girls who lead summit 2019 speakers

Girls Who Lead Summit 2019

Program Speakers

Melissa Blackburn

Haven Collective

Backed by 18 years of operations management experience, Melissa brings an eye for detail and deep understanding of corporate culture to Haven.  She has a track record of proven success implementing process improvements to help startups scale while keeping an eye on the bottom line. Her passion and energy are an inspiration to others also working hard on side-hustles. These are key reasons she has built relationships that last. Her vast network will benefit Haven’s community by connecting them with the right people and resources when they need them most. As a professional new to the work-from-home mother lifestyle, Melissa brings a unique perspective to help build amenities and features in the space that matter to those who are also attempting to run a business and a family in parallel.

Honorable Kristin Boggs
State Representative

18th House District

Rep. Boggs is a dedicated public servant and an advocate for a strong public education system, economic opportunity for working people and a fair and compliant election process. She is committed to being a strong voice for Ohio’s working class by fighting for fair wages and economic security, and her passionate advocacy work extends to important issues such as voting rights, affordable education and domestic violence.

After graduating from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Boggs joined the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, serving as an assistant attorney general for nearly 10 years. In the Attorney General’s office, Boggs assisted some of Ohio’s most vulnerable populations in recovering from crimes of financial exploitation and physical abuse.

Along with her extensive background in public service, policy and legal issues, Boggs has served as a board member for the American Constitution Society since 2010, she volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Franklin County, and she was a working committee member of the Ohio Women’s Bar Association 2013 Leadership Institute.

Boggs represents the 18th House District, which consists of Columbus, Bexley, Grandview Heights and parts of central Franklin County.

Lisa Boyle
The Chocolate Cafe 

The Chocolate Café opened 12 years ago by Lisa Boyle in the Upper Arlington area.  The Cafe is a fast casual restaurant that serves sandwiches, salads and soups but specializes in desserts.  The mission was to spread a love of humanity and serve really big pieces of cake.  As with any business venture, there has been crisis, devastation, hard-won victories, and growth.  Incredible growth!

She’ll share her thoughts on the importance of failure, (which she joyfully pursues), perseverance, and relentless positivity.


Vickie Bradley
Executive Director, Program Execution
Consumer & Community Banking, Digital Technology at JP Morgan Chase & Co

Vickie Bradley is a Program Management Director for the Consumer & Community Banking, Digital Technology organization. She provides oversight and governance for the leadership team and drives strategic planning for the organization. She oversees and generates external relations opportunities geared towards increasing the JPMC technology brand awareness in the Columbus Market. Vickie is also a Co-Location Lead for TakeITForward, a firm-wide initiative to support the development, retention and advancement of women in Global Technology.

Vickie holds a degree from The ICM School of Business, and is an alumnus of The Smith College Leadership Consortium & The JPMC Technology Emerging Leaders Program. She is an advisory board member on The Ohio State University’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minorities Program.

Vickie enjoys traveling, interior design and event planning. Vickie lives in Ohio with her husband, and has one son.

Eva Bradshaw
Aspirations Regional Affiliate Manager (RAM)

As a Regional Affiliate Manager for the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award, Eva supports volunteer affiliate teams’ efforts to recognize young women and their educators. Prior to NCWIT, Eva served as the director of online learning at Zane State College. She has been an IT professional in higher education for over 25 years, empowering young women in local community after-school programs and mentoring female professionals entering the IT workforce. Eva enjoys sharing her IT career journey with other women to encourage them to contribute their unique talents. She lives in Columbus, Ohio and has a strong love for the Ohio State Buckeyes, her husband (John) and two grown daughters.

Lauren Burke
Data Scientist – Abercrombie & Fitch 
Director of Operations – Women in Analytics

Lauren loves finding creative solutions to complicated problems. She is a Data Scientist at A&F and the Director of Operations for Women in Analytics, an organization that promotes visibility to women making an impact in the analytics space. Lauren graduated from The College of Wooster in 2017, where she studied Mathematics and completed a Senior Thesis investigating machine learning heuristics as solution techniques to a large-scale Traveling Salesman Problem in order to optimize a road trip through every National Park in the continental United States. Lauren is passionate about initiatives that promote women and girls in STEM and currently serves on COSI’s Young Professional Board and as an Advisor for #BuiltByGirls.

LeeAnne Cornyn
Director of Children’s Initiatives
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s Office

LeeAnne Cornyn holds a B.A. from Miami University. After graduating from Miami, she served as a Teach For America corps member, teaching 8th grade science in the Crenshaw Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. She earned a J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. LeeAnne began her legal career as an Assistant Attorney General within the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. In 2015, she was named Director of Children’s Initiatives for then Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. LeeAnne continues to serve Ohio’s children as the Director of Children’s Initiatives for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. In this role, she focuses on maternal and child health, early childhood education, and foster care issues.

Roselinde Ngozi Dike 
Women Empowerment Speaker & Founder
Premiere Services LLC & The Confident Movement

Roselinde Ngozi Dike is a National Recording Artist, Women Empowerment Speaker and the founder of and Premiere Services LLC where she offers personal, professional, leadership, development & training to business owners, high schools, corporations, and universities. Roselinde speaks directly to the entrepreneur in both women and girls. Her messages empower women to take responsibility for her own life, heal emotionally in order to take the bold step into entrepreneurship. Roselinde Ngozi is prized for her ability to captivate, engage and inspire her audience with profound wisdom, humor, and a transforming message.  Roselinde Ngozi believes when a woman heals a nation rises and every woman is a C.E.O – Confident, Effective, and Original!

Jordyn M Dunlap
NBC4 News Columbus, Ohio

Jordyn M Dunlap is a native of Columbus, Ohio. As a proud product of The Ohio State University, Dunlap is currently a journalist for NBC4 News right here in our hometown in Columbus Ohio. At just 24 years Old, Dunlap is a seasoned journalist, 6 AM morning prayer leader, experienced public speaker and the CEO of a mental health nonprofit, iLIVE The Movement. Over the last few years Dunlap’s been blessed to work with CNN, The New York Times and ABC World News in Sydney Australia. Her speaking engagements have ranged from Ohio university, the Ohio State University, Howard university and many other conferences, symposium’s and workshops across the United States. When she’s not in the prayer room, in the newsroom or running her business, Jordyn enjoys spending time with loved ones and experiencing nature.

Christy Farnbauch
Executive Director
NAWBO Columbus

Christy Farnbauch became the first executive director for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Columbus in July 2017. She is an innovative, entrepreneurial, and client-centric leader who is widely recognized for transforming organizations with data-driven solutions. Additionally, she is Founder & President of Strategic Links, LLC, guiding organizations and companies through strategic planning, board development, and experience design processes. Her extensive career in nonprofit management drives her to intentionally design and implement strategies to broaden, deepen, and diversify engagement among NAWBO Columbus’ members and corporate partners. She holds a degree in music performance and business administration from Otterbein University where she currently serves on the Alumni Council and Women’s Leadership Advisory Network.

Jessica Flemming, PhD
Radiobiologist –
The James Cancer Center, Department of Radiation Oncology
CEO & Co-Founder – Cap City Biohackers

Jessica Fleming received her PhD in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from The Ohio State University in 2012.  After completing her degree, she joined Dr. Arnab Chakravarti’s laboratory in the Department of Radiation Oncology to build upon her scientific career in cancer research. Specifically, her work at the James is focused on identifying the genetic components of a tumor that contribute to disease aggressiveness and treatment resistance.  With this information she hopes to develop novel clinical tools and personalized treatment strategies that result in complete cancer remission.

In 2015, Jessica co-founded The Cap City Biohackers with David Taffany.  The Cap City Biohackers is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating greater access to scientific tools and education in order to promote scientific literacy and advance an innovative community. Their organization is focused on three important aspects: STEM education, citizen science, and entrepreneurship.  Currently, they are working towards opening a science maker’s space (aka the Cap City Biospace) which will serve as a scientific hub, providing members of the community, scientists, students, entrepreneurs, and hobbyists with a space to access scientific lab equipment as well as the expertise and guidance to conduct experiments and connect with fellow science enthusiasts. Since its founding, the Cap City Biohackers has formed an innovative community around the life sciences and is a novel resource for Columbus serving all backgrounds and demographics.

Laura Frum
Community Capital Development Cooperation(CCDC)

Laura Frum is currently President of Community Capital Development Corporation (CCDC).  She is involved with the daily operations, accounting, marketing and human resource activities, overseeing a staff of 4 professionals that provide origination, closing and portfolio management services for the SBA 504 Program, the Ohio 166 Loan Program, the City of Columbus Economic Development Loan Program, the Franklin County Economic Development Loan Program and the City of Grove City Loan Program.  Her in-depth knowledge of all enhanced lending programs has been beneficial in assisting small businesses grow and create jobs in Ohio.

Laura returned to CCDC in 2014 after almost 18 years in the private and public sector. Previously, Laura was Vice President, Senior Eligibility Officer at JP Morgan Chase, where she reviewed credit underwriting for SBA 504 and 7a loans for business banking applicants on the east coast of the United States. Prior to her position at Chase she was the Senior Loan Officer at Ohio Statewide Development Corporation, another certified development company located in Columbus. Laura’s career in business financing has included managing the SBA Department at Huntington National Bank, working in Loan Review at The Delaware County Bank & Trust, and as an equities trader with the Merrill Lynch Risk Arbitrage Department.

Laura belongs to a variety of professional organizations including Commercial Real Estate Women, Columbus Commercial Industrial Investment Realtors, the Ohio Bankers League and the National Association of Development Companies, and is a mentor for young international entrepreneurs through Bankers without Borders.

Melanie Herring

Melanie Herring has worked in research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for the past 11 years. She spent most of that time in a research lab performing basic histology practices. More recently she has focused her time and attention to the clinical study of neuromuscular disorders.

Melanie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Capital University, in 2007. She later obtained her Master of Science in Education and Allied Professions, in 2010, from the University of Dayton. Since graduating, she has taught lab trainings as well as a section in the 2019 OSU Myology Course.

Currently Melanie is pursuing other career goals outside of research. Her experience has brought out a strong passion for education and helping our youth discover their true potential through education and application.

Kristen Hopson
Account Manager

Kristen Hopson spearhead’s the marketing and community relations of one of Central Ohio’s leading social enterprises, CleanTurn. Her tenacity, strong interpersonal skills and knack for getting things done have elevated Kristen’s responsibilities at CleanTurn allowing her to lead CleanTurn’s community engagement activities. In addition to her leadership at CleanTurn, Kristen also serves as a certified life coach. Kristen is a graduate of the JRNI Catalyst Coaching training program and serves as an insightful and practical life coach for leaders throughout Central Ohio and beyond. Kristen lives with her amazing son, Elliot and their charming golden doodle, Charlie.

Vanessa Jester
Workforce Development Director
Turner Construction

Vanessa Jester is the Workforce Development Director for Turner Construction’s Columbus, Ohio Business Unit.   Vanessa is dedicated to provide local workforce development expertise, on-site implementation of project based workforce development initiatives and programs to develop Construction Management and Building Trades career pathways in the local market.

Committed to helping people live their best life, she has committed 17 years to developing workforce & diversity programs which promote economic self-sufficiency among underrepresented populations. Identifying and creating pathways of opportunity into high wage and high skill careers in various career fields. She is committed to developing and maintaining a quality workforce by serving as the focal point for community & workforce initiatives for Turner in Central Ohio by building and maintaining relationships with industry partners, educators and community based organizations. She believes, Passion, Drive and Commitment to your career will always result in a winning Life!

Tia Johnson
Chief Facilitator & CEO
Enlighten Angle Financial Group LLC & Cortex Coaching LLC

Tia Johnson, Chief Facilitator and CEO of Enlighten Angle Financial Group LLC. and Cortex Coaching LLC. She is on a mission. As a full-time entrepreneur finding her voice in that crowded business culture was a challenge and she has arrived! Being part of multi-generational teams, high-performing expectations and effective communication has allowed her to move high priority projects ahead and achieve goals together.

Tia Johnson is a recognized adolescent mental health expert, professional youth empowerment speaker, financial and life coach. She specializes in helping the 21st century girl thrive through the pressures and transitions of adolescence. Over the years Tia has educated, mentored and coached youth and women.

A successful entrepreneur, recognized mentor to girls and certified financial education instructor but most important she is a awesome mother. A mother of two girls and a son. The work she does is very personal and close to home.

Honorable Mary Lightbody
State Representative

19th House District

The sixth of seven children, State Rep. Mary Lightbody grew up a country girl in Pepper Pike, Ohio. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a doctorate in science education from The Ohio State University. She has spent the last 27 years teaching both in K-12 education and at the collegiate level in Central Ohio, most recently in a position at Ohio State’s Newark campus. Rep. Lightbody is a fearless advocate for her constituents in the 19th Ohio House District, fighting to make quality, affordable healthcare coverage available to all Ohioans as well as leading the way on policies that support working families—like reforming a broken education system and standing up for Ohio workers.

In addition to her full-time teaching career, Lightbody is the mother of three grown children, and has served as a deacon at her church, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Westerville Public Library and in leadership positions with state and national science teachers’ professional associations.

Honorable Mary Lightbody will be speaking on Public Policy at the Girls Who Lead Summit.

Danielle Lim

Haven Collective

Danielle brings the creative vision to the Haven team. As a work-from-home professional for over a decade, Danielle not only understands our community, she is a foundation within our community. With 15 years of experience in venture capital and marketing, Danielle’s expertise enables her to craft the unique elements needed to bring successful startup stories to life. Having a rich involvement with local organizations like Green Columbus, Glass Axis & Net Impact, her connections within and around Columbus bring a dedicated and passionate network of individuals and company relationships that give our community the passion and purpose to succeed.

Dr. Laquore J. Meadows
CEO & Co-Founder
Invest2Give, LLC

Dr. Laquore J. Meadows is a stock and options trader, long-term investor, and entrepreneur. She serves as CEO and Co-Founder of Invest2Give, LLC, a financial education company dedicated to teaching youth and adult strategies to invest and trade in the stock market.

Laquore’s primary aspiration with Invest2Give is to teach new and existing investors of all ages a way to build generational wealth. After countless hours of research and course-taking, investing has proven to be one of the most rewarding personal and financial experiences of her life. As such, she prides herself on dedicating time to each of her students and provides them with sound strategies to profit from the stock market.

Along with running her business, she also enjoys a career as a higher education professional at The Ohio State University. Dr. Meadows is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a host of other professional organizations. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University, Masters in College Student Personnel from Miami University, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Ohio University. She is based in Columbus, Ohio and teaches students throughout the country.

Beth Menduni
Chief Storyteller
Mkg Dept

Beth Menduni is a storyteller.  She helps companies clearly tell their stories to ideal customers through powerful video narratives. Her stories inspire confidence and  communicate value. Beth is the owner of Mkg Dept where she employs an all-female team to produce impactful video content.




Michelle Murcia
President & CFO

Michelle has more than 25 years of finance, accounting, administration and investment experience, in publicly traded, privately held and not for profit corporations, startups and multi-billion-dollar enterprises, small regional investment funds, investment advisory service firms and highly performing national funds.  Michelle has served as a C-level consultant to more than 30 early-stage start-up companies since 2012 and launched Book+Street® in January of 2018, a professional services firm with a team of finance, accounting and administrative professionals providing support to startups across the Midwest and beyond.

Since 2013, Michelle has provided strategic financial services to a portfolio of early stage technology companies as their contract Chief Financial Officer, advising on a number of complex financial transactions, and to an investment advisory firm as Venture Partner, supporting the investment process for Series B, C and later stage syndicated venture transactions, including due diligence, financial modeling, investment document preparation and portfolio reporting.

Throughout her career, Michelle has designed, implemented and administered multiple equity-based compensation programs, including ISO qualified and non-qualified stock option programs, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock, and phantom stock (omnibus) plans.  She was one of the first 500 individuals to receive the designation Certified Equity Professional (CEP), a recognized certification in the subject of equity-based compensation, from Santa Clara University.

Michelle is a Certified Public Accountant, earned a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Service Sector Management from California State University, San Marcos, and an MBA from The Ohio State University.

Rebecca Nelson
Administrator – Neighborhood Health Division
Columbus Public Health

Rebecca Nelson serves as the Administrator for Columbus Public Health’s (CPH) Neighborhood Health Division, which includes the sections of Health Equity, Chronic Disease Prevention, and Neighborhood Health Social Services.  The Department Health Equity Plan, CARE Coalition (trauma-responsive initiatives), Office of Minority Health, Neighborhood Health Social Workers, Growing Healthy Kids, leadership for the Local Food Action Plan, and Built Environment initiatives are all housed within Neighborhood Health.

Prior to this role, she served in numerous positions at The Ohio State University, including Assistant Vice President for Student Life, Director of the Multicultural Center, Program Manager for Community Development at the Wexner Medical Center, and Assistant Director at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Rebecca is committed to service and community transformation.  She has served on a variety of councils and commissions, including the Governor’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Advisory Council, the Columbus Community Relations Commission, Equitas Health’s Mozaic Advisory Committee, the RecoveryOhio Minority Health Working Group, The Ohio State President’s Council on Women, The Ohio State Faculty Senate Diversity Committee, the Infant Mortality Task Force, United Way of Central Ohio’s Race Relations and Diversity Vision Council, and The Ohio State Critical Difference for Women Re-Entry Scholarship Fund.  Her board service has included the Bhutanese Community of Central Ohio, Asian American Community Services, the Breathing Association, YWCA, Girl Scouts Seal of Ohio, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, Midwest Asian American Student Union, Closing the Gap, Coalition of Adoptive Families, the Organization of Chinese Americans, and WAND: Women’s Action for New Directions.

John Rush

John is the Founder & CEO of CleanTurn and a social entrepreneur focused on changing the paradigm of how we think about the relationship between business and the social sector. After serving as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps, John devoted his career on building small businesses which have trained and employed over 3,000 individuals who have faced multiple barriers to employment. John has five graduate degrees in Urban Studies, Theology, Philosophy, History, Nonprofit Management and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. John and his wife have eight children and live on the southwest side of Columbus.

Sarah Rush
Hint Of Urban

My name is Sarah. My first entrepreneurial adventure with my dad started when I was 10 and it was focused on creating coasters, cupholders and other items with crochet. I used the money I made to support women who were victims of human trafficking. I am now 16 years old and a junior in high school. I have a new venture called “Hint of Urban.” I make and sell all natural lip balm in a100% recyclable & bio degradable tube. I am working on creating an all-natural cleansing product line as well. The goal is to limit the waste of plastics & toxins, to create an environment that is healthier! The ultimate goal is to brand each flavor around a key social justice issue so that the healthy environment we create is centered on the common good. In addition to exploring entrepreneurial ideas with my dad, I also love to play and compete in soccer, swim, and track.

Danielle D. Smith
Founder –Don’t Be Quiet Movement
Author – Yesterday’s Tomorrow

Danielle is the founder of the “Don’t Be Quiet” movement, an organization with a mission to help victims of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide. In July 2019, she released a Short Film by the same name that gives a visual account of her book and walks you through the challenge of going from victim to victor! She is a passionate speaker that brings people together through shared experiences, taking away the struggle of beginning the healing process alone.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow, a first-hand account of her own suffering of abuse as a child. After finding the courage to speak out about the pain she endured, Danielle is now using her experience to inspire others to do the same. Her passion for child advocacy led her to volunteer with Franklin County Children Services. In November 2016, she was sworn in as a Guardian Ad Litem with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). CASA was a safe haven for her as a child when she was removed from her home because of abuse and neglect. She is “for the child” and is excited to volunteer her time and be a voice for a child.

Danielle was the 2018 recipient of Author of the Year through, Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business, Received an Official Selection for her film at the Tylerman Film Festival, and nominated for numerous awards for film and authorship.

Lisa Swartzwelder
Director of Shuttle Operations & Flight Administration

L Brands

Lisa has studied and worked in aviation her whole career. With an undergraduate degree in Aviation and an MBA, she currently is the Director of Shuttle Operations and Flight Administration for L Brands, Inc. Other leadership roles include being President of Columbus Humane Board of Trustees, and serving as a Board member for Leadership Columbus and The Ohio Business Aviation Association where she Chairs the workforce development committee. Lisa is passionate about creating awareness and pathways for girls in aviation.

Peggy Tidwell
Vice President of Commercial Banking
Park National Bank

Peggy is currently Vice President of Commercial Banking at Park National Bank where she brings nearly 40 years’ banking industry experience in both Texas and Ohio to her clients.  Her role is to assist business owners by providing financing solutions for their business and real estate needs.  She is a high energy business leader with broad experience in business development, management and cultivating relationships.

Peggy received her undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and her Masters of Business Administration from Texas A&M University.  As the wife of a preacher, Peggy especially enjoys working with religious institutions to finance their unique properties.

Her leadership background is extensive and includes both Leadership Columbus and Leadership Upper Arlington.  In 2010, Peggy received the Northwest Woman of the Year award from the Upper Arlington Rotary, the Presidents’ Award from the Junior League of Columbus, and the Tri-Village Good Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America for her community involvement.

She has served as President of Tri-Village Rotary, OSU Health Insights, Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW Columbus) and the Central Ohio Chapter of Robert Morris Associates (RMA). She was a founding member and Board member of Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD), board/executive committee of the Junior League of Columbus and Advisory Board member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).  She currently sits on the Boards of CREW Columbus and Willow Brook Christian Communities.

Becky Watts
Government Affairs Director
G2G Consulting

Becky Watts is a Government Affairs Director with G2G consulting, a full-service government affairs consulting firm based in Cleveland, Ohio, Washington, DC and Columbus, Ohio.  Becky joined G2G in 2008 and leads the company’s strategies for accessing government funding for clients. With two decades of experience working in and with federal, state and local government, Becky knows first-hand how to secure funds for growing businesses, municipalities, academic institutions and non-profit organizations.

A member of Beth Israel-The West Temple, Becky also serves on the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Jewish News.  She resides in Lakewood, Ohio with her husband and three children, and newest family addition: puppy Greta.

Kenya Watts
Manager of Business Services


Kenya is currently the manager of business services at BHM CPA Group.  She specializes in helping small businesses develop and maintain an accounting and reporting infrastructure that meets their current needs and supports their future goals.  In doing so, keeps them compliant with taxing and other regulatory bodies.  She has spent many years working in various accounting capacities for several large fortune 500 companies as well as a nonprofit.

Kenya has a B.S. in accountancy from Northern Illinois University and a master’s in information system management from Keller Graduate School.  She has been a licensed Ohio CPA since 2003 and currently serves as the secretary of the Accountancy Board of Ohio.  In addition to serving in this governor appointed position, Kenya is also an incoming regional director for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and well as the treasurer for the Jefferson Elementary PTO.  She enjoys spending time with her two school age boys and planning for her future.

Kay Wilson
Director of Strategic Initiatives
IMPACT Community Action

Kay Wilson serves as the Director for Strategic Initiatives at IMPACT Community Action where she builds their community engagement and development efforts. She is an author of two books, youth advocate, and nonprofit board consultant.  Prior to overseeing a strategic merge with IMPACT, Kay served as Executive Director for LeaderSpark; a thirty year old nonprofit which ignited youth in three core areas; leadership, workforce development and civic engagement.

Kay enjoys advocating for other at-promise youth and uses her experiences to help them gain the necessary survival skills and the foundation they need to break generational patterns and make it through tough situations.

Kay is a graduate from the Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and an MBA from Ohio Dominican. In 2007 she was recognized by Oprah Winfrey and in O Magazine as a Warrior Women, she was a 2016 Smart Business Smart Woman awardee and 2018 Columbus Africentric Sankofa Award winner. Kay lives and laughs with her husband Karl and boys in Gahanna where she continues to  empower women, advocate for domestic violence survivors and train in the area of youth entrepreneurship and civic engagement. -female team to produce impactful video content.

Brooke Yoakam
CEO & Founder

Brooke Yoakam is an Upper Arlington High School senior, actively involved as class president, volunteering at SON Ministeries, and serving as captain of her school’s soccer team. Brooke is also the CEO and Founder of GiftPocket, a mobile app to help you manage your gift cards.

Brooke came up with the idea for GiftPocket when she was 12 years old while attending the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. In the program, she developed the idea of GiftPocket and won funding for the “best business idea.” After finalizing her business plan and participating in Rev1 Ventures’ Concept Academy, she became an engaged client with Rev1 Ventures. Rev1 has been a great resource in helping Brooke turn her app idea into a reality. She has also built an experienced team to work on the implementation of GiftPocket. GiftPocket launched in the Apple App Store in April 2019.

Michelle Merkel Yoakam
Merkel Financial Services, Inc.

Michelle is a nationally recognized industry leader as demonstrated in her qualification for the prestigious International Forum for the top 2% of financial advisors and the Top of the Table and Court of the Table, distinctions of the Million Dollar Round Table organization. She has been recognized as the #1 producer for the Principal Financial Group® in the Ohio Business Center for many years and is regularly in their top 2% in the country. Other awards include the Top Flight Award, the President’s Club, Executive Cabinet. She has also served on an Advisory Board for the Principal Financial Group®, a Fortune 500 company, and on the Columbus Financial Planning Association Board where she has chaired the Financial Planning Association Membership Committee.

As recognition of her achievements and contributions, Columbus Business First named Michelle to its “Forty Under 40” Class of 2010. The distinction recognizes Michelle as one of the business, community, government, and non-profit leaders who have achieved impressive milestones in their careers, and have made significant contributions to central Ohio’s overall quality of life.