2015 Speakers - Coastal Carolina University
In This Section

‌Fifth Annual Women's Leadership Conference Speakers

‌Gloria Gaynor

Renowned recording artist, author

Gloria Gaynor

Grammy-winning I Will Survive was recorded in 1978 as Gloria Gaynor’s tale of personal strength and would become the greatest disco anthem of all time and the banner for social survival that is still relevant after three decades. Gaynor has performed in more than 80 countries, has appeared on Broadway and on national TV programs, and has earned numerous accolades for her distinguished career. In 2013 she released a book – "We Will Survive" – a compilation of true inspirational stories from fans about how “I Will Survive” inspired and impacted their lives in a positive manner. Her autobiography – "I Will Survive" (St. Martin's Press) – offers revealing insight into the artist’s exciting yet somewhat turbulent life. 

Leeza GibbonsLeeza Gibbons

Television host, entrepreneur, author

Emmy Award-winner Leeza Gibbons is one of the most well-known pop culture icons in entertainment and news media. She is the former host of Entertainment Tonight and the daytime talk show, Leeza. She also hosted the syndicated TV news magazine show America Now with Bill Rancic, and the weekly TV news show My Generation on PBS, for which she won the 2013 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host. Gibbons is a leading voice for issues facing family caregivers, healthcare and wellness. She also has launched her own scrapbook, jewelry and cosmetic lines. Her best-selling 2013 book – "Take 2" – is a personal growth guide designed to help people recreate themselves and hit the reset button on their lives.   

OMalleySusan O'Malley

Former president, NBA's Washington Bullets and Washington Sports and Entertainment

At age 29, Susan O'Malley became the first female president of an NBA franchise as well as one of the first women in a major front-office position in major league sports. She is the former president of the NBA's Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) and Washington Sports and Entertainment. In her 20-year tenure with Washington Sports, she also ran the Verizon Center (formerly the MCI Center), the WNBA's Washington Mystics, and Ticketmaster Washington-Baltimore. By the time she retired in 2007, the Verizon Center had recorded more than 21.2 million patrons. O’Malley has been an assistant professor at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

Laura Schroff photoLaura Schroff

Former media executive, author

Laura Schroff is a former advertising executive who has worked with several major media companies, including Time Inc. and Conde Nast. Schroff was part of the advertising team that made USA Today a successful national newspaper. Before helping launch three of the most successful start-ups in Time Inc. history – InStyle, Teen People, and People StyleWatch – she was the New York division manager at People magazine. Schroff has also been the New York ad manager at Ms. magazine and associate publisher at Brides. She also co-wrote the best-selling book, "An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-year-old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny" (2011).

Lauren Leader-Chivee     

Lauren Leader-ChiveeLauren Leader-Chivée

Journalist, author

Lauren Leader-Chivée is the founder and CEO of All In Together—a nonpartisan campaign to reignite the American women's movement for the next generation. She is the former president of the global think tank  Center for Talent Innovation and founding partner at Hewlett Chivée Partners LLC. Her forthcoming book examines why and how American demographic, gender and cultural diversity is its best yet most underleveraged economic asset. She has written extensively for Harvard Business Review, Inc. and Forbes and her thought leadership has been featured in a wide range of media, including the BBC, Dow Jones, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

CONFERENCE BREAKOUT SESSIONS  |  Friday, February 13, 2015

Erin BagwellErin Bagwell

Videographer, graphic designer, feminist blogger

Erin Bagwell is an award winning videographer from Buffalo, New York. In 2013 she founded Feminist Wednesday, a feminist storytelling blog. In 2014 she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $100,000 to produce her first feature length documentary, “Dream, Girl" to showcase the stories of inspiring female entrepreneurs. She has been featured on The Huffington Post, ELLE, The Washington Post, Upworthy and FOX Business and has won several awards for her film projects. She also hosts the feminist podast Beavertalk out of her Brooklyn apartment. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in digital media arts from Canisius College.

Kristen BohanKristin Bohan


Kristin Bohan, Ph.D., is a psychologist with over a decade of experience working with adolescent girls and women of all ages with eating disorders, body-image issues, anxiety and depression. She is also the founder of Coastal Montessori Charter School in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Bohan received her bachelor's and master’s degrees in psychology from Marist College and her Ph.D. in psychology with a concentration in higher education administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She attended Duke University’s Professional Psychology Internship program and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders.    

Beate CheletteBeate Chelette

Entrepreneur, author

Beate Chelette is a respected career coach, successful entrepreneur, author of "Happy Women Happy World" and leader of Chelette Enterprises Inc. She owns and operates the brands PhotoBizCoach, The Women’s Code, and Visualist Publishing. At her lowest point, Chelette was $135,000 in debt, a single mother, and forced to leave her home. Only 18 months later, she sold her image licensing business for millions of dollars. Chelette’s promising career launched quickly after she earned a photography degree in Munich, Germany. She became the photo editor for a trendy start-up magazine, and then moved to ELLE Magazine. In 1989 she became a sought-after photographer representative and still photography producer.

Zelma Maine-JacksonZelma Maine-Jackson

Scientist, environmentalist

Zelma Maine-Jackson has served as exploration geologist with Atlantic Richfield Oil Company and has conducted environmental remediation of uranium contamination at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Nuclear Site. As a hydrogeologist with the Washington State Department of Ecology Nuclear Waste Program, she provides technical oversight for groundwater cleanup of radioactive and hazardous waste. She has been active with STEM education and community mentoring for young women. In South Carolina, she works to protect loggerhead turtles, and to restore and conserve wildlife and habitats in the Ace Basin. She holds a master's degree in economic geology from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Anne MatthewsAnne L. Matthews

Educator, author, speaker

Anne Matthews, Ed.D., is president of Matthews and Associates, an educational consulting firm in Columbia, South Carolina. She has three earned degrees: a bachelor’s from Coker College, master’s in business from Appalachian State University and a doctorate from the University of South Carolina. She is an educator by profession, a published author, an education accreditation commissioner and a public speaker. Matthews has taught at the high school, technical college and university levels, and has worked in management roles for the South Carolina State Department of Education. She has spoken in all 50 states and in 35 foreign countries on educational issues and the Rotary International Foundation.

Stacy L. PearsallStacy L. Pearsall

Photographer, founder of Veterans Portrait Project

Stacy Pearsall got her start as an Air Force photographer at age 17. During her time in the service she traveled to over 41 countries, and attended S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Combat disabled and retired from military service, Pearsall continues her work as a freelance photographer, and is an author, educator, military consultant, public speaker and founder of the Veterans Portrait Project. She was one of only two women to win the National Press Association's Military Photographer of the Year competition, and the only woman to earn it twice. Among many honors, she was named the Air Force Veteran of the Year by the Air Force Band and received the Trojan Labor American Hero Award from PBS.

Stacey RandallStacey Randall

Human capital developer

Stacey Randall is a human capital expert and workforce researcher who has previously held the roles of chief talent officer, workforce futurist, and workforce development director at for-profit and non-profit organizations. She brings unique insight to XYZ University’s audiences as a young professional with a strong background in talent development, an adjunct professor at Queens University and the founder of the Charlotte Young Professionals Organization and Women in Business Mentoring Program. She has authored numerous papers on the generational topic and has been published and in several national publications: Workforce Management, Chief Learning Officer, Recruiting Trends, Business Finance, among others.

Barbara Hickman WhyeBarbara Hickman Whye

Director of Global Strategic Initiatives, Intel Corporation

Barbara Hickman Whye leads Intel Corporation’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for girls and women, whose portfolios advance innovation in math and science education. In her nearly 20 years with Intel, Whye has held multiple key leadership roles responsible for both acquiring and integrating new facilities worldwide in Costa Rica, Mexico and Russia, among other nations. Prior to Intel, she worked in the engineering field with NCR and Bell South. In 2014 Diversity MBA Magazine named Whye one of the “Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Emerging Leaders.” Whye earned a a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and an MBA, both from the University of South Carolina.

PRE-CONFERENCE KEYNOTE SPEAKERS  |  Thursday, February 12, 2015

Erin BagwellErin Bagwell

Videographer, graphic designer, feminist blogger

Erin Bagwell is an award winning videographer from Buffalo, New York. In 2013 she founded Feminist Wednesday, a feminist storytelling blog. In 2014 she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $100,000 to produce her first feature length documentary, “Dream, Girl" to showcase the stories of inspiring female entrepreneurs. She has been featured on The Huffington Post, ELLE, The Washington Post, Upworthy and FOX Business and has won several awards for her film projects. She also hosts the feminist podast Beavertalk. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in digital media arts from Canisius College.

Mehera BlumMehera Blum

Entrepreneur, artist, actor

Mehera Blum of Blumera delves deep into the culture utilizing the innate skills of artisans the world over to create one-of-a-kind hand-sculpted pieces that combine design, incredible handcraft, vibrant colors, and exotic materials. With a BFA in acting from Boston University, Blum began her career as an actress and time spent at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. She has appeared on television and in movies including Big Momma’s House 2, Dawson’s Creek and Guiding Light, and in commercials, print ads, and productions at the Kennedy Center and The Cherry Lane Theatre in New York. She was nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Award for her work in Training Wisteria.

PRE-CONFERENCE BREAKOUT SESSIONS  |  Thursday, February 12, 2015

Renee ArmstrongRenee Armstrong

Founder, Uncork Candles

Renee Armstrong is an entrepreneur and founder of Uncork Candles, a start-up candle company located in Beaufort, South Carolina. Armstrong has held many job titles throughout her life, however, she spent most of her adult life raising her three daughters and now enjoying her six grandchildren. In 2007 she attended Technical College of the Lowcountry, in 2009 she earned an associate's degree in nursing. In 2011, she received a Bachelor of Science in nursing from University of St. Mary. After spending several years as a critical care nurse she decided to put her nursing career on hold in pursuit of following her dream of owning her own business.

Tracy BlanchardTracy Blanchard

Co-founder, Big T Coastal Provisions

Tracy Blanchard is the co-founder of Big T Coastal Provisions with her husband, Tony. She started the company in 2012 with a generation's-old recipe from her husband's family. The company now has three products with two more on the way and is sold in over 1,000 stores throughout the Southeast, Texas and parts of the Northeast. Blanchard is also active in her community having served as president of the Junior League of Charleston and chairwoman for the Komen Charleston Race for the Cure. In addition to her daily work running the company, she is has two children, ages 14 and 11. She is a graduate of the College of Charleston.

Vickie CraftonVickie Crafton

Strategic business consultant, bookstore owner

Vickie Crafton earned her business management degree from the University of Kentucky and started her career in the fashion industry. After several years in the corporate world she founded her own consulting business and now works with retail/wholesale companies that want to increase their sales/market share and improve their profitability. Over the past few years, she worked with brands such as Frette, Levi’s, Dickie, and Nike, leading them to successful outcomes. In 2001 she and her husband, Tom, purchased a small independent bookstore and grew Litchfield Books to be one of South Carolina’s largest independent bookstores which repeatedly draws renowned NY Times authors to the area for lively weekly discussions.

Tracy HagoodAnne Marie Hagood

Co-owner, Food for the Southern Soul

After graduating from Wake Forest University and the University of South Carolina School of Law, Anne Marie Hagood spent 15 years practicing employment law before giving up the billable hour to work with her husband, Jimmy, in their specialty foods business – Food for the Southern Soul. She focuses on marketing and branding, and items including the rice they grow on their family farm, grits ground on their family grist mill, and sauces handcrafted in their kitchen. She has served on the board of directors of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center, Children's Museum of the Lowcountry, Junior League of Charleston and Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding. She has an 8-year-old daughter, Catherine.

Andy KovanAndy Kovan

VP of Account Planning/Development Director, The Brandon Agency

From Dallas, Texas, Andy Kovan graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in public relations. He is the vice president of account planning/development director for the The Brandon Agency in Myrtle Beach. He does the research, gathers and studies the information, and passes it along to his clients or co-workers to produce the most effective brand. It’s what he’s accomplished for clients like Ryland Homes, Wilmington Tourism, Costa Del Mar, Beaufort Destination Marketing, RePower South, Williams Knife Company, Yeti Coolers, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, Fish Hippie and Southern Tide. Kovan has completed three triathlons in a single year, and is avid outdoorsman.

Cheri Leavy and Whitney LongCheri Leavy, Whitney Long

Founders, The Southern Coterie

The brainchild of two southern belles and businesswomen, The Southern Coterie developed out of a mutual love for the South and passion for the people and unique businesses that shape the region. Whitney Long enjoyed a successful career as a scout, stylist and contributing editor for publications such as Coastal Living, Southern Accents, Southern Living and Better Homes & Gardens. Born in Elba, Alabama, Long now calls the quaint seaside village of St. Simons Island, Georgia home. Cheri Leavy began her career writing a “cousin newsletter” and later operated a successful online and print publishing business with her husband. An eighth generation coastal Georgia native, Leavy splits her time between Athens and St. Simons Island.   

Christie MacConnellChristie MacConnell

Director, South Carolina Women's Business Center

As director of the South Carolina Women’s Business Center (SCWBC) in Charleston, Christie MacConnell has more than 15 years of business counseling and economic development experience. She graduated with a double major in management and marketing from the University of Albany (SUNY) and went on to work as a counselor for a Small Business Development Center in northern New York, where she was chosen as the Small Business Counselor of the Year. She also served as director of marketing and business development for the Adirondack Economic Development Center and the lead business counselor for Southern Maine at Costal Enterprise Inc., where she also became a certified Small Business Development Counselor.

Chris RichardsonChris Richardson

Owner and operator, The Kangaroo Pouch

Chris Richardson is owner and operator of The Kangaroo Pouch, a baby items supply store with two locations on the Grand Strand. Opened in July 2010 in Myrtle Beach, the business was named the 2013 Myrtle Beach’s Small Business of the Year by TheLocalNewspaper.com. The Kangaroo Pouch has hosted educational events such as movie night to show “What to Expect When Expecting,” and has partnered with the Myrtle Beach Fire Department to host free car seat checks. Previously, Richardson worked in medical business management. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in business and later earned a master's of health administration at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Barb RoyalBarb Royal

Founder/CEO, KidsCanGiveToo.com

Barb Royal is an entrepreneur and founder/CEO of KidsCanGiveToo.com. Her company was recently chosen for the first cohort for the Start.SC incubator program for companies toward scaling $10 million dollars in five years. She is a veteran elementary school teacher with more than two decades of experience teaching, coaching and directing children’s programs. Royal was a finalist for the 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Award presented by the Grand Strand Technology Council.

Ryan SmithRyan Smith

Executive Director, Startup.SC

Ryan Smith is the executive director of Startup.SC, a nonprofit incubator program to support entrepreneurs and technology companies toward scaling $10 million in five years. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science and attended the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. In 2012 she received the Camille Mermod Award for outstanding contributions to the American Medical Women’s Association. She serves on the planning committee for the WIPL Conference and Celebration and on the organizing committee for Women in Technology, an initiative of the Grand Strand Technology Council.