Our Mentors & Speakers
Andrew Mack is Founder/CEO of Agromovil, an ag tech startup that links farmers, transporters and buyers to help make the global small ag supply chain more efficient and more profitable. A former World Bank official and banker, Mack is also founder of AMGlobal Consulting, a 17 year old firm working with CSR and emerging markets strategy with clients from major corporates (Chevron, Toyota, Anheuser-Busch, etc.), donor agencies and others.
Multidisciplinarity is key for David. He is an Art History academic, Biohacker, Bonsai Expert, Classically Trained Artist and Augmented Reality developer. David focuses on art and technology as a guideline to understand our present. His work in cultural institutions centers in creating approachable media, from talks to real-time immersive technologies to effectively communicate in new insightful ways. David holds a bachelor’s in art history, a master’s degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and years of experience as a Bonsai apprentice in Japan.
International development practitioner with 10 years of international organizations, government, and non-profit experience in the field of financial inclusion, media and broadcasting, governance and elections, social services, and humanitarian aid. Solid experience in all aspects of key project operations. A multilingual (Albanian, English, Spanish, Italian, and Serbian) with expertise in developing and executing a broad range of knowledge management deliverables (printed and online publications, conferences, training, meetings, etc.) for international clients in places such as Brazil, Belize, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Kosovo, Turkey, the United States, etc. M.A. Degree in International Relations and Economics completed at Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University in Bologna, Italy, and Washington DC, USA. Bachelor’s double degrees in Political Science and International Relations and European Studies received from the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.
A lifelong learner with an enormous appetite for diversity in culture and thought, mastering new skills, working in a dynamic, creative, action-oriented, and multi-tasking environment. A pragmatic dreamer, triathlete, marathoner, and hiker. A curious explorer, art lover, and a compassionate and dedicated volunteer for community and anything that positively impacts society, earth, and the universe. Presently, on a life-sabbatical teaching English as a second language in Spain while learning Spanish and spreading positive energy and vibes through leading free laughter sessions.
She is CEO and co-founder of Impulse4women, an international nonprofit association operating both online and offline. Our goal is to connect Female tech entrepreneurs and also Social Impact projects with investors, corporates, public-private organisations. We support at every stage of development providing the required tools and skills to increase the probability of funding, based on sector, business model, maturity, economics needs…
She is the Investor Relations Director of Telegraph Hill Venture Capital. They are investing in Cybersec, FinTech, Education Tech, Digital Tech, PropTech, Transportation, and early stages.
Since February 2019th she is part of the Jury Member @EIC H2020 SME Innovation Funding Instrument at the European Commission.
Previously, a professional background in Private Banking for 13 years.
She mentored DataQuarks, big data startup and Galigú, virtual reality startup through Startupbootcamp.
Through Everis Foundation she mentored Girls in STEAM.
Judge at Tenerife InTech, UNWTO, Sonar + D, Menorca Millenials, IoT Week, IBM, CaixaBank…
Taryn Andersen has a PLD graduation from IESE Business School.
Rebeca brings more than 17 years of experience managing EU international projects and building partnerships.
Passionate advocate for women closing investment and funding gender gaps, in particular women entrepreneurship.
Board member of “Impulse4women” non-for-profit connecting female Tech entrepreneurs to investors.
Alumnae “Women on Boards Leadership and Management Programme – W50”, at the UCLA Anderson School Business.
Helen Yuanyuan Cao is an executive in the life sciences industry, currently the Head of Marketing Europe, Middle East and Africa at BD Biosciences/Becton Dickinson where she is responsible for all research and clinical product and marketing. Previously Helen was the Head of Global Solution Marketing at Qiagen and in charge of the strategic integration of Qiagen business with bioinformatics.
Helen has been named Germany’s „40 under 40“ and „GenerationCEO Manager of the Year“ and been awarded by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society as a „Rising Talent“, among a group of female leaders under 40.
Helen has been a mentor of several startup accelerator programs including Startupbootcamp, Indiebio and Vodafone F-LANE and was on the advisory board of a Y Combinator digital health company. Currently, Helen serves on the advisory board of the Digital Management & Marketing MBA Program of the Nurertingen-Geislingen University and is the honorary member of the executive board of Future, a cooperative with the mission to ensure a lieable future for all through local communities and digital technologies. Previously, Helen has been the Vice Chair of the Board of Make-A-Wish Foundation Germany.
Helen started her career at Bain & Company. She holds an M.A. in Neurobiology from Washington University in St. Louis, a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and an MBA from European Business School.
With his wife Zoe Nathan, an acclaimed baker, Josh is the founder and co-owner behind a variety of neighborhood dining destinations that make up the Rustic Canyon Family. They include Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry Bakery & Café, Sweet Rose Creamery, Milo & Olive, Cassia, Esters Wine Shop & Bar, Tallula’s, Milo SRO and Birdie G’s—all located in Santa Monica, CA where the couple both grew up.
Prior to owning some of the city’s most well-received restaurants, Josh worked his way through the front-of-house ranks at the L.A. dining institutions of Chef/Owner Bruce Marder, including the famous Broadway Deli. Before venturing out on his own, Josh was wine director of the 1,200-bottle collection at Marder’s Capo in Santa Monica. The idea for Josh’s first restaurant grew from a series of intimate dinners at his tree house-like home nestled in Rustic Canyon, eventually opening the flagship, Michelin-starred restaurant in December 2006. Soon after, Zoe joined the team as pastry chef. She and Josh fell in love, and with their friend, Colby Goff, they began opening more restaurants in the neighborhood. Josh also co-authored Zoe’s first, best-selling cookbook, Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from Our Kitchen (Chronicle Books, 2014), which features 115 recipes for her now legendary brunch dishes, sweets, sides and pastries.
All the restaurants are in partnership with incredibly talented people, which include Chefs Erin Eastland, Shiho Yoshikawa, James Beard-nominated Jeremy Fox and Bryant Ng, and award-winning Wine Director Kathryn Coker. Everyone embraces seasonality, making as much as possible in-house, while sourcing high-quality ingredients from local farmers and vendors with sustainable or regenerative practices. He, Zoe and the entire Rustic Canyon Family are big advocates for their community and well- being of their staff. They offer fully-covered healthcare for their employees, and continue to work on more equitable compensation for the front and back of house staff, which they feel is one of the most important issues currently facing the restaurant industry. Additionally, they’ve raised over $565,000 since 2013 in support of Upward Bound House, a local non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate homelessness amongst families with children by providing housing, supportive services and advocacy.
Dr. David A. Bray has served in a variety of leadership roles in turbulent environments, including bioterrorism preparedness and response from 2000-2005, time on the ground in Afghanistan in 2009, serving as the non-partisan Executive Director for a bipartisan National Commission on R&D, and providing leadership as a non-partisan federal agency Senior Executive. He accepted a leadership role in December 2019 to incubate a new global Center with the Atlantic Council.
He also provides strategy to both Boards and start-ups espousing human-centric principles to technology-enabled decision making in complex environments. He was also named a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Human-Machine Cognition in starting in 2018. Business Insider named him one of the top “24 Americans Who Are Changing the World” under 40 and he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for 2016-2021. From 2017 to the start of 2020, David served as Executive Director for the People-Centered Internet coalition Chaired by Internet co-originator Vint Cerf, focused on providing support and expertise for community-focused projects that measurably improve people’s lives using the internet.
He also was named a Marshall Memorial Fellow and traveled to Europe in 2018 to discuss Trans-Atlantic issues of common concern including exponential technologies and the global future ahead. Later in 2018, he was invited to work with the U.S. Navy and Marines on improving organizational adaptability and to work with U.S. Special Operation Command’s J5 Directorate on the challenges of countering misinformation and disinformation online.
Conny is an entrepreneur and executive in the personal care industry. She started her career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in Germany before joining the Zwilling Beauty Group and Tweezerman International in NY which she lead as CEO and President for over 10 years. She since started her own business incubating personal care brands and is currently preparing the launch of a plastic-free, waste-free, high performance beauty brand named superzero.
Ergem Senyuva Tohumcu is a sustainability expert, environmentalist, faculty member and entrepreneur. She founded and grew Turkey’s award-winning sustainable living platform Yesilist.com, which today reaches millions of people. Ergem is a sustainable supply chain and sustainability marketing consultant. She is a climate leader with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, member of BMW Foundation’s Responsible Leaders network and is a fellow at Royal Society of Arts and Commerce. She recently co-founded Turkey Mozaik Foundation, a UK based grant-giving institution to charities working in the domain of gender equality, children, education, women and environment. She is a faculty member at Fordham University’s London Centre, where she lectures on sustainability marketing and strategy at Gabelli School of Business.
Former USAID Senior Advisor and State Dept, Office of Global Partnerships, and a decade on Capitol Hill including professional staff of the U.S. Congress’s former Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), Mr. Castro has spent half his career in the private sector, leading corporate business operations, incubating startups, and advising innovators as a consultant on both strategy and new market development. A public opinion/market research company he ran was eventually sold to a global conglomerate, and he was involved in a Fortune 50’s divestiture of a subsidiary portfolio to private equity ownership. He has lived overseas in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East/North Africa and advised executives of the Corporate Council on Africa and the US-ASEAN Business Council, as well as AmChams in three regions. He has been a member of TWINglobal.org (formerly the Kellogg Innovation Network at Northwestern University) since 2012.
Jean-Philippe is a strategy consultant, coach and mentor for social and environmental projects. By mentoring and advising them, his goal is to spread and scale their impact.
He wants to develop attractiveness and value of environmental projects in order to attract people and investments. He works with for-profits, non-profits and institutions setting up policies and systemic change.
Also involved for several years within local initiatives in France and Europe, he is developing alternative solutions to achieve these systemic changes. He launched and developed several non-profit structures dealing with social inequalities, social inclusion, waste management, local currencies.
Dr. Lopez has more than 20 years of experience in government, philanthropy and academia. More recently, she worked as the head of CA policy for presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg. She has her consultancy agency Impact Strategies and consults with foundations on strategy and program implementation. Previously, she served as the Chief of the Office of Immigrant Affairs for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti in his senior leadership team. She was an Associate Dean at University of Southern California, Strategy and Diversity and a professor of Political Science at Chapman University and former Program Office for the National Science Foundation. She is the co-founder of the CA Food Policy Council and serves on the board of the Red Cross LA, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and Social Impact Fund. She received her PhD in Policy and Political Science at the University of Southern California.
Rosario is a systems innovator, executive advisor, and neurobiology leadership and innovation coach. She is the Founder of the 4Dimensional Quotient; Co-Founder of both the Global Movement League of Intrapreneurs and The Finance, Mindfulness, and Technology Lab, as well as the Founder of the Personal & Team Accelerator Online Workshops. She’s an Adjunct Professor at American University, where she teaches Intrapreneurship to Graduate students. She acts as an advisor to organizations like Project X Global, The Assemblage, Foundation for Commercializing Innovation, The World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and CNS Global Advisors. Rosario has worked with corporations like Accenture, Citibank, and ITI to help them prepare their workforce for the digital economy. She recently joined the Board of the Imperative Fund and Musas Invest- both are Impact Investment Funds. Her first part of her career was at the Inter-American Development Bank, where she worked as a Private and Public Sector Senior Social Impact and Innovation Specialist for nearly 18 years, primarily focused on impact investments and systems innovations. Rosario lives with her family in Washington, DC.
Melissa Melshenker Ackerman, President of Produce Alliance (PA), leads a national produce company specializing in consulting and purchasing of produce from field to fork. As a leading service industry
expert, PA prides itself on being an integral part of the entire process from when the crops are planted until reaching their customer’s plates.
Melissa currently sits on the board of United Fresh Produce Association, is a member of YPO Chicago Chapter, and on the Advisory Board for Freight Farms (the world’s leading manufacturer of container farming technology).
Melissa lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Jeff Ackerman, and their three young boys: Spencer (8), Logan (5), and Theo (2). Melissa studied at The University of Wisconsin, graduating in 2005 with three distinct degrees in Legal Studies, Women’s Studies, and Spanish. She earned her J.D. from The University of Miami School of Law in 2008.
John is a Scale Up Expert who partners with Founders, CEOs, and Entrepreneurs to execute next stage growth across SaaS, DTC, B2B business models.
With more than a decade of experience in Operations, Finance, FP&A and Investor Relations John has been trusted in the inner most workings for companies and boards ranging in revenue of $2M to $450M in both public and private companies. This depth of experience allows John a unique understanding of what levers to pull to drive scalability across different growth stages, revenue sizes, and business models.
In addition to being Founder and CEO of KnickleKick, John runs the website Entreprenography.com, a website dedicated to helping entrepreneurs understand scalable business models. John’s insightful content have been featured in print outlets and online around the world, including in Entrepreneurship magazine and the Wall Street Journal.
In April 2020, John was awarded the Mentor Excellence Award by SEED SPOT, one of the world’s Top 5 private business accelerator programs and one of the three most promising social innovation programs globally.
Arbre Group Holding (AGH) is a third generation family business with six companies operating in the frozen fruit and vegetable sector. AGH companies import, process, pack and distribute into retail, foodservice and industrial sectors of the United States domestic marketplace.
Dr. Eva Szalkai Csaky is the Executive Director of the Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity at SMU and the co-founder of the Inclusive Economy Consortium. Dr. Csaky has extensive experience in fostering climate-smart inclusive economic solutions through innovation and social entrepreneurial approaches. Her work leverages transformational technologies for high impact solutions; from energy efficiency, renewable energy, water purification to climate smart agriculture and sustainable and inclusive value chains. Previously Dr. Csaky worked for 18 years at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, where she developed innovative models and financial mechanisms to empower small businesses, farmers and households.
Dr. Csaky has served as an advisor to the G20, OECD and various UN agencies. She has also served on the Dallas Mayor’s Poverty Task Force and on the advisory council of the Dallas 100 Resilient Cities Initiative. Dr. Csaky has an MS in Finance from the George Washington University and a PhD in Public Policy with a specialization on Globalization and Development from Duke University.
Seth founded The People Group to focus on leadership and organizational development grounded in equity and inclusion. By building people’s capacity to strategically address complex issues, he facilitates the creation of better-functioning relationships, workplaces, and communities. He works with a range of clients including community activists, technology executives, architects, and public high school students.
Prior to founding The People Group in 2013, Seth managed global executive education programs at Carnegie Mellon University’s Business School, directed Coro’s Leadership New York program, and facilitated Leadership Pittsburgh’s Leadership Development Initiative. He served as chief of staff to an elected official, directed economic development at a Chamber of Commerce, and operated as a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton. Seth holds a Master of Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Arts from Dickinson College.
Kimberly (Kim) Gorton is President & CEO of Slade Gorton & Company, Inc., a manufacturer and primary distributor of premium fresh and frozen seafood products sold broadly within retail and foodservice channels throughout North America. With a legacy as America’s original seafood family, she represents the third generation at Slade Gorton. Kim is passionate about making wholesome, delicious and sustainable food more accessible to all by bringing seafood from around the world to America’s table. Kim has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of both the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), and currently serves as an officer on the NFI board. She is also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Kim holds a B.A. in Political Science and Fine Arts from Colby College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She lives in Weston, Massachusetts and is the proud mother of three college aged children.
Daniel is CEO of Paro Services Inc., where he has over thirty years of experience leading a team of professionals involved in chemical contract manufacturing, chemical distribution and contract cleaning of food processing facilities. He started his career at Arthur Andersen & Company, where he rose to be a Tax Partner. Daniel completed his academic studies at Miami University.
Xiaochen leads the design and implementation of FinTech4Goods’s strategy which aims to introduce impactful fintech and blockchain solutions to frontier markets through incubation, acceleration and investment. He brings more than 16 years of thought leadership and global experience to build impactful solutions and scale up innovative ideas around the world. He is the Chairman of the Global Blockchain4SDGs Alliance and also the founder of Blockchain Frontier Group and a co-chair of several blockchain labs.
Prior to FinTech4Good, Xiaochen advised government agencies and multinational organizations on innovation, emerging technologies, and investment in positions at the World Bank, United Nations, and other international partnership platforms. He also taught innovation and venture building at leading business schools and served as mentors for many innovative businesses.
Adel is a technologist and a serial entrepreneur with two successful technology companies taken from inception to acquisition. He has proven executive experience with a solid track record in startups and public companies including HealthStream, WebDBTech, InVivoLink, HealthTrust, and UtilizeHealth. He also actively participates in a few blockchain, AI, and healthcare startups including legal alignment, Accelerate Insite, and under the radar: GarmentChain, HealthReasoning.
Academically, he holds a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning Natural Language Processing, with a dozen published papers and an award-winning blockchain paper from The World Academy of Science Engineering and Technology. He regularly moderates panels and speaks at relevant events.
Adel enjoys working on blockchain token economics, protocol design, and platform architecture with a focus on applied AI. When not playing mad scientist or mining ethereum, he is out biking with his son or deep ocean diving.
Peter is a technologist, impact-driven-entrepreneur, and a diplomat: His passion is to develop technology to create impact. He founded and leads Ayadee.io to develop new and simpler uses to bring blockchain technology into the mainstream. His company’s signature tool, TRAC, is a blockchain-based supply chain tracking tool, simple enough to be used in developing countries, with low energy usage and operability even in off-grid settings. He also teaches about how blockchain can be used to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals, speaks regularly as an expert at international conferences, lectures at universities and advises both public and private sector clients on blockchain strategy and implementation.
Peter earned his Master of Arts degree from the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in International Relations and International Economics, with concentrations in International Finance and Emerging Markets. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York College at Geneseo. He has continued to participate in professional training such as an Executive Education program in Governance at the Hertie School of Governance.
Recognition for Peter’s work in recent years has included being named a FinTech Top 100 Sustainable Development Goals Influencer for 2019, a Responsible Leader in the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s Responsible Leaders Network, and both Meritorious Service and Superior Honor awards for his time working as a U.S. diplomat.
At the Ayadee Foundation, Peter convenes networks of sectoral experts and introduces them to new technologies to develop disruptive solutions. He also leads the implementation of Ayadee.io’s TRAC tool with non-profit organizations. He is on the advisory board of FinTech4Good, and is an active member of the Maitri Platform, which seeks to reshape supply chains to bring necessary medical equipment to communities in need. In the past he has served on the Board of Advisors of Mavuno, which assists smallholder farmers in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and has been an Officer and Mentor at Venture Capital and Private Equity for Africa.
Aaron is an Operating Partner with Cross River Infrastructure Partners, a development and financing platform for next generation circular economy infrastructure projects. He is also a Venture Partner with Vectr Ventures, a Hong Kong-based venture capital investment firm, where he focuses on AgTech, FoodTech and waste upcycling technologies.
Previously Aaron was a Managing Director at Ultra Capital, a sustainable infrastructure project finance fund manager based in Philadelphia, where he worked at the forefront of the circular economy in agriculture, waste, water and renewable energy projects across the U.S. and Canada, including agriculture waste upcycling, livestock manure conversion to renewable natural gas, wastewater and advanced recycling. At Ultra, he was responsible for project origination and held seats on the Investment Committee and the Board of Directors.
Aaron has over 20 years of international investment and advisory experience, including 10 years in Asia, focusing on technology, energy, agriculture and waste. Prior to joining Ultra Capital, Aaron was a Developer in Residence at Generate Capital, where he invested in waste-to-energy and waste-to-value projects. From 2012 to 2014 he was the President of i2 Capital, an impact investment merchant bank with a focus on landscape-scale conservation finance. While at i2, he worked on the Sweetwater River Conservancy in Wyoming, the largest mitigation bank in the U.S. with ~1.3M acres under conservation management. In 2010, Aaron founded Emerging Energy International, a Hong Kong-based developer of mobile electrical power projects in frontier markets.
Aaron attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business (MsM) and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania and Jochi University, Tokyo.
A native Italian, Cecilia is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of DataLab. GmbH, a Dusseldorf based marketing consultancy specialising in Customer Loyalty, Data Analytics and Customer Equity. She is a Customer Management Expert with extensive experience in the international and German Loyalty industry dating back to her time as one of Loyalty Partner’s earliest team members, where she proved formative in the success of the coalition loyalty programme Payback.
In her current role, Cecilia and her team have been instrumental in implementing the relaunch of the Douglas Beauty Card as well as in supporting Europe’s no. 1 pet supply chain, Fressnapf / MaxiZoo, to develop and realize their CRM vision. DataLab’s renowned clients also include REWE, one of Europe’s largest supermarket chains, Santander Bank, and the fashion retailer H&M.
Prior to this, Cecilia was Director of Category Management, Purchasing, Marketing and Quality Management at Eismann Tiefkühl-Heimservice. She has also held positions as the Director of Marketing for Portfolio Customers at Citibank’s retail banking division and as Head of B2C Marketing and Sales at EnBW, one of Germany’s largest energy utility companies. The published author and popular guest speaker regularly lectures at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, (Koblenz, Germany).
In 2012 Cecilia received the “Manager of the Year” award from “Generation CEO”, the German business network for women in top management.
Ms. Orich specializes in patent strategy and patent prosecution for computer-related technologies. She has worked in the IP field since 1998, advising companies in the high-tech, semiconductor, healthcare, automotive, and aerospace industries, with a focus in the technical fields of artificial intelligence, network security, and control systems. Sub-specialties include speech analytics, natural language understanding, computer vision, and operating systems.