2020 Women's Leadership Conference Speakers
Speakers for the 10th Annual Women's Leadership Conference included Sheryl Aiken, Erin Bagwell, Melissa Bilka, Madeline Cashdollar, Pamela Evette, Melissa Foster Bird, Ryan Smith Gauthier, Iris Griffin, Meg Ham, Beth Harhai, Kym Hilinski, Brad Johnson and David Smith, Valerie Lasry, Eduardo Martinez, Rebecca Minkoff, Melissa Moore, Donna Pagano, Gayle Richmond, Debbie Rosen, Victoria Russell, Nina Sossamon-Pogue, Kay Stanley, Atiya Stokes-Brown, Terrez Thompson, Tererai Trent, and others. Moderator for the 2020 conference was Eva Saha.
Eva Saha is a professional emcee, moderator and presenter. She served as moderator for the 2019 Women's Leadership Conference.
Saha is best known for having worked as a TV personality on the award winning entertainment show, 190 North, on Chicago’s ABC7. Her natural, warm and commanding presence, both on and off-camera, has also made her the host of choice for a variety of live-event clients including Cardinal Health, Panasonic, Caterpillar and St. Jude Medical. She is known to bring out the best in her stage guests. She has interviewed people from all walks of life, including James Carville and Mary Matalin, Jim Kelly, Venus Williams, Magic Johnson, Michael J. Fox and Bill Nye the Science Guy to name a few.
Her ability to relate to all personalities and people of different backgrounds and cultures enables her to effectively interview and moderate discussions among Fortune 100 CEOs and customers of those companies alike.
A formerly practicing accountant for an international energy company and corporate attorney for a world renowned firm, Saha brings focus, dedication and intelligence to the job.
Saha is an active volunteer for Selah Freedom and WITS Chicago, working to advance literacy and improve the welfare of disadvantaged women and children. She also supports and fundraises for a plethora of causes including international women’s rights, disease research and advocacy for people with disabilities.
When she's not working, you'll find her laughing, playing and traveling with her favorite people on earth (her husband and two daughters), sampling the culinary treasures of Chicago, or lounging on her couch reading a good book, watching a crime drama or cheering on (sometimes screaming at) the University of Michigan football team.
Madeline Cashdollar is the industrial human resources director for Sonoco’s Industrial and Protective Solutions businesses. Based in Hartsville, S.C., she partners with the company’s general managers to create talent strategies that support the businesses’ needs. She also leads a team of human resources professionals that serve Sonoco’s network of industrial plants in the Americas.
Since joining Sonoco in 2015, Cashdollar has served on the leadership team for the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. She helped to establish the company’s Business Resource Group (BRG) guidelines that are designed to help employees start new groups. Newly formed groups include LGBT+ and Women at Sonoco. Cashdollar is a member of the steering committee for LGBT+.
Prior to joining Sonoco, she worked at Aon Hewitt (previously Hewitt Associates) since 2002, and was named a partner in 2010. Cashdollar began her career at Hewitt in talent management consulting.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Wake Forest University and an MBA with a focus on strategy and leadership from the Yale University School of Management.
Cashdollar’s family includes her husband, Jeff Gregory, and two children, Michael and Elena. They live in Florence.
Pamela S. Evette is the 93rd lieutenant governor of South Carolina and the first female Republican lieutenant governor.
An entrepreneur and businesswoman, Evette founded Quality Business Solutions Inc. (QBS), a payroll, human resources, and benefits services firm headquartered in Travelers Rest, S.C. Under her leadership as president and CEO, QBS grew from a start-up to one of the nation’s fastest growing small businesses. The company has also been repeatedly honored among the fastest growing and best places to work in South Carolina.
Evette has received numerous business and professional accolades, including the ATHENA Leadership Award®; the Enterprising Woman of the Year Award; the Women Presidents’ Organization 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Award; and as a member of the Impact 50, an annual ranking of the most powerful women leaders of Inc. 5000 companies.
Evette is passionate about, and has been focused on, improving educational performance in her community, assisting the elderly and the young, and helping small- and women-owned businesses. She is a member of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and Women Presidents’ Organization and serves on the board of directors of the St. Francis Foundation, affiliated with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, and the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations, where she is also an emeritus member of the state legislative committee.
A native of Ohio, Evette earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in accounting from Cleveland State University. She lives in Travelers Rest with her husband, David, and their three children as well as her mother, Jennie.
Melissa Foster Bird is a partner with the law office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Huntington, W.Va. She serves as one of the firm’s two chief diversity partners leading the execution of actions to recruit, retain, and promote diverse and female lawyers.
Foster Bird has served as lead trial counsel in more than 40 trials in state and federal courts in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. Her experience includes representing clients in complex cases in the pharmaceutical, medical device, transportation, and chemical industries – including other manufacturers, retailers, and convenience stores – in some of the most difficult venues in the nation.
Foster Bird is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been recognized for her work by Chambers and Partners, The Legal 500, and The Best Lawyers in America®.
She earned a juris doctor degree from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Ohio.
As president of Food Lion, Meg Ham leads a team of more than 63,000 associates dedicated to providing fresh, healthy and affordable food. Under her leadership, the company serves nearly 10 million customers each week across its 10-state operating footprint.
During her 30-year tenure at Ahold Delhaize USA, the parent company of Food Lion, Ham has served at the helm of Bottom Dollar Food, the company's former discount banner, as well as in executive leadership roles in both retail operations and merchandising functions at Food Lion and its sister banner, Hannaford. She has built a distinguished career and strong reputation for her focus on the value of service to customers and ensuring great associate experiences.
Ham is preserving the company's heritage of low prices and convenient locations, both hallmarks of Food Lion since its founding 60 years ago. Under her leadership at Food Lion, she has been instrumental in helping reposition the Food Lion brand through its "Easy, Fresh and Affordable…You Can Count on Food Lion Every Day!" strategy.
She is making a number of strides to win new customers and grow loyalty with existing customers with a focus on enhancing the store format by making shopping and the check-out process easier, expanding product assortment based on customer feedback, offering fresher products throughout the store and transforming customer and associate experiences through the company's "Count on Me" culture. She also has a strong passion for serving the community through the company's hunger-relief platform, Food Lion Feeds, and is one of the company's driving forces to donate 500 million meals by the end of 2020.
Ham currently serves on the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation board of trustees. Ham has previously served on the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation board of trustees and as a member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW) national board, Easter Seals national board and sat on the board of governors for Saint Joseph's University's Food Marketing Education Foundation.
A native of central New York, she earned her bachelor of science degree in business management and marketing from Cornell University. She currently resides in Concord, N.C., with her husband and two sons.
The Hilinski's Hope Foundation was founded in 2018 by Mark and Kym Hilinski to honor the life of their son Tyler, who died by suicide on Jan. 16, 2018. Tyler was a Division-1 quarterback at Washington State University and his death was a shock to those around him, including his teammates, family and friends. He showed no visible signs of depression or mental illness, and must have been suffering in silence.
The Foundation's mission is to educate, advocate, and remove the stigma associated with mental illness, while funding programs that provide student athletes the tools needed to support their mental health and wellness.
The Hilinski family recently moved from Southern California to South Carolina to be closer to their youngest son Ryan, the starting quarterback for the University of South Carolina.
Hilinski is a retired attorney and now focuses on helping others with Hilinski's Hope.
An industry leader in accessible luxury handbags, accessories, footwear and apparel, Rebecca Minkoff’s playful and subtly edgy designs can be spotted around the world on young women and celebrities alike.
After developing an affinity for design while in the costume department in high school, Minkoff moved to New York City at only 18 years old to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer.
In 2001, she designed a version of the “I Love New York” T-shirt as part of a five-piece capsule collection, which appeared on The Tonight Show and became an overnight sensation. In 2005, Minkoff designed her first handbag, which she soon dubbed the “Morning After Bag, a.k.a. the M.A.B.” This iconic bag ignited Minkoff’s career as a handbag designer and inspired her edgy, feminine creations in the years to come.
Minkoff’s success was further enhanced by the support of her brother and the CEO and co-founder, Uri Minkoff, who helped usher in and pioneer the company’s industry-leading social media efforts.
After four years of designing statement-making handbags and accessories with her trademark leathers, studs and hardware, she returned to her roots of apparel design and introduced her first ready-to-wear collection in 2009.
Today, Rebecca Minkoff is a global brand with a wide range of apparel, handbags, footwear, jewelry and accessories (including tech) as well as men’s accessories under the label Uri Minkoff. In the spring of 2017, Rebecca Minkoff Watches was launched, reimagining the category through their decidedly downtown, Rock and Roll aesthetic. Uri Minkoff also introduced its own distinct line of menswear timepieces.
The brand has four domestic retail stores, eight international locations, and is distributed in over 900 stores worldwide. In 2011, she won industry recognition when she was awarded the Breakthrough Designer Award from the Accessories Council. She is an active member of the CFDA and supports multiple philanthropies. In August of 2017, she was announced as a member of the first-ever New York State Council on Women and Girls, in the company of other female industry leaders including Refinery29 founder Christene Barberich, SoulCycle CEO, Melanie Whelan, and Deloitte CEO, Cathy Engelbert.
Minkoff is dedicated to bringing women together to enact positive change. In September of 2018, she established the Female Founder Collective, a network of businesses led by women that invests in women’s financial power across the socio-economic spectrum by enabling and empowering female-owned businesses.
She is married to Gavin Bellour and they live in Brooklyn with their three children.
Victoria Russell is the first chief of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) at Papa John’s International, a global brand with 120,000 team members. A 13-year passion for the Papa John’s brand, she is committed to using her voice to bring change and stepping up to the challenge of ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion is in the DNA of the company.
The DE&I vision at Papa John’s is to enable team members, customers, suppliers, partners, and franchisees of all backgrounds to feel included and a part of the Papa John’s family and to allow the brands diversity to be their strength and competitive advantage. Much like the company’s tagline, Better ingredients. Better pizza., people are the key ingredient to a better company. Russell previously served as head of diversity and inclusion and was voted chair of the newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee by her peers. She spent most of her career at Papa John’s in marketing analytics, where she gained valuable insights into the business, and the customers and communities they served.
Before to joining Papa John’s, Russell worked in human resources compensation at Brown-Forman, and Humana Inc. She serves on several nonprofit boards including Leadership Louisville, Fund for the Arts, and the YMCA. She was recently named a “Woman Making A Difference” by Louisville Business First and to the 2019 Class of Louisville’s Forty Under 40. She was also selected to The Business Journals’ Influencers: Rising Stars, a national list of influential young executives.
Her other recent accomplishments include Leadership Louisville Class of 2020, University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics’ alumni recipient of the 2019 Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award, and founding member of the Adweek Diversity and Inclusion Council. She was also just named to the 2020 Class of the Executive Leadership Council.
Russell earned a bachelor's degree in marketing and management and an MBA in marketing, both from the University of Kentucky.
Kay Stanley is the founder of Spartina 449, a women’s handbag and accessory company based in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Her artistic journey began many years ago in Kansas City, Kan., where she was born and raised. One of her earliest memories was receiving a sketchbook for a birthday gift, which she quickly filled with drawings and musings. It would later come to shape her life and career.
Learning from her mother, who was a talented watercolor artist herself, Stanley became fascinated with all kinds of creative outlets, including scrapbooking. While attending the University of Kansas, she studied advertising, dabbling in design through various classes and projects. After graduating in 1986 with a journalism degree, Stanley was hired as art director for a Kansas City advertising agency. Through her experiences working in advertising, she had the opportunity to art-direct catalogs for Hallmark Cards Inc. and Whitman’s Candies, as well as to create campaigns for Campbell Soup, Procter & Gamble, and Nestle Foods. She thrived in the fast-paced world of advertising and during her career, earned more than 50 awards for her art direction and designs.
In 1996, Stanley met her future husband, Curt Seymour, whom she worked with on a line of wholesale gift products for several years. Not long after, the couple used their savings to invest in a line of scrapbooking products and together launched their first company, K&Company. The company would come to be a leader in the scrapbooking industry, selling in more than 5,000 retail outlets worldwide and winning numerous awards, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and being named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies.
The couple sold K&Company in 2007, and packed up their lives in Kansas to fulfill a dream of island living, settling in Daufuskie Island, S.C. Stanley was immediately inspired by the surrounding Lowcountry landscape, and not long after the move, plans for a luxury handbag company were put into place. Their second successful company, Spartina 449, launched in 2009.
The Spartina 449 product line is carried in more than 1,500 retail stores across the United States and overseas. In addition, Spartina 449 has twice earned a top 5,000 ranking status from Inc. magazine. The company’s flagship store is in Bluffton, S.C. It also has storefronts in Bluffton, S.C., Charleston, S.C., Hilton Head Island, S.C., Asheville, N.C., Highlands, N.C., Wilmington, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., and Savannah, Ga., as well as at several Tanger Outlet locations, including in Myrtle Beach on Hwy. 17.
As the vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, Atiya Stokes-Brown serves as CCU’s first diversity, equity and inclusion officer. The chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer guides efforts to conceptualize, define, assess, nurture and cultivate diversity and inclusion as an institutional resource. By collaborating across campus and with surrounding communities, Stokes-Brown oversees the implementation of strategies that advance accessibility, inclusion and diversity as key parts of the institution’s strategic plan. She also provides administrative supervision for Intercultural and Inclusion Student Services and Accessibility and Disability Services.
A dynamic leader with 15 years of experience teaching and conducting research at the university level, Stokes-Brown has worked collaboratively in numerous capacities across college and university communities, demonstrating strong academic and administrative leadership, and a deep passion for liberal arts education. Prior to serving in this role, Stokes-Brown served as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Bucknell University and held several administrative positions at the university including interim associate provost for diversity, faculty fellow in the Office of the Associate Provost for Diversity, and assistant dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.
Drawn to academia by the desire to give back and help build inclusive communities, Stokes-Brown received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Maryland, College Park and her master's in political science from Temple University. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with bachelor's degrees in politics and dance from Randolph-Macon Woman's College (currently known as Randolph College). Her teaching interests include American politics, racial/ethnic minority political behavior, Latino politics, women and politics, campaigns and elections, and congressional/state politics.
Stokes-Brown's scholarly publications broadly center on the political incorporation of women and racial/ethnic groups into the American political system, and issues of representation. She is the author of The Politics of Race in Latino Communities: Walking the Color Line (Routledge, 2012, 2014) and her work has appeared in several peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Politics, American Politics Research, Politics and Policy, the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, Social Science Quarterly, National Political Science Review, and Political Research Quarterly. She is also the author of several peer-reviewed book chapters.
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., and a graduate of the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Stokes-Brown resides in Myrtle Beach with her husband and four children.
Terrez Marriott Thompson is vice president of global supplier diversity for The Coca-Cola Company, leading the organization’s efforts to maximize procurement opportunities with diverse businesses. As an associate of the company for nearly 35 years, Thompson has held numerous roles of increasing responsibility. She assumed her current leadership position in April 2012. She is proudest of the innovative work she has done to develop diverse suppliers, most notably, the Supplier Training and Empowerment Program (STEP) to support the company’s 5By20 initiative to empower 5 million women by 2020. STEP also has a featured program focused on Women of Color, the fastest growing sector of entrepreneurs. STEP has doubled the number of women trained in its last two years.
Prior to her current assignment, she was responsible for employee engagement, where her responsibilities included building processes that optimized the existing systems that supported volunteerism, matching gifts, and the company’s non-profit board participation strategy. She has also served as AVP, executive assistant and program manager of Coca-Cola North America Innovation. In this role, she led a major project to design and implement a new product innovation process for Coca-Cola North America, the company’s flagship business unit.
Thompson has had other senior roles at Coca-Cola. Working with the EVP of global public affairs, she led the company’s $1 billion Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Program for minority and women-owned business. Thompson also served as AVP and deputy to the president of the Africa Group. She started at Coca-Cola in the finance organization holding progressively responsible roles, including controller for The Coca-Cola Trading Company and financial services manager for the Africa Group.
Before joining Coca-Cola, Thompson was a senior auditor at Price Waterhouse. A Certified Public Accountant, Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University in 1981. She also is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and The Links Inc. Her family includes husband, Rodney, and daughter, Summer.
Born into poverty and a culture that excluded girls from education, Tererai Trent shares her stunning journey from rural Zimbabwe to a global advocate for literacy that has helped transform education in her country and illuminated the pathway for women around the world to realize their dreams.
Trent is a world-renowned humanitarian, educator, and author who has served as a consultant to major international aid organizations in program and policy evaluation. She is a fellow at the Center of AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California, San Francisco and an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health at Drexel University.
From the moment she wrote down her dreams of going to America for higher education, sealed them in a tin can, and buried them under a rock, Trent launched a narrative of turning oppression and injustice into opportunity that serves as a beacon of hope for women everywhere. Her soul-stirring talks not only bring tears to eyes and smiles to faces, but also include practical, actionable steps to achieve one’s goals and overcome the most daunting challenges.
Sheryl Aiken, DNP, AGNP-C, is a nurse practitioner at Tidelands Health specializing in heart and vascular care. She earned a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree and a master’s degree in nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina. She also has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina Upstate.
For her DNP capstone project, Aiken received a grant through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine preventing heart failure readmissions to hospitals. She serves as treasurer for the Grand Strand Advanced Practice Nurses Association. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids, dogs, and family.
Erin Bagwell is a new mom, filmmaker, and feminist blogger residing in Brooklyn, New York. In 2013 she founded Feminist Wednesday, a feminist storytelling blog. In the summer of 2014 she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $100,000 in funding to produce her first feature length film Dream, Girl. In May 2016, Dream, Girl screened at the White House as part of the United State of Women Summit followed by a sold-out screening at the iconic Paris Theater in New York City.
Bagwell’s story has been featured in Forbes, TED, Vogue and The Washington, and she was named one of Oprah’s SuperSoul100 a list featuring extraordinary individuals that live life intentionally, create great social impact, and bring inspiration to others. Most recently, she was featured in Apple’s Behind the Mac campaign, highlighting some of the most creative people in Brooklyn.
In 2017, she was selected to be part of the American Film Showcase, which is part of the U.S. Department of State in coordination with U.S. embassies and consulates. They send American documentarians on trips to various countries around the globe to engage with audiences. Through her work with the showcase, she has travelled to Tajikistan and Egypt to screen Dream, Girl and lead filmmaking workshops.
Back in Brooklyn, Bagwell co-hosts a weekly podcast called BeaverTalk with Diana Matthews, where they give Hollywood unsolicited advice about feminism. Episodes are released every Feminist Wednesday.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in digital media arts from Canisius College.
Melissa Bilka is the vice president of team member services at Brittain Resorts & Hotels (BRH) based in Myrtle Beach. She helped to launch the company’s Women’s Leadership Alliance Program in 2019. She joined BRH in April 2012 as the director of human resources and staff development.
Bilka began her career as a room attendant and has been in the hotel/hospitality business for 30 years ago. She has an extensive career that includes operations, training, hotel openings and acquisitions, and human resources.
Prior to joining BRH, Bilka was regional vice president of operations at LBA Hospitality, where she managed the performance of more than 32 Marriott and Hilton branded hotels. Her journey began with Marriott International, where her undeniable passion for hospitality was revealed. She considers her greatest moments those she is able to coach and mentor others in their careers.
Bilka has earned Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)-Senior Certified Professional and Senior Professional in Human Resources certifications. She served on the Coastal Organization of Human Resources (local chapter of SHRM) board of directors for five years, including a stint as president.
Voted “Best Photographer” by South Carolina Woman Magazine, Ryan Smith Gauthier is an award-winning photographer based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., who travels worldwide for destination branding and commercial art. She is considered a “go-to” photographer for headshots and communicating your brand visually.
She has traveled the world with both the film and fashion industries. When she isn’t traveling, she is photographing families and entrepreneurs. Her style is unique and has been described as authentic but polished.
Iris Griffin is vice president of financial management and integration for the Southeast Energy Group. She is responsible for planning, directing and overseeing the finance functions for the organization’s operations in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Additionally, she has responsibility for the integration of the Southeast Energy Group into the Dominion Energy structure.
Prior to the merger with Dominion Energy, Griffin served as chief financial officer and treasurer for SCANA Corporation. While at SCANA, she also served as vice president of finance and held leadership roles in audit services, privacy, corporate compliance, investor relations, and rate and regulatory affairs. Before joining SCANA, she worked at Scott McElveen in Columbia, S.C., and Ernst & Young in Raleigh, N.C.
Griffin is on the finance committee for the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and is a board member at Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity, City Year, Columbia Museum of Art, and the University of South Carolina Business Partnership Foundation. She previously served in board leadership roles for Senior Resources and Columbia City Ballet.
Griffin earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master of accountancy from the University of South Carolina. She is also a certified public accountant in South Carolina.
Beth Harhai joined Blackbaud in 2017 as the director of the Healthcare Solutions Business division where she oversees the client executive team, new business development and partners internally to ensure the development, services, support teams meet the growing demands of Blackbaud’s 3,000 Healthcare clients. Prior to joining Blackbaud, she was the vice president for Healthgrades hospital business unit and held prior leadership roles with other leading technology companies: Allscripts, Mastech and ADP. She started her career as a fundraiser for a community hospital and the American Cancer Society.
Harhai currently serves as the founder and co-chair of Blackbaud’s Women in Sales Affinity program which includes more than 200 women across the company to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment. In her spare time, she sits on the board for the St. Lucy’s Association for the Blind and is involved in a a variety of other non-profits and initiatives to support diversity. She is an active member of several professional organizations: HIMSS, AHP, WBL.
She holds a B.A. from Allegheny College where she currently serves as an alumni advisor and career mentor. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her two teenagers and husband and is based out of Blackbaud’s headquarters in Charleston, S.C.
W. Brad Johnson, Ph.D., is the co-author of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women. He is a professor of psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the United States Naval Academy, and a faculty associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University.
A clinical psychologist and former Lieutenant Commander in the Navy’s Medical Service Corps, Johnson served as a psychologist at Bethesda Naval Hospital and the Medical Clinic at Pearl Harbor where he was the division head for psychology. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and recipient of the Johns Hopkins University Teaching Excellence Award. He has served as chair of the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Committee and as president of the Society for Military Psychology.
Johnson is the author of more than 100 journal articles and book chapters—many on the topic of mentoring—and 12 books, in the areas of mentoring, professional ethics, and counseling. Books of related interest include: On Being a Mentor: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty (2nd Ed.) (2015), The Elements of Mentoring (Revised Ed.) (2008, with Charles Ridley), The Elements of Ethics for Professionals (2008, with Charles Ridley), and Becoming a Leader the Annapolis Way (2006, with Greg Harper).
David Smith, Ph.D., is the co-author of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women. He is an associate professor of sociology in the Department of National Security Affairs at the United States Naval War College.
A former Navy pilot, Smith led diverse organizations of women and men culminating in command of a squadron in combat and flew more than 3,000 hours over 30 years including combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a sociologist trained in military sociology and social psychology, he focuses his research in gender, work, and family issues including gender bias in performance evaluations, dual career families, military families, women in the military, and retention of women.
Smith is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters—many on the topic of gender and the workplace.
Dr. Valerie Lasry and her son, now an adult, moved to Pawleys Island in October 2005. She joined Carolina OB/GYN in November of that same year. She has been enjoying the practice, the temperate climate, and the beauty of the Lowcountry ever since. Along with Dr. Gayle Richmond, she founded SmartLipo MD in Murrells Inlet in 2009.
Lasry enjoys participating in the care of pregnant patients as well as caring for GYN patients in all stages of their lives. Laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgery are her preferred approach to gynecological surgery when necessary.
Fluent in English and French, Lasry was born in Paris and grew up in Montreal, Canada. She earned her medical degree from the University of Montreal and moved to the U.S. in 1991 to complete her OB/GYN residency at Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, Md. Following her residency, she practiced at a multi-specialty clinic in New Hampshire. In 1999, she joined Partners in Women’s Health, a private practice in Potsdam, N.Y., where she practiced for nearly seven years.
She is a fellow in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and is certified through the American Board of OB/GYN. She is a member of the American Society of Cosmetic Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Obstetrician and gynecologist Eduardo Martinez, MD, FACOG, a urogynecologist at Tidelands Health Women’s Center, specializes in treating disorders of the pelvic floor such as pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and constipation. He is board-certified and fellowship-trained.
Martinez lives in Pawleys Island with his wife and two daughters. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
Dr. Melissa Moore joined Carolina OB/GYN in 2019. She has a special interest in minimally invasive surgery and surgery for the management of pelvic pain and urinary incontinence. She enjoys treating metabolic and endocrine disorders with a focus on polycystic ovarian syndrome and infertility. Hormone replacement therapy for peri/postmenopausal patients is a big part of her practice. Moore believes her job is to help women achieve their best life at any age.
Prior to joining Carolina OB/GYN, Moore served as the OB/GYN department chair for Tift Regional Medical Center, where she was instrumental in helping the center achieve the Baby Friendly Certification. In addition, she was a clinical associate professor for the Medical College of Georgia.
Moore is a graduate of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., and the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Ga. She completed her residency at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Fla. She is a fellow in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and is certified through the American Board of OB/GYN. She earned the designation of Certified Lactation Counselor in 2014.
Moore grew up in South Georgia. She and her husband, a South Carolina native, have a young son.
Donna Pagano is a physical therapist with Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services at Murrells Inlet. She earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation therapy from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2001. After achieving specialty certifications in abdominal and pelvic health therapies, she has focused on abdominal and pelvic health since 2003.
Pagano treats both women and men for many kinds of medical issues related to the abdomen or pelvis. She is an advocate for abdominal and pelvic physical therapy and has spoken widely to promote this lesser-known therapy. She has also been featured on local TV stations and various podcasts to increase awareness of pelvic wellness and health.
Debbie Rosen is a highly accomplished and visionary healthcare executive with a longstanding history of success in corporate strategy, business development, acquisition strategy and integration, operational leadership, product innovation, and cultural transformation.
As executive vice president and healthcare practice leader at Energage, Rosen is responsible for setting the strategic direction for healthcare solutions in the organization, providing thought leadership to clients and ensuring sustainable growth of the Energage healthcare business. She serves as an industry leader to ensure Energage tools and insights are effectively used to help make the world a better place to work together for all healthcare associates.
Prior to joining Energage, Rosen spent nine years as senior vice president of strategy and physician and employee services at Press Ganey Associates. Previously she served in several senior leadership roles in the healthcare industry including global practice leader, healthcare for The Gallup Organization, assistant vice president for strategic improvement with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – Hamilton, recipient of the 2004 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, director of cardiopulmonary services and performance improvement with Bon Secours Health System, and strategic advisor to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Rosen has a master’s degree in business administration from Ellis College of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), a master black belt in six sigma, and has various certifications in human behavior and business performance.
Dr. Gayle Richmond is the founding and managing partner of Carolina OB/GYN, which was established in 1988. She also serves as chief of the medical staff of Tidelands Health and is a member of its board of trustees.
A fellow in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, she is certified through the American Board of OB/GYN. A member of the American Society of Cosmetic (Gynecology) Physicians, she is well respected among patients and peers and is considered a pioneer in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. In 2003, she introduced Centering Pregnancy to the Grand Strand and continues to make strides in the advancement of women’s healthcare. Richmond made history when she was the first woman to be elected chief of the medical staff of the former Georgetown Hospital System in Georgetown, S.C.
To date, Richmond has performed more than 10,000 surgeries and 10,000 deliveries. Dr. Richmond grew up in Massachusetts. She and her husband, an ER physician, have five adult children.
A graduate of Georgetown University, Richmond earned her medical degree and completed her residency at the Medical University of South Carolina, where she served as chief resident.
Nina Sossamon-Pogue is a sought-after speaker, hyper-growth tech executive, former USA gymnast, and an Emmy-winning TV news anchor. She is the author of This is Not the End: Strategies to Get You Through the Worst Chapters of Your Life. Sossamon-Pogue shares her proven approach to handling life’s hardships, so you can control your own destiny.
A resident of Charleston, S.C., Sossamon-Pogue has enjoyed success at some of the highest levels of sport, television and corporate America. She also endured painful public failures and devastating life events. She is often asked how she managed to rebuild and find new levels of success, after her lows. So, she developed a framework anyone can implement, to leverage adversity and achieve success.
Sossamon-Pogue spent 20-plus years as a TV news reporter and anchor, followed by 12 years on the leadership team of a technology company, during its highly successful IPO.
In each chapter of her life, Sossamon-Pogue faced tremendous adversity, including an injury that ended her athletic career, and a very public layoff from her dream job. At the peak of her journalism career, Sossamon-Pogue had to rebuild her life once again. After a devastating car accident, she found herself at the center of a story gripping the headlines. Amid darkness, she developed a proprietary model to harness adversity and strengthen resilience.
Sossamon-Pogue brings a wealth of experience and passion to everything she does. She inspires you to examine your future in a new way. With a proven framework to conquer adversity, she teaches you how to overcome challenges of all sizes. This knowledge allows you to gain strength from each obstacle, on your way to success.
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Since 2011, the Women’s Leadership Conference has featured more than 300 world-class speakers. To learn more, select from the annual archives below.
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