Register for the Boston Conference

Meet Our Keynote Speakers

Colette Phillips

Opening Keynote Speaker

CEO and President Colette Phillips Communications, Inc

Iconic, thought leader, innovator, practical visionary, pioneer, inclusive leader, uber connector, consummate networker are terms often used to describe Colette Phillips, who is the President and CEO of Colette Phillips Communications, Inc. and Founder of Get Konnected! She is a values-based leader, trusted advisor and change agent who uses her influence and communications expertise to engage, enlighten, empower and educate multiple stakeholders on a variety of issues. She has extensive experience advising C-level executives, pubic figures, world leaders, entrepreneurs, and corporate teams across multiple industries including academia, arts and entertainment, energy, healthcare, financial services, non-profit, retail, real estate, sports, technology and transportation.  She is a widely recognized expert in strategy and transformation who is frequently consulted by corporations and nonprofits on how to establish healthy, inclusive working environments for their employees and how to engage and serve culturally diverse consumers. A risk-taker and enterprising person, she pioneered inclusion /multicultural marketing in New England. She is highly respected for her amazing ability to create cross-cultural business and social relationships and networks. Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh cites her as one of his invaluable trusted advisors and mentors. She and her communications firm provide strategic and tactical support for stakeholder engagement, brand activation, reputation and crisis management, multicultural and inclusion communications and executive coaching.

Colette is a master at creating positive solutions and outcomes to solve challenging problems for her clients and sometimes society.  In 2008, she launched Get Konnected! a social impact venture, which today is Boston’s premier inclusive business networking event series which brings together culturally diverse professionals, business leaders and entrepreneurs across industries and sectors to learn, network and forge new business and social relationships.  In 2016, she created the historic GK100, Boston’s first comprehensive compilation of the city’s 100 Most Influential People of Color.  In 2017, she again made history with both the GK15 List saluting Greater Boston’s 15 Companies with the Most Racially and Gender Diverse Corporate Boards and the GK50 honoring Boston’s 50 Most Influential People of Color in Healthcare and Life Sciences. The Boston Globe has cited her as “changing the conversation on diversity in the city.”  Get Konnected!’s impact on the Boston community has been transformative and is credited for making Boston a more welcoming and inclusive city for professionals of color.

Crystal Haynes

Afternoon Keynote Speaker

Journalist

At the center of every good story is a person with the courage to share it, and it has been Crystal Haynes’ passion to tell that story well.

Starting from humble beginnings in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts as a teen reporter for The Republican newspaper, Crystal has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has worked for over a decade in television.

Crystal graduated with Honors from Emerson College, where she majored in Broadcast Journalism and minored in History and Political Communication.

Reporting on the ground during the chaos and fear of the Marathon bombings, to the streets of Boston with Black Lives Matter protesters, Crystal has strived to tell the stories that matter with a focus on objectivity. She recently co-produced and presented Boston 25 News’ four week, Boston’s Black History: Inspiring our Future. The series for Black History Month spear-headed a joint collaboration with the City of Boston for its first ever Black History Month contest.

Crystal is a two time Emmy nominated reporter and had earned several awards including an Associated Press award for Excellence in Journalism.

She enjoys the chance to meet someone new each day and tell their story or dig deeper on an issue facing a community.

Meet Our Special Guests

Shellee Mendes

Event Emcee

Philanthropist, Owner Salon Monet
& Newbury Street Networkers

Shellee Mendes is an ambitious, diligent, driven and generous minority business owner cosmetology professional who has achieved celebrity status in the Boston-area and beyond! As the founder/owner/stylist at Salon Monet on Newbury Street, she serves a diverse, multicultural clientele. Shellee’s outstanding business skills and warm-hearted approach to work and life cause her to be sought-after as a board member, speaker and role model for a wide range of organizations. She is always giving back – her charitable giving includes donations and fundraisers for Women’s Lunch Place, Boston Children’s Hospital and a host of organizations that help children, women and families. She is the recipient of many awards including Best of Boston Hair Salon and her celebrity clients include Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and players and family members from the New England Patriots and Boston Celtics as well as news anchors and reporters. She is the founder of the annual Newbury Street Hair Show that draws attention to the vitality of Newbury Street as an amazing, eclectic venue serving the Boston community and tourist industry. Shellee has recently joined the Board of Boston Arts Academy.

Monica Cost

Opening Remarks

Personal & Professional Pathfinder
Monica Cost Enterprises, The Core Value Company

Monica Cost is a Pathfinder, author, and speaker. Her mission is simple, to create value-aligned strategies for professionals, entrepreneurs and personalities, through consulting, facilitation, and keynotes.

Her groundbreaking Value Identification Process™, has enabled her to work with notable personalities, Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and universities.

Having worked in finance, human resources and commercial real estate for over 15 years, Monica has first hand experience on what it takes to create sustainable change for professional success while attaining personal fulfillment. She has created a powerful link between one’s core values, personal fulfillment and professional success. Having abandoned societal expectations for a journey to her authentic life, Monica has equipped thousands with the ability to move towards overall life success.

In 2006, Monica became the first Black Female Broker for any major commercial real estate in Massachusetts. Prior to taking this position, she was the youngest and first Black person to hold the role of Operations Manager for the Cushman & Wakefield of Massachusetts, Inc. with responsibilities for five offices and a 35 million dollar budget. She is no stranger to pressure. With pressure comes expectations. With expectations can come conformity.

Monica communicates her message through her book, The Things I Used to do to Sneeze: How to live an authentic life, keynotes and workshops.

Monica has been recognized by the Boston Business Journal with the prestigious 40 Under 40 Award, by the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, Girl Scouts’ with the Leading Woman Award. In addition, she was interviewed and featured in The History Makers project. Additionally, she has been featured on WCVB Channel 5’s City Line, NBC’s Urban Update, The Tom Joyner Show, Kiss FM New York and other media outlets

Gail Jackson-Blount

Opening Remarks

MWPC Board President, 2016-2018

Gail Jackson-Blount is the President of Jackson Communications, a marketing & communications consultancy providing communications strategies, multi-cultural marketing, business development, fundraising, and event production for a diverse range of private companies and non-profit organizations – including with the American Red Cross, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Avon Corporation, Partners HealthCare, Pfizer, Catalyst Ventures LLC, the Greater Boston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (BCEC), Kage Growth Strategies & Millennium Partners, The Dimock Center, major sports teams, and the NE Minority Supplier Development Council.

Throughout her career, Jackson’s strengths have been counseling executives while leading campaigns and teams to address communications and crisis issues.  Her executive experiences include cabinet roles with major political campaigns leading efforts to get candidates elected to public office and public policy positions, running communications departments for some of the countries most revered human service organizations and in academia.  She’s developed and implemented strategies to address general and crisis communications for global Fortune 500 companies, and has served as chief outreach strategist and political director for the Democratic National Convention Committee. She began her career in radio broadcasting and is a frequent speaker about women in leadership, politics, etiquette, and effective communications and marketing.   A staunch supporter of women’s programs and a mentor of women, Jackson is the most recent past board president of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) and is a director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, serving on its nominating committee.

Jackson has also served on the board of the Merrimack Valley YWCA, Girl’s Golf Program of New England, and is a Charter Advisory Board Member for the Young Black Women’s Society of Massachusetts.  She served on boards for the Boston Center for the Arts, Harvard Health Center, YMCA, and the President’s Council for the Urban College of Boston.  She is the recipient of several recognitions and was recently honored with a 2018 Outstanding Leadership Award by the MWPC, GK’s 100 Most Influential People in Boston, the 4A’s for Diversity Leadership, Zonta International, the AKA’s Community Leader Award, and a 2018 Leading Women’s Award by the International Multi-cultural Symposium Series.  A native Bostonian, Jackson and her husband reside in Quincy, MA.

Pam Berman

Opening Remarks

MWPC Board President, 2019

Pam Berman is a partner with Robins Kaplan LLP, one of the nation’s premier trial law firms with more than 250 lawyers in 8 major cities. She is a trial lawyer with significant jury and non-jury experience. For more than 30 years, she has focused her practice on the broad range of business disputes, including real estate litigation, contract disputes, employment litigation, securities litigation, including the representation of broker-dealers, and defending clients in government investigations in the healthcare, financial and other industries. Clients know Pam to be responsive, quick on her feet, and methodical, carefully planning each case from the outset and reacting quickly when circumstances require a change of strategy. An experienced trial lawyer, Pam thrives in the courtroom. Driven by an interest in expanding her own horizons and taking on new challenges, Pam has developed a deep working knowledge of many industries and the technologies that serve them. Her case history includes clients in health and life sciences; the financial industry, including banking and securities; manufacturing; and real estate.

Pam currently serves on the Emeritus Board of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts. She also serves on the Advisory Committee for Judicial Nominations for the Federal Court in Boston which she has done since 2013. In 2014, Pam received the Lelia J. Robinson Award from the Women’s Bar Association, and in 2013 she was honored with a Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly “Top Women of Law Circle of Excellence” award. She has been honored each year as one of Massachusetts’ top Super Lawyers since 2004. Pam is the past president of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations and the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts.  She holds a B.A. magna cum laude from Wells College where she graduated phi beta kappa, and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. Pam is a resident of Canton, Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and raised their three children.

Our 2019 Boston Speakers

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Ana De Pina

Financial Services Professional – New York Life

Ana De Pina is a Licensed Financial Services Professional at New York Life Insurance
Company, who enjoys working with women, entrepreneurs, schools, and families in
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. to educate, grow, protect, and
transfer wealth.

Ana believes that the work she does is extremely important due to the wealth gap in the United States and due to Financial Education that is lacking in so many communities. Ana does not work alone. Ana has assembled a team of Accountants, Estate Attorneys, Real Estate and Mortgage Brokers to provide personalized guidance and support.

Ana is a multilingual professional. Ana speaks Cape Verdean Creole, Spanish, and
Portuguese, having mostly taught English as a Second Language and History to the
multicultural communities of Boston and Wakefield, MA for fourteen years. Ana has a
love and deep respect for all children, families, and teachers.

Therefore, Ana uses her experience in Education to serve as a Grief Sensitivity
Ambassador, providing public schools with $500 Grant from the New York Life
Foundation. In this roll, Ana brilliantly marries her passions and her calling to families and schools.

Ana holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Languages from the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies from Fuller
Theological Seminary. Ana currently serves as a Teaching Assistant for Greek at
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston. Ana resides in Boston with her mom, daughter, and son.

Betty Francisco

General Counsel, Compass Working Capital
Co-Founder , Latina Circle & Amplify Latinx

Betty Francisco is an entrepreneur, business executive, attorney and community leader. Currently, Betty is the founder of FitNation Ventures, a boutique consulting practice focused on fitness programming for youth in the Greater Boston area and founder of Reimagine Play, a startup that offers pop-up fitness classes for children. Previously, she served as EVP, General Counsel for Sports Club/LA and Reebok Sports Club/NY, a luxury fitness brand acquired by Equinox Fitness, and as a Senior Business Law Associate at Edwards Wildman, one of Boston’s largest law firms representing start-ups, corporations and investors. Betty is also an investor with Pipeline Angels, a network of new and seasoned women investors, changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women social entrepreneurs. She is also the co-founder of Latina Circle, a Boston-based network launched in 2012 that is advancing Latina leaders across industries into positions of power and influence.

Ellora Sen-Gupta

photographer, voiceover artist, biomedical engineer

Ellora grew up moving from country to country; born in Australia, she lived there for a while until her family all moved to New Zealand and then to the United States where she attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for both an undergraduate degree in Bioengineering and a master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering. She loves working in the biotechnology and healthcare space using her technical background, but she also continues to cultivate her creative side through her photography and voiceover efforts.

Ellora started diving into photography almost five years ago with interests and specialties in travel, wildlife, and portraiture and has since grown her skills by booking, planning, and directing photoshoots as well as learning from the talented people around her. Apart from being a photographer and engineer, she loves working as a voiceover actor performing character voices and accents and has done voice work for commercials, games, podcasts, and continues to record as an audiobook narrator.

In her free time she volunteers at the Wolf Hollow educational facility in Ipswich, Massachusetts and relaxes by catching up with her tv shows and books at home with her cat.

Elizabeth Johnson

Owner, EMJ Financial Services

Elizabeth (Liz) Johnson believes that everyone deserves a tax preparer or bookkeeper that cares about them and the success of their business. Someone who they can trust, and bookkeeper that makes doing taxes easy and affordable. Liz’s business started by word of mouth and has grown as she has proven she can save people money and make the tax preparation process less stressful. Liz is a dedicated, and experienced bookkeeper and tax preparer with over 10 years of experience preparing taxes. Her specialty is in working with both individual and corporate tax returns and bookkeeping. Elizabeth doesn’t just do bookkeeping and tax preparation, she works together with her clients to map out a plan for their financial future. She strives to make complicated tax situations understandable to her clients while helping them pay the least amount of tax legally owed by searching for all possible credits and deductions available. Tax preparation and bookkeeping services allow Liz to help clients sort out plans for a financial future that will support their personal dreams and long-term goals at a price they can afford.

Freya Allen Shoffner, Esq.

Principal Attorney, Shoffner & Associates

Freya Allen Shoffner offers practical, effective solutions for businesses, families and individuals on a wide variety of legal matters. Freya has strong experience in the areas of business and corporate law, tax, estate and long-term planning, probate, litigation, bankruptcy, real estate, and traditional and alternative family matters. She helps both for-profit and non-profit businesses in many industries including medical, retail, hospitality, real estate and technology.

Before opening Shoffner & Associates in 2000, Freya joined Boston’s Lavien & Tveekrem as a law clerk in 1991. In 1994, Freya became a named partner in the firm Lavien, Tveekrem & Shoffner. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Freya purchased and operated several successful businesses in Massachusetts. As a result, she has an intimate and unique knowledge of every aspect regarding small-business management.

Committed to the communities in which she lives and works, Freya was an active member of the Newbury Street League Board of Directors from 2002 through 2007. During that time, she was a co-chair for the League’s annual Gala Committee. Freya has a long history of volunteer work including many roles for the First Congregational Church of Marshfield. She served the church’s Board of Trustees from 1995-through 2001. Also during that time, she chaired the endowment, constitution, church fair and audit committees. Additionally, Freya volunteered her time to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Freya was a volunteer chairperson teaching a course at Suffolk University Law School’s Advanced Legal Studies entitled, “Business Planning: Starting and Succeeding in Your Own Practice”, and she was a recent panel member on the Advanced Legal Studies Series, “Jumpstarting Your Practice: From Backpack to Briefcase.” She was a member of Northeastern University’s Curriculum Committee for the University’s Master of Science for Nonprofit Management program. She has spoken for organizations including the Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers, Mount Holyoke College, and the American Orthodontic Society.

Freya is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and serves as an Alumnae Admissions Representative for the school. She received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Suffolk University School of Law in 1992. She is admitted to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States Appeals Court (1st Circuit), the United States Tax Court, and the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Massachusetts.

Jane Zhdanova

Instagram Marketer, Salted Papaya

Jane helps small businesses harness their size and flexibility along with their unique attributes to establish a brand identity on social media. She helps them to create a community of loyal fans and to sell their products on Instagram, without spending a lot of money on marketing. Her mission is to make social media management services and training affordable for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs.

After a successful career as a business analyst in Russia, Jane moved to the US to get a Master’s Degree in Project Management from Northeastern University. She quickly became a part of the Boston startup community and realized that online marketing was her passion. Her analytical background influences the way she approaches social media marketing. She only uses performance-based strategies for her clients.

Since 2012, she has been working with startups and small businesses from various industries, including 3d printing, nonprofit, apparel and fashion, and the food industry.

She holds Google AdWords certification and a Facebook Certified Buying Professional certificate. She has also completed courses for creative writing and storytelling for business, Instagram Design, Messenger Marketing and a Chatbot Mastery course.

In 2017, she founded her Instagram Marketing Agency Salted Papaya, which specializes in helping ecommerce businesses sell their products on Instagram.

Jayme Washington

“Digital Architect”
Founder & President/CEO of Washtone Media, LLC
Certified Partner with Google

WashTone Media has been “designed” by Jayme to meet every high expectation
well deserved by its clients. In order to achieve maximized results for clients, she
focuses on the synergy and cross-discipline integrations of several disciplines such
as web presence, data science, analytics, business automation, and computational
creativity.

As a modern business, technology and digital architect, Jayme is driven by customer
experience to utilize technology that transforms businesses, increases revenue and
profitability, and improves the competitive position of a business, through innovative
website design, social media, email marketing, and SEO campaigns. .

Jayme is a true business leader, community leader, mentor and high achiever in
every sense of the word. As a business leader, Jayme is the Founding President of
WashTone Media, an internet marketing firm specializing in social media. Widely
known as a “digital architect” in digital marketing and named as a “Top Social Media
Power Influencer” by Boston Parent Magazine, Jayme has become recognized as an
authority on branding. She actively participates in a multitude of local community
groups, including youth groups, student groups, young social media interns, and
entrepreneurs.

Professional, Personal, and Civic Accomplishments

  • Graduate of Berklee College of Music ‘01
  • Teaches Social Media for Entrepreneurs; including:
    – Google’s Academy for Ads University
    – Google Certification for Digital Agencies
    – “Achiever’s Workshop”
  • Honoree, Ellie Fund Organization (2018)
  • Member, Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Boston Business
    Women Group
  • Advisor / Mentor:
    – Emerson College
    – Berklee College of Music
    – Boston Public Schools
    – New Rehoboth Bethel Church, Inc.
    – Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, Inc.
    – The Greater Food Bank of MA, Volunteer
  • Cancer Survivor
  • Mother to Victoria, Sabrina, Rachel, Brian, Jr. and Brenden
  • Wife to one amazing husband – Brian, Sr.

Jessicah Pierre

Founder, The Queens Company & JessicahPierre.com

Jessicah Pierre is a Public Relations Professional, Blogger, and Social Entrepreneur whose work has been featured in local outlets such as the Bay State Banner, to national outlets like BET. Growing up in a Haitian-American household, her interest for politics was sparked at a young age from listeningto her family’s debates around Haitian and American politics.

Jessicah has used this passion and her communications skills as an avenue to create social change in her community while inspiring others to do so as well. Jessicah has always been dedicated to advocating around women’s issues, particularly women of color. She is the founder and CEO of Queens Company, an organization dedicated to empowering women of color by hosting networking events, workshops, and by providing a mutual support system.

Recently, Jessicah launched her personal platform – with content to promote civic engagement, entrepreneurship, motivation, and fashion/beauty – in an effort to influence others to be their best self. Learn more at jessicahpierre.com.

Lisa A. Holmes

Human Resources Expert, Executive Coach, Author

Lisa A. Holmes, MSHR is a Human Resources expert, Executive Coach and Author with more than 30 years of experience. She holds a Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Science in Human Resource from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. Presently, Holmes serves as Chief Business Strategist for Strategic Performance of Los Angeles headquarted in Los Angeles, California.

Lisa’s “keep it real” communicative style and strong business acumen has made her the sought-after leader by Fortune 500 businesses, privately held organizations across diverse industries and professional athletes.

Lisa resides in sunny Los Angeles with her husband and daughters.

Muffen Moses

President, CEO, Muffen International Salons

Muffen, a native Bostonian has cosmetology in her DNA. She is President/CEO of Muffen’s International Salon who has now taken her vision bi-coastal; making her mark in Hollywood. While well known for launching Boston’s Premier Beauty Shows – Battle of the sexes Hair Show and competition And Expocation Educational Expo with over 4,000 attendees every year since 2000, last year she successfully brought the same high impact experience to Los Angeles. Muffen possesses passion, talent and shear knowledge of the art of hair design and the industry. Her impact has garnered a number of noted National Awards in over 22 competitions with National recognition, while she has been featured on Tears, Shears & Beauty, The Tyra Banks Show, and Big D’s House on the A&E Network. Her love for the craft and desire to teach others explains why her classes are known to have standing room only. She is a mainstay in the business of all things hair!

Raydania Peña

Financial Services Professional – New York Life

Raydania Pena has been in the insurance and financial industry since 2013, and maintains a strong affiliation with New York Life Insurance Company. She is currently licensed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Florida. Raydania is extremely dedicated to helping families, professionals, and business owners reach their financial goals. Her passion is to educate others in order to provide hope, confidence and a peace of mind when it comes to current and future planning.

One of her favorite quotes “Begin with the end in mind” has helped with her commitment to providing a proper analysis for clients; As a result she is able to make sure her clients have wealth for generations to come.

Raydania currently resides in Boston, MA. She is a member of NAIFA (National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.) She is also a mentor with Silver Lining Mentoring, which provides support to foster children. On her spare time she enjoys volunteering, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

Dr. Roberta Hoskie

Owner, CEO
Outreach Realty Services, LLC

In 2006, Roberta established Outreach Foundation, a non-profit organization which advocates for affordable housing for low and moderate-income families. In 2011, she established the Outreach School of Real Estate, a Connecticut-licensed real estate school with reciprocity in 11 other states. In the same year, Roberta also opened Outreach Realty Servicing, a full-service real estate brokerage firm.

Under Outreach Realty, Roberta created the patent-pending Mortgage Readiness Program, which assists first-time homebuyers with improving their credit ratings and financial circumstances so that they can position themselves to prequalify for a mortgage.

Roberta also spearheaded the creation of a $7.5 million loan fund by creating a  partnership between First Niagara Bank, now Key Bank, and the Greater New Haven NAACP. This fund has created resources and opportunities for first-time homeowners and minority business owners to start and/or expand their businesses and create job opportunities within urban communities. This program, currently run by Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven, is the first of its kind within the  national NAACP.

Now, with 20 years of real estate experience, and as an owner of a multi-million-dollar business, Roberta is a real estate investor and broker with experience with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Section 8, HUD Housing Subsidies and Conventional Rental Market Value Management.

Roberta has received countless community awards, including the New Haven  Register’s Person of the Year, Gateway Community College’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business  Achievement Award. Roberta also recently received an honorary doctorate degree in community development from the Los Angeles Development Church & Institute.

Roberta now empowers other women through the “Ms. Millionaire Mindset Sisterhood,” which she founded in 2016. It is a faith-based sisterhood devoted to breaking the curse of poverty over their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The growing organization strives to exemplify the power of unity, the power of loyalty and the power of group economics. On November 4, 2017, the Sisterhood has established an Atlanta, GA Chapter of the Millionaire Mindset Sisterhood!

Roberta has hundreds of students and coaching clients, and also travels throughout the country with her real-estate partner, Jay Morrison, helping others understand the power of ownership and helping them with business development, real estate investing and coaching them on how to develop a “Millionaire Mindset.”

Roberta’s life mission is to help as many people as she can to “Break the Poverty Curse, Live their Divine Purpose and Create Generational Wealth.” It is this mission that inspired her to put her story in writing.

In 2018 Roberta published her 1st book, “ Poverty Curse Broken: The Roberta Hoskie Story. ” The book chronicles her journey from the struggles to the successes, and provides encouragement to those who may need it as they endure their own struggles to successes.

Sharhea Wade

Assistant Vice President, State Street Corporation
President of National Black MBA Association – Boston Chapter

Sharhea is an Assistant Vice President, working as the Chief Administrative Officer for the CAO of State Street Corporation. She began her career at State Street as an intern in 2008 and has since succeeded in various roles within the Global Treasury Investment Portfolio team. Sharhea is an active participant in State Street’s employee network groups, including serving on the Steering Committee of State Street’s Black Professionals Group (BPG) and the Boston Workforce Investment Networks (Boston WINs) Employee Resource Group. Sharhea also co-chaired State Street’s Global Treasury Employee Engagement Council (GTEEC). She has received several awards and recognition for her commitment to the networks throughout the years.

Sharhea is an active community member, who currently serves as the elected President of National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) – Boston Chapter and most recently the board of The Philanthropy Connection (completion in May 2017). She also served as the Executive Director of the Boston Chapter’s Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Program for four years.

Due to her dedication in the community, Sharhea was awarded the 2017 Chairman’s Award for Exceptional Volunteerism. This annual award is given to one State Street employee in the region (USA, EMEA & APAC) for their commitment to and passion for their local community. The award included a $10k donation to a local nonprofit, which Sharhea generously donated to the NBMBAA’s LOT Program. Her passion comes from her modest upbringing and her commitment to Boston’s pre-collegiate leadership organizations such as Summer Search, Bottom Line, uAspire and The Posse Foundation that helped to mold her.

Sharhea graduated from Bryn Mawr College and Boston University (MBA). In her spare time, she loves to read and sing until her lungs give out. She is originally from the beautiful, volcanic island of Montserrat, West Indies and now resides in Boston, MA.

Shenia M. Dancy, Esq.

Author, Certified Life Coach, Attorney at Law

Shenia M. Dancy is a Mississippi born, Boston raised attorney that has been practicing law for over a quarter of a century.

She is a Northeastern University, Boston alumnae with a degree in Criminal Justice, and a Suffolk University Law School, Boston alumnae with a Juris Doctor.

She is admitted to the practice of Law in The United States Supreme Court; The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts; and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

She recently joined a select group of business experts and entrepreneurs from around the world to co-author the book titled, Success Today.

She has also been featured in Forbes Magazine –Strategies for Success in the New Year and Beyond.

She is also an author, professional life coach, mediator, and Founder and CEO of Beyond the Bedroom and the Courtroom.

She serves as a speaker/presenter in various settings, including schools, churches, and civic organizations.

She has taught Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Evidence and Courtroom Procedures at the college level, and has served as a faculty member in the area of Family Law for Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education.

She has served as a Real Estate Title Agent, and a Real Estate Broker as well as a Commissioner to sell real estate, and as a Guardian Ad Litem for children and the elderly in the Probate and Superior Courts.

Attorney Dancy has received numerous awards and accolades in recognition of her professional, civic and community involvement.  Including, but not limited to the American Jurisprudence and Property Law Award; two time winner of the Outstanding Young Women of America Award; selection to the Hall of Fames Donors in the renaming of a local elementary school to the Dr. Catherine Ellison-Rosa Parks Early Education School; and selection as a delegate by the American Trial Lawyers Association to participate in bilateral exchange with her counterparts in China


Attorney Dancy continues to support community and professional boards, committees and events, such as National Bar Association; Massachusetts Bar Association; Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association; NAACP; Garrett Pressley Autism Resource Center; and Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

She is the proud daughter of two educators who taught for several decades in the Boston Public Schools, and the grateful mother of two sons. She is a member of Morning Star Baptist Church.

Taisha Crayton

Author / Principal, Chief Biz Builder &
Deputy Director of Contractor Certification Commonwealth of Massachusettes

Chief Business Builder, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Author, Wife, and Mom, Taisha Crayton specializes in helping minority and women owned small businesses obtain government designated certifications and get in position to win 6 and 7 figure government and corporate contracts. Taisha graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems from Northeastern University. She has also studied at Dartmouth College, TUCK business school and received a certificate in Minority & Women Executive Leadership. Taisha is a graduate of Minority & Women Diversity Programs from Suffolk Construction, Turner Construction, Gilbane Construction and Blue Cross Blue Shield. She has achieved high levels of success during her career path in the construction, banking and information technology industries. For over a decade, Tasha served as a church director overseeing the financial administration of the organization. She was also the CEO of a multi-million dollar construction business. It was during one of the roughest times after her and her husband both lost their 6-figure jobs that Taisha began the journey of financial
freedom through entrepreneurship

Teresa Nelson, Ph.D.

Professor, Simmons University Business School (Boston, MA)
Principal, The Impact Seat

Teresa Nelson, Ph.D. is a Professor at Simmons University Business School (Boston, Massachusetts USA) and a Principal of The Impact Seat, a research and consulting practice focused on entrepreneurship and inclusive innovation (www.impactseat.com). Nelson’s academic research on entrepreneurship is focused on pathways to growth, access to capital, pitching, strategic organizational design, and purpose and policy that supports the venturing of women, men of color and the LGBT community. Nelson was an Obama-era appointee to the National Women’s Business Council, taking a particular focus on women in science and entrepreneurship. She serves as Senior Director of Policy and Research for Astia, a global community of people, including investing angels, promoting women entrepreneurs. She is also a member of the Scientific Committee of Women Equity Growth, a project of venture capital firm Bryan-Garnier in Paris and was recently appointed to the Board of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Global Ambassadors Program. Nelson has taught on 5 continents and has engaged intensely in China and in Europe. She holds an MBA and a PhD in business with a focus in strategic management.

2019 Maven Award Recipients, Boston

Janelle Woods-McNishJanelle Woods-McNish

Advocate, Spokesperson, Philanthropist, Author

A wife, mother, business professional, community leader and beauty queen Janelle Woods-McNish wears many hats and titles. Her most prestigious and valuable titles are wife to Hansley and mother to 10-year-old twins Jasmine and Sheridan. Janelle is the Director of Service and Giving at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s Foundation. In her 11 years at Harvard Pilgrim, Janelle has transformed the Corporation’s employee engagement model.  Outside of Harvard Pilgrim, Janelle has also taken a leadership role in various organizations that relate to my three passions- education, cultural diversity and empowering women.  She currently serves as Vice-Chair on City Year Boston Board of Directors, is an Advisory Council  Member for  Needham Bank and is the Co-Chair for the Base Women’s Leadership Council.

In 2016 Janelle received the 40 under 40 award from the Boston Business Journal honoring her accomplishments in business and the community. Janelle was profiled as an Emerging Leader in the Boston Business Journal in 2012. The publication also honored her in 2011 as a Rising Star in Business, an award that honors professionals under 30 who are building unique brands, bringing innovations to market, starting trends, giving back and are successful as well as the YMCA’s Service Award. In 2010, Janelle Received the Massachusetts Unsung Heroine award as well as the YMCA Achievers award.  Most recently Janelle authored a children’s book called Grandma’s Crown: The Story of Queen Janelle. Proceed from the sale of the book benefit the national non-profit Children of the Night.

Janelle was crowned Mrs. Massachusetts 2013 and represented the Bay State at the nationally televised Mrs. America pageant held in Arizona. Janelle is currently Mrs. New England International and will represent the region at the Mrs. International pageant in July 2019.

Janelle holds a MBA from Simmons College, Master’s Degree in Higher Education from Boston College and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University.

Michelle “Mona” Thompson

Visionary Leader, Senior Pastor, Author, 

Founder of R.I.S.E

Michelle ‘Mona’ Thompson is a visionary leader and Senior Pastor alongside her husband Matthew K. Thompson of Jubilee Christian Church. Jubilee is one of the largest churches in the New England area with over 7,000 members, five services in two locations. She is a highly sought-after speaker, best-selling author and founder of the internationally recognized program R.I.S.E. (Reaching Into Self-Esteem), a life-changing girls program est. October 1994. On July 7th 2018 – She was sworn in and installed as a Massachusetts Commissioner for Women & Girls.

The R.I.S.E. Girls Program provides a forum for young girls ages 6 to 14 to learn  through stimulating and challenging discovery experiences. The curriculum is  designed to enhance girls’ self-esteem while aiding in their spiritual, social, physical, cultural, educational, political, economic and emotional development. Fast forward 24 years later and the “her” story of RISE continues to be written by the next chapter of riveting girls who gain valuable resources, apply practical lessons learned and  become powerful change agents  within their sphere of influence.

The R.I.S.E. (Reaching Into Self Esteem) Girls Book Series encourages self-esteem & friendship for girls  of all ages. The first book “Rise”, is an illustrated version of the R.I.S.E. pledge.  The second book “Shine”, in the series tells the story of the girls growing up from elementary school until graduating from college with illustrations of them navigating life in future careers, passions, family, and conflict. The third book “Grow”, is the story of friendship.