A trio of powerhouse headliners. One great event. See all three and more than a dozen other "Women Who Amaze": May 21-22, 2021.

Star Bobatoon, Esq. (’24P)


With a background in both employment law and theater, Star Bobatoon offers valuable insight into human resources and corporate communication issues and delivers it in a high-energy and engaging style. An accomplished attorney, dynamic trainer and award-winning speaker, she has facilitated more than 6,000 hours of training in 47 states covering a variety of topics. This expert trainer leaves her audiences and clients informed, inspired and equipped with the practical skills necessary to achieve higher levels of personal and professional excellence.

Bobatoon gave up practicing law and began her speaking career as an advocate for parents with children with special needs after her own child was diagnosed with a life-altering disease. She trained and shared the stage both nationally and internationally with motivational icon Les Brown and eventually managed his speaker training program. She has also shared the stage with celebrities such as Maria Shriver, Suze Orman and the former First Lady, Michelle Obama. She is the author of three books: I Hate Muscular Dystrophy: Loving a Child with an Life-Altering Disease and two volumes of STARPoints: Illuminate Your Life.

While Bobatoon works with corporate, association and individual clients on HR and legal topics, communication and presentation skills, and leadership, her passion for empowering and inspiring people to be their best selves spills over into everything she does.

Dr. Angela Reddix (’90)


A passionate mentor and advisor to the next generation of young girls and women, Angela D. Reddix is a leading advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive transformation in the world. Her own entrepreneurial drive led to the formation of ARDX, a multimillion-dollar, award-winning healthcare management and IT consulting firm with approximately 100 employees dedicated to improving the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.

Reddix is also the founder of Envision Lead Grow, a Norfolk-based nonprofit organization for aspiring girls to gain the critical skills and dedication needed to accomplish their dreams through entrepreneurship. She is the author of two books, Envision Lead Grow: Releasing the Boss Within and Business Success Secrets: Entrepreneurial Thinking That Works.

Committed to lifelong learning and achievement, Reddix is a TEDx speaker, a Forbes Business Council Member and an Associate Professor of Business and Director of Norfolk State University’s Hodge Center. Her unique ability to inspire greatness through the lessons of her own story has earned Reddix a coveted position on Old Dominion University’s Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame and numerous awards for her achievements. As a trusted community leader, she serves as a member of the CIVIC Leadership Institute, the Women Presidents’ Organization, Old Dominion University’s Experiential Learning Task Force, and Old Dominion University’s Economic Development Catalyst Task Force. She is also board member and trustee to various local organizations.

During the COVID-19 global health crisis, Reddix supported female entrepreneurs through a grant called The Reddix Rules Fund. This grant assisted small women-owned businesses that were not fortunate enough to receive benefits from the Payroll Protection Plan and denied self-employment benefits.

  • Undergraduate activities at JMU: Black Student Alliance
  • Education: B.B.A. marketing, James Madison University; M.A. organizational development, Bowie State University; Certificate of Healthcare Compliance, The George Washington University; Ph.D. business. Oklahoma State University
  • Favorite JMU event to attend now: Homecoming
  • Find her on: LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
  • Websites:,,
Reshma Shetty (’99)


Reshma Shetty burst onto the small screen in USA’s flagship series “Royal Pains” as television’s first female South Asian series lead. The show aired for a staggering 8 seasons and over 100 episodes. She has also starred opposite Dermot Mulroney and James Bell on Jason Katim’s CBS drama “Pure Genius.” Additional television and film credits include roles in “Blindspot,” “Instinct,” “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power,” “CSI Miami,” “30 Rock,” “Odd Mom Out,” “Happyish,” “High Maintenance” and “Allegiance.”

She is an accomplished vocalist and graduate of the famed opera department at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Immediately following graduation, she garnered the lead role of Priya in A.R. Rahman and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s First Broadway National tour of “Bombay Dreams.” Shetty then opened to rave reviews in her off-Broadway debut at The New Group, starring in Ayub Khan-Din's “Rafta Rafta.”

One of the first beautiful faces of Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty line, Shetty continues to work with various organizations dedicated to public service meant to raise awareness and combat prejudice and discrimination. Her favorite organizations include Lend a Hand India and New York’s New Abolitionists. Most recently she partnered with Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a grassroots Indian organization, where Shetty had the opportunity to speak at the United Nations on working to empower girls and women to prevent sex trafficking.

  • Education: B.M. opera performance, James Madison University; M.M. performance, University of Kentucky; artist diploma in opera, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
  • Find her on: Twitter
Mary Ann Alger


Mary Ann Alger contributes in many ways to the JMU community and is sometimes referred to as the university’s top volunteer. She was a co-founder of Women for Madison in 2013 and is passionate about guiding young women to be philanthropic. Using her skills in business and entrepreneurship, Alger is an advisor to the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship, where she coaches startup companies and judges business plan competitions. Additionally, she is a frequent guest speaker in classrooms and at conferences. She is actively involved with the Valley Scholars as a mentor and leader. Alger is also an active fundraiser and relationship-builder, and she enjoys attending sports and performing arts events.

Alger has been active in the local community, serving on a variety of boards and advisory councils. Her primary interests are economic development and early childhood reading, a connection Alger readily makes.

Together with her husband, JMU President Jonathan Alger, she supports JMU financially in numerous ways, most notably Valley Scholars (a program they launched), the general scholarship fund, athletics, faculty support, and the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship.

  • Education: B.A., Spanish and international business, Auburn University; M.B.A., University of Miami
  • Find her on Twitter
Dr. Heather Coltman


Heather Coltman is the Provost and Senior Vice President at James Madison University. In this position, she leads the Division of Academic Affairs and is the institution's Chief Academic Officer, directing the development and delivery of all academic programs at JMU while overseeing the division’s budget and personnel. The Division of Academic Affairs comprises JMU’s seven academic colleges that deliver more than 135 programs of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, educational specialist and doctoral levels. Related entities, including the Honors College, Research and Scholarship, the Center for Global Engagement, the Center for Civic Engagement, Professional and Continuing Education, and JMU Libraries also come under the division’s umbrella. Since arriving at JMU in 2017, Coltman has worked to increase collaboration and diversity on campus by establishing the Academic Affairs Anti-Racist/Anti-Discrimination Agenda, naming an Associate Provost for Diversity and working with faculty to promote scholarship, outreach and inclusive education for all students. Coltman also holds an academic appointment as a professor in the School of Music.

Coltman chairs the Colonial Academic Alliance (CAA) Provost’s Council and is a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and the American Council on Education. She participates with the NAFSA: Association of International Educators and in the P3 Higher Education Summit. Recent conferences have included presentations for the American Association of University Women; the Utu Conference at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi; and the JMU African, African American, and Diaspora Studies Interdisciplinary Conference. A solo and collaborative concert pianist, she has performed, recorded, taught and lectured across five continents. Coltman made her performance debut in her native country of Zambia at the age of five, and she emigrated to the United States in 1966. She was a top prize-winner in numerous international piano competitions in the United States and Europe. Her principal teachers included Lita Guerra, David Bar-Illan, Claude Frank and Nadia Boulanger, and she has critically acclaimed recordings on Wisdom Recordings, Klavier Records, Innova Recordings, Heng Hao Records and Lyra Productions.

  • Education: B.M., College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati; M.M., Mannes School of Music, The New School; D.M.A., University of Texas.
Donna Harper (’77, ’81M, ’86 Ed.S.)


Donna Harper is the Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management at JMU. She has served in various positions at the university, including Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Health and Recreation, Associate Vice President for Students Affairs and Executive Assistant to the President. She has enjoyed the various roles and responsibilities to encourage and support others at the university to find their passion. As an undergraduate she played field hockey and is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha. Harper also serves as the Secretary to the Board of Visitors and is co-coordinator of the College Student Personnel Administration graduate program. Donna enjoys working in the community and currently serves on the Rockingham Educational Foundation and The Community Foundation, serving as officers on both boards.

  • Education: B.S., business, M.S., counselor education/college student personnel administration, and Ed.S., counselor education, James Madison University
  • Find her on LinkedIn
Tassie Pippert (’11, ’13M)


A faculty member in the JMU Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management, Tassie Pippert’s areas of teaching expertise include culinary arts and menu management, food and beverage planning and analysis, leadership and wine studies. She is a member of the board of directors for VPM, a Virginia PBS conglomerate, and Blue Ridge Community College Foundation. Pippert is also a frequent speaker for activities involving Virginia wine production, sales and marketing, and she hosts and produces a PBS show, “Un-Wine’d,” featuring regional and international wine pairings and assessments. She’s a member of International Council of Hospitality, Restaurant, and Institutional Educators (ICHRIE) where she serves on the ICHRIE Membership Committee and the ICHRIE Nominating Committee and has been elected International Secretary of ICHRIE for 2021-2023.

Pippert has presented workshops at conferences focused on technology for several years and often does so for the faculty and staff of James Madison University. She has also taught beverage management in California, France and Italy. She is a certified chef and a Certified Specialist of Wine currently studying for certifications through the Wine and Spirits Educators Trust.

Dr. Hui He Sono


Hui Sono is professor of finance and international business, and the J. Gray Ferguson Eminent Professor, at James Madison University. Sono joined JMU’s College of Business in August 2008 and has taught courses in investment analysis, international financial management, advanced corporate policy, and analytical methods in finance. She has been serving as academic unit head of the Department of Finance and Business Law since 2015. Professor Sono’s research interests and projects focus on international cross-listings, empirical asset pricing and emerging markets. Her research has been published in the Journal of Banking and Finance, Financial Management, Journal of Futures Market, and other academic journals. She has won the Best Academic Publication Award in 2013 and the Best Practitioner Publication Award in the College of Business in 2014. She has also served on the Editorial Review Board for the Journal of World Business 2014-2017, and 2017-2020. Dr. Sono is also a CFA-charter holder since 2016. Beyond her academic responsibilities, Professor Sono enjoys serving as the faculty advisor for Women-In-Business Club at the College of Business.

Dr. Linda Thomas


Linda M. Thomas, served as an active-duty officer in the US Navy's Civil Engineer Corps, Construction Women for Madison Summit 2021 Speaker Form Manager for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and other projects. Immediately prior to arriving at JMU she served as the head of the Construction Engineering and Management and Interim Chair of the Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. She has published in the fields of Construction and Facilities Management, the Indoor Environment and Construction Law authored Legal Concepts for Facility Managers, Oxford, UK, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Her current role at JMU is the Director of the School of Integrated Sciences in the College of Integrated Science and Engineering. Dr. Thomas officially assumes the role of dean on June 1, 2021. Dr. Thomas lives with her husband, Michael in Harrisonburg and visits her daughter in Atlanta when she can.


At this year's signature summit—held completely online—we bring you more than a dozen "Women Who Amaze."

Mia Brabham (’16)


An author, writer, media host and conversation lover, Mia Brabham released her debut book, Note to Self, in June 2020. Her writing has been published widely in major outlets as well as literary publications. Before becoming a freelance writer and host of Bigger Bolder Baking's Knead to Know, Brabham held production and marketing positions at NBCUniversal, E! News, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, 60 Second Docs, and Smithsonian. She provided entertainment news coverage for awards shows such as the GRAMMYs and Golden Globes, and she has edited and produced content for sports organizations including the NBA, WNBA and NHL. The multimedia storyteller has more than 18,000 followers and two million video views on her YouTube channel, and her ultimate goal is to leave a meaningful and influential impact on society and in her immediate community by sharing stories that make people think harder and think differently about themselves and the world around them.

Undergraduate activities at JMU: Student Government Association, Campus Ministries, academic clubs, performing arts, alternative breaks, orientation/residence life, University Program Board, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Spring 2016 Commencement student speaker

Dr. Liza Briggs (’90)


A social scientist at the Headquarters Marine Corps Intelligence Department, Liza E. A. Briggs also teaches African studies at the National Geospatial Agency. Her research, training and field experiences in international countries span 25 years. She has experience conducting research and supporting field-based military engagements under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Defense; has lived and worked in Gabon, Senegal and Germany; and has substantive country-based field experience in more than 25 countries. Briggs describes herself as a traveler, sometime artist, doll lover, introverted loner and low-key adventurer. Her life goals are to seize the moment and maintain a space where peace prevails.

  • Undergraduate activities at JMU: Student Government Association, Greek life, academic clubs
  • Education: B.S. psychology, James Madison University; M.A. education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Ph.D. international policy studies, University of Maryland at College Park
  • Find her on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram
Col. Laurie Buckhout (’84)


A retired U.S. Army colonel and decorated combat commander, Laurie Moe Buckhout founded Corvus Consulting, a strategic consulting and specialty services group specializing in electronic warfare, cyber and spectrum consulting. She grew the firm to more than $43M in value in less than seven years and then, in 2019, sold her company to Castellum, Inc., an American corporation. She has long been a thought leader in her field, having led the development and validation of virtually all of the Army’s modern electronic warfare program requirements, and today she often speaks at defense and industry gatherings to address the asymmetric threat of spectrum warfare and all-domain operations around the world.

Buckhout is also a past president of the Association of Old Crows, the International Electronic Warfare Association, and she served as a Special Government Employee on National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee. Her career highlights include nearly a decade of service in Germany and the Middle East, including a year as a battalion commander leading over 800 soldiers in 2003-2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 32d Signal Battalion in Iraq. Her military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), and several awards of Joint and Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, as well as other various service awards. She also wears permanent orders of the Meritorious Unit Citation, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Meritorious Unit Award, as well as the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Joint Staff, White House and Army Staff badges.

A frequent interviewee on the subjects of cyber and electronic warfare, her comments have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Army Times, Inside Defense, Jane’s Defence Weekly, and National Geographic. She also shares her expertise by writing for trade and technical periodicals, and she sits on the Journal of Electronic Defense Editorial Advisory Board.

  • Undergraduate activities at JMU: Greek life, ROTC
  • Education: B.S. art and English, James Madison University; M.M.A.S. military strategy, Army Command and General Staff College; M.S. information management, Webster University
  • Find her on: LinkedIn
  • Website:
Jessica Killeen, JD (’07)


Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Jessica Killeen spent three years as a contractor working in the Voting Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice before receiving her law degree. She then joined Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV), first as a navigator assisting individuals applying for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and later served as a staff attorney, where she represented low-income, elderly and disabled clients in civil litigation matters. After her tenure at LSNV, Killeen worked as a litigator in private practice in Alexandria. In September 2017, she joined the Virginia Democratic Coordinated Campaign as the Deputy Director of Voter Protection and was appointed as Deputy Counsel to the Honorable Ralph S. Northam in January of 2018. In August 2020, Killeen joined the Virginia Democratic Coordinated Campaign as the Voter Protection Director. She returned to the Governor’s Office as Deputy Counsel in December 2020.

  • Undergraduate activities at JMU: Marching Royal Dukes, academic clubs, service clubs, study abroad, 2007 Woman of Distinction
  • Education: B.A. (cum laude) political science, Spanish, James Madison University; J.D., University of Maryland, Frances King Carey School of Law
  • Favorite JMU event to attend now: guest speaking at political science classes
  • Find her on: LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter
  • Website: Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam: Administration
Hope Lawrence (’94)


Roles and accomplishments: stockbroker, Chartered Financial Analyst, trainer of financial advisors, won various awards while at Standard & Poor's in NYC; product manager; founder of granola company, Hudson Henry Baking Co.

  • Undergraduate activities at JMU: Greek life
  • Education: B.B.A. in finance from James Madison University
  • Favorite JMU event to attend now: Homecoming
  • Find her on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
  • Website:
Kate Meade


A doctoral intern at the JMU Counseling Center, Kate Meade provides individual counseling, consultation and crisis services to the JMU community. She specializes in working with survivors of sexual violence. Her clinical background includes varied populations in community mental health, college counseling centers and inpatient psychiatric facilities. Meade is a mentor to several students in doctoral and master’s level counseling programs, and she is a firm believer in supporting an effective and sustainable mental health field.

  • Education: B.S., psychology, University of Pittsburgh; M.A., psychology, Chatham University; Psy.D. (expected August 2021), counseling psychology, Chatham University.
Maureen Metcalf (’84)


Founder and CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, Maureen Metcalf is an expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends. Her company boasts a 20-year track record of delivering value to high-performing leaders in organizations ranging from local Ohio small businesses to Fortune 15 organizations to the U.S. Armed Forces. Her award-winning series of books on aligning company-wide strategy, systems and culture with innovative leadership techniques includes The Innovative Leader’s Guide to Transforming Organizations, winner of a 2014 International Book Award. A regularly featured author for, Metcalf is also the host of Voice America international radio show, which focuses on innovative leadership to co-create a thriving future. She was named Business First BizTech Executive of the Year 2019, ComSpark Power Player 2018, 2019 and 2020 and Ten Influential Business Leaders to Watch 2020. Metcalf is a fellow with the International Leadership Association and serves on the advisory board at the School of Strategic Leadership at James Madison University.

  • Undergraduate activities at JMU: Greek life, academic clubs, Honors College, student employment
  • Education: B.A. economics, James Madison University; M.B.A. finance, Virginia Polytechnic Institute; Bastyr, Leadership Institute Of Seattle; Certification in Generating Transformative Change in Human Systems Competent Boards, ESG Board Certification
  • Find her on: LinkedIn, Twitter
  • Website:
Leasa Neaves (’92)


The senior director of Global Enablement and Activation with Dell Synergy Team at VMware, Leasa Neaves is an accomplished professional who has held a variety of roles in sales and marketing across multiple business divisions spanning a 23+ year career at the Dell Technologies family of companies. She has extensive experience in leadership, strategy, field and vertical marketing, marketing communications, partner management, training and development, direct sales and sales leadership. She has held senior-level leadership roles in sales and marketing, including serving as chief of staff to both sales and marketing executive leadership teams.

Neaves also has a passion for employee growth and development and community involvement. At Dell, she led numerous professional development and women in technology programs and served as the North America Regional Lead for Dell’s Women in Action employee resource group. She has continued her work supporting women in technology by launching a new program, Connection Points, designed to drive awareness and education in support of VMware’s goals around diversity, equity and inclusion. Neaves serves on the Women for Madison Executive Advisory Council for James Madison University, as a Friend of the Foundation for the RRISD Partners in Education Foundation and as a volunteer for the Round Rock High School Dragonettes and Young Men’s Service League of Round Rock.

  • Undergraduate activities at JMU: academic clubs, business fraternity (Pi Sigma Epsilon), Business Honor Society (Beta Gamma Sigma)
  • Education: B.B.A. hospitality/tourism management, James Madison University; M.B.A. executive MBA program, Texas A&M University
  • Favorite JMU event to attend now: See the Dukes play football at the FCS Championship games in Frisco, Texas
  • Find her on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Mojan Nourbakhsh (’14)


Immediately after graduating early from JMU, Nourbakhsh moved to Los Angeles and jump-started her career in the entertainment industry. Behind the camera, she worked for major networks and coordinated A-list talent for various red carpets and events such as the Oscars. In front of the camera, she starred in films and most recently received a best actress nomination from NBCUniversal. Nourbakhsh is also incredibly entrepreneurial and has built business assets that allowed her to retire at age 26. Since then, she has been a featured speaker on financial independence and has mentored and influenced hundreds of individuals. Across various platforms, her mission is to empower women to take leadership positions while creating their own path and owning their story.

  • Undergraduate activities at JMU: Greek life (Kappa Alpha Theta), study abroad (Urbino and L.A.), orientation/residence life (FRoG)
  • Education: B.A. in media arts and design from James Madison University
  • Favorite JMU event to attend now: SSLS board meetings and Leadership Conferences (speaker)
  • Find her on: LinkedIn, Instagram
  • Website:
Dr. Kimberly Robertello (’98)


Throughout her career in academia and healthcare administration, Kimberly Robertello has focused on helping people achieve positive behavior change while overcoming personal and environmental obstacles. She has worked in the university setting addressing alcohol, drug and tobacco addiction prevention. Currently serving medical staff members at Valley Children’s Healthcare, a large nonprofit healthcare system in central California, she now addresses all aspects of personal health with physicians and their colleagues to help them manage stress and improve patient care. Robertello is also a published author and contributes articles to peer-reviewed journals relevant to her field. She has presented at several state, regional and national conferences, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine, National Athletic Trainers' Association Annual meeting, and the American Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Annual meeting, among others. In 2008 she was the recipient of the Dr. G. Arthur Broten Young Scholars Award by the Western Society for Kinesiology and Wellness.

  • Undergraduate activities: Athletics, Campus Ministries
  • Education: B.S. health sciences, James Madison University; M.Ed. sport sciences, University of Idaho; Ed.D health and wellness, University of Idaho
  • Favorite JMU event to attend now: homecoming
  • Find her on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

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