We brought together more than two hundred visionary speakers for this summit - and the topics they spoke about were equally ambitious. The overall event was divided into central themes based on the topics we covered.

Getting Funded: How VCs and Investors Are Betting on Diverse Startup Founders

About This Session:

Why are VCs and investors betting on startups with diverse founders and how does this affect the startup landscape? This panel digs into how companies are focusing efforts to empower entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds, and how that creates a more equitable environment, and also helps build economically solvent companies. [EN1]

Frank Gruber


Travis Holoway


Marlon Nichols


Allyson Kapin


Courtney Caldwell


About the Speakers:

  • Frank Gruber, CEO, entrepreneur, new media journalist, speaker, startup advisor, and investor - Frank Gruber is a CEO, entrepreneur, new media journalist, speaker, startup advisor, and investor who co-founded Tech.co and authored Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing and Celebrating Startup Success.
  • Travis Holoway, Co-Founder and CEO, SoLo Funds - Travis Holoway is the Co-Founder and CEO of SoLo Funds, a mobile lending exchange that connects lenders and borrowers to provide more affordable access to loans under $1,000 and to disintermediate the predatory payday lending system.
  • Courtney Caldwell, Co-Founder and COO, ShearShare - Courtney has spent nearly 2 decades building winning teams in tech marketing for global enterprises, SMBs and startups—including her own beauty-tech startup, ShearShare.
  • Allyson Kapin, Founding Partner, W Fund - Allyson Kapin is the Founding Partner at W Fund, a VC firm directly investing in outstanding tech startups led by innovative women and “traditionally” underrepresented founders who are driving the future of tech. She has been named one of the “Most Influential Women in Tech” by Fast Company. And, as the founder of Women Who Tech, she launched one of the largest global programs, called the Women Startup Challenge, to disrupt a culture and economy that has made it difficult for women entrepreneurs to raise capital.
  • Marlon Nichols, Founding Managing Partner, MaC Venture Capital - Marlon Nichols is a founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital (formerly known as Cross Culture Ventures), which finds the entrepreneurs who are building the future for the rest of America. He’s a former Kauffman Fellow and Investment Director at Intel Capital, with an extensive background in technology, private equity, media and entertainment.

Main Street 2.0: Building Equitable, Inclusive and Diverse Economic Engines In Your Neighborhood

About This Session:

How do you go about making a big change in both economic equity and business growth in your own neighborhood? Learn first-hand from four partners working in downtown Mesa, Arizona. [EN2]

Pam Slim


Isha Cogborn


Debbie Nez Manuel


Augie Gastelum


About the Speakers:

  • Pam Slim, Co-Founder, The Main Street Learning Lab - Pamela Slim is an award-winning author, speaker, small business strategist and co-founder of The Main Street Learning Lab, a community-based leadership development lab that supports and strengthens the work of diverse entrepreneurs.
  • Isha Cogborn, Personal Brand Strategist/Trainer at Epiphany Institute and Host of On Purpose podcast and The Clear Talk show - With 25 years of experience in media, public relations and strategic communications, Isha Cogborn helps leaders and entrepreneurs build strategic platforms to share their expertise and thought leadership.
  • Debbie Nez Manuel, Politician, AZ Democratic National Committee - Debbie Nez Manuel is a Tséníjíkiní politician whose passion is to serve and give back to her community.
  • Augie Gastelum, Founder, Patchwork Community Inclusion

The Rural Renaissance: How Diverse Communities Get Connected (and Why It Matters)

About This Session:

Diversity isn't just a movement affecting the coasts or large cities. In this eye-opening panel hosted in partnership with the The Rural Broadband Association, you will hear about some of the most groundbreaking efforts to bring more connectivity and diversity to rural communities and why it's happening faster than you think. [HM1]

Shirley Bloomfield


Gigi Sohn


Seth Arndorfer


Catherine Nicolaou


About the Speakers:

  • Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association - Shirley Bloomfield is chief executive officer of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the premier association representing nearly 850 independent telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. Bloomfield has a strong track record of leadership in aligning strategic partnerships among rural telecom companies, their larger counterparts, other rural utilities and federal agencies, advancing digital equity and economic opportunities for rural Americans.
  • Gigi Sohn, Distinguished Fellow, Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy Benton Senior Fellow & Public Advocate - Gigi Sohn is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable and democratic communications networks. From 2013-2016, Gigi served as Counselor to Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, and from 2001-2013 was Co-Founder and CEO of Public Knowledge, a leading communications and technology policy advocacy organization serving the interests of consumers.
  • Seth Arndorfer, CEO, Dakota Carrier Network (DCN) - Seth Arndorfer is the CEO of DCN (Dakota Carrier Network), a North Dakota fiber optic network owned by 14 independent broadband service providers that serves more than 164,000 subscribers in nearly every community across the state. DCN also provides business technology solutions, including dedicated internet, private mesh networks, cybersecurity services, cloud computing, and co-location at its tier III data centers in Bismarck and Fargo.
  • Catherine Nicolaou, External Affairs and Marketing Manager for Sacred Wind Communications - Catherine Nicolaou is the External Affairs and Marketing Manager for Sacred Wind Communications, a rural telecom carrier that provides voice and internet service to rural and tribal areas in Northwest New Mexico. She is a member of the policy committees for the New Mexico Technology Council and the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce. She is a registered lobbyist for Sacred Wind and sits on the board of the Cibola Arts Council.