Just Start 2019

Just Start 2019 was a day of...

Just Start: an in-person workshop that helps you press play on your passions and achieve your dreams.

Thank You To The Just Start Sponsors

Just Start 2019

Just Start 2019 was a day of...

What if your goal-setting actually led to action rather than self-doubt?

What if you could access the tools and support network you need to help make your dreams become reality?

What if you harnessed your full potential and just went for exactly what you wanted?

The answer to all of these questions is that you 100% can—you can press play on your passions and Just Start is here to help you do that.

Just Start is a passion-accountability workshop that helps ambitious professionals like you activate their visions into meaningful action to accomplish their goals and dreams.

Whether starting a side-hustle, transitioning into a new field, or pushing for a promotion, Just Start was designed with you and all your go-getting goal-setting energy in mind.

This is YOUR chance to PRESS PLAY on your passions.

“You know how you go to church and the pastor says a sermon that you felt was made especially for you? Well, that’s how I felt about your training. Out of everyone’s presentations, yours connected with me the most and was so timely. Thanks again!” - Fiat Chrysler Student

Why Just Start?

Hi! My name is Jacqueline.

I am an author, leadership consultant and etiquette professional who teaches organizations and individuals ranging from Nike and The Detroit Lions to the Department of Defense and Fiat Chrysler, among many others.

I will be one of your Just Start mentors, and I can’t wait to meet you on March 16!

I proudly, yet naively started my first company at the age of 23.

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of starting and following through on many projects, initiatives, and entrepreneurial ventures.

But I know what it feels like to have a great idea and not know where to go with it or how to even start.

That’s why I’ve launched this Just Start workshop.

I, along with your other Just Start mentors, want to help you come away with the tools, inspiration, and support-network you need to accomplish your goals and keep on reaching for your long-held dreams.

You have a unique contribution to make to this world, and you deserve to have the chance to embrace your full potential.

Don’t make another vision board or goal list that goes untouched or forgotten.

It’s your time to Just Start.

“In sessions with Jacqueline, you sharpen spoken and unspoken expectations in professional environments.” - Nike Student



The 2019 Just Start Mentors

Just Start will provide the opportunity to not only hear from Jacqueline, but from many other professionals ranging in areas from Marketing to Human Resources to Entrepreneurship. Even more of these dynamic mentors will be revealed leading up to the event. 

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Alanna Ford, Artist, Innovator, Creator

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Alanna Ford is an artist living in Washington, DC. By day, she launches new products focused on women and well being at the innovation lab inside AARP called The Hatchery. By night, she makes art, cooks an inordinate amount of vegetables, and leads a group of lady creators called Circle of Magic

Alanna will be leading sessions on Creative Confidence at Just Start 2019.

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Cherice J. Williams, Marketer, Strategist, Leader

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Cherice J. Williams is a strategic, consumer-centric marketing leader and people-grower with award-winning ability to increase consumer engagement and build brand relevance across various categories, industries and Fortune 500 Corporations, including Target, Sonic, Pizza Hut, Miami Heat, Gillette, Secret, Hershey’s, and BOTOX Cosmetic. Cherice holds a B.S in Political Science from University of Michigan, and MBA in Marketing Management from University of Miami.  Cherice currently sits as the President of the National Black MBA Association | Dallas Fort Worth Chapter - an organization focused on facilitating connections and growth opportunities between DFW African-American professionals, Fortune 500 corporations and the community. 
Cherice will be speaking about ways to Cultivate a Personal Brand for Professional Success at Just Start 2019!
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Ian M. Watts, Author, Entrepreneur, Small Business Coach

Ian Watts

Ian M. Watts, the founder of SB Dream Coach, is an author, entrepreneur and small business coach who achieved his dream of becoming a millionaire by the age of 26. He has raised millions in capital, launched multiple businesses, and helped countless business owners to transform their thinking and businesses. He has provided coaching and training for business owners in over 40 states in the US and in many countries around the world, including China, Hong Kong, Canada, The United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Australia. He is a "Small Business Junkie" who created SB Dream Coach so that he could, "...be what he didn't see" as a young business owner. 

Ian will be speaking about Unusual Ways to Build Your Dream Business at Just Start 2019. 

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Jennifer Peeples, Mixologist, Scientist. Entrepreneur

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Jennifer Peeples is the owner of The Perfect10 Mobile Mixology Service, LLC, a bartending company that elevates social and corporate events with fun and delicious craft cocktail experiences. A graduate from Michigan State University with a degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, Jennifer has worked with both the Detroit Medical Center and Henry Ford Health Systems respectively in the Virology and Stat Labs as a Medical Technologist. Currently Jennifer holds a position at Trinity Health Systems where she is a Data Governance Analyst for healthcare providers throughout the Midwest and East Coast regions.  Jennifer is married to her high school sweetheart, Stephen who is also her business partner.

Jennifer will lead an exciting post networking session and teach participants how to make signature cocktails, what to pair them with and which cocktail glasses to use.

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Jessica Ekong, Advocate, Coach, Traveler

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Jessica Ekong is Global Human Resources Leader with over 15 years of Fortune 500 corporate experience. Her passion for Leadership Development and Executive Coaching are fueled by a desire to support leaders in their journey to achieving their goals. In her personal time, Jessica is an avid domestic and international traveler. She's traveled to five of seven continents, including 23 countries and 62% of the United States. In addition to working full-time, Jessica is a full-time student in Pepperdine University's Master's of Science in Organization Development program focused on becoming on an instrument of change in small teams, large complex organizations and transorganizational systems. With what's left she enjoys time with good friends, curated experiences, photography and quilting with Ankara fabric. 

Jessica will be facilitating a session Corporate Negotiation (for more than just money).

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Kristina Pepelko, Writer, Editor, Storytelling Strategist


Kristina Pepelko is a writer and editor who enjoys helping professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and nonprofit organizations supercharge their stories to power their ambitious goals and guiding mission. She enjoys other things too—like traveling, time with her two cats, a cozy cup of hot chocolate, and Pizza Fridays with her husband, David. Kristina is looking forward to attending Just Start not only as a speaker, but also as a lifelong learner.

Kristina will be leading a session on how to kick start your dream writing project and how to handle the hurdles that come along the way. 

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Jacqueline M. Baker, Author, Entrepreneur, Innovator


I enjoy doing a lot of things, but at the top of that list is inspiring people to take action! I love assisting people with discovering and reaching their full potential and does so through the fields of etiquette and leadership. My perspective and approach to leadership is more nuanced and modern. I believe that leadership shouldn’t only coalesce among our C-suite executives. Leadership can be a vast and inclusive concept, and everyone has leadership potential in their own unique way in both professional and social settings (my book, Leader by Mistaketalks all about this). I take great pride in curating and delivering classes, content and opportunities, like Just Start to inspire people to lead wherever they are and with the tools that that they have so that they can advance to their next level. For more information on Jacqueline, click here

Jacqueline is the founder of Just Start and will be apart of several conversations throughout the day. 

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Milan Griffin, Marketer, Content Creator, Homeownership Educator

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Milan Griffin is the Vice President of Marketing and Outreach with HomeFree-USA, a nonprofit organization that exists to move families up the financial ladder through sustainable homeownership. She fuses her creativity, experience as an educator, and comedic style to create marketing content that excites, informs and motivates renters to become homeowners. In her role, Milan collaborates with and leads a team of 17 superstars. Together, they develop digital and grassroots marketing strategies to drive lead conversion. These efforts generated a 32% increase in conversions and a 64% increase in conference attendance. Her empowering homeownership messages have been featured on WUSA9’s Great Day Washington, the Steve Harvey Morning Show, WHUR-FM 96.3, Praise 104.1 and WERQ- FM 92.3. Milan hosts marketing trainings for and with organizations including Long and Foster, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Capital One, and J.P. Morgan Chase. Milan earned her Bachelor of Arts from Spelman College and a Master of Arts from Tufts University. She also earned Certificates in Executive Education from Stanford University, Columbia University and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. 

Milan will be leading sessions on The Secret Successes in Home Ownership. 

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Nic Cober, Esquire, CEO, Attorney, Friend

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Born to blaze trails, Nicole Cober’s entrepreneurial spirit was cultivated as the owner and operator of Soul Day Spa and Salon, a spa and hair salon chain that served as a revitalization catalyst in a burgeoning area of the Nation’s Capital. Over the course of nearly ten years, Soul would be acclaimed for its ingenuity, five-star quality service, and avant-garde branding.  The spas were spotlighted in a number of national media outlets, including Essence, People, Allure, The Washingtonian, American Spa, Salon Today, The Washington Post, Upscale, Black Enterprise and the CBS Morning Show to name a few. Soul was featured on the Style Network’s reality show, “Ambush Makeover,” and earned recognition by the Washington City Paper for “Best Stylist” and “Best Spa.”  A community champion, Nicole and her team annually partnered with Rachel’s Women’s Shelter in Washington, D.C. to provide complimentary services to residents. To learn more about Nicole, click here

Nicole will be apart of a 1:1 afternoon conversation focused on what it really takes to start. 


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Samiar Cook Gaines, Wealth Advocate, International Speaker


Samira Cook Gaines is a founding partner of Global Empowerment Solutions (GES), a firm dedicated to helping to create wealth through entrepreneurship and economic development in cities and countries across the world. Samira previously served as the Chief of Economic Empowerment for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) were she provided programmatic leadership and direction in the areas of wealth creation and asset building through business development and homeownership.

Samira was the Founding Director of the award-winning Washington, DC Women's Business Center (DC WBC) which supports women entrepreneurs through training, counseling, mentoring, and business growth through government procurement opportunities and exporting. Under Samira’s direction, the DC WBC assisted over 1000 women in achieving their business goals. Throughout her career, Samira’s women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship work has also taken her to numerous countries as a Speaker Specialist for the US State Department in Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands. 

Samira received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and her Master of Public Administration degree from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. 

Samira will be apart of a 1:1 morning conversation focused on Creative Financing To Fund Your Dreams. 

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Whitney Griffin, Marketer, Growth Advocate, Connector

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Whitney Griffin is a marketing strategist and professional growth advocate who is dedicated to cultivating and empowering the next generation of leadership. For the past 5 years, Whitney has served in a leadership capacity for Detroit Young Professionals, Detroit's premier networking and development organization for young professionals and entrepreneurs, most recently as the President and currently as the Board Chair. It is through her work with DYP that she discovered her true calling - providing emerging leaders with the tools needed to reach their full career potential.

Whitney will lead a conversation on the importance of Transitional Networking!


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Just Start 2019

Just Start 2019 was a day of...

Thank You To The Just Start Sponsors