In Reality: Cultivating Innovation Through Diversity


In Reality: Cultivating Innovation Through Diversity

April 20, 2023
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

16 W. 61st St., 11th floor auditorium

Join us as the School of Management's In Reality Podcast hosts its first live simulcast show, "Cultivating Innovation Through Diversity." Our expert panel will provide insights into how entrepreneurs and leaders innovate, overcome barriers, and thrive in the business world, and discuss the importance of diversity in driving innovation

This event will feature
  • Keynote Speaker:
    • Lorraine Marchand, Author, The Innovation Mindset: Eight Essential Steps to Transforming Any Industry
  • Guest Speakers:
    • Sylvana Quader Sinha, Founder, Chair, and CEO of Praava Health
    • Michele Gay, Co-Founder, LimeLife by Alcone
    • Deborah Brown (M.B.A. '08), Transformational Leader in Healthcare and Former Senior Director of Abbott Toxicology
  • Event Host:
    • Deborah Y. Cohn, (M.B.A. '89), Ph.D., M.Phil., Interim Dean and Professor, New York Tech School of Management
  • Podcast Host and Moderator:

Join us in person at 16 W. 61st St., 11th floor auditorium on our New York campus, or virtually. Zoom information will be provided upon registration.
Get directions and parking information

For more information, please contact Victoria Greco at or 516.686.7848.

Meet Our Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Lorraine Marchand

Lorraine Marchand
Author, The Innovation Mindset: Eight Essential Steps to Transforming Any Industry

Lorraine Marchand is the author of THE INNOVATION MINDSET: Eight Essential Steps to Transform Any Industry, published by Columbia University Press September 2022. With three decades of experience in new product development for Fortune 500 companies, she has held leadership positions at IBM, Bristol Myers Squibb, LabCorp, and the National Institutes of Health; cofounded four companies; and advised firms including Johnson & Johnson and Hewlett Packard.

Marchand is an adjunct professor of management and serves on the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program Advisory Board at Columbia Business School and is an adjunct professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at Yeshiva University’s Katz School of Science and Health. She is also an investor-member of the venture firm Plum Alley and on the advisory board of several innovative technology companies. Marchand is passionate about encouraging people from diverse backgrounds to advance their innovative ideas and pursue their dreams and is a volunteer advisor to several entrepreneurial incubators and women’s networks.

Guest Speaker

Sylvana Quader Sinha

Sylvana Quader Sinha
Founder, Chair, and CEO of Praava Health

Sylvana Quader Sinha is the Founder and CEO of Praava Health in Bangladesh. Praava Health is a network of family health centers where patients come first. Praava is building a better patient experience enabled by technology, offering consultations with family doctors and a full range of diagnostics services including lab and imaging.

Sinha built this company from scratch, largely based on inspiration derived from conversations with public health professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors in India, Asia, and beyond, learning from what had worked in other markets and what made sense for Bangladesh at this moment of its economic development.


Sinha is an attorney and entrepreneur with a passion for innovative, impactful approaches to governance and international development. She has over a decade of experience leading diverse, interdisciplinary teams in international law, business, development, and government relations, including at major international law firms, management consulting firms, the World Bank, and think tanks in the Middle East and South Asia. She has independently advised private and sovereign clients on investments, projects, and disputes in frontier markets in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. She has advised governments in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Asia on governance and legal reform, and has counseled multinational and regional clients investing and engaged in disputes in these and other markets on political, economic, and legal risk.

Sinha also served as a foreign policy advisor to the 2008 Presidential campaign of then-Senator Barack Obama. She is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and also serves as a member of the National University of Singapore Medicine International Council. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she earned a certificate from the Parker School of Comparative and International Law. She also earned a master's degree in Public Administration / International Development from Harvard's Kennedy School and her Bachelor of Arts (with honors) in Economics and Philosophy from Wellesley College and also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford studying politics, philosophy, and economics.

Guest Speaker

Michele Gay

Michele Gay
LimeLife by Alcone

Michele Gay credits her leadership roles in a variety of sectors as the key to her success as the co-Founder and co-CEO of LimeLife by Alcone.

LimeLife by Alcone offers consumers professional makeup and tools and chemical-free, effective skin care. What started out with no customers or sale field, grew to over $100 million in sales in four years with over 25,000 sales representatives (Beauty Guides) in 10 different markets worldwide. This landed LimeLife on the Top 100 Global Direct Sales Companies ranking, the fourth youngest on that list.


After graduating from Cornell University in 1994 as a microbiology major, she joined Teach for America and worked as both a science teacher and in their headquarters. She then worked for her family's business, Alcone, which distributes cosmetics to professional makeup artists around the world. She left the company to launch several start-up websites. Gay then took several years at home to raise her three children before being called to lead Alcone as its President in 2010. During this time she, along with her siblings, sought innovative ways to deepen the company's connections to professional makeup artists. In response, they started a direct sales company, which would eventually become LimeLife by Alcone.

In 2017, LimeLife by Alcone partnered with L'Occitane en Province, a French beauty brand, to accelerate their growth and expansion. Gay now serves as the chairwoman and co-CEO of LimeLife by Alcone and manages the company's global development.

Her mission at LimeLife is to help women understand their worth and get paid for it. Rather than focus on standard sales trainings, her company trains Beauty Guides on ways to unfold their inner magic, build up confidence in themselves and others, and keep an abundant mindset. This July, she will be publishing a book about female financial empowerment that focuses on the emotional obstacles rather than the actual process.

Gay believes that if we can increase women's confidence and financial autonomy, we can generate an important cultural shift that will address some of the most long-standing economic, cultural, and social problems around the world—and that is the focus of her company and work each day.

Guest Speaker

Deborah Brown

Deborah Brown (M.B.A. '08),
Transformational Leader in Healthcare and Former Senior Director of Abbott Toxicology

Deborah was born in Guyana, South America where she was raised in a household where education was highly valued.

Deborah’s interest in science began in high school and by age 15, she had narrowed her focus to healthcare. Her inquisitive nature made clinical lab work a natural choice.

After graduating from high school, Deborah served as an intern at the country’s main laboratory for a year before enrolling in the medical technology program at the University of Guyana.


Seeking to expand her professional opportunities, Deborah moved to the United States to complete her education. She received a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and later earned a Master of Business Administration in project management at the New York Institute of Technology, graduating with distinction.

Early in, her career, Deborah encountered a particular challenge that many women in the working world face: advancing her career while raising a family. She found her answer in a reference lab where she accepted a supervisory role in the Microbiology Department at Quest Diagnostics in Tucker, Georgia.

Deborah’s work ethic and impact were soon recognized, and she progressed through a series of roles of increasing scope and responsibilities. Each position brought new opportunities for professional growth and development.

Deborah complemented her on-the-job experience with targeted training, earning change management, Lean Six Sigma and American Society for Quality manager of quality/ organizational excellence certifications. This combination of training and practical application proved effective, as well as personally fulfilling for Deborah.

Most memorable was her time as a program director driving cultural transformation at several Quest laboratories. Her focus was on developing a culture of continuous improvement through employee engagement and empowerment by building lean capabilities at all levels of the organization.

After 20 years at Quest Diagnostics, Deborah transitioned to Abbott in 2020 as the Senior Director, US Toxicology laboratories, just as the United States was locking down in response to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. She was immediately tasked with leading an Operations workstream to implement COVID-19 PCR and antibody testing in the laboratory.

Deborah has continued to apply her learning and experience to build her leadership team at Abbott, improve performance and create a culture of continuous improvement through capability building, employee engagement and empowerment.

Deborah has 3 sons and lives in the Chicago, Illinois area with her husband of 32 years.

Event Host

Deborah Y. Cohn

Deborah Y. Cohn, Ph.D., M.Phil., (M.B.A. '89)
Interim Dean and Professor, School of Managment

Deborah Y. Cohn, Ph.D. earned her MBA from New York Tech in 1989. In 2009 when she returned as a marketing faculty, she felt like she was coming home. She was appointed as interim dean of the university's School of Management in 2021. Her previous roles include tenured professor of marketing, associate dean of faculty affairs, chair of School Personnel Committee, member of the School's Impact committee, and Director of its Professional Enrichment (PE) Program. Before joining the university in 2009, she spent 12 years in academia at various business schools in the U.S..

Full Bio

Podcast Host and Event Moderator

John Rebecchi

John Rebecchi (M.B.A. '83), Ph.D.
SVP, Marketing and New Business Development, DISC

John Rebecchi is senior vice president of marketing and new business development at DISC, a leading producer of specialty packaging solutions for the beauty and personal care, entertainment and media, and healthcare markets located in Hauppauge, N.Y. For more than three decades, Rebecchi has helped grow DISC into an international company with $50 million in revenue.

DISC focuses on creating consumer experiences that impact multiple senses. The company works with a client to ensure a product’s visuals are consistent with its brand. One example is the packaging DISC created for the DVD boxed set of the classic TV show Hawaii Five-0, which ran from 1968 to 1980. The 73-disc set includes a vibrant blue wave effect and packaging materials that feel like sea foam. Rebecchi has also overseen designs for DVD and Blu-ray sets for Star Trek, I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, and other popular entertainment brands.


When Rebecchi joined DISC in 1978 as an accountant, the company served as the in-house label producer for Pickwick International, at the time one of the largest U.S. retailers of LP albums, eight-track tapes, and cassettes. Pickwick was sold off in the early 1980s and control of DISC was offered to employees. Rebecchi jumped at the opportunity and partnered with two colleagues to become founding shareholders. Together, they explored new business opportunities in order to leverage DISC’s packaging strengths. His new role as head of a company also motivated him to pursue an M.B.A.

Rebecchi attended NYIT-Long Island where he studied alongside other business professionals. He appreciated the practical, applied learning that his NYIT instructors instilled in every course. After earning his M.B.A., Rebecchi created a business plan to attract investors; it resulted in an additional $5 million in funding. DISC also expanded into videocassettes, a natural extension of its entertainment business. As technology advanced, so did opportunities, which included the DVD and Blu-ray markets but also businesses outside the entertainment industry such as private-label drug manufacturers.

Rebecchi joined the School of Management’s Business Advisory Board to help ensure that the school’s business courses give students the critical thinking, decision-making, and research skills needed for successful careers. He's now the host of the School of Management podcast, In Reality: Lessons from Leaders and Entrepreneurs, conducting interviews with thought leaders, entrepreneurs from startups to multinational companies, and experts in fields shaping the future of business.