Women in tech will be featured prominently at Propelify next week

Price: ‘We welcome more than 35 incredible female speakers — and not because they are female, but because they are incredible’

TechUnited New Jersey CEO Aaron Price is proud his group has been able to pivot the Propelify Innovation Festival into a weeklong virtual event, which begins Monday.

Lasting five shorter days instead of one long one, the event promises to have a little something for everyone interested in tech. (Register here.) More importantly, Propelify promises to have a lot of female presenters. TechUnited NJ said there will be more than 35 female speakers over the course of the week.

Price has long pushed for more diversity in tech. For him, it’s just overdue recognition of their impact on the sector.

“At Propelify, we welcome more than 35 incredible female speakers — and not because they are female, but because they are incredible,” Price told ROI-NJ.

“Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that innovators of all races and genders have an equal opportunity to excel. In that regard, I’m proud of TechUnited NJ’s Women in Tech forums, our equity-focused CleanTech Impact Challenge with PSEG, our diversity-focused programs with Hackensack Meridian Health, our new mentorship program, just to name a few.”

Here are just a few of the big-name female presenters:

Lisa Ascolese, CEO, Inventing A-to-Z

Ascolese, famously known as “the Inventress,” is a true mentor, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, inventor and independent product agent. For more than 25 years, the Inventress has successfully invented, marketed and launched products on QVC, HSN, EVINE Live and ShopNBC, and continues to bring products to national department stores daily.

Inventing A-to-Z is a product development company used to assist others who have the desire to create and develop their own product(s) from concept to fruition. She is an advocate for education and teaches inventing courses geared toward young aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the East Coast. It is also worth noting that she runs a New Jersey-based nonprofit called the Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs, where bridging the gap between ambition and success is enforced.

Jessica Gonzalez, founder and CEO, InCharged

Gonzalez has been a fixture on the entrepreneurship scene in New Jersey for nearly a decade — since her first company, InCharged, turned the need for phone charging into a marketing opportunity for major brands.

Her latest venture, VendX — what she calls “experiential vending machines”  — experienced growth until COVID-19 hit. She quickly pivoted and is using the technology to help major brands shift retail to be more hands-free.

This entrepreneurial spirit caught the eye of Gov. Phil Murphy, who made Gonzalez a member of his prestigious Restart and Recovery Commission this April.

Kathleen Griffith, founder and CEO, Build Like a Woman and Grayce & Co.

Grayce & Co. is a marketing and media consultancy for leading Fortune 100 brands and media companies, to help them reach and engage women. It partners with NIKE, Verizon, Greylock Partners, VICE Media, Google and NBC Sports, to name a few.

Build Like a Woman is a global platform to help women build the business they strive for. It has an interview series that highlights the work of exceptional female builders to inspire women who are striving to create successful careers, businesses and lives. Guests have included Eva Longoria, Jessica Alba, Bobbi Brown and Arianna Huffington.

Lindsay Kaplan, co-founder, Chief

Kaplan is the co-founder of Chief, a private network dedicated to connecting and supporting women in executive leadership. She is an accomplished and award-winning brand creative recently named New York Times DealBook Groundbreaker, PR Week’s 40 Under 40 and Business Insider Most Innovative CMOs in the World. Most recently, Kaplan was VP communications and brand at Casper. She holds a B.A. in English literature and creative writing from Brandeis University.

Madison Merritt, executive VP, development, alternative programming at Entertainment One

Merritt oversees the creation, development and sales of nonscripted series and content, leading the production company’s development team in business growth.

Before joining eOne, Merritt was the founder of Mad Ave Entertainment, a company she created to develop television, branded entertainment and digital content. With Mad Ave Entertainment, Merritt sold and developed shows with TLC, Up, VH1 and HGTV.

Tammy Murphy, first lady of New Jersey

Tammy Murphy and her husband, Gov. Phil Murphy, founded a think tank to explore ways to help grow the middle class and jumpstart New Jersey’s economy.

Tammy Murphy’s policy initiatives focus on infant and maternal health, climate change education, and fostering women-owned businesses throughout New Jersey. She has worked to create family festivals across the state to increase access to resources for mothers, children and families; worked with the New Jersey Department of Education to incorporate climate change throughout the K-12 state education guidelines to better prepare our students for the future economy; and partnered with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to increase angel investing in women-led businesses.

Debra Sandler, founder of Mavis Foods

Sandler is a visionary global C-level executive who helped build, and lead, ground-breaking multimillion-dollar platforms in nontraditional channels, mega brands, developed award-winning campaigns and worked on multibillion-dollar segments as a management team member. PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson and Mars are a few of the corporations where she’s held senior executive roles.

Sandler is a member of the board of directors at the Gannett Co., Dollar General and Pharmavite LLC; is a trustee of Hofstra University (her alma mater) and is a member of the Executive Leadership Council. She has also won many awards for achievement, including Fast Company Top 100 Most Creative People in Business (No. 23), Black Enterprise Most Influential Women in Business and Savoy Network’s Most Influential Black Corporate Directors. Her latest venture is Bazodee, where she is titled, “Sauce Boss.”

Tamara Steffens, managing director, M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund

Steffens leads investing and venture capital partnerships for M12 in North America. She is an experienced operator and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in Silicon Valley at both startups and large tech companies. Her last startup was Acompli, a mobile productivity app, where she led sales and business development. Microsoft acquired Acompli (now Outlook Mobile) in 2014, after which Steffens went on to lead business development for the broader Office 365 organization.

Prior to Acompli, Steffens successfully helped lead several startups to either IPO or acquisition, including Software.com, Boingo, Fusion One and Path. She began her tech career at Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics, and has deep industry expertise across financial services, telecom, education and mobile. As a serial entrepreneur, she understands fundraising from the perspective of the entrepreneur and is a valuable go-to-market adviser.

Cathleen Trigg-Jones, founder and CEO, iWomanTV

iWomanTV is an over-the-top streaming network launching in fall 2020 — “By Women, About Women, For Everyone!”

Trigg-Jones is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, executive producer, actress, host, marketing & media strategist and media coach, with 20-plus years of experience and achievement in all aspects of television, film, marketing, advertising, digital media & virtual event production.