Our WER 9 Speakers & Panelists

Keynote Speaker

Gina Marie Mattei
President of Revelation Creative 

Gina Marie Mattei is President of Revelation Creative, a full-service strategic consulting firm based in Asbury Park, NJ. RC specializes in digital and print design and omni-channel marketing, helping customers in the Tri-State area reach their business growth goals. Gina Marie assembled her team of graphic designers, content strategists, project managers, web developers, and partners across all forms of brand visualization and production to best fit the needs of her clients. She herself is an award-winning marketer, having the honor of being recognized as one of New Jersey’s Best Marketing and Communications Professionals Under 40 by the New Jersey Ad Club, a Top 100 Marketing & Advertising Leader by MARSum, and most recently has been awarded by NJBIZ the titles of Leader in Digital Technology as well as one of the Best 50 Women in Business.

Through her undergraduate study at Duke University and at the graduate level at the University of Virginia, she sharpened her knowledge through research. Her constant focus is to better understand the correlation between thought and behavior – the very forces that drive effective marketing campaigns. Gina Marie examines clients’ businesses from a psychological vantage point and looks to influence the behavioral patterns of their customers to positively impact revenue. With a decade of experience in the pharmaceutical and medical education sectors prior to opening RC, Gina Marie brings with her a history of results-driven performance.

She is deeply committed to causes that support women’s leadership and equality. As such, Revelation Creative is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women. She is active with a number of charitable organizations whose missions align with RC’s company mantra of being the change we want to see in the world. Gina Marie has served on the Volunteer Advisory Board for Housing with Hope, an organization that looks to improve the lives of senior citizens in New Jersey. Additionally, she is an animal lover and advocate for animal welfare. She and her husband, Steven, raise two rescue rabbits and three rescue cats, which means there’s never a dull moment in their home. Supporting local charities like Kind Heart Rescue in Jackson, New Jersey, gives her the opportunity to help spread the love and joy that her ‘fur family’ brings to her life.

Gina Marie believes that to rise, we must lift each other up. She brings that positive energy to all of her speaking engagements and customer interactions.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gina-marie-mattei/

Website: https://revelationcreative.com/

MC

Lyneé Lopez
Founder & CEO of Verve Educational Consulting, Educational Architect, Podcast Host, Author, Early Childhood Advocate

Lyneé Lopez, the powerhouse behind Verve Educational Consulting™, has carved a niche in early childhood education with her unique and sustainable leadership coaching approach. Having started her career 25 years ago as a mental health mentor, she quickly took her skills through the classroom, the faculty room, and into the boardroom. Her unique experiences fueled the launch of her educational consulting business in 2013, where she quickly became known for her successful grant writing skills and start-up implementation. Since then, she has amassed numerous achievements, including the acquisition of over 100 million dollars in new start-up funding for early childhood programs in New York City, mentoring more than 50 new early childhood leaders, and supporting the opening of 65 preschool programs.

Known as an educational architect, Lyneé helps schools develop the leadership, instruction, and funding sources needed to provide equity for the communities they serve. She has mentored high-level community leaders on transformational mindset approaches and is often sought out for her team-building skills. In 2017, she partnered with For a Reason (FAR) to provide teacher training in Haiti, which sparked her passion to bring educators around the globe together to share best practices and unity for early childhood advocacy. Since then, she has sat down with leaders in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and all over the US.

Lyneé is the co-author of the newly launched book Living All Out which chronicles the amazing stories of 20 entrepreneurs and their journey to living a fulfilling life. She is also the host of the Café Verve Podcast, Reiki master and Hypnobreathwork® coach.

Outside the business world, Lyneé fuels her adventurous spirit with hiking, kayaking, road trips, photography, and global travel. She loves creating new fun memories with her family and has recently started learning to sail.

For more information, visit https://verveconsultant.com/ and https://www.flowcode.com/page/verveconsultant

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyneé-lopez/

Panelists

Chelsey Brunson
Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Mentor

Chelsey Brunson is an organizational development consultant who specializes in strategic planning, business development, economic development, transformational leadership, organizational information communication, project management, business networking, financial growth innovation, organizational syndication, and asset acquisition. Ms. Brunson educates businesses of all sizes through public speaking, mentorship and services provided by her company Morph Mentoring. Her passion is focused on the areas of economic increase, organizational growth & development, culture, & charting the future by finding & executing the necessary resources to expand organizations all over the world.

Website: https://morphmentoring.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chelsey-brunson-23a798260/

Carla Bushey
Entrepreneur, Content Creator, Book Author, Product Developer

Carla Bushey is an entrepreneur, content creator, book author, and product developer.  She attended culinary school and graduated with a diploma in Culinary Arts and Pastry.  After 14 years of work in the food industry, Carla decided to utilize her creativity to start her own business.  She co-founded Oak Hill Farms in 2018 as a way to share her passion for living life more intentionally and back to basics.  She started growing a garden, raising farm animals, and developing natural farm-to-skin products that she sold online and at local markets.  Seeing instant success, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, Carla opened the Oak Hill Farms Barn, a retail farm and destination.  Within the first year, she saw her sales triple.

In 2021, Carla wrote her cookbook “Keepin’ it Real”, which exceeded expectations and sold three times the expected number of copies.  As an Instagram influencer, Carla shares daily recipes, ideas, and home decor tips to encourage other women to do what they love.  Carla is a multifaceted businesswoman who runs production of products, online sales, a farm, and a brick-and-mortar store (all while also being a Mom to 3 daughters!). Her remarkable achievements have made her a sought-after speaker at women’s conferences such as Babes in Business, Women in Business of New Jersey, Monmouth County Moms, and Uplift. Moreover, Carla has served as a Food and Beverage Judge at competitions such as Girl Scouts Top Cookie Competition and Cocktail Masters.

Website: https://www.carlabushey.com/

Website: https://oakhillfarmsnj.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carla.bushey/

Dr. Morissa Schwartz
Founder of GenZPublishing.org, Influencer, Entrepreneur, Writer

Dr. Morissa Schwartz was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Media in 2022 for her work as the founder of GenZPublishing.org and influencer who uses her platform to educate and make people smile. She speaks professionally about inspiring others through words and best practices for online entrepreneurship and marketing.

Dr. Schwartz is an Entrepreneur contributor and previously contributed to Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, and The HuffPost. You may have also seen her on The Daily Show, The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, Lifetime, MTV, Business Insider, and in one of her viral videos that have reached over 600 million people worldwide.

She holds a Masters in Corporate and Public Communication and a Doctorate in Philosophical Literature from Drew University, where she was honored with the Young Alumni of the Year Award in 2020.

Website: https://www.drrissyswriting.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/morissaschwartz/

Toni Tomlin
Founder and CEO of Faith2Felicity, Civil Servant, Integrated NLP Practitioner, Business Owner

Toni Tomlin is the Founder and CEO of Faith2Felicity, a lifestyle brand that helps individuals on their personal journeys by providing a range of products infused with positive energy and inspiring messages to nurture faith, hope, and optimism. With beautiful jewelry and thoughtfully curated items, Faith2Felicity aims to boost self-esteem and cater to the unique needs of each customer, serving as a reminder of their intentions for love, success, peace, or good health.Toni‘s immense sense of responsibility to help people led her to launch Faith2Felicity. With a 20-year career in the US Navy and nearly 15 years of service as a civil servant to the American public, Toni earned an MBA from the University of Maryland University College and is certified as an Integrated NLP Practitioner. Her background and expertise, combined with her calling to serve others through positivity, encouragement, and faith, make her a true inspiration.Toni started her business creating jewelry using natural gemstones and crystals and has since expanded to offer products that convey positivity, including candles, apparel, and journals. Faith2Felicity takes pride in designing with beautiful colors, textures, and just enough bling to strengthen one’s confidence.In October 2021, Toni opened Faith2Felicity’s Crystal Cafe at The National Harbor outside of Washington, DC, the company’s first retail location. Here, customers can design and customize their own jewelry, creating a personalized and unique experience. Toni‘s passion and dedication to helping others, coupled with her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, have driven Faith2Felicity to become a thriving business that serves the community.Toni is married with three adult children and resides in Southern Prince George’s County in Maryland. Her mission is to uplift those in need through her products and to spread positivity and encouragement wherever she can.

Website: https://faith2felicity.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/toni-tomlin-mba-81427319/

Jenn Tsang
Founder and CEO at Sqwishful

An optimist who loves to clean, Jenn Tsang is the founder and CEO of Sqwishful. After a health discovery that led her to live a more low-impact lifestyle, she founded Sqwishful in 2018 to inspire a clean start. Sqwishful’s award-winning, zero waste kitchen and home essentials have been featured in The Wall Street Journal and are available worldwide. Outside of her passion for clean cleaning, Jenn is proudly a WOC owner, hormone health advocate, and someone who aspires to bowl a perfect 300.

Brown is the recipient of the 2017 Movers and Shakers NV Magazine and 2017 Global Spirits award, as well as the Certificate of Appreciation from ACT Inc. (Artists for Creative Theatre)

Website: https://sqwishful.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/spongelady/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sqwishful/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sqwishful/

Iconic Fireside Chat Speaker

Carol Stillwell
President & CEO of Stillwell-Hansen, Inc.

Carol Stillwell, Owner and President of Stillwell-Hansen, Inc., a leader in data center infrastructure solutions. S-H offers a complete complement of data center products including power, precision cooling, fire protection and traditional HVAC products. Carol joined founders Gordon Stillwell and Paul Hansen in 1964, rising thru various roles in the company before becoming President in 1996. During her time as President, she has helped the company realize unprecedented growth in terms of sales volume, and along the way has achieved numerous business awards and recognition for the company’s excellent customer service and expertise. Stillwell-Hansen has consistently had the honor of being named as one of New Jersey’s top 250 companies, while Carol has proudly been recognized as one of the top women business leaders in the state each year from 2009-present.

In addition to leading Stillwell-Hansen, Carol has devoted her life to many philanthropic causes in a heartfelt mission to improve the lives of others. Among Carol’s most recent efforts 180 Turning Lives Around, Ashley Lauren Foundation, Bayshore Hospital Foundation, Brookdale Community College, CASA of Monmouth County, CFC Loud and Clear, Count Basie Theatre, Monmouth County Historical Society, Monmouth County SPCA, Monmouth University, United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Tigger House, and the Valerie Children’s’ Center at Monmouth Medical. Carol has been profoundly humbled to be honored by many of the organizations she supports, awards too numerous to list. However, she is most proud of the difference her efforts have made in directly benefiting the underserved children and families in the community which those groups work so tirelessly to assist.

Carol’s business success, combined with her outstanding philanthropic efforts, has made her a natural choice for selection to serve on the Board of Trustees for many organizations. She is currently honored with the privilege serving on the following Boards: 180 Turning Lives Around, Brookdale Community College Foundation, Bayshore Medical Center Foundation, CASA, Count Basie Theatre, Hackensack-Meridian Hospital Advisory Board, Lunch Break Advisory Board, Mercy Center, Monmouth County Historical Society, Monmouth University Board of Trustees, Parker Family Advisory Board, SCAN, Tigger House, United Way of Monmouth and Ocean, YMCA.5

Carol’s 2023 most memorable highlights include being named a NJBIZ ICON AWARD winner, recognition by 180 Turning Lives Around for her dedication to the community, receiving an honorary degree in business from Georgina Court University, being awarded the NJBIZ Lifetime Achievement Award for the top 50 Women in Business, and is currently an MRCC Athena award finalist, winner to be announced November 2023.

Carol is graciously assisted in her many philanthropic efforts by her twin sister Mary Ann Larkin. She is the proud mother of one son, Scott Belford, as well as GC to many wonderful grandchildren and Godchildren.

Last Year’s Speakers for WER8

MC

Karen Gross
Singer, Communications Expert, and Host/Founder of She Rocked It

Karen Gross is passionate about Communication that sings.™ She believes that both words and music have the power to inspire, inform, connect, and comfort us. Since launching her own communications company in 2013, she has collaborated with some of the nation’s most influential, pioneering leaders and organizations, crafting messages, copy, and speeches that resonate and get results. Previously, Karen spent over a decade as a communications manager, magazine and newspaper editor, reporter, and publicist. Additionally, over the past two decades Karen has performed as a cabaret singer and songwriter at some of the region’s most distinguished venues including Lincoln Center in NYC and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Most recently, Karen launched She Rocked It — a media and mentorship platform where creative, courageous women rock it together. The She Rocked It podcast has featured interviews with trailblazing women leaders, creatives and entrepreneurs including GRAMMY nominees Divinity Roxx, Nnenna Freelon and Sonia De Los Santos.

For more information, visit www.karengross.com and www.sherockedit.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kgcommunications/

Keynote Speaker

Marilyn Schlossbach
Entrepreneur, Chef, Mother, Humanitarian 

Marilyn Schlossbach transcends the boundaries of the kitchen as an entrepreneur, mother, and active citizen spearheading social and environmental initiatives.

Created with her artist husband, Scott Szegeski, The Marilyn Group is recognized for its unique sense of place and welcoming vacation lifestyle.

Their shared passion for travel, culture, the arts, and the ocean culminate in the group’s restaurants, venues, and projects.

Together, she and Scott have heightened each other’s artistic expressions – hers in the kitchen and his in gyotaku art and craftsmanship – to nurture a company rooted in creativity, hospitality, equality, sustainability, and ohana.

Marilyn is a self-taught chef and author with a passion for the coast she calls home and a commitment to nurturing her community through the culinary arts.

Her work goes beyond her restaurants, advocating for sustainable agriculture, accessible culinary and hospitality training, and dining destinations that help underserved communities flourish. This is exemplified in her not-for-profit, Food For Thought By The Sea.

The organization provides a platform to improve underserved communities through creative culinary outlets, social awareness, and positive learning environments for youth. In addition, Marilyn and her Food for Thought by the Sea network have ensured a healthy meal at Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving and provided meal distribution during the pandemic. Since 2020, it has distributed over 150,000 meals to community members in need.

Marilyn furthers her community outreach efforts with her debut cookbook, “Feed This Community.” Each of the book’s eleven chapters are dedicated to eleven local charities that Marilyn and Food For Thought support – sharing their missions while also providing proceeds from cookbook sales.

When she is not at one of her successful venues or conducting community outreach, Marilyn spends time with her twin girls, Hari Mar and Rubi Dee, and husband, Scott Szegeski, relishing life at the Jersey Shore and traveling for continued inspiration.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marilyn-schlossbach-62325111/

Panelists

Shakira M. Brown
Award-Winning Leadership Communication Strategist and National Professional Speaker

Shakira MBrown is an Award-Winning Leadership Communication Strategist, Soft Skills Maven and Former Network TV Journalist. Her company, SMB Strategic Media LLC, creates customized coaching and learning experiences for associations, national/international conference events and corporate workshops/retreats for a wide swath of industries. She has over 25 years of experience, 13 industry awards for her work and is a seasoned business consultant. She’s been quoted in American Express Open Forum, Association Leadership, Institutional Investor, XM/Sirius Small Business Report, Crain’s Chicago Business, Black Enterprise and Smart Money among others. Shakira is a recognized national professional speaker, inspiring and educating thousands of business leaders around the nation annually.

Brown is the recipient of the 2017 Movers and Shakers NV Magazine and 2017 Global Spirits award, as well as the Certificate of Appreciation from ACT Inc. (Artists for Creative Theatre)

Website: https://shakirabrown.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shakirabrown/

Florence Dennis
Founder & CEO, Flows Tasty Treats LLC

Florence Dennis is the founder and CEO of Flows Tasty Treats LLC, a company dedicated to bringing visibility to African cuisine through the simple joy of snacking. Concurrently, she works for the New York City Department of Education as Director of Career Readiness within the Division of Multilingual Learners. 

Since starting her business in 2017, Ms. Dennis has participated and benefitted from several business training and mentorship programs in New Jersey. These include the Virtual Incubator Program by the Union County Economic Development Corporation; the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Program by Rutgers University; the Community Business Academy by Rising Tide Capital; and the The Back Office Support Program for Micro & Small Businesses (Bookkeeping)

by Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation. She is currently enrolled in Invest Newark’s StreetWise MBA Program and the Inner City Capital Connections Program. 

In 2020, her business was selected as one of the two finalists for the New Jersey Devil’s Buy Black Program. Through this program, Flows Tasty Treats received invaluable marketing and advertising exposure. It also led to an opportunity to have her flagship product “Toasted Corn and Peanut Mix” sold at the Prudential Center.

While Ms. Dennis prides herself in working hard to achieve her dreams, she knows that her success wouldn’t be possible without the village that supports and believes in her.

Website: https://flowstastytreats.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/florence-dennis-84929334/

Roe Couture DeSaro
Human Performance Leader & Speaker

Roe Couture DeSaro is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur for her outstanding achievements and contributions in the fields of leadership and women’s empowerment. As a young corporate executive, she broke several glass ceilings and has been helping others do the same since the ’80s, from her million-dollar stock trading company that partnered with E-Trade to successfully leading a sales team to over $100m in sales, Roe has been an advocate for breaking the status quo and changing the way women lead.

Roe’s life work has defined the life path of many women, particularly business and professional women who are seeking to make their mark. Her Gutsy Gals™ collective learning programs have led the way for balancing masculine and feminine energy to belong in the boardroom, as CEOs, and leading business owners, for the highest fulfillment of life and success. She has women taking more risks and achieving more than they ever had before gracefully. Today, she knows that Collaboration Leadership™ is the next level of success for men and women working side-by-side effectively. Her programs are designed using Roe’s knowledge, training, experience and connections to give you the tools and strategies you need to break glass ceilings, overcome any obstacle you may be facing and create the life that you’ve always dreamed of.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/beagutsygal/

Eileen O’Connor
Owner, DiCosmo’s Italian Ice

DiCosmo’s Italian Ice is a legendary family-run artisanal Italian Ice business. Using time-honored recipes, the DiCosmo family handcrafts small-batch Italian ice with real fruit and natural ingredients. The original Elizabeth location celebrated a successful 107th season. Eileen, a fourth-generation Di Cosmo, opened the Metuchen location in 2020 and is planning for expansion in 2024.

Although she grew up in the family business, it wasn’t until her adult life that she realized it was her passion. It was upon hearing the customer appreciation and feedback while assisting her parents at their shop that the spark was lit. She knew that her family had a unique product with a great story and a strong customer base that was worth expanding. Knowing the hours involved, she decided to postpone her dream to raise her family but began planning.

Eileen has built upon an incredible foundation by expanding the product offering, creating new recipes, modernizing equipment, and growing her social media following. She is a certified teacher with a background in Food Marketing and corporate sales experience.

Website: https://www.dicosmos.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eileen-o-connor-40887979/

Bertha Robinson
Executive Coach

Bertha C. Garcia-Robinson is the founder of Star One Professional Services, a business coaching and consulting firm that helps visionary business leaders move beyond goal setting to goal achievement. Her unique background and varied experience qualify her to help enhance and develop potential in people and business. Bertha works with leaders who take a people-centered approach to ensure results by developing leadership, communication, team engagement, and critical thinking skills. Bertha is the president of NJ Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO), and is an affiliate of The Trusted Advisors Network. She is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Website: https://www.staroneprofessional.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bertharobinson/