Marquis Allen brings 15+ years of business development experience in the technology consulting industry and currently serves in a national role as a Diversity and Inclusion Advocate for the Communications, Marketing, and Growth team at RSM. In addition to helping drive brand awareness for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives, he also leads business development training efforts for Employee Network Groups (ENG’s) at RSM.
Previously, Marquis was Director of Business Development for RSM’s Technology Consulting practice specializing in Business Applications overseeing the Southwestern part of the US. While in this role, he garnered several national honors including Top Sales Performer Over Target, Top Sales Performer for Total Revenue Attainment, and RSM “Future Maker.” In addition to this role, he also served as an ambassador for the African American and Canadian Excellence (AACE) and Hispanic Organization for Leadership Advancement (HOLA) employee network groups.
Before RSM, Marquis held account executive roles with OnX Enterprise solutions, MIG & Consultants, and iCIMS. As a Client Relationship Director at iCIMS, he managed a client portfolio that included several Fortune 100 companies in the consumer products and technology industries. During his tenure as Director, he managed a top-ranked sales team that maintained a 96%+ renewal rating and was a recipient of iCIMS annual “Not to Do” Innovation Award for developing the iCIMS Usage Analysis Report.
An avid supporter of developing others, Marquis has served in multiple mentorship roles in addition to serving in volunteer efforts such as: RSM Birdies Fore Love, Junior Achievement (SoCal), Olive Crest of Orange County, and The 100 Black Men of America – Orange County, where he was a former board member.
Marquis holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Labor and Industrial Relations from Rutgers University and a Certificate in General Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA).
Earl Buford joined the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) as president in April 2021 and oversees the national nonprofit organization’s work to align the industry, workforce, and high education sectors. He leads CAEL’s mission of providing solutions that improve education-to-career pathways for adult learners in collaboration with workforce and economic developers, post-secondary educators, employers, industry groups, foundations, and other mission-aligned groups. Before CAEL, Buford led Partner4Work, the leader of the public workforce system for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, as the Chief Executive Officer. He managed public, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds and private funds that revitalized the workforce system.
Buford also previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Employ Milwaukee, where he was nationally recognized for implementing and integrating a sector-based approach to workforce development. Employ Milwaukee provided employer engagement through Industry Advisory Boards and created Midwest Urban Strategies, a national consortium of urban workforce boards that built an innovative supply-demand model to cultivate talent development and employer engagement in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and with the U.S. Department of Labor. He was also the leader of one of the first intermediaries in the country, WRTP/BIG-STEP.
Buford is an active board member with several organizations, including the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Apprenticeships for America, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Catalyst Connection (a manufacturing extension partnership), Bridgeway Capital, Cleveland Federal Reserve (Pittsburgh Chapter), and Strada Education Network’s National Strategic Advisory Group focused on identifying opportunities to improve the benefits of education and training after high school. He is a former member of Vice President Joe Biden’s Task Force on Effective Workforce Strategies, the National Network of Sector Partners, the Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Minority Unemployment, and the National Skills Coalition Advisory Board, among many others. Buford graduated from the University of Wisconsin, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in History.
Cathy is Vice President of Impact Investing at Social Finance, where she leads our workforce partnerships financing—including the buildout of coalitions to envision and create impact; leadership oversight of fund development and deployment; and participation on the firm’s Leadership Team.
Prior to joining Social Finance, Cathy served as Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at edX, a non-profit online learning platform founded by MIT and Harvard University. There, Cathy focused on the organization’s international growth strategies, including globalization and internationalization via strategic institutional partnerships. She also led the evolution of edX’s new partnership business models, including experimentation. During Cathy’s tenure, edX’s strategic partnerships tripled to over 170 institutional partnerships worldwide with top-ranked universities, workforce development entities, and national governments spanning six continents across multiple sectors and industries.
Previously, Cathy served as the Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Director at Harvard University. At Harvard, Cathy was responsible for leading university-wide strategy development and execution efforts through a portfolio of large, complex, tech-enabled programs. Cathy also led the design, implementation, and oversight of the new governance and operating models for annual and long-term planning, risk management, and the university’s $40 million portfolio of technology-related capital investments.
Cathy began her career in healthcare and welfare reform public policy research at Harvard University. She also worked as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting’s Public Sector Strategy and Operations practice, dedicating her more than eight years at the firm to serving state and large municipal governmental and non-profit clients with their complex ‘modernization’ and transformation efforts. Cathy was selected by North American firm leadership to serve on the CEO’s Management Advisory Council, a nomination reserved for the top <1% of upper management for excellence in client service.
Dominique was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, and moved to Tulsa, OK in 2007 with her parents and 2 siblings. As a first-generation student, she attended college at Northeastern State University to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice /Legal studies and moved back to Tulsa in 2012 .
During her career in Tulsa, she started with Family & Children Services as a Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager providing services to those suffering from mental illness and homelessness, and then moved on to oversee operations in the Tulsa Workforce system for 5 years, focusing on community access to career services and employee development.
After Workforce, Dominique joined Tulsa Remote as a Community Manager in 2020 and now serves as the Director for Members and Alumni experience driving community initiatives for retention of new Tulsa’s and serving as a bridge to the broader community.
She is passionate about building genuine relationships with others and loves helping people meet their goals professionally or personally. She believes in treating people with the utmost respect and is always advocating for more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace cultures. She currently serves on the TYPROS Foundation board, is the Founder of the Black Tulsa Network Facebook group, and has been the founder of businesses based on her entrepreneurship background and passion for community building.
When she isn’t working, you can find her enjoying the outdoors, spending time with family and friends, being a hairstylist, binge-watching series, or traveling.
Ieesha McKinzie Collins is the Managing Director of ConnextMSP, GREATER MSP’s newest strategic initiative focused on ensuring young BIPOC professionals are recruited, hired, and supported by local employers as they enter the workforce.
Prior to joining GREATER MSP, Ieesha served as Managing Director of External Relations for Breakthrough Collaborative, a national education nonprofit based in Oakland, CA. Other career highlights include leading strategic communications for a large charter school network in Texas and working in brand marketing & communications at General Mills. Ieesha also served as the education grants portfolio manager for the General Mills Foundation and has volunteered on several nonprofit boards which align with her deep commitment to educational equity.
Ieesha is a proud first-generation college graduate who earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Hampton University, a master’s in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University, and a master’s in educational leadership from the Broad Center. As someone who values lifelong learning, Ieesha has participated in several leadership development programs including Teach For America, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and The Broad Residency in Urban Education. Outside of the office, Ieesha enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing scrabble, and hosting themed social gatherings for fun.
Tara Colton is Executive Vice President for Economic Security at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). In this role, she leads initiatives that align with Governor Phil Murphy’s commitment to a stronger, fairer New Jersey, where all residents can build economic security and well-being. Tara oversees NJEDA’s programs to alleviate food insecurity and eliminate food deserts, including the Food Desert Relief Act and Sustain & Serve NJ. She is also spearheading efforts to strengthen New Jersey’s vital child care sector and establish a Trenton-based maternal and infant health center with an emphasis on addressing racial disparities in care. She is playing a central role in the design and launch of the New Jersey Pay it Forward Program, a first-of-its-kind program that will provide interest- and fee-free loans to low‐income New Jersey career seekers participating in approved training programs.
Tara has nearly 20 years of leadership experience in the public and nonprofit sectors, focused on developing and implementing innovative programs and services for workers, families, students, and businesses. Prior to joining the NJEDA in 2020, Tara was Executive Director of Seedco, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing economic opportunity for people, businesses and communities in need. She has held leadership positions in the New York City Mayor’s Office and NYC Department of Education, and at the nonprofits FEGS Health & Human Services and the Center for an Urban Future.
Tara received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Wesleyan University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. She lives in Maplewood, NJ with her family.
Marshall E. Crawford, Jr., MPA
President & Chief Executive Officer
In 2017, Marshall joined The Housing Fund, a CDFI private nonprofit revolving loan fund located in Nashville, TN. As President & CEO, he carries the full range of responsibilities typically associated with such a position. Marshall’s leadership also ensures support for community building and housing development to residents to ensure the revitalization of communities.
Since returning to Nashville, Marshall has accumulated several accolades. In five conservative years, Marshall has been recognized as one of Nashville’s Most Admired CEOs by his peers and the Nashville Business Journal. In 2019, he was installed into the Tennessee Affordable Housing Coalition Hall of Fame for his efforts in affordable housing over the last 20 years. In 2018, he was featured on the cover of the Nashville Post BOOM! Magazine for establishing Nashville’s first community land trust model as a solution to addressing a growing affordable housing issue in the city.
Marshall currently serves as a member of several Board of Directors which includes the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs, and NashvilleHealth. Also, he is a committed member of the community development advisory committee for Truist Financial Partners.
Previously, he served as President of Housing and Multifamily Development for Community Ventures in Lexington, KY. Also, he spent 13 years at NeighborWorks America in various roles in the Southern Region located in Atlanta, GA. Before joining NeighborWorks, Marshall was a safety and soundness bank examiner for the Office of Thrift Supervision. His banking career started in a management training program for Third National Bank (eventually, SunTrust Bank) in Nashville, Tennessee.
After completing military service at Fort Knox in 1992, he attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, where he received a degree in finance. He completed a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In 2016, Marshall completed an Executive Leadership Certification at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
Mission: The Housing Fund provides resources and creative leadership to individuals and communities to create and maintain affordable and healthy places for low- and moderate-income people to live
Bramley Crisco, Director of Talent Development for Action Greensboro, has an extensive background in talent acquisition and development including more than twenty years in the private sector and five years leading employer relations for the Triad’s largest business school. In her current role, Bramley serves as the Director of Talent Development for Action Greensboro, a nationally recognized catalyst for public-private partnerships, serving at the intersection of government, education, nonprofit sector, entrepreneurial community, arts & culture and young professionals. Through Action Greensboro’s programs Campus Greensboro, synerG Young Professionals and Boomerang, Bramley strives to align the needs of employers and education and workforce development initiatives to attract, connect and develop the next generation of workforce. Her work focuses on professional development, innovative business partnerships, experiential learning engagements, and employment opportunities for students and young professionals in Greensboro.
Deborah leads the Anchor Economy initiative at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank. This high priority initiative explores the impact “eds and meds” have on their regional economies. Through research and practitioner partnerships, the Anchor Economy initiative advances the goal of creating equitable economic opportunity in communities.
Prior to joining the Federal Reserve in June 2021, Deborah led the nonprofit organization, Campus Philly, the national model for college student engagement and retention in cities. Deborah expanded Campus Philly’s partnerships, programs, and student retention impact and consulted with cities across the country on launching similar talent retention initiatives. She has led projects for Richmond, Rochester, Tulsa, Norfolk and Hartford, among others, helping those cities create programs to engage and retain their college students.
With her co-founder, Cecelia Thompson from Action Greensboro, Deborah created Young Smart and Local, a national learning network of more than 50 cities that share best practices, build connection and improve strategies for talent cultivation and retention in cities.
Deborah started her career as an academic, receiving her PhD in political science from the University of Chicago, followed by a Mellon Post-Doctoral fellowship in the Society of Fellows at Columbia University and teaching at Bryn Mawr College, where she received her undergraduate degree. The focus of her academic work was in political philosophy, specifically on the question of how much we need to have in common in order to tolerate our differences.
Cory Dulaney is an educator dedicated to ensuring students have the tools, information, and support they need to fulfill their purpose and uplift their communities.
Moving from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia in 2012, Cory attended graduate school at Temple University where his focus was Afrocentric Education. His work centers on Black male achievement in post-secondary school education and has worked in higher education for over ten years.
In his current job as Assistant Director at the Center for Male Engagement (Community College of Philadelphia), Cory’s role is to provide culturally informed programming, resources, and tools to Black men at the Community College, both cognitive and non-cognitive.
Moreover, he has the privilege of serving on the Board of Trustees for two non-profits. Tree House Books – a literacy non-profit that is on a mission to grow and sustain a community of readers, writers, and thinkers, and Philadelphia Outward Bound School – an outdoor educational non-profit that challenges students through active learning expeditions that inspire character development, self-discovery and service both in and out of the classroom.
His goal is to create a safe space for students of all ages and backgrounds to cultivate their passions and skills, enhance them, and then attach them to the greater purpose of helping their community thrive.
Taylor Dunne is the first ever Director of Talent Initiatives for nonprofit San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC). As the first person to fill the role for the organization, Taylor has spent more than three years building out EDC’s position in the region’s talent and workforce landscape. Taylor and her team work with and through San Diego County’s largest employers, education institutions, and the partner organizations to lead Advancing San Diego, a collaborative effort that aims to strengthen and diversify the talent pipeline and improve access to quality jobs for San Diegans. Taylor also serves as a Talent Pipeline Management® (TPM®) Fellow for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, providing guidance on the continual expansion of the TPM initiative.
At the start of her career, Taylor served on the operations and marketing teams with EDC and as a Research Assistant at Syracuse University. Taylor was born and raised in East County San Diego and returned home after receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations from Syracuse University. Ms. Dunne serves on the Workforce Development Council, San Diego Community College Corporate Council, and the CSU San Marcos University Council.
In her free time, Taylor enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors with her family and friends or relaxing at home on her family’s ranch.
Patience is Vice President, Brand & Digital Strategy at DCI, where she specializes in bringing destination brands to life in digital spaces. She has spearheaded more than a dozen economic development, tourism and talent attraction brands and websites designed to drive leads, visitation and relocation. Patience also serves as co-chair of DCI’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiative.
Kevin Ferguson serves as vice president of external affairs for New Orleans & Company, where he is responsible for membership strategies, community partnerships, community engagement and interfacing with cultural entities across the region.
Ferguson worked for the New Orleans Pelicans and New Orleans Saints for more than a decade as new business development executive, service and retention account executive and senior manager of premium accounts. Earlier in his career, he served as group sales account executive with the New Orleans Zephyrs and worked in restaurant management. Through his various positions in the sports industry, he has led the charge in business development, retention strategies and sales initiatives. He managed an account base of more than $6 million in sales annually with the Pelicans and the Saints franchises.
Ferguson is also involved in multiple community organizations such as the Young Leadership Council, GNO Inc. NextGen Council, ADL Glass Leadership Institute and the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation.
Mike Gadsby is the Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at O3, a CX consultancy located in Philadelphia. Founded in 2005, O3 helps enterprise organizations discover and develop cohesive and remarkable experiences across their entire customer journey. As a CX consultant and experience strategist, Gadsby brings over 20 years of experience advising everyone from startups to Fortune 500 brands, including Comcast, Vanguard, American Family Insurance, SEI, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and many more. He is keenly interested in new and emerging experiences and leads the innovation practice at O3. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Mike routinely returns to his alma mater to guest lecture for Penn entrepreneurial and ventures programs. He has also designed college curriculum and taught graduate-level courses, and he regularly speaks to industry professionals at events across the country on topics ranging from AI strategy to the future of customer experience.
Lucas Grindley is executive director for Next City, a nonprofit newsroom producing solutions journalism that moves our society toward justice and liberation. Next City’s readers are the cross-sector city-builders who must collaborate to make advances on climate action, racial equity, and more. Grindley is the former President of Pride Media and oversaw the leading LGBTQ brands Out magazine, PRIDE, Out Traveler, Plus magazine, and The Advocate, where he was editor-in-chief. Grindley is an award-winning journalist. In both 2016 and 2018, NLGJA named Grindley as “LGBTQ Journalist of the Year.” Grindley led coverage at The Advocate through two Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality and the Pulse tragedy in Orlando. Previously in Washington, D.C., Grindley was managing editor for online at National Journal magazine, covering politics and policymaking during the 2008 election and President Obama’s first term. Today he continues to amplify quality journalism as host of the Next City podcast.
With 15 years of experience in higher education and workforce development, Jaedda Hall leads a department at the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, dedicated to increasing access to career exploration and work-based learning opportunities for youth and young adults.
Recognized in her region as an Inside Business Top 40 Under 40 Professional and a Millennial on the Move, Jaedda brings expertise in onboarding, retention strategies and managing student support programs. Her degrees in communications and urban education, along with her pursuit of a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership, keep her at the cutting edge of talent development.
Jaedda lives in Norfolk with her high-school sweetheart husband and two daughters.
Named CIO of the Year, 40 Under 40, Most Admired CEO, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte and more, Betsy Hauser has disrupted the technical training, staffing, and recruiting industries. Her innovative approach to workforce development has garnered international recognition through her work as CEO & Founder at Tech Talent & Strategy. Outside of Tech Talent & Strategy, Betsy is a mom to 4 amazing kids (Sercie, Sami, Zain, and Zada), an elite foosball player and water skier, and the founder of a new K-12 hybrid school, The Talent School. Betsy puts passion and creativity at the forefront of everything she does. A true visionary, she is making a meaningful impact on the tech and education industry’s most valuable resource: its people.
Michael Hecht is President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., the economic development agency for southeast Louisiana. GNO, Inc.’s mission is to create a region with a thriving economy and an excellent quality of life, for everyone. Under Michael’s leadership, GNO, Inc. has been named the “Top Economic
Development Organization in the United States” by the International Economic Development Council.
Before coming to GNO, Inc. Michael led the quarter-billion-dollar Katrina Small Business Recovery Program for the State. Previous to coming home to Louisiana, Michael worked for Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City, running the post-9/11 small business program.
Michael’s entrepreneurial experience includes co-founding a conglomerate of
restaurant ventures, including “Foreign Cinema,” named Restaurant of the Year 2000 in San Francisco. He began his career as a strategic management consultant in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.
Michael holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, and an
undergraduate degree from Yale. Michael has been recognized as “One of the Ten People Who Made a Difference in the South,” “One of the 20 Business ‘Icons’ of the Tricentennial,” and “2018 CEO of the Year.”
With family roots in Louisiana back to the 1830s, Michael now lives in New Orleans with his wife, Marlene, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Tulane, and their two teenaged sons.
Naomi is the Director of Operations and Engagement at the New Orleans Business Alliance and the official go-to tech guru. Her work with NOLABA spans the gambit from tech and operations to community development and outreach.
As a professional in the non-profit sector, Naomi’s work focuses on making a sustainable impact on the community around her. Combining her Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development with her efforts managing 504ward, a program for young professionals in the New Orleans, Naomi is passionate about closing the gap around equitable resources and opportunities for marginalized communities in the City of New Orleans. Besides her work with tech and development, she uses her experiences and insight to educate and inspire change within corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
Naomi is deeply committed to creating change that will positively impact the world our youth will inherit. When Naomi isn’t working, you can find her reading history books, autobiographies, and books on economics, watching sports, or taking a road trip!
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/naomiherr
Dr. Jennifer Johnson Kebea is president of Campus Philly, a nonprofit that fuels inclusive economic growth by empowering diverse college students and recent graduates to explore, live and work in Greater Philadelphia. As a champion of young and emerging talent everywhere, Jen is deeply interested in supporting Millennials and Generation Z as they make their indelible mark on this world. Back in 2004, Jen served as an intern with Campus Philly soon after its founding. She is now thrilled to lead this dynamic organization into its third decade of serving college students and the broader region.
Prior to working at Campus Philly, Jen was part of Drexel University’s steadfast commitment to civic engagement. As Executive Director of the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, Jen and her team connected with over 30,000 college students who were each in the process of charting their own civic pathway and considering how they will contribute to the greater good. Presently, Jennifer serves as faculty for both Drexel’s Goodwin College of Professional Studies and the School of Education. In Goodwin, she developed and teaches a series of nonprofit management workshop courses where teams of graduate students are paired with Philadelphia-area nonprofits to provide consulting services. In the School of Education, Jen recently developed and teaches a graduate course focused on Civic Engagement in Higher Education for the MS of Higher Education Leadership program.
Jen holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Drexel University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s degree in the Administration of Human Services from Chestnut Hill College. In 2021, Jennifer was recognized as one of Philadelphia’s Top 40 under 40. A lifelong resident of the Philadelphia region, Jennifer resides in Media, PA with her husband, Kevin, and their three children.
Rob Lalka is Professor of Practice in Management and the Albert R. Lepage Professor in Business at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and the Executive Director of the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He has twice received the A.B. Freeman School’s Excellence in Intellectual Contributions Award and is the author of a forthcoming book, The Venture Alchemists: How Big Tech Turned Profits Into Power, from Columbia University Press.
Lalka moved to New Orleans from Washington, DC, where he was a director at Village Capital and a senior advisor at the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Prior, he served in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships and was on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, for which he was recognized with the State Department’s Superior Honor Award and its Meritorious Honor Award.
Lalka currently serves on the boards of Public Democracy, Inc., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, and Venture For America in New Orleans. He graduated from Yale University, cum laude with distinction in both history and English, holds his master’s degree in public policy from Duke University, and earned executive education certificates from Harvard Business School.
Cathy joined the IDA team in June 2018. She leads in-house research efforts to provide the most up-to-date information about IDA member organizations and the place management industry, including working with the Board of Directors and IDA’s members to strategize research goals and directives. Prior to joining IDA, Cathy was a project manager at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, and a planner on the strategic research team at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore. Cathy has a Master in Urban Planning from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Geography from Northwestern University. In her spare time, she enjoys tasting new types of food, exploring neighborhoods and attempting to learn more languages.
Allie is Manager, Talent Attraction at DCI, where she serves as a specialist on talent attraction trends, research and strategies. In this role, she manages a broad away of branding, messaging and marketing strategies for talent attraction clients across the country.
Allie graduated from Penn State University, where she majored in Public Relations with minors in international studies and communication arts and sciences.
Kerry McKittrick is an Associate Director at the Project on Workforce at Harvard, an interdisciplinary initiative between the Harvard Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, the Harvard Business School Managing the Future of Work Project, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In this role, Kerry leads actionable research and policy efforts at the intersection of education and the labor market, with a focus on building equitable pathways to economic mobility. Prior to joining the Project on Workforce, Kerry was a Senior Manager in the Executive Office at Jobs for the Future, where she worked with the CEO and Chief of Staff to develop and manage cross-organizational strategic initiatives. Before JFF, she served as a Senior Policy Advisor on education, labor, and workforce development issues for Congressman Jim Langevin, co-chair of the bipartisan Career and Technical Education Caucus and champion of Perkins V. Kerry holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Brown University and a master’s degree in Education Policy and Analysis from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she was a Leadership in Education Fellow.
Josh Nathan is an Associate Director and Staff Attorney at Social Finance, based in the Boston office.
Previously, Josh served as an academic director at Bridge International Academies, a social enterprise improving the quality of education in developing countries. At Bridge, Josh led the founding and academic management of a network of impactful charter schools in Liberia, and was also responsible for curriculum development for schools in Kenya and Uganda.
Josh started his career as a Teach For America corps member, where he taught eighth grade English in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Josh holds MBA and J.D. degrees from the Kellogg School of Management and the Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern University, where he was a Youn Impact Scholar and received the Order of the Coif. He also holds a master’s degree in education from Boston University. Josh graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a B.A. in English.
Since 2016, Angie Ostaszewski has worked for Ameren Illinois in their communications, charitable giving, and energy efficiency groups. In her current role as Energy Efficiency Consultant, she supports program strategy and innovation as well as management of the Market Development Initiative. She is also the creator of Angie’s Listings, a TikTok that showcases affordable living targeted to people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and other marginalized groups. Her efforts have attracted over 450 new residents to Peoria, Illinois between October 2020 and July 2023. She was featured in the New York Times and CBS Nightly News this year for her efforts. Outside of work, Angie is also grateful to serve on Illinois Central College Foundation and Peoria Chamber of Commerce boards. She graduated #1 in her class at Bradley University’s MBA program, and prior to that studied Economics and Sociology at Knox College. Most recently, she is the recipient of the 2020 AESP Emerging Professional Award, 2021 Peoria 40 under 40, the 2022 Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance Rising Star Award, and the 2022 AESP Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Award.
Julia Pagano serves as the Talent Strategy and CampusROC Program Manager at the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, holding more than seven years of experience in higher education. Julia specializes in creating and executing innovative strategies aimed at recruiting, retaining, and connecting a diverse pool of talent to both campuses and communities. In her current role, Julia is a part of the Talent Strategy Team, which houses programs including Veterans Connect, Greater ROC Remote, and CampusROC. Her primary focus revolves around integrating college students and recent graduates into the Greater Rochester region by addressing accessibility challenges, including transportation issues, securing paid internships, and offering complimentary social opportunities. Noteworthy program accomplishments include the successful coordination of three city-wide college festivals, the establishment of a strong partnership with the region’s tourism agency, and the introduction of micro-internship initiatives tailored to the talent needs of regional employers, particularly within non-profit organizations.
Barbara’s influence extends beyond her technical prowess and captivating communication skills. She possesses a rare gift for demystifying complex concepts, making her a sought-after speaker at prestigious conferences and industry events. However, what truly sets her apart is her keen understanding of how AI is transforming the future of talent.
In a rapidly evolving world where artificial intelligence is reshaping industries and job markets, Barbara has been at the forefront of this transformative wave. Her knack for effective communication has not only shared knowledge but also ignited inspiration in her peers, particularly in the context of AI’s impact on the workforce.
In addition to her public engagements, Barbara actively contributes to the AI community through insightful articles and collaborative initiatives that promote responsible and ethical AI development. She recognizes that the future of talent hinges on embracing AI as a powerful tool for augmenting human capabilities, rather than viewing it as a threat to job security. Her unwavering commitment to leaving no one behind in the AI revolution underscores her dedication to the principles of responsible AI, ensuring that the workforce is prepared and empowered to navigate the changing landscape.
Barbara Pender’s contributions to Generative AI will have an indelible mark on the industry. Her relentless pursuit of the potential of generative models has revolutionized marketing practices and numerous other domains, all while fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. As AI continues to evolve, Barbara stands unwaveringly at the forefront, not only shaping the future of Generative AI but also championing the importance of upskilling and reskilling to ensure that talent remains adaptable and relevant in an increasingly AI-driven world. Her dedication to driving innovation that impacts us all extends beyond technology; it encompasses the very fabric of our workforce and how we navigate the promising but challenging future of AI.
Dr. Monique Perry-Graves is an award-winning social impact and education executive with over 20 years of experience leading in the business, non-profit, and higher education sectors. She has a relentless passion for education born from her lived experience becoming a young mom as she was graduating high school and the unwavering belief in her potential from her family and community.
In July 2021, Dr. Perry-Graves began serving as Teach For America’s first tri-region statewide Executive Director leading TFA’s entire North Carolina footprint. As TFA’s chief executive for the state, she leads multiple teams spanning Charlotte, the Piedmont-Triad, Triangle, and Eastern North Carolina, along with its two advisory boards in support of TFA’s mission to find, develop, and support a diverse network of leaders working together to end educational inequity. In her first two years, she successfully led North Carolina’s transition from a multi-region portfolio to unified statewide model, forged new statewide and national partnerships, including the most recent formalization with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library System and amplified the impact of the TFA NC network of educators and alumni during the initial recovery from COVID-19. Prior
to joining TFA she spent over a decade in leadership in the community college sector at York Technical College, starting in the classroom as faculty, and spending the majority of her tenure leading the college’s student affairs/enrollment management divisions and its Chester and Lancaster County campuses. During her time as a college administrator, she received the State of South Carolina’s A. Wade Martin Innovator of the Year award.
Dr. Perry-Graves is also long-time community leader serving on numerous boards and advisory committees, including the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council (CELC) Education Working Group, Governor Roy Cooper’s task force for the recruitment and retention of diverse educators (DRIVE), WGU North Carolina, Education NC and North Carolina Central University’s College of Arts, Sciences and Humanities.
Dr. Perry-Graves completed her undergraduate studies at North Carolina Central University, and then earned a master’s in strategic communication and leadership from Seton Hall University, and completed her doctorate at the University of Florida. She is an Aspen Institute Presidential Fellow, Inroads alum, a proud mom of an adult son, and pandemic bride.
Sulaiman W. Rahman is the Founder and CEO of DiverseForce, a social enterprise that cultivates robust pipelines of talent for the future of work, leadership, and governance. Through its work and one of its signature programs, DiverseForce On Boards, a leadership development and board training program in partnership with University of Pennsylvania, DiverseForce is empowering BIPOC professionals to become business and civic leaders, executives, and board members, helping to change the face of leadership across all sectors.
DiverseForce is an evolution of Rahman’s decades of experience engaging, empowering, and connecting diverse communities. In 2007, Rahman founded UPPN (now called the BBEx Network), one of the Greater Philadelphia area’s largest and most respected professional networks, with 20,000+ subscribers, representing a talent pipeline from early career to C-suite.
In 2021, Rahman leveraged DiverseForce’s expertise, reach, and impact to launch P4 Hub – a high-tech and high-touch hub for advancing racial equity and excellence. Located in a designated opportunity zone in Germantown, Philadelphia, P4 Hub has become an epicenter for cross-sector collaboration, breaking down silos and offering an ecosystem approach to scalable impact.
Rahman currently serves as Chairman-Elect for Mastery Charter Schools, VP of the Board of Directors at Community College of Philadelphia Foundation; Board Member and Executive Committee member for The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center of Performing Arts; Board Manager for Lenfest Institute of Journalism, majority owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer; and Board Member for Lendistry, a fintech social enterprise with annual revenues of over $250 Million. Rahman also serves on numerous advisory boards and committees.
In the past, Rahman served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ & DE (2010-2012) and served as a Mayor appointed Board Member for Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). In 2016, Rahman was awarded President Obama’s Gold Volunteer Service Award and was appointed to serve as Co-Chair of the Democratic National Convention’s Volunteer Committee that recruited, trained, and deployed 10,000+ volunteers for the Philadelphia convention.
Rahman has been recognized for numerous honors and awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year by VestedIn (2023), Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Power 100” (2019), OIC’s Game Changer Award (2019), US Senator Bob Casey’s Black History Month Honoree (2019), YearUP’s Urban Empowerment Award (2018), Philadelphia Business Journal’s Minority Business Leader Award (2017); Philadelphia Tribune’s Most Influential African American Leaders (2009-2023); Philadelphia NAACP Business Leader Award (2015); BMe’s Community Leadership Award & Grant (2015); Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 under 40” (2010); VisitPhilly 360 Creative Ambassadors (2010); Urban League of Philadelphia “Urban Young Leader” Award (2009); Leadership Philadelphia’s “101 Next Generation Connectors” (2009); Philadelphia Tribune’s “10 People under 40 to Watch” (2008).
Rahman is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania where he studied Electrical Engineering and Entrepreneurship.
DiverseForce – www.diverseforce.com
DiverseForce On Boards – http://www.diverseforceonboards.com
P4 Hub – www.P4Hub.com
Butch Roussel, a graduate of the University of Louisiana and Johns Hopkins University, with a focus on Biotechnology Business, is not your average Clinical Researcher. By day, he’s deep in the world of managing clinical trials for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, but by night (and any other free moment), he dons his cape as the ultimate Lafayette citizen.
In 2015, Butch founded an organization known as Civicside, and it’s not your run-of-the-mill group. They host an annual community celebration known as the 24 Hour Citizen Project, a dynamic event designed to connect everyday citizens with the expertise and resources they need to turn their wildest ideas into reality. It’s like a “shark tank” for citizen dreamers, and it’s taken Lafayette by storm. The event is a party with a purpose. Picture this: teams in the most festive attire you can imagine, strutting their stuff to the stage through a cheering human tunnel, all to the beat of a carefully chosen walk-out song.
Over the last decade, the 24 Hour Citizen Project has taken flight, funding over 30 incredible projects to the tune of $150,000 and counting. These projects have become woven into the fabric of Lafayette, including the iconic Krewe de Canailles, Lafayette’s first-ever walking parade, the innovative Musical Instrument Library, and the impactful Oasis Food Pantry, just to name a few. Butch believes in the power of community, and the event reflects that spirit perfectly. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. But he’s doing serious work.
Perry Sholes – SPHR is a certified talent optimization and human resources entrepreneur and native of New Orleans, LA. His career has taken him through seven states and eleven cities throughout the US where he worked from hourly employee to executive team. He’s worked leading teams and projects at some well-known hospitality, retail, and consumer product companies both domestically and internationally. Perry has a BS from Tampa College in Marketing and Management and an Executive MBA from the University of South Florida. He holds human resources certifications from SHRM and HRCI along with DISC, Myers Briggs, and Predictive Index.
Mr. Sholes is involved in leadership roles in several community and business organizations: Board Chairman of the Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, Diversity Director at Louisiana SHRM, Board Director of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, and Success at Thurgood Marshall.
In 2019, Perry attended New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute where the idea to develop an internship program focused on developing BIPOC College students began. Since 2021’s first cohort at the award-winning Tenth Institute, the program has engaged with 70+ students assisting them with the critical career skills and fundamentals necessary to succeed. Mr. Sholes is actively engaged in coaching and mentoring Tenth Institute Fellows.
Arben Skivjani serves as a Deputy Chief Economist and Director of Forecasting for RealPage, Inc. where he oversees forecasting for a range of metrics and markets within the industry, including detailed quarterly multifamily projections and comprehensive annual student housing forecasts. Arben’s responsibilities also include conducting economic impact studies and analyzing macroeconomic trends that affect the multifamily industry.
In addition to his forecasting role, Arben hosts “RealPage Economy Express,” a biweekly video series that deftly breaks down the latest economic trends and elucidates their implications for the multifamily and student housing sectors. Through this series, he extends his expertise to a wider audience, offering an enriched understanding of the market dynamics at play, and fostering informed discussions on pertinent issues shaping the industry.
Prior to joining RealPage, Arben worked for several government and private sector entities, including the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services and the Center for Business and Economic Development at the University of Alabama. Arben currently serves as the President of the Dallas/Fort Worth Association for Business Economics and is a member the National Association for Business Economics. Arben holds a master’s degree in economics from The University of Alabama.
Steph Slates is the Vice President of Talent Development at LCMC Health, a New Orleans-based, non-profit health system on a mission: to provide the best possible care for every person and parish in Louisiana and beyond, and to put a little more heart and soul into healthcare along the way. In her role, Steph leads the Organizational Development team in enabling team members to live their extraordinary everyday through engagement and workforce, talent, and leadership development.
Prior to joining LCMC Health, Steph served as Chief of Staff at YouthForce NOLA, an education, business, and civic collaborative that builds bridges between school and work, where she led organizational talent, culture, and strategic alignment. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of School Talent at New Schools for New Orleans, where she developed and led the citywide strategy for recruiting, developing, and retaining educators. Steph’s passion is building and sustaining inclusive work environments that help team members grow, thrive, and be their authentic selves. She holds a BA in history from Harvard University, a Masters in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans, and a Masters in Sociology from Johns Hopkins University, where she was a U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences Pre-Doctoral Fellow.
Sarah provides strategic direction and leadership in support of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s mission to enhance the region’s overall competitiveness by attracting and expanding companies, capital, and talent in key growth sectors. Sarah has a particular focus on proactively developing talent solutions to meet industry needs, marketing the region as a destination for companies and talent, and advancing equitable strategies that create access to economic prosperity for all communities.
Prior to joining the Chamber in 2022, Sarah was the Deputy Commerce Director and Chief of Staff in the Department of Commerce for the City of Philadelphia. Sarah also served as University City District’s (UCD) Vice President of Workforce Solutions and Executive Director of the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI), a nationally recognized workforce development organization. Sarah joined UCD after ten years at Drexel University, ultimately serving as the Director, Workforce & Economic Inclusion. Sarah serves on the board of Philadelphia Works, the city’s Workforce Investment Board. She holds a B.A. from Susquehanna University and an M.S. from Drexel University.
Julie Stone is the Director of Family Economic Mobility at Gary, focused on self-sufficiency and wealth-building for Colorado families. With a career that’s spanned leadership roles in all three sectors, Julie is committed to solutions that combine the best of government, philanthropy, and business to create shared ownership and opportunity — for everyone.
The child of small-business owners in rural Wyoming, Julie’s early career took the form of waitressing, shift manager, cashier, and wholesale fuels purchaser at her family truck stop located on Interstate-80. After touring with UpWithPeople out of high school, she completed degrees in economics and environmental policy from the University of WY, following which she served as a social policy analyst for (then) Wyoming Governor, Dave Freudenthal. Julie went on to the private sector in data analytics, human capital consulting, healthcare policy design and labor negotiations for a portfolio of our nation’s largest employers. Most recently, she was the head of external affairs and Interim Executive Director of Teach For America in Colorado.
Most importantly, Julie is married to the world’s best partner, Jon Stone, and together they have two amazing kids. The Stones are often found skiing, biking, and camping somewhere in the Colorado mountains.
Emily Tapp is the Engagement Manager for Make It. MSP., the GREATER MSP Partnership’s strategic platform to make the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region one of the country’s best places to work, live, and thrive. In her role, Emily leads partners in the planning, execution, and implementation of regional talent attraction and retention projects across the platform and facilitates opportunities for relationship-building, insight sharing, and collaboration across these groups.
Before joining the Make It. MSP. team, Emily led marketing and communications projects in the architecture, engineering, and planning industry where she gained meaningful insight into how cities, businesses, and communities prepare for the future. She brings a strong background in writing for both B2B and B2C audiences, storytelling, and campaign planning for non-profit organizations and partners in city and regional tourism.
Emily earned degrees in both Communications Studies and U.S. History from Gustavus Adolphus College.
As president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, Angela Val is charged with building Greater Philadelphia’s image, driving visitation and boosting the economy through day and overnight leisure visitation. The tourism marketing agency’s work supports local businesses, creates jobs, generates taxes and ultimately enhances residents’ quality of life.
A recognized trailblazer within Philadelphia’s tourism and hospitality industry, Val brings more than two decades of destination-marketing experience to her role, which she assumed in June 2022.
Previously, Val served as the chief operations officer at Tempest, an integrated marketing agency helping destination organizations and convention and visitors bureaus across the country strengthen their local communities. She was responsible for establishing policies that fostered company culture and vision and implementing business strategies.
In 2021, Val led Ready. Set. Philly! as executive director, initiating the yearlong collaborative initiative with the City of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to reopen and reinvigorate the city’s economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to joining Tempest, Val served as deputy executive director of the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the DNC and then as chief administration officer at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), where she oversaw government and external affairs while managing day-to-day operations.
Val’s homecoming to VISIT PHILADELPHIA is a full-circle moment for her. She began her career at the organization in 1998 and worked her way up from executive assistant to the executive leadership team. Her efforts helped establish the organization as a powerhouse, and Val was at the helm of some of its most successful campaigns and initiatives, including With Art Philadelphia, Philly 360, Philadelphia Neighborhoods and the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package. Val concluded her first tenure at VISIT PHILADELPHIA in 2016 as chief external affairs officer.
Val is an effective leader, connector and culture builder, always striving to lead by example with an approachable and earnest executive style. She is committed to bringing vibrancy to Philadelphia’s business and cultural communities and currently serves on the board of Horizons Greater Philadelphia.
A Maryland native, Val moved to Philadelphia to attend Drexel University, where she received her bachelor’s degree. Thirty-one years later, she is still living in Philadelphia and currently resides in Point Breeze with her husband Joe.
Dr. William Wainwright, a resident of Madisonville, LA was appointed the 15th President of Southeastern Louisiana University in April 2023 having served prior as Chancellor of Northshore Technical Community College since August 2011. In 2018, Dr. Wainwright accepted the Interim Appointment of Chancellor of Delgado Community College to lead the college through the search for a new Chancellor. He officially returned to his post as Chancellor of NTCC July 1, 2019. Dr. Wainwright began his higher education career as a faculty member and grant writer. He later served as Campus Dean and Dean of Workforce Development within the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and Vice President of Business Services for the Safety Council.
Career Highlights include Institute for Citizens & Scholars Higher Education Policy Fellow, Harvard Institute for Educational Management Fellow, Salzburg Global Leadership Institute Fellow, Accreditation Consultant for Jeddah Community College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and publication in The Community College Journal of Research and Practice. Dr. Wainwright currently serves his community as a board member of GNO, Inc. the Northshore Business Council, and President of St. Tammany Corporation Board of Commissioners.
Local, state and national highlights include being recognized as the 2014 St. Tammany Economic Development Innovator of the Year, 2015 Partner of the Year, and 2017 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership award recipient. National and state higher education highlights include 2016 nomination to the American Association of Community Colleges Commission on Research, Innovation, and Emerging Trends and 2017 nomination to the La STEM Advisory Council.
His college was distinguished as the Louisiana ACT Exemplar for College and Career Readiness for 2015, recognized nationally in the December 2015 Community College Week publication for growth, ranked top in the nation by the Brookings Institute for greatest economic value of graduates in 2015, ranked 3rd in the nation for fastest growth by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2018, and of recent the college has been distinguished as a Top Workplace by NOLA.com for five consecutive years. He currently serves as Immediate Past President of COMBASE; a national community-based education organization. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of New Orleans in December of 2011 in Higher Education Administration.
William resides in Madisonville, LA with his wife Misty and two children.
Dr. Andreya M. Williams, an accomplished educator and researcher, holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from Oklahoma State University. Her impactful research has been presented at prominent international and national conferences, including the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Williams has authored significant book chapters and articles, contributing to a range of topics within higher education and student affairs. Her expertise in talent development and innovation is evident in her current role as Director of Tulsa Service Year, propelling it to national prominence. In her leisure, she enjoys exploring the world, stumbling into cute reading nooks, and spending time with her family and friends.
Falecia D. Williams, Ed.D.
President, Prince George’s Community College
Dr. Falecia D. Williams is the ninth president of Prince George’s Community College (PGCC), a minority-serving institution situated in the heart of the Washington, D.C. metro area. She is a transformational leader who values learning as much as leading and understands the power of inspiring others.
With a proven record of advancing catalytic change in higher education during her more than two decades of leadership at PGCC and her previous institution, Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Williams demonstrates a covenant to equity and excellence. Her passion goes beyond the buzzwords and focuses on helping individuals attain their highest quality of life.
Dr. Williams is currently implementing the Prince George’s Community College strategic plan with its bold new vision, “Dare to Be Extraordinary,” leading the institution toward exemplary outcomes in student learning, workforce attainment, business partnerships, and community engagement.
Partnerships supporting student success continue to grow at Prince George’s Community College, including backing from the Community College Growth Engine Fund, American Heart Association, Cloudforce, Bank of America, Pepco, and Luminis Health.
Dr. Williams is active in numerous professional, business, and civic endeavors and serves on the boards of Connected DMV, Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center, Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, American Council of Education Women’s Network Council, and the College Board Community College Advisory Panel.
A proud first-generation college graduate, Dr. Williams is also a native of Florida, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology at Rollins College; her Master of Arts in education, teaching, and learning at Stetson University; and her Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction at the University of Central Florida. She holds certifications from Stanford University as a Design Thinking Professional and Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. She completed a presidential fellowship at the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program.
Dr. Williams has been published in the Washington Post and Washington Business Journal for her achievements and is an in-demand keynote speaker throughout the region. Delightfully charismatic and authentically humble, she was named one of Washington’s Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian.
To know Dr. Williams is to be changed for the better. Her transformational servant approach that meets people where they are is a refreshing reminder that effective leadership has always been more about influence than power.
Christopher Wink is a journalist and entrepreneur who is cofounder and CEO of Technical.ly, the news organization with a community of technologists and entrepreneurs. He specializes in local economic development, including entrepreneurship and tech workforce trends, journalism strategy and building trust online. He was previously publisher of Generocity.org, which reports on the nonprofit sector, and a former media director for a homeless advocacy nonprofit. He is lead organizer of Philly Tech Week, cofounder of Baltimore Innovation Week and is behind other events that bring together smart people. In 2022, Wink was named one of Pennsylvania’s most influential impact leaders, and in 2017 Folio magazine listed him as one of the 100 most innovative media leaders in the country. Wink produced a documentary while living in Ghana and was part of an NBC digital travel series while studying in Tokyo. He hosted a storytelling podcast that featured the likes of National Book Award finalist Danez Smith, Daily Show correspondent Dulce Sloan and the hip hop mogul T.I. Wink is on the board of the project-based Workshop School, and was a founding board member of youth tech training nonprofit Coded by Kids, in addition to serving as a longtime board member of both journalists-only Pen & Pencil Club and Leadership Philadelphia. The Temple University alumnus is a bicycle commuter and resident of the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Wink reads a lot of books, makes a lot of charts, drinks a lot of whiskey and harbors fantasies of being a fiction writer worth reading. He is available for public speaking and strategic facilitation.