10:30 – 11:20 am

Black Prosperity 2.0: Business Strategies for Achieving Equity in the Workplace

This breakout session is a follow up to our June 15 event Black Prosperity: Achieving the Unfulfilled Promise of Black Capitalism. Adrian Hale returns as moderator for a discussion with a panel of local business owners discussing initiatives they have put in place to achieve equity in the workplace. This session will give participants concrete examples of successful strategies and tactics to inspire action for change. 


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Adrian joined Foundry as its Director of Economic & Community Development in December of 2021. Adrian is a proud son and champion for Rochester NY, who previously created and oversaw the office of Workforce Development, Regional Talent Strategy, and Education Initiatives at the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. In addition to his responsibilities at Foundry, he serves on several boards, most notably as a community board member on the Democrat and Chronicle’s Editorial Board. Adrian was a driving force in making education coverage a priority, which resulted in the D&C’s Time to Educate Project, a public education campaign about challenges facing the Rochester City School District and potential solutions to address them. In recognition of Adrian’s work and service on behalf of young people in our community, he was awarded the 2019 Teen Empowerment Champion for Youth Leadership Award, making him the youngest recipient in the award’s history.


Before his role as a civic leader at the Greater Rochester Chamber, Adrian served in the United States Military. Adrian was an active-duty Marine for five years. As a Marine he made two combat deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). After his honorable discharge from the Marines, Adrian re-enlisted in the US Air Force Reserves, where he served for three years. 

Adrian joined the Foundry team because he believes in the socio-economic problem-solving power of decentralized infrastructure technologies, particularly for communities such as Rochester. Adrian graduated with an Associate of Science in Liberal Arts, with a concentration in Social Science from SUNY Monroe Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Yale University. Adrian lives by an ethos of, “Do what you can today, until you can do more tomorrow.” 



As president of US Ceiling Corp, Melissa Geska sets and defines the strategic vision of her growing social impact construction company, bringing an unwavering commitment to change lives, empower communities and help priority populations build economic self-reliance. Under Melissa’s leadership, US Ceiling has helped change Rochester’s landscape by working on some of its most notable and transformative construction projects. She takes great pride in paying her success forward—continually serving as a role model and mentor, and contributing to various nonprofit organizations that address issues affecting minorities and women. Passionate about bridging the labor gap and promoting diversity in construction, Melissa works to provide practical experience and employment opportunities through her firm’s skilled trades training and workforce development program, USC Academy. Most recently, she was appointed chairwoman of the Builders Exchange of Rochester and is the first woman and person of color to serve in such a capacity in the organization’s 133year history. Melissa also currently serves on the board for Young Women’s College Prep, Flower City Habitat for Humanity and RochesterWorks!, and is past president of the Rochester Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction. She was named a Rochester Business Journal (RBJ) Circle of Excellence and Excellence in Construction honoree in 2021, an RBJ Women of Excellence honoree in 2018, and shortlisted in 2018 and 2019 as an SBC Business Person of the Year finalist. In 2018, US Ceiling also received NYS’ most prestigious honor for minority-/woman-owned business enterprises: the Carey Gabay Excellence and Innovation Award.  

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Tina Paradiso is the owner of three social enterprises, following the principles of conscious capitalism and serving leadership. Her personal mission statement is: to defend and champion humankind through strong advocacy for what is right, equitable and just. She spent three years working into the working poor class after experiencing homelessness at the age of 19 and she is a survivor of domestic violence. A decade after settling into Rochester, NY, she purchased her first business at the age of 42.  She is an enthusiastic, authentic and relentless non-conformist who has the ability to see through others’ lens, balancing high expectations with heart to serve others through business.