Every year, the Black Chamber of Commerce Inland Empire hosts a business conference with workshops, guest speakers, and vendors for both members and nonmembers. The purpose of the conference is to provide opportunities for participants to get certified, educate them on various business aspects, and create a platform in which they can network and expand their businesses. There are more opportunities available than ever and it is the “Time to Thrive.” We, the chamber, hope you join us at the conference and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

Date: July 30th, 2018

Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Theme: Time to Thrive

Location: San Bernardino Valley College B-100


Melinda Ward

Melinda has an extensive background in the entertainment world. As an actress/model she has traveled from one span of the globe to the other.  You may have seen her on Disney Channel, Life Time, HBO, and many television shows in the past.

As Mrs. Utah International 2003-04, Melinda helped raise 1.2 million by sharing her story with businesses who support United Way. She traveled all the way to Kenya, Africa missioning, educating children, and talking relationships with tribes wanting to understand the similarities/differences of their culture and Americas’. 

As founder of Pillow Talk Live, Melinda continued her quest of building strong, fruitful foundations with families everywhere. With her traveling panel show and 80,000 talk show listeners she truly enjoys sharing love. 

Her platform, Getting Back To The B.A.S.I.C.S. of Family Development is well known and highly admired. Build; Accountability; Share; Individuality; Consequence; Support

CF Hawthorne

C.F. Hawthorne is a writer of 10 gripping novels and a poetess of renown, havening authored more than a hundred lyrical gems.  In addition to her writing acumen, she is a gifted speaker. She is a graduate and Alumni of the Eleanor Jean Grier Leadership Academy Riverside CA, Committee Member -Champion for Justice, a 10-year member of Saturday Morning Toastmaster Club 797, and a member of the NAACP Riverside Chapter.

CF quote: I love tooting my own horn, no one can do it better.

Guest Speakers

Lisa Hamilton

Lisa Hamilton is a Stakeholder Liaison in the Small Business/Self Employed Division. Her duties include working as a relationship manager for small business owners and the practitioner community. She has held various positions as an Appeals Officer for the Appeals Division, a Tax Compliance Officer for the Examination Division, and a Revenue Officer for the Collection Division.   Lisa attended Cal State Los Angeles where she studied Accounting and Economics. She has utilized her skills as a presenter to various organizations and extensive volunteer efforts at VITA sites in the San Gabriel Valley.

Karla Gonzalez

Karla has worked as a business consultant for over eight years. She consults business owners on their managerial and technical aspects of expanding their business, as well as the importance of sound financial management. Karla’s specialty is contracting and procurement as it relates to business certifications, such as DBE/MBE/WBE/SBE/DVBE/8(a)/WOSB, for the government, private, and public utilities. She has successfully assisted over 300 businesses get certifications that were essential to their growth.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Management along with a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from the University of Redlands, School of Business. Karla also holds Associate’s Degrees in Business Administration and Real Estate, along with an “Implementing a System for High-Quality Service” certificate from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Bruce Atlas

In 2016, Bruce Atlas joined OIAA as it’s first Chief Operating Office. His duties include overseeing the day to day operations of ONT. He has a proven track record of leadership with hands-on experience. His exceptional diverse experience in all areas of aviation management and his unrelenting passion for customer service position him for tremendous success in his ne critical role with OIAA.

His long history as an Airline Manager with Southwest Airlines and their customer-focused culture, combined with an amazing understanding of ONT’s strength and weaknesses, makes Bruce the ideal person to lead ONT in providing customer friendly services and facilities.

Atlas also has a strong commitment to supporting the communities where he lives and works through a wide range of volunteer activities. He is a father of six and grandfather of two, Atlas lives his wfe in Riverside County.

Tracey Lawrence

Tracey Lawrence is a Surety Professional with 25 years of experience meeting the bond needs of businesses that do or desire to participate in government contracting.  Currently, she serves as President of Heis Surety and Insurance Services in Riverside, CA. Tracey has been actively involved in all aspects of the surety business. She’s held underwriting positions with appreciable underwriting authority with two of the three largest surety companies in America.  She has worked on both the east and west coasts, handled contract and commercial surety accounts, closed standard and nonstandard surety deals, and has held management positions both on the agency and carrier sides of the business. She loves what she does, because it helps businesses grow and changes the lives of business owners.  In April of 2014, she formed Lawrence Consulting Solutions, a state-certified small business that provides DBE Support Services, creates Bonding Assistance Program solutions, and conducts Surety Bond training for Contract Administrators, Contractors, and the Estimating Staff of construction firms.

Mark Ress and Jen Rey

Mark and Jen have been marketing both online and offline for over 15 years. They own several businesses such as BlitzMediaMarketing.com, ClearSelling.com, SuperPostcardAds.com, and WebmercialBlitz.com to name a few.

Mark and Jen also speak all over the country and host seminar and webinar training to assist entrepreneurs and local businesses to gain an edge over their competitors by sharing their experience and knowledge when it comes to leveraging the latest and greatest software and technology for marketing not only their own brands and businesses but their clients’ businesses.

Sean Flynn

While still only in his early 30s, Sean’s skill at explaining the economy gained worldwide attention after he wrote the international best seller Economics for Dummies. Just two years later, Sean became the co-author of the world’s best-selling economics textbook.

Sean has had a successful teaching career, first at Vassar College in New York and since 2009 at Scripps College in Claremont. Sean believes economics should always be translated into entrepreneurship and practical solutions to real problems.

Among other ventures, Sean co-founded the first company to offer student loan default protection to America’s college students and is currently one of the principals of FuzeUs, a start-up devoted to improving the effectiveness of philanthropic and volunteer activities both here in America, as well as around the world. He is also a founding board member of Employment Means Success, an Inland Empire non-profit that helps discouraged and disabled workers find jobs.

Robyn Mancell

After working in Corporate America for over 15 years, she decided to step into the world of Entrepreneurship. She became insurance, Series 6 & 63 licensed and ran several companies. Becoming a top income earner in the network marketing space would lead her into the field of personal development and coaching. In 2008 she was featured in Success from Home magazine & several other publications.

Robyn is now the Chief Marketing Officer & co-founder of Girls Gone Forex. The mission of Girls Gone Forex is to educate and empower women to trade in the 5.4 trillion dollars a day foreign exchange market. This opportunity provides women with the skills needed to create additional income streams from the comfort of their homes. We are empowering women in an industry where the number of female traders is extremely low.

Michelle Skiljan

Michelle Skiljan has an extensive business background; during her time at the SBDC, she consulted with over 500 businesses, helping her clients to secure approximately $4 million in loans, venture capital, government contracts, exports, and increases in sales and profitability. Michelle is also a certified NxLevel Instructor, and has taught both short and long term training courses throughout the San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Paulette Gray

Paulette Inez Gray is the CEO of Gray Legal. She is a solo practitioner and handles cases in the areas of criminal, business and entertainment law. Prior to starting her own law firm she worked as a county employee as an Attorney with the Law offices of the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office. Ms. Gray has taken cases to jury and bench trial and has facilitated in resolving thousands of cases in the county of San Bernardino.

She is a graduate of the University of Los Angeles, School of law and has been practicing law over nine years. Ms. Gray has been a dedicated servant in the Inland Empire and has been a member of the Richard T. Fields Bar Association for over five years and served as the association’s President from 2015- 2016. She also served on the State Bar of California Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. She has served as Chairperson and committee member on several committees throughout her career.

Series One – April 30th Mixer

Speakers: Bruce Atlas and Amy Goethals

Series Two – May 21st Mixer

Speakers: Tracey Lawrence