Meet the Speakers

  • Dr. Cynthia L. McGill – President & CEO of Priceless Vessels, Inc.
  • Mary Worboys Turner  – Luncheon Mistress of Ceremony
  • Norma Holland – Anchor for 13WHAM-TVNews
  • Dr. Gidget Hopf – CEO of Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Dr. Jennifer Reid – Professor of nursing, SUNY at Brockport
  • Essie Calhoun – Retired VP from Kodak
  • Dr. Marilyn Patterson Grant – Retired principal/administrator and consultant
  • Hilda Escher –  President & CEO of Ibero-American Action League
  • Melisza Campos – Dale Carnegie consultant
  • Jennifer Leonard – President, Rochester Area Community Foundation

Dr. McGill
Dr. Cynthia L. McGill

Dr. Cynthia L. McGill has been a leader and pioneer for most of her life. She founded and headed the Black Drama and the Arts while a student at the University of Rochester. She has been an Assistant Provost while at the Rochester Institute of Technology, director of many higher educational programs, mentor to women, founder and president of her own company, leader of women’s conferences and much more. Most recently, she served as the 2009 President of Rochester Women’s Network.  She is also the author of the books, The Journey to Wholeness, and most recently, Sex and Marriage: Myths Uncovered.
Dr. McGill studied at the University of Rochester where she was conferred with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English.  She gained a Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology from Rochester Institute of Technology.  She crowned her educational pursuits with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Higher Education Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo. 

Dr. McGill is married to Pastor Reginald A. McGill, Founder and Senior Pastor of New Life Fellowship.  They have two beautiful daughters and a precious granddaughter who is the love of their lives.

Mary Worboys Turner
Mary Worboys Turner

Mary Worboys-Turner spent her career in education, not-for-profit, and finance. During her career, she developed and implemented new initiatives, and led organizational change and management. She is now using her experience as a community volunteer.

Mary is immediate past board chair of the merged Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY) and the College at Brockport Foundation. Under her leadership the College at Brockport Foundation repositioned itself from a local to national entity. As first chair of the GSWNY board of directors, she helped guide four Councils to be a successful single Council serving over 22,000 girl scouts. She also sits on the boards of Allendale Columbia School, Continuing Developmental Services (CDS) Foundation, and the Rochester Area Community Foundation. She is a member of Asbury First United Methodist Church URWell Health Clinic committee and the United Way of Greater Rochester Women's Leadership Advisory Council.

Besides serving on boards, Mary is leading the creation of a Rochester City Charter School, working on a collaborative partnership building, Cypher, an entrepreneurial teen venture with Rochester Downtown Development Corporation and Young Audiences/Art Peace, and consulting with profit and not-for-profit businesses.

Mary received The Salvation Army Catherine Booth Award for Community Service, The College at Brockport Volunteer Service Award, and was a Rochester Athena Award finalist.

Mary shares an amazing life with her husband, Scott Turner, Nixon Peabody LLC partner and is blessed with three wonderful step-children, their spouses and four beautiful grandchildren.

Norma Holland


Dr. Hopf
A. Gidget Hopf, Ed.D

Dr. A. Gidget Hopf is President and CEO of the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired-Goodwill Industries of Greater Rochester in New York. Dr. Hopf serves as a board member of the VisionServe Alliance, NY State Vision Rehabilitation Association and Goodwill Industries International where she sits on the Executive Committee.   Dr. Hopf earned her Ed.D degree from George Washington University in March, 2005.  She conducts workshops and makes presentations on leadership locally and around the country.  Dr. Hopf is married to John, her husband of 37 years; they have two daughters, Courtney and Maggie.

Jennifer E. Reid
Jennifer E. Reid


Dr. Jennifer Reid is a native of Jamaica West Indies. She is the first born of 6 children to the parents of Balfour and Norma Thompson. She attended Brooklyn College where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences in 1979. She later attended Alfred University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1991. She earned a Masters of Science in Gerontological Nurse Practitioner at Nazareth College in 2006 and in July of 2010 Dr. Jennifer completed coursework at St. John Fisher College to earn an Ed.D doctorate degree in Education and Executive Leadership. Currently Dr. Reid is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at The College at Brockport SUNY.

Howard and Jennifer are ordained Elders at New Life Ministries where they serve as marriage ministry leaders and have an active couple’s life group in their home. They actively serve the Lord in ministry in numerous ways and have enjoyed and not taken for granted God’s anointing in their life and ministries. Jennifer will always love and celebrate God for his many, many Blessings, Mercy and Grace throughout her life. She loves God and could not think of a life not serving Him.

Essie Calhoun
Retired Vice President, Eastman Kodak Company

Ms. Calhoun-McDavid, retired Chief Diversity and Community Affairs Officer at Eastman Kodak Company, began her Kodak career in 1982 and has held positions in marketing, sales and public affairs.  She was elected a corporate vice president by the Kodak Board of Directors in 2000.  As Director of Community Affairs and President of the Eastman Kodak Charitable Trust, Ms. Calhoun-McDavid oversaw Kodak’s corporate philanthropy and community involvement worldwide for two decades.  As Chief Diversity Officer (2003 – 2010), she was the primary driver of Kodak’s global diversity and inclusion strategies.  

Immediately following her retirement, Ms. Calhoun-McDavid served as the 2011 Campaign Chair for the United Way of Greater Rochester.  Under her leadership, the 2011 campaign exceeded its $28M goal.  She currently serves as the chair of the United Way’s Howard Wilson Coles Society, which recognizes African American individuals and organizations whose campaign donations exceed $1,000.  She also serves on the boards of the Greater Rochester Health Foundation (Chair), Rochester Institute of Technology, Urban League of Rochester and University of Toledo Foundation.  

Ms. Calhoun-McDavid holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Science and a Masters in Administration and Supervision, as well as Honorary Doctorates from Nazareth College and Roberts Wesleyan College.  In 2001-2002, she served as distinguished Minett Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, and is now a member of the RIT Institute of Fellows and the NTID Advisory Board.  A graduate of Leadership America, she is the founder of several organizations focused on leadership development, including the United Way of Rochester’s African American Leadership Development Program and the Kodak Youth Leadership Academy.  

Marilyn Patterson Grant
Marilynn Patterson Grant, Ed. D.

Dr. Marilynn Patterson Grant is the Owner and operator of M. P. Grant, LLC an educational consulting organization. In September 2011, she completed a one year consultancy working with two high schools in the Detroit Public School System; Dr. Grant brings a wealth of skills, talents and experience in her highly regarded work with principals and teams of teachers. Dr. Grant is the former Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in the Rochester City School District (RCSD).  She was appointed to that position in the fall of 2008.  As the Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Patterson Grant managed a budget of over $60 million dollars and provided leadership for 391 employees, 30 of whom were direct reports.

Prior to her appointment as Deputy, Dr. Patterson Grant served as the Chief Academic Officer.  She was appointed to that position in October 2007 by Interim Superintendent, Dr. William Cala.  In this role, she provided leadership and strategic planning for curriculum, instruction and local assessments. During this period, she conceived and implemented the RCSD’s August Commencement ceremonies.

Hilda Rosario Escher
Hilda Rosario Escher

Hilda Rosario Escher, President and CEO of Ibero American Action League bring 25 years of experience in the Human Services sector.  She brings the perspective of a minority female with an innovative approach.

As President and CEO, she is the voice of the Rochester Hispanic Community.  Hilda focuses her efforts on strategic planning, developing leaders in her organization and being a change agent leading innovation.  Since 1968 Ibero-American Action League has taken a leadership role in nurturing partnerships, services, and advocacy among the community to meet the needs of the Latinos in the Rochester area.

Hilda has an extensive background in Human Services including:  developmental disabilities, foster care, adoption, day care and employment and training services.  She increased services substantially for the developmentally disabled in the inner city of Rochester.  Hilda was able to grow this division to 5 million dollars by focusing on infrastructure improvement.  While in the foster care program, she was able to decrease the child’s length of stay in foster care, and implemented the model approach to “Partnership in Parenting” training for foster parents.

Melisza Campos
Melisza Campos

Melisza Campos is the Vice President of Operations and Instruction for the Dale Carnegie Rochester office. She is a multi-course certified Dale Carnegie Master Trainer.  Only 2% of worldwide Dale Carnegie trainers reach this level of distinction.  In 2009, she was ranked in the Top 10 trainers in the US and top 15 in the world.  In Melisza's current position, she is focused on training, innovating solutions for organizations to engage their workforce, training & assessing potential Dale Carnegie Trainers and operational management. She has also been honored to present multiple times at the Dale Carnegie global convention in the past and share best practices the Rochester office has initiated. Clients have described her as an engaging, charasmatic and energetic trainer, coach and speaker. 7 years working with groups in all settings -corporate, small businesses, not-for-profit and government. Melisza is an international award winner in quality instruction and consulting. 

Melisza’s inclusive style enables trust to be built quickly and connect with a wide variety of motivation levels and individuals. Has the capacity to masterly maintain group interaction, participation and energy high. Focuses on application of the learning and getting participants to reflect about the topic, gaps and their impact on others and the organization. Exceptional at coaching people to isolate their obstacles – get “unstuck” and make commitments to change. Training/facilitation areas of expertise include: Public speaking, human relations, leadership, motivation, coaching, team member engagement, execution and customer service.

Melisza was recently re-elected for her second term as an elected official as a Commissioner of Education in Rochester. . She is proud to be the youngest female to serve as a Commissioner of Education in Rochester. Melisza is currently working on the implementation of the district’s wellness policy, customer service initiatives as well as bringing resources to the district in these tough financial times.  Melisza is the recipient of the 2008 Rochester's Up and Coming Businesswoman, which recognizes women who have demonstrated success and influence in the community and the RBJ’s 40 under 40 award and 2011 Latinas Unidas Leadership Award.

Jennifer Leonard
Jennifer Leonard
As president and executive director of Rochester Area Community Foundation, Jennifer Leonard helps charitable donors become catalysts for positive change in our region. The Community Foundation has grown seven-fold under her leadership and last year distributed $17 million in grants.

Jennifer led implementation of the first national standards for community foundations and chaired her field from 2004-6. Before coming to Rochester, she served as vice president of the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles and a national writer and consultant in philanthropy.  She previously held national positions with the American Heart Association and The Grantsmanship Center.

Jennifer received the 2010 Athena Award from the Women’s Council of the Rochester Business Alliance.  In 2007, Rochester Business Journal named her one of “20 business people who have made the biggest impact on Rochester over the past 20 years.” She is a board member of the Center for Governmental Research and the first female president of the Genesee Valley Club. The New York Attorney General recently appointed Jennifer to his Leadership Committee on Nonprofit Revitalization.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College, Jennifer was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs and holds an urban studies master's degree from Occidental College. She lives in Brighton with husband David Cay Johnston, an author, lecturer and Reuters columnist.