Our Speakers






ESSENCE Senior Editor | Love & Career Coach - Bio

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Rongrong DeVoe is an international fashion and beauty illustrator based in Houston, US. Her fashion Illustration has been featured in Vogue, InStyle and Buzz Feed and named top fashion illustrator to follow on Instagram. Her clients include Chanel, Dior, Neiman Marcus, Target, Maybelline New York etc. She is also the founder of a lifestyle brand "Rongrong" which is focused on celebrating life through colorful, fun and fashionable stationery and gifts for women.

Shop: RongRong's Collection

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Founder of LAMIK Beauty

Kim Roxie, founder of LAMIK Beauty, a Vegan makeup line seeking to build women’s self-esteem and reveal their natural beauty. Formulated without parabens, Kim has created environmentally conscious products with a message for multicultural women. LAMIK stands for Love And Makeup In Kindness, because Beauty is Revealed, not applied. At age 21, Kim founded LAMIK Beauty out of her college apartment. Then opened her first store in Sharpstown Mall. LAMIK Beauty has been highlighted as one of the eight top black-owned beauty companies by BET. The LAMIK line was featured in select Macy’s stores, making Kim the youngest black woman to launch a cosmetic line inside of a major department store. Mayor Parker named June 23rd “Kim Roxie Day”, while being a scholar of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business, Top 30 Influential Women of Houston by D-Mars, and Winner of the Odyssey Media Keys to Success Business Pitch Competition.

Shop: Lamik Beauty

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LaToshia Norwood is the Managing Partner of L’Renee & Associates, a project management consultancy firm that recruits and sources project managers across all disciplines, and provides project management training for professionals from the C-suite to the front desk. With over 19 years of experience, LaToshia has a successful track record of managing accounts and leading complex multi-million dollar projects. Over the years, she’s coached hundreds of entrepreneurs and businesses professionals in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. LaToshia leverages her expertise in Project Management, Consulting, Training, and Brand Development for local and national brands to help business leaders shift from a “winging it” approach to executing a well-developed strategic plan. LaToshia is on a mission to educate, encourage, and empower business leaders to achieve their goals, and believes every obstacle and set-back offers valuable lessons learned, and lives by her mom’s motto, “eat the fruit and spit out the seeds”.



Chief Diversity Officer & Director

Appointed by Mayor Sylvester Turner to serve as the Chief Diversity Officer and Director for the Office of Business Opportunity for the City of Houston, Carlecia D. Wright leads economic opportunity and workforce inclusion initiatives. She also serves on the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Leadership Team, ensuring that the recovery maximizes economic inclusion. 

Under Carlecia’s focused and strategic direction, the City of Houston has a renowned record for economic inclusion awarding over $2.7 billion dollars to diverse businesses. She also leads workforce initiatives that connects historically disenfranchised individuals to workforce opportunities. 

Carlecia has received several awards for her achievements, including being named one of the 2016 Women to Watch in Business by the Houston Chronicle and awarded 40 Under 40 by the Houston Business Journal. 

She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the Columbia College of Chicago and a Master’s Degree from the New York University’s School of Public Service. 





Ingrid M. Robinson is the President of the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HMSDC). HMSDC is a business development organization designed to actively involve its members, both minority business enterprises and major corporations in efforts to increase and expand business opportunities and business growth for Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) while driving excellence in supplier diversity and supplier development.  Currently, HMSDC’s membership is comprised of more than 130 major corporations and close to 600 minority businesses.  HMSDC MBEs have a total economic impact of $22.8 billion dollars on the economy with over $17.1 billion dollars in annual revenue that results in the creation and/or preservation of more than 67,000 jobs.

Robinson serves on the Board of Directors for the Port of Houston Authority Small Business Advisory Council and Black Greeks Speak and is actively involved in the National Association of Women MBA’s. She is a former board member of the Houston Area Urban League, the Louisiana Minority Business Council and Diversity Information Resources. 





For more than 16 years, April Day has brought her unique passion, intellect, and “sheer willingness” to her mission to develop communities and improve lives through education and economic sustainability.  Today, serves as president of the Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance (WBEA).  WBEA is a leading women’s business development organization serving women-owned business enterprises representing 15 billion dollars in revenue and more than 40,000 jobs in 94 Texas counties.  April’s primary role is to increase opportunities for women-owned businesses and corporate members through education programs and professional networking.

April gives back to the community by serving on the Port of Houston Authority Advisory Council, University of Houston Non-profit Leadership Alliance Leadership Circle and the Leadership Houston board of directors.  She is a business trainer for the Houston Community College’s Center for Entrepreneurship, adjunct faculty for the University of Houston’s School of Social Work.  April is a proud University of Houston and Leadership Houston Alum.




manager of supplier diversity

As Manager of Supplier Diversity and SBLO for CenterPoint Energy Inc., Jewel is responsible for providing strategic guidance towards enhancing the company’s supplier diversity/small business initiatives and their integration into the company’s overall corporate strategies and culture. Jewel assists in designing and implementing processes and procedures to grow minority, women, and small business supplier relationships and opportunities at CenterPoint Energy.

Jewel is very active and serves on numerous committees involving supplier diversity related issues through the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) affiliate councils. She serves in supplier diversity leadership roles for the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, and The Edison Electric Institute. Jewel has been recognized throughout the years in many diversity professional categories such as: Corporate Advocate of the Year, Pacesetter Award, Leadership Award, and Advocate of the Year, Helping Hands Award, and Diversity Champion of the Year.




Program Manager

Val is the Program Manager, Prime Contracts Program out of SBA headquarters, Office of Government Contracting in Washington, DC. She has oversight over the  PCRs (Procurement Center Representative), Certificate of Competency, Size, and Surveillance Review Programs. She has been in this position since July 2016. Prior to that she was a PCR stationed at Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX. She is a former contracting officer with over 900 hours of education in the government contracting field and holds a Level III FAC-C certification. On March 6, 2018, she began her 45th year with SBA.

Val has received numerous awards for her work with small businesses including those from the White House Conference on Small Business by President Clinton; National Contract Management Association, National Council of Contractors Association; National Association of Minority Contractors; Houston Minority Advocate of the Year, the Small Business Advocate Rising Star Award, Interagency Cooperation Award from the Department of Homeland Security for her work with FEMA in Houston after Hurricane Ike, Trailblazer of the Year,  Minority Business Advocate of the Year Award and just recently the Humanitarian of the Year from the Greater Houston Procurement Council.




Sales Executive

Elizabeth Lloyd has been a part of the Houston Rockets organization since 2007 in multiple departments such as the Marketing, Inside Sales, Season Sales, and Group Sales. 

Whether thru setting up marketing, sales, and community events, assisting every imaginable type of corporate business of all sizes, civic organizations, schools, youth sports, international VIP’s, Celebrities & Athletes, Elizabeth has managed to find positive, profitable, and productive ways to create experiences, relationships, and life-long memories thru the business of basketball.

Elizabeth initiated and executed two great events with current and retired NBA Players/Coaches which later was awarded “NBA Best Practices in Sales during Lockout Year 2010-11” & “NBA Best Practice in Sales involving Current & Retired NBA Players/Sponsors and Sales -2013-14”. Elizabeth also serves on the Executive Advisory Board for the NBRPA (NBA Retired Players Association) Houston Chapter.  


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CEO & Founder

Veronica Wasek is not your average CPA. In fact, Veronica has never been able to do anything just "average." After losing two jobs to the great recession, she founded her modern cloud accounting firm in 2010 with the goal of re-inventing the traditional accounting firm model and redefining what it means to be a CPA. With that goal in mind, Veronica developed a new approach to working with clients – focusing on solving business problems, adding value, and serving the day-to-day needs of business clients.

Veronica’s award-winning firm, VM Wasek, helps modern entrepreneurs to confidently grow their business without worrying about bookkeeping or QuickBooks. Veronica has been named a Top 10 QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a Top Accounting Influencer. She is a CPA and Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Veronica empowers small business community worldwide through her award-winning blog 5MinuteBookkeeping.com, her online academy, and her YouTube channel. 

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Zawadi Bryant is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Nightlight Pediatric Urgent Care and has over 20 years of leadership, operations, technology, marketing and strategy experience.  Zawadi is a highly sought-after speaker on leadership and team development and is featured in multiple podcasts including Small Giants, Forbesbooks Radio and The Best Team Wins.  Zawadi’s passion is to develop leaders to reach their maximum potential and make an enduring impact on other’s lives.  Nightlight has a network of eight urgent care clinics in the Greater Houston area and recently launched a telemedicine option for virtual visits with providers.  Nightlight is open evenings, weekends and holidays and treats children ages 0 to 21.  Nightlight has been honored by Ernst and Young, Forbes and Inc Magazines as well as the Houston Business Journal, Small Business Administration, Better Business Bureau, US Chamber of Commerce, Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, Texas Black Expo and Lone Star College. 


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founder | Certified proposal manager

Julie Irvin Hartman, CF APMP is a certified proposal manager, entrepreneur, and presenter. She is the founder and former owner of an award-winning marketing agency based in Houston, Texas. Julie has decades of government procurement experience, her win rate of 87% has resulted in $4.5 Billion in contracts for her clients. She has led proposals and presentations for multimillion-dollar companies across diverse industries and has a proven ability to execute and manage projects with multiple stakeholders on schedule and within budget. 

Julie is a frequent speaker at local, state, and national conferences. In 2017, Julie sold her marketing agency, got married and moved to Tomball to focus on her new life with her husband, her three bonus sons and their trampoline jumping Old English Sheepdog. Julie has a BS and a BFA from Sam Houston State University and will be attending Texas A&M in the fall of 2019 to begin her Executive MBA.





LaShambra Ewing is the franchisee and CEO of Signarama Katy-Fulshear. Signarama is the most comprehensive source for all sign, messaging and advertising needs, helping its customers to grow their businesses and get their messages across through a full range of graphic solutions from vinyl banners to digital signs and vehicle wraps.  With over 11 years of experience in sales and marketing as a Texas Realtor, LaShambra leverages her expertise by providing customers comprehensive consultative services on marketing, branding and messaging in order to create customized solutions that are unique to each customer, ensuring their sign displays a powerful, impactful message. In under a year, she has been successful in securing contracts with The Houston Airport System, Fort Bend I.S.D., and an international oil and gas company. 





Fern Carty Dawkins is the owner of JM Carty Holdings, LLC, a franchise management company in Houston, TX.  JM Carty Holdings currently owns two Smoothie King franchises, with three additional stores in development for 2018.  Fern received her Bachelor’s degree from Emory University in Atlanta, GA and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, AR. Prior to forming her company, Fern practiced law in-house for Walmart Stores, Inc. as a member of its Health & Wellness Legal team which supported the company’s pharmacy and vision center businesses.

Fern is an active member of the State Bar of Georgia, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the Houston Lawyers Association, the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, the Pearland Chamber of Commerce, the She Is A CEO Foundation Board of Directors, and the illustrious Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  In addition to its business endeavors, JM Carty Holdings, is a dedicated community partner, actively involved in giving back to the individual communities in which its stores operate.




CEO & Creative Director

Tiffany L. Williams is the CEO and creative director for Twice Media Productions, LLC, a commercial video technology company based in Houston, Texas. She is also a former adjunct professor at Prairie View A&M University, where she taught mobile media and video production. After losing her father in 2011, Tiffany moved to Houston to open her company in August 2012. That same year, in her dad’s honor, she established the Marvin E. Holmes Entrepreneurial Scholarship, which grants $500 to a student from Hickman High School in Columbia, MO.

In 2013, Tiffany began volunteering with TRG International, a nonprofit that hosts an annual entrepreneurship conference for high school students in Durban, South Africa. Tiffany’s recent awards include: Darryl King Paving The Way Award (World Youth Foundation, 2018), Emerging Leader of The Year Award (eWomenNetwork, 2016), 3rd Place (HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition, 2016), Supplier of The Year (WBEA, 2015), E-10 Award (HMSDC and Houston Business Journal, 2015), and Pinnacle Award Finalist (Greater Houston Black Chamber, 2015).




Confidence Expert | serial entrepreneur

Charease Davis and J. Albert Nicklos II are the hosts of “The Beauty and The Beard Show w/ Charease Davis.” Their radio show is all about woman leaders, professionals, executives and business owners and the people and communities that support them. The show puts women at the forefront and provides a space for them to share their experiences with love, laughter and logic. Charease Davis, host of the show, facilitates healing for women all over the world, through positive transformational living, guided by thoughts that are grounded in love, forgiveness, acceptance, and gratitude. J. Albert Nicklos II, is a serial entrepreneur who enjoys accomplishing the impossible and teaching people that there is always a simpler more practical approach to achieving their dreams. In 2017, his company successfully launched 5 businesses and has generated over 100 million dollars of revenue for his clients and past employers. 




We’ve expanded our footprint, assembled over 20 dynamic speakers, increased the number of She Talks Breakout Sessions, recruited an all-star line-up of powerhouse women for our She Talks Mentor sessions.





We’ve expanded our footprint, assembled over 20 dynamic speakers, increased the number of She Talks Breakout Sessions, recruited an all-star line-up of powerhouse women for our She Talks Mentor sessions.