October 18, 2020, Virtual Event

Sallay Kim, MTA, CMP


Sallay joined us to shared her amazing story of Pursuit, Perseverance, Passion and Pivot.

Sallay Kim is the Director of Serenity Event Solutions, LLC, a small event planning company in San Diego, California, offering Peace of Mind Every Time! Serenity is an independent, disabled veteran, woman owned business dedicated to helping each of our clients make their event a success. Exhibiting a passion for detailed execution, Sallay garnered unprecedented amounts of life experience while serving in the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Officer all the while developing, planning and executing unconventional events along with executive level conferences, meetings, galas and retirement/promotion ceremonies.

Sallay worked on a number of high profile events in Washington, D.C. and brings her planning expertise to produce events across the country.  Recent projects include conferences for Rady Children’s Hospital for Genomic Medicine and Dataiku along with fundraisers such as the IC Charity Walk, the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce Annual Gala and Madmen on the USS Midway.  

Her commitment to service extends beyond planning day-to-day events as she volunteers her time and efforts as a Board Member of the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation fundraising to beautify the final resting place of our Nation’s heroes.  Additionally, she served as a member of a Distinguished Speaker Series Committee bringing the leaders of San Diego to speak about timely subjects that affect the city and its residents. 

Sallay is a graduate of George Washington University’s Masters of Tourism Administration Program with a concentration in Event and Meeting Management and holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. Additional qualifications include the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Designation, Cvent certification and IATAN Accredited. 

When she’s not planning the way of the world, Sallay enjoys traveling it along with spending quality time with her husband, Tae, and fur baby, Milo. She’s a diehard Washington, DC sports fan, loves to read, is an avid (indoor) cyclist, boxer, and part time golfer who enjoys making the most of her time with deliberate connections with family and friends. 

July 27, 2020, Virtual Event

Barbara Furlow-Smiles, Global Diversity & Inclusion Engagement Leader

Barbara Furlow-Smiles is the Global Engagement / Internal Resource Group Program Manager for Facebook. She has more than ten years’ experience in diversity and employee resource group management. In her previous role as Manager for Diversity and Inclusion at MTV Networks, she led the diversity strategy for internal engagement and employee affinity groups domestically and globally. MTV named her Employee of the Month (out of 15,000+ employees) in 2013 for being the most inclusive employee. In her past role as Program Manager for University Relations/Diversity at Cox Communications, she was instrumental in establishing partnerships to increase diversity recruiting efforts with top HBCUs. She has a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College. She’s currently obtaining her Executive MBA from UCLA.

Barbara is deeply passionate about giving voice to the voiceless. She believes the secret to being free is being fearless, owning your greatness, and acknowledging no regrets. Barbara spoke about “How to Unapologetically Own Your Greatness,” showing us how the 4 B’s can catapult each of us to greatness:


June 18, 2020, Virtual Event
Christiana Serle, MPH, CHES, Health & Wellness Consultant

Christiana Serle is a Mindfulness Practitioner who led our group on a discussion about the “Pandemic of Presence“.

As a former college athlete and current triathlete, Christiana Serlé had always thought fitness and nutrition were paramount to improving performance and overall health.  Her perspective shifted completely when attending a 10-day silent meditation while grieving a loss.  Afterwards, she began to apply mindfulness to areas of her life like eating, parenting and relationships and discovered that improving quality of life begins with awareness.  Christiana has coached over 200 companies and thousands of individuals on incorporating principles of mindfulness to improve the wellbeing of families and employees.    

Christiana has a Masters Degree in Public Health, is certified as a Health Education Specialist and is a qualified teacher of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program through the UC San Diego School of Medicine.   She was recently recognized by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) as one of the Top 10 Health Promotion Professionals in the country.  She lives in Miami, Florida with her husband and two young children.  

 In “Pandemic of Presence”, Christiana shared simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into our lives.  Now more than ever, being present for the life you are living can reduce stress and anxiety and illuminate your path to happiness and fulfillment.

May 30, 2020, Virtual Event
Alisa Pospekhova, CEO & Founder of Kindroot

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Kindroot was founded by Alisa Pospekhova, a health and wellness enthusiast, avid yogi, and then-aspiring herbalist. Having felt the transformative power of holistic nutrition and plant-based supplements for management of her own auto-immune condition, she set out to develop a line of fun and accessible supplements that people would actually look forward to taking. The result was Adaptogems, lozenges that help the body balance while adapting to and resisting negative effects of stress.

In “Nurturing a Business and Nurturing Yourself,” Alisa will shared how blending her professional experience with her personal interests led her to build a company in the wellness industry, from idea to launch.

Prior to serving as CEO of Kindroot, Alisa spent fifteen years building and managing healthy food, wellness, and beauty brands across the globe, holding senior-level marketing positions at Unilever, The Wonderful Company, Nestle and Manduka Yoga. She has an MBA from UCLA Anderson. She lives in Manhattan Beach, and in her free time continues her education in holistic medicine, herbalism and yoga. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

May 20, 2020, Virtual Event
Erringer Helbling and Cadienne Naquin, Co-Founders, The Command Presence Foundation

Erringer Helbling and Cadienne Naquin

Empowered Women Brunch was thrilled to have our first virtual fireside chat, where we welcomed Erringer Helbling and Cadienne Naquin, co-founders of the Command Presence Foundation. They spoke with EWB founder Rachel Kozy on “Finding Your Command Presence.”

When the uniform comes off, so does confidence. In entering a new world, many women who have served struggle to maintain their command presence. What is command presence? In the military, it is your ability to stand in front of troops and lead the way. It is your ability to lead others with confidence, no matter the circumstance.

Too often, U.S. military veteran women struggle with this alone. The conversation covered how veterans and civilians alike can find a safe place of trust, rediscover their value, strengthen and develop their confidence, and overcome psychological challenges such as imposter syndrome and isolation.

Erringer is the Executive Director of the Command Presence Foundation and a Systems Engineer at Hawkeye 360, a radio frequency-based geoanalytics company. Before landing at Hawkeye, she was the Falcon 9 launch vehicle landing legs planner at SpaceX, and prior to that, she served in the Active Army as an Engineer Officer. She earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Systems Engineering from the United States Military Academy and a Masters of Science in Engineering (M.S.E.) in Systems Engineering from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering.

Cadienne (Cadie) Naquin serves as an Economic Analyst for the United States Department of Defense, where she provides insights to senior defense and national decision-makers. Before transitioning to the government, Cadie served as a Senior Analyst with Renaissance Strategic Advisors, as well as short stints at the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, and the New York District Attorney’s Office. She graduated from Columbia University in the City of New York with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in International Relations with Cum Laude and Departmental Honors.

May 2, 2020, Virtual Event
Jeannie Czerner Rodway, Life Coach

a headshot of Jeannie Czerner Rodway

Jeannie Czerner Rodway is a seeker, human connector and believer of laughter. After following a very traditional success path outlined by her second-generation parents and finding incomplete joy, Jeannie choose a bold path. She cut off her hair and went through the emotional rebirth of becoming a life coach. (Insert credit to her wife, because meeting and marrying a life coach was divine intervention.)

After earning her MBA and working at the likes of Google and General Mills, Jeannie’s coaching path revealed to her that you can have success and be grounded in the practices of presence. Jeannie has spent the last six years combining her experiences in tech, retail, finance, advertising and coaching to help clients, coworkers and her teams bring more energy, clarity and trust to their paths. She and her wife Ali Czerner Rodway are co-founders of Lovejoy Leadership.

In “How COVID-19 Impacts Our Sense of Self — and How to Use This for Success,” we explored how judgments and expectations show up in everyday life (the good and the less productive), especially under the magnifying glass of COVID-19. Our time together was spent reflecting, sharing and goal setting to create results with a new calmness.

April 28, 2020, Virtual Event
Carolyn Flower, CEO of Oxygen Publishing

a headshot of Carolyn Flower

Carolyn Flower is a bestselling author and CEO of Oxygen Publishing.  She empowers individuals, experts, and leaders to write books, build authority in the marketplace, and make a powerful impact in the world.  She integrates personal growth and mindset strategies into her twenty-eight-year practice and offers her clients value-rich personalized and structured guidance to achieve publishing goals and start changing lives.

In “Creating Abundance During Crisis,” Carolyn walked us through how we can move from a place of fear to a place of self-discovery and growth. She discussed how we can use our time during this “great pause” more efficiently with a focus on perspective, gratitude, and the law of attraction.

March 7, 2020, Los Angeles, CA
Felicia Alexander, Co-Founder of BoxUnion

The Empowered Women Brunch group was thrilled to welcome Felicia Alexander, co-founder of BoxUnion, on Saturday, March 7th in Los Angeles. She spoke on “Leaping from Your Comfort Zone to Achieve Big Dreams.”

As an MBA who spent 20+ years in the corporate world as a sales and marketing executive, Felicia found a way to overcome her fears and start a business she was truly passionate about. She co-founded BoxUnion, which combines mind, body, music, and boxing in a hyper-efficient total body workout. While these workouts empower, instill confidence, and reduce stress, Felicia uses these same principles to motivate and support others in making the leap from comfortable jobs to realizing their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.

West Coast Kickoff Event!
January 11, 2020, Los Angeles, CA
Monica Parikh, Founder of School of Love NYC

The Empowered Women Brunch group hosted our first West Coast event on Saturday, January 11th in Los Angeles. We were delighted to welcome Monica Parikh, Founder of School of Love NYC, who spoke on “Finding Your Voice & Speaking Your Truth: Why Boundaries Matter.”

Boundaries are the ability to hear and say no appropriately. Far too many women lose their voice in high-stakes relationships, especially romance and work. Monica is teaching a global audience how to step into their power to build healthy, mutually beneficial relationships. Read more in Monica’s blog post, “5 Truths About Healthy Boundaries.”

Funny and down-to-earth, Monica seamlessly integrates psychological and spiritual truths, giving women and men the tools to succeed at love. She has an online course through MindBodyGreen, contributes to publications like Bustle and ManRepeller, and gives public talks at places like The Soho House. Visit Monica’s website here.

June 19, 2019, Washington, DC
Tracie Weber, PHR
Resume Review Workshop

Tracie Weber is a Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist (aka recruiter) specializing in putting veterans back to work. As a former Naval Officer, Tracie’s focus is helping service members make the transition from the military to the civilian workforce. Having worked for the largest staffing agency in the country, The Boeing Company, and two DC-based defense contractors, Tracie brings a well-rounded perspective to the job search that covers the candidate, the recruiter, and the hiring manager’s perspective. Tracie has her MBA from the Citadel Graduate College and her PHR Certification from HRCI. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

October 10, 2018, Washington DC
We moved from brunch to happy hour and had two guest speakers!

Ris Lacoste

Ris Lacoste is one of the most respected and dedicated chefs working in Washington D.C. today. She has earned her reputation built upon high-quality ingredients, bold innovative technique, and food that is both familiar and simply delicious.

A James Beard nominated chef, Ris Lacoste is chef and owner of her West End DC bistro, RIS., which was listed in the 2016 Michelin guide as one of DC’s top restaurants. Learning her craft from the famed Anne Willan at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, Ris returned stateside and started a long, rewarding career at The Harvest in Cambridge, MA, 21 Federal in Nantucket, MA, Twenty-One Federal in Washington DC, Kinkead’s American Brasserie, and 1789 Restaurant.

Ris is also well known for her commitment to community involvement. She sits on the advisory board of the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, The Kitchen Cabinet; she is a member of the State Department’s Culinary Diplomatic Corps; she is on the Executive Committee of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW); and is a member of the Women’s Forum of Washington DC, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, and Les Dames d’Escoffier.

Beyond the kitchen, Ris’s favorite place to be is in the middle of a local famers’ market, hunting down the freshest fruits and vegetables and creating relationships with her farmers. These markets are not only a source of inspiration for her cuisine, but also a meeting point to talk about the importance of investment in the local community and dedication to the ideals of local and sustainable farming.

Aviva Goldfarb

Aviva Goldfarb is a Washington Post and Bethesda magazine contributor, author of 4 cookbooks, and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble, an online healthy meal planner. She is a marketing consultant and business coach for food related ventures and non-profits and a freelance writer about food and travel. Learn more about her at AvivaGoldfarb.com.

June 23, 2018, Washington, DC
Kristina Han, Founder & CEO of Own Your Wonder

Kristina is pioneering makeup-as-a-service with the creation of DC’s first makeup bar, a unique and inspiring beauty experience with its first location in Georgetown. Own Your Wonder makes professional makeup services affordable and accessible for even the busiest women in an inclusive and inviting space. Kristina is a Harvard-educated lawyer and an Olympic swimmer.

April 21, 2018, Washington, DC
Ellie Thompson, Founder of Venyou & Money Therapy

Ellie is the Founder of Venyou and Money Therapy. Prior to the creation of her businesses, Ellie worked at J.P. Morgan and HelloWallet, helping individuals and Fortune 500 employees maximize their financial potential. Her current company, Money Therapy, helps individuals pay down debt, set savings goals, and start investment accounts. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Kickoff Event!
January 20, 2018, Washington, DC
Monica Parikh, Founder of School of Love NYC

Not only was Monica the guest speaker at our inaugural east coast event, she was also the guest speaker at our inaugural west coast event two years later. We are so grateful to have her as a friend, supporter, and guide.  Visit her website here.