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2020 Take No Bull Women’s Conference – Bios


This year's event had some amazing speakers and panelists discussing topics that resonated with attendees with varying backgrounds. Check out the event gallery below.

Note: Speakers and panelists agree to the usage of their photos for pre/post-event promotional purposes.

Angelique Stallings Headshot

Angelique Stallings


Angelique Stallings is a marketing and media consultant and business owner. She is a self- described conduit, intentionally making every effort to help people get connected to their purpose. Angelique is an active member of the Durham community, and is unapologetically an advocate for women, especially black women, and the underserved and underrepresented. Angelique is a graduate of THE North Carolina Central University, a member of Delta Sigma Theta ,Incorporated, an information junkie, and the Proud Mama of her greatest Love Dajah. Angelique lives by the Motto, “when People show you who they are, believe them.” (Dr. Maya Angelou)

You: The Brand

In today’s digital world, it’s much easier for an opinion to be formed about you long before—if ever—you meet your audience. Alisha Robertson will share how you can build and manage your brand—digitally or otherwise—for success.

Alisha Robertson Headshot

Alisha Robertson

(Morning Keynote)

Alisha Robertson is an author and the founder of Living Over Existing; a podcast, newsletter & community for women entrepreneurs who want to run a successful business without sacrificing the life she desires. After experiencing severe burnout, Alisha tore down everything she thought she knew about what a successful entrepreneur is and decided to build a brand that helped women to focus on building their business and life. Alisha strives to help women entrepreneurs to launch, grow and scale their brands but also help them to prioritize themselves in the process.

The Courage to Lead

Long before the #MeToo movement, women and men have been taking a stand on issues that matter to not just women, but communities overall—breaking down barriers to success at work and home, while often balancing multiple roles and responsibilities. Learn from courageous women who’ve made it their life’s mission to remove barriers like sexual harassment, pay equity, racism, and sexism, and command the respect and place women deserve. Learn strategies to address these and other barriers with confidence and get the results you want.

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Heather Pownall

(Afternoon Keynote)

We’ll hear from Heather Pownall, who has been learning about and working to advance women and minorities in the workplace for over a decade. Based in Durham, Heather now works as Chief Development Officer at the Association for Women in Science. Heather will show us how to tap into our inner courage so that we can show up as the most powerful version of ourselves as women and leaders.

Crushing Female Stereotypes

Ever been told, “that’s not for girls?” or “That’s a man’s job?" And you proved them wrong? The women on this panel will discuss their journey to unconventional roles and how they are ensuring more women take similar paths.

Nicole Thompson Headshot

Nicole Thompson


Nicole began her career in economic development while working for the Institute of Minority Economic Development in downtown Durham in the early 90s. Since then, she has worked in economic and community development on the state government, local government and nonprofit/community levels in North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado. She has experience in leading economic development efforts and growth in both rural and urban areas.

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Lee Anne Nance


Building on her years of experience as an executive in marketing, business consulting and economic development roles, Lee Anne is the first woman to serve on the executive team at Stewart, an interdisciplinary design, engineering and planning firm with more than 200 employees.


Leslie O'Connor


Leslie O'Connor serves as the Chief Emergency Manager for Durham City/County Emergency Management. She takes pride in coordinating the response and recovery from large scale disasters for the residents of Durham County, as well as working with residents to ensure their preparedness for such disasters. She has previous experience as a Firefighter, Public Health Preparedness Coordinator, and Radiological Emergency Preparedness Specialist. She is an active member of the Wake Canine Search and Rescue Team. Leslie is a 2014 Master's of Public Administration graduate from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She is also certified as a Project Management Professional.

Cherelle James Headshot

Cherelle James


The question isn’t whether you have a good product/service but are you Profitable?
Cherelle James is a Profit Strategist that is called upon to help make sense of the numbers and move businesses in the right direction. With an MBA and over ten years of consulting experience, she understands that at the foundation of every business is its financial state. Cherelle is the majority owner of My Local CFO, an outsourced CFO firm and speaks around the country teaching simple ways to add to your bottom line with ease. She has built a thriving business and has added hundreds of thousands of dollars for her clients.

Najuana White

Najauna White


As a hospitality sales and marketing strategist with 10+ years of experience in various industries, it has always been Najauna’s purpose to connect individuals to a brand through expressive content, storytelling, and community engagement.

12-Fix Plan to a Leaner, Healthier, Happier Life

With so much diet and health information thrown your way, it's hard to know what the most time-efficient and effective changes to make to improve your weight and health. Based on the latest scientific research, this session lays out the 12 most important fixes you can make for the biggest impact. Even changing how and when you eat and drink can make a big difference. Find out which trending topics like intermittent fasting, the keto diet, and kombucha are worth adopting.

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Judith (Judes) Scharman


Judes Scharman Draughon MS, RDN, LDN, also known as Foods With Judes, is a registered, licensed dietitian nutritionist and the author of Lean Body Smart Life and the soon-to-be-released book, 12 Fixes To Healthy: A Wellness Plan for Life. Judes inspires many groups, organizations, and businesses with her high-energy nutrition presentations, workshops, and seminars throughout the country.

Make Room for Champions

Women often see the success of other women as their own failure, assuming there is room for only one woman at the top. The reality is more women are ascending to leadership roles than ever before. Instead of seeing other women as competition, leverage those relationships to help other women who aspire to leadership roles.

Stelfanie Williams Headshot

Stelfanie Williams


Stelfanie Williams is Duke University’s vice president for Durham and community affairs. In this role, Williams leads Duke’s diverse and innovative community efforts in areas such as affordable housing, early childhood, K-12 and workforce education, community health, economic and community development, and civic engagement. She builds connections between Duke and Durham Public Schools, Durham Technical Community College and North Carolina Central University, as well as with non-profit and community-based organizations. Prior to joining Duke, Williams served as president of Vance-Granville Community College and was named 2018 President of the Year by the NC State Board of Community Colleges. A noted presenter and consultant on topics related to workforce and community development, Williams is active on a number of private boards, civic organizations, and commissions.

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Ellen Shannon


Ellen Shannon is an entrepreneur who has enjoyed a 40-year media career launching and building magazines, events, ancillary media and information products and services.

Adri Maisonet-Morales Headshot

Adri Maisonet-Morales


Adri Maisonet-Morales is Vice President of Learning Design and Delivery at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC). Adri is passionate about continuous learning and ensuring employees have the skills and knowledge to remain marketable in a rapidly evolving work environment. With a commitment to paying it forward, she serves on the boards of the North Carolina Business for Education, the Durham Chamber of Commerce, and actively supports a wide range of associations, charities and business development initiatives.

Dee McDougal Headshot

Dee McDougal


Dee McDougal is Senior Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Pacific Western Bank, a national provider of commercial banking services to startups, small & medium-sized businesses. Dee directs Pacific Western Bank’s corporate strategy, where she focuses on creating innovative, sustainable plans and programs that promote diversity & inclusion across the bank’s stakeholder groups. Her previous professional experience includes roles within financial services and commercial real estate. She is also co-founder of Black Wall Street, a nonprofit focused on increasing access to capital for minority entrepreneurs growing scalable companies.


Men are often not comfortable participating in conversations about diversity because they are unsure of their role or concerned about saying the wrong thing. This panelist of men will explore traits for inclusivity, share language and context to engage in discussions, and help foster a culture that creates better leaders, stronger businesses and more fulfilling careers.


Tobias Rose


As principal and creative director at Kompleks Creative, Tobias uses both sides of his brain to help people solve business, strategic and technical communication problems through different initiatives and creative solutions.

Geraud Statton Headshot

Geraud Staton


Geraud is the executive director of Helius. Helius provides coaching and mentoring for small businesses, primarily those run by necessity-driven entrepreneurs. Helius provides education through their LaunchDURHAM training, as well as provided access to capital and technical assistance through their many partners. Geraud believes whole-heartedly in Helius’s vision: “We see a North Carolina where everyone has the capability to support themselves and their families with dignity, in the face of racial, educational and financial inequity.”

Evan Sitton Headshot

Evan Sitton


Evan is an experienced commercial banking and community relations professional based in Durham, passionate about investing in communities to enhance economic opportunity for all.


Pablo Martinez


Pablo Martinez is head of Cyber Operations for Fidelity Investments, a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing and other financial products and services to more than 25 million individuals, institutions and financial intermediaries.

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Gracie Johnson-Lopez


Gracie is President of Diversity & HR Solutions, a consulting firm providing strategies on workplace culture. She’s known as an inclusion champion challenging the status quo and creating change.

Fire Your Boss

You’ve been told many times over that you have a gift that is worthy of its own business, but you’ve doubted and choose instead, to find “security” in working for someone else. Yet each day, you’re miserable because that “gift” is nagging at you. These women will show you how to turn your passion and skills into a lucrative, sustainable business.

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Queen Precious-Jewel Zabriskie


Queen Precious-Jewel Earth Zabriskie is the Executive Chef of Indulge Catering, LLC. and oversees creating all the unique indulgent menus that strive to leave a lasting impact on all her guests’ palate.

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Sally Scruggs


Sally Fry Scruggs is a web + graphic designer. After 5 years working in publishing while moonlighting as a freelancer, she fired her boss* and turned her side-gig into a full-time career so she could have more control of her work-life harmony. Her business, 88 Creative Studio, primarily serves women-owned businesses dedicated to positive impact. Sally lives in Durham with her partner Matt and daughter Charlie. *Sally is now friends with the former boss, who is also a client.

Joye Speight Headshot

Joye Speight


Highly sought after award winning event planner and designer, Joye Speight has been in the hospitality industry for 20+ years planning events from New York to South Florida. She has created one of the most highly sought after minority woman-owned event management companies in North Carolina, Virtue Events. Inc. Virtue has been responsible for creating, designing, and planning cultural and nationally recognized events such as The Art of Cool Festival, Moogfest, and The Grammys and been featured on Bravo TV. Having worked with several Grammy-award-winning artists, Virtue has raised the bar for event management companies worldwide. Joye has been voted “best event planner” for 8 years in a row by Durham Magazine for the curation and design of her events.

Meredith Oliver Headshot

Meredith Oliver


Meredith Oliver, CSP, is a sales and marketing strategist, author and professional speaker. She is the cofounder and chief marketing strategist of Meredith Communications, a digital marketing agency in Durham, NC. Meredith Communications is in its eighteenth year delivering digital marketing solutions such as website design, search engine optimization, and social media marketing.

What Happens When Women Lead. And Why it Matters

It’s no secret. Men and women lead differently. How so? Why? And is the outcome different? We will examine case studies from three women with different leadership styles and that has and continues to yield successful outcomes. How do they approach business, how do they select their teams, and what elements are they considering in their succession plan? Hear it in their own words.

Jennifer Fitzgerald Headshot

Jennifer Fitzgerald


Jennifer Fitzgerald is the CEO and co-founder of Policygenius, the nation’s leading online insurance marketplace. She is the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year New York 2019 and one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business for 2018. Jennifer is a former McKinsey consultant and, early in her career, she was a Peace Corps volunteer and did standup comedy. Jennifer is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Florida State University.

Beverly Thompson Headshot

Beverly Thompson


Beverly currently serves as Public Affairs Director of the City of Durham and has served as a member and most recently as secretary of the board for the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation. She was recently appointed by the governor as a board member of the Historic Hillsborough Commission. Beverly also served as a board member of the Triangle Chapter of the American Red Cross for many years.

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Brenda Howerton


Brenda Howerton was elected to the Durham County Board of Commissioners in 2008 and reelected in 2012 and again in 2016, presently in her third term. On August 12, 2017, Commissioner Howerton was sworn in as President of the North Carolina Association of Counties. She is the first Durham County commissioner to be elected to a statewide senior leadership office. Her tenure as president will focus on the initiative announced on her installation night "100 Counties Helping Our Children Thrive." Now serves as Immediate Past President. She is the recipient of the Human Relations Commission Award for commitment to inclusion from the Durham Human Relations Commission.


Doc Swiner


Voted 1 of 10 Best Doctors in NC in 2017, Doc Swiner is a family physician, 6-time best-selling author, blogger, speaker, wife and mother in Durham. She is also affectionately known as the Superwoman Complex expert and has written 2 best-selling books on the topic.

5-Minute Meditation Room

Jane will be facilitating the 5-Minute Meditation room.

Jane Ransome Headshot

Jane Ransom

(Facilitator 5-Minute Meditation Room)

Jane Ransom is an international Certified Trainer, science-based hypnotist, and bestselling author of Self-Intelligence: The New Science-Based Approach for Reaching Your True Potential. An expert on Growth Mindset and the subconscious brain, she helps organizations strengthen leadership, motivate sales teams and boost employee engagement. She offers Self-Intelligence® brain-training workshops, executive coaching, and dynamic keynotes.