Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of North Carolina for 2022. The state motto, "Esse Quam Videri," suggests the importance of authenticity over insincerity and show. This group of individuals has embodied the very meaning, proving their authenticity and sincerity through the dedication to their careers and the industries they serve. They are collaborative, compassionate, and experienced allowing them to excel into new territories year after year.
Among this year’s awardees is Tammy Jones, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Novant Health, who leverages the power of storytelling, consumer insights, and digital innovation to elevate brand experience for the healthcare organization; Marykay Wells, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Pearson, who leads the execution of corporate digital transformation strategies that are driving the company’s shift from print to digital products; and Denise Juliano, Group Vice President of Life Sciences for Premier, who is dedicated to creating solutions for life sciences companies that will in turn lower healthcare costs and promote healthier lifestyles.
We applaud these women for their commitment and achievements. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of North Carolina for 2022.
2. Mary Elizabeth T. Barwick
VP of Strategic Engagement, Reynolds American
Mary Elizabeth T. Barwick, Vice President of Strategic Engagement, is responsible for leading the company’s engagement on critical strategic initiatives, including their focus on Tobacco Harm Reduction. She is tasked with driving new avenues for engagement and increasing visibility with external stakeholders, legislators, regulators and organizations that enhance Harm Reduction policies.
Prior to her role as VP, Barwick was a senior director of state government relations. She joined Reynolds in 2015. Prior to Reynolds, she managed her own consulting company, 2468 Partnership Inc., and worked with corporate, non-profit and campaign management clients. Her client list included Reynolds, Genentech, Rep. Patrick McHenry, Rep. Tom Latham, Rep. Chris Lee, The Oorbeek Group, BIPAC, Common Threads and Immigration Works. While living in Washington, DC, Barwick worked for UST and Wal-Mart after leaving Capitol Hill where she served under U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC). Barwick graduated from Appalachian State University.
4. Marykay Wells
SVP & Chief Information Officer, Pearson
Marykay Wells, Pearson’s Chief Information Officer, has successfully demonstrated over a 30-year executive-level career in IT that CIOs can have a far-reaching positive impact beyond a technology domain. Following previous highly successful CIO roles at Nortel, Tekelec (acquired by Oracle) and Extreme Networks, she currently serves as a key member of Pearson’s leadership team, leading the execution of its corporate digital transformation strategy that is driving the company’s shift from print to digital products. She leads a team of around 2000 IT professionals worldwide, building state of the art global platforms and solutions to drive a step change in efficiency, simplicity and consistently great user and customer experiences. She employs a multi-faceted approach to leadership; simplifying the technology, speeding up delivery to market and providing a work environment that highlights both diversity and innovation. Wells challenges and insists on looking for new ways to move the business forward - leveraging both recent technologies and embracing strong partnerships.
She is also active in tackling issues around diversity in the IT industry. In 2018, Wells launched a Women in Technology initiative at Pearson focused on attracting, retaining, and developing talent worldwide across all Pearson Technology. Under her executive sponsorship there has been an almost double-digit growth in women in technology fields at Pearson rising from 21% to 30%, with active plans to improve this further and increase male allyship. Wells and her teams have received numerous internal and external awards recognizing her contributions. Most recent awards include the 2021 Google Cloud customer of the year, Stevie award for CRM excellence, Women in Tech excellence award as CIO of the year in 2020; Women in IT awards - IT team of the year led by a Woman in 2020, Pearson 2019 Chairman’s Changemaker Award for her leadership in driving meaningful digital business optimization and transformation at Pearson.
5. Kelly Marolt
Vice President, Butin PR
Kelly Marolt is the Vice President of Buton PR. With 10+ years of PR strategy experience under her belt, Marolt specializes in developing communications programs that bridge the elusive gap between building awareness at scale and generating bottom-line business impact. She has successfully built and directed several award-winning campaigns and has received national recognition for her brand-building work. Marolt was recently named one of PR News’ “PR People of the Year."
Prior to her current position with Butin PR, Marolt served as a director of accounts and before that an account supervisor. She graduated from North Carolina State University with an undergraduate degree in public relations with a non-profit studies minor.
6. Tammy Jones
SVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Novant Health
Tammy Jones is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Novant Health. She is responsible for all aspects of brand strategy, demand generation, insights and analytics, CRM, Web, and paid advertising. With more than 16 years of proven success, Jones leverages the power of storytelling, consumer insights, and digital innovation to capture market share, elevate brand experience, and deliver on Novant Health’s mission to improve the health of its communities, one person at a time.
Prior to joining Novant Health in 2015, Jones drove international expansion and led best-in-class marketing activation in the fast-moving consumer packaged goods industry for large global brands like Johnson & Johnson and Philips Sonicare. Driven by the core values of innovation, data-driven decision making, and collaboration, Jones has a passion for developing high performing teams and leading transformational change across consumer-centric organizations. A dedicated member of her community, Jones currently serves on the boards of Goodwill Industries of Southern Piedmont, Urban League of Central Carolinas, and Young Black Leadership Alliance (YBLA). She recently completed the Chief Marketing Officer program through Northwestern Kellogg Executive Education and holds an MBA from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, and an undergraduate degree in accounting from North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University.
8. Monica Corbitt Rivers
VP of Engagement & Learning, Novant Health
Monica Corbitt Rivers serves as the Vice President of Engagement and Learning at Novant Health, providing oversight and direction for enterprise learning, organization development, and strategic workforce efforts through pipeline development and community and educational partnerships. A Licensed Psychologist (LP-HSP) by training, Corbitt has over 20 years of combined experience providing clinical, executive coaching, leadership assessment, consulting, and professional services across diverse sectors including healthcare, technology, entertainment media, government, financial services, manufacturing, and higher education. She has also maintained affiliation as an adjunct coach with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), a global provider of leadership education, for 10+ years, supporting leaders and senior executives in open enrollment and custom programs, including regional and national healthcare leadership initiatives funded by organizations such as the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Gates Foundation.
Corbitt is a graduate of Spelman College and holds a PhD in clinical psychology from Vanderbilt University. She completed an internship in professional psychology at Duke University’s Counseling and Psychological Services. A frequent conference presenter and published author, Corbitt is a member of several professional and service organizations including the International Coach Federation (ICF), the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and The Links, Incorporated.
9. Kimberly Kuo
SVP of Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Coca-Cola Consolidated
Kimberly Kuo has more than 26 years of communications and marketing experience in politics, government, corporations, and technology start-ups. She currently serves with Coca-Cola Consolidated as Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability.
Previously, Kuo was a top Press Aide for Senate Majority Leader and then presidential candidate Bob Dole, and vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp. She was primary spokesperson for Internet giant AOL, and then expanded this role to oversee Investor Relations and Marketing at technology start-ups. After acting as primary Spokesperson and Communications lead for a top tier Washington, DC trade association, she launched its advocacy initiative. In less than four years, the organization grew to the third largest advocacy group in the country. As Chief Marketing Officer for the world’s largest book and entertainment distributor, Kuo transformed her marketing organization into a profit center, introduced extensive e-Marketing programs, and modernized the company’s brand and market position. She is passionate about empowering people, developing talent, building effective teams, and strengthening corporate culture. Kuo graduated from Stanford University with an undergraduate degree in communications. After working briefly in Normandy, France, she studied comparative government and economics at the London School of Economics.
10. Kati Everett
Chief Communications Officer & SVP, Novant Health
Kati Everett is the Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice President of Public Relations for Novant Health, a four-state integrated healthcare network with more than $7 billion in revenue and 35,000 employees. In her role, Everett oversees public relations, social media, brand journalism, internal communications, and creative services. During her 25-year tenure with Novant Health, she has distinguished herself as an innovative communications expert and a driving force behind the growth and success of one of the nation’s leading healthcare systems. Leading a high-performing team of 50 professionals, Everett has transformed Novant Health’s communications function to solidify the healthcare system’s reputation for excellence.
Everett earned an MBA from Queens University of Charlotte and an undergraduate degree in journalism and public relations from Radford University.
View the complete list of awardees.
11. Nancy Klembus
SVP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Domtar
Nancy Klembus has over 20 years of experience practicing law in the paper and personal care industry. She currently serves as Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary for Domtar, where she is responsible for all legal affairs, corporate secretary duties and internal audit. Previously she held the position of vice president, deputy general counsel as well as vice president, law, and administration for Domtar’s U.S. Personal Care Division.
Klembus previously worked in private practice and in-house at Kimberly-Clark, where she managed various legal matters in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Prior to attending law school, she worked at General Motors in engineering, reliability, and manufacturing. Klembus earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, a master’s in administration from Central Michigan University, and a JD from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is licensed to practice law in Michigan and Georgia, as well before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
12. Jacquelyn Johnson
VP of People & Culture, Volvo Financial Services
Jacquelyn Johnson is the Vice President of People & Culture for Volvo Financial Services. Volvo Financial Services is the global finance arm of the Volvo Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment, and marine and industrial engines. A global organization operating in more than 40 countries, it is focused exclusively on providing financial services, including financing, leasing and insurance solutions, to the Volvo Group's internal and external customers. Johnson is a strategic business partner and catalyst for innovative initiatives that address today’s business challenges of attaining revenue goals, controlling expenses, satisfying customers, and attracting/retaining talent while achieving business and profitability objectives.
Before joining Volvo Financial Services, Johnson was a director of global people and development at Ralph Lauren and before that, a senior HR manager and HR business partner at Paychex. Earlier in her career she worked with Studio Plus as a general manager. Outside of her role with Volvo, she is a certified leadership and career coach through the iPEC organization. She is also the executive director and founder of Beauty 4 Ashes International. Johnson graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a master's degree in human resources and from Bennett College for Women with an undergraduate degree in accounting. She also holds a certificate as a Human Resources professional (SHRM-SCP).
13. Denise Juliano
Group VP of Life Sciences, Premier
Denise Juliano currently serves as Group Vice President, Life Sciences, leading Premier’s PINC AI Applied Sciences team which is the research and analytics division of Premier. She is responsible for developing strategic business relationships with life sciences companies and health systems and expanding the utilization of PINC AI Applied Sciences’ solutions.
Prior to coming to Premier, Juliano retired from Merck after a successful 30-year career. During her time, she worked for MSD, an innovative, global healthcare leader that is committed to improving health and well-being around the world. She spent the last 5 years of her career at MSD as part of a division focused on managing all enterprise efforts with Merck's top customers, as part of an executive leadership initiative to transform the company from product and geographically focused into a leading customer centric organization. In previous roles, Juliano worked in various areas within the commercial organization including global and U.S. marketing, U.S. sales including leading a large team of business managers, medical group account executives and customer team representatives in the Greater NYC/CT Region. She has extensive experience in account management, leading both national account executives and customer managers in managed markets for over 10 years. Juliano graduated magna cum laude, with a degree in health science from Seton Hall University. She also obtained her master’s degree from East Stroudsburg University in exercise physiology/cardiac rehabilitation. Juliano participated in Executive Education at the Harvard Business School of Harvard University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She has been involved in community service for the last 20 years. She has served on the board of SAMA for the last six years and achieved her SAMA certification in 2016 and she previously served on the board of directors for the North Penn Senior Center for 5 years. Juliano joined the Board of Trustees of CancerCare in April 2022.
15. Ashleigh Anderson
VP, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Credit Karma
As the Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition and Head of Credit Karma’s Charlotte office, Ashleigh Anderson oversees recruiting across all geographies, including Charlotte, Oakland, Los Angeles and London. Since joining Credit Karma in 2018, Anderson has worked to establish Charlotte as Credit Karma’s East Coast headquarters, scaling the office from 50 employees to over 600, with the majority of new employees hired since the start of 2021. In her role, Anderson has also helped retool Credit Karma’s recruiting process to include structured interviewing. Since doing so, Credit Karma has doubled the number of historically excluded employees and, within the last 18 months, 25% of Charlotte new hires identify as Black/African-American. During the pandemic, Anderson played a critical role in maintaining jobs by strategically reassigning employees to roles that were in higher demand, resulting in no layoffs.
Ashleigh brings more than two decades of experience in talent acquisition to Credit Karma. She began her career at Microsoft and later joined Zynga, where she built the research recruiting team that was responsible for attracting and hiring 40% of all U.S.-based engineers and product managers during the company's growth to 4,000 employees around the world. Prior to joining Credit Karma, Anderson was also head of talent at Shiver Entertainment and The Climate Corporation. Anderson is a proud alumnus of Clemson University. She currently lives in Charlotte with her two children.
VP of Investor Relations, First Advantage
Stephanie Gorman is the Vice President of Investor Relations at First Advantage, a leading global provider of technology solutions for screening, verifications, safety, and compliance related to human capital. Gorman joined First Advantage prior to their June 2021 IPO to establish their investor relations program and work alongside senior management on key corporate strategic initiatives. She led the development of a robust investor relations program and is responsible for ensuring consistent and clear communication between internal and external parties, managing all investor facing publications, and providing meaningful insights on factors influencing the business and business valuation to the senior leadership team and Board of Directors.
Gorman is an industry recognized leader with more than 10 years of experience in investor relations, corporate strategy and innovation, and investment banking in a variety of positions. Prior to joining First Advantage, she worked for EnPro Industries, where she led investor relations and corporate strategic initiatives. Earlier in her career, she worked at Food Lion (Ahold Delhaize) where she drove strategic planning and developed and implemented innovation initiatives, and prior to that, she worked at Wells Fargo Securities where she executed capital raising and M&A advisory engagements. Gorman holds an undergraduate degree in finance from Wake Forest University.
17. Kristen Ambrose
VP & Studio Practice Leader of Education, HKS
Kristen Ambrose is a Vice President and Studio Practice Leader at HKS, Inc. She is a registered architect in NC, MD, PA, & TX with 17 years of experience designing environments for learning, science, technology, and healthcare. Her experience in design, practice technologies, and design research originated within interdisciplinary architecture firms. Ambrose’s expertise in BIM, computational design and analytics has been in the form of practice-based, applied research for institutional clients and healthcare systems. She specializes in planning and programming to guide design decisions that support curricular and care objectives, operational efficiencies, sustainable and resilient design. Ambrose focuses on design analytics and spatial data management utilizing digital media, specifically Autodesk Revit BIM, data and visualization.
As an educator with over ten years of teaching experience in design disciplines, Ambrose teaches her students the design principles to improve the performance of the built environment. She has taught Foundations of Design and Digital Design courses, including Integrated Practice at the University of Maryland, College Park from 2008-2018 and continues to elevate practice by leveraging expertise in design, research, and analytics. Working across the design continuum by practicing higher education and educating practice, Ambrose provides invaluable insight into the design of environments that enable clients to support the holistic occupant experience. Ambrose graduated from Syracuse University with an undergraduate degree in architecture.
18. Mariah Murrell
VP of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC
Dr. Mariah Murrell holds nearly a decade of experience in working to help businesses and educational institutions address challenges surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion. She began her professional journey as a K-12 educator and immediately noticed firsthand the various inequities within the nation’s educational systems. This led her to seek ways to challenge systems that marginalize members of historically resilient groups. Murrell transitioned into higher education where she worked as a Spanish instructor at Winthrop University before earning her Doctor of Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon completion of her degree in Curriculum & Instruction, she continued to teach, serve as an equity consultant for various businesses within North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Massachusetts, and eventually moved to higher education administration at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC. Murrell received her undergraduate degree from Johnson C. Smith University, an HBCU in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she discovered her passion for social justice.
Murrell is dedicated to helping organizations discover ways to become more culturally competent, inclusive, and equitable. Currently, she serves as Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina where she has the opportunity to work with amazing colleagues to help fight against food insecurity within 34 counties in the state. She is inspired daily by the organization’s mission to “Nourish people, build solutions, and empower communities.”
View the complete list of awardees.
19. Emily Chiarizia
General Counsel, Armstrong Transport Group
At Armstrong Transport Group, Emily Chiarizia is responsible for litigation management, internal policy development, compliance, risk management, contract negotiation and the resolution of commercial cargo matters for Armstrong's 130 agency offices. She acts as a liaison with outside legal counsel for all legal matters and understands the relationships between freight brokers, carriers, railroad companies, shippers as well as the stringent regulations that impact the transportation industry. Armstrong was nominated as Transport Topics Top 50 Freight Brokers in the U.S. due to its $800 million annual revenue and network of over 65,000 carriers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Chiarizia appreciates the unique issues related to intermodal transportation, carrier selection guidelines, cross-border transportation and increased consumer demand. She manages the claims and legal operations departments at Armstrong. She understands the pressures and processes related to PE due diligence, mergers and acquisitions, and scaling internal/existing departments thereafter. Prior to joining Armstrong, Chiarizia was a litigation attorney at Franklin & Prokopik, PC, a nationally known trucking and transportation firm located in the DC Metro area. She earned an undergraduate degree in public and community health from the University of Maryland and a JD from the University of Baltimore.
20. Katherine Milan
SVP of Client Experience and Product, NeuroLeadership Institute
Katherine Milan is the Senior Vice President of Client Experience and Product of NeuroLeadership Institute. NeuroLeadership Institute is developing brain-friendly talent strategies and educating learners at all levels about the brain, improving decision-making, conversations, and outcomes. In her role, Milan leads the teams which develops, builds, implements, and measures the success of their behavior change solutions, many of which have been delivered to 55 of the Fortune 100 and over 40% of the Fortune 500.
Before joining NeuroLeadership Institute, Milan was an IBM product manager at Global Knowledge Training and before that a learning content manager at AICPA. Earlier in her career she worked with Green Science Interactive as a marketing contributor and project lead. Milan graduated from North Carolina State University with an MA in English and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an undergraduate degree in English.
21. Rachel Roff
Founder & CEO, Urban Skin Rx®
Rachel Roff is the Founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx®, a clinical skincare brand for diverse skin tones. An established licensed aesthetician, Roff is a game-changer in the beauty space and prides herself on bringing inclusivity to the clinical skincare industry. Her journey began in 2006 when she founded Urban Skin Solutions Medical Spa in Charlotte, NC. After treating thousands of clients for common skincare conditions related to melanin-rich skin, Roff founded Urban Skin Rx skin care line in 2010 and has continued to grow a notable roster of high caliber, celebrity clientele. Roff has been featured in numerous publications and recognized as a leading beauty innovator by Forbes and WWD. Urban Skin Rx® is sold nationwide in over 10,000 locations at Walmart, Target, Ulta, Walgreens, CVS, dermstore.com, HSN.com, QVC.com and direct-to-consumer at urbanskinrx.com.
Roff graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with an undergraduate degree in sociology.
22. Mary Duffman
Senior Financial Advisor, Merrill Wealth Management
Mary Duffman is a Senior Financial Advisor with Merrill Wealth Management, with over 20 years of experience. She is a partner on her team, The Bodmer Duffman Group within Merrill that manages just over $600 million under management. Duffman has enjoyed an impressive banking and investment career. She joined Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in 2001, then spent four years with RBC Centura Bank (now PNC) as executive banker for the Cary, North Carolina Market, working with C-suite executives, attorneys, physicians, and dentists. Since returning to Merrill in 2005, she has used her acumen and experience to develop goals-based investment and retirement planning strategies for high net worth individuals and families. She also works closely on 401(k) strategies for business owners. In addition, she holds the Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor™ (CPFA™) designation as well as the Merrill internal title of Senior Retirement Benefits Consultant and the Series 6, Series 7, Series 65, Series 63 and her Life and Health License.
Duffman earned an undergraduate degree in early childhood development and psychology from Campbell University. Raised in Suffolk, Virginia, Duffman lived in Pinehurst, North Carolina before moving to Apex, North Carolina. Duffman’s husband, a U.S. Air Force Pararescueman, died in Afghanistan in 2007. In addition to spending time with her fifteen year-old daughter, family and friends, Duffman enjoys exercise and travel.
23. Kelly Benish
VP of Strategic Partnerships, Uberall
As Vice President of Global Strategic Partnerships at Uberall, Kelly Benish manages and mentors the Partner Acquisition and Partner Growth Management teams and works on a dedicated basis with channel partners and their clients in The Americas. She and her team work tirelessly with global counterparts to ensure client success, growth and constant innovation in the space. Previously, Benish sat on the board of Angel Ed, The AR / VR Association, The ADP Partnership Committee. She also authors talent recruitment and thought leadership blogs in the local search industry with focus on SEO. Prior, she founded and authored the Movers and Shakers Column at Street Fight, New Orleans Networking and Charlotte Startups Group.
Starting in finance and finding her way to the interwebs by chance, she’s always had a keen eye on networking and learning new business models. Her experience in sales, marketing and business development specialization was cemented in her time in strategic roles at Search Influence, Civic Science, BIA Kelsey and Navads. Benish is a nationally recognized speaker including engagements through SMX East and West, Pubcon, State of Search, the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores, Senior Care Sales & Marketing Summit, Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, Digital Summit, B2SMB, BIA Kelsey, Borrell, Local Media Association, Local Search Association, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, Association of Directory Publishers, Inland Press Association & more.
24. Dana A. Draa
Chief Program Officer, Metrolina Association for the Blind (MAB)
Dana A. Draa is the Chief Program Officer at Metrolina Association for the Blind (MAB) where she oversees five programs and 15 highly qualified healthcare providers and administrative staff. Before joining MAB she worked as a Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) Coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs – Health Administration responsible benefits review and referral, rehabilitation interventions, and serving as a vision loss expert for the Salisbury VA Medical Center, she was also responsible for the assessment, issuance, and training of assistive technology devices for her Veterans. Prior to her tenure with the VA, Draa was an Assistive Technology Consultant for Division of Services for the Blind where she used her knowledge of technology and assistive technology to assist persons with vision loss return to independent living, school, and work.
Draa has a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and master’s degree in counseling with a focus on orientation and mobility for the Blind from Western Michigan University. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, a Certified Adaptive Sports Specialist, has a certificate in Applied Positive Psychology, and is currently studying to be a Certified Meditation Instructor and Registered Yoga Teacher. Draa served 4 years active duty in the United States Navy and 3 years in the Alaska Army National Guard. She is a Veteran of Desert Storm/ Desert Shield.
25. Allison Chan
Partner, Margaret W. Wong & Associates
Allison Chan is a Partner at Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC. She manages the law firm’s Raleigh, NC Immigration Law Office. Her practice includes representing clients in all aspects of immigration with a focus on asylum, removal and deportation defense, complex family-based visa issues, motion practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, and federal judicial review. She has successfully reopened final orders of removal/deportation, and represented hundreds of clients at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices around the country for visa petition, adjustment of status, and naturalization interviews. She is passionate about the rights of undocumented people and committed to helping individuals seek and maintain lawful status and obtain citizenship in the U.S.
Chan is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey. She is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. She earned an undergraduate degree in international relations from Boston University and a JD in law from the University of Buffalo School of Law.
View the complete list of awardees.
27. Erin Miller
VP of People and Culture, Lulu Press
Erin Miller is the Vice President of People and Culture of Lulu Press. Since 2002, Lulu has powered the knowledge-sharing economy by enabling creators in more than 225 countries and territories to publish over 2 million books. Its newest product, Lulu Direct, enables authors, creators, businesses, and publishers to take advantage of direct-to-consumer sales, combined with the ease and flexibility of print-on-demand. Now available with popular ecommerce and hosting platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce on WordPress, this cutting-edge technology makes fulfillment and supply chain logistics easy for creators, allows them to retain all customer data, and keep 100% of their profits. Miller is progressive senior level human capital professional with expertise across all domains of the modern human resources function and a passion for driving innovative people-first strategies and solutions that create business impact. She is an agile leader adept within a range of contexts, from turnaround to M&A to hyper growth.
Before joining Lulu Press, Miller was a VP of people at PrecisionHawk and before that a VP of people operations at TransLoc. Earlier in her career she worked with The Merchandiser Magazine as a senior account executive. Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with an MS in human resource management and from Bluefield College with an undergraduate degree in business administration, management, and operations.
28. Jacquelyn D. Elliott
Dr. Jacquelyn D. Elliott is known for her diverse background in higher education to include academic affairs, institutional advancement, international education, and all aspects of strategic enrollment management. Well-versed in management techniques, she has 30 years of leadership experience in higher education. She was formerly dean of admissions and financial aid at Mary Baldwin College, AVP of institutional advancement at Bridgewater College, VP for enrollment management at Tusculum College, and chief enrollment specialist for Marion Military Institute. She also served in an academic appointment with the University of Missouri - St. Louis, where she was clinical assistant professor in the College of Education and an international liaison specialist in international studies and programs. In that role, she worked to develop international collaborative faculty research, student exchange, accreditation consultation, program reviews, and faculty training and development in Kuwait and Oman. She currently holds dual roles as the President of enrollmentFUEL, a national Student Search and enrollment strategy company in North Carolina, and Higher Education Industry Consultant for Blue Rock Search, an executive recruiting firm in Sarasota, FL.
From 2009 to 2020, she also conducted faculty development training for leaders of universities throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the auspices of the Academic Leadership Center (ALC) of the Ministry of Education. She was the first female faculty appointment at the all-male King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Saudi Arabia.Elliott received her doctorate in higher education administration from The George Washington University where her dissertation, The American Council on Education’s Office of Women in Higher Education: A Case Study of Evolution and Decline 1973-2011, was the winner of the national Myra Sadker Dissertation Award. Elliott’s current research and publications focus on women and leadership in the USA and Saudi Arabia, history of higher education, enrollment management, and student affairs. She has presented over 200 sessions at academic and administrative conferences nationally, and internationally.
29. Denise Beachley
Partner & Chief Information Officer, Kingsmen
Denise Beachley is the Partner & Chief Information Officer of Kingsmen. Kingsmen is a software services company that crafts high-quality software products and helps their clients do the same via their exclusive approach, The Kingsmen Way, which combines processes, tooling, automation, and frameworks to enable scalability, efficiency, and business agility. Its advisory & coaching services enable technology leaders, business partners and their teams to learn and adapt their way to sustainable, collaborative, and data-driven operating models. Beachley is a leader in software delivery, product development, and program management in the information technology and financial services industries. She is an experienced program evangelist with a demonstrated history in business process and requirements analysis, IT strategy, and team building.
Before joining Kingsmen, Beachley was a portfolio manager at Bank of America. Beachley graduated from Texas Tech University with an undergraduate degree in education and mathematics.
30. Ciara Lilly
VP of Diversity & Inclusion, Diversified Maintenance
Ciara Lilly is a results-driven executive with an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for bridging the opportunity gap between corporations and diverse-owned businesses. She leads the diversity and inclusion program at Diversified Maintenance, a national facility services company based in Tampa, FL. In this role, she is responsible for creating and executing the company’s national diversity and inclusion and supplier diversity strategy. For eight years, Lilly led the business development efforts at Environmental Service Systems, a diverse-owned facility services company and sister company of Diversified Maintenance. While in this role, she generated over 18 million dollars in new business and forged strong relationships with procurement and supplier diversity leaders across many Fortune-ranked corporations.
Lilly masterfully balances her corporate responsibilities with her entrepreneurial endeavors. She is co-founder of The Cleaning Network, an online talent sourcing platform exclusively for the cleaning industry. She holds her Executive MBA from the Jack Welch Management Institute and her undergraduate degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In addition, Lilly has completed certificate programs at Cornell University, the University of South Florida, and the University of Richmond on diversity and inclusion, MBE executive management, and women’s entrepreneurship. Equipped with a love of education, Lilly established the Priscilla Kersey Excellence Award in 2016 at her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In honor of her late grandmother, the scholarship is designed to ease the financial burden of college for underrepresented and underserved students.
31. Pam Boney
Founder & CEO, Tilt365
Pam Boney is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tilt365. Tilt365 is building an exclusive network of change agent practitioners devoted to growing the number of conscious leaders around the world. A thought leader in the domain of character science, Boney is a futurist and innovator in the personality domain. Her approach to talent development is designed to educate key influencers in character strength development which serves to disrupt incivility and office politics, thus enabling greater generativity.
Boney is the author of several books and is published regularly in numerous magazines and blogs. Her passion for growing character intelligence and strengths in the world is intended to shore up the greatest blind spot of our time, character intelligence. Boney graduated from Appalachian State University with an undergraduate degree in accounting and business management and from North Carolina State University with a master’s degree in psychology.
32. Song Anh Nguyen
VP of Product, Feetures
Song Anh is the Vice President of Product at Feetures. Feetures is the #1 sock brand in U.S. Run Specialty stores, a family owned and operated sock company based in North Carolina. Song Anh started with Feetures sine 2016 as the Lead Designer & Product Developer. Today, she is responsible for leading the company's strategic and tactical development of performance products that help people perform their best. Finding purpose by creating products that improves people's lives is the driving force behind her work. She plays a key role in leading the social impact initiatives at Feetures as she is passionate about progressing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging efforts (DEIB) at Feetures, in the industry, and in her personal life. She is part of the sustainability team that works towards finding sustainable solutions to help reduce their carbon footprint.
In addition, Song Anh is helping to co-lead the brand subgroup at the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC) that is committed to racial justice where Black, Indigenous, and people of color are welcomed, valued, and amplified. Prior to joining the Feetures team, Song Anh was the Director of Design at Royce Too, LLC. There, she head and direct teams providing key concepts, strategies and brand positioning for Dickies, Dockers, Nautica, and Saucony.
33. Rebecca New
CEO & President, SNAP CPAP/Bleep Sleep
Rebecca Holland New is the CEO of SNAP CPAP/Bleep, LLC, an innovative medical device company treating breathing disorders including sleep apnea. Under her leadership, the company was awarded a $1.7m innovation grant from the National Institute of Science to develop the company’s next generation sleep solution, developed Eclipse™, the smallest continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) mask on the market, headgear free, and the only clinically proven leak free solution. Under her leadership, the company has realized 8x market growth in the last year, de-risked Bleep’s supply chain, while ensuring a strong quality operation. Holland New was responsible for launching a #1 direct to consumer marketing campaign. Her efforts resulted in a 20% YOY improvement in expenses and a 50% adjusted EBITDA improvement in year 1. The focus of the company is driving patient health outcomes and comfort which lead to better compliance and reduced healthcare cost to the healthcare system including revenue and margin improvements for distributors, hospital, and payers.
Holland New’s career is unique as she has worked with large global public companies, start-ups, and nonprofits. She has “Go private” and a #1 “go-public” offering experience and unique optimizing company strategy, scaling operations, building customer and employee outcome alignment, culture, and merger and acquisition optimization. Over the course of her career, she has helped several leading companies including Patheon, Novo Nordisk and Bristol-Myers Squibb, expand market share, execute transformational business strategies, and complete several public market transactions. Her leadership successes have been widely recognized by key industry trade outlets including, FiercePharma, Putnam Media, Healthcare Technology Report and the Triangle Business Journal, where she has been cited as a top senior executive. Holland New received an MS in industrial labor relations and a BS in economics, marketing, and finance from Cornell University.
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34. Michelle McKinney
Founder & CEO, Hailstorm
Michelle McKinney is a successful, strategic, and creatively driven business leader, an agency veteran with over 25 years of global experience across all production and new media channels. She is a skilled manager, adept at building diverse remote global teams, while mentoring and nurturing individual growth in a rapidly evolving business environment.
An entrepreneur at heart and at times disappointed by the lack of value placed on advertising business affairs in the traditional agency environment, McKinney founded Hailstorm with the goal of elevating the practice while providing a broad range of services for creative shops, production companies, and brand’s in-house agencies, large and small. Hailstorm is the answer to an increasingly complex, constantly evolving business affairs landscape, and the ever expanding role of BA in all facets of marketing and branded entertainment. McKinney is committed to modernizing BA by pushing the discipline beyond traditional boundaries. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a undergraduate degree in communications.
35. Alyse Levine
Founder & CEO, Premium Prep College Counseling
Alyse Levine is Founder and CEO of Premium Prep, one of the foremost college counseling firms in the country. Over the past twenty years, Levine has pioneered a student-centric, data-driven approach to college counseling, growing the company’s national and international presence while maintaining an extremely high corporate ethic. Premium Prep matches students with elite counselors who share her passion for helping families successfully navigate the increasingly complex college admissions process. Most recently, Levine has developed proprietary software to augment that process and has launched PrepUp, a scholarship program that provides college counseling services to low-income students.
Prior to founding the company, Levine was associate director of college counseling at The Dalton School in New York City for over 10 years. Before that, she worked as assistant director of undergraduate admissions at Washington University in St. Louis and associate director of college counseling at the Dwight–Englewood School, in Englewood, New Jersey. Levine also served on the selection committee for the prestigious Robertson Scholars Program, a highly selective full-tuition scholarship collaboration between Duke University and the University of North Carolina. Levine received a master’s degree in education with a specialization in counseling from Hunter College and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and she is a graduate of the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions.
36. Anne Farrar
Tax Partner, EY
Anne Farrar is an EY Financial Services Partner and leader of Managed Services and TFO Practice for their Financial Services Tax Organizations in the U.S. As a partner, she focuses on tax transformation and technology and is specifically responsible for strategy, operations, client relations, quality, risk management and knowledge sharing for tax and finance functional outsourcing worldwide.
Since starting with EY in 2005, Farrar has had a wide variety of client experience which started with multinational manufacturing and led to her financial services work. Her expertise includes international tax, tax accounting, global tax planning, global tax compliance, and customer tax and information reporting. She serves as a key point person for multiple major global U.S.-based banks, insurance and asset managers’ and serves as the global engagement leader and tax transformation leader. She was involved in a rotation on the company’s international tax desk in London from 2009-2011. Farrer earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and business management from The University of Kansas.
38. Alyson Kuroski-Mazzei
CEO & Chief Medical Officer, HopeWay
Dr. Alyson Kuroski-Mazzei is the founding CEO and Chief Medical Officer for HopeWay, a non-profit mental health treatment center in Charlotte, NC. HopeWay’s mission is to make hope tangible by inspiring mental wellness for all. Dr. Kuroski-Mazzei led the start-up of this organization and maintained its growth and focus on quality and safety throughout the pandemic. She is a beloved leader, physician, mentor and advocate for her team of over 120 team members and the patients she serves. Under her executive leadership and top notch culture, the organization has thrived and grown to serve children, adolescents, and adults who have psychiatric, medical, and substance use disorders. HopeWay shines as a national leader in excellence and evidence based treatment for mental health illnesses, Veteran’s mental health, eating disorders and addiction treatment.
Dr. Kuroski-Mazzei’s medical and legal research has also been published in leading professional and academic books and peer-reviewed journals. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the North Carolina Psychiatric Association as Past President. She is also a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and a Medical Review Officer. She earned her bachelor of science degree from Benedictine University and medical degree from Midwestern University. Dr. Kuroski-Mazzei completed her general psychiatry residency training at Duke University and a forensic psychiatry residency at UNC-Chapel Hill. She maintains academic appointments with both the UNC School of Medicine and Novant Health. She is triple board certified in psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and addiction medicine.
39. Nikki Candito
VP of Demand Strategy, Anteriad
Nikki Candito is the Vice President of Demand Strategy of Anteriad. Anteriad is a full-funnel marketing solutions provider. They partner with B2B services to drive demand, generate leads, and improve pipeline results. Candito is a results driven, strategic marketer who specializes in marketing technology, driving demand and digital inbound campaigns. With 20 years of experience she excels in driving digital transformation, demand generation, and analyzing results.
Before joining Anteriad, Candito was a digital demand transformation leader at IBM and before that a marketing communications manager at Eaton. Earlier in her career she worked with George P. Johnson as a coordinator for PR and corporate communications. Candito graduated from Bryant University with an undergraduate degree in business administration.
40. Kristin Keen
Chief Professional Services Officer, DELTA |v| Forensic Engineering
Kristin Keen is the Chief Professional Services Officer of DELTA |v| Forensic Engineering. She first joined the company in 2018 as VP of business development. DELTA |v| was founded with a vision to create a home for enthusiastic, highly specialized engineers to practice their craft without distraction. It combines the finest brains with the best technology, filtering the physical evidence of a vehicle collision to get the answers needed to reach resolution. DELTA |v| has investigated thousands of accidents around the country, translating evidence into compelling testimony and helping clients through every step of the legal process. Keen owns, defines, and drives client engagement at DELTA |v|, unifying service delivery, digital media, marketing, and business development under one umbrella to enhance the engineering practice, deepen client connections, and generate revenue.
Previously, Keen was a manager of markets and accounts at KPMG US and before that an account director at Hinge Marketing. Earlier in her career she worked with Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald as a director of marketing and business development. Keen earned an MBA in international business and strategy, and an undergraduate degree in English from Georgetown University.
41. LaToya Evans
Principal & Chief Communications Officer, The LEPR Agency
LaToya Evans is a strategic communications executive who has served as senior crisis communications counsel and spokesperson for some of the world’s most notable brands. Previously, Evans was the head of communications, North and South America, for Cisco Systems. Prior to her role at Cisco, Evans served as VP and head of communications for the U.S. corporate dining division of Compass Group, the world’s largest foodservice company, reporting to the CEO and overseeing all aspects of corporate communications. Evans also previously served as VP of corporate communications at Bank of America Corporate where she oversaw media relations for the east coast and northeast. Prior to her role at Bank of America, she was senior manager of the U.S. Media Relations at Walmart Corporate, the world’s largest company, where she headed strategic media relations for six retail divisions and served as a national media spokesperson. She previously oversaw media and various entertainment partnerships across the U.S. for Philips Electronics and managed communications for IBM’s global technology services division, writing for the inventor of the IBM personal computer and LASIK eye surgery.
Evans also maintains a boutique consultancy where she leads media and marketing initiatives for various high-profile businesses, politicians and professional athletes. Notably, in 2017, she also served as chief communications officer to former Charlotte, NC Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles, serving as a spokesperson and chief writer for her mayoral campaign which resulted in Lyles being elected the city’s first African American woman mayor. Her background in her consultancy also includes serving as a spokesperson for two presidential campaigns as well as work with leading skincare lines, artists, national nonprofits, and energy and financial services companies. Prior to a corporate career, Evans ran a freelance writing business, working often for Glamour magazine. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an undergraduate degree in journalism and mass communications and from Marist College with a master’s degree in communications and organizational leadership.
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42. Robin Gestal
EVP of Operations, Haven Senior Investments
Robin Gestal brings a unique combination of skills and experience to her role as Executive Vice President of Operations at Haven Senior Investments. HSI is the leading faith-based senior housing advisory firm offering financial services and brokerage in the assisted living and senior housing market. Gestal’s background in finance and real estate investment, as well as health care, puts her in a unique position to service this sector.
Gestal began her career on Wall Street in fixed income sales and trading and specialized in mortgage-backed securities, collateralized mortgage obligations, and creative cash flow structuring. Over the past ten years, she focused on investing in distressed real estate assets, having purchased, repositioned and sold dozens of properties. Her specialty has always been creative deal structuring and financing. Gestal’s years of volunteer experience as an EMT exposed her to the very real need for safer assisted living options for senior citizens. She now passionately focuses her efforts on structuring, financing, and seeking out creative investment partnerships to increase the living options for the growing population of seniors throughout the United States. Gestal is an entrepreneur at heart. In addition to being a founding partner of Haven Senior Investments she also coaches and mentors newer investors. Gestal earned a BA from Mount Holyoke College and an MA from Christie's Education.
43. Dana Killian
President & CEO, Carolina Caring
Dana Killian is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Carolina Caring, one of the most comprehensive and forward-thinking nonprofit serious illness care providers in the nation. Serving western North Carolina and the Charlotte Region, Carolina Caring is responsible for the care of thousands of patient interactions each year. Killian joined Carolina Caring in January 2020, and quickly collaborated with the organization’s team to nurture a vision to be the first and best choice for serious illness care and to improve health, and access to hospice and palliative medicine services. In 2021, she helped to guide the organization’s expansion into primary care, which has grown exponentially as the nation’s healthcare delivery models continue to evolve.
Throughout her career, Killian has played a key role in the organizations she has served by increasing engagement with community partners and expanding access to care through innovative partnerships. She is passionate about protecting and expanding healthcare access to all who need it, better engaging with our communities to improve quality of life, and achieving equity of care. Killian serves on the Chamber of Catawba County board of directors and is a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. She has also joined Chief, a prestigious network of female executives focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders. She has more than 7 years of senior healthcare leadership experience, having strategically led nonprofit and for-profit managed healthcare organizations in rural and urban markets. She has also successfully led several population health and value-based programs, including Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and the Bundled Payment Programs (BPCI-A).
44. Holly Mills
Partner, Longleaf Law
Holly’s Mills is a Partner of Longleaf Law. Her practice focuses on commercial real estate development and finance. She represents clients on a range of sophisticated and complex real estate transactions, including multi-state acquisitions and dispositions, mixed-use developments, real estate portfolio transactions, master leases, sale-leasebacks and ground leases, private equity funding and secured lending. She maintains a focus in an active capital markets and fund practice, representing investors in joint venture transactions and sophisticated fund structures. Mills represents real estate developers, commercial lending institutions and syndicators in real estate financing transactions, including acquisition, construction and permanent financing of office, retail, hotel, manufactured housing and multi-family projects throughout the United States.
Taking a client-focused approach to her real estate practice, Mills often acts as in-house counsel for her clients and becomes a trusted member of their businesses. She strives to guide her clients through complex deal transactions with an efficient, direct and collaborative approach that helps them minimize risks through all the stages of owning, leasing, developing and financing real estate. She is highly responsive and able to adeptly and efficiently handle any type of commercial real estate deal. Prior to joining Longleaf Law Partners, Mills practiced as a real estate finance attorney at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. She received her JD from Emory Law School with highest distinctions. While at law school, she was a managing editor of the Emory Law Journal, and she received the Myron Penn Laughlin Award for overall excellence in legal research and writing. Prior to law school, Mills graduated from the University of Georgia as a First Honor Graduate with a perfect 4.0 GPA, all while serving as the University’s Panhellenic President.
46. Catherine Wright
Executive Director, Collaborative for the Common Good
Dr. Catherine Wright is an interdisciplinary eco-theologian, dynamic public speaker, award-winning author, and campus-community leader at Wingate University. Transplanted from Toronto, Canada in 2014, she has designed and taught popular, innovative courses and created a new institute on campus, The Collaborative for the Common Good (CCG) that is grounded in the principles of sustainable development. The CCG is an innovative lab of difference making with a documented track record of positive impact. Wright believes that sustainability is a recognition that human health and well-being depend on a thriving natural environment and she translates this into higher education by cultivating place-engaged, planetary citizens who value and work to nurture justice and well being. Wright was chosen to be the first Executive Director of the CCG because of her ability to lead from ideation to implementation and since her appointment, she has designed unprecedented programming and cultivated new, non-traditional partnerships.
Wright has helped to pioneer service-learning and community engagement courses and fellowships and developed a cultural leadership program for students. She designed and hosted annual ROOTS Summits bringing a diversity of stakeholders on and off campus together to address local issues and celebrate the assets in the community. Currently, she serves in leadership positions on four vital community councils consisting of nonprofits, businesses, and government organizations and was asked to serve on the Direct Service Panel for the United Way of Central Carolinas. Her greatest achievements include being awarded the faculty Mentorship Medallion award several years in a row and leading an incredibly talented and diverse team who tirelessly work to re-imagine campus and community collaborations and build robust knowledge democracies that empower others to wholeness, health, and happiness. Catherine enjoys the many different landscapes of North Carolina with her loveable clan of canine and feline characters, SCAD-bound teen, and fellow adventurer and husband Todd.
47. Kathleen Hajek
Managing Director, Stanton Chase
Kathleen Hajek leads the North American Life Sciences & Healthcare Practice of Stanton Chase, a global leadership consulting firm. Hajek oversees searches at the senior most levels, engagements span multiple specialties including pharmaceutical, medical device, biotech, integrated delivery networks, private equity backed health service providers and non-profit organizations.
Hajek currently serves on the board, chairing the governance committee of JusticeMatters, a non-profit organization providing trauma-informed legal services that protect children and help survivors of human trafficking. Previously she served as a board member for the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park from 2010 to 2015. Hajek holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
48. Kim Terry
Managing Director, KPMG
Kim Terry joined KPMG, LLP in 2007, and is now a Managing Director in the Technology Assurance - Audit practice. She has over 15 years of public accounting sector leadership and has extensive knowledge and experience in Sarbanes-Oxley and Service Organization Controls attestations. Terry’s current and past clients include some of the leading entities in the financial services industry.
Throughout her career, Terry has been passionate about helping to define and develop the careers of other IT professionals, and she is the current Charlotte-Chapter Co-Chair of KPMG’s Network of Women (KNOW). In addition, she takes great pride in leading the employee culture, community, and wellness committee at the local KPMG office. Throughout her tenure with KPMG, Terry has been both a recipient and a leadership mentor in many programs. She was awarded the KPMG Mentoring Award and she was also a recipient of the Stacy Lewis Rising Star Invitational Class of 2018. Terry obtained her undergraduate degree in accounting with a concentration in information technology from North Carolina State University. She is a proud mother of two children, Brynlee and Hudson.
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