2019 Speakers


Amy Castelli
Founder and President of Castelli Media Group

8:45-9:00 a.m. | Welcome and Emcee

Amy Castelli is founder and President of Castelli Media Group, a public relations firm that has created successful media campaigns and propelled many notable Ohio businesses to optimum media visibility. Amy has earned the respect of local and national media outlets where she has created unique opportunities for clients. Her creation of live coverage campaigns, compelling media interviews and event visibility, has offered clients positive public action, boosted image and increased revenue/donations.

With over 30 years’ experience both as an award-winning television broadcaster and a public relations executive, Amy has secured hundreds of exposure-enhancing media stories and has led businesses and corporations through crises as she has mitigated situations with her expert messaging and media contacts.

Amy is currently co-host of The Weekly Pulse television show on WKYC-TV, a show dedicated to health and wellness with a focus on women.

Jane Campbell
Mayor of Cleveland 2001-5

9:00-10:00 a.m. | Opportunity Zones and Investments for Female Entrepreneurs

Jane Campbell, the first and to date only woman to serve as Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio is now the President and CEO of the US Capitol Historical Society, the congressionally chartered non-profit dedicated to sharing the stories of the work inside the US Capitol and the art and architecture of the US Capitol. She also serves as Senior Advisor at both Public Private Strategies and the International Economic Development Council, the country’s largest organization of economic development professionals. She advises communities and foundations on Opportunity Zone investment strategy. Campbell serves on the Board of the Lincoln Land Policy Institute, the Faith and Politics Institute, and the Association for Enterprise Opportunities. She is also on the Steering Committee for the National Democratic Institute’s effort to support women Mayors around the globe.

Barbara J. Smith
Senior Vice President, Director of Key4Women at KeyBank

9:00-10:00 a.m. | Opportunity Zones and Investments for Female Entrepreneurs

Barbara J. Smith (Barb) is the Senior Vice President and Director of Key4Women, a nationwide community of entrepreneurial and executive business women. Barb also serves as the co-chair of the Key Women’s Network, which cultivates a work environment that engages, empowers and inspires employees to achieve their full leadership potential.

Barb has held a variety of senior management roles and Key and at Bank One Akron, NA (now Chase). She serves on the National Board of the Alumni Association for Kent State, the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Greater Cleveland, and is the Co-Chair for the Cleveland Chapter of Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD). Barb has held several elected positions in Solon and was VP & Treasurer for the Cleveland Better Business Bureau.

Nathalie Molina Niño
Investor, Author, Serial Entrepreneur

10:00-11:00 a.m. (Q&A from 10:45-11:00 a.m.) | MORNING KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Nathalie Molina Niño is the author of LEAPFROG, The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs (Penguin Random House, Tarcher Perigee) and an impact investor targeting high-growth businesses that benefit women and the planet. A confessed but recovering serial entrepreneur, Molina Niño launched her first tech startup at the age of twenty. She's the cofounder of [email protected] at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies of Barnard College at Columbia University. Before that, she spent over a decade sharing her opinionated flavor of business advice and growth strategy with organizations like Disney, Microsoft, MTV, Mattel, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Just prior to launching her last venture, BRAVA Investments, Molina Niño led the launch of Nely Galán’s New York Times bestselling book and online education venture, Self-Made, and stepped in as CRO of PowerToFly, the fastest growing hiring platform for women in tech and beyond.

Sheila A. Mixon
Executive Director at Women’s Business Enterprise Council Ohio River Valley (WBEC ORV)

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION I: WBENC Certification: Looking for a way to promote your company to major corporations that are actively seeking to conduct business with a woman/women owned business(es)? Find out how during this session

Sheila A. Mixon is Senior Vice President of the Business Development & Entrepreneurship Department for the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio (ULGSO) where she provides vision, leadership, organizational governance and strategic direction for the department. The Department programs include the SBDC (Small Business Development Center), the Economic Empowerment Center (AABDP) and WBEC ORV(Women’s Business Enterprise Council Ohio River Valley), where she serves as its Executive Director. WBEC ORV is a certifying entity for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Ms. Mixon has 41 years in business development experience; the financial services industry and not-for-profit organizations. During her time with ULGSO she has garnered many awards and recognition for her work with small business owners.

Gabrielle Christman
Founder & CEO of Hunter International Recruiting

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION I: WBENC Certification: Looking for a way to promote your company to major corporations that are actively seeking to conduct business with a woman/women owned business(es)? Find out how during this session

Gabrielle Christman is Founder and CEO of Hunter International, a national STEM focused recruiting firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. A certified WBE since 2008, Gabrielle represents ORV on WBENC Forum and is currently ORV Cleveland Forum Luncheon Co-Chair. Gabrielle has been recognized by ORV for her continued commitment to women’s access to opportunities within Hunter’s supply chain and within the community. Gabrielle’s passionate about increasing access to STEM role models for co-founder of SPARK Cleveland a non-profit focused on providing role models to girls in STEM.

Angela Morrow
LubriSource, Inc., President

11:00-11:45 a.m.| BREAK OUT SESSION I: WBENC Certification: Looking for a way to promote your company to major corporations that are actively seeking to conduct business with a woman/women owned business(es)? Find out how during this session

Angela Morrow is the President of LubriSource, Inc. With a passion for process improvement, Angela partners with leading suppliers and manufactures across multiple industries from steel, automotive, paper, aerospace and more to improve machinery reliability and up-time through automated lubrication systems. As recent graduate of the ORV-BDP / P&G program, Angela believes in sharing best practices and empowering others to reach dreams and goals. “One book I’d recommend is Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman. This book has help me to overcome doubts and to look at my skills and strengths through a difference lens.” Residing in Cincinnati, Angela enjoys family game night with her two daughters and sitting by the firepit with her husband.

Joe McClain
Director, Supplier Diversity for Eaton Corporation

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION I: WBENC Certification: Looking for a way to promote your company to major corporations that are actively seeking to conduct business with a woman/women owned business(es)? Find out how during this session

Pathricio (Joe) McClain is the director, supplier diversity for Eaton Corporation. Joe leads the supplier diversity initiative by working to develop minority, woman and veteran-owned business enterprises as well as small businesses, serving on local diversity purchasing committees, and integrating diversity efforts within Eaton’s business operations. Eaton’s award-winning supplier diversity program seeks to establish strategic relationships with diverse vendors that provide world-class service and products. Joe holds an Associate Degree in Industrial Engineering Technology from Gaston College in Dallas, NC and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC. McClain, a US Army Gulf War veteran, began his career at Eaton’s Kings Mountain operations plant in North Carolina, where he held numerous positions throughout the operations including positions as project coordinator, production team leader, lean manufacturing coordinator and production supervisor. His most recent assignment was manager of environmental, health and safety. He is also a 2017 LeadDiversity alum and serves on the board of directors for the Ohio Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Josiah’s House, Inc., and the Ohio River Valley Women’s Business Council.

Janet Kendall White
Founder & CEO Berkshire Group, Inc.

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION I: WBENC Certification: Looking for a way to promote your company to major corporations that are actively seeking to conduct business with a woman/women owned business(es)? Find out how during this session

Janet Kendall White is founder and President of Berkshire Group, Inc., a WOSB, WBENC certified Ohio based national consulting firm that provides a full range of organization development services including strategic planning, process and profit improvement; training and development; executive coaching, and facilitation. Over the past 25 years Berkshire Group has developed a framework for organization change and organic growth which they have successfully implemented in a broad range of settings including Manufacturing, Information Systems, Biotech, Human Resources, Financial Services and Health Care as well as various types of non-profit institutions.

Deborah Spake
Dean, College of Business Administration at Kent State University

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION II: Top 10 Strategies to Improve Revenue and Profitability – an Interactive Workshop
Deborah Spake, Ph.D. is Dean of the College of Business Administration at Kent State University. She previously served as associate dean and professor of marketing at the University of South Alabama’s Mitchell College of Business and on the faculties of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Western Michigan University, and as a visiting professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Worms, Germany. She currently serves as President of the MidAmerican Business Deans Association. Prior to an academic career, she worked as the Marketing Research Director of a publishing company and, later, for consulting firms specializing in marketing research and strategic planning.

Tiffany Rankin, CPA
Shareholder, Maloney + Novotny

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION II: Top 10 Strategies to Improve Revenue and Profitability – an Interactive Workshop

Tiffany joined Maloney + Novotny (formerly Wolf, Rogers, and Dickey) in 2004. She was elected shareholder in 2019 and is focused in the firm’s tax practice area. Prior to joining M+N, Tiffany spent several years with a national accounting firm in their tax department. Tiffany has spent the majority of her career working in tax-related matters, including research and tax planning, pass-through entity taxation, sales and use tax, and tax controversy. She has serviced clients in the real estate, construction, manufacturing, professional service and entertainment fields, along with high net-worth individuals. In addition, she spends time dealing in sales and use tax matters for the firm’s clients. Tiffany has experience representing clients before IRS and state taxing authorities. In addition to servicing her clients, Tiffany has also represented tax-related topics to various organizations and groups. She believes that education is one of the keys to a successful business relationship, and is committed to this when servicing her clients, as well as working within the community. Tiffany graduated from The Ohio State University in 2000 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting. She is a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs, current Treasurer of the Delaware County Cultural Arts Center, Past President and Treasurer of the Young Professionals Board of the Ronald McDonald House, and past board member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.

Cyndie Schepis
Executive Vice President, Gallagher Benefit Services Inc.

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION II: Top 10 Strategies to Improve Revenue and Profitability – an Interactive Workshop

Cyndie Schepis is an accomplished health care consultant with 30 years of experience. Her background includes account management with insurance carriers like ChoiceCare and CIGNA Healthcare, where she was exposed to the carrier side of the healthcare business managing clients with 200 to 5,000 employees. She has worked as a consultant for the past 15 years. With a passion for compliance, regulations affecting the health care field, employee engagement and cost effective healthcare strategies, she brings a wealth of knowledge to our team. Her outside the box ideas bring a fresh perspective to every meeting she attends.

Cyndie currently oversees the Cincinnati Office providing strategic direction and leadership. She is also a member of Ohio’s Innovation Unit specializing in new advancements in the marketplace. In addition, she oversees Public Sector and Healthcare for the State of Ohio.

Anne Richie
Venture Partner,
JumpStart, Inc.

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION III: The Entrepreneurs Effective Transition!

As a Venture Partner, Anne coaches JumpStart’s scale up clients on preparing and executing growth plans. She has an extensive background in finance and banking with the unique experience of working with distressed businesses. She is very resourceful and collaborative and approaches growth opportunities with tactical, creative, innovative strategies. Prior to JumpStart, Anne was the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Restructuring Officer for a private equity-owned jet engine parts manufacturer. Previous to that she enjoyed a long career in banking, rising from Loan Officer with the Bank of Boston to senior positions with Citicorp, Wells Fargo and Keybank where she was responsible for managing portfolios of underperforming commercial loans. Anne holds a BA in Economics from Smith College and an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Michael Ella
Value Advisor, Key Private Bank

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION III: The Entrepreneurs Effective Transition!

Michael Ella is a value advisor in KeyBank’s Family Wealth Group. He focuses on business transition planning, mergers and acquisition and value creation needs of his clients. Mike focuses on tax optimization, business value optimization and strategic option analysis for his clients. He has over 10 years experience in professional accounting and has worked with high net worth individuals, business owners, and corporate executives. Prior to joining Key, Mike worked for a Big 4 company as well as regional public accounting firms which has provided him with a wealth of international experience. A highly experienced professional, Michael starts by ensuring he has a clear picture of your personal and business situation, current needs, and objectives. Working closely with a team of Key Private Bank experts, he then helps develop personalized, comprehensive solutions to meet your goals and objectives. Michael Ella is a Director in Key’s National Family Wealth Consulting Group. The group is comprised of tax attorneys and CPAs who work with high net worth clients and business owners helping them with designing and implementing sophisticated wealth strategies. These strategies include tax planning, alternative risk management practices, philanthropy, asset protection, developing systems to maximize business value, education around the mergers and acquisition process and transition planning. Michael holds a BA in Accounting from Mercyhurst University. He is a CEPA, CPA and CA and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Exit Planning Institute. He is an avid speaker and writer and has been a featured speaker at industry conferences, as well as published in numerous industry publications.

Dana G. Hastings
Luma Wealth Advisor

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION III: The Entrepreneurs Effective Transition!

Dana Hastings joined the firm in 2018 and brings more than 34 years of wealth management experience to Luma Wealth Advisors. Dana is a dynamic and highly qualified financial planning and investment professional with extensive experience working with healthcare professionals and business owners. Dana’s loyalty and passion for her work plays into the meaningful, long term relationships she holds with clients. She has an MBA from Baldwin Wallace College and a B.A. in Finance and Psychology from Mount Union College. She earned her Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation and a Masters of Science in Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning. She is a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA), and she also holds a Chartered Financial Consultant and a Retirement Income Certified Professional designation. She is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland, as well as the Financial Planning Association of North East Ohio. She is a Trustee of Fill This House, a faith-Based nonprofit organization, helping youth who are aging out of foster care. She is on the Advisory Board for BayArts, an art educationcampus and gallery for local artists in Bay Village, Ohio. Dana lives in Bay Village and has three grown children. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, hiking, skiing and sailing.

Cheryl Strom
Principal, Origination, The Riverside Company

11:00-11:45 a.m. | BREAK OUT SESSION III: The Entrepreneurs Effective Transition!

Cheryl Strom originates investments for The Riverside Company, a global private equity firm with $8 billion in assets under management across many fund strategies, including several dedicated to very small businesses. Riverside is an excellent partner to entrepreneurs who wish to remain active in their business and share in ownership with an experienced equity partner. Cheryl finds businesses seeking an investor or buyer, evaluates the match with Riverside’s investment criteria and engages a Riverside team to pursue the most viable investments. Before joining Riverside in 2006, Cheryl’s work experience included corporate banking and public relations. Cheryl earned her MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and BA from John Carroll University.

Shelley Pippin
Brewnuts, Co-Owner

12:15-1:15 p.m| Lunch Presenter: Hear from some of the best dessert makers in NEO
Brewnuts is the lovechild of two Clevelanders - Shelley & John Pippin - who gave up their jobs working for "The Man" to pursue their three favorite things: donuts, beer and Cleveland. Long story short, one night Shelley bolted up in bed and asked John what he thought about the idea of making craft beer based donuts. After a long pause he said "I like that." The next day the twosome went out and bought a counter top fryer and got busy hatching their plan to make Cleveland's most unique and delicious donuts. From this exploration, Shelley & John created Brewnuts, the country's first Donut Bar serving craft-beer based donuts. Love donuts? Love beer? Love Cleveland? Put it all together and you’ve got Brewnuts.

Kelsey Smith
Owner, Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes

12:15-1:15 p.m. | Lunch presenter: Hear from some of the best dessert makers in NEO

For nearly 20 years, Kelsey has been baking and decorarating beautiful sweets, but it was in 2012 that Kelsey's love became more than a hobby. After receiving many orders from family and friends, she decided that Cleveland needed a beautiful sweets and party boutique that made treats as delicious as mom used to make, and as pretty as all the sweets she admired in Paris and London, as well as offered a full range of cute party supplies! Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes is the natural extension of her passion, and allows her to utilize her artistic abilities to make special occasions all the more memorable.

Loretta Paganini
Founder, Loretta Paganini School of Cooking, Inc

12:15-1:15 p.m. | Lunch Presenter: Hear from some of the best dessert makers in NEO

The American Culinary Chef Federation awarded Loretta the prestigious 2007 “Educator of the year award” and in 2016 “Lifetime Achievement Award”. In 2007 she won in New York State the first “Tri State Premier Chef Competition” representing the State of Ohio. In 2000 and 2007, the Cleveland Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners honored Loretta as one of the Top Ten Women Business Owners of Northeast Ohio. She is also featured on television commercials for Dean’s Supply Company and Miceli’s Cheese and in 2005 won “Best Tasting Commercial” by Scene magazine. Since 1989 Loretta Paganini has been offering several successful Gastronomic tours of the food and wine of Italy and bringing people from all over the USA for a once in a lifetime experience throughout different regions of Italy, the French Riviera and Croatia.

Denise Carkhuff
Partner, Jones Day
Founder, Adrenaline Monkey

1:15-2:15 p.m. | Are you a necessity or opportunity entrepreneur? Hear stories from five female entrepreneurs and we’ll let you (the audience) decide

Denise has spent the last twenty-three years (thirteen of which as partner) at the global law firm, Jones Day, acting as the principal outside lawyer on a multitude of M&A and private equity transactions. Her experience covers a wide range of matters in a variety of industries and deal structures. Denise has worked on all aspects of the full life cycle of a company, from incorporation to liquidity event or dissolution. While the main focus of Denise's practice has been the representation of private equity funds, she also has served in a general counsel function for countless private companies. After helping clients with their businesses for the last twenty-three years, she decided to invest in her own business, Adrenaline Monkey, a family adventure and training center dedicated to empowering guests of all ages, sizes and abilities through fun and physical challenges. She sits on the board of Breakthrough Charter Schools, urban charter schools with the mission of giving every scholar a chance to go to college. For over a dozen years, Denise led Women In Transactions, a networking group for women doing transactional work, which currently sits under the ACG umbrella. She co-leads RRAIN, a women’s group for the Cleveland Jones Day women lawyers. She is a member of In Counsel With Women. She was selected to be a “Wise Woman” as part of Deloitte’s Wise Women leadership program. Denise was a member of the 2018 Leadership Cleveland class.

Covesa K. Gragg
Entrepreneur/Event Planner/Speaker and Author
Owner, Covesa Kelly Events

1:15-2:15 p.m. | Are you a necessity or opportunity entrepreneur? Hear stories from five female entrepreneurs and we’ll let you (the audience) decide

Covesa started her career in event planning over ten years ago in the banking industry by leading and teaching home buyer instructional classes. The attendees in the class recognized her energy and passion which fueled her to become more hands on in planning the material, scheduling, and logistics for the classes. Covesa was able to use some of this training for her own wedding in 2007 which impressed her family and friends and started the ball rolling for her own event planning business. Covesa’s inviting nature and friendly personality, along with an ambitious attitude is what continues to set her apart from others in her field. These qualities along with her financial background in budgeting and attention to detail are making Covesa one of Northeast Ohio’s top picks for event planners. She is well known for utilizing her connections and experience to create top notch weddings which have stunning décor, and run from an organized timeline. Covesa has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and believes in participating in continued education opportunities to further her experience and growth in the event planning industry. Covesa’s passion for helping others is evident in the level of customer service that she requires of herself and her team by going above and beyond for their clients.

Constance Hill-Johnson, MPA
Managing Director, Visiting Angels Senior Homecare

1:15-2:15 p.m. | Are you a necessity or opportunity entrepreneur? Hear stories from five female entrepreneurs and we’ll let you (the audience) decide

Constance Hill-Johnson is the Owner and Managing Director of Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services in Cleveland Ohio. Visiting Angels is an in-home service provider assisting the elderly and older adult to live as independently as possible by remaining safely in their own familiar home environment. Ms. Hill-Johnson started her business in 2002, and now in its 17th year, has successfully served hundreds of seniors throughout the greater Cleveland area and surrounding communities. Her professional background includes over 10-years of senior health care management experience in a variety of health care settings. She is regarded as a both a dynamic motivational leader and speaker who shares with audiences her entrepreneurial journey which began in her early 40’s, in addition to her recent journey as an adult caregiver to a mother with dementia.

Valerie Mayen
Founder, Yellow Cake Shop, Fashion Designer

1:15-2:15 p.m. | Are you a necessity or opportunity entrepreneur? Hear stories from five female entrepreneurs and we’ll let you (the audience) decide

Valerie is originally from Corpus Christi Texas, she found her way to Cleveland by attending The Cleveland Institute of Art. Little did she know this would be the foundation of her new fashion career and family. Valerie landed a spot to compete against 17 other highly skilled Fashion Designers on Lifetime’s Project Runway series, Season 8, finishing among the top 7. She was then invited back to compete in Project Runway Allstars Season 5 to much success. Valerie’s experience with Project Runway further sharpened her superior sewing skills and keen eye for detail. Yellowcake Shop was born in 2009 and shortly after, it’s sister Hullabaloo became one of Cleveland’s latest and most talked-about fashion events. Valerie is dedicated to providing high quality clothing to others without the major environmental impacts other fast fashion clothing often causes, while finding creative ways to build up the community in Cleveland that supports her.

Kate Volzer
Co-Founder & CEO of Wisr

1:15-2:15 p.m. | Are you a necessity or opportunity entrepreneur? Hear stories from five female entrepreneurs and we’ll let you (the audience) decide

Kate Volzer is the co-founder and CEO of Wisr which is a venture-backed software startup in the higher education technology space. As a former first-generation college student, Kate is extremely passionate about improving educational outcomes for college students across the country. Kate is active in the Cleveland entrepreneurial scene Chairing the JumpStart Young Professional Advisory Council and serving on the DigitalC Fund Advisory Board. When Kate’s not helping others with their startups, she’s probably doing yoga, spending time on Lake Erie, playing with her dog, or enjoying a good conversation over a glass of wine. Kate was a member of the varsity volleyball team at the University of Chicago where she received her BA and MBA. She was born and raised in Hartville, OH but now resides in Rocky River.

Patrice Blakemore
Executive Director
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

2:15-3:15 p.m. | Intentional Networking Session

Patrice Blakemore is the interim business services director and a business advisor for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses in partnership with Cuyahoga Community College. This $500 million national business development initiative is a practical business management education program that helps entrepreneurs develop the skills they need to grow their company. She is also president of Blakemore Coaching where she enables women to elevate their performance, maximize their opportunity and increase their productivity. In 2009, Patrice decided to use her experience as an attorney to create workshops and coaching programs for women in male-dominated professions. She assists participants in increasing their confidence and productivity through goal setting and execution.

Claire Coder
Founder, Aunt Flow

3:30-4:15 p.m. | Claire Coder, Aunt Flow, Founder
Claire Coder is the founder and CEO of Aunt Flow. On a mission to ensure everyone has access to menstrual products, Aunt Flow stocks over 300 companies across the USA with their 100% organic cotton tampons and pads. Coder launched her first company at age 16, designed a bag for Vera Bradley that sold out in 24 hours, and has her own line of GIFs. The 22-year-old founder has been featured in TeenVogue, Forbes, and starred in TLC’s Girl Starter Season 1. When she is not jamming out to Macklemore, she is pretending like she knows how to run Google ads.