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WPO Staff & Contacts

The WPO staff is dedicated to pursuing the vision of the organization as the ultimate affiliation for successful women entrepreneurs worldwide. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

Marsha Firestone , PhD

President and Founder

Dr. Marsha Firestone is a recognized expert in entrepreneurship and the Founder and President of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), which began in 1997 as a peer advisory organization for women who own and lead multi-million dollar businesses. She is also the Founder and President of the Women Presidents’ Educational Organization, dedicated to increasing access to business opportunities for women’s business enterprises (WBEs).

Dr. Firestone previously served as Vice President of Women Incorporated and as Vice President of Training and Counseling at the American Woman’s Economic Development Corporation (AWED).  Her career also includes positions as President of a for-profit educational institution; National Executive Director of Women’s American ORT, a volunteer organization; and a faculty member at the American Management Association Competency-Based Management Development Program, at City University of New York, and at Adelphi University.

In 1998, Dr. Firestone was the Executive Director of The Women’s Economic Summit.  She led the development of a master plan for accelerating the growth of women’s businesses, which was presented to Congress and the public in March 1999.  Dr. Firestone was appointed to her first term on the National Women's Business Council in 2003, and to her second term in 2015.

Dr. Firestone is the author of The Busy Woman’s Guide to Successful Self-Employment and has published research in business and educational journals on adult learning theory, nonverbal communication, and managerial competency.  She also serves the worldwide women’s business community as a frequent guest speaker, with recent speaking engagements at Tulane University, Women’s Leadership Network of APEC, Syracuse University, The Center for Women’s Business Research Roundtable, and Unicul International in Tokyo, Japan. She was an official U.S. representative to OECD in 2003 in Turkey and to APEC Women’s Network in Viet Nam in 2006.

Dr. Firestone has been honored with a special achievement award from Woman Inc. of Jamaica; the Applause Award for breaking down barriers for women in business from Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC); The Hall of Fame and Legacy Awards from Enterprising Women; 2004 WMBE Outreach Award from the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce; the Outstanding Alumna Award 2003 from Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University, and as one of three finalists for Entrepreneurial Supporter by Ernst and Young. She also received the 2014 Skills to Succeed Award from the Committee of 200 and the 2015 Professional Achievement Award from Tulane University.

Dr. Firestone shares her professional knowledge by serving on numerous boards and advisory councils including: the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), Enterprising Women Advisory Board, Newcomb College Institute Director’s Advisory Council and the International Women’s Forum.

Dr. Firestone earned a Master’s degree in Communication from Teacher’s College of New York and a Ph.D. in Communication from Columbia University, where Margaret Mead sat on her dissertation committee.

Camille Burns

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

As Vice President of Operations for the Women Presidents’ Educational Organization and the Women Presidents’ Organization, Camille Burns oversees all functions of the headquarters office, including financial directives, human resources, marketing, technology, and administration. She plays an active role in planning annual meetings and conferences, and represents both organizations at events around the world.

Since joining in 2000 and working under the direction of Dr. Marsha Firestone, President and Founder, as well as with the Board of Directors, Camille has helped steer the significant growth trajectory of both organizations over the years. Prior to her tenure, she worked in human resources at the law firm of Sidley & Austin.

Camille is an ardent supporter of women’s economic development and is inspired to help foster women business owners through the WPO. She is a member of the advisory council of Enterprising Women magazine, sits on the steering committee of International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC), and is on the planning committee for Go for the Greens, a business development conference for women entrepreneurs.

Camille is a graduate of New York University with a BA in sociology and a MBA from Baruch College (CUNY), Zicklin School of Business.

Susan Diamond

Vice President, Chapter Chairs and Chief Learning Officer

Susan Ujifusa Diamond is Chief Learning Officer and Vice President of the Women Presidents’ Organization. She hires, manages, trains, and develops the professional facilitators who serve as Chairs of WPO chapters throughout the world.

She is a highly experienced executive coach and career consultant with a solid reputation for helping clients in Fortune 500 companies develop "executive presence," particularly in high potentials or individual contributors and technical professionals whose next promotions require managerial finesse and leadership skills.

Susan has been retained by The Conference Board to be program director for seminars and conferences on Executive Coaching. Mrs. Diamond has had extensive experience in original creation, design, delivery, and management of career services, including for Mobil Corporation’s R & D facility. She has presented this project at the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, with proceedings published by the National Academy Press. She created content for the online Talent Alliance, a consortium of 15 major corporations.

Susan designed a unique virtual and live Career and Executive Coaching service for 120,000 investment professionals who are candidates and charter holders in the CFA Institute, which administers the premier designation in the securities industry.

Born and raised in Wyoming, Susan holds an undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and a master’s degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University.

Melissa Wahl , CAE

Vice President of Development and Chief Development Officer

Melissa Wahl, CAE, is the Vice President of Development and Chief Development Officer for the Women Presidents’ Educational Organization and the Women Presidents’ Organization. She is responsible for acquisition and managing relationships with all corporate members and sponsors for the WPEO and the WPO.

Before joining the WPO, Melissa demonstrated a strong record for organizational effectiveness, leading three national women’s organizations. She was National Director of Leadership Development & Outreach for Women’s American ORT, a national fund-raising organization. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), the largest professional business women’s organization in the country, as well as Publisher of Executive Female magazine. Before that, she was the Director of AMIT Women, a philanthropic organization that supports educational programs.

Melissa is a Certified Association Executive with expertise in nonprofit management. She is passionate about women’s success, and she has written and been quoted in many articles on women’s business issues and featured in the book Women Who Win at Work.

Melissa has been recognized for her association management expertise by the New York Society of Association Executives (NYSAE), where she served on the Board of Directors. She currently serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Board of New York Women’s Agenda (NYWA) and is Chair of ISM NY’s Supplier Diversity Expo and Meeting Committee.

Kirsten Wynn

Director of Marketing

Kirsten Wynn is Director of Marketing for the Women Presidents’ Organization, managing member recruitment and special programs. Having joined the WPO in 2008 as a communications intern, she went on to become Director of Communications. In 2012, Kirsten was named Director of Programs and International Initiatives, overseeing all of the WPO Platinum Chapters, as well as special programs, including the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies and the Women of Color Achievement Awards with 100 Black Men of America.

Prior to working at the WPO, Kirsten attended Western University in her native Canada, where she received her degree in Psychology and Sociology of Work, with a minor in Art History. She obtained her graduate degree in Public Relations at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

While her work requires regular travel, as a natural Torontonian, Kirsten can frequently be found in her home country of Canada. Prior to moving to New York, Kirsten traveled extensively as a badminton player, showcasing her skills on an international level.

 

Susan Johnson

Director of Communications

Susan Johnson is a seasoned public relations agency professional, with a strong background managing strategic business-to-consumer and business-to-business communications that build brand reputation and value and support business objectives. As Director of Communications, she helps build the world-class reputation and global leadership position of the WPO brand as the premier women’s peer-to-peer advisory organization for successful, second-stage entrepreneurs.

Prior to joining the WPO, she owned her own consulting business, developing strategic creative marketing campaigns to give brands, services, and nonprofits a distinctive personality and presence. Before that, she was Director of Marketing and Public Relations for The Center for Arts Education, having held senior positions at global public relations agencies.

Susan has represented well-known brands, helped start-ups come to market, and championed causes about which she cares deeply. Her work at Fleishman Hillard and Rowland Worldwide has been recognized with the industry’s highest honors, including a Silver Anvil from The Public Relations Society of America, a Creativity in Public Relations Award from Inside PR magazine, and a Crystal Obelisk Award for Social Responsibility from Women Executives in Public Relations.

A graduate of the University of Denver with a BA in psychology, Susan was named a fellow of Columbia University’s Age Boom Academy and honed her social media skills at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Jessica Furino

Director of Events

Jessica Furino plans and produces signature events for both the WPO and the WPEO, an average of 25 events per year, including the highly anticipated annual conference, which attracts registrants from all over the world.

Jessica began her career in the nonprofit sector working in the Development Department of The Salvation Army’s executive headquarters. She continued to pursue her passion for orchestrating events throughout Manhattan as Special Events Associate for the 92nd Street Y, then as Meeting Planning Specialist for Hadassah, responsible for large-scale events and conferences across the United States.

Jessica graduated from Lehigh University with a BA in English and religion studies. While at Lehigh, Jessica planned campus-wide events as a member of The Association of Student Alumni. Jessica is thrilled to be planning events for both the WPEO and the WPO.

Leandra Joseph

Executive Assistant

As Executive Assistant to Dr. Marsha Firestone, President and Founder of the Women Presidents’ Organization and the Women Presidents’ Educational Organization, Leandra Joseph is often the organization’s first point of contact, fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

Working effectively in a fast-paced, multitasking environment, Leandra is an effective gatekeeper, managing Dr. Firestone’s tightly choreographed calendar of board meetings, industry functions, and speaking engagements. She helps keep projects on track, organizes and follows up on action items, manages information flow, and provides IT support when needed. Leandra is the Recording Secretary for Board meetings and all WPO-Board communications.

Originally from the Commonwealth of Dominica, Leandra has a BS in mathematics from SUNY Plattsburgh. Before joining the WPO, Leandra helped raise awareness about the need for medical insurance to cover wigs for medically related hair loss.

Raesa Waldon

Communications Assistant

Raesa Waldon serves as the communications assistant for both the Women Presidents’ Organization and the Women Presidents’ Educational Organization. In this role, Raesa helps raise the profiles of both the WPO and WPEO brands through well executed brand messaging strategies.

Her public relations background includes film festivals, special events, entertainment and non-profit PR. In her previous roles she worked alongside senior leadership to execute high-impact PR campaigns, including media relations, event coordination, celebrity relations and account administration. She consistently maintains a positive attitude in her work environment and produces quality work under pressure.

Before joining the WPO team, Raesa attended Fisk University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She went on to pursue higher education at Syracuse University where she received her Master of Science degree in Public Relations. She is looking forward to continuing her career as a diversified communications professional in New York City. 

Tomi Jane DeTorres

Membership and Chair Coordinator

As the Membership and Chair Coordinator, Tomi Jane DeTorres handles membership and chapter processes. She manages member onboarding, annual event logistics, and is the point person for Chapter Chairs, both national and international.

Tomi Jane graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor of arts in International Affairs and a concentration in International Relations. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Tomi Jane interned for About Giving as a technical writing and research intern, volunteered for the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence, and worked as a First-Year Orientation Guide. Since graduating, she has gained valuable experience in administrative work while working with the financial advisors Rivera & Associates, and insights into non-profit communications and marketing while interning for Action Against Hunger. Tomi Jane is energized by WPO’s mission to progress the economic independence of women, and excited to be a part of that process.

 

Lisa Vetrone

Program Assistant

As Program Assistant, Lisa Vetrone aids in WPO member recruitment and provides support for special programs, including event planning and coordination for the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies and the Women of Color Achievement Awards in partnership with 100 Black Men of America.

Lisa graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Media, Culture and Communication. Prior to joining the WPO, she served as the Marketing, Media and Public Relations Coordinator at Living Lotus Group, a holistic healing company. She is passionate about women’s social and economic empowerment, and is excited to play a role in promoting these values as part of the WPO team.

 

Linda J. Strappazon

Office Manager

Having joined the WPO in 1997 when it was founded by Dr. Marsha Firestone, Linda Strappazon has experienced the organization’s significant growth over the years. As Office Manager, she wears many hats, from tracking accounts receivable to complete administrative oversight of the New York office. Before joining the WPO, Linda worked with Dr. Firestone at Women Incorporated and The Women’s Economic Summit, and was Office Manager of Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health. She worked as a rental agent with Hertz Rent-A-Car, was one of the first female Hertz station managers in Manhattan, and was named Assistant City Manager of Hertz at LaGuardia Airport.

Linda is an active member of Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO), a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life of transplant candidates, recipients, their families, and families of organ and tissue donors. A transplant recipient herself, Linda helps support TRIO’s awareness, education, and advocacy initiatives.

Melissa Horne

Bookkeeper, WPO and WPEO


Who to Contact at WPO

2016 Statistics

Our members have an average of:

$13
million in annual revenues
98
employees
24
years in business
WPO fact sheet

The total aggregate represents:

$22 billion in annual revenues
168,000 employees
39,000 years in business

Membership benefits