Leadership

Crystal Houston

  • Board Chair and Communications, Brand Strategy and BAG IT for the CAUSE Lead

Ms. Houston is a social impact entrepreneur and digital brand strategist who paints tall tales in a single bound using a dynamic palette of business models, tools and platforms. She has overseen interactive marketing strategies, stakeholder engagement, and brand awareness efforts for several large companies and nonprofits.

Ms. Houston’s focus is on Business Development, Digital Strategy, Branded Content, and Stakeholder Engagement. As co-founder of two startup businesses, she leads strategic marketing and outreach to improve the human condition. Additionally, she is a blockchain enthusiast focused on leveraging opportunities brought about through disruption and innovation to achieve solutions benefitting her community and humanity. Ms. Houston is an inaugural Board member. LinkedIN

Carla Banks Waddles

  • Vice President and LIFE in the CANCER LANE Lead

Detroit native Carla Banks Waddles has been working as a television comedy writer for the past 17 years.  She has written for and produced such shows as That’s So Raven (Disney), Half & Half (UPN), The Soul Man (TV Land), Hit The Floor (BET), and Good Girls (NBC).  She was showrunner on her own comedy series, One Love, starring Mark Curry, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and the late Sherman Hemsley.  A graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, she also earned an MFA in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.  

Looking to mentor other writers and share her craft, she has taught at Northwestern as a lecturer in the Radio Television Film Department. She founded Babycakes Productions, Inc. as a vehicle for her creative projects.  She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. Mrs. Waddles is inaugural Board member.  For more on Carla’s projects, visit her website at BabycakesProductionsInc.com.

Tonya M. Evans, Esq.

  • Member and Business, Finance and Legal Lead

Tonya M. Evans, Esquire, is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law. She directs the school’s Blockchain, Cryptocurrency & Law online professional certificate program and developed its world-class instructor pool and curriculum. She is also the former Chair of the Intellectual Property & Technology Online Programs.

Evans has expertise in the areas of intellectual property, new technologies (including blockchain and distributed ledger technology), entrepreneurship & innovation, entertainment law, trusts & estates, and municipal finance. She writes, speaks, and teaches primarily about the intersections of copyright and new technologies as well as estates law issues.

Professor Evans graduated cum laude from Howard University School of Law, attended Northwestern University on a full tennis scholarship and is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, New Jersey, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Third Circuit and New York. She served as Inaugural Board Chair from 2013-2019. She is also a principal in LIT Braintrust, LLC and Legal Write Publications, LLC, and co-host of the LIT Podcast.

Leslie M. Gray

  • Member (2015-present)

Ms. Gray is a Chief of Staff of the CEO at Mozilla.  Previously, she led business readiness and support for Microsoft’s corporate finance, business intelligence applications and reports.  As a marketing operations executive, Ms. Gray has been responsible for everything from documenting requirements for big data marketing systems and owning marketing automation solutions to delivering business intelligence capabilities and designing seamless electronic user experiences.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Ms. Gray spent over 12 years at Accenture in the Customer Relationship Management, Marketing Operations consulting practice.  During this tenure, she worked with several Fortune 100 companies in Financial Services, Automotive, and Telecommunications, helping them transform their marketing organizations to a more sustainable, data-centric function.

In addition to her corporate career, Ms. Gray was CEO of a small business specializing in owning and managing medical facilities.  During her 12 year tenure, Ms. Gray procured real estate, developed and managed the business strategy, opened a CMS approved dialysis facility, and brokered acquisition deals.

Brendon Riley

  • Co-Founder & Advisor (2013-present)

Strategic finance executive with more than 15 years of combined experience as a leader of high profile financial transactions and advisory situations. Deep experience in integrating business and legal thought processes to solve problems, lead and motivate people, build consensus, and orchestrate the necessary resources to fulfill strategic objectives. Interested in opportunities to leverage financial and legal skill set, including financial management, strategic planning, and legal analysis in a corporate finance or fiduciary role.

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