2014 Conference – Women’s Plenary Speakers


Elva Lima

Elva Lima was named director of global diversity and inclusion for Verizon in March 2014. In this role, Lima is responsible for providing leadership oversight to ensure the success of corporate policies and strategies that sustain the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Before being named to this position, she had responsibility for community relations and multicultural communications for Verizon Wireless. In that role, Lima was responsible for the development and implementation of Verizon Wireless’ national public relations and multicultural media relations programs, as well as directing Verizon Wireless’ philanthropic investments, including HopeLine® from Verizon. During her 34-year career with Verizon, Lima has held a variety of positions within sales, external affairs, internal and external communications and public policy.

Lima is an active member of the community and serves on Casa de Esperanza’s executive board, an organization which works to end domestic violence in the Latino community. She has served as a member for the following organizations: Greater Sacramento Urban League, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce Corporate Advisory Board, Los Angeles League of Women Voters – Education Fund, Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, United Latino Fund, Children’s Museum of Los Angeles and other nonprofit organizations throughout California. The National Latina Women Business Association honored her with the 2009 Corporate Leader of the Year Award. The National Latina Alliance, Pomona Valley Boys and Girls Club, Greenlining Institute, Golden State Minority Foundation and the Tri-Council of Big Sisters of Los Angeles have also recognized Lima for her commitment to community service.

Lima holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management from the University of LaVerne and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from California Lutheran University.

Nellie Borrero

NellieNellie Borrero is a highly respected executive and leader, recognized forher passion for inclusion and diversity. A thought leader with deep global experience, Nellie works to raise awareness and increase understanding on the importance of embracing diversity. She communicates the message world-wide to leaders, recruits, and organizations. Nellie is a champion for each individual’s uniqueness, values, skills, and contributions, promoting respect, personal achievement and stewardship globally.

Nellie joined Accenture in 1986. She created the first role for Diversity efforts and is embraced as a beloved and deeply committed advocate for change, for women, for minorities, for people. As Accenture’s Global Inclusion & Diversity Executive and North America Inclusion & Diversity Lead, Nellie holds a crucial leadership role and is a driving force behind the company’s diversity initiatives. The program’s mission is to optimize Accenture’s ability to fulfill its vision and core values by creating an environment rich in diversity. Under Nellie’s leadership, most recent innovations are creation of a development program for high performing women globally, design of career progression initiatives for women throughout APAC, EMEA and the Americas; global positioning of the LGBT and Persons with Disability agenda; as well as the design and execution of ethnic diversity programs.

Few people are better poised to speak about diversity. Nellie has shared her perspectives and beliefs in publications such as Forbes, Management Consulting Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Diversity Inc., Diversity Careers in IT & Engineering, Black Enterprise, Hispanic Engineering, as well as having been a featured guest on National Public Radio, NPR. Nellie is a sought after speaker for her inspirational impact. Passionately, she brings her wisdom of experience and awareness on topics including best practices in diversity initiatives, development and advancement of women globally, ethnic minorities in the U.S., U.K., and South Africa. Recently, Nellie spoke at the Colloquium on Global Diversity and The Global Summit of Women, in New York.

Nellie serves as a model in a personal adversity and advocacy role for women and minorities globally. She has received numerous awards, among them: 2012 LatinaStyle Top 5 Executive Women; 2012 Marcus Buckingham Leaders Leading Leaders Award; 2012 Hispanic Business Influentials; 2008 Stevie Women in Business Awards: ‘Best Latin American Executive’; 2000 National Society of Hispanic MBA’s Individual Corporate Executive Award; 1999 National Management Consulting Diversity Achievement Award; 1999 ASPIRA Circle of Achievers Award. Nellie has served as the Chairperson for the ASPIRA Mentoring Program.

Nellie has served as an Advisory Board Member of VisionSpring, a social enterprise nonprofit organization whose global focus includes providing people in underdeveloped countries opportunity to have access to eye care and wear through financially empowering women to successfully begin and sustain their own business, and provide needed service to their communities. She is a current Member of the LaGuardia Community College Foundation Board, which provides financial aid, scholarships, and funding for state-of-the-art facilities within the college to prepare LaGuardia students, the future leaders of tomorrow. She has served as a Member of the Board of Aspira of New York, whose purpose is to foster social advancement of the Latino community by supporting its youth in the pursuit of educational excellence through leadership development programs that emphasize commitment to the community and the Latino cultural heritage.

Nellie earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree after attending New York University and Lehman College. Her degree is in Management, specializing in Human Resources. Nellie quickly became an advocate, personally and professionally, championing women and minorities in the workplace, in the world.

Nellie is married and has a daughter and son. She enjoys her family life, reading, playing tennis and purposefully giving to the world.

Dr. Deborah Ashton

Debera AstonDr. Deborah Ashton, the Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer of Novant Health, has over 20 years of diversity and human resources experience in the public, nonprofit and private sectors, including global Fortune 500 organizations. Dr. Ashton has been retained as a strategist and an executive consultant and coach. She is a licensed Psychologist and is certified in LaMarsh Master of Managed Change™. She developed the Six Pillars of Diversity and Inclusion TM, a strategy that uses diversity and inclusion to reinforce and strengthen the key functions of the organization and achieve the business objectives.

Dr. Ashton is the former Senior Director of Workforce Diversity for Darden Restaurants, where she developed a nationally recognized multi-tiered diversity training initiative. In addition, she headed the diversity strategy and initiatives at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, at Medtronic, a global medical technology corporation, and at Argonne National Laboratory that increased the diversity of their workforces and leadership. Moreover, she is the former Chief of Test Construction and Validation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Deborah has published articles on diversity strategy and minimizing adverse impact and has presented “Non-Traditional Authority Figures: New Leadership Styles for Women and Minorities” at international conferences. Dr. Ashton is listed in Who’s Who in the World.

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Public Practice from Harvard University, with specialization in organizational and clinical psychology. B.A. in Psychology from Clarke College in Dubuque, IA. Dr. Ashton completed her post-doctoral internship at Harvard Medical School.



Melinda S. Haag

cceimgMelinda S. Haag is a Director with Crowe Horwath LLP in its Oak Brook, IL office, where she leads the People and Client support team developing strategies and coordinating firmwide issues associated with compensation, benefits, well-being, real estate, travel, and people and office operations. Prior to that she served as part of the firm’s Justice and Public Safety Practice leadership team within the Performance Business Unit, as well as the Executive in Charge of Diversity and Inclusion for Crowe. She also leads Crowe’s LGBT people resource network called GALA.

At Crowe, Melinda has provided her expertise to many of the firm’s government clients including numerous criminal justice agencies within Cook County, IL, including the Cook County Jail. Melinda has also provided thought leadership to state-wide reentry initiatives in Illinois and violence reduction strategies within Cook County.

In addition to service to Cook County agencies, Melinda has provided criminal justice services and expertise to the State of Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security, the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, Miami-Dade County, the City of Houston, Marion County (Indianapolis), Lake County, Indiana, Peoria County, Illinois, as well as other state agencies and counties in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Prior to joining Crowe in 2004, Melinda served as the Director of the Marion County Justice Agency, in Indianapolis, Indiana during which time she managed a number of projects that resulted in substantial change and process improvement in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, including court systems, pretrial services, jail management, and offender processing, as well as numerous technology initiatives in Marion County. In her role, she also managed numerous state and federal grants.

Before serving as Director of the Marion County Justice Agency, Melinda was a highly regarded local trial prosecutor handling cases ranging from misdemeanors to sex offenses, gang crime and homicides. Melinda also created and managed a highly-regarded community-based prosecution program, and developed one of the first community courts in the country.

Following her work as a local prosecutor, Melinda served as a federal prosecutor, where her expertise focused on gun violence prosecutions and project coordination of the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership, one of the 5 initial strategies created, supported and evaluated by the United States Department of Justice. For her work on that project, the United States Attorney General Janet Reno honored Melinda with The Director’s Award in 2000.

For the last 20 years, Melinda has been nationally recognized as an expert in creating and implementing community justice initiatives, with an emphasis on community prosecution, community courts, community policing and creating community partnerships, both secular and faith-based. Other areas of expertise nationally recognized include strategic planning, grant management, program management, information technology systems, and change management—all in the criminal justice system.

Because of her skills at creating coalitions and implementing change, she has also assisted many jurisdictions as a consultant and trainer. Her extensive problem-solving and strategic planning skills have resulted in her participation on the Project Safe Neighborhoods National training team and as a speaker at conferences and meetings sponsored by the United States Department of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the National Institute of Corrections, the National District Attorney’s Association, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Additionally, Melinda has spoken and presented at national diversity and inclusion conferences for organizations such as the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), ASCEND, ALPFA, and the Out and Equal Workplace Summit, as well as on the topic of corporate risk management and governance.