Presenters, Moderators & Mentors

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Presenters

Ashley Miles

CEO of Franklyn West

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Ashley Miles is an Award-winning Business Innovation + Growth Enablement Expert, Host of The Impossible Podcast, Helps C-Suite Unlock the Value of Liquid Talent to Drive Business Performance. Ashley is a Game Changer. Mobilizer. Builder and Scaler of Innovative Companies. Dynamic Business Leader paired with a Creative Spirit. Connector. She leads with a play-to-win mentality, stemming from her childhood days as a competitive Equestrian horseback rider, which explains her inner cowgirl spirit in life and business.

As CEO of Franklyn West, a new era business growth advisory and execution firm, Ashley is shaping the future of work in the growing on-demand economy by inserting vetted SWAT teams of top talent and solutions into companies to drive incremental growth. The firm was recently awarded by Inc Magazine and Globee Awards for its impact on F500 companies.

Previously, she served as the Global Chief Business Officer at Thrive Global, reporting directly to Founder/CEO Arianna Huffington. Led worldwide sales, marketing and operations focused on monetization and accelerating growth through SaaS and advertising partnerships. Prior, she spent six years helping to build and scale Refinery29, the leading digital media and entertainment company for women and exponentially helped scale Refinery29, drove and diversified revenue growth to a nine-figure business, including the launch and expansion of 29Rooms, the company’s most expansive offline activation. As Chief Client Officer, Head of Advertising, she led Refinery29’s ad/revenue growth strategy and execution.

Ashley served as RVP at Brand.net, an ad tech company and saw through its acquisition by Valassis and served as Executive Sales Director, Beauty at Time Inc., InStyle.com, where she piloted growth in the Beauty/Wellness category.

As a mother of two young girls, Ashley is proud to help women claim their power in business as Immediate Past President of New York Women in Communications/Matrix Awards. In her role as President, formally launched the #WomenHeard initiative to address the dramatic departure of women from the workforce post Covid-19. Ashley is a recipient of the NYWICI Award and served on the Board of Governors of Cosmetic Executive Women. She is a proud Louisiana native, Ole Miss Journalism/New Media alum and serves on the board of Preschool Partners.

Aubriana Alvarez Lopez

Head of Data Strategy, Samsung Ads

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Aubriana Alvarez Lopez is a strategic and data-driven executive who has had the ability to grow her expertise throughout the ever-evolving nature of AdTech. In her current role as Head of Data Strategy for Samsung Ads, Aubriana focuses on building and scaling new-to-market, lower funnel performance products. Through her deep understanding of product and audience development, she previously held the role as Chief Innovator at Digital Element. Her passion to build, innovate and solve complex puzzles extends in her advisory board roles with location-focused marketing company, GroundLevel Insights, and AI-driven startup, 4-Eyes. Her voice is ever present throughout the professional community as a member of the Samsung Ads Women+ Diversity & Inclusion Committee, a mentor within the She Runs It organization, and the host of the long-running weekly podcast, Location Weekly. Outside of the office, Aubriana loves being a mom to two amazing daughters, Coco and Lucy, and wife to her supportive, entrepreneur husband of 17 years, Jerome.

Candace Nelson

Serial entrepreneur and cupcake revolutionary

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Candace Nelson is a serial entrepreneur, Guest Shark, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Wall Street Journal contributor, and an expert in turning one’s passion into a profitable business. Currently, Candace can be seen as a recurring guest shark on Season 15 of ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, where she lends her expertise to budding entrepreneurs. Her book “Sweet Success: A Simple Recipe for Turning Your Passion Into Profit,” published by HarperCollins Leadership on November 8, 2022, reached #4 on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list, and her debut book “The Sprinkles Baking Book: 100 Secret Recipes from Candace’s Kitchen” is a New York Times Bestseller. Candace revolutionized the baking industry when she left a career in finance to start Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery and Cupcake ATM. She followed with the launch of Pizzana, a growing family of award winning Neapolitan pizzerias with locations in Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles. She continues to expand her portfolio of investments with CN2 Ventures.

Katie Kime standing in doorway

Katie Kime

Founder of Katie Kime designs

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Katie Kime is an Austin, TX-based designer known for her bold, expressive style and personalizable assortment of fashion, home and stationery. Founded in 2013, the Katie Kime brand is a world of prints and personalization. Deeply committed to artistry and craft, Katie takes pride in the quality of her items, each made to last, celebrating the union of style and substance. Her bold and playful prints encourage you to live a storied life and that personalized fashion and home decor allow you to express what makes you uniquely you.

Katie McClure standing on steps

Katie McClure

Co-Founder & CEO of MIRTH

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Inspired by the makers and rich traditions of heritage textiles in India, Katie McClure, together with her sister Erin Breen, founded MIRTH in 2016. MIRTH is a line of ethically made womenswear with a mission to create effortless pieces that tell stories rooted in culture and global exploration. Each collection, designed in collaboration with ethically employed artisans, is meant to be worn on holiday as easily as at home, from the beach to dinner, from the seaside to the mountains, and everywhere in between. Katie studied Textiles & Apparel at the University of Texas at Austin, but after graduation pursued jobs in event planning, recruiting, and sales. It wasn’t until a time of explorational travel in Southeast Asia that her interest in fashion returned full circle when the idea came to her to start MIRTH, combining a love of textiles, travel and caftans. The brand started as a line of everyday caftans and has expanded into a full line of womenswear, accessories and tabletop. Katie currently lives and runs the business in Houston, Texas, and travels as often as she can, including multiple annual trips to India and Peru to collaborate with MIRTH’s artisan partners.

Lydia Fenet

CEO of the Lydia Fenet Agency

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Lydia Fenet is the founder and CEO of the Lydia Fenet Agency, a boutique agency representing best in class charity auctioneers. Over her two-decade long career, Lydia served as the Global Managing Director of Strategic Partnerships for Christie’s and reshaped the fundraising landscape as the world’s leading charity auctioneer. She has single handedly raised over one billion dollars for more than 800 organizations and broken-down countless barriers for women in the auction industry. Widely recognized for her poise and power onstage, she has stood alongside celebrities including Bruce Springsteen, Hugh Jackman, Elton John, Matt Damon and Jerry Seinfeld to raise record-breaking donations for the most notable charities across the globe.

Lydia is the author of two best-selling books, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You & Claim Your Confidence as well as the podcast host of Claim Your Confidence in collaboration with Rockefeller Center. Her first book was optioned by Netflix in 2022 for a series that will be produced by Chernin Entertainment starring Kiernan Shipka as the lead.

Lydia is represented by CAA and travels internationally to speak to companies about unlocking their sales potential, empowering people in the workplace and the art of public speaking. You can follow her auctions, antics, and anecdotes on Instagram @LydiaFenet.

Nina Means

Director of the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator

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Nina is a multi-industry professional who began her career in public health research and metrics with experience in healthcare programs serving historically excluded communities globally for chronic and infectious diseases including breast cancer, safe water programs, maternal and child health, malaria and HIV.

In pursuit of a dream, Nina made a career leap into fashion with a move to Italy before returning to New York to work in the industry. As an FIT alum, she designed for notable brands such as Rebecca Taylor, American Eagle Outfitters, H by Halston for QVC. She has sold millions in designed products for global fashion brands, and received multiple awards and honors for her work.

Prior to relocating to Austin, Nina launched her namesake womenswear label available in specialty stores and online following the stint in Italy and New York to learn the ins and outs of the business.

With a passion for the next generation of the industry, she has served as an adjunct professor and is currently the Director of the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator. Nina develops students, emerging fashion businesses and creates gainful business and workforce development opportunities to the greater Austin area. She is strategic about empowering emerging fashion businesses, digital transformation, fostering key partnerships, and bridging the gap between creativity and commerce.

During the pandemic response, she advised hospitals and C-level executives on trisector solutions in health, fashion, and manufacturing during COVID-19 pandemic response.

She has since launched her consulting agency, CADRE Innovation, driving cross-industry product commercialization solutions. CADRE Innovation is a B2B consultancy with availability for product development and brand guidance opening in 2025. Individual consulting sessions are available through the end of 2024.

Nina has been featured in WWD, appeared as cover woman for Austin Woman Magazine, named one of 12 Women Shaping the Future of Austin by Austin Monthly Magazine, and was featured in a documentary on building creative teams alongside leaders from Pixar and Google.

Ukonwa Ojo

Founder/CEO of Zaia Ventures

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Ukonwa Ojo boasts an illustrious 26-year career across diverse industries. She is the Founder/CEO of Zaia Ventures, a Venture Studio committed to building and scaling businesses that serve underrepresented and marginalized communities. Two notable launches from the Venture Studio include Zaia Group Inc, a social media platform uniting the global Christian community for good and Ada & Edith Inc, a pioneering luxury womenswear brand bringing a comfort revolution to fashion with handcrafted Italian pieces for the multi-faceted modern woman.

Ukonwa has held key roles such as Global Chief Marketing Officer at Amazon Prime Video & Studios, M.A.C Cosmetics and Coty Consumer Beauty, and Brand President at COVERGIRL. Throughout her career, Ojo has earned over 60 awards and honors, including Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs and Black Enterprise 25 Women Changing the World. With her exceptional leadership, commitment to empowering marginalized communities and deep care for apparel design, she continues to make a lasting impact in business, beauty, fashion and beyond.