Neil Foote

Emcee, University of North Texas

Neil Foote is a seasoned journalist, educator, and esteemed leader known for his expertise in storytelling, brand building, and mentorship. With a rich background in journalism and media, including roles at prestigious outlets such as The Miami Herald, The Washington Post, and The Dallas Morning News, as well as leadership positions at the A.H. Belo Corp, he has left an indelible mark on the industry.

As a highly sought-after public relations professional, Neil has spearheaded campaigns for national brands, business leaders, celebrities, and nonprofits, pioneering digital media strategies and preparing the next generation of storytellers through his academic endeavors. His influential textbooks, including “The Principles of News” and contributions to “Race, Gender, Class and Media,” reflect his commitment to shaping the future of journalism with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Recognized with numerous awards, including induction into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame, Neil remains dedicated to community service, lending his expertise to local and national organizations. Rooted in his Brooklyn upbringing and now residing in Dallas with his wife, he continues to advocate for DEI initiatives, embodying the belief that diversity, equity, and inclusion drive meaningful returns.

Amber Briggle

Keynote Speaker, Soma Massage Therapy

Amber Briggle (she/her) has been a massage therapist since 2004 and is the founder and owner of Soma Massage Therapy, which was recently voted Best Pain Management 2023 and Best Massage Center in Denton for the last 10 consecutive years.

Amber grew her business literally with her bare hands, starting in a spare bedroom of her home to now operating a downtown business that employs 28 people. During covid, her business was ordered to shut down entirely, and nearly stayed permanently closed. Excess pressures put on the female workforce during the pandemic amplified the challenges of being a woman-owned business that employs primarily women in a women-dominated industry! Today, Soma is located in a beautifully renovated downtown building and is stronger than ever with a gross annual revenue of over $1 million.

Amber has been published in numerous trade-specific publications because of her unique business model. She is currently in the process of franchising Soma Massage Therapy, so that this successful business approach can be duplicated across the country, bringing high paying jobs and healing touch to thousands of people while transforming the massage industry as a whole.

Michelle Williams

Speaker, MassChallenge

Michelle Williams brings over 15 years of thought leadership experience to her role as a social impact and innovation strategist. Recognized as one of the “Top Innovators Reshaping Texas” by Texas Monthly magazine, Michelle is dedicated to empowering corporations and non-profit organizations to achieve their impact, philanthropic, and equity-centered goals. With a focus on sharing resources and best practices, she actively supports underrepresented rural communities across the state. Throughout her career, Michelle has collaborated with leading companies such as Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, and TD Jakes Enterprises, as well as organizations like the National Urban League and the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.

Currently serving as the Vice President of Texas Strategy for MassChallenge, Michelle plays a pivotal role in supporting startups and fostering entrepreneurship. MassChallenge, a global organization, has facilitated the growth of over 4,000 startups, raising more than $9 billion in funding over 12 years. Operating in numerous countries, including the United States, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, MassChallenge empowers local communities through entrepreneurship. Previously, as the Executive Director for The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC Network), Michelle successfully fundraised over $2.5 million and spearheaded a cross-sector initiative involving academic institutions, cities, and business service organizations to drive economic development and innovation across strategic locations.

William Scazzero

Speaker, Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant.

William Scazzero received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2007, from the University of North Texas, in Denton, where he was a member of Phi Alpha Delta, the UNT chapter of a national Pre-Law Honors Society. Scoring in the 91st percentile on the law school admission exam, William received a scholarship to Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law where he obtained his law degree in 2010.

He has been selected by Texas Monthly as a Texas Super Lawyer Rising Star for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. He received the Superlawyers 2016 Excellence in Practice Award, and the 2016 Martindale Hubble Client Distiction Award.

William has practiced civil litigation in over 20 Counties in Texas. He has tried and successfully defended multi-million dollar civil jury trials, won hundreds of thousands of dollars in summary judgments in counties all over the state, and negotiated multi-million dollar real estate, business law, probate, and oil and gas settlements. William has served as counsel for oil and gas companies, real estate investors, small and large businesses, landowners and homeowners, and cities and towns across North Texas. He is also a qualified mediator in the State of Texas, and an avid fan of local sports teams, and personal recreation.

Lucas Holl

Speaker, Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant.

Lucas Holl studied Public Policy Analysis at Pomona College in Claremont, California, and graduated cum laude from the College of Law at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Following his law school education, he dedicated nine years to a leading boutique law firm in Fort Worth, specializing in commercial real estate transactions. Lucas possesses extensive experience in drafting and negotiating real estate contracts, leases for warehouse, office, and retail, conducting survey and title due diligence, and preparing easements and other conveyances affecting real property.

Recognizing that his clients seek solutions to their problems or business needs, Lucas is dedicated to guiding each client towards an efficient and satisfactory resolution. He has represented large commercial institutions, private family-based corporations, and numerous individuals, non-profits, and small businesses. At HBWV, Lucas contributes to civil litigation, business, and municipal law groups, alongside his primary focus on real estate matters.

Lucas takes pride in practicing law in Denton and serving his hometown community. A product of Denton ISD schools and a proud Billy Ryan HS alumnus, he actively serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Denton Arts Council, coaches youth soccer, and lends support to various Denton community organizations.

Dave Weaver

Speaker, Goldenroot Gingerbeer

Dave Weaver, founder of Goldenroot Gingerbeer, has called Denton, TX home since 2015. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Dave has found Denton to be a wonderful community in which to launch a business, grow a family and stay active in the thriving music scene.

Before launching into the beverage industry in 2017, Dave gained a wide variety of experience as a world traveler, outdoorsman, Eagle Scout, jazz musician, woodworker, and even spent a year designing and creating a custom RV from the shell of a vintage school bus. This diverse background has served him well in running a business, always trying to become a better leader by emphasizing team collaboration, creativity, and empathy.

Jese Gary

Speaker, Green Eyed Ambition

Jese Gary grew up in Washington, DC, and completed her college education at Pennsylvania State University, where she earned a B.A in Business Management with a Hospitality Minor.

During her time in college, she held various positions including florist, waitress, and customer service representative. Her journey into plus-size modeling began with features in Essence Magazine and QVC. Through her work in print, runway, and editorial, she gained confidence and a deeper understanding of the business side of the industry. Jese emphasizes that modeling was approached as a job rather than a hobby.

The experiences and connections she garnered in the modeling world paved the way for her venture into entrepreneurship. Overcoming obstacles and a longing for fulfillment led her to start LuxeGiving/Green Eyed Ambition in 2011. With a newfound purpose centered around community building and creating meaningful environments, Jese established LuxeGiving/Green Eyed Ambition out of a genuine passion for making a positive impact. With over eight years of industry experience, she has provided support to management companies of all sizes, offering innovative solutions to enhance resident engagement and alleviate stress.

Holly Burrow

Speaker, eqALL Business Solutions

Holly Burrow is the founder of eqALL Business Solutions. A serial entrepreneur, today Holly focuses on growing community engagement, guiding entrepreneurs to capital and business development to open the door for new start-ups to find success. Using her experience as a founder she is committed to the growth of both entrepreneurs and their ventures.  

As a founder focused on serving founders, Holly is an innovative and creative solution provider that serves as a quality assurance layered over the work that the eqALL team does to deliver programs and entrepreneur support. Holly has advised over 1,000 small business owners and has used that experience to build an organization that serves as solution architects to empower business support organizations, economic development teams and non-profits to improve the founder experience through access to resources and connections.

eqALL supports startups and the spaces that help them grow. As a partner they build client rapport, track growth metrics and help build narrative of reportable success.   

eqALL works on the behalf of each organization to serve early-growth stage founders on an at-need basis keeping operations costs low through programs support and development.  

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