Ann Gaffigan has over 15 years of experience in business, non-profits, sports and technology. She started her first company shortly after graduating from the University of Nebraska in 2004 with her degree in computer science. Gazelle Inc provided affordable and reliable custom solutions in order to streamline and modernize the operations of non-profit organizations and businesses. A decade later, she became Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and part owner of Land Pros Realty, a real estate brokerage specializing in Midwest land. A few years later, Land Pros merged with National Land Realty, a nationwide land real estate company, and Gaffigan became CTO and part owner. In late 2019, she embarked on a new journey to find new career challenges. As a result, she will be starting a new role in March 2020 that will be announced soon. Gaffigan lives in Olathe with her husband Jason High, an MMA fighter and realtor, and their daughter Jaelyn. A former professional athlete, Gaffigan won the 3000m Steeplechase at the 2004 Olympic Trials, setting an American and U.S. All-Comers Record. She believes strongly in equality and in giving back to your community and is a big supporter of WIN for KC, KC Women in Tech, Women Leaders in College Sports and Girls Inc.
Mary Shannon is the founder of Connectus Worldwide, a professional business consulting firm specializing in the delivery of services to Small, Minority, Woman-owned, Veteran, and LGBTQ Business Enterprises, as well as majority organizations seeking to connect and do business with diverse businesses. She is passionate about her work and possesses decades of experience and knowledge that blends corporate strategy and business solutions with entrepreneurial spirit and personalized service.
The services she provides include pre-application for certification, coaching and development, and access to corporate and government contacts for diverse businesses to succeed and accomplish their goals and objectives. Connectus Worldwide offers Supplier Diversity Program development, and Public Participation & Engagement Consulting for corporate and public organizations wanting to become more intertwined in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Prior to starting Connectus Worldwide, Mary managed a supplier diversity program for a Multi-Billion Dollar company for several years. She developed a proactive program for supplier identification, supplier growth and development, strategic planning, and program measurement, which resulted in increased and effective utilization of diverse suppliers throughout the corporation. In her role, Mary collaborated with internal executives, business partners, and stakeholders, as well as external colleagues across the country for the betterment of her program.
Mary served two consecutive terms as co-chair of the National Minority Supplier Development Council’s (NMSDC) “The Working Group.” The group is comprised of 25 product and consumer companies such as: ADM, Cargill, Colgate-Palmolive, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, MillerCoors, Medtronic, Monsanto, Pfizer, and P&G.
Mary is on the Leadership Council for the National Small Business Association in Washington D.C. She is a graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Globe Program (Global Leadership Opportunities for Business Executives). She is a Black Achiever in Business and Industry, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater KC and the Black Achievers Society. She is honored to have a published piece on Supplier Diversity and Certification, in the 2018/2019 Thinking Bigger Business Media Entrepreneurs Guide.
Erica Brune is President of Lever1, a Kansas City-based professional employer organization (PEO) providing human resources, payroll and employee benefit solutions. Within five years of launching Lever1, Erica helped drive the company to become Missouri’s Fastest Growing Company of 2017—ranked No. 44 in the nation by Inc. Magazine and Women Presidents’ Organization recently named Erica No. 4 in The 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies 2018. With Erica’s guidance, Lever1 has secured an industry-wide reputation of excellence, operational reliability and thought leadership.
Erica Brune holds a dual role as CAO of an Inc. 500/5000 Fastest Growing Company, Blue Chair Holdings – which includes subsidiary Gragg Advertising. Honored among Kansas City Business Journal’s 2016 Women Who Mean Business, 2019 Fast 50 and the Leadership Trust, Lever1 has also been recognized as 2017’s Top 25 KC Companies by Thinking Bigger Business and recognition as 2017 and 2018 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist.
Erica currently serves as President for the Kansas City chapter of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) as well as other Boards both regionally and nationally.
Erica is also seen regularly speaking across the nation as an expert in human capital management and business growth strategies with topics such as pay equity, HR for your small business and recruiting top talent to grow your business. Erica’s expertise has been shared in renowned publications including Kansas City Business Journal, National Apartment Association and Thinking Bigger Business.
Jessica is a Motivational Speaker, the Founder and President of Giving Hope & Help Inc., “Voice of the voiceless”, survivor and advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, education and cancer support advocate, philanthropist, humanitarian, and radio/internet talk show host of PURPOSE, PASSION & POWER With Jessica Lynn on KUAW.org (Kansas City’s Global Community Radio Station). Jessica has received several awards including the 2019 – I Change Nations Community Ambassador Award. She was honored as the 1st Kansas City Mom of the Year 2019, by Magic 107.3 Radio Station. She’s also a 2019 Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. – Women of Courage Award Recipient, a 2018 Women of Distinction of Jackson County Honoree and a 2017 LIFT HER UP Honoree, based on her philanthropic work, humanitarianism and leadership with Giving Hope & Help Inc. She will accept the Nefertiti Award from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Societas Docta, Inc. March 28, 2020.
She is a 1st generation graduate from Southern University and A&M College – Baton Rouge, LA, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Marketing. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Business Management (MSM) from Baker University – Baldwin City, KS. She is the 2014 Grand Prize Winner of the Be Your Possible Essay Contest sponsored by Barclaycard MasterCard. Jessica holds over twenty years of sales and management experience including ten years of pharmaceutical and medical sales experience. She is an Independent Corporate Trainer/Facilitator; an active member of the Kansas City Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Central Exchange, Polka Dot Powerhouse – Kansas City, KS Chapter, Sister’s Circle-GKC, Southern University And A&M College Alumni Federation, an INROADS Kansas City Inc. Alumna and a faithful member of City Center Church.