Registration & Breakfast available
|James Laughlin Music Center, Chatham University
The Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series features prominent regional women business leaders speaking on a variety of progressive business topics. Casual networking and a continental breakfast precede engaging and interactive presentations on topics essential for women in business such as innovative entrepreneurship, strategic business growth, unique marketing strategies, and logistical business planning.
Upcoming Dates & Speakers
Friday, September 14
A Woman on the Move – the Business of the Port Authority
Katharine Kellemen, CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, will discuss our region's transit system and what changes we can expect under her leadership. Additionally, Kellemen will touch on the vital role of transit in strengthening our communities.
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Katharine Eagan Kelleman is chief executive officer of Port Authority of Allegheny County. Prior to joining Port Authority, Kelleman worked at Hillsborough Area Regional (HART) in Tampa, Fla. in several executive leadership roles, including chief of service development, chief operating officer, and chief executive officer. During her tenure at HART, Kelleman grew ridership by more than 20 percent; adopted technologies like the OneBusAway application; expanded public-private partnerships with entities like MegaBus, Red Coach and Coast Bike Share; launched a regional fare program; and oversaw HART HyperLink – the nation's first transit agency-operated rideshare program. Prior to her time at HART, she worked in leadership roles for the Maryland Transit Administration and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). She began her career in public transit as a transit planner in San Angelo, Texas. Kelleman received her Bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and her Master’s degree in public administration from San Angelo State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Public Transit Association.
Friday, October 12
Building a Business from Scratch in Homewood
Jenna Knapp, Founder and Director of Production at Thread, will discuss how she built Thread: a business on a mission to end poverty by creating dignified jobs and responsible, high-quality products with global brands. Thread transforms plastic bottles from the streets and canals of Haiti and Honduras into the most responsible fabrics and products on the planet. Every product made with Thread tackles poverty and cleans up the planet. Thread is a Public Benefit Corporation and scores in the top 10% of B-Corps globally on its governance and incorporation of the world's waste into its products.
Founder & Director of Production, Thread
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Jenna’s Thread journey was serendipitous. She finished grad school, started a family, and promised herself she would never settle for a job she didn’t love again. While freelancing at the Idea Foundry, a start-up business incubator and Thread’s first investor, Jenna was assigned to help Thread turn a brilliant idea into a sustainable for-profit business plan. She met the team, believed in the model, became a founder, and never looked back. That was 8 years ago. Jenna is the tenacious person at Thread that helps to build whatever is needed to keep Thread production moving forward. She spent her first few years brokering recycled plastic and consulting Thread’s plastics recycling partners in Haiti to improve operations, throughput, and quality. Then, creating partnerships in Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Taiwan, China, Korea, and the United States, she built and managed the global textile supply chains necessary to turn that plastic into Thread fabric and beautiful products for Thread’s brand partners, like Timberland and Marmot. Most recently, after $3MM in sales and excited to take the next step, Thread began producing its own product made with Thread fabric - a Better Backpack. The company envisions improving all work week essentials in a better way - with a focus on the more inventive use of recycled materials. To support this new venture, Jenna led the build out and now manages Thread’s own production floor in Homewood, PA. Responsibly building a global business – with 100% transparency – takes grace and resolve. Her favorite parts? Working with the Thread team to build a business that creates jobs, has a responsible impact on the world, and inspires better consumerism. What’s next? EDUCATION Masters of Public Management, Carnegie Mellon University – The Heinz College, concentrations in social business and health systems management. Bachelor of Science in Education/English and Communications, The Pennsylvania State University. Nominee for Women and Girls Foundation’s “Celebrating Women! Having a Global Impact” Award (2013)
Friday, November 09
From Starbucks to Startup- Applying Corporate Skills to Entrepreneurship
Sandra E. Taylor, CEO of Sustainable Business International LLC and Falk Professor of Socially Responsible Business at Chatham University, will discuss how corporate experience can be a tremendous asset when launching a new business – deep expertise in a specific field, knowing how to manage teams, good presentation skills and familiarity with strategic planning -- long and short-term—and knowing how to drive change as an "intrapreneur" in a large organization. However, making the transition from corporate executive to entrepreneur also requires very different competences to survive and prosper in a small start-up where you don't have the resources available in a corporate environment. The entrepreneur must learn new skills – and quickly -- to be successful. She will share her own story -- mistakes to avoid, advice for marketing and client development, as well as the importance of building a brand or re-branding yourself in this new role.
Sandra E. Taylor
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Sandra Taylor is an internationally recognized expert with credentials in environmental and corporate responsibility, supply chain management, international trade, communications and public relations. She has experience with varied global organizations and business sectors. Currently she is Falk Professor of Socially Responsible Business at Chatham University and she maintains the consulting business she founded in 2008, Sustainable Business International LLC, that assists companies at various stages of environmental and corporate responsibility practice. Previously she was senior vice president for Corporate Responsibility with Starbucks Coffee; and Eastman Kodak Company where she led global public affairs and corporate citizenship. She has held other senior leadership positions, including government service. Sandra has had a lifelong passion for winemaking and published her first book, The Business World of Sustainable Wine – How to Build Brand Equity in a 21st Century Wine Industry, in 2017. She received a BA from Colorado Women’s College in French; a JD degree from Boston University School of Law; and a MBA from the Bordeaux School of Management in France.
Friday, December 14
The New Retail: Experience is Everything
Lisa Slesinger, Owner of Larrimor's, will discuss the customer experience! Whether you are in a service or product business, your customer’s experience is everything and it is the only thing that sets you apart! Takeaways will include why the customer is still “always right,” how every touchpoint enhances or detracts from your customer’s experience, and why consistency must be part of your organization’s values.