Executive Network

Jesse Adams

Former Vice Chairman, Verifone Holdings, Inc.

Mr. Adams is the Co-Founder, Chairman & Chief Operating Officer of TranZfinity, a leading enabler of mobile point-of-sale transaction solutions. Prior to founding TranZfinity, Mr. Adams served as Vice Chairman at VeriFone, Inc., the world leader in providing electronic payment terminals and solutions in the credit card payment processing industry. Earlier, Mr. Adams had been Executive Vice President of North America Sales and was responsible for the sales and marketing in all VeriFone North America business units, which consist of the financial retail, multi-lane retail, and vertical markets, and the government and healthcare sectors. Mr. Adams played a leading role in the acquisition of VeriFone by Gores Technology and with VeriFone’s turnaround, which eventually resulted in a successful public offering of VeriFone in April 2005. 


Prior to joining VeriFone in 2001, Mr. Adams held a variety of senior-level executive positions in marketing, sales and operations management in a number of computer-related hardware, software and electronic services companies including IBM, SunGard Data Systems and GEAC Computer Systems. Mr. Adams has worked and partnered with many top fortune 100 company executives primarily in the Financial, Information Technology, Services and Retail markets. 

Mr. Adams received his B.S. in applied science and engineering from the U.S Military Academy at West Point.

Harriet Michel

Former President, National Minority Supplier Development Council

Ms. Michel is the former President of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (“NMSDC”), a private non-profit organization that expands business opportunities for minority-owned companies of all sizes.

 

Before joining NMSDC in September 1988, Ms. Michel was a Resident Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Urban League, and Director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Community Youth Employment Programs/CETA.

 

Ms. Michel received her B.A. in sociology and criminology from Juniata College and her honorary Ph.D. from Baruch College.

Lisa Wardell

President & CEO, DeVry Education Group

Ms. Wardell is President and Chief Executive Officer of DeVry Education Group and has been a member of DeVry Group’s board of directors since 2008. Prior to her current position with DeVry Group, Ms. Wardell was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for The RLJ Companies, a diversified holding company with portfolio companies in the financial services, asset management, real estate, hospitality, professional sports, film production and gaming industries. As COO, Ms. Wardell was responsible for managing The RLJ Companies portfolio, including strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, business strategy, operations and finance.

Ms. Wardell was a key member of the team that led the formation of RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive, now RML, which is the largest minority automotive dealership in the U.S. with more than $1.3 billion in annual revenues. Prior to joining The RLJ Companies, Ms. Wardell worked as a Principal at Katalyst Venture Partners, a private equity firm that invested in start-up technology companies in the media and communications industries and as a Senior Consultant for Accenture.

Ms. Wardell received her B.A. from Vassar College, her J.D. from Stanford Law School and her M.B.A. in finance and entrepreneurial management from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ron McCray

Former Chief Administrative Officer, Nike Inc.

Mr. McCray is the former Chairman of the Board, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of Career Education Corporation. He also serves on the boards of directors of A.H. Belo Corp., and EveryWare Global, Inc. Mr. McCray also is trustee of Cornell University, where he chairs the committee on board governance and composition and serves on the presidential search committee, executive committee and finance committee. He serves on governing boards of Harvard Law School, SMU Dedman School of Law and Children's Medical Center-Dallas.

 

In 2011, he was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S Senate to be a member of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. Mr. McCray previously served on the board of directors of Knight Ridder, and Kimberly-Clark de Mexico, S.A. de CV. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics NBA franchise.

 

Mr. McCray previously served as the Chief Administrative Officer of Nike, Inc. Prior to joining Nike, he served as chief legal officer of Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Mr. McCray practiced corporate, securities and finance law at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Jones Day.

 

Mr. McCray received his B.A. from Cornell University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Bill Keating

CEO, Waste Acquisition Group

Mr. Keating is the owner and CEO of the Waste Acquisition Group LLC (“WAG”) and President and COO of Bowie’s Inc. Mr. Keating founded WAG in 2016 as a holding company for SaniJohn Services, Rapid Roll-Off LLC and Urban Service Corporation. WAG focuses on strategic acquisitions in the waste collection, hauling and processing industries. Bowie’s Inc, is a DC-based waste management and transportation firm focused on providing waste management services for commercial, municipal and federal customers. Mr. Keating also serves on the Board of Directors of RLJ Thompson Trucking a portfolio company of RLJ Equity Partners.

 

Prior to Bowie’s, Mr. Keating was President and COO of Urban Service Corporation, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation firm, and Vice President at AmeriChoice Healthcare where he assisted the ownership team in selling the company to UnitedHealthcare.

 

Mr. Keating received his A.B. in Government and Economics from Dartmouth College and his M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. 

Lawrence Jackson

Former CEO of Global Procurement, Walmart

Mr. Jackson has over 30 years of operations and logistics management experience with leading consumer product companies.  Most recently, Mr. Jackson was the President and Chief executive Officer of Global Procurement at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where he directed the efforts of purchasing offices in 28 countries.  Prior to this role at Wal-Mart, Mr. Jackson had served as Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, responsible for all human resources planning for the retailer's 1.5 million associates worldwide.

Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Mr. Jackson served as President and Chief Operating Officer at Dollar General Stores, Inc., where he directed the retailer's store operations, merchandising, supply chain/logistics and real estate development, resulting in significant new store openings and improved same-store results.  He has also held positions at Safeway, Inc., where he was Senior Vice President of Supply Operations and PepsiCo, Inc., where he held various positions such as Plant Manager, Director of Planning, Vice President of Operations, Vice President of On-Premises Sales, and Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations for PepsiCo Food Systems.

In 2002, Mr. Jackson was named one of Fortune magazine's 50 Most Powerful Black Executives.  He currently serves on the board of directors for Parsons Corporation, and RedPrairie Holding, Inc.

Mr. Jackson received his B.A. and M.B.A. from Harvard University.

Dale Jones

Former Vice Chairman, Heidrick & Struggles, Inc.

Mr. Jones is President and Executive Committee member of Diversified Search, one of the nation's top 10 executive search firms. Dale serves as one of the key market facing leaders in advancing the CEO Practice and Board of Directors Practice of Diversified Search, and in helping to implement a three-year strategic plan in accordance with the firm’s Executive Committee.

Formerly Mr. Jones served as Vice Chairman and Partner of the CEO and Board Practice in the Americas at Heidrick and Struggles, a global provider of senior-level executive search and leadership consulting services, where he advises boards and CEOs on human capital issues such as leadership, recruiting and succession planning. Mr. Jones originally joined Heidrick in 1999 where he served as Managing Partner of the firm’s Atlanta office until early 2007 when he was named Managing Partner of the firm's CEO and board practice in the Americas. Prior to entering executive search, he held a series of progressive roles as Executive Director of Quest Atlanta, Assistant Vice President of Charitable Giving at Bank of America (formerly C&S bank) and Director of Development at Morehouse College. 

Mr. Jones currently serves on the board of directors at Kohl's Corp. and the board of trustees at Northwestern Mutual. Additionally, he serves on the National Advisory Board of The Salvation Army and also is a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). 

Mr. Jones received his B.A. from Morehouse College in Atlanta and completed course work at the Atlanta University Graduate School of Business.

Edward Lewis

Former Chairman & Founder, Essence Communications

Mr. Lewis founded Essence Communications, Inc., the publisher of Essence magazine, in 1968 and guided the business to become one of the largest African American-owned communications companies in the U.S. Under his leadership, Essence grew to become one of the leading lifestyle magazines for African American women, with a paid circulation of one million and a readership of 7.5 million. Mr. Lewis expanded his publishing realm with the acquisition of Income Opportunities in 1992. At the time, this magazine for people starting new businesses had a circulation of 400,000. Three years later, Lewis entered into a joint venture to publish Latina, the first bilingual lifestyle magazine that exclusively addressed the interests of Hispanic women in the U.S. 

In 2000, Essence Communications, Inc. signed an agreement with Time Inc., a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., to form a joint venture known as Essence Communications Partners. Essence Communications was the majority owner of the venture. In March 2005, Time Inc. acquired the remaining portion of Essence Communications. 

Mr. Lewis served as Chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America from 1997 to 1999, becoming the first African-American to hold this position in the 75-year history of the organization. His numerous community affiliations have included The Apollo Theater Foundation Inc, the Park Conservancy, the Harvard Business School Board of Directors of the Associates, the Economic Club of New York, the Minority Business Round Table of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the Board of Jazz at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, among others. 

Mr. Lewis earned his B.A. and M.A. from the University of New Mexico.

James Lowry

Senior Advisor, The Boston Consulting Group Formerly with McKinsey & Co.

Mr. Lowry is a nationally recognized workforce and supplier diversity expert and is a Senior Advisor for The Boston Consulting Group. Previously, as a Senior Vice President and the Global Diversity Director, he led The Boston Consulting Group’s workforce diversity, ethnic marketing and minority business development consulting practice. Prior to joining BCG, Mr. Lowry operated his own firm, James H. Lowry & Associates (JHLA), which was established in 1975. In 1978, JHLA prepared the first major study on minority business enterprise development for the Department of Commerce, entitled “New Strategy for Minority Business.” In 2005, Mr. Lowry authored a new study, entitled “Realizing the New Agenda for Minority Business Development,” sponsored by the Kauffman foundation, in conjunction with the Billion Dollar Roundtable. 

Prior to founding his own firm, Mr. Lowry worked in the Public Services practice at McKinsey & Co. where in 1968 he joined as the firm’s first African American recruit. Earlier, Mr. Lowry had worked with Senator Robert Kennedy and served as Assistant to the President of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in New York City as well as a United States Peace Corps volunteer. 

Mr. Lowry is involved in the Chicago Public Library Foundation, Howard University Business School Advisory Council, Economic Club of Chicago, Commercial Club of Chicago, and the Illinois Coalition Board. He is a member of the Toyota Diversity Advisory Board and has served as an adjunct professor of at Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg School of Management. He has been a member of the Chicago Council of Foreign Relations and the Harvard Business School Visiting Committee, as well as an Associate Producer of MBR: The Minority Business Report and co-host of the Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant TV show. 

Mr. Lowry received his undergraduate degree in political science from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in public international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. He attended the Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School and was elected president of his class.