Faculty and Speakers

Amy Nelson HeadshotAmy Nelson

CEO and Co-Founder
The Riveter

The Riveter CEO and Co-Founder, Amy Nelson worked for 10 years as a corporate litigator on Wall Street, while also working in political fundraising to advance pro-choice candidates. Amy served on President Obama’s National Finance Committee and was a co-founder of Gen44, the President’s under-40 fundraising arm. When deciding to pursue a new career venture, Amy felt that women and working mothers needed a source for greater choices and opportunities. This passion led her to create The Riveter, not just a co-working space, but a place for women that provides a community of support, a professional network and an intentional focus on wellness. Amy has been guiding The Riveter’s movement to change the dynamic for women in the workforce through an entirely new   proverbial leadership table–one where every woman feels enabled to define how she works and what her success will be.

Connie Collingsworth headshotConnie R. Collingsworth

Chief Business Operations Officer
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Connie Collingsworth is the Chief Business Operations Officer and a member of the Executive Leadership Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to joining the foundation, Ms. Collingsworth was a partner of Preston Gates & Ellis, now K&L Gates, where she focused on corporate/securities laws, including private equity financings. She currently serves on the boards of Premera Blue Cross, a leading health care coverage provider, and Banner Corporation, $10B bank holding company, with operations throughout the West Coast.

Nonprofit activities include serving as Board Co-Chair of Women’s World Banking, a global network of microfinance institutions focused on financial inclusion for low-income women. Previous nonprofit leadership activities include serving as board member of the Northwest Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Board Chair of Social Venture Partners, a network of individuals leveraging expertise and resources to strengthen nonprofits, and Co-Founder, Board Chair and President of the French American School of Puget Sound, a full-immersion French language school.

Connie holds an LL.M. in International Business Studies from the University of Exeter, England, a J.D. from the University of Nebraska and a B.A. from Andrews University.

Fariba Alamdari HeadshotDr. Fariba Alamdari

Vice president, Marketing

Dr. Fariba Alamdari is Vice president, Marketing at the Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Her team of world-class technical marketing experts, partner with the Boeing sales and product strategy team, forecast demand for airplane and related services, and evaluate market risks and opportunities. 

In 2006, she joined Boeing from Cranfield University in the United Kingdom, where she served as chair of the university’s Department of Air Transport, professor of Air Transport Management and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Manufacturing and Science.

In addition to publishing more than 70 articles and reports on aviation-related issues, Alamdari has chaired and spoken at many international conferences. She is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and recipient of several awards including: “Woman of the Year” by Air Transport News in 2016, "Ellis Island Medal of Honor“ from The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) in 2016, presented each year on historic Ellis Island in the US to a select group of individuals for their accomplishments in their field, "Leadership Award” from the Centre for Women & Democracy in 2015, the “Professional Award” from Career Communication Group, Inc in 2011, “Professional Practice Recognition Award” from State University of New York Institute of Technology, School of Business in 2010.

Fariba spoke at TEDx Seattle 2017 on “The power of embracing our own diversity”. Alamdari received a PhD, a Masters degree and an honorary Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa from Cranfield University.

Gwen Webber HeadshotGwen Webber-McLeod

President and CEO
Gwen, Inc

Gwendolyn (Gwen) Webber-McLeod, M.S., is President/CEO of Gwen, Inc. She has over 30 years experience in leadership/organization development, facilitation, strategic planning, the development of effective coalitions/collaborations, helping companies design and implement diversity/inclusion strategies and the strategic development of women and minority leaders. Gwen is a frequently sought after lecturer and conference keynote speaker on the topic of leadership. Her clients are CEOs, executive and mid-level managers, and leadership teams in public, private, health care and education businesses and organizations. Gwen, Inc. exists for the sole purpose of helping leaders achieve business goals by focusing on the competencies of confidence, competence, courage and calm.

In addition, in 2009, Gwen founded the You Can’t Fail (Because Your History Says You Can’t) conference as an unforgettable, one of a kind conference designed to provide a strategically designed multicultural leadership development experience for professional women of color and women leaders of other races and cultures who support them. It was founded as a way to pay her success forward to other women leaders. You Can’t Fail is a unique opportunity to promote the positive growth of this important group of established and emerging leaders. In 2015, You Can’t Fail was incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization. You Can’t Fail, Inc. is devoted to the development of emerging women leaders. 

Gwen writes the “The Leadership Journey” column for Auburn’s home town newspaper, The Citizen, and is a blogger for the “Great Black Speakers” Blog. In addition, she is a published author with contributions most recently featured in Resilience: Living Life by Design by Dr. Deana Murphy (published in 2015 and available on Amazon). Her chapter, Thriving Through a Season of Grief, chronicles how the vision for incorporating Gwen, Inc. was the result from learning to thrive through a difficult moment in life. 

Gwen contributes her success to the support of her loving family and to working daily to simply be the type of leader she believes God called her to be – A Servant Leader.

Hillary WichtHillary Wicht Headshot

Executive Voice Coach

Hillary Wicht is an executive voice coach that helps her clients develop their voice for leadership so they can step more fully into their power, influence, and impact through the vehicle of voice. She has been empowering voices in the board room, the court room, the pitch meeting, at the negotiations table, and on the stage giving her clients both the competence and confidence they need to have a voice and presence that creates success in their careers and lives.

In addition to her private clients, Hillary is passionate about empowering women to stand in their value in powerful and effective ways. She is a partnering coach to the Athena Alliance, 2020 Women on Boards, and Broadrooms focused on placing more women onto executive boards. Hillary is an adjunct expert in the psychology of influential communication to the Stanford Entrepreneurial Program and has been tapped by the Wall Street Journal for her work on the impact of gender communication styles in the corporate realm. 

Hillary’s past experience as a performer in the studio and on the stage as both a session singer, actor and voice over artist bring a fun and rich foundation to her coaching practice. She has shared her voice with such diverse Grammy winners as American Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis, Idina Menzel, Leonard Cohen, CeCe Winans and LL Cool J. She can be heard on commercials for McDonalds, Mattel, AT&T, Toyota, and beyond. She has performed on television and film sets, and stages small and large.

Hillary combines her expertise in voice and performance with her background in Somatic Leadership Coaching and Psychology to deliver a comprehensive authority at what it means to have a voice and presence  that can authentically connect with others, move people to action, produce results, and create a legacy.

Jennifer Cohen Jennifer Cohen

Athletic Director
University of Washington Department of Intercollegiate Athletics

Named the UW's 15th Director of Athletics on May 24, 2016, Jennifer Cohen has been with the UW for 19 years and for much of that time has overseen the athletic department’s fundraising efforts. In recent years, the football and baseball programs also reported directly to her. A native of Tacoma, she joined the athletic department staff in 1998 as an assistant director of development before moving to the university's central development office to focus on fundraising efforts on behalf of the office of undergraduate education. She also spent time with the UW's regional gifts program before returning to athletics to oversee the department's major gifts program.

Cohen and her team led the “Drive for Husky Stadium” campaign, in which the department raised over $50 million in gifts for the renovation of Husky Stadium, which was completed in August 2013. Cohen has also led development efforts for a number of other initiatives, including the renovation of Hec Edmundson Pavilion and the Conibear Shellhouse, the construction of the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility, the Husky Legends Center, Husky Golf Center and various scholarship endowments.

A 1991 graduate of San Diego State University, Cohen earned her master's degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports administration, from Pacific Lutheran University in 1994. Her professional experience includes a variety of roles in intercollegiate athletics administration at Pacific Lutheran, the University of Puget Sound and Texas Tech University. She and her husband, Bill, are the parents of two sons, Tyson and Dylan.

Julie Benezet

Executive Consultant, Coach and Teacher

Julie Benezet has devoted her professional life to exploring the new, building businesses and helping others do the same. She currently works as an executive consultant, coach and teacher, following 25 years in business and law. She is the founder of The Journey of Not Knowing®, a leadership development program that teaches its executives how to navigate the new. She speaks and writes on leading and succeeding in the 21st Century and decoding human behavior in the face of change. Her book, The Journey of Not Knowing: How 21st Century Leaders Can Chart a Course Where There Is None, received a 2017 Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal and the 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Silver Medal for Business & Economics.

Julie spent four years as a member of the Amazon.com leadership team that brought the company from the early steep ramp up phase to its emergence as an established business. As its Vice President, Corporate Resources and Director of Global Real Estate, she is credited with leading the delivery of over 7,000,000 square feet worldwide with the supporting corporate infrastructure in just two years.

Before joining Amazon.com, Julie built businesses and raised capital for a broad range of industries from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups. She practiced law in New York and Seattle.

For ten years, Julie led the “Challenges of Leadership” program for executives at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She has appeared in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Tech Republic.com and The Zweig Letter. She has served on many profit and nonprofit boards including the Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton, Sparling, Inc. (now Stantec) and the CREW Network Foundation. She holds an LLB (law) and M.Sc. (psychology) from McGill University and a B.A. from Cornell University.

When she is not working, she loves to read mysteries, explore new wineries, and wander through compelling physical environments.

Micheline Germanos HeadshotMicheline Germanos

Founder and Principal
Germanos Leadership, LLC

Founder and Principal at Germanos Leadership, LLC, Micheline is a leadership coach and consultant who provides business leaders and their teams with a uniquely valuable perspective as she combines 25+ years of versatile, international business and leadership experience with deep coaching skills, EQ, intuition, and empathy.

Micheline has a keen eye for organizational effectiveness and its impact on people and results. She brings a deep understanding of business systems and processes together with an equally deep understanding of human and organizational behaviors.

As a coach, she believes that each of her clients is unique and rather than relying on ready-made tools, she provides a customized and personalized approach that enables leaders to self-realize and formulate their own solutions.

As a leadership consultant, she works with organizations to develop high performing teams where trust and mutual accountability enable higher business impact and satisfaction.

Micheline’s successful career in the High-Tech Industry has spanned R&D, Marketing, Business Development, Sales, and Organizational Development, in both startups and multinationals.

Prior to Germanos Leadership LLC, Micheline was General Manager at Microsoft Corporation.  In that role, she oversaw the Marketing & Operations Leaders Community, globally. Her responsibilities included talent management, development and movement, leadership readiness, female leadership development, and organizational effectiveness.

A French national, born in Lebanon, with an engineering degree in computer sciences, Micheline speaks 4 languages and considers herself a “Citizen of the World.” She started her career in Paris leading a team of software development engineers in a French startup. After a successful career in European technical and business management roles at Philips and Nortel Networks, she was hired by Microsoft Europe as Director for Web Services and Hosting.  In 2006, she moved to Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond (WA) with her husband and two sons, where she chose to base her international leadership coaching and consulting practice.

Micheline is an IPEC certified professional coach (CPC) and an ICF Accredited Certified Coach (PCC). Micheline is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Business and Women at Bentley University and has been a speaker and panelist at many conferences including: Working Mothers Magazine Multicultural Women’s Conference in New York, Bentley University, Linkage Institute D&I Conference, International Learning Association Women (ILA) Leadership Conference and several internal Women@Microsoft Conferences.

Julie Rezek HeadshotJulie Rezek

Managing Global Client Partner

For over 20 years, Julie has been a key business driver and leader within the advertising and marketing industry.

Julie’s drive and laser-focus on delivering exceptional results for her clients and business has always helped push the needle forward. She has built her reputation as someone who conquers huge business challenges with candor, humor, and her commitment to do the right thing for her team and for her clients.

Julie’s business leadership and client success has garnered industry recognition. She has spoken at marketing conferences and events hosted by the Direct Marketing Association, American Advertising Federation, Seattle Interactive Conference, American Marketing Association, and the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. She was named one of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” honorees in 2012. She was also named the "Face of Advertising" by the SeattleMet Magazine in 2016.

Patricia BravoPatricia Bravo Headshot

Leadership Development Consultant
Bravo For You, LLC

Patricia equips leaders with Empathetic Leadership techniques that drive team member engagement and increase business results. She does this by consulting with organizations and leaders through her company Bravo For You, where she helps organizations develop leadership programs and facilitates workshops that accelerate leader capability.

Patricia enjoys using her talent management experiences gleaned at Fortune 500 companies such as Starbucks to shape the leadership landscape of the future. She also teaches undergraduate courses at University of Washington, Bothell and professionals at UCLA Extension. Her chapter, Empathy as a Vehicle to Authentic Leadership and Followership in Latin America: A Practitioner Perspective was published in the book Authentic Leadership: International Perspectives.

A transplant who adopted the Pacific Northwest as home, she fuels her love of travel by exploring new destinations and spending time in Southern California enjoying the sunshine. 

Pernille Spier-Lopez HeadshotPernille Spiers-Lopez

Author, Global Corporate and Non-Profit Director
Good Life Designed

Pernille Spiers-Lopez is a Global Director and serves on both corporate and non-profit boards. She serves currently on the boards of Meijer Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ECCO USA, Manchester, New Hampshire, Save The Children International, London ,UK , Save The Children US, Fairfield, CT and Homeboy Industries, Los Angeles, California.

Pernille was with IKEA for 21 years. Among several top executive positions, Pernille held the position as CEO & President for IKEA North America and was a member of The Executive Management Team of the IKEA Group for 10 years. Pernille decided to leave IKEA July 1, 2011 after 2 1/2 years of commuting between Chicago and Europe.

During her tenure as President of IKEA North America (2001-2009), Pernille lead the fastest expansion ever within IKEA. IKEA grew from a small ‘niche’ retailer with 23 stores to a ‘major player’ with 50 stores. She brought with her a wealth of experience in home furnishings retail, human resources and leadership. This experience was grounded in and enhanced by her commitment to the IKEA culture and values that are at the heart of the company and its success.

Most recently Pernille Spiers-Lopez was the Global HR Manager for the IKEA Group and its 135,000 employees. With her extensive business experience, she had developed and implemented a new business focused HR Strategy empowering the organization, it’s leaders and co-workers to grow business and people together. It is through this humanistic way of doing business that Pernille had brought to IKEA perhaps her greatest asset: the ambition to foster an environment of growth, inclusion, balance and empowerment – while doing good business.

She has dedicated most of her career to the advancement of women in leadership both inside and outside IKEA.  After leaving IKEA she co-founded Good Life Designed with her daughter.

A native of Denmark with degree in Journalism, Pernille Spiers-Lopez has lived in the United States for over 30 years. Prior to joining IKEA, Pernille was an entrepreneur with a Scandinavian design business and she held several leadership positions for different retail companies in Florida and California.

Pernille published her first book in Denmark in 2012 about personal leadership and taking responsibility for our own life and success “If Your Life Was a Kitchen”. The English version “Design Your Life” was published in the US by Beyond Words November 4th, 2014. Her book will be published in China Fall 2017.

She and her husband, an educational leader, live in Long Beach, California. They have two adult kids in Los Angeles.

Rhoda Milam HeadshotRhoda Milam

Vice President, Human Resources

Rhoda Milam has been with T-Mobile’s HR team since 2007. She is currently a Vice President leading a team of HR Business Partners, Recruiters and Leadership Development consultants supporting all of T-Mobile’s strategic Headquarter functions (Finance, HR, Legal, Corporate Services and Corporate Strategy).

Rhoda’s team is responsible for full end-to-end HR support for these business-critical functions. She is a strategic partner to the six EVP’s she supports and has built great relationships with a large number of executives across the company. Rhoda helped design and implement T-Mobile’s innovative approach to performance management (AMP) which eliminated performance ratings and formal reviews. Rhoda has spent the majority of her T-Mobile tenure supporting different Technology functions and has a deep knowledge base regarding T-Mobile’s Network.

Rhoda has over 18 years HR experience in multiple disciplines including Recruiting, HR Systems & Analytics, HR Program Management, Employee Relations, Leadership Development and executive coaching. Prior to joining T-Mobile, she held HR roles at Avanade, BECU, Washington Mutual and Free Rein.

BS, Business Administration/HR Management, Central Washington University | Certification: SPHR certification

Sophie Leroy HeadshotDr. Sophie Leroy

Associate Professor
UW Bothell School of Business

Dr. Sophie Leroy is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington Bothell, School of Business and Faculty Director of the Executive Leadership Certificate Program for Women, Inclusivity, and Diversity.

She received her Ph.D. in Management/Organizational Behavior from New York University, Stern School of Business. She also holds a Master in Management from HEC (Paris), which was partially completed at Columbia Business School, MBA program. Before her academic career, Dr. Leroy held managerial and executive positions in the finance and consulting industries, working for SG Cowen, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Interbrand, among others.

Dr. Leroy’s research investigates the self-regulation challenges people face in the workplace, focusing especially on the effects of interruptions on the ability to have focused attention and perform. She also studies how interpersonal synchrony affects leadership and team dynamics and how leaders emerge in social context. Dr. Leroy’s work has been published in top scientific journals, including the Journal of Applied PsychologyOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision ProcessesOrganization Science, and Personnel Psychology. Her work has been also featured in TIME Magazine, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, the World Economic Forum, and more. She also serves on the editorial board of the prestigious Academy of Management Journal.

Dr. Leroy teaches courses on Managing Teams, Leadership, and Ethics. Her most recent honors and awards include the Undergraduate Faculty of the Year Teaching Award, UW Bothell School of Business (2017), and MBA Faculty of the Year, Teaching Award, University of Washington Bothell, School of Business (2016).

Stacey SargentStacey Sargent Headshot

Connect Growth and Development

An inspiring, energetic and authentic facilitator, coach, program designer and speaker, Stacey has an abiding passion for helping individuals, leaders and teams grow and develop in ways that bring meaningful success.

Stacey’s approach is about whole-person intelligence - partnering the logical with the creative, the rational with the emotional, our brain and our body. She helps people make the connection between their inner and outer selves so they can bring their best selves to any endeavor - in work and life. She achieves this through her ability to bring a supportive yet challenging nature, a sense of humor and approachable manner, and a talent for asking questions that bring focus to what really matters.

For nearly two decades Stacey led teams focusing on strategic, design and customers in consulting, client relations, design and development, and accounting and finance. This included work at both Microsoft and PeopleSoft on the products and technology side. In 2005, she shifted her career into the leadership and organizational development field, working extensively with high-tech companies. She now loves to use her experience to help leaders and teams with their business, connecting the people, the numbers and the systems in ways that transform.

Stacey believes in building long-term partnerships with her clients – working with them to plan, craft and adapt to needs over time and changing conditions. Whether she is custom-designing programs or facilitating material designed by her clients, her sweet spot is facilitating experiential and interactive conversations and activities that result in greater application back at the office.

Stacey paired her degree in Business with a Masters in Applied Behavioral Science to create the “work love of her life.” She is the author of Inner Critic, Inner Success: Claiming Your Own Success While Taming the Critic. She has been a speaker at a number of conferences, to groups from 100 to 1000. Stacey aspires to do more of the work she loves with more forward-thinking organizations - helping them discuss What Really Matters.

Stephanie ReynoldsStephanie Reynolds Headshot

Founder and CEO

Stephanie Reynolds is Founder and CEO of Stephanie Reynolds Consulting, co-owner of The Journey of Not Knowing, and partner in The Change Coalition. She specializes in executive coaching, training leaders, and leading change efforts to align leadership teams, and create deliberate leadership cultures.

Stephanie’s early expertise is based on 17 years as a senior consultant with major consulting organizations, such as Wilson Learning and Mohr Development (now Blessing White), where she built her reputation training and consulting in a wide range of companies. She has been a business owner in the Puget Sound since 1995,

She currently coaches numerous senior leaders within many private, public and not-for-profit organizations to include: Fluke International, The University of Washington, Microsoft, Navos, Philips Healthcare, Cancer Research and Biostatistics, Amazon, and Colliers International.

She is the author of multiple training programs to include: Political Intelligence®, Collaborative Conflict Resolution, High Performing Team Roadmap, Effective Influence, and Co-Author of The Journey of Not Knowing® program.

Zoe BarsnessDr. Zoe Barsness

Associate Professor
University of Washington Tacoma Milgard School of Business

Zoe I. Barsness is an associate professor of management in the Milgard School of Business at the University of Washington Tacoma.  She received her B.A. in Comparative History from Harvard University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Organizational Behavior from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.  Prior to joining the faculty at UWT, she taught at Kellogg and served on the faculty at the Mays School of Business at Texas A&M University.  Her research focuses on negotiation and the impact of recent developments in communications technology, organization structure, and work arrangements on individuals and groups in organizations. Her research has examined the costs and benefits of different alternative dispute resolution processes, cross-cultural negotiation processes, the influence of gender and technologically-mediated communication on negotiation, the strategies adopted by remote workers to manage their workplace performance more effectively, and the impact of social networks and alternative work arrangements on individuals, group processes and organizational performance.  Her work has appeared in the Academy of Management JournalJournal of Organizational BehaviorResearch on Managing Groups and Teams, Research in Organizational BehaviorSmall Group Research, Social ForcesSocial Justice Research, and The Negotiation Journal.  She teaches courses on leading teams, organizational behavior, negotiation, strategic human resource management, and strategy formation.

Dr. Barsness has served as a Chair of the Conflict Management Division of the Academy of Management, as well as, Representative at Large and Program Chair. She is also a member of the International Association for Conflict Management and serves on the editorial board for Negotiation and Conflict Management Research.  Previously, she has served as Chair of the University of Washington’s Faculty Senate and as Chair of the University of Washington Tacoma’s Faculty Assembly.

Dr. Barsness has consulted to organizations in the construction, energy, forest products, healthcare, retail and technologies industries, as well as, municipal governments, the State of Texas and other non-profit organizations.  She serves on the Advisory Board of the Executive Leadership Program for Women, Inclusion and Diversity at the University of Washington Bothell.  She has received research grants from the State of Texas, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for International Business Studies at Texas A&M University, and the University of Washington Tacoma. Prior to graduate school, she worked in the private sector in marketing and product development for a start-up software company and in management consulting.  Outside of academic life, she enjoys biking, gardening and spending time with family exploring the mountains and backcountry of the Pacific Northwest.


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