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18th Anniversary Panels & Panelists

Meet our small-business grant finalists!

She Talks Finance | Nikki Dunn
Nikki Dunn is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and an active investor. Realizing women were an underserved community in finance, she founded She Talks Finance, a company focused on financial education for women. She runs a community giving women the support and resources needed to take charge of their own financial lives and feel empowered about their money choices. 

The Village Community Fund | Hope Green
Hope Green has been a successful entrepreneur for more than 30 years. She currently owns several food trucks and a catering business in Austin Texas. When Ms. Green saw how disproportionately devastating the pandemic was on the Black Community, she knew she had to do something. To answer this need, The Village Community Fund was born. The fund seeks to put ACTUAL resources directly in the hands of members within these marginalized communities. Those resources may come in the form of micro-grants, online education and mentorships. The Village Community Fund was built on the premise of African Cooperative Economics (aka Ujamaa).  Cooperative Economics teaches that it takes a village of support to propel a person forward. The idea and action of paying it forward can be seen in every aspect of The Village Community Fund as each one lifts one.

We Will Rise Child Development Center | Dr. Choquette Hamilton
Dr. Choquette is a first-time entrepreneur committed to social justice, racial justice and educational equity. She holds a PhD in Ed Policy from UT Austin and is the CEO of We Will Rise Child Development Center. RISE Child Development Center, Inc. is an anti-racist organization focused on building diverse-by-design, high quality early childhood education centers.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 16 | NOON-1 P.M.

Building Your Brand: Steps for creating and growing your business

Presented by: H-E-B

Are you passionate about starting your own business but a little lost on how to get started? Or have you already launched but need some next steps to keep the momentum going? Join us for a workshop dedicated to giving you the tools to start strong and keep it going with branding and marketing experts.

Priscilla Castro
Priscilla is a creative digital marketer based out of Los Angeles and Austin that thrives on helping brands and small businesses grow and excel through valuable partnerships, content plays, activations. With 7+ years working in digital creating digital content and social & editorial strategies for brands like PLANOLY, Create & Cultivate, Makeful, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, BeautyCon, Logitech, Filter Magazine, and many others, she has witnessed the ever-changing landscape of digital. She has taken note of how brands and content creators can maximize their use of social media and editorial to further their growth to continue changing with the times and keep elevating the bar. Along with creating content, she has also taught small businesses on how to kick off their social strategies via in-person workshops and digital webinars for PLANOLY and General Assembly in Austin and New York and various other events and conferences nationwide.

Cara Caulkins
Cara Caulkins is the founder and president of Cara Caulkins Communications, a boutique PR firm based in Austin, TX specializing in media relations, events and marketing communications for consumer lifestyle brands and businesses. In the past year, Cara and her team have produced and executed public relations campaigns and events for notable clients including Bumble, Kendra Scott, Teen Vogue and more!  Cara Caulkins Communications merges her personal passions with her professional interests in supporting great brands that encourage others to look, feel and live the best version of themselves.

Elaine Garza
Elaine Garza is founder and CEO of Giant Noise public relations and social media agency based in Austin, Texas. Her PR expertise in lifestyle, media, culinary, hospitality, nonprofit, corporate, and entertainment includes working with such diverse clients as Lettuce Grow and Austin Parks Foundation; travel and hospitality clients Pearl Brewery, Hotel Emma, Heritage Hotels & Resorts, and LeBlanc + Smith; and events SXSW, Moontower Comedy Festival, and ScoreMore Shows, among many others. Before launching Giant Noise, Garza was the director of communications for sister publications Vibe and Spin. While there, Garza oversaw all communications for both publications, as well as all brand extensions, including the Vibe Awards. Garza has also worked with Outside Magazine, Latina Magazine, Billboard Magazine, The Week, and Pitchfork. Garza graduated from The University of Texas with a degree in journalism. She currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Rich, and their two lovely daughters, Luci and Sabina.

Mélissa Peng
Mélissa Peng a.k.a the Curly Executive is an award winning brand marketer turned entrepreneur, content creator, and business coach. Mélissa’s journey in marketing started at the ripe young age of 8 as her mother’s right hand woman in door to door makeup sales and eventually several network marketing organizations. Mélissa earned her MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and held roles with marketing behemoths including Procter & Gamble, Macy’s, and NBC Universal. After 10 years of successfully climbing the corporate ladder and earning the title of Director of Marketing at the age of 30, she left corporate and her six-figure salary to build a lifestyle focused on pursuing her many passions and her newfound purpose of helping others do the same. In addition to founding Curly Executive Mélissa is the artist behind Camellias and Curls, a handmade flower hair accessories brand and it’s tutorial arm Flower College ,  and the creator of Pon Di Beat, a Dance Hall and Afrobeat dance masterclass series in Austin, Texas.

How to Thrive, Not Just Survive While Working From Home

Join us for a panel dedicated to giving you the tools to thrive while working from home. Hear from experts on time/attention management, creativity, work/life balance, burnout and more.

Jules Acree
Jules Acree is a wellness writer, entrepreneur, and video content creator behind Om & The City. It’s her daily mission to bring wellness down-to-earth and to help others simplify life to find more joy. She is also the founder of The Homebodies, an online shop for low-waste, intentional living. Jules has been featured in publications like Thrive Global, MindBodyGreen, and was recently named Wanderlust’s ’35 Under 35 in Wellness’. Outside of this corner of the Internet, Jules is a matcha drinkin’, outfit repeatin’, professional homebody living in Austin, TX with her husband + two rescue pups.

Oremine Aseh M.D.
Dr. Omerine Aseh MD is a board-certified family medicine physician, the chief medical director for You First Concierge and an Anxiety Expert. As a result of 10 years in the practice of medicine she has treated over 20,000 patients. Through her concierge and telemental health practice, she helps women overcome and understand anxiety so that they can sleep better, cope with daily stress and have the energy they need to design a life with no boundaries. As the chief medical director of Concierge Medical Services PLLC, Omerine offers patients a cutting-edge approach to their health-care regimen. She is a dynamic speaker, best-selling author and team leader of the book Beyond Challenges: Survival Stories of African Immigrant. She physicians on life, love and the practice of medicine. Her mantra is “Thrive, Regardless!!!” Omerine is a Cameroonian-American immigrant, great cook, wife and mother of three boys. She is a humanitarian and philanthropist and supports several organizations in the USA and her home country of Cameroon.

Maura Thomas
Maura Nevel Thomas is an award-winning international speaker and trainer on individual and corporate productivity and work-life balance. She is the most widely cited authority on attention management. Her proprietary Empowered Productivity™ System has been embraced by the likes of the U.S. Army, L’Oreal, and Dell. She is a TEDx Speaker, founder of Regain Your Time, author of three books and was named a Top Leadership Speaker in Inc. magazine. Maura is frequently featured in major business outlets including Business Insider, Fast Company and Huffington Post. She’s also a regular contributor to both Forbes and the Harvard Business Review, with articles there viewed over a million times. Follow her on Twitter @mnthomas.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 17 | NOON-1 P.M.

Leading Through Quarantine: How to lead your team while working remote

Presented by: Google Austin

With quarantine comes a whole new set of challenges for leaders and managers. Learn communication, motivation and organization techniques to keep your team connected and running smoothly while working from home.

Kate Kornegay
Kate is a Program Manager in Google’s staffing organization as well as the Austin chapter lead for the Women@ employee resource group.  She has been at Google for over 7 years and has worked in both the Mountain View, CA office and now the Austin office for the last 4 years.  She is passionate about creating community in the office (or virtually) and connecting women and other underrepresented groups in tech to each other.  Through her work with Women@, she continues to create opportunities for members to upskill themselves, give back to the local Austin community and find meaningful connections through mentorship and social gatherings. 

Cindy Lo
When Cindy Lo started Red Velvet Events (RVE) almost 18 years ago, she did so with the mission to Outplan, Outplay and Outparty! Red Velvet Events is a boutique creative events agency helping global brands ideate, design and execute their experiential events since 2002. During this pandemic, has pivoted her team of 23 to own the virtual and hybrid world. Cindy is a recent author of Behind the Red Velvet Curtain. Connect with RVE on all the major social media channels (@RedVelvetEvents) to see behind the scenes of what event life is like at Red Velvet Events. Cindy calls Austin home with her husband of 15 years, their 2 children and Frenchie puppy who has his own Instagram (@DarwinTheTXFrenchie).

Tanya Tarr
Tanya Tarr is founder of Cultivated Insights, a corporate learning and development company. She is also a senior contributor to Forbes where she writes about leadership, negotiation and equal pay. Trained as a behavioral scientist, Tanya worked for seventeen years in political and legislative campaigns across the United States. Tanya also spent part of her career working with military families and veterans. This field work gave her a clear understanding of why people make choices, how that affects their behavior and how that dynamic builds and sustains deep relationships of trust. 
Tanya has a master of science in performance measurement from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a certified master trainer, coach and DEI practitioner. Tanya is launching a school of integrative leadership in 2021, dedicated to helping everyone learn how to negotiate with authentic power and win at work, at home and in business. She hopes you’ll join this community, dedicated to redefining power and rebuilding a more equitable world.

Outwitting Fear Workshop: Creating a strategy to take care of your mental health with LisaBeth Thomas

Presented by: Wendy Howell & Girls in Tech

All of us have fears; some are healthy and some are unhealthy.  Unhealthy fears can keep us trapped in negative behaviors or situations that can lead to anxiety and lack of production and success. In this session you’ll discover the fear that is subconsciously sabotaging your actions and create a strategy to outwit it.

LisaBeth Thomas
Speaker, Workshop Facilitator, Film Producer, Creative Visionary, Corporate Dropout, Marketing Whiz Kid at BigCheese.TV and President at Texas Women in Business.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 18 | 11 A.M. – NOON

Girls Just Wanna Have Funds: How to pitch your business + A LIVE PITCH CONTEST

Join us for a panel with local women investors on what investors are looking for, how to pitch your brand and the importance of women becoming investors. Followed by a pitch contest with the three finalists for our small-business grant!

Sara Brand
Sara Brand is the Founding General Partner of True Wealth Ventures, an early-stage VC fund investing in women-led businesses in consumer health and sustainability sectors. She is also the co-founder of (512) Brewing, the largest draught-only, self-distributing microbrewery in the country. Sara was previously in venture capital and management consulting in the Bay Area as well as in a variety of strategic and operational roles in large tech companies. Sara holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in green design and manufacturing from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from UT Austin.

Lawton Cummings
Lawton is a partner at Notley Ventures, which invests in traditional investments such as real estate, venture funds, and startups and leverages those profits to fund growing community efforts across various sectors of need. A life-long and passionate advocate for the advancement of women, civil rights, and balanced discourse, Lawton has founded and served on the boards of organizations that promote these values. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas, and she recently served on the Board of Directors of the Texas Advocacy Project, which provides legal services to women and girls who are victims of domestic violence. Lawton is proud to be a breast cancer survivor, married to her husband of 28 years, to be the mother of two kind and engaged teenaged humans, and to perhaps have the singular distinction of having served simultaneously on an ACLU board of directors and as a legal analyst for the Fox News Network.

Monica Paredes
With over two decades in corporate branding and marketing, Monica Paredes lives for the intense challenges, learning, growth, and rewards of entrepreneurial life. It has definitely deepened her meditation practice. Most recently, with her co-founder Chris Fronda, she created Logictry, an Expert Systems as a ServiceTM platform to empower anyone with expertise to share with the ability to create their own guidance tools to start a business or gain new revenue sources instantly. Her newest project, Equanimity Labs, viscerally connects founders building solutions for mental health with social impact investors. She serves as a mentor and advisor for several startups and accelerators and has participated as a startup in a few of them, including DivInc and the UT Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs.

Mikaila Ulmer
Mikaila is a 15-year-old funder of Me and the Bees Lemonade which has grown more than 500 percent since the company’s humble Austin, Texas-based beginnings. Today, the award-winning, ready-to-drink Me & the Bees Lemonades in five refreshing flavors is buzzing off the shelves of Whole Foods Market, The Fresh Market, World Market, H-E-B stores across Texas, Kroger stores in Houston and at a growing number of restaurants, food trailers and natural food delivery companies. When not traveling for speaking events to share her stories of being a social entrepreneur, leading workshops on how to save the bees, or participating in social entrepreneurship panels, you can find Mikaila coming up with ideas to help the Healthy Hive Foundation, a nonprofit to further help the mission of saving the pollinators. And of course, she’s working hard as a high school student, loving Spanish, science and rock climbing classes. Find Mikaila on Facebook and Instagram pages where followers can ‘like’ interesting facts about bees, honey and Me & the Bees Lemonade. Mikaila’s first book, Bee Fearless, Dream Like a Kid, launches in August 2020. Published by Penguin Random House, it is about her adventures in being a social entrepreneur and heading up a purpose-based brand aimed at offering premium, all-natural lemonades in a way that helps save the bees.

Beyond the Protest: What does it look like to create a truly anti-racist culture?

Join us for an interactive discussion on anti-racism and creating a truly anti-racist culture in your space both as an employer and as an individual.

Briona Jenkins
Given the title, “The love child of Oprah, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama,” Briona Jenkins is a public speaker, activist for the LGBTQIA+, female, and people of color communities, and has years of experience using her platform to evoke change. Bri has over eight years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She worked for a variety of organizations where she was able to serve adults and children with developmental disabilities, single adults and families experiencing homelessness, and was in development and community engagement at an organization that serves LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults and was recently furloughed from her first tech job due to Coronavirus but is taking this an opportunity to start her consulting business, Briona Jenkins Consulting. When not at work Bri is very involved in the Austin community. She is the Co-Director of  New Leaders Council’s Austin Chapter Board, sits on the board of  Lone Star Victim Advocacy Project, and has served on the boards of Keep Austin Fed and Austin Black Pride. She also appears on panels and podcasts all over the city and this year spoke at the 2020 Women’s March Rally in Austin, BossBabe’s Annual State of the Uterus event, Texas State Business Week, on a virtual SXSWEDU panel, and a two GISH panels about Racial Equality & Justice.

Diana Maldonado
Diana Maldonado is an extraordinary contributor to our community and leads with grace and compassion through each of her volunteer and professional roles. Over the years, her success comes from listening to people’s needs and finding solutions in the process of building thriving communities. Diana serves as the President & CEO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce representing Latino small businesses in Central Texas with the collaboration of corporate partners and community stakeholders. As the first Latina elected to represent Williamson County in the House of Representatives, she advocated for education, business, and safe communities. In her free time, she enjoys travel and the outdoors and even runs destination marathons in places like Paris, New York, and the Sahara desert in Morocco! Diana is committed to building lasting relationships through trust, integrity, and transparency and is fully invested in improving the quality of life for those in Central Texas.

Martha Pincoffs
Martha Pincoffs is co-founder of Waking Giants, a social impact company that builds tools for the good fight. She believes that the best days of this country are yet to come, when we have reckoned with the truth of our founding and we can hand our kids a world where they have opportunity as universal as their talent. She has special powers when it comes to connecting ideas, people, and institutions with winning outcomes. Her guiding principle is authenticity. She is a native Austinite and serial entrepreneur. She is the founder of Hot Dang, a vegetarian burger that can be found in stores across the country and 30 at Home, a challenge to cook at home and build community around food. Martha is curious about people and the world and blends the lines between work, play, activism and family. She and her wife have the two cutest kids in the world.

Meme Styles
Jameila “Meme” Styles (Taliaferro) is the visionary behind Measure & EarlyAware, past-Chairwoman of Miss Juneteenth, Austin Police Chief’s Award of Excellence recipient, Austin 40 under 40 WINNER 2019, past-Chairwoman of African TV5 (AFTV5) and the Austin Black Chamber’s 2017 Community Leader of the Year.Ms. Styles holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications, completing her thesis towards her Masters Of Public Administration and is certified in Performance Measurement through George Washington University College of Professional Studies. 

Shuronda Robinson
Shuronda Robinson, a third-generation entrepreneur, is the president and CEO of Adisa Communications, an award-winning public relations and marketing firm. Leaders and clients rely on her levelheaded and intuitive approach to problem-solving. Robinson believes in service to humanity through the equity and empowerment of individuals and communities.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 18 | NOON – 1 P.M.

Keynote Panel with Past Cover Women Sylvia Acevedo, Virginia Cumberbatch, Jamie Ivey, Dawn Okoro and Emily Ramshaw!

FRIDAY, SEPT. 18 | 1 – 1:30 P.M.

VIP-Only Expert Mentor Sessions

Priscilla Castro
Independent Digital Marketing + Partnerships Strategist

Mentoring on: Starting a business or going freelance

Wendy Howell
Chief of Staff, Cisco
Managing Director, Girls in Tech

Mentoring on: Finding your path, navigating your career and finding your passion

Briona Jenkin
Founder, Briona Jenkins Consulting

Mentoring on: Starting a podcast and building your community

Samantha Snabes
Co-founder and Catalyst, re:3D
Mississippi Air National Guard

Mentoring on: Bootstrapping, crowdsourcing, managing/supporting global customers and managing hardware/goods/a factory

Lindsey Sokol
Founder and CEO, Blue Norther Live

Mentoring on: Pivoting your strategy, brand and events in quarantine

Tanya Tarr
President and Founder, Cultivated Insights
Senior Contributor, Forbes

Mentoring on: Negotiation and accelerating your promotion velocity