Speakers

The Texas Women’s Summit 2019 Lineup

The Texas Women’s Summit 2019 is dedicated to women in leadership and enriching individual mentor networks.

This one-day summit will showcase speakers like Laura Chinchilla, former President Costa Rica; Pam El, Chief Marketing Officer of the NBA; Gay Gaddis, founder of T3 and author of Cowgirl Power; board leadership experts Kay Fuhrman, Cindy Burrell, and Kris Manos; and many others.


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Debra Boblitt, entrepreneur

Debra Boblitt

Leadership Coach and Former Senior Executive, State Farm Insurance


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Boblitt spent nearly three decades as a leader at State Farm Insurance Companies. She served as Senior Vice President from 2009 – 2016 responsible for the southeastern part of the United States. She has a proven track record of increasing revenue and market share, developing dynamic teams and leading through change.

Boblitt’s career began as an independent contractor agent opening her agency with no accountants and growing it into a thriving business, achieving top levels of performance among 18,000 agents. She then spent 24 years rising through the organization’s executive ranks. Her career spanned the United States leading agents and executives through historic growth and unprecedented change. Before leaving, her territorial responsibilities covered the southeastern part of the country where she provided strategic leadership and oversaw sales for approximately 3,000 State Farm agents and leaders.

A sought-after speaker, Boblitt recently spoke at a Hong Kong Leadership Forum on the topics of building a successful team, attaining the next level and leading with grace and grit. A former fellow of the International Women’s Forum and member of the Leadership Foundation Board, Boblitt created several conferences, both local and corporate, designed to develop strong women leaders. She has also served on the American College Foundation Board of Directors, is a Chartered Leadership Fellow (CLF) and was inducted into The American College Hall of Fame.


Bridget Brennan speaker at The Texas Women's Summit

Bridget Brennan

CEO, Female Factor


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Brennan is the CEO of the strategic consultancy Female Factor, and author of the highly acclaimed book, Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers (Crown Business). Her book was called “essential reading” by The Wall Street Journal and “required reading” by Fortune Small Business. She is a contributing writer on the subject of marketing to women for Forbes.com and Paris Retail Week, and is one of the world’s top speakers on the subject. She was named a “Woman to Watch in Retail Disruption” by Remodista and is a member of the Vikings Women Advisory Board of the Minnesota Vikings. Her forthcoming book, Winning Her Business: How to Transform the Customer Experience for the World’s Most Powerful Consumers, will be released in March 2019 by HarperCollins Leadership.

Brennan’s presentations are culturally relevant, energizing and forward-thinking. She informs, entertains and provides practical, Monday-morning strategies that help businesses grow. Brennan is a highly-sought-after speaker for executive briefings, board-level presentations, conferences, corporate rallies and workshops. She has spoken to audiences all over the world, from Latin America to Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Brennan developed her expertise as an agency executive, creating programs for major clients such as Whirlpool Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Pizza Hut, Colgate-Palmolive, United Airlines and AT&T, among others. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and the Economic Club of Chicago. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Brennan is based in Chicago.


Cindy Burrell speaker at The Texas Women's Summit

Cindy C. Burrell

President, Diversity in Boardrooms℠


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Founded in 2011, Diversity in Boardrooms consults with Corporate Boards and Advisory Boards (or Councils). Leading the firm, Ms. Burrell contributes over 20 years of executive search expertise with a special focus in recruiting and referring diverse Director Candidates who enhance a company’s growth, profitability, and social responsibility reputation. Over the years, she developed best practices guidelines for boards and she often serves as a Board Facilitator.

In the Chicago area, Ms. Burrell is a recognized leader in the business community as well as a strong diversity advocate nationally. She is a Founder and Board Director of the Private Directors Association, which promotes private company board formation, supports excellent practices in board governance, and provides a network to connect individuals with private companies. In addition, she is a Board Leader for 2020 Women on Boards, a national organization and is Chair Emeritus for Chicago 2020 Women on Boards.

In 2012 she was one of 3 people awarded special recognition and named Director Emeritus by the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, which has the mission of Empowering Women and Eliminating Racism. She was honored in 2011 by the Chicago Association of Minority Recruiters (CAMR) for her success in recruiting women and minorities to both corporate and advisory boards.

Currently, she is an Advisory Board Member for two companies: Skytop Strategies and for Victoria Legal + Corporate Services.

Ms. Burrell’s academic achievements include a Master’s degree from Boston University and a Bachelor’s degree from DePauw University.


Laura Chinchilla speaker at The Texas Women's Summit


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Laura Chinchilla

First Female President of Costa Rica


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Laura Chinchilla was the first woman to win the presidency in Costa Rica. In her four years in office, between 2010 and 2014, her major achievements included reducing crime, improving public safety, controlling inflation (under 5%) and establishing public healthcare.

Ms. Chinchilla obtained her degree in Political Science from the University of Costa Rica in 1982. Her dedication to service is a family tradition, as her father, Rafael Angel Chinchilla Falla, was former Comptroller General of the country.

Since 1990 she has worked as a public administration consultant to various international organizations, with whom she collaborated on numerous projects and implemented studies in Latin America and Africa, including the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Program (PNUD), Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress.

Laura Chinchilla has received various distinctions in the academia: three Honorary PhD, from Universidad para la Paz (2010), Georgetown University (2011) and the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies (2012).

She has also been recognized by her commitment to the protection of marine biodiversity, and with the promotion of Young athletes of her home country Costa Rica. After leaving office in 2014, Chinchilla assumed the presidency of the Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC), based in La Habana.


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Sally Crane Cox

Co-Founder and Board Chair, The Matriots


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Sally Crane Cox is a native of Columbus, Ohio, where she is a co-founder and board chair of The Matriots, a political action committee dedicated to electing more Ohio women to office. 

Formerly an editor and publisher of weekly newspapers in Columbus, Sally earned several awards for her investigative journalism, editorial writing and features. Her interest in social justice and women’s issues eventually led to Cox participating in the founding of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio in 2001; she was the founding board chair of the Fund. 

Sally also has served on the boards of the Women’s Funding Network, Seva Foundation and several other non-profits, as well as her family’s privately held company. She had the honor of being named a YWCA (Columbus) Woman of Achievement in 2004. 

In 1997, she was the recipient of a Building Bridges Award from the East Columbus Civic Association. Sally has nine grown children and stepchildren. A dedicated equestrian, Sally owns and operates horse farms in Ohio and Florida.


Pamela El speaker at The Texas Women's Summit


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Pamela El

Former CMO, NBA


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As former Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at the NBA, El was responsible for the NBA’s global marketing operations, which includes directing brand development, overall marketing and advertising for the NBA, WNBA, and NBA G League.

With more than 30 years of experience, El is best known for her ability to modernize brands. Prior to joining the NBA, El served as Senior Vice President of Financial Brand Marketing for Nationwide Insurance, and she spent over a decade with State Farm Insurance in the role of Marketing Vice President where she led sales and marketing strategy for the U.S. and Canada.

Throughout her career, El has received a host of industry awards and distinctions. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Ad Council, Virginia Commonwealth University Brand Center and ChildFund International.

El earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University. She resides in New York City with her husband, William.


Kay Fuhrman speaker at The Texas Women's Summit

Kay Fuhrman

Partner, Heidrick & Struggles


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Kay Fuhrman is a partner in Heidrick & Struggles‘ Dallas office and a member of the Industrial, Technology and Information Officer practices. She focuses on senior level search assignments including chief executive officer, board of directors, president, chief operating officer, chief information officer and chief financial officer roles within the energy, utility, cleanTech, alternative/renewable energy, industrial and business services sectors.

Prior to joining Heidrick & Struggles, Kay served as vice president of business development for Alliance Data, leading large scale business process and information technology outsourcing transactions and systems integration engagements across North America. In this role, Kay also managed the company’s strategic partnerships with technology and key service providers leveraged for the delivery of Alliance Data’s solutions. Before that, Kay was responsible for leading Aquila Energy’s retail energy business across the central United States.

Kay began her career with DPL, Inc where she started and led the company’s unregulated businesses including a retail energy company serving industrial and commercial customers throughout the Midwest, an energy efficiency and engineering business serving industrial companies throughout the region and DPL’s street lighting operations serving communities across West Central Ohio.

Kay has served on the board of directors for Texas Energy Association for Marketers and as National Committee Chair for National Energy Marketers Association.


Lizzie Fortunato

Lizzie Fortunato

Co-founder, Lizzie Fortunato


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Lizzie Fortunato is the founder and Creative Director of Lizzie Fortunato – her 10-year old namesake jewelry and accessories brand.Fortunato graduated from Duke University in 2006 with a double major in English and Art History, and following a year at fashion PR firm Paul Wilmot, launched the Lizzie Fortunato label.

Today Fortunato still makes every first sample by hand and is deeply involved in design, production and branding for her line. In addition to creative directing the Lizzie Fortunato accessories line, Lizzie has consulted for larger accessories companies and collaborated with ready-to-wear designers including SUNO, Tome, and Jenni Kayne.

Fortunato was inducted into the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) in 2015 and her work has been featured in The New York Times, W Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and countless other publications. Lizzie lives in Brooklyn with her husband and runs her studio from New York’s Lower East Side.


Kathryn Fortunato, Co-Founder

Kathryn Fortunato

Co-founder, Lizzie Fortunato


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Kathryn Fortunato is the co-founder and Director of Sales and Operations at Lizzie Fortunato. A graduate of Duke University, Kathryn started her career at Goldman Sachs focusing on Risk Management in the Investment Banking Division.

In 2008, Kathryn co-founded the Lizzie Fortunato label with her twin sister and in 2010, she left the corporate world to join the company full-time. She now oversees daily operations for the brand, including finances, strategy, production, and human resources. Kathryn also manages the company’s sales channels, which comprise a robust direct-to-consumer business as well as wholesale relationships with high-end retailers around the world.

With Lizzie, Kathryn has grown Lizzie Fortunato from a self-funded start-up (founded from the twins’ walk-up apartment in 2008) to a multi-million dollar company that designs, produces and sells high-end fashion jewelry and accessories to boutiques and department stores worldwide.

Fortunato also consults with other young designers and fashion brands to implement strategies around financial and brand management and to support her community of creative entrepreneurs. Kathryn lives in Brooklyn with her husband, just a few blocks from Lizzie.


Gay Gaddis headshot


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Gay Gaddis

Founder & CEO, T3


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Gay Gaddis is the Founder and CEO of T3  one of the largest independent advertising agencies in the U.S.

T3 has offices nationwide and creates innovative digital and marketing programs for Fortune 200 clients. T3 was recently recognized as one of the top five innovation agencies in the country.

Gay serves on the Board of Directors of Monotype Imaging Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: TYPE), the University of Texas McCombs School of Business Advisory Council, and is the first female Chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council, as well as the former Chairman of Committee of 200 (C200), a top women’s business organization that advances women’s leadership in business.

Gaddis’ paintings have been featured in one woman shows from New York to Houston. Texas Monthly named her as one of the 10 Artists to Collect Now. A true cowgirl who walks the talk with deep roots in Texas ranch wisdom, Gay is the author of the bestselling COWGIRL POWER, a book about blazing your own trail in business and life.


Diane Hamilton Texas Women's Summit Speaker

Dr. Diane Hamilton

Radio Show Host, Speaker, and Author


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Dr. Diane Hamilton is an award-winning speaker, nationally-syndicated radio host, panel moderator, consultant, author, and educator. Her radio show, Take the Lead, showcases successful individuals including C-Suite Executives, Time Magazine’s Most Influential People of the World, Forbes 30 Under 30 Inductees, Nobel Peace Prize Nominees, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Authors, and other successful individuals who share their stories and insights. Through her work as the MBA Program Chair at the Forbes School of Business and at several other universities, she has taught more than 1000 business courses.

She has a Ph.D. in Business Management and is a certified Myers-Briggs MBTI and Emotional Intelligence EQ-i instructor. Top companies, including Forbes, have hired her to speak to groups to improve employee relationships, increase engagement, improve productivity, and reduce conflict. Her professional background includes experience in the following industries: software, computers, corporate training, pharmaceuticals, real estate, mortgage lending, social media, education, and publishing. She is the author of multiple books, one of which was required reading at a technical university, titled: It’s Not You, It’s Your Personality.


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Inna Kassatkina

Co-founder, Global Language Solutions


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Ms. Inna Kassatkina came to the United States from Russia in 1990 as a student. After graduating from University of California/Irvine with a B.A. in Linguistics she worked for an international firm with strong presence in Russia.

In 1994, together with her best friend Olga Smirnova, she co-founded Global Language Solutions, Inc., a translation firm providing services in 100+ languages to multinational organizations across a variety of industries, and served as its President for 22 years. Ms. Kassatkina’s excellent management, strategic planning, and communication skills helped drive the success of GLS. In June 2016, the company was acquired by Welocalize, Inc., a global leader in the translation and localization industry.

Ms. Kassatkina’s current passion is to grow and support the next generation of thoughtful business leaders. Together with Ms. Smirnova, she formed Plan A, a non-profit foundation whose mission is to provide mentorship, education, resources, and accountability to self-driven women and first-generation immigrants to help them achieve their life’s vision.


Sandra Beach Lin Texas Women's Summit

Sandra Beach Lin

Member of the Board of Directors, PolyOne Corporation


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Sandra Beach Lin is a member of the Board of Directors of American Electric Power, WESCO International, PolyOne Corporation and Interface Biologics. She is the retired President & Chief Executive Officer of Calisolar, Inc. (now Silicor Materials).

She previously served as Corporate Executive Vice President of Celanese Corporation, where she led a group of businesses with more than $2 billion in revenue. Prior to Celanese, Ms. Beach Lin held senior executive positions at Avery Dennison Corporation, Alcoa and Honeywell International.

Ms. Beach Lin graduated from the University of Toledo with a Bachelor of Business degree, and received her MBA from the Ross School at the University of Michigan.

In 2013 she was named to the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Directorship 100. Ms. Beach Lin is an NACD Board Leadership Fellow. She is a 2014 Honoree of the Dallas Business Journal’s Outstanding Directors Award. Ms. Beach Lin is a Co-Chair of the Paradigm for Parity® Coalition, with over 100 companies committed to achieving gender parity in their leadership levels by 2030. She is a member of the Executive Board of Delta Delta Delta sorority, a member of the Committee of 200, the International Women’s Forum and the Dallas Assembly.


Kris Manos speaker at The Texas Women's Summit

Kris Manos

Director, Key Corporation


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An active director of public, private and employee-owned companies, Kris Manos is committed to strong governance as the foundation for healthy companies and lasting results. Kris acts as a catalyst for the boards on which she serves, implementing best practices, bringing a diverse perspective, developing a curious culture; all to ensure the business is successful and the board fulfills its responsibilities to its stakeholders. 

Kris is a director of KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY), Columbia Forest Products (ESOP), Dexter Apache Holdings (ESOP), C.H.I Overhead Doors (PE) and Innovative Ergonomic Solutions (PE). She has also served as a director of American Capital (NASDAQ:ACAS), Select Comfort (NASDAQ:SCSS) and Soil Safe (PE). Kris has chaired Audit, Nominating/ Governance and Special Investigation Committees, in addition to serving on Compensation and Strategic Alternative Committees. 

Kris brings deep expertise in governance best practices, compliance and risk management (including cybersecurity), complex regulatory environments and CEO succession. She provides customer- and market-focused view of strategic alternatives, and insights into the strategic importance of corporate culture. 

Her executive background is leading business-to-business, design-driven building products companies. As President of both Wilsonart and Herman Miller, she grew revenue and enhanced profitability through her unique strength in clarifying strategy, building healthy culture, and honing execution skills. 

Kris earned a master’s degree from the Yale School of Management, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard College. She is a co-founder of Women Corporate Directors Austin chapter and a longtime member of both the National Association of Corporate Directors and of the Committee of 200.

Civically, she serves on the board of Kick Start International, a social enterprise that manufactures and distributes human-powered irrigation pumps in Africa. She also served on the boards of International Relief and Development, an NGO, and Holland Hospital, a 200-bed community hospital in Holland, Michigan.


Catenya McHenry Texas Women's Summit

Catenya McHenry

TV Host and Author


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Catenya McHenry is an every-day woman—a single mom of three just trying to get out the door on time. In her professional life, she’s an author, entrepreneur, TV host, writer, producer, wardrobe ReStylist and the new communications director at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

She’s also the inventor of the patent- pending SoleMate Sox magnetic socks, staying paired on laundry day, eliminating lost socks.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the hub of film and fashion, Catenya was destined to be in the mix. Her dad owned a video production company and from there, her love of stories and storytelling ignited. Catenya began her journey as a TV news reporter in Lafayette, Louisiana. Within eight months, she was advancing to an education reporter position in Austin, Texas and later became their morning show anchor. As a news broadcaster, Catenya has logged thousands of stories and TV appearances for all the major networks, including NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX and the CW.

Catenya’s constant curiosity and insatiable desire for the next challenge gave her the bravery to flip her skills and quickly ascend to corporate executive level, becoming a PR executive, communications and crisis-communications expert, media trainer as well as a marketing expert.

Catenya later used that experience to launch two PR firms and a video production company.
Never satisfied with just one thing at a time, Catenya’s love of film and the creative process prompted her to dabble in the industry. She is SAG credited for her principal roles in two films, Miss Congeniality and The Life of David Gale. She’s also appeared in dozens of industrial commercials for TV, corporate, and print campaigns and is the voice-over talent in a host of radio commercials.


Gail Page, TX Women Summit conference speaker 2019

Gail S. Page

Venture Partner, Turret Capital Management


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In October of 2018, Ms Page joined Turret Capital as a Venture Partner where she will be working to leverage her years of experience in the Diagnostics and Clinical Laboratory sectors. She will work with the team to identify technologies and companies that are key to the mission of Turret Funds.

This will dovetail with her earlier work at Vineyard Investment Advisors, (2013-2018) which focused on partnering with entrepreneurs, businesses, and universities to transform their ideas into products and services.

Prior to this venture, Ms. Page served as the President / CEO of Vermillion, Inc. from Jan 2004 thru December 2012. She was a member of the board from 2006 thru 2012 and served as Chairperson from 2010-2011. Vermillion is a healthcare company focused on developing and commercializing novel multiproteomic/MAAA blood test. Upon joining Vermillion in 2004 she inspired a pioneering spirit. Under her leadership the company was repositioned to embrace the progressive nature of its pipeline, successfully raised over $100M in funding, developed and commercially launched the first FDA-cleared blood test to help diagnose ovarian cancer by engaging Quest Diagnostics as an equity and commercial partner.

Ms. Page has spent her entire career in health care and has a passion for emerging technologies that advance the efforts in personalized medicine. Ms. Page is a member of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry, Women @ Austin, Association of Corporate Growth (Board Member 2016-2017), the National Association of Corporate Directors (Advisory Board Member), Dell Medical Society and The Texas Business Leadership Council.

Her current board appointments include Sword Diagnostics, Inc, NxPrenatal, Inc. where she serves as Executive Chair and Chembio (CEMI NASDAQ) where she is Chair of the Compensation Committee.

In August of 2018, she was appointed as the Chief Business Advisor for the Dell Medical School Catalyst/UT Board. She is actively involved in the local/state community where she serves as a member of the Advisory Board for BBVA Compass Bank and is a frequent lecturer/mentor for the University of Texas and Texas Christian University. During 2014-2015 she served on the Advisory Board for the Center for Professional Development and Entrepreneurialism at MD Anderson.

In 2010 Ms. Page was recognized by Forbes Woman and Business Week for her work in the healthcare sector. Ms. Page was a top ten finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in central Texas 2012 and was recognized as one of the top 20 business leaders in the Austin area.

In 2014 Ms. Page was named by the Austin Business Journal as a “Woman of Influence and Power” in Central Texas. From 2014-2018 she served as the co-founder and Chair of Consortia Health. In the year’s preceding Vermillion, Ms. Page served on the Executive Managment team at Laboratory Corporation of America from 1988-2000 and in various executive management roles with the following companies: Luminex (COO), American Monitor Corporation and within academia( UF/Shands Teaching Hospital).

Ms. Page earned her degrees from Santa Fe Community College and the University of Florida. In 2003 she completed an executive management program at the Kellogg School in Chicago.

She resides in Austin, Texas and has one daughter, Madison Page. Both she and her daughter are active in the community and are long time patrons for The St David’s Foundation, The Center for Child Protection and CureDuchenne. In 2013 and 2015, Ms. Page participated as a judge and contributor in the “Philanthropitch” event which supports the non-profit sector of the Austin community.

Gail served as a mentor for the “Women and Wine” event at the UT McCombs School as well as the Mentoring Monday event held by the Austin Business Journal (2014 – 2018). In 2014 she served as a judge for the Austin Business Journals, CEO of the Year award.

In 2015, Ms. Page served as a judge for the central Texas Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and in 2015 and in 2016 for the Chamber of Commerce “A-List of the Hottest Start-up Awards”. Most recently she participated as a judge for the Austin Business Journal’s “Woman of Power and Influence” 2015.

In 2015-2016 Ms. Page served on the executive leadership team supporting the Go Red for Women events hosted by the American Heart Association and was a guest speaker for the “Women in Business Leadership Conference” as well as the “Women at the Table” event sponsored by the McCombs School of Business Graduate Women in Business.


Olga Smirnova speaker at The Texas Women's Summit

Olga Smirnova

Co-founder, Global Language Solutions


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Ms. Olga Smirnova came to the United States from Russia in 1992 after graduating with honors from the Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod.

In 1994 after working for an international firm with strong presence in Russia together with her best friend Inna Kassatkina, she co-founded Global Language Solutions, Inc., a translation firm providing services in 100+ languages to multinational organizations in the life sciences industry and served as its CEO for 22 years. Ms. Smirnova’s excellent management, strategic planning, and communication skills helped drive the success of GLS. In June 2016, the company was acquired by Welocalize, Inc., a global leader in the translation and localization industry.

Ms. Smirnova’s current passion is to grow and support the next generation of thoughtful business leaders. Together with Ms. Kassatkina, she formed Plan A, a non-profit foundation whose mission is to provide mentorship, education, resources, and accountability to self-driven women and first-generation immigrants to help them achieve their life’s vision.

Ms. Smirnova also serves on the board of directors of Human Options, a charity based in Orange County, CA that helps victims of domestic violence rebuild their lives.


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Sharon Steele

Founder, Plentiful


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Sharon Steele grows things. The founder of Plentiful, Sharon is a proven organizer, fundraiser, and movement-builder.

She served as the Founding CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, consultant to the Women’s Funding Network, advisor to the international Women Moving Millions campaign in its inaugural year and is a founder and Board Treasurer of The Matriots, an Ohio political action committee dedicated to helping more women win elective office. The PAC ranked as the second largest PAC in Ohio within one year of filing.

As a partner and chief marketing officer for a midsize branding agency, Sharon helped to establish higher education as the agency’s largest portfolio, managing clients that included Smith College, the University of Arizona, Pratt Institute, Sewanee: The University of the South, and many more.


Archer Collective TXWS 2019

Archer Collaborative

Musical Guest


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Jess and B. Sterling Archer are a husband/wife performance duo. B. Sterling is an award-winning singer/songwriter who performs all over the country, twice a main stage performer at Kerrville Folk Festival.  Jess is a published author and poet.  They are both seasoned story-tellers, speakers and gifted educators. Together Jess and B. Sterling Archer believe that crafted songs and stories turn a good event into a great one!  

Find them at archercollaborative.com