Women Owning It Summit Workshop Leaders

Workshop Leaders

In celebration of International Women’s Month, we’re taking our Women Owning It series to the next level! Join us for an exploration and deep dive into who you are as a creative or entrepreneur and learn what it will take to advance your career or project to the next level. We’ve designed a “choose-your-own-adventure” schedule that puts you in the driver seat.


Summit Info | Summit Schedule

Speakers listed alphabetically by first name

Casandra Rosario // Session 1a //  keeps food at the heart of everything she does, whether its developing hospitality base brands through digital marketing, events or driving the business results of numerous companies. As a Hospitality and Service Management graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, she thrives at building brands from the ground up and supporting other creative entrepreneurs build their story.  A magnetic communicator, Rosario uses her platform, Food Before Love, to connect with food lovers and introduce them to the culinary experiences life is made of.

Food Before Love serves as a hub for where and what to eat in NYC and beyond. Rosario is also the Founder and CEO of The Rosario Group, an NYC based events and marketing agency with a focus on hospitality. 

Chastity Cooper // Session 2a // is a communications strategist, journalist and creative consultant who believes there’s power in owning your truth, and choosing how to tell your story. Professionally, she specializes in developing digital media strategies for small businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations. On a personal level, she is driven to uplift and elevate the stories and initiatives of people of color across the tech, media, hospitality and business industries. A graduate of Syracuse University where she earned a dual degree public relations and marketing management, Chasity is a native of Chicago and currently resides in Brooklyn.

Gabriella Calandro // Session 3a // is a Senior Program Officer for the NYFA Grants department at the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) where she focuses primarily on managing and delivering NYFA’s awards and grant opportunities to artists across New York State. She is also a NYFA Coach holding one-on-one specially crafted professional development session with artists. Throughout her career Gabriella has worked in the nonprofit arts sector holding positions in arts funding and grants management, curatorial, marketing and public program development. Gabriella holds a Master of Museum Studies from the University of Melbourne, Australia and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Monash University, Australia.

Jess Kwan // Closing Event // is a VP at Archer Gray, where she is involved in all investment activity across Archer Gray’s various businesses, with a focus on content financing and venture capital. She manages new business development initiatives and connects them to the larger company ecosystem.

Archer Gray is a hybrid production, finance, and venture investment company. Archer Gray’s film, television, and theater arm develops, produces, and finances original stories. Its venture arm invests in innovative media companies. Across everything, Archer Gray is committed to amplifying diverse voices and promoting equality.

Laura Roumanos // Session 2b // is the executive producer and co-founder of United Photo Industries and Photoville where she has produced over 400 photo exhibitions and public projects throughout the world. Roumanos has brokered partnerships with over 100 entities.Originally hailing from Sydney, Australia, Roumanos worked as a Producer and Arts Administrator before making the big move to NYC, to join the Manhattan Theatre Club. She then headed over to St. Ann’s Warehouse as the General Manager for several years where she worked to help present and produce large-scale international theatre, music, and art events. She’s also the co-producer for the New York Times Portfolio Reviews, which is in its 6th year at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

While spearheading UPI over the past several years, Roumanos has also worked as the Senior Producer of Creative Time, Senior Producer of The Future of StoryTelling, and recently has been moonlighting as the Line Producer and Director of Operations for the World Science Festival. She also continues to consult, manage, and produce numerous theatrical shows and events throughout New York City with artists such as Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’, Spike Jonze, Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Brooklyn Youth Chorus, among many others. Roumanos is often sought by the New York Arts scene for consultation and advice regarding public art and multi-disciplinary projects across all artistic platforms.

Lisa Burton Ph.D. // Closing Event // is the Executive Director of HearstLab, providing investment and resources for early-stage, women-led startups that innovate across media, data and technology. At the Lab, she identifies prospective startups to invest in and supports the portfolio companies in residence, including advising on data science and product.

Lisa built data science teams at multiple startups before founding AdMass, a startup that leveraged social media data to help brands understand and connect with their customers online. She holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree (S.M.) from MIT and B.S. from Duke, all in Mechanical Engineering. Lisa volunteers to support women in business and STEM through GirlCode, WiTNY, Girls Who Code, ELEVACAO, NYU Summer Launchpad and NUMA, and is on the Advisory Board of Duke University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.

Leslye Davis // Session 1a // is a documentarian and photographer at The New York Times, where she has worked since 2012. She reports across multiple desks including Investigations, International, National and Metro, and frequently collaborates with the newspaper’s designers and graphics department. Her work has been nominated for an Emmy and a Gerald Loeb Award for explanatory journalism, and she was part of a team of journalists who were finalists for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. In 2011, Pictures of the Year International honored her for Multimedia Portfolio of the Year. Her work focuses on innovation in storytelling, grounded in the pursuit of understanding everyday issues.


Ramona Cedeno, CPA, PFS, CGMA, CFP // Session 3b // is a Financial Controller for Fortune 500 companies, pre-IPO startups and small businesses, with a track record of successfully devising and deploying innovative strategies that enhance operational and financial performance. In 2015, she founded FiBrick Financial Services, certified MWBE accounting practice. Ramona earned a Bachelor’s in Accounting from Baruch College, a Master’s in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Certificate in Personal Financial Planning from Boston University. She holds the CPA and Certified Financial Planner licenses. Ramona is an active mentor of Women Entrepreneurs of NYC (WENYC).


Saskia Kahn // Session 4a // is a lens based artist from the Manhattan Beach section of Brooklyn, NY. Raised in a family full of artists, including illustrator Edward Sorel and design visionary Fritz Kahn, she discovered photography as a means of capturing the quirks and characters of her beachside neighborhood. Specializing in street and studio portraiture and event photography, Saskia knows how to make people of all backgrounds comfortable.


Shani Syphrett // Session 1b // is an accomplished brand strategist and expert marketing consultant bringing field-tested brand building, experiential marketing, customer acquisition, and customer retention strategies to B2C brands looking to communicate with their rapidly evolving audiences. Her extensive experience includes work for brands like McDonald’s, Samsung, Nike, Gap, Refinery29, and Vevo. Most recently, she served as the Head of Marketing & Brand for a venture-backed startup at the intersection of retail and social impact. In addition to her brand & marketing work, she is the founder of Jamila Studio, a coaching practice and community for women of color to own their power stories and do their best work. She is also a regular contributor for Forbes.com


Shannon Carroll // Session 2b // believes in spreading messages that empower. She is an artist and Creative Director at Vivid Story, a NYC-based studio harnessing the power of visual storytelling for causes. They are a Certified B Corporation championing positive social impact and sustainability. As an experienced collaborator, she brings her skills spanning filmmaking, virtual reality, public art, photography, and interactive design. She has presented projects at SXSW, Harvard, Brown, Skoll World Forum, Columbia, NYU, and Creative Time Summit.


Stephanie Alvarado // Session 2a // is the founding Program Director at Freelancers Hub. Stephanie brings 15 years of experience working as a community organizer in cultural arts advocacy, youth leadership development, reproductive justice, immigrant rights, racial justice, and queer liberation. She currently is on the Board of Directors for Just Food and facilitates the #OneBookOneBronx program with The Literary Freedom Project. Stephanie holds a BA in Psychology and Latino Studies from New York University and graduated cum laude from Emory University with her MA in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.


Suvasini Patel // Session 3a // is a social impact producer, communications strategist and social justice advocate with twenty years experience in nonprofits, documentary film, and journalism. She has overseen social impact campaigns for Sundance Film Festival award-winning films like THE SENTENCE; LIFE, ANIMATED; and 3 1/2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS, among others. She has led communications departments at a poverty research center at New York University, WITNESS, the human rights group founded by Peter Gabriel, as well as led education, offline and online outreach and station relations efforts at Bill Moyers’ Public Affairs Television and at P.O.V./American Documentary. Her recent work has focused on issues related to immigration, race relations, gender and criminal justice reform.

Véronique Bernard // Session 3a // is a non-fiction film and television producer, director and senior executive whose experience includes WNET Culture & Arts Documentaries, Sundance Channel Original Programming, New York Times Television, National Geographic Television, ABC News Productions and SBS Television in Australia where she was Head of Production. Recent credits include doc series “E2: The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious” (PBS/Sundance, Grantham Prize for Excellence in Environmental Journalism Award of Merit 2009,) French co-production “The Man Who Invented Himself: Duane Michals” (Special Mention Prize International Festival of Film on Art FIFA 2013,) PBS series “Art in the Twenty-First Century” (2016), and feature doc “Enter The Faun” (America Reframed, 2017.) She is currently working on three feature documentaries with Films for Humanity, Fork Films, ITVS and ARTE amongst others. She teaches in the Integrated Media Arts MFA program at Hunter College and is the president and executive producer of Iliad Entertainment.