Meet our 2020 Conference Speakers

Tina Lifford

Opening Keynote Speaker

Wellbeing Expert & Inner Fitness Strategist CEO, The Inner Fitness Project Oprah Winfrey’s Network- Queen Sugar Cast Member Actress, Author & Playwright

Hollywood veteran Tina Lifford plays the vivacious breakout character Aunt Vi on the critically acclaimed television drama, Queen Sugar She has played over 100 characters in her long standing career, including the CIA Director on Scandal and the mother in law on Parenthood Equally accomplished behind the camera, Tina is the respected playwright of THE CIRCLE, a play about how seven diverse women navigate the choppy waters of life together, author of The Little Book of BIG LIES (to be released by Harper Collins, November 2019 and CEO of The Inner Fitness Project, a personal development network committed to making the practices and benefits of “Inner Fitness” as familiar, well understood and accessible as those of physical fitness The drive behind Tina’s commitment to inner fitness dates back to a debilitating encounter with stage fright in the fifth grade that she had to overcome in order to live the life of her dreams Her journey uplifts, educates and inspires However, more importantly, it identifies exercises, skills and practices that strengthen the inner Self and impacts overall inner health and well being in the way physical exercise strengthens the physical body Her aim fostering a stronger, healthier, more resilient, thriving inner Self, healthier families and  communities Her motto:

Let’s be fully alive!

Scarlet Soriano, MD

Luncheon Keynote Speaker

Integrative medicine physician, health and wellness consultant

Dr. Scarlet Soriano, MD, ABIHM is the Director for Group Visits and Wellness-Based Healthcare Transformation at the Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Disparities and the Department of Human Resources at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Soriano is passionate about expanding access to Integrative Medicine and Wellness services to underserved communities.  Dr. Soriano recently launched a consulting practice geared towards organizations seeking to develop wellness strategies. She is also a Wellness Integration coach for individuals seeking to optimize their health including mind, body and spirit. Dr. Soriano has a strong interest in nutrition, meditation, the mind-body connection, and environmental health. She teaches various forms of meditation to employees, patients and care providers at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Soriano is a gifted speaker, coach, and educator in the areas of Wellness, Nutrition, Consciousness and Health, and Integrative Medicine. Dr. Soriano received her medical degree with various honors from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Medical Anthropology from Princeton University.

Claire Sulmers

VIP Experience

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Fashion Bomb Daily Magazine Author, “The Bomb Life”

Ms. Claire Siobhan Sulmers is the founder of  FashionBombDaily.com, and the industry’s leading fashion blogger chronicling fashionistas of color. Her pioneering work ushered in a new wave of digital journalism that fed and fueled an under-served community of African-American and Latino style lovers wanting to know more about brand from the culture. Beyond developing and directing content for Fashion Bomb Daily and its affiliate sites, Sulmers has done extensive style writing for other platforms including Vogue Italia , Vogue Paris , and ESSENCE Magazine. Her body of work and online following – now numbered above one million – has made Ms. Sulmers the influencer of choice for major corporate brands who want to reach her audience including Toyota, Dark & Lovely, and others. Ms. Sulmers, who hails from Atlanta, Georgia, holds a degree in French and African American studies from Harvard University. In 11 years, Claire has accumulated over 1.3 million followers, written a book “The Bomb Life”, and is now working on her 2nd book.

Our 2020 Speakers

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Celeste Viciere

Mental Health Therapist, Author, Podcast Host

Celeste Viciere is a renowned licensed mental health clinician (LMHC) and therapist, speaker,  best-selling author, and podcast host. She is frequently quoted by media, including NBC News, Bustle and others, as a mental health and relationship expert. Celeste has been in the mental health field for more than 19 years and believes in the power of living a conscious life. Her podcast, “Celeste The Therapist,” focuses on ways to shift your mindset and change your  thought process. She is also the author of 365 Days of intentional living a guided journal that teaches you how to live with intention and purpose and Relationship Goals- a guide to having a healthy relationship.

Celeste believes our mind can control how we feel. If we constantly think negative, we feel negative. If we change how we think, we can sometimes change how we feel. She is a personal believer of positive thinking. She works to help you understand your thinking pattern by challenging your thought process. She understands the importance of therapy and the stigma associated with therapy. Celeste hopes to dismantle the stigma that society brings to the field of mental health by encouraging mental health maintenance for individuals of all ages.

Chaitra Sanders

Massachusets Health Connector

Chaitra Sanders joined the Massachusetts Health Connector in 2018 soon after the launch of the new Health Connector for Business online shopping platform for small businesses.

She serves as the primary service and sales liaison for direct small employer groups, brokers and other distribution channels.

She continues with the Health Connector to implement outreach initiatives that engage and inform potential new small business members and their employees about the changes and opportunities for health insurance coverage available through MAhealthconnector.org/business

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

A visionary attorney in both the public and private  sectors, Freya Shoffner’s 20+ years of  working with small business and large corporations has afforded her the reputation as a “go to attorney.” Freya has significant experience with small business start-ups, financing and good business practices. She’s also known known for her outstanding work in Estate Planning and Family Law.

A proven leader with a record of delivering results, Freya Shoffner has grown her private practice over the years as one of Boston’s most reputable firms. As a hard- working and strategic thought leader who has had countless real-life impacts on her clients and colleagues, Freya was recognized by ICLE for her contributions to their business planning curriculum.

With over two decades of strong leadership directing the success of small business owners that have had a significant impact on the lives of individuals, she provides audiences with informed expertise and compelling facts on issues ranging from a business start-up to advising on the best Estate and Financial Plans to meet your individual and business needs.

An adjunct professor of Commercial Law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, 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 Law School. Freya is a member of the Phi Delta Phi Fraternity. 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.

Guerda Victor

Transformational Life Coach & Healer

Guerda (G-air-da) is a Transformational Embodiment Coach and Spiritual Teacher, with 20 years of experience in wholistic health and mind body therapies. Her work is focused on helping women  tap into their deepest desire, heal the shadow self, integrate and embody the whole self, so they can live fully expressed and create their most filled up life.

Guerda has been a resident teacher at Omega Institute, teaching transformational and expressive dance. She has been teaching yoga and expressive movement workshops and classes in the Boston area for the past 5 years. She is also an expert teacher on Inspired Living University, an online platform offering courses to assist women on their spiritual and personal growth journey.

Guerda holds a Masters in Mental Health and Counseling with a specialty in Trauma. She is a bodyworker trained in Massage Therapy, CranioSacral Therapy, SomatoEmotional Release Technique, Reiki, Kripalu Yoga and JourneyDance. She is also trained in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Meditation. Additionally, she has trained and studied with Margaret Lynch for 3 years in Transformational Healing Methods and Tapping into Wealth coaching program. Guerda is also a certified Extraordinary coach and Divine Feminine Coach.

Jennease Hyatt

Gilead Sciences

Jennease Hyatt currently serves as Community Liaison for Gilead Sciences. In this role she provides training, technical assistance and capacity building support to community based and health serving organization in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Previously she was the the HIV/AIDS Regional Resource Network Consultant (RRC) for Region I, New England, a program of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health for 8 years. Hyatt has worked in the field of HIV for over 16 years starting at the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts where she started the R.I.S.E. (Reaching and Impacting Sisters through Education) Program focused on reaching high-risk women of color, and providing them access to HIV testing, education and other safer sex prevention tools.  She then moved on to the Multicultural AIDS Coalition where she worked as a Program Manager overseeing three HIV Prevention programs including the State of Emergency Initiative funded by the Boston Public Health Commission.  In 2007, Hyatt was the valedictorian of the African American HIV University, a national program of the Black AIDS Institute. In 2010, she founded the Public Health Committee of the Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts (ULEM) that was used as template for national affiliates. In her role at OASH, she launched an unprecedented large scale, urban HIV testing initiative in the city of Boston, “Take The Test Boston.”  Hyatt has received a number of awards for her leadership in Public Health and stays engaged in her community through various organizations. Hyatt graduated from Hampton University h a BS in Biology. She was born and raised and Boston and currently resides in Jamaica Plain.

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.

Joelle Fontaine

Founder, designer and CEO of Kréyol, LLC

Joëlle Fontaine is the founder, designer and CEO of Kréyol, LLC, a woman’s high fashion brand inspired by her Haitian heritage, incorporating her love of costuming and ancient time periods in a comprehensive collection that represents vintage sophistication at its best. With over 15 years of fashion and merchandising experience, Fontaine’s mission is to utilize art and fashion to empower women, impacting their wellness, financial stability, and overall sustainability.

Kréyol has been featured in AM New York, the Boston Globe, the Conde Nast Traveler, AfroPunk, New York Fashion Week at the largest Macy’s in the world in collaboration with 19th Amendment, and in Teen Vogue, where Jöelle Fontaine was named as one of the top Haitian Designers to know. They debuted their Lotus Collection at London Fashion Week in the Fall of 2017 and have been named Best of Boston, Best Clothing Designer by Boston Magazine in 2017 and Best in Boston, Clothing Designer by Improper Bostonian in 2016. In her crowdfunding campaign, Fontaine raised over 10k to begin taking steps toward her overall mission of contributing to the economic development of women artisans in Haiti.

Currently, all of their “I Am Kréyol” tee shirts are produced in Haiti. This year Fontaine completed her session in the Babson WIN Lab accelerator program, where she has worked on revamping her business structure for a fresh new outlook and exciting partnerships for Spring 2020. Most recently, Fontaine and her mother and business partner were featured via WBUR for their costuming of acclaimed musical “Caroline or Change” at the Huntington Theater’s Calderwood Pavilion. Fontaine also serves as the Assistant Director at the Fairmount Innovation Lab, where her goal is to provide resources for budding artists and entrepreneurs in the community to develop their start-ups into successful, profitable entities.

www.iamkreyol.com
info@iamkreyol.com
IG: @IAmJoelleFontaine
IG: @IAmKreyol

Linda N. Wells

Wellness Warrior

Linda N. Wells is the Wellness Warrior. Before pursuing a career in promoting wellness Linda was a Program Director, Youth Worker and community organizer. She spent nearly 10 years giving more to others than she did to herself; limiting her ability to create positive change for herself and her community.

Linda has since transferred her skills as an educator and activist to become a well-known health advocate and Wellnesspreneur in the Boston area. She works with individuals to release toxic habits and identify the precursors to their burnout. She continues her activism by working with community-based groups to raise awareness of health and wellness through free and low-cost programs.  Linda’s teaching recognizes that stress may be an unavoidable part of our lives but also that wellness is our birthright and we owe to ourselves to make healthy choices.

She is an experienced registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Holding an M.Ed. specializing in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and BA in Political Science and Economics from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. www.lindawellnesswarrior.com

Musu-Kulla Massaquoi

Motivational Speaker

Musu-kulla Massaquoi is a Sierra Leonean-American freelance model of over 20 years, mother, and motivational speaker who is passionate about all things health, music, and art.

She’s coached models for over 10 years and walked in numerous shows with many designers from many parts of the globe.

Diagnosed with her first ductal carcinoma in 2011 and second in 2018… she is a Breast Cancer survivor.

While her children are her greatest gifts, she makes it a point to encourage the community to “Listen to Your Body” after having survived breast cancer by listening to her own. She encourages the community to be more aware of their bodies so there are more survivors by hosting fundraisers, speaking with cancer suffers,  and providing prayer and advice to the loved ones of survivors.

“Believing that the health of the mind determines the health of the body, I want to encourage the community to Listen To Your Body!”

Pilar Tucker

Mental Health Therapist

Pilar Tucker is a Mental Health Counselor and Clinical Psychology Doctoral candidate at William James College in Newton, MA. Pilar has been a proponent for mental health and education for as long as she can remember. Prior to accepting the admission into her Doctoral Program in Spring of 2019, Pilar served as a full time Guidance Counselor at the Lesley Ellis School in Arlington, MA. Currently, she serves as a part-time Guidance Counselor at Lesley Ellis School where she continues to provide social-emotional support and clinical intervention for students ranging from preschool to eighth grade. Prior to joining the Lesley Ellis Community, Pilar served as the School Counselor for an Alternative School in Boston, Ma- College Bound Dorchester “The Little House”. Here she provide social-emotional support, crisis management and individual and family therapy for inner city, low income youth and families battling with severe trauma.

Pilar is passionate and committed to advancing individuals and communities through empowerment, education, leadership development, community engagement and mental health and wellness. She has had a long history of working with at risk youth, underserved populations and developing resources for people of color to access mental health support. In June of 2019, Pilar launched her business “Empower Our Crown, LLC”, where she provides various opportunities for women and girls of color to enhance their mental health and wellness, self-love, leadership skills and have access to resources that educate and encourage individual and community advancement.

Pilar earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Psychology from Spelman College, a Masters of Arts from Boston University School of Medicine and is now pursuing her Psy.D at William James College where she is concentrating in Global Mental Health, a concentration that focuses on the treatment gap and the mental health inequities between vulnerable populations. Through her unwavering faith, compassion for others and commitment to service and community, it is Pilar’s mission to empower communities of color to become mentally and emotionally competent world changers.

Rebecca E. Faustin

Fitness Instructor

Rebecca E. Faustin born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a Senior Accountant at a private equity firm in Boston. She holds a Bachelors of Science in International Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a minor in Spanish from Northeastern University. When she is not too busy being a scholar, she loves to travel, sports (especially basketball and football), laughter, and performing arts. One of her hobbies is to take group fitness and dance classes around the Greater Boston area. Currently, she is a licensed Zumba Instructor and wants to become a certified Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Group Fitness Instructor. As she goes through a transitional period in her life, she hopes to find her place in the fitness world and to motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle.

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.

Santresa Greenidge, PT, DPT, LMT, CSCS

Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist & Certified Fitness Instructor

Principal Owner of Dr. G’s Fitness & Wellness

Dr. Santresa Greenidge (Dr. G) is originally from Richmond, VA but has lived in Massachusetts for 11 years. She is a married mother of two and is a home care Physical Therapist and owner of Dr. G’s Fitness & Wellness.

Dr. G is an Army veteran, former track athlete and All-American Triple Jumper.  She graduated from Virginia State University with her BS degree in health and physical education and later attended Virginia Career Institute to obtain her massage therapist certification. She has worked as a massage therapist since 2006, performing Swedish, deep tissue, and therapeutic massage in clinical as well as spa settings, and has also volunteered as a massage therapist for the Pan-Mass Challenge. She has worked as a certified personal trainer and middle school Assistant Track and Field Coach before moving to Massachusetts. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in May of 2014.

In 2016, Dr. G decided to step out on faith and start her own Physical Therapy/Wellness clinic, Dr. G’s Fitness & Wellness in Stoughton, MA. After treating multiple patients in outpatient PT settings with injuries that were preventable, she felt that a lot of people could improve their health and prevent injury with exercise and a healthy diet. She knows that getting to the gym is not always easy but feels that people can improve their health by just moving more and doing exercises with body weight, light resistance, or with using everyday objects around the house. She currently provides Cash Based Physical Therapy services, dry needling, therapeutic massage, and personal training in her clinic.

Dr. Greenidge is a firm believer that prevention is key. Her favorite health and wellness quote is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Her goal is to help people improve their overall health, prevent injury and disease, and improve their quality of life by promoting safe and fun physical activity as well as muscle recovery and stress relief through therapeutic massage

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.

Taneshia Camillo-Sheffey

Founder|Director The Haute House Design Studio

Taneshia Camillo-Sheffey is an Entrepreneur,  Consultant, Speaker, Mentor, Brand Strategist,
Networking Expert, Fashion Socialite and Designer Advocate. Helping to create a more sustainable fashion industry through teaching the business of fashion and narrowing the skills and opportunity gap that our fashion businesses face. She has developed The Haute House brands. The Haute House is in the business of developing fashion businesses. The Haute
House Design Studio focuses on the creative side of the industry, building tomorrow’s brands today. The Haute House University is the EDTECH arm teaching the business side of the fashion industry to aspiring designers and creative entrepreneurs. Currently, Taneshia has launched MadeINcubator, Inc. The City of Boston’s first Fashion Incubator Program revolutionizing the way designers learn, build and succeed in fashion. Enabling fashion entrepreneurs to create new products and companies better and faster. She has over 13+ years of experience in the retail management & visual merchandising field, in lead positions for reputable brands such as LVMH & Neiman Marcus.

Most recently, Taneshia was the recipient of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Ten Outstanding Young Leader Award, and had the incredible honor and privilege being invited to
spend a week at Harvard Business School participating in the Young American Leaders Program, (YALP). The program aims to focus on leaders from across the country who can understand and implement cross sector collaboration and increasing the global  competitiveness of the U.S. She was selected to represent the City of Boston along with 9 other professional leaders. She’s recently formed an exciting partnership with the new Encore Casino in Massachusetts providing retail and manufacturing services.

Taneshia is dedicated to community and equal opportunity for all. Opportunity is not equally distributed when it comes to fashion in Boston. She is set out to create a fashion climate in which creatives who are facing obstacles and encountering challenges can feel supported and will in turn, become financially independent and gain exposure and awareness on a global scale.

Contact and Learn more at https://thehautehouse.com or http://www.madeincboston.com

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.

Our 2020 Maven Awardees

Betty Francisco

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

Betty Francisco is a seasoned business executive, attorney and community leader. She has over 20 years of experience advising start-ups, non-profits, fitness centers, life sciences and technology companies in the areas of legal, compliance, risk management, operations and human resources. She has extensive business and legal experience preparing companies for financings, including debt and equity offerings and mergers and acquisitions. She is also an entrepreneur, angel investor and board member of several organizations, giving her the ability to understand new businesses quickly, and guide strategy and growth. She is a frequent speaker on diversity and inclusion in the legal and business sector, entrepreneurship and angel investing.

She serves on the Board of Beth Israel Lahey Health, the second largest health care system in Massachusetts. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Roxbury Community College, the Board of Corporators of Eastern Bank, and the Board of Directors of the Greater Boston YMCA.

Betty is currently the General Counsel at Compass Working Capital where she oversees the organization’s legal affairs and national network. She is the CEO of Reimagine Play, a startup that offers fitness programming for children and families in Greater Boston. Previously, she served as EVP, General Counsel for Sports Club/LA and Reebok Sports Club/NY, a fitness brand acquired by Equinox Fitness. There, Betty built the company’s legal department and advised the C-suite and Board on all major business initiatives, development, and acquisitions. Betty began her legal career as a Senior Business Law Associate at Edwards Wildman, representing start-ups, corporations and investors in financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and general corporate matters. Betty is also an investor with Pipeline Angels, a network of women investors focused on creating capital for women social entrepreneurs. She is a member of the Investment Committee of Boston Impact Initiative Fund, which invests integrated capital in regenerative local enterprises.

Betty is also involved with a number of non-profit organizations. She is the co-founder of Latina Circle, a Boston-based network that is advancing Latina leaders across industries into positions of power and influence, and which launched the Amplify Latinx initiative to increase Latino civic engagement, leadership representation and economic opportunity. She is an advisory member for the Boston Women’s Commission under Mayor Martin Walsh, and an Advisory Council member for The Capital Network.

In 2018, Boston Magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Boston. She has received awards from the Hispanic National Bar Association (2019), GetKonnected GK100: Greater Boston’s Most Influential People of Color (2018), State Street Corporation’s Community Award (2017), Women’s Bar Association’s Pioneering Women in the Law Award (2017), Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Top Women of Law Award (2012) and In-House Leader in the Law (2010). She has been featured in the Boston Magazine, Boston Business Journal, and Hispanic Executive Magazine.

Betty obtained her JD and MBA from Northeastern University, and her BA in History from Bard College. She is fluent in Spanish and resides in Dorchester.

Kai Grant

Owner & Chief Curator, Black Market Dudley

As a Roxbury-Born serial entrepreneur and idea generator, Kai’s extensive knowledge of Boston’s retail landscape and the microbusiness community compliment her experience in producing creative strategies and building authentic partnerships between community stakeholders. Her expertise is impactful space-making and place branding. Currently, Kai manages a 12,000 square feet in Dudley Square as the Owner + Chief Curator of Black Market Dudley (1,700 sq. ft) and Curator and Operations Manager for the Nubian Gallery, formerly the Hamill Gallery (10,000 sq. ft.) With a strategic lens on creating Dudley Square’s first flexible cultural event space with a monthly marketplace, she launched Black Market with her husband Christopher in 2017, generating over $650,000 for over 300 aspiring Founders and driving over 20,000 footsteps into a struggling Dudley Square district in the first two seasons. With over 15 years of retail experience, Kai began her career as a make-up artist. She recognized a need in the market for a multicultural brand for the Hip-Hop generation, and decided to freelance while concurrently launching a company called Lip-Hop Cosmetics. The concept took off and gained national publicity in Teen People in addition to local publications like the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Boston Herald and Chronicle. In order to solve the mystery of distribution, Kai went back to work as a Manager within the LVMH + Limited Brand portfolios managing teams of up to 35 persons with store volumes of $2- $12 million. It was at these fast-paced stores that she developed a passion for Management, the art of brand collaboration and producing high-end events in Boston’s Copley Square, Rhode Island and New York City. During the economic downturn of 2008, Kai managed to lead her team to achieve sales goals with 50% less staff by implementing events hosted by local influencers, in partnership with Legal Seafood and strong relationships with the concierge staff of the Copley Marriott and Westin Hotels. Lip-Hop still has a cult following today and is sold at Black Market. In 2009, Kai began exploring using Lip-Hop as a tool to help build interest in Entrepreneurship and Self-Esteem in teen girls. She founded Diamond Girls Boston, Inc and impacted over 500 girls on 10 sites all over the inner-city and Greater Boston.  In 2013, Kai had the teens develop a product called Diamond Dust and produce a social media campaign that led to the summer program attendees winning a trip to BET’s Black Girls Rock taping in Newark, New Jersey. She ran three ½ Marathons and 1 full Marathon 2011-2014 to raise funds for the program and is a Boston Marathon Bombing survivor who was able to finish her race with a special designated number by the Boston Athletic Association in 2014 due to being 75 ft away from the finish line. Kai delved deeper into Community Development advocating for a tech space with rooftop deck in Dudley Square for STEAM as a theme for the School Department’s new home. She co-founded the Skylab (inside of the Roxbury Innovation Center) in the newly constructed Bruce C. Bolling Building in 2013, alongside colleague Bridget Wallace. In 2012, she was appointed onto the Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, served as a leader on the BJRP committee and chaired the Economic Development Committee of Dudley Main Streets, leading a cash mob to save Dudley Square’s famous anchor store A Nubian Notion.


2019 Awards and Accolades include: Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus Black Excellence Award for Business Ventures, Civic Engagement and Leadership in the community. Boston City Council Citation for leadership and female empowerment. City of Boston Community Development Block Grant award (CDBG) for economic development and microbusiness acceleration, and the OrigNation Cultural Arts Center Sojourner Truth award for vision, leadership and dedication for economic development.


Kai was the only Black Graduate of her Class of 250 at Reading Memorial High School while a teen parent. (METCO) She was awarded a full scholarship as a Project REACH Scholar out of the Freedom House in Roxbury and attended Bentley College as a single Mom majoring in Business Management in 1988. She dropped out of college to work and care for her son Tarik who received a full scholarship to Bentley College graduating in 2006. She and her husband married in college (29 yrs) and have 4 sons and 2 grandsons (Boogie and Brown Bear). She is the founder of John Eliot Square Neighborhood Association in Roxbury’s (Highland Park) Fort Hill- 20+ years of Homeownership and 6 generations of roots. She and her husband Chris are currently working on the launch of a creative Culinary business (Spring 2020) introducing an interesting carribean concept to the Highland Park area of Roxbury in addition to embarking on a venture as State of Massachusetts Empowerment Applicants in the Cannabis Industry.