Making the Jump to CEO: Leadership Insights from Women CEOs

Join Frazier & Deeter and Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP for a unique panel discussion regarding the leadership transition from being a function leader within a large organization to running the company. What are the biggest challenges? What were the greatest lessons learned along the way when these highly accomplished women made the move to CEO?


Dr. Amy Baxter, Founder & CEO, MMJ Labs

Dr. Baxter directs innovation, invention, operations and strategy for MMJ Labs Personal Pain Relief. Accomplishments include the 2009 1.1M NIH SBIR and successfully pursuing 510K FDA clearances. After graduating from Yale University and Emory Medical School, Dr. Baxter’s pain research led to the development of Buzzy for shots and VibraCool Massaging Ice Therapy knee and wrist relief. Recognition includes Forbes Top Women in Tech to Watch, Wall Street Journal “Idea Person”, Top 10 Innovative and Disruptive Women in Healthcare, and GA Bio Most Innovative CEO.

Mary Hester, CEO, LAN Systems

Mary Hester is the CEO of LAN Systems which provides IT solutions in the Greater Metro Atlanta Area. LAN Systems is dedicated to providing business technology that makes businesses more competitive and solutions that work for people. Mary is an Electrical Engineer that believes her greatest strength is her ability to connect with people and understand their unique technology needs.

Shannon Russo, Founder & CEO, Kinetix

Shannon has a background as a finance executive for companies that do hundreds of thousands of hires annually. She founded Kinetix with the goal of creating a firm that could help growing companies get the talent they need to compete. In her role as CEO, Shannon is responsible for overall operations and leading the strategic direction of Kinetix. Prior to forming Kinetix, Shannon held various positions throughout ten years at Spherion Corporation.

Welcome & Opening Remarks: Seslee Smith, Litigation Partner, Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP

Seslee Smith chairs MMM’s award-winning Women’s Initiative, which focuses on the recruitment, professional development and retention of women attorneys at the firm. She has a national practice focusing on the defenses of companies in complex litigation with a strong focus in products liability and healthcare matters.

Moderator: LeighAnn Costley, Tax Partner, Frazier & Deeter

LeighAnn Costley is one of the leaders of the Women’s Business Initiative at Frazier & Deeter, a firm that was honored in 2014 as one of the best firms in the country for women. LeighAnn provides tax planning and compliance for closely held businesses, individuals, family office entities and trusts.

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