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Melissa Bradley
Founder & General Partner | 1863 Ventures
Melissa Bradley

Founder & General Partner | 1863 Ventures

Melissa L. Bradley is Founder of 1863 Ventures, a business development program that accelerates New Majority entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth. In this role she created a community of over 10,000 New Majority entrepreneurs in three years. Melissa serves as General Partner of 1863 Venture Fund, Venture Partner at NextGen Ventures and serves an advisor to Reign Ventures, New Voices Foundation, as well as the Halcyon Fund. She is also a member of the Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women Advisory Council, Launch with GS Advisory Council, Fast Company Executive Board, Square & Forbes Small Business Advisory Team, as well as the Target Accelerators Entrepreneurs Advisory Council. Melissa is the former Co-Chair, National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and was named one of The Most Entrepreneurial Women Investors in 2018.

Melissa is a professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University where she teaches impact investing, social entrepreneurship, P2P economies, and innovation. In 2021 she was awarded Peter W. Gonzalez, Jr. Award for Excellence in Adjunct Faculty Teaching. In 2020, Melissa received The Ideas Worth Teaching Award which celebrates exceptional courses that are preparing future business leaders to tackle society’s largest challenges and create a more inclusive, just, and sustainable version of capitalism.

Melissa's educational background includes graduation from Georgetown University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the School of Business, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing from American University in 1993.

Bill Cooper
Director, Diversity Strategies | Atlantic Constructors, Inc.
Bill Cooper

Director, Diversity Strategies | Atlantic Constructors, Inc.

Cooper is the Chief Curator for The Inclusive Edge, a niche consulting practice focused on inclusion, leadership and small business strategies. T.I.E. works with its clients to unleash the power inherent in difference. By using difference as a lever for success rather than allowing it to be a distraction, organizations are often able to do more with less by strengthening the effectiveness of their interactions. This is the genesis of cross-cultural competence – a key ingredient for innovation and success in business today.

He also serves as Director, Diversity Strategies for Atlantic Constructors, Inc., a Richmond, Virginia- based mechanical and industrial construction firm. He says, “At ACI we are working towards a culture of inclusion – one where we don’t just count people but instead, strive to make people count.”

He has served as Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond where he opened and was responsible for the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI). As Director of Supplier Diversity at the University of Virginia, spending with minority- and women-owned firms increased from less than $10 million to more than $60 million annually. And as the President and CEO of Choice Communications, Inc., a commercial printing operation in Richmond, VA, Bill was successful in transforming a former in-house printing operation, into one of the largest minority-own printing firms in the country.

Debbie Irwin
Executive Director | Shenandoah Community Capital Fund
Debbie Irwin

Executive Director | Shenandoah Community Capital Fund

Debbie Irwin is a Virginia native that discovered her love for entrepreneurship and small business during her time at James Madison University. Her senior thesis focused on Founder's Syndrome and her research defined the path she would take for her career. How can we help more businesses avoid failure? How can we show our communities that small business is the cornerstone to the communities that we want to live, work and play in? These questions have framed the mission not only for her career path, but also for organization she works with. Since her time at JMU, Debbie has worked in digital marketing for numerous small businesses and at the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, but eventually found her home at the Shenandoah Community Capital Fund, formerly known as the Staunton Creative Community Fund. She became Executive Director of the organization in January of 2019 and helped SCCF dig deep into entrepreneurial ecosystem building. She thrives on big thinking, collaboration, and watching people turn their "someday dream" into reality.

When she isn't hanging out with amazing Shenandoah Valley entrepreneurs or other ecosystem builders, you can find her playing outside her two kids and husband, Nate.

Cherelle Johnson
Executive Coach, Instructor & HR Strategist | IronDresses Inc.
Cherelle Johnson

Executive Coach, Instructor & HR Strategist | IronDresses Inc.

Cherelle Johnson is an Executive Coach, Instructor, and HR Strategist with a passion for education and leadership. She is the founder of IronDresses Inc., a 501 (c) 3 enterprise dedicated to the empowerment and leadership development of women. As an author, her books serve as educational resources to promote and inspire faith that leads to impact. As a double alumna of James Madison University, Cherelle holds a Bachelor of Business Administration as well as a Master of Science in Education degree and is a current Ph.D. student at Regent University in Organizational Leadership. With her present-day work as an Instructor and Executive Coach, Cherelle also assists her husband at Divine Unity Community Church where he serves as Senior Pastor and Founder. She recently serves as the Provost of the church's newly launched Leadership Institute (DULI) as it is her passion to launch high-capacity Christian business and church leaders.

Verniece Love
Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity | Director of SWaM and DBE Certification
Verniece Love

Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity | Director of SWaM and DBE Certification

Verniece Love is currently the Director of SWaM and DBE Certification at the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity. Her current position involves managing the Commonwealth’s Small, Women-owned, and/or Minority-owned Business (SWaM) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Programs. Verniece received her B.S. in Marketing as well as her M.S. in Business from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jonathan Mason
Responsible Sourcing - Supplier Diversity Manager | Specialty Supply Chain at Aramark
Jonathan Mason

Responsible Sourcing - Supplier Diversity Manager | Specialty Supply Chain at Aramark

"Jonathan Mason has worked at Aramark for 8 years in various roles ranging from financial to operational analysis. He currently supports Aramark’s Global Supply Chain & Procurement organization as the Supplier Diversity Manager for U.S. based Aramark Managed Services procurement.

In this role, Jonathan oversees company efforts to meet small & diverse spend requirements by planning and executing supplier development programming, supporting sales and new business opportunities, and strengthening procurement relationships with minority vendors across various departments.

As an active member of the Philadelphia Urban League, Aramark Young Professionals, Aramark L.E.A.D. (Leaders & Employees of African Descent) and his local church, Jonathan is passionate about using his platform, knowledge, and resources to help others achieve success.

He graduated with a B.S. in Accounting from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and resides in Philadelphia, PA with his family."

Katie Weaver
Director, Procurement Services | JMU
Katie Weaver

Director, Procurement Services | JMU

Katie Weaver is currently the Director of Procurement Services at James Madison University. She has worked in the procurement profession for fourteen years through a variety of positions, including being the JMU SWaM Champion. She has served on both the VASCUPP Supplier Diversity Committee and on a regional committee for the Minority Supplier Development Council. Katie has an undergraduate degree in Business and Organizational Development from Eastern Mennonite University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from James Madison University. She holds a Virginia Construction Contracting Officer (VCCO) certification and the Certified University Procurement Officer (CUPO) certification.

David Wilson
Managing Principal | FundUUp
David Wilson

Managing Principal | FundUUp

David is Managing Principal of FundUuP, a 15-year-old funding firm helping companies acquire short-term business funding when traditional bank financing is unavailable. They provide both secured and unsecured capital to operating businesses and real estate investors up to $100M. www.funduup.com

In 2014, David wrote the popular networking event blueprint “I Hate Networking Events!” which is endorsed and recommended by the Father of Modern Networking and Founder of BNI Dr. Ivan Misner. It's available on Amazon and at IHateNetworkingEvents.com.

In 2020, he launched The No-Rejection Connection™, teaching proactive entrepreneurs how to MONETIZE their networks by connecting anyone (including themselves) to anyone, anywhere, for any reason—WITHOUT REJECTION! TheNoRejectionConnection.com

You can also catch him as The Business Savage on his internationally-broadcast business radio show No Nonsense Market Domination every Wednesday at 3PM ET on ibgr.network where he straightforwardly and humorously discusses business topics like sales, networking, and connecting.

Tish Leeth
Director of Cash and Investments | James Madison University
Tish Leeth

Director of Cash and Investments | James Madison University

Tish graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, and a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Management. In 1998, Tish returned to James Madison University after taking time out to start a family, first in Sponsored Programs and then in Financial Reporting and finally in 2003 joining the Cash and Investments Office. Tish holds the CTP accreditation from AFP and the CPCP accreditation from the NAPCP in 2018.

Kirk Morris
Director of Engineering and Construction | James Madison University
Kirk Morris

Director of Engineering and Construction | James Madison University

Raised in the intermountain west, after I received my Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Idaho, I launched my career working for various private firms in Boise, Idaho. As my experience evolved, I became a partner in a firm in Boise. I later moved on from the partnership, working as a Senior Architect for Washington State University, and then transitioning to the Design and Construction Manager for an international corporation headquartered in Washington state. I continued to work remotely for the corporation while we relocated to Virginia, a move spearheaded by my wife, as she took the role of Assistant Vice President of Planning and University Architect at Virginia Tech.

Over three years ago I was hired as the Director of Facilities Planning and Construction here at James Madison University and a year ago I transitioned to my current role, the Director of Engineering and Construction.