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Thursday, JANUARY 26 ARCHIVE - This event has already taken place - do not register

NYC Leadership Breakfast, 7:35 am – 11:30 am

The Williams Club, 24 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016

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Keynote Speaker:   GLENDA McNEAL, SVP, General Manager Retail and Emerging Industries, Establishment Services North America, American Express Company

Peer Networking:   Participants are re-grouped for 45 minutes of peer networking facilitated by Employee ROI's Barbara Adolf and Daniel White.

Featured Speaker:  SOPHIA CORONA, Chief Financial Officer, Epsilon Interactive

GUEST MC:   GAIL BLANKE, President an CEO, Lifedesigns, and best selling author




WHO ATTENDS:  Corporate executives, non-profit executives, and other invited guests.  Current board directors, executives responsible for selection and compensation, and leaders interested in board service are encouraged to attend.   Executives responsible for leading teams, responsible for development and retention of key employees, or responsible for executive succession planning, are encouraged to attend.


7:35 - Doors Open/ Breakfast Served/ Informal Peer Networking
8:05 - General Session Introductions
8:20 - Keynote Speaker
9:30 - Facilitated Peer Networking Program
10:25 - Featured Speaker
11:00 - General Session Closing Remarks
11:00 - Informal Peer Networking
11:30 - Conference End

* schedule and speakers subject to change

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES: For sponsorship information please call Bill Shulman at 203-291-9944.



Sophia Corona, Chief Financial Officer, Epsilon Interactive

Ms. Sophia Corona joined Bigfoot Interactive in October 2000. In September 2005, Sophia Corona as CFO of Bigfoot Interactive helped negotiate and approve the acquisition of Bigfoot by Epsilon Interactive for $120 million. Ms. Corona, currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of Epsilon Interactive. In this role, she oversees and steers the company's financial planning and operations.

But this isn't the first success story for Ms. Corona of its kind. Over the last 10 years, she has become a recognized leader in the Private Equity community as someone who can steer a company from early stage through the full lifecycle and exit strategy - having similar success with two prior companies: Prism Communications Services, a nationwide advanced telecommunications provider known for its "Red Connect" brand that was acquired by Comdisco, for $70 MM, and Visual Radio, a technology incubation and development company which spun off a number of portfolio companies including Magnitude Network to CMGI, for $28MM. 

Prior to working with high growth firms in the private equity space, Ms. Corona's extensive experience includes senior level posts at companies, including Ian Schrager Hotels and Kamsky Associates, a division of American International Group (AIG). In these roles, she was responsible for financial management and planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital formation, accounting operations, expenditure analysis and operational benchmarking. 

Ms. Corona serves on a number of non-profit boards of directors, including Boardroom Bound as Treasurer, Women's Leadership Exchange's Executive Advisory Committee, and previously the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality where she was Fundraising Chair and Vice President of the New York Chapter. In February 2005, Boardroom Bound honored her at their Chicago Ambassador luncheon with their Founders award for Outstanding Service. 

As Chief Financial Officer of Bigfoot Interactive, Ms. Corona participated on the board in driving the company's operational and strategic exit strategies. Formerly she served on the advisory boards of Prism Communications Services and Visual Radio. Recently, Ms. Corona was invited to participate in the elite CFO summit group where top executives and visionaries in financial management from around the country convene to discuss best practices in analyst days, Sox cost control, equity issues and benchmarking, among other topics.  

Ms. Corona is active in her church and community.  Recently serving on the board of trustees for the Rye Presbyterian Church (est. 1878), Sophia was the first female and youngest congregate to also serve as Treasurer.   Ms. Corona, her husband, and three children live in Rye , New York .



Glenda Goodly McNeal, Senior Vice President, General Manager Retail and Emerging Industries, Establishment Services North America, American Express Company

Glenda Goodly McNeal is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Retail and Emerging Industries for Establishment Services North America at the American Express Company, a position she assumed in April 2005. In this role, she is responsible for managing and growing American Express' strategic relationships with its largest retail merchants. Ms. McNeal leads the Retail Strategic Relations Group in driving the creation of partner programs and services that help American Express and its key retail accounts profitably increase spend among its mutual customers. These key accounts cover industries in grocery, oil, drug, telecom, insurance, department stores, mass merchandise, warehouse clubs, B2B, and mail order.

After beginning her career at American Express in 1989, Ms. McNeal has held a variety of key positions, most recently as Senior Vice President of the Global Partnerships team, managing the Company's relationship with Costco. Ms. McNeal also served as Vice President and General Manager of New Industry Development, responsible for developing and implementing the company's strategy to increase charge volume, market share and overall profitability in new-to-plastic industries such as quick service restaurants, healthcare, charities and rental payments.

Prior to joining American Express, Ms. McNeal worked at Salomon Brothers as a mortgage specialist in Sales and Trading. She began her career as an auditor at Arthur Andersen & Company.

Ms. McNeal serves on the boards of the National Retail Federation Foundation; the Pepsi Ethnic Consumer Advisory Board where she chairs the marketing committee, Mountainside Hospital; the New York Urban League and the Marketing Advisory board for the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention. In addition, she is a trustee of her alma mater, Dillard University, and is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and the Junior League of Montclair/Newark. She was past vice chair and chaired the development committee of the Harlem School of the Arts.

Ms. McNeal has been recognized for her professional and community achievements. American Express recognized her community involvement when she was named one of the 150 Great Citizen Award Winners on a company-wide basis and in 2005 was recognized by the YWCA of New York City in their salute to women leaders. She has received the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education's 2002 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Dillard University, and the Women of Power and Grace Award from the Race for Success Foundation.

Ms. McNeal holds an MBA degree in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Accounting from Dillard University. She and her husband, Philip, have two children and reside in New Jersey.






President and CEO, Lifedesigns and Best Selling Author

Gail Blanke is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Lifedesigns, LLC, a company whose vision is to empower men and women worldwide to live truly exceptional lives.

A best selling author, Ms. Blanke’s last book, In My Wildest Dreams, Living the Life You Long For was published by Simon & Schuster in June 1998.  The book has appeared on’s Best Selling Books list and the New York Times Business Best Seller List. Ms. Blanke was the sole guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show in October 1998 where she used concepts from her book to help empower audience members to live fulfilling lives. Ms. Blanke’s first book, Taking Control of Your Life: The Secrets of Successful Enterprising Women, sold more than a half million copies. Between Trapezes: Flying into a New Life With the Greatest of Ease about thriving on change and mastering the art of self re-invention, was published by Rodale in August 2004.

A renowned executive coach and presentation skills trainer, Ms. Blanke has advised CEO’s, presidential candidates, college presidents – and even a jazz musician. A current presidential candidate recently remarked, “You’ve enabled me to find qualities in myself I didn’t know I had and express myself with power, grace and persuasion. What a difference you’ve made.”  Recently, Ms. Blanke was called in by FOX News to critique George W. Bush’s inaugural address.

Considered one of the finest motivational speakers in the country, she has delivered keynote addresses for many corporations and at events such as the “Global Summit of Women” in Taiwan, the “Decade to Democracy” conference in Budapest and Cornell University’s symposium, “Contracting Out: Danger Signal for Working Women and Men” chaired by Betty Friedan. She’s also delivered keynotes for students at Beijing University , the University of Virginia and the Stern School of New York University. In addition to the Oprah Winfrey Show, Ms. Blanke has appeared on CNN, FNN, CNBC and FOX TV.  Articles about Ms. Blanke and her company have appeared in Newsweek, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook and Self.

Ms. Blanke was one of the youngest female senior vice presidents of Avon Products, Inc., where, in addition to her responsibilities as global head of corporate affairs, she motivated and inspired Avon ’s half million sales representatives to live the lives of their wildest dreams. A member of the Chairman’s Executive Council, she led the re-positioning of Avon as the world’s premier direct selling company for women and launched the widely acclaimed Avon Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade, which has raised more than $300 million for community outreach programs.

Ms. Blanke is the immediate past president of the New York Women’s Forum and the first member to hold that position for two terms. She is a past chairman of the board of Fashion Group, International. In 1997, she was elected a corporate director of Sweetheart Paper Holdings, one of the country’s leading paper suppliers.

Ms. Blanke has received the Women Who Make A Difference Award at the 1999 International Women’s Forum Conference, the 1994 Matrix Award for Public Relations presented by New York Women in Communications, Inc. and the 1994 Star Award presented by the New York Women’s Agenda. In 2003, Ms. Blanke was named president of the New York Women in Communications Foundation which provides college and graduate school scholarships for deserving young women who are interested in the communications industry, and was among the first women to be inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers.

Ms. Blanke is a graduate of Sweet Briar College in Virginia and majored in acting at Yale University Graduate School of Drama. She and her husband, F. James Cusick, a writer, live in New York City with their two daughters, Kate and Abigail.