BREAKOUT 2    -    11:30 a.m.

Breakout 2: Session 4 – Panel: “Innovative Entrepreneurship: From concept to market”


Three female product innovators will provide the audience insight into the process of taking a product to market. From concept to completion, this “up-close-and-personal” experience will provide exposure to innovators currently in process; all at various stages. This interactive experience will provide attendees an opportunity to hear the personal stories of the “how” and “why” of innovation. The format will include an overview from each entrepreneur describing their product, and then move to moderated questions that unpeel some of the challenges and hurdles faced during their progression. The panelists will reveal “how” the idea germinated and “why” they decided to move forward with the idea. It will include the research and resources they utilized, the risks involved, the status of their endeavor, including the financial realities.   By the end of the workshop, attendees will have a clearer understanding of what it takes to be a product innovator and entrepreneur. 



Jan Conrad

(Panel Moderator)

Executive Director of Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio


In her role, Conrad is charged with growing the Akron-based organization’s membership through enhanced programming around leadership development for women. The Women’s Network serves as a catalyst for women to gain ground in leadership whether inside a corporate environment, one’s own business or through civic engagement. 


Women’s Network has evolved as the subject matter expert on the status of women in leadership in northeast Ohio. The organization funded and delivered results of the 2018 Gender Equity and Female Leadership Research Study at the recent Women’s Leadership Summit, FLUX: A Movement for Change.


From 2015-2018, Conrad was director of the Women’s Business Center of northern Ohio where she brings extensive experience in business startups and expansions. During the first three years of the WBC operation, she coached and trained over 800 women resulting in 57 business startups and distribution of over 1.6 million in capital.




Dr. Stephanie Ham


CEO and Co-Founder OncoSolutions





Ham graduated with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from The University of Akron in 2017 and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Miami University in 2012. Her dissertation work included developing and testing the 3D cancer cell model technology that became the basis for OncoSolutions.


Through an extensive National Science Foundation, I-Corps Teams customer discovery program, in which Ham served as the entrepreneurial lead, it became apparent that a strong unmet need exists in the cancer drug discovery market that OncoSolutions' technology could address. This sparked the formation of OncoSolutions which now provides cancer drug screening services to the pharmaceutical industry. Ham has served as OncoSolutions' CEO and co-founder since its formation in 2016. She has a strong background in technology development and optimization, cancer biology and entrepreneurship. 




Dr. Wendy Slone


CEO and Founder, bTECH





Slone is a graduate of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, where she received a Master’s and Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Policy. She is the founder and CEO of bTECH, a biotech research and engineering firm focused on conceptualizing, creating and producing innovative technologies ranging from biotech/life-sciences, and aerospace.


Prior to founding bTECH, Slone was engaged as a consultant for NASA where she functioned as a STEM subject matter expert and program evaluator. Additionally, she worked as a part-time instructor in the College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, where she taught and developed online course curriculum. In addition to her work with bTECH, she is currently working on a second Ph.D. in analytical chemistry.




Lindsay Watson PT, MPT


Founder/CEO of Augment Therapy LLC.



Watson has been a physical therapist for the past 16 years, with 13 of those years specializing in pediatrics. 


In 2017, she founded Augment Therapy to solve problems she was experiencing with her own patients such as poor adherence to exercise and a lack of engagement. Augment Therapy is a software company that uses augmented reality experiences to transform environments and facilitate access to pediatric physical therapy services. Watson has led her company to win both the A and B awards through GLIDE/Innovation Fund of America, totaling $100,000. Her company was the first Cleveland-based company to be accepted into Plug and Play Cleveland's accelerator program and was selected by both The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals as corporate sponsors. Watson was the recipient of Crain's Notable Women in Technology for 2018. 

Breakout 2: Session 5 – “Leading Me

“Leading Me” will ask the challenging question: “How can I lead others if I am not effectively leading myself?” Our personal and professional lives both take dedication and responsibility to arrive at our own definition of success. Learning how to properly navigate changes in our careers and personal relationships may be a daily adventure but is a very beneficial investment in the mental stability of our well-being. We must take accountability for the choices we make when no one is looking as well as when we are front and center. Our time to make impactful change is limited; but as long as we are living, it is not too late. Start today. Lead yourself, strongly, into your future.


Antoinette (Toni) M. Baker

Assistant vice president serving as an operations manager with a financial institution and adjunct faculty member at Kent State University




Baker has served in leadership roles for over 25 years in various Fortune 500 companies in northeast Ohio. She is currently an assistant vice president serving as an operations manager with a financial institution and is an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University teaching leadership courses.


Baker earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial management from the University of Akron and holds a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University. She is the VP of Operations for the National Black MBA Association, Cleveland Chapter, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and has served on the Advisory Board and as a volunteer for Hospice of the Western Reserve. She is the co-founder of Positive Works, LLC, an organization created to foster life-enhancing talents through leadership training and practical craft skills development. She is the facilitator for the “Is There an Author in You?” workshops. Baker is a self-published author and motivational speaker.




Melanie A. Brown


Co-founder, Positive Works, LLC





Brown has served in a professional administrative role for over 20 years. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Malone College (University). She is the co-founder of Positive Works, LLC, an organization created to foster life-enhancing talents through leadership training and practical craft skills development.


Brown is the facilitator for the “Sew-Sow and More” workshops which teach girls and women how to sew while sowing into their lives. She serves as a reading tutor and has utilized her maternal gifting to assist many children and young adults during transitional times in their lives.

Breakout 2: Session 6 – “The Assertiveness Advantage”

Oh no she didn't … oh yes, she did! She decided assertive communication is by far the most effective. You know… the same direct, say what you mean, brief and to the point style that men are known for using. But will “she” and her assertive style be validated? Is her assertiveness equally embraced by both men and women? Learn (and self-evaluate) the differences among passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive and assertive to determine how you’re perceived – you may be surprised at your results. Join us as we explore the benefits of assertiveness and the importance of growing a backbone.



Deborah Thomas-Nininger


Founder, DTN Productions







Deborah Thomas-Nininger is the founder of DTN Productions International, a company that provides professional development training on all areas of international and domestic protocol specializing in "Reputation Management” and communication strategies. She brings over 20 years of business etiquette, communication and self-presentation expertise, rooted in behavioral science and successful human interaction.


Thomas-Nininger organized the international etiquette training for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and is a frequent subject of interviews, which often appear in publications both nationally and internationally.

Luncheon Keynote - “Leading a Triple Bottom Line Life”


Aileen McManamon ’87


Founder and managing partner, 5T Sports Group






In her time with 5T Sports Group, McManamon has worked with the Winter Olympic Games, Tour de France, German Motor Sports, Minor League Baseball, FIFA Women’s World Cup, Major League Soccer, the NFL and multiple World Cups in skiing, snowboarding and cycling. On the partnership side, she has handled the property rights for FIAT and Alfa Romeo, and worked with brands including Mercedes Benz, GM, EA Sports, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Qualcomm. McManamon is passionate about leveraging sports for sustainable and social development, and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in sports in several volunteer roles alongside her work with 5T.


McManamon earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Kent State University and was an Honors College graduate, completing an Honors thesis. She holds a Master of International Business degree from the University of South Carolina. Her career has led to positions in Germany, Italy, the United States and Canada in the automotive, technology and sports industries. McManamon is a native of Cleveland who now resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. Read more.