Elevate Conference

Connecting The Black Business Community

April 6, 2019

Keynote Speakers


Beth Chandler

President and CEO of YW Boston

Beth Chandler joined YW Boston in November 2012, with more than 20 years of experience in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. In August 2018, she was appointed President & CEO. Her breadth of work experience encompasses program development, delivery and evaluation, business development, and operations.

Prior to working at YW Boston, Beth served as vice president at the Achievement Network, a national non-profit dedicated to helping urban public and charter schools close the achievement gap.

Beth also held positions at Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the largest funding

source for civil legal aid programs in the Commonwealth and Neighborworks America, one of the country’s preeminent leaders in affordable housing and community development.

Beth also worked as a corporate banking associate with Bank of America in corporate banking and began her career as a research and evaluation analyst with the Urban Institute.

Currently, Beth serves on the MA Conference United Church of Christ Board of Directors, the

Women’s Workforce Advisory Council and the Leadership Circle of Hope Central Church.

A former professional basketball player, Beth received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.


Tracey Brown

CEO of The American Diabetes Association

Tracey D. Brown is Chief Executive Officer of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the nation’s largest voluntary health organization and a global authority on diabetes. Tracey herself has been thriving while living with type 2 diabetes for over 15 years. She is the first CEO in the organization’s almost 80-year history that is living with type 2 diabetes and is committed to stopping the diabetes epidemic.

Tracey joined the ADA in June 2018 after her tenure as Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief Experience Officer at Sam's Club, a division of Walmart, Inc., where she was responsible for creating meaningful member experiences, directing member strategy, marketing and branding, go-to-market execution, data and analytics and membership operations.

Tracey brings more than 25 years of experience in driving global business growth, leveraging data to connect consumers with brands and creating omni-channel experiences to escalate customer loyalty. Prior to joining Sam’s Club, Tracey was Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of RAPP Dallas, a data-driven integrated marketing agency. Before RAPP, she served as Chief Operating Officer for direct marketing agency Direct Impact, where she coordinated strategic, tactical and overall company operations.

Previously, Tracey was Director of Worldwide Consumer Marketing for Advanced Micro Devices, where she drove global marketing and demand generation activity around the world, including China, India, Russia, France, Spain, Italy and Japan. Early in her career, she served in leadership positions at American Express, Proctor & Gamble and Exxon Mobil.

Tracey earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Columbia Business School in New York and a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Delaware.

Tracey has always been passionate about the ADA’s Mission and served as a member of the ADA National Board in addition to volunteering and fundraising for the ADA in her local community. She and her family reside in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.


Fatoumata Ndiaye

Deputy Executive Chief at UNICEF

Fatoumata Ndiaye very recently retired from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) where she was Deputy Executive Director for Management for 4 years. She has over 10 years of senior management experience in the United Nations and 25 years of experience in audit and management consulting of private and public organizations. Before her career with the UN, Ms. Ndiaye worked at Coopers and Lybrand (now PWC) in Senegal as Manager, Chief Management Advisory Services.  She is a national of Senegal where she has lived and worked before moving to the US to work with the United Nations. She holds a Bachelor of Mathematics, a Master’s degree in Business Administration, and an advance university degree in audit and control of public and private organizations.

Vanessa De Luca (Moderator)

Former Editor-In-Chief of ESSENCE Magazine

Vanessa De Luca is a creative leader, driven by finding innovative ways to tell human-centered stories, guide new conversations, and grow brands.

She recently served as the Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE magazine. In this role she oversaw the editorial vision and content creation across all platforms, including the magazine, digital, social, video and live experiences.

In addition, she developed editorial concepts for new initiatives including video series and TV partnerships, e-learning platforms, e-commerce and licensing, podcasts and special events.

Prior to this, her background focused on content strategy, planning and writing. She served at publications such as Glamour and Life, designing and executing editorial content strategy.

Above all, her greatest satisfaction comes from storytelling and feeding her insatiable curiosity. As a trusted leader in all of her roles, she can assess the market, ideate new ways to achieve growth, build and cultivate strong teams, and reinvent a brand.

An award-winning journalist and co-author of the bestselling beauty and empowerment book, Tyra Banks Beauty Inside & Out, she has been a featured guest on several national television networks, including NBC’s TODAY Show; CBS This Morning; MSNBC’s Morning Joe, AM JOY and PoliticsNation; CNN and more.

With her new platform, The Editor in Chief, she hopes to help others learn the skills they need to write their own future and become editor-in-chief of their own lives.


Sandy Saputo

Chief Marketing Officer of Kendo Brands

Sandy is Kendo’s Chief Marketing Officer. Since joining Kendo in 2017, she has energized the marketing organization with her fierce and compassionate leadership style: Transforming the business with social-first integrated marketing and thumb-stopping storytelling to fuel frenzy and connect with the hearts and minds of clients everywhere like never before. Sandy has built an impressive career in beauty: in fact, she has twice been a recipient of the San Francisco Business Times Most Influential Woman award. Prior to Kendo she was the CMO of Bare Escentuals. And before that, she held executive roles at Procter & Gamble and Sebastian Professional. A little known fact: early in her career, she was a movie and editorial makeup artist. She speaks several languages, including French and Arabic, and currently resides in San Francisco with her husband and two children. In her free time she enjoys mentoring young women, volunteering for children and animal causes, and also dazzles as a certified Zumba instructor.


Mark Hickson ‘97

Executive Vice President NextEra Energy

Mark Hickson is executive vice president of corporate development, strategy, quality and integration for NextEra Energy, Inc. In this role, he works to identify and prioritize top quality and process improvement initiatives across the company, as well as corporate strategy, mergers, acquisitions and integration activities. Mr. Hickson is also executive vice president, strategy and corporate development of NextEra Energy Partners, LP (NYSE: NEP), a growth-oriented limited partnership formed by NextEra Energy, Inc. NextEra Energy Partners acquires, manages and owns contracted clean energy projects with stable, long-term cash flows. He also serves on the board of directors of the general partner of NextEra Energy Partners.

Mr. Hickson joined NextEra Energy in 2012 as vice president, corporate development and operational excellence. In 2015, he was named senior vice president, corporate development, strategy, quality and integration. In 2017, he was promoted to his current position. Prior to joining NextEra Energy, Mr. Hickson worked at Merrill Lynch & Co, where he was given increasing levels of responsibility from 1997-2012 and served as managing director in Global Mergers and Acquisitions until 2012.

Mr. Hickson holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Columbia University, where he graduated with honors.

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