Prosperity Conference



The 2019 Prosperity Conference Speakers

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Efosa Ojomo
Global Prosperity Lead, Clayton Christensen Institute

Efosa Ojomo is on a mission to use business to alleviate poverty and create prosperity. A senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, Ojomo focuses his work on using disruptive innovation theory to fundamentally change the discourse in the global development community, thus enabling nations to engender their own path to long-term growth and prosperity.

In the groundbreaking new book, “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty,” Ojomo and co-authors, Clayton Christensen and Karen Dillon, reveal actionable solutions to growing sustainable economies.

Prior to joining the Institute, Ojomo worked as a researcher under Professor Christensen at the Forum for Growth and Innovation at the Harvard Business School. He also worked as an engineer for a number of years at National Instruments. He soon realized his purpose was much larger than himself. Inspired by a young Ethiopian girl's story of debilitating poverty, Ojomo started the nonprofit, Poverty Stops Here. Since then, he has rallied hundreds of people around his vision and touched the lives of hundreds more.

A native of Nigeria, Ojomo moved to the U.S. to attend college. He graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University with a degree in computer engineering and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School.


Speakers & Panel Participants


In 1997, Dennis DeLeo co-founded Trillium Group, LLC. Trillium is a Rochester-based venture capital and private equity firm. At Trillium, he is the fund executive of the Monroe Fund, LLC, an early stage venture capital fund now in its exit phase. The Monroe Fund targeted A Round investments in regional technology-oriented businesses in their startup and early growth phases.

Prior to founding Trillium Group, he was employed by Eastman Kodak Company, initially as a lawyer in the corporate legal division, practicing primarily patent law. Following his work in the legal division, he joined the Kodak Chairman’s staff and managed corporate business aspects of technology development, commercialization and protection. In that capacity, he was elected a Kodak Vice President and Director, Corporate Commercial Affairs, where he managed a corporate department responsible for a wide range of technology-based transactions, including licensing, business partnerships and acquisition and divestiture of technology, products and businesses.

DeLeo holds a B.A. from the University of Rochester, a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business. 

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Theresa Mazzullo
CEO, Excell Partners, Inc.

Theresa Mazzullo has been the CEO of Excell Partners since 2006. She has a 30-year track record in business, finance and entrepreneurship. Having owned and sold a small business, she brings firsthand knowledge, unique skills, and proven experience to the seed stage investment arena. In her role as CEO, her duties include governance, compliance, reporting, community integration, finance and fundraising. Her fundraising ability has resulted in bringing over $60 million into the upstate ecosystem for investments in high tech startups.

Theresa received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama and a Graduate Degree in Banking from Stonier, Delaware, MD. Her community activity includes: Treasurer & Member-Executive Committee, Greater Rochester Enterprise Board; Member of High Tech Rochester Board; Trustee, Farash Foundation; Member, NYS Governor's Regional Council and Co-Chair for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Subcommittee of NYS Regional Council; Member NYS's $100M Innovation Fund Investment Advisory Committee and  MedTech Board Member. Theresa was named on the 2019 New York Tech Power 50 List by City & State NY magazine.

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David Brown
Founding Managing partner, Impellent Ventures; Founding Venture Partner, Nextgen Venture Partners

David Brown is the Founding Managing Partner at Impellent Ventures, an early stage technology venture firm in Rochester that invests nationally. He is also a Founding Venture Partner at NextGen Venture Partners and their social enterprise fund, Align, as well as a Limited Partner is several prominent national venture firms.  

David recently returned to Rochester from Boston, where he held roles as the Vice President of Innovation Leadership for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Director of Partnerships at ZappRx, a healthcare IT startup that has raised $41M to date, and as the Executive Director of Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG), the philanthropic arm of Boston’s technology startup ecosystem. David holds an MBA, summa cum laude, from Babson College, and a BA from Williams College. In his spare time, aside from chasing around his two young boys, he sits on numerous nonprofit boards, and is an avid skier and golfer.


James Barger
President, Keybank national Association Rochester Market

James R. Barger serves as President of the Rochester Market as well as Commercial Banking Sales Leader. He oversees customer service and business development for the Rochester Market. He manages a team of professionals dedicated to providing expertise and financial solutions to Commercial Banking clients. Barger leads Key’s extensive community activities in the Rochester Market, including philanthropy and event sponsorship.

Prior to joining Key, Barger held a number of positions in banking and industry. Earlier in his career, he was a Commander and nuclear submarine officer in the United States Navy. Barger holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Michigan and a master’s in business administration from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

Barger is a recipient of the “40 Under 40” Award in recognition of his business accomplishments and community service. He is a Board Member of the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester Preparatory Charter School, and the Greater Rochester Enterprise. Barger has four children and resides in Pittsford with his wife, Rita. He is an avid bicyclist and skier.

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Michael Durina
Owner, Md Plastics Incorporated

Michael Durina started Md Plastics Incorporated in 1999, a machine shop, product development laboratory, and marketing organization designing plasticating unit components that provide solutions to processing problems and increase productivity. Md Plastics has put over fifteen thousand screws into production since its inception, and its patented Posi-MeltTM screw design is used by some of the world’s best OEMs. 

Prior to forming Md Plastics Incorporated, Durina has held various positions within the plastics industry since 1977, including Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Spirex Corporation where sales increased by a factor of eleven under his leadership. Durina continues to patent new products and bring innovation to the industry. He has a BS in Industrial Engineering Technology from Kent State University, is a Components Chairmen for the Society of Plastics Industry Machinery Division, a member of Knights of Columbus and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and a lecturer for SPE, SME, and various other associations.

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Kathleen Washington, M.B.A.
Ceo, OWN Rochester

Kathleen (Kate) Washington is CEO of OWN Rochester, a not-for-profit organization that launches, supports, and grows a portfolio of worker-owned cooperatives in Rochester, New York. She transitioned to this role after serving a key role in the development of the organization in her tenure as Deputy Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development for the City of Rochester. Prior to her work in government, she enjoyed a twenty-year career in Management Consulting that spanned North America, the Caribbean, and South American markets. As Managing Director of Enterprise Solutions International, her company drove small and mid-cap business growth by combining innovation and strategic growth initiatives with solid financial and operational skills. The firm helped multiple businesses build wealth and engineer successful turnarounds, providing solvency and futures for businesses, employees, and their families. She worked with the highest levels of government leadership in the Caribbean and South America to reduce the cost of energy and build sustainable energy resources.

Kate earned her M.B.A. from the Simon School of Business in 2004 and has served as Co-chair of the Alumni Council since 2012. Kate’s civic engagement includes leadership in women’s and minority issues, the arts, and business. Kate is a Fulbright Scholar and received the Simon School Visionary Award in 2011 and Alumni Achievement Award in 2013. She is President of the Board of RCTV Media, serves on the board of Rochester Oratorio Society, and volunteers with Gateways Music Festival. Kate is a founding member of the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, the first rape crisis center and domestic violence center in the Caribbean. As president of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, she helped craft the Sexual Assault Reform Act, which was signed into law by Governor Pataki in 2001 and secured funding for 76 rape crisis centers throughout New York State. Kate lives in and loves Rochester, NY.

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Dana Miller
Director, Business and Housing Development at City of Rochester

Dana Miller worked for 34 years at Xerox Corp., where he held a series of technical management positions and spent 9 years as Vice President of Advancement at Rochester Area Community Foundation. He currently serves as Director of Development Services for the City of Rochester where he is responsible for Business Development, Housing Development, Project Development, and Real Estate.

From 2006–2017, Dana served as one of the City of Rochester's nine City Council members and was Council Vice President from 2012–2017. During his tenure on Council, Dana chaired the Finance, Economic Development and the Jobs, Parks & Public Works Committees. A major area of focus for Dana has been increasing economic development and job opportunities in city neighborhoods. He serves on the board of Rochester Economic Development Corp. (REDCO), Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, NextCorps, Rochester Land Bank Corporation, and Greater Rochester Housing Partnership.

A lifelong resident of Rochester, Dana attended Rochester City Schools, Monroe Community College, and the University of Rochester where he received an M.B.A from the Simon School of Business. Dana and his wife, Freda, raised their two sons in the City's historic and diverse 19th Ward and continue to make it their home.

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Dr. Kent Gardner
Chief Economist, CGR; Opinion Editor & "Beaconomist," Rochester Beacon

Dr. Kent Gardner’s public policy expertise ranges from public finance to health care and education reform. Dr. Gardner joined CGR in 1991 and served as President from 2005 to 2012. His work at CGR involves connecting policy action and program expenditures to their social, fiscal and economic impacts.

He also serves as Adjunct Professor of Health Policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

In 2018, Dr. Gardner joined a group of local journalists to found the Rochester Beacon, a nonprofit online news site serving the Rochester community. In addition to regular commentary on policy issues and the economy, he curates “community voices” submissions to the Beacon.

Dr. Gardner holds B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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Jeanique Druses
Vice President, Program Officer, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Jeanique Druses is responsible for JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Small Business and Financial Health philanthropic strategy for the Northeast United States. Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase, Jeanique was the Assistant Director of Resident Business Development in the Office of Resident Economic Empowerment & Sustainability at the New York City Housing Authority. There she designed and launched the Business Development Unit, providing access to business building services to over six hundred thousand persons and collaborating with other city agencies and non-profit organizations to develop programming tailored to the needs of low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs. Jeanique has also held management positions at Verizon, Mercedes Benz, and American Express, and taught Entrepreneurship and Marketing in the City University of New York system before launching The EIgnite Group.

A Wharton Business School Graduate with a dual degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Management, Jeanique also holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Jeanique lives on Long Island, NY with her husband. She is a member of the Leadership Council for Kiva US, the StartUp Newark Advisory Board, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is also a Coro Leadership New York alum with prior board service that includes the Leadership Board of the Council of Urban Professionals and Community2Community, Inc.


Elizabeth Reynoso
Associate Director, Public Sector Innovation, Living Cities

Elizabeth joined Living Cities in July 2015 as Assistant Director of Public Sector Innovation. She works on the development of public sector strategies to foster promising public practices and accelerate the uptake of innovation across the country. Elizabeth leads strategies for several initiatives, including the City Accelerator, the Civic Tech & Data Collaborative, and the Project on Municipal Innovation. She also works with The Integration Initiative on select cities' government involvement.

Elizabeth served as the first Food Policy Director for Newark, NJ under Mayor Cory Booker. She then continued to serve the city as the Acting Sustainability Director in the Baraka administration. With a background in social justice, economic development, and farming, she developed policies and programs to increase food security for residents. Before joining the City of Newark, Elizabeth managed a $7.3 million Department of Labor Pathways Out of Poverty grant for Goodwill Industries International to provide green jobs training in the solar, construction, and energy-efficiency industries to low-income individuals in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Grand Rapids, Phoenix, and Washington DC.

After beginning her career in international human rights with Human Rights Watch and living abroad for several years, Elizabeth shifted to focus domestically on criminal justice issues through her media and advocacy work. In the Frontline series The Drug Wars, her team won a Peabody for its 30-year history of US drug policy and its effect on the world economy and US foreign policy. With the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Elizabeth’s on-the-ground work led to a package of prisoner reentry bills passed by the NJ State Legislature in 2010 that was hailed by the New York Times as “a model for the nation.”

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Michelle Henry
Vice President & Senior Philanthropy Manager, JPMorgan Chase & CO.

In her role at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Michelle Henry collaborates with strategic nonprofits to support low- and moderate-income communities and strengthen the capacity of the nonprofit sector. Previously, Michelle was a Senior Philanthropy Manager in Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase where she managed New Skills at Work, the firm’s $250MM, five-year workforce readiness initiative. Prior to joining the firm, Michelle was Vice President of Workforce Services at MAXIMUS, a global government services contractor, where she oversaw over $20 million in government contracts to serve job seekers and develop new business opportunities. 

From 2004–2012, Michelle led an innovative, national benefits access initiative at a $60 million economic development nonprofit organization headquartered in New York City. She also worked to strengthen the capacity of nonprofits and their partners to provide strong workforce and asset building programming in several cities. Michelle has held management positions at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), an alternative to incarceration program which provides youth and adult services in NYC’s criminal and family courts. Michelle served as a board member for over ten years at the Center for Community Alternatives, a leader in the field of community-based alternatives to incarceration. She now serves on the board of directors for the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee. 

Michelle earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland at College Park, where she was a Benjamin Banneker Scholar. She went on to earn an MPA from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, where she was a Public Service Scholar. She is a Coro alum, having completed Leadership New York, and she earned the Corporate Social Responsibility Award in Banking, Finance, and Insurance from City and State Institute.

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Malia Lazu
Founder & Principle, The Urban Labs

Malia Lazu is a connoisseur culture-creator and King-ian organizer who leads organizations through deep experiential change at the intersection of community, culture, art, politics and business. Her keen understanding of structural inequity and truth-telling insights about race, class, generation and gender, have literally transformed how organizations, and the people who lead them, do their work in the world.

Her ground-breaking LEXICON™ methodology pairs corporations with the community partners they need to know in order to recreate themselves for a diverse, Millennial workforce.

Named one of the 50 founders to watch in Essence Magazine 2017, Malia has utilized her special brand of cultural revolution to build programs for clients including: Grammy Award-winner and famed civil-rights activist Harry Belafonte (The Gathering for Justice), philanthropists George Soros (Young Democrats), Berkshire Bank and MGM Hotels & Casinos.

A political science graduate of Emerson College, Malia has been profiled on MTV, Showtime, ABC-TV, and Fox News, where she was a regular commentator for ten years. She sits on The Nation Magazine Editorial Board, the Eastern Bank Board of Incorporators, the Board of the Boston Society of Architects and the Black Economic Council of MA.  


John McDermott
Director of Financial Services, Venture Jobs Foundation

John McDermott is an executive with over thirty years experience in general management and international business.  He has held positions across a broad range of business functions including marketing, strategy, supply chain, change management, and product development.  John has a Masters in International Management from Thunderbird School of International Business, as well as a BA from Carleton College, and a MA in Theology from St Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. 

More recently, John spent over 9 years leading local organizations, most recently as Executive Director of Providence Housing, a not-for-profit for affordable housing, and prior to that, as President and CEO of Label World, a flexo and digital printer, and where he won numerous awards for HR and environmental leadership.   

Prior to this, John spent over twenty years in a variety of assignments with Eastman Kodak Co., most of them overseas, across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  He speaks Arabic and some Spanish.


Noa Simons
Executive Director, Upstate Capital Association of New York

Noa is the Executive Director of Upstate Capital Association of New York, a non-profit dedicated to increasing access to capital in Upstate New York. In her role, she manages a robust membership network and convenes events on technology, trends and best practices for dealmaking to a wide-ranging audience including investors, entrepreneurs, service providers and professional advisors. In 2018, she took over running the statewide intercollegiate business plan competition (NYBPC), which lays the foundation for entrepreneurship for students.

Noa is also co-founder and manager of the Hudson Valley Startup Fund, a member-managed seed capital fund investing in companies with high growth potential. Prior, Noa was a partner at TD Growth Capital based in Shanghai, China. Her investment work included worldwide technology sourcing, market analysis and diligence on deals both inside and outside China. Before joining that firm, Noa was interim CEO at Norton Motorcycles in Portland, Oregon and built and launched the digital archive housed at the Mary Ferrell Foundation. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Economics and Latin American Studies from Brandeis University.


Alejandro Mendoza
Human Resources Manager, Optimax Systems, Inc.

Alejandro Mendoza started as Human Resources Manager at Optimax Systems, Inc. since 2006, working to plan, direct, manage, and implement HR development programs for 250+ employees while fostering community partnerships and aligning company culture. His integrated position serves as a cross-functional bridge within the organization and supports others in their roles. 

Ale' realized his desire to work collaboratively with others in the United States Air Force, where he served from 1998–2006 in a variety of specialized roles. His military career included assignments with Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Missile Warning, Space Surveillance, and Aircrew Life Support systems and training. Today, he works to build relationships and alliances with local institutions, agencies, colleagues, and potential employees. 

Ale’ holds an Associate degree from Monroe Community College (MCC), a Bachelor’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a Master’s degree from St. John Fisher College, and a Certified Professional (CP) certificate through the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). He is a member of the National Fund for Workforce solutions partners’ council, National Skills Coalition, Business Leaders United, American Apprenticeship Round Table, Veterans Employment Strategy Team (VEST), YMCA’s Human Resources Committee, the Rochester Area Senior HR Executive Forum, and the Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers Enterprise (FAME).


Seth Julyan
Senior Vice President, Membership, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN)

Seth joined OFN in October of 2011 and is responsible for sustaining and growing the OFN membership. Seth oversees membership processes including recruitment, application review, application decision, annual Member review, renewal, and overall stewardship of the membership. In addition to membership, he is responsible for managing elements of OFN’s peer learning events and being a knowledgeable resource to all OFN departments regarding Member data and performance. Prior to OFN, he worked for Brown & Brown insurance, one of the largest insurance intermediaries in the world, as a business development executive researching and examining insurance policies.

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Simeon Banister
Vice President of Community Programs, Rochester Area Community Foundation

At Rochester Area Community Foundation, Simeon Banister is responsible for managing grant-making and community leadership. He is a former member Rush-Henrietta Board of Education. Additionally, he serves as a President of the Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and also serves on the boards of the Congressional Award Foundation, the Hillside Children’s Foundation, The Children’s Agenda, and the Genesee Land Trust. His career spans across the public and private sectors having worked for organizations including in the NYS Senate, the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, the State University of New York, and several private commercial real estate firms. Simeon earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science at North Carolina Central University and his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.

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Hubert Van Tol
President, Pathstone Enterprise Center

Hubert Van Tol is the President of the PathStone Enterprise Center in Rochester, New York. PECI is an affiliate of PathStone Corporation, a large community development corporation which provides a variety of services in seven states and Puerto Rico. The Enterprise Center originates and services micro loans and small business loans and second mortgage housing loans for borrowers who are unable to get credit elsewhere. Hubert is a member of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) board and Executive Committee and has worked on lending and community development issues since he first started working for a community development corporation in Memphis, Tennessee in the early 1980s. He currently serves on the NCRC’s Bankers Community Collaborative Council. He served on the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Advisory Council from 2002-2004. He also serves on the New Markets Tax Credit advisory board of CEI Capital Management LLC.


Tyrone Reaves
President & Founder, Truform Manufacturing Corp. & YAMTEP, Inc.

Tyrone Reaves is president and founder of two Rochester-based companies — Truform Manufacturing Corporation, a precision sheet metal, machining and mechanical assembly manufacturer that has been serving a multinational customer base for twenty-seven years; and YAMTEP, Inc. (Young Adult Manufacturing Training Employment Program), a not-for-profit adult training company focused on job placement and retention for the last three years and counting.

Born and raised in Rochester, Tyrone earned his B.S. Degree in Management (Finance) from St. John Fisher College. He has five brothers, one sister, three children, and one grandchild, and enjoys going to NBA basketball games, boating, fishing, and playing golf.


Ken Marienau
Director of Community Services, Venture Jobs Foundation

Ken recently joined Venture Jobs Foundation as the Director of Community Services.  His focus is on assisting entrepreneurs knowledge through training in the VJF Jobs Kitchen, and is working on initiatives to bring new job opportunities into Rochester’s neighborhoods.

Ken founded Aligned Investor in 2017 to help investors create financial plans and tailored investment portfolios aligned with their financial goals and personal values. As an independent investment advisor, he can use specific social or environmental factors while developing an investment portfolio in a field called Impact Investing.

His focus on Impact Investing began while serving as CEO of Mission Markets, Inc. in New York. Mission Markets pioneered a financial portal enabling socially conscious investors to find, research, and invest in privately-held companies focused on profitably delivering specific social or environmental outcomes.

Ken started his career in Finance at Eastman Kodak Company. In 1999, he moved to E*TRADE Financial Inc., and as VP Finance, assisted in streamlining processes to support their rapid growth in a volatile industry. He also worked to evaluate and integrate acquisitions.

Ken has an MBA from the University of Rochester Simon school, and holds a bachelors degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


Tony Davis

Tony Davis focuses on outreach and analysis related to community and economic development issues.Current projects include developing strategies to attract a talented workforce to the community development industry and analyzing poverty trends in inner city neighborhoods. He joined the BuffaloBranch as a community affairs analyst in April of 2006.Prior to joining the bank, Tony was a program officer at Enterprise Community Partners in Rochester, a national nonprofit housing and community development intermediary. In this capacity, Tony managed a funding collaborative where he provided technical assistance to organizations on economic development, neighborhood planning, organizational development and faith-based related issues.Tony graduated from Ohio University with a master’s degree in international affairs. He also holds a Master’s in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he focused on housing and international planning. Tony completed his undergraduate degree in sociology at Georgia Southern University.