Women Business Leaders Conference Speakers & Session Leaders

The 2022 CWE Virtual Women Business Leaders Conference Team is proud to present this year’s speakers. Industry leaders and experts have volunteered their time to share content on subjects that matter to today’s entrepreneurs and business professionals.

Dr. Caroline Clerisme

Money Coach, Debt Repayment Strategist, Doctors Out of Debt

Dr. Caroline ClerismeDr. Clerisme is the founder of Doctors out of Debt, a company that helps doctors to create generational wealth and get out of debt at the same time. She received her doctorate degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Clerisme has been on several podcasts and is an avid speaker at several professional schools and business clubs regarding debt repayment and generational wealth. She is also an entrepreneur and investor and has several businesses that she operates. When Dr. Clerisme is not seeing patients, coaching doctors or writing childrens' books, she can be found spending quality time with her husband and daughter.

Melissa Egdorf 

Melissa EgdorfAssociate Director Business Sales, Verizon

Melissa is a daughter, sister, wife, and proud leader of our Small and Medium Business wireless sales organization in the Verizon Business Group. Melissa enjoys spending time with friends and family, learning about technology, and constantly finding ways to make incremental improvements to everything I touch.

At Verizon, Melissa manages one of our New England sales organizations, supporting private sector business customers in the small and medium space. Melissa's objective is to partner with these businesses and show them how technology can help them meet and exceed their own business objectives. Melissa takes immense pride in helping these companies grow into true Enterprises, while helping her team reach their own personal and professional goals.

Cathleen Finn

Greater Boston Community Engagement Director, Verizon

Cathleen FinnCathleen Finn has over 20 years of experience leading community engagement efforts in the information technology industry, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships between the private, nonprofit and public sectors. As the Community Engagement Director at Verizon, Cathleen leads civic engagement in Greater Boston and Northern New England, addressing community needs while developing awareness and support for Verizon’s efforts to bring the next generation of wireless technology to our communities. Cathleen fosters partnerships with schools, nonprofits, businesses and civic organizations by hosting community focus groups and investing resources through grant making, sponsorships, and employee volunteerism. Verizon community investments focus on Digital Inclusion, Climate Protection and Human Prosperity. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Verizon dedicated $55 million to relief efforts, including $17.5 million to LISC to fund the Verizon Small Business Relief Fund which awarded $797,500 to 86 Massachusetts companies.

Monique Geil

Senior Manager, Cybersecurity Sales, Verizon

Monique GeilWith over 20 years of technology and cybersecurity experience, Monique is in charge of leading a team of Cybersecurity Solution Architects and works closely with businesses to harden their networks. Monique’s focus on business security allows her to work alongside industry-leading security organizations, which gives her a unique perspective into security trends across the globe. As a thought leader, Monique is frequently tasked to work with organizations of all sizes and asked to share her recommendations, thoughts, and perspective on making businesses more secure.

Prior to joining the Security team at Verizon, Monique helped shape the minds of thousands of business executives by educating them on sales trends, products, and services. She has acted as a mentor to many leaders across the country, guiding and coaching them on gaps within the organization. Her training/coaching background has shaped her philosophy of teaching someone how to fish.

As a business and security expert, Monique continues to look for different avenues to secure the organizations she works with. Her knowledge and perspective are valued, and she partakes in the creation of industry-leading cybersecurity documents and other educational cybersecurity opportunities.

Christa Hagearty

President, Dependable Cleaners

Christa HageartyChrista Hagearty, President and third generation owner of Dependable Cleaners, has a passion for innovation, sustained growth and identifying her customer’s needs. Since taking over as President of the company in 1996, Hagearty been recognized by organizations around Massachusetts. She has been named an “Emerging Business Leader” in Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, was named on the “100 Women We Admire” List presented by the Woman’s Leadership Forum and Ad Club, and a Leading Women by Girl Scouts of Eastern MA, among others.

Christa continues to respect the heritage of Dependable Cleaners, which was founded by her grandparents in 1944, and has become an advocate for Green Technology and Environmentally friendly solutions which earned Dependable a Greenovate Award by Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino.

Hagearty is a member of the Young President’s Organization, the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, the Dry Cleaning Institute, Wedding Gown Specialists Association, and the Boston Wedding Group. She is on the Boards of Quincy Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of MA.

Christa Hagearty holds a BA degree in Economics from the University of Vermont, an MBA from Simmons School of Management and completed the YPO Presidents’ Program in Leadership at Harvard Business School.


Tisha Hood

Founder & Creativepreneur, Breadcrumbs Creative

Tisha HoodOver the last decade, Tisha Hood has instructed and coached hundreds of entrepreneurs, young and established, in establishing a solid decision-making framework. As founder of Breadcrumbs Creative, Tisha collaborates with individuals on refining their innovative ideas into an implementable plan. Through her dynamic and approachable interpersonal style, she is able to make the journey of entrepreneurship less intimidating. Combining her experiences in corporate relations and community organizing, Tisha utilizes her MBA and Lean Six Sigma to elevate clients’ leadership potential and trend their trajectories upward. She’s transformed countless individuals’ self-confidence and strategic plans into award-winning endeavors. You can receive insightful tokens in your inbox by subscribing to The Noteworthy or following Breadcrumbs Creative on Instagram @breadcrumbscreative.

Gaby King Morse

President & CEO, Center for Women & Enterprise

Gaby joined the Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) in July of 2019. She comes to CWE with over 25 years of experience serving as the visionary leader of both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Gaby has focused her professional life on working for impactful social enterprises including Discovering Justice, City Year, Crossroads for Kids, and before coming to CWE, uAspire. Gaby served in a variety of fundraising, marketing, and public relations roles, including in the capacity of Executive Director for Massachusetts and as Chief Strategy Officer for the national office. Gaby brings her passion for economic empowerment and expertise in building strong organizations to CWE’s mission to lift up the women who lift up the world!   

Lisa J. Raiola, MPH

President & Founder, Hope & Main

Lisa RaiolaLisa is the founder of Hope & Main, a 501c3 that she launched in 2009 with a mission to empower an inclusive community of entrepreneurs to jumpstart and cultivate thriving food businesses that are the foundation of a more just, sustainable, and resilient food future for Rhode Island. Hope & Main provides affordable shared-use commercial kitchens; food-related business and technical assistance; access to markets; and connects members to funding and financing. To date Hope & Main has launched more than 450 food businesses creating thousands of jobs and pouring millions of dollars into the local food economy. One in four new food businesses established in Rhode Island is launched at Hope & Main.

Lisa has more than 30 years of experience in innovative program leadership, advancement, and business development in non-profit organizations, higher education, and healthcare with a special focus on distributive justice, social responsibility, and economic development.

For nearly ten years, Lisa was the Vice President for Institutional Advancement for Roger Williams University and currently teaches Nutrition & Public Health at RWU. Before RWU, Lisa was a Vice President at Brown University and a Clinical Assistant Professor for Community Health and Medical Ethics at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine. In addition, she spent nine years with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Brookline, MA where she served as the Vice President for Organizational Development, Clinical Training and Quality Management. At Harvard Health Lisa also served on the Human Studies Committee and founded and led the first formal Ethics Program in managed care in the country.

Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biomedical Ethics from Brown University and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from Boston University School of Medicine.

Lisa serves on numerous Boards including the Roger Williams University Board of Trustees, Local Return, the Specialty Food Association Foundation Board, Rhode Island Center for Justice, Aquidneck Community Table, the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, the Anthony Quinn Foundation and the Blithewold Arboretum in Bristol, RI.

Lisa is a mom of three accomplished children and two mischievous grandpeople. Plus, she loves pie.

Ilhiana Rojas Saldana, CPC, CDVC

Owner, Executive Transformation Strategy Coach, DEI Consultant, BeLIVE Coaching and Consulting

Ilhiana Rojas SaldanaIlhiana is an Executive & Leadership Transformation Strategy Coach, a DEI Consultant, a Hispanic advocate, a Bestselling Author, and an international motivational speaker. Ilhiana has over 20yrs of global executive experience in top Fortune 500 companies in Mexico and US headquarters, leading and coaching professionals and businesses into success. As the founder of BeLIVE Coaching & Consulting, Ilhiana is a certified expert in leadership and DEI best practices that help build resilient, collaborative, and high-performing leaders and cultures. Ilhiana has coached leaders of all levels and has delivered impactful coaching programs to over 2,500 professionals across multiple industries and sectors. She has also been the driving force in the launch of four women’s leadership development programs in Europe, LAM, and US. In 2021 she was recognized by the NY Journal as one of the top 10 Inspiring Women to Watch, and by ALPFA as a 2021 Latina to Watch. In addition to coaching, Ilhiana serves on different Boards and organizations supporting initiatives that center on the empowerment of women and Hispanic Populations Ilhiana graduated with honors as a Chemical Engineer in Mexico City and lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two kids.


Andrea SroczynskiAndrea Sroczynski

Solutions Architect, Verizon Wireless

Andrea has been with Verizon for over 17 years and in the Business Channel for 5 years. Previously she worked in the retail channel as a manager in several locations. As a Solutions Architect, Andrea works with businesses on various "non-traditional" solutions and fosters that technology partnership. While not at work, Andrea is busy with her three children. She also enjoys crafting and spending time outside with her family.

Joan Wallace-Benjamin, Ph. D.
Joan Wallace-Benjamin

Joan Wallace-Benjamin, Ph.D. enjoyed a 37-year career as a senior executive, 27 of them as a CEO in the non-profit human services community.  With two additional sojourns into the field of executive search and state government, Joan has a varied set of experiences and perspectives that have guided and informed her leadership.  She has been recognized as an exceptional executive leader, speaker, organizational consultant, and executive coach.

In her executive roles, she has taken on challenging assignments that changed the way services were provided at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, and the Home for Little Wanderers; how staff adapted their service delivery practices, strengthened the infrastructure and improved organizational policies, and advocated on behalf of children and families with city, state, and local governments and institutions.

Joan has received awards too numerous to list in full, but a sampling includes receiving the Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award (2020); the Distinguished Bostonian Award from the Boston Chamber of Commerce (2018);CEO of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Human Services Providers Council (2017); the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Non-Profit Network (2017);one of Boston magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women, February 2011; the Henry L. Shattuck Public Service City Champion Award, October 2010; Urban League Civil Rights Award, April 2007; Pinnacle Award, Achievement in Management Non-Profit from the Boston Chamber of Commerce, January 2005.

She holds 8 Honorary Doctorates from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1993), Newbury College, Chestnut Hill, MA (2005), and Curry College, Milton, MA (2009) and Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA (in May 2011) New England School of Law, Boston (May,2013), William James College, Newton, MA (May 2016), Cambridge College, Boston, MA (May 2017), Simmons College, Boston, MA (May 2018).

Joan served on the Board of Directors of Bridgewater State University, Trustee at Wellesley College, Pine Manor College and the Heller School at Brandeis University. She is currently the chair of the Advisory Board for the Wellesley Centers of Women at Wellesley College, on the board of the WBUR Advisory Committee; and was a board member at Scholar Athletes.  She is currently on the board of the Chase Corporation, a specialty chemicals public company. She graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in Psychology and received her Ph.D. from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

Diane Winston

Founder & CEO, Winston Strategic Partners, LLC

Diane WinstonDiane Winston is a change management consultant, communications strategist, trainer, and facilitator of courageous conversations. In 2005, she launched Winston Strategic Partners, LLC to freely leverage and exercise her potential as a creative change agent. As such, she supports organizations introducing change, individuals seeking to advance their careers, and leaders establishing cultures of inclusion.

Diane is a Prosci-certified change management practitioner and trained Appreciative Inquiry coach. She is a member of the Association of Change Management Professionals, International Association of Business Communicators, US and NY Women’s Chambers of Commerce, Women Impacting Public Policy, Collaboration of Professional Women of Color, and the Black Business Alliance.

She volunteers in her community as a SCORE speaker and mentor to budding small businesses, a board member for the Center for Family Justice, and a church leader of a Women’s Life Group.

In her spare time, Diane leads a book group of women of color and loves babysitting for her brand-new granddaughter and caring for her 92-year-old mother, who lives with her in Norwalk, Connecticut.

She is an alumna of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and the Tuck Executive Education Program. Diane has a BA from NYU and an MBA from Chicago.