Keynote Biographies

George Blankenship

Former Executive at Tesla Motors, Apple Computer and GAP Inc.

George Blankenship is a former executive at Tesla Motors, Apple Computer and GAP Inc. and has 30 years of international strategy, retail and real estate experience. In his executive capacities at Tesla Motors, George successively served as vice president of design and store development, vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience, and vice president of worldwide retail. In these roles, he redefined the car-buying experience, and, in turn, revolutionized the auto industry. Tesla’s Model S was named the Motor Trend “Car of the Year” in 2013, only a year after its introduction. It was the first electric car to ever receive this recognition. Prior to his achievements at Tesla, George served as the senior executive of real estate at Apple. Recognized as the architect of Apple’s brand-building retail methodology, he formulated and executed one of the most successful retail growth strategies in history. His international “Smart Growth Hit List” encompassed major cities throughout Asia, Europe and North America. Apple also saw a material, sustained increase in sales, profit and consumer loyalty following George’s focus on reformulation of the consumer experience, the building of brand awareness, and ongoing accessibility to customers. George has also functioned as a real estate consultant for Microsoft and served as a senior executive for real estate strategy at GAP Inc. At GAP, George managed the growth of over 250 stores per year while establishing an energy-efficient, environmentally forward-thinking retail growth practice. His uniquely innovative processes have transformed secure, status quo organizations into forward-thinking and dynamic players of the future. George has also meaningfully redefined the purpose and importance of a superior customer experience in contemporary markets, honed and refined corporate values, and deeply strengthened customer loyalty. As an expert of the industry, he offers unmatched insight on the building and creating of brand loyalty and awareness, competitive positioning in the market, and what it takes to deliver superior customer care.


Neil Blumenthal

Co-founder and co-Chief Executive Officer of Warby Parker

Neil Blumenthal is a co-founder and co-Chief Executive Officer of Warby Parker, a transformative lifestyle brand that not only offers designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, but leads the way for socially conscious businesses. In 2015, Fast Company named Warby Parker the most innovative company in the world.

Prior to launching Warby Parker in 2010, Neil served as director of VisionSpring. It is a non-profit social enterprise that trains low-income women to start their own businesses selling affordable eyeglasses to individuals living on less than $4 per day in developing countries. He developed VisionSpring’s award-winning strategy (Fast Company Social Capitalist Award 2005 and 2007-08) and expanded VisionSpring’s global presence from one to 10 countries.

He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, and has received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. He was also recognized as part of “The Next Establishment” by Vanity Fair, and serves on the board of RxArt and on the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council.

A native of New York City, Neil received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University and his Master of Business Administration degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Donna Brazile

Renowned Political Strategist and Commentator
Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation, Democratic National Committee

Veteran Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile is an adjunct professor, author, syndicated columnist, television political commentator, Vice Chair of voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee, and former interim national chair of the DNC, as well as the former chair of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. She is also the author of the best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics and an on-air contributor to CNN and ABC, where she regularly appears on This Week. She has made two cameo appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife and, most recently, she appeared on Netflix’s House of Cards. After all, acting, as she will say, is the key to success in politics.

Donna was named in O magazine’s first-ever list of 20 “remarkable visionaries,” and Washingtonian magazine named her among its “100 Most Powerful Women,” while Essence magazine listed her as one of the “Top 50 Women in America.” Donna also received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. Aside from working for the full recovery of her native New Orleans, Donna’s passion is encouraging young people to vote, working within the political system in order to strengthen it, and running for public office. In her presentations, she addresses our current political environment, hot-topic legislation, campaigns and voting.

Donna began her political career at the age of nine when she worked to elect a City Council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood. The candidate won, the swing set was installed, and a lifelong passion for politics was ignited. Four decades and innumerable state and local campaigns later, Donna has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she served as campaign manager for former Vice President Al Gore, becoming the first African-American woman to manage a presidential campaign.

She is currently on the board of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, the National Democratic Institute, the Professional Diversity Network, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund, Inc. She also serves as co-chair for Democrats for Public Education.

A native of New Orleans, Donna was appointed by former Governor Kathleen Blanco to serve on the Louisiana Recovery Board to work for the rebuilding of the state and to advocate for the Gulf recovery on the national stage. She is the proud recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Louisiana State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Grambling State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Northeastern Illinois University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Xavier University of Louisiana. Donna is also the founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates LLC.


J. Charles Cardona

Chief Executive Officer, BNY Mellon Cash Investment Strategies and President, The Dreyfus Corporation

J. Charles Cardona is the Chief Executive Officer of BNY Mellon Cash Investment Strategies (CIS) and President of The Dreyfus Corporation. He is responsible for oversight of various short duration fixed income activities including investment management, distribution and client service. CIS, a division of The Dreyfus Corporation, is responsible for the growth and maintenance of over $200 billion in client assets under management including money market funds, offshore liquidity funds and collective funds distributed under the Dreyfus brand. Prior to assuming these roles, He served as a Vice Chairman of The Dreyfus Corporation and President of the Institutional Services Division of Dreyfus' broker-dealer subsidiary. He joined the Institutional Services Division in 1985 with management responsibility for all Institutional Operations and Client Service units. Prior to joining the Institutional Services Division, He served as Assistant Director of Sales and Services in the Dreyfus Retail Division which he joined in 1981. Before joining The Dreyfus Corporation, he spent three years as an Account Manager with Bradford Trust Co., responsible for providing syndicate credit for municipal bond underwritings. He is a member of BNY Mellon's Operating Committee and the BNY Mellon Investment Management Executive Committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors of The Dreyfus Corporation, MBSC Securities Corporation, BNY Mellon Liquidity Funds and various other Dreyfus Mutual Funds administered under the Investment Company Act of 1940. He is a graduate of Manhattan College with a Bachelor degree in business administration.


Jim Crowley

Chief Relationship Officer, Pershing

Jim Crowley is the Chief Relationship Officer and a Managing Director for Pershing, a BNY Mellon company. Jim provides senior client relationship leadership, working with a team of professionals, all personally invested and aligned with our clients. Based on long-standing relationships, the team provides insights and innovations to support and transform our clients' businesses. Jim oversees Pershing's broker-dealer business in the United States, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. He is a member of Pershing's Executive Committee and BNY Mellon's Operating Committee.

Jim is a frequent speaker at client and industry events on business trends, strategy and transformation. He is often quoted in the business press for his wide range of industry insights and expertise. Jim began his career at Pershing in 1982 in the firm's Corporate Trainee Program. He worked in various operating areas, including a stint on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, before leading marketing and business development for the fixed income business. Jim moved into relationship management, taking on increasingly more senior roles as he built the broker-dealer relationship management team.

Jim earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Florida State University. He has completed the Securities Industry Institute® (SII) program, sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and has served on the SII Board of Trustees since 1988 and is a past chair (2007-2009).


Amy Cuddy, PhD

Social Psychologist; Associate Professor at Harvard Business School

Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business School. She studies how our body language speaks not just to others, but also to ourselves. Specifically, her research focuses on how adopting powerful, expanse postures (imagine Wonder Woman) helps us to be more present in high-pressure situations, changing our thoughts, feelings, behaviors and physiology, and impacting how well—or poorly—we perform in job interviews, difficult conversations, public speeches, etc. Her TED Talk on this topic is the second-most-viewed of all time, at over 32 million views. She was one of Time Magazine’s 2012 “Game Changers,” Business Insider’s 2013 “50 Women Who Are Changing The World,” and in 2014 was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She teaches courses at Harvard on power, influence, and communication. Her book, Presence was released by Little, Brown in December, 2015.


Ron DeCicco

Chairman, Pershing

Ron DeCicco is an Executive Advisor for Pershing a BNY Mellon company, providing consulting to the Pershing Executive Committee. Ron was the firm's chief executive officer, providing leadership for the Pershing family of companies in 23 locations worldwide until he retired from that role in early 2016. Ron is a member of Pershing's Executive Committee and BNY Mellon's Operating Committee. 

Prior to being CEO, Ron was the chief operating officer of the firm, sharing leadership responsibility for all Pershing affiliates. Previously, Ron was the chief administrative officer, with leadership responsibility for Operational Risk Management, Facilities, Global Security, People Services and Tax and Depository Balances. He also had administrative responsibility for Internal Audit, Legal and Compliance. Ron joined Pershing in 1971 in the Client Service Department, worked in various roles and ultimately assumed leadership responsibility such as serving as head of Global Operations, Account Management, Client Service and Client Training. He is the former chair of Pershing's Technology Priorities Committee.

Ron has served as a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) Operations Advisory Committee, which provides guidance and insight on securities industry operational trends and their potential impact on controls and regulation. The committee also provides input on the potential effect proposed FINRA rules may have on the industry and the barriers and costs to implementation. 

Ron earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting from Iona College, and has also completed the Securities Industry Institute® program, sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Lisa Dolly

Chief Executive Officer, Pershing

Lisa Dolly is the Chief Executive Officer for Pershing, a BNY Mellon company, providing leadership for the Pershing family of companies in 23 locations worldwide. Pershing provides global financial business solutions to advisors, broker-dealers, family offices, hedge fund and '40 Act fund managers, registered investment advisor firms, and wealth managers, helping them to run their business efficiently and serve their clients effectively. Lisa is the chair of Pershing's Executive Committee and a member of the BNY Mellon Operating Committee. She is a passionate advocate for developing talent and bringing diversity and multiple voices to build the best teams.

Lisa has been with Pershing for over 25 years and brings rich experience to this role. She was most recently the chief operating officer of the firm, sharing leadership for all Pershing affiliates. As COO, she was responsible for ensuring that the firm has the operational controls, administrative and reporting procedures, and people and systems in place to effectively grow and maintain financial strength and operating efficiency.

Previously, Lisa was responsible for the firm's managed investment business and Lockwood Advisors, Inc. and has held leadership positions in nearly every area of the firm, from Account Management and Client Service to Global Operations. She was also the firm's chief administrative officer with leadership responsibility for Legal, Compliance, and People Services. She began her career in the Corporate Trainee program.

Lisa has served as chairperson of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Operations and Technology Steering Committee and has served on cross-industry committees with DTCC. In addition, she volunteers her time with the 30% Club mentoring aspiring professional women.

Lisa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Rutgers University and completed the Securities Industry Institute® program, sponsored by SIFMA, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Lori Hardwick

Chief Operating Officer, Pershing

Lori Hardwick is the Chief Operating Officer for Pershing, a BNY Mellon company, sharing leadership responsibility with the CEO for managing the Pershing family of companies. Lori joined the firm in 2016 and brings 25 years of investment, technology and advisory expertise. She is a member of Pershing's Executive Committee and BNY Mellon's Operating Committee.

Previously, Lori was group president of advisory services for Envestnet, overseeing all of its enterprise relationship management, institutional and global advisory sales, strategic partnerships and practice management programs. She had been with Envestnet since its inception in 2000 and served in a variety of roles managing its enterprise, sales, services, advisor orientation and onboarding divisions.

Prior to joining Envestnet, Lori served as regional vice president at Nuveen Investments, cultivating relationships with independent advisors spanning 10 states in the Midwest. She also was responsible for founding Nuveen Investment Advisor Services, where she developed and managed a program and team specifically targeted to RIAs. Before Nuveen, Lori worked in institutional sales with Griffin, Kubik, Stephens & Thompson.

Lori was named one of the "50 Most Influential Women in Private Wealth" by Private Asset Management magazine in 2015 and one of the "50 Top Women in Wealth" by AdvisorOne in 2011.

Lori graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication and minors in Japanese and Marketing. She is also a graduate of the University of Chicago Booth Advanced Management Executive Program, an elite category of year-long business educational programs designed for senior executives.


Kathleen Hays

Co-Host, Taking Stock, Bloomberg Radio

Kathleen Hays is the host of "Taking Stock" on Bloomberg Radio, a weekday program that covers the forces driving the U.S. and global markets, from broad macroeconomic forces to the latest investment trend.

Recognized as one of the top economics reporters and anchors in the country, Hays has covered the U.S. economy and the Federal Reserve for more than 20 years. She joined Bloomberg in 2006 after years as an on-air and online economics correspondent at CNN, CNNfn, and CNBC, where she served as a host, correspondent and commentator for numerous programs.

Hays began her career as a print journalist, initially serving as a founder, director, economics correspondent and New York bureau chief at Markets News International, a financial news service. From there, she joined Reuters, where she covered domestic and global bond and currency markets as well as central bank policy. She later worked as an economics correspondent and New York bureau chief for Investor's Business Daily.

Hays attended Stanford University where she earned both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in economics. She is based in New York City.


Suresh Kumar

Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, BNY Mellon

Suresh Kumar is Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer for BNY Mellon, where he is leading the Client Technology Solutions organization to become the industry leader in delivering innovative and exceptional technology solutions that enable our clients and employees to succeed.

Mr. Kumar serves on BNY Mellon's Executive Committee, the organization's most senior management body, as well as the company's Operating Committee. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of iNautix Technologies, a BNY Mellon Company that provides offshore development services.

Before assuming his current role, Suresh was Chief Information Officer for BNY Mellon's Financial Markets & Treasury Services (FM&TS) group and Pershing LLC. Prior to his appointment as CIO for Pershing, he served in that role with CSFBdirect and DLJdirect. As part of the team at DLJdirect, he was instrumental in that company's success in establishing a global presence in Japan, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and Dubai, and pioneering the delivery of online brokerage services via the Prodigy Network, America Online and ultimately the Worldwide Web.

Suresh is a member of the HP Advisory Board and the Pace University Advisory Board. He has previously served as a member of the Technology Advisory Committee of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation and Technology Management Committee of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Suresh is also former Chairman of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Technology Advisory Committee.

Suresh earned a Bachelor of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras, a Master of Business Administration degree from the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad and a Master's degree in Computer Science from the New York Institute of Technology. Suresh was named "CIO of the Year" in 2006 by the New Jersey Technology Council and named to CIO Insight magazine's annual list of "Top 100 CIOs" in 2007. Most recently, Suresh was named to Computerworld's "Premier 100 IT Leaders" for 2012.


Lauren Bush Lauren

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, FEED Projects

Lauren Bush Lauren is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FEED Projects, a company with the simple mission of creating good products that help FEED the world.

In 2004, Lauren became the Honorary Student Spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme. In that role, she traveled to various countries and learned firsthand about the issues of hunger and poverty. Coming back to America, Lauren was inspired to create a consumer product that would engage people in the seemingly overwhelming fight to end world hunger. In 2005, she conceptualized the idea for FEED by designing the initial FEED 1 bag which, when purchased, feeds one child in school for one year.

In 2007, FEED Projects was founded. Every product sold has a measurable donation attached to it and, over the past five years, FEED has donated over $6 million and has provided nearly 60 million meals globally through the UN World Food Programme.

FEED has also supported nutrition programs around the world and in the U.S. through organizations such as UNICEF and DonorsChoose.org and forged successful relationships with companies such as Disney, Pottery Barn, Clarins, Godiva, Whole Foods Market, Gap, TOMS, Amazon, DKNY, HSN, Bergdorf Goodman, Links of London and Judith Leiber.

Lauren is also Chairman of the Board of the FEED Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization that supports programs and organizations that are effectively working to fight hunger and eliminate malnutrition throughout the world.

For her work with FEED, Lauren was named one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2009 and one of Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 in 2010.

Lauren was born in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Princeton University in 2006 with a B.A. in Anthropology and certificate in Photography. She now resides in New York City, where she works on FEED and other socially conscious ventures.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Actor, Comedian and Producer

Julia Louis-Dreyfus earned worldwide acclaim and recognition for her portrayal of “Elaine Benes” in the hit NBC series Seinfeld, as “Christine Campbell” in the CBS hit comedy The New Adventures of Old Christine and most recently as Vice President “Selina Meyer” in the HBO series Veep. Between all shows combined, she has received five Emmy Awards with eighteen nominations, a Golden Globe Award with seven nominations, six Screen Actors Guild Awards with fourteen nominations, a Television Critics Association Award with three nominations and five American Comedy Awards with ten nominations.

Louis-Dreyfus is currently in production on the fourth season of the HBO series, Veep. The half-hour comedy centers on “Selina Meyer,” the new Vice President of the United States. Louis-Dreyfus won her third Emmy Award, a Television Critics Award and SAG Award for this role, as well as three Golden Globe nominations. Louis-Dreyfus has previously received critical acclaim for her starring role in Enough Said, opposite the late James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener and Toni Collette. The comedy follows “Eva,” played by Louis-Dreyfus, as she humorously tries to secretly juggle both relationships and wonders whether her new favorite friend’s disastrous ex can be her cue for happiness. This role has snagged Julia a Golden Globe nomination—making her one of the elite few who have had the honor to be concurrently nominated for both a film and television role. Last December, Louis-Dreyfus premiered Picture Paris on HBO. The short follows an ordinary suburban mom whose son is leaving for college and compensates for her empty nest syndrome by carefully planning a life-changing trip to Paris. The film played at BFI London Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival among other festivals around the world.

Her other television credits include appearances on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, a recurring role on The Simpsons, a recurring role on Fox’s critically acclaimed Arrested Development, NBC’s Watching Ellie, and the TNT animated film Animal Farm to which she lent her voice alongside Kelsey Grammer and Patrick Stewart. Louis-Dreyfus first made her mark on television during a three-year stint (1982-1985) on Saturday Night Live opposite the likes of Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest and Eddie Murphy. She subsequently hosted the show twice, becoming the first female former cast member to return as host. Feature film credits include Disney’s Planes; Pixar’s animated hit A Bug’s Life; Woody Allen’s Academy Award-winning Hannah and Her Sisters; Allen’s Deconstructing Harry; North; Fathers’ Day; and Jack the Bear.

Louis-Dreyfus is a committed and steadfast defender of the environment. She serves as a member on the leadership council for the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) as well as on the Board of Directors of Heal the Bay and on the Honorary Board of Heal the Ocean. She studied theater at Northwestern University where she was also a recipient of a Doctor of Arts in 2007. During college, she was a member of The Practical Theater Company and Chicago’s famed Second-City comedy troupe.


Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, (Ret.)

Retired U.S. Army Colonel

Retired Colonel Jill Morgenthaler is a woman of many firsts. She was one of the first women to train as an equal with men in the collegiate Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program and one of the first to receive a four-year Army scholarship. As a second lieutenant, she was one of the first women company commanders along the Korean DMZ. Colonel Morgenthaler commanded in West Germany and West Berlin. She was the first woman battalion commander in the 88th Regional Support Command and the first woman brigade commander in the 84th Division of the U.S. Army Reserve, leading hundreds of soldiers across six states. Colonel Morgenthaler received the Bronze Star for her leadership in Iraq in 2004. Upon retirement, the U.S. Army awarded her the Legion of Merit for her 30 years of extraordinary leadership performance.

Colonel Morgenthaler’s varied Army experiences include military intelligence operations in South Korea and West Berlin, handling disaster recovery during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, working as a peacekeeper in Bosnia, conducting evacuation operations for Kosovar refugees and overseeing public affairs operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom. As the first woman Homeland Security advisor in Illinois, Colonel Morgenthaler directed homeland security operations and provided guidance to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, the Illinois National Guard, and other agencies to protect the state from natural disasters or incidents of terrorism. In 2008, Colonel Morgenthaler ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress.

Colonel Morgenthaler has mentored leaders from Russia, Chile, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The University of Chicago, the University of Illinois and Benedictine University have consulted with her on homeland security and leadership. As a civilian, she worked in technology in Silicon Valley. After moving to Illinois, she worked at Argonne National Laboratory and helped establish the Center for Nanoscale Materials. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Arts from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Today, Colonel Morgenthaler is a motivational speaker, exhilarating audiences with tales of her famous stare-down with Saddam Hussein. She presents and trains on crisis communications and leadership amidst crisis and chaos. She is an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania State University.


Ram Nagappan

Chief Information Officer, Pershing

Ramaswamy (Ram) Nagappan is the Chief Information Officer and a Managing Director for Pershing, a BNY Mellon company. Ram is also a member of Pershing's Executive Committee and BNY Mellon's Operating Committee.

Ram is responsible for the firm's architecture, application development, quality assurance, technology product management, program management, process assurance, project management, infrastructure management and IT operations for Pershing's NetExchange suite of solutions and Albridge solutions. This includes Pershing's account management, clearance, settlement and trading solutions; NetX360® and NetExchange Client®; Albridge enterprise data management and wealth reporting; voice and mobile technology.

Ram began his career at Pershing in 1988. Prior to joining Pershing, he was a technology consultant to Pershing, Guardian Life Insurance, Bakst International and Data Software Research Corp. Prior to the assuming his current role, Ram also served as managing director for technology development for DLJdirect and CSFBdirect, pioneers in online Internet brokerage. He also had a significant role in establishing iNautix Technologies India Private Limited at Chennai, India, a technology affiliate of BNY Mellon that provides an array of technology development services. Ram has more than 30 years of information technology experience with strong financial services knowledge.

Ram is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Technology Advisory Committee. He has served as a member of technology advisory committees for various national securities exchanges.

Ram earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics and Communication from Anna University Chennai (India). Ram was named Computerworld's "Premier 100 IT Leaders" for 2013. Most recently, the New Jersey Technology Council named Ram "CIO of the year" for 2015.


Dana Perino

Former White House Press Secretary, Political Commentator, New York Times No. 1 Best-Selling Author, and Co-Host of Fox’s The Five

Dana Perino is a co-host on the hit show, The Five, which airs daily at 5 p.m. on the Fox News Channel. The Five has won its time slot every day since it started in July 2011 and last year finished as the third most-watched program in cable news. Part of an ensemble cast, some viewers nicknamed Dana “The Voice of Reason on The Five.” She also appears weekly on The O’Reilly Factor and The Kelly File and during special election coverage.

Before joining Fox, Dana served as the first Republican woman to be press secretary of the United States. She spent more than seven years as part of the administration of President George W. Bush, joining right after the 9/11 attacks as a spokesperson for the Justice Department. A year later, she was pulled to the White House and stayed until the last day of the Bush administration. As press secretary, she handled interactions with the White House press corps and advised the president on communications. President Bush has said that whenever he did a press conference or interview, Dana made sure he was never surprised by a question. She describes her approach to the position as a 50-50 mindset—half the effort went to defending and advocating the position of the president and the United States, and the other half was defending and advocating the media’s access to the president and the government. Dana continues to be active with the Bush Center in Dallas and joyfully says her motto is, “Once a staffer, always a staffer.”

After the White House years, Dana made a career transition. She went from speaking on behalf of the nation to speaking for herself. Not only did she become a commentator on current events and foreign policy, but she also published And the Good News Is…Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side, which debuted as a No. 1 New York Times best-seller and remained on the list for more than three months. Her other publishing credits include editorial direction for Things that Matter by Charles Krauthammer and The Time of Our Lives by Peggy Noonan.

In 2010, President Obama appointed her to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which complemented her passion for advocating for individual and economic freedom, especially for women in Africa. Since leaving the White House, Dana and her husband, Peter McMahon, have volunteered in South Africa and Congo. In 2014 they spent a week at a charitable hospital and came back to America to broadcast their findings and appeal for additional help.

To express her gratitude for the opportunities she’s been afforded, Dana started Minute Mentoring, a program for young woman that’s like speed dating between mentors and mentees. She also serves on the board of Companions for Heroes, which matches rescue animals with first-responders and veterans managing post-traumatic stress.

Dana was born in Wyoming and raised in Colorado. She has a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Before the Bush Administration, she worked as a daily news reporter, as a press secretary on Capitol Hill, and in the private sector for global public relations companies.


Solon “Bud” Person

Executive Vice President, Federated Investors, Inc.

Responsible for managing Federated's client relationships and distribution within the fiduciary-based wealth management intermediary markets. Also responsible for overseeing money market solutions to the institutional trust, broker-dealer, and direct institutional markets. BS in Business and Economics, Lehigh University. Joined Federated 1981. Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania Board of Directors.


Joan Schwartz

Chief Legal Officer, Pershing

Joan Schwartz is Chief Legal Officer, Managing Director and a member of the Executive Committee for Pershing, a BNY Mellon company. Since joining Pershing in July 2008, Joan has supervised the Legal Department staff, litigation, employment matters, regulatory inquiries, anti-money laundering-related issues and inquiries from law enforcement agencies. She is also chief advisor to Pershing's Executive Committee and business units and lead counsel representing Pershing in compliance and regulatory inquiries from regulators and law enforcement agencies.

Joan began her career as an attorney in the financial services industry with Prudential Securities Inc. and was with Wachovia Securities LLC and First Clearing LLC before joining Pershing. Joan is a member of SIFMA's Compliance and Legal Division and vice chair of SIFMA Clearing Firm Committee. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Binghamton University and a Juris Doctorate degree from Brooklyn Law School.


Brian Shea

Vice Chairman of BNY Mellon, Chief Executive Officer of BNY Mellon Investment Services

Brian Shea is a Vice Chairman of BNY Mellon and is Chief Executive Officer of Investment Services, which comprises the following businesses: Alternative Investment Services, Asset Servicing, Corporate Trust, Depositary Receipts, Broker-Dealer Services and Pershing. He also oversees Client Service Delivery and Client Technology Solutions. In addition, Brian is a member of the BNY Mellon Executive Committee.    Previously, he was chairman and chief executive officer of Pershing, a BNY Mellon company, providing leadership for all Pershing affiliates globally.

Brian serves on the Board of Directors of the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation and has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Insured Retirement Institute.  He previously served on the Board of Governors of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD, which is now the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.); the NASD Dispute Resolution Board, as chairman of the National Adjudicatory Council of the NASD; and as chairman of the NASD Membership Committee. He has also served on the NASD Variable Annuity Utility Task Force, the NASD Mutual Fund Breakpoint Task Force, the NASD Mutual Fund Omnibus Processing Task Force, the NASD Member Admission Review Committee and the NASD District 10 (New York) Committee.

Brian also served as chairman of the Securities Industry Association Membership Committee (SIA, which is now the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association or SIFMA), and served on the SIA New York District Committee. He is a two-time recipient of the chairman's award for distinguished service to the SIA.

Brian serves on the Board of Trustees of St. John's University, and on the Board of St. John's University's Institute for Catholic Schools. He is also a member of the Board of the Tomorrow's Hope Foundation, chairman of the Bishop's Advisory Committee for Catholic Education in the diocese of Rockville Centre and serves on the Archdiocese of New York Archbishop's Committee for Charity.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from St. John's University, Brian went on to earn a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance from Pace University. He has also completed the Securities Industry Institute program, sponsored by SIFMA, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Tom Sholes

Managing Director, Pershing

Thomas Sholes is a Managing Director, a member of the Executive Committee for Pershing, a BNY Mellon company, and a member of BNY Mellon's Operating Committee. He oversees the firm's Financial Solutions group including Albridge Analytics, a business analytics and intelligence solution. Previously, Tom was responsible for the firm's managed investment business, Lockwood Advisors, Inc., as well as its affiliate, Albridge.

Prior to joining Pershing and before the company's acquisition by BNY Mellon in July 2010, Tom was an executive vice president and senior managing director for PNC Global Investment Servicing. During this time, he was in charge of the financial advisor services division, which encompassed three lines of business: Albridge Solutions, Coates Analytics and PNC Managed Investment Services, Inc., a registered investment advisor, where he served as chairman. Tom was also head of its strategic planning, corporate development and product management activities and a member of its Operating Committee. He served on PNC Financial's Management Committee, as well as the firm's Administrative Pension Committee.

Before joining PNC, Tom was employed by Federated Investors, where he led Edgewood Services, a broker-dealer subsidiary of the firm. Prior to this, he managed product development and marketing teams serving the broker-dealer, bank and institutional markets.

Tom earned a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Carnegie Mellon University.


Mark Tibergien

Chief Executive Officer, Pershing Advisor Solutions

Mark Tibergien is Chief Executive Officer of Pershing Advisor Solutions, a BNY Mellon company. Pershing Advisor Solutions is one of the country's leading custodians for registered investment advisors and family offices. Mark is also a Managing Director for Pershing and a member of its Executive Committee and BNY Mellon's Operating Committee.

Prior to joining Pershing in 2007, Mark was a principal at the accounting and consulting firm, Moss Adams LLP, where he was partner-in-charge of the Business Consulting group, chairman of the Financial Services Industry group and partner-in-charge of the Business Valuation group. Previously, he was president of a nationally recognized bank and business training and consulting firm, a principal in an investment management and business valuation firm, a writer for a financial trade magazine and a general assignment newspaper and radio reporter.

Mark has worked with public and private companies on matters related to business management, transition planning and strategy formulation since 1976. This includes hundreds of independent registered investment advisors, broker-dealers, investment managers, insurance companies and other financial services organizations in the United States, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Canada.

In 2015, Private Asset Management magazine honored Mark with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication, commitment and achievements in the industry. In 2015, Investment Advisor magazine recognized him for the 13th consecutive year as one of the "25 Most Influential People" in the financial services industry and, in 2015, Mark was honored as one of the most influential people in the industry over the past 35 years. In 2012 InvestmentNews named him to their list of "The Power 20." For eight consecutive years, Accounting Today recognized Mark as one of the "100 Most Influential" people in the accounting profession.

He is the author of three books published by Bloomberg Press, Practice Made Perfect, How to Value, Buy or Sell a Financial Advisory Practice and Practice Made (More) Perfect. He has also been a regular columnist for Investment Advisor magazine on management issues since 2005.


Jay Wright

Villanova Head Men’s Basketball Coach and 2016 National Champion

Over the course of 15 seasons as Villanova’s William J. Finneran Endowed Head Coach, Jay Wright has steered the Wildcats to new plateaus featuring multiple highlights. But none has resonated quite the way the final act of the 2015-16 season unfolded on a grand stage of the NCAA Tournament championship game.

With the Wildcats and North Carolina Tar Heels tied at 74 and 4.7 seconds left in regulation, Villanova executed a buzzer-beater for the ages. Sprung free by a screen from Daniel Ochefu, Ryan Arcidiacono dribbled quickly into the frontcourt before shoveling a feed to a trailer, Kris Jenkins. Jenkins calmly stepped into the 3-pointer and it dropped into the net as the horn sounded giving the Wildcats a 77-74 victory.

The triumph, Villanova’s 35th of the season, lifted the Wildcats to the school’s second NCAA championship. The night of April 4, 2016, capped a remarkable run that saw Villanova upend a pair of No. 1 NCAA Tournament seeds in North Carolina and Kansas, along with a No. 2 seed Oklahoma and a No. 3 seed. The Wildcats’ 95-51 victory over the Sooners in the national semifinal represented the largest margin of victory in an NCAA Final Four contest.

Under the direction of Wright, the Wildcats have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 11 of the last 12 seasons and Villanova basketball has grown in other ways. One of Wright's first priorities was to reach out to former Wildcat players to ensure that they are an active part of the program. The phrase, “Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat,” is part of the lexicon at Villanova and symbolizes the essential role basketball alumni play in the program. That role is on display throughout the season, most notably at the annual awards ceremony which was attended by a record-setting crowd of 2,000 in 2016 at the pavilion.

Since returning to Philadelphia, Wright has joined forces with his fellow Division I head coaches in the fight against cancer. Through the work of the head coaches at Drexel, La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova, the Philadelphia chapter of Coaches vs. Cancer has become one of the top fundraising groups in the nation.