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2021 Speakers

Ali von Paris
Route One Apperal

von-paris-aliIn 2010, while still an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, Ali designed a t-shirt for her friends to commemorate the closing of a popular local watering hole. When demand for the t-shirts spread quickly through social media, Ali decided to begin selling them online, and soon she had a budding business.

What began as a fun project headquartered in her dorm room is now Ali’s career. Today, her company, Route One Apparel, is the premier source for trendy and affordable Maryland pride apparel and accessories. The company has licensing rights with University of Maryland, National Bohemian, Old Bay, and UTZ, to name a few. They now offer a full line of over 3,000 items that are sold online and in retailers throughout the area. Route One Apparel merchandise can be seen sported by local icons and fans of all ages as the Maryland pride trend continues to gain popularity throughout our state.

Ali has received many accolades in recent years, including Daily Record’s “Leading Women” in 2019, and being named both one of Baltimore’s “Women to Watch” by the Baltimore Sun and Maryland’s 50 “Very Important Professionals Successful by 40” by the Daily Record in 2017. In 2016, she was honored with an “Outstanding Young Alumnus Award” from the University of Maryland Alumni Association and as “Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. She was also named one of Baltimore’s “40 Under 40” of 2016 by the Baltimore Business Journal, and invited to join Omicron Delta Kappa, one of the country’s premiere National Honor Societies. Governor Larry Hogan also appointed Ali to the Maryland Tourism Development Board where she remains very active promoting their marketing initiatives.

In recent years, Route One Apparel has continued to become more of a household name as the company grows its reputation for creating popular designs and supporting local communities. Ali and Route One Apparel have been featured on WBAL-TV, WJZ-TV, FOX45, and in the Daily Record and Baltimore Business Journal. The company has grown a passionate and loyal social media following of nearly 250,000 people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Route One Apparel is also a socially-responsible brand, as Ali regularly partners with local charitable organizations to raise money for causes she believes in. From her “Hogan Strong” items that raised money for the American Lymphoma Society to products that have supported the families of fallen law officers and the #BeMore line that benefitted organizations providing emergency relief to Baltimore City residents after the 2015 unrest, Ali makes sure that her state pride makes a tangible impact on Maryland’s communities.
With her entrepreneurial skills, business savvy and community concern, Ali von Paris has quickly become an exciting player in the Greater Baltimore business community.

Sheila Bindon
Chosen

bindon-sheila-submittedSheila Bindon is the owner and curator of Chosen – a charming shop in northern Baltimore County that features home décor, accessories and gifts that are handmade, locally made and unique.  Partnering with over 50 local makers and artists to sell their work through Chosen, Sheila is a strong proponent of the shop local, shop small movement and loves supporting and celebrating the creative community in Maryland.

After many years of climbing the corporate ladder resulting in successful careers in event planning, recruiting and human resources technology, Sheila longed to channel her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit into a business of her own.  In May of 2020 her dreams were realized when Chosen’s doors were opened for the first time, even in the face of a global pandemic.

As Chosen nears it’s first anniversary, Sheila is focused on partnering with even more Maryland creatives and entrepreneurs, and will continue to promote the community that has so strongly supported her endeavor.  She regularly donates a portion of profits to local organizations and schools and can’t wait for all that is ahead for her and her business.

Sandy I-ru Grace
Vice President of Government and External Affairs
BGE

sandy-grace_2019_429x600Sandy I-ru Grace is vice president of government and external affairs for BGE. She is responsible for shaping, leading, and directing the company’s positions on legislation affecting BGE’s customers. Her organization, which includes state affairs, external affairs, and marketing, primarily supports and builds strategic relationships with legislators, local officials, and communities. Grace reports to the BGE senior vice president of governmental and external affairs.

Professional History

Grace has served in her current role at BGE since January 2020. She has been with Exelon since 2010. She was most recently vice president of policy development for Exelon Utilities, where she was responsible for the development and alignment of policy positions across the Exelon Utility operating companies. She previously served in roles that focused on transmission and microgrid policy and investment opportunities. She joined Exelon as assistant general counsel, advising the company on complex regulatory, policy, and transactional matters. Prior to joining Exelon, Grace spent nearly a decade in private law practice. She represented and provided advice to some of the nation’s largest electric utilities on matters ranging from regional transmission organizations (RTOs), mergers and acquisitions, to the California wholesale electric market crisis of 2000/2001. Grace has also served as a law clerk for several administrative law judges at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. She is a member of the Maryland Bar, District of Columbia Bar, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit, and the Energy Bar Association.

Education

Grace received a Juris Doctor from American University Washington College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Sandy Fitzgerald-Angello
Pohanka of Salisbury Automotive Group

fitzgerald-sandy-2_600x600Sandy Angello-Fitzgerald is one of the most profound businesswomen on the Eastern Shore. As Owner-Operator of the Pohanka of Salisbury Automotive Group, one of the largest automotive groups on the Eastern Shore, she oversees the operations of six dealerships as well as a pre-owned car store located in Delmar, Delaware, and a premier truck store located in Salisbury, Maryland.

Sandy also owns an ice cream shop called Angello’s Scoops in downtown Salisbury. The shop offers a wide selection of homemade ice cream treats from Hopkins Farm Creamery as well as a wide selection of unique gifts including beach themed and Maryland pride items.Apart from her business practices, Angello’s community involvement goes above and beyond. Angello started the “Pohanka Pays It Forward” charitable initiative campaign back in 2009 during the recession. During this time most companies cut charitable giving altogether, but it was Sandy’s concern that “It is important now more than ever to give back”. Since its foundation in 2009, Pohanka of Salisbury has donated over $3,000,000.00 to 750 charitable organizations and counting. It is Sandy’s belief that nothing is more important than giving back to the community that we all work, live and raise our families in.

Michelle Wyatt

michellewyatt_600x840Michelle Wyatt co-founded CadmiumCD, an event technology platform, twenty-one years ago while she was in graduate school at the University of Maryland earning her MBA while working full time.  The Cadmium platform is designed to make it easy for meeting planners to collect, manage and distribute content for events.  Michelle has been named one of the 25 most influential women in the Meetings and Events Industry.

In addition to her MBA, Michelle has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware, and is the mother of two young adults, two dogs, and two cats.  She and her husband Peter are partners in life and in business.

On January 31 2020, forty days before the pandemic hit, Michelle sold majority share of CadmiumCD to a private equity group, STG Partners, based in Palo Alto, California.  With world-wide, face-to-face events shut down, she and her company successfully pivoted to a virtual event setting and ended the year with a 50% growth over 2019 sales.

 

Karen Bond
The Judge Alexander Williams Center University of Maryland, College Park

bond-karen_372x372Karen Bond has more than 20 years of experience in designing innovative programs that increase educational access for first-generation students. She is a frequent panelist for ETS, A Better Chance and conferences, where her personal insights from starting at Duke at 16, frame her passion for helping increase the number of economically disadvantaged students attending college. She has held positions of leadership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented youth, where she increased diversity recruitment by 20%, led the Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program and Goldman Sachs Next Generation Venture Fund. Karen joined CTY, after serving as Executive Director of the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust.

Karen is an experienced Diversity, Inclusion and Equity consultant. She has taught classes in Diversity Management for the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University. Last year, she joined the Judge Alexander Williams Center for Policy located at the University of Maryland College Park, where she leads strategic partnerships.

Active in the Baltimore education community and philanthropic community, Karen has served on the boards of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Friends School, Meals on Wheels, Maryland Nonprofits and the Greater Baltimore Leadership Committee Leadership Board.  Currently, she is actively involved in Invest in Girls, Project Engage at Duke University and Executive Alliance.  In 2017, Karen made history in Maryland by becoming the first African-American woman to serve as President of Executive Alliance. A hallmark of her presidency was leading a diversity and inclusion plan that increased membership diversity.

Karen graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science. Her graduate degree is in Organizational Development and Training from Johns Hopkins University.

Barb Clapp

clapp_barb_thumbnail_headshotBarb Clapp is the Founder and CEO of Clapp Communications, a full-service international marketing and public relations firm headquartered in Baltimore since 2001. She sold the agency December 2019 and is currently doing Fractional CEO and CMO consulting and looking for her “dream job.” She is also a Director of CFG Bank Board of Directors. A graduate of Loyola University, Barb has received awards and recognition for her CEO leadership over the years which include, most recently, Public Relations Society of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, The Daily Record’s Most Influential Marylander, Most Admired CEO, Top 100 Women, and induction into both the Circle of Leadership and Circle of Excellence.

Barb also serves on the boards of the Baltimore Public Markets Corporation, Signal 13 Foundation and Maryland SPCA. A committed community advocate, she has also serves on The Humane Society of the United States Humane Policy Leaders, as Chair of the Maryland SPCA’s March for the Animals, sponsored American Diabetes Association CEOs for Stopping Diabetes and was a 2016 Alzheimer’s Association Memory Ball dancer.

Tracy Gosson
Sagesse

tracy-gossonTracy Gosson is a marketing professional with over 25 years of experience developing innovative marketing strategies for businesses, public-sector agencies, and urban communities.

She is the founder of Sagesse (say-jès), a marketing firm founded in 2007, providing comprehensive brand and strategy development services with a unique niche in place branding for a variety of projects and market sizes throughout the U.S.

Tracy was diagnosed with stage-4 ovarian cancer and through a series of aggressive treatments and a healthy lifestyle approach, has been cancer free since September 2019! Today, she splits her time between Baltimore and Delray Beach, FL.

 

Annette R. March-Grier
March Funeral Homes

March FamilyAnnette R. March-Grier, RN., C.F.S.P., is a native Baltimorean, and Vice President of a family business; March Funeral Homes located in Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia.  She is a registered nurse, a mortician and the visionary of Roberta’s House Inc., a non-profit Family Grief Support Center founded in 2007, by the March family. Annette is the President, and has lead the way for grief education and support for grieving children and families in Baltimore for more than 35 years.  A teacher, counselor, trainer and leader, with her compassionate staff, provides a safe place for children and adults to heal and recover from the death of someone close. She fundraised and successfully completed in January of 2021, the construction of the first bereavement center in Baltimore Maryland to serve children and families. The center is located on the same landmark that her parents operated the funeral home from 1957-1980.  The 22,000 square foot facility is a state of the art bereavement center that is one of a kind in the US to provide bereavement care and counseling for the underserved and people of color.

Annette is a recipient of numerous awards and achievements.  She received the National Caring Award in October, 2016 which includes her induction into the Caring Hall of Fame located in the Frederick Douglas Museum on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  In addition, she was selected by CNN, the world leader in news, as one of the top ten CNN heroes, 2014 for changing the world. She is a Eucharistic Minister and a member of St. Ann Catholic Church.

Julie Morales, CPA
The GIANT Company

julie_morales1_620x620Julie Morales, CPA is vice president, finance and chief financial officer of The GIANT Company, an omni-channel grocer that has been proudly serving families across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia since 1923.

With more than 25 years of experience, Morales is an accomplished, energetic retail/finance executive and a focused and decisive servant leader.

Morales joined the Ahold Delhaize family of brands in 2016 as vice president, division controller for Stop & Shop New England and was named to her current role with The GIANT Company in 2017.

Previously, Morales was controller, retail with Samsonite International and spent 15 years with Giant Eagle, Inc.

Julie has three grown children and currently resides in Mechanicsburg, Pa.