Women of Color Business Summit Speakers & Session Leaders

The 2022 CWE Virtual Women of Color Business Summit 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.

Carla Carlisle

Executive Director, Carla A. Carlisle dba The Compassionate Companion™

Carla CarlisleCarla Carlisle is TEDx speaker, multiple award-winning author, trauma expert and child advocate. A proud boy mom, she has dedicated her life to informing the world about the impact of trauma and how we can excel beyond it.

A keynote speaker, Carla provides workshops to support our communities becoming trauma informed. She incorporates her experiences penned in her memoir, “Journey to the Son” as well her son, JC’s, in “My Big Notebook” to drive home how to thrive beyond trauma.

Carla is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She earned her B.A. in sociology from Indiana University. She earned an M.S. in human resources management from American University and another in organizational development from Johns Hopkins University. Carla obtained a graduate certificate in change management from Johns Hopkins University.


Melissa Egdorf 

Melissa EgdorfAssociate Director Business Sales, Verizon

Melissa is a daughter, sister, wife, and proud leader of our Small and Medium Business wireless sales organization in the Verizon Business Group. Melissa enjoys spending time with friends and family, learning about technology, and constantly finding ways to make incremental improvements to everything I touch.

At Verizon, Melissa manages one of our New England sales organizations, supporting private sector business customers in the small and medium space. Melissa's objective is to partner with these businesses and show them how technology can help them meet and exceed their own business objectives. Melissa takes immense pride in helping these companies grow into true Enterprises, while helping her team reach their own personal and professional goals.


Cathleen Finn

Greater Boston Community Engagement Director, Verizon

Cathleen FinnCathleen Finn has over 20 years of experience leading community engagement efforts in the information technology industry, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships between the private, nonprofit and public sectors. As the Community Engagement Director at Verizon, Cathleen leads civic engagement in Greater Boston and Northern New England, addressing community needs while developing awareness and support for Verizon’s efforts to bring the next generation of wireless technology to our communities. Cathleen fosters partnerships with schools, nonprofits, businesses and civic organizations by hosting community focus groups and investing resources through grant making, sponsorships, and employee volunteerism. Verizon community investments focus on Digital Inclusion, Climate Protection and Human Prosperity. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Verizon dedicated $55 million to relief efforts, including $17.5 million to LISC to fund the Verizon Small Business Relief Fund which awarded $797,500 to 86 Massachusetts companies.


Sofia Corcho Flores

President, Hispanic Star Boston

Sofia Corcho FloresMs. Sofia Corcho Flores is an early-stage advisor and a consultant on business digital strategy and global expansion. With more than 15 years of experience leading business, Ms. Corcho Flores is devoted to helping driven-multicultural founders accelerate their success and is an advocate for advancing the agenda of diversity, equity, and inclusion across both her professional and her personal life.

She is the Co-founder of Monarca Ventures, Partner at AccelHUB Venture Partners and a Co-founder of ScaleUp LatAm, an early and growth-stage venture capital fund that provides an actively managed approach to investing in disruptive technologies emerging from Latin American countries.

A lifelong proponent of small business, Ms. Corcho Flores grew up as the daughter of a small business owner and learned at a young age how important small businesses are to the communities they serve, the people they employ, and the economies they help power. As a proud first-generation Latina, she has dedicated her career to empowering and opening doors for the next wave of Latino leaders.


Vicki Gray

President and Owner, New Chapter Home Improvement

Vicki Gray is a natural business leader, team builder, community enthusiast, and motivational speaker with over 10 years of experience in construction project management. Since launching New Chapter Home Improvement Inc. (NCHI), in 2013, Vicki has spent most of her time nurturing NCHI’s vision and mission; to be the “go to” home improvement company for homeowners that treasure quality workmanship and peace of mind. Very few contractors can get the work done in a way that does not make the customer hate the journey. NCHI has invested in building and implementing systems to ensure operational excellence and complete customer satisfaction. Under Vicki’s leadership, NCHI, the company has achieved numerous awards, including Best Service Award from Home Advisor in consecutive years. Vicki is a mother of 2 wonderful children, an avid humanitarian that volunteers her time and skill as a motivational speaker, shaping the way young women see themselves as leaders and inspiring teens to reach heights they never thought possible.


LiXin Olsen

LiXin OlsenVice President of Global Tax, Globalization Partners

LiXin Olsen is currently serving as Vice President of Global Tax at Globalization Partners. She has 20-plus years of broad corporate tax experience across multiple disciplines, including US federal and international tax compliance and tax planning, mergers and acquisitions, and income tax accounting for US-based multi-national companies.

Prior to Globalization Partners, LiXin worked for several companies across a variety of industries, including Excelitas Technologies, Charles River Laboratories, Boston Consulting Group, and EY, managing their international teams for global tax compliance, global tax planning and restructuring, M&A tax due diligence, and acquisition structuring. Over the years, she has demonstrated a strong track record successfully leading international tax teams and developing best practices across the tax spectrum.

After coming to the US from Harbin, China, LiXin continued her accounting education, earning a Master’s Degree in Accounting from Johnson and Wales University and a Master’s Degree in Taxation from Northeastern University. She also holds CPA license in Massachusetts. LiXin enjoys spending time with her husband, three children, her family and friends, traveling, hiking, reading, and gardening.


Paulette Piñero

Founder and CEO, Unstoppable Latina LLC

Paulette PineroPaulette Piñero is an award-winning social entrepreneur, Latina leadership coach, writer, and speaker dedicated to closing the leadership gap for Latinas and Women of Color.

Through her company Unstoppable Latina LLC, Paulette guides Latina CEOs to harness their strengths, amplify their voice, and live their purpose so they become unstoppable. Using an equity and justice-focused approach, her business consulting and leadership coaching services strive to create a world where leadership is diverse, purpose-driven, and joyful.


Lisa RanglinLisa Ranglin

President & CEO, Rhode Island Black Business Association

Voted one of Rhode Island’s most powerful and Influential women by Rhode Island Monthly Magazine, and Rosa Parks Award recipient from NAACP Providence, Lisa Ranglin is the President & CEO of Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), and a sought-after professional who brings over 20 years of corporate experience in risk management, change and project/program management. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University, with a master's degree in Human Resource Management, and a BS in Computer Programming Technology from New England Technology College, Ranglin is a Certified Executive Coach, Certified Project Management Professional with a Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.


Dr. Genesis Ross
 

Dr. Genesis RossDr. Genesis Ross is a Research-Practitioner, Educator, Entrepreneur, Consultant, and Thought Leader. She has a passion for working in solidarity with people as they strive for personal and professional growth. Dr. Ross intentional enjoys partnering with those who work to improve society and create evolutionary space for historically marginalized populations. She believes it is important to intentionally look for opportunities to induce a collateral uplifting effect. Dr. Ross beliefs paired with her education and experience culminate her professional capacities into the following three categories:

  1. Leadership, Culture, Curriculum, and Innovation.
  2. Social Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
  3. Holistic Engagement (i.e., Collaboration, Partnership, Cross-Sector, and Transdisciplinary.

Dr. Ross has been involved in developing programs; working alongside urban communities to address challenges; consulting with private companies on business practices and staff development; teaching, facilitating and developing Social Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion curriculum; supporting leaders in their development and execution of a strategic plan; and aiding retention efforts for historically marginalized student populations within public ivy league institutions. Dr. Ross takes her work across disciplines, sectors, and communities to holistically partner and serve in humanizing work. She actively participates in the process through facilitation and encouragement. For her, professionals are part of an ecosystem, and the health of the ecosystem is threatened or sustained at the level of human impact.


Jacquetta Van Zandt

Vice President of Engagement and Mobilization, The Partnership, Inc.

Jacquetta Van ZandtJacquetta Van Zandt is the Vice President of Engagement and Mobilization at The Partnership, Inc. Jacquetta is responsible for building, coordinating, and maintaining strategic relationships across the civic, political and business sectors. In this role, The Vice President manages long-term strategic thinking regarding the Partnership’s relationships in order to build systemic and sustainable influence in furtherance of the organization’s mission.

Prior to joining The Partnership, Inc, Van Zandt honed a political skill set on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as well as various state and federal campaigns, Jacquetta has been a respected voice at the table to aid in making significant decisions that impact communities of color.

A highly sought-after political strategist, with a special focus on public policy and diversity initiatives, her desire to bring about equal opportunities for women of color has brought her back to Massachusetts. Her goal towards making an impact on her community and to bring important issues to light such as wage inequality, financial literacy, socioeconomic development, women's empowerment, and diversifying the legislature are at the heart of today’s most important issues. She was instrumental force on many campaigns including the successful campaign of Framingham’s first Mayor and only popularly elected woman of color to that post.

Van Zandt along with Lori Lennon launched a growing and popular zoom-cast/podcast called “Politics and Prosecco”. Politics and Prosecco is a one-hour show where guests and hosts engage in topics surrounding current events and its impact on everyday life.

Born and raised in Boston, MA, Van Zandt graduated from Mount Ida College (now part of the UMASS education system) with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. She resides in Roxbury, MA. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, The Links, Inc. and holds Board positions with Common Cause, Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus and The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts and is the President of the Young Professionals Network.


Kimberly E. Zouzoua

VP Strategic Partnerships, Center for Women & Enterprise

Kimberly Zouzoua is an accomplished non-profit executive with 20+ years of experience leading high-level operations, planning, and development functions for a diverse range of businesses and philanthropic organizations. Throughout her career, she has been recognized for her ability to launch innovative programs that have consistently helped organizations construct and implement strategic plans, expand their reach, achieve financial stability, and create a strong and sustainable company culture.

She is a highly sought-after speaker and consultant in the areas of youth leadership development, strategic business planning, and organizational development. She has presented to a diverse range of institutions including: Youthbuild Providence, Beijing +15 Massachusetts Women’s Summit, Northeast Computing Program Conference (NERCOMP), Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, Massasoit Community College, and Wellesley University.

Kimberly has a Master of Business Administration from Northeastern University, a Bachelor of Science in Management and an Associate of Science in Finance and Investments both from Johnson and Wales University. Additionally, she is Chair of the Brockton Commission on Women’s Issues, President of the Psi Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; sits on the leadership committee for the Women of the Harvard Club and is a member of over a dozen professional organizations and sits on numerous boards. 

Kimberly enjoys Intercultural Learning and dialogue. She has traveled across the world visiting Africa, Central America, China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Europe.