She+ Geeks Out Summit

September 27, 2019
District Hall, Boston, MA

SPEAKERS

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay – Closing Keynote

Author and Cultural Critic

Roxane Gay is an author and cultural critic whose writing is unmatched and widely revered. Her work garners international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism and social criticism. With a deft eye on modern culture, she brilliantly critiques its ebb and flow with both wit and ferocity.

Words like “courage,” “humor,” and “smart” are frequently deployed when describing Roxane. Her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, is universally considered the quintessential exploration of modern feminism. NPR named it one of the best books of the year and Salon declared the book “trailblazing.” Her powerful debut novel, An Untamed State, was long listed for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. In 2017, Roxane released her bestselling memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, which was called “Luminous…intellectually rigorous and deeply moving” by The New York Times. She also released her collection of short stories, Difficult Women. The Los Angeles Times says of the collection, “There’s a distinct echo of Angela Carter or Helen Oyeyemi at play; dark fables and twisted morality tales sit alongside the contemporary and the realistic…”

In 2018, she released Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, a valuable and searing anthology edited by Roxane; it has been described as “essential reading” and a “call to arms” by its readers. Roxane’s newest work, How to Be Heard, is set to release in 2019.

Roxane co-hosts Hear to Slay with Tressie McMillan Cottom – a podcast with an intersectional perspective on celebrity, culture, politics, art, life, love, and more. She is also a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, was the co-editor of PANK, and formerly was the non-fiction editor at The Rumpus. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’sThe Nation and many other publications. She was the first black woman to ever write for Marvel, writing a comic series in the Black Panther universe called World of Wakanda. Roxane fronts a small army of avid fans on social media and when she finds the time, she dominates the occasional Scrabble tournament.

Jody Rose – Morning Keynote

President, the New England Venture Capital Association

Jody Rose is the President of the New England Venture Capital Association where she works in collaboration with the venture and startup communities. A native New Yorker, Jody has held executive-level roles with both enterprise corporations and lean startups, focusing primarily on corporate development in mobile, eCommerce and digital media. In 2015, Jody served as the SVP of Corporate Development and Digital Strategy at Blueprint NYC, an event production agency based in New York. Prior, Jody led National Mobile and Brand Partnerships for micro-location mobile marketing platform, Swirl Networks. Before joining Swirl, Jody served as Director of National Brand Partnerships at Rue La La, where she was responsible for leading brand relationships with a focus on driving new customer acquisition for national partners.  She was one of four employees to launch a new division of Rue La La (Rue Local) and was responsible for leading the launch of their first local market and national strategy. Jody began her career in cable and telecommunications, where she held multiple sales and marketing positions, and quickly rose through the ranks at powerhouses such as MTV Networks, The Food Network, and HGTV. Jody’s experience also includes numerous board positions within the telecommunications and media industries.

VP of Data Science, Hopper

Ella Alkalay

As VP of Data Science at Hopper, Ella is responsible for leading the company’s data science team and building a data-driven culture within the organization. During her time at Hopper, Ella has tripled the data science team and spearheaded the company’s AI and machine learning efforts which drive over 20% of the company’s sales. Prior to working at Hopper, Ella was a Data Scientist at Outbrain, the largest content discovery platform in the world where she worked on recommendations algorithms, serving over than 500M users every month.

Growth Marketing Consultant and Startup Advisor

Veronica Armstrong

Veronica is a marketing executive with deep expertise in e-commerce customer acquisition and product growth. She is passionate about conceptualizing and executing strategies that drive aggressive growth. As the former Head of Marketing at Mayflower Venues and GM of Lovepop Weddings, she cemented her position as a leader in the wedding space by providing couples with the perfect marriage of technology and authentic experiences as they planned the biggest day of their lives. When she isn’t scaling a venture-backed business, she spends her free time advising startups and mentoring women in technology and coaching them as they navigate their unique career paths. Veronica was named one of the top 20 female VPs and Directors in Boston tech by Rev in 2018.

Director of the First-Year International Program; Lecturer on Women and Gender Studies, Harvard

Anouska Bhattacharyya

Anouska is a pedagogue, university administrator, and writer. Her work lies at the intersection of history of medicine and ethnic and diaspora studies, with a focus on empire and psychiatry. After graduating in 2013, Anouska taught first in History of Science, before being hired by the Harvard General Education Office at Harvard to assist in the overhaul of the university’s core curriculum. She was also a lecturer in History and Literature and a Resident Tutor, during which time she organized protests to protect the most marginalized of the Harvard student body. She brought these experiences to her other current role, as Director of the First-Year International Program at Harvard, where she liaises with the Admissions Office, the Harvard International Office, and the Freshman Dean’s Office to oversee the needs of Harvard’s incoming international students. She is regularly invited to give talks on pedagogy, diversity, and the history of psychiatry at local, national and international institutions. Anouska is currently turning her dissertation into a work of historical fiction, and teaching courses on hysteria, the history of London, and cat videos.

Founder and Executive Director, Komera

Margaret Butler

Margaret Butler is the founder and Executive Director of Komera, a non-profit that works with the most vulnerable girls in rural Rwanda. The mission of Komera is to develop self-confident young women through education, community and sport.  Komera believes in deep not wide development and focuses on providing holistic and multi-layered support for adolescent girls starting in secondary school through University. Komera’s work also focuses on engaging the family, community and multiple stakeholders in the advancement of gender equity. Margaret is also the co-founder of the East African Girls Leadership Summit (EAGLS). EAGLS develops critical leadership skills that allow promising young women from Eastern Africa to be effective change makers in the world, accessing their personal and collective power to creatively champion girls’ human rights. Over the past three years, EAGLS has brought together young women from Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda to learn from one another and develop solutions on how to address gender-based violence in their communities. Most recently, Margaret co-founded, AMPLIFY, a consortium of like-minded community-based organizations working to create strong, vibrant African communities by investing in girls’ education and leadership development.  AMPLIFY’s mission is to collaborate, share and work together to develop female leaders and amplify the voice of community-based organizations.  Komera’s work has been profiled in Canadian National News, Let Girls Learn, The Christian Science Monitor and Forbes

Founder and Director, The Exploratory

Connie Chow

Dr. Connie Shui-Yi Chow crosses siloes, sectors and continents to combine her passion and experience in science, education and social justice to create a world where more people can live up to their full potential. Dr. Chow is the founder and director of The Exploratory (the-exploratory.org), a Ghana-based NGO that promotes relevant, joyful, collaborative STEM education and gender equity through teacher professional development and school-based clubs. When in Boston, she is an associate lecturer in the Honors College and directs the STEM Ambassadors program at UMass Boston, focused on equity, intersectionality and activism in STEM. Connie is also the member-founder of the Ghana STEM Network and the Africa Open Science and Hardware Summit, a STEMinist-in-residence at Suffolk University and a Ford Fellow of The OpEd Project. She is a member of the Boston chapter and the national People of Color caucus of Science for the People. Connie is also one of nine members of the Upper Middlesex Regional Commission on the Status of Women. 

She spends her Sunday afternoons practicing Japanese drumming as a member of The Genki Spark, a multi-generational, pan-Asian arts and advocacy organization. She loves to travel. Her current obsession is gardening and hugelkultur. Connie grew up in Hong Kong.

Head of Supplier Relationship Management & Supplier Diversity, State Street

Jason Cipriano

Jason Cipriano is the Head of Supplier Relationship Management & Supplier Diversity at State Street.  He’s led the team there since 2018. Prior to State Street, he was a management & procurement consultant for a boutique consulting firm in CT.  Jason has also held senior procurement and operations roles at public companies and startups. He also Co-Founded his own EdTech startup, a 2013 MassChallenge Finalist.  In addition to his corporate work, Jason has been an Adjunct Professor for more than 10 years, teaching graduate and undergraduate business courses. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy, and also holds a Master of Science in Marketing, and MBA; he has also reached the PhD(abd) stage in International Business.  He’s married and lives with his wife and 3 children in New Hampshire.

Co-Founder and Executive Director, Moms as Mentors

Leslie Coles

Leslie Coles is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Moms as Mentors, a non-profit focused on providing moms with the tools and opportunities to raise confident girls. At Moms as Mentors, Leslie has conceptualized, built and rolled out research-based initiatives dedicated to helping girls become capable women leaders in fields where women remain underrepresented (STEM, entrepreneurship and politics) and helping them develop a healthy body image.

Leslie spent nearly 3 years as the Director of Programs for VentureLab. VentureLab is a nonprofit organization that is helping create the next generation of innovators and change-makers through entrepreneurial learning. Leslie’s work involved designing VentureLab programs that used best practices for promoting girls’ confidence and developing their mindset and skills to develop female entrepreneurial leaders.

Her prior role was Director of Strategic Initiatives & Programs at the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, where she took the lead role in implementing programs that advanced their mission to empower girls to be influential contributors to the world. A highlight for her was designing and executing highly-acclaimed national conferences for educators and administrators on such topics as advancing girls in STEM, business and political leadership, media literacy and the healthy development of girls.

Previously, she served as Content Producer at WGBH, Boston’s public broadcasting station and PBS’ single largest content provider. It was at WGBH where Leslie discovered her passion for girls’ education and empowerment while assistant producing Engineer Your Life, an award-winning website that encourages girls to consider engineering as a career. Leslie received a B.A. in Psychology from Haverford College, where she graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa.

Leslie’s work has received national press, including for CBSnews.com and in the best-selling book VentureGirls.

Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission

Stephanie Dort

Stephanie Dort a Boston native, has a strong interest in disability awareness and received her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Communication Disorders (Speech and Language Pathology and Audiology) in 2008. Having a sibling with a developmental disability prompted Stephanie to complete the Special Education M.Ed. program at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2013 where she would be able to effectively advocate for students with disabilities. Currently, Stephanie works for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Her role as a Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor allows her assist consumers with disabilities of the Commonwealth with obtaining or maintaining competitive employment. This includes developing individualized plans for employment as well as providing feedback to schools on service viability. In addition she collaborates with a number of stakeholders and community partners to ensure that appropriate services are extended and rendered to clients.

Before MRC, Stephanie worked at the Ross Center for Disability services at the University of Massachusetts Boston. As the Transition Resource Coordinator, Stephanie met one on one with current and prospective undergraduate students to decipher which academic accommodations are appropriate for the student based on their disability. She also conducted workshops for high school students that have a disability and want to know about accommodations offered at post-secondary educational level. She has presented to students in Boston Public Schools, Quincy Public Schools, Braintree Public Schools, and Needham Public Schools, just to name a few. Stephanie also has experienced special education from various perspectives. Stephanie knows what it’s like first hand to work alongside special education teachers, educational professionals, and family members in planning and implementing individualized family service plans and individualized education programs. She also has experience working in a college access program where she delivered college and career advocacy/awareness workshops for middle and high school students in Boston Public Schools (BPS). She has also served on the Haitian American Public Health Initiatives Family Support Center (HAPHI-FSC) Board, where her primary role was to assist and coordinate workshops as well as organize social events for program participants. Stephanie was also invited to speak at the 11th Annual Haitian Health Conference hosted by the Haitian Health Institute at Boston Medical Center where she conducted workshops for program participants. She also presented at the Parent Academy for the Randolph Public Schools on navigating special education. Stephanie’s overall desire is to advocate, educate, and inform families of the various tools and resources that can provide assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Founder and Lead Consultant, True Change Associates

Chris Haigh

Chris has 20 years of experience working with academic institutions, corporations, and nonprofit organizations focusing on diversity and inclusion, social justice, leadership development, and team building. Chris is a skilled relationship builder, strategic planner, and team energizer, and loves helping people and organizations be their best selves while contributing to a socially just world.

Chris’ experience includes professional roles at The University of Massachusetts- Amherst, Brown University, Rhode Island College, SpeakOut Boston, City Year, Exploration Schools, and most recently Wentworth Institute of Technology as their first Director of Diversity Programs. Chris has taught numerous classes on social justice and leadership development, and is currently an Adjunct Professor for Merrimack College in the Higher Education Graduate Program. Additionally Chris has presented at national conferences such as Creating Change and The White Privilege Conference, as well as regional conferences for American College Personnel Administrators (ACPA) and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

Chris also serves as a Co-Lead Facilitator for the LeaderShape Institute, a national organization committed to creating “a just, caring, and thriving world where all lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible”, and as a Facilitator for Outward Bound Professional, the division of OB that focuses on transformative leadership development with corporate clients using experiential education in the outdoors.

Chris holds a M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst in Social Justice Education, and a BA from Colby College in American Studies. Chris is a Rhode Island native but calls Boston home, where Chris lives with their wife Vanessa.

Founder & Executive Director, Run En Masse

Sam Hammar

Sam Hammar is an experienced public servant, entrepreneur, activist, and family woman.

Sam became a life-long advocate for working families because of her own family’s experiences. First raised by a single mother then by a single father battling chronic illness, Sam developed resilience and compassion for people struggling to get by. This empathy and passion for working families was deepened after Sam finished graduate school with massive student loan debt and began her public service career teaching journalism and civic activism in the Boston Public School system.

Sam went on to work for the City of Boston, helping to develop its Innovation District — a 1,000-acre space focused on building the city’s strengths in entrepreneurship, technology, and the creative arts on the South Boston Waterfront. Sam continued supporting Massachusetts entrepreneurs as the Executive Director of the Capital Network and as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Technology. In 2016, Sam began her work in the Massachusetts State Treasury as the Director of Digital Engagement, helping to build online connections between the initiatives of the Office of Economic Empowerment and the communities they serve. At home, she served as the Chair of the Melrose Democratic City Committee and was a member of the Melrose Women’s Commission.

Her passion for effective, modern government services and policies drove Sam to quit her job in 2018 to run for Massachusetts State Senate as a Democratic primary challenger. As a first-time candidate along with her inspiring team and grassroots organizing, she received 45% of the district’s vote.

Talent Manager, GreenLight Fund

Cristina Hancock

Cristina Hancock is a Talent Management professional bringing more than five years of experience in the non-profit sector developing people at all organizational levels and roles. Currently working as Talent Manager at GreenLight Fund, Cristina partners with staff of diverse backgrounds to enhance and support individual and organization-wide professional development. Leveraging her studies and lived experience, Cristina has a deep passion for and knowledge of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) best practices and is committed to bringing a DEI lens to all aspects of her work. Cristina uses her content knowledge and her emotional intelligence to help support both the organizational growth of a company and the professional growth of its people.

Cristina holds a BA in Sociology from Boston College. In her free time, you can find Cristina daydreaming about her next travel adventure, spending time with her nephew, and finding a creative outlet through poetry.

Entrepreneur, Researcher, Author

Diane Hessan

Diane Hessan is a successful entrepreneur, researcher and author. She is the founder and Chairman of C Space, formerly Communispace, which was the first company to build online communities for market research, back in 2000. Diane was CEO of the company during 14 years of exponential growth, as C Space worked with hundreds of global brands to gain insight and inspiration from their consumers. A serial entrepreneur, Diane has consolidated all of her investment and advisory work into a new company called Salient Ventures, which will help accelerate the next generation of growth companies in tech. Most recently, Diane has researched voters across the U.S – first for the Clinton Campaign and now on her own. Diane has personally interviewed nearly 1000 voters from all states, ages and ends of the political spectrum, and is now online with them weekly as she looks for trends, shifts, and common ground. She has appeared on many national and local television shows, and writes regular Op-Eds about voter sentiment.

She has also led two companies in the education space, as CEO of Startup Institute, which helps young professionals develop the 21st-century skills they need to succeed – and as EVP of The Forum Corporation, a large training and development company, where she led sales, marketing, operations, product, and technology until the company’s sale to Pearson.

Diane co-authored the book Customer-Centered Growth: Five Strategies for Building Competitive Advantage, a Business Week best-seller that is published in 11 languages. She has keynoted over 50 events in the last five years, focusing on leadership, entrepreneurship, women’s issues, and customer centricity.

Diane has received many honors, including the Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Most Admired CEO award and Boston Power 50 awards from the Boston Business Journal, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year (National Finalist), the Northstar Award from Springboard, the Great Boston Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, and a range of Best Boss citations. In 2014, she was inducted into the Babson Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs and she received the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship from Brandeis. C Space also has won many major awards – both for innovation, technology and impact — in the market research arena. In 2018, Diane received honorary doctorates from Bentley University and the New England College of Business. Diane serves on the boards of Panera, Eastern Bank, Brightcove, Tufts University, Mass Challenge, CoachUp, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and is Special Advisor to Datapoint Capital, a leading early-stage venture firm. In 2017, the Boston Globe appointed her to its Editorial Board. She received her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and her B.A. in Economics from Tufts University. She has 2 grown daughters, and is also founder of The Sound Bytes, an a cappella group that sings about business.

MA State Director, Apprenti

Lauren Jones

Lauren serves as the Massachusetts Director for Apprenti, a non-profit that delivers a registered apprenticeship program for employers to help enhance and diversify the talent pipeline for middle-skilled IT related roles. Her 14 years of professional experience spans local and state government as well as the private and non-profit sectors with a focus especially on economic development, workforce development, communications, and business marketing. Prior to joining Apprenti, Lauren spearheaded partner programming for HUBweek’s 2018 innovation festival, managing collaborative events and initiatives with over 200 companies. During her time in local government, Lauren created and led the Business Strategy Unit for the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development in the City of Boston, supporting business attraction and engagement with companies like General Electric, Amazon, Reebok, ASICS, and more. She also oversaw the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program including annual recruitment of approximately 40 new companies annually to provide youth summer employment. Lauren resides in Boston, and holds an MPA from Northeastern University and a BA from Providence College.

Co-Founder, Aleria PBC

Arshiya Malik

With a background in economic development, public policy, and management, Arshiya Malik has been dedicated to growing meaningful social impact organizations that truly make a sustainable positive difference in the world. Arshiya has worked in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors, concentrating specifically on companies that embrace the model of social enterprise. Currently she is focusing her efforts on taking the guesswork out of Diversity & Inclusion as Co-Founder of Aleria.

Co-Founder, Aleria PBC

Lisa Magill

Lisa Magill passionately tackles real-world problems with innovative and impactful solutions. After several years in the financial services industry, Lisa gained extensive entrepreneurial experience holding key positions on the founding teams of funded and acquired technology startups. Over the years she has been recognized for her commitment to community and the impact of her efforts focused on mentorship, education and creating opportunities for women. Currently she leverages her passions and expertise to help take the guesswork out of diversity & inclusion as Co-Founder of Aleria and ARC.

Director for Global Government Affairs and Public Policy, Dell

Paige Fetzer

Paige Fetzer is director for global government affairs and public policy at Dell Technologies covering Latin America and United States. In these regions, she works on government affairs engagement strategy and public policy education before federal, state and local policymakers, including emerging technologies and the Future of Work. Ms. Fetzer has also focused on driving government policies to improve outcomes for entrepreneurs, innovators and small business owners through the Dell PolicyHack™. Prior to joining Dell in 2017, Ms. Fetzer served for four years at the United States Treasury, where she began upon being awarded the Presidential Management Fellowship, and most recently worked on the bilateral economic relationship between the U.S. and China. In the years prior to joining the Treasury, Ms. Fetzer was overseas completing her thesis work in Iraq on the theme of civil society development, participating in Millennium Development Goals training in India, completing a fellowship at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, and teaching English in Colombia.  In her free time, she runs her fitness company PE Life focused on accessibility and inclusion in health and wellness for anyone who identifies as a woman, as well as teaching fitness classes around Boston and the North Shore.

Graduate Research Fellow, National Science Foundation (NSF)

Moiya McTier

Moiya McTier grew up in a log cabin in the Pennsylvania woods without running water. Through hard work and a significant amount of luck, Moiya was accepted to Harvard University, where she became the first person in the school’s long history to study both astrophysics and folklore & mythology. After graduating, Moiya moved to New York to pursue her PhD in astronomy at Columbia.

Moiya is an award-winning astrophysicist and science communicator. She’s given more than 100 talks about science, been interviewed for television and podcasts, designed an exhibit for the New York Hall of Science, and written a science fiction novel. Her mission in life is to build a better world by teaching people how to think like scientists.

President & Co-Founder, Fairygodboss

Romy Newman

Romy Newman is Co-founder and President of Fairygodboss, a business with the mission is to improve the workplace for women everywhere. Before venturing into the crazy world of entrepreneurship, Romy ran digital advertising sales and operations at The Wall Street Journal, and also worked in marketing at Google and Estee Lauder. Romy studied american studies, literature and art at Yale and many more practical things at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. Romy is a frequent speaker and contributor to Fortune, Huffington Post, and Inc. She is a proud mother of two, wife to a very supportive husband, devoted yogi and crossword puzzle lover. Romy is highly motivated to bring better performance and productivity to our companies and our country by making the workplace work better for women.

Founder, OpportuniMe, Author, Speaker

Miracle Olatunji

Miracle Olatunji is an entrepreneur, international speaker, women’s advancement advocate, student at Northeastern University, and author of Purpose: How To Live and Lead With Impact. In high school, she founded OpportuniMe, an education startup that connects high school youth to summer experiential learning opportunities for passion, career, and self discovery. Through OpportuniMe, hundreds of youth have been able to find and secure opportunities.

Miracle is also the Director of Innovation at Thrive, an organization that empowers college students through financial literacy education and funds student-led entrepreneurial ventures in personal finance and financial technology. She has been honored as a Young Global Leadership Scholar, Youth Entrepreneur Of The Year, a 40 Under 40 Woman To Watch, and a grand prize winner of the World Series of Entrepreneurship. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Thrive Global, Technical.ly, The Female Lead, and other leading publications. She is also an ambassador for Innovation Women, an organization dedicated to connecting women with opportunities to advance their businesses and careers.

Digital Integration Leader, CVS Health

Daphne Psacharopoulos

Daphne Psacharopoulos leads digital strategy and integration for the CVS Health enterprise digital team. She joined CVS in 2016 to lead digital strategy and product management for specialty pharmacy, including products for both patients and providers.  Before joining CVS, she was Sr. Vice President and served on the management team at PatientsLikeMe, an online patient community and research network.  

Previously, she founded and led Healthcare Services at Joslin Diabetes Center, which commercialized Joslin’s expertise nationally, and had overall responsibility for P&L, strategy, product development, business development & operations.  She began her post-MBA career in the health care practice of Boston Consulting Group. 

She serves on the board of directors for Grass Roots Diabetes, a non-profit dedicated to improving health outcomes for people living with diabetes. She holds a degree in finance from McGill University and an MBA from Tuck/Dartmouth. 

Director of Product Design, Personalization, Spotify

Emily Rawitsch

Emily Rawitsch is passionate about all things design — and has always centered her work around people.

As the Director of Product Design for Spotify’s Personalization team (bringing you cool features like Discover Weekly and Daily Mix), Emily brings user-centric thinking to a group that is heavily focused on algorithms and machine learning.

Emily’s beginnings were rooted in a fine arts degree that she blended with technology in areas ranging from graphic design to brand marketing to user experience design and more. This evolution derives from Emily’s dedication to apply design thinking across all possible domains — business organizations, people management and life itself.

About three years ago, Emily underwent some major surgeries to reduce her risk for breast and ovarian cancer (yes, the same BRCA gene as Angelina Jolie). Today, she is fully recovered from a prophylactic double mastectomy and has learned how to manage menopause in her 30’s! When approached thoughtfully, Emily believes that simple design principles can transform challenging situations into positive experiences.

Executive Director, Boston Women's Workforce Council

Shereen Shermak

Shereen Shermak is the Executive Director for the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, a public-private partnership between Mayor Walsh and the Greater Boston business community charged with closing the gender pay gaps by removing the visible and invisible barriers to women’s advancement.

As Director, Shereen focuses on recruiting more employers to sign the 100% Talent Compact and engaging them in actions that advance gender equity in the workforce. She leads and oversees all operations of the Council’s work, including the annual best practices conference and quarterly membership briefings in which Compact signers are invited to share strategies and tools. The 100% Talent Compact is a first-in-the-nation employer pledge to take concrete, measurable steps to close the gender gaps in pays and representation. Over 220 businesses have signed on to the Compact to date, including five Fortune 500 companies. The Council, comprised of 29 appointed members, serves as a resource and thought leader on pay equity, in addition to other challenges facing women in today’s workforce.  

Prior to this role, Shereen served as an angel investor and an advisor to start-ups and small businesses in the early stages of their growth. She has a wide variety of both public and private sector experience, including having served as the Executive Director, Operations, Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity for the Department of Small Business Services at the City of New York.

Shermak earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Duke University, a Masters in Business Administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. Shermak is a member of Board of Overseers of Big Brother Big Sister of Massachusetts Bay and the Board of Visitors at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. She is a resident of the South End.

Investor, Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures

Mary Tobin

Mary Tobin is an investor with Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures, where she supports and funds early stage startups focused on the future of shelter, vehicles, and insurance. In her previous role as Manager of Strategic Initiatives at the New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA), she created strategic partnerships for the NEVCA and Hack.Diversity, built programs to improve investor-founder connectivity, and led gender equity engagements. A graduate of Northeastern University, Mary founded her first startup in college and remains an evangelist of the Boston innovation ecosystem.

Career Coaching Lounge

Join our skilled coaches in the Career Coaching lounge for one-on-one and small group inspiration sessions!
Coach, Chief Operating Officer & Partner, innerOvation

Brenda Loan Baker

Brenda Loan Baker Coach, and Chief Operating Officer and Partner of innerOvation, brings over 20 years of sales, marketing and finance experience to her leadership coaching and also shares her solutions on stage. Brenda helps ambitious professional women excel in their careers and achieve their biggest professional goals. She is known as the go to coach for helping women redefine success on their own terms and create a clear action plan for achieving it (and having fun in the process). Although Brenda serves leaders at all levels, roles and industries, she has a special interest in partnering with women and minorities in normally male-dominated industries like STEM, finance and law, to help them become more confident, visible, and influential leaders. She has helped women through Mass Conference for Women, She Geeks Out, Harvard University, Boston Speaks and numerous science and tech companies.She is an Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF).  She is a Certified in Core Energy Leadership™ through IPEC (The Institute of Professional Excellence inCoaching) and the Results System™ through Thought/Action as well as other leadership assessments like DiSC.

Founder, Arc Growth

Ashana Crichton

Ashana Crichton is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Certified
Professional Development Coach, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Facilitator, and Founder of Arc Growth. Within her practice, she
works with mid-career women, helping them write the next stage
of their professional lives, with intention. Through coaching, they
eliminate the small thinking that creates a barrier to achieving their
full potential.
Before Founding Arc Growth, Ashana had a 15-year career in
Advertising, strategically developing the brands of blue-chip
Consumer Package Goods, Finance and Technology clients. As Vice
President of Client Service, she nurtured teams to work
collaboratively in the development of cut-through creative
campaigns in high pressure environments. With such a skillset, it’s
no wonder she found her passion in Coaching!
‘Brand-thinking’ now complements Ashana’s coaching process. She
uses values and strengths-based techniques to connect each
individual to their purpose so they can navigate internal politics,
connect with others, and grow in their careers. She regularly
Coaches clients at Capital One, American Express, Facebook, Slack,
and Salesforce. She also uses a ‘Coach-approach’ to deliver
leadership development training for organizations such as
Raytheon, Converse, Smith College, and Gas Buddy.
Ashana completed her Coach Training with IPEC and holds the
credentials of Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Better Up
Fellow Coach, and received her Diversity and Inclusion Certificate
from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Having moved from London in 2015, Boston is now her home. She
is passionate about mentorship, her energy is second to none, and
she voluntarily partners with organizations that inspire people to
get out of their own way so they can be their best; namely,
WOMEN Unlimited and Women with Purpose.

Founder, Work Wonders

Jenn Walker Wall

Jenn Walker Wall is the founder of Work Wonders Coaching + Consulting where she helps people land new jobs and succeed at work. She’s also co-host of the Making Life Work Podcast. Previously, she worked at the Sloan School of Management at MIT as well as Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, and is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Sociology at Lesley University.
Jenn has helped hundreds of ambitious professionals identify their strengths and leverage their experience in order to pursue more meaningful work. Additionally, she helps leaders build skills and brands that help them successfully grow their careers and launch businesses of their own. Jenn is also committed to teaching career coaching and communication strategies to enhance teamwork and effectiveness in the workplace.
When she’s not helping clients land interviews or launch their own businesses, you can find her cooking up a storm in her kitchen, usually while listening to true crime podcasts. You can learn more by visiting www.workwonderscoaching.com.

Director of Talent, Yesware

Zoe Silverman

Zoe Silverman leads the People Team as the Director of Talent at Yesware, a Boston-based SaaS company. Her primary responsibilities include talent acquisition, learning and development, employee relations, benefits administration, diversity & inclusion, and company culture and communications. After 6 years of helping grow this startup from its early days, there are many things she is proud of, but her proudest accomplishment was helping the organization reach an equal male-to-female gender ratio in 2018. She graduated from the University of Richmond with degrees in Sociology, Leadership Studies, and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and loves seeing her academic background come to life in the real world. People nerds, unite!

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