Liv Harrison | Emcee

Liv is known for being a public speaker with a gift for humor, storytelling and wisdom. She works with youth from junior high to young adult. Liv was the 2018 Host/Emcee to hundreds of Catholic youth at the Austin music festival, Godstock. She also works in marriage ministry with engaged couples and the development of marriage programs around Houston. In 2008, she was a featured marriage speaker on the international television station, EWTN.


Liv has not only spoken all over Texas, she has spoken across the nation. She attended Texas Tech University and received both a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and a postbaccalaureate certificate in Early Childhood Education. She is currently working on a Masters in Theology from Franciscan University in Steubenville. Liv is presently serving as a board member and as the first Diversity and Inclusion Chair for the Junior League of the Woodlands. She speaks and leads the training formation of the 500 women.


Lately she has been a frequent voice on Sirius XM and the Guadalupe Radio Network KSHJ 1430AM both as a guest and as a co-host. She is a wife and mother of two.


Margarita Pineda-Ucero

Margarita Pineda-Ucero is a senior executive with experience in global corporate financial services and private company board environments.

Her deep knowledge of strategy, finance, enterprise risk management, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, global commercial lending practices and transaction structuring, allows her to add value across industries.


She is the former Chief Risk Officer of GE Capital Latin America and former Chair of the Risk Committee at the Board of Directors of GE Financial Mexico. As a Nominee Director by the IFC (International Finance Corporation, a World Bank Group company) to Boards of Directors of its partners in international markets, she currently serves as Independent Director at the Board of the IFC’s strategic partner in Colombia (Covinoc). She also serves as Director at the Advisory Council of Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business.


As a Consultant in Enterprise Risk Management and Business Transformation, Margarita served as subject matter expert in Credit Risk at Warburg Pincus, a leading global private equity firm. Other consulting clients are private firms and nonprofit corporations in the USA and other countries. Her professional path covers Asia, Europe and The Americas in the global financial services sector.


She is also the founder of Women Dignity Alliance, an international organization helping women grow in their corporate and entrepreneurial careers.


Wanda E. Beverly has practiced law for over 25 years.  Attorney Beverly formerly served as Assistant General Counsel to the March of Dimes Foundation  and has more recently established her own law firm - Law Offices of Wanda E. Beverly.  Attorney Beverly provides advice and counsel to non profit organizations, businesses and consultants in connection with contracts, marketing, licensing, branding initiatives, program development, communications, intellectual property, media engagements, employment, real estate negotiations, privacy matters and regulatory compliance. 

Wanda E. Beverly

Lisa Girden, M.S., M.S.

Pre-School Teacher / Marriage and Family Therapist / Student Educational Advocate

My name is Lisa Girden, I have been in the education field for more than 35 years, specializing in families with children who have different learning styles.  I am dual certified and have taught for almost 40 years in preschool settings.  I have worked closely as an advocate for children and their families as well as doing counseling and therapy with children and their families.   I also tutor children with academics and executive functioning issues.  My masters degrees are in education and psychology. My goals are to give children a chance to thrive, to be who they are and soar.


Suzanne Vita Palazzo

In motion more often than not, Suzanne Vita Palazzo is an Empowerment Coach and CEO of Upper Deck Fitness with multiple locations in Stamford and Westport, whose philosophy is heavily rooted in the concept of mind over matter. She’s guided by her belief that both the body and mind were designed to progress, even if moving forward requires taking a step back to reflect.


Lorena Seidel (M.Ed.)

Lorena Seidel (M.Ed.) is a Montessori educator, a Social Emotional Learning consultant, a Positive Discipline facilitator, and a mindfulness teacher. She helps parents and teachers create a more positive and peaceful relationship with children. Lorena is also the author of The Purposeful Child A Quick and Practical Parenting Guide to Creating the Optimal Home Environment for Young Children. Lorena lives in Connecticut with her husband and three daughters.


Fran Pastore, Founder & CEO

Fran Pastore is the Founder and CEO of the Women's Business Development Council (WBDC), Connecticut’s leading organization championing the independence of women through entrepreneurship. Ms. Pastore is a devoted catalyst of women’s economic equity across the country and around the globe.


Domestically, in addition to her work with WBDC, Ms. Pastore was appointed to and served a three-year term on the National Women's Business Council (NWBC), an independent source of counsel to then President Obama, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).


Globally, Ms. Pastore’s influence has been exemplified through her direct work with women entrepreneurs. In conjunction with the U.S. State Department and the University of Connecticut’s Office of Global Affairs, Ms. Pastore taught women business owners in Costa Rica. Ms. Pastore continued to share her expertise with women through partnerships with The Center for Creative Leadership in Ethiopia and The Akilah Institute for Women in Rwanda.


For over two decades, Ms. Pastore has been instrumental in the passage of legislation benefiting women entrepreneurs. Ms. Pastore has provided numerous testimonies before the U.S. Congress, addressing the state of women’s entrepreneurship. Her advocacy efforts have included traveling to Istanbul to serve as a U.S. Delegate at the 2015 Women’s Summit and the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Conference.


Currently, Ms. Pastore serves on the Board of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), is a member of the YWCA Greenwich Leadership Council, Pace University’s Women’s Business Leadership Council and The Global Advisory Board for the Akilah Institute for Women in Kigali, Rwanda. In 2018, Ms. Pastore was appointed to the Quantum Leaps’ Advisory Board, a global organization focused advancing women’s entrepreneurship. Most recently, Ms. Pastore was honored to serve on Connecticut Governor Lamont’s Transition Team as Co-Chair of The Jobs and Economy Policy Committee.


Kristen Murray, RN

Kristen Murray is a Registered Nurse, mom of 3, and the creator of Mom from Scratch, a community for like minded women.  Kristen’s work is to educate, motivate, and inspire women to make simple yet profound changes that have meaningful impact.  In particular, Kristen is passionate about how parents feed their children and teaching them to raise competent eaters that have a good relationship with food and their bodies.  She lives in Connecticut with her husband, 3 children, 2 cats and 2 chickens! She enjoys CrossFit, yoga, walking in nature, traveling, knitting, making art and watching movies with her family!


Juanita T. James

Juanita T. James is President & CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Formerly, she was Pitney Bowes’ Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and a member of the Chairman’s Council and enjoyed a 20-year career with Time Warner and Bertelsmann, holding several senior executive positions, including President & CEO of Time-Life Libraries. Ms. James chairs the Compensation Committee and is a Director for Asbury Automotive Group; a Director for First County Bank; Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, CFLEADS (Community Foundations Leading Change) and former Director of Connecticut Council for Philanthropy and  the Rouse Company. Juanita was named a Savoy Magazine “Power 300 - Most Influential Black Corporate Directors” in 2015, and a “2018 Most Influential Corporate Director” from Women Inc.


Currently, Juanita is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at Lesley University, a Trustee Emerita of Princeton University and is a UCONN Trustee. Some of her honors include: Connecticut Center of Philanthropy “Martha Newman Award”; American Cancer Society “Women Leading the Way to Wellness”; Girl Scouts of CT “Woman of Merit”; Moffly Media “Light a Fire”; NAACP “100 Most Influential Blacks in CT” and “Stamford Citizen of the Year”. Juanita earned a master’s degree in Business Policy from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. She also holds Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Mitchell College and Fairfield University, and an Honorary Associate Degree in Humane Letters from Housatonic Community College. She lives in Stamford, CT, with her husband Dudley Williams and they have one son, Dudley Williams III.


Dr. Tamu Lucero

Dr. Tamu Lucero was named Superintendent of Stamford Public Schools on April 23, 2019. During her 25-year career in education, she has worked diligently to improve the public school system. Dr. Lucero believes education is a global initiative requiring an alliance among all communities to elicit effective and efficient reform. Her primary goal is to ensure that all students exhibit growth that is commensurate with their ability.


Dr. Lucero began her Stamford Public Schools tenure in June 2013, as Assistant Superintendent—Elementary. She assumed the role of Deputy Superintendent in June 2018. Dr. Lucero has led a number of major initiatives over her years in Stamford, including overseeing the Department of Justice review and mandates regarding English Learner commitment, the establishment and opening of a new inter-district K-8 magnet school, and serving as a critical member of the City of Stamford and Board of Education’s Mold Task Force. In 2016, the AASA, School Superintendent’s Association, named Dr. Lucero an Aspiring Woman Leader.


Dr. Lucero began her education career in the Columbus Public School District as a third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Franklinton Alternative Elementary School.  She was also principal of Worthington Hills Elementary in the Worthington School District, of Georgian Heights Alternative School and of Windsor Alternative Elementary School. Dr. Lucero’s efforts as a building and district-level leader focus on creating a responsive environment that is conducive to academic growth and success for all children.


Dr. Lucero holds a Doctorate of Education Degree from Ohio University, a Master of Arts in Educational Administration, as well as Principal and Superintendent Licenses from The Ohio State University, and an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Wright State University.


Dr.  Lucero lives in Stamford and serves as a member of the executive committee of the Stamford Cradle to Career Collective Impact Partnership.  She has also been on the Board of Directors for the Bartlett Arboretum and Sound Waters. Since 2015, Dr. Lucero has been an Adjunct Professor at Sacred Heart University.


Katherine M. Bogard

Attorney Katherine M. Bogard, Senior Counsel with Brody and Associates, LLC, an incredible speaker who represents employers in Labor and Employment matters, 


Diane Lutz

Diane has a varied background in business, coaching/training, and the arts- to name a few. She lives in tandem with her belief that life is meant to be experienced fully and tomorrow is never promised. As a self-proclaimed life-improvement enthusiast, Diane loves to give back and share some of the strategies she uses that help her feel fulfilled. Her strategies enable her to take a deep dive into her passions, balance time with her family, and feel emboldened to embrace new passions and opportunities as they present themselves. 


Kathryn Whitaker

Kathryn Whitaker, a sixth-generation Texan, is a wife and mom to six kids, teen to toddler. She has been sharing her perspective on marriage, motherhood, college football, Texas barbecue, and her Catholic faith with honesty and authenticity on her blog teamwhitaker. org since 2007.

Popular blogger Kathryn Whitaker is a Dr Pepper super fan, Aggie-loving, type A mom of six with a personality the size of her native Texas. The stressful premature birth of her fifth child threw her orderly world into chaos and ultimately led her to rethink her priorities.

In Live Big, Love Bigger, Whitaker shares her journey and challenges readers to understand that they, too, can live a life of authenticity with joy-filled purpose, love, and faith. Whitaker’s sassy authenticity will make readers laugh—and cry—while encouraging them to be honest about mistakes in every area of their life, embrace them, and find a way to let God redeem it all.


Margaret is the Head of Innovation, US for NatWest Markets and focuses on engaging with the emerging tech communities to create opportunities within Capital Markets.


She is actively involved in the Connecticut entrepreneurial community with an extensive background in private-public partnerships. Margaret serves as an advisory board member of Rutgers University Big Data Advisory program, Stamford Innovation Week and is the Chair of Innovation Stamford, an organization focused on encouraging innovation and growth in Stamford, CT.

Margaret Feeney

Lisa Kotasek, Our Founder

Lisa is a mother of five, a wife to Mark - her favorite person - and loves connecting people.  She is an employment and education lawyer, a writer, and a comedian-in-training, always attempting to find humor in her extroverted life, filling her cup with conversations, comedy, constitutional law, Catholic life, and romantic getaways with Mark, one-on-one dates with her kids, and celebrating the women around her.  She believes in waking up grateful and celebrating all the livelong day.  


Lisa manages conferences to build connections between women. She invites speakers, collaborators, and business affiliates who can enrich her mission to create meaningful collaborations that spread joy. 

Connect.  Mentor.  Celebrate.  Spread Joy.

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