Advancing all women podcast

Episode 22

Alternate CEO Paths

This week, our panelists will discuss alternate pathways to CEO, the role of sponsorship, and supporting women on their path to the c-suite.

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Luann Abrams

Luann Abrams

Founder, CEOX

Luann Abrams is the founder of CEOX, an organization with a mission to elevate women into CEO and board roles. From her time in venture capital as a partner at FoundersPad, an early-stage venture fund, she was compelled to find a solution to the inequities in leadership she saw at growing startups.

She is a founding board member of Strengthening Central Oregon Political Action Committee (SCOPAC) with the mission of recruiting and supporting under-represented individuals to run for political office. In the 2020 election, five of their six endorsed candidates were elected to office, ensuring diverse representation in the local community.

She is the inaugural member of the Women in STEAM group led by the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO), whose mission is to support and encourage women in male-dominated industries for a gender-balanced future.

Luann has a background in aerospace engineering and spent most of her 15 years in aviation working for a start-up aircraft company in Bend, OR.

When she is not working and living the Bend life with her husband and two sons, you will find her curled up with a good book and a hot cup of coffee.

Wendy Davidson

Wendy Davidson

President, Americas, Glanbia Performance Nutrition

Wendy Davidson is a global executive with over 25 years of experience in the branded CPG, retail, and foodservice industries, with a record of accomplishment in innovation, turnaround and profitable growth of mature businesses. As the President of the Americas for Glanbia Performance Nutrition, Wendy is responsible for leading the $1.2B business across North America and Latin America for leading brands in sports nutrition, healthy lifestyle and weight management including Optimum Nutrition®, BSN®, think!®, Amazing Grass®, Isopure® and Slimfast®.

Previously, Ms. Davidson spent 7 years as President of the $1B Away From Home business for the Kellogg Company leading business from small format retail to foodservice, vending, ecommerce and unique business models and strategic ventures. Prior to Kellogg, she was Vice President & General Manager for the US & Latin America for McCormick & Company and spent over 15 years as a part of the executive team at Tyson Foods, Inc. During her tenure, she held a variety of leadership roles including Senior Vice President and General Manager Prepared Foods; Group Vice President Food Service; and Senior Vice President and General Manager of the McDonald’s Global Business Unit.

A graduate of Luther College, Wendy serves as the Chair of the Board of Regents. She is a non-Executive Director on the Board of First Horizon National Corporation (NYSE: FHN), a leading regional financial services company, is a Trustee on the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Global Board and serves on the board of Consumer Brand Association. She is past board chair of Women’s Foodservice Forum, and a member of The Network of Executive Women, International Women’s Forum, The Chicago Network, Commercial Club of Chicago, Women Corporate Directors, and the Economic Club of Chicago.

A frequent keynote speaker, Ms. Davidson was named to the 2021 Women of Influence by Chicago Business Journal, the 2020 Crain’s list of Notable Women Executives over 50, the 2019 list of Most Influential Corporate Board Directors by WomenInc. Magazine, awarded the National Diversity Council’s 2017 Top 15 Business Women in Illinois and received the Luminary Award in 2016 from Girl Scouts of Chicago & NW Indiana. She was previously named to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” and “Diamond Decade”. A passionate advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion and community service, Wendy regularly volunteers her time at the Northern Illinois Feeding America Food Bank and on the Bishop’s Advisory Council for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). Davidson resides in Wheaton, IL with her husband, Thor and their two children.

Martha Donato

Martha Donato

Founder and CEO, Bonsellas Tech Inc., dba TipZyp, and Founder and President, MAD Event Management

Martha Donato is the founder and president of MAD Event Management, which she established in 2009. For more than 25 years she has produced large-scale events and conferences, including pop culture events Long Beach Comic Con, Long Beach Comic Expo, and New Jersey Comic Expo. She has also led numerous consulting projects, expos, tradeshows, and conferences. MAD produces C3: Comic Creator Conference, which is produced in Southern California and, in 2017, in Havana, Cuba. MAD also produces the UAS/Drones for Public Safety Conferences in Miami and LA and is a partner in the Side Hustles & Opportunities Con (SHO CON) in Detroit.

Donato is also the founder and CEO of Bonsellas Tech Inc., dba TipZyp, a New York-based company with a microapp technology product (SaaS) in the hospitality sector. Donato possesses a strong entrepreneurial background, with more than 25 years of experience in the live event, marketing, and consulting space.

In January of 2021, Donato co-founded and became the President of the International Women in Exhibitions Network North America Chapter.

Donato’s skills include leadership, business development, budget planning and management, event planning, marketing, business development/sales, and operational expertise. Perhaps her greatest skill is the ability to create meaningful communities. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Marist College in communications and business management.

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