WOCCON Mission & Purpose

Jill Johnson - No Glasses.jpg

We believe the time is long overdue for new faces to be at the table. The WOCCON movement is your opportunity to change business as usual. 

- Jill Johnson, Co-Founder/CEO

Connect with Jill on LinkedIn

Women of Color Connecting (WOCCON) is a program of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) launched in 2019 to focus attention on utilizing relationship capital to build the capacity of women of color entrepreneurs to grow, scale, and exit. Our vision is to create $1B in new wealth over the next 10 years through the success of women of color entrepreneurs. 

WOCCON is more than an educational or motivational event, it’s the foundation for a movement to shake up the way that we find and engage diverse entrepreneurs. WOCCON represents an opportunity for allies, champions, and investors who value diversity and inclusion to expand their networks.

Since 2002, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get on the path to growth. Through WOCCON, we are committing to using our resources and our relationships, and to act with intentionality in support of Women of Color entrepreneurs. The women that we will bring to the table are resilient, resourceful, and ready to rise to their potential. We will all benefit from the diversity in thought, perspective, and ways of doing business that these women will offer.  


We believe the time is long overdue for new faces to be at the table. WOCCON is your opportunity to help us change business as usual. We look forward to welcoming you to our community of change agents.

About Women of Color Connecting
Join the movement

Our Team

Jill Johnson

Jill Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), based in Newark, NJ.

With over 30 years of experience as a business strategist, Jill is a pioneering voice for inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems and is especially focused on creating a new paradigm for access to the capital conversation. Most recently, Jill conceived and launched the Women of Color Connecting initiative to change the way we think about building the capacity of Women of Color entrepreneurs for the grow-scale-exit trajectory. She is also spearheading The Making of Black Angels movement to drive diversity and inclusion within the angel investing sector. 

Headshot_Team Member_Melissa.jpeg
Melissa Parker
Success Circles Program Manager 
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon
  • White Twitter Icon

Melissa is a graduate of Berkeley College, Newark Campus and a current resident of Newark, NJ. She specializes in engaging with clients and improving the client experience here at IFEL.  She strongly believes in the organization's mission and the many opportunities it grants small businesses to become successful. Melissa enjoys playing a pivotal role in getting entrepreneurs closer to their goals. Fun fact: Melissa runs her own business called Emish Company, in which she sells handmade Afrocentric accessories from cultural fabrics that align with your lifestyle.

Headshot_Team Member_Amanda.png
Amanda Hubbard
Volunteer Experience Manager 
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon
  • White Twitter Icon

After what felt like a lifetime in the corporate world, Amanda was eager to do work that affects intentional, measurable change. She grew up volunteering for a variety of not-for-profit organizations in the community, and working with volunteers in such an intimate way felt like coming home. As the spouse of a veteran, Amanda has lived in many places and has seen the need for programs like IFEL in communities across the country. She is honored to be a part of the team. Fun fact: Amanda's absolute, hands-down favorite food is kabocha squash. She roasts a batch each week and eats it like candy!

Headshot_Team Member_Makiel.jpg
Makiel Cepeda
Email Marketing Coordinator

Makiel specializes in automation and strategic email marketing. Originally from St. Croix, he studied at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas. Currently, Makiel lives and works in North Carolina. With the goal of using his skills and experiences throughout his 7-year career to benefit others, Makiel decided to join the IFEL team. Fun fact: In his downtime, Makiel is a ramen enthusiast and dedicated Philadelphia Eagles football fan. Go birds!

    Headshot_Team Member_Lori Anne Oliwa.JPG
    Lori Anne Oliwa
    Public Relations Manager

    A resident of Middletown, New Jersey, Lori Anne is a lifelong entrepreneur, journalist, and creative business strategist specializing in communications, marketing & event planning. Lori Anne is passionate about amplifying IFEL's mission and the effective and innovative capacity-building programs offered. She believes IFEL might just be the most powerful business network in New Jersey with strong leadership and volunteer base. Fun fact: A world traveler since age 8, Lori Anne has an affinity for the sugar and spice of Indian food and loves to create tasty treats from her travels.

    Photo_Myan Dizon.jpg
    Myan Dizon
    Executive Assistant 

    Myan Dizon worked as the Corporate Communications Head of the Bank of Florida (City of Fernando) for a year. 

    Aside from her day job, she also works as a freelance copywriter and SEO specialist does a bit of photography, layout, and graphic design.  

    About The Institute Of Entrepreneurial Leadership

    The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), founded in 2002, is an independent, not‐for‐profit organization that supports economic development through entrepreneurship. We are experts in creating and implementing small business programming in support of larger economic development objectives. We envision a future with inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems in which people from historically marginalized populations have equal opportunity for success. In pursuit of this vision, our mission is to eradicate the systemic barriers that prevent people of color from being able to access the knowledge, networks, and capital required for entrepreneurial success and wealth creation. For More Information click here.

    Our three programmatic areas are as follows: