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Featured Presenters

The conference will include more than 100 speakers and presenters on June 16-17, 2017. In addition to our amazing featured presenters, additional speakers will include MBA alumnae, experts, and representatives of Forté sponsor companies and schools.

Ann-Marie Campbell

Executive Vice President, U.S. Stores, Home Depot
MBA, Georgia State University (Robinson College of Business)

Ann-Marie Campbell began her career with The Home Depot in 1985 as a cashier in South Florida and today is executive vice president, U.S. Stores. In this role, she leads the company’s three U.S. operating divisions comprised of nearly 2,000 U.S. stores and the bulk of the company’s nearly 400,000 associates.

Ann-Marie learned her first lessons in retail from her grandmother in Jamaica, a successful retailer in her own right. And after more than 30 years with the company, Ann-Marie brings a deep understanding of The Home Depot’s operations, culture and customers.

During her career at the company, she has served in a variety of positions, including store manager, district manager and regional vice president. She has also served as vice president of operations, vice president of merchandising and special orders, vice president of retail marketing and sales for Home Depot Direct, vice president of vendor services and, most recently, president of the Southern Division of The Home Depot.

Ann-Marie is a graduate of Georgia State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in business administration. She is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honor society, and the National Scholars Honor Society.

She currently serves on the boards for Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, Potbelly Corporation and World Affairs Council of Atlanta. In 2014-2016, Fortune Magazine listed her among the top 50 most powerful women in business.

Amy Cuddy

Social Psychologist; Associate Professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard School of Public Health; Best-Selling Author, Presence


Social psychologist Amy Cuddy is a professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard School of Public Health, New York Times best-selling author, and Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum. Focusing on the power of nonverbal behavior, prejudice and stereotyping, the delicate balance of trustworthiness and strength, and the ways in which people can affect their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, she teaches thousands of people how to become more present, influential, and satisfied in their professional and personal lives.

But Cuddy wasn't supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. In her second year of college, Amy suffered a serious traumatic brain injury after being ejected from a car in a high-speed crash, and doctors said she would struggle to finish school. However, she went on to complete a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude, albeit four years later than her high school classmates, at the University of Colorado, and then a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. at Princeton University.

Her highly cited research has been published in top academic journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Science, and Psychological Science, and covered by NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Guardian, Wired, Fast Company, and more. She speaks to audiences all around the world, from Fortune 100 companies, to tech start-ups, to nonprofits and academic institutions.

Her 2012 TED Talk, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are," has been viewed more than 35 million times and is the second-most-viewed TED Talk of all time. The Guardian calls it one of 20 online talks that could change your life. Amy has written for the New York Times, New York magazine, Harvard Business Review and CNN.

Cuddy's book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges (Little, Brown & Co.) is a New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publisher's Weekly, and Globe and Mail bestseller. As described in The New York Times Book Review, Presence feels at once concrete and inspiring, simple but ambitious above all, truly powerful."

Cuddy grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, is a "classically trained ballet dancer, and worked as a roller-skating waitress in college. She lives with her husband, Paul, and her son, Jonah. Together, they travel, fall in love with mountain ranges, discover, listen to, and sometimes attempt to make live music, rave about great diners and complain about bad coffee. Amy loves connecting people with people, art with science, and ideas-from-here with ideas-from-there.

Susan Ershler

History-Making Mountain Climber, Business Executive and Author of Together on Top of the World

Susan Ershler knows a thing or two about taking things to new heights. Ershler and her husband Phil, a professional mountain guide, received worldwide media attention including GMA, Today Show, CNN, and New York Times after becoming the first couple in history to conquer the Seven Summits of mountain climbing lore — successfully climbing the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents. The remarkable journey culminated at the top of Mount Everest — 29,035 feet — on May 16, 2002.

What makes Susan’s feat even more impressive is that she was climbing the world’s highest mountain while maintaining a successful career as a business and sales executive. During her 23-year corporate career she has held leadership positions in several Fortune 500 companies, leading teams to sales records, beating quotas from $1 million to $600 million. Ending as a vice president of sales for a multi-national telecommunications company, she was responsible for the company’s fast-growing Internet division. She also worked at US WEST (CenturyLink), GTE (Verizon), United Technologies, General Dynamics and FedEx.

Susan authored two books; first titled, “Together on Top of the World,” that details the remarkable story of climbing the fabled Seven Summits. The book is a story of going for your greatest dreams against all odds and pushing past mental and physical boundaries and “Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales”, where Susan draws on her experiences to inspire sales professionals, leaders, and anyone striving to achieve their life goals and reach new heights of success, illustrating how anyone can achieve peak performance, published by HarperCollins.

Susan had only started climbing in her mid-30s, and Phil, a mountain guide and the first American to reach the top of Everest from the north face, suffered from Crohn’s disease. Phil taught Susan to love the mountains the way he did, and so she began using her vacation time to join him on his climbs. In fact, Susan trained by climbing the 35 stories in her high-rise office building on her lunch hour for a year — with a 40-pound pack on her back. When a cancer diagnosis threatened to end Phil’s mountain-climbing career, the Ershlers fought back the only way they knew how — to climb.

Angela Guido

Founder, Career Protocol
MBA, University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)

I’m Angela Guido, and I am a student of human nature. As long as I can remember, I have been interested in what it means to be human, what unites us, and how we can fulfill our true potential in life. My education in the nature of being human has spanned three continents, included some of the world’s foremost institutions Yale College for my BA in Philosophy, The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business for my MBA, and The Boston Consulting Group for my apprenticeship in business and yielded a tremendous amount of adventure and fun along the way. Based on everything I have learned on this journey, combined with my two decade career in the field of professional communication, I founded Career Protocol to provide elite personal development programs to anyone who wants to maximize three things: positive impact, career success, and joy. Read more about what we do at I look forward to meeting you.

Erika James

Dean, Emory Univeristy (Goizueta Business School)

Erika James became the John H. Harland Dean of Goizueta Business School in July 2014. A published researcher and award-winning educator with a passion for consulting and speaking, she places an emphasis on what higher education can do to be of service to industry. 

Under James’ leadership Goizueta remains one of the top business schools in the nation with an upward trajectory in student career success and faculty thought leadership. James initiated a new strategic plan in 2016 calling for a renewed focus as the school approaches its 100th anniversary (2019). Her approach includes a consistent call for faculty, staff and students to effectively collaborate, raise the school’s influence and act as good stewards of resources.

Before arriving at Goizueta, James served as the Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education at the Darden Graduate School of Business. She also served as an assistant professor at Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and a visiting professor at Harvard Business School. Her academic career includes involvement in diversity initiatives and membership on multiple university councils and committees.

As an educator, James has been instrumental in starting various Executive Education programs, including the Women's Leadership program at Darden. She sits on the board of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the foremost accrediting body in business education. James speaks at numerous conferences in the areas of leadership, organizational effectiveness, change management and diversity. James' expertise in workplace diversity and crisis leadership has led to recognition in scholarly journals and mainstream media.

Tiffany Niver

Sr. Manager of Product Management, Amazon Transportation
MBA, Harvard Business School

Tiffany Niver is currently a Senior Manager of Product Management in Amazon Transportation, working to launch a new initiative.  Previously, Tiffany launched Amazon Home Services (plumbers and electricians on Amazon) as well as was a part of the Grocery team, responsible for multiple categories and P&Ls. Tiffany graduated from Harvard Business School where she was awarded the Dean’s Award for service to the community. Prior to school, Tiffany worked in strategy and management consulting at the Parthenon Group.  She graduated cum laude from Harvard with an A.B. in Psychology and Economics.

Tiffany is passionately dedicated to providing opportunities and environments for women to succeed.  Tiffany was a founding partner of Smart Women Securities (an investment fund for college women), served in various positions on the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business and HBS Women's Student Association organizations and alumnae boards, founded a Harvard alumni Interest Group for women, was chosen as an MBA Forte Foundation Fellow and recipient of the Forte Foundation Edie Hunt Inspiration award, and serves as an active Forte Launch advisor.  Tiffany sincerely believes in the power of women to share and learn together and feels that Forte, offering skills, development, and access, is a wonderful platform for women to do so.

Brian T. Olsavsky

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Amazon
MBA, Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)

Brian Olsavsky joined in April 2002. Most recently he served as Vice President, Finance and CFO for the Global Consumer Business, and he became Senior Vice President and CFO in June 2015.  As CFO of, he oversees the company's overall financial activities, including controllership, tax, treasury, analysis, investor relations, internal audit and financial operations.

In his role as Vice President, Finance and CFO for the Global Consumer Business, Mr. Olsavsky had oversight and responsibility for the finance team supporting websites, merchant services, and fulfillment operations and subsidiaries. From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Olsavsky was Vice President, Finance for Amazon's North America retail business unit and acquisitions, and from 2002 to 2007 Mr. Olsavsky led the finance departments for Amazon's Worldwide Operations organization.  Prior to joining, Mr. Olsavsky spent seven years at Fisher Scientific, where he held a variety of financial and business management roles, and a total of eight years at BF Goodrich and Union Carbide, where he held a variety of financial and operational roles.  Mr. Olsavsky received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State and an MBA in Finance from Carnegie Mellon University.

Maria Renz

Vice President and Technical Advisor to CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon
MBA, Vanderbilt University (Owen Graduate School of Management)

Maria Renz is a vice president at Amazon and currently serves as technical advisor to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Maria was previously CEO of Quidsi an subsidiary with unique shopping sites, including

Maria has held a variety of leadership positions at Amazon, including Vice President of Physical Media & Canada and Vice President of Shoes, Jewelry & Watches. She led Amazon’s Consumables group and launched popular customer categories such as Beauty, Health & Personal Care and Grocery as well as the first-of-its-kind Subscribe & Save program. Maria also led several subsidiaries such as Woot, Abe Books, and In 1999, Maria joined Amazon's marketing department she managed customer emails and the Amazon homepage (back in the days when this could be done using an Excel spreadsheet!).

Prior to joining Amazon, Maria worked in brand management at Kraft Foods, Inc, as well as Hallmark Cards, Inc. and Nelson & Associates.

Maria holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and a B.S. in Interior Design from Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is currently a member of the Vanderbilt University Business School Alumni Board.

A native of New Jersey, Maria lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.

Elissa Sangster

Executive Director
Forte Foundation
MBA, Texas A&M University (Mays School of Business)

Elissa Sangster

Elissa Sangster serves as Executive Director for the Forté Foundation and brings to the role extensive knowledge of issues affecting women’s abilities to seek, prepare for and attain business leadership positions, drawn from her prior experience as Assistant Dean and Director of the MBA Program at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. There she oversaw all activities related to the full-time McCombs MBA program including marketing, admissions, student services, and alumni relations.

Elissa received her MBA and her B.A. in English from Texas A&M University, where she was the Assistant Director of the MBA Program until 1997. She is past Chair of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Annual Industry Conference and formerly served as chair of the MBA Student Services Professionals (MBA SSP). Elissa sits on the board of the Forté Foundation as an ex-officio member. Elissa enjoys reading, running, cooking, and Aggie football. She lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, Jeremy, and their daughter, Anna Leigh.


Views of Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk

"The conference energized me and made me feel more confident to start my MBA. The speakers were motivational and fantastic!"