Café Momentum Dallas

Board of Directors

Kathi earned a BA in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a JD from University of Texas School of Law. After graduation from law school, she moved to Dallas and began working as a lawyer (at Jackson & Walker) – specialized in employee benefit law, which led her to the actuarial division of Coopers & Lybrand, first in Dallas and then in Minneapolis. Upon returning to Dallas, Child began her 18-year career at JCPenney, starting in the tax department, moving to Human Resources and ending as SVP of Human Resources. She has also served as SVP of Human Resources at Family Dollar Stores in Charlotte, NC and ended her career as SVP of Global Compensation for Walmart in Bentonville, AR.

In retirement, Kathi has been active with the United Way, serving on the board and finance committee of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (where she was introduced to Café Momentum) and as a steering committee member for Women of Tocqueville. She continues to serve as a panelist for community investment grant panels.

I am married to Chris Child, who works for the Society of St. Vincent DePaul Disaster Services Division. We have two sons, Pete and Kit, who are both employed in the restaurant industry.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Jennifer Rudenick Ecklund is a Partner at Thompson Coburn. She focuses her practice on litigation and dispute resolution, representing clients before state and federal trial courts. Jennifer practices primarily in the healthcare, complex commercial litigation, and white collar litigation sections.

Jennifer has significant experience handling healthcare litigation matters, including representing healthcare providers in coverage and reimbursement disputes, fraud, defamation, and civil RICO claims. She has resolved affirmative claims on behalf of providers regarding violation of the Texas Prompt Pay Act, claims under ERISA for an insurer’s failure to pay a provider’s claims, and contractual disputes and employment issues between provider entities and individual healthcare providers. Jennifer has also represented healthcare providers in litigation related to qui tam and False Claims Act cases and federal and state anti-kickback provisions and Stark laws. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in these types of matters.

Jennifer also has expertise handling white collar fraud matters in both the civil and criminal contexts. She regularly handles cases in securities fraud, healthcare fraud, tax fraud, and mortgage fraud, as well as matters related to Ponzi schemes and resulting receiverships. She has also litigated numerous complex commercial matters and various contract, tort, employment, business, and tax disputes. Jennifer was previously a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice, Tax Division, representing the United States in all phases of litigation before federal district and bankruptcy courts

Charisse Smith is the Partner Resources Director for Starbucks. In this role, she is responsible for leading a team and setting the HR strategy for the South Central Region. Charisse joined Starbucks after being an HR Director at 7-Eleven, where she provided support to the Chief Merchandising Officer, Fuels, Operations Support, and Total Rewards. Prior to joining 7-Eleven, she spent over 10 years at Pfizer, where she held various roles that included HR support for Latin America, Europe, US Sales, R&D, Payer/Channel Access, and Corporate Finance.

Throughout her career, she has supported several acquisitions and has been able to partner with businesses and various HR support functions to deliver programs and processes that are aligned with overall company goals.

Charisse has worked with organizations, such as, Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, Crisis Nursery, YMCA Black Achievers, and was a founding member of Communiversity, where they partnered with Colleges and Universities to educate those in the community at locally owned businesses.

Charisse holds a BS in Sociology from Hamline University and a MA in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (HRIR) from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Grace Smith is a Vice President at JPMorgan Chase Bank, where she manages a portfolio of not-for profit and municipal clients in North Texas. For the past 20 plus years, Grace has worked in several areas within the financial services industry including Project Management, Business Development and Sales Administration.

Grace currently serves on the Board of Directors for S.M.I.L.E.S. and as a Board Trustee of Greenhill School, as well as, the Executive Committee of The Links, Inc. in Denton County, Texas. In addition to her current community service, over the years Grace has volunteered with the Dallas Women’s Foundation, Junior League of Dallas and Children’s Medical Center Women’s Auxiliary. Committed as an active volunteer, Grace has also held leadership roles as Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Fundraising Chair, Ethics Chair and member of Nominating Committees.

Grace holds a B.S. in Finance and Master of Public Policy and Administration from Jackson State University. She resides in the Dallas area with her husband and two children.

Debra is the Southwest Region Growth Markets Leader at EY. In this role, she is responsible for setting direction and executing across the Growth Markets service platforms of Entrepreneurship, IPO, PE/VC, and Family Business. Debra also serves as Global Coordinating Partner for innovative and hyper-growth Russell 3000 and private companies. Debra also serves as the America’s Director for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® program. In this role, she oversees the 20+ regional programs in the US and 10 additional country programs in Canada, Mexico, South America and Israel. Debra also spearheads the EY Entrepreneur of the Year® program for an eight-state region in the Southwest geography.

Debra is a graduate of the University of North Texas where she received her BBA in Finance and Accounting in May 1982. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the AICPA and Texas Society of CPAs. Debra has completed the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management Executive Program and the Harvard Business School Strategic Leadership Program through EY. Debra is Past-Chair of the Board of Directors for United Ways of Texas, and served 12 years on the Board of Directors of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD). She is a member of the UWMD Foundation Board of Directors. Debra has also served the UWMD Campaign Cabinet, Strategic Planning Committee, Tocqueville Society Chair, past chair of Women of Tocqueville, Advocacy Committee, Resource Development Committee, and Volunteer Engagement Cabinet. Debra is the President of the Dallas Chapter of International Women’s Forum and serves on the World Affairs Council Board of Directors. She is Past-President of the Dallas Regional Chamber Executive Women’s Roundtable and serves on the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Corporate Recruitment committee.

Debra and her family enjoy adventure travel and they have fished, hiked and rafted throughout North America, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru and Spain. In her leisure time, Debra enjoys outdoor gardening, exercising, cooking and reading. Debra and her son, Kevin, completed cooking schools in Italy, Spain and the California wine country

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.