Sessions & Speakers

Thirty Under Thirty:

Coca-Cola Scholars Shaping Tomorrow Today


Keep It Simple:

How Simple Ideas Are Having A Significant Impact


The New CEO's:

5 Secrets To Building A Great Work Culture






International Development:

Lessons Learned From The Past Generation, And Tips For The Next


The State Of Education:

What The Ron Clark Academy  And  You Can Do About It


Finding Purpose In Pain:

Being Your Own Architect Of Support And Confidence


Thirty Under Thirty: Coca-Cola Scholars Shaping Tomorrow Today 

Kate Sullivan, 1994 Scholar (panel moderator)

Kate Sullivan, a 1994 Coca-Cola Scholar, is co-anchor of CBS 2 Chicago News at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Kate, who has won several awards – including an Emmy Award and the Associated Press First Place Award for Breaking News – joined CBS 2 Chicago in September 2010 after anchoring at WCBS-TV in New York.

Over the years, Kate has reported on 9/11 from Ground Zero in New York and presented stories about Arkansans who had lost loved ones during the tragedy.  She covered the presidential run of Gen. Wesley Clark and the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library which won the station a regional Emmy award. She also reported a series of stories from Honduras on the charitable work of the Arkansas based non-profit Heifer International.

Kate has been named one of the Top 30 Irish Americans in Media by and has served as media spokesperson for the American Heart Association.  She is originally from Lakeville, Mass., and graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame.


TJ Abrams, 2001 Scholar

TJ Abrams, currently resides in Atlanta, GA where he is the Brand Manager on Coca-Cola. He leads the planning and implementation of Coca-Cola brand growth strategies and national system programs (including Olympics, NASCAR and 2014 World Cup).  Prior to joining the Coca-Cola Brand Team, TJ spent two years as the Associate Brand Manager on Coke Zero helping propel the brand to 21 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth. He joined Coca-Cola with previous experience working in marketing at Lowe’s Home Improvement where he built the multicultural marketing strategy specifically leading the Hispanic commercial business plan, local marketing strategy and sports programming.  TJ was recently named to Forbes 30 under 30 list for Marketing and Advertising.


Jake Bernstein, 2012 Scholar

Jake Bernstein is the co-founder of VolunTEEN Nation, a volunteer database and project planning resource for teenagers.  He is a first-year student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a member of the fencing team.  Jake was honored to be named, along with his sister, to Forbes' 30 Under 30 social entrepreneurs list.  He is a native of St. Louis and an avid St. Louis sports fan.


Sejal Hathi, 2009 Scholar

Sejal is the Cofounder & Strategic Partnerships Director of Girltank, a global funding and capacity-building platform for accelerating female innovators. Sejal is also the Cofounder of S2 Capital, a seed-stage, emerging-markets social fund that has invested in four countries. Sejal has spoken at TEDxTeen, TEDWomen, and the United Nations, among other venues; and writes on women and technology for The Huffington Post. She is a Truman Scholar, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow, and U.S. Presidential Scholar; and has recently been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Social Entrepreneurship, Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Shake the World, and Glamour Magazine’s (20) Amazing Young Women of the Year. Before Girltank, Sejal founded and directed the nonprofit Girls Helping Girls, a girls’ empowerment organization that grew to 30,000 girls in 20 countries; and worked with Yale’s Global Health Leadership Institute on policy and quality improvement projects in three countries. Sejal graduated from Yale with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and is a first-year student at Stanford’s School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sejalhathi


Kathryn Minshew, 2004 Scholar

Kathryn Minshew is the CEO & Founder of The Muse, a career platform and job discovery tool serving more than 3 million professionals worldwide. Kathryn has spoken at MIT and Harvard, appeared on CNN and Fox, and contributes on career and entrepreneurship topics to the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review. She was recently named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Media for the second year in a row and Inc.’s 15 Women to Watch in Tech. Before founding The Muse, Kathryn worked on vaccine introduction in Rwanda and Malawi with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and previously at the management consultancy McKinsey & Company. Follow her on Twitter @KMin


Josh Sommer, 2005 Scholar

Josh Sommer is executive director of the Chordoma Foundation, a nonprofit organization that proactively initiates, facilitates, and funds research to develop effective treatments, and ultimately a cure, for chordoma – a bone cancer of the skull and spine. Diagnosed with a skull-base chordoma in 2006 and unwilling to accept the limited options available to chordoma patients, he joined the lab of Dr. Michael Kelley at Duke Univeristy, where he spent the next two years studying chordoma. There, he experienced the practical challenges of rare cancer research - insufficient funding, lack of biospecimens and preclinical models, and lack of communication or coordination coordination among investigarots.  To solve these problems and proactively advance the search for a cure, Josh started the Chordoma Foundation in 2007.  Under his leadership, the Foundation has united and expanded the chordoma research community, and brought abut substantail scientific advances, including the development of preclinical models, the discover of a driving genetic cariant, and the and the identification of several relevant therapeutic targets. To complement his work at the Foundation, from 2008-2011, Josh served as a fellow in Duke's Program on Global Health and Technology Access, where he studied policies that influence sharing of biological materials and data. He currently serves a member of the National Cancer Institute Director’s Consumer Liaison Group and the Moffitt Cancer Center Total Cancer Care External Advisory Board. For his efforts to advance chordoma research, Josh was honored by ABC News as a Person of the Year in 2008 and as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 transforming science and healthcare.


Sheel Tyle, 2008 Scholar

Sheel Tyle is an investor at New Enterprise Associates, a technology focused venture capital firm, and focuses on emerging market and consumer internet investments.  He manages NEA's investments in 42floors, IfOnly, DeveloperAuction, LearnUp, Qbotix, and others.  Sheel is also the co-founder of S2 Capital, a seed stage emerging markets social fund, and has co-led investments in four countries.  He is the founder of ReSight, a nonprofit focused on democratizing the distribution of vision care in India.  Sheel was recently the youngest member on the Forbes 30 under 30 finance list.  Follow him on Twitter @sheeltyle


Keep It Simple:  How Simple Ideas Are Having A Significant Impact

Kavita Shukla, 2002 Scholar

Kavita is the Inventor & Founder/CEO of Fenugreen, a social enterprise taking on the massive global challenge of food waste with a simple innovation, FreshPaper. Low-cost, compostable, and infused only with organic spices, FreshPaper keeps produce fresh 2-4 times longer, naturally. By keeping food fresh from “farm to fork” in a scalable and sustainable way, while significantly reducing resource and energy costs, FreshPaper holds the potential to revolutionize the food economy and transform the lives of the 1.6 billion people who still lack access to basic refrigeration.

Since launching at a Cambridge, MA farmer's market in 2011, FreshPaper has spread to farmers and consumers worldwide, and is now available at retailers across the country, including Whole Foods Market. Kavita’s work on FreshPaper and her quest to take on global food waste has been featured by The Washington Post, Newsweek, NBC Universal, Oprah Magazine, CBS, The Huffington Post and the Today Show.  Kavita was also recently named one of the "7 Entrepreneurs Changing the World" by Fast Company.

As she has led FreshPaper’s remarkable grassroots growth, Kavita has spoken to audiences around the world about the power of simple innovation including at TEDxManhattan, Chicago Ideas Week, the International Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen, the Harvard Women’s Leadership Conference, The Women’s Forum in Deauville, and the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (where she spoke on a panel with Sir Richard Branson), as well as Keynotes at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference and the Cartier & McKinsey Women’s Initiative Forum in Tokyo.  In 2013, Kavita's was a featured speaker at the Women in the World Summit at the Lincoln Center along with leading innovators and advocates including Hilary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, and Oprah Winfrey.

Kavita holds three patents, with three pending, and has received several international honors for her potential as an inventor-entrepreneur, including recognition from the Lemelson-MIT Foundation, the Cartier Women’s Initiative, the Davidson Institute, the Swiss Consulate, the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the British Consulate. She has also been inducted into the National Gallery for America’s Young Inventors. Fenugreen has been recognized as the “most innovative young company in the world” by the Kauffman Foundation’s Startup Open. Fenugreen's mission is to improve access to fresh, healthy food, and boost the lives of farmers and communities worldwide - "Fresh for All."
Fresh for All.


The New CEO's: 5 Secrets To Building A Great Work Culture

Michelle Peluso, 1989 Scholar

Michelle Peluso is the Chief Executive Officer of Gilt, an innovative online shopping destination offering its eight million members special access to the most inspiring merchandise and experiences every day at insider prices.  Prior to assuming the CEO role at Gilt, she served for over three years on the company’s Board of Directors.

Before joining Gilt, Michelle was at Citigroup from 2009 until early 2013, where she was the Global Consumer Chief Marketing and Internet Officer. In that role she was responsible for the digital experience for Citi’s 100 million consumers globally as well as for Citi’s global consumer marketing strategy and execution.  She also oversaw customer experience.  Under Michelle’s leadership, Citi has been widely recognized for significantly improving its online marketing and digital capabilities around the world.

Prior to Citigroup Michelle was the CEO of Travelocity for six years. She took that post after serving as the company's Chief Operating 1Officer and Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Distribution for several years prior. Under her leadership, Travelocity experienced a significant turnaround in both growth of revenue and profitability.

In her role as CEO, she launched Travelocity's innovative net-rate hotel and dynamic packaging programs, its one-of-a-kind customer service guarantee, and she oversaw the award-winning Roaming Gnome marketing campaign.  These efforts catapulted Travelocity back to growth and profitability. Peluso also spearheaded Travelocity's emergence as a global player with organic growth and acquisitions in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Peluso joined Travelocity following the company's acquisition of Site59, a travel site she created and launched in 2000 in her role as CEO.  Site59 became the leader in the U.S. "last minute deals" arena and won numerous honors for innovation before it was acquired by Travelocity in March 2002. Prior to leading Site59, Peluso served as a White House Fellow and Senior Advisor to Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and worked as a case leader for The Boston Consulting Group in New York and London.

Peluso has been tapped as an executive to watch by Forbes and The Wall Street Journal and has been featured in several "40 under 40" lists. She has received multiple awards, including the Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Business and has been recognized by the National Italian American Foundation with a Special Achievement Award in Business. Fast Company magazine named her a "customer-centered leader.” Most recently, she was named as one of the world’s most influential CMOs according to a Forbes study conducted by Appinions.  She is also a noted speaker and previously served on the Board of Directors for OpenTable.

Peluso received her Master's degree in Economics, Philosophy and Politics from Pembroke College at Oxford University where she was a Thoroun Scholar, and her Bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. She lives in New York City with her husband, Marc, and their two children, Auden Grace and Cole Hudson.


International Development: Lessons Learned From The Past Generation, And Tips For The Next

Ryan McCannell, 1989 Scholar

Ryan McCannell is the division chief for Conflict, Peacebuilding and Governance in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Africa.  He oversees a team of 12 subject-matter experts who manage regional programs and advise USAID Missions in sub-Saharan Africa on democracy, human rights, governance, conflict mitigation, and civil-military relations, as well as countering violent extremism, terrorism, and human and narcotics trafficking.  Before joining USAID in 2004, Ryan spent eight years at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), where he was responsible for designing and managing democracy support programs in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Malawi, South Africa, and the Central African Republic.  In 2002-03, he served as NDI’s chief of party in Benin and Togo, where he organized training for political parties prior to elections in those two countries.  Before NDI, Ryan worked under contract as a democracy researcher for USAID.  His education includes a bachelor’s degree at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, a year abroad at the Université du Bénin in Lomé, Togo, and a master’s in Geographic and Cartographic Sciences at George Mason University.  He currently serves on the board of directors of Hope Through Health, a small U.S. based non-profit that works with an organization of people living with HIV/AIDS in Togo to provide care and support for those affected by the disease. 


The Ron Clark Academy: The State Of Education And What The Ron Clark Academy And You Can Do About It

Ron Clark

In 2000, Clark was named Disney's American Teacher of the Year. He is a New York Times bestselling author whose book, The Essential 55, has sold over 1 million copies and has been published in 25 different languages. Clark has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, and Oprah. His classes have been honored at the White House on three separate occasions. Clark’s teaching experiences in New York City are the subject of the film, The Ron Clark Story, starring Matthew Perry.  In 2007 he co-founded the Ron Clark Academy along with one of the nation's most decorated educators, Kim Bearden.  Their innovative and groundbreaking school not only educates children, but it also provides professional development experiences for thousands of educators each year.


Finding Purpose In Pain: Being Your Own Architect Of Support And Confidence

Michael Tubbs, 2008 Scholar

Michael Tubbs was elected in 2012 as the youngest City Councilmember in Stockton's history,  one of the youngest elected officials in the nation, and one of only three politicians to ever be endorsed by media mogul Oprah Winfrey.  He represents the 6th District of the City of Stockton, the district he grew up in.

Michael earned a full ride scholarship to Stanford University graduating with his master's degree in Policy, Leadership and Organization Studies, his bachelor's degree with honors, as a Truman Scholar and as the recipient of the highest university award, the Dinkelspiel.   While at Stanford, Michael served as President of the school's NAACP, a voting member of the Board of Trustees Development Committee, the featured speaker at Freshman Convocation, interned at both The White House and at Google and started The Phoenix Scholars, a non-profit that has helped hundreds of young people in California become the first in their families to go to college.   Michael has been featured as NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, CNN, the LA Times, BET, TEDX San Joaquin and TEDX Stanford, and countless other platforms



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