Speakers and Judges

  1. Keynote Speaker | Natalie Cofield

    20140609_NatalieCofield_034Ms. Natalie Madeira Cofield has been appointed to serve as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women's Business Ownership, effective Monday, March 1, 2021. In this role, Ms. Cofield serves as a senior executive providing executive oversight, management, leadership, and championship of female entrepreneurship.  As an assistant administrator, Cofield will oversee the largest expansion of the Women's Business Center (WBC) network in the history of the Small Business Administration across its nearly 140 center footprint and more than $70 million in federal grant-making to support the growth of women-led firms. Cofield is a seasoned entrepreneur and executive with over 15 years of experience in securing diverse capital, building strategic partnerships, and leading state and local
    economic development programs to successfully incubate and scale small business development and expansion initiatives in communities throughout the United States. 

    Learn More About Natalie

Competition Judges

  1. Andrew Lindsay 2

    Senior VP of Corporate Development and Business Development, HubSpot

    Andrew is responsible for the company's acquisitions activity, investments, and strategic partnerships. Prior to joining HubSpot, Andrew held strategy positions at Jawbone and he was previously a consultant with McKinsey & Company and an investment banker with Merrill Lynch. Andrew is based in San Francisco, CA and chairs the city's TechSF workforce investment group. He graduated from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School with a JD and an MBA and completed an undergraduate BS degree at Howard University.


    Chidi Erike_Headshot-1

    Global Business Group, Facebook 

    Chidi Erike received his undergraduate degree from SUNY Albany where he majored in marketing and finance, after which he worked in investment banking and played basketball professionally. Chidi earned his MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in 2012 and currently works as a Client Partner at Facebook where he works with disruptors, fast growing startups, to accelerate their growth. Chidi describes himself as “..an entrepreneurially minded leader and collaborative MBA with over 10 years of experience in Sales and Partnerships within the Tech and Banking industries.”


    James Whitner_Headshot-1-1

    Owner, The Whitaker Group 

    James Whitner is an American fashion entrepreneur and the owner of streetwear boutiques Social Status, A Ma Maniere, and A.P.B. A native of Pittsburgh, Whitner grew up in an impoverished area of the city and attended the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration. In 2004, Whitner was involved in an incident that spurred his decision to relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina and pursue his dream of opening a streetwear store. Since then, he has established himself as one of the sneaker industry’s most prolific business owners. With several high-end boutiques along the Eastern seaboard — including Social Status and A Ma Maniére — he has made a name for himself by opening well-curated stores in underserved markets and being a vocal advocate for diversity and equality in the footwear community. As a way of uniting his interests, from basketball and football to the future of retail, Whitner founded his own umbrella agency, The Whitaker Group.


    Brandon Jones

    Vice President, Global Sales Development,  ServiceNow

    Brandon Jones is a Sales and Operations executive with a track record of growing and scaling technology products into category leaders. He currently serves as Vice President and Head of the 250-person Global Sales Development organization at ServiceNow. Brandon previously led the Sales Development organization for LinkedIn for North America and spent nearly seven years in several global and operational and sales roles at Google. Brandon sits on the SCAN Health Plan’s corporate board and is passionate about investing and advising early-stage tech companies that are making bold strides toward a better future. Recently, Brandon launched Gravy, a community, newsletter, and conversation series focused on driving transparency and access to what it takes to build wealth.


    Earl Fitzhugh

    Partner, McKinsey & Company 

    Earl is a leader in McKinsey’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Practice as well as McKinsey’s Marketing and Sales Practice. Over his career at McKinsey, Earl has served clients across a variety of industries but focuses on technology, software, and as-a-Service companies ranging from pre-IPO and PE owned companies intent on maturing to the next S-curve of growth, to established incumbents seeking to optimize go-to-market efficiency and re-ignite growth by entering new markets. Earl is an expert in Commercial Excellence (Key Account Management, Pricing, Sales Effectiveness) and built McKinsey’s Remote/Inside Sales service line which focuses on leverage remote technologies and at-scale sales motions to optimize go-to-market strategies.