Conference Speakers

Nicholas Segura

Nicholas Segura is a proud Kansas City native. Born and raised in Kansas City, KS he graduated from F.L. Schlagle High School. He became Student Body President while attending Kanas City KS Community College while studying art and psychology.  Nicholas also attended Benedictine College and finished his college education at Kansas University. Eight years ago Nicholas Segura created Somos Talent a talent agency exclusively representing ethnic models and Somos Agency, a Hispanic-focused creative advertising agency. The Somos Agency is growing rapidly helping clients develop Hispanic and multicultural marketing communications, programs, and campaigns reach diverse audiences. This has included TV, radio, print, and social media campaigns.

In 2013 Nicholas created and produced the first Hispanic Consumer Conference in the Kansas City to specifically help brands and advertising agencies understand how to market to Hispanic consumers.

Margery Sendze

Margery is a technology leader with more than 18 years of delivering business value by enabling high-performing teams. Ms. Sendze currently serves as a Technology Manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. She joined the Bank in 2013 and has had responsibilities managing various technology functions. Prior to joining the Bank, her experience included several roles, such as web developer, project manager and IT leadership. Margery is committed to the growth and development of current and future technologists. She recently extended her scope of experience and interests to include growth and development of technology talent. Margery is a very active member of the Kansas City technology community and an advocate for women in STEM. She holds a B.A and an M.A. in communications and is currently working toward a Ph.D. in organizational psychology with an emphasis in organizational development. Margery also serves on the Workforce Advisory Board at the University of Kansas, Edwards Campus.

Christal Watson

Over the past 25 years, Christal has provided leadership in management roles with companies such as Sprint, United Way, Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, and Truman Medical Centers. Most recently, she was appointed to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Neighborhood/Small Business Development by the Office of the Mayor/CEO David Alvey, Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas.
Holding a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Organizational Management from Ashford University, and a graduate certificate in Project Management from George Washington University, Christal attributes her educational foundation as one of the many stepping stones to reaching her lifelong goals. A native of Kansas City, Kansas and actively involved in the community, she is a former elected official, having served for the Board of Education - Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, USD 500 and proudly serves on a host of other boards centered around business, community, youth and healthcare.

Andrea Garcia

Andrea serves as the Chief Mind Officer and client lead for Mind + Matter. Andrea supports client digital strategy, business operations, and managing Drew.

Andrea graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 2007 with a B.S. in Industrial Psychology and in 2008 with a Master’s in Business Administration. Following a ten year tenure at Cerner in marketing, sales, and client management she moved to an account focused role in Associated Wholesale Grocers’ in-house agency. Andrea enjoys creating meaningful partnerships to help her clients express and achieve their goals.

When not at M+M Andrea can be found watching soccer, taking or teaching a yoga class, playing with her little beige puppy, or Instagramming her latest meal.

Andrea’s philosophy is to find your true north, she strives to help others find and follow their driving purpose.

Phyllis Battle

Phyllis Battle is passionate about getting more girls into the engineering field. Phyllis grew up in rural North Carolina with a love of math and science and of building things. Phyllis has always wanted to teach math but pursued engineering instead. Phyllis earned her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University. She has practiced engineering in manufacturing and service industries including pharmaceutical, automotive, transportation and nuclear. She is married to Kevin Battle, and they have two children, Phyleia and Kollin.

Jennifer Garbos

Jennifer Garbos is the director of future strategy for greetings at Hallmark Cards – she aligns their 100+ years of strengths with the technology and behavioral trends of the future to position the company for consistent growth.

Jennifer Garbos is an engineer – she has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, where she graduated with high honors.

Jennifer Garbos is a mascot - whether it is Hallmark’s Hoops & Yoyo, a snowman or a snow dog, she will wear the fuzzy costume to the delight of children and employees alike.

Jennifer Garbos is an inventor – she has 9 U.S. patents issued for products including stuffed animals that respond to hugs or your voice.

Jennifer Garbos is an entrepreneur – she and her husband, Greg, own a record-breaking, small farm that grows food year-round in a greenhouse within the Kansas City limits.

Jennifer Garbos is a Mom - her 2 imaginative kids invite all the mascots and princesses to their parties and then discuss the merits of blowdarts and sparkle shoes.

Alexandria Palomarez

Lexa started as an intern with Turner five years ago while she was pursuing her BS in Architectural Engineering from the University of Kansas. After two years of internships, she joined the company full time after graduation in their Special Projects Division. She has worked on jobs for KU, Overland Park Convention Center, the City of Olathe, and is currently the Project Engineer at the JOCO Lenexa City Center Library.

Kimberly Meyer

Kim has over 30 years of experience in finance, planning and analytics. She received her doctorate in Mathematics in 1996.That opened doors in academia, large public companies, and consulting. As an academic, Kim was blessed to participate in leading education reform agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty for the 21st Century, NSF Changes Agents Round Table, and others. She has spent the past 15 years in finance and analytics, serving as the Chief Financial Officer for the University of Kansas Medical Center, the Director of Finance and Planning at H & R Block, as well as having several different analytical and management roles in start-ups to billion-dollar public companies. Kim currently owns and operates a small consulting firm.

Alma Azuara

Alma is a proven business and civic leader with a strong background in Marketing, Strategy and Finance. Alma graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Business Administration (Finance Major). During college, Alma was a tutor in Finance, Economics and Spanish. She started her career in Corporate Audit, then as a financial analyst. She was lucky to find someone who believed in her and gave her the opportunity to explore a marketing role. Since then, Alma has found a passion for marketing and has been in a variety of marketing roles including Marketing Strategy, Small Business Marketing, Enterprise Marketing and Sales Enablement. She currently works as a Multicultural Marketing Manager at Sprint.

Outside of work, Alma serves on the Board of Directors for the Junior League of Kansas City Missouri and the American Marketing Association of Kansas City. She also serves on the Marketing Advisory Council for the Bloch School of Management at UMKC.

Alma is excited to be part of the 2018 LaSTEMA Career Conference and for the opportunity to encourage the next generation of women leaders.

Kellyann Jones PHD

Kellyann Jones-Jamtgaard, Ph.D. is the career academy liaison at PREP-KC, an education nonprofit that focuses on college and career preparation for urban school districts. Dr. Jones-Jamtgaard was a 2017 Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy fellow assigned to the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Appointed by Mayor Sly James, Dr. Jones-Jamtgaard currently serves as a commissioner on the Kansas City Health Commission, a group tasked with improving public health in Kansas City, Missouri, and co-chairs the Commission’s Birth Outcomes subcommittee. Dr. Jones-Jamtgaard holds a B.S. in Biology and Spanish from Duke University and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). Her doctoral research focused on alterations in cellular trafficking during Hepatitis C virus infection. Dr. Jones-Jamtgaard is committed to improving science education and being an advocate for women in science and medicine. She was recently recognized with the naming of the Kellyann Jones-Jamtgaard Student Diversity Award at KUMC in her honor.

Career Academies Liaison with PREP-KC and Health Commissioner with the Kansas City, MO Health Commission

Janelle James

Janelle James is the founder of a UX Consultancy called 99 Prospect and an author. Her consulting firm helps organizations implement user centered design (UCD), build flexible workplace culture and business development practices. Her corporate and consulting background has lead to her success in User Experience and Virtual Office Expansion initiatives. As an advocate for flexible work culture Janelle has self published a book about finding telecommute opportunities called "Say Goodbye to Cubicles"which can be found on Amazon.

Ruby Montoya

Ruby studied fine art and journalism before getting her degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Kansas with a concentration in labor, trade and economics. Her senior thesis explored the meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility in Latin America. She’s always loved media, marketing and design and has worked in various industries and roles, giving her a multidimensional view of how different fields coincide and how to solve complex problems with innovation and creativity.

Neelima Paraskar

Influential leader with ability to think strategically in high stress situations, take calculated risks, engage and stabilize challenging situations and transform under-performing units into consistent top performers. Neelima has 15 plus years in IT with Managing and Leading global teams that perform enterprise transformations implementing cutting edge technology and proven industry standards.
Neelima launched SnapIT Solutions, a technology solutions company in 2016 with a goal to make a positive impact on under-served and under-privileged communities that promote STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) fields and Digital Inclusion. SnapIT Solutions provides technology solutions that brings hope to bridge the digital divide that not only is a problem in developing countries but also troubling the 20% plus population of United States of America.

Nikki Conley

Nikki Conley is a licensed professional civil engineer at the engineering and architectural design firm GBA in Lenexa, Kansas. Nikki has been involved in a variety of local and regional roadway projects for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). Before joining GBA, Nikki had 6 years of experience on a mix of design and construction management projects for commercial, military, and private development clients. Outside of work Nikki serves as a volunteer coach for a FIRST Lego league robotics team for youth age 8-12 hosted by the Black Family Technology Awareness Association. Nikki is involved in the Environmental Professionals of Color, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and is an active member at her place of worship, Church of the Harvest. Nikki is originally from Round Rock Texas, near Austin, and is a 2007 graduate of Texas Tech University with dual degrees in civil engineering and architecture. Her interest in engineering and design started in high school through family members and engineering camps, and she continues to share this interest for engineering with youth in the Kansas City community.

Stephanie Carreon

Stephanie was born and raised in Kansas City, KS. She's always loved Math and Science, so after shadowing a Civil Engineer in high school she knew engineering would be a good fit for me. She attended the University of Kansas for my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degree in Civil Engineering. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, playing soccer, and spending time with family.

Nicole Emanuel

A first-generation-American-Jew, born in 1961 to a South African father and French mother, Nicole lived in and around New York City until 1980.
She studied Philosophy and Psychology at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, until she accidentally moved to San Francisco for 9 years while on a 2-week vacation.
At San Francisco State University, Nicole finished her BA in “Design & Industry” (summa cum laude) with a minor in “Community Arts” in 1985. There she began her career in public art and Creative Placemaking construction for Artists’ Live/Work spaces.
Nicole has created 20 large-scale murals and 2 large-scale public sculptures; her paintings and drawings are in numerous corporate and private collections in New York, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and Missouri.

Hidy Aguilar

Hidy Aguilar serves as Vice President and Branch Manager of the Prescott Plaza branch. Her main duties included community outreach through educational classes on banking, customer service, day-to-day bank operations and staff management. Aguilar also explores partnership opportunities within the Hispanic community as well as partnerships with local Kansas City, Kansas businesses to expand the bank’s mortgage, business banking and consumer banking services.
Aguilar has more than 25 years of banking experience. She started her career as a receptionist in a bank and since then has held positions such as a teller, safety deposit box manager, business developer and branch manager.
Aguilar serves as a board member for the Bethel Neighborhood Center and frequently gives home ownership classes at the Family Conservancy and Community Housing of Wyandotte County.

Rekha Patel

Entire 16+ year career spent in the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry involving various positions of increasing responsibility beginning as a quality control analyst, to R&D analyst, to Lab Manager, to current position as Director of Large Molecules Analytical Chemistry within the Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing (PDM) Division of a CMO. Major strengths and demonstrated record of accomplishments include possessing a deep understanding of global product development, formulating growth strategies for companies large molecule (Biologics) analytical offerings and sales including developing competitive advantages, improving and ensuring positive customer experience, strong compliance experience and knowledge, financial understanding of budgets and P&L’s and generating a profitable line of business, marketing, business development, operations management. Demonstrated significant accomplishment in converting a non-profitable department into a profitable operating unit within one year, and maintaining and improving departments profitability, improving the level of compliance standards for analytical services on site after concerns from regulatory audit, significantly improving the level of departments compliance within one year with continuous improvement year over year, significantly improving marketability and business development for department’s large molecule analytical (Biologics) offerings continuously over last three years, significantly improving level of service to customer base as measured by on time in full delivery, significantly improving departments efficiency and utilization 10-20% per year, thereby improving revenue/head and EBITDA/head year over year, promoting and improving scientific interests and expertise within the department. Good understanding of and application of lean six sigma principles to improve departments utilization, compliance, and cost of operation.

Valerie Vaughn

Valerie Vaughn helps the owners of privately held businesses sell their businesses or expand through acquisition and works with buyers to find businesses that fit their long-term goals. Although she loves the world of mergers, acquisitions and business transition, Valerie began her career as a scientist. She has a Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) from the University of Richmond, earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Rockhurst University.

Upon completion of her doctoral work Valerie moved to Kansas City to begin her career with Marion Laboratories as a senior research scientist. She then worked with HP and IBM in a variety of sales and business development roles, a non-profit focused on small- and mid-sized manufacturers and a start bioplastic manufacturer before joining Apex Business Advisors.

Throughout the years, many have asked “How does someone with a doctorate in Chemistry end up doing (what you’re doing now)?” Valerie believes that life is a journey and one must be flexible and constantly learning to fully enjoy it. Science and mathematics have always been the foundation of her career success and she has merely applied those skills to various aspects of the business world.

CBI = Certified Business Intermediary
CM&AP = Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Professional
MBA = Master of Business Administration
Ph.D. = Doctor of Philosophy

Diana Acevedo

Diana S. Acevedo is a second-year student pursuing a Ph.D. in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Diana is a scientist in training doing breast cancer research. She is also a 2017 – 2021 Self Graduate Fellow, which is a highly competitive and prestigious fellowship that is awarded to doctoral students who demonstrate leadership, initiative and passion for achievement.
This Bogotá, Colombia native, received a Bachelor of Science (2010) in Biology from Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri, and a Master’s in science (2012) in Microbial and Cellular Biology from Emporia State University. Her current research interests include understanding the molecular mechanisms by which ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a type of pre-invasive breast cancer becomes invasive and malignant. On August 2016, she was awarded an NIH administrative Diversity Supplement which is the foundation of her Ph.D. dissertation.
On November 2016, she was featured on the front page of Dos Mundos bilingual newspaper in an article entitled; “Acevedo reaping rewards of resilience” which relates the story about how she overcame academic and personal obstacles to reach her goals. The objective of this story was to motivate young Latino students to not drop out of college but to keep pressing on and achieve their goals.
Diana is uniquely characterized by her involvement with the Latino community with her efforts to participate in (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine) STEMM outreach activities that encourage other women and minorities in science by action and example. She provides mentoring and research opportunities to highly motivated students that are interested in biomedical research.
Upon finishing her Ph.D. Diana hopes to identify key factors that play a role in the transition from DCIS to invasive disease to potentially develop a molecular based approach that could predict the risk of IDC and a more personalized approach to treat DCIS.
Mentor: Nikki Cheng, Associate Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.
University of Kansas Medical Center

Anna Randazzo

Anna Randazzo is a results-driven IT and operations transformational leader with a strong business acumen and comprehensive experience which spans defining strategic direction, driving large scale operations, helping organizations drive business value through IT innovations, and business development. As a former management consulting executive with Accenture, Anna has over 20 years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies realize their strategic goals. She has directed major change initiatives in business systems across a broad range of industries on an international level, developed alliance partnerships, and directed marketing campaigns while simultaneously maintaining excellent client relationships and delivering exceptional results via best practices. A collaborative leader, Anna enjoys helping others succeed by building, motivating and coaching exceptional teams by holding herself and others accountable while delivering winwin solutions.

Possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, Anna has been active in two businesses including sitting on the Management Committee of the Investor Group for Brain Balance of Overland Park. Brain Balance offers a cutting-edge, drug-free approach to help children improve their ability to learn academically and socially.

Anna is a Co-Founder of the Central Exchange’s Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (WiSTEMM) initiative. She is the Vice President of Strategic Planning on the Board of Directors for the Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park whose purpose includes the development and promotion of recreational, aesthetic, educational, scientific and cultural potential of The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead and the public art in Overland Park. Anna is also on the Board of Directors for RespectWorks whose mission is creating communities of grace, respect and kindness that break the cycle of bullying for every age, everywhere, every day. Further, she is a member of the Advisory Committee for KC IT Symposium.

Anna has a Master’s of Engineering in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M
University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia

Carlanda McKinney

Carlanda is an experienced technical specifications writer and has worked in the Health IT and Services industries. She received her MBA focused in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and her undergraduate Business Management degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Carlanda has been a Sr. Solution Designer with Cerner Corporation for 6 years, and is currently working as founder and CEO of her Lingerie Startup, Raaxo.

Experienced technical specifications writer with a history of working in the information technology and services industries. Skilled in Sales, Entrepreneurship, Team Building, and Public Speaking. Strong leadership capabilities with an MBA focused in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an undergraduate Business Management degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia