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Meet Our Team

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CEO & Founder

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Britney Robbins

As a catalyst for social change, Britney Robbins leverages entrepreneurial values to maximize opportunities for economic inclusion. In her role as Founder and CEO of The Gray Matter Experience, she empowers young people to strengthen their ties to self and society through experiential learning and leveraging entrepreneurial values. Since 2016, TGME has connected nearly 1000 Black youth to opportunities that propel their futures forward, serving as the paramount blueprint for entrepreneurship education across the country.


An innovator within Chicago’s business and tech community, Britney has partnered with some of the city’s top venture capital firms and incubators. Through her work with CAST US, a multi-million dollar Black-owned Capital firm and Accelerator, Britney has built connections across generational, financial, and status divides, creating more access and resources for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Most recently, Britney designed and spearheaded the Frederick Douglass Entrepreneurial Development & Leadership Institute (EDLI), a non-profit spinoff of CAST-US dedicated to empowering disinvested entrepreneurs to succeed with personalized connection to an ecosystem of resources and support.


She has been awarded and recognized as a trailblazer and champion for social justice by Essence, Ebony, Forbes, Chicago Bulls, Ariel Investments, City of Chicago and others for her significant contributions to the corporate, finance, and civic leadership communities.

Britney Robbins
Stacey Pitts Caldwell
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Stacey Pitts-Caldwell

Senior Dir. of Development and Operations

Ignited by her passion for helping entrepreneurs thrive, and energized by her experience in business, development, and non-profit management, Stacey has nearly 20 years of professional experience within the areas of management, business and more recently non-profit leadership and fundraising. As owner of SMP Creative Business and Design™, a boutique graphic design firm, Stacey continues to be a resource and helps small businesses with their branding needs.

 

Previous to her current role, Stacey led small business efforts at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Through individual advising, program development and community outreach, as the Executive Center Director, Stacey worked to elevate and bring awareness to the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an invaluable resource in the small business ecosystem.  

 

Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Stacey earned both her Bachelor of Arts in Management (BA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees from Benedictine University. Currently pursuing a PhD in Business Psychology, Stacey has a renewed focus on organizational development and change management, particularly through the lens of connecting the behaviors and actions of people as a contribution to a more equitable and inclusive workplace. 

With dynamic presence and strong passions for the advancement of Black young professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders, Stacey is also a wife, mother of her only daughter and two doggie daughters, small business owner, scholar, and trusted advisor within the entrepreneurship space, who enjoys wearing multiple hats and is fulfilled by strategic execution of ideas and innovation

Corinne Durrette
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Corinne Durrette

Entrepreneurship Program Director

In finding her passion and purpose in educational space for over 10 years, Corinne has designed and driven work that empowers young people to use their voices and creativity to express themselves, find innovative solutions, and make meaningful impact in their communities. 

Corinne is a professional instructional coach, licensed teacher, and avid youth advocate with a foundation in psychology, African American studies, and a M.Ed in curriculum design and instruction.

Corinne is excited to develop a curriculum and support instruction that will equip young people with tools to build their confidence and skills to become successful entrepreneurs. Throughout her career, Corinne has been able to connect, learn, and teach with peers stateside and abroad through speaking engagements, workshop facilitation, and fellowship programs like Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms.

Her values of integrity, exploration, and collaboration fuel her excitement for her work. Prior to joining the Gray Matter team, Corinne coached CPS high school educators focused on experiential learning and relationship building. She loves novel experiences and enjoys trying new hobbies, traveling, and food.  

Lu'Cretia Thomas
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Lu'Cretia Thomas

Marketing & Communications Specialist

Lu’Cretia Thomas is an extraordinary marketer with a decade of experience in the entrepreneurial space. She is a true innovator, creating content that not only informs but also provokes thought and brings people together. Lu'Cretia has a deep commitment to young people and empowering them to become the next generation of innovative thinkers and status quo disrupters through entrepreneurship and economic equity. She is also an Instructor here at Gray Matter.

 

Prior to joining Gray Matter, Lu’Cretia gained experience in both marketing and entrepreneurship through serial business ownership. She has empowered countless Female Founders to grow their businesses, share their stories and make a positive impact in their communities through her platform Girl Behind The Hustle. Her marketing clients and content have been featured on Access Hollywood, Fox, Oprah, Forbes, GMA, Vogue & Shondaland. Lu'Cretia was named one of the top 20 influential women in Chicago by 300 Chicago Black Women.

 

She holds an Entrepreneurship certificate from Cornell and a Bachelor’s of Science from Elmhurst University where she double majored in Business Management and Economics.

When she isn’t creating marketing funnels, Lu’Cretia can be found lost in a book, at an art gallery, or exploring every Chicago neighborhood with her vivacious daughter. 

Oluwatobi Tobi Oladejo
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Oluwatobi “Tobi” Oladejo is the Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator for The Gray Matter Experience. As both a passionate creative and lover of community development, Tobi aims to amplify the stories of the overlooked, while building sustainable systems of support and access in different communities.

Prior to joining TGME, Tobi was the Innovation Program Coordinator for the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, where he built a collaborative community of 190 startups and designed programs that connected IL’s diverse entrepreneurs and ESOs with funding opportunities, venture capital stakeholders, and corporate investment teams.

Tobi previously worked as an Innovation Hub strategist for the Illinois Innovation Network during his time at Illinois State University, where he pursued his Masters degree in Applied Community and Economic Development. 

Before his time as a strategist and graduate student, Tobi served as a mentor and student success coach with City Year Chicago, an AmeriCorps program. 

In 2018, he received his B.A. in Public Relations from Howard University

Oluwatobi Tobi Oladejo

Program Coordinator

Naamonde Williams
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Naamonde Williams-Lega has 16 years of experience in the field of education as an educator and is now a school counselor. She is the founder of Thoughts Along the Journey LLC, a small brand that focuses on young women's mental health and wellness. Naamonde was if of Haitian descent and a first-generation American born and raised in Chicago, IL. Naamonde attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities for her Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education and Leadership Development to obtain higher education. She then followed that up with a Master’s degree in Education and also in Clinical Mental Health-School Counseling.

 

Naamonde hopes to continue her mental health journey by opening a small wellness cafe’ and engaging in public speaking. When she is not working or learning more about the mental health field, you can find her working with the youth in her community, spending time with her family, traveling, or between the pages of the latest thriller novel.

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Program Instructor

Kyra Lavalais 
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Kyra Lavalais 

Program Instructor

Born and raised in Chicago, Kyra studied Marketing and Technology & Management at the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. After working in the tech start up space in undergrad, she has worked alongside the CEO of a top 2 marketing and PR firm in Chicago with clients like Cards Against Humanity, Stan’s Donuts, LA Dodgers Foundation. Kyra has successfully launched her brand design firm, Studio3, specializing in website design and continues to bring visions to life for her clients.

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