Trainer Bios

Hermence Matsotsa

Founder and CEO uBuntuSpeaks, LLC

“Let our Voices be the Catalyst for Change and our ideas design the Solutions to Our World’s Most Pressing Problems.” – Hermence Matsotsa Hermence Matsotsa, MPH. Ed. is a multi-lingual (French, Spanish, and English) with more than 20 years’ experience developing and facilitating workforce development, cross and Intercultural communication, conflict management, organizational culture, and leadership initiatives. Ms. Matsotsa is also Founder and CEO of uBuntuSpeaks, LLC Parent company of UBUNTU. UBUNTU is a professional development, DEI, and organizational cultural and leadership consulting firm dedicated to building the capacities and competencies of career professionals and the multinational organizations. All resulting in the cultivation of a productive, inclusive, and engaging workplace culture. Ms. Matsotsa, has led the programming and implementation of initiatives for nonprofit organizations, community development, global health and international development organization including the Peace Corps, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and World Health Organization STOP Polio program, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her work focused on the need to provide capacity building, critical soft skills development, conflict resolution, and cultural competence and communication to multicultural, multilingual, and multidisciplinary workforce. She is responsible for the development and facilitation of cross-cutting approaches needed to create safe environments for the improvement of diversity, equity, belonging, cross and intercultural communication, emal culture and leadership within public health organizations. Ms. Matsotsa’s proven expertise in DEI programing and facilitation, cross/intercultural communication, 0rganizational cultural analysis and change, capacity building training, and health systems strengthening, as well as global health workforce development within diverse cultural and multilingual populations. In addition, she has vast experience and expertise in infectious disease prevention, crisis, and emergency risk communication (CERC), treatment and outbreak response (HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, Ebola, and Polio). She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Fulbright Scholar, and Positive DEIB and Culture Disruptor and Advocate. She has shared the stage with many of the industry’s leading international speakers and change makers. By incorporating the South African philosophy of UBUNTU -I am who I am because we all are. She challenges and encourages career professionals, corporate, and organization leaders to create diverse, inclusive, and empowering spaces that encourage a culture of genuine respect, understanding, collaboration, and both personnel and organizational growth. When she is not guiding, and providing, corporations and organizations with the tools to create safe and culturally diverse and inclusive environments for all, she is skydiving and counting the stars and constellations with her daughter and husband. “I am who I am because we all are!”

David Hobbs

Vice President Financial Services Advisor Atlantic Union Bank

Vice President, FSC Manager/Relationship Manager at Atlantic Union Bank, I understand the complexities associated with the operational needs of real estate investors, government contractors, title companies and non-profits. I work with organizations to: 1) optimize their transactions for better cash management; 2) improve payment practices and; 3) enhance working capital and liquidity. Trusted Advisor for small businesses including government contractors & organizations in areas of financial management, treasury services and operational processes.

Tomas Rakos

Expert on Participatory Planning and Public Engagement ParticipationFactory

Tomas Rakos is an expert on public participation and community engagement who has worked on over 200 projects in such countries as US, UK, France, Tunisia, Colombia, India, Zambia, and the Czech Republic. Tom’s key expert areas include participation process design, stakeholder mapping and engagement, youth participation strategies, civic tech consulting, participatory budgeting, participatory urban planning, quantative and qualitative data gathering and analysis, project and organization management, strategic planning for communities of various sizes, and capacity building. In the past he co-founded and ran D21, social enterprise that provided SW and consulting services on public engagement processes. He led a team that for the past four years implemented digital voting solution for the NYCC Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. Besides NYC he has been practically involved in around 20 other PB processes in the Czech Republic, India, Zambia, France and Scotland. He is currently focusing on bringing participatory principles into smart city planning processes. His cooperation with the City of Prague’s Institute of Planning and Development led into creation of series of policy analysis and strategic recommendation papers on how to implement better participatory strategies in areas of urban planning and placemaking as well as systematic changes in structures of the municipality’s government bodies and departments in favor of more inclusive and participatory approach. Tom is frequent lecturer and trainer for audiences of mayors, city officials, participation practitioners, government institutions, urban planners, media and NGO workers. He is a founder of the ParticipationFactory – international consulting group which helps governments on all levels with designs of participatory processes, civic-tech implementation and capacity building. Tomas is a former Czech Radio and Czech Television reporter where he worked as a Middle East correspondent. He studied Arabic and Hebrew Studies at the Charles University in Prague.  He speaks Czech, English, Hebrew and German. 

He is based in Prague, Czech Republic.



Josette Dijkhuizen

Entrepreneur and Honorary Professor in Entrepreneurship Development De Zakencoach

As an entrepreneur and professor I connect science with practice in the field of entrepreneurship. I do this by using my knowledge, experience and network for the business and personal development of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, and by setting up innovative projects which are of societal and economic value. For me, entrepreneurship development and growth is not about bigger, but about greater. That’s why I always say: a successful business starts with the entrepreneur. For me, the success is not determined by the size of the enterprise, but by the contribution and impact the entrepreneur delivers to society and in realizing his or her ambitions. My focus is on corporate entrepreneurship, social and women entrepreneurship, and on the more psychological aspects. In this field I work as consultant, trainer and speaker for educational institutions, corporates, public sector, and many others. My passion for entrepreneurship is expressed in books, scientific papers, and presentations. A previous position as UN Women’s Representative for the Netherlands, led to the idea for Krachtbedrijf Foundation, to assist survivors of violence to start-up their business. I feel honored to have received (inter)national awards for my work. Do you want to know more about me and my work? You are welcome to visit my website Hope to see you!

Knut Klonteig Nielsen

Co-Founder Alva Industries

Co-founder of Alva Industries, an electric motor tech start-up based in Trondheim, Norway. I am an engineer-turned-entrepreneur with my educational background from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where I studied marine technology before taking my M.Sc. at the NTNU School of Entrepreneurship. My main expertise lies in early-stage financing, with a special focus on grant financing and “soft funding” as a non-dilutive alternative to private capital. Passionate about technology, the environment and chess.

Melina Taprantzi

Founder and CEO Wise Greece

Her first degree may have been in Philosophy, but eventually it was the world of marketing and communication than won her over and for which she has worked for over 10 years, assisting many brands to become established and known. Always a volunteer, ready to offer help to various charities, she recognized the need for their existence as well as their difficulties to remain sustainable, in order to accomplish the relief of social problems.

Social entrepreneurship is exactly what fulfills her! It is incredibly important to work and offer simultaneously. To be able to maintain a degree of sustainability and offer a solution to an important social problem at the same time… hence “Wise Greece” was born. A social enterprise that on the one hand promotes top quality Greek products and on the other uses the profits from sales in order to buy foods in bulk and donate them to soup kitchens, children, families and the elderly in need, hence essentially having 2 important missions; promoting all that makes us Greeks proud and at the same time offering to unprivileged people their most basic need, food. Today Wise Greece works with over 100 small producers who offer over 2.500 products; exports to 8 countries, has donated over 50 tons of food to orphanages, soup kitchens and charitable institutions, has received important awards, among which is the prestigious award from the President of the Greek Republic “Models of Excellence”, as well as the Start Up award for sustainability and social contribution, the European Social Challenge Award 2018, the Innovative Fundraising Award by the British Council and the BeMed Award by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. 

Melina often presents Wise Greece and its model of Social Entrepreneurship at international congresses and conferences aiming to inspire young people to create their own social enterprise. She is a mentor to emerging social entrepreneurs and has spoken at Forums that support female entrepreneurship. She is also a keynote speaker at international seminars on social entrepreneurship, an Ambassador of the “Think Young Entrepreneurship School”, a TEDX Speaker, an IVLP Alumna in the program of Social Responsibility and Innovation funded by the US Department of State, a co-builder of the international “World Human Forum”, a Young Emerging Leader 2018 by the European-Australian Forum and a Young Innovative Leader 2019 (YTILI Fellow) by the German Marshall Fund and the US Department of State.


Arild Aspelund

Professor Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Dr Arild Aspelund is Professor in International Marketing at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management. He was awarded his PhD at NTNU in 2005 in the field of international entrepreneurship. Dr Aspelund’s educational background is primarily from NTNU, but also comprises graduate education from MIT Sloan School of Management (Visiting Fellow Program 2000/2001), Harvard Business School (2001) and École Supérieure de Genié Industriel (1999). Arild Aspelund has a broad range of publications and has contributed with research in entrepreneurship, international business and global manufacturing. However, recent years his research has been focuson on profitable sustainability and how firms can build competitiveness through the green transition. Dr Aspelund also have extensive international experience with visiting scholarships at MIT and Harvard in 2000/2001, Montpellier Business School in 2011, and Cambridge University in 2016. He has also long teaching experience, especially in executive training with more than 20 years of experience in training entrepreneurs and managers.