top of page
WS24 Main Banner_ 15.624 x 5.864   (3).png
WS24 Main Banner_ 15.624 x 5.864   (7).png

Meet The Speakers

There is no cost to attend.

Together...Opening Doors


Carnellia Ajasin

CEO, Futuryst, Inc.

Carnellia Ajasin, a dynamic serial entrepreneur, investor, and strategist, leads Futuryst, Inc., a tech innovation and sustainability venture studio. Her work focuses on developing and scaling tech-enabled products that advance business while championing sustainability. As CEO, Carnellia’s vision is to blend technology with a deep sense of purpose, aligning her company’s efforts with broader global sustainability goals. Her journey in the tech world is marked by significant roles in management consulting at renowned firms like Oracle, Ernst & Young, and Capgemini, and as a chief product officer for growth-stage startups globally. This diverse experience has equipped her with a unique perspective on technology innovation, particularly in developing humanity-centered products. Carnellia’s commitment extends beyond her company. She is an investor with Portfolia, a venture capital fund led by women, focusing on technology-driven companies that prioritize humanity and sustainability. Her leadership at Futuryst, Inc. has made her a prominent figure in emerging technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, IoT, and Blockchain, leveraging these tools to foster business strategies that are sustainable and innovative. With a career spanning various leadership roles and initiatives, Carnellia Ajasin stands out as a beacon of innovation, sustainability, and purpose-driven leadership in the technology sector.


James H. Bason

CEO of TruFund Financial Services

James H. Bason is an experienced financial executive with a history of providing comprehensive lending management and community development expertise. Currently President and CEO of TruFund Financial Services a 501(c)(3) National Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to help historically disadvantaged individuals and communities create thriving and resilient small businesses and entrepreneurial ecosystems in order to close racial and economic disparities and ensure an inclusive and equitable society.

Barbara Clark-2 (1).jpg

Barbara Clarke

Founder The Impact Seat Foundation

Barbara Clarke is the Founder and Board Chair of The Impact Seat Foundation. Launched in 2021, The Impact Seat Foundation strives to create a world in which women, particularly women of color, succeed as business leaders. Barbara’s vision of full stack philanthropy melds impact investing, advocacy and grantmaking to accelerate an expanded and equitable economy for all. As one of the top U.S. individual investors in women-led innovative tech startups, Barbara’s iconic investment strategy has inspired many others around the world. Currently, she serves on a variety of boards, including Founders First Capital Partners, an innovative revenue based financing firm formed to support diverse small businesses around the country. She is also a founding member of Astia Angels, who invest in impactful high-growth companies led by inclusive teams with women leaders. In addition, Barbara served as one of the founding members of the Portfolia, Inc Board of Directors. Portfolia is a venture fund focused on investing in the solutions women want in the world. In 2022, Barbara released her Amazon best-selling book, “Build Your Board, Build Your Business”. A polyglot, Barbara speaks five languages and splits her time between New England and Berlin.

Richard Edleman.png

Richard Edelman

CEO, Edelman

Richard Edelman is the CEO of Edelman, a global communications firm, and Chairman of Daniel J. Edelman Holdings, the firm’s holding company. Founded in 1952 by his father Dan, Edelman remains independent and family owned with more than 6,000 employees in 66 offices across 28 countries. Richard was named CEO in 1996 taking over for his father, who remained Chairman until he passed away in 2013. Now in his 26th year as CEO, Richard is one of the longest tenured agency leaders in the marketing services industry. During that time, he’s guided the firm’s entry into Digital, Creative, Performance Marketing and Advisory. Under Richard’s leadership, Edelman’s revenue increased 11.5 times enabling it to become the largest communications firm in the world surpassing $1 billion in revenue. DJE Holdings’ revenue increased 14 times during that same period making it the largest independent communications holding company. In 2022, Richard was inducted into the American Advertising Hall of Fame, the first PR executive to ever earn this honor. In 2019, Richard was named the PR Agency Professional of the Past 20 Years by PRWeek and was inducted into the publication’s Hall of Fame; in 2014, Richard was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society’s Hall of Fame; Advertising Age named him Agency Executive of the Year in 2008. Richard is regarded as an industry thought leader and has posted weekly to his blog since 2004.

IyaSokoya “Coach Iya” Karade.png

IyaSokoya Karade

Founder of the Athletic Arts Academy

Established in 2014, Coach Iya is the CEO & Founder of the Athletic Arts Academy NJ LLC, a fully equipped, Olympic-styled, 10,500 sq. ft. youth fitness center serving youth age 3+, beginner to advanced levels. Year-round training programs include gymnastics, skating, and dance instruction, and licensed summer camp. Due to the Covid 19 disaster, the A3 Gymnastics Child Care Center LLC was born in 2021. A3GCCC provides state licensed after-school/out-of-school care for school-aged children, age 6 thru 12. Both entities are NJ SBE/MWBE certified contract service providers.

Julia P.png

Julia Parker

Chief Lending and Impact Officer at Appalachian Community Capital

Julia J. Parker has worked in both the public and private sector in community development and impact investing. After stints working in the US Senate and with the City of Omaha, Julia started her nonprofit career at Building Bright Futures, a nonprofit incubator supporting organizations focused on educational outcomes for children experiencing the violence of poverty. Julia also served as Executive Director of Omaha Small Business Network (OSBN) a community development entity focused on microlending. She went on to start a nonprofit strategy consultancy, Park4029, through which she works with emerging loan funds such as Boston Ujima Project. Julia has a passion for investing in BIPOC entrepreneurs and business owners which she did as Director of Economic Development at Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation a Boston area CDFI. Julia previously served as Managing Director at The Crane Institute for Sustainability’s Intentional Endowments Network. Julia went on to serve as Senior Investments Manager at Connect Humanity, a nonprofit lender focused on digital equity. Julia currently serves as Chief Lending and Impact Officer at Appalachian Community Capital, a CDFI intermediary operating in 14 states. Julia holds a BA in Political Science and a BA in International Relations from Creighton University and a MS in Urban Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Julia has an MBA from Boston College Carroll School of Management.

Tuti S.png

Tuti Scott

Freedom School for Philanthropy

Tuti B. Scott is a gender avenger, class jumper and a servant leader who loves coaching high achievers. She advised dozens of feminists on their philanthropic journeys including Geena Davis, Julie Foudy, and Billie Jean King. Tuti has coached leaders in every sector, advised Women Moving Millions, and facilitated cohorts for the Women’s Funding Network. At the Women’s Sports Foundation, Tuti’s team raised $70 million for equal access to sports for women and girls. She served on the board of Tides for a decade with five years in Board leadership. Tuti is an Invest for Better partner, an Advisory Board member for Nia Impact Capital, on the grants committee for Heading for Change, and the producer of the Women&Money community. She has been an interim CEO twice, a certified fundraiser for 15 years, a strategist for multiple coalitions and networks, and wrote two guides on giving and investing with a gender lens. Currently, Tuti facilitates workshops on moving money with an equity and justice lens, with the Freedom School for Philanthropy being the gold medal standard. Tuti received a B.S. from Ithaca College and an M.S. from UMASS Amherst in Exercise Science.

Ann Shoket 2022 Official copy small.jpeg

Ann Shoket

CEO and Owner,

CEO. Media Brand Builder. Next Gen Expert. Author and past Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen magazine. With each achievement in her career, Ann Shoket used her platform to help women step into their power and to redefine ambition and success for a new generation. Shoket has made her mark launching or reimaging media brands including CosmoGIRL and Seventeen. Most recently, as CEO and Owner of, a nationwide community of high-impact women and under-represented leaders, Shoket is redefining the intersection of content and community. Shoket wrote a widely acclaimed book, The Big Life, which was hailed by The New York Times as “a guide for women in their 20s and 30s who are hungry for a job they love, a supportive network of friends, respect from their bosses and partners who want all those things for them as badly as they do.”Shoket is a speaker for corporations and conferences, including a popular TEDx Talk, “Why We Should All Be More Millennial.” She has been a consultant and a contributor for Good Morning America. She also appears regularly as an expert on TV, including Today, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, CNN, and she was a guest judge for four seasons on America’s Next Top Model. Forbes named Shoket one of the “10 Most Powerful US Fashion Magazine Editors.” Folio: awarded her the “Top Women in Media” honor.


LaToya Wilson

Managing Partner, Morgan Stanley

"LaToya Wilson is a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, Americas Head of the Inclusive Ventures Group and Co-head of the Inclusive Ventures Lab where she leads the team’s efforts on developing and executing commercial opportunities and strategies to achieve and maintain market with underrepresented entrepreneurs. LaToya is responsible for creating and overseeing the multi-award-winning podcast, Access & Opportunity in addition to other thought leadership on the inclusive investing landscape for entrepreneurs.

Jose Alfaro

Jose Alfaro

Managing Director, CO.STARTERS

Jose is the Managing Director of CO.STARTERS at FINSYNC, where he works to build strong and sustainable business models to support CO.STARTERS work at scale. He is an experienced entrepreneur and leader who has successfully scaled many small businesses. Jose loves to use creative approaches to help individuals and communities thrive through entrepreneurship.


Allison Byers

Founder & CEO, Scroobious

Allison Byers is the Founder & CEO of Scroobious, a scalable, algorithmic platform connecting founders and investors through education and personalized curation, with a mission to enhance diversity in the startup ecosystem. Before founding Scroobious she launched and co-ran a medical device company spun out of MIT where she raised nearly $10M before it was acquired. With over a decade in startup and tech roles, Allison is also an activist (California Senate Bill 54, MA Senate Bill 978/House Bill 1708), angel investor, startup mentor, speaker, All Raise Boston Co-Chair, and Merck Digital Sciences Studio Executive in Residence.


Michelle Dalzon

Founder, Katapulte

As the descendant of small business owners, Michelle envisions a world where small businesses THRIVE. She had the pleasure of watching her parents run a successful business with limited resources/exposure and still rise. She has spent 8 years in corporate america at major media companies such as Time Inc., Turner Broadcasting, and Viacom within the marketing/advertising space. Michelle has created the Black -Owned Market and now Katapulte as a way to provide BIPOC businesses with equitable access to capital.

Dr. Sanna Gaspard

Sanna Gaspard

Founder, Rubitection

Dr. Gaspard is the CEO and founder of Rubitection, a health tech company developing an assessment and care management platform for chronic wounds and dermatological conditions to support early detection to save lives and reduce costs. As CEO she oversees business strategy, partnership development, fundraising, product development, and marketing. She is also the inventor of the technology. Her vision is to make Rubitection’s solution the go to skin wellness tool to empower anyone to assess and manage a skin condition to personalize care. Her awards include 22’ Richard King Mellon Foundation Social Impact Award recipient, 21’ CTIP Innovation Award, 20’ Luminate Accelerator Award recipient and ’19 AnitaB PitcHer winner. Her PhD in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in medical device development from Carnegie Mellon University makes her equipped to lead Rubitection to global success.

Lorrie King

Lorrie King

Co-Founder, Caire Beauty

Lorrie is a proven expert in uncovering the unique essence of a brand, a celebrity or a product innovation & creatively bringing its distinct traits to life through up to the minute strategy & marketing. As a Co-Founder of Caire Beauty, a skincare brand specifically designed to enhance skin health & skin cell generation for women over 40 undergoing hormone decline & menopause, she is able to tap into her core belief that aging is a process that we should all embrace & live confidently in. Lorrie is a beauty industry veteran who previously, was President of SiO Beauty, a skincare startup, CMO at Boots US & has provided strategic leadership in licensing translated celebrity brands such as Halle Berry, Celine Dion & Elizabeth Taylor into beauty powerhouses. Lorrie brings management, marketing & product expertise across all beauty categories including haircare (John Frieda), men’s grooming (King of Shaves), color/healthy living supplements (Boots London) & skincare (SiO Beauty, Boots No 7 & Botanics) to bear on behalf of CAIRE.

Nitin R.png

Nitin Rai

Founder and Managing Partner

of Elevate Capital

Nitin Rai is a highly successful software technology leader, and entrepreneur turned Venture Capitalist. Nitin is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elevate Capital. Elevate Capital is the nation’s first institutional venture capital fund that specifically targets investments in underrepresented entrepreneurs, such as women and BIPOCs, or those with limited regional access to capital and opportunities. Nitin started his career in Silicon Valley as an engineer at two startups. In 1994, he founded First Insight Corporation, a successful electronic health records (EHR), practice management, and ophthalmic image management software company, and a revenue cycle management/billing service (Fast Pay Health) for eye care professionals. The company is based in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Pune, India. First Insight is a leader in the optometry, ophthalmology, and optical software industry with its flagship software, MaximEyes.

Naza Headshot_edited.jpg

Naza Shelley

Founder & CEO, CarpeDM

Naza Shelley is a multifaceted attorney, founder, and CEO with a passion for connecting people through innovative technology. Naza left her legal career to create a solution to the challenges professional Black women face finding love online. With her vision and execution, her team launched CarpeDM, a first of its kind dating app and matchmaking service powered by a patented video-based matching process. Her penchant for creative problem-solving and technical and business acumen led to her receiving two utility patents and multiple industry awards, including Startup of the Year. Naza is also an experienced fundraiser, joining the less than 1% of all Black women-founded companies to raise over $1 million institutional capital. Naza has been featured in Essence, The Grio, Black Enterprise, and Inc Magazine.

Jessica S.png

Jessica Spaulding

Founder, Harlem Chocolate Factory

Jessica Spaulding is a lifelong Harlem resident, chocolate lover, entrepreneur, and mother. She founded Harlem Chocolate Factory after winning the grand prize in The New York Public Library’s business plan competition. Since then, she opened a famed retail store and production kitchen in the Historic Strivers’ Row district of Harlem in 2018 to rave reviews. She has garnered over 1.5 billion impressions across all media. With her ingenuity, Harlem Chocolate Factory was selected as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. While Jessica works to scale her business, she sits on the board for the Current Project, a non-profit supporting single black mothers’ transition from surviving to thriving. She also consults for entities looking to support CPG entrepreneurs in mentorships and creating programs and educational content."

Yolanda Barton

Yolanda A. Barton

Founder, Revere XR

Yolanda A. Barton is a trailblazer in immersive storytelling; she's a venerated expert and the pioneering founder of Revere XR. Using cutting-edge Extended Reality (XR), virtual, augmented, mixed reality, and Artificial Intelligence to recreate history and bring it to life through XR Preservation. She's transforming the way we engage, interact, & experience history, melding rich history and heritage of the past with future technologies. She holds double Masters degree from the University of Washington. She is the most recent winner of Oculus Launchpad, named among the Top 100 Women of The Future as an XR evangelist, a -finalist for Pharrell’s Black Ambition Award, & honored by various foundations. Yolanda's captivating speaking style has made her not only a sought-after speaker for Fortune 500 giants but also a highly coveted consultant.. As she continues to shatter the glass ceiling and recalibrate the limits of what technology can achieve, Yolanda sets the course for a future where the digital and physical worlds converge in the most transformative, inclusive ways imaginable. Yolanda A. Barton's leadership stands as a testament to her ability to inspire, innovate, and uplift, creating transformative experiences for generations to come.

Scott C.png

Scott Case

Founder, Zettawatts

Scott is the founder of Zettawatts which is focused on making clean energy as affordable and available as the internet. He began his career as founding CTO of, where he built the digital marketplace platform that transformed the travel industry. From there, he went on to serve in leadership roles for ambitious, mission-driven organizations such as Malaria No More, UP Global, and Startup America Partnership. Most recently, Scott was co-founder and CEO of Upside Business Travel. Scott is currently Chair of Network for Good, a national nonprofit that provides donation processing and distribution of over $500M each year to hundreds of thousands of U.S. charities. Forever focused on identifying the intersection of technology and the customer experience, Scott continues to share his experience with startups in hopes that he can inspire future generations of business leaders who will change the world.

Screen Shot 2024-01-25 at 10.48.44 AM.png

Marcia Dawood

Early Stage Investor

Marcia Dawood is an early-stage investor who serves on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee, a venture partner with Mindshift Capital, a member of Golden Seeds, and the Chair Emeritus of the Angel Capital Association (ACA), a global professional society for angel investors. TEDx speaker and the host of The Angel Next Door Podcast.Her upcoming book, Do Good While Doing Well – Invest for Change, Reap Financial Rewards and Increase Your Happiness, is due out in 2024. She is also an Associate Producer on the award-winning documentary film Show Her The Money, which debuted at the Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia in September of 2023. She is a founding member and chair of the ACA’s Growing Women’s Capital Group, which is building syndication and collaboration among US investment groups focused on women-led companies.


Maurice Holloman

Co-Founder, Achievement Growth Partners

Former Executive Vice President at IMRIS - Deerfield Imaging. Global operations leadership experience at several Fortune 100 companies. Co-Founder of Achievement Growth Partners, an investment group that focuses on start-ups with products and services driven by new-market disruptive and hybrid disruptive technology. Our mission is to invest in and grow start-ups through pragmatic relationship building, strategic planning, and diverse management. We invest capital as well as our combined skills, knowledge, and expertise in operating, growing, and scaling businesses.

Brian N.png

Brian Nagendra

Associate Director, Spring Point Partners


Brian Rajan Nagendra has 20 years’ experience in community development finance and community economic development. He is the Associate Director of Impact Investments at Spring Point Partners. He worked previously at Living Cities Catalyst Impact Fund, City First Enterprises Impact Investing Fund, the Community Builders, and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Center Urban Markets Initiative. Brian serves as the Treasurer on the board of directors for Wacif, a nonprofit community loan fund supporting small businesses based in Washington, D.C; on the board of Working Solutions, a small business lender in the SF Bay area; and the investment committee of the Barra Foundation. Brian has a BA in Public Policy from Brown University and an MBA from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business with a focus on real estate, finance and community development.


Tynesia Boyea-Robinson

President and CEO of CapEQ™

As an entrepreneur, Six Sigma blackbelt, and technologist, Tynesia helps businesses achieve their true potential through social impact. She has been religiously leading and writing about enterprises that “do well and do good” for over a decade. As President and CEO of CapEQ™, which she founded in 2011, she demonstrated how business and community goals can align towards mutual outcomes, helping Fortune 500 clients like the Carlyle Group, Marriott, and others change the way the world does business. In her previous role as Chief Impact Officer of Living Cities, Tynesia was responsible for ensuring $100M of investment produced outcomes that improved the lives of people across the country.

Shetti, Madhu

Dr. Madhu Shetti

Founder, Balmere

Dr. Madhu Shetti is a Bay Area Oncologist, 3x founder and Stanford GSB alum. Seeing the painful Shingles like rashes her patients experienced during and after cancer treatment inspired her to found Balmere. In 18 months, her WOC led team developed, manufactured in the USA and sold patent-pending skincare products to relieve suffering for millions of people. No prescription required. No FDA clearance required. FSA/HSA approved.

Screen Shot 2024-01-25 at 10.50.14 AM.png

Barbara Sullivan

Managing Partner, Sullivan

Barbara Apple Sullivan is the Managing Partner of Sullivan, a brand engagement firm she founded in 1990. The firm helps world class companies and non-profits leverage brand to improve business outcomes by communicating more effectively across digital and other touch points. Prior to Sullivan, Barbara served in marketing roles for several global companies. Barbara has an MBA from Harvard Business School and BS degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she majored in marketing and management of entrepreneurship.During her free time, Barbara is an avid golfer, paddle boarder and Sudoku addict.

bottom of page