Guest Speakers

Catherine P. Bessant

Catherine P. Bessant headshot
Chief Operations and Technology Officer
Bank of America
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Full Bio

Catherine P. Bessant is chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America, and is a member of the company’s executive management team. Since 2010, Bessant has led Global Technology and Operations (GT&O), delivering end-to-end technology and operating services across the company through nearly 95,000 employees and contractors in more than 35 countries.

Bessant has held a number of senior leadership roles for the company. She was president, Global Corporate Banking; president, Global Product Solutions and Global Treasury Services; chief marketing officer; president, Consumer Real Estate and Community Development Banking; national Small Business Segment executive; and president of the Florida market. She joined the bank as a corporate banker in

Bessant represents our employees on a number of important topics serving as executive sponsor for the company’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride executive board, the LGBT Ally program, and the Disability Advisory Council. In 2018, she was named No. 1 among OUTstanding LGBT+ Ally Executives, presented by the Financial Times.

Active in the community and region, Bessant received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In addition, she was awarded the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine and was recognized by the Charlotte Business Journal with the Women in Business Lifetime Achievement Award. She chairs the North Tryon Vision Plan Advisory Committee. Bessant recently led the formation of The Council on the Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Managed by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the council will convene the brightest minds from tech, business, academia and government.

Bessant serves on the board of directors of Zurich Insurance Group, is an independent member of the USA Field Hockey board of directors and is on the advisory board for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Along with Ross School faculty, alumni and students, she summited Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, in August of 2018.

For the second year in a row, she is ranked No. 1 among the “25 Most Powerful Women in Banking” by American Banker. She also appears on Working Mother magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Working Moms” list of 2018.

Chris Capossela

Chris Capossela headshot
Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, Marketing and Consumer Business
Microsoft logo
Full Bio

Chris Capossela is Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of the worldwide Consumer Business. As the Chief Marketing Officer, Capossela runs marketing across both the consumer and commercial businesses, which includes product marketing for all Microsoft services and products, brand, advertising, communications and research.

As leader of the Consumer Business organization, he oversees the Consumer and Device Sales team, Microsoft Advertising sales and Microsoft Stores. These teams are collectively responsible for driving revenue, growth and share across the consumer businesses.

Capossela joined Microsoft in 1991 as a Marketing Manager for the Windows Seminar Team, and in his more than 25 years at Microsoft, Capossela has held a variety of leadership positions. Most recently, prior to taking on his role as CMO, he served as the worldwide leader of the Consumer Channels Group, responsible for sales and marketing activities with OEM, operator and retail partners. During this time, he oversaw the creation of new business opportunities with partners to deliver new consumer experiences through Windows, Office, Xbox and others.

Previously, he served in the Microsoft Office Division and was responsible for marketing the company’s productivity solutions including Microsoft Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, Project and Visio.

Capossela holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Harvard University. Originally from Boston, his interest in technology began when, as a boy, he wrote a reservation system for his family’s small Italian restaurant using dBase for DOS on an early IBM PC. Capossela lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters. He is passionate about Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, and currently serves as a board member for Worldreader, a non-profit dedicated to improving lives by bringing digital books to underserved children and families across the globe.

Amy Fuller

Headshot of Amy Fuller
Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
Accenture Logo
Full Bio

Amy Fuller is Chief Marketing & Communications Officer for Accenture, where she is responsible for brand, advertising, social media, content and digital marketing, corporate and financial communications, and industry analyst and media relations.

She is an experienced global marketer with prior executive roles at Y&R, Dentsu, and Ogilvy & Mather, and has built businesses and brands for some of the world’s best-known companies, including Kraft, AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Kimberly-Clark, and MasterCard Worldwide,
where she led the iconic and award-winning “Priceless” campaign. She has particular expertise in leading multidisciplinary marketing efforts for complex global businesses and leading teams across specialties and geographies. She was most recently recognized
by the American Business Awards as a Marketing Executive of the Year.

Amy is a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee as well as the Accenture Diversity Council, which assesses inclusion and diversity challenges and sets strategic direction for global action. She serves on the advisory boards of several multidisciplinary functions such as Accenture’s new Human Insights Lab. Amy is also a board member of global NGO HealthRight International, and volunteers as a writing and career coach for the Posse Foundation, a college access program. Additionally, she is an elected member of the board of directors of the Ad Council, the leading non-profit dedicated to using communications to drive social change.

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Ted Kennedy, Jr. headshot
Disability Rights Attorney and Board Chair
American Association of People with Disabilities
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Full Bio

“The Disability Equality Index (DEI) has quickly emerged as the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. As a cancer survivor, amputee and life-long advocate for people with disabilities, I want to recognize organizations that have made employment and accessibility among their top strategic priorities. These companies know that disability inclusion is not just the right thing to do, but produces measurable results to their bottom lines.”

Ted Kennedy, Jr. was first elected to the Connecticut State Senate in November 2014, and again in 2016, to serve the communities of Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison, and North Branford. Ted brings with him a wealth of experience in the private and public sectors. Ted received his Bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan University and graduated from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He received his law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

In early 2014, Ted joined the national law firm of Epstein Becker & Green as a partner, working in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice. He advises health care providers, commercial insurers, and life science companies on critical issues related to health care reform policies. Prior to joining Epstein Becker & Green, Ted co-founded the Marwood Group, a leading healthcare-focused strategic advisory and financial services firm.

Ted began his legal career at the law firm of Wiggin & Dana in New Haven, focusing on state and federal regulatory and reimbursement issues affecting hospitals, home care agencies, long-term care providers, physician practices and mental health providers. Ted also represented individuals with disabilities and created an ADA compliance practice to help businesses develop effective policies and guidelines. In addition, he served as the Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at the Connecticut Hospital Association, counseling acute care providers and policy makers on a wide array of emerging healthcare issues.

Ted’s commitment to healthcare issues began at an early age. Ted was twelve years old when he was diagnosed with bone cancer and needed to have his right leg amputated. Ted underwent months of intensive physical therapy and was eventually able to resume an active life including learning how to ski using adaptive equipment. As a teenager, Ted trained with the U.S. Handicapped Ski Team and won several national medals. After his experiences with surgery, two years of chemotherapy and learning how to walk with the use of a prosthesis, Ted understood how people like him faced a two-part struggle: the personal challenge of recovery and the public challenge of living in a society that did little to include people with disabilities.

Since then, Ted has been a committed advocate for the self-determination and civil rights of people with disabilities. He served on President Reagan’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, working with businesses to expand jobs. He has lectured nationwide and served as a study group leader on disability policy at Harvard University. He has worked with the bipartisan coalition of organizations in fighting for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

Ted has also served on the boards of numerous cancer and disability organizations, including Special Olympics International, the Connecticut’s Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities and, for the past 15 years, the board of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the country’s largest disability civil rights and public policy organization. Ted has presented keynote addresses both nationally and internationally on topics related to disability law, cancer and healthcare policy.

Ted has lived in Branford for over 17 years with his wife, Katherine “Kiki” Kennedy, M.D., an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University and environmental activist, and their two children, Kiley and Teddy.

Craig Leen

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Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
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Full Bio

Craig E. Leen serves as the Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the U.S. Department of Labor, after previously serving as Deputy Director and Senior Advisor. He leads a staff of professionals around the country who are dedicated to protecting workers, promoting diversity, and enforcing the law.

OFCCP administers and enforces three equal employment opportunity laws: Executive Order 11246, as amended; Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 793; and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended, 38 U.S.C. 4212. Collectively, these laws make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.

Prior to serving at OFCCP, Mr. Leen was the City Attorney of Coral Gables, Florida, where he was the general counsel and chief legal officer. In that role, he practiced in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights, labor and employment, land use and zoning, ethics, procurement, real estate, construction, code enforcement, and appellate law, including his work on a comprehensive inclusion program for individuals with disabilities in all aspects of government services and employment. Before serving as City Attorney, Mr. Leen was the Chief of the Appeals Section and then the Chief of the Federal Litigation Section at the Miami‐Dade County Attorney’s Office. In these roles, Mr. Leen litigated and provided counsel in numerous legal areas, including on many civil rights matters. Mr. Leen has also worked at several international law firms, and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert E. Keeton, United States District Judge, District of Massachusetts. Mr. Leen is also board certified by the Florida Bar in City, County, and Local Government law, and is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Mr. Leen has taught courses in various legal subjects on the adjunct faculties at The George Washington Law School, Florida International University College of Law, and the University of Miami School of Law. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration Committee and previously served as Vice Chair of the Florida Appellate Court Rules Committee.

Mr. Leen also previously served on the constituency board for the University of Miami‐Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

Mr. Leen received his Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School, graduating as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and having served as a teaching fellow in both Contracts and Torts. Mr. Leen received his Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Georgetown University, where he majored in both Government and Economics.

Rodney Martin

Rodney Martin headshot
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Voya Financial
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Full Bio

Rodney O. Martin, Jr., is chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), which helps Americans plan, invest and protect their savings — to get ready to retire better. Serving the financial needs of approximately 14.7 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $8.6 billion in revenue in 2017. The company had $555 billion in total assets under management and administration as of December 31, 2017.
Martin is a veteran of the retirement, insurance and financial services industries with more than 40 years of high-profile experience. He joined Voya as CEO in 2011 and, since then, has overseen a significant financial, operational and cultural transformation.

Under Martin’s leadership, Voya has achieved more than 700 basis points of improvement in Ongoing Business Adjusted Operating Return on Equity; generated strong growth in Ongoing Business operating earnings; returned approximately $4 billion in excess capital to shareholders; and fostered a OneVoya culture. Voya successfully completed the necessary preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange in May 2013 – one of the top performing IPOs of that year.

Prior to joining Voya, Martin held several leadership roles of increasing responsibility during a 10-year tenure at AIG. He served as COO of AIG Worldwide Life Insurance; chairman and CEO of American Life Insurance Company (Alico); chairman of American International Assurance (AIA); and chairman of AIG’s international life and retirement services businesses. Martin previously was president and CEO of American General Life Companies prior to its acquisition by AIG in 2001. He began his career in 1975 as an agent with Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company, where he served more than 20 years, ultimately becoming president of Connecticut Mutual Insurance Services.

Martin received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Alfred University. He is a fellow, Life Underwriter Training Council, a board member of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) and Junior Achievement (JA) USA, and has served on the board of the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA).

Mike O’Grady

Mike O'Grady headshot
President and Chief Executive Officer
Northern Trust
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Full Bio

Michael O’Grady is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northern Trust, a leading provider of wealth management, asset servicing, asset management and banking to corporations, institutions, affluent families and individuals.

Mike joined Northern Trust in 2011 from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he served as a managing director in the firm’s Investment Banking Group. He joined Merrill Lynch in 1992. Prior to Merrill Lynch, Mike worked for Price Waterhouse.

Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business.

He is a member of the boards of the Field Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Northwestern Medical Group and the Catholic Extension Board of Directors. He also serves on the Finance Council of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities, and the Civic Committee Commercial Club of Chicago.

Holly Robinson Peete

Holly Robinson Peete head shot
Actress, author, talk show host, activist and philanthropist
HollyRod Foundation
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Full Bio

Actress, author, talk show host, activist and philanthropist Holly Robinson Peete has been touched by the entertainment industry almost of her life. Her career as an actress dates back more than three decades and has led her to becoming a voice for her father, her son and her community. She can currently be seen at the center of Hallmark Channel’s new and very first primetime family docu-series, “Meet the Peetes.”

Robinson Peete had her first experience in front of the camera at the age of four when she appeared on television opposite her father, Matthew Robinson, who served as a producer and portrayed the original beloved character of Gordon on the iconic children’s program “Sesame
Street.” While she knew even at that young age her calling was to be an actress, Robinson Peete opted to lead a typical childhood rather than searching to be the next child star.

However, upon finishing her college education, Robinson Peete’s heart led her back to entertainment. In 1986, she landed a starring role on the FOX television drama “21 Jump Street” opposite unknown cast members including Johnny Depp. She went on to star in many
other successful television series including “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” “For Your Love” and “One on One.” Robinson Peete’s successful television career places her as one of only a handful of actresses to star in four shows in syndication. In addition, she had a recurring role on hit comedy series “Mike & Molly” as well as NBC’s hit drama series “Chicago Fire”.

In 1997, Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, formed the HollyRod Foundation, inspired by her father’s courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease, with the mission to help improve the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s. Then in 2005, inspired by their eldest son’s autism diagnosis, HollyRod Foundation’s mission expanded to provide support and resources to those affected by an autism diagnosis. Through the HollyRod Foundation and her family’s personal experiences, Robinson Peete has become one of the most trusted advocates for consistent and reliable education, outreach and support for both Parkinson’s and autism. Her autism advocacy also extends to her book co-written with daughter, Ryan Elizabeth Peete, entitled My Brother Charlie (Scholastic): a bestselling, NAACP Image Award-winning children’s book about autism from the sibling’s perspective. With her first book Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching the Game: A Women’s Guide to Loving Pro Football (2005, Rodale), Robinson Peete won the 2006 Quill Literacy Award. The follow-up to the children’s book entitled “Same But Different- Teen Life On The Autism Express” which was co authored by her twins Ryan Elizabeth & RJ- was released in spring 2016.

Her longevity and visibility in the entertainment community has led Robinson Peete to a successful career as a brand ambassador/spokesperson for some of the country’s biggest brands. Robinson Peete’s consumer and mom friendly personal brand has partnered with Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, Colgate, Skechers, Epipen and Carnation, AARP among others.

Robinson Peete’s singing talents have been displayed on theme songs for both “21 Jump Street” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.” She also did her own singing as Diana Ross in the miniseries “The Jacksons: An American Dream.” Robinson Peete says fondly that singing is her
“first love and passion.”

In addition to her philanthropic work through the HollyRod Foundation, Robinson Peete has become involved with other organizations as well. She currently serves as a member of the board of her alma mater Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine’s Board of Overseers.

Robinson Peete’s philanthropic efforts have earned her numerous awards and honors including: Ford’s Freedom Sisters, American Mentor Award, The Southern California Broadcasters’ Association Community Service Award, Gerald R. Ford People Helping People Award, The March
of Dimes Healthy Babies, Healthy Futures Award, USC Woman of Distinction Award, Anheuser Busch John E. Jacob Community Service Award, The Genii Award, The Girls Inc. Mentor Award, A Place Called Home Humanitarian Award, McDonald’s 365 Black Award, Los Angeles Magazine’s
Most Inspirational Women Award, and many more.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Los Angeles from the age of nine, Robinson Peete was voted “most talented” in high school alongside fellow classmate and future actor Rob Lowe. She did her undergraduate studies at the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College where she majored in Psychology and French. She spent her junior year studying abroad at Sorbonne University in France and became fluent in the language. Robinson Peete and husband of 20+ years, Rodney Peete, are the proud parents of four children ages 12-20. They currently reside in Los Angeles.