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

As an Audit Partner in the Grant Thornton Dallas office, Amanda has significant experience
in conducting audits and assessing internal controls of both private and public audit clients
across multiple industries, with a focus in manufacturing/distribution and financial services.
She has assisted clients with filings as required by the 1933 and 1934 Securities Acts. She
also has significant experience in the coordination, review and supervision of large private
and public engagements, including the integration across multiple geographies and service
lines to ensure seamless client service delivery.
In addition to her extensive client service experience, Amanda served for two years as the
US Resident Partner, based in Dusseldorf, Germany and supporting broader Europe. In this
role, Amanda was responsible for the oversight and quality of US inbound and outbound
work between the US and Germany/Europe, as well as training focused on US GAAP/GAAS
or SEC/PCAOB related topics.
Amanda has also served in a professional standards role in the Grant Thornton Dallas office,
assisting with resolution to technical and audit matters.
Amanda serves on the Board of Directors and as Board Treasurer for Café Momentum.
Café Momentum, the Accounting Advisory Board of Texas Christian University and
previously served on the Board of Directors of Cancer Support Community – North Texas,.
Professional qualifications and memberships
* Alumni, Dallas Regional Chamber Leadership Dallas 2016
* Member, Board of Directors, Café Momentum
* Member, Accounting Advisory Board, Texas Christian University
* Distinguished Accounting Alumni – 2021, Texas Christian University
* Certified Public Accountant (Texas)

Charisse Smith is Vice President, Partner Resources (HR) for Starbucks. In this role, she is responsible for leading a remote team and setting HR strategy that supports the Retail Company Operated business. Charisse joined Starbucks after being with 7-Eleven; prior to that, she spent over 10 years at Pfizer, where she held various roles that included HR support for Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Europe, US Sales, R&D, Payer/Channel Access, and Corporate Finance. 

Charisse has worked with organizations, such as, Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, Ramsey County Crisis Nursery, YMCA Black Achievers, A Better Chance Foundation, and was a founding member of Communiversity, where they partnered with Colleges and Universities to educate those in the community at locally owned businesses.  She is also a Board Member with Momentum Advisory Collective (MAC).

Charisse holds a BA 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 a senior executive with 4 decades of experience guiding companies through their growth journey – from early stage to rapid growth, to market leadership. She has in-depth knowledge of the business issues faced by high-growth companies, having served companies from start up to global Fortune 500 enterprises. Seated in the board room of both public and private companies, Debra has experience as Chair of the Audit Committee, and Chair of the Compensation Committee of NASDAQ listed companies. Debra also served as the Americas Director EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® (EOY). She had P&L responsibility and oversight of the global celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship in 11 countries, from Canada, through US, Mexico and Latin America. Debra has guided and collaborated with the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs/CEOs on their path to disrupt and create sustainable growth. EOY is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs, with programs in 60+ countries. Founded in 1986, EOY has been awarded to over 10,000 people. Debra is qualified to serve as a Financial Expert under SEC and NYSE/NASDAQ listing rules.

Debra served at Ernest & Young (EY) 1982 through June 30, 2020 as lead EY Partner for clients who received Advisory, Transaction and Tax services. Debra has a wide breadth of expertise with global public and private companies in the technology and consumer products industries which iIncludes leadership of public global security tech company through rapid growth (40+ acquisitions) and eventual sale; and global F100 telecom company through internet transformation and dissolution. She most recently served as lead partner for a $1.6B technology company, operating in 80+ countries, as well as a hyper-growth early-stage consumer products company with customers in 130 countries. As Southwest Region Growth Markets leader for the past decade, she set direction across the service platforms of Entrepreneurship, IPO, PE/VC and Family Business for an 8-state region. She has extensive experience in providing global business leadership, strategic tax and transaction planning, capital market/private equity activities and advisory services. She led numerous capital market transactions, working with global Private Equity funds on privatization transactions, investments, and IPO/exit readiness activities.

Debra is a graduate of the University of North Texas with BBA in Finance and Accounting, May 1982 and is a Certified Public Accountant. She completed the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management Executive Program and the Harvard Business School Strategic Leadership Program through EY.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.