 through 2008.  During that period he also served six months as the District Director in Residence in the office of the Administrator.

In February of 2017, Hayward was appointed Senior Advisor to the 25th Administrator of the SBA, Linda McMahon. Upon his return from assignment Hayward was appointed acting Regional Administrator for Region I as well as Rhode Island District Director. In May of 2017 Hayward was also temporarily appointed as the acting Regional Administrator for Region IV, serving Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Hayward has initiated and developed outreach programs to enhance the Emerging Markets initiatives, including the Rhode Island Salute to Small Business Week celebration. Mark has 35 years of federal service. Prior to his assignment with the Rhode Island District Office, he was the SBA’s Acting Chief Counsel for Advocacy in Washington, D.C. from February 1990 until November 1991.

From 1981-1983 Hayward was the Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency. He also served from 1983-1989 as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Territorial and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior.

Mark is a native of East Providence, Rhode Island, where he served on the city council and was mayor from 1976 to 1982. Hayward holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History with a minor in European History from Providence College. He also attended the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington-on-the-Hudson, New York.


Chris Herriman, Economic Development Specialist & Veteran Business Development Officer, U.S. Small Business Administration - Vermont

(Day 1-Oct 6)

Chris Herriman is Economic Development Specialist and the Veteran Business Development Officer at Vermont’s U.S. Small Business Administration. Chris has held positions in Business Lending and Advising, Government Contracting and was a Bank Marketing Executive. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and owns a Campground in Central Vermont

Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, President, Process & Strategy Solutions

(Day 1-Oct 6)


Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions. Her successful consulting focuses on assisting businesses of all sizes & industries transform to enable growth and higher profit by innovating operations, strategy, supply & service chains. She is also a master instructor and keynoted for September’s ISCEA virtual conference.

Dawn LaRochelle, Project Manager: COVID Business Recovery Central MA, Center for Women & Enterprise

(Day 1-Oct 6)

A graduate of Duke University, Harvard Law School, and the UMass Amherst Graduate School of Education, Dawn has an extensive background in corporate and non-profit law, business, and education.  After working in the litigation department of the Wall Street firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and as General Counsel for Human Rights in China, she opened two acclaimed catering companies and an award-winning fine dining restaurant in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  As a caterer and restaurateur, she partnered with Soldier On to create a culinary learning program and paid internship for disabled veterans and received commendation for mentoring students in the Pittsfield High School Culinary Arts Program, as well as raising the necessary funds for them to participate and medal in the 2010 ProStart Invitational Competition. She also founded Berkshire Culinary Vacations in coordination with local inns, farmers, and purveyors to help drive business to the Berkshires in the off-season. In 2014, she was recognized as the Swarthmore Who’s Who Restaurateur of the year.

After a decade in the food service industry, Dawn worked as a middle school ELL (English Language Learning) teacher at Chestnut Middle School North in Springfield, Massachusetts. She later became ELL Department Chair and served on the Advisory Committee at the MacDuffie School, a private day and boarding high school in Granby, Massachusetts, with students from twenty-six different countries.  At MacDuffie, she collaborated with UMass Amherst to launch the high school’s first-ever graduate student ELL internship program and won the 2016-2017 Teacher Volunteer Service Award.                       

Alice Lewis, Founder & CEO, Alice's Table

(Day 1-Oct 6)

In 2015, Alice Lewis launched Alice’s Table and the Alice’s Table Event Exec program with the mission to empower women to start their own creative businesses and give them the tools, knowledge, and community they need to be successful. Alice has been featured on Shark Tank, among other accolades, securing top investors including Mark Cuban and Sara Blakely, to help bring the Alice’s Table mission to life.

Dr. Stem Sithembile Mahlatini, EdD, LCSW, Licensed Pyschotherapist, Confidence Coach, Trainer

(Day 2-Oct 7)

Dr Stem (Sithembile Mahlatini, EdD, LCSW)Zimbabwe, Africa is an Employee Assistant Professional, Transitions Trainer, Speaker, Television & Radio Personality, Author and Licensed Psychotherapist. She is a Certified John Maxwell Leadership Trainer/Speaker, Certified Life- Career Coach, Passion Test Facilitator and Josh Shipp Certified Youth Speaker. As an author of 35 books she is Focused on three things: To Inspire, Influence and Impact.

Julie Matheson, Founder, Lotus Flower Living Holistic Counseling, Author, Lotus Flower Living

(Day 3-Oct 8)

Julie Matheson is the Founder of Lotus Flower Living Holistic Counseling and author of the forthcoming book, Lotus Flower Living: A Journaling Practice for Deep Discovery and Lasting Peace. She is an angel investor, owns and manages several residential properties and advises spiritual, non-profit organizations. Julie holds a B.S. and an M.A. in Psych/Expressive Therapies.

Laura Miller, President, Making Matters NH

(Day 1-Oct 6)


After twenty years in retail and starting three businesses including an award winning "buy local" gift shop featuring the work of local and emerging craftspeople, Laura is now heading the effort to launch a non-profit community organization. Making Matters is a membership based makerspace that focuses on arts and entrepreneurial education for people of all ages and skillsets.  Laura also serves as an active member of Arts 4 NH and the NH Business Committee for the Arts.

Grace Moreno, Executive Director, Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce

(Day 1-Oct 6)

Experienced senior executive, startup nurturer, and entrepreneur, Grace Moreno has 20+ years of experience leading nonprofit organizations.Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit that cultivates inclusive relationships between LGBT-owned businesses and the corporate sector that drive economic impact throughout the Commonwealth.

Jessicah Pierre, Founder, Queens Company

(Day 2-Oct 7)

Jessicah Pierre is a Public Relations and Marketing Consultant, Blogger, Social Entrepreneur, and Public Speaker whose work has been featured in local outlets such as The Boston Globe to national outlets like BET and Glamour Magazine. Jessicah uses her marketing skills and passion for creating social change to help entrepreneurs, nonprofits and advocacy groups gain visibility in the media and increase their online engagement. 

She is also the Founder of Queens Company, a leading organization in Boston dedicated to empowering women of color by hosting networking events, workshops, and by providing a mutual support system.

LaCrystal Robinson, Chief Cre8tive Officer, Cre8tor Zone

(Day 2-Oct 7)

LaCrystal is an experienced marketer who has evolved from competing in marketing competitions to managing million-dollar marketing budgets. She believes that everyone has an inner CRE8TOR waiting to be released and hopes Cre8torZone will be the outlet that inspires others to think outside of the box and innovate.

Kathryn Rose, CEO, wiseHer

(Day 3 -Oct 8)

Kathryn Rose is the founding CEO of wiseHer, an award-winning global knowledge marketplace that helps women business owners and professionals overcome unique challenges on-demand through 1:1 access to thousands of experts, education and resources that accelerate business, career or life growth. She is a former Wall Street sales leader and an author of 9 books. She has been featured in Thrive Global, CBS Marketwatch, Fox News and more.

Laury Saligman, Co-Founder, Vermont Women's Investor Network, and Managing Partner, Clean Energy Venture Group

(Day 1-Oct 6)

Laury Saligman is co-organizer of several outdoor recreation events, including the CircumBurke, voted Vermont’s best MTB race.  She has also helped to create the Victory Hill Sector, a Vermont bike park.  She is also co-founder of the Vermont Women’s Investor Network and Managing Partner at Clean Energy Venture Group.


Amanda Shuman, Attorney, DangerLaw, LLC

(Day 3-Oct 8)

Amanda focuses her practice on family law and small business, with an emphasis on empowering women as they make important transitions in their lives. In particular, Amanda works with clients as they start and grow their own businesses and navigate the challenges of growth and change in their personal lives (including pre- and post-nuptial agreements, divorce, custody, child support, guardianship and conservatorship, and probate litigation).

Lisa M. Smith-McQueenie, Consultant, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), LMS Consulting 

(Day 1-Oct 6 and Day 2 - Oct 7)

Lisa is an experienced DEI professional providing vision and leadership in promoting a culture that demonstrably values DEI. She guides efforts to conceptualize, define, assess, and cultivate DEI as an institutional, organizational and educational priority. Lisa has established/ facilitated training and professional development opportunities in higher education, K-12, nonprofit and other organizations.

Lisa Spector, AVP, Director of Category Management, TJX

(Day 1-Oct 6)

Lisa Spector is a strategic sourcing and procurement professional who loves helping people find the right solutions with the right suppliers at the best value. She currently is AVP, Director of Category Management at TJX, the leading off-price retailer of apparel and home fashions in world, operating TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Sierra and Homesense in the US. Lisa has spent most of her career in strategic sourcing and procurement, gaining experience across many industries including government, financial services, and retail. When not at work, Lisa enjoys spending time with her family, getting outside and shopping.

Ken Stern, President, Great Practices

(Day 1-Oct 6)

At Great Practices, Ken consults for doctors in private practice to help drive profitability. Prior to this venture, Ken spend decades in technology development, including consulting stints at Analog Devices and Idex. Ken holds an MBA from Wharton and a Masters from CALTECH and was recently awarded his 12th patent.

Liora Stone, President & Co-Founder, Precision Engineering, Inc.

(Day 1-Oct 6)

Liora Stone is President and co-founder of Precision Engineering Inc – a certified woman-owned advanced metalworking contract manufacturer of custom metal components and assemblies for aerospace/defense, commercial, and industrial applications.

Liora was selected by the Worcester Business Journal as a “2016 Outstanding Women in Business” and a “2019 Power 50” awardee.

Kate Terry, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Surround Insurance

(Day 1-Oct 6)

Kate Terry is Co-founder and COO at Surround Insurance. She has had profit and loss responsibility at Progressive, Plymouth Rock, and Liberty Mutual, where she was most recently Senior Vice President, Commercial Product Management. Kate is a licensed agent and surplus lines broker and a Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter.

Dr. Shakenna K. Williams, Director, Global Initiatives, Center of Women Entrepreneurial Leadership, Babson College

(Day 2-Oct 7)

Dr. Shakenna K. Williams is the Director of Global Initiatives for the Center of Women Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College.  She is the former Deputy Academic Director and Lead Faculty Director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Babson College.  She is the Lead Faculty of Business Programs for The American Women’s College at Bay Path University.  Dr. Williams received her doctorate from Capella University, her MBA in Integrated Marketing and Communications from Oklahoma City University, and a B.S. in Finance and Investments from Babson College.