The 14th Annual Women in Leadership Conference is SOLD OUT. Registration is now closed.

The Women in Leadership Conference is an annual conference organized by a committee of MBA women leaders from the Rice University chapter of MBA Women International. This leadership conference was created with the objective of:
  • providing present and future women business leaders with a unique forum to exchange ideas
  • providing women an opportunity to gain thought leadership on professional development and issues important to women in today’s workforce
  • offering a significant opportunity for corporations and industry leaders to directly contribute to the development of women leaders in the community
The 14th Annual Women in Leadership conference will be held on Friday, February 14, 2014 at Rice University. This year’s theme, “A View from the Top,” features women who have scaled new heights to carve their place in history, leaving an incredible legacy for the women of tomorrow.

The keynote speakers and panelists include women who:
  • have explored new frontiers
  • actively shape for-profit and non-profits worlds
  • have used their leadership skills to achieve business success and personal fulfillment
  • inspire leadership in others
We invite you to attend this year’s conference to learn and network with these women who are innovators, influencers and inspirations in the workplace.

Attire is business casual.




Keynote Speakers

Morning Keynote Address: 8:15 to 9:15 a.m.
Angela Blanchard
President and CEO- Neighborhood Centers, Inc.

Through more than 30 years of experience, Angela Blanchard has reached an epiphany: a community should be defined by its strengths, resources, achievements and hopes – not its degree of “brokenness.” As president and CEO of Neighborhood Centers Inc., she has extended this community development framework throughout the Houston region to impact over 404,000 people a year. Under Angela’s vision and leadership, Neighborhood Centers remains the largest non-profit in Texas and is ranked in the top one percent of charitable groups in the nation. Her insightful knowledge of community revitalization and its impact has garnered three invitations to the White House to meet with community development leaders, senior white house officials and President Obama. Named one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women by Houston Women Magazine, Angela has also presented at the Clinton Global Initiative, the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) and TEDxHouston. She is a board member of the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) and was recently appointed to the GHP Regional Workforce Development Task Force.

Afternoon Keynote Address: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Jo Miller
CEO- Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc.

CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., Jo Miller is the creator of the Women’s Leadership Coaching® system, a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership positions in business. Used successfully by thousands of women worldwide, the system identifies the key steps women must take to advance into positions of influence and leadership—especially in industries long considered “a man’s world,” such as technology, finance, and energy. The Women’s Leadership Coaching® system covers specific strategic and tactical skills needed to break through those roadblocks and move ahead. Jo is an internationally sought-after speaker who delivers more than 60 presentations per year to audiences of up to 1,200 for women’s conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo has been developing and implementing coaching programs for emerging women leaders since 1998. She was named one of Silicon Valley’s “Women of Influence” in 2008 and serves on the board of advisors for Global Tech Women.


Visionary Leadership

Despite increasing representation, female executives are still relatively rare. What does it take to rise through the ranks of a successful organization? Highly accomplished women executives in various industries will share their experiences, advice and insight into their personal journeys rising up the corporate ladder.

Dorothy M. Ables
CAO, Spectra Energy Corp

Dorothy Ables is chief administrative officer for Spectra Energy Corp. She is responsible for the company’s information technology, audit services, human resources, support services and community relations functions. Dorothy also serves on the boards of Spectra Energy’s publicly traded partnership, Spectra Energy Partners, the United Way of Greater Houston, the Center for Houston’s Future and The Shepherd Society Governing Council at Rice University. She is a past president of The Junior League of Houston and The Children’s Fund. Dorothy received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.

Elizabeth Killinger
President, NRG Texas Retail and Reliant

Elizabeth Killinger currently serves as both president of NRG Texas Retail and Reliant, directing all aspects of the leading multi-brand retail business. Previously, she served the company in retail operations and residential leadership positions for more than 10 years. Before joining Reliant, Elizabeth spent 10 years with Arthur Andersen Business Consulting delivering management and IT services to businesses across the U.S., Norway and London. Among other service roles, she is on the executive committee, board and Executive Women’s Partnership for the Greater Houston Partnership. Elizabeth holds a B.B.A. in management information systems from the University of Houston.

Catherine Clark Mosbacher
CEO, Center for Houston’s Future, Inc.

After working as an attorney, public affairs consultant, and community volunteer, Catherine Clark Mosbacher joined the Center for Houston’s Future as president and CEO. Prior to this role, she served as board chair of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services in Austin and as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center for eight years. Catherine was named one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women; is founder of BEAR, Be a Resource for CPS Kids; was legislative counsel to Texas Eastern Corporation in Houston and assistant counsel to the United States Senate Legislative Counsel in Washington, D.C.; and has served on numerous nonprofit boards.

Kim Ruth
Texas State President & Houston Market President, Bank of America, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Kim Ruth is the central region commercial banking executive for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In this role, she is responsible for the business banking segment in an eleven-state area ranging from Arizona in the west, Michigan in the north, and Texas in the south. Kim joined Bank of America in 1994 and has been in the financial services industry for 25 years. Prior to her current role, she served as the global commercial banking southwest region executive for middle market and business banking. Prior to that role, Kim served as market executive for the south Texas global commercial banking group. She graduated from Bucknell with a degree in political science and minor in economics.

Frances M. Vallejo
Vice President and Treasurer, ConocoPhillips

Fran Vallejo is vice president and treasurer for ConocoPhillips. She has worked for ConocoPhillips and its predecessor companies for 26 years. Fran began her career as a geophysicist, working in seismic processing, interpretation technology, and Gulf of Mexico exploration. After a brief time in gas supply reporting, she took an education hiatus, earning her MBA from Rice University, where she was named a Jones Scholar. Fran serves on the Colorado School of Mines Board of Trustees and the Teach For America Houston Regional Board of Directors. Along with her MBA, she earned a bachelor’s degree in mineral engineering mathematics from Colorado School of Mines.

Leading a Team to the Top: Women in Management

You’re leading the expedition to the top. The climb will be intense. How do you cultivate the climbers’ skills and align the team for success? Today’s workforce is composed of teams that have many competing values at play. In this panel, women in management will share how they have helped their employees learn and grow personally and professionally.

Brigette Gage
Aero Materials Manager, GE Power & Water

Brigette Gage began her career as a tooling design engineer at Boeing. She then transitioned to GE and joined the aviation business, working in manufacturing engineering, production control and as shop supervisor. After becoming a Six Sigma BlackBelt, Brigette supported non-manufacturing functions and did a special assignment in marketing and sales finance before returning to manufacturing as a cost analyst, team leader, and materials leader. She transitioned to the GE Nuclear business, working as both supply chain and indirect sourcing leader, and then was a strategic sourcing leader with GE Aeroderivative. Today, she is the aeroderivative materials leader in distributed power.

Crystal G. Maxwell
Vice President – Wealth Management, UBS Financial Services

Crystal Maxwell is a wealth advisor, a unique designation held by a small number of top UBS financial advisors. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, the most recognized credential in the industry. Crystal is also a Certified Investment Management Analyst® after successfully completing coursework at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. The CIMA designation is the only advanced designation specifically for investment consultants. Crystal is actively involved with Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Rice University Alumni, and St. Anne Catholic School and Church. She earned a B.S. from the University of Houston and an MBA from Rice University.

Sherrie Reinhackel
Director of Accounting, Cockrell Interests

Sherrie Reinhackel is director of accounting for Cockrell Interests, a private, Houston-based investment management firm engaged in the management of public and private equity, real estate, oil and gas interests and a number of private investment partnerships and philanthropic activities. She has 32 years of leadership experience in the accounting, consulting, investment banking, and oil and gas industries. Sherrie served for nearly 20 years as CFO and director of finance for Simmons & Company International, one of the largest global independent investment banks specializing in energy. She earned a B.B.A. in accounting from the University of Houston and an MBA from Rice University.

Amanda Spielman
COO – Neurosciences, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System

Amanda Spielman is chief operating officer for neurosciences at the largest not-for-profit health system in Southeast Texas. In her role, she provides administrative leadership for the neurosciences program across the 11-hospital system, strategic and operational leadership for neurosciences, and executive leadership for the 501a physician employment organization. Amanda has over 15 years of management experience across multiple industries, working at Compaq and HP in business development and marketing prior to joining Memorial Hermann as the director of business development in 2005. She earned an MBA from Rice University and a B.S. from Louisiana State University.

Managing Across Mountains: Women with Global Careers

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, most companies have a global presence. Whether you are pursuing an international career or working with international teams, there are challenges navigating different cultures, customs, and countries. In this panel, women with international experience share their unique views on the rewards of international work.

Ann Berry
Vice President – Principal Investment Area, Goldman Sachs

Ann Berry is a vice president at Goldman Sachs’ private equity arm, the principal investment area. She captains Americas oil field services investing for Broad Street Energy Partners and also specializes in retail private equity. Ann is a director of Interline Brands and U.S. Security Associates, companies that have revenues in excess of $1 billion. She received her MBA (High Distinction) from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar and a Kennedy Scholar. Originally from London, Ann received her BA (First Class) from Cambridge University.

Jennifer Smith
Partner, Baker Botts

Jennifer Smith is a partner with over 23 years’ experience in the resolution of international disputes. She is qualified to practice law in the U.S., England and Wales. Her primary focus is complex international arbitration and international law, with substantial experience in the resolution of cross-border disputes arising out of international contracts, as counsel and arbitrator. Jennifer has significant experience in many industry sectors, including energy, petrochemicals, shipping and technology. Following graduation from law school, Ms. Smith served as a law clerk to the Honorable Lynn N. Hughes of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Kathleen Bellah
Managing Director, Marketing and Communications, Resources, Accenture

Kathleen Bellah leads marketing for Accenture’s Resources Operating Group. Resources includes the chemicals, energy, metals, mining, and utilities industries. She is responsible for image and business development activities and has been with Accenture for over 25 years. Kathleen also leads the Skills to Succeed program in the Houston office. Skills to Succeed is Accenture’s corporate citizenship program. By 2015, the company has committed to helping 500,000 people around the world develop the skills to get a job or build a business. Kathleen began her career as a consultant working in the energy and health care industries. She has a B.A. from Rice University.

Expedition Everest: Women Entrepreneurship

Are you aspiring to be a trailblazer? In this panel, women entrepreneurs will share stories of successfully climbing their own Everest. Come draw inspiration from their experiences: preparation for the adventure, stumbling blocks encountered and overcome, and the amazing views along the journey to the top.

Cindy Boyd
CEO, CBM Enterprise Solutions

Cindy Boyd is an experienced technology entrepreneur who is recognized for creating experienced, high-performance technology teams that provide solutions where “it’s never been done before.” Her newest venture, CBM Enterprise Solutions, LLC, is bringing to the market an innovative software, CBMvision™, aimed at automating equipment monitoring, allowing companies to maintain critical equipment based on condition and saving millions for industrial facilities.

Brenda Bazan
Co-Founder, MoolaHoop

Brenda Bazan is the co-founder of MoolaHoop, a crowd funding platform designed for women entrepreneurs. Her goal is to help thousands of women realize their dreams by providing a path to fund their business and creative ideas. Brenda’s career started at IBM where she held many executive positions focused on the small business market in the US and Europe. She left the corporate world to serve as development director of an international micro finance non-profit, consultant to women business owners in the U.S. and founder of her own small business providing yoga therapy to children and adults with special needs. Brenda earned a B.A. in Art History from Princeton University.

Lisa Roth
Principal, Montgomery Roth Architecture and Interior Design

Lisa Roth serves as a principal in charge at Montgomery Roth Architecture and Interior Design, which she formed in 1998. Her client list includes Walt Disney World, Harrah’s Casino, The Westin, The “W” Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Drew Brees, and Sammy Hagar. A member of Preservation Houston, Texas Children’s Ambassadors Club, The Children’s Museum of Houston, Contemporary Art Center, Audubon Institute, Preservation Resource Center, Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance, and many others, Lisa holds a Master of Architecture from Tulane University School of Architecture, where she graduated with honors, and a Bachelor of Interior Design degree from LSU.

Allison Lami Sawyer
CEO and Co-Founder, Rebellion Photonics

Allison Lami Sawyer is CEO and co-founder of Rebellion Photonics, an advanced optics company spun out of Rice University. The company is commercializing their unique snap-shot hyperspectral imaging technology that is used for chemical imaging video cameras for industries such as safety, defense, and biological research. She earned an MBA from Rice University and an M.Sc. in Nanoscale Physics from Leeds University(England). Previously, Allison worked at the Houston Technology Center, the region’s largest technology start-up incubator. Allison was listed on Inc. Magazine’s ’30 under 30’ list in 2012. Rebellion Photonics won the Wall Street Journal’s ‘Startup of the Year' in 2013.

Laurette Marie Veres
Producer, Bridal Extravaganza Show and Editor-In-Chief, Texas Weddings Magazine

Laurette Veres’ career focuses on creating quality content for niche markets. She started her first company at 24 and produced the leading magazine and tradeshow in the prepaid telecommunications industry for 17 years. Other industries Laurette has been involved with include home building, office products, health care, recycling, and bridal. Currently, she produces the Bridal Extravaganza Show, the largest bridal event in the country. Laurette has been at the helm of the Extravaganza and Texas Weddings Magazine for eight years. She lives in Montrose with her husband, twin boys and two Westies.

Communicating Along the Climb: Women on Effective Leadership

One of the most undervalued leadership qualities is communication. To ensure that everyone is aligned, leaders must effectively communicate goals, provide direction and keep employees motivated. In this panel, women share best practices for developing a vision and communicating the strategy for success.

Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm
Special Assistant to the President and CEO, Austin Community College

Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm is special assistant to the president and CEO of Austin Community College. Prior to her work in higher education, she owned Malcolm Consulting, assisting clients ranging from health providers to political campaigns and educational institutions. A Licensed Professional Counselor, Molly earned a B.A.S. in elementary education from SMU, an M.S. in counseling and guidance from Texas A&M University-Texarkana, and a Ph.D. in educational administration from The University of Texas at Austin. She has served on numerous non-profit boards at the state and local levels and has received many awards because of her commitment to public service.

Susan Rudolph
Communications Director, Phillips 66 Global Marketing

Susan Rudolph is communications director for Phillips 66 Global Marketing. She joined the company as internal communicator for over 1,000 employees across the U.S. and Europe. In this role, she also welcomed the opportunity to create external communications, including writing the executive speeches for the 2013 Phillips 66 customer conference. Recently, Susan began building the communications program for a new strategic marketing project, while managing its messaging. Previously, she managed development events at the Children’s Museum of Houston. Susan earned an MBA from Rice University and a B.A. in art history, cum laude, from Washington and Lee University.

Christine R. Spray
President, Strategic Catalyst

Christine Spray is a nationally recognized business development keynote speaker, consultant, trainer and coach. She serves as CEO and business advisor with a passion for helping people and companies grow. Christine launched Strategic Catalyst after working in public accounting and industry in senior leadership roles with start-up, restructuring and growth responsibilities. She recognized that by aligning business goals with marketing, human resource and business development strategies, organizations could leverage new business opportunities for far greater results. With 20 years experience, Christine has created proven programs for management.

Molly Whitaker
Director of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners

Molly Ladd Whitaker is director of investor relations and corporate communications for Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP, a Houston-based midstream energy company, working daily with the C-level team on managing internal and external communications for the master limited partnership. Her career is rich with experience in companies ranging from Fortune 100 to startups and includes commercial and investor relations positions at Transco and Williams, equity research at Merrill Lynch, running community relations for El Paso Corp. and founding Ladd Corporate Communications Strategies, LLC. Molly received her MBA from Rice University.



Visitor parking is available in the Central Campus Garage, the underground garage beneath the Jones Graduate School of Business (McNair Hall). To park in this garage, enter from Rice Boulevard (Entrance # 20), and turn right at the second stop sign. The building and entrance to the garage will be on your left. Take the elevators at the east end of the garage to the first floor.

Click map to view larger


National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) is dedicated to empowering graduate women in business in order to propel more women into leadership positions in corporate America and to enhance diversity in the workplace.

The NAWMBA chapter at the Jesse H. Jones School of Business achieves this goal through:
  • Organizing networking events with alumni, professional women, and local NAWMBA chapter members
  • Planning the annual Women in Leadership Conference at the Jones School
  • Encouraging attendance at the NAWMBA National Conference and Career Fair
  • Providing support through mentoring opportunities
  • Raising awareness through community outreach
For more information regarding the Rice Chapter’s NAWMBA programs, please visit: business.rice.edu/nawmba

Silent Auction

In conjunction with our Annual Women in Leadership conference, we are hosting a silent auction to raise funds to offer scholarships to women pursuing their MBAs. Donations to the 2013 conference helped NAWMBA award scholarships worth over $5,000, and in 2014 we hope to increase those gifts.

Featured items include:
  • Wine tastings
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Gift certificates to the city’s best restaurants, bars, boutiques and more!


Thoughts from Past Scholarship Winners

All proceeds from NAWMBA's Women in Leadership Conference go directly to supporting scholarships for female Rice MBA students.

"I have truly enjoyed being a part of NAWMBA during my time at Rice. From the first event onward, NAWMBA provided an opportunity for me to develop strong relationships with other professional women. I was able to learn from the Class of 2013's experience at school and in their job searches, and I have been able to pass that knowledge on to the Class of 2015. I believe it is crucial that women continue to take on leadership roles in the workplace, and I am confident that NAWMBA provides Rice women MBA's with the opportunity to practice and develop the leadership skills necessary to succeed. I am grateful for the NAWMBA scholarship and the women I have met through NAWMBA, and I look forward to continuing to implement what I have learned as I move forward in my career."
- Caitlin Weidig, Class of 2014

"NAWMBA has been an incredible part of my MBA experience. The organization has connected me with professional women in Houston and beyond, and it has provided me with invaluable opportunities to learn and to lead. As a member of the board this year and last year, I have worked with incredibly talented and fun women who continue to inspire me with their passion and abilities. I have loved serving the Rice University NAWMBA chapter, which has a clear commitment to the NAWMBA mission. Rice's local NAWMBA conference exemplifies this mission through a program that celebrates women in leadership. I am honored and grateful to have been chosen as one of the 2013-2014 scholarship recipients, and I am excited about continuing to serve the organization throughout the school year. "
- Jennifer Richards, Class of 2014

"The National Association for Women MBAs is an amazing organization dedicated to empowering women and I am honored to serve as the Rice Chapter President for the 2013-2014 academic year. Our Chapter Board has organized numerous impactful events to enhance the professional development of our student members and position them for success in leadership positions across business industries. I am grateful to be the recipient of a NAWMBA scholarship and feel honored to be recognized by an organization whose mission I feel passionate about."
- Emily Hampton Collins, Class of 2014  

About the Jones Graduate School of Business

The Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University is one of the world’s leading business schools. Named in honor of the late Jesse Holman Jones, a prominent Houston business and civic leader, the Jones School is distinguished by its strong foundation in accounting, finance, marketing, and management with areas of excellence in energy, entrepreneurship, and health care.

Degreed programs include the Rice MBA, MBA for Executives, and MBA for Professionals as well as joint MBA degrees in medicine, mechanical engineering and professional science. A PhD in Business attracts candidates aspiring to become faculty members at business schools in prestigious research universities internationally. The Jones School also provides an undergraduate business minor and full schedule of non-credit executive education open enrollment and customized courses for business and industry along with certificates in finance and accounting, health care and marketing.

To learn more: business.rice.edu

2014 Board Members

Emily Hampton Collins ‘14

Sima Jani ‘14
VP of Development

Krishna Desai ‘14
VP of Development

Taylor Throckmorton ‘14
VP of Events

Jennifer Richards ‘14
VP of Events

Catherine Allen ‘14
VP of Finance

Sara Loewy ‘14
VP of Marketing

Diana Hua ‘14
VP of P-MBA Relations

Caitlin Weidig ‘14
VP of External Affairs

April Sinha ‘15
1st Year Officer

Brittany Wright ‘15
1st Year Officer

Letter from the Organizers

Dear Women in Leadership Conference Attendees,

Welcome to the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. We are pleased to announce the National Association of Women MBA’s (NAWMBA) 14th annual Women in Leadership Conference. As in years past, this event seeks to educate, empower, and connect MBA students and women from various industries in the Houston area through a series of thought-provoking panels from the perspective of women in the business arena.

While women have made much progress in business, there is still much work to be done. This year’s Women in Leadership Conference, themed A View from the Top, aims to innovate and inspire women in our communities. You will hear from a diverse set of women leaders from a variety of industries about their personal path to the top and what happens afterwards. We are pleased to share with you remarkable stories from truly inspirational women who have led expeditions and moved mountains, sometimes forging their own path, and in doing so, redefining success and happiness. Our intent is to facilitate professional and personal relationships and to enhance the development of thought leadership by providing a unique opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the most inspiring women leaders in the community.

Without the support of the students, staff and faculty of the Jones Graduate School of Business and the generosity of our corporate sponsors, the NAWMBA Women in Leadership Conference would not be possible. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all those involved and to our speakers and panelists for taking time to share their ideas and insights.

Finally, thank you for joining us. We encourage you to meet new people, inspire, and be inspired. Hopefully, this event will help you in your journey to the top and beyond.

The NAWMBA–Rice Chapter Board

Event Information Title

14th Annual Women in Leadership Conference
Friday, February 14, 2014
7:30 am - 4:30 pm
McNair Hall, Rice University

Event Sponsors Title

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