Boston iRelaunch Return to Work Conference Speakers - November 2012

Keynote Speakers

Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin

Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin are the co-authors of the acclaimed career reentry strategy book Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at- Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work, and co-founders of career reentry programming company iRelaunch.

iRelaunch has helped thousands of women and men on career break return to the workforce through its programs, events, and content for employers, universities, organizations, and individuals. iRelaunch’s signature product is the iRelaunch Return-to-Work Conference, held four times a year in major cities. With a focus on educating “relaunchers” about effective return-to-work strategies, the Conference is the only large scale gathering of experienced professionals on career break looking to return to work and the employers interested in meeting them. Carol and Vivian are frequent speakers on the career reentry topic and are regularly featured in the national press.

Carol and Vivian are both Harvard Business School graduates and relaunchers themselves; between them, they have nine kids, and 43 years of diverse business experience. They each returned to work after multi-year career breaks before writing Back on the
Career Track and starting iRelaunch. They understand each phase of the “relaunch process” first hand. Carol’s return to an investment firm after 11 years out of the full-time workforce is documented in a Harvard Business School case study about professional career reentry. Visit them at and follow them on Twitter @iRelaunch.

Welcome Speaker

Toni G. Wolfman
Executive Advisor to the Center for Women and Business (CWB) at Bentley University

Panel: Successful Relaunchers Tell Their Stories

Moderator: KJ Dell'Antonia
Editor and Lead Writer - The New York Times - Motherlode

KJ Dell'Antonia is editor and lead writer for the New York Times' Motherlode blog. She has been writing about the personal, cultural and political aspects of family life for a decade now. She is also the co-author of Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos (2nd edition coming from Sourcebooks in April 2013), a former corporate lawyer and prosecutor and a New York City exile, who is now raising four kids, a cat, a dog and a poodle in rural New Hampshire.

Relauncher Panelists

Susan M. Adams
Senior Director, Center for Women & Business and Professor of Management, Bentley University

Susan Adams combines her career passions for teaching, research, and consulting in her current position as Senior Director of Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business and Professor of Management. The Center is dedicated to supporting, retaining and promoting women in business by sharing solutions for advancing women’s careers.

Susan publishes regularly in leading academic and practitioner outlets, focusing on professional advancement and organizational effectiveness. Her academic insights, shared in and out of classrooms of undergraduates, MBAs, PhDs and executives, are enhanced by her consulting work with over 100 corporate and executive clients. Susan has served on and chaired boards of companies and non-profit organizations. She is a former Chair of the Management Consulting and Careers Divisions of the Academy of Management and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Society of Human Resource Managers.

She earned her PhD in management from Georgia Institute of Technology, MEd in mathematics from Georgia State University, and BSEd from the University of Georgia after attending the University of Hawaii. Susan is the proud mother of three and grandmother of two.

Maria Kieslich
Senior Director of Operations, TeenLife Media, LLC

Maria Kieslich was born in Vermont. She attended the University of Vermont where she received a BA in economics and political science. During a semester program in D.C. she got Potomac Fever and moved to Washington upon graduation. She worked at both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMP) before going to University of Chicago Graduate School of Business where she received an MBA in finance. While enrolled in University of Chicago she spent a semester in Korea. This led to a position in international banking in Boston, where she had moved to be with her husband. 

Maria has "relaunched" a few times since her 13-year-old daughter was born. She has worked at several start-ups and technology companies in various management, product and operation positions. She is currently Senior Director of Operations at TeenLife Media. Maria holds the PMP certificate. She now lives in Lexington with her daughter and husband and is a member of two Town Committees as well as Hancock Church. She is always trying to plan their next trip and find time for some yoga, biking and scrapbooking.

Dixie Lee Morse
Associate Director, Sales Training & Development, Sun Life Financial

Dixie’s pre-relaunch career included roles as Research Associate at Chase Econometrics in Washington D.C., Consultant with Interactive Data Corporation (IDC) in Boston, Sales Consultant at IDC’s London Financial Branch, and Manager of Client Training at Softbridge Microsystems Europe, a start up specializing in applications for Eurobond and Swaps dealers. Her career break came when she was the "trailing spouse," as her husband took positions in Brussels, again in London, and eventually back in the U.S.

During her almost 19-year career break, Dixie held a number of leadership and fund-raising positions with nonprofits and her sons’ schools, including Chairman of the Parents Gild of the Latymer Upper School in West London, Middle School Vice President, and All School Communications Coordinator for the Parents Association of the Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, MA.

When her sons were in high school, Dixie relaunched her career with Sun Life Financial. She chose to start on a reduced schedule of three days per week as a Senior Training Consultant in Annuities Distribution. She increased to four days a week within the first year. After less than two years with Sun Life, Dixie was tapped to join the Relationship Management area to create a new Value Add Platform for Annuities and Life Distribution. At this point, Dixie moved to full time and also took on the role of co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Network at Sun Life Financial Distributors. Last year, after Sun Life closed its Annuities and Life Division to new business, Dixie was recruited to join the Sales Training & Development Team at Sun Life’s Employee Benefits Group.

Dixie holds a BA in economics from Goucher College. Her sons are currently a senior at George Washington University and a sophomore at Vanderbilt. Dixie lives with her husband in Cambridge, MA.

Diane Rooney
Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Diane Rooney runs a private wealth management practice with Merrill Lynch in Boston, providing investment management and financial planning services to successful individuals and families. 

Diane began her career in corporate banking, eventually running departments including asset based lending, middle market corporate and leveraged cash flow finance at institutions such as National City, State Street Bank, and RBS Citizens.Diane also started a commercial finance company which was sold to Capital Source in 2005.

Diane’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2005 and, as an only child, Diane left Capital Source in 2007 to care for her mother full time.What was originally planned as an 18-month break quickly became four years.While Diane always enjoyed the corporate finance roles, she believed that there was a greater need in helping busy, successful families navigate the increasingly complex and ever-changing area of personal finance.

Diane lives in Boston with her partner, Barry, and believes that volunteering strengthens communities.She is Chair of the Planning Committee for the Bay Village Neighborhood Association, a volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association and with ETHOS, assisting Boston’s elderly disabled citizens with basic financial management skills.

Diane holds an MBA in finance and BA in economics from the University of Rochester.  She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNING PRACTITIONER™, Certified Retirement Planning Counselor, and holds the Certified Special Needs Advisor designation through Merrill Lynch. She is an avid skier and is striving to become moderately proficient in conversational Mandarin.

Panel: Employers Discuss How Relaunchers Should Approach Today's Job Market

Moderator, Vivian Steir Rabin
Co-Founder - iRelaunch

Along with Carol Fishman Cohen, Vivian Steir Rabin co-authored the acclaimed career reentry strategy book Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work, and co-founded career reentry programming company, iRelaunch. Carol and Vivian have presented their career reentry strategies to nearly 9,000 people at over 140 events since 2006.

A graduate of Harvard Business School and a relauncher, Vivian understands every phase of the relaunch process first hand. Vivian has over 21 years of diverse business experience, including leadership roles in finance and human resources, in the media, financial services, consulting and executive search industries. She is a mother of five children, and returned to work after multi-year career breaks before writing Back on the Career Track and founding iRelaunch. Carol and Vivian are regularly quoted in the national press including TIME, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Fast Company, Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Family Circle Magazine, NPR, and MSNBC.

Employer Panelists

Kate Donovan
Managing Director, ManpowerGroup Solutions

Kate Donovan leads the growth of ManpowerGroup’s recruitment process outsourcing and other key outsourced services, including business process outsourcing. Her team of experts creates innovative workforce solutions that often combine multiple sources of labor, whether contingent, permanent, cross-border, local or global. Kate’s passion for product innovation and her focus on delivering RPO globally and leveraging local, in-country resources enable ManpowerGroup Solutions to mirror the growth of clients as they expand into new markets.

Kate also directs ManpowerGroup’s Global RPO Center of Excellence, a Center she created to promote innovation and sharing of best practices in RPO. The Center drives both quality and consistency in ManpowerGroup Solutions’ service delivery structure, which leverages the largest global footprint of any RPO provider.

In both 2011 and 2012, under Kate’s leadership, ManpowerGroup RPO earned the designation of global leader by industry analysts Everest Research Group and was ranked first in the industry by analyst NelsonHall, while Kate herself was named an HRO Superstar by the Human Resources Outsourcing Association. Kate writes for industry publications and speaks frequently on the topic of global workforce trends and recruiting best practices. She also published “The Future of the HR Profession,” a study sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Before joining ManpowerGroup Solutions in 2008, Kate was a Senior Vice President with Veritude, a Fidelity Investments company that specializes in recruiting and HR consulting. She led the company’s successful entree into recruitment process outsourcing during her four-year tenure. Prior to her work with Veritude, Kate managed her own consulting firm, advising clients on ways to deliver HR services effectively through outsourcing strategies. Additionally, she spent 18 years with BankBoston Financial Corp., ultimately leading HR for the company’s investment and global banking business groups.

Kate earned degrees with academic distinction from Boston University (M.S.) and from the College of the Holy Cross (B.A.).

Cindy Franks
Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Wellington Management Company

Cindy is responsible for Wellington Management's talent acquisition and development activities in the U.S.  She partners with the firm's leadership and hiring managers across a broad range of functions globally to strategically plan, identify and acquire best talent and collaborate on key talent management initiatives.

Prior to joining Wellington Management in 2006, Cindy founded David Murphy Associates, a talent acquisition consulting firm that provided function development, market research, executive coaching and talent acquisition services to the management consulting, asset management, technology and consumer products industries on a global basis. Clients included Fortune 50 to start-up organizations. The Boston College graduate began her career in broadcasting and public relations.

Janet Kraus
Faculty Cochair of the Executive Education Program “A New Path: Setting New Professional Directions” and Senior Lecturer of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School

Janet is Faculty Cochair of the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program, A New Path: Setting New Professional Directions. This program is designed for women with significant professional experience who are seeking to return to the workforce, recharge their careers, or take their professional lives in a new direction.  

Janet is a serial entrepreneur having founded and sold Circles, the global leader of concierge services and Spire, a media company targeting the affluent with differentiated persona-driven travel and lifestyle content.

Janet cofounded Circles in 1997 and grew it to be a $50 million company with nearly 1000 people operating from Boston, MA, and Burlington, Ontario. By providing extraordinary experiential services, Circles grew quickly by helping its customers create powerful ties of loyalty with their employees and customers. Circles sold to Sodexo on October 31, 2007. Since the acquisition, Circles has expanded its base of operations into five countries.

On November 1, 2007, Janet left Circles to lead Spire, which she spun-off off from Circles. Spire's flagship brand, Suzanne's Files provides savvy perspective on quality lifestyle. Suzanne and her Insiders share in-the-know insight to help others live life well. In a world of too much noise, people crave curated recommendations from a source they trust, admire, and enjoy. Pointed, personal, and upscale, Suzanne’s Files delivers in-the-know insight that is impossible to source elsewhere.

Janet is a recipient of Boston's 40 Under 40 and was a finalist in Ernst and Young's Entrepreneur of the Year. Circles was awarded the Small Business of the Year Award by the Chamber of Commerce. Janet and the companies she has led have been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fortune Small Business, The New York Times, and numerous other publications. She is a regular speaker in Boston at venues including Harvard Business School, Babson Olin School of Management, Sloane School at MIT, Tufts University, The Commonwealth Institute, The Capital Network, and The Center for Women and Enterprise. She received her MBA from The Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and her B.A. from Yale University.

Janet lives in Weston, MA with her husband Jim Giebutowski and her twin daughters, Allison and Cecilia.

Jules Pieri
Founder and CEO, Daily Grommet

Jules Pieri is Founder and CEO of the product launch platform Daily Grommet.  The company’s “Citizen Commerce” platform is reshaping how consumer products get discovered, shared, and bought. Jules started her career as an industrial designer for technology companies and was subsequently a senior executive for large brands such as Keds, Stride Rite, and Playskool. Having taken a two-year break early in her career, Daily Grommet is her third startup, following roles as VP at Design Continuum and President of Jules completed her undergrad degree, summa cum laude, at the University of Michigan, and people tell her she is the first industrial designer to graduate from Harvard Business School.  

Jules is frequently tapped to speak on consumer trends and technologies, social media, design, and entrepreneurship and has done so at many institutions such as HBS, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and MIT; at conferences such as South by Southwest; and in media outlets like NECN, NPR, and Fox. She is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School.

Jules writes a personal blog on these subjects at:, and she Tweets at @julespieri.




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