Chris Downie

Chris Downie

Founder & CEO, Sparkpeople, Inc.

Chris is the founder and CEO of SparkPeople.com, America's largest online diet and healthy living community, with more than 15 million registered members.

Chris started his career with consumer products giant Procter & Gamble. He then co-founded an online auction site named Up4Sale with a friend that grew into eBay’s largest competitor. eBay acquired Up4Sale in 1998 for approximately $100 million.

He started SparkPeople in 2001 after spending three years with eBay – with the mission to SPARK millions of PEOPLE to reach their goals.

Chris's first book, The Spark, was published by Hay House in 2010 and became a New York Times Best Seller.

Chris earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Cincinnati.


Carlton Jenkins

Carlton Jenkins

Partner, The Yucaipa Companies

Carlton is a founding partner in the Yucaipa Corporate Initiatives Growth Funds, a partnership between The Yucaipa Companies and Magic Johnson Enterprises with more than $500 million of investable capital focused on high-growth investments within emerging markets and MWBE business sectors. This fund series is wholly managed by The Yucaipa Companies, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based, private equity and merchant banking firm specializing in acquiring and operating companies in the retail, distribution, logistics and food and manufacturing areas.

The firm has controlling or significant equity stakes in companies including Kroger, Kmart, The Fleming Co., Golden State Foods, Simon Marketing and Alliance Entertainment, Whole Foods, Pathmark Supermarkets, Americold Logistics and Barnes and Noble.

Carlton was also a founder and principal of Founders National Bank of Los Angeles, the only African-American-owned commercial bank in the state of California. In 1999, Carlton negotiated the sale of a controlling interest in Founders to an investment group including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, music mogul Jheryl Busby and Janet Jackson.

He has a bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth College and is a graduate of the Los Angeles Business Council Foundation's Leadership Los Angeles Program and The Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles Executive Management Program. He's also a graduate of the Minority Business Executive Program at The Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College.


John Oswalt

John Oswalt

Founder & President, Global Workforce Advisors, LLC

John, founder and president of Global Workforce Advisors LLC, serves as senior advisor on Global Employment Policy to the Association and to member companies. John provides guidance and training to effectively manage global employee and labor relations, address stakeholder expectations to respect international labor standards and guide the Global Labor Relations Certification program.

Retired from Procter & Gamble after 33 years, John has considerable experience in domestic and global HR matters as well as supply-chain operations. He was plant manager of three U.S. plants and Product Supply Director for Paper and Baby Care products across all of Asia while based in Japan.

John holds a bachelor’s in chemical engineeringfrom the University of California, Davis. He is on the faculty for the International HRM Academy, sponsored by the Cornell ILR School and the London University Kings College.


Rod Robinson

Rod Robinson

Founder, President & CEO, ConnXus, Inc.

Rod Robinson is the founder and CEO of ConnXus (www.connXus.com), a next-generation global procurement platform that provides Fortune 500 companies with a fully-integrated supplier diversity technology solution and marketplace. His expertise in procurement comes from nearly 20 years of experience as a chief procurement officer for a major telecommunications company and as a management consultant with firms such as AT Kearney, Accenture and Diamond Advisory Services where he was a procurement subject matter expert.

He also worked for Price Waterhouse and Deloitte & Touche, where he earned his CPA credentials. Rod holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology and earned his MBA at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Dun & Bradstreet fellowship recipient. In 2012, Rod was recognized by Ernst & Young as an Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.


Mike Venerable

Mike Venerable

Managing Director, CincyTech

Mike is managing director of digital, software and health tech at CincyTech and a member of the CincyTech investment committee. Venerable has more than 20 years of experience as a software industry entrepreneur and executive.

He was co-founder and CEO of Talus, a leading data warehouse consultancy, from 1993-1998 before Sagent Technology acquired the company. Mike led the company's services organization through its successful IPO in 1999. He is experienced in raising angel and venture capital, software business design and operation, software product management, business valuation, financial analysis and intellectual property.