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Melissa Dawn Simkins

Melissa Dawn Simkins, affectionately known as “The First Lady of Personal Branding,” is a pioneer in personal brand leadership with a proven track record of advising Fortune 100 companies, CEOs, C-suite executives and influencers. She is a sought after strategist on how to lead change in the face of adversity. 

She is CEO of Velvet Suite® an award-winning leadership innovation firm unleashing purpose-driven leadership as the uncontested catalyst to growth. She is also the Founder of The She-Suite®, the female focused leadership and lifestyle platform of Velvet Suite on a mission to reset the standard for working women to boldly lead with purpose in work, well-being and beyond. The She-Suite Brand Leadership Institute (BLI), is the only online personal brand leadership readiness platform built to scale for the enterprise to ready, retain and advance all women & women of color. Melissa is a sought-after keynote speaker on leadership innovation, the future of work and well-being for women. Melissa is a former contributor to and has been a frequent guest on media outlets such as CNN, CNBC and more. She is the author of Brand Me. Make Your Mark: The Ultimate Playbook for Personal Branding.  

As an innovator, Simkins was the first African American female advisory board member for the World Brand Congress. Velvet Suite created the National Football League (NFL) Player Brand University in partnership with the NFL, the first personal brand development academy of its kind in all professional sports. Other Velvet Suite clients have included: Boston Scientific Corporation, Google, Allstate, Home Depot, UBS, the National Basketball Association, CEOs, C-Suite executives, celebrities, pro-athletes. 

Melissa is a graduate from Otterbein University with a BA in Public Relations and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Society of Human Resource Management Foundation (SHRM-F) and a is former Trustee for her alma mater, Otterbein University. Melissa is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a high-quality support network of 14,000+ like-minded leaders across 61 countries.

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