Women’s Leadership Forum Speakers



We’re thrilled to have Veronika Scott as our luncheon keynote speaker at the Women’s Leadership Forum. Veronika Scott has built an organization around a single idea: bringing warmth and pride to the homeless. Her Detroit-based humanitarian project – The Empowerment Plan – is centered around a coat designed specifically for the thousands and thousands of people forced to live on the streets. Self-heated, waterproof, and engineered to transform into a sleeping bag at night, the coats are made by homeless women who are paid to produce them, offering them the opportunity to earn not just money, but pride and independence for themselves and their families.

Breakout Sessions

General Session 1:
9:00 AM -9:30 AM
Welcome Remarks & Opening Speaker

We open our day of thought provoking discussions on “The Power of a Woman’s Voice” by hearing from the National Basketball Association’s first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer – the Atlanta Hawks’ Nzinga Shaw. Shaw will inspire you to think differently and describe how real change can come when you challenge the norm. She will ignite your SPARK – and teach you how to make an impact – whether that’s in the boardroom or the community.

Breakout Session 1
9:45 AM- 10:30 AM
Women Who Broke The Mold:

A) In Life: We have to step outside our comfort zones to tackle many challenges – from imposter syndrome, to moving to the C-suite, or seeking or creating opportunities to meet goals. Hear from others who have successfully navigated these trials and learned how to face them head on.

  • Cynthia Curry, Director of IoT Ecosystem Expansion at the Metro Atlanta Chamber
  • Julie Dunn, VP of Brand Distribution at Turner
  • Diamonde Williamson, Founder and CEO of Blossom

B) In Politics: How can civic engagement make real change in your community? Join our panel of male and female community advocates and activists who have discovered their passion for making a difference, by using their voices in politics, through civic leadership and by engaging communities to chart their own paths.

  • Rohit Malhotra, Founder and Director of Center for Civic Innovation
  • Lisa Stockley, Consul and Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Consulate
  • Jenn Graham, CEO of Civic Dinners

C) In Entrepreneurship: Innovation is the key to the winning in large, mid-size and small enterprises. You must be willing to do things differently and change the status quo to find your place amongst the best. In this session, you will hear speakers discuss how the path to success isn’t always defined and often takes an unexpected journey.

  • Theia Washington Smith, Founding Executive for City of Atlanta’s Women Entrepreneurship Initiative, Office of the Mayor
  • Jen Bonnett, General Manager of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Entrepreneur
  • Duriya Farooqui, Executive Director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress

D) And Formed Their Second Life: You’ve found success in one stage of life. Now what’s next? How can you reinvent yourself to connect with a passion that has gone untapped, or undiscovered? Hear our panel talk about successfully finding or creating resources to pave new paths and write their next chapters.

  • Kate Atwood, Executive Director of ChooseATL and Founder of Kate’s Club
  • Alison Auerbach, Advocate and Co-Founder of Connections School of Atlanta
  • Rebecca Gray, Southern Company Military Strategy Manager, Military Service Member

General Session 2:
10:45 AM – 11:30 AM
Women Who Find Balance

“Work-life balance” is the often-elusive catchphrase that follows women at many stages. For some, it can feel like an impossible feat, but for others, it’s a challenge they’ve faced head on, won, and still work at it every day. How are we defining this success  ̶  and what does the research show about work-life integration?

  • Andra London, Senior Director of Strategy at BrightHouse

Luncheon Keynote

Women Who Make A Difference
11:45 AM – 1:00PM

Veronika Scott, CEO and Founder of The Empowerment Plan, will serve as the luncheon keynote speaker. In 2010 for a college project, Scott created a waterproof jacket that converts into a sleeping bag and knapsack for the homeless. The challenge from her professor has become an organization that employs more than two dozen formerly homeless individuals. Scott, a CNN Hero, ABC Person of the Week and highly sought-after authority on social change, will charge attendees to find what fuels them to make a difference in their world.

  • Veronika Scott, Founder and CEO of The Empowerment Plan

General Session 3
1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Find Your Spark 

  • Cara Turano Snow, CDO of Technology Association of Georgia
  • Eloisa Klementich, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta

Breakout Session #2
2:15 PM – 3:00 PM
Women Who Transform

A) Careers: Atlanta is home to many of the world’s largest and most successful companies, filled with women leaders who have broken the glass ceiling. How did they get ahead and become first in their field? Hear our speakers describe their journey and about their hopes for the future.

  • Hala Moddelmog, President and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber
  • Valerie Montgomery Rice, President and Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine

B) Communities: We often hear, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” How do you take those innovative plans to the next level and execute? In this breakout, Atlanta nonprofit philanthropic community leaders will share how capital and invention can truly make community change…and change lives.

  • Grace Fricks, Founder, President and CEO of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs
  • Lesley Grady, Senior Vice President of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

C) Others: Sponsorship vs. Mentorship: Women have long been told to “find a mentor,” but that age-old adage is being challenged by today’s new need ̶ “find a sponsor.” In either case, do you need an advocate who will promote you to colleagues and partners, and pull your chair up to the table? During this session a panel of men and women will break down the difference, and explain why building partnerships is important.

  • Sharon Gay, Office Managing Partner at Dentons
  • Helene Lollis, President and CEO of Pathbuilders
  • Lars Minns, Head of HR Operations & Talent Acquisition of Mercedes-Benz, USA

D) A Culture:Every collective unit – whether a team, company or industry – is different and has unique culture. What happens when the culture needs to evolve? How do you ensure each person feels empowered to use his or her voice? Hear us discuss solutions favor promoting an environment of exchange and inclusion, and the appropriate balance of power.

  • Karen Hilton, Executive Coach, Human Resources Consultant and Founder of T.A.P. Executive Coaching
  • Monica G. Richey, FACHE,  Executive Director, Revenue Cycle at Piedmont Healthcare; President, Women’s Leadership Alliance, Piedmont Healthcare

General Session #4
Women Who Make Connections 

This session will write the closing chapter in the day, by teaching attendees how to use their voice to inspire change, and making the connections from the day endure to pay dividends in the future.

  • Ashleigh Chapman, Founder and President/CEO of the Alliance for Freedom Restoration and Justice (AFRJ)
  • Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools