Board of Advisors
Martin Ankamah is marketer, career and life coach, personal trainer and martial arts instructor. In 2002, he joined Procter & Gamble as an engineer. After 8 years in product and material development, he transferred to marketing and currently works in the Fabric Care business. He attended undergrad at Tufts University and received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and has an M.B.A. from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. To fulfill his passion for inspiring others to unleash their full potential, he launched Gifts to Greatness Coaching & Fitness, L.L.C.
Raina Dyer-Barr, Ph.D., earned her doctorate from the University of Illinois’ Educational Policy Studies Department. Her dissertation examined the role and effectiveness of mentoring among underrepresented undergraduates. Her broader research interests include underrepresented students’ experiences in higher education, issues of retention and completion, student-faculty relationships and interactions, and student transitions in higher education (i.e. two-year to four-year institutions, four-year to post-graduate, etc). She currently works as a consultant for the Office of Community College Research and Leadership’s Pathway to Results project, which is housed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Betty Jean Bell
Betty Jean Bell is a bold and energetic promoter, writer, leader, humanitarian, and entrepreneur. She is wildly passionate about people, their dreams, and helping others see their ability to create their lives and work on their own terms. She runs a popular podcast and blog called Love Your Work Life and is a sought-after P.R. and promotions maven who carries her clients to greatness through the cultivation and nurturing of strong personal relationships. Betty Jean began her career at age 4 as a professional singer, musician, audio engineer, and band/stage manager and has worked with such names as Willie Nelson, The Flaming Lips, and Perry Farrell. Her entrepreneurial life began in petroleum distribution and lead to the co-creation of an international renewable fuels distributorship that is still going strong today. Her P.R. and promotional life evolved out of her natural ability to build instant rapport and lasting relationships, and her ability to spread her contagious enthusiasm and belief in the strong brands of her friends and clients.
Damian has helped improve the performance of some of the world’s best-known companies by helping their people perform better – including senior management. He has deep expertise in designing the materials that help people see where they fit in achieving big-picture goals…and doing the little everyday things that get you there … fast. Before Next Street, Damian played this role for Pacific Sunwear, a 1980 startup that now has nearly 1,000 stores in 50 states and online. His experience also includes leading projects at Watson Wyatt, a global leader in human resource consulting, now Towers Watson. Damian has many more ideas than he had the chance to implement for a few large clients at previous jobs. At Next Street, his creative approach can benefit a lot of companies – and Next Street itself. Damian received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Howard University and a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Emily Diane Cambry
Emily Cambry is a Registered Nurse, and held the position of Assistant Nurse Manager of the Post Anesthesia Care Unit at Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center for several years. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at St Xavier University. Emily decided to enter the educational field as a Certified School Nurse. She worked in this capacity prior to returning to graduate school to complete a Masters Degree in Social Work at Jane Addams College of Social Work. Mrs. Cambry has worked as a School Social Worker for the past 14 years with the Chicago Public Schools. She has been a Field Instructor for second year Graduate Social Work Interns, and mentored newly employed School Social Workers. A lifelong learner, she returned to school to complete Masters Degrees in Educational Leadership, and Curriculum and Instruction. She continues to personally strive to improve in areas that maximize her contribution to serving students, families, and the school community. Emily is actively involved in organizations that provide services in various communities, and those providing scholarships for Nursing and high school graduates planning to attend college. She also supports the Barbara Bates Foundation in Chicago, a foundation that provides free prom dresses to deserving high school students who attend Chicago Public Schools.
Brent Kado is a Chicago based writer, filmmaker and academic. Kado's website Avant/Chicago (avantchicago.com) has been met with wide spread popularity and was recognized by the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times as one of the city’s top websites. He wrote, directed, and produced the comedy Off the Cuff. His next film, Welcome to Gentle Waters was released in April, 2010 and garnered favorable press and following. Kado has directed and produced web series and videos for the band Lotus as well as shot documentaries on North Coast Music Festival and the band Umphreys McGee. He is also currently a Ph.D. candidate at Purdue University in American Cinema and Video Studies.
William Dorsey M.D.
Dr. Dorsey will complete his MBA from The University of Virginia Darden School of Business in May 2011 and will transition to a career in finance at Pfizer, Inc in New York City as a Business Analyst. Prior to business school Dr. Dorsey graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and practiced General Surgery at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Hospitals in Chicago. Dr. Dorsey has an interest in entrepreneurship that focuses on leveraging advances in information technology to improve patient care while also lowering the cost of health care.
Joseph Dwyer is a Venture Partner with OCA Ventures and has been working at OCA since 2008. For the 15 years prior to joining OCA, Joseph Dwyer was an Internet entrepreneur creating high-growth technology companies. Joseph’s past ventures include: CEO and founder of The Virtual Market, one of the first dynamically generated e-commerce sites; CEO and founder of Blir, a technology consulting and custom software development company serving clients such as Bain & Company, Albertsons, and Exodus Computing; CTO and board member of LoanSurfer.com, a venture-backed online mortgage bank; and President and Founder of TouchPoint Solutions, an enterprise Software-as-a-Service company with customers including Kodak, British Petroleum, and Lockheed Martin. Joseph is an expert in web application design and development, including the architecture of a web-based device management, ad delivery, and content distribution software system licensed by Kodak for use on its worldwide network of 70,000 kiosks. Joseph holds an MBA with Distinction from the Kellogg School of management, and a law degree Cum Laude from the Northwestern University School of Law, where he was awarded the Order of the Coif. At Kellogg, Joseph was the President of the Association for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship Law, and was founding COO of Kellogg View, the school’s official business publication. Joseph also has an undergraduate degree in International Relations from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Joseph has lived and worked abroad extensively, and speaks French, Spanish, and German.
Matthew C. Harger received his MBA with distinction from Keller Graduate School of management in 2010 and his B.A. from Indiana University in 1998. Matthew began his professional career working as a sales account manager for Ecolab Inc. a fortune 500 company. Following his passion for entrepreneurship, Matthew was instrumental in building a start-up construction company. His hard work and dedication were a driving force in creating a multi-million dollar portfolio of projects. Matthew worked as both a sales and project manager with Pro Builder LLC for 10 years. Since obtaining his MBA, Matthew has worked as a brand/marketing consultant for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and is currently working with RainMaker Solutions Ltd. as the managing director of the Chicago market. RainMaker Solutions Ltd. is a business development consulting firm focused on increasing top line revenues for small businesses in the United States and abroad.
Sam Malhotra has five years of investment experience and serves as Director of Investment Research and Business Development at Sophis Investments, a hedge fund manager. Mr. Malhotra began his career at Raymond James in Investment Banking, with a focus on the Defense and Technologies sectors. He later joined Florida Capital Partners as a Private Equity Associate where he sat on the Board of Directors at The Nelbud Group and The Main Resource. Mr. Malhotra earned a Masters in Business Administration with honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and graduated from the University of Kentucky as the 2005 class valedictorian with a B.S. in Economics and Physics.
Danielle Parker Robinson is a doctoral student in the School of Education at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She currently works in the Office of TRIO programs, which aims to serve first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students to help them pursue and obtain post-secondary education. Danielle’s research’s looks at pipeline programs for minority students, the impact race, class, gender on educational attainment, and political advocacy for educational programs. Prior to pursing her doctoral, Danielle was a classroom teacher for five years. She earned masters from The University of Chicago in Social Science
L. Shontele Poindexter
L. Shontele Poindexter, Independent IT Consultant in Atlanta, GA, has worked within the technology field for a short time but has made impressive career moves. Her specialization is in Project Management, Business Process Analysis, Implementation, and Release Management. She has worked with various Technology firms and a well-know Restaurant chain where she aided in streamlining and improving business processes. Shontele holds a B.A. in Psychology from Georgia State University and is currently pursuing her PMP and Six Sigma certification.
Randall Lorin Sawyer
Randall Lorin Sawyer attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated in with a Bachelor of Science in Economics concentrating in Management of Information Systems and Management of Electronic Commerce. After graduation, Randall relocated to New York City to start his career with Morgan Stanley as a Business Analyst/Project Manager in Operations. Randall has led multiple projects in New York and London that have had global impact creating efficiency, process improvements and cost savings. In addition to his work in Financial Services, Randall also co-founded 25 to Life Productions in 2005. The mission of 25 to Life is to bring enriching forms of art to urban audiences who are typically deprived of stimulating works largely due to the lack of resources in their communities. Randall currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and is completing his Master of Science in Technology Management at Columbia University.
Kenneth Smith is a Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children's Campaign, a research and advocacy firm to increase access to health coverage for kids; increase access to and the quality of child care and early education opportunities for working families; reduce the state's dropout rate and improve the quality of K-12 education; and improve the state's ability to respond to children's needs appropriately through fiscal reforms. Kenneth provides policy support for both the K-12 Education and Early Childhood initiatives. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, Kenny was a Research Specialist at Learning Point Associates in Chicago where he conducted policy work focused on educator quality. Kenny earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Virginia, where he focused upon early childhood education issues, including an implementation study of local Head Start programs, and a policy brief examining teacher quality standards in Head Start. He also received his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Virginia.
Allison Tibbs is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and certified marketing and business coach, who is the CEO of Marquise, LLC where she specializes in providing comprehensive marketing strategies for small business owners and entrepreneurs in the form of laser focused coaching and consulting. Her goal is to create an environment of entrepreneurs who are competent, confident and empowered to successfully run their businesses. With a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from The Pennsylvania State University, Allison has had the opportunity to coach, train, and provide consulting services to clients all over the United States and Europe, including CEOs, professional athletes, recording artists, and public speakers. She also hosts numerous workshops and events geared towards youth and professionals focusing on Personal Branding and Entrepreneurship.
Kyle Thousand is a Corporate, M&A and Transactional Attorney at Roberts McGivney Zagotta LLC, a firm that specializes in the areas of Corporate & Securities Transactions, Real Estate Transactions, Commodities, Futures and Derivatives, Intellectual Property & Licensing, Sports & Entertainment, Government Services, and Litigation. Kyle's practice is focused in the M&A and corporate areas of law and he also leads the firm's sports and entertainment practice. Kyle has worked on public and private M&A transactions ranging in deal prices of a few hundred thousand dollars to over one billion dollars. Kyle also assists entrepreneurs and startups with entity formations, general corporate governance and other corporate legal issues, as well as assists non-profit organizations in receiving their federal non-profit and state charitable status and solving general corporate issues. Kyle also serves as a Metropolitan Board Member and Head of Fundraising Committee for the Chicago Youth Centers, Chicago's largest independent youth services organization. Kyle was recently invited to the 2011 Summit Series, an invitation-only event that brings together the world's most innovative, leading young entrepreneurs and influencers together with renowned brands, companies, and the most important thinkers of today to help inspire a new generation of leaders to succeed in business and in life. Kyle received his Bachelor's Degree in Finance with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship from the University of Iowa, where he graduated with Honors, and received Juris Doctorate from Creighton University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude.
Michael B. Wesson, Jr.
Michael B. Wesson Jr., has been in Private Equity since 2005. Mr. Wesson is a Vice President of Transwestern Investment Company.Mr. Wesson is responsible for providing ownership representation services for a portion of Transwestern's office portfolio, including establishing a strategic direction for individual assets and implementing these strategies through management, leasing, marketing, and capital programs. Mr. Wesson joined Transwestern as an Associate and has performed various roles within the Acquisition, Asset Management and Portfolio Management Groups. Previously, Mr. Wesson was an analyst at Forest City Enterprises, Inc. where he focused on Portfolio Management for the Commercial Group, Residential Group, and Land Development Group. Mr. Wesson earned his BS in Finance and Organizational Behavior from the Weatherhead School of Business at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Wesson is a member of Urban Land Institute.
Anthony Williams attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA where he graduated with a BA in Kinesiology and Pre-Medical Studies. Following a brief career in professional baseball, Anthony began a career in healthcare working in the physical therapy department at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Hollywood, CA. In addition to his experiences in patient care, Anthony worked as a Research Technician in the Department of Pathology at the University of Southern California (USC) – Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, CA. Anthony declined pursuit of a medical degree to become a Graduate Student in the Pathobiology Program at USC, where he was integrally involved in novel biomedical device development and bionanotechnology applications. Currently, Anthony is a PhD Candidate in the Sheila and David Fuente Graduate Program in Cancer Biology at The University of Miami – Miller School of Medicine in Miami, FL. Anthony’s research focuses on the capture and characterization of rare circulating tumor cells in the blood of cancer patients, attempting to better understand the mechanisms governing the metastatic process in breast, prostate, pancreatic, and bladder cancer. Anthony is working on various groundbreaking technologies with many significant commercial applications with circulating tumor cells. As a resident of Miami, Anthony continues he’s commitment to service of underrepresented communities as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami.
Williams is a self-proclaimed philanthropist and life-long learner of Northampton County, North Carolina and dedicated to being a change leader in her community. She received her education at Carnegie Mellon University in Chemical Engineering and minoring in Biomedical Engineering. Williams founded the educational consulting company, IERN WILL (Inevitable Evolving & Revolutionary by Necessity While Inspiring Life-long Learning) after returning to her hometown of rural Gaston, North Carolina to teach AP Statistics and Pre-calculus at KIPP: Pride High. IERN WILL has worked closely with supporters from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, Lesole’s Dance Project, and the Africa Green School Garden Project, and 21st Century Youth Project to provide learners in low-income areas with high-quality programs. Williams developed an engineering-infused curriculum that exposes Kindergarten students at KIPP: Gaston Primary to engineering design principles; and, connects lessons to content areas of literacy in technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and science (TEAMS). Williams draws the connections between engineering and classroom management in “An Engineering Kind of Mind,” published on The International Association for K-12 Online Learning’s (iNACOL) Competency Works site.
Audra worked as a welfare advocacy staff attorney with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law for five years. At the Center, she wrote a monthly column monitoring the effects of welfare reform on local public aid offices throughout the state of Illinois, as well as representing clients in administrative and court proceedings. At the same time, she worked as an Adjunct Professor of Law at DePaul University in Chicago for four years, teaching her course Introduction to Poverty Law. During her last year at the Center, Audra was asked to join the campaign of our current junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, Senator Barack Obama, as his Deputy Press and Policy Director. She took a leave of absence to work on Senator Obama’s Senate race for 15 months before returning to her roots in public interest. Audra joined the Northwestern staff as the Director of Diversity Education and Outreach in March of 2006. Her office is responsible for proactively engaging the Northwestern Law Community in learning about the dynamics of diversity by providing vehicles for discussion, reflection and education. She continues to work on issues of urban policy, most recently serving as the Chair of the Urban Policy Committee for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, and on the transition team for newly inaugurated Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University School of Law, teaching her course Introduction to Poverty Law, and continues to consult several elected officials on issues on poverty throughout the city of Chicago.
Lindsay Young received her J.D., in 2007 from Georgetown University Law Center and earned her B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Political Science from Spelman College in 2003. After completing law school, Lindsay was an associate in the Financial Services & Products Group at Alston & Bird, LLP, in Washington, D.C. She concentrated her practice on banking law and regulatory matters for large financial institutions. After practicing law for nearly three years, Lindsay decided to leave the corporate world to focus on a career in policy and public interest. After leaving the law firm in 2010, Lindsay volunteered at The Scalabrini Center, a refugee and asylum center in Cape Town, South Africa. She currently volunteers as Deputy Director of Womanifesting,Inc., a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. with a mission to develop and support programs that foster self-empowerment, sisterhood, and service and to positively impact the lives of women and girls, particularly those under-resourced and marginalized.