Aerica Shimizu Banks is a co-founder of BEACON: The DC Women Founders Initiative. Banks creates initiatives to improve inclusion and equity in tech, the law, and entrepreneurship. She is a champion of women entrepreneurs and an ecosystem builder.
Aerica was named a Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine and a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur. She also works in Policy at Google and served as a political appointee in the Obama Administration. She graduated from Oxford University with a MSc. in Nature, Society, and Environmental Policy, and from Seattle University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Public Affairs.
Mrs. Heckert is principal of Winston Churchill High School, the #1 rated public high school in the state of Maryland. She is known to value student leadership and actively works to cultivate a sense of school spirit. Principal Heckert was the assistant principal at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School before being appointed principal of CHS. She was previously a math teacher, Student Government Association (SGA) sponsor, head cheerleading coach and principal intern at Clarksburg High School.
Dr. Kevin Chan is the Center Director of Treehouse Eyes, the only specialty medical practice in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to myopia management for children. Dr. Chan obtained his undergraduate degree in Pharmacology at Western University in London, ON, Canada. He later graduated with distinguished dual degrees of Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) and Masters of Vision Science (M.S.) from the New England College of Optometry, Boston, MA. Dr. Chan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry; and is a guest contributor in the Review of Optometry.
Mover + Maker
Julian Mitchell is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a passion for using content to design culture. He has held editorial and supervisory producer roles at industry-leading pop culture entities including REVOLT, HuffPost, Complex, Forbes and Beats by Dre. He has also spearheaded campaigns and content for brands like American Honda Motors, Wells Fargo, Google, and Magic Johnson Enterprises. As a LinkedIn Top Voice and a frequent panelist in national and international discussions about media, Julian possesses an acute understanding of the impact content has on real-world culture.
Karen Civil is the need-to-know media mogul behind some of the most notable names in entertainment. As a global marketing maven, she has developed powerful influence in culture, and bridges the gap between powerhouse brands and musical artists. Karen has become a humanitarian for charitable causes that specifically benefit children, Haiti, and women of color. Her first book, "Be You & Live Civil: Tools for Unlocking Your Potential & Living Your Purpose," has sold over 300,000 copies and spawned a 40-city tour across the globe. Karen Civil has become synonymous with innovative thinking and positive results. She remains a driver of the culture and a force to be reckoned with.
Matt Paxton is the founder of WayForth, the nation’s largest downsizing and senior transition company. Matt is the host of Legacy List and former extreme cleaning expert on the hit television show Hoarders.
Paxton started cleaning out houses after his father and grandfather passed away in the same year. The experience allowed him to recognize the immense impact physical items have on a person’s life and he focused the last 20 years helping others solve difficult living situations caused by excess possessions.
Matt is an renowned speaker on downsizing and aging, and appears regularly on television and radio to speak on our emotional attachment to items.
As Maryland’s chief fiscal officer, Comptroller Franchot is a tireless champion for working families and small businesses, and is a stalwart advocate for fiscal policies that strengthen our state’s economy. As chief executive officer of a 1,100-person state agency, Comptroller Franchot is focused on delivering respectful, responsive, and results-oriented taxpayer service, and the Maryland Comptroller’s Office, under his leadership, is considered one of the most effective and efficient Comptroller’s Office in the nation.
Comptroller Franchot is also statutorily charged with executing other critical duties – including regulating alcohol, motor fuel, and tobacco and a seat on the Board of Public Works, which is comprised of the governor and state treasurer and is responsible for reviewing and approving billions of dollars in state contracts annually.
Sharmi Albrechtsen is CEO of SmartGurlz, a fast-growing start-up company focused on making STEM, coding and digital learning more accessible to girls. Sharmi was recently featured on a special episode of ABC’s hit TV show Shark Tank, where Sharmi battled more than 40,000 companies to face celebrity sharks including Richard Branson and Mark Cuban, and closed a deal with Daymond John. Sharmi was recently given AdWeek's Disruptor Award.