Women Accelerators’ mentoring program is a great way to cultivate professional relationships and facilitate career growth. Whether you are a mentor or a mentee, we all have something to learn from this program; mentoring is a two-way street!

The 2024 applications are now closed! Sign up on our email list for the 2025 Mentoring Program.

Since 2013, we have been extremely successful in building relationships between women and mentoring allies, measured by their ability to take the next step in their careers as a direct result of entering this program. Celebrating our 11th consecutive year, we have chosen the theme of EmpowerHER to draw upon our mission to provide mentoring resources for women and allies in the workplace. Please note that Women Accelerators does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, marital status, age, or political affiliation.

The 2024 EmpowerHER Edition of the Women Accelerators Mentoring Program will start in January 2024 and run for six months. Mentors and mentees meet monthly to share their professional experiences.

The Mentoring Program will provide resources to mentors and mentees to help them add value to their mentoring experience and fully benefit from the exchange. You will also access monthly webinars on work-life balance, communication, negotiation, leadership skills, and career advancement.

Previous Mentors from 2023:

Brenda Loan Baker

Brenda concentrates on partnering with women and minorities in normally male-dominated industries like STEM, finance, and law to help them become more confident, visible, and influential leaders. It is Brenda’s passion to assist women in building greater confidence and improving their communication and public speaking, so they can lead with strength and compassion and become a role models for women to follow. Leading them to dream bigger, achieve their goals with or without a female mentor, and blaze a path of leadership combining all of their qualities, including the feminine ones.

Brenda is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF).  She is a Certified Professional Coach trained in Core Energy Leadership™ through IPEC (The Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching) and the Results System™ through Thought/Action. She received a Bachelor of Science in Business/Marketing from the University of Massachusetts.

Szifra Birke
Szifra Birke

Szifra Birke is an executive leadership coach and financial behavior specialist. Her forward-looking work with entrepreneurs, CEOs, private practitioners, dentists, attorneys, financial professionals, and other service providers, as well as families and their financial advisors, is grounded in over 30 years of experience in behavioral health and helping people with transitions.
Szifra (Shifra) has been featured in Business Week, Investment News, Dow Jones Newswire, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Boston Globe. She is the author of “Together We Heal,” as well as the producer of “Shrink Rap,” a syndicated cable TV show that aired for twenty years.

She earned a B.A. in psychology and education from Boston University and an M.S. in professional counseling from Purdue University. Szifra grew up fully involved in her family’s retail business, including managing “Sue’s Teen Shop” while in high school, and has co-owned several other small businesses over the years.

Influenced by her parents’ Holocaust experience and inspired by their tenacity, Szifra has been personally and professionally involved with Holocaust survivors and their families since 1973 while a graduate student at Purdue. She is the co-producer of Browsing Through Birke’s, a documentary film about her parents and their quirky Lowell clothing store. In 2017, Szifra told her story on WGBH as part of Suitcase Stories, Stories from the Stage.

Szifra and her husband, Jay Livingston, have recently written and published a book named “In Tandem: Pedaling Through Midlife on a Bicycle Built for Two”. 

Kristen De Francisco

Kristen currently works as a Scientist in Analytical Development at TCR2 Therapeutics and leads a small team. Prior to entering the therapeutics space, she worked in diagnostics in Process Development at T2Biosystems and Molecular R&D at Becton Dickinson. Kristen is passionate about her work in helping patients through novel scientific advancements. She believes it is important to have strong female leadership in the industry and is looking forward to network, mentoring, and empowering women through Women Accelerators’ Mentoring Program. She currently serves as WA’s Head of Communication.

Kristen’s educational background is in biochemistry, with a bachelor’s in biochemistry from Hofstra University and a master’s in chemistry with a focus on bioorganic chemistry from Johns Hopkins University.

Connect with her on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kristen-defrancisco-10b7a082

Hayley Dennis

Hayley is an ICF-accredited coach that focuses on leadership and career coaching. She is passionate about working with professional women who desire to strengthen their communication skills, boldly lead confidently, and establish and meet their career goals.

She began her career in Corporate America at 16 and has expanded her knowledge and training tremendously by working in various industries, including technology, finance, oil & gas, and manufacturing.

Hayley has served in several leadership and management roles throughout her career in finance and technology. Her reputation for building strong relationships based on trust and honesty has made her a truly impactful leader. Hayley’s unique and relatable experiences and captivating teaching skills will empower individuals to discover and unleash their inner brilliance.

Basma H. Joma

Basma has extensive mentoring experience across different genders and cultures. She holds a PhD from Tufts University in Biomedical sciences – Immunology. With a Master’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from Brandeis University and Bachelor’s degree from KAU in microbiology, Basma has always been an advocate for those who need support.

Proud to be a Middle-Eastern woman in science, Basma has always been a proponent of peace and dialogue. She joined Brandeis University, founded by the American-Jewish community at a time when ethnic minorities, especially women, faced discrimination in higher education. This propelled her to break the first barriers in her journey and, just like RBG, her great role model, to prove that women can achieve whatever they want in any field.

Driven by empathy and passion for helping others grow, she has trained non-English speaking students through her own TA sessions and became part of a mentoring group for women in STEM speaking up against discrimination and the potentially toxic environment in this field. Basma is looking forward to being the 2022 Women Accelerators mentor and hopes to bring her experience in academia, compassion, coaching & leadership skills to the Program.

Angela Justice

Dr. Angela Justice is the Chief People Officer at TCR2 Therapeutics Inc. She brings over 20 years of experience in biotechnology, learning, and human resources leadership. Before joining, she was Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Surgery Partners, critical in leading talent management strategy and launching a multi-year rewards strategy to incentivize organic growth.

Before that, Dr. Justice worked at Biogen as the Chief Learning Officer, where she assumed a variety of responsibilities, including creating and leading a centralized learning organization supporting 14,000 people across all departments and geographies, spearheading the implementation of a learning technology system, and making learning a competitive force with measurable business impact.

Earlier at Biogen, Angela served as Senior Director of Global Medical Affairs and was an active member of the Human Resources Leadership Team. Previously, she held leadership roles at EMD Serono, the National MS Society and was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. Dr. Justice received her Ph.D. in Biopsychology from the University of Chicago.

Amy Lamarche
Amy W. LaMarche

Amy W. LaMarche is a Vice President and Branch Manager at Salem Five Bank.  For the past 20 years, she has served businesses and individuals by guiding banking, lending and managing cash flow.  Her strengths lie in her ability to listen, analyze and advise her clients.  Amy has served as the President of the Rotary Club, the President of BNI Strategic Partners and as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Beyond Benign.  She is also the treasurer for the North Andover Merchant Association. Recently, to continue her career growth, she graduated from the New England School of Financial Studies through the Mass Bankers Association.

Mark J. Lyons

Mark Lyons is the Head of Analytical Development for HilleVax, a company advancing the development of a vaccine to protect against Norovirus infection.  Mark earned a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Microbiology from Michigan State University.  Upon completing his thesis on vaccine-induced resistance to Tuberculosis, he received his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences: Immunology from Texas A&M University.

Mark then spent almost 12 years with Emergent BioSolutions, wearing many hats within that organization.  He spent time as a bench scientist, laboratory supervisor, department manager, and director, serving on the site leadership team for Emergent’s facility in Lansing, MI, where a vaccine against the disease caused by infections with Anthrax is manufactured.  Mark then spent seven years with Takeda Pharmaceuticals in their Vaccine Business Unit, managing product candidates to fight against Polio, Zika Virus, Norovirus, and Dengue Fever.  He has recently joined a start-up company, HilleVax, a spin-off from Takeda focusing on the Norovirus vaccine candidate.

Mark considers himself an Assay Development and Validation innovator and a unifying presence with his teams.  He has a proven track record in both scientific and management career tracks. He is an energetic leader who is passionate about assembling teams, developing people, learning, and building consensus to achieve company goals.

Ankit Parikh

Being an architect, an MBA from premier institutes has helped Ankit to continually blend design and business thinking in the building material Industry for over 16 years. Micro-understanding of user behaviors has helped immensely to curate differential and seamless solutions.

Ankit’s deep understanding of stakeholders’ behaviors has enabled him to create targeted initiatives enabling them to make convenient and effective decisions. These constant innovations and process improvement strategies have helped the organizations he has represented to achieve organic growth and implement scale-up strategies with profitable outcomes reflecting organizational core values and identity.

Ankit focuses on altering the Value-Cost Equation. It begins with an in-depth diagnostic to establish an accurate as-is, filtered with related business landscapes & develop strategies mirroring the Core Beliefs of an organization delivering its purpose. He strongly believes that for a continuously evolving scenario, a delicate equilibrium must be formulated between People, Processes & Technology to achieve robust growth while mitigating potential risks and maximizing value offerings.

Ankit received his bachelor’s in architecture from the I.E.D School of Architecture, India, and Executive MBA from I.I.M. Kolkata, India, followed by a leadership course from IMD, Switzerland. Ankit is currently working with a global leader in access solutions – dormakaba.  More about him on www.linkedin.com/in/ankit-parikh

Robin Rose

Robin is a customer-focused operations leader with extensive experience creating and delivering inventive business strategies and client-focused solutions that improve margins and increase customer retention. For over 20 years, she has worked with companies in the software and services industry, helping them establish processes and create efficiencies to improve business outcomes. She is passionate about optimizing the customer journey to provide a best-in-class experience, aligning customers’ expected outcomes to build adoption, create delighted brand ambassadors, and develop new business opportunities.

An engaging communicator and relationship builder Robin enjoys unifying diverse resources and cultures to build high-performing teams. She has a strong interest in empowering women in the workplace. She is a member of several boards charged with supporting women, particularly in their local communities, and increasing leadership opportunities.

Robin graduated from Trinity College with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Psychology. She is a voracious reader, a local sports fan, and loves to travel.

Riddhi Sanghvi

Riddhi is a Registered Architect with about 17 years of experience in the industry, locally and internationally. Over the years, she has held many different positions at various small to mid-size firms. Currently, she is in a senior leadership role at a firm she has been part of for the last 3.5 years.

Learn more about Riddhi and connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/riddhisanghvi/

David Selles 

Since early 2014 David Selles has worked for The Possible Project, a non-profit out-of-school-time entrepreneurship program that teaches high schoolers from underserved communities around Boston how to start and run their own businesses.

As Senior Director of STEAM and Innovation, his role blends technology, education, design, and business. David has always actively pursued various opportunities truly resonating with his values and passions – he is happy to bring his expertise in non-profit and education sectors, as well as technology and design to the Program. His areas of interest encompass influence without authority, meditation and stress reduction.

Jennifer Shire

Jennifer has extensive experience building talent acquisition and development programs for various industries and individuals.  She is currently the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Northeastern University, where she previously taught career development and advised individual students.  Before Northeastern, Jen held various HR roles as a specialist and the head of the function for companies such as Perficient, MathWorks, and Cisco Systems.

Before joining Cisco, Jennifer held leadership roles in both higher education and industry.  She was Assistant Dean for Organizational and Partner Relations at Babson Executive Education and the Director for Undergraduate Career Development at Babson College in Wellesley, MA.  Prior to Babson, Jennifer spent over 25 years in the industry as both a finance and human resource professional with such firms as Fidelity Investments, W.R. Grace, TIAA/CREF and Drexel Burnham Lambert.

In her spare time, she coaches individuals and small groups seeking to transition to a new job or career path.  Her coaching experience spans all ages and levels of experience, from students to executives specializing in women’s professional development. Jen received her B.A. in English Literature from Mount Holyoke College and an MBA in Finance from Columbia University.

Ken Tubman

Ken is a seasoned Digital Health IT professional passionate about enhancing the interface between healthcare and technology.  With extensive experience in enterprise-level software development and information architecture, Ken has a strong interest in user experience.  He specializes in developing solutions that address complex business and clinical problems with simplicity and efficiency, focusing on internal and industry standards, automation and reusable technology. Ken is an entrepreneur and serial hobbyist, emphasizing life learning and balance. Ken is the Director of Strategy for Software Medical Devices at Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

Anita Tonakarn- Nguyen 

Anita is a results-oriented, hands-on professional with national experience leveraging information dissemination and stakeholder engagement best practices to achieve results. Her areas of expertise include aging and disability policies/systems at local, state, and national levels; employment practices of people with disabilities; project and proposal management; qualitative data analysis and literature reviews.

Anita has over a decade of national technical assistance experience promoting best practices in state
aging and disability service delivery and systems. She is a national subject matter expert for grant panel reviews for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living (ACL)

She is an elected local town official serving as a member of the Select Board and the first person of color
to serve on the Select Board in the Town of Westford, Massachusetts

See our past mentor list here.

If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected]

Visit our FAQs, Code of Conduct and Mentoring Prospectus for more information.