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Event Host

Nekia Nichelle

Nekia Nichelle

Nekia Nichelle is a digital and broadcast journalist covering entertainment, lifestyle, beauty and a pinch of fashion. She contributes content to and has been featured on WCIU, CBS 2 Chicago, FOX 32 Chicago, ABC 7 Chicago and TV One. You can currently hear her voice on WGCI, V103 & KISS FM Mon-Fri giving you traffic updates.

To learn more about Nekia visit 


Linal Harris

 Keynote Address

“We all have the power to influence great change; but if we ignore that power to create change, we could miss an opportunity to change our city, possibly the nation, maybe the world.” - Linal Harris

Linal Harris is a global entrepreneur, certified life coach, author, speaker and media personality. As the founder of Inspirational Perspective Publishing, LLC and Insights 4 Life Coaching, LLC, Harris challenges his global audience and coaching clients to Murder Mediocrity™ and live their best life possible.


Harris concentrates his work as an ontological coach with clients on what he calls the 4 pillars of life; the relationship we have to ourselves, the relationships we have with others, our relationship to work and money, and the connection we have to our spirit and life's purpose. Harris coaches CEO's, executives, entrepreneurs, athletes and celebrities.


Harris is the author of "Slay Your Goals”, where he provides his readers with scientific and research backed tips for achieving their goals. Harris is an expert goal-setter and has been called upon by Fortune 500 companies to assist with setting their strategic priorities, facilitate goal-setting sessions and provide inspirational talks.


Harris is also a popular Chicago radio host, where he shares tips for living the best life possible, on his weekly WVON 1690 AM talk radio program, “Inspirational Perspective”— which is also broadcast via streaming video from his Periscope and Facebook Live channels.


Linal Harris is a Corporate America graduate. Before making his transition to entrepreneurship, Harris held positions of senior leadership with a number of Fortune 500 companies, both domestic and international. This provided him with a unique perspective on diversity, and the impacts of globalization on achieving superior business results. In one such role, Harris led and built operations in Asia, Central and South America and across the Caribbean. Before graduating from Corporate America in 2015, Harris served as the Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for U.S. Cellular®, where he held responsibilities for third party labor, supplier diversity, diversity strategies, talent enablement programs, and community outreach through the company’s employee resource groups.

Genise Shelton

 Keynote Address


Genise​ ​Shelton​ is a mother of six and married to the love of her life, Dr. Courtney Shelton. She’s best known as the newest addition to the season 4 cast of BRAVO’s “Married​ ​to​ ​Medicine”​and rapidly becoming a sought-after media and fitness personality.

In 2017, she launched Our​ ​Children’s​ ​Keeper​ Foundation​, created to help end modern day slavery of child sex trafficking and recover abducted and missing children in Atlanta and surrounding areas.

Adding author to her growing list of titles, her debut book, Married to Fitness, chronicles her fitness journey inspired by her mother’s harrowing experience being the ‘strong black woman’ holding down her family and taking care of her grandmother to experiencing a nervous breakdown after learning of her husband’s infidelity that led to a major stroke brought on by undiagnosed hypertension. 

She is on a mission to educate, encourage and empower people of color to make their health and wellness a priority.

As a business owner, producer, tv host, actress and model, she has educated, entertained, and uplifted countless viewers for the past two decades. Her accomplishments as a reputable business leader and philanthropist have established her as a respected and admired figure in the community. In addition to her notoriety in the national media industry, she is the owner of Flawless Bikini and Apparel Collection, Infiniti International Hair Boutique and Genesis Realty Group, LLC

Chrishon Lampley

Panelist- Market Yourself | Brand Your Business

Success in today’s marketplace is often defined by a person’s ability to create something new while simultaneously paying homage to elements that are classic. While this is certainly no easy task, Chrishon Lampley’s journey has allowed her to embody this paradox into a beautiful tapestry that has become her flourishing brand.

Lampley is a vintner, wine enthusiast and founder of LCS Entertainment, LLC that features Love Cork Screw wines. Love Cork Screw is a lifestyle brand that launched six varietals in the fourth quarter of 2013. Since its inception, the LCS brand has acquired over 45 locations including, Mariano's, Whole Foods and other Chicago land area stores, restaurants and bars. This rapid expansion is attributed to Lampley’s 14 years’ of experience in the industry, which has given her leverage to develop a keen awareness of what people enjoy and what the market is missing. A large portion of her knowledge was gained from years of owning a popular art lounge in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood.

As of 2016, LCS Entertainment, LLC is a licensed wholesaler and importer.

Lampley has a platform to mentor young women and budding entrepreneurs who can benefit from her lessons and her success. She gives her time and resources greatly to nonprofit organizations and she is a member and supporter of the YWCA Chicago and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,Inc.

Danielle Mitchell

Danielle Mitchell

Panelist- Market Yourself | Brand Your Business

Danielle Mitchell is an International Marketing Strategist.

She has experience with working with big box brands such as L’Oreal, Mizani, and Coca-Cola working in sales and marketing departments. Her expertise lies in marketing strategies as well as vlogging, traveling, and seizing the moment to find partnerships in every opportunity. 


Danielle is the founder of Average Black Girl, a marketing firm that encourages her followers to start a business while working or in school and Melanin Business,  a free global black business directory. 


Brittany Applegate

Panelist- Market Yourself | Brand Your Business

Brittany Applegate is a communications professional who uses her God-given gifts to help others actualize their greatness. In addition to being a Sr. Account Manager for Chicago-based video production company, Digital Café, she’s also the Founder of Brand Chicago, an organization the equips Chicago’s most ambitious minority young professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to build their personal and professional brands.  Furthermore as a brand consultant, she is greeted with the opportunity everyday to develop brand strategies, help clients reach their digital marketing goals, and work with some of the most creative individuals in the nation!

She graduated from Illinois State University’s College of Business in 2012 with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and a minor in Spanish ( she speaks “Spanglish” very well). Since graduating, her career highlights include becoming certified in digital advertising through the University of Illinois, Champaign – Urbana’s School of Advertising in 2014, being chosen as a MAIP (Multicultural Advertising Internship Program) Intern in 2013, being honored and recognized by ADCOLOR as an ADCOLOR Future in 2015, and working with brands like Nike Chicago, Chevrolet, Corona Extra, and Miller Coors.


George Powell

Panelist- Market Yourself | Brand Your Business

George Powell, a United States military veteran, brings more than 15 years of high quality, high demand technology and product experience from major blue chip companies such as IBM, 3M, Walgreens, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana. An entrepreneur at heart, George founded Easy Beauty in 2014 in conjunction with the development powerhouse Productive Edge. With the independent in mind, Easy Beauty is a new technology platform designed to simplify the purchasing process for professional grade spa and salon products.

George holds an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Business. His business acumen led him to successfully complete a program at the Silicon Valley based startup launch program, the Founder Instituteis now one of a select few startups included in the selective Founder Institute Network.

E George is a tenacious entrepreneur with a focused vision; yet, he fully understands the power of teamwork. His dynamo crew includes industry influencers Johnny Wright and Terry Armstrong; collectively, they have positioned Easy Beauty to continuously disrupt the professional grade beauty product distribution model.

A dedicated entrepreneur, George has willingly traded nights out on the town for popcorn nights. He lives on Chicago’s South Side Woodlawn community and is the proud dad to a teenage son. 

Morgan Owens

Interactive Branding Workshop


The Morgan A. Owens brand was established as a voice for women who had a desire to become more marketable in their corporate careers as well as entrepreneurial endeavors. With the mission that women can be “powerful and pretty,” Morgan introduced a plethora of chic and trendy events that embodied this concept. These workshops serve predominately minority women with a mission to climb the corporate ladder as efficiently as their counterparts, gain corporate appeal in their own business, start their own business, or a mission to increase their bottom line while embracing their feminine and authentic selves.

The Morgan A. Owens brand series has been broadcasted and supported by Fox 19 News, WLWT Channel 5, The Cincinnati Herald, and Radio One. Her workshops have also received coverage from Cincy Chic, Minority Women Blogs, and The Cincinnati Herald.  Additionally, the Morgan A. Owens brand has fostered strong relationships with leading companies and organizations including the African American Chamber of Commerce, The Cincinnati Herald and Urban League YP of Southwestern Ohio. 

The Morgan A. Owens Brand has introduced a series of workshops entitled “Professional Pretty” fostering topics that include health and wellness, financial guidance, overcoming community/racial obstacles, brand building and more. Additionally, tools and resources are offered that reshapes small businesses through marketing, graphic assistance, and branding. 


Jon Repka

Financial Modeling Workshop

Jon Repka is the Director of Growth at Paro. After cutting his teeth in management consulting and as a mid-market strategy executive, he found his passion supporting entrepreneurs as they scale their businesses. Jon now spends his days helping small and medium-sized businesses reach their financial potential.


He will be sharing best practices to run an efficient business as well as strategies to create a dynamic budget, produce actionable data, and use reporting insights to make better business decisions.


Shaniqua Davis

Fireside Chat- Entrepreneur Spotlight

Shaniqua (Shawn) Davis is a digital marketing and technology enthusiast with an eye for detail that spans beyond the norms of conventional digital relations. A Detroit native, Shaniqua learned early on to use innovative techniques to gain both experience and significant opportunities for advancement. Shaniqua relocated from Detroit to Chicago, IL where she worked in the competitive marketing industry, building contacts before deciding to leave the field and pursue entrepreneurship full time.


Davis launched the job referral website Noirefy in June of 2016. She sought to connect qualified job seekers of color with top tier companies.  As someone who had experienced discrimination based on her name alone, Davis wanted to implement a network to connect those individuals with jobs that promote diverse workplaces and cultures.

Julia Kline

Sales Workshop

Julia Kline is a sales, success and mindset coach, whose work focuses on removing the real obstacles to success—namely, the ones inside yourself. Her motto is, “Increase sales by increasing your authenticity.”


Her first book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sleaze-Free Selling, became an Amazon bestseller shortly after it was released in January 2013. Her next book, Heal Your Sales Wounds™, will be out in late 2017.


Heal Your Sales Wounds™ is a practical guide to overcoming the self-limiting beliefs we all have about money, sales & success, that stop us from accomplishing our goals. To read excerpts of the book & take the self-assessment about your own Sales Wounds, view her website,


She has been interviewed on NBC news and speaks to business audiences around the world.


Calvin V. Boyd, Esq.

Intellectual Property Discussion

Calvin V. Boyd is a thoughtful advisor with business acumen and the ability to rationally address risks and reach equitable solutions. His expertise includes litigation, real estate, a myriad of corporate transactions, and intellectual property.  


Boyd previously worked for a corporate and commercial litigation law office, where his practice was tailored to a myriad of corporate transactions; trademark transactional matters, including domestic and international prosecution and oppositions; buyer and seller side real estate transactions; and commercial litigation.  He also specialized in trademark law and intellectual property protecting entrepreneurs and small business owners from the common pitfalls of owning a business.

Michelle Thibodeaux


Programmed For Success 

Michelle Thibodeaux is the Founder and President of Prosperity Coaching Academy.  For 20+ years, Michelle has worked with Small Business Owners, Sales Professionals, and entrepreneurially-minded Executives.  Michelle teaches success principles, personal and business development, and marketing strategies. She is also a Certified WealthyMind TM Trainer with the NLP Coaching Institute of California. 


Michelle shares, “We implement mind-altering and heart-changing experiences to create the space for clients to grow into the person they want to be. All successes are created from our Mindset, our Habits, and our Relationships.”  Michelle has a special gift in being able to work from both sides of the brain – she coaches clients with spiritual and heart-centered wisdom, teamed with practical and brilliant business strategy.

Ever the entrepreneur, Michelle is co-owner and managing partner of The Connection events venue.  Opened in June of 2010, The Connection has become the venue of choice for many hosting special events - from birthday parties and baby showers, to wedding receptions, business meetings, church activities and the like.  The Connection eagerly serves the Hyde Park/Bronzeville Communities, bringing people together for professional networking, educational workshops, family affairs, and plain old good times.

Michelle has numerous memberships and affiliations including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., The Chicago Urban League, Sunrider International Advisory Board, and New Life Covenant Church, where she leads the Entrepreneurial Development Ministry.  A thought-provoking speaker, award-winning entrepreneur, and transformational coach, Michelle has been a featured speaker at various conferences, retreats, and workshops.

Born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Michelle earned a BS degree in Accounting from Southern University in Baton Rouge, and an MBA-Finance from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Michelle worked in the banking and real estate industries, before finding her passion. In her spare time (Ha!), she enjoys live music, fine dining, reading, and traveling.  Michelle’s mantra:  Old ways won’t open new doors!


Deena McKay

Host, Black Tech Unplugged

Deena McKay is the founder and host of the podcast, Black Tech Unplugged. Black Tech Unplugged is a monthly podcast that shares the stories of Blacks who innovate and work in the tech industry.


Additionally, Deena works as an Enterprise Architect at Discover Financial Services.


Jeffrey Beckham

CEO, Black Box Creative

Jeffery Beckham is a recognized technology and community leader known for his passion for service. He offers a unique blend of healthcare experience, community service, and technology savvy that builds communities and aids small business growth throughout the country.


After working in the healthcare information technology sector, Jeffery founded Black Box Creative Incorporated in 2009. Black Box Creative is an information technology and innovation organization that consistently delivers results by aligning technology initiatives and marketing initiatives with customers’ business goals. WVON 1690AM and Ariel Investments recently named Jeffery one of Chicago’s Top 40 Game Changers Under 40 years old.


Jeffery lives by the quote, “to whom much is given, much is required” and he constantly finds opportunities to help people working to build community and develop our country’s youth.

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