Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series
2nd Friday September - June
Visit the main Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series page for information and registration
The Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series features prominent women business leaders from the greater Pittsburgh region. The series runs the second Friday from September - June. Networking and a continental breakfast will precede a presentation on such topics as marketing, financing, social media, negotiation, sustainability, and innovation.
Recent Speakers & Events
Friday, April 12
"Best Practices & Lessons Learned From Women in Finance at the Top"
Come hear a panel of women in finance discuss their journeys through the ranks in the financial realm, providing real insights and perspectives and answering questions including how they did it, whether or not they had mentors along the way that opened doors for them, and how they handled roadblocks.
Vice President of Comcast Business,+ view bio
Toni Murphy is currently the Vice President of Comcast Business. In this role, Toni is responsible for customer acquisition and growth in the small business and mid-market Enterprise fiber connectivity space. Based in Pittsburgh, she leads a team of 160 sales professionals and product enthusiasts across the Keystone Region, which encompasses the states of Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, West Virginia and western Maryland. In addition to these core responsibilities, Toni leads the Keystone Region Diversity & Inclusion Council, where she is implementing strategies to hire, retain and develop the next generation of diverse leaders in the organization. She joined the Keystone Region in 2015 as the Vice President of Project Management Office and Customer Experience for the Keystone Region of Comcast. In this role, she was responsible for the development, implementation, and administration of strategic plans for the Keystone Region. She led the organization through the transformational deployment of the Net Promoter System, among other business imperatives. Toni has had a storied and meteoric rise at Comcast. Over the last 10 years, she has held a variety of positions across the United States. Prior to Pittsburgh, Toni was the Sr. Director of Market Development for Comcast Business in California Region, where she was responsible for capital optimization and market expansion in the State of California. Prior to California, Toni was the Sr. Director of Business Support & Analytics for the Greater Chicago Region of Comcast. In that role, Toni oversaw business development, finance, strategic planning and general administration for the Business Services organization in Chicago. Toni began her journey with Comcast as Manager of Financial & Strategic Planning at Comcast Corporate in Philadelphia. In this role, she supported the Cable Division on corporate budgeting, capital markets analyses, valuation of M&A opportunities. Of her many accolades at Comcast, Toni is the only African American female and millennial who owns a P&L at the Company. She was also one of the first millennials to be promoted to Vice President across the Enterprise. Toni began her career as an analyst at UBS Investment Bank in New York City, where she focused on the cable/satellite, broadcasting and outdoor advertising sectors. At UBS, she specialized in M&A valuations and leveraged debt, buyouts, which led to her working on notable transactions such Adelphia’s $17.6B sale to Time Warner and Comcast, Clear Channel Outdoor’s $630M IPO and Patriot Media’s $483M sale to Comcast. After UBS, Toni pursued a career in private equity in Los Angeles with Glendon Partners, the operational arm of The Gores Group, LLC, where she worked alongside the management of Gores’ portfolio companies to assess monthly / quarterly performance, growth strategies, and exit valuations. Toni is a graduate of Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Economics. Toni currently sits on the board of Strong Women Strong Girls, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit focused on the development and mentorship of female youth and mid-level female leaders and RedChairPGH, another Pittsburgh-based non-profit that focuses on achieving gender balance in IT and Technology. Toni has received many industry awards and recognition for her professional success. In March 2019, she was recognized by Pittsburgh Business Times as a Woman of Influence. She was the 2018 recipient of the ATHENA Young Professional Award. She is very proud of her recognition as one of Cablefax’s Most Influential Minorities in Cable in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Toni was also selected as one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s “40 under 40” in the November 2017 issue. In 2018, Toni was recognized by the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) with the Luminary Award, which is one of the most coveted awards for “up and coming” Executives in the Telecom industry.
Executive Vice President, Head of Commercial Banking, PNC Bank,+ view bio
Stephanie graduated from Chatham in 1990 with a degree in International Business and is the Head of Commercial Banking at PNC. Ms. Novosel has been with PNC Bank since 2000, and now oversees one of the largest C&I client segments, serving 20,000+ clients across the bank’s footprint of 35 markets, and leading 650+ professionals who work with companies ranging from $5-50MM in sales size. Since joining PNC, she has had a wide range of responsibilities, including COO for Corporate & Institutional Banking for six years. In addition to working with all of the segments and products that comprise C&I banking on their programs and client experience processes, she lead the integration of several large bank acquisitions into C&I, along with many functions including client analytics, sales development and support, and strategic decision support. Ms. Novosel was also Deputy Group Head of international banking, and has lead several product areas including commercial deposits and investments. She began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, working in audit, tax, and management consulting practices. Ms. Novosel has a B.A. in International Business from Chatham University. She is currently on the Board of Trustees for Chatham University, the Board of Directors for the Pine Richland Youth Center, and the Advisory Board of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship. She has been a member of the Advisory Committee to the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Vice President of the Board of Directors for Reading Is Fundamental Pittsburgh and other organizations. She was the founding Executive Sponsor of PNC’s Young Professionals headquarters chapter, and has volunteered or worked with many organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Western PA, Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Beaver County, and the CORO Center for Civic Leadership.
Stacy L. Splitstone
Vice President and Corporate Controller, UPMC,+ view bio
Stacy began her career with Ernst & Young as a Staff Auditor in their Atlanta office after graduating from Miami University (OH) with a BS in Accounting. She is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state of Pennsylvania. Stacy spent five years at Ernst & Young serving audit clients primarily within the Telecommunications and Manufacturing industries followed by a year with the firm’s Transaction Advisory Services group providing buy-side due diligence support to strategic buyers and private equity firms. Additionally, Stacy spent four years with GE Energy in Atlanta in a business development role supporting due diligence, transaction execution, and integration activities for over $1 billion in mergers and acquisitions. She also served as a Portfolio Finance Manager in GE’s Contractual Services business managing the financial operations of a portfolio of service contracts in excess of $500 million. Stacy also served as the Sarbanes Oxley (“SOX”) leader for GE Energy and championed process improvement and other controllership initiatives at GE. While at GE, Stacy obtained her Green Belt certification in Six Sigma and was a member of GE’s Experienced Financial Leadership Program. Stacy relocated to Pittsburgh 13 years ago to become Vice President and Corporate Controller of UPMC, a role she currently holds. In addition, she is also the Executive Sponsor for UPMC’s finance talent development programs including the Summer Associate program as well as the full-time Financial Management Rotation (FMR) program and an Executive-in-Residence at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of Business Administration. Outside of the professional setting, she enjoys spending time with her young daughter and husband, traveling, reading, cycling, kayaking and cheering on Pittsburgh’s sports teams.
Friday, March 08
"Pittsburgh’s Million Dollar Women-Owned Businesses"
The Women's President's Organization will moderate a panel of exceptional women entrepreneurs about how they founded their companies, their successes, their biggest obstacles, lessons learned, and their future plans for growth. Only 1.7% of all women-owned businesses get to the million dollar mark, come to hear the “secret sauce” from a few women founders who have made it there!
Yvonne Campos, Moderator
Founder, Next Act Fund+ view bio
R. Yvonne Campos, founding CEO of market research and strategy firm, Campos Inc, is a nationally recognized focus group moderator, facilitator and consultant. Under her leadership, Campos Inc, founded in 1986, became the premier research company in the Pittsburgh market by introducing new and innovative research techniques and consumer trend analysis. She is the founder of two Pittsburgh chapters of the Women Presidents’ Organization, a peer-to-peer learning model for women-owned businesses with revenues over one million dollars. Yvonne is a very active member of the Pittsburgh business community; she has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her entrepreneurship and community involvement.
Asha M. Persaud, MS
Chief Executive Officer, The Hope Learning Center+ view bio
Asha Persaud is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Hope Learning Center. In this role, she leverages more than 15 years of expertise in the fields of clinical and school based therapy, behavioral intervention services, specialized education alternatives, and executive management to lead a team of educators and therapists in the delivery of customized services to children on the autism spectrum. Ms. Persaud oversees all levels of corporate direction and strategy at The Hope Learning Center, facilitating company activity in contracts, consulting, innovation and development. Under Asha’s leadership The Hope Learning Center has grown its programming to include outpatient therapy, three privately licensed schools, development and operation of a customer relation management system, teletherapy practice, and an early childhood education center. She has consistently developed high-quality, groundbreaking services to deliver on the mission of The Hope Learning Center by being the premier provider of educational and therapeutic services for children with special needs.
President & Founder, Beyond Spots & Dots+ view bio
Melanie Querry knew she wanted to become an entrepreneur long before she could spell it. Upon graduation from Penn State University, she pursued an advertising sales position with KDKA-TV and also Comcast, where she built an extremely successful career. In 2006, Melanie recognized and seized the opportunity she had anticipated since childhood, risking all of her personal finances, as well as her personal life (working nearly every night and weekends for years), to take a chance on her dream. She started Beyond Spots & Dots – a full-service advertising agency - with no investors, partners or clients. Within twelve years of business, Melanie has helped to lead her company to be named among the Pittsburgh Business Times’ Fastest Growing Companies, Top 20 Ad Agencies and Best Places to Work, and Entrepreneur Magazine’s Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America list, as well as the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list five (5) times. Her personal honors have included being named to the Pittsburgh Business Times’ BusinessWomen First list and earning Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year Award, as well as the Women of Achievement award. Melanie volunteers her time working with young adults and other Entrepreneurs to help them follow the path of success. Melanie is a graduate of Penn State University. Today, Beyond Spots & Dots is operated by Melanie and her husband, Andreas. They have a five-year-old son and travel for fun.
Founder, GK Capital & g17 Properties+ view bio
Gina is a successful, driven and resourceful entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience. She focuses as a customer centric leader, while demonstrating a track record of achieving financial goals with a consistent record of growth, which ultimately led to the successful exit of her company in 2013 to an international conglomerate. Gina was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in 2008. Gina launched her real estate investment business in 2015, renovating her first home successfully. Her business focuses both on residential redevelopment and commercial investing. Gina is a member of Next Act Fund and Co-Chair of the Investment Committee. She has been active in the due diligence process, both leading and participating in teams.
Founder and President, FCG Solutions+ view bio
Shelley Fant is the founder and President of FCG Solutions. Prior to founding FCG she was an Assistant Vice President and Senior Attorney with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. Shelley is committed to community service and engagement. As such, she currently serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Board of Directors (Pittsburgh Branch) and on the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. Shelley was honored as follows: • Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development as one of “Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business” in recognition of her commitment to business growth, professional excellence and her community. • Minority Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (Western Pennsylvania District) in recognition of her outstanding performance and commitment to excellence as an entrepreneur. • A Woman of Excellence by the New Pittsburgh Courier • She is a member of the Women President’s Organization’s, a national peer advisory organization for women who own and lead multimillion-dollar businesses. Shelley earned her a B.S. in Marketing from Hampton University and her J.D. from Cleveland State University. She is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New York.
Friday, February 08
"Celebrating Remarkable Women Entrepreneurs During Black History Month"
Come and honor the work of women entrepreneurs in our community. A panel of African-American women business owners will share their successes, their stories, their big wins, and what they would do differently.
Francine B. Cameron, CPA, MBA
President & CEO, Cameron Professional Services Group, LLC+ view bio
Francine Cameron has over 25 years of experience in economic & housing development, accounting, financial services and professional training. Her career includes positions as an Auditor for Deloitte & Touche´ LLP; Investment Research Analyst and Corporate Banking Representative with PNC Financial Services; Business Development Specialist and Manager of Home Mortgage and Rehabilitation at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh; Senior Deputy Director of Fannie Mae, and Manager of Financial Services with the Prudential Insurance Company of America.
Doris Carson Williams, Moderator+ view bio
President & CEO, Credit Power, LLC & Higher Power Homes, Inc.+ view bio
Saloam Bey is a Pittsburgh native, mother, new grandmother, U.S. Air Force combat veteran, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and currently runs two successful businesses - Credit Power, LLC, and Higher Power Homes, Inc. Saloam’s companies strategically offer credit/financial services designed to empower individuals and businesses to understand, improve and leverage credit to increase their overall financial well-being. Credit Power is a credit restoration/repair company and Higher Power Homes offers traditional and non-traditional home purchase options for low to moderate income individuals and families. Fearless in her pursuit to make a difference, Saloam is in the process of starting her third business, a personal care home that focuses on providing housing to women (with children) who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder; she plans to call it Hope Housing. Saloam recently launched her first Credit Seminar Course, Taking Care of Your Personal and Business Credit 101 (October 2018). Saloam is a board member for the Women Entrepreneurs of Pittsburgh, a member of the Wilkinsburg Chamber of Commerce and African-American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania. As a Unit Supply Specialist in the USAF, Saloam gained an understanding for process, systems and systematic communications, developed the ability to communicate with people, navigated through a large organization to get desired results. Her service included supervising over $1.5 Billion in weaponry and system. After her honorable discharge (2008), Saloam set her plan into motion. She earned her degree from Northern VA Community College in 2013 and spent years working in the finance, banking and credit industries. In 2015, Saloam combined her life and work experience, degree and inside working knowledge of the industry with her personality, natural abilities and desire to help change people’s lives to start her first business and first line of vehicles for change - Credit Power.
Friday, January 11
"Effective Advertising for your Business"
Looking to expand your customer base? Currently advertising but interested in knowing how to evaluate your efforts or better reach your target market? Hear from a panel of experts in newspaper, magazine, radio, and cable about their demographics and their efforts to reach consumers with effective advertisements to understand how to best leverage their networks for your business.
Founder and Publisher, NEXTpittsburgh+ view bio
Tracy Certo is founder and publisher of NEXTpittsburgh, the go-to online publication about the people advancing Pittsburgh and the innovative and cool things happening in the region. Launched in early 2014, NEXTpittsburgh helps readers get more engaged with and better navigate our city. Prior to founding NEXT, Tracy was publisher and editor of Pop City and editor of Columns, AIA Pittsburgh’s magazine. A writer and photographer at heart, she travels frequently and is an advocate for healthy, vibrant and sustainable cities, especially Pittsburgh. She has led or participated in seven international Habitat for Humanity trips, including Chile, Mozambique and Thailand. She was named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Western PA for her work in the arts in Pittsburgh, and a Woman of Achievement by Cribs for Kids. She has received numerous writing awards and most recently was featured on C-SPAN in an hour-long segment interviewing author Ted Dintersmith.
Publisher and Vice President, Pittsburgh Magazine+ view bio
Betsy Benson is publisher and vice president of Pittsburgh Magazine, where she oversees operations at one of the region’s top media organizations. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Betsy has worked in journalism and publishing for more than 30 years. She is the 2018-2019 president of the national City & Regional Magazine Association.
Director of Corporate Support, 90.5 WESA & 91.3 WYEP+ view bio
Before joining WESA and WYEP as Director of Corporate Support, Dorothy worked in commercial Television for 20 years. She started her advertising career here in Pittsburgh within a local advertising agency as a broadcast buyer. In 1982, she relocated to Greenville, SC with an ad agency, and in 1985 moved to Atlanta, Ga where she started her TV advertising selling career. In 1993 she returned to Pittsburgh as National Sales Manager of WTAE-Tv. She also worked with KDKA-TV as National Sales Manager. 2001 Dorothy made the transition from commercial tv to Public Media, working with WQED. Now, working with WESA and WYEP for over seven years, Dorothy is honored to be selected to share with you some insight on marketing your business.
Director of Audience Development, Pittsburgh Business Times+ view bio
Dena Trusiak is the Director of Audience Development at the Pittsburgh Business Times. She is currently responsible for all local audience sales and marketing efforts including print and digital subscriptions, reprints, People on the Move, Company on the Move, and email newsletter recipients. She is also responsible for classified advertising sales and works with residential and commercial real estate clients. Since joining the Business Times team in 1992, Dena has held several positions including Assistant Circulation Manager, Circulation Director, and Consumer Marketing Director. She enjoys helping customers learn how to use the Pittsburgh Business Times products and services to grow their business. Dena lives on O'Hara Twp. with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys biking, skating, tennis, and spending time outdoors.
Friday, December 14
"The New Retail: Experience is Everything"
Lisa Slesinger, Owner of Larrimor's, will discuss the customer experience! Whether you are in a service or product business, your customer’s experience is everything and it is the only thing that sets you apart! Takeaways will include why the customer is still “always right,” how every touchpoint enhances or detracts from your customer’s experience, and why consistency must be part of your organization’s values.
Owner, Larrimor's+ view bio
Lisa Slesinger is the Co-Owner and General Merchandise Manager of Larrimor's in Pittsburgh, PA. Year after year, Larrimor's (established by Harry Slesinger in 1939) remains Pittsburgh's only retailer to receive Esquire Magazine's "Best of Class" recognition, a prestigious industry honor recognizing exceptional retailers who have endured the test of time and are poised to do so for decades to come. Larrimor's now specializes in women's and men’s contemporary and designer clothing, jewelry and accessories. In 2019, Larrimor's will celebrate 80 years of serving our community. As many people realize, few businesses succeed to the third generation; we have done so by focusing on customer experience - long before CX was a buzzword or a class title. We remain a family owned, locally grown hometown business with one goal: to consistently provide exceptional customer service, impeccable tailoring, exquisite fabrics and superb styling. Ms. Slesinger's prior industry experience includes Product Development, Merchandising, and Buying while at Macy's, May Company, and the Talbotts. Returning from NYC to Pittsburgh in 1997, Lisa, an active member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of WPO, and has served as a Trustee at Shady Side Academy. Lisa is the current President of The Forum Group, an association of elite family owned apparel businesses across the USA.
Friday, November 09
"From Starbucks to Startup- Applying Corporate Skills to Entrepreneurship"
Sandra E. Taylor, CEO of Sustainable Business International LLC and Falk Professor of Socially Responsible Business at Chatham University, will discuss how corporate experience can be a tremendous asset when launching a new business – deep expertise in a specific field, knowing how to manage teams, good presentation skills and familiarity with strategic planning -- long and short-term—and knowing how to drive change as an "intrapreneur" in a large organization. However, making the transition from corporate executive to entrepreneur also requires very different competences to survive and prosper in a small start-up where you don't have the resources available in a corporate environment. The entrepreneur must learn new skills – and quickly -- to be successful. She will share her own story -- mistakes to avoid, advice for marketing and client development, as well as the importance of building a brand or re-branding yourself in this new role.
Sandra E. Taylor+ view bio
Sandra Taylor is an internationally recognized expert with credentials in environmental and corporate responsibility, supply chain management, international trade, communications and public relations. She has experience with varied global organizations and business sectors. Currently she is Falk Professor of Socially Responsible Business at Chatham University and she maintains the consulting business she founded in 2008, Sustainable Business International LLC, that assists companies at various stages of environmental and corporate responsibility practice. Previously she was senior vice president for Corporate Responsibility with Starbucks Coffee; and Eastman Kodak Company where she led global public affairs and corporate citizenship. She has held other senior leadership positions, including government service. Sandra has had a lifelong passion for winemaking and published her first book, The Business World of Sustainable Wine – How to Build Brand Equity in a 21st Century Wine Industry, in 2017. She received a BA from Colorado Women’s College in French; a JD degree from Boston University School of Law; and a MBA from the Bordeaux School of Management in France.
Friday, October 12
"Building a Global Business from Scratch in Homewood"
Jenna Knapp, Founder and Director of Production at Thread, will discuss how she built Thread: a business on a mission to end poverty by creating dignified jobs and responsible, high-quality products with global brands. Thread transforms plastic bottles from the streets and canals of Haiti and Honduras into the most responsible fabrics and products on the planet. Every product made with Thread tackles poverty and cleans up the planet. Thread is a Public Benefit Corporation and scores in the top 10% of B-Corps globally on its governance and incorporation of the world's waste into its products.
Founder & Director of Production, Thread+ view bio
Jenna’s Thread journey was serendipitous. She finished grad school, started a family, and promised herself she would never settle for a job she didn’t love again. While freelancing at the Idea Foundry, a start-up business incubator and Thread’s first investor, Jenna was assigned to help Thread turn a brilliant idea into a sustainable for-profit business plan. She met the team, believed in the model, became a founder, and never looked back. That was 8 years ago. Jenna is the tenacious person at Thread that helps to build whatever is needed to keep Thread production moving forward. She spent her first few years brokering recycled plastic and consulting Thread’s plastics recycling partners in Haiti to improve operations, throughput, and quality. Then, creating partnerships in Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Taiwan, China, Korea, and the United States, she built and managed the global textile supply chains necessary to turn that plastic into Thread fabric and beautiful products for Thread’s brand partners, like Timberland and Marmot. Most recently, after $3MM in sales and excited to take the next step, Thread began producing its own product made with Thread fabric - a Better Backpack. The company envisions improving all work week essentials in a better way - with a focus on the more inventive use of recycled materials. To support this new venture, Jenna led the build out and now manages Thread’s own production floor in Homewood, PA. Responsibly building a global business – with 100% transparency – takes grace and resolve. Her favorite parts? Working with the Thread team to build a business that creates jobs, has a responsible impact on the world, and inspires better consumerism. What’s next? EDUCATION Masters of Public Management, Carnegie Mellon University – The Heinz College, concentrations in social business and health systems management. Bachelor of Science in Education/English and Communications, The Pennsylvania State University. Nominee for Women and Girls Foundation’s “Celebrating Women! Having a Global Impact” Award (2013)
Friday, September 14
"A Woman on the Move – the Business of the Port Authority"
Katharine Kelleman, CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, will discuss our region's transit system and what changes we can expect under her leadership. Additionally, Kelleman will touch on the vital role of transit in strengthening our communities.
Katharine Kelleman+ view bio
Katharine Eagan Kelleman is chief executive officer of Port Authority of Allegheny County. Prior to joining Port Authority, Kelleman worked at Hillsborough Area Regional (HART) in Tampa, Fla. in several executive leadership roles, including chief of service development, chief operating officer, and chief executive officer. During her tenure at HART, Kelleman grew ridership by more than 20 percent; adopted technologies like the OneBusAway application; expanded public-private partnerships with entities like MegaBus, Red Coach and Coast Bike Share; launched a regional fare program; and oversaw HART HyperLink – the nation's first transit agency-operated rideshare program. Prior to her time at HART, she worked in leadership roles for the Maryland Transit Administration and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). She began her career in public transit as a transit planner in San Angelo, Texas. Kelleman received her Bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and her Master’s degree in public administration from San Angelo State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Public Transit Association.
Friday, June 08
"Embracing Your Passion"
How often does your career inspiration and interest connect to your personal passion? This interactive presentation from Dina L. Clark, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Covestro LLC, will highlight the importance of building passion into your focus as you navigate your personal and professional journey, and challenge participants to answer their “Why?” question. Participants will also be able to: -Consider how bias might impact or impede the strategic development process -Identify at least 3 resources to consider for ongoing professional development -Identify ways to continue to build genuine, strategic relationships
Dina L. Clark
Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Covestro LLC+ view bio
In August 2015, Dina L. Clark began her role with Covestro LLC as the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at their North American headquarters based in Pittsburgh. In this role, Dina spearheads the development and implementation of diversity strategies and initiatives for Covestro across the United States and Mexico. Dina also serves on Covestro’s global diversity and inclusion council, as well as the global diversity core team, currently based in Leverkusen, Germany. Her primary focus areas of diversity, equity and inclusion are complemented by a strong training background. She has conducted several presentations nationwide, including workshops for Family Communications Inc. (producers of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood”), Vassar College, University of Michigan, Magnet Schools of New York, New York State Department of Health and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In addition to training, Dina was selected for a fellowship with the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. and was named as one of Pittsburgh’s 40 under 40 leaders by Pittsburgh Magazine. She was also named one of 50 recipients of the "Women of Excellence" award, from the Pittsburgh Courier, a 2015 recipient of the Allegheny County Bar Association Homer S. Brown Spirit Award and in 2017 was featured in the Women & Business section of Pittsburgh Magazine for her work in developing and strengthening D & I strategy. Dina is very involved in the Pittsburgh community. She is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. (Class XXIII), and currently serves on several boards and advisory committees. In addition, Dina has also worked as a professional tester for housing discrimination for the Fair Housing Partnership of Pittsburgh and as a long-term diversity/anti-bias trainer for the Anti-Defamation League. She was also selected as a participant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Citizen’s Academy and continues to serve as a board member of the FBI Citizen’s Academy Alumni Association, with a focus on civil rights. Dina has a bachelor’s degree in psychology/child and family studies from Syracuse University, a master’s degree from Duquesne University, with a focus on global leadership, and she is currently working on her Doctorate in Education at Point Park University, with a focus on leadership and administration.
Friday, May 11
"Pittsburgh’s Business Women who Lead - The Opportunities and Challenges"
How can Pittsburgh women put themselves in position to gain access to more c-suites and boardrooms? Stefani Pashman, CEO, Allegheny County Conference on Community Development, will share insights from her career on topics such as preparing to be board-ready, board service and entering the c-suite. During her talk, she’ll discuss trends, opportunities and challenges for women leaders in Pittsburgh to better position themselves for these types of leadership opportunities.
Stefani Pashman+ view bio
Stefani Pashman is the CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and its affiliated organizations – the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. For almost 75 years, the Conference – one of the United States’ foremost civic leadership organizations – has been bringing together public and private sector leaders to drive an agenda to improve the economic future and quality of life in the 10-county Pittsburgh region. As the CEO, she drives the Conference’s work plan, builds regional collaborations and empowers partners. Before joining the Conference, Stefani served as CEO of Partner4Work and its predecessor, the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, for seven years. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit, Stefani transformed the organization from a $1.5 million research-based organization into a nearly $20 million public-private system that relies on research and analytics to make change in the community. She served in Governor Rendell’s Administration at the PA Department of Human Services as Director of Policy and as Special Assistant to the Secretary, and she previously worked in private consulting at Avalere Health and Navigant and as an analyst in the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Friday, April 13
"Managing the Business of a Social Service Non-Profit"
Wanting to help others is often a common reason cited by those who pursue careers in social service. This is also a motivating factor for many to establish a non-profit for a cause that they are passionate about. TO be successful, one has to consider the business implications for starting and managing an organization. During this presentation, Kathi R. Elliott, Executive Director of Gwen's Girls Inc, will review specific steps to establish a new non-profit in PA. She will also share practical tips and lessons learned from leading a mid-size non-profit. This will include essential business management functions, such as staff development and human resources; development; fiscal management; board recruitment and retention; networking and community engagement.
Kathi R. Elliott
Executive Director, Gwen's Girls, Inc.+ view bio
Kathi R. Elliott earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Chatham University in August 2014. Dr. Elliott also completed dual Master's degrees in Nursing and Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. She has over 20 years of experience in social service, community and individual mental health treatment. Advocacy and giving back to others in need is a value that has been instilled in her by her mother and founder of Gwen's Girls, the late Commander Gwen Elliott. In August 2015, Dr. Elliott accepted the position of Executive Director at Gwen's Girls, whose mission is to empower girls and young women to have productive lives through exposure to holistic, gender-specific programs, education, and experiences. As a visionary leader, Dr. Elliott is purposed to lead Gwen's Girls in becoming a well-recognized forerunner in the integration of evidence-based clinical prevention and intervention policies and practices that enhance the child and social welfare system. her culmination of education, work and life experiences will assist her in continuing the legacy of providing a comprehensive approach to addressing the issues that impact the well-being of girls, women and families.
Friday, March 09
"Going All-In on a Startup"
There might be many “how to start a business” books and blogs out there, but do they really talk about the sheer energy needed to fuel the flame and idea? Join Nina Barbuto, founder and director of Assemble, to learn about how Assemble has been Assembling. Get some FYIs for your own business beginnings along with what are some ways to be resourceful and how to truly start something with “nothing.” This talk will also include some hands-on aspects where you can assess your own eight forms of capital, look for collaborators, and reflect on your context.
Director, Assemble+ view bio
Nina’s passion for art, new media and social learning led her to found Assemble, a community space for arts + technology, in 2011. On her own, Nina works in a variety of media including architecture, film, sound, and installation and often explores the idea of recycling noise into a system or elevating the vernacular to the spectacular. Nina co-founded I Made It! Market in 2007. An idea based on urban acupuncture, this nomadic market partners with community, arts and non-profit organizations to raise funds and awareness to assist in improving their communities while allowing local artists and crafters to sell their wares. Nina holds degrees in architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture and Carnegie Mellon University, where she is also adjunct faculty.
Friday, February 09
"Defining & Designing Your Dream Job"
What if you could create a job with the ideal work/life balance? What would it look like to you and how would you achieve it? Textile Designer Savannah Hayes launched her business with that goal in mind. After years of researching other women in business, a few things became clear: plan for scalability from day one, outsource anything that is not stimulating, and just show up – everyday. Hear how Savannah launched seven product lines three months after quitting her day job, how she manages three very different sales channels, and how she created her dream job that affords her the flexibility to attain her perfect version of work/life balance.
Owner, Savannah Hayes+ view bio
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Savannah has been inspired by cities all her life. Living in design centers London, New York and Los Angeles she has developed a signature style that is modern and bold. Her collection of home textiles offers wallpaper, fabric-by-the-yard, decorative pillows & throw blankets. After training at the University of Pennsylvania, University College London and New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Savannah worked in both the home and apparel design sectors for inspiring brands including Kelly Wearstler, Martha Stewart, and Kravet Fabrics. She has spent time in both Turkey and India, working closely with mills in Bursa, Istanbul and Bangalore and gaining firsthand textile and design experience. The Highland Park based designer launched her eponymous brand and online shop in October 2015.
Friday, January 12
"Design Thinking in the 21st Century"
In this talk, Kristi will introduce behavioral strategy as a key tool for understanding both design and the implications of technology. She will dig into research around behavioral "influencers" and provide specific case study examples with real business outcomes, helping us to understand the value of design in a business context. She will also talk about technology trends in physical space, the role of sensors and the potential uses (and misuses) of augmented and mixed reality in physical space. This talk will provide the audience with new frameworks and approaches to the work of designing as well as building awareness of technology trends that will impact the future of the way that interior design is practiced.
Product Lead, MAYA a BCG Company+ view bio
Kristi is passionate about connecting technology trends, physical space, and human stories. She is responsible for enabling organizations to support their people through physical and digital space. She focuses on discovering and defining the connections between environment, culture and outcome. She pulls together interdisciplinary teams to think deeply about the interaction between physical and virtual space, and explores the widest possible definition of “environment” in service of our client’s desired outcome. Prior to joining MAYA, Kristi worked in Washington, DC as a management consultant, facilitating culture change tied to physical change for federal agencies. She has worked in California and Arizona as a behavioral strategist creating workplace, mixed use development, and hospitality strategies. Kristi was also the CEO of her own firm that provided architecture, interiors, FF&E and construction. Over 15 years, she grew that firm to the largest woman owned architecture firm on the west coast. Additionally, she was on the faculty at Arizona State University teaching in both the Colleges of Architecture and Business, with research focused on the impact physical environment has on human behavior. Kristi has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Forbes, and other top-tier outlets. You can also find her speaking about workplace, culture, community, and the future of work at conferences across the country.
Friday, December 08
"The Art of Asking for It! Negotiation Strategies for Women"
Do you ask for what you want or are you waiting to be offered the opportunity that will advance your career and/or compensation? Learn how to better navigate the barriers we know women face in the workplace. Did you know: Men are 4x more likely than women to negotiate, women are more anxious about negotiating, and women are great negotiators on behalf of other people but not necessarily themselves? During this presentation, participants will learn to recognize opportunities to negotiate, eliminate anxiety, feel entitled to get what they want and avoid social consequences that inhibit good outcomes for you and your organization.
Director of Leadership Development, Tepper School of Business, CMU+ view bio
Leanne Meyer is Program Director of the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women and Director of Leadership Development at the Tepper School of business at CMU. Leanne’s work focuses on assisting leaders navigate critical inflection points where many have outgrown their professional identity and, given the demands and responsibility of their roles, need to change their perspectives regarding what is important and accordingly, how they spend their time and what new skill sets and behaviors they develop. Leanne’s journey began in South Africa. She was specifically influenced by the events in her home country, which ignited her interest in the possibility for human change and transformation. She has spent the past twenty years applying and building her change agent skills in South Africa, England, Ireland, and now America. Leanne’s calling is to help leaders make sense of their lives through the reclamation of passion and purpose. Leanne consults and coaches regularly, and her clients include such companies as Salesforce, GlaxoSmithKline, McKesson, SAP, UBS, Bayer, EQT, Highmark, UPMC and the American Bar Association. Leanne holds a Master’s degree in Industrial Psychology.
Friday, November 10
" The Strategic Women Thinkers Behind Everyday Brands"
Clearly understanding what a brand/product is looking to achieve - brand awareness, specific sales objectives, channel opportunities, etc. is a crucial ingredient to a household name. Also, having in-depth knowledge about your target audience- keeping your end consumer in mind as well as the brands channel marketing strategy. How will this brand/product be brought to market? Channel mix marketing is so important - where are your best targets, which medium (digital (social) playing a vital role in today’s world). These are the questions this panel of executive women will explore and discuss.
Lisa Nolen Birmingham
Vice President, Comcast+ view bio
Lisa leads a team government and community affairs professionals supporting more than 1,300 communities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and northwest Maryland. Lisa is responsible for advancing business growth and policy through advocacy and strategic partnerships and manages franchising, compliance and community investment. Lisa has held a similar roles for Comcast in the mid-west and New England. Lisa practiced administrative law in Vermont prior to joining Comcast in 2006. A lawyer by training, Lisa has extensive negotiation and advocacy experience. She has led numerous collaborative efforts to address key policy issues such as the digital divide, lead paint and health care privacy. Lisa graduated from Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut and magna cum laude from Vermont Law School. A believer in giving back, Lisa has served on various nonprofit boards such as the Urban League of Southwest Michigan and Detroit. Lisa’s personal passion is promoting equity and opportunity for women and girls. She has been a crisis intervention counselor, an advocate and fundraiser, and more recently, a Chapter Advisor for Women in Cable and Telecommunications. She relocated to Pittsburgh in 2015 and is a recent graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh.
Vice President of Strategic Planning, FedEx Ground+ view bio
Stephanie Cohen is Vice President of Strategic Planning for FedEx Ground, headquartered in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Stephanie began her career at FedEx Ground 24 years ago in Customer Service. From there she held positions in a number of areas – including Internal Audit, Product Marketing, Administrative Process Engineering, New Services and Field Technology Support – before being named the Managing Director of Administrative Process Engineering in 2006 and the Managing Director of New Services Planning in 2009. Stephanie has led FedEx Ground involvement in numerous strategic enterprise projects, customer implementations and solution designs and strategy research and integration initiatives. She has distinguished herself through her leadership, commitment to continuous improvement and collaboration across the enterprise. As an accomplished leader, Stephanie attended the FedEx Executive Leadership Institute and has been honored with numerous company awards, including the prestigious FedEx Ground Five Star Award on two separate occasions. A native of Philadelphia, Stephanie earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and her master’s from Carnegie Mellon University. Stephanie currently resides in Sewickley, PA, with her husband and three children.
Mary Kay Modaffari
CEO & Chief Service Officer,, ServicEffect (formerly Partner of Brunner Advertising)+ view bio
Mary Kay Modaffari has excelled in the competitive world of advertising and marketing by leading with her heart. For more than 25 years, Mary Kay has been a key part of the success at independently owned Brunner where she served as Executive Vice President and Partner. While in leadership there, Mary Kay helped grow the agency to a peak of nearly 200 staffers, $180 million in billings and recognition as one of the top 100 independent agencies in the nation. Over that time, Brunner earned a reputation for two things: award-winning creativity and a supportive, vibrant culture. Mary Kay is credited as the driving force behind the culture (which made the creativity possible). She has an uncanny knack for connecting with clients on a human level, hearing what they say while also listening for what they need. Her positive nature and focus on finding strategic solutions have made her an invaluable partner for dozens of Brunner clients including Bob Evans, UPMC, GNC, Zippo, LaRosa’s Pizzeria, Giant Eagle, Westinghouse Corporation/CBS, Knouse Foods, Mellon Financial and PNC Bank. In her earlier career, Mary Kay earned her account service stripes at agencies now within Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising. Throughout her successful career, Mary Kay has made giving back to her community a priority. She currently serves on non-profit boards of directors and advisory boards such as The Mentoring Partnership, UPMC Cancer Center Wellness & Integrative Oncology Program and the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University. Her daughter Melanie works in the healthcare industry. The swirl on her cone comes courtesy of her significant other, Don. He and Mary Kay own multiple Dairy Queen franchises.
Friday, October 13
"The Food Waste Scandal and How It Impacts People
We waste 40% of all the food we produce. On the other side of this waste are tremendous impacts on our environment and on hunger. 412 Food Rescue’s mission is to prevent perfectly viable food from entering the waste stream by rescuing surplus food and redirecting to nonprofits that serve those who are food insecure. The talk will focus on how innovation and courage to tackle one of the most difficult problems are moving the needle impacting hunger in our region.
CEO and Co-Founder, 412 Food Rescue+ view bio
Leah Lizarondo is Co-Founder and CEO of 412 Food Rescue. 412 Food Rescue works to eliminate hunger and promote a healthy environment by rescuing viable food about to go to waste and redirecting to nonprofits that serve those who are food insecure. 412 Food Rescue is an innovative approach to food recovery with rapid response reverse logistics model that utilizes technology to aggregate and automatically match food donors and beneficiaries. The organization works with a network of dedicated volunteers and deploys a scalable technology and replicable model designed to eliminate food waste at the retail level. Leah received her Masters Degree in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University graduating with Highest Distinction and is an advocate for healthy food accessibility, food safety policy and sustainability. She has also trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and received her Certification in Plant-based Nutrition from Cornell University. She began her career as a product manager in Southeast Asia, working in consumer packaged goods and technology before moving on to her passion in food and health advocacy. She has a track record of leadership in nonprofits in New York and Pittsburgh. She is interested in social innovation and technology and mines her experience launching startups as she works to establish 412 Food Rescue. Leah is an active advocate for food, health and innovation in Pittsburgh. She is also the founder of The Brazen Kitchen, an award-winning blog and Pittsburgh Magazine weekly column. Leah is currently Editor-at-Large for NEXTpittsburgh, covering social innovation. Leah’s work has been featured in print and online publications including MSN’s Re:Discover Series, NPR, Oprah.com, GOOD Magazine online, and local media. The Brazen Kitchen won the 2013 National City & Regional Magazine Awards. Leah has delivered numerous talks in the field of food policy and innovation. In April 2014, she gave the TEDx Talk “Why the Farm Is Not Getting to the Table.” The video can be accessed on tedx.ted.com.
Friday, September 08
"Sew Accomplished: The Women Behind the Machines"
From designing, selecting fabrics, and determining trends to learning the world of small-batch manufacturing and retail environments these accomplished entrepreneurs have sewn their way to the top. Learn about why a work force environment where employee skills, talents, and intellects are highly valued, is an art unto itself. Come and experience the impact the sewing ecosystem is having on Pittsburgh.
Founder and President, Abram's Bed - maker of the Safety Sleeper+ view bio
Rose is a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Elementary Education. She taught elementary and middle school science and math for several years before retiring to transition into a stay at home mom after moving to Pennsylvania. Rose and her husband Jeff have 3 children, one of whom was diagnosed at an early age with autism. As a mother of a son with autism, her family was thrust into the world of autism and intensive therapy. Rose saw a need for a product that could keep Abram sleep safely at home or away. Out of this need The Safety Sleeper was born and has helped hundreds of children and adults with special needs worldwide. Her company, Abram’s Bed, was started in 2009 with the vision to become every customer's choice in their pursuit of creating a secure and safe environment for their loved one, every night, at home or wherever they may travel. Rose, her husband and a dedicated staff build, manufacture and orchestrate the shipping for The Safety Sleeper at their facility in Pittsburgh PA.
Owner/Designer, JenRocketLLC+ view bio
As a long-time Pittsburgh resident with a brief stint in Los Angeles, Jen is grateful to have started a business that mixes her heritage sewing skills with her educational background from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Los Angeles Trade Tech. Since opening the sewing studio in 2012, Jen has enjoyed the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur and the opportunity to push the boundaries of sewing, whether in fashion, wearables, or soft goods product development.
Cathy Schnaubelt Rogers
President, Aero Tech Designs Cyclewear+ view bio
Cathy is the President of Aero Tech Designs Cyclewear. They are an e-commerce company with 99% of their sales from their website, amazon, ebay, Walmart and jet. The company designs and manufactures their softgoods on the North Side of the city in a 60,000 sq ft. facility. As a cycling company, they enjoy the added benefit of being located on the Three Rivers Heritage Bike Trail. The company employs about 50 people. Aero Tech Designs in a vital part of the planning and implementation of trails into and out of the city of Pittsburgh.
Friday, June 09
"Carving out a Brand in the Food Industry"
Join us for a panel featuring women business owners who have built brands in the food industry, with lessons learned from their experiences and tips for business owners looking to make a name for themselves!
CEO & Executive Chef, Day La Soul Catering+ view bio
Entrepreneurship began for Torie after attaining her PA Real Estate License. She found out shortly afterwards that food was her true calling, and started Day La Soul Catering in the spring of 2015 on her own via social media, specifically Facebook & Instagram. Since the start, I've catered dozens of private events, personal "cheffed" to many, and speak while doing live food presentations.
VP WythU, Executive Producer/Co-Host Between the Eats, CEO Parmesan Princess, Inc.,+ view bio
Creating delicious food , and sales and marketing campaigns, Terri Dowd has carved a niche for herself now founding her 3rd corporation. Dowd’s food blog ParmesanPrincess.com launched the home chef’s career into a cooking tv show “Between The Eats,” which she co-hosts with Pittsburgh chef David Carmine. With an audience of 10 million, Dowd’s entrepreneurial spirit brought funding and an eye for linking Between The Eats’ marketing videos to a ROI sales strategy. A few months ago, Dowd joined forces with 4 other fellow entrepreneurs and WythU was born, developing overall marketing and strategic business development strategy for National and International clients. Dowd sits as VP of WythU and is looking forward to Season 3 of Between The Eats and many new homemade recipes on her blog!
Michele Meloy Burchfield
Co-Founder & CEO, Blume Honey Water+ view bio
The beverage category is Michele’s playground. As a sales and marketing expert with 25+ years of experience, Michele knows the industry inside and out. Michele spent nearly 15 years at the Boston Beer Company where she helped build the Sam Adams brand before starting her own consulting business. Simply put, Michele never loses sight of what really matters for a beverage brand: the liquid inside the bottle and how to get it to the consumer. That’s why it’s no wonder she’s helped so many brewers and distillers successfully bring their brands to market, working with brands such as FIJI Water, Sierra Nevada Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Firestone Walker, Straub, Yuengling, Heineken, Rogue Ales and Founders Brewery to name a few of her clients. When not working or enjoying time with her amazing sons, Will and Andrew Michele is an avid cyclist, skier and tennis player and a green-thumbed outdoorswoman with the backyard gardens to prove it.
Friday, May 12
"A Man is Not a Plan: Life Strategies for Independent Women"
More than half of all single Americans are women. With this in mind, it is amazing that any woman would leave her financial future in the hands of another human being. Mary Grace Musuneggi’s personal and professional experience have made her an expert on the importance of financial independence, and she wants every woman to know “A Man is Not a Plan.” In this presentation, Mary Grace will help you to: • Understand why you must prioritize your financial independence, no matter what your current status is; • Discover the four basic laws of financial independence that will help to bring abundance to your life; • Create a plan for asserting and protecting independence through life’s challenges and changes.
Mary Grace Musuneggi, CLU, ChFC, CFS, RFC
Chairman & CEO, The Musuneggi Financial Group and Founder of Single Steps Strategies,+ view bio
For over 35 years, Mary Grace Musuneggi been helping women develop clear strategies for pursuing their financial goals. She is Chairman & CEO of The Musuneggi Financial Group, where she recently launched the Starting Out/Starting Over program for women who are hitting the “Start” or “Reset” button: new graduates, new mothers and grandmothers, new business owners, women transitioning into a second or even third career, and women who are navigating divorce or finding themselves single—by choice or by chance. Throughout her career, Mary Grace often met women who were facing challenges that dramatically influenced the quality of their lives. In response to this, she founded Single Steps Strategies, an educational resource that helps women work towards abundant, balanced and successful lives. Single Steps Strategies recently celebrated twelve years of empowering women through information and education. An award-winning advisor and business owner, Mary Grace is the author of Single Steps: Strategies for Abundant Living and the forthcoming A Man is Not a Plan. She frequently speaks to women’s organizations about successfully navigating the intersections of financial planning and lifestyle issues.
Friday, April 07
"A Primer on the Allegheny County Health Department: Hot Topics"
Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, will provide an overview of the Allegheny County Health Department, discuss recent policy initiatives in some of the current major areas of focus such as maternal and child health, lead issues, obesity and tobacco cessation. She will also include a brief overview of the community health improvement plan and the priorities identified through a community engagement process, as well as a number of pressing issues with a particular focus on the current opioid overdose epidemic. Lastly, she will talk about some tips for dealing with overdoses and addiction in the workplace
Karen Hacker, MD MPH
Director, Allegheny County Health Department+ view bio
Karen Hacker, MD MPH is the Director of the Allegheny County Health Department and is responsible for overseeing the health of the 1.2 million resident of Allegheny County. Under her leadership, Allegheny County has launched its first Plan for a Healthier Allegheny which represents a collaborative community process to improve the health of the county. Using collective action to solve problems and measuring and monitoring progress is a key focus of her agenda. Prior to her current position, Dr. Hacker was Executive Director of the Institute for Community Health and the Senior Medical Director for Public and Community Health at the Cambridge Health Alliance where she oversaw community affairs and conducted community-based participatory research and health services research. Dr. Hacker is an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Health Policy and Management and Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health and a Clinical Professor at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine. She is an internist and adolescent medicine specialist and holds an MD from Northwestern University and an MPH from Boston University.
Friday, March 10
"The Art of Resilience in Business and in Life"
Adversity comes to everyone. What does it take to stand keep moving through roadblocks? In this conversation, janera will share insights from her experience with artists and community producers about ways to reframe the problem, continue in the face of challenges, and rebuild after failure.
Executive Director, Kelly Strayhorn Theater+ view bio
janera solomon is the executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, a historic live arts venue in Pittsburgh now in its ninth year of presenting progressive, evocative new works in dance, theater, music, film, education and cultural programming. Recognized for her transformative leadership and contributions to the revitalization of East Liberty, janera managed the merger of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater and the Dance Alloy in 2011, while maintaining affordable dance instruction at The Alloy School and creating a series of diverse programs designed to inspire and engage a wide range of audiences. An experienced curator, janera worked with the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and developed the First Voice International Black Performing Arts Festival produced by the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in 2007. She has worked on a range of cultural projects: including the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the August Wilson Center, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and several others with Toronto based, cultural planning firm Lord Culture. janera maintains volunteer board positions for several organizations including: the Carnegie Museums Pittsburgh and The Ellis School. In 2014, she formed the August Wilson Center Recovery Committee. In a recent settlement, it was announced that the AWC will continue as a fully dedicated center for African-American culture in Pittsburgh. In 2015, janera was featured in Pittsburgh Magazine’s as one of the “50 Most Powerful People in Pittsburgh.”
Friday, February 10
AJ Drexler will present the top ten trends impacting the way business owners and managers need to motivate and manage today's consumer. You'll hear an overview of the genesis of each of the trends, how they will affect the marketplace, and insights to spark ideas on how brands and businesses can respond!
CEO and Chief Strategist, Campos Inc+ view bio
For the past twenty-five years, A.J. has focused her work, within both the ad agency and market research sides of the business, on deeply understanding the customer in order to inspire brand and marketing strategy that drives genuine results. She is accomplished in using all forms of data to uncover marketing insights, conducting all forms of qualitative research, and loves swimming around in the cross-tabs of quantitative projects to find clues to future behavior. An honors graduate of Boston College, A.J.'s education focused on an integrated knowledge of American social, intellectual, and cultural history. Infinitely curious about what drives people to do what they do, A.J. approaches her research and planning work by looking for the "story" behind the statistics. And this curiosity has been the key to maintaining client relationships over time--some for over 20 years. Clients can rely on A.J. to dig deeply into whatever new challenges they face each year.
Friday, January 13
Eve Picker is at it again. The pioneering real estate developer was one of the first to bet on the resurgence of downtown Pittsburgh and neighborhoods like East Liberty. Now, Eve heads Small Change, the nation's first online real estate investment portal that allows anyone over the age of 18 to invest in projects. Come learn how cities work and how they can be revitalized.
Founder & CEO, Small Change+ view bio
Eve Picker’s world is wrapped around cities and change. With a background as an architect, city planner, urban designer, real estate developer, community development strategist, publisher, and instigator, Eve has a rich understanding of how cities and urban neighborhoods work – and how they can be revitalized. Amongst her many urban (ad)ventures, Eve has developed a dozen buildings in blighted neighborhoods, launched a Pittsburgh- focused e-zine called Pop City, and founded and organized a speaker series, cityLIVE!, on city-centric issues. She has taught urban design and participated in Sustainable Design Assessment Teams for the American Institute of Architects in cities from Los Angeles to Springfield, Ohio, helping with urban design and to set a strategic course for downtowns and housing developments. Eve has strategized about how to encourage residential development of vacant upper floors in downtown Pittsburgh. And with cityLAB, she has instigated bottom-up projects like the “6% Place,” the “Garfield Night Market” and a “Tiny House.” Now Eve has launched – and leads – Small Change, a real estate equity crowdfunding portal to help fund transformational real estate projects. Small Change packages offerings for developers to help them build projects that make cities better, and provides investment opportunities for everyone who cares about cities and wants to see positive change. To learn more about Eve, and to see her TEDx talk and completed projects, visit evepicker.com.
Friday, December 09
"Leading Transformational Growth"
Utilizing the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as a case study, Lisa Scales will discuss the adjustments in organizational culture, talent, and operations that are required for transformational growth in an organization.
Donations will be accepted at this event! Please view the most needed items list here. Thank you!
President and CEO, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank+ view bio
Lisa Scales, who earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Boston University School of Law and Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences from Seton Hill College, began her career as an assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago and worked as an associate in a Greensburg law firm before joining Just Harvest and then Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Throughout her career, Ms. Scales has held many positions on boards and committees for organizations such as the Community Food Security Coalition, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University, and the Joint State Government Commission Obesity Study Advisory Committee. In her current role as President and CEO at the Food Bank, Ms. Scales leads the organization in distributing 23 million meals annually throughout 11 counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Friday, October 14
"How to Put People to Sleep"
"Why didn't I think of this?" is one of the most common things AcousticSheep CEO Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, MD hears. And in fact, a few people had thought of the exact idea, but they didn't act on it. Was it fear of failure? Lack of knowledge? Acting on the idea and managing the growth of a multi-million dollar, international consumer product company has had its challenges, and while the trajectory has always been up, there were specific, creative solutions applied to every problem. Dr. Lai tells the story of how the company came to be, how it grew, and where it's headed. It's a story of inspiration, insight, and practicality.
Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, MD
CEO, AcousticSheep+ view bio
Dr. Lai was born in Taiwan and grew up in Knoxville, TN. She attended the University of Michigan to study infectious diseases. But not wanting to be stuck in a lab, she decided to get a medical degree from the University of Virginia. She enjoyed being a family doctor but didn't like being on call at night. When Dr. Wei-Shin Lai couldn't get back to sleep after patient phone calls late at night, she and her husband, Jason Wolfe, invented an ingenious natural sleep aid: SleepPhones. Winner of the Small Business of the Year 2016 from the Small Business Administration, Ernst and Young 2016, and the Consumer Technology Association 2015, AcousticSheep LLC's business took off in 2013 when the founders finally quit their day jobs to work on helping people all of the world sleep better.
Friday, September 09
"Embracing the Millennials"
Engaging with millennials is the new black! Join our unique panel of women as they talk about how they engage with millennials as passionate employees, dedicated volunteers, future donors, and give insight into what you can do with the right millennials on your team.
Dana Scotti Donaldson
Midstream Land Manager, Rice Energy+ view bio
Dana's background and area of expertise comes as a building block of knowledge gained over the years. Upon graduation, Dana took her knowledge of real estate and construction and married it with her education to become a steel trade analyst with an emphasis on pipe/tube and stainless steel. Pipe/tube coverage and forecasting forced her into gaining a greater knowledge of the oil and gas industry. Since that time, Dana has transitioned from being an analyst over to being a landman for pipeline projects, rising through the ranks to eventually managing teams in two states that oversee the purchasing of easements, and reclamation work of those construction projects. In 2015, her teams enabled the construction of 51.14 miles or 270,000 feet of pipeline. Dana is a 2005 graduate of Chatham University with a B.A. in Communications and completed her Master's degree from Point Park University in 2006. Additionally, she is a member of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University and proudly serves as a board member of the Chatham University Alumni Association Board.
Chief Workforce Officer, Massaro Construction Group+ view bio
Prior to joining Massaro, Demeshia held positions of increasing responsibility at Fortune 500 and 100 organizations, most notably Nike, Inc., where she worked for over a decade honing her business, coaching, and strategic developmental skills. Demeshia joined Massaro in 2011 as the director of human resources, where she began collaborating with senior leaders to instill the value of coaching and workforce development to achieve strategic targets. Because she was instrumental in enabling the company to move forward by creating a culture of data-driven, actionable items, she was promoted to an officer role in the organization. With a focus on personal accountability-driven leadership, stakeholder/customer focus, with an eye on business outcomes, Demeshia has held various leadership roles in the organization including a stint as interim head of the largest business unit in the organization, vice president of Massaro Corporation and executive vice president and COO. She has a master's degree in business administration and an undergraduate degree in chemistry. As a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh, Demeshia is continuing her desire to serve her community by serving on the boards of the Sarah Heinz House, Goodwill Industries, and the Development Committee for Junior Achievement.
Public Programs Manager, Heinz History Center+ view bio
Caroline Fitzgerald is the Public Programs Manager at the Heinz History Center where her responsibilities include engaging the community, promoting the History Center brand, and curating a roster of 100+ programs yearly. In the last year, Caroline has led the charge in designing programs that attract younger audiences and has more than tripled the History Center’s number of Millennial-targeted programs. Under Caroline’s leadership, the History Center rolled out its first successful 21+ After Hours events, which drove close to 1000 millennials into the museum and was recognized by Pittsburgh Magazine. Earlier this year, Caroline was a featured speaker at the Pittsburgh Museums Educators' Roundtable where she discussed strategies for driving millennial audiences into museums through programming. Caroline also serves on the Millennial Engagement Advisory Board, a project led by the Arts Finance Cohort aimed at deepening engagement of Millennials with non-profit organizations. Prior to joining the History Center, Caroline worked in Marketing for Kohl’s Department Stores. While at Kohl’s, Caroline coordinated company-wide marketing promotions where she partnered with the Consumer Insights, Marketing Analytics, and CRM teams to develop marketing plans rooted in customer trends, research, and insights. Caroline graduated from the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University with degrees in Marketing and Women’s Studies.
Executive Director, Strong Women, Strong Girls+ view bio
Sabrina Saunders is a youth advocate and visionary social entrepreneur working to build strategic partnerships that enhance opportunities for communities of need. She is the former Director of Education and Youth Development for the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, served as Youth Policy Manager for the City of Pittsburgh’s Mayor’s Office and as a congressional field representative to the Federal Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Education for Pennsylvania’s 14th congressional district. In the spring of 2014, Saunders became the Executive Director of Strong Women, Strong Girls, Inc. (SWSG) a nationally recognized nonprofit mentoring organization in Pittsburgh, PA and Boston, MA. At SWSG, she is responsible for the strategic development, management, and enhancement of operations, as well as generating financial and community resources for the organization. Saunders has been acknowledged locally and nationally by numerous organizations and publications for her commitment to the region. An alumnus of Carlow University, she holds a Masters of Science degree in Organizational Influence and Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a minor in Philosophy from Edinboro University of PA.
Friday, June 10
"“Position Yourself for Success!”"
Topic:“Position Yourself for Success!”
Speaker: Lynn M. Banaszak, Executive Director, Disruptive Health Technology Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
Lynn M. Banaszak
Executive Director, Disruptive Health Technology Institute, Carnegie Mellon University+ view bio
Lynn M. Banaszak is the executive director of the Disruptive Health Technology Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She is one of Pittsburgh’s most connected female executives, guiding, mentoring, and coaching female professionals and start-up technology companies. Prior to her appointment at CMU, Lynn was Vice President and Chief Relationship Officer at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, a biotechnology investment organization, where for nearly a decade she worked with 400 start-up companies, helped deploy nearly $20M in direct investment in 75 companies, leveraging over $900M in additional capital to the region. In addition, she shaped the organization’s strategic direction and the region’s global position as a life sciences industry leader. Lynn was also one of the original Directors of the $8.1M Accelerator Fund, LLC venture firm. Lynn is a founding board member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Women in Bio, a non-profit organization to support and recognize emerging women leaders in the biosciences industry of Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, and West Virginia, and a member of the founding board that created the Association for Corporate Growth Women’s Council. In addition, Lynn was recruited by the University of Pittsburgh to facilitate the first Bench to Bedside course for the $5M Coulter Program, a campus-wide effort led by Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering that identifies, selects, funds, and mentors translational research by clinician-bioengineer teams that address unmet clinical needs through innovative technologies. She is an entrepreneurial mentor for Alphalab Gear, a hardware and robotic startup accelerator that provides physical product companies with investment, mentorship, and connections.
Friday, May 13
"“A Scientist’s Journey: Turning the Unexpected into the Exceptional”"
Topic:“A Scientist’s Journey: Turning the Unexpected into the Exceptional”
Speaker: Janet Stout, PhD, Director, Special Pathogens Laboratory and Research Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering
Janet Stout, PhD
Director, Special Pathogens Laboratory and Research Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering+ view bio
A clinical and environmental microbiologist, Dr. Stout is recognized worldwide for more than 30 years of pioneering research in Legionella. The author of more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as textbook chapters on Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease, her expertise includes prevention and control strategies for Legionnaires’ disease. Toward that end, Dr. Stout has evaluated all major Legionella disinfection technologies in use today and continues to explore new approaches for Legionella detection and control. Dr. Stout assisted in developing the first Legionella prevention guideline in the United States that has been modeled by national and global health agencies and organizations. Additionally, she serves on the ASHRAE Legionella standard committee for Legionella Guideline 12 and the SPC 188 committee for ANSI / ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems, the first U.S. standard for Legionella passed in June 2015.
Friday, April 08
"No Company is Too Big for Your Big Ideas"
Topic:"No Company is Too Big for Your Big Ideas"
Speaker: Kate Boyce, Vice President/Divisional Merchandise Manager, Women’s Athletic Apparel at Dick’s Sporting Goods
Vice President/Divisional Merchandise Manager, Women’s Athletic Apparel at Dick’s Sporting Goods+ view bio
Kate Boyce joined DICK’S Sporting Goods in 2006 as a buyer for Men’s Nike Athletic Apparel. Over the last nine years, Kate has risen through the company, serving as a Divisional Merchandising Manager for the company’s Women’s Athletic Apparel business. In 2015, Kate helped launch a new line of business for DICK’S Sporting Goods, a women’s specialty boutique shop called Chelsea Collective. Under Kate’s leadership, the DICK’S Sporting Goods Women’s business has more than doubled during her tenure with the Company. She has also seen the chain grow from just over 250 DICK’S Sporting Goods stores in 2006 to the 645 stores that are open today. Kate currently serves as the DICK’s Sporting Goods’ Vice President and Divisional Merchandize Manager of Women’s Athletic Apparel and Accessories. In this role, she oversees the merchandising of Chelsea Collective and the DICK’S Sporting Goods Women’s Athletic Apparel & Accessories merchandising teams. Kate holds a BA in Advertising and Public Relations from Penn State University.
Friday, March 11
"“Knocking Down Barriers to Build a Business”"
Topic:“Knocking Down Barriers to Build a Business”
Speaker: Arlinda Moriarty, President and CEO, Moriarty Consultants Inc.
President and CEO, Moriarty Consultants Inc.+ view bio
Moriarty Consultants, Inc. provides non-medical, in-home care services as well as disability services to meet the needs of consumers, while assisting them in maintaining the utmost possible level of independent living. Arlinda grew up in Pittsburgh, in the Garfield Projects. She attended Peabody High School. At Peabody, Arlinda had successes with making the honor roll, but had some struggles in some areas. She would later be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, providing answers to the reasons for her struggles. Once diagnosed, she was able to learn more about ADD and how to deal with the disorder while reaching her lifetime goals of building resources to help the community. Over the years Arlinda has built over ten businesses. Her most successful business venture, Moriarty Consultants, Inc., is currently one of the largest minority owned firms in Pennsylvania. Arlinda earned her Degree in Social Science from Robert Morris University. Arlinda is a woman of great passion in her beliefs, and has dedicated her life’s work to many charities, and building opportunity and resources to the inner city communities, and those of lesser fortune.
Friday, February 12
"“Mobile Businesses on the Move”"
Topic:“Mobile Businesses on the Move”
Kim Schultz, Owner, Vantastic Mobile Grooming
Jackee Ging, Owner, Style Truck
Michelle Pendel, Registered Dietitian, Co-Founder & Director of Nutrition Education, Farm Truck Foods
Sara Lechman, Chef/Owner, Miss Meatball
Chef/Owner, Miss Meatball+ view bio
Miss Meatball is a mobile food and catering business started by Sara Lechman. Sara is a lifelong resident of Westmoreland County and is committed to bringing gourmet food to the Western Pennsylvania Area. She is a classically trained Chef who has worked in kitchens everywhere; From the critically acclaimed Michelin Star and Zagat Rated Restaurants of New York City to catering. Miss Meatball can be found at Fairs, Festivals, and Places of Employment for lunch; Miss Meatball can also be found on twitter, Facebook, and via email. Catering is also available (not limited to just meatballs).
Registered Dietitian, Co-Founder & Director of Nutrition Education, Farm Truck Foods+ view bio
Michelle Pendel is a licensed & registered dietitian who has a BA in Science and an MBA with a healthcare emphasis. She is currently working as a health coach for a local insurance company. Michelle is also proud to be one of three co-founders and members of the Farm Truck Foods team. Farm Truck Foods is in the business of helping bridge the gap that exists between local farmers’ fresh products and Pittsburgh’s food deserts. We help provide both education and universal access to whole, nutritious, affordable and local foods. Michelle loves supporting local farming and also enjoys experimenting with new food dishes in her spare time.
Owner, Style Truck+ view bio
Jackee Ging is the owner of Style Truck, Pennsylvania’s first mobile boutique. A Grove City College Graduate, Jackee started her professional career as an Area Sales Manager for Kaufmann’s, and then as a Sales Manager at a local, high-end boutique, yet didn’t have the desire to commit a lifetime to retail. She made the move to advertising and was an account representative for an international technical publication. After that, and for nearly 20 years, she was in the professional services industry as a business development/marketing manager. Later, she would work as a consultant for an international firm, working directly with the CEO/CFO and it was there she was exposed to entrepreneurship. As her contract ended and opportunities around Pittsburgh were limited, she took it upon herself to combine her love of shopping/fashion with her varied background and take the plunge to start her own business. An In Style Magazine article featured the concept of fashion trucks, which caught her eye, and months later she became a truck driver and owner of Style Truck.
Owner, Vantastic Mobile Grooming+ view bio
Kim graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1985 with a degree in Civil Engineering. She went on to become a licensed professional engineer, and she worked 22 years as a project manager in the heavy construction industry. Although she thought she would continue in that field for her entire working career, that all changed one day in October 2004, when she heard about mobile dog grooming. Literally overnight, she decided that was what she wanted to do. She wrapped up the project she was on and took a six-month sabbatical, just to make sure she hadn’t lost her mind (as everyone was convinced she had)! After that, she officially quit her job and started grooming school. Once she graduated, she worked in a local salon for a year to gain experience and confidence before purchasing her state-of-the-art mobile grooming salon/van in July 2007. Since then, she has never once regretted her decision to make such a dramatic change. Her business, Vantastic Mobile Grooming, quickly grew to capacity and, besides the appreciative clients and lovable animals she gets to work with on a daily basis, she absolutely loves the freedom and flexibility that a mobile business gives her.
Friday, January 08
"“Building a Business and Making the Billion-Dollar Sale”"
Topic:“Building a Business and Making the Billion-Dollar Sale”
Speaker: Dawne S. Hickton, Former Vice Chair, President and CEO RTI International Metals, Inc. (NYSE:RTI)
Dawne S. Hickton
Former Vice Chair, President and CEO , RTI International Metals, Inc. (NYSE:RTI)+ view bio
Dawne S. Hickton is the former Vice Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of RTI International Metals, Inc. (RTI), where she was employed for over 18 years. RTI was a global supplier of advanced titanium and specialty metals products and services in commercial aerospace, defense, propulsion, medical device, energy and other markets. Ms. Hickton served as CEO from April 2007 until July 2015, when Alcoa acquired RTI. For the past 2 years Ms. Hickton has been recognized as one of the top 100 global leaders in STEM by STEMconnector. Ms. Hickton serves as chair of the Pittsburgh branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. In addition, she is a member of the Board of Directors of Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., one of the world’s largest and most diverse providers of technical professional and construction services, serving on the audit committee. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Triumph Group, Inc., a global leader in manufacturing and overhauling aerospace structures, systems and components, and serves on that board’s audit and nominating and corporate governance committees. Ms. Hickton is a member of the Board of Directors of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and a director of The Wings Club.She is a member of the University of Pittsburgh's Board of Trustees, serving on the student affairs and property and facilities committees, as well as chairing the School of Law's Board of Visitors. Ms. Hickton is a 1979 graduate of the University of Rochester and received her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Law in 1983. She resides in Pittsburgh with her husband, The Honorable David J. Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and their children.
Friday, December 11
"“I’m Here to Serve: the Business Case for Customer Service”"
Topic:“I’m Here to Serve: the Business Case for Customer Service”
Speaker: Rania Harris, Owner, Rania’s Catering
Rania will discuss the ins and outs of her experience starting a catering business, her unique way of doing business that has led to her long-time establishment in the Pittsburgh community, and how she developed and maintains her all-encompassing focus on serving her clients.
Owner, Rania’s Catering+ view bio
Rania Harris began her catering business thirty years ago from her Mt Lebanon kitchen. Her goal was to cater “just a few” parties a year - to satisfy her love for cooking and entertaining. Eventually, one party led to another and happily her business grew into a full-scale catering operation, along with a gourmet take-out shop, a cafe, a cooking school, a pastry shop had a regular cooking segment on WTAE-TV’s weekend news. She can now be seen on KDKA TV 2 every Wednesday on Pittsburgh Today Live and during football season, on the Hines Ward Show. Rania had a natural sense of food presentation. Not withstanding, she enhanced this by studying under Master Pastry Chef Gunther Heiland and the Culinary Institute’s Chef Timothy Ryan (formerly of La Normande). In addition to Rania’s involvement with the local culinary community, she was also featured nationally in Bon Apetit as “an outstanding cooking school teacher” in their April 1985 issue. Recent recognition appeared in September 2004 as the lead story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s food section featuring Rania’s home and garden in conjunction with her cooking school program, as well as the lead story in the August 2005 Sunday edition featuring catering her daughter’s wedding. Since that article, there have been many articles in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and in the Pittsburgh Tribune about Rania. Rania’s culinary career has led her to catering for Presidential candidates, Senators, Governors and several well-known Hollywood personalities. Throughout the years, Rania’s philosophy remained simple and consistent: To treat each one of her clients and students as though they were guests in her own home...and never hold back on a recipe request!!!
Friday, November 13
"“Women Turning the Tables: Artisan Entrepreneurship” "
Topic:“Women Turning the Tables: Artisan Entrepreneurship”
Speaker: Kate Joyce, Artist & Furniture Maker
Kate Joyce began her career as an art student at the Carnegie Museums and the University of Pittsburgh. Working her way through The Boys Club and YMCA wood shops, she eventually took on the Pittsburgh Carpenter’s Union in her quest to design, fabricate and place her original fine art and fine furniture. Kate will talk about the challenges she has faced, and in turn, of her challenge to the then exclusively male trade unions. She will elaborate on her quest for the critical training required to develop her talents. She ultimately embraced entrepreneurship, founding her business, Kate Joyce Company, in design, art and furniture. She will describe the steps taken to establish her work and her art as a personal, artistic and viable business success in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Artist & Furniture Maker,+ view bio
Furniture Maker, designer and artist, Kate Joyce received her BA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972, apprenticed in Switzerland and co-founded the Northwest Gallery of Fine Woodworking. Her work has been published in Fine Woodworking, Design Book II. Before moving to Seattle, in 1974 she successfully challenged the Brotherhood of the Pittsburgh Carpenter's Union, in a Federal Class Action, effectively opening all trade unions to women in the United States. In Seattle, her three decade career encompassed varied and major commissions, solo and group exhibitions and numerous publications of her work. As designer and art consultant, she worked with private, business and institutional clients. In 2000, Joyce curated and acquired an eighty piece contemporary art collection for the Seattle University School of Law. Having returned to Pittsburgh in 2011, she regularly works with Typhoon Lighting on restoration, design and fabrication. In 2013 she lectured at the Carnegie Museum about her work and her precedent setting career, in conjunction with their Empowering Women Exhibition. A major solo show at BE Galleries, in Lawrenceville in April of 2015, was featured in SHADY AVE, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The City Paper, and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. She maintains a shop and design studio in Point Breeze and makes her home in Edgewood.
Friday, October 02
""Moving Past the Mega Hub""
Topic:"Moving Past the Mega Hub"
Speaker: Christina Cassotis, Chief Executive Officer , Allegheny County Airport Authority
When Christina Cassotis was hired as the new CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, she was given a specific mandate: increase air service.
As the first female leader of the organization that manages Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, Cassotis is challenged to move PIT past the mega-hub structure which collapsed 15 years ago, to a successful origin and destination facility that meets the needs of an emerging region.
Since January, Cassotis has engaged with business and community leaders to better understand air service needs and the type of airport experience that travelers prefer, both Pittsburgh International and the county airport. She has also met with domestic and international airline officials to make the case for increased flights and better amenities at both facilities.
With a background in communications and international aviation planning and consulting, Casottis brings a range of experiences to her current role as CEO. She has been working tirelessly since arriving in January, and already, positive changes are occurring.
Chief Executive Officer , Allegheny County Airport Authority+ view bio
A lifelong aviation enthusiast, Christina Cassotis is an energetic and innovative industry leader. With more than 20 years of international experience in communications, aviation strategy and business development, Ms. Cassotis excels in managing partnerships and engaging stakeholders in support of major goals and initiatives. Ms. Cassotis began her career in commercial aviation working for the Massachusetts Port Authority which operates Boston Logan International Airport. She served as Deputy Director of Communications, leading strategy surrounding airport improvement projects including Massport’s controversial program to build a new runway. In 1999, she joined SH&E - a global commercial aviation consulting firm - advising airports worldwide on economic strategy, developing business plans and working with U.S. state departments of transportation on airport system planning. Most recently, she served as Managing Officer for Airport Services for ICF-SH&E, leading a global team of airport consultants in areas of competitiveness and business strategy for clients worldwide. Ms. Cassotis holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BA from the University of Massachusetts. A frequent speaker at aviation industry events worldwide on issues relating to airport planning, strategy, and competitiveness, she began her position as CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport, in January 2015. Her goals are to increase air service, improve efficiencies and advance both airports as regional economic development assets.
Friday, September 11
"“Fast & Furious: Innovation for Low-Tech Companies”"
Topic: “Fast & Furious: Innovation for Low-Tech Companies”
Speaker: Meredith Meyer Grelli, Co-Founder & Co-Owner, Wigle Whiskey
How do entrepreneurs infuse their new product development efforts with successful fast cycle innovation? Meredith will discuss the methods that Wigle has implemented to breed innovation, filling its new product pipeline with compelling services, products and programs to meet consumers needs and grow the business each year.
Meredith Meyer Grelli
Co-Founder and Co-Owner, Wigle Whiskey+ view bio
Meredith is Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Wigle Whiskey, Pittsburgh's first distillery since Prohibition. Since opening in March 2012, Wigle Whiskey has worked to restore Pittsburgh’s legacy of Rye Whiskey. More than 60,000 visitors visit the Distillery each year to learn about Whiskey production and regional history. Wigle spirits are distributed in ten states and have won a host of medals, making it the most awarded craft whiskey distillery in the United States. Meredith leads the charge on Marketing, including Distribution, New Product Development, Events, PR and Partnerships. Meredith teaches New Product Development in Chatham University's Master of Food Studies Program. Before Wigle, Meredith worked in brand management at the H.J. Heinz Company, went to business school at Carnegie Mellon University, worked in community development, studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Paris and studied urban history and geography at University of Chicago. Meredith co-founded Burgh Bees, a Pittsburgh urban beekeeping organization and started the nation's first community apiary. Meredith is on the Board of The Mattress Factory, The New Hazlett Theater and is a member of the Pittsburgh Technology Council's Create Advisory Committee.
Friday, June 12
"Effective Branding, Podcasting, and Promotion Without Giving Away the Ship!"
Darieth Chisolm will talk about how bloggers, authors, speakers, innovators, entrepreneurs and those looking for ways to leverage all of their current marketing efforts can utilize the next big phenomenon: video podcasting.
Darieth launched Hustle & Heart TV in August 2014 and enjoyed 10 weeks at #1 on iTunes in Business Video. She earned over $10,000 in advertising sales in her first month alone and increased her email list significantly. She will show you how to implement 7 additional revenue streams from your video podcast show, while enhancing your brand and influence.
Entrepreneur, Hustle & Heart TV+ view bio
Former WPXI News Anchor Darieth Chisolm has launched a new video podcast show, Hustle & Heart TV with Darieth Chisolm. The show has a #1 rated TOP podcast status on iTunes with subscribers and viewers in several different countries and was a Top 10 Finalist for the 2015 Podcast Awards.
It’s available on 5 different platforms, iTunes Video & Audio, Stitcher Radio, YouTube and at www.HustleandHeartTV.com.
Darieth interviews inspiring and successful people, showcasing their strategies, rituals and principles for success. Anyone looking to start, grow or expand a business, dream or passion should watch the weekly shows for motivation, guidance and inspiration, plus practical tips, tools and resources.
Podcasting is the fastest growing medium available for entrepreneurs to build brand, influence and income. Darieth is coaching entrepreneurs to strategize on ways to create and launch their own video and audio podcast shows. She is gearing up to launch her own Academy in the summer of 2015. You can find more details at www.ThePodcastersAcademy.com.
Darieth’s entrepreneurial experiences were cultivated while working as a television news anchor for WPXI TV, the NBC Affiliate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Channel 11 News at 11pm and 10pm newscasts before she retired in September 2013 after 20 years on the news set. She also brings her own experiences as a business owner to her international audience. In 2013, Darieth was the 54th highest paid distributor with It Works Global, a network marketing company with over 70 thousand representatives. Darieth also spent 3 and a half years as the owner of Fullbody Fitness Club, an aerial arts studio in Pittsburgh.
In October of 2014, Darieth sold Fullbody Fitness Club to focus exclusively on Hustle & Heart TV and on coaching people on ways to build their brand, influence and income through podcasting.
Darieth is currently the host of Hustle & Heart TV, a business coach and she is set to release her first book, HUSTLE: Why Now is the Time to Unleash your Passions.
"Success in anything is hard work and hustle, passion and heart, commitment and sacrifice, trial and error, failure and triumph. Hustle & Heart TV and Hustle, the book, expose these truths and pump fresh ideas into the hearts and minds of my viewers, listeners and readers." Darieth says, "With my busy schedule, my other businesses and my personal life being so demanding, I too need course correction and motivation from others who are successful. That’s why I started Hustle & Heart TV, so that I could pool the resources and mindsets of powerful people and then share this with others. I trust you’ll be inspired by their stories and encouraged to take action and make your dreams come true."
Although Darieth’s news career had been full of many outstanding awards and recognition, she says "Nothing makes me more excited than when I see people dream big and go after those dreams. I love watching people having huge breakthroughs and succeed! Entrepreneurs share a unique ability to be tough and have unwavering belief in themselves and their visions and goals."
She now features other successful entrepreneurs, authors, artists, celebrities and business owners on her video podcast show. You can subscribe to Hustle and Heart TV on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, YouTube or watch and listen directly from her website at www.HustleandHeartTV.com or www.DariethChisolm.com.
Friday, May 08
"Lead Like a Girl"
The business case for diversity has never been stronger. Organizations with more women consistently perform better financially, according to data from The Global Leadership Forecast 2014/2015 from DDI and The Conference Board. So, although more women graduate from college than men and are earning entry-level jobs in fields previously dominated by men, women are still outnumbered in the ranks of leadership. Come and listen to Tacy talk about finding your strength and the leader within you, exploring the confidence gap, identifying your personal wake-up call, and super power your network!
Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, DDI+ view bio
Currently a Senior Vice President, Tacy will soon be taking over as CEO of DDI. An expert in unique solutions to address talent management challenges, Tacy brings her experiences in assessment centers, 360s, development planning, and customized leadership solutions to maximize growth for individuals across the leadership pipeline. Her clients include Sam’s Club, ADP, BNY Mellon, Lockheed-Martin, and Texas Children’s Hospital. Tacy is a published author and her new book, "Your First Leadership Job" with co-author Rich Wellins will be available in May.
Friday, April 10
"Best Practices for Buying and Selling a Business"
From the due diligence process needed to organize your business for sale and understanding how to avoid pitfalls in preparing, valuing, and getting the best price for your business to knowing what to look for in a business, these women have done it all! Learn more about preparing a business for sale, building your business to sell, and purchasing a business from this great panel of women who know how it’s done.
Wendy P. Staso
President & CEO, Huckestein Mechanical Services, Inc.+ view bio
Wendy Staso is the Owner, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Huckestein Mechanical Services, Inc., the only woman owned and operated mechanical contractor in the tri-state area. She purchased the struggling 60-year-old company on January 1, 2010, and during her tenure, has instituted major changes to address the challenges facing the company. Under her leadership, Huckestein revised its vision to focus on its strengths – building on the master skills of the workforce to provide extraordinary service, deliver strong project management, and engineer simple, cost effective solutions for the most challenging of situations. She also made the difficult decisions necessary to reduce costs and stabilize the company, positioning it for profitability. These decisions included rightsizing the workforce, strategically outsourcing non-core competencies, realigning the business to focus on higher margin service work, selling assets that were excessive and unnecessary under the new business model, and paying off debt.
Today the company delivers core capabilities via a trademarked process called Sustainable System Delivery. Through this total life-cycle management model, the company strives to instill confidence and deliver worry-free, sustainable mechanical operations for facility owners and end users, creating long-term relationships based on mutual trust. She plans to double revenue over the next four years with the same high-margin, negotiated work. While the lead times to develop this type of work are lengthy, the sustainability of the client base is worth the patience and effort.
Chairman/Founder, C-leveled+ view bio
Superpowers, you say? We’re convinced that Denise DeSimone, Chairman of C-leveled, has an uncanny ability to launch ventures with tremendous success. Since graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. degree in 1983, she has founded eight companies, including C-leveled. This woman means business.
With Denise at the helm, revenues have increased by millions at every company she’s touched. If you ask Denise, the real story behind her business savvy is the idea of building companies by forming teams that listen to clients’ challenges, assess their needs, and examine processes in order to develop solutions. Her approach: no nonsense.
We’re not the only ones who think Denise has a secret telephone booth, super-man style. Her companies have been named among the 2008 Best Places to work in Pittsburgh as well as the Top 100 Fastest Growing Businesses. Most recently, she is the recipient of the Ernst & Young 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year for Western PA, West Virginia, and upstate New York as well as Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business for 2009 and Pittsburgh Women in Business Winner 2011. Her achievements include 2007 Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Top 5 Women Entrepreneur recognition and Deloitte & Touche Fast 50 Growth Companies.
Founding CEO, Campos Inc.+ view bio
R. Yvonne Campos, founding CEO of market research and strategy firm, Campos Inc, is a nationally recognized focus group moderator, facilitator and consultant, designing, strategizing, and implementing market research for corporations, educational institutions, non-profits and professional organizations.
Under her leadership, Campos Inc, founded in 1986, became the premier research company in the Pittsburgh market. She is the founder of two Pittsburgh chapters of the Women President's Organization, a peer-to-peer learning model for women owned business with revenues over one million dollars.
Yvonne is a very active member of the Pittsburgh business community and has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her entrepreneurship and community involvement.
She currently serves as chairperson of the Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania board, is a member of Pittsburgh Dance Council Advisory Board, and serves on the boards of WQED Multimedia, Highmark Health and Quantum Theatre.
Yvonne received her BS in Psychology at the University of Utah, and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh's Class XI, Tepper School of Business’s Donald H. Jones Entrepreneurship Program, Tuck Executive Education Program and Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education Program.
Friday, March 13
"A Good Enough Bad Business: The Entrepreneurial Nonprofit"
Jo Ellen Parker
President, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh+ view bio
Dr. Jo Ellen Parker became the 10th president of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh in August 2014. She came to Carnegie Museums from Sweet Briar College, where she served as president since July 2009. Prior to joining Sweet Briar, Dr. Parker served as Executive Director of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE). Dr. Parker also served as President of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), a consortium of 12 selective liberal arts colleges. Before undertaking these national leadership positions, Dr. Parker served her alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, as a faculty member and an academic affairs and student life administrator. There, she taught Victorian literature, women’s literature and English composition while serving in the dean’s office. Before joining the faculty at Bryn Mawr, she taught in the English department at Swarthmore College. She earned her A.B. in English from Bryn Mawr, her M.A. in English from the University of Kansas, and her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, writing her dissertation on George Eliot.
Friday, February 13
"Unlikely Entrepreneur: the Intersection of Life Experiences, Food, and a Drive to Succeed"
Not every entrepreneur has a childhood dream of starting a business; some don't discover until midway through their first career that they're driven to be their own boss. Still others who know they want to own a company are unsure what business to start.
With no background in food or experience running a company, Regina launched Marty's Market in July 2012. The company continues to evolve and challenges Regina and her team in new ways every day. Through the lens of her experiences, Regina will share what being an officer in the Navy has taught her about building a business, what starting a company has taught her about commanding a ship, and what they both have to teach all of us about entrepreneurship.
Founder/CEO, Marty's Market, LLC+ view bio
Regina Koetters is driven to unleash the unrealized potential of the Rust Belt and chose Pittsburgh to begin her work in 2008. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Regina was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy in 1999 upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. in Naval Architecture. In 2007, she transitioned to the United States Navy Reserve and completed her graduate studies in progressive real estate development and business at the University of Michigan the following year.
During her Naval career, she has managed operations and maintenance of the largest air base in Iraq, led airborne maritime patrol and reconnaissance missions in the Mediterranean and Atlantic regions, and facilitated maritime security and economic development projects in Western Africa.
Since relocating to Pittsburgh, she has championed several initiatives for sustainable development projects in downtown Pittsburgh, augmented a public-private team endeavoring to reintroduce passenger rail service to the Allegheny Riverfront, and in 2012 she launched Marty's Market, a unique food business in the Strip District dedicated to strengthening the Southwestern Pennsylvania food system.
Friday, January 09
"How to Get in the News in 2015"
Come hear from our wonderful panelists in TV, radio, and print media about how to get you or your business in the news in 2015!
Business Reporter, Pittsburgh Post Gazette+ view bio
Joyce Gannon, a Pittsburgh native, began her journalism career at a daily newspaper in West Virginia where she earned her stripes covering everything from murders and fires to courthouse politics. She then spent several years at the Pittsburgh Business Times writing about the technology sector that emerged in the city following the collapse of the steel industry. She joined the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a business news copy editor and now writes about a diverse range of topics including local foundations, charitable giving, the local nonprofit sector, the Pittsburgh chemical industry, and women in business. Her work appears in the print edition and on the paper’s website, www.post-gazette.com. She holds a journalism degree from Penn State University.
Regional Vice President, Comcast+ view bio
Jody Doherty is Regional Vice president of Community Investment for Comcast. She manages Comcast Foundation giving for the Keystone Region by identifying partnership opportunities that demonstrate commitment in the areas of digital literacy, youth leadership and development, as well as volunteerism. Additionally, Doherty directs the regional efforts of Comcast Cares Day, one of the largest corporate volunteerism initiatives in the country, and the region’s United Way campaign.
With a career in communications spanning 30 years, prior to joining Comcast, Doherty was Vice President of Public Affairs for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra where she headed their government relations and global visibility efforts. She has held leadership positions in Allegheny County government and with WTAE-TV.
Honored, with many notable awards, she is the recipient of the Association of Cable Communicators Beacon for Comcast’s successful United Way communications campaign and a PRSA Renaissance Award for Public Service for the launch of Fugitive Files On Demand. She has also garnered four UPI and AP honors.
A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Jody serves on the Boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Friday, December 12
"Embracing Risks, Filling a Void, Knowing When to Walk Away: the Makings of the Successful Business"
Speaker: Deb Mortillaro, Partner, Dreadnought Wines Topic: "Embracing Risks, Filling a Void, Knowing When to Walk Away: the Makings of the Successful Business" The wine industry can be both risky and capricious, and Deb Mortillaro manages both well. She will talk about how to use the difficulties of any industry and turn those difficulties into opportunities for profitable business, by both examining the rules and by filling a need: even if you have to take your business in a new direction! She’ll also give straight advice about when to do it, when to walk away, and how not to be afraid of either decision.
Partner, Dreadnought Wines+ view bio
Deb Mortillaro is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has been a partner in Dreadnought Wines since 1992. Deb’s culinary career took her to Italy, Chicago and then to Pittsburgh, PA to be a private chef for 15 years.
When joining Dreadnought Wines Deb helped create an education series about wine and wine appreciation. She also developed a gift program, starting the first company in PA to include wine in gift baskets that could be shipped within the United States. In 2009 Deb created a shipping company licensed to transport alcohol in Pennsylvania and is now expanding this business into other states.
Deb has continued her own wine education by becoming certified through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in London. Most recently Deb has done presentations for Ameriprise, Bayer, First Commonwealth Bank and the Canadian Council of Ontario.
Friday, November 14
"Educating Consumers on the Value of your Business: Strategies for Growth"
Speaker: Carla Castagnero Co-Founder, AgRecycle Topic: "Educating Consumers on the Value of your Business: Strategies for Growth" Carla Castagnero grew her small startup into an industry leader in composting through a long and tireless campaign of consumer education on the process and benefits of her products as well as sound business decisions and innovative manufacturing. Most people associate composting with a bin in their neighbor’s backyard, or something farmers do. Today, composting is a large scale manufacturing process producing refined, finished products that have the ability to transform the biological, chemical, and physical properties of American soil. AgRecycle is one of the oldest and most successful composting companies in the US, with clients such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Co-Founder, AgRecycle+ view bio
Carla is an attorney with degrees from Columbia and Duquesne University. She co-founded AgRecycle in 1991 and today AgRecycle is Pennsylvania’s largest composting company, handling over 80% of all food scraps that are composted within the Commonwealth. AgRecycle is one of the oldest and most successful composting companies in the U.S., and certainly a pioneer in transforming yard trimmings, pre and postconsumer food waste and food processing residuals into high-value compost products. Castagnero’s success as a business, marketer and educator in the value of organics is evidenced by the company’s distinguished client list, which includes the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Zoo.
Carla, along with Alice Waters of Chez Panisse Restaurant, are the only two recipients of the Organic Pioneer Award from the Rodale Institute not working in traditional agriculture. The Rodale Institute is the foundation arm of Rodale Press and Organic Gardening Magazine.
Friday, September 12
"The Business of Making: Strategies for Success from Startup to Exit"
Description: For the last decade, investors, media, and those who follow technology have been focused almost entirely on software. More recently, the buzz has shifted from software to hardware and manufactured products. Ilana Diamond will discuss why Pittsburgh businesses are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the renewed interest in physical products, how small businesses & manufacturers can get involved, and what resources are available to help physical product founders get their products from idea to market.
Managing Director, AlphaLab Gear+ view bio
Ilana Diamond is the Managing Director of AlphaLab Gear, Innovation Works’ hardware start-up accelerator which provides physical product startups with investment, mentorship, and connections. She helps entrepreneurs make rapid progress through the early stages of product and customer development. Prior to joining AlphaLab Gear, Ilana was CEO of Sima Products, an international consumer electronics accessory corporation where she had full P&L responsibility for global operations. Based on innovative technology developed at Sima, Ilana founded and managed a commercial alerting startup, helped raise outside capital, and spun the company off into a separate entity. She negotiated and completed sale of the company in 2010. Earlier in her career, as a management consultant for PwC, Ilana provided market strategy advice, turnaround assistance, and merger and acquisition support to executive management of Fortune 500, middle-market, and growing companies.
Ilana holds a BA in Biological Sciences and Economics from Northwestern University, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Friday, April 11
"Successful Serial Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh: One Woman's Extraordinary Path"
Topic: "Successful Serial Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh: One Woman's Extraordinary Path" & Speaker: Mary Del Brady, Proprietor of Mansions on Fifth Hotel and Chairperson and CEO of Wellbridge Health, Inc