CVS Executive Learning Series for Diverse Suppliers

** We understand these are times of uncertainty due to COVID-19, however, please be assured we are closely monitoring and implementing the RI State Department of Health (DOH) Guidelines. The Program will be offered virtually with the exception of the month of October 2022, which will be in person should guidelines allow.**

Are you looking to take your business to the next level? Learn how to grow your business with training and mentoring provided in partnership with one of the nation's top companies, CVS Health.

This training series will provide you with a wide variety of skills in preparation for pitching and landing expanded retail distribution of your products and services, all based on the competences and practices of CVS Heath. You will also develop personal and professional relationships with other diverse suppliers and have the opportunity to create new partnerships. 

Business executives will gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities to flourish within their industry. We are requesting submissions from diverse suppliers who are looking for an opportunity to showcase their company and who wish to develop a relationship with a Fortune company.

This program is a combination of virtual and in-person sessions at our Providence RI campus along with flexible online training. Applicants have the opportunity to receive their tuition fully sponsored by CVS Health.

You will also have the opportunity to engage in Individualized Executive Coaching with one of your instructors on a business need that you identify. 

The curriculum of the CVS Health Executive Learning Series will address the following topics:

  • Budgeting, Capital, & Finance
  • Leadership, Management, & Business Innovation
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Best practices for RFPs

To Learn More about Current and Past Participants Please Click Below:


Amanda Bauman is owner and founder of Chica de Gallo, a Tex-Mex dip brand based in New England. Chica de Gallo is a WBENC certified woman-owned business. Growing up in Texas, Amanda developed a passion for Tex-Mex food that she brought with her when she moved to Massachusetts. It was the classic story – friends always said her dips were so good that she should sell them. So, in 2012, Amanda and her fiancé started Chica de Gallo to share the tastes of Texas with New England. Under Amanda’s guidance, Chica de Gallo’s retail presence has grown throughout New England and beyond. She also manages Chica de Gallo’s community engagement, including partnering with a local incubator kitchen to provide grants for emerging food entrepreneurs. Chica de Gallo was named the official salsa and guacamole of the Boston Red Sox’s 2019 season. Amanda has a B.A. in Biology from Smith College. She enjoys cooking and spending time outdoors with her fiancé and their young son.


Braxton T. Fleming (he/him) is a Licensed Practical Nurse and the CEO and Founder of Stealth Bros. and Co., a luxury Dopp Kit supply company that provides travel and at home personal storage for hormone replacement therapy and other medical necessities. Braxton launched the company in 2017 from his bedroom to raise money for his own top surgery and to create a way to become an an active member of the transgender community. Today, Stealth Bros. and Co. continues to grow and serve the transgender and allied communities, as well as IVF and diabetic communities, among others. Through Braxton’s leadership, Stealth Bros developed a surgery fund for members of the LGBTQ community in need of financial support and his company is a proud Certified LGBT Business Enterprise of the NGLCC. By sharing his own life experiences, Braxton hopes to uplift other trans people in their journeys and to fill a gap in representation of trans people of color.


Catherine Nguyen practiced law for 10 years before becoming an entrepreneur. Being a daughter of Vietnamese immigrants and from a very large family, food was integral to her upbringing. All family events, holidays and celebrations were centered around the kitchen table. Once she became a mother herself, Catherine became very focused on finding high protein, clean snacks to fuel her own family. Like most moms, Catherine is always on the go. As she’s making meals, going to sports practices with her kids, volunteering, and squeezing in her own workouts, all-day energy is essential. In a quest to find healthy, protein-packed snacks that her foodie family could love, Catherine created Wild Willett in her own kitchen. Hundreds of recipe tweaks and family taste tests later, her better-for-you snacks are now available in five delicious flavors. Wild Willet is named after Catherine’s 3 children – Will, Lilly and Scarlett, who require their mom to triple her energy (and luckily, they also triple the fun).


De’Andre B. Wells SGT. US Army (Ret.) served as an NCO in the US Army, 5th Special Forces Group, where he completed three tours of combat duty during the global war on terrorism and served as an ODA team member during the heated 2004 "Battle of An Najaf." Sgt. Wells was recently elected by his peers to lead a team of subject matter experts in engineering, manufacturing, 3D printing, infection control, industrial and experience design, and healthcare. In Collaboration with Challenge America, The VHA Innovation Ecosystem, and Make America, this team will be designing and developing innovative solutions to address First Responder's challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is a Baltimore Business Journal 2016 40 under 40 honorees, a National Small Business Leadership Council member, Executive Board Member of The Academy of United States Veterans (AUSV), and Bunker Labs Baltimore Chapter City Leader. As an (NSBA) Leadership Council Member, Wells represents his congressional district as a point of contact with Members of Congress on small business issues. He is a member of the Health and Human Resources Issue Committee where he oversees all issues having to do with health care and employee benefits, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health benefit’s taxation, medical malpractice, health savings accounts and more.

City leaders are the heart of the Bunker Labs team. They plan and host Bunker Labs events, build connections and serve as the public face of Bunker Labs in their local community. An average week might include planning the next Bunker Brews, building a relationship with a local veteran’s group, and making introductions between fledgling veteran entrepreneurs and experienced business leaders. Each chapter has three city leaders, each with a unique focus in the chapter: operations, ecosystem, and entrepreneurs. De'Andre also serves on the Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) Curriculum Committee. The Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) is sponsored by the Montgomery Chamber of commerce and Lockheed Martin. A comprehensive training and certification program that helps veteran-owned businesses strengthen their ability to win government contracts and do business with both military and civilian agencies.

The first program of its kind in the nation, VIP START, and GROW is conducted by professional subject-matter specialists in the essentials necessary to win government contracts: law, accounting, insurance, human resources, marketing, and proposals. The curriculum is designed to help companies accelerate the rate of becoming procurement ready. De'Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from Bethel University. He was selected from a strong pool of applicants to be one of 35 participants to be admitted into the Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare at Duke University for the class beginning in February 2019. Wells holds a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from Bethel University.


Drita Protopapa was born and raised outside of Boston and is the daughter of two political refugees: her mother was from Estonia and her father was from Albania. She grew up in a multilingual and multicultural household so working in the language services industry came naturally to her. Drita is a native English speaker with native like fluency in Portuguese and Spanish. Drita founded MAPA Translations in 2007 with the goal of providing high quality and affordable written translations, interpreter services and multilingual voice-overs to bridge gaps in communication and connect people who otherwise wouldn't be able to communicate clearly.


The Beginning Jabba’s Creations a unique company formed by a father and his only child Jeremy. Jeremy and I both are longshoreman at the North Carolina Ports. We both have a passion for cooking but my passion is extremely intense. I cook just to relax from a long working day. Our company began after Jeremy introduced me to a special sauce that he had developed while in culinary school at. One day Jeremy was experimenting and that day he discovered a unique blend of heat and sweet. Jeremy then came home to Leland on Super Bowl weekend in 2011 and introduced this discovery to me his uncles and cousins during the Super Bowl game. After the game Jeremy and I talked about how he had something worth bottling up to sell. We ordered 125 bottles and had a graphic artist friend to design a label. Jeremy gave away 125 bottles to family and friend and the response was extraordinary. Jeremy began the process to make this unique sauce available to the public. Jeremy and I began asking local store owners if they would be interested in selling this unique sauce. We began by putting sauce in local barber shops. Then one day in October 2012 the local Piggly Wiggly in Leland agreed to put 12 bottles of sauce on their shelf for a trial run. The sauce sold within 2 days. We were asked to do a demo and taste test on October 13,2021. The sauce sold out within 2 hours. A total of 10 cases was sold and now the sauce is sold in many local, stores throughout NC. Jabba’s Creations is the company’s name that has created the Jabba’s Hot and Sweet Brand. We together operate a Food Truck; with the truck we introduce our products to the public and to help sustain the business. There’s another sauce just introduced in the past 2 months and a dry rub that is in process of being introduced to the public. Jabba’s Creations is excited for this opportunity to share this short story of the humble beginning of the Jabba’s Hot and Sweet Brand. Gene Brown Operations Manager Jabba’s Creations.


A serial entrepreneur with no plans of slowing down, Heidi started her woman-owned business NEATGOODS in her fifties. NEATGOODS focuses on providing exceptionally designed, innovative, and sustainable products for her demographic; pro-social women who are at the stage in life where they have the freedom and resources to focus on opportunities and who want "better, not more." She believes NEATGOODS can offer an authentic and extraordinary brand for her demographic.
Heidi's endeavors have always led with design. Previously, she was a partner in The Farmhouse Collection, a national furniture company, the author of a series of children's books about an adventurous female protagonist published by Harper Collins, and most recently, the founder of HEALgoods, a men's clothing company. In addition, she received a master's from Harvard's Graduate School of Design and trained as a Landscape Architect.
As Heidi's three children head off to college and careers, she looks forward to directing her newfound time into expanding NEATGOODS with her partner Greg Pesky. In addition, she plans to continue her involvement with several not-for-profit organizations primarily focused on education and hunger. And when there is a spare moment, she hopes to visit museums with her husband, cook for family and friends, enjoy the outdoors, and make the world a better place.

JAMES P. YOUNG, JR.James Young

Dr. Young has over 40 years of working directly with patients, physicians, and healthcare leaders to improve patient‐centered quality and equity. His experience includes working with Federally Qualified Health Centers, where he designed data collection and analysis strategies to improve patient satisfaction scores and transform practices into Patient‐Centered Medical Homes. He has extensive experience working with cardiologists and racially diverse patients to improve clinical care during and after procedures to correct cardiac arrhythmias Dr. Young has conducted and published research on healthcare disparities and is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality. He holds an NCQA credential as a Patient‐Centered Medical Home Certified Content Expert. He is a nationally recognized Subject Matter Expert on Healthcare Disparities, Culturally Competent Care, and Patient‐Centered Care. Dr. Young is a nationally known Subject Matter Expert with experience working with the United States Congress members to improve healthcare literacy among people of color. He also served as an SME for Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health to develop a culturally competent patient satisfaction survey. Dr. Young holds a Ph.D. in Organization and Management, a Master’s Degree in Organization and Leadership, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Board Chair Emeritus for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, and a Veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States.


Jilliane Orwat, President of Garland Construction Corporation. A hairdresser by trade, holding an undergrad degree in Legal Studies, and working in Higher Education Regulatory for many years. In 2012, I was requested to bring my confidence, knowledge and education into the commercial construction world. With fear to make the change from the comfort of where I was into a non-traditional career path of construction, I felt intrigued by the challenge and the belief others had in me to come into their team. Coming into the construction world blind, I was eager to understand this new world I have entered. Not only did I learn the ins and outs of the financial part of the company, I worked hands on in the field, and in the office, established relationships with clients, vendors, our insurance agents, architects, state agencies etc., which allowed me to have earned my MA Unrestricted CSL. Since 2012, I have learned and controlled the ins and outs of this company. In 2019 I became majority owner and in 2020 I was voted as President and Treasurer and Chairman of the Board.


Franklin Mountain Group Corp (FMG) is a distributor of medical equipment and supplies. FMG was established in 2012 and has operations in Nashville, TN and El Paso, TX. We are dedicated to the belief that the right products in the right facilities can improve healthcare facilities’ efficiency, safety and economy. Our mission is to be a valuable conduit between the manufacturers of medical products and the healthcare organizations that use them. We strive to distribute medical equipment and supplies that are either first to market, best value, or unique in their class of products. We diligently seek out these products and then subject them to review by qualified key opinion leaders. One characteristic that separates FMG from other distributors is that we do not just ship goods and bill invoices, we add a consultative aspect to distribution. This allows us to more fully understand the facilities’ needs and provide a measure of procurement consultation before any purchase orders are placed. We have found that this close-up look at the end user’s requirements helps us to add value from an experienced and objective perspective. The result is a happier customer and greater efficiency.


Rachel Walker Optia Group Consulting Principal Rachel has more than 20 years of experience working with organizations and teams during periods of rapid growth and transformation. Areas of expertise include: business process optimization, organizational design, mergers and acquisitions, sales effectiveness, customer and employee experience, new business launch, data-based enterprise decision support, revenue expansion, outsourcing, vendor management and change management. Prior to Optia Group, Rachel worked for a number of international organizations in executive leadership roles. Her background includes working as a National Practice Director for Novell, as a District Director for Cambridge Technology Partners, as the Manager of Technical Services for a venture backed software development firm, and as the Director of International Electronic Commerce and Digital Supply Chain for Rohm and Haas Company. Rachel is a graduate of LaSalle University with a Bachelor of Arts, Economics.


Rico Ricketson is the founder and CEO of MH3, Mental Health for the Mind, Body, and Spirit. A subscription-based platform for direct access to credible mental health education from over 50 diverse health and wellness experts across the United States. Mental Wellness on Demand.

SAMANTHA WILLIAMS, M.S.Samantha Williams

Samantha (Sammi) is a distinguished content engineer with over twenty years of executive-level, corporate, and professional writing experience. She is also a recognized business coach and social media manager who is committed to supporting and building the local community. As an astute businesswoman and serial entrepreneur, Sammi has launched several companies, including Sam’s Word, Melanated Business Coaching, and 628 Digital Design, launching in February 2021. Sammi is the Co-Founder and President of the Collaboration of Minority Women Professionals (CMWP), with a mission to increase the visibility, capacity, and business profitability of professional minority women. CMWP was started in New Haven in 2018 and has grown to be a national business resource for Black and minority women. Samantha is also the current KNOWNpreneurs Program Manager, which is a BIPOC-focused mentoring and training program that Sammi was selected to build, design, execute, and implement within the Greater New Haven community. Sammi recently served as the Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) at the New Haven Free Public Library (NHFPL). Samantha is the recipient of the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce 2021 Women’s Achievement Awards for Community Impact. the Sammi sits on the Board of Directors for the Black Business Alliance (BBA) and the Clifford Beers Clinic. Sammi is also a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC), the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce (GNHCC), the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the National Black MBA Association (NBNBAA). Sammi earned a Master’s in Health Care Administration from the University of New Haven and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration / Human Resource Management from York College – CUNY. Sammi is also a certified Six Sigma Green Belt and Notary Public.


Summer Mydlo is an experienced logistics professional with over 14 years in the transportation industry. Over the years, Summer has developed a skill set in network design, change management, and account management that allows her to offer cost-saving programs throughout the supply chain pipeline. She is currently the Director of Business Development for North American Specialized Transport and proud to be a part of a 100% Veteran owned company. In addition to growth planning strategies, Summer also focuses on relationships with other Veteran-owned businesses, driver recruitment, and establishing and maintaining the Veteran certifications. Summer has an Executive MBA from Michigan State University and her passions include spending time with family, traveling, and making personal and professional friendships along the way.


After 17 years of mastering the sales and marketing industry, Theresa Jones entered the Cyber Security & Information Technology industries in 2016 and took it by storm. Within three years, she successfully earned her CMMC-Registered Practitioners Certification, Certified Cyber Security Awareness accreditation; CFISA: InfraGard Awareness Certification; completed HIPAA Privacy and Security Awareness Training; and PCI-DSS Privacy and Security Awareness Training. Theresa Jones is a specialty business consultant for the Louisiana Small Business Development Centers specializing in Cyber Security & Information Technology. Theresa is playfully known as the Cyber Lady, yet there is nothing whimsical about her drive and determination to continue furthering her career professionally. She proudly serves on the Board of Directors as Membership Coordinator & IT Sector Chief for the InfraGard National Board (Louisiana) partnership with the FBI. Theresa is the owner and principal consultant for EVALV IQ (pronounced evolve). Her agency is the first female, minority-owned Cyber Security consulting firm in the state of Louisiana. EVALV IQ brings the latest technology, security resources, and cyber education into the market. Theresa M. Jones hails from Metro New Orleans.


Secondary Solutions CEO Tina Stevens grew up at a time where women knew their place in business —and that was being at the top of their game in everything they did. With a military school education at Vermont’s prestigious Norwich University, Tina’s earliest influencers taught her the importance of “thinking differently” especially as it related to business processes and applications. When Tina first began working in the male dominated manufacturing industry, she quickly discovered that she was someone who saw solutions where others might have only seen problems. After carefully examining the many challenges of modern manufacturing, Tina was on her way to a new venture in Florida when she stopped along the way in Spartanburg, SC. It was there in South Carolina’s rapidly evolving manufacturing community that Tina saw an entrepreneurial opportunity with the creation of Secondary Solutions, a company solely designed to solve the many challenges that manufacturers face. Secondary Solutions has developed a stellar reputation as the company known for solving errors and failures in product design, assembly and delivery. Their roster of clients includes major appliance, healthcare, packaging, and industrial equipment manufacturers—along with first tier automotive companies like BMW and aerospace leaders like Boeing. In addition to her executive duties at Secondary Solutions, Tina also serves as a board member for the Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC). She is also a part of the National Forum of the WBENC (the largest certifier and advocate of women-owned businesses in the U.S) to help strengthen women’s business opportunities across the nation. Along with having a woman owned business that is also a certified ISO 2015 Company, Tina is most proud to celebrate Secondary Solution’s 21 years in business and creating a legacy of success in problem-solving.


Tracey West, owner, Irresistible Pound Cakes In 2012, Tracey decided to pursue her passion for baking and started Irresistible Pound Cakes from her Aunt Ola’s pound cake recipe to create desserts with a southern style flavor. When she baked her aunt’s cake, it brought back many happy childhood memories and the warmth of her Aunt Ola’s embrace. This cake was the centerpiece of every family affair and the glue that kept the family together. Her aunt’s tried-and-true recipe remains as the company’s signature product, which is made with patience, kindness, and love. Her corporate client list contains many Fortune 500 companies as well as mom and pop businesses. Tracey has gained five certifications for Irresistible Pound Cakes which includes Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), and Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE). Tracey is a 2021 graduate of the Sonoco Minority and Women Business Enterprises Leadership Academy and is a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Atlanta.


Vennicia Kingston is the owner of Eagle Eye Post Construction Service LLC.; a commercial construction cleaning and Labor staffing company. Vennicia is an eleven year journeywoman with Local 271 Laborers’ Union located in Providence RI. In 2018 she decided to start her own Laborer staffing company, specializing in final clean up of new build commercial projects in New England.

Vennicia’s past work experience with the union includes Pawtucket Bridge (2010), FM Global (2012), Cosco Guardrail Co. (2013) and Electric Boat (2017). Currently her company has three ongoing projects including the New Bedford Safety Complex (June 2021), Park Holms Phase III Newport (August 2021), King Street Commons (Sept 2021). She currently employs four Rhode Island residents, one of which is a union employee at the new East Providence High School.                     

Ms. Kingston is an alumni of Building Futures Pre-Apprenticeship program (2009), she is the elected Chairwoman of RI Building And Construction Trades Council Women’s Caucus and the founder of D.A.PPP ( Drug And Prison Prevention Program) a mentor program which focuses on non-traditional education for youth in disadvantaged communities.

Cyril Cohen - President - Cyril FoodsCyril Cohen
president, Cyril's Foods

Established in 1983, Cyril's Foods is a food company that supplies food products to major retailers, airlines, and food distributors nationwide. Cyril graduated from Florida International University with a  bachelor in Business Administration.  Cyril recently became an Alumni of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program.


Melanie J. Haga, president and CEO
Back Thru The Future Computer Recycling, Inc.

Haga founded BTTF was founded in 1990. Back Thru The Future Computer Recycling, Inc. provides secure and compliant IT Asset Disposal. Services include IT Asset auditing, removal, destruction, reporting and recycling. BTTF also provides plant-based shred destruction, mobile shred destruction, data center relocation, leased equipment sanitization & preparation for return shipment to a leasing company. ISO14001, R2 Certified and NJ DEP Licensed.

Lori M. HarringtonLori M. Harrington
president and COO, Capaccio Environmental Engineering, Inc.

As President and COO, Lori recently celebrated her 20-year anniversary at CAPACCIO.   With her unique skill set and drive to innovate, she has proven to be a strong asset to the company and the Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) industry itself. Lori’s technical background in information technology and systems have been instrumental in identifying and developing unique and customized tools for clients and the industry as a whole.

In her role, Lori is intricately involved with the day to day operations at CAPACCIO, which keeps her closely connected to employees, clients and the exciting solutions CAPACCIO offers the EH&S industry.  She has oversight of resource management and project execution across the company, with a focus of delivering impactful strategic solutions to clients across a variety of industrial sectors.   She is driven in cultivating a profitable culture that provides employees opportunities to do exciting work across the EH&S industry.

Lori holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematical Sciences from the University of California and enjoys attending concerts and spending time at the ocean with her husband and young children.


KateKate McAleer
owner, founder, Bixby & Co.

 Kate McAleer is an owner and founder of Bixby &   Co.,   an artisan confectionary producer located in the   historic   working waterfront of Rockland, Maine.  Bixby   & Co. was founded in 2011 to produce and sell unique   natural and   organic chocolate products.  Kate earned   her honors BA from New York University and holds   diplomas in pastry arts   and culinary management from   the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. The first Bixby products were   developed after experimentation and trial and error in the family kitchen and are currently sold across the country in over   a 3000 specialty and natural food stores.  Kate is the 2014 Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad Winner, MaineBiz 2014   “Nexter” of the top 10 people impacting Maine’s economy, and the 2015 Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Maine and 2016 Tory Burch Foundation Fellow and Tory Burch Foundation Grand pitch prize winner of $100,000.

In 2017 Kate and Bixby & Co. launched the first Bean to Bar chocolate production in the State of Maine, souring cacao directly from farmers and processing a complete chocolate product from the bean through to the end chocolate.

Mercedita Roxas Murray

Mercedita Roxas-Murray
founder, CEO, Montage Marketing Group, LLC

  Mercedita Roxas-Murray is founder and CEO of Montage Marketing Group, LLC a certified woman and minority owned marketing services agency focused on marketing outreach and engagement. With over 25 years in the marketing industry, Mercedita is a recognized leader in the integrated marketing space. Montage serves federal, state and commercial clients.

Montage was nominated as Minority Supplier of the Year in 2017, Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise in 2018 and was named 2018 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner. Mercedita is a member of USPAAC, WBENC, and CRMSDC where she sits on the Board of the Input Committee and the interim board of the Montgomery County Local Small Business Association.

Mercedita has a passion to provide minority business owners and women, an opportunity for entrepreneurship and she spearheads the initiative 50 in 50 to advance professional development, growth and capacity for success of 50 aspiring professionals. Through the 50 by 50 Project, Mercedita will host a series of physical and virtual meetups and offer one-to-one mentorship to those who seek it. 

image of Nish Parikh

Nish Parikh
co-founder, CEO, Rangam

Nish Parikh is the Co-founder and CEO of Rangam, a New Jersey- based company specializing in developing a range of innovative solutions for special needs education, vocational skills  training, and inclusive employment. He is also the founder and executive director of LetUsConnectTM, an employment research park designed to identify and implement sustainable self- and community employment practices for individuals with disabilities in Princeton, NJ. Nish serves on the external executive board of the Undergraduate Research and Innovation (URI) programs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and is a member of the Forbes Human Resources Council.

Jessica Pinette

Jessica M. Pinette
founder, president, Plantasia Design, Inc.

After attending Massachusetts  College of Art,  Jessica went to work for a Boston based Interior Plant Service Company designing and selling interior plants,  containers and holiday décor to Boston area businesses. When the Plant Service Company that Jessica worked for was purchased by a multi-national corporation out of Britain, Jessica  decided it was time to strike out on her own. Armed with a small family loan and one client, she  vowed to build a company that focused on design, impeccable  customer service and employee happiness. That was over 20 years ago and since then, Plantasia Design has grown their monthly client base to over 200 clients throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island and their team to over 16 employees.

Jessica is actively involved in the national plantscaping industry, enjoys supporting local nonprofit organizations and has built lasting partnerships in the design and property management community. For the last four years Plantasia Design lead by Jessica has been giving back to the Special Olympics RI through the POT-A-PLANT horticultural therapy program at the State Games and has also designed and installed countless event rentals for Adoption RI fundraisers. Jessica acts as one of the interior landscape liaisons for American Hort Association, bringing horticultural and sales training to the local interiorscape community. As an organization, Plantasia stays up to date on the latest trends through their involvement in the design community, industry specific continuing education and the National Interiorscape Network Membership which benchmarks similar national organizations and administers focused training

Eddy Rodriguez

Eddy Rodriguez
director of Finance, information systems, Penmar Industries, Inc.

Eddy Rodriguez is the Director of Finance and Information Systems at Penmar Industries, Inc., where he is responsible for all Merger and Acquisition activities. He is also charged with upgrading all information systems used by the company along with their related processes.

Eddy obtained his CPA while working in Audit at Deloitte & Touche and has used what he had learned at the firm to hold senior Internal Audit/Finance positions at large corporations including Sikorsky Aircraft, Homeserve USA and Amphenol Corp.

Eddy earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy at the University of Connecticut and his Master’s of Business Administration from the Kelley School of Business (Indiana University).  Eddy has held a number of board position for the non-profit organization Prospanica (formerly National Society of Hispanic NBA’s) and is currently an executive board member/Treasurer for Sterling House in Stratford, CT.

Eddy lives in Monroe, CT with his wife, two sons and two dogs and is an avid reader and outdoor griller.

Yvette Robinson

Yvette Robinson
president, co-owner, Robinson General Contractors, Inc.

Robinson established the company alongside husband, Kurt Robinson, in June of 2010. Yvette’s diverse construction background sprouted as a little girl helping her father on weekends and after school at the family business, Paisano Home Builders, a residential construction company. There she grew from helping clean up jobsites after school to the company’s marketing director and sales coordinator after graduation.

Yvette has extended Robinson General Contractors area of service beyond San Antonio with successfully completing several ground up and remodel projects in all areas of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma market. She has also expanded Robinson General Contractor’s customer base to include several large retail companies as well as local, state and federal government departments. She has gained 6 certifications for Robinson General Contractors with SCTRCA including, Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Emerging Small Business Enterprise (ESBE), Hispanic American Business Enterprise (HABE), and Small Business Enterprise (SBE) as well as certified with the State of Texas as Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) and in May of 2016 she obtained SBA 8(a) Certification.

Yvette is constantly working to further the growth that she has started at Robinson General Contractors all the while she devotedly works with the community. She is a proud Executive Board member of the Hispanic Contractors Association de San Antonio, Volunteer for The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo BBQ Cookoff, member and past Embajadora of the 2015 year for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, ABLDP Class of 2016, Leadership San Antonio Class 43 (LSA300) as well as donating to the DePelchin Children's Center.

Elizabeth Shanley

Elizabeth Shanley
impact advisor, The Fehlig Group

Elizabeth Shanley is an impact advisor at The Fehlig Group. She grew up watching her mother (the Founder and President of The Fehlig Group) help organizations combine their good works with good business strategy.

Elizabeth joined The Fehlig Group after spending most of her career in the hospitality industry. She identified the same problem at seven of the hotels she had worked for: the corporate level was doing a lot of “good” for the environment and for their community, but it wasn’t getting communicated to the hotel employees. Now Elizabeth helps companies communicate their social impact and sustainability initiatives throughout their organization to give everyone a chance to share in these experiences. Elizabeth is skilled at taking the ideas and values of leadership and helping engage the rest of the company. Her mission is to help organizations tackle the tight labor market by focusing on what their employees want more of: purpose and pride.

Elizabeth moved from the DC area to Rhode Island in 2014 and now lives in Providence with her husband and two children Whitman (3) and Larkin (1).

Christine Walsh - President & CEO - Alpha Graphics, Inc.

Christine Walsh
president, CEO, Alpha Graphics, Inc.

I have owned Alpha Graphics (not affiliated with the franchise) for 12 years and have grown the company from low six figures to 1.1M and counting. Alpha Graphics is a custom printing, design, and graphics boutique located in Baltimore, Maryland. We work on large state government projects as well as Federal contracts. We work with local, national and international businesses creating not only digitally printed products but our own version of color transfers that are used as product mockups and have been included in the production on the sets of House of Cards, 13 Reasons, Castle Rock and more. I am also the founder of Baltimore Cake & Whiskey, a curated women's networking group since 2014. Cake & Whiskey is attended by over 250 women each quarter. I am a huge advocate for local women in business and currently mentor 2-3 women a quarter. I advocate for the local artistic community and have sponsored over 10 events for local makers and artists. 

In 2011, I completed the E200 program sponsored by the Small Business Administration. The e200 Initiative is an intensive executive – level training initiative for high potential small business owners in Baltimore City and Baltimore County as well as the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business program in 2018. Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a program for small businesses that links learning to action. Through the program, participants gain practical skills in topics such as negotiation, marketing, and employee management that can immediately be put into action.

I am married with 2 children and 4 step children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

April Pollock

April Pollock
president, co-founder, C-3 Group

C-3 Group IS an advertising and marketing firm in the Oregon District. April is also co-founder of Tempagenix, LLC. Both are WBENC certified woman-owned businesses. A creative problem solver and strategic thinker, April graduated with a BS in Marketing and has over 17 years of extensive experience in interactive marketing, including brand development, thought leadership, web design, SEM, strategy and more. She is a member of the local organizing committee for the First Four NCAA Basketball Tournament in Dayton and her passion lies in working with women-owned businesses and non-profit organizations.  

Tempagenix, LLC was founded in 2016 by partners Shelly Heller and April Pollock. The co-founders began discussing an issue about promoting an inventory of thermometers that had previously only been sold wholesale to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. They saw an opportunity to market directly to consumers and furthered that by identifying a need for a more eco-friendly solution than the disposable thermometers currently available on the market. With the support and encouragement of our WBENC contacts, Shelly and April took a chance on launching the new start-up now have national distribution through Target and