Examining Rochester's History of Discrimination
MEET THE PANELISTS
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 133-year 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.
Christopher Santana aka Richie, is a proud son of Rochester, New York, having grown up on the city's northeast side. Richie is the founder and CEO of the RIXCH XCHANGE clothing brand. The driving force that has made Richie who he is has been his life experiences.
When Richie was young, he had a run-in with the law that gave him pause and caused him to think about life differently. Richie would go on to complete his high school equivalency and discover ways to create success for himself that wouldn't force him to break the law. Richie would change his environment, where he found himself in the presence of other entrepreneurs.
It was in the new company of people that Richie discovered entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not just a product, but it’s who you are, as you put everything about yourself into what your make or provide. This notion motivated Richie to create RIXCH EXCHANGE, where he has been in business for over two years. RIXCH EXCHANGE clothing has crossed the six-figure threshold in annual revenue and continues to grow. Richie has plans for his clothing brand to become global! Richie's story is proof that life isn't about where you start but where you take it.
Timothy Taylor is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Data Brilliance Software LLC. He drives the company’s strategy and execution. Timothy has over 18 years in the IT software solutions. Timothy attended Roberts Wesleyan College and James Madison University. Before entrepreneurship and devoting his work full-time to Data Brilliance software, he held high-ranking-positions for multibillion dollar firms at Xerox, Ametek Power Instruments, and Aerospace Firth Rixon. After that Timothy decided to go into business for himself and started Taylor Software Co., soon to be known as Data Brilliance Software. Timothy’s first year into entrepreneurship, he made over $325,000 in sales being the sole member in his Batavia based company (Moved to Rochester in 2018). His second year into business, achieved over a half million dollars in sales which enabled him to hire 7 employees. With continuous growth in sales and currently 60 employees, Data Brilliance has stepped into business with local and federal government contraction in Information Technology.
Timothy is very active in the community with his latest efforts of donating over 800 meals to the University of Rochester Strong Hospital essential workers.
Timothy holds summer education programs teaching software development and coding.
Outside of software and business, Timothy enjoys mentoring youth in life and basketball programs. Teaching them teamwork and execution of plays/plans. He also enjoys writing books with his latest work “The Shot sent me to Software”.