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2018 Speaker Biographies

    2018 Full Speaker Biographies


    • Dr. Shelton Goode, DPA -  Executive Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)



    • Brandy ChristianPresident & CEO of the Port of New Orleans
    • Pat Harris - Global Chief Diversity Officer & VP of Community Engagement for McDonald's Corporation (retired), Author, Speaker and Pioneer in Diversity & Inclusion
    • Crystal McDonald -  Founder and CEO of
    • Quentin L. Messer Jr.President and CEO of New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA)



    Dr. Shelton Goode, DPA,  Executive Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)

    Session: Inclusion 2020: Global Trends that will Redefine the Work, the Workers and the Workplace

    Dr. Shelton Goode is Executive Director for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) which is the principal public transport operator in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Formed in 1971 as strictly a bus system, MARTA operates a network of bus routes linked to a rapid transit system consisting of 48 miles (77 km) of rail track with 38 train stations. It is the eighth-largest rapid transit system in the United States by ridership.

    Dr. Goode is responsible for developing and implementing diversity and inclusion strategies and equal employment opportunity (EEO) programs for the Authority and serves as the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) for those programs. As a member of MARTA’s executive management team, he is responsible for ensuring that all decisions, activities, programs, policies, procedures, processes and services are equitable and do not discriminate or adversely impact current or potential employees, customers, communities, businesses, or stakeholders.

    He is an executive with over 20 years of human resource, business and university-teaching experience. He has held executive human resource and diversity positions for companies ranging in size from $300M to $11B+ and has developed or implemented talent management programs, performance management systems, sales incentive plans, labor relations strategies, and large-scale culture change initiatives. Prior to MARTA, Dr. Goode was a senior D&I leader at Oshkosh Corporation and Pennsylvania Power & Light (PPL) and Georgia Power. Based on the results achieved in these positions earned the reputation as a strategic, yet results-oriented HR, D&I business leader.

    The author of “Diversity Managers: Angels of Mercy or Barbarians at the Gate”, Dr. Goode learned the value of diversity management first-hand by rolling up his sleeves and providing CEOs and senior executives with counsel, insight, resources, tools and innovative ideas that helped advanced their companies’ strategic business goals. For the last 10 years, he has leverage seasoned leadership and consulting skills to help companies implement diversity manage initiatives which enhanced their talent acquisition, employee retention, and employee engagement strategies.

    Because of his passion for education, Dr. Goode has used his knowledge and experience to teach and mentor others. In 1993, he was awarded the first-ever African American Doctoral Fellowship by Troy University and began teaching at the university in 1996. Since that time, he has been dedicated to helping adult learners achieve their educational goals. For example, as an Adjunct Professor at Troy University, Dr. Goode taught thousands of students in school's Masters in Public Administration program. His teaching excellence was recognized when he received the schools prestigious Faculty Member

    of the Year Award in 2005. Dr. Goode leveraged his extensive teaching experience to publish his first book, “So You Think You Can Teach: A Guide for the New College Professor in Teaching Adult Learners”. He is also the founder and CEO of My ABD Network, an organization which helps students succeed in doctoral education programs.

    Dr. Goode, a highly-decorated Air Force veteran, has not only served the country in time of war but also consistently served his community in time of need. In July 2011, the Supreme Court of Georgia appointed him to the State Bar Ethics Investigative Panel. He was one of only three non-lawyers serving on this prestigious panel. He chaired the Conference Board Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council and has served on the board of numerous professional organizations such as the Atlanta Compliance and Ethics Roundtable, American Association National of Blacks in Energy, Society for Human Resource Management, and the Atlanta and Diversity Management Advocacy Group.

    The National Association of African Americans in Human Resources awarded him their HR Trailblazer Award in 2005 and 2012 -- the only person selected for the award twice. In April 2013, the Technology Association of Georgia presented him with the organization's first Lifetime Diversity Achievement Award for his body of work in diversity and human resources.

    He received his Bachelor’s degree from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and his Master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Troy University. He obtained his Doctorate in Public Administration from the University of Alabama. Dr. Shelton Goode speaks nationally on a variety of public administration, human resource, ethics and diversity topics.

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    Deborah Estrin, SHRM-SCP - Manager, Diversity & Inclusion and Employment Compliance at Entergy

    Session: Recognizing Invisible Disabilities in the Workplace

    Deborah Estrin joined Entergy in August, 2015 as Manager, Diversity & Inclusion and Employment Compliance.  In this role, Deborah is responsible for identifying, developing and implementing strategies, programs and processes to support Entergy’s Organizational Health and Diversity objectives and to advance and drive inclusion and engagement.  She is also responsible for ensuring Entergy’s compliance with the myriad of employment regulations covering our business including Affirmative Action planning, OFCCP Audits and for updating leadership on regulatory changes affecting the business.

    Prior to joining Entergy, Deborah had progressively responsible leadership roles within Human Resources and Equal Employment Opportunity across multiple industries including energy, utility, pharmaceuticals and international shipping and logistics.  She holds a BA from the University of Tennessee and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well as the SHRM-SCP designation.

    Entergy has nearly 14,000 employees across 9 states.  Our Diversity and Inclusion network includes 24 D&I Councils and 5 Employee Resource Groups (Multicultural and Women’s, Generational, Veterans, PRIDE and Shift Workers).  The company has been recognized for its leadership in the D&I arena including:   Best Companies for Diversity by Black Enterprise Magazine; 2020 Women on Boards, Winning “W” for 5 consecutive years; scoring 100 points on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index; Top Companies for Employing Individuals with Disabilities by the USBLN; Top ERGs by the Association of ERGs and Councils; Top 10 Utilities in Economic Development by Site Selection Magazine; and America’s Top corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises by Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.  To underscore his commitment to the Diversity and Inclusion efforts, our Chairman and Chief Executive, Leo Denault, is one of 100 top company leaders to sign the CEO’s pledge.

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    Monique Gougisha Doucette, J.D. - Shareholder at Ogletree Deakins

    Session: Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Programs:  How to Prevail and Avoid the Pitfalls

    Ms. Doucette joined Ogletree Deakins in 2009. She practices primarily in the area of employment litigation and represents management in claims arising under Title VII, ADA, FMLA, ADEA, as well as other federal and state employment laws. She also regularly represents employers in various state and federal administrative proceedings. Ms. Doucette has significant experience with litigating employment matters in a variety of business sectors such as construction, insurance, banking, hospitality, education, health care and manufacturing. Ms. Doucette also assists with policy drafting and she conducts customized onsite workplace respect and anti-harassment training for employers.

    Ms. Doucette is a frequent speaker on various employment law topics and contributing author to publications such as the Louisiana Bar Journal and HR Magazine. She is also an avid supporter of the local arts and education in New Orleans by serving on the executive board of directors for the New Orleans Ballet Association and the Arts Council of New Orleans, as well as the board of directors for Urban League of Louisiana and the advisory board for the New Orleans Opera Association. She is a member of the A.P. Tureaud Chapter of the American Inns of Court and serves as a co-chair on the ABA Employment Rights and Responsibilities Committee's Diversity Initiative Task Force.


    Ms. Doucette has obtained summary judgments or dismissals on behalf of clients in a variety of cases and successfully defended those decisions in the appellate courts. Some of her successful summary judgments or dismissals include:

    • Obtaining jury verdict in favor of national oilfield equipment supplier and dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit by employees seeking $120 million after a 12 day trial, with the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the jury verdict;
    • Successfully obtaining dismissal of an ADEA and ADA claim filed against a national insurance company;
    • Dismissing federal and state law claims of defamation, wrongful termination and tortious conversion on behalf of one of the world’s largest banks, including dismissal by the Louisiana Supreme Court;
    • Obtaining dismissal of sexual harassment and hostile work environment claims on behalf of a large freight and shipping corporation, with the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming judgment for the defendant;
    • Obtaining dismissal of a pregnancy discrimination claim on behalf of one of the nation’s largest banks;
    • Successfully defending and dismissing a race discrimination and retaliation claim against one of Louisiana's largest construction companies, resulting in an award of attorney’s fees on behalf of the employer.

    Admitted to Practice:

    Louisiana, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

    Honors and Awards:

    • Best Lawyers in America – Employment Law, Management
    • Fellow, 2012 Leadership Council for Legal Diversity
    • Honoree, New Orleans CityBusiness, 2011 Women of the Year
    • Recipient, Loyola University New Orleans John G. Arnold Cardinal Key Commencement Award for Outstanding Female Graduate
    • Semi-finalist, Robert F. Wagner National Labor & Employment Law Moot Court Competition
    • Senior Justice, Tulane Moot Court Board
    • Leading Lawyer, Chambers USA

    For more about information about Monique, click here.

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    Katee Van Horn, SHRM-CP, PHR - Diversity & Inclusion Speaker, Coach, Author

    Session: From Diversity Zero to Hero: The GoDaddy Transformation Story

    Katee Van Horn is a human resource strategist, international keynote speaker, and executive coach focused on strengthening corporate cultures. She inspires leaders, employees and human resource teams by showing people how to build a diverse and inclusive culture where everyone succeeds.

    Katee is the founder and CEO of Bar the Door Consulting & Coaching, where she provides practical solutions for teams to thrive through an inclusive environment.

    Katee uses her 20+ years in HR and her innate ability to quickly assess the individual, organization and leadership development needs to create appropriate and operative solutions. She is a reputable leader known for building and sustaining trusting, collaborative relationships to achieve business goals.


    The mission of Bar the Door Consulting is to partner with organizations to:

    ● Build practical HR & business strategies around a diverse & inclusive culture.

    ● Coach leaders and train teams to do the best work of their lives. 

    For more about information about Katee, click here.

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    Perry Sholes, SHRM-SCP, SPHRPresident of Progressive HR Strategies Inc

    Session: Striving While…..? Getting to your Goal without Losing Your Soul!

    Perry Sholes is President of Progressive HR Strategies Inc. Perry is a Business Executive with success in creating economic value through Human Resource leadership. He has helped to drive profitability at complex global organizations that include private equity portfolio companies, large public companies and privately-owned businesses. Perry has a unique background in Human Resource management in that he spent the early part of his career in Operations starting as an Hourly Employee and General Manager at McDonald’s Corporation, District Manager at Taco Bell Corporation and Regional Foodservice Manager at Target Stores Corporation. All roles with p&l, operations, training and people development responsibilities.

    His Human Resources skills were developed in the consumer products (CPG) industry at Nabisco Foods Company Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. Over the course of 10 years of service he advanced from sales training to eventual leadership responsibilities for the corporate functions of the Kraft Foods Latin America HQ in Miami. Perry has held several roles leading the HR function and guiding company culture. He joined Raising Cane’s team as VP Crew Resources. At Thomas and King Inc. a privately-owned operator of (87) Applebee’s and (6) Johnny Carino’s casual dining restaurants he was VP Talent Management & Inclusion until the company sold in 2014. His recent human resources experience was with Last Call Operating Company; Fox & Hound and Champps Sports Grill concepts. He served as SVP HR & Risk Mgmt.

    These roles have enhanced his ability to lead through course changes, operate within slim margins, grow the organization’s talent development infrastructure and build highly capable and service oriented HR teams. Perry has many years of expertise transforming HR departments, improving processes and creating a service oriented culture in areas such as talent acquisition, training design and facilitation, leadership development, talent management, succession planning, benefits strategy and administration, compensation, employee engagement, diversity & inclusion and risk management.

    Perry has built a legacy in every organization and role by improving processes, diversity and talent management systems. He increased the number of women in Sales at Nabisco Foods, established a Diversity Steering Committee, co-facilitated a year-long CPG mid-manager leadership development program and recruited MBA talent from top schools for domestic and international Kraft Foods divisions. Most recently he designed internal talent infrastructure to promote from within and target diverse talent from external sources and implemented 360 leadership development program at Thomas and King. At Last Call Operating Company, he led the relocation of HQ, recruited executive team members and corporate staff, redesigned management training, centralized and improved talent acquisition, implemented Affordable Heathcare (ACA) within compliance and lower than anticipated cost.

    Perry received an Executive MBA from the University of South Florida and his B.S. in Marketing from Tampa College. He is a certified HR professional (SPHR and SCP) and certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner. Perry has held several board positions with multiple associations including Women Foodservice Forum, Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, Girl Scouts Louisiana-East and Society Human Resource Management (SHRM) Kentucky and Louisiana. He is the President and Founding Member of the Kraft Foods Alumni Network.

    Progressive HR Strategies is a Consulting company with significant corporate experience. Primary focus is engaging leaders to drive meaningful changes and to help improve your business results through human capital initiatives. Key competencies in: Executive and Talent Search, Harassment Prevention & Culture Training, HR on Call (retained HR Services) and Employee Benefits Consulting.

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    Brandy Christian - President & CEO of the Port of New Orleans

    Brandy D. Christian serves as the President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, a public agency that manages more than $60 million in revenues, nearly 300 employees, and $200 million in capital projects. Christian is one of 11 female port directors in North America and the first female CEO in the Port of New Orleans’ 120-year history. She brings a global perspective and experience building high performance teams in complex organizations to the role, and emphasizes strategic focus, collaborative partnerships and bold action.

    Prior to joining Port NOLA, she served 14 years with the Port of San Diego, California’s fourth-largest cargo port and one of the State’s largest public land developers with a portfolio encompassing maritime, industry, hospitality and tourism. Serving as vice president of strategy and business development, Christian was the driving force behind streamlining the public agency’s operational processes, reducing costs, securing major accounts, and negotiating leases for the cruise and cargo business lines.

    Before joining the Port of San Diego, Christian worked for KPMG Consulting as a quality management consultant in their public-sector practice. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. Christian is a Certified Port Executive, Certified Six Sigma Green Belt, Board of Examiners - Malcolm Baldrige, and the recipient of the Examiner of the Year by the California Award for Performance Excellence.
    Christian serves as the Cruise Committee Chair for the American Association of Port Authorities, and on the Green Marine Board of Directors, Railroad-Shipper Transportation Advisory Council, Louisiana Board of International Commerce, World Trade Center of New Orleans Board of Directors, and the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute (UNOTI) Advisory Board. Christian was named an Alumna of the Year (2015) by the University of Arizona and 2016 Top Female Achiever by New Orleans Magazine.

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    Pat Harris - Global Chief Diversity Officer & VP of Community Engagement for McDonald's Corporation (retired), Author, Speaker and Pioneer in Diversity & Inclusion

    For more than 40 years, Pat Harris served as an invaluable contributor to the success of McDonald’s Corporation. In her role as Global Chief Diversity Officer & VP of Community Engagement, Pat led the evolution of the company’s diversity and inclusion function. She documented its origin and transformational effect within McDonald’s in her book, “None of us is as good as all of us: How McDonald’s prospers by embracing inclusion and diversity.”

    Under her leadership, McDonald’s has been widely recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. This recognition includes Fortune magazine’s “Top 50 Places for Minorities to Work,” Black Enterprise magazine’s “Top 40 Companies for Diversity,” Latina Style magazine’s “Best Companies for Latinas,” the "Corporate Leadership Award" by the Organization of Chinese Americans, the “Disability Diversity Award” by Work Life Matters magazine, the Catalyst Award, and the Human Rights Campaign’s recognition as the “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.”

    A well-regarded trailblazer in the field of diversity and inclusion, Pat also has received numerous awards, is a sought-after speaker at high-profile events, and holds several leadership positions in key national organizations. She has also been featured in several national and local publications including the Chicago Tribune, as well as Black Enterprise, Essence, Diversity Woman and Chicago Woman magazines.

    Pat is the Founder & CEO of the TBS Learning & Tennis Center which offers youth the opportunity to learn in a trusting, safe, and nurturing environment. The Center’s educational leadership program is designed to provide a positive, productive, and fun-loving environment. The Center is located in Pat’s hometown, McBee, SC, and is named in honor of her mother, Thelma Barnes Sowell, whom she credits with instilling in her the values of fairness and equality which have guided her throughout her life.

    She serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Roosevelt University/Chicago, Board Co-Chair of PUSH/Excel, Board Member of SC USTA, as well as a trusted advisor to several diversity and community organizations.

    Pat received her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration/Personnel Administration from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She has also received three Honorary Doctorate Degrees from South Carolina State University, Coker College and Roosevelt University. Pat resides in Chicago, IL and McBee, SC, and has one son and one granddaughter.

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    Crystal McDonald -  Founder and CEO of

    Crystal McDonald is the Founder and CEO of, a platform that connects employers and job seekers using brief first impression videos. With over 14 years of Recruiting experience, she founded the company out of a need to gain more information about a candidate beyond just the resume or application. 

    Crystal Graduated from Dillard University with a degree in Economics and Finance and received her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She currently serves as the immediate past President of the Women's Professional Council, is a board member of the Louisiana Children's Museum, Board member the Daughters of Charity Foundation of New Orleans, A member of the New Orleans Chapter, The Links, Inc, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Crystal received the first Ada Lovelace Woman of the Year in GNO Tech award, is part of the Bayou 100 for leaders in Technology, one of Gambit's 40 Under 40, Dillard University 40 Under 40, Outstanding Millennial in Technology, and a Biz New Orleans New and Notable. 

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    Quentin L. Messer Jr. - President and CEO of New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA)

    As the leader of the accredited economic development organization (AEDO) focused on growing the Orleans Parish economy, Quentin leads initiatives and programs related to making New Orleans the most attractive city of its size for financial and human capital investment. He has overall responsibility for executing NOLABA’s ProsperityNOLA strategy, which is the five year strategic plan for the New Orleans’ economic growth developed in 2013.  Currently, NOLABA is integrating the talent development and place-making programmatic work of The Network for Economic Opportunity into its historical business attraction, retention and marketing activities. 

    Immediately prior to joining NOLABA, Quentin was the Assistant Secretary for Louisiana Economic Development, (LED) the state department of economic development. 

    In addition to his memberships on the board of directors of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, Audubon Nature Institute, City Park Improvement Association, University of New Orleans Research and Technology Foundation, New Orleans Workforce Development Board and Lusher Public Charter School, Quentin is a member of the Board of Trustees of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (f/k/a Our Lady of the Lake College), and the Board of Directors of the Research Park Corporation (Baton Rouge, LA).

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    Missy Sparks, PhD - Assistant Vice-president of Talent Management / Human Resources at Ochsner Health System

    Missy Sparks serves as assistant vice president of Talent Management/Human Resources  for Ochsner Health System. In this role she oversees Workforce Development, New Hire Orientations, Diversity & Inclusion, Performance Management and Engagement for more than 18,000 employees.

    Her passion is developing a diverse talent pipeline that opens career pathways into healthcare for the unemployed/underemployed in our community. The work of she and her team in this arena has been featured in HR Magazine, GNOF’s Annual Report, Grads for Life, and on the website for the Kellogg Foundation. Additionally, it has led to local and national recognition. Missy and team received the 2016 Executive Leadership Award for Project of the Year by Ochsner for work that has led to career starts for nearly 150 unemployed/underemployed as Medical Assistants. Ochsner was awarded the 2017 Frontline Workforce Champion by CareerSTAT and the National Funds for Workforce Solutions. And, Ochsner’s CEO & President received the Chief Executive of Opportunity award for the efforts of Missy and team to create new economic pathways for the disadvantaged by the City of New Orleans.

    Prior to joining Ochsner, she served as the vice president for education, communications and community at Alliance Safety Council (previouly known as Safety Council of the Louisiana Capital Area). Missy was an assistant professor in the Department of Communications at Xavier University of Louisiana.

    Missy earned a Ph.D. in Communication Studies, with a focus on rhetoric and public address and a minor in political science, from Louisiana State University. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Professionals.

    Missy serves her community through participation in a variety of civic and philanthropic organizations. She is a current board member for the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act for New Orleans, YouthForce NOLA, and for Communities in Schools. She is Co-lead for the Healthcare Advisory Workforce Council for the City of New Orleans. Additionally, she volunteers weekly to help feed the hungry and homeless through St. Mark’s United Methodist Church on North Rampart.  

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    Master of Ceremonies

    Kyndra Joi - Host of On the Move! on WBOK and Executive Director at I am My Sister

    Kyndra Joi is the host of the newest show on WBOK, On the Move! She serves as the Executive Director of the non-profit I Am My Sister, is a Licensed Master Social Worker, Cultural and Holistic Family Health Consultant, Certified Belief Therapist, Certified Herbalist, Recording Artist, and Emcee. Kyndra has earned a Master of Social Work degree from Illinois State University and has over 16 years of experience in the community servicing children and families.

    Kyndra has used her experiences in clinical and community settings to develop curriculums and seminars on holistic mental and spiritual health. In addition to facilitating wellness workshops, she also consults with for- and non-profit organizations to assist in meeting the need for development and growth in the community while being a mentor and learning as a mentee daily.

    Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Kyndra is affectionately known as “Gullah Gal” in the community and actively educates and creates awareness of the Gullah culture through her interactive workshops of language, dance, and song.

    In addition, when not imparting light with the community, she and her band, Soul Theory are bringing a clap to your hand a groove to your feet with their sultry mixture of Funk and Soul. Kyndra and this dynamic group have performed with musical greats such as Kermitt Ruffins, Davell Crawford, Charmaine Neville, and Dr. Michael White just to name a few. Kyndra serves as a vocal instructor for a Girl Jazz Camp in New London, CT and is an avid fan of the Golden Girls!

    Click here to learn more about Kyndra.

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