Conference & Awards

Celebrate and enable urban entrepreneurship

Each year we recognize, celebrate and support fast-growing companies whose success illuminates the competitive advantages of being in the inner city. For nearly 20 years we’ve invited these outstanding businesses to an annual conference and awards ceremony in Boston to celebrate their achievements, learn from each other and promote growth.

The 2018 Inner City 100 Conference and Awards will be held October 1 & 2 at the Seaport Hotel in Boston’s Seaport District.

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For your convenience, the Seaport Hotel is offering special hotel rates for conference attendees. Click here to access until September 10th

Agenda:

October 1, 2018

12:00-1:30 Alumni Luncheon

A luncheon to honor alumni of the Inner City 100 and ICIC’s other urban business initiatives, and introduce our newly formed Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN).

1:30-2:00 Break
2:00-3:00 Small Business Insights from America’s Inner Cities

A gathering of thought leaders and practitioners, looking back at 20 years of Inner City 100 winners and the unique challenges and opportunities inner city companies face. The gathering will provide provocative insights for inner city small businesses, economic developers, anchor institutions, and small business-serving organizations.

3:00-3:15 Break
3:15-5:00 Panel Discussion
5:00-7:00 Welcome Reception

Join fellow conference attendees for networking, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres as we kick-off the 20th anniversary celebration of the Inner City 100.

October 2, 2018

7:30-8:30 Registration & Breakfast
8:30-8:45 Welcome Program

Welcome by Steve Grossman, CEO, ICIC

8:45-9:45 Case Study: Sundial Brands

Lynda Applegate, Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration Chair, OPM, Harvard Business School – This session will feature a case discussion of Sundial Brands—a leading skin and hair care manufacturer that is committed to making the highest quality products with natural, certified organic and ethically-sourced ingredients. Born in Liberia, Sundial Brands CEO and Co-Founder, Richelieu Dennis, came to the U.S. to attend college.  Upon graduation in 1991, he was unable to return to Liberia because of civil war. Driven by his passion for entrepreneurship and the healing recipes of his grandmother—a healer in her village of Sierra Leone—Richelieu partnered with his best friend and college roommate, Nyema Tubman, and his mother, Mary Dennis, to found Sundial Brands and the co-founders began selling their natural soaps and body care products on the streets of New York City.  Sundial Brands grew to become a $250M company in 2015 and was named to the Inc. 5000. In November 2017, Sundial Brands was sold to Unilever.  As part of the deal terms, Sundial will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary and Richelieu will continue as CEO. Unilever and Sundial also announced the creation of the New Voices Fund with an initial investment of $50M and announced plans to raise at least $100M.  The New Voices Fund—a social impact investing fund—will empower women of color entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams.  Sundial Brands CEO and Co-Founder Richelieu Dennis—who participated in the ICIC Inner City Capital Connections Programs—will join Harvard Business School Professor Lynda M. Applegate in discussing the lessons from the Sundial Brands case study.

9:45-10:45 From Investment to Exit: A conversation with Richelieu Dennis and Deval Patrick

Forbes senior editor Loren Feldman will lead a discussion with Rich Dennis and Deval Patrick focused on the major strategic and investment decisions that contributed to Sundial Brand’s growth, and the innovative ways in which the team is leveraging their success to amplify black women’s entrepreneurship today.

10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:00 Breakout Session Block 1

Small Business and Capital Access: Many small businesses have experienced challenges accessing capital while on their path to growth. In this panel discussion, hear from ICIC alumni businesses that have accessed the capital they need, as well as policy-makers and capital market experts on types of capital that might be right for your business and key lessons on how to pitch for it successfully.

  • Antwayne Ford, President/CEO, Enlightened, Inc.
  • Karen Gordon Mills, former administrator of the Small Business Administration, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School
  • Stephanie Hickman, President/CEO, Trice Construction
  • Moderator: Rob Walsh, Adjunct Professor, Columbia University School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch School of Public and International Affairs

Impact Investing and Small Business Growth: Revolutions Foods, a graduate of ICIC’s Inner City Capital Connections program and 3-time Inner City 100 winner, is transforming the way America eats by providing access to healthy, affordable meals in schools and retail outlets around the country. Their impressive growth and expansion over the last decade is partly a product of a strategic investment made by DBL Partners. Learn from the key players on the ways in which this investment has increased the company’s impact and helped it continue to scale.

  • Kirsten Saenz Tobey, Founder and Chief Impact Officer, Revolution Foods
  • Nancy Pfund, Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Partners
  • Moderator: Mark Kramer, Founder and Managing Director, FSG

Acquisition and Inner City 100: Inner City 100 businesses are exemplars of tremendous growth and often engage in mergers and acquisitions with major industry players around the country. Hear from alumni who leveraged their incredible success into a sale, and how these acquisitions have impact the paths of these entrepreneurial-minded individuals.

  • Steve and Andi Rosenstein, Co-Founders of Fitigues (acquired by Chico’s in 2006)
  • Kim Sawyer, Founder and CEO, The Locator Services Group (acquired by PwC in 2017)
  • Fred Schwam, Chief Business Development Officer and CEO Emeritus, American Christmas (acquired by MK Illumination USA Inc. in 2017)
  • Moderator: Dobbin Bookman, Program Director, Owner/President Management Program, Harvard Business School; Principal, TBG Advisory
12:15-1:15 Luncheon and Keynote Address by Marcia Lamb Inner City Innovation Award Winner

Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore will be recognized for her innovative approach to supporting and nurturing small business growth and development in the City of Baltimore. Mayor Pugh will share insights and lessons from her past experience as a business owner, and the ways in which this experience has informed her approach to governing.

1:30-2:30 Breakout Session Block 2

Procurement and Inner City Business: Small businesses can experience significant growth through contracting and procurement opportunities with major corporations. Join a conversation with Chief Procurement Officers (or their equivalents) from Fortune 500 companies on “what it takes” to do business with them, and how to competitively position your business to meet their supply chain needs.

  • Sue Spence, Vice President, Sourcing and Procurement, FedEx
  • Stewart Atkinson, Chief Purchasing Officer at P&G Gillette
  • Ryder Booth, Chief Procurement Officer, Chevron
  • Moderator: Gregg Bishop, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services

Sustainable Growth: The Inner City 100 has recognized some of the fastest-growing inner city businesses in America, with our alumni averaging 414% growth over a five-year period. Hear from past and current Inner City 100 winners that have achieved this honor multiple times, and learn about how they have sustained such accelerated levels of growth and how it has impacted their business strategy, operations, and trajectory.

  • Jennifer Pinck, President & Founder, Pinck & Co.
  • Tamara Nall, Chief Executive Officer, The Leading Niche
  • Carlos Lopez, Caduceus
  • Moderator: Loren Feldman, Editor in Chief, Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs.

Food and Beverage Cluster Businesses in the Inner City: Every city in America has an innovative and saturated competitive landscape full of businesses in the food and beverage cluster. Come hear from a few standouts that have tapped into the competitive advantages of their local clusters and have maintained a unique value proposition in a field full of new entrants.

  • Irene Li, Co-Founder, Mei Mei
  • Janice Jucker, President/Co-Owner, Three Brothers Bakery
  • Vanessa Faggiolly, Chief Financial Officer, Amerisal Foods LLC
  • Moderator: Denis Ring, Founder, OCHO Candy
2:30-3:15 Networking Intermission and VIP Reception
3:15-4:45 Remarks from Michael E Porter

Keynote presentation by Michael E Porter, University Professor, Harvard Business School.

4:45-5:00 Break
5:00-6:30 2018 Inner City 100 Awards
6:45-8:00 Closing Reception

Confirmed Speakers:

Lynda M. Applegate, Baker Foundation Professor – Harvard Business School

Lynda M. Applegate is the Baker Foundation Professor at HBS. She was recruited to join the HBS faculty in the mid-1980s and helped build the school’s Technology and Innovation Special Interest Group. In the mid-1990s, she helped launch the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at HBS and headed the unit for many years. Lynda continues to play a leading role in developing HBS Executive Education Programs for entrepreneurs and business owners. She has also held a variety of leadership positions at HBS, including serving as the Co-Chair of the MBA program, Chair of Field Based Learning and as a founding member of the HBS Technology Board. She has also held a number of Harvard University leadership positions, including serving as the Co-Chair of the Harvard Policy Group on Networked Government Services and on the Harvard University Provost’s Technology Advisory Board. Prior to joining the HBS faculty, Lynda was on the faculty of the University of Michigan, University of Washington and University of Arizona. In addition to her academic positions, Lynda also held a variety of leadership positions in the health care industry.

Lynda’s research and publications focus on the challenges of building new ventures and leading radical business innovation in the face of significant industry, technological, capital market, and regulatory turbulence. A second stream of research examines emerging governance models to support inter-firm collaborative innovation. She is currently embarking on a study of the evolution of entrepreneurial ecosystems in emerging markets and technology clusters and is also conducting a global study of high impact women entrepreneurs. Lynda recently served as Series Editor for Harvard Business Publishing’s Core Readings in Entrepreneurship. She is the author of over 40 articles, books, and book chapters, and over 350 published case studies, online learning DVDs, and course materials.

Lynda is the recipient of numerous HBS awards for her research, teaching, and service to the school. Most recently, she was awarded the Robert F. Greenhill award for her outstanding contributions to HBS over the course of her career. She has also received Harvard Business School’s Berol Award for Research Excellence and its Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching. She has won numerous “Best Paper” awards for her academic research on 21st century business models and executive team decision-making and collaboration when developing and launching strategic innovations, and she has served as a Senior Editor and on the editorial boards for leading research journals in the field of technology innovation.

Lynda is an active international consultant and has served on the board of directors of public, private, non-profit and venture-backed companies. She is an advisor and advisory board member for entrepreneurs launching new ventures and for senior executives leading innovation in established companies. She is currently on the board of two non-profit organizations Endeavor Detroit and the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and two privately-held firms. She has also served as a member of the Industry Advisory Board for NASDAQ, as a policy advisor on a Blue-Ribbon Panel to define a National Research Agenda on the development of the Network Economy, and as a member of a roundtable panel for President Clinton’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection.

Stew Atkinson, Chief Purchasing Officer – Procter & Gamble Company

Stew Atkinson is Chief Purchasing Officer for the Procter & Gamble Company. Stew joined P&G’s Purchasing Organization in 1984, after serving 4 years in the United Sates Army including assignments in the United States, Philippines, Oman and Sudan.

Stew’s professional development at P&G has provided him a variety of experiences in multiple P&G businesses, geographic regions, disciplines and spend categories. After starting in Cincinnati sourcing Packaging materials for our Fabric and Home Care Brands, he moved to Beauty Care sourcing chemical ingredients for Hair Care products. From 1986-1989, Stew managed recruiting and development for Purchasing, Logistics and Customer Service. In 1990, Stew returned to Purchasing and led raw material sourcing for the Global Fabric Care businesses. In 1996, he was promoted to Associate Director, Asia Fabric and Home Care Purchases. Located in Kobe, Japan, Stew was responsible for developing organization capability and delivering sourcing results in Japan, China, Philippines, India, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries. In 1999, Stew returned to Cincinnati to lead a cross-functional internet innovation team, working on B2C and B2B solutions. This was followed by an assignment in P&G’s Health Care business where he developed global supply chains for new categories such as Crest Whitestrips and expanded several Personal Health Care brands. Beginning in 2004, Stew relocated to Geneva, Switzerland and assumed leadership for Western Europe Fabric Care Operations, including oversight of several manufacturing sites, plus engineering, product planning and logistics disciplines. In 2006 he was appointed Vice President, Brand Building and for the next seven years was responsible for global agency relations, media and in-store promotional activities. Most recently, Stew was appointed Chief Purchasing Officer. After growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Stew earned a B.A. with honors in Economics from Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Virginia. Stew is married to Kathaleen P. Atkinson and they have two children.

Gregg Bishop, Commissioner – NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS)

As Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), Gregg Bishop is charged with running a dynamic City agency focused on equity of opportunity, that leads to economic self-sufficiency and mobility for New York City’s diverse communities. SBS actively connects New Yorkers to good jobs, creates stronger businesses, and builds a thriving economy in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. Since his appointment in November 2015, he has overseen the opening of new Workforce1 Career Centers, certified a record number of minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs) to compete for government contracts, helped businesses to open nearly three months faster, and expanded services to women and immigrant entrepreneurs.

Born in Grenada and raised in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Bishop formerly served as Deputy Commissioner of SBS’ Business Development Division from 2012 to 2015. He began his career at the agency in 2008, and was responsible for a suite of programs designed to make it easier for businesses to start, operate, and grow, and to recover from emergencies. He also improved programming for outer borough communities and collaborated with multiple City agencies to help build the capacity of entrepreneurs and operating businesses.

Bishop also served as Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity at SBS, where he was responsible for overseeing parts of the M/WBE program including certification, capacity building, and developing strategic initiatives that support the business needs of City buyers and prime contractors. He worked successfully with various community organizations to deliver services, including financing assistance to small businesses and M/WBEs.

Prior to his career in government, Bishop served as the Senior Manager of Workforce Development at NPower, where he was responsible for doubling the capacity of Technology Service Corps, a nationally recognized technology training program for young adults aged 18-25. Prior to NPower, he served as the Director of Web Operations at Oxygen Media, where he helped guide the media company’s web consolidation strategy. Bishop also served as Vice President of Technology Operations at TheStreet.com, where he helped build and maintain the company’s internal and external technology infrastructure. He began his career at VIBE Magazine helping to establish the publication’s brand during the pioneering days of the web.

Bishop received a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing and Management Communication from Florida State University, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Business Administration from Florida A&M University. He studied International Management and Marketing in Tokyo, Japan, and is a graduate of Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program, and the Coro Foundation’s Leadership New York. He is an adjunct professor at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs and serves as Board President of Red Hook Initiative.

Dobbin Bookman, Program Director, Owner/President Management Program – Harvard Business School; Principal – TBG Advisory

o Dobbin holds dual Master’s degrees from Harvard. He began his business career as an investment banking analyst, before transitioning to private equity with Advent International in Boston. He was a Senior Manager with Microsoft’s Corporate Development team immediately prior to attending Harvard Business School where he earned his MBA (’02) and was honored to be a 2002 Bert King Fellow. He is an honors graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Biology.

In addition to his MBA from Harvard Business School, he also earned a MSc. (‘95) from the Harvard School of Public Health, with a focus in Health Policy Management and Finance.

In January 2016 he became Portfolio and Program Director of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program (OPM).

Prior to his shift to OPM, he served 10 years as a Director in Executive Education at the School. His industry experience includes Healthcare, Finance, Private Equity/Venture Capital, Energy, Real Estate/Infrastructure, and Professional Services. In addition to his broad responsibilities within HBS ExEd, Dobbin has served as a Harvard MBA career coach and adjunct member of the HBS Career Services team, helping to guide first and second year Harvard MBAs through the transition from business school back into the workforce. Dobbin has also delivered management and executive development programs for corporate clients of Harvard Business Publishing’s Corporate Learning team.

Away from Harvard Business School, Dobbin has co-founded two Boston based start-ups and does private development work for leading global management teams and organizations. He also serves as adjunct faculty in the Harvard Graduate School of Education Doctor of Educational Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program. He and his wife, Dr. Jocelyn Joseph-Bookman, live in historic Newtonville, Massachusetts with their teenage son and daughter.

Ryder Booth, Chief Procurement Officer – Chevron

T. Ryder Booth is the Chief Procurement Officer for Chevron. Ryder oversees the company’s strategic procurement and supply chain related initiatives. He manages the global sourcing and procurement activities of approximately 2,000 employees in 32 countries and is accountable for multi-billion dollar annual third-party spend. He is also responsible for ensuring a diverse supplier base and building a uniform approach toward supplier performance management across all categories of spend. Ryder is accountable for enabling Chevron’s operating companies to deliver sustainable cost management for capital and operating expenses, while strengthening safety, reliability and total cost of ownership, and exceeding internal service level expectations.

Ryder previously served as production operations manager in Kazakhstan for the company’s Tengizchevroil operation. Ryder also served as the general manager of corporate strategy in San Ramon, Calif. He joined Chevron in 1991 as a facility engineer and has held a number of positions in Chevron’s global upstream business including assignments in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and the United States.

Ryder has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University. He currently serves on the board of the Houston Food Bank and is an active member of the CAPS Research advisory board.

Ryder currently resides in Houston, Texas with his wife Gretchen. They have two sons who are university students. Ryder and Gretchen enjoy basketball, hiking, fishing and local community church activities.

Prabal Chakrabarti, Senior Vice-President – Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Prabal Chakrabarti is Senior Vice-President at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in the Regional and Community Outreach department, which focuses on better economic outcomes for low and moderate income people. He oversees a dedicated team in community development who work to achieve greater financial stability for lower income households/lower wage workers. He plays a key role in overseeing the Working Cities Challenge, a multi-state prize competition to revitalize small and medium-sized cities through cross-sector collaboration.
Previously, Prabal held positions of increasing responsibility at the US Treasury, E&Y Center for Business Innovation, and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and was a consultant to the UN Development Program. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the MA Children’s Investment Fund. He holds graduate degrees from MIT and Oxford – having been awarded a Marshall Scholarship – and an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Harry S. Truman Scholar. He lives in Cambridge MA.

Richelieu Dennis, Entrepreneur, Investor and Philanthropist; Founder, CEO and Executive Chairman – Sundial Brands; Founder and Chairman – Essence Ventures

Entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Richelieu Dennis has a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation that traces back to his family’s roots in Africa and that is sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs around the world. As the founder, CEO and Executive Chairman of Sundial Brands, his passion has resulted in the 27-year-old family-founded, run & operated manufacturing company’s success today as the maker of top hair, natural, bar soap and bath and body brands via its SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage lines, as well as its newest brands and forays into prestige beauty via its Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture hair care line and Nyakio skin care line.

After being widowed at a young age, Richelieu’s grandmother – Sofi – sold handcrafted Shea butter soaps and salves in Sierra Leone to support her family. She became known as a healer throughout the countryside and taught these recipes to her grandson. In 1991, upon graduating from renowned business school Babson College and unable to return to his home country of Liberia because of civil war, Richelieu partnered with his college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to pursue a bold concept: address specific skin and hair care issues that had been traditionally ignored by mass market skin care companies. Drawing from deep family traditions, Richelieu incorporated four generations of recipes and wisdom into natural bath and body care products and co-founded Sundial Brands with his mother – Mary Dennis – and Nyema.

With a foundation of family heritage and his own cultural experiences, Richelieu leads Sundial’s vision to serve under-served consumers through problem/solution products made with natural and certified organic ingredients. As a result, he has become recognized in the market for research innovation because of his continual testing and incorporation of culturally authentic and globally-sourced ingredients into his formulations. By focusing on the unmet skin care and hair care needs of a diverse range of consumers, Richelieu has led the beauty and personal care manufacturer from selling its products on the streets of New York City to selling in and co-creating a comprehensive portfolio of product offerings with America’s largest retailers across mass, prestige, drug, grocery, beauty supply, natural and other specialty channels, as well as extending its direct distribution to the UK, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and the Caribbean, with
more to come.

In November 2017, Richelieu architected a first-of-its-kind deal in the beauty and personal care industry – marking a continuum of almost three decades of demonstrating how business can be done differently and creating new paths to building a lasting legacy. With the landmark acquisition of Sundial Brands by Unilever, Richelieu negotiated the largest natural personal care deal ever in the U.S. and also the largest consumer products deal by a majority black-owned company. Most critically, as part of this purpose-driven agreement, he and Unilever created a groundbreaking US$100 million New Voices Fund to invest in and empower women of color entrepreneurs.

Richelieu is also an innovator in the identification of and response to the cultural shift in the U.S. which has resulted in the New General Market, which Sundial defines as an amalgamation of cultures, ethnicities, and demographics aligned against commonalities, need states and lifestyles, e.g. an inclusion approach rather than a traditional segmentation approach. Through his vision and the company’s Community Commerce business model, its purpose-driven way of doing business, Sundial equips underserved people and communities with access to the opportunities and resources that enable them to create lasting value for themselves and others. Extending from the company’s shea butter and coconut supply chains in Ghana, to executive education and investment for girls and women of color entrepreneurs at institutions including Darmouth/Tuck School of Business and Babson College in the U.S., to organizational partnerships including the Jackie Robinson Foundation and WACO Theater Center, to support of Todee Mission School, the Smart Liberia – GET program and UNIFORM in Liberia, Sundial’s Community Commerce efforts are building stronger, self-sustaining communities and enterprises around the world.

Under Richelieu’s leadership, Sundial has been certified as a B Corp company and holds a Fair for Life social and fair trade certification. Additionally, in 2015 Sundial was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States and received the 2015 Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year Award from WWD/Beauty Inc, while Richelieu and Nyema received the Lewis Institute Changemaker Award from Babson College for their efforts in challenging the status quo, creating positive social change and making the world a better place. Sundial has also previously received Black Enterprise’s “Emerging Business of the Year Award,” which recognizes businesses that have poised themselves for growth, and in July 2017, the company made its debut at #10 on the Black Enterprise BE 100s list – recognizing the largest black-owned companies in the U.S. In addition, SheaMoisture received the 2016 Ad Campaign of the Year Award from WWD/Beauty Inc for its “Break the Walls” efforts, and both SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage have garnered awards from publications including Allure, Better Nutrition, Ebony, Esquire, Essence, Family Circle, Life & Style, Natural Health, Parents, Prevention and Real Beauty, among others.

In 2017, Richelieu founded Essence Ventures, an independent African-American owned company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of women of color. In January 2018, the company announced that it had acquired Essence Communications Inc. from Time Inc. – reestablishing ESSENCE as a 100% black-owned independent company. Richelieu currently serves as the chair of Essence Ventures. Richelieu has been named by OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network to its inaugural “SuperSoul 100” list celebrating a dynamic group of 100 trailblazers using their power to move the world forward and whose vision and life’s work are bringing a higher level of consciousness to the world around them and encouraging others to do the same. He has also been named by Fast Company as one of the “Most Creative People in Business.”

In December 2017, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, conferred upon him one of the nation’s highest honors – the distinction of Knight Commander – and admitted Richelieu into the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers.

Vanessa Faggiolly, Chief Financial Officer – Amerisal Foods LLC.

Vanessa Faggiolly is the CFO of Amerisal Foods LLC. In 2008, Vanessa decided to join her mother and work in making Amerisal a successful company. She has been responsible for the company’s innovation process, including identifying strategies, new technologies, and business opportunities, as well as developing new capabilities with partners, new business models, and new industry structures to serve those opportunities.

Vanessa has become an expert on all aspects of retail operation (R & D, merchandising, sales, customer service, inventory, and personnel) Under Vanessa’s leadership, Amerisal Foods has expanded its sales in States like California, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Seattle Washington, Alaska, and soon in Miami. Vanessa is proud of creating hundreds of jobs locally and abroad.

Vanessa is passionate about creating jobs, improving the quality of lives in our communities, and serve as volunteer at non-profit organizations. She also enjoys mentoring and empowering young women to thrive and become successful; to pursue their dreams and to educate themselves. She attributed her drive, dedication, and passion to her parents, which have always taught her strong work ethics.

Loren Feldman, Editor in Chief – Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs

Loren Feldman is editor in chief of the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. Until recently, he was a senior editor at Forbes, responsible for entrepreneurial coverage in print and online. He also co-hosts a call-in show for business owners, Mind Your Business, on Sirius XM’s Wharton business network. He has also been small-business editor of The New York Times, where he created the You’re the Boss blog, as well as editor of the Web sites at both Inc. and FastCompany. Before going digital, he was a top editor and writer for print magazines such as Inc., Philadelphia, Manhattan,inc., the American Lawyer, Money, and George. He has also written for GQ, The New York Times magazine and The New York Times Sunday Business section. And he has spoken and moderated discussions at numerous conferences and seminars on entrepreneurship.

Antwanye Ford, President & Chief Executive Officer – Enlightened, Inc.

Antwanye E. Ford is President & Chief Executive Officer of Enlightened, Inc., a leading Information Technology and Management Consulting firm founded in 1999. Enlightened serves federal, state, and local government agencies, and provides cyber security, software development and integration, management consulting and business process outsourcing services. In 2016, the Company expanded its service offerings to support the transportation and healthcare sectors.

As co-founder of Enlightened, Antwanye has led the Company’s growth from a start-up business to a diverse organization with over 200 employees. He continually leads the Company’s corporate vision, strategic planning, and innovation efforts. As a thought leader with a keen eye on emerging trends, his passion is to develop and deliver business solutions to problems of global, national and local significance.

Prior to Enlightened, Antwanye served as Director of Applications Support for INTELSAT, leading the business unit’s development of applications, consulting projects and document management infrastructure. He served as a Development Project Manager at MCI where he was responsible for the design, build and delivery of systems that invoiced over $20M per month, and as Product Manager for the Company’s Flagship Friends and Family product.

Antwanye is Chair Emeritus for the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce, and serves as the current Board Chair of On-Ramps to Careers. He is a Board Member and Regional Director of the East Coast Division of the US Black Chambers, Inc., and a Board Member of the Downtown Cluster’s Geriatric Day Care Center. In January 2018, DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser, appointed Antwanye to Board Chair of the District of Columbia Workforce Investment Council.

As an advocate for community investment, youth mentorship and corporate philanthropy, Antwanye’s personal philosophy is “To whom much is given, much is required”. He spends much of his personal time mentoring youth and overseeing the management of a robust and award-winning internship program at Enlightened. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Howard University School of Business, Information Systems.

A native Washingtonian, Antwanye earned his Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science degrees in Information Systems Technology from The George Washington University with honors.

Stephanie Hickman, President, CEO – Trice Construction Company

After a twenty-five year career as a labor attorney, utility executive with Exelon Corporation and lobbyist, Stephanie Hickman left Corporate America in 2006 to acquire the construction company her father and uncles had operated since 1967. Since the acquisition, she has led its transformation from a small residential construction company to an award-winning, utility infrastructure and commercial concrete construction firm serving Fortune 500 corporations, top 100 general and infrastructure contractors and major public entities.

Hickman’s leadership acumen is illustrated by Trice’s accomplishments, including becoming the first African American woman-owned construction firm awarded prime contracts on Exelon/Commonwealth Edison projects, a multi-year contract with Peoples Gas as a prime restoration contractor and prime contracts for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Her company has earned numerous awards, including the 2015 Chicago MSDC Supplier of the Year and 2014 Outstanding Minority Contractor of the Year from the Chicago Department of Transportation. It also received the Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year from the Small Business Administration. In 2012, the Construction and Transportation Group of the March of Dimes recognized Trice as its Subcontractor of the Year. Hickman also hosted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a minority business roundtable where he announced the City’s Small Business Mentoring Program. In 2011, again under Hickman’s leadership, Trice became the first construction company in the country selected for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation/Inc. Magazine Entrepreneurship Mentor Program.

Hickman holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi and a business administration degree from Eastern New Mexico University. She also completed the Management Program for Executives at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. Hickman is a member of Chicago’s Business Leadership Council and on the board of directors for the Teen Living Program, a non-profit organization that provides support to Chicago’s youth experiencing homelessness. In 2012 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Hickman to serve on the Affirmative Action Advisory Board for the City’s Department of Procurement Services. She also sits on the national boards of directors of the American Association of Blacks in Energy and Women Construction Owners and Executives. Hickman, an active mentor and sought after speaker, is a 2006 Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and a Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Yen Hoang, Founder and CEO – UYL Color

Yen Hoang is the founder and CEO of UYL Color. Ms. Hoang founded UYL with her brother and father in 2005 and took over as CEO in 2011. Yen’s goal is to commit everyone at UYL to their simple mission of making it easier for the customers to be successful. This has resulted in UYL’s consistent healthy growth year over year. Prior to UYL, Ms. Hoang worked with the Office of General Counsel and the Forensic Advisory Practice at KPMG LLP managing electronic data in-house and on behalf of clients.

In 2006, Yen took a civil leave of absence from KPMG to volunteer with the Peace Corp in their Community Economic Development group in Crimea, Ukraine (now Russia). She worked with local non-governmental organizations to improve their programs and was immersed in their culture speaking Russian and living amongst the locals. This experience living and working in a third world country opened Yen’s eyes to the troubles of the world and provided a deeper level of appreciation of what it means to live in the States.

Yen continues her volunteer work today with the Houston Welcome Refugees non-profit welcoming and assimilating refugee families to the United States from all over the world. She currently sits on the board and chairs the finance committee for the Women’s Industry Network – a national non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the careers of women in the collision repair industry. Ms. Hoang also volunteers on Sundays teaching Vietnamese to 1st graders on with Khai Tri Academy.

In 2017, when Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Yen and her UYL team along with 100+ volunteers utilized UYL’s distribution center to coordinate efforts with the Cajun Navy to bring tens of thousands of supplies into Houston from all over the United States. This grassroots effort bypassed large organizational red tape and allowed the much-needed food, water, and supplies to be immediately redistributed to local communities, families, and organizations.

Ms. Hoang graduated from Texas A&M University in 2002 Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor Business of Administration degree in Finance. She is an avid Texas A&M football fan and enjoys tailgating and watching football with her Aggie family and her two little children.

In her down time, Yen enjoys spending time with her family and friends volunteering, traveling, reading, and experiencing new cultures.

Janice Jucker, Co-owner, President – Three Brothers Bakery

Janice Jucker, co-owner and president of Three Brothers Bakery and passionate advocate of breast cancer awareness, has been dedicated to helping the business grow and thrive since joining the company in 2005. Since her arrival they have opened two additional stores and created an online store.

Since the bakery’s first full year after Hurricane Ike, in 2010 through 2015, Three Brothers Bakery had experienced 426% revenue growth, 337% employee growth and 3,400% growth in its pie sales. 2015, 2016 & 2017 brought 3 floods to the community. Janice is proud that Three Brothers Bakery was able to pay their employees even while closed and began offering a full suite of benefits.

As a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, Janice learned the importance of growth is not just for achieving financial goals, but also to bring more jobs to the communities the bakery serves and to give back to those in need. Three Brothers Bakery feeds the homeless daily with the bakery’s excess baked goods.

Three Brothers Bakery, Janice and her husband, Bobby have won numerous accolades including earning spots on the INC5000 list and ICIC 100, NAWBO Woman Business Owner of the Year – Houston, Pastry Chef of the Year – Houston Culinary Awards plus Bake Magazine’s top 25 pastry chefs, 2016, and most recently the SBA Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery – a national award. Additionally their pecan pie has been named one of the best mail order pies by Country Living magazine, the Food Network has deemed their Pumpecapple Piecake one of the top 50 cakes in America – representing Texas and the Daily Meal has named Three Brothers Bakery multiple times one of the top bakeries in America.

Mark Kramer, Founder & Managing Director – FSG; Senior Fellow, Kennedy School of Government – Harvard University; Senior Lecturer – Harvard Business School

Mark Kramer is a leading researcher, writer, speaker and consultant on strategies for social impact. He is best known as the co-author of seminal articles in Harvard Business Review on Creating Shared Value, and in Stanford Social Innovation Review on Collective Impact and Catalytic Philanthropy.

Together with Professor Michael Porter, Mark co-founded FSG, a 160-person nonprofit social impact consulting firm with offices in the US, Europe and Asia. FSG helps develop social impact strategies and conducts research and evaluations for many of the world’s largest foundations, corporations and nonprofit organizations. FSG also operates and supports two communities of practice: the Shared Value Initiative and the Collective Impact Forum. Porter and Kramer also co-founded the Center for Effective Philanthropy, a 30-person nonprofit dedicated to improving foundation performance.

Mark also serves as a Senior Fellow in the CSR Initiative of the Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard Business School. He has served on the jury of the annual Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award and the planning committee for the Clinton Global Initiative, and is a member of the Aspen Philanthropy Group and the Kimberly-Clark Sustainability Advisory Board.

Prior to founding FSG, Mark served as President of the private equity firm Kramer Capital Management, and as an Associate at the law firm of Ropes & Gray. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Brandeis University, The Wharton School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Irene Li, Owner/Operator – Mei Mei Restaurant & Street Kitchen

Irene Li operates Mei Mei Street Kitchen & Mei Mei Restaurant in Boston, where her work centers around ethical sourcing and fair employment practices. The award-winning food businesses merge modern techniques and multicultural cuisine with local foods and sustainable business practices. Mei Mei has been featured by Food & Wine, Eater Boston & National, The New York Times, Restaurant Hospitality, People, Bon Appetit, The Boston Globe, and more. Irene’s background of living on an organic farm, organizing for economic and social justice, and working the restaurant line inform the direction of her creative, farm-driven, Chinese-American menus. Above all, Irene believes food can and should be delicious, fun, and just. This year, Irene is leading her staff in a groundbreaking open book management training program in conjunction with Rethink Restaurants. She’s working to provide the entire team, from dishwashers to sous chefs, with valuable financial know-how and business management skills in addition to an opportunity for profit-sharing. She is an Eater Young Gun winner, Zagat and Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree, and a four-time James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef semi-finalist.

Carlos Lopez, Founder & CEO – Caduceus

o Carlos M. Lopez is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Caduceus, a Georgia-based Certified and Verified 8(a), HUBZone, and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) firm providing healthcare, technology and scientific staffing solutions to the U.S. government.

Mr. Lopez served in the U.S. Marine Corps and retired after 20 years of faithful and exemplary service. He has lived in numerous countries abroad including: Uruguay, Brazil, Guatemala, Japan, Russia and Belgium. After his retirement, he served as a chief financial officer at several not-for-profit organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and a children’s psychiatric hospital. He also led BellSouth Corporation’s International Audit Division. In 2008, he combined his extensive executive business experience with his deep sense of patriotism and founded Caduceus to provide mission critical staffing solutions to the military and veteran administration. After having provided exceptional service to the military, in 2013, Caduceus expanded its service offering to other federal government agencies. As a result, Caduceus has experienced tremendous growth. It has been recognized for three consecutive years as one of Inc. 500’s fastest-growing privately owned companies. Caduceus was also recognized as one of the Top 10 fastest-growing Hispanic companies nationwide during that period of time.

He has served on several nonprofit boards including Catholic Charities, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety and Senior Connections. A true veteran advocate, Mr. Lopez is also mentoring several SDVOSB and women-owned businesses and is proud of the fact that the majority of his subcontractors are small minority-owned businesses.

Mr. Lopez earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in management information systems and a Master of Accounting degree from Kennesaw State University. As a finance and audit professional, he maintains his active certifications as a certified fraud examiner (CFE), certified controls specialist (CCS) and a certified internal controls auditor (CICA). In addition, based on his Marine Corps training, he firmly believes in leadership by example and thus is also certified as a physician recruiter (PRC), personnel consultant (CPC), and an internet recruiter (CIR).

Mr. Lopez is a widower and was happily married for 30 years to Wilma Bellini-Lopez, from Montevideo, Uruguay. They have two children who both work at Caduceus, Nina and Carlos II. He also has three grandchildren, Noah 11, Wilma 2, and Baby PEZ who was born June 2017.

Karen Gordon Mills, Senior Fellow – Harvard Business School; Former Administrator – Small Business Administration

Karen Gordon Mills is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and a leading authority on U.S. competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation. She was a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, serving as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 to 2013, and is an expert on the economic health and well-being of the nation’s small businesses.

Mills frequently provides analysis and insight on the small business lending market and its impact on the nation’s economy, including on the rapid growth of “fintech” online lenders, which she details in two working papers: The State of Small Business Lending: Innovation and Technology and Implications for Regulation (November 2016) and The State of Small Business Lending: Credit Access in the Recovery and How Technology May Change the Game (July 2014). With a focus on the link between entrepreneurship and middle-class opportunity, she authored portions of the Harvard Business School U.S. Competitiveness project’s reports Growth and Shared Prosperity and The Challenge of Shared Prosperity.

Mills is President of MMP Group, which invests in financial services, consumer products and technology-enabled solutions. She currently serves as a director of several fast-growing entrepreneurial companies, including First Aid Beauty, and is Vice Chair of Envoy, an immigration services provider. Mills is Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Private Capital Research Institute, co-Chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Main Street Finance Task Force, and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Harvard Corporation, Harvard’s highest governing board.

As SBA Administrator, Mills served on the President’s National Economic Council and as a key member of the White House economic team. At SBA, she led a team of more than 3,000 employees and managed a loan guarantee portfolio of over $100 billion. Mills is credited with turning around the agency, streamlining loan programs, decreasing processing times and reducing paperwork, which led to record-breaking years for SBA lending and investments in growth capital. Additionally, Mills led efforts to help small businesses create regional economic clusters, gain access to early-stage capital, boost exports, and tap into government and commercial supply chains.

Prior to SBA, Mills held leadership positions in the private sector, including as a partner in several private equity firms, and served on the boards of Scotts Miracle-Gro and Arrow Electronics. In 2007, Maine Governor John Baldacci appointed Mills to Chair Maine’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on regional development initiatives, including a regional economic cluster with Maine’s boatbuilding industry.

Mills earned an AB in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. She is a recipient of the U.S. Department of the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, their highest civilian honor, and is a frequent guest on news outlets and an opinion writer, with recent placements in Fortune, Forbes, The Hill, Harvard Business Review, U.S. News and World Report and American Banker.

Tamara Nall, Chief Executive Officer – The Leading Niche

a. Mrs. Nall is the CEO of TLN Worldwide Enterprises, Inc. (dba The Leading Niche), an award winning and internationally recognized company known for using data and cutting-edge consulting to deliver ‘actionable intelligence’. TLN offers mission critical work to support commercial, Defense and Civilian customers in domestic and international markets, including the United States, Canada, Europe and Africa. These services include big data, cybersecurity, intelligence, C4ISR, Health IT, regulatory/compliance, investigative/examination consulting and other areas.

TLN has received many recognitions. Some of these recognitions include The Network Journal’s 40 Under Forty Award; Black Enterprise 40 Under Forty Award; and the Vyne Weekly’s “Top 10 Women to Watch”; “Big Time Operator” Award; Two Year Winner of the New York Enterprise Reporter Small Business Award; Entrepreneur of the Year in Consulting and Business Services; Best Buddies “Women With a Mission” International Award; Stiletto Woman Business Award; the Brooklyn International Trade Development Center’s International Women’s Entrepreneurial Award; the National Minority Business Council’s Global Outstanding Business Award. In addition, an MBA magazine featured her Firm in a consulting case. She is also a prestigious judge for the Stevie International Business Awards.

Besides these awards, TLN client results have been highlighted in media channels, including the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Reuters, the New York Post, and the Daily News.

Mrs. Nall currently serves on the Board of the Amobi Okoye Foundation, the Marketing Advisory Committee for The University of California, Irvine. Mrs. Nall was appointed to The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee, which is responsible for the nation’s export policies. Specialties: Big data, Cybersecurity, Intelligence, C4ISR, Health IT, Regulatory/compliance; Investigative/examination consulting.

Deval Patrick, Managing Director – Bain Capital; Former Governor of Massachusetts

Governor Patrick joined Bain Capital in 2015 and is a managing director of the Double Impact business. Prior to joining the firm, he served as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for eight years. Before entering public office, Governor Patrick was Executive Vice President and General Counsel of The Coca-Cola Company. He also worked as Vice President and General Counsel of Texaco, Inc. and served on the company’s Executive Council. Governor Patrick was previously a Partner at Day, Berry & Howard and a Partner at Hill & Barlow. In 1994, he was appointed by President Clinton as Assistant Attorney General overseeing the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Patrick graduated cum laude with a BA degree from Harvard College and earned his JD degree from Harvard Law School.

Nancy E. Pfund, Founder and Managing Partner – DBL Partners

Nancy E. Pfund is Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Partners, a venture capital firm whose goal is to combine top-tier financial returns with meaningful social, economic and environmental returns in the regions and sectors in which it invests. As a leading player in impact investing, DBL has helped to reveal the power of venture capital to promote social change and environmental improvement, and Ms. Pfund writes and speaks frequently on the field of impact investing. She sponsors or sits on the board of directors of several companies, including; Farmer’s Business Network, The Muse, Advanced Microgrid Solutions, Off-Grid Electric, Primus Power, and, prior to their public offerings, Tesla Motors and Pandora. She also served on the board of SolarCity, and was on both the audit and compensation committees, and also chair of the corporate governance committee from 2008 until its acquisition by Tesla in December 2016. Ms. Pfund was featured #17 in the 2014 FORTUNE Inaugural World’s Top 25 Eco-Innovators; and appeared on Fast Company’s 2016 List of Most Creative People in Business. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society, as a member and former chair of the Advisory Council of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University; the UC Davis Center for Energy Efficiency; and co-chairs the Yale School of Management Program on Entrepreneurship. She has been a Lecturer in Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Yale School of Management; and is a C3E Ambassador to the U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Program, led by the U.S. Department of Energy. She is also a founding officer and director of ABC2, a foundation aimed at accelerating a cure for brain cancer. Ms. Pfund received her BA and MA in anthropology from Stanford University, and her MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Jennifer Pinck, President and Founder – Pinck & Co., Inc

Jennifer Pinck is the president and founder of Pinck & Co., Inc. – a real estate development and project management services firm that provides nonprofits, institutional clients, and public entities with planning, design coordination, construction management, and comprehensive development consulting services. Founded in 1998, the firm has managed more than $5 billion in construction value and has won numerous community and industry awards for its growth and achievements. In addition to the firm’s many accomplishments, Jennifer has been recognized for her entrepreneurial achievements, volunteerism, and contributions to the community and industry. In March 2018, she received the Associated General Contractor of Massachusetts (AGC MA) Building Women in Construction (BWiC) Mentor of the Year Award.

Michael Porter, Founder and Chairman – ICIC

Michael Porter is an economist, researcher, author, advisor, speaker and teacher. Throughout his career at Harvard Business School, he has brought economic theory and strategy concepts to bear on many of the most challenging problems facing corporations, economies and societies, including market competition and company strategy, economic development, political competition, the environment, and health care. His approach is based on understanding the overall economics and structure of complex systems, in contrast to particular elements or parts. His extensive research is widely recognized in governments, corporations, NGOs, and academic circles around the globe. His research has received numerous awards, and he is the most cited scholar today in economics and business. While Michael Porter is at the core a scholar, his work has achieved remarkable acceptance by practitioners across multiple fields.

Catherine Pugh, Mayor – City of Baltimore

Denis Ring, Founder – OCHO Candy

First things first…. O for organic, CHO for chocolate. That’s what OCHO stands for. OCHO also stands for promoting the common good as a corporate citizen.

Ring led the introduction and development of the 365 product line for Whole Foods from 1997 to 2003 and then left to create his own company, Bode International. In 2005 Bode was invited by Safeway to lead the O Organic program.

The exposure to trends, manufacturing and product development led Denis to create OCHO Candy, a company making organic versions of traditional American confections. OCHO is based in West Oakland and has sales throughout the US and abroad. Three years ago, OCHO purchased a state of the art European production line and began automated production of bars and minis. OCHO Candy bars and minis are available at Whole Foods, Target, Safeway, Costco, Kroger, 7-11, Hudson News, Walgreens, and several other chains.

OCHO is proudly based in West Oakland and works diligently to contribute to the economically challenged neighborhood. Hiring people from Oakland is an explicit goal of the company as is civic participation in various city functions, fundraisers, charitable events and community projects. OCHO is a private sector, for-profit company whose management team recognizes the opportunity and obligation to promote the common good.

Also…. it’s really fun running a candy company.

Steve and Andi Rosenstein, Co-Founders – The Duce, R&R Surplus, and Fitigues

The dynamic duo Steve & Andi Rosenstein can best be described as a unique combination of pretty meets gritty.

Both natives of Chicago, fate/destiny would take hold when the mid twenty-somethings found themselves meeting by chance during the summer of 1986. Steve had established himself as the go to guy in Chicago within the emerging surfwear/lifestyle clothing industry and Andi was looking for a job.

Steve describes that day as one that changed his life forever; “Andi walked into my showroom with her resume and before I could read her name I knew that I had just experienced the phenomenon of love at first sight. I didn’t have any positions available so we concluded our meeting and just as quickly as she walked into my showroom, she walked out of my life for what I thought would be forever. As fate would have it, my boss called me a month later to tell me we were launching a women’s collection and it was my responsibility to hire a young, sharp girl”.

While Steve barnstormed across the US establishing relationships with just about every major retailer, Andi was learning the ropes, selling to the local shops in and around Chicago. She ran circles around the seasoned reps Steve had hired around the country and wowed every customer she got in front of.

It wasn’t long before ownership took notice of andi’s talent, style and sensibility. She was promoted to lead designer and director of merchandising for all divisions in the Spring of 87’.

Oh, and they did fall in love, move in together and eventually get married, have kids all that other stuff. “Andi is my rock… she’s my partner in life, business and parenthood. She is my soul mate, best friend and someone I admire in business and in life more than anyone in the world” explains Steve.

Around the middle of 1987 Andi saw something nobody else did; These same young consumers responsible for turning the surf/skate/beach volleyball (aka lifestyle) industry into a billion plus market overnight were now young adults. Surfing, skateboarding, volleyball and beach cruising were no longer this generation’s daily activity. Suddenly they found themselves in their mid- twenties adjusting to the game of life. Playtime was scarce and spent at the health club after work. So while the surf/skate business continued to grow, Andi saw a void in the market for this generation’s next trend; clothing that would travel to and from the gym to happy hour…casual knock-around versions of our faded old collegiate sweats… clothes we loved to live in!

Steve pitched this concept to ownership only to be told to “go out and do what we pay you to do”. He describes that thumbs down as a sucker punch, Andi, like a referee calling the fight before the bell has even rung.

So in April of 1988 the couple pooled their combined (very lean) life savings’ and created the brand Fitigues; an Americana boxing gym “esque” collection of sweats inspired by their old favorites/classics; The silhouettes were basic & familiar but the feel, attitude, grittiness-coolness and simplicity made Fitigues America’s new dress code.

Fitigues immediately secured distribution within the who’s who of retail; Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman, Marcus, Saks 5th Ave, Nordstrom, Barney’s, Fred Segal and Bloomingdales just to name a few. In 1989, after a few underwhelming visits to these retailers, Steve & Andi opened their first of many more to come free-standing Fitigues concept shops in a renovated warehouse on the Chicago River. Another 30 locations would open over the next 17 years.

Annual sales peaked at just over $30,000,000 and in 2006, the much larger Chico’s FAS would make the couple an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Steve explains the transition; “My first congratulatory call came from the iconic Mickey Drexler (The Gap, J Crew) ‘Steve, well done son. You and Andi created something nobody else could do on their own. But they are a big public corporation and you guys are niche/entrepreneurial players. You’ll resign within a year’. Well Mickey was wrong… we stayed for 1 year and a month and then decided it was time to exercise our option to throw in the proverbial towel”.

On the evening the couple announced their decision to Fitigues inner-circle/family they hosted a farewell night on the town. The evening would conclude with a toast to the brand they’d all so passionately built, loved and nurtured together for almost twenty years. Lots of tears.

The next morning the high energy mid twenty-something one-two punch would find themselves very hung-over, all dressed up and no place to go. They’d spent all of their adult lives swimming as hard as they could upstream and were now suddenly floating down a lazy river.

Steve describes day #1 as a forty something retiree; “No urgency to check emails but I was programmed to do so and wasn’t quite ready to go cold turkey. I was about to delete the first one but noticed an attachment/pic of a 1928 vintage warehouse. “FOR SALE”. I woke andi, we hopped in the jeep and headed downtown to Phoenix’s meanest streets “the deuce” aka the Phoenix Produce District”.

That old run down diamond in the ruff now houses “the duce”. An historic 15,000 square foot 1928 former produce warehouse, the duce was the catalyst for the gentrification Phoenicians have enjoyed in what was once an area of town nobody in their right mind would venture.

Best described as the Rosenstein family’s personal playground, the duce too combines prettiness with grittiness. A vintage bar, restaurant, boxing gym, events venue and retro sport shop, The Duce has been voted one of the top 3 coolest bars in the country by CNBC, one of the top ten most unique restaurants in in the US by CNN Travel, best happy hour in the west by Playboy Magazine, and most recently was featured on the front page of The NY Times Real Estate section.

FATE/DESTINY

Steve & Andi had thought they were done with the clothing business for at least the time being. Their only tie to it now was the uber hip retail section of the duce they branded R&R Surplus; Andi explains; “Envision half of you in a Paris army/navy surplus store and the other half in a 1960s Brooklyn sporting goods store and you’ll find yourself standing in R&R; French vintage parkas, field jackets, cargo pants, duffel bags, etc. mixed with 1970s authentic recycled Champion sweats, PF Flyers Everlast boxing gloves, vintage baseball tees and a mini vintage Schwinn bike shop”.

And then, on a cold rainy day in February of 2011 Steve was manning the bar; “A couple of gals strolled in to get out of the rain and we struck up a conversation. They were here for some of their own hard earned, well deserved R&R enjoying a break from their duties back in Seattle as Nordstrom buyers. The next morning as I strolled along the golf course with my black labs Ozzie & Lou my phone buzzed and the caller ID read LAURA JANNEY, (my former buyer at Nordstrom). Laura was now SVP over all Women’s Apparel at Nordstrom. “Steve, you need to go buy your brand back, get up here and let’s get back into biz! Juicy Couture has died and we don’t know how to recapture that customer. She’s not in her teens anymore and wants something that fits her new body and lifestyle. Laura, I’m flattered but I’m not interested in buying back my old brand and right now, andi and I are completely immersed and totally in love with our new baby, The Duce. A couple of months would elapse before Laura would call again. This time she took a different approach; “ok, you have this shop within your venue called R&R Surplus which I Love! What if you put together a fitigues-esque collection for us under the label R&R? I’ll give you enough biz to get your production band back together”.

The first R&R Surplus collection would hit Nordstrom stores in December of 2011. Within 6 months, R&R would hang in Neiman Marcus, Equinox Fitness Clubs, the most exclusive spa/resort destinations in the world and hundreds of upscale independent specialty shops coast to coast.

Yoga, Lulu Lemon and all of the followers & hangers-on have made a HUGE impact on fashion & fitness over the past decade. Steve & Andi never went there and never will. They pride themselves in creating trends rather than following them. Their recent foray to into BOXING GYM CHIC has been a huge hit.

So to summarize; Be it a comfy/cool sweatshirt, a basket of mac & cheese muffins, classic cocktail or old school boxing class, all Steve & Andi are really doing is sharing what they love with other likeminded people with the same appreciation and passion for uncomplicated style, simplicity & comfort.

Kim Sawyer, Consultant/Former President & General Counsel – The Locator Services Group

o In May of 2017, after founding and cultivating The Locator Services Group Ltd (TLSG), Kim Sawyer sold TLSG to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Kim served as TLSG’s President & General Counsel for 23 years and grew TLSG to became the industry leader in corporate asset recovery; recovering more than $40 million in its last year for TLSG’s Fortune 1000 clients. The acquisition resulted in an expansion of PwC’s Abandoned & Unclaimed Property Practice enabling PwC to augment its service offerings and providing PwC with additional opportunities for revenue growth. Kim currently serves as a strategic consultant to PwC. Twice an Inner City 100 Winner; Fortune identified TLSG, as one of the 100 Fastest Growing Urban Businesses in America. TLSG was also named Women’s Business Enterprise of the Year by the Center for Women and Enterprise.

In 2014, while leading TLSG, Kim brought the concepts of entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility and gender equality to Portugal through the formation and leadership of Connect to Success (C2S). C2S is a non-profit that provides innovative mentorship, training, and business networking opportunities to women entrepreneurs in Portugal. After less than 4 years, C2S has more than 1,000 women registered in the Program. In 2015, the European Diversity Awards recognized C2S as the Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Program of the Year. Kim was the recipient of a Stevie Award for Women in Business in the category Women Helping Women – Government or Nonprofit. In 2016, she accepted an award by the Trade Association of European Business Angels for her work developing women entrepreneurs. Kim served as C2S Portugal’s Executive Director until May of this year and will be expanding the Program to Africa next year at the invitation of the Prime Minster of the Republic of Cape Verde.

Kim is a winner of the 2011 Enterprising Women of the Year Award. In 2014, she was awarded a Women’s Business Enterprise Star by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. In 2016, Kim was a winner of the 2016 SmartCEO Boston Brava Award and made a Honorary Member of Phi Lambda Beta, a National Portuguese Honor Society, for her work in Portugal.

Kim began her career as counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue representing the Commonwealth in bankruptcy proceedings and then as an associate at Parker Coulter Daley & White in the Directors and Officers Liability Practice Group. Kim was Vice President & General Counsel of SeaQuest Partners where she pioneered a record-sharing program with the US Treasury, recovering billions of dollars to potential clients by presenting a novel interpretation of the Competitive Equality in Banking Act and the Freedom of Information Act

Kim has a BA from Clark University and a JD from Boston University School of Law. She received a certification from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College –WBENC Executive Program.

Kim is a member of the Unclaimed Property Professional’s Organization, Women Presidents’ Organization, Women Impacting Public Policy and the Center for Women and Enterprise, where she has served on various committees. Kim is a frequent speaker on corporate asset recovery and often appears in Portuguese media addressing entrepreneurship and gender inequality.

Fred Schwam, Chief Business Development Officer and CEO Emeritus – American Christmas

Fred Schwam, 52, was the owner and CEO of American Christmas, the nation’s leading commercial Christmas decorating company, from 1988 until October of 2017, when he sold the Company to Austrian based MK Illumination. He will remain with the Company through 2019. American Christmas designs, manufactures, installs, removes, stores and refurbishes holiday displays for office lobbies, tenant offices, hotels, restaurants, banks, theaters, department stores, retail stores, shopping centers, hospitals and television sets. Clients include Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, Macy’s, Salvatore Ferragamo, Harry Winston, Madison Square Garden and the McGraw Hill Building. The Company is celebrating its’ 50th Anniversary in 2018.

American Christmas is headquartered in a 110,000 square foot building in Mount Vernon. The Company employs 70 people full time and another 135 people seasonally.

The company is proud to give back to the community by offering its services, as a courtesy, to Mount Vernon City Hall, Mount Vernon police headquarters, Mount Vernon Fulton Street firehouse, Mount Vernon Public Library and the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon. American Christmas decorates the Ronald McDonald House at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, the holiday party for The Miracle League of Westchester and the headquarters for G-d’s Love We Deliver in Manhattan. Every November, the company contacts over a dozen local not-for-profit organizations and donates decorations. The employees of American Christmas have given back in a variety of ways, including serving dinner at the Community Service Associates Soup Kitchen in Mount Vernon.

Fred serves on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon, the Board of Directors for the UJA Federation of New York-Westchester Business & Professional Division and the Advisory Board of Directors for the Northeast Stem Starter Academy (NSSA) in Mount Vernon. Fred previously served on the Armonk Baseball League Board of Directors for 10 years (2003-2012).

American Christmas has been covered extensively in the press, including national television coverage on CBS’ “CBS This Morning” (2016) and ABC’s “Good Morning America” (2017). Fred and the Company have received numerous honors over the years, including: Crain’s New York Business Small Business Award (1997), Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) Inner City 100 list (7 time honoree and Hall of Fame inductee), Crain’s New York Business Forty Under Forty (2002), New York Enterprise Report Best Practice winner for Sales & Marketing (2008), Inc. Magazine Inc. 5000 (2 time honoree), Mount Vernon Business Leadership award (2011), Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon Corporate Citizenship Award (2013), Westchester Magazine/914 Inc. Small Business Award for General Excellence (2013), Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year (2013), UJA Federation of New York-Westchester Business & Professional Division-Spring Breakfast Guest Speaker (2014),The Business Council of Westchester inductee into the Westchester County Business Hall of Fame (2015), Smart CEO Magazine’s Deals of Distinction (2015), Kids X-Press Dream Big Award (2016), The Mount Vernon Democratic City Committee Business Community Service Award (2017), the Mount Vernon Businessman of the Year (2017) and the Family Services of Westchester Leadership in Service Award (2018).

Fred grew up in Nanuet, New York and currently lives in Armonk, New York with his wife of 26 years, Samantha, and their two children – Chad (20) and Jonah (17). Fred graduated from Ithaca College in 1988 with a B.S. in Business Administration.

Sue Spence, Vice President, Sourcing & Procurement – FedEx

Sue joined FedEx in October 2013 as the VP of the newly centralized Sourcing & Procurement group. Her responsibilities include leading a team of over 160 professionals in managing $13B of spend in operational and services categories, and managing compliance, systems and policies related to the corporation’s procurement activities. She also serves as a member of several Industry and University councils in the field of supply management.

Prior to joining FedEx, Sue was employed at United Technologies Corporation for 28 years in positions of increasing responsibility at the aerospace divisions of Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton Sundstrand and Sikorsky Aircraft. She also served as Director of Supply Management at UTC’s Corporate HQ, where her team earned Purchasing Magazine’s annual Medal of Excellence award, and was chosen as a YWCA Woman Achiever in Business. Her career included positions in both Supply Management, Operations Transformation, Continuous Improvement, and International Trade Compliance.

Sue received her BA in Economics from the University of Connecticut, and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has two adult daughters living in Boston and New York.

Kirsten Saenz Tobey, Founder and Chief Impact Officer – Revolution Foods

Kirsten Saenz Tobey founded Revolution Foods in 2006 with co-founder and CEO Kristin Groos Richmond while in graduate school at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Based in Oakland, Revolution Foods is quickly becoming the nation’s leading innovative, nationwide food solution for community health and citywide wellness. Revolution Foods, now over $130 million in revenue, serves approximately 2 million healthy, chef crafted, affordable meals per week across 30 major metro areas in 15 states, partnering with over 2000 school and community sites in the US. Revolution Foods’ mission is to build lifelong healthy eaters by making kid-inspired, chef-crafted food accessible to all. Kirsten continues to steward the mission and drive the vision for the company. Kirsten spearheaded the company’s expansion into the consumer goods space and has led the company’s efforts on thought leadership, nutrition strategy and impact. Kirsten continues to lead the company’s efforts to developing innovative solutions for healthy meal preparation for busy families across the US.

A recent study published by the University of California at Berkeley affirms that high-quality nutritious meals drive positive academic outcomes for at-risk youth and are one of the least expensive intervention methods available to increase student success. The UC Berkeley study ranked Revolution Foods’ meals #1 on all scoring measures for “healthiness” in comparison to other companies, providing unsolicited validation of our approach to Feeding Good.

Revolution Foods was named by Fast Company as one of the world’s 50 most innovative companies in 2015 and was listed as one of Fortune Magazine’s “Seven World-Changing Companies to Watch” in August 2016. Kristin and Kirsten were named by the Schwab Foundation and World Economic Forum as Social Entrepreneurs of the Year for 2015. They were also listed among Fortune’s 40 under 40 for 2013, identified as Time Magazine’s Education Activists of 2011, and co-named Entrepreneur of the Year by NewSchools Venture Fund in 2010. Kirsten is an Ashoka Fellow, an Aspen Institute Environmental Fellow, and a member of the Culinary Institute of America’s Sustainable Business Council. She currently is a member of the Board of Directors for Mercaris and ARTA River Trips. She serves as an advisor for several startup companies, including Wellio, Homemade Cooking and Bixbee.

Prior to founding Revolution Foods, Kirsten was a teacher, researcher and garden educator with Earthjustice, the School for Field Studies, and Phillips Academy at Andover. Her career spanned from leading experiential education programs in the US and Ecuador to evaluating the scalability of school feeding programs with the United Nations Hunger Task Force in Ghana. Kirsten holds an AB from Brown University and an MBA from UC Berkeley. She lives in the SF Bay Area with her husband and three daughters.

Daniel A. Turner, President – TCG

Daniel Turner founded TCG as a web applications development consultancy in 1994. When that work became commoditized, TCG pivoted to focusing on other IT work specific to the Federal government.

Today Mr. Turner leads TCG in doing Positively Distinct™ development of cutting-edge information technologies and strategies for numerous Federal government agencies. Mr. Turner is anything but the suited and stern bosses of yore; he prefers wearing comfortable clothes and knows when to get directly involved (rarely) and when to focus on the bigger issues of company strategy, growth, and maintaining the company culture (always). His personal and unique orientation for every new employee ensures each of them understands TCG’s goals and values, as well as their own values. His daily meetings with his executive team ensure that they do not lose sight of the vision.

As Mr. Turner has grown TCG from one employee helping NIH solve legislative requirements through the application of new technology, to a company that now offers a complete range of IT and management consulting services, TCG has achieved industry-wide recognition. In 2017, TCG was named SBA’s 2017 Small Business Prime Contractor of the year and the company has been on the Inc 500/5000 ten times, is a nine-time winner of the Inner City 100, has been on the Washington Business Journal’s “biggest” and “best” lists for well more than a decade, and TCG employees have won the Washington Business Journal’s Rising Star awards seven times.

More importantly, TCG has been on Inc’s. Best Workplaces list, the Washington Post’s Top Workplace list for three years, Washington Business Journal’s Best Places to Work list for tthree years, Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work list for three years, and Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top Company Culture list, and TCG is multiple-year awardee as a Best Adoption-Friendly Workplace per the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Mr. Turner holds leadership positions in numerous non-profits including the Entrepreneur’s Organization, a global network of business owners that engages leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow through executive education. He particularly enjoys coaching both smaller and larger businesses to become yet more successful.

Mr. Turner is a proud lifetime resident of Washington, DC and spends his free time raising four native Washingtonians. His favorite business book is How To Become King by Jan Terlouw, and his favorite children’s books are Story Number 1 and Story Number 2 by Eugene Ionesco. He has been bald for far longer than he had hair.

Robert L. Wallace, President/CEO/Founder – BITHGROUP Technologies

Robert L. Wallace is an internationally-known entrepreneur, author, business consultant and keynote speaker. With more than 30 years of industry experience spanning engineering, energy, IT and executive consulting, Bob leverages his expertise to educate and inspire entrepreneurs, executives and audiences around the world.

Growing up in the Baltimore projects amidst poverty and racial segregation, Bob overcame social and economic obstacles through his own rags-to-riches story to become a successful serial entrepreneur. After being groomed by innovative industry leaders like IBM, DuPont and Procter & Gamble, Bob leveraged his experience to establish and lead three companies: BITHGROUP Technologies Inc., an IT service provider; Bithenergy Inc., an energy services company ; and through RobertWallace.com, EntreTeach Learning Systems LLC, which offers web-based training for women and minority business owners.

Pulling from his real-life experiences and extensive research, Bob has published five books on wealth creation, strategic partnerships, emerging markets and entrepreneurship – and he’s busy writing several more. His books address the challenges faced by small disadvantaged businesses and entrepreneurs, with an insightful approach that makes his writing equally compelling to large corporations with “intrapreneurial” spirit.

Today, Bob blends his diverse experiences in engineering, energy, technology, and entrepreneurship to educate, entertain and enlighten corporate audiences across industries and demographics. His dynamic keynote presentations and hands-on workshops inspire personal and professional breakthroughs, resulting in bottom-line improvements for groups he has consulted with and spoken to.

When he’s not researching, mentoring or presenting to other business leaders, Bob enjoys spending time with his wife of 40 years and their five children. He frequently takes his family on mission trips to Africa where he has started orphanages and schools. Avid about education, especially STEM programs, he regularly mentors students in high school and college. Bob is a passionate community leader and devoted church elder who believes in the intersection of spirituality and business. He helped establish Global Vessels, a faith-based nonprofit that pursues humanitarian projects around the world to meet the physical needs of people in emerging nations. Through his nonprofit, he has built global relationships that have translated into profitable connections – an example of his motto to “do good while doing well.”

Currently, Bob serves as Affiliate Professor of Business at the Loyola University Sellinger School of Business, where he lectures on innovation in the global economy. Previously, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, and his MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, where he began his research on the successful characteristics of entrepreneurs.

A highly sought-after consultant and advisor for corporate and government leaders, Bob has served as chair for the State of Maryland Information Technology Board, the Governor’s Advanced Technology Commission, Small Business Task Force, Minority Business Task Force, the City of Baltimore Mayor’s Coalition of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion, and Chair of The President’s Roundtable, a results-driven organization made of 20 companies that strive to improve the community through small, medium and large businesses working together.

Bob seamlessly blends the theoretical traits of entrepreneurial success he’s researched, with the real-world insights he’s learned from starting and building actual businesses. With this bold, forward-thinking approach, Bob’s books and presentations offer practical advice and proven strategies that give professional audiences a roadmap to achieve their own objectives of success.

Rob Walsh, Adjunct Professor – Columbia University School of Public and International Affairs; Baruch’s School of Public and International Affairs; Senior Advisor to the President of Manhattan College

Rob Walsh is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of Public and International Affairs and at Baruch’s School of Public and International Affairs. At Baruch, he has also served as the Faculty Director of the Executive Masters in Public Administration Program.

His segment “The Bottom Line for Small Business” airs on 1010 WINS Radio where he is also the host and moderator of the Small Business Challenge which recognizes, the work of entrepreneurs in New York Metropolitan area.
In January 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Walsh the Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS). During his twelve years, SBS became one of the city’s most innovative agencies in serving the needs of its 200,000 small businesses.

Walsh re-energized the City’s business improvement districts and created an award-winning commercial revitalization and neighborhood leadership program in partnership with the Coro Foundation. Under his leadership, seven NYC Business Solutions Centers were established that secured more than $200 million for small businesses in the last six years of his tenure. He introduced NYC Business Express an online tool for the license, permit, tax, and incentive information that businesses need to operate. He created a wide array of entrepreneurial courses and forged new partnerships with groups including the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, Interise, and the Kauffman Foundation. Walsh also built a new business-focused approach to the workforce system that placed nearly 200,000 people in jobs through 17 workforce career centers.

Prior to his service with the City, Walsh served as President of Charlotte Center City Partners in North Carolina, an organization dedicated to improving and growing Charlotte’s central business district. he led the Center City 2010 Master Plan that laid the groundwork for significant private and public investments in the core of the city including more housing, retail development, an NBA basketball arena, a minor league baseball stadium, cultural facilities, a light rail line, and parks. He also initiated the recruitment efforts that attracted Johnson & Wales University to the Center City.

From 1989 to April 1997, he led the Union Square Partnership, where he played an instrumental role in the neighborhood’s revitalization. During the 1980’s, he worked in the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch. He began his career in public service as a New York City Urban Fellow, a program he later directed.

Walsh holds a Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Affairs from Fordham University. He also participated in the Senior Executive Program in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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