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35th Anniversary Gala Program

Registration and Networking

5:30 PM


Tarrus Richardson | Toigo Alumnus, Harvard Business School

Founder & CEO, IMB Partners

7:00 PM

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Tarrus Richardson

Mr. Richardson is the Founder and CEO of IMB which was started in 2010. He has 25 years of private equity experience, has invested over $500 million of capital and completed over 20 platform buyouts and add-on acquisitions. Prior to IMB, Tarrus co-founded ICV Partners, a $440 million minority-owned private equity firm from 1998-2010 and worked at JLL Partners, a private equity firm with over $2 billion of AUM, and Citibank (formerly Salomon Brothers).

Tarrus is the founder of the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP), a top leadership development and networking organization based in New York and Los Angeles and a founding board chair of All Star Code, a leading non-profit focused on helping boys of color code. Mr. Richardson received an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Toigo Fellow.  As a passionate alumnus and former member of the Toigo Board of Directors, Tarrus has contributed in many ways to the organization.  In fact, it was his genius that launched the idea for the annual foundation Gala more than 15 years ago; participating every year as a sponsor.

Defining Moments


Host, CNN United Shades of America

Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell is a comedian, author, and filmmaker. His CNN docu-series "United Shades of America" won five Emmy awards, and he was awarded a Peabody for his docu-series "We Need To Talk About Cosby." He is most proud of his Emmy award-winning documentary short "1000% Me: Growing Up Mixed". Kamau is on the board of Donors Choose and Live Free, and is the ACLU's racial justice ambassador. In 2023 he and his wife Melissa Hudson Bell co-founded Who Knows Best, an Oakland-based production company.

2024 Lifetime Achievement Award

A Pledge for the Future of Finance

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon | Toigo Alumna, Harvard Business School

Toigo Board Member


Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon

Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon is a Managing Partner of Avante Capital Partners.  Based in Los Angeles, Ms. Simon is responsible for identifying, executing and managing investment opportunities.  She currently manages the fund’s portfolio and new deal activities. Ms. Simon joined Avante in 2009 as a founding member of the firm. Ms. Simon has over two decades of middle-market debt and equity investment experience.  Prior to Avante, she held positions at Palladium Equity Partners, Reliant Equity Partners and various investment banks including Salomon Brothers.  Ms. Simon serves on the board of several companies including Quest, LLC.

Ivelisse is a longtime advocate and champion for women, minorities and the underserved and underrepresented.  She holds leadership roles in several local and national non-profit organizations, including The Robert Toigo Foundation, The Hispanic Scholarship Foundation and Westside Family Health Center in Los Angeles. In addition, Ivelisse and her two sisters launched a philanthropic organization called We Will to support and empower underserved women and minorities in the areas of healthcare, education and financial literacy.

Dinner Service

7:40 PM

8:15 PM

The Power of Partnership

Leadership—and A Look Ahead

Kelli Washington | CFA, Toigo Alumna, Yale School of Management

Managing Director of Research & Investment Strategy, Cleveland Clinic Investment Office Toigo Board Member

With Toigo Fellows from Class of 2024

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Kelli Washington

Kelli joined the Cleveland Clinic Investment Office in 2017 as a member of the inaugural team tasked with building a fully discretionary, insourced investment office. In her role, Kelli is primarily responsible for monitoring portfolio asset allocation policies, maintaining the macroeconomic research function and collaborating with the CIO on research that directs tactical asset allocation, investment decisions and hedging strategies for approximately $15.0 billion in assets across four investment pools.

Kelli is a Board Member of the Washington University (in St. Louis) Investment Management Company and a Board Member for the Robert Toigo Foundation. In 2021, Institutional Investor named Kelli a “Rising Star” as well as one of the “Top 50 Women in Investment Management” and the Olin School of Business at Washington University selected Kelli as one of its “Distinguished Alumni.” In 2019, she was included on the CIO Magazine “NextGens” List and Institutional Investor’s “Most Wanted Allocators First Team.”

A Conversation with James Rhee; "State of Inclusion—Shades of Our Time"

James Rhee | Founder & National Bestselling Author, red helicopter

Acclaimed CEO & Investor

Johnson Chair of Entrepreneurship, Howard University

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James Rhee

There is no shortage of stories about leadership and change in business,
but few tales are as inspiring and transformative as James Rhee's. Beyond being the former Chairman and CEO of Ashley Stewart, an investor, author, and acclaimed entrepreneur, he is that rare combination of visionary, creative, and operator who has carved a unique path that defies convention, embraces kindness (and a little math), and provides a proven framework to lead change at work and home. His experiences offer a glimpse into an increasingly blurry future, while his operating system provides the practical framework to address the uncertainty. His media- education platform, red helicopter, is on the cutting edge of a future way of living.
On stage, Rhee draws from his national bestseller, red helicopter: a parable for our times - lead change with kindness and a little math (2024), published in partnership with HarperOne. The book chronicles James's quest to reconcile his past with his present and the radical success story of how a long- time private equity investor and first- time CEO pulled Ashley Stewart from the brink of liquidation, while presenting all of us a comforting
yet bold solution to the dissatisfaction and worry we all feel in a chaotic
world. red helicopter is more than a memoir or a story about saving a
business — it's a manifesto for change. It weaves a vital narrative that
transcends borders and resonates with the collective consciousness of a
generation yearning for meaning and purpose. Central to Rhee’s philosophy is that success and compassion are not mutually exclusive. From business leaders to students and parents, and anyone wishing to drive innovation, build closer teams, or seek a new way forward, James will unleash their ability to embrace their agency, lead change, and thrive - in the business of life and the life of business.

8:45 PM

Program Conclusion

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