[Thursday] Being A Gutsy Communicator: Panel Discussion


Thursday, April 14th
W20-307 (Student Center)
10:30am-12pm: Panel Discussion
12pm: Lunch Reception + Book Signing with Nina MacLaughlin

Eventbrite - Being a Gutsy Communicator: Panel Discussion

What do an author/carpenter, professor, honey bee researcher, CEO, and a social entrepreneur have in common?

These ladies are GUTSY communicators!

In this panel we’ll hear from Rachael Bonoan (PhD student at Tufts and honey bee enthusiast),
Christine Exley (Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School),
Melissa James (Founder and CEO of The Tech Connection),
Jessica Kahlenberg (student at the Harvard Kennedy School and Co-Founder of Linxx),
and Nina MacLaughlin (carpenter and author of Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter),

Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter will be available for purchase after the event. Meet Nina MacLaughlin during the lunch reception and have her sign your book!

Our Gutsy Panelists:

Moderated by: Libby Mahaffy (Assistant Director for Conflict Resolution at MIT)

rachael_picRachael Bonoan is a Ph.D. student at Tufts University in Medford, MA studying nutritional ecology and ecological immunity in honey bees. She is also a board member for the Boston Area Beekeeper’s Association (BABA). Rachael received a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in May 2013. From UMassD, she joined the Starks Lab to research honey bees. She enjoys speaking about her research (and honey bees in general!) to both scientific and general audiences. Outside of school, Rachael enjoys kickboxing, playing field hockey and softball, reading (especially anything by Jane Austen, or pertaining to Sherlock Holmes), baking, and being with family and friends.


christine_picChristine Exley is an assistant professor of business administration in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit. She teaches the Negotiation course in the MBA elective curriculum. Her research explores how behavioral motivations often have nuanced implications in the realm of prosocial behavior, with a particular focus on charitable giving and volunteer decisions. Prior to joining HBS, Professor Exley earned her PhD in economics at Stanford University and co-founded the dog-matching service Wagaroo, using applied economics to combat the inefficiency in the pet adoption market. Wagaroo has received media attention from outlets including Forbes.com and Freakonomics.



Melissa James is President and CEO of The Tech Connection, the premier marketplace for purpose driven, diverse technical talent. Her mission is to help people reach their highest potential by accelerating their individual pathway to success. She has a strong track record of building high performing teams for elite companies such as GoogleRA CapitalTeradata, and Sample6At the root of her work is a passion for community service. On top of running her business, Melissa is also the founder of the first ever Black Tech Boston Meetup, a platform to celebrate and introduce the impact of technology within African American communities. She previously served on the board for Youth Institute of Science and Technology and the Young Black Women’s Society. Melissa has been recognized as a “Woman on The Move” by Boston Business Journal. She recently received the U.S. Presidential Service Award for her relentless commitment to the community. Melissa graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

jessica_picJessica is currently a student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Co-Founder and President of Linxx, with four years combined fellowship and internship experience in international development in Washington, DC and abroad. Jessica graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2012 where she studied history and sociology. With strong interests in women’s empowerment, Jessica has interned for the Center for American Progress, Abt Associates, and the American Institute for Research. After graduating, Jessica interned for a fair trade NGO working with indigenous women in Guatemala called Mercado Global. Following that, she spent a year in India as a World Partners Fellow doing research for a HIV-prevention NGO. She subsequently worked in Uganda for a micro finance institution setting up a student loan product, in addition to working as a consultant analyzing data for a girls’ health NGO. Jessica then taught English and conducted education research in Colombia. Since starting at the Kennedy School, she was selected for the Harvard Innovation Lab’s highly competitive Venture Incubation Program, where she’s been working on a startup, Linxx, that provides a compassionate and confidential space for female millennials to come together, share their struggles, and find support and solutions. Her interests lie in using research methods and social entrepreneurship to improve the lives of women in the U.S. and abroad.

nina_picNina MacLaughlin grew up in Massachusetts. She earned a B.A. in English and Classical Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, then worked for about eight years at the Boston Phoenix, the award-winning alternative newsweekly. In 2008, she quit her journalism job to work as a carpenter’s assistant. Her experience leaving her deskjob to learn the carpentry trade is the subject of her first bookHammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter, and she continues to pursue both building and writing. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Believer, the Boston Globe, the Rumpus, the MillionsBookslut, and many other places. She lives near the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


A special thanks to: The COOP at MIT!