Atlanta iRelaunch Return to Work Conference Speakers - March 2011

Keynote Speakers

Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin

Relauncher Panel

Vivian Steir Rabin, Moderator
Co-Founder - iRelaunch

Katherine Brokaw
Dean of Students and Director of Academic Assistance - Emory University School of Law

Katherine Brokaw graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1982, with an AB in Classics. She was the principal speechwriter for Governor Thomas Kean of New Jersey and then chief speechwriter at the March of Dimes Foundation before attending Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Articles Editor of the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems and a teaching assistant to Dean Jack Greenberg, former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Dean Brokaw received her JD from Columbia in 1990 and clerked for United States District Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. in the Southern District of New York. She practiced law for several years at two of the nation's largest law firms, in New York and Atlanta, in the field of commercial litigation, before leaving law practice to raise the three children she shares with her husband Steven Russ, a technology executive. 
During her years outside the paid workforce, Dean Brokaw held several leadership roles in the Atlanta community, including the chairmanship of two independent school boards and seven years of service as a founding trustee of Atlanta Girls' School. Dean Brokaw also chaired the zoning committee of a National Register District historic neighborhood and helped lead a successful grass-roots challenge to a federal highway project connected to the largest urban brownfield redevelopment project in the United States.

Katherine is an active member of the State Bar of Georgia and serves on its Committee to Promote Inclusion in the Profession (formerly the Committee on Women and Minorities in the Profession). Dean Brokaw has worked at Emory University since early 2005 and has been recognized as one of Emory's "Community Builders."


Ann Cramer
Director Americas Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs - IBM

Ann Wilson Cramer, Director for IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs for the Americas, graduated from Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with a degree in mathematics. Ann took a 10-year career break to raise her two children, however remained active with her leadership volunteer roles and ultimately returned to IBM.

 Ann currently serves as chair of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and chairs the Council on Foundations Public Policy Committee and is on the Council's board, and on the US Chamber's Institute for Competitive Workforce, and has served on the United Way of America's National Corporate Leaders Council, and the Center for Corporate Citizenship Advisory Council at Boston College. 

Ann is on the Georgia Workforce Investment Board, chaired the Governor's Workforce Development Task Force and Communities in Schools Georgia, serves on the Woodruff Arts Center and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra boards, and is past chair of Voices for Georgia's Children, the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, Leadership Atlanta, the Alliance Theatre, Georgia Shakespeare Festival and past president of the Junior League of Atlanta.

Ann was the first to receive the "Essence of Atlanta" Award at the 41st Anniversary of Outstanding Atlanta. She was recently named by Atlanta Woman Magazine as the Power Woman of the Year,"25 Atlantans to Watch," inducted into the Business Hall of Fame and awarded Georgia's 1st Visionary Leadership Award, Leadership Atlanta's Legacy of Leadership Award, the Lexus Leader of the Arts, the Shining Star recognition from the Atlanta Women's Foundation, the first Narrowing the Digital Divide Award, the Andrew Young Public Policy and Faith award, the Urban League's 2000 Distinguished Community Service Award, the LifeTime Achievement in the Arts, Outstanding Achievement in Child Advocacy and she has received the 1988 11-Alive Community Service Award and the 1983 Georgia Volunteer of the Year. 

Ann and her husband, Jeff, live in Atlanta, are active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and are the proud parents of two adult children, Megan and Wil. 

Gail Morales
Senior Vice President, Mortgage Servicing Strategy and Project Management Executive - Bank of America

Gail Morales is the Mortgage Servicing Change Management Executive responsible for Strategy, Change Management and the Project Management Office. Morales has over 20 years of experience in business strategy, operations management and process consulting. She has worked in several industries, including Healthcare, Travel and Financial Services. During the course of her career at Bank of America, she has worked on change management, technology, process redesign; merger-related activities and major restructuring projects within Supply Chain Management, Global Wealth Investment Management, Global Commercial Banking, Technology and Global Investment Banking. Gail took a seven-year career break when she and her husband relocated to Europe for his job.

Morales earned a bachelor's degree in Accounting with honors from the University of South Carolina and a Master's Degree in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. Morales is active in several community and business organizations including the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta where she is the Board Chair and past club president, member of the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Metropolitan Atlanta; and a member of the Junior League of Atlanta. Morales is the recipient of the Bank of America Award of Excellence, awarded to the top 1% of Associates. Gail is married with two children.

Heidi Nel
Founder and President - Heidi's Heavenly Cookies

Heidi Nel is the Founder and President of Heidi's Heavenly Cookies, LLC, a gourmet cookie company that ships nationwide. Primarily home with her three children for several years, Heidi also worked part-time in marketing and attended college. When her husband lost his job as a result of 9/11, Heidi decided to see if she could leverage her passion for baking into a business. 

With a $10,000 investment for a basement bakery venture, Heidi grew her gourmet cookie business into a multimillion-dollar company, now housed in a state-of-the-art commercial bakery.

Heidi's Heavenly Cookies has received local and national acclaim for their delicious gourmet cookies and elegant packaging on The Rachael Ray Show, The NBC Today Show, CBS Better Mornings, People StyleWatch Magazine and Southern Living Magazine, to name a few. 

The brand vision of Heidi's Heavenly Cookies is to be the perfect choice in artful gift giving, for all occasions.

Heidi believes that the success of her company is due in part in providing a work environment for employees where family always comes first. With a passionately dedicated team on board, Heidi finds pride in her company in offering a product to customers that is as satisfying as it is heavenly.

Employer Panel

Claudia Paez-Ellett, Moderator
Director, Career Services - Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Claudia Ellett is the Director of Career Services for the Rollins School of Public Health. She has a Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor's in International Relations from Saint Joseph's University. Prior to joining RSPH in 2004 to manage the Office of Career Services, Claudia worked for the American Cancer Society for nine years, first with the Southeast Division as Director of Call Center Operations and later with the National Home Office as Manager of Survivorship Programs.

Kathy Davis
Recruiting Manager - Accenture

Kathy Davis possesses 20 years of extensive experience in recruitment strategy, management and execution. Currently, Kathy leads a team responsible for recruiting experienced hires for the Financial Services, Communication and High Tech Recruiting Practice for Accenture in North America. Her previous experience includes leading the recruiting efforts for the Outsourcing Cross-Industry Group, Financial Services Strategy and Human Performance Service line, and Communications-High Tech Process group within North America. She also has an extensive executive search background as well as recruiting at various levels in a variety of industries. Kathy's recruiting career includes specialization in large scale recruiting operations focused on experienced hire level through executive level hires.

Elizabeth Russell
Director, Emerson Human Capital

Elizabeth Russell lives and breathes change programs. She is known for delivering tough projects in diverse environments. Over more than 20 years, Elizabeth has managed to "blend in" to a wide variety of client environments including manufacturers, energy providers, consumer product companies, municipal government entities, wireless and high tech providers in the US and Asia.

Beginning her career at Andersen Consulting, Elizabeth has experienced insourcing and outsourcing, acquisitions and divestitures, and opportunities to sponsor change and "be changed."

Elizabeth's favorite projects have, strangely enough, been the hardest. The most memorable? Working on loyalty program strategy for a wireless carrier in Hong Kong during 9/11; helping a client transition from a large outsourcing arrangement to an in-house IT approach; helping senior executives across a large integrated holding company sort out business impact and policy issues to achieve one operating model (from five); leading a group of Japanese executives on a world tour to consider building an electricity trading floor in Japan complete with new trading and risk management capabilities; designing leadership workshop activities to promote competitive thinking and stronger prioritization skills; interviewing Chinese entrepreneurs on their willingness to be acquired and their surprisingly open views on their companies' current weaknesses; and helping a client assess and address post-merger cultural differences terms as a "reverse takeover."

While Elizabeth has served in various leadership roles - including Vice President for Consulting Services at Alliance Data - she has always remained a hands-on consultant, conducting strategic planning, quality reviews, and change planning and measurement.

Elizabeth's role at Emerson includes strengthening its team of change practitioners - a mix of longtime colleagues and new, experienced faces. She enjoys sharing change stories with clients and teammates. She recently helped build Emerson's change workshop, which helps participants "talk about change."

In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys tennis, skiing, cooking, and some activities she can only admire, like Duke basketball. She knows enough French, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese to impress (and possibly offend) any native speakers she encounters. At home, she creates change plans and markets new foods to her children with reasonable success. (Tip: Add vegetables to the mix and call it "Rainbow Mac & Cheese.")

Michelle Wilkinson
Leadership Recruiting Manager - WellPoint Inc.

Michelle Wilkinson has over 25 years experience working in Human Resources. Michelle started her career working with Kraft General Foods in Decatur Ga. She was hired as a mail clerk in 1981 and worked her way up to Human Resources assistant, supporting the Director of Human Resources with employee relations, hiring, temporary placement and orientating the over 500 associates working at the manufacturing and distribution location. Michelle was responsible for hiring the first minority-owned staffing service in the history of Kraft Foods for temporary placement. In 1992 Kraft Foods shut the facility down leaving Michelle with two years of college and no job.

Michelle took the knowledge that she obtained at Kraft and decided to open up her own staffing agency. In August 1993, Michelle opened Temp Resources INC., later to change the name to TRI Staffing INC. The agency stayed open for over 10 years and became one of the most prominent minority/female owned staffing agencies in Atlanta. Michelle subcontracted with larger agencies like Norell, Volt and Kelly services on large contracts. The larger agencies were required to partner with minority-owned businesses, giving 33 percent of the business to TRI Staffing.

Michelle has always been passionate about growing and identifying diverse talent. Michelle was very successful placing diverse talent with Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Bellsouth, and EDS, just to name a few. As a result of her hard work, after only three years TRI Staffing INC was tapped on the shoulder to bid on contracts directly - Michelle now had the opportunity as a primary contractor. After 9/11 Michelle shut the doors of her agency due to financial reasons.

Michelle went to work for a small agency out of California opening their first branch in downtown Atlanta in 2003. She wore many hats: account manager, talent consultant and branch manager. In just one year Michelle's branch became the largest revenue-generating branch, with over two million in sales the first year. In 2006 Michelle left the agency to become a senior Talent Acquisition Consultant with WellPoint. She has been with WellPoint for five years in May 2011 and currently holds the role as Leadership Recruiting Manager. Michelle is responsible for bring in the executive leadership talent across the organization in Commercial, Consumer and Comprehensive Health Solutions. Michelle is very successful hiring strong diverse talent into the organization. She works closely with talent management, identifying internal diverse associates for succession and high-potential roles across the organization. Michelle enjoys her role and feels that she learns something new every day. But the most rewarding experience is hearing the smile through the phone when she extends an offer to an applicant to join the WellPoint family.










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