An Initiative of the U.S. Department of Commerce

Minority Business Development Agency


OCTOBER 22nd, 2020

1:00p.m.-3:00p.m (EDT)


MBDA’s Enterprising Women of Color initiative creates pathways to economic empowerment.

The vision of the program is to connect women entrepreneurs to a community of wealth-building resources including opportunity connections, training, coalitions, mentor/coaching, and networking conventions. 

Grow your network, expand your client base, and connect to entrepreneurial ecosystems.

To learn more, contact MBDA’s Enterprising Women of Color Program Manager, Jetheda Hernandez, [email protected]




Caterina Fake

Co-Founder of Flickr & Host of the #1 Tech Podcast: Should This Exist?  

View Bio


Grace Lee

Ashford Connex, LLC., CEO & President  

View Bio


Lavanya Jawaharlal

President and Co-Founder

of STEM Center USA

View Bio


Sharon R. Pinder

President and CEO, Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council

View Bio


Monica Kang

InnovatorsBox, Founder & CEO

View Bio


Susan Jin Davis

Chief Sustainability Officer, Comcast NBC Universal

View Bio


Joanna Zhong

Senior Vice President, Asian Segment Strategy Leader, Wells. Fargo

View Bio


Avis Yates Rivers

President and CEO, Technology Concepts Group International, LLC

View Bio


Sherry Hwang

President and Cofounder of

Pyramid Systems, Inc.

View Bio


Vanna Tran

Director, Multicultural Growth and Strategy/ Nielsen

View Bio



1:00 – 1:15 PM

Welcome and Opening Remarks
  • Jetheda Hernandez, EWOC Program Manager, MBDA
  • David Byrd, National Director, MBDA
  •  Chilling Tong, President & CEO, National ACE
  • Terrez Thompson, VP-Supplier Diversity, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Tina Smith, Executive Director, WHIAAPI

1:15 – 1:45 PM

Innovation & Charting Your Pivot


  • Lavanya Jawaharlal, STEM Center USA, President & Co-Founder


  • Grace Lee, Ashford Connex, LLC., CEO & President 
  • Sherry Hwang, Pyramid Systems, CEO & President
  • Avis Yates Rivers, Technology Concepts Group International, President & CEO
  • Monica Kang, InnovatorsBox, Founder & CEO

1:45 – 2:15 PM

Designing a Winning Brand & Marketing  Comeback


Sharon R. Pinder, President and CEO of the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC)


  • Joanna Zhong, Senior Vice President, Asian Segment Strategy Leader, Wells Fargo
  • Vanna Tran, Nielsen, Director of Multicultural Growth & Strategy
  • Susan Jin Davis, Chief Sustainability Officer, Comcast NBC Universal

2:15 – 3:00 PM

Keynote Speaker

Introduction of Keynote:

Keynote Speaker:

  • Caterina Fake, Flickr Co-Founder






The U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency ( is the only federal agency solely dedicated to fostering the growth and global competitiveness of U.S. minority business enterprises.

For more than 50 years, MBDA has helped minority-owned firms gain greater access to capital, contracts, build scale and capacity, and expand into new markets.

David J. Byrd

National Director,

U.S. Department of Commerce

Minority Business Development Agency

EWOC- Enterprising Women of Color.

Powered by Vizzi.


Caterina Fake is an investor at Yes VC, a pre-seed and seed stage venture capital fund, and is the host of the #1 Tech Podcast Should This Exist?  addressing the question of our times: how is technology impacting our humanity?

Previously, she worked at Founder Collective as a Founder Partner, served as Chairman of Etsy and was the co-founder of Flickr. Yes VC invests in scalable social systems, brands that embody cultural movements, and founders who recognize the opportunity in the rising power and affluence of women. Caterina sits on the boards of Public Goods, the Sundance Institute and McSweeneys.

Caterina is an early creator of online communities and a long time advocate of the responsibility of entrepreneurs for the outcomes of their technologies. In her work she addresses the cultural impact of new technologies, human interactions online, design, good governance, innovation and creativity–and how we can all make the internet a kinder, more human place.

Ms. Fake has received Honorary Doctorates from the Rhode Island School of Design and The New School. Time Magazine named her one of the Most Influential People in the world, and she was given the Silicon Valley Visionaries award in 2018.


Grace Lee has over 20 years of experience in both corporate and public accounting.  Prior to joining Arbor Capital Markets as Manager Director of Finance, Grace was a co founder and CFO of Logic Solutions, Inc., a global digital transformation company that  provides technology solutions and services.

Besides running a successful business, Grace is a passionate advocate of diversity and  entrepreneurship. She currently serves as a Commissioner for White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders. In addition, she is serving as the Vice Chair at  Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission. she also serves on the board of  Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship (National  ACE).

She served as Chair of the Board of Asian Pacific American Chamber of  Commerce (APACC), Board of Directors on Michigan Minority of Supplier Development  Council, Foreign Direct Investment Committee, Spark, Accounting/Finance Advisory  Board, College of Business, Eastern Michigan University, and DTE Supplier Diversity  Advisory Council. She also served as the Treasurer for MIT Enterprise Forum of the  Great Lakes Chapter, Vice President/Treasurer of Annual Collaboration for  Entrepreneurship (ACE),She received the MIT Enterprise Forum Excellence Award in 2012 as well as the  Diversity award from Corp! Magazine in 2008, Alumni of the Year for College of  Business, Eastern Michigan University, 2017.

Grace Lee holds a BA in Economics from UCLA and a Master’s in Business  Administration from Eastern Michigan University.


Lavanya Jawaharlal is the President and Co-Founder of STEM Center USA, a K-12 robotics and education company based in Southern California. She received her Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of California – Berkeley and is a Doctoral Candidate for Education at Claremont Graduate University with a concentration in K12 Education, Equity & Policy. Lavanya also served on the national board of ACE NextGen – a millennial Asian entrepreneurship organization operating in Los Angeles, Houston, and Boston.

Lavanya and her sister are focused on inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders through hands-on, engaging robotics and coding courses. They have been recognized for their work in STEM education by former Vice President Joe Biden and been featured on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank” in Season 7, Episode 6. On the episode, Lavanya received investment offers from Lori Greiner and Chris Sacca. Lavanya and Melissa are authors of The Technical Alphabet and have successfully run two Kickstarter campaigns raising over $120,000.

Lavanya has spoken at several key events regarding diversity and inclusion within the STEM fields, including TEDxCPP and the national AAPI summit in Washington DC. STEM Center USA operates two locations for in-person classes, offers virtual programs nationwide, and provides a unique blend of STEM, Math, and English classes for Migrant students throughout California and Colorado. In her spare time, Lavanya enjoys running, playing soccer, and scuba diving.


Sharon R. Pinder is the President and CEO of the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC)– a non-profit corporation whose mission is to link corporations and government agencies with competitively viable Minority Business Enterprises. 

A renowned expert in entrepreneurial diversity and inclusion, Pinder has transformed the landscape for minority and women owned businesses, leveling the playing field and creating increased opportunities for these businesses to succeed.   

Pinder is best known as Maryland’s first appointed Special Secretary, Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs and as the architect of Maryland’s minority and small business reform movement. 

During her first three years in this position, contracts awarded to Maryland’s women and minority businesses increased from 15% to 22% and payments to them increased by $1 billion. She was also responsible for creating the Small Business Reserve Program – the country’s first state level set aside for small businesses. Her work serves as a model for other states. 


Monica Kang is a creative educator who is transforming  today’s workforce through the power of creativity.

She  is driven by the belief that everyone is innately creative  and that creativity can be used to catalyze personal  and professional change. As the Founder and CEO of  InnovatorsBox®, her deepest satisfaction comes from  seeing individuals realize their full potential and talents  through creativity.

Through her innovative workshops,  consulting, products, and curriculum, Monica teaches  creativity in a tangible, practical, and relatable way  regardless of industry or job title. Monica is a recognized thought leader in creative  leadership and education. She has worked with clients  worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher  education, government, and nonprofits.

Her work has  been awarded across numerous platforms, including  The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, Women  Empowerment Expo, Timmy Award, National Minority  Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s  Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). She is also  the author of Rethink Creativity: How to Innovate, Inspire,  and Thrive at Work. Monica’s passion for positively impacting the world  extends beyond InnovatorsBox®.

She is an active  leader in StartingBloc, DC Tech, Startup Weekend, and  Coach Diversity Institute where she became a Certified  Professional Diversity Coach (CPDC). Driven by her lifelong  love of knowledge, she is also an adjunct professor  at BAU International University where she teaches  entrepreneurship and leadership. Prior to InnovatorsBox®,  Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert in  international affairs. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns  Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International  Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.   


Susan Jin Davis, Chief Sustainability Officer, has over 25 years of experience in the

communications and technology industry. In her current position, Ms. Jin Davis is responsible

for identifying sustainable strategies and priorities and for implementing the Company’s Sustainability Program across all of Comcast business units and functions.

Prior to her current role, Ms. Jin Davis was Senior Vice President of Operations Compliance

and was responsible for implementing product policies, operationalizing regulatory and legal

requirements, reducing costs to the cable business, and managing business compliance.

In 2011, Ms. Jin Davis negotiated a historic Memorandum of Understanding between

Comcast and the Asian American community as part of the Company’s merger with NBC

Universal that creates ground-breaking commitments in the areas of programming, supplier

and employment diversity, and community investment. She serves on Comcast’s Internal

Diversity Council and is a Company liaison to the Comcast and NBCUniversal Joint Diversity

Council. She is an executive sponsor of Asian Pacific Americans at Comcast, a Company

affinity group.

Susan Jin Davis, SVP Operations Compliance – Finance, has over 20 years of experience in

the communications industry. In her current position, Ms. Jin Davis is responsible for

implementing product policies, operationalizing regulatory and legal requirements, reducing

costs to the cable business, and managing business compliance in close coordination with

Legal, Regulatory and Government Affairs.

Ms. Jin Davis was also responsible for launching Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program in

2011. Internet Essentials offers low-cost Internet service, discounted computer equipment and

free digital literacy training to families with at least one child eligible to participate in the

National School Lunch Program. Internet Essentials is Comcast’s largest, most successful

community investment initiative, having connected more than 600,000 families – over 2.4

million low income Americans – to the power of the Internet in their homes.

Ms. Jin Davis is also integrally involved in the Company’s approach to digital literacy, providing

resources to customers on safe Internet use with particular emphasis on helping families

understand the Internet and teaching children how to responsibly use Comcast’s services.

She leads the Company’s On-Line Safety Advisory Council, an external body of leaders in the

area on-line safety.

Recently, she completed the Women in Cable Telecommunications Senior Executive Summit

at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and has completed the Women’s

Executive Leadership Program at the Wharton School of Business. She received the 2010

Paragon Award of the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Cable and completed CTAM’s

Executive Management Program at the Harvard Business School. Ms. Jin Davis was a fellow

in the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute of the Women in Cable Telecommunications. She

has been named one of the “Most Powerful Women in Cable” by CableFAX and one of the

“Top 50 Most Influential Minorities in Cable” by CableWorld for many years. Ms. Jin Davis is

actively involved in Comcast’s diversity efforts, particularly as it relates to the Company’s

relationship with the Asian American community. She serves as the Chair of the Board of the

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies and is a director on the Boards of

the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, the Asian/Pacific Islander American

Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, and the Juvenile Law Center. Ms. Jin Davis also serves on the Board of Trustees of Bryn Mawr College.


Joanna Zhong is Senior Vice President, Asian Segment Strategy Leader at Wells Fargo. In this role, Joanna leads the development of the Asian  segment strategy as well as drives cross-segment business strategies  that deliver on Wells Fargo Diverse Segments enterprise strategy.


Joanna joined Well Fargo in 2018, bringing more than 14 years  of marketing experience in financial services industry. Prior to joining  Wells Faro, Joanna was at Bank of America, where she was Senior Vice  President, Acquisition Marketing Manager, leading the development of multi-channel acquisition marketing strategies for the affluent segment to drive new client growth for Merrill Lynch. Prior to that, Joanna led the national acquisition marketing strategy for Business Banking, where she was responsible for managing the end to end marketing strategies and programs targeting mid-sized businesses with prior experience leading portfolio marketing for small business credit card at Bank of America.  

Joanna’s background includes extensive domestic and international B2B and B2C experience in strategic planning and activation of integrated marketing programs. Joanna has previously lived and worked in China and Australia, where she held a variety of leadership roles in product management and marketing for various companies.  

Joanna has a Master’s in Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and her BA from Guangzhou University, China. She is tri-lingual and speaks Mandarin, Cantonese and English. Joanna is based in Charlotte, NC.


Avis Yates Rivers is the President and CEO of Technology Concepts Group International, LLC. (TCGi), a global asset, expense and procurement management firm. She possesses more than 35 years of general management experience in the information technology industry and has been a successful tech entrepreneur for over 30 years.

Prior to establishing her first company in 1985, Ms. Yates Rivers enjoyed an 11-year career at Exxon Corporation and its subsidiaries. Avis decided to branch out on her own, which led to the founding of her first company. She went on to found several firms over the years, culminating with Technology Concepts Group International, LLC (TCGi). With its innovative supply chain solutions, TCGi specializes in reducing the cost of IT Asset Management, IT Procurement Management and Tail Spend Management. As a result of a recent acquisition of BigVAR, TCGi now provides technology solutions to government agencies and businesses of all size. We specialize in data center, infrastructure, end-user computing, cloud and security solutions.

Her many accolades include Entrepreneur of the Year, Woman of Distinction, the Shirley Chisholm Award for Business, Top 10 Women in Technology and Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners, along with her White House Champion of Change in STEM honor awarded by President Barack Obama.

She is a nationally recognized thought-leader and in-demand global speaker. Her first book, ‘Necessary Inclusion: Embracing the Changing Faces of Technology,’ was released in 2017. 

For more information about Avis, please visit


Sherry Hwang is the president and cofounder of Pyramid Systems, Inc., a leading woman owned business providing Modernization, DevSecOps, Cloud, Analytics, Cybersecurity, and Low-Code technology services to federal agencies. Ms. Hwang has more than 30 years of federal IT management and systems engineering experience. She founded Pyramid in 1995 and employs 250+ Washingtonians. In her current role, she is responsible for leading corporate strategy, business development, client delivery, and corporate operations. 

Throughout Ms. Hwang’s prestigious career, she has worked diligently to deliver innovative technology solutions that help government deliver better services to citizens and improve mission performance. Recently, Ms. Hwang lead a $40M+ major modernization project at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to accelerate loan endorsement applications for low-income Americans. 

Ms. Hwang has paved the way for other minorities in business via coaching Asian American students and other minority owned businesses. She provides unwavering support to her community through sponsoring a scholarship fund for international STEM students, offering income tax assistance to help low-income families file their taxes, serving on the Tzu Chi Foundation and Red Cross boards, and helping victims of natural disasters. 

Ms. Hwang has repeatedly been recognized for her exemplary leadership abilities, entrepreneurial spirit, and philanthropic efforts. She is a Washington Business Journal Women Who Mean Business honoree, a Robinson Alumni Entrepreneurship awardee, a Government Executive Teddy Partner Award winner, and an International Leadership Foundation Award recipient.  

Ms. Hwang earned her bachelor’s degree in International Business from Chinese Culture University in Taiwan and her master’s degree in Information Systems from Georgia State. 


Strategist and thought leader in the multicultural space, Vanna Tran is director of multicultural growth and strategy for Nielsen.

Connecting the dots between culture and data, she brings a fresh perspective on the dynamic multicultural landscape through her work on a series of groundbreaking analytic reports on the attitudes and behaviors of African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic consumers.

With over 15 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods and retail industry, Ms. Tran is able to decipher the cultural essence that drives multicultural consumer behavior in today’s digital reality. Facilitator of laughter, life and doing good, she strives to turn smiles into laughter and moments into memories.

Based in Los Angeles, Vanna enjoys all things global and local, from travel to food, friends and family.