Agustin Carcoba
President & CEO
GE Capital

Agustin Carcoba is the President & CEO of GE Capital, Franchise Finance (GEFF), a leading lender for the franchise finance market via direct sales and portfolio acquisition. With over 30 years of experience and $14 billion in served assets, GEFF serves over 5,000 customers and over 22,000 property locations, primarily in the restaurant, hospitality and branded beverage industries. GEFF offers financing for all of your business needs.

With over 16 years of GE experience, Agustin is a well-rounded general manager with extensive expertise.

Agustin joined Franchise Finance in November 2010 from the Latin America unit of GE Capital, where he was the President. While he was there from 2004-2010, he doubled the income and assets of the company.

Prior to his role with GE Capital, Latin America, Agustin was the leader of GE Capital – Latin America Equipment Finance, focused on broad equipment financing in the region. Previously he was the Global Operations and Six Sigma Leader for GE Equity, based in Stamford, CT. Before these roles, Agustin held commercial jobs of increasing responsibility.

Agustin is a graduate of the Tec de Monterrey with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and holds an MBA from IPADE.

Heather Howell
Chief Executive Officer
Rooibee Red Tea

A leader in workforce development, talent attraction and branding, Heather Howell has over 15 years of experience as a strategic partner for Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies, both in Louisville and across the country. A former Division I athlete, Howell is no stranger to creating a competitive advantage and delivering outcomes that create value to all parties involved.

In her recent position as a leader of Humana’s diversity and talent outreach, Howell has been a driving force in establishing Humana and Louisville as an employer and city of choice for top talent. A consummate relationship builder and business partner, she secured funding and enthusiasm from across the city to bring the National Women’s MBA annual conference to Louisville in 2010. This brought approximately 1 million to the city, and created opportunities for Humana and the community to host 75 leaders of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.

Prior to Humana, Howell served as Vice President of Trillium Talent Resource, Inc., establishing the U.S. operations of this Canadian healthcare consulting and executive staffing firm in 2003. She exceeded sales targets and set new sales standards throughout Trillium’s international operations.

Howell earned her executive MBA while serving as director of workforce development at CARITAS in Louisville, now Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s.

Howell currently is the Chief Tea Officer (She refuses to be called the Chief Executive Officer - she says it sounds way too formal for the company she is building in Louisville). Howell oversees all business operations for Rooibee Red Tea.

Douglas Smith
Former Chairman and CEO
Best Brands

Douglas Smith is a former business leader who wants to make difference in the world by teaching, writing, advising and by sharing what he has learned.

During the past 15 years, Doug served as CEO of Kraft General Foods Canada, Chairman/CEO of Borden Foods Corporation and most recently Chairman/CEO of Best Brands Corporation until its sale to CSM Corporation, the global leader in bakery supplies.

His specific areas of interest include leadership and organizational effectiveness, happiness and well-being and the skill of dealing with setbacks in life. He also focuses on emerging companies, CEO's who are eager to learn and enhance their leadership skills and not-for-profit organizations, and teaches an undergraduate course on happiness at DePauw University.

Doug holds a BA and an Honorary Doctorate from DePauw University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Mark Loughridge
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer,Finance and Enterprise Transformation IBM

Mark Loughridge was named Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Enterprise Transformation of IBM in July 2010.

This role includes the SVP and CFO responsibilities he assumed in May 2004 and the leadership of IBM’s continued integration and transformation.

He was previously senior vice president and general manager of IBM Global Financing, where he led the world’s largest information technology financing and asset management organization. Before that role, he was vice president and IBM controller; vice president of Finance and Planning for IBM Global Services; vice president of Finance for Sales and Distribution; and vice president of Finance for the IBM Personal Systems Group.

Since joining IBM in 1977 as a development engineer, Mr. Loughridge has held various management positions in finance, strategic planning and engineering, including manager of Financial Services for IBM’s lab in Hursley, England.

Mr. Loughridge earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance and operations from the University of Chicago. He also completed studies at École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique in Nantes, France.

James A. Miller
Executive Vice President and President,
Global Services and Specialty
Ecolab Inc.

Jim Miller is executive vice president and president of Global Services & Specialty for Ecolab Inc., the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that provide and protect clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments. Ecolab’s 38,000 employees deliver comprehensive programs and services to the food, energy, healthcare, industrial and hospitality markets in more than 160 countries.

In his current role, Miller leads eight operating units within the Global Services & Specialty business, including Quick Service Restaurants, Food Retail, Pest Elimination, Kitchen Equipment Repair, EcoSure Food Safety Audit, Food Safety Solutions, Small Business Solutions and Vehicle Care.

Previously, Miller held key executive positions in Ecolab’s Institutional Division, including president of Institutional, North America Sector; vice president and general manager; and vice president of Marketing. Miller joined Ecolab in 1992 and held executive positions in Institutional, Corporate Marketing and Emerging Businesses. He left the company in 1998 to serve as senior vice president and general manager of the Immediate Consumption Division of Minute Maid and as CEO of Busy Body Inc., and rejoined Ecolab in 2001. Earlier in his career, Miller spent 13 years at General Mills in a variety of finance and marketing roles, rising to director of New Business for the Consumer Foods Division.

Miller currently serves on the board of directors of the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance, the strategic board of governors of the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas and on the steering committee of Ujamaa Place, a non-profit organization in St. Paul, Minn., dedicated to providing education, inspiration and skills training to young, disadvantaged African American men. Previously, he served on the Elliot Leadership Institute Advisory Council and on the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities and Steppingstone Theatre.

Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of St. Thomas and a juris doctor degree from the William Mitchell College of Law.

Dede Ramoneda
Vice President and Chief Information Officer Progress Energy, Inc.

Dede Ramoneda joined Progress Energy in late 1996 and currently serves as Vice President of Information Technology and Telecommunications and as the Chief Information Officer.  

Before being named VP and CIO in 2002, Ramoneda was Vice President of IT Systems Delivery at CP&L Energy. In an acquisition that doubled the company in size, she led the team that developed and implemented the technology integration strategies that merged CP&L Energy and Florida Progress Corporation into Progress Energy, Inc.

 In support of the company’s pursuit of operational excellence and its balanced strategy for a secure energy future, Ramoneda has overseen the modernization of Progress Energy’s IT infrastructure, architecture, and applications systems. She has led her organization in the development of new programs and management strategies that closely align her organization with the company’s business needs while ensuring the reliability and integrity of the company’s cyber infrastructure.  

Prior to joining Progress Energy, Ramoneda served as CIO and Director of Information Technology for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to that, she spent more than ten years doing systems integration consulting and practice management with one of the largest consulting firms in the United States.   

Ramoneda earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management from Louisiana State University, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Rollins College. She is an alumnus of Leadership North Carolina (an executive leadership training program), and she completed financial management training at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.  

Ramoneda currently serves on the State of North Carolina Technology Advisory Board, the Strategic Advisory Board for North Carolina State University’s Computer Science Department, the Board of Directors for the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County and the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA). Ramoneda previously served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the YWCA of the Greater Triangle and as a member of the Advisory Board for North Carolina State University’s College of Management.

Gail Letts
President and CEO, Central Virginia Region
SunTrust Bank  

Gail Letts is President and CEO of the Central Virginia Region for SunTrust Bank, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia.  A veteran banker, she joined the Bank in 1983 as Employee Relations Manager in the Maryland Region and has held a variety of positions including Director of Training (Maryland Region), Head of Retail (Maryland and Greater Washington Regions) and STI Head of Branch Banking (Atlanta).  

Ms. Letts received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, completed the ABA Commercial Lending School at the University of Oklahoma, received her Certificate in Financial Planning and completed the National School of Finance and Management and the Executive Leadership Program, National Council of Savings Institutions at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut.  

Ms. Letts is actively involved in the community, serving on the Board of Directors for the Greater Richmond Partnership, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, Virginia Bankers Association, Richmond Symphony, CenterStage Foundation and the American Heart Association, Mid-Atlantic Affiliated Board.  She has served as the 2008–2009 Vice-Chair for the Greater Richmond Partnership and served as Vice-Chair for the 2009 Heart Gala and is the 2010 Chairwoman for both the GRP & Heart Gala; she is on the Advocacy Board for Homeward, a member of the International Women’s Forum and the VCU Board of Trustees.  

Ms. Letts was selected as one of the "Top 50 Women (Washington, DC) Who Mean Business” by the Washington Business Journal in 2004 and twice selected by the Baltimore Business Journal as one of the Top 100 Women in Business (1998 and 2000).  

Ms. Letts is married with one daughter and one grandson.  Aside from her professional and community passions, her hobbies include the piano and golf.  

Kevin Gallagher
CNN International Newsource

Kevin Gallagher is a 20 year veteran of international journalism whose birth in New York to a purely Irish- American couple is an unusual beginning for a Spanish media professional. His latent interest in the "magical realism" movement led him to switch course and land a scholarship to New York University in Spain's undergraduate and graduate programs of Spanish literature where he earned the Spanish medal in 1985.

Upon completing his studies, Gallagher was pluriemployed in Spain for nearly a decade in true expatriate style: entrepreneur, film production assistant, teacher, translator/interpreter and legal assistant. His return stateside in the early 90s initiated his career with Turner Broadcasting, producing multilingual promos with the launch of TNT Latin America. This led to a stint writing and producing the Spanish-language business program "El Mundo de los Negocios" for CNN International.

Gallagher was a key member of the team that in 1997 launched CNN en Espanol, CNN's first 24 hour non-English news network, working as a Supervising Producer and Senior Producer. He has produced nearly every type of news programming at CNN: from political coverage to business, entertainment to CNN Heroes. Before his current position in CNN International Newsource, Gallagher was Senior Producer for CNNI Special Projects where he co-supervised CNNE's coverage of the 2010 mid-term elections and produced, researched and wrote the two weekly programs "Salud" and En Familia" exploring health and parenting issues.

Gail M. Romero CFRE                                              CEO, Board Member, Advisor, Executive Producer, Ambassador
MBA Women International

Gail Romero is the CEO for MBA Women International, Senior Advisor for MacKenzie-Romero Consulting, Executive Producer for Rainmakers TV and carried the title of Ambassador – Global Health for the American Cancer Society until August of 2011.  Gail has spent the last two decades creating and directing the development and integration of innovative ideas and campaigns and strategic alliances with various policy makers, educational communities, associations, media, academics, politicians, community leaders, foundations and corporations to advance women in leadership throughout the world.   

Romero is passionate about building awareness of the need for more women in leadership roles in business and on corporate boards throughout the world.  She has worked throughout the US, Africa, Central America and Asia-Pacific bringing over  30 years in various functions to bring about more support for women’s and girls efforts to empower themselves and gain a voice.    Romero’s work has garnered noteworthy media attention and includes numerous published works, presentations, interviews, collateral material, video, documentary and film productions and award winning campaigns highlighting global issues including global healthcare, women and girls, clean water and sanitation, education and social justice.  Gail continues to provide opportunities to highlight women’s leadership and education initiatives as Executive Producer of "Rainmakers TV”  as well as the CEO of MBA Women International.  

Gail has attended Hilton International Symposium, Clinton Global Initiative, and Global Philanthropy Summit, UN Digital Summit and numerous conferences on philanthropy, which has resulted in many interviews and white papers.  Included in her interviews are such dignitaries as Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, Bill Gates Sr. Co-Chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Senator Sam Nunn, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, George Russell of Russell Investments, CEO of World Bank Robert Zoellick, CEO of Proctor and Gamble Robert McDonald, Reeta Roy the CEO of Mastercard Foundation, Helene Gayle of CARE International, John Seffrin the CEO of American Cancer Society, Susan Davis of BRAC, Linda Lockhart of Global Give Back Circle and numerous other high profile world leaders.  Gail advised on the most recent white paper co-written by Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang of the University of Indiana on building global philanthropy.   

Romero currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Advisory Council for Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics, Advisory Council for iLEAP Fellows, Advisory Board for "Hey Sister, Get Clued UP” a CGIU program through Global Give Back Circle and is a judge for the Global Social Entrepreneurs Competition at the University of Washington.  She has served as a visiting professor and international speaker and presenter on social justice, women’s issues and education.   She is a Paul Harris Fellow, Seattle University Alumni member and is a graduate of Northpark University’s Graduate School of Nonprofit Management and Certification and University of Wisconsin’s Madison School of Business, Madison Institute- AHP program.  She received her CFRE confirmation in 2005.

National Society of Hispanic MBAs