Charlotte 2017 | Empowering women entrepreneurs from the Carolinas and around the world

For the first time in the U.S., the Global Ambassadors Program brought together women leaders from the Carolinas and around the world. The program took place in May 2017 in Charlotte, N.C. The week-long mentorship initiative brought together women entrepreneurs and leaders of social enterprises for mentoring and workshops focused on building organizational management, financial acumen and leadership skills.

Launched in 2012, the program brings together high-profile, distinguished women executives to serve as mentors to talented women leaders from around the world, and now from the U.S. Each Global Ambassador is paired with a woman leading a small business or social enterprise and works with her to build critical business skills and strategies needed for growth.

“Women represent the biggest emerging market in the world,” said Andrea Smith, Chief Administrative Officer of Bank of America. “They’re running nonprofits and businesses in countries all over the world. This program is one way we can invest in women business owners in Charlotte, and from other countries, to give them the support they need to take their companies to the next level.”

This program is part our broader effort to advance women’s leadership and economic advancement both within the company and in communities around the world. In addition to global initiatives like this partnership with Vital Voices, we partner with many other national and local organizations that work to improve the lives of women and advance thriving economies. Working to reflect the communities where its employees live and work, we have strong representation of women at all levels of the organization and supports women through career development programs and industry-leading benefits including 16 weeks of paid parental leave, back-up child care and adult care services.

This marks the first time in the history of Global Ambassadors that the program was held in the United States. In the five years since the program started, we have partnered with Vital Voices to hold mentoring programs in Poland, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Qatar, Singapore, Brazil, India, South Africa, Haiti, Japan, England, Australia and now Charlotte, N.C., reaching more than 100 women mentees from more than 60 countries.

“Hosting GAP in the U.S. this year presents an extraordinary opportunity to share locally what we’ve learned from women leaders globally,” said Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices. “From vastly different geographies come the most innovative solutions to universal challenges. I can’t wait to meet our next cohort of Global Ambassadors and mentees in Charlotte, and see their visions for change realized in the months and years to come.”

Learn more about the Charlotte program from Vital Voices, or visit our Global Ambassadors page. Follow @BofA_News and @VitalVoices for updates via #GlobalAmbassadors.

Charlotte Global Ambassadors

Moira Quinn
COO, Charlotte Center City Partners
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Moira is COO and SVP of Communications for Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP) which envisions and implements strategies and actions to drive the economic, social and cultural development of the Center City.

Prior to joining CCCP, Moira worked at WBTV for 26 years in roles on and behind the camera. She worked, in turn, as news executive producer, news anchor, co-host of the nationally syndicated PM Magazine (also as show and segment producer), news reporter, news editor, news photographer and studio cameraman. Moira also served as president of Temple Beth El, the largest Reform Jewish congregation in Charlotte and president of the Queens University Alumni Association.

Moira was named one of Mecklenburg County’s 50 Most Influential Women, received the Life in Charlotte “Media Professional of the Year” Award, the Community Service Award from Women Business Owners and the Alumna of the Year Award from Queens University of Charlotte. Moira graduated summa cum laude from Queens University of Charlotte with a double major in English and Drama.

Juna Mathema
Managing Director and Co-Founder, Blitz Media P. Ltd.
Kathmandu, Nepal

Juna Mathema co-founded Blitz Media in 2002 and has established Blitz as a top research agency in Nepal. She has been an advocate of creating favorable employment opportunities and feels deeply for the cause of women and the need to give them equal opportunities to manage their lives independently. Juna has overseen more than 200 research projects covering issues of health, education, water and politics.

Juna is a member of the National Governing Council of Nepalese Young Entrepreneur Forum (NYEF) and promotes entrepreneurship among the youth of Nepal, especially women entrepreneurs. Juna is also a member of the 'Start-up Ecosystem Development Committee,' formed with the initiation of the Ministry of Industry, Government of Nepal, to develop and promote the start-up ecosystem in Nepal.


Oulimata Sarr
Regional Economic Empowerment Advisor, UN Women
Dakar, Senegal

Oulimata Sarr is currently a regional economic empowerment advisor of UN Women for West and Central Africa. UN Women is the United Nations entity mandated for gender equality and empowerment of women. Prior to the UN, she spent 10 years at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member institution of the World Bank Group.

Oulimata is a founding member and gender champion of Africa2.0, a Pan-African civil society organization that consists of young and emerging leaders from Africa and the diaspora who share a collective vision for Africa and a commitment to finding and implementing sustainable solutions that will in turn leapfrog the development of the continent.

She serves as the Africa Jury president of the Cartier Women’s Initiative edition 2017. The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards was created in 2006, to encourage women entrepreneurs. Six laureates, one from each region, are honored annually for the creativity, financial sustainability and social impact of their start-up businesses.

Karen Bennetts
Owner, Little Red Bird
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Little Red Bird helps companies discover and express their brand voices through strategic and creative communications. LRB’s goals are to uncover what’s unique and authentic about a brand, then convey it in a meaningful way that forms new connections with customers.

LRB produces award-winning work for clients in a variety of categories, from education and nonprofits to financial services, healthcare, high tech, and even a custom-brewed distillery.

Karen has over 30 years of experience in providing brand strategy and communications, advertising, and digital solutions for firms ranging from the Fortune 50to entrepreneurial start-ups. Her focus is on finding customer and competitive insights then developing strategies and support to take brands to the next level.

Karen is past president of the Charlotte, North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), recipient of its Rising Star Award, and chair-elect of NAWBO’s national President’s Assembly Steering Committee.


Debra Plousha Moore
System Chief of Staff, Executive Vice President, Carolinas Health Care
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Debra serves as system chief of staff and executive vice president at Carolinas HealthCare System – one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive healthcare organizations. Carolinas HealthCare System provides a full spectrum of healthcare and wellness programs at more than 900 care locations throughout North and South Carolina.

Debra assists the president & CEO with strategy discussions with all major stakeholders, facilitates operational planning, and influences business execution. She is one of the nation’s foremost authorities in the fields of leadership development, human resources, diversity and inclusion and organizational development. As a visionary leader, she brings focus, intensity of purpose and compassion to the fast-changing world of healthcare.

In 2015, Forbes named Carolinas HealthCare System to its list of America’s Best Employers. Fortune named CHS as one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care.” DiversityMBA, a national leadership organization, named Carolinas HealthCare System a “Best Place for Women and Diverse Managers to Work.”

Debra served on the 2016 Executive Committee of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, and serves on several boards focused on business, education, mentorship and human resources. She was named Charlotte BusinessWoman of the Year in 2015 by Queens University of Charlotte. In 2014, she received the Leadership Excellence Award from the National Diversity Council. She also was named the recipient of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award by the Urban League of Central Carolinas.

Debra’s academic career includes 10 years at the University of Dayton as the associate dean of students and adjunct faculty in the department of Counseling and Human Services. She holds a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Dayton. She is a member of the National Association of Health Services Executives and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Norm “Anak” Bunnak
Director, VillageWorks Songkhem Co., Ltd.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

VillageWorks is social enterprise and guaranteed member of the World Fair Trade Organization focused on supporting vulnerable, marginalized communities in Cambodia. It works to bring sustainable income and safe economic opportunities to disabled handicraft producers, empowering women home-based workers and reducing rural exodus.

Anak has participated in a number of conferences and programs, including Vital Voices’ FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership in 2013.

Anak served as president of the Artisans Association of Cambodia and as a board member of the Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association and Home Net Southeast Asia. In 2014 she was recognized with the Mekong award in Tokyo, Japan. 


Terri McCullough
Former CEO, No Ceilings Project; Consultant, Women and Girl’s Empowerment
New York, New York, United States

Terri McCullough is a consultant focused on girls and women’s empowerment and public-private partnerships. Most recently, she served as CEO of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, a Clinton Foundation initiative creating partnerships to evaluate and share the progress made by women and girls over the last two decades, and chart the path forward for full participation for women and girls in the 21st century. Terri previously directed the Tory Burch Foundation, working to support U.S. women-owned businesses. She served as Chief of Staff and women’s issues advisor to U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and held senior positions at organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice America, PENCIL, and Anna Deavere Smith’s Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. She serves on the Boards of the Young Women’s Leadership Network and the 92Y Center for Innovation and Social Impact. She was featured as one of Marie Claire’s 2013 New Guard: America’s 50 Most Influential Women.

Rana El Chemaitelly
Founder, The Little Engineer®
Beirut, Lebanon

With a background in mechanical engineering and management, Rana created The Little Engineer, an “edutainment” center for engaging young minds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through hands-on learning activities to unleash their full potential in pre-engineering skills while highlighting robotics, renewable energies, aviation and space, working in parallel on youth leadership and presentation skills. The Little Engineer works with ministries of education in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to integrate the program in school curricula.

For The Little Engineer initiative and business plan, Rana was recognized as one of MENA's most promising entrepreneurs in 2009 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was awarded the “Coup de Coeur Femme” by Medventures for the Mediterranean in 2010. In 2011, she was selected for the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program and won the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award for the MENA region. In 2012 Rana won the Green Mind Award and in 2013, The Little Engineer signed a strategic partnership with Airbus Middle East to deliver regional workshops for youth. In 2016, she partnered with Airbus Foundation to expand her social programs at the global level starting in Africa. She is a VV GROW fellow, and was part of VV100 in 2016.

Rana is committed to being a voice of change in the Arab world by investing in young minds and preparing future leaders for the challenges.


Kathy Parks
Senior Credit Review Executive, Bank of America
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Kathy Parks is the Senior Credit Review Executive responsible for examining and monitoring the global Retail and Commercial Credit portfolios and identifying both existing and emerging risks. Her team leverages Bank of America processes and policies to manage the risk of loss arising from the inability of a borrower or counterparty to meet its obligations. Kathy reports to Corporate General Auditor, Christine Katziff.

Prior to this role, Kathy was the Consumer Segments Finance Executive providing finance support to Retail Banking & Distribution in addition to Preferred & Small Business Banking. Kathy partnered with the line of business and finance leadership teams to drive profitability, execute customer segment priorities, and ensure integration across product & customer strategies. Kathy also oversaw the Incentive Center of Excellence that provides design, deployment, and execution support for all direct drive incentive plans across the Consumer bank.

Kathy has led several Finance teams since joining Bank of America in 2003. She served as the Finance Executive for Consumer Banking Services that provided support for the Service & Operations functions of the Consumer Bank. Prior to her leadership role in the Consumer Bank, Kathy supported Commercial Real Estate Banking and Commercial Credit Products in the Global Commercial Bank and previously held finance management roles in Global Wealth and Investment Management.

Before joining Bank of America, Kathy served as Finance Manager for the Commercial Insurance Division at Royal & SunAlliance. Prior to joining Royal & SunAlliance, Kathy was at PricewaterhouseCoopers for five years where she last served as Audit Manager in the Insurance Group.

Kathy graduated from the University of Virginia and holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. She is a member of the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants.

Kathy lives in Charlotte with her husband and two daughters.

Sandi Kronick
CEO, Eastern Carolina Organics
Durham, North Carolina, USA

Since founding Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO) in 2004, Sandi Kronick has been one of the leaders working to build a sustainable organic food system in North Carolina and the southeast region of the U.S.

Eastern Carolina Organics’ mission is to cultivate a sustainable food system by providing a viable production and distribution network to customers and farmers. Owned through a unique partnership between 17 organic farms, Sandi, and a staff ownership pool, ECO now sells over $5M of produce annually, and has paid hundreds of regional organic farmers over $24M in its 13-year history.

Sandi received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College, was honored in 2010 with a Triangle Business Journal “40 under 40” leadership award and currently serves as the agribusiness representative and chairperson of the Limited Resource and Minority Farmer Committee on the Southern SARE Administrative Council of the USDA.

She has given hundreds of workshops regarding all aspects of the Eastern Carolina Organics business model, including pre-launch organizing, execution, financing, marketing, grower-ownership, staff-centered management and long-term sustainability.


Michelle Moore
Head of Digital Banking, Bank of America
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Michelle Moore is responsible for developing and executing Bank of America’s mobile and online strategy, roadmap and transformation. She is also responsible for ATM, Preferred and Small Business Sales and Client Services, and the financial center and market growth strategy. Moore is focused on making banking more convenient for customers by delivering innovative products and services across mobile devices and online platforms.

Since 2003, Moore has held a number of leadership positions at Bank of America, including chief operating officer for Global Commercial Banking and Finance executive for GCB Middle Markets, Bank of America Business Capital and Dealer Financial Services. Additionally, she served as the Finance executive for Corporate Workplace.

Moore serves as the Executive Sponsor for the Leadership Advantage Program and also serves on the board of Hope Haven, Inc.

Moore holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business.

Ibilola Amao Ph.D.
Principal Consultant, Lonadek Limited
Lagos, Nigeria

Ibilola Amao founded Lonadek Consulting in 1991, with a passion and desire to achieve sustainable asset development and maintenance through qualitative local participation.

Ibilola’s goal is to ensure that companies in emerging economies build local capacity, capability and competence; to harness the natural and mineral resources, create jobs and wealth in local communities and reduce HSSE costs.

She “pays-it-forward” through mentoring young ladies on the WimBiz mentoring program and other Graduate Empowerment initiatives. She established Vision 2020: Youth Empowerment and Restoration Initiative (YERI) in 2006, to address STEM career counseling, industry awareness and youth empowerment. Over 78,000 youths have been empowered through these programs. She also co-founded the Cedar STEM and Entrepreneurship Hub to empower STEM/Techpreneurs who are predominantly female.

Ibilola has participated in conferences across the world and is a recipient of several local and international recognitions and awards, including Most Active Women Business Enterprise, IWEC 2016 Awardee, Energy Institute Champion 2016, and Access Bank “W” 100. Ibilola was a Vital Voices VV GROW fellow, a member of VV100 and a WEConnect International fellow.


Karen Starns
Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Pearson
Seattle, Washington, USA

Karen is the Head of Marketing for Pearson's ~1500 marketers worldwide and charged with leading transformation of marketing into a growth driver for the company. In her role, she is accountable for brand, research + insights, social impact, global campaigns, creative strategy + development, web estate, performance marketing, paid, owned, operated channels, talent, and capability.

With more than 25 years of marketing experience in organizations including Microsoft and Amazon, Karen has developed expertise across a wide range of disciplines including brand strategy, strategic partnerships, channel programs, loyalty programs, advertising and media, demand generation, CRM, digital marketing, and product launches. She has also served as an advisor to startups and a juror for industry awards in brand and marketing.

Karen has a passion for developing young talent. For the past three years, she has been a success partner in the University of Washington, Bothell’s Business and Organizational Leadership Development (BOLD) program. In 2016, Karen became an Advisor for the new Masters of Science in Marketing at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

Karen earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing from The University of Texas at Austin.

Josefina Urzaiz
Co-Founder, Hammock Boutique Inc.
Washington, D.C., USA; Merida, Mexico

Josefina grew up Mexico and has over 13 years of experience in finance, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. She co-founded Hammock Boutique, a socially driven organization that alleviates poverty by manufacturing and distributing Mayan hammocks around the world. As Fair Trade member and a B Corp certified organization, it was honored “Best for the World” in 2015 and 2016. It was also featured by Lowe’s to highlight their supplier diversity efforts.

Josefina co-founded Fundacion Cielo, a nonprofit organization set up to end the generational poverty cycle in Mayan communities.

She received the TIAW “World of Difference Award” in 2015 and in 2016 her business model was awarded “Marketing makes a world of difference” by ANA (Association of National Advertisers).

Prior to being an entrepreneur, Josefina worked in finance, starting her career at J.P. Morgan’s Investment Banking team in New York.

She completed her master’s degree at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University where she was honored with a Distinction. She also serves on the program’s Advisory Board. She graduated “Salutatorian” from Anahuac University with a B.S. in Business Administration and received the Achievement Medal.

Josefina is a strong advocate for women and is part of the Jenkins Hill Society, an organization that supports women in public office.


Dilek Dayinlarli
Founder and Managing Partner, ScaleX
Istanbul, Turkey

Dilek is an entrepreneur, investor and company scaler, with experience in forming, funding, running, advising and investing in technology businesses. She is founder and managing partner at ScaleX, a scale-up growth platform.

Previously, Dilek was partner at 212, an early-stage technology venture capital. Her particular interest is in companies focused on investments in internet and technology companies. She invested in companies such as IyziCo, the biggest Fintech company in the region; Insider, a global marketing automation software; and Hemenkiralik.com, the online marketplace for people to list and book short-term rentals. Dilek also invested in Cloudarena and Solvoyo.

Prior to 212, Dilek was director of strategy and analysis at Groupon, a management consultant at Accenture, and a business developer at Koc Group. She began her career in the U.S., where she held project management positions and created her own start-up.

Dilek received a B.A. with honors in Mechanical Engineering from Yildiz Technical University and an MBA from Johnson & Wales University. She is also a Kauffman Fellow.

Melissa Bodford
Co-Founder and Chairman & CEO, uBack
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Melissa co-founded uBack, which is transforming the giving industry with a new mobile, data-driven platform revolutionizing the way we give – uniting all the players – nonprofits, companies, donors – in one connected mobile, social impact community, where anyone can connect, give, and engage anytime, any-place – within seconds.

Previously, as a managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services practice, Melissa spent 18+ years in the global consulting industry – serving senior clients to manage large scale, complex change and talent transformations within the Federal Government, Products and Financial Services sectors. Melissa held a variety of leadership roles, and most recently led the Human Capital Business Service practice for Financial Services North America.

Melissa’s recognitions and awards include: 2016 40 under 40 Business Leaders Award by the Charlotte Business Journal, 2017 Google’s Global Start Up Grind’s Top 50 Recognition, 2016 Ventureprise Winner, participation in Accenture’s IGNITE Leadership Program for high-performing minority women leaders and a multi-year recipient of the Global Client Excellence Award for her engagements within Financial Services.


Catherine Wilson Horne
President and CEO, Discovery Place
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Catherine Wilson Horne is president and CEO of Discovery Place, one of the leading science and technology centers in the U.S. Serving more than 828,000 people annually. Discovery Place provides a network of four science and technology, natural history and children’s museums to local, regional and national audiences. In 2014, Discovery Place expanded its service to teachers and administrators with the opening of the Discovery Place Education Studio to provide STEM professional development.

Prior to joining Discovery Place in 2014, Catherine has been in leadership roles with science, art, history and children’s museums for more than three decades. During that time, she also spent more than a decade at the University of South Carolina in administration and as a member of the museum studies faculty. She was the founding CEO of EdVenture, Inc., one of the nation’s leading children’s museums and a recipient of the National Medal for Museum Service. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in art history from Salem College and the University of South Carolina.

Catherine is a Fellow of the Noyce Leadership Institute and has been an active leader in the museum field, including service on the boards of the South Carolina Federation of Museums (past president, and Southeastern Museums Conference. She currently serves on the boards of Association of Children’s Museums as Treasurer, the N.C. Grassroots Science Museum Collaborative and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

Outside of her professional service, she is a member of International Women’s Forum, Women’s Executives, ASC’s Regional Cultural Advisory Council, Junior League of Charlotte and Charlotte Regional Partnership Marketing Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Apparo.

Apra Kuchhal
Owner, Handi Restaurant; Chairperson, We Care
Jaipur, India

Apra is the owner of Handi Restaurant, which specializes in Indian food across the globe. She founded WE CARE, an initiative to promote women, youth, art and culture, and currently serves as a Rajasthan State Council Member for Confederation of Indian Industry. She held the position of chairperson of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry from 2014 to 2015.

Apra has attended various conferences and workshops, including the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, the Fortune Most Powerful Women Asia Summit in Hong Kong, and Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange Program to the UK in 2011. She organizes two to three mentoring events per month and her skills development initiatives have benefited more than 15,000 women. In 2016 she was a speaker at TEDxYouth in Jaipur.

Apra’s recognitions and awards include the Rajasthan Gaurav Award (2016) in Entrepreneurship and Social Worker of the Year (2016) by Rajasthan Style. She was named one of the Ten-Most Powerful People of Jaipur (2016), Times Food Award Handi (2016) honoree, Women Icon Award (2015) honoree from Jayoti (Nation's First State Private University), and the Zee Women's Award (2015). Apra was also a flag bearer for the Vital Voices 2017 Mentoring Walk in Ajmer.

Apra earned an MBA in 2001 and a master’s in Sociology in 2012. She was named to the Professional Fellows Program by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, recognizing her entrepreneurship success.


Nigest Haile
Founder and Executive Director, Center for Accelerated Women's Economic Empowerment (CAWEE)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

For 23 years, Nigest has been an activist for the promotion of women entrepreneurs, with particular focus on women exporters, working in a range of capacities for the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade. In 2004, she founded CAWEE, a non-profit trade promotion organization, providing capacity building support services targeting women exporters.

Nigest was recognized by the U.S. Department of State for her extraordinary contribution to the development of women-led businesses, and selected by The International Alliance for Women (TIAW), Canada, as a TIAW Award Winner in 2012 for her work to economically empower women. She also received a Pan-African Award by UN Women and ILO, in recognition of her support for women’s entrepreneurship development on the African continent. In addition, she was the 2015 award winner of the AWiB (Association of Women in Business) Women of Excellence Award event in Ethiopia.

Nigest is a member of the of the Spanish-African Women Network; member of the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa) Business Council; one of the promoters and founders of the first women's bank of Ethiopia named "ENAT Bank," as well as current board member; AWEP (African Women Entrepreneurs Program) Ambassador to Ethiopia, an initiative of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, launched in 2010; Sub-Saharan Africa jury member for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards; advisory board member of the Global Economic Forum for Women in Africa, the 1st Forum starting in 2017 in Morocco; and executive committee member (treasurer) of the African Community of Practice (AfCoP).

Brenda Harris
Owner/Director, BPN Healthcare Concepts, LLC
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Brenda began her career in the physical therapy field in 2001, traveled extensively on assignment and then settled in Charlotte, North Carolina to manage a local clinic. During the time managing the clinic, she laid the foundation for BPN Healthcare Concepts.

The mission of BPN Healthcare Concepts is to assist healthcare organizations in eliminating the obstacles of profitable onboarding by providing a complete healthcare recruiting and staffing service to fill their staffing needs.

Brenda was recognized with SmartCEO’s Brava Award in 2016, honoring top female CEOs. Brenda is also a member and serves on the Board of Directors as membership director for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) 2015-2017. She has been a member of the American Academy of Physical Therapy (AAPT) since 2001.


Marie L. Wieck
General Manager, IBM Blockchain
Yorktown Heights, New York, USA

In her more than 25 years with IBM, Marie has held a variety of technical and executive roles in IBM's hardware, software, and services units. She is passionate about innovation from diverse teams and driving business impact from new technologies.

In January 2017, Marie was named into her current position as general manager of Blockchain, which is poised to transform business processes and transactions. Marie is responsible for IBM’s participation in the Hyperledger project and in building an open blockchain ecosystem for developers and service providers, and to create and run enterprise blockchain networks and solutions.

Marie holds an M.B.A. from New York University, an M.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University and a B.S. in Engineering from The Cooper Union. She is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Marie is on the board of the Anita Borg Institute and Charity Navigator, and co-chair of the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) Roundtable. She is the executive sponsor of IBM's Global Work/Life Initiative. In June 2015, Marie was named to the WITI Hall of Fame for her passionate support of women in technology. In 2016 Marie was recognized as a Women of Vision STEM Champion by NAFE.

Valrie Grant
Founder & Managing Director, GeoTechVision
Kingston, Jamaica

Valrie Grant is the founder and managing director of GeoTechVision, an ICT and Spatial Technologies company in Kingston, Jamaica and Georgetown, Guyana focused on delivering value through innovative solutions.

With over 15 years of experience in the geospatial sciences with engagements spanning several territories across the Caribbean region, Valrie is helping government and corporate entities develop data driven geospatial solutions to address organizational challenges and meet corporate goals.

Valrie has received several recognitions and awards including NCB, “Women in Business” Award for 2013, The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2014, The University of Technology Trailblazer award in 2015, The Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015, and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Young Business Executive Award (2016).

Her academic background includes a BSc. degree in Geology from the University of West Indies and a MSc. in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Environment from the Manchester Metropolitan University, and post-graduate studies in Entrepreneurship.


Dr. Dawn E. Chanland
Associate Professor of Management, Queens University of Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Dawn Chanland is an associate professor of Management in the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. She has 25 years of experience in academia, executive recruiting, human resources and financial services. She teaches executive, graduate and undergraduate courses in management, leadership, business acumen, conflict management and negotiation, and organization development. In addition, she consults for-profit and non-profit organizations on various leadership development and human resource needs.

Dawn has received numerous teaching and research awards and has been featured in a variety of leading academic journals and popular press outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, LA Times and Forbes. She co-authored “Eight tips for being a smart protégé at work” and “When mentoring goes bad,” featured in The Wall Street Journal. Her primary areas of research include mentoring, career development and diversity. In addition, she has appeared on AOL, CareerBuilder, and MSN, both online and broadcast, sharing expertise related to mentoring, job search, executive coaching and management issues.

She earned a doctorate (D.B.A.) at Boston University’s School of Management and a master’s degree in Business Administration from San Jose State University.

Patience Magodo
Managing Consultant, Tafadzwa Ne Chiedza Development Trust
Harare, Zimbabwe

Founder and managing consultant of Tafadzwa Ne Chiedza Development Trust, Patience Magodo is an international banker and a certified lender. She worked in the commercial banking industry for 23 years locally in Zimbabwe, regionally in Africa and internationally in Singapore and Dubai for an emerging market bank Standard Chartered. She is now establishing social banking in Rural Zimbabwe for the economic benefit of small holder farmers as her Trust is focused on financial and social inclusiveness for those in the bottom of the pyramid. Her vision is to see the poor access credit, knowledge and markets.

She is a qualified public accountant and holds a master’s degree in Credit Risk Management. In 2015 she was awarded The Brilliant Entrepreneur Certificate by the Dutch Embassy in Harare. Patience was also selected by the United States Embassy in Harare in 2016 to pilot a project in establishing sustainable projects to alleviate poverty in Zaka, a rural impoverished zone in Zimbabwe.

Patience Magodo also runs a for-profit social enterprise in Zimbabwe. Her business processes oil seeds, small grain based breakfast cereal products and dried fruit. The products it processes are organically cultivated and supplied by local small farms.


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