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Bringing Inclusion and Empowerment to the Forefront at Tom Tom

by Tom Tom Staff

Tom Tom Goals


For the 7th annual Tom Tom Founders Festival, we are putting the spotlight on inclusiveness. It is time to have transparent conversations on representation across the eight vectors we feature at our Summits. This year, we are proud to present an array of talented, diverse individuals who are at the top of their game in across the health, design, energy, agriculture, data, entrepreneurship, media, and government fields and industries.

All of our speakers are founders, innovators, and leaders who have overcome obstacles to establish and “found themselves.” Check out our events that are geared towards having dialogues across borders on how we confront, tackle, and progress when it comes to diversity inside the office, up in space, and creating opportunities for the underrepresented.

One of the venues at the center of our weeklong celebrations on innovation and inclusiveness is Emancipation Park. Throughout the week we hold special events, workshops, markets, Block Parties, and mixers. We are choosing not to relocate or choose a park with “less controversy.” We are determined to create a safe and welcoming environment for all citizens of Charlottesville and those attending the Festival from outside the city. The history of the Park is crucial to the growth of the city, and we are honored to continued bringing Tom Tom events to such a beautiful Park in the center of our city.

What will you bring to the Tom Tom table? And what perspectives, ideas, and tools will your take home, back to your office, or instill in your community? Open your mind, and challenge yourself at this year’s Tom Tom Founders Festival: for Charlottesville, for Virginia, for the nation, for the world.

Tom Tom Founders Festival is for you, and for all.

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Meet the Changemakers


  1. Melody Barnes – Cofounder of MB2 Solutions, Distinguished Fellow at University of Virginia

Jigar Shah


School of Law, senior Fellow at UVA’s Miller Center.

  1. Dr. Knatokie Ford – Founder & CEO of Fly Sci Enterprise, former senior policy advisor at the White House under Obama, former Fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

  2. Jigar Shah – President of Generate Capital, former CEO of Carbon War Room, Energy Gang podcast contributor.

  3. Gayle Jessup White – Former television reporter, news anchor, Community Engagement Officer at Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.

  4. Leland Melvin – Former Dallas Cowboy, ISS astronaut, scientist, engineer, STE(A)M advocate at Leland Melvin LLC.

  5. Desiree Venn Frederic – Heralding from Sierra Leone, she is the Founder of Combing Cotton,

Phil Tinn


writer, social entrepreneur, public speaker, educator, and artist.

  1. Brent Leggs – Director of African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, assistant Clinical Professor, Graduate Preservation Program at University of Maryland.

  2. Shan Lyn Ma – Founder and CEO of Zola, the fastest-growing wedding planning and registry company.

  3. Derrick Freeman – Mayor of City of Port Arthur in Texas – and made history twice by being the youngest mayor and first African American male elected.

  4. Phil Tinn – Research scientist at MIT Media Lab, as part of the City Science Group; a decade of experience in service, design, and strategy.

  5. Cathy O’Neil – CEO of ORCAA, former professor at Barnard College, author of Weapons of Math Destruction, contributor to Bloomberg View.

Melody Koh


  1. Greg Fairchild – Heralded as “one of the best MBA professors in the world;” he is a Professor at Darden, and dedicates his life to improving prisons and his executive positions.

  2. Melody Koh – Venture Partner at NextView Ventures; she previously pushed Blue apron to hyper-growth (25x in 3.5 years) and increasing it’s office size.

  3. Henry Hwong – Principal at Cunningham Collective – he was formerly in product management, and was VP of Marketing and Strategy at Provade.

  4. Neera Tanden – President and CEO of Center for American Progress, former public service agent in both Obama and Clinton administrations, and former campaign adviser.


Attend our Inclusive Events


  1. Honoring Black AmericaFriday, April 13, The Jefferson Theater, 12pm – 1:40pm; This panel hopes to offer inspiration and ideas for how communities can tell a more just story about race in our public places, including parks, museums, and the built environment. FREE LUNCHEON. Requires registration.


  1. GRIT: Overcoming Adversity Friday, April 13, The Paramount Theater, 9am; What is the one superpower that heroes in sports, business, and social impact all have in common? Grit. Learn how some incredible individuals have found the the power to endure through setbacks and transform misfortune into strength. KEYNOTE. Included in all badge types.

  2. UVA’s Hacking DiversitySaturday, April 14, Jefferson School’s African-American Heritage Center, All Day; A completely free hackathon event aimed at providing an exclusive platform for women, African-Americans, Latinos/Latinas, LGBTQ communities, and other underrepresented groups in computer science and software engineering. Register to participate, or stop by to see who takes home top prizes and cheer on the hackers! Sponsored by UVA Provost.

  3. Fighting Inequality with Finance Thursday, April 12, The Jefferson Theater, 2pm – 3:10pm; Millions of Americans are trapped under the weight of student debt, credit card payments, and payday loans. Learn how a new generation of financial institutions is leveling the playing field and expanding opportunity for entrepreneurs in small cities. KEYNOTE. Included in all badge types. Sponsored by: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, UVA’s Batten Institute.

Shan-Lyn Ma, Alice Handy, Renee Diresta


  1. Founding While Female Friday, April 13, Red Pump Kitchen, 12pm – 1:40pm; A practical, candid and supportive conversation about challenges women face in entrepreneurship, with strategies for current entrepreneurs and ecosystem allies on how to overcome barriers. LUNCHEON. Included in All-Access and Patron badges. Individual tickets available.

  2. Affordable Housing Roundtable Series – Thursday, April 12, 10:30am – 11:40am, Water Street Center; Exploring how civic leaders can make housing more accessible and affordable for all income demographics in small and large cities. SUMMIT. Badge required. Partner event: Urban land Virginia Institute.

  3. Charlottesville Identity & Design CompetitionTuesday, April 10, 6pm – 8pm, Jefferson School’s African American Heritage Center; The 2018 Bushman Dreyfus Architects Prize centers on recent events and discussion regarding the role of public sculpture, memorials, and monuments. The BDA Prize seeks designs that express the identity and values of our diverse community. SPECIAL EVENT. Included in all badge types.

Leland Melvine & Dr. Knatokie Ford


  1. STEAM AHEAD: Inclusive Innovation Friday, April 13, Brasserie Saison, 12pm – 1:40pm; Bringing together two powerful, inspirational figures, join Dr. Knatokie Ford and astronaut Leland Melvin to discuss opportunities for the underrepresented in STE(A)M programs and disciplines. LUNCHEON. Included in All-Access and Patron badges. Individual tickets on sale. Sponsored by Lynchburg Economic Development Authority.

  2. Sex in Public: Gender and Political OfficeFriday, April 13, The Paramount Theater, 2pm – 3:10pm; This event features two leading female innovators who have explored outreach among women and called them to action through information sharing, and voter turnout. SUMMIT. Badge required.

  3. Founders Who Aren’t: Inclusion in EntrepreneurshipFriday, April 13, Second Street Gallery, 10;30am – 11:40am; Beyond lamenting statistics on male versus female representation in venture capital positions, what can each of us do to level the playing field and unlock the enormous potential of overlooked innovators? SUMMIT. Badge required.

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Be Part of the Movement


How are you participating in Tom Tom Founders Festival this year? Will you register for a luncheon, or bear a badge and attend the Summits? Be part of a roundtable discussion, or mingle at a reception? No matter your schedule, interests, or budget, we have events that fit your lifestyle. Be sure to register for your complimentary Festival Pass to get instant access to many of our community-centered, FREE events!

Also, we recommend downloading our exclusive Sched app, to help you reserve your seat at any one of our ticketed events.

Summits: April 11-14, convenes the nation’s top leaders in entrepreneurship, civic positions, innovation, technology, and more to empower individuals to better their communities.

Luncheons: April 13, set the table for intimate discussions with leaders about issues paralyzing the nation’s smaller cities.

Founding Stories: April 13, part of the Summits – brings keynotes to the stage to talk about their stories of hardship and establishing themselves.

Community Events: Weeklong, April 9 – 15; Between the workshops, receptions, Block Parties, artist residencies, and more, there are so many ways to make changes, starting in your own backyard – by connecting with your neighbor.

#Ideas

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The Tom Tom Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, EIN: 46-2048771