DC Metro Business Leadership Network - Driving Success Through Disability Inclusion

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DC Metro BLN Bios

Jennifer Bassett, JBG SMITH Companies

Jennifer BassettJennifer Bassett, Human Resources Manager with The JBG SMITH Companies, has over 10 years of well-rounded experience in talent management within the real estate industry.  She is certified as a Sr. Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the Human Resources Certification Institute, and as a Sr. Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) by the Society for Human Resources Management. 

Jennifer is known as a collaborative consultant who offers a strong relationship orientation, and seeks to apply her knowledge and expertise in diverse HR functional areas including Staffing and Recruitment, Employee Relations, Compliance, Performance Management and Training & Development.  She is passionate about promoting diversity.

Ellen de Bremond

Ellen deBremond

Ellen was the Founder and President of Diversity Services Inc. that served as the Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland markets from 1998 until mid-2015. With over 30 years’ experience in the staffing industry, Ellen provided her clients with wealth of business knowledge- working to provide the best solutions- focusing on ability to perform the required task.

In 2016, Ellen joined The Choice, Inc., as Director of Diversity and Inclusion in an effort to expand Diversity and Inclusion   in the staffing industry. Ellen also joined C5 Consulting, LLC in 2015 as a strategic executive consultant, bringing her y   years of diversity and inclusion leadership to support this woman-owned, disability-owned firm specializing in disability     inclusion.

Ellen worked in the nonprofit sector, developing curriculum as well training teachers,  in the area of motor skills development for children and adults with disabilities.

She is the Past President of the DC Chapter of the American Staffing Association and sits on the Board of the Capitol Area Staffing Association. She was a Speaker at the “World Diversity Leadership Summit” held at the IMF in 2009. She is an Executive Board Member and Treasurer of the DC Metro Business Leadership Network. 

Meghan Cadigan, KPMG

Meghan CadiganMeghan Cadigan is a manager in KPMG’s Federal audit practice. Ms. Cadigan graduated with an accounting degree from the University of Maryland, and she has six years of experience in the Federal audit practice. Ms. Cadigan is currently serving as the manager for the Government Publishing Office, the U.S. Mint, and the U.S. Courts.

Meghan Cadigan supervises senior and staff auditors and specialists; reviews work plans and programs; helps to oversee assignments within the budgeted time and delivery commitments; reviews workpapers, financial statements, and related reports; discusses the results of work performed with clients; follows audit progress; and helps resolve accounting, auditing, and reporting problems.

Michelle Crabtree, Hyatt

Michelle CrabtreeMichelle is responsible for all Human Resource functions at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Northern Virginia. She hires, trains and recruits hotel staff to Hyatt specifications. She prepares annual HR budget and approve expenditures. Ensure compliance with State and Federal laws/regulations and court rulings. Michelle is responsible for compliance of EEO hiring and Affirmative Action plan. And handles Workers Compensation and unemployment claims. Her job also involves terminations and counseling of staff members. At Hyatt, Ms. Crabtree has worked with Hands on Education a specialized program working with people with disabilities. She has a Bachelor of Science from Purdue University and obtained certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Her prior employment includes: Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Hilton Hotels and Resorts. Ms. Crabtree has volunteered in the past for the Purdue Alumni Association (Board of Directors), Training Futures Advisory Board, and Stratford University.

Donielle DeMesme, Golden Key Group

Donielle DeMesmeMs. DeMesme has over 18 years of experience in the areas of diversity, training, and human capital management. Ms. DeMesme joined the Golden Key Group (GKG) in September 2013 as a Director and is a member of the leadership team. In this role, she is responsible for internal diversity and inclusion efforts and is charged with identifying, developing, and expanding business opportunities to expand GKG’s customer base.

Prior to joining the GKG, in 2008 she was hired as a Manager for ICF International’s Diversity Practice.  She has extensive experience in developing and facilitating diversity and multicultural trainings to Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and FHLB executives.  She led and managed workforce assessments projects and developed and managed strategic consultative efforts to help leaders create inclusive and high performing organizations.

She worked for Ernst & Young (EY) where she was the Inclusiveness and Flexibility Leader for the Mid-Atlantic Area. In that role she was a thought leader in the area of inclusiveness and diversity and was responsible for working with business unit leadership to challenge the pipeline of partner/principal candidates. She was the lead consultant for 23 Employee Resource Networks for Latino, Asian, African-American and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender professionals, as well as the Professional Women’s Network in support of their goals.

Before joining EY, she worked for SAIC (now Leidos) for 11 years worked both in a consulting capacity and in headquarters as the Senior Corporate Diversity Specialist. She initially joined SAIC as an implementation specialist in the Healthcare Sector, teaching medical software at military treatment facilities worldwide. She then transitioned to the National Securities and Strategies Group where she was an analyst and worked on national security issues. She then began working in the area of diversity management by advising senior HR staff regarding diversity outreach, diversity compensation management and EEO/AA policy and procedures. She was also responsible for research and analysis to develop corporate diversity strategies and initiatives specifically for women, people of color, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and work life balance.

Ms. DeMesme holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from the University of Virginia and a Master of Science degree in Adult Learning and Human Resource Development from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Anjali Desai-Margolin, Gallaudet University

Anjai Desai-Margolin

Ron Drach, Drach Consulting, LLC

Ron DrachRon Drach, a veteran of the Vietnam War, has devoted his entire career to working for and on behalf of veterans. In September 2010, he retired as director of Government and Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), where he worked with Congressional staff, the Labor Department’s Office of the Solicitor, and other Labor offices on all legislative employment issues that affected the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.  After he was wounded in Vietnam in 1967, Mr. Drach began work with the VA’s Pittsburgh Regional office and then was recruited by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), where he worked until 1998. At DAV he contributed significantly to America ’s response to the needs of veterans affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, homelessness, and other socioeconomic issues, and appeared before Congressional committees on numerous occasions to offer expertise and recommendations for legislative change. He was appointed In January 2011 to DoD’s Recovering Warrior Task Force where he served for four years. He currently offers consulting and advisory services, and subject matter expertise and assistance to governmental and non-governmental entities including non-profit organizations on programs and services operated by the government related to workforce development, veterans and disability issues and related public policy issues.  

Dan Ellerman, Accenture

Dan EllermanDan Ellerman has recently joined Accenture as the Global Persons with Disabilities Program lead.  He will be responsible for creating an inclusive working environment for all our people by leading the strategy, targets, metrics and reporting for the Persons with Disabilities Program

In Dan’s most recent role, he served as the Director for Global Diversity and Inclusion with Northrop Grumman Corporation. Dan's focused on developing and executing programs that supported the company's Diversity & Inclusion strategy.  Responsibilities included aligning D&I priorities with business objectives; providing support and counsel to the company's ERG's; designing the company's D&I education strategy; leading the company’s Persons with Disabilities and the Wounded Warrior inclusion programs; and providing guidance to HR and business organizations on issues related to diversity and Inclusion and overall workplace effectiveness.

Dan is a certified Senior Human Resource Professional (SPHR) by the HRCI, a SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), and holds a Master's of Business Administration degree from the University of Maryland University College. Dan has more than 15 years of HR experience in various HR roles, including Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Talent Development, Employee and Labor Relations, EEO/AA Compliance and strategic Inclusion & Diversity.  Some of Dan’s outreach activities include serving as a member of the Corporate Advisory Board for the US Business Leadership Network and as a Board Member for the DCMetroBLN.  In 2015, Dan was inducted into the inaugural class of the Susan M. Daniel’s Mentoring Hall of Fame in 2015 for his work mentoring persons with disabilities.      

Personally, Dan is married to his wife of 18 years, Nicole.  They have 4 kids whose ages are 16, 14, 11, and 6.  When he is not busy with family activities he enjoys hiking, snowboarding, golf and traveling.

Rikki Epstein, The Arc of Northern Virginia

Rikkie EpsteinRikki Epstein is the Executive Director of The Arc of Northern Virginia. The mission of The Arc of Northern Virginia is to promote and protect the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) and actively support their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. It is estimated that there are approximately 34,000 people with ID/DD throughout Northern Virginia.

As Executive Director, Rikki oversees advocacy, community relations, fundraising, and strategic planning for the organization. She is also responsible for establishing and maintaining partnerships with national, state, regional and local organizations.

Rikki was previously with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), where her responsibilities included serving people with disabilities.

Earlier in her career, Rikki served as Executive Director of the National Therapeutic Recreation Society. She holds a Masters degree in education, specializing in therapeutic recreation, from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in human development, family, and community relations from Buffalo State College.


Denyse Gordon, CACI

Denyse GordonDenyse S. Gordon is Senior Manager, Veteran Support & Inclusion with CACI International Inc.  In that capacity, she assists newly hired veterans by providing assimilation, support programs and developmental opportunities to foster career progression, mentoring relationships and retention of all veterans.  

Born in San Fernando Trinidad in August 1973, and raised in Brooklyn New York, her mother would routinely travel to the United States to visit her mother who left Trinidad in hopes of helping her family financially.  In 1981, Denyse, her mother and two siblings moved to the US for good and settled into the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn with her grandmother and several members of her extended family.  Several months after their move, tragedy struck the family.  Walking home from an evening of work at the hospital, Denyse’s grandmother was accosted by three young men.  A fighter from birth, her grandmother was not going to hand over neither her bag nor the few groceries she purchased for her family.  She fought her attackers, but her fight ended tragically.  Shot twice in her head at close range, they took from the family the matriarch.  The glue!  The life! 

Faced with the uncertainty of a new country, the challenges of no longer being a stay at home mom to finding employment, and caring for the safety of 3 young children plus 2 of her sister’s kids, her mother struggled to hold things together.  Although the burden was heavy and constant, she never showed it!  Homeless, kicked out of family homes, healing from a divorce, and mourning the death of her mother her mother preserved!  She found a job, ensured her children and nieces were fed and were under one roof.  She stayed on public assistance for 2 years.  She did not want that to define who she was – and it didn’t.  Now, 30 years after her grandmother’s murder, Denyse’s mother has risen in the ranks within the Traffic Department of the New York City Police Department.  And it is this perseverance which drives Denyse to this day.  The belief that there is always more!  The belief that you can do more!  The belief that you achieve as much as you can for life is too short and no one is promised tomorrow. 

Denyse comes from a long history of military and civic service.  Her maternal grandfather served during WWII, her stepfather was a Vietnam era veteran and served in the United States Navy, her sister is a United States Army Reserve Captain who is a veteran of both the Gulf War and Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom, her mother retired as an Executive Officer with the New York City Police Department Traffic Division and Denyse, who is also an OEF/OIF combat veteran, is an 19 1/2 Year United States Air Force Reserves Master Sergeant having served 12 years on active duty. 

Her mother instilled in her at an early age that education is important and it was one of the few things you can always count on!  Having a drive to succeed and equipped with the sacrifices of her grandmother and mother, Denyse attended college at State University of New Paltz on an academic scholarship in 1992.  However, her mother was paying for three college tuitions, her sister’s, Denyse’s and her own.  So, Denyse decided to leave school and join the military so she could fund her own education and relieve some financial pressure on her mother.  Attracted to power of Fighter Jets, Denyse was drawn to the Air Force.  After basic training in 1993, Denyse was stationed at F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne Wyoming.  Following that assignment, In 1995 Denyse went overseas to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Japan where she had the opportunity to complete both her Associates degree her Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology.  In 1999 she was stationed at Geilenkirchen Air Base, Geilenkirchen Germany where she kept going and she earned a dual masters degree in Human Relations/Human Resource Development.  Following Germany, she returned to the states to Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas Nevada in August 2001. 

In January 2003, she answered the call to deploy to Camp Doha Kuwait for what was supposed to be a 90 day Temporary Duty Assignment.  Instead, she was in theater when OEF/OIF started where she served with brave men and women who fought and lost their lives for this country.  During her time in Kuwait, her experiences forever changed her in every way.  She understands firsthand the challenges of being a female veteran serving in a combat zone.  There are no more ‘front lines’.  Following her return from Kuwait, Denyse suffered with her Posttraumatic Stress (PTS) in silence and carried on as a Noncommissioned officer with a duty to mission and people.  In 2004 she received an assignment to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea and in 2005, she returned to Nellis where after much deliberation, decided to leave active duty to pursue a commission in a reserve unit on Nellis.  It was her intent to return to active duty as a commissioned officer and serve the rest of her career, but unfortunately, and fortunately, she did not earn her commission, but as a civilian she has been blessed to work in a career which she is very passionate about and in 2010 she was promoted to Master Sergeant in the USAFR.  

In 2006, after transitioning from Active Duty, Denyse moved to Virginia, and began working at CACI in 2007.  Denyse’s drive and initiative, led to her role as the Diversity & Disabled Veteran Recruiting Manager.  Denyse continues to be a driving force in CACI’s bid to be recognized as an employer of choice for Diversity, Disability and Veteran hiring.  An effective Program Manager with forward thinking ideas on how to continue to expand both programs for the benefit of the company, her outreach efforts, presentation, collegial work habits and continued involvement in all things Diversity and Disabled Veteran have helped propel CACI as an industry leader in Disabled American Veteran/Wounded Warrior hiring.  

A survivor of Military Sexual Trauma and PTS, Denyse understands the issues surrounding the vulnerabilities many military females face.  In 2007 Denyse began to pursue her doctorate degree in Health Psychology.  As an “All But Dissertation Candidate”, Denyse will be researching the Social Dominance Theory as it pertains to female combat veterans, military sexual trauma and the plethora of co morbid issues which often arise while they serve.   

Over the course of her 20 1/2-year career with the United States Air Force and Air Force Reserve and her 6.5 year career with CACI, Denyse has committed to maintaining the highest of standards as a public servant in both her military and civilian careers.  And, recognizing that education can be the determining factor in achieving your dreams and goals, Denyse and her siblings founded the Phyllis Katherine Morgan Academic Scholarship for their mother in honor of her late grandmother.  This $5,000 United Negro Scholarship is awarded yearly to a deserving student who is studying in the social science field.  Denyse is the recipient of numerous military awards and decorations, and has been inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society for educational excellence while pursuing her doctorate. 

Having been crowned the first Ms. Veteran America she was advocating for 55,000 homeless female veterans.  In this capacity, she was the official spokesperson for Final Salute Inc., an organization whose mission is ending homelessness among the female veteran population by providing transitional housing, personal development, career counseling and empowerment opportunities.   Recently, she was named as the first Director of the Ms. Veteran America Organization – which means increased responsibility with running the organization during Ms. Veteran America selection cycles.  He passions also include creative arts, staying physically fit having completed the Marine Corps Marathon, writing, enjoying her family and spending time with her constant companion, her 9.5 year old Border Collie Coffey!

Andrea Hall, General Dynamics Mission Systems

Andrea Hall

Andrea Hall currently serves as the Diversity & Inclusion Sr. Manager for General Dynamics Mission Systems, driving the strategic and tactical D&I efforts and initiatives across the organization. In this role Andrea focuses on diversification of the workforce, identifying program gaps and supporting efforts around gap closure, internal inclusion programming & retention activities and external culture branding. She collaborates with the various teams across the organization to increase employee engagement and to broadcast inclusion efforts internally and externally.

Andrea is a graduate of Frostburg State University with a Bachelors in Sociology, and from Western Kentucky University with a Masters in Counseling.  Andrea spent her previous 14 years at CSC/DXC in various HR and D&I global roles.  She has also supported a number of Department of the Army Programs under the Army G1, Pentagon and was involved in the roll-out of the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) assisting traumatically injured soldiers recently returning from combat.  In her travels as a military spouse she has worked in four Army Education Centers.

Andrea has volunteered with numerous organizations to include the American Red Cross, Army Family Readiness Groups, Mission Afghanistan – Community Relations Program, the USO and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.  Andrea also actively serves with the various organizations supporting the LGBT community, women in technology and people with disabilities.  Andrea has been married to her husband, LTC(R) Lamar W. Hall, for more than 25 years.  Lamar is a retired Army combat veteran who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Hall’s reside in Mount Vernon, Virginia and their two children, Alec and Alyse attend Old Dominion University.

Karen Herson, Concepts, Inc.

Karen HersonKaren Herson founded Concepts, Inc., in 1996, recognizing a need among federal government agencies and nonprofit organizations for expert public relations counsel that combines institutional experience, subject matter expertise and personalized service. Since then, Concepts has developed a strong reputation for its results-oriented approach to communications and carved a specialty niche in disability issues, especially related to employment, accessibility, technology, and veterans and their families.

As president, Karen fosters a “go above and beyond” approach to client satisfaction and closely interacts with all staff to ensure client needs are met throughout all phases of a project. In years past, Karen also directly managed a number of projects, including Disability.gov and the elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors, among several others. Her intricate knowledge of each client and project’s dynamics, as well as her dedication to unparalleled professionalism, is equally shared by her employees and consultants.

In leading the Concepts team, Karen draws upon more than 20 years of experience in the public relations field. Prior to launching Concepts, she worked at Walcoff & Associates, where she split her time between business development and managing several accounts. She has also consulted for the U.S. Marshals Association, conceptualizing and implementing outreach campaigns in targeted communities nationwide.

Sophie Howard, General Dynamics IT

Sophie Howard

Sophie Howard, HR Director, Workforce Relations, has 30 years of experience in government consulting with General Dynamics including 20 years in human resources (HR).  Currently she serves as the HR Strategic Business Partner for General Dynamics Information Technology (IT) Headquarters staff of approximately 600 employees. Ms. Howard also serves as General Dynamics IT Director of Workforce Engagement. In this role, Ms. Howard is responsible for development, training, and roll-out of company-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives.  Ms. Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from the University of Maryland and has been a member of SHRM since 1995.    


Charlesiah McLean, Leidos, Inc

Charlesiah McLeanDr. Charlesiah McLean is Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Leidos, Inc. in Reston, Va. He is a results driven leader with proven success in how work environments respond inclusively to increasing diversity, dimensions of difference, and heightens expectations for inclusive cultures. Charlesiah has extensive experience in Diversity Talent Acquisition, Military Recruitment and Diversity & Inclusion. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Radford University, a Masters from Wake Forest and a Doctorate of Education Degree from Argosy University-Twin Cities.


  • Workplace Inclusion Acumen Education & Awareness (Micro-inequities/Unconscious Bias/Dimensions of Difference)
  • Diversity & Inclusion Strategy & Implementation 
  • Team Mentoring and Development

Eduardo Meza-Etienne, eSSENTIAL Accessibility

Eduardo Meza EtienneEduardo, a brain injury survivor, has been involved in the accessibility and disabilities field for over 20 years working for numerous government agencies and contractors in support of people with disabilities. He is an advocate for people with disabilities and his competencies include a strong sales and business development background in both the private and public sectors. He supports eSSENTIAL Accessibility in its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion among companies that are interested in serving—and building loyalty with—consumers and employees with disabilities.

He is a skilled technologist, specializing in international accessibility trends, assistive technologies, legal mandates and social media. Eduardo has served on the Board of Directors of the D.C. Metro Business Leadership Network since 2009, and serves as their in-house Accessibility, Webmaster and Social Media expert. 

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics, a Master of Science in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master’s degree in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Frederick county Maryland.

Bob Vetere, C5 Consulting

Bob Vetere

Bob joined C5 in February 2019 after retiring as Corporate Manager of Disability Partnerships at Northrop Grumman. He also most recently served on the DC Metro Business Leadership Network, a non-profit that is led by the Honorable Katherine McCary. President, C5 Consulting and has partnered with the C5 team for many years.

During his forty-one years at Northrop Grumman, Bob made many significant contributions including driving the creation and implementation of the best in class, nationally recognized centralized budget and workplace accommodations function. He has also been instrumental in driving disability inclusive culture change and was a founding member of the Victory Over Impairment & Challenge Enterprise (VOICE) Employee Resource Group (ERG) which is now enterprise-wide with approximately 1000 members across 12 chapters across the country.  Bob is a highly sought-after speaker and is well known for his ability to impact others through his presentations, speeches and keen storytelling skills. His personal journey as a person who acquired his blindness gives him unique strengths from both professional and personal perspectives. During his career, Bob supported and represented Northrop Grumman with many organizations and government agencies:  Secretary of the  Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Circle of Champions, US Business Leadership Network (now Disability:IN) Corporate Advisory Board and Mentoring Initiative, Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD), National Industry Liaison Group (NILG), Hearing Loss of America, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Disability Matters, Maryland and Virginia Governor’s Conference on Employment, NACE, US Coast Guard Headquarters and many others. His drive and passion were at the forefront and instrumental in Northrop Grumman’s disability inclusion journey. Through Bob’s leadership, partnerships and advocacy, Northrop Grumman has been recognized as a model for Disability Inclusion with the following awards:

Disability:IN Employer of the Year (2018),  Best Places to Work for People with Disabilities Disability Equality Index (2018), National Organization for Disability (NOD) Leading Disability Employer (2018), 2018 #2 Company that Supports People with Disability (Diversity Inc) and 2018 Top 50 Employers Careers & The Disabled.  Bob was recognized by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and awarded the 2017 Stephen Garff Marriott Award. The Stephan Garff Marriott Award honors a blind or visually impaired individual who has served as an extraordinary mentor and has had a remarkable career. In 2016, Bob was named Mentor of the Year and inducted into the Susan M. Daniels Mentoring Hall of Fame by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition.

Bob resides in PA with his wife, Sue and his guide dog, Waverly.

Bryan Moseley, TCS Associates

Bryan MoseleyBryan Moseley is the CEO of TCS Associates located in Rockville, Maryland. TCS is a Social Enterprise, established to empower persons with disabilities by eliminating accessibility barriers in communication and technology. Under his leadership, TCS serves the disability community by delivering innovative Assistive Technology solutions and by providing consulting and support services to the private sector, educational institutions, and government agencies in areas regarding accessibility and accommodations of individuals with disabilities. Bryan joined TCS in 2009 and has lead the organization in the development of new and innovative approaches regarding accessibility and accommodations support for individuals with disabilities.

In addition to his role with TCS, Bryan chairs and leads Métier Services, Inc. a Maryland based non-profit that was founded upon the mission to enhance the opportunities for economic and personal independence of people who are blind or visually impaired through the creation and development of innovative training programs, direct services, and of dedicated employment opportunities for the blind community.

Bryan lives in Germantown, Maryland, with his wife, Jessica, and two boys, Brayden and Cooper. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Management from James Madison University and a Master of Business Administration from Marymount University in Arlington Virginia.

Chrisonna Palmer, EY

Chrisonna PalmerChrisonna Palmer is an Assistant Director of Business Development within EY’s Government and Public Sector (GPS).  She has over 10 years of experience in sales and business development with the federal government as her core market.  In her current position, Ms. Palmer manages business development activities for strategic priority accounts within Civilian and Defense and National Security (DNS) agencies. She works closely with Business Development Executives (BDEs) and firm Partners to facilitate activities for strategic, multidisciplinary teams and creates an integrated, client-focused account team by supporting account planning, capture planning, and strategy development while providing account/client insight, research, and competitive analysis. Day-to-day, she acts as project manager and leads the development of proposals and meeting collateral for campaigns and winning communication strategies. Ms. Palmer is also an EY small business advocate who builds relationships with small businesses for potential teaming opportunities.

Jamel Walker, Northrop Grumman

Jamel Walker is a Sr. Principal EEO & Diversity Rep at Northrop Grumman supporting Corporate Office, Enterprise Services and Technical Services.  She advocates for employment equity for women and people of color by presenting senior leaders with measurement tools to successfully track progress in attaining diversity goals.  Before joining Northrop Grumman she was a Sr. Employee Relations Consultant for Wells Fargo, Inc. supporting over 20,000 team members across 9 states. Her other positions have included, HR Project Manager and Adjunct Professor of General Studies at Argosy University.  

Jamel is a US Navy Veteran and Chapter Co-Chair of the Falls Church VOICE Employee Resource Group at Northrop Grumman.  She holds a B.S in Computer Engineering Technology from Norfolk State University and a M.B.A from Strayer University.  She holds a Professional in Human Resources designation and recently obtained an Associate Project Management certification from University of California, Irvine.

Ann Rader, Healthcare Transformation, Strategy Execution & Management Consultant Leading Innovative Solutions

Ms. Rader has over a 25-year career as a recognized public policy executive with proven leadership in driving effective public policy development and tactical management for translating policy into organization program goals. She is a recognized industry leader, including a Presidential appointment, with a mission focus on innovation, problem solving, advocacy and results for underserved populations and those most in need.

Ms. Rader is currently an Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton supporting global health care issues including health information technology, health reform and health informatics within the Public Health team, for Federal and non-profit client interests. She most recently served as a Member of the National Council on Disability, having been appointed to the Council by the White House in 2003. She served as Chair of the Healthcare Team for the Council and is responsible for leading a study on healthcare for people with disabilities titled, “The State of Healthcare for People with Disabilities,” (October 2009).

Prior, Ms. Rader served as Associate Vice President for a New York City-based non-profit management consulting firm providing strategic planning, management, technical and financial services to support community-building efforts of low-capacity non-profit organizations and small businesses. She worked with non-profit organizations in underserved areas across the country to facilitate economic development, healthcare, and other social empowerment programs. Ms. Rader spent six years at Fannie Mae, supporting community-based programs, social investment, and outreach and education to increase community development in distressed neighborhoods.

Ms. Rader has broad experience in public affairs and public policy having worked for Cassidy & Associates with their Healthcare and Education group, working with health and education institutions to secure Federal support of their institutional programmatic needs including cancer research, vaccine programs and distance-learning programs. Ms. Rader served as Special Assistant to Secretary Elizabeth Dole at the Department of Labor under President George Herbert Walker Bush where she implemented the Glass Ceiling Initiative and employment provisions of the then newly-enacted Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ms. Rader is active in advocacy and public policy outreach for people with disabilities. She serves on the Board of Trustees for United Cerebral Palsy Associations. She is also a speaker on disability and health, and has served on international delegations and national panels to promote greater dialogue and understanding of disability cross-culturally.

Ms. Rader is an author and writer, and recently authored a paper on public health for at-risk populations and the impact of health and communication technologies titled, “Public Health Preparedness and Response for At-Risk Populations: Harnessing the Power of Health Information and Communication Technology.” March 2010. Ms. Rader received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and has a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Rick Rodgers

Rick RodgersRick Rodgers, managing director and founder of The Resource Network LLC, improves the bottom line for organizations by connecting internal and external resources in a way that creates a multiplier effect. Throughout his career Rick has been a catalyst bringing together people and organizations in commercial, public, and non-profit enterprises in ways that enhance individual and collective success.

He has worked with and for governors, corporate executives, technology companies, information providers, and international trade and development agencies in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas to devise innovative ways to share resources and generate sustainable revenues and relationships.

Results he and his teams have achieved are described as among the best of their type in the world, including receiving Microsoft Industry Solution award recognition for creation and implementation of one of the best sales solutions in the world. Rick also conceptualized, marketed and developed the Hall of the States as an innovative shared use facility, co-locating more than 32 independent state offices and 44 national associations of state officials, recognized as one of the best examples of intergovernmental relations.

Rick’s client list includes Ask Big Questions, BrainAdvantage, Bishop John Thomas Walker National Learning Center, Keurig Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, S&G Endeavors; Welsh Marketing Associates, Special Olympics International, MCI, MERANT, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, State of Illinois, and the Federation of Tax Administrators.   

In the middle of a global sales presentation, Rick experienced a retinal detachment, which led to 10 surgeries and his becoming an official member of the disability community. Upon regaining mobility, Rick’s disclosure of his visual disability catalyzed an environment of enhanced collaboration through the recognition of the power of vulnerability.

The Resource Network is certified as a Disability Owned Business Enterprise by the US Business Leadership Network (ISBLN).  Rick and The Resource Network are featured in a USBLN article Making the Right Connections.  Rick is a member of the DC Metro Business Leadership Network where he Co-Chairs the Disability Supplier Diversity Committee spearheading initiatives to make the right connections within the DC business community and beyond. He is a member of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities and the World Bank Community of Practice for Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities.  

A CPA and graduate of the University of Kentucky, Rick has served as Vice President for Administration for the Mortgage Bankers Association of America; Director of Administration and Finance and Secretary-Treasurer of the National Governors Association; Controller of the Council of State Governments; and in the practice of public accounting.   

Information on Rick’s activities and journeys has been included in: Who’s Who in Finance and IndustryWho’s Who in the South and Southwest;Who’s Who in the WorldPublic Official Associations and State and Local Government: A Bridge Across One Hundred Years, and selected news articles and case studies.

Carrie Schroeder, PwC

Carrie SchroederCarrie Schroeder is a Manager at PwC's Office of Diversity and Inclusion in McLean, VA and has over nine years of experience in human resources. Carrie is an advocate for people with disabilities not only in the workplace, but also in the community and is a member of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

In addition to her daily responsibilities around coaching and development, Carrie saw a need within the market for people with disabilities and caregivers of people with disabilities and she formed a group within PwC.  The group’s focus is to support, enable, and empower those who have disabilities at PwC as they continue their career progression.  As of today, the group has 15 members, and is the seventh group to be formed of its kind at PwC across the country.

Carrie has also presented at two NFB state conventions on the topics of “What are Employers Really Looking For” and “Take Charge: Strategies for Success – It’s more than just about a paycheck.”  Carrie is active with international efforts for people with disabilities and was present when the Marrakesh Treaty was signed in 2013 to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled.  She also has been an observer to the United Nations informal group on Quite Road Transport Vehicles.

Carrie graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA with her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and daughter.  

Kia Silver Hodge, C5 Consulting

Kia Silver HodgeKia joined C5 in 2018 and brings more than fifteen years of experience developing diversity and inclusion strategies for Fortune 500 companies. Prior to joining C5, Kia’s most recent role was as Acting Director of Diversity & Inclusion at the Lockheed Martin Corporation. In this role, Kia was responsible for leading the Corporate Diversity & Inclusion team, developing and implementing programs designed to strengthen Lockheed Martin’s culture of inclusion, and supporting efforts to enhance the company’s reputation as an employer of choice for the best and brightest talent.  Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Kia spent three years as the Corporate Manager of Diversity & Military Recruitment Programs at Northrop Grumman. While at Northrop Grumman, Kia served as the Program Manager for Operation IMPACT, Northrop Grumman's career transition assistance program for Wounded Warriors, and also managed the company’s recruitment efforts at all national diversity and military conferences. During her career, Kia has held leadership roles in Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Acquisition and Business Development at several other Fortune 500 companies including Freddie Mac, Monster Worldwide, Sallie Mae and Adecco. Kia graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University in Washington, DC and has also obtained certification as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR).

Tom Downs, Gartner

Tom Downs

Sue Werber,C5 Consulting, LLC (Chair, ME Committee)

Sue WerberSue joined C5 Consulting in 2014. In this role, Sue has led several client projects, including creation and delivery for C5’s Talent Acquisition Solutions product, and was a shared lead for C5’s Disability IQ Series. Since joining C5, Sue has delivered training with Katherine and Martha to many groups, including DC Metro BLN National Webinar Series and the Metro Washington and Baltimore ILGs. Sue joined the DC Metro BLN in 2012 where she served on the Board until her retirement from Marriott International in 2013. Sue now serves on the DC Metro BLN Advisory Board and leads the BLN Millennial Committee. In that role, Sue is responsible for the BLN Career Exploration High School Fairs and the National Virtual Career Fairs. Previously in her career, Sue served as the Sr. Director, EEO/AA and HR Compliance with Marriott International, Inc. She began her career with Marriott in 1979 and over the years held various local and regional management positions in both Food and Beverage and Human Resources. She was in Marriott’s Corporate Human Resources Department over 20 years and held numerous leadership positions in the Employee and Labor Relations Department Immigration Services and the EEO/AA and HR Compliance Department. In her most recent role, Sue and her group were responsible for providing subject matter expertise and policy review and implementation in the area of affirmative action and EEO compliance.  They also monitored and acted as the COE for work authorization processes and policy including I-9, E-Verify and social security number verification. They also initiated, developed and implemented HR related management training and services.

Myra Wilder, Marriott International

  Myra M. Wilder is the Sr. Manager of Affirmative Action & HR Compliance for Marriott International, Inc.  In this position, she is     responsible for the preparation of the Company’s Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs), as well as preparing and defending audits         subject to review by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.  Additionally, Myra               responds to all requests from prospective applicants with disabilities on reasonable accommodations to complete the online         application.  In her capacity, she also works on other EEO and HR Compliance related projects.

  Prior to joining Marriott, Myra was the Assistant Director of Student Affairs at the American University Washington College of         Law.  In that role, she was the administrator responsible for implementing all academic accommodations for students with             disabilities.  She regularly counseled students with disabilities on in-class accommodations, exam accommodations,                       accommodations in the workplace, and accommodations on licensing exams.  Additionally, she worked cross-functionally with       law school staff and faculty on reviewing and revising university and law school policies related to compliance with Section 504     of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended.  Additionally, she served on the                   university’s Disability Compliance Project Team.

  Before joining American, Myra was an Associate at Jackson Lewis P.C. in Melville, NY, where she was a member of the                 Affirmative Action Compliance and OFCCP Defense practice group. 

Myra holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law.  She is licensed to practice law in the State of New York, and is a member of the New York State Bar Association.   

Emily Yee, Deloitte

Emily YeeEmily Yee is a Manager in Deloitte Consulting’s Federal practice and a leader in Deloitte’s efforts to advance diversity and inclusion both in the firm and for clients. In her client work, Emily leads teams delivering services and solutions for Federal agencies facing various challenges in managing their people. Emily is a leader in Deloitte’s Ability First Business Resource Group, developing strategies for improving Deloitte’s inclusion of people with disabilities and leading a team focused on research and analysis for the firm to better help clients seeking advice and support on this topic. Originally from Southern California, Emily moved to Washington D.C. after college to pursue a career in politics, eventually pursued a Master of Business Administration, and has been in management consulting for the Federal government for the past 7 years. She lives on Capitol Hill, is an active member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and enjoys both traveling to different parts of the world and neighborhood weekend training runs on the National Mall.

Katherine McCary, DC Metro BLN CEO, Executive Director & C5 Consulting, LLC

Katherine McCaryC5 Consulting. LLC, a certified woman owned and disability owned and operated consulting and training firm, serves as staff to the DC Metro Business Leadership Network. C5 services include supporting the private sector, the service provider sector and BLNs across the US with disability diversity inclusion strategies.

Katherine was the founding chair of the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN®) and the Virginia BLN, and has been instrumental in assisting other affiliates around the country in start up and sustainability. She was appointed by two Virginia governors to serve on the VA Disability Commission and the VA Board for People with Disabilities. She was appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the US Senate in 2008 to serve on the National Council on Disability.

Katherine founded C5 Consulting, LLC, in May 2011 after 22 years at SunTrust Bank, Inc. as Chief Disability Officer, where her primary responsibility was developing and leading corporate disability initiatives. Some of her key successes at SunTrust include the internal development of disability employee resource groups, supporting the bank’s Regional Diversity Councils, co-chairing the organization’s disability mentoring day leadership council and promoting the employment and marketing case for including people with disabilities to senior management and across all lines of business, including supplier diversity, operations, private banking and call centers. She developed an internal accommodation library and request process and created and managed an intranet site to expand the bank awareness of disability inclusion and provide supporting information for hiring managers and employees with and without disabilities. She was responsible for the creation and management of accessible retail bank products such as bank statements and increased client awareness of the bank’s assistive technology loans.

Her contributions to SunTrust´s disability efforts resulted in national recognition including the SHRM HR Magazine 2000 Innovative Practice Award, the 2002 APSE National Employer of the Year Award, the 2002 US Business Leadership Network (USBLN®) Exceptional Leadership Award and the US Department of Labor Secretary’s 2004 New Freedom Initiative Award.  In 2009, she received a USBLN® Lifetime Achievement Award.

During her initial employment at SunTrust’s predecessor bank, Crestar Bank, she was responsible for recruitment at all levels for Retail Banking. She then developed a strategy for the HR Director to expand diverse talent recruiting and retention, which returned to the bank a cost savings in excess of $5 million over the course of five years, by developing an internal supplemental staffing firm, FASTAFF. As the VP and Manager of FASTAFF, Katherine handled recruitment, assignment, supervisor support, payroll, employee relations, etc., of an internal pool of 600 supplemental staff as well as managed contractual vendor relationships with external staffing firms, ensuring diversity and disability inclusion of contract and bank employees.  As a result of her leadership and her team, her department received annual corporate recognition.

Prior to joining SunTrust, she was CEO of SELECTEMPS, a Mid-Atlantic staffing firm, recognized as one of INC Magazine’s Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies, where she managed an internal staff of 100 employees and 9 regional offices. She developed a successful strategy for sales and procurement successes.  

She now serves on the HSC Foundation National Youth Transition Center Leadership Council and the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind Advisory Board. As a former New Freedom Initiative winner, Katherine is a member of the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Circle of Champions. Katherine is a nationally recognized speaker and has shared her expertise with international, national, state, and regional conference audiences for the past 12 years. She is a SHRM certified Diversity Trainer and an ADA Leadership Network Trainer.

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