The 2023 CWE Women of Color Business Summit 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.
Meghan Cunningham joined CWE in November 2020. She is the Certification Manager on CWE’s Supplier Diversity Team and oversees all applicants going through the WBENC certification process. She is a former employee of a woman owned business and passionate about helping women explore what certification can do for their business.
Jerry Epps is currently the Director of Vendor Diversity at Babson College and has been there since August 2021. Jerry has over 35+ years of Supply Chain Management experience with direct involvement in Capital equipment purchases and program management. His work has been focused on successfully transforming organizational culture toward integrating the review of corporate values of diversity and multiculturalism, analyzing, coordinating, and communicating the development of mutually beneficial contracts and arrangements with suppliers. In his prior role as the Supplier Diversity Program Manager/Capital Equipment Buyer at Boston Children’s Hospital, Jerry created the A.C.E. Supplier Diversity Program; A. Actively seeks to attract qualified diverse businesses, C. Commit to increasing opportunities for diverse suppliers, E. Educate and support supplier diversity within our community. In this role, he was able to achieve doubled investments in Tier 1 spending from 6 million to 12 million in one year.
In his current role at Babson College, he is responsible for overseeing the strategy, implementation, and management of supplier diversity activities. By cultivating strong relationships with key stakeholders to expand and diversify supplier networks, Jerry employs a leadership approach that is intentional toward guiding and mentoring teams to ensure optimal efficiency and productivity at the college. Thus far, he has developed databases, prepared periodical reports for senior management, designed protocols, policies, and governed diverse administration apropos to compliance and proactive oversight.
Jerry Epps is a Certified Supplier Diversity Professional through ASDP (Alliance of Supplier Diversity Professionals). Currently, he sits on the Board of Directors for GNEMSDC (Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council) and is CO-Chairperson for the Education Industry Group for NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council). He is an active member of the TBC (The Boston Consortium) Procurement and Supplier Diversity Committee and has been recently asked to serve on the Northeastern University Supplier Diversity Advisory Council, which has recently received a three-year grant from the Kaufman Foundation on how to promote supplier diversity in higher education.
Betty joined as CEO of Boston Impact Initiative (BII) in 2021. She is a business executive, impact investor, and community leader with more than 25 years of experience. She is known as a powerful convener and changemaker. In 2022, Boston Magazine named Betty as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Boston and the Boston Business Journal named her as a 2020 Power 50 – Extraordinary Year Extraordinary People honoree. She is the co-founder of Amplify Latinx, a social venture that’s building Latino economic and political power in Massachusetts. Before joining BII, Betty was the General Counsel at Compass Working Capital where she oversaw its legal affairs, compliance, and risk management. She serves on the Boards of Directors of The Boston Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Beth Israel Lahey Health, and Roxbury Community College. Betty obtained her JD and MBA from Northeastern University, and BA in History from Bard College.
Vicki Gray is a natural business leader, team builder, community enthusiast, and motivational speaker with over 10 years of experience in the construction industry. Since launching New Chapter HI Services (NCHI), in 2013, Vicki has spent most of her time nurturing NCHI’s vision and mission; to be the “go to” paint remodeling & maintenance company for homeowners, building owners and facility managers that treasure quality workmanship and peace of mind. Very few contractors can get the work done in a way that does not make the customer hate the journey. NCHI has invested in building and implementing systems to ensure operational excellence and complete customer satisfaction. Under Vicki’s leadership, NCHI, the company has achieved numerous awards, including the 2023 WBE Stars award in consecutive years. Vicki is a mother of 2 wonderful children, an avid humanitarian who contributes her time and skill as a motivational speaker, shaping the way young women see themselves as leaders and inspiring teens to reach heights they never thought possible.
Gita Iyer is a seasoned Leadership Transformation and Business Coach, known for her collaborative approach in guiding entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and non-profit leaders to reach new heights of effectiveness and fulfillment in their professional and personal spheres.
With a deep-seated passion for empowering women, Gita partners with women to uncover aspirations, overcome obstacles, and nurture unique strengths for success both in their careers and personal lives. She firmly believes in the innate potential within each individual to elevate their lives to unprecedented levels of achievement and significance. With certifications in leadership and business coaching, as well as mental fitness coaching, Gita helps shape leaders who are resilient, collaborative and excel in performance.
Gita serves on numerous nonprofit boards. For 12 years she served as the founding Board Chair of Horizons at Dedham Country Day, an academic enrichment program addressing achievement gaps for students in Dedham and Boston. She stays involved with that board and is also the Founding Board President of Horizons Greater Boston, a regional chapter aimed at broadening the organization's impact by serving more students in the Greater Boston area. She is also on the New England Advisory Board for the American India Foundation.
Prior to coaching, Gita had a consulting career spanning over 25 years at Accenture, spearheading extensive projects and leading substantial teams in Fortune 500 companies across diverse industries. Gita has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and an MS from Boston University. In her spare time, Gita enjoys dancing!
Juliette C. Mayers (May-erz) is the founder and CEO of Inspiration Zone LLC. She is a highly respected diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategist, executive coach, networking expert, and host of Entering the Inspiration Zone Podcast.
She has worked with some of the most respected brands, including TJX, Johnson & Johnson, State Street, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Juliette is known for her holistic approach to DEI and leverages her strategic networking expertise to help her clients achieve tangible results. She is the author of three books: The Guide to Strategic Networking,A Black Woman's Guide to Networking, and her latest book, Strategic Networking 2.0: Harness the Power of Connection and Inclusion for Business Success.
Owner & Chef, Nuestra
Natalie Rodriguez is a seasoned hospitality expert with an impressive 23-year career. Mastery in customer service, management, and creating exceptional guest experiences defining her path. Her entrepreneurial spirit fuels the exploration of new business ventures. A dynamic public speaker, they earned recognition as a 2022 WBJ 40 under 40 honoree, and 2022 DPR BIPOC Business/Community Leader,showcasing leadership and contributions. Beyond speaking, she excels as a travel agent, crafting dream vacations, and as a credit restoration agent, aiding financial literacy. Notably, her dedication to diversity and inclusion. Her journey amalgamates hospitality, entrepreneurship, and motivational impact, consistently infusing excellence and transformation into every venture.
As impact director, Aliana works with BII’s portfolio companies to effectively measure and manage their impact. She is interested in how impact investing can evolve to become more just, equitable, and inclusive. Before joining BII, she worked as a researcher at the Global Impact Investing Network publishing practitioner-oriented research for impact investors around the world. Previously, she was an impact evaluator for organizations operating in Latin America, including RUNA, a social enterprise in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Originally from Boston, she began her career in asset management, spending several years at ClearBridge Investments in New York. She received an MA in International Affairs from The New School and a BA in International Relations from Boston University.
Liseth's journey to becoming a distinguished US Veteran of the Air National Guard and the visionary founder of LJV, is a true embodiment of the American dream. As an immigrant, she learned at an early age to transform challenges into opportunities.
Through deployments spanning the globe and her role in projects for the 102nd Civil Engineering Squadron, Liseth fostered invaluable connections with esteemed general contractors and honed her prowess in risk management, compliance, budgets, and scheduling. It was her unwavering commitment to excellence and her mastery of risk management and compliance that paved the way for her to establish LJV.
Liseth is a living testament to the force of determination, skill, and visionary leadership. In an industry defined by the trifecta of relationships, budgets, and compliance, her journey serves as an inspiration, underscoring the heights that can be reached through unwavering dedication and strategic acumen.
Dr. Shakenna K. Williams is the Executive Director of the Frank & Eileen™ Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (F&E CWEL) and founder of the Black Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (BWEL) Program at Babson College. She also owns Kenna Business Solutions, and previously served as Deputy Academic Director and Lead Faculty Director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program.
With her passion to propel women entrepreneurs to new levels of success and ensure resources are accessible, Dr. Williams has been appointed to the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) and is the proud recipient of the Babson Entrepreneurial Thought and Action Award, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Changemaker Award, and the African American Female Professor of the Year Award. She also authored the book Hooked: Entrepreneurial Leadership Skills Learned While Fishing with My Dad and The Mark (excerpt).
Dr. Williams received her doctorate from Capella University (dissertation, Talent Management and Retention in Small Family-Owned Businesses: A Multiple-Case Qualitative Study), her MBA from Oklahoma City University, and her B.S. (Finance; Investments) from Babson. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The Links, Incorporated, and the Academy of Management. Dr. Williams cherishes being a foster mom and loves to travel, spend time with family, cook, and paint.
Susu is the Founder and CEO of Tomo360, a Lowell-based marketing agency focusing on digital marketing. Their clientele includes businesses, nonprofits, higher ed, and government agencies. She and her team have developed many websites and created marketing strategies to meet their clients’ needs.
Susu's unique combination of marketing, business, and technical experience provides a well-rounded advantage for her clients. See her career profile on LinkedIn. Before starting Tomo360 in 2012, Susu worked for various companies, from high-tech industries, healthcare, biotech, and higher education to startup companies. She was an adjunct professor at the University of Lowell, a speaker, and an instructor for the Center of Women Enterprise.
In 2010, Susu co-founded Women Accelerators; a nonprofit organization based in Cambridge and Lowell that helps early-stage women develop their careers with educational, mentoring, and leadership training programs.
She was a founding member and Director of the Board of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce. She is also a Board Member of OutBIO, the biotech industry’s largest LGBTQ professionals group. She is a Board Member of Girls Inc., Lowell, and a Trustee of the Lowell Cemetery.
Susu was born in Hong Kong and attended High School in Macau. She holds a Master of Science in Management from Lesley University and was certified by Northeastern University in digital marketing and website design from Georgetown University.
Kimberly E. Zouzoua
VP Strategic Partnerships, Center for Women & Enterprise
Kimberly Zouzoua is an accomplished non-profit executive with 20+ years of experience leading high-level operations, planning, and development functions for a diverse range of businesses and philanthropic organizations. Throughout her career, she has been recognized for her ability to launch innovative programs that have consistently helped organizations construct and implement strategic plans, expand their reach, achieve financial stability, and create a strong and sustainable company culture.
She is a highly sought-after speaker and consultant in the areas of youth leadership development, strategic business planning, and organizational development. She has presented to a diverse range of institutions including: Youthbuild Providence, Beijing +15 Massachusetts Women’s Summit, Northeast Computing Program Conference (NERCOMP), Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, Massasoit Community College, and Wellesley University.
Kimberly has a Master of Business Administration from Northeastern University, a Bachelor of Science in Management and an Associate of Science in Finance and Investments both from Johnson and Wales University. Additionally, she is Chair of the Brockton Commission on Women’s Issues, President of the Psi Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; sits on the leadership committee for the Women of the Harvard Club and is a member of over a dozen professional organizations and sits on numerous boards.
Kimberly enjoys Intercultural Learning and dialogue. She has traveled across the world visiting Africa, Central America, China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Europe.