Speaker Bios

John Basile, Former Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Fidelity Investments

John Basile

John Basile brings over 30 years of human resources management expertise including his most recent role as global head of diversity and inclusion at Fidelity Investments. He has proven success in creating and sustaining effective D&I strategies, creating awareness programs in support of creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and coaching business leaders on how to be more impactful. In early 2014, he was recognized by the NGLCC as “Corporate Leader of the Year” for his efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the financial services sector. In 2015, Boston Spirit Magazine named him on "Top 25 LGBT Power Players" in New England. Also, in 2017 the Elevate ERG Academy named him its "Corporate Executive of the Year." He is also a founding partner of Pride in Our Workplace.

Check out John Basile on LinkedIn.

Christine Beckman, Professor of Management & Organization
Robert H. Smith School of Business

Christine Beckman

Christine Beckman is a professor of management and organization at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. She currently serves as academic director of the Center of Social Value Creation (CSVC) and as the Smith Diversity Officer. She served as the ADVANCE Professor for 2015-16 and currently facilitates the junior faculty peer network. She is an associate editor at Administrative Science Quarterly and is a past division chair of the Organization and Management Theory division of the Academy of Management. Her research has been published in such academic journals as Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Academy of Management Journal, American Sociological Review, and Journal of Business Venturing.

Check out Christine Beckman on LinkedIn.

Taryn Bird, Senior Manager, on purpose, Kate Spade New York

Taryn Bird

Taryn Bird leads Kate Spade and Company’s on purpose initiative and oversees all aspects of the social enterprise model and implementation at on purpose supplier locations. She supported the creation of the on purpose model, and previously managed the brand’s measurement, evaluation and impact programming. Prior to joining Kate Spade and Company, she created and led the women’s economic empowerment and global corporate citizenship programs at the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and was a supply chain fellow for Indego Africa in Kigali Rwanda. She has contributed to various publications including BBC, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and The Huffington Post Impact Blog. She holds a master's degree in social enterprise from the School of International Service at American University, and bachelor's degree in economics and Spanish from Pennsylvania State University.

Check out Taryn Bird on Linkedin.

Nira S. Desai, Senior Director, Strategy & Learning, World Cocoa Foundation
Smith Alumna '03 

Nira S. DesaiNira Desai serves as the senior director, Strategy & Learning at the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), where she leads the organization’s overarching collective impact strategy on cocoa sustainability called CocoaAction. CocoaAction brings the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies together to accelerate sustainability and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers. She is also responsible WCF’s overall strategic planning and learning processes. She brings over 15 years of experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors, where she has specialized in building strategic communications and managing multi-stakeholder initiatives. Before joining WCF, she was a sustainability consultant and worked with clients such as Unilever, the Clinton Global Initiative and various non-profits and NGOs in Asia and Africa. While at Unilever, she spearheaded the start of a pre-competitive, cross-industry initiative to reduce global waste. From 2009-12, she served in President Barack Obama’s administration as a special assistant at the Department of Defense. She was responsible for government-to-government relationships, as well as strategic communications for Asia-Pacific, including public and legislative affairs. She is a University of Maryland alumna and holds an MBA from the University of Cambridge.  

Renee DeSilva, Chief Talent Officer, EAB

Renee DeSilva

Renee DeSilva serves as EAB's chief talent officer. In this capacity, she leads all of EAB's talent-related functions, including recruiting, diversity and inclusion, employee experience, and benefits. Across her more than 15 years at the firm, she has served in a number of different roles, including strategic relationship management, the operational planning of new product launches, and the execution of an innovative cross-division sales model. Across these varied assignments, her passion for building careers, enhancing engagement, and driving continuous personal and professional development has animated her work. She holds a bachelor's degree in public administration from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Check out Renee DeSilva on LinkedIn and follow EAB on Twitter: @EAB

Kristin Fallon, Marketing Communications Director, GE Power
Smith Alumna, MBA '11 

Kristin FallonKristin Fallon is Marketing Communications Director for GE Power, a $35B energy technology company, where she is responsible for brand and storytelling, event marketing, content operations, and sales enablement. For over 15 years, Kristin has helped non-profits and the private sector meaningfully engage with stakeholders and grow market share in the fields of energy, infrastructure, economic development, civil society, and the environment. Prior to GE, Kristin ran a consultancy based in Indonesia that assisted multinational clients in business development and strategic planning throughout Asia and Australia. A component of her work included supporting the Acehnese tsunami recovery effort. Kristin began her career in the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa. An entrepreneurial self-starter with a deep consulting background and 10+ years living and working outside the US, Kristin is committed to driving impact through a career that delivers innovative technologies and bold solutions. She received her MBA from the Smith School of Business in 2011.

Check out Kristin on LinkedIn and follow GE Power on Twitter.

Tara Handy, Director of Corporate Communications and Programs, The Wills Group

Tara Handy

Tara Handy serves as the director of corporate communications and programs for The Wills Group, parent company of SMO Energy, Dash In Convenience Stores, Splash In ECO Car Wash, SMO Motor Fuels, and operates Potomac Energy Holdings. She was recruited to build and lead the company's inaugural communications function. She previously served as the director of communications of global government and public affairs for McDonald's Corporation, where she developed and executed integrated communications plans focused on system education, engagement and advocacy. She is a McDonald's Presidents' Award Winner, annually awarded to the organization's top one percent of employees. She is a graduate of Hampton University where she earned a bachelor's degree in marketing.

Check out Tara Handy on LinkedIn.

Bess Langbein, Partner, Due East Partners
Smith Alumna MBA '11

Bess Langbein

For over a decade, Bess Langbein has led, built and grown organizations in the social impact sector. She specializes in business and strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, philanthropic advising, and organizational design and fundraising. A founding partner of Due East Partners LLC, she recently served as executive director of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County (CFAAC) transforming the organization from a fledgling nonprofit to an established and recognized community leader. She is also on the advisory board for the Center for Social Value Creation at the Smith School of Business. She received her executive MBA from the Smith School of Business in 2012.

Check out Bess Langbein on LinkedIn.

Austin Lee, Higher Education Consultant, EAB
Smith Alumnus '14

Austin LeeAustin Lee is a higher education consultant with EAB. As a higher education consultant, he partners with universities to change the way that hundreds of advisors, professors and staff work together. To accomplish this, he collaborates with a fantastic team of designers, developers and researchers to implement enterprise student success technologies and drive change management efforts. As a strategy consultant, facilitator and tech-enthusiast, he catalyzes understanding between teams and people to unleash human productivity, creativity and kindness. In addition, he launched startups in Silicon Valley, advised large nonprofits and philanthropists and traveled the world.

Evan Lutz, CEO and Co-Founder, Hungry Harvest
Smith Alumnus '14

Evan Lutz

Evan Lutz is a social entrepreneur from Baltimore, Maryland who is passionate about food justice, entrepreneurship, and the Baltimore Ravens. Evan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Hungry Harvest. Hungry Harvest buys "ugly" and surplus produce from farms in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. and delivers boxes of fruits and vegetables via a subscription-based model to customers in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington D. C. He has been recognized in Forbes 30 under 30 in the social entrepreneurship category, Baltimore's 40 under 40, and Montgomery County Emerging Business of the Year Award. He was also featured on ABC's Shark Tank in 2015. Evan holds a B.S. in Business from Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Check out Evan Lutz on LinkedIn and follow Hungry Harvest on Twitter: @HungryHarvest

Andy Shallal, Founder and CEO, Busboys & Poets
Current EMBA

Andy Shallal

Anas "Andy" Shallal is an artist and social entrepreneur. He is the founder of Busboys & Poets, a local restaurant chain where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted. Busboys & Poets has been at the forefront of environmental stewardship being one of the first businesses in Washington, D.C., to be 100 percent wind-powered and are at the cutting-edge of the local/sustainable food movement winning many awards and recognitions locally and nationally. He has received numerous awards including the Mayor's Arts Award, Employer of the Year from the Employment Justice Center, the Mayor's Environmental Award, Martha's Table Community Leader Award. He is currently enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Check out Andy Shallal and Busboys & Poets on Twitter @AndyShallal and @busboysandpoets.

Jennifer Tepper, Director of Development and Communications, Trees for the Future
Smith Alumna MBA '09

Jennifer TepperJennifer Tepper has worked for over 15 years with local, regional and national nonprofits on leadership and governance, team-building and facilitation, business development and fundraising, communications and management consulting. As the director of development and communications for Trees for the Future, she uses her knowledge of growing organizations to exponentially increase the revenue and the impact Trees for the Future. She holds two master’s degrees – an MBA from the Smith School of Business and an MA in Peace and Development Studies from the University of Limerick, in Limerick, Ireland. She has studied and traveled for academic, personal and field projects in Spain, England, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Taiwan, and Hungary.  Most of these projects were related to disaster preparedness and relief, studies in business and corporate social responsibility, and human rights and post-conflict civil society development.