Alumnae Panelists

Kent Place graduates become leaders in all aspects of their lives. We are pleased to welcome many of our alumnae back to campus to share their insights and advice with students and fellow alumnae. The following alumnae served as panelists at this year's and last year's Kent Place Women events.

2018 Kent Place Women in Leadership

List of 4 items.

  • Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur ’92: Director, African Leaders Malaria Alliance

    Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur is the founding director of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, a group of 49 African presidents and prime ministers, working to accelerate progress on women and children's health.  ALMA was hosted initially by the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Malaria.

    Prior to her work with ALMA, Saleemah ran corporate volunteerism for the largest nonprofit in the South East. In addition to hundreds of corporate volunteerism projects, she managed the largest service day in the nation with 17,000 people in 200 service projects on one day. For more than 15 years, Saleemah has developed multi-million dollar partnerships to advance global development, interfaith action, and dialogue and corporate social responsibility across the United States and around the world.  

    In addition, Saleemah has written on Muslim Women in the West and is the editor of Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak (Beacon Press 2005). She advises several nonprofits advancing nonpartisan voter education and engagement. Saleemah is a graduate of Columbia University and was the recipient of the Kent Place School Young Alumna Award in 2007 and the United for Humanity Award.  
  • Stephanie Chea Matias ’01: Manager, Quality Engineering, MTF Biologics

    Stephanie Chea Matias, Kent Place Class of 2001, has been in the medical device/bioengineering industry since 2007. Stephanie obtained her bachelor’s of science degree in 2007 with a major in biomedical engineering and minor in applied mathematics at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She continued at the university and completed her master’s of science degree in biomedical engineering in 2011.

    Upon graduating in 2007, Stephanie obtained a quality engineer position at ConvaTec, LLC in Skillman, NJ. Primarily, she worked in new product development and was responsible for compliance activities relating to CAPAs, field complaints, and health hazard evaluations.
    From 2009 until 2012, Stephanie worked as a quality assurance engineer at Biomet, Inc in Parsippany, NJ. She was later promoted to regulatory compliance supervisor. In this role, she was responsible for the complaint handling the process, coordination of health hazard evaluation and field market action activities.
    After welcoming her twins into the world, Stephanie accepted a position as a quality engineer at MTF Biologics in Edison, NJ in 2012. In this role, she was mainly responsible for process launches, validations, and sterilization. Stephanie subsequently accepted roles at MTF as a senior quality engineer (2014) and staff quality engineer (2015).

    Currently, as of January 2017, Stephanie is the manager of the Quality Engineering Department. Stephanie’s responsibilities in this role include maintaining and ensuring that MTF’s quality engineering, risk management, and validation programs are in compliance  with applicable government regulations and industry standards including, but not limited to: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the standards of the American Association of Tissue Banks, ISO 13485, TGA (Australia) and Canada Health. As a co-champion, she is also responsible for the leadership and strategic direction of the Supplier Quality Management Team. Stephanie also leads and manages the receipt of major Federal Regulatory Inspections at all MTF Sites including, but not limited to FDA (USA), TGA (Australia), MFDS (Korea) and BSI (Notified Body for European CE mark, ISO 13485). Stephanie is a recognized expert in her field and was invited to speak at the annual FDA conference on the Changing Paradigm for HCT/P Regulation.
  • Nicole Schifano McGrath ’98: Assistant Prosecutor, Somerset County Prosecutor's Office

    Nicole has been an assistant prosecutor with the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office for the past eleven years. As an assistant prosecutor, she represents the State of New Jersey in indictable criminal cases originating in Somerset County. She has appeared on jury trials for a variety of crimes, including aggravated assault, eluding, theft, shoplifting, burglary, and drug offenses. At any given time, she is assigned approximately 100 criminal files that include a variety of crimes, ranging from attempted murder, robbery, theft, identity crimes, computer crimes and drug-related offenses. (In New Jersey, the County Prosecutor's Office is responsible for handling all "Indictable Crimes" that arise within the given county. An "Indictable Crime" includes all 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Degree Offenses. Disorderly Persons, Petty Disorderly Persons, and Motor Vehicle Offenses are handled at the municipal level).

    Nicole is presently assigned to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Computer Crimes Unit, where she is responsible for obtaining search warrants, communications data warrants and grand jury subpoenas for cases involving computer identity theft, cyber harassment, and child pornography. She is also the legal advisor to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Animal Cruelty Task Force that handles all animal cruelty cases for the county. Lastly, she is the legal advisor to the Insurance Fraud Task Force.

    Prior to handling adult criminal cases for her office, Nicole was involved in juvenile prosecutions, domestic violence contempt court and taught at the Somerset County Police Academy. She also served as the assistant prosecutor for the County in Drug Court — an intensive five-year probationary program that drug-dependent individuals that commit crimes because of their addiction to drugs, and who clinically qualify, can enter into to try to overcome their addiction. Those qualifying defendants that are successful in completing the program can move to have their record expunged of criminal convictions at the conclusion of their probationary sentence.

    Nicole graduated from Kent Place in 1998 and went on to study at James Madison University, with a major in political science and minor in criminal justice in 2002. In 2005, she graduated cum laude from Seton Hall University School of Law. In 2006, she was a clerk for the Honorable Lawrence Smith, J.S.C. (since retired) in the Bergen County Superior Court, and immediately thereafter, she became employed at the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

    Nicole is also a former member of the KPS Alumnae Association Board (2010-11, 2011-12), 2011 Alumnae Mentoring Program co-chair, 2011 panelist and 2012 moderator for Young Alumnae Career Planning & Networking Event.
  • Leslie Bauknight Nixon ’98: Senior Director Community Affairs, Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium

    A native of New Jersey and a graduate of Kent Place School in 1998, Leslie Bauknight Nixon attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned a dual degree in journalism and mass communication, with a concentration in public relations and economics in 2002. Following graduation, and determined to start a career in sports, Leslie immediately enrolled at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida. In 2005, she graduated cum laude with her juris doctorate and masters in Sports Administration.
    After passing the Florida Bar exam, Leslie practiced law at the St. Thomas University Human Rights Institute, providing free legal services to lower-income residents in Miami-Dade County. In 2006, Leslie started as the community outreach/communications coordinator but quickly moved into the role of director of administration for Super Bowl XLI. She stayed with the Super Bowl Host Committee and served as the director of volunteer services for Super Bowl XLIV and Pro Bowl 2010.
    After the conclusion of Super Bowl in 2010, Leslie brought her expertise in volunteering to the Miami Dolphins and started the Miami Dolphins Special Teams, powered by the AARP Foundation volunteer program - the first of its kind in the NFL. On a yearly basis, the volunteer program coordinates more than 3,500 volunteers who complete more than 50,000 hours of community service to the South Florida Community.
    In 2015, Leslie completed her doctorate of education in sports management at the United States Sports Academy. She has served as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University and Barry University.
    Currently, she serves as the senior director community affairs overseeing all charitable giving programs and community relations platforms for the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium.

2017 Kent Place Women in Entrepreneurship

List of 5 items.

  • Nadia James ’07: Founder and President, RevivAll and Griot Digital

    Since leaving her first and only corporate job at the age of 23, Nadia James ’07 has been on an entrepreneurial journey to marry her business aptitude with her personal passion for social change. It’s that drive that led her to launch RevivAll, a mobile app that brings the power of social media to health care, allowing people to find patients and caregivers with similar health experiences, join forums and learn from medical, mental health and wellness experts.

    Before this venture, Nadia founded a digital marketing consultancy, Griot Digital, which she continues to manage. Prior to taking an entrepreneurial path, Nadia worked with LinkedIn’s London Marketing Solutions team, devising social media campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, including Google, Samsung, IBM, Lloyds TSB and American Express. Nadia earned a BS in economics from Duke University.
  • Lauren Miller ’13: Co-Founder and Owner, UpDog Kombucha

    Lauren Miller ’13 is a senior at Wake Forest University studying economics. Lauren’s experiences throughout college have helped her foster a career as an entrepreneur; she interned for a financial non-profit and a large telecommunications company and worked as a certified whitewater raft guide in the Rocky Mountains. Lauren is looking forward to developing her venture, UpDog Kombucha, upon graduating in May 2017.

    UpDog Kombucha is a handcrafted, small batch kombucha company based in Winston-Salem, NC. UpDog strives to make high quality, local and natural kombucha that is full of healthy enzymes, probiotics and antioxidants that support strong digestive and immune health. The company’s mission is to spread the love and knowledge of the ancient super tea through handcrafted and organic brews.
  • Amanda Taylor ’02: Founder and CEO, DanceOn and izo

    Amanda Taylor ’02 grew up dancing and majored in musical theater at Elon University. After working in dance and choreographer management, notably with Broadway producer Richard Frankel and Paradigm Talent Agency, she realized there was an opportunity to pair dance with music to help both gain popularity online. With that idea in mind, Amanda persuaded Allen DeBevoise, CEO of Machinima, the second largest video network on YouTube and mega-network for gamers; Madonna; and Guy Oseary, Madonna’s manager, to co-found and help fund her idea.

    DanceOn, which launched in 2011, takes songs and gives them to its network of more than 1,300 dance groups. DanceOn generates about 300 million monthly views and has 75 million subscribers and followers across multiple platforms. In 2016, Amanda also started izo, a music entertainment company and programming brand that reflects and creates pop culture moments through discovery and original music entertainment for today's connected generation.
  • Tara Williams-Harrington '87: Owner, Brick City Bricks 4 Kidz

    Tara Williams-Harrington ’87 obtained her degree in mathematics from Duke University and MBA from Rutgers Business School Executive MBA program. She worked in employee benefits for large companies such as Brookfield Asset Management, Hoffmann-La Roche and Prudential Healthcare before leaving to pursue her dream of instilling in children a love of education through fun and games. Tara is the owner of Brick City Bricks 4 Kidz in Newark, a program that builds on children’s STEM skills through model building using LEGO bricks. Tara has been recognized as the Greater Newark Enterprise Corp Entrepreneur of the Year, Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge Winner and Woman of the Year by National Association of Professional Women.

    Tara is also a volunteer leader with the United Way of Essex and West Hudson, serving on the Women's Leadership Council and Women in Support Steering Committee; past president of the Duke Black Alumni Tri-State Chapter; and is involved with Education Ministry at Metropolitan Baptist Church and a volunteer for INROADS and A Better Chance. She has been recognized for her community service with numerous awards, including the Girls; Live, Love, Laugh, Women Who Clap Award in STEM Education and the OMG Photography Community Game Changer Award.
  • Olivia Wolff ’12: Co-Founder and Owner, UpDog Kombucha

    Olivia Wolff ’12 graduated from Wake Forest University with a major in health and exercise science. She started UpDog Kombucha during her senior year at Wake Forest and decided to pursue her business as a full-time entrepreneurial venture upon graduation. Olivia has worked as an assistant field hockey coach for a local middle school and also worked at restaurants in New Jersey and North Carolina, where she gained valuable knowledge about the food industry. While at Wake Forest, Olivia was involved with her sorority and Spoon University. She is looking forward to moving to Charlotte, NC, where she will be expanding the UpDog brand.

    UpDog Kombucha is a handcrafted, small batch kombucha company based in Winston-Salem, NC. UpDog strives to make high quality, local and natural kombucha that is full of healthy enzymes, probiotics and antioxidants that support strong digestive and immune health. The company’s mission is to spread the love and knowledge of the ancient super tea through handcrafted and organic brews.

2016 Kent Place Women in Non-Profit

List of 5 items.

Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.