Advance your leadership skills.

The ASCEND certificate program provides timely topics that guide students seeking to thrive as leaders. This interactive program will develop your leadership skills and give you invaluable opportunities for networking with industry professionals and other UD students. Participants joining for the full program can earn a certification of completion. ASCEND is open to all UD undergraduate students.

Bonita E. Penn, Lead Facilitator, ASCEND

Bonita E. Penn was born and raised in Delaware. Refusing to be defeated by the challenges of life or being a single mother, she pursued degrees from Delaware State University and obtained dual science-based bachelors’ degrees in nursing and psychology. While working as a registered nurse, Bonita went on to earn a masters of science in nursing from Wilmington University and is currently a family nurse practitioner.

Ms. Penn currently serves on the Advisory Board for Women’s Leadership Initiative and served on the Board of Directors for Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation (FSSF) for 6 years. Bonita completed two intense leadership programs; Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) and Leadership Delaware (LDI), which allowed her to grow, perfect and hone in on her skills as a leader.


Topics covered have included:

  • Diversity in the workplace
  • Personal financial literacy
  • Productivity in a virtual world
  • Building your brand
  • Effective communication
  • Negotiating skills
  • Executive presence


Diversity: Zovig Garboushian

Zovig, CPC, ACC, ELI-MP, Certified Change Expert and Founder, Boldness Ablaze Coaching, spent 15 years in media heading up marketing for national magazines in New York City. In 2015, she made a pivot into career development and training out of her commitment to bringing awareness and visibility to professional and personal development – she wanted to help others find professional passion, joy and their leaders within. In 2019 she founded Boldness Ablaze Coaching, career and leadership coaching for high-performing women who are leaders in their lives and want more out of their work. She uses a combined 20+ years of multi-disciplinary training and experience in coaching, leadership, communication, personal development, organizational change and yoga to help her clients flip the script, use their voice and choose their choice. She has a BA in psychology, is a Certified Professional Coach (iPEC, ICF), a Prosci Certified Change Expert, trainer, speaker and workshop leader.

Breaking Through Barriers: Lynette Braxton

Lynette Mellerson Braxton is a sales executive in the consumer packaged goods industry. With over 22 years of experience, Lynette has a talent for developing and unlocking new go to market strategies that drive engagement and excite the three key sales stakeholders – the consumer, customer, and company sales team. Lynette spent the last 20 years of her career honing her strategic planning and sales capabilities while holding strategic sales roles at Kraft Foods, Mondelez International, and most recently Reckitt Benckiser. Currently as the Head of Trade Marketing for the Health Business Unit, Lynette leads a team of talented Trade and Shopper Marketing professionals in developing the strategic sales and trade initiatives across multiple health brands to include Mucinex, Airborne, Neuriva, Durex, and Biofreeze.
Since her service completion of the AmeriCorps program as an undergrad at UD, Lynette has maintained a passion for philanthropic and community outreach. She founded Project My Brother’s Keeper- a NJ Non-Profit Corporation in 2019, focusing on homeless outreach and community support for those in need in our urban communities. Through Project MBK, Lynette, the foundation board members, donors, volunteers, and friends have assisted numerous families in need and homeless individuals in the Essex County NJ area throughout the pandemic.

Negotiating Skills: Sally Stetson

Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Salveson Stetson Group, an MPI company.
Sally brings more than two decades of experience as an executive search consultant. She has worked across diverse industries including pharmaceutical and biotech, healthcare systems, manufacturing, telecommunications, non-profit and professional services. Sally also serves as Practice Leader for the firm’s Human Resources Specialty Practice. Sally holds a Master of Arts from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Delaware. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Modern Group, a privately held, industrial equipment service and sales supplier, as well as the Board of Directors for Concorde Career Colleges, a for-profit national organization that prepares committed students for successful employment in rewarding healthcare professions. Sally is also a committee member for SHRM’s HR People + Strategy (HRPS) Strategic HR Forum and an Emeritus Board Member of the Board of Directors for the Please Touch Museum.

Personal Finance and Investing: Mike Sicuranza, CFP, AEP

Michael J. Sicuranza, Certified Financial Planner™, is a co-founder of Milestone Wealth Advisors, Inc., a comprehensive wealth management firm located in Greenville, Delaware. Milestone serves individuals, professionals, families and business owners. Michael also specializes in the unique planning and practice management needs of physicians, for which he has received national recognition. Medical Economics magazine has named Mike as one of the top financial planners for doctors nationwide seven consecutive times. The honor is based on client service, knowledge, experience and financial planning advice designed specifically for the medical community. Mike has been published in national and regional business publications and has shared his knowledge about a variety of financial planning topics on television and radio. Mike graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor of science in Economics. He has been involved in a mentorship program for the College of Business and Economics at the University and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Women’s Leadership Initiative at UD. An active member of the community, Mike is a member of the Financial Planning Association and the Estate Planning Council for the State of Delaware. He is also the Vice President of The Next Generation which is part of the Delaware Community Foundation.

Executive Presence and Personal Branding: Monica Eboda

President and CEO, ImagineX International LLC and Owner, PrideStaff Wilmington, DE
Monica Eboda is an international executive coach and leadership consultant who brings over 25 years of business leadership experience. Her focus is helping executives, women in business and emerging leaders unlock their potential, discover their true passion and ascend to extraordinary levels of performance. In 2011, she was named a Woman of Influence by the National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO). In 2019, Monica was named a “Talent Person of the Year” finalist by Delaware Business Times (DBT) in partnership with Delaware Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Monica has numerous certifications and training including Coach Master ToolKit (CMT-WBECS 15 months), GAP International: Executive Challenge Course, and Executive Mastery.


For more information, please contact:

Dafina Blacksher Diabate
Program director – Women’s Leadership Initiative