Connext 2019 is just one month away! Since our announcement of the event, we've received a lot of messages from members of our global community who are excited to come to campus for a day of learning, networking, and inspiration. We can’t wait to meet everyone!

The theme of this year’s conference is “Business with a Purpose,” which will explore how organizations can achieve their performance objectives while making a positive contribution to society. In light of large-scale challenges, such as inequality and environmental issues, the case for serving the greater good is more important now than ever, and research shows that companies with a strong sense of purpose are able to transform and innovate more effectively.

As part of the day’s programming, we’ll be offering several moderated panel discussions featuring Boston-area leaders from industries spanning both the public and private sectors, who will talk about their roles as purpose-driven leaders and how they drive change at their organizations.

Here’s a look at the speakers you can expect to hear from and the topics they’ll be addressing.


Launching a Purpose-Driven Business

  • Brad McNamara is CEO and co-founder of Freight Farms, a manufacturer of container farming technology that aims to bring people closer to their food source.
  • Helen Adeosun is CEO and co-founder of CareAcademy, an online platform that educates caregivers so they can better serve their clients and advance their careers.
  • Sam White is co-founder and director of Promethean Power, a company that designs and manufactures refrigeration systems for cold-storage and milk chilling applications in developing countries. In addition, he serves on the board of clean technology incubator Greentown Labs.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

  • Angela Liu is associate director of Hack.Diversity at the New England Venture Capital Association, an organization that recruits black and Latino computer science and engineering students into Boston’s fastest-growing companies.
  • Danielson Tavares serves as chief diversity officer for the City of Boston, where he works to implement the city’s diversity goals and objectives, including hiring, leadership, and career development.
  • Katie Burke is chief people officer at inbound marketing and sales software company HubSpot, where she manages the team responsible for the organization’s award-winning culture and commitment to transparency.

The Ethical Leader: Guiding Organizations in a Time of Change

  • David Chang is CEO of Gradifi, a company that helps businesses offer student loan repayment benefits to employees. He is also an entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School.
  • Jennifer Lum is co-founder and COO of Forge.AI, an analytics and artificial intelligence firm that transforms unstructured data into structured information that is readily usable by machines.
  • Karen Franczyk is the green mission and sustainable facilities coordinator of the North Atlantic region of Whole Foods Market, a grocery chain offering a wide selection of high-quality natural and organic foods.

Investing in the Future: The Business of Sustainability

  • Ashley Stanley is founder and executive director of Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a nonprofit that rescues healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded and distributes it to community organizations and resources in the Greater Boston area.
  • David Spandorfer is co-founder and CEO of Janji, a running apparel company that is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to fight the global water crisis.
  • Ricky Ashenfelter is CEO of Spoiler Alert, a technology startup that helps food manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and grocery retailers manage unsold inventory and minimize food waste.

In addition to these panels, Kate Bennett, director of marketing for MBA Admissions, and Katie Kelsall, manager of MBA Financial Aid, will engage in a discussion with current HBS students about the application process, why you might consider pursuing an MBA, and what makes the HBS experience unique.


There’s plenty more in store for Connext 2019. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date on the latest news, and check out our past coverage to discover what it was like to attend the event in previous years.

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If you’re currently registered for the conference, be on the lookout for an email in the coming weeks containing the agenda and other important details. We look forward to seeing you in April!