Conference Speakers

Katie Frank

Friday Keynote Speaker

In 2005, Katie joined Zingerman’s Bakehouse as a manager. She led a team of 12 people to create “The Zingerman’s Experience” at Zingerman’s Bakeshop, a tiny retail space in the industrial park where Zingerman’s Bakehouse bakes all of its breads and pastries. Undaunted by the challenge of the location and space, Katie responded to the tough economy by growing the annual sales by 40% to $1.6 million during her 6 years there!

In 2011, Katie joined the ZingTrain team. As a ZingTrain consultant and presenter, she shares her operational experience as a basis for her teaching on Customer Service, Open Book Management and Servant Leadership. In addition to her work with outside clients, Katie teaches several classes including the Art of Giving Great Service, the Art of Giving Great Service Over the Phone and The Art of Successful Performance Reviews. 

Thomas Barr


Thomas is the Executive Director for Local First Arizona, steering the programs and initiatives that engage over 3000 businesses across Arizona. Thomas guides the direction and execution of LFA’s major initiatives and key partnerships, as well as the collaboration of over 30 staff implementing work in entrepreneurship programs, small business advocacy, sustainability, urban development and community building.



Peter Block


Peter Block is an author, consultant and citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. His work is about chosen accountability, and the reconciliation of community.

Peter is the author of several best selling books. The most widely known being Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used (1st edition 1980, 3rd edition 2011); Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest (1993, 2nd edition 2013) and The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work (1987).

Block’s books are about ways to create workplaces and communities that work for all. They offer an alternative to the patriarchal beliefs that dominate our culture. His work is to bring change into the world through consent and connectedness rather than through mandate and force. 

Ed Dugger


As a founding partner and President of Reinventure Capital, Ed’s professional career has come full circle. An early pioneer in impact investing, he also has had careers as a real estate developer, business strategy consultant, interim CFO  and now has re-entered the profession of venture capital with over 30 years of deep business development and venture capital experience and a track record of notable achievements.

In addition to generating a top quartile return, Ed also helped launch some of the nation’s most successful African American controlled companies, both private and public, and assisted them in attracting over $2 billion in conventional capital, while achieving 30% diversity among managers and employees and generating over 7,000 family supporting jobs.

For more on Ed’s journey as a pioneering VC and lifelong advocate for racial equity, see his  first person accounts of his experience as a Black man in America.

Segun Idowu

Thursday Keynote

 Segun, the Executive Director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, was raised in Boston and is a proud product of the Boston Public Schools. Following his graduation from Boston Latin Academy, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia with honors from the Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key Societies.

Following his 2012 graduation, Segun joined the office of then-District 4 City Councilor Charles C. Yancey. After two successful years, he transitioned to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

At the same time, Segun also organized the Boston Police Camera Action Team (BPCAT) in 2014 with fellow high school graduate, Shekia Scott. The mission of the community group was to further accountability and safety in Boston through the mandatory use of police body-worn cameras. For the city, it was a powerful example of what ordinary citizens can accomplish when they come together around a shared cause.

In May 2020, Segun was recognized by Boston Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the City of Boston.”

MaryAnne Howland


As Founder & CEO of Global Diversity Leadership Exchange, MaryAnne is the visionary and executive producer of the forum designed to advance the mission and purpose of inclusive and global sustainability. The company specializes in bridging to new markets with innovative and inclusive communications that have multicultural and social impact.

MaryAnne is regularly engaged in leading strategy and messaging in communications. She has been diversity and multicultural marketing consultant to well known brands such as Pitney Bowes, Toyota, N.A., and Vanderbilt University.   She is a member of the NAMIC Multicultural Marketing Committee and a judge for the cable industry’s annual Excellence in Multicultural Marketing Awards (EMMA).  

MaryAnne serves on the board of the American Sustainable Business Council whose mission is to advance public policies that ensure a vibrant, just, and sustainable economy. She is past chair of Social Venture Network, the premiere organization of mission-driven social entrepreneurs who are transforming the way the world does business.

Colin Murray


Colin Murray is the Executive Director of Dane Buy Local, an Independent Business Alliance based in Madison, Wisconsin.  

A former president of the organization and advertising manager for Isthmus Publishing, Colin has led the growth of Dane Buy Local for seven years.  

In 2020, Dane Buy Local became responsible for administering more than $10 million in small business support grants as a result of Colin’s long cultivation of his relationship with Dane County leadership.  

Colin is a longtime member of AMIBA’s Board of Directors.

Frederick Miller


A past member of the board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., Miller currently serves on the boards of Day & Zimmermann (a $3 billion family-owned business), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Automated Technology Systems, and Hudson Partners (a real estate investment trust fund). F In 2017, Fred was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from The Sage Colleges.

Cited as a forerunner of corporate change in The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management, Fred has been honored as the OD Network’s youngest Lifetime Achievement Award recipient,as one of the 40 Pioneers of Diversity by Profiles in Diversity Journal.

Derek Peebles


Derek is the Executive Director of  the American Independent Business Alliance, taking over the role from AMIBA’s founders in July 2019.  

Derek is a leader in community economic development with extensive success moving organizations forward by building on cross-cultural and cross-sector collaboration. He began his career in small business banking and over the past decade has been organizing local business communities, residents, and institutions to leverage both social and private capital for sustainable economic development.. He also served in leadership roles with the Urban League of Southwest Ohio.

Derek recently joined the board of Green Umbrella, the leading alliance working to maximize the environmental sustainability of Greater Cincinnati, as well as the American Sustainable Business Council.  Derek facilitates trainings and discussions around the county on asset-based community development.

Janus Adams


Emmy Award-winning journalist, historian, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and  bestselling author of eleven books, Dr. Janus Adams is the host of public radio’s  “The Janus Adams Show” and podcast.  

A frequent on-air guest, she has appeared on ABC, BET, CBS, CNN, Fox News,  NBC’s The Today Show, and NPR’s All Things Considered. With more than 500  articles, essays and columns to her credit, her work has been featured in Essence and  Ms. Magazines, The New York Times, Newsday, USA Today, and The Washington  Post. Her syndicated column ran in the Hearst Newspapers for sixteen years. Her  commentary has been broadcast on CBS and NPR, and published in the Huffington  Post. Her book, Glory Days: 365 Inspired Moments in African American History, was  licensed by McDonald’s and reached more than 3 million readers. 

A pioneer of issue-oriented African-American and women’s programming she has  hosted her own radio and television talk shows for more than ten years. Her series,  “Milestones in African-American Business History,” ran on public radio’s  Marketplace. Her 19-hour International Women’s Day marathon broadcasts brought  her to NPR where she became the network’s first National Arts Correspondent and  opened the New York News Bureau. 

An entrepreneur, as founder of BackPax (a children’s publishing company) and Harambee  (the first national book club for African American literature), she changed the publishing  landscape for authors and audiences. A dynamic speaker and passionate storyteller, she is  known for her unique perspectives on current events through the lens of history.  

A leadership and strategic communications consultant, her clients include: The Annie  E. Casey Foundation, Bantam Doubleday Dell/Ellen Rolfes Books, California State  Department of Education, The Field Museum, The Ford Foundation, Hughes  Aircraft/Galaxy Classroom, and Scholastic Inc. 

Dr. Adams has been engaged by history and culture since childhood. A northern school  desegregation pioneer at 8, she was one of the four children selected to break New York’s de facto segregation in the public schools in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. A  classically-trained pianist, she is a graduate of New York’s High School of Performing  Arts. Her master’s is the nation’s first graduate degree in Black Studies. Her doctoral  chair was human rights champion and author Shirley Graham Du Bois (widow of Dr. W.  E. B. Du Bois: “Father of Pan-Africanism,” cofounder of the NAACP). She holds Doctor  of Humane Letters degrees from Shaw University and the State University of New York.

Nicola Williams


With over 20 years of industry experience and international respect, Nicola is recognized for superior problem-solving, project management, relationship building, and strategic planning skills. 

. Williams was the producer and one of the founding organizers of the Boston Local Food Festival, Boston’s premier food event and top 10 food events in the City. She is the creator of Boston JerkFest and Vermont JerkFest, Caribbean-style foodie events that launched in 2013 and 2015 respectively.  Nicola also developed the concepts for and produces Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest and Local Craft Spirits Festival in the Greater Boston area.  

Nicola led an international team in developing a sustainability action  plan for London’s Nottinghill Carnival. Williams is a recipient of many awards, and she has been featured in Black Enterprise magazine, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and the Boston Business Journal. Shecurrently serves on the board of The Sustainable Business Network of Boston, Harvard Square Neighborhood Association, and Cambridge Carnival International, Inc. 

Karen Spiller


Karen is the Principal of KAS Consulting based in Boston, MA and provides mission-based consulting with a focus on advocacy, resource matching, board development and strategic planning for health and equity-focused initiatives. With a focus on racial equity and intersectionality, Karen works with local, state, regional and national organizations committed to creating equitable public health and sustainable food systems. Involved in state-wide and regional food system work, Karen is a steering committee member of and Massachusetts Ambassador for Food Solutions New England (FSNE), a six-state regional network focused on food system transformation with racial equity at its core.

She currently is a board member of the Boston Food Forest CoalitionSustainable Business Network of MassachusettsNortheast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and is a community food system mentor for Wallace Center at Winrock International.  As the Thomas W. Haas Professor of Sustainable Food Systems at University of New Hampshire, Durham, Karen is engaged in scholarship on the intersection of networks and racial equity across the campus and its surrounding community. Celebrating its 6th year of national and international participation in April, Karen co-leads the FSNE’s 21 -Day Habit Building Challenge designed to “build skill and will” and action to address racial inequities, through a food system lens.

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