Our Team

Melinda Emerson, CEO

Melinda. Emerson, “SmallBizLady” is regarded as America’s #1 Small Business Expert. She is an internationally renowned keynote speaker on small business development, online selling, and marketing strategy. In addition to being CEO of Quintessence since 1999, she has built a global brand as SmallBizLady, with a mission to end small business failure. Her brand reaches more than one million entrepreneurs each week online. She hosts The Smallbizchat Podcast and is the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, and Fix Your Business, a 90-Day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos in Your Business.  

In addition to being a former New York Times columnist, she is frequently quoted by media organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, USA Today, Fox Business, MSNBC, CNBC, ABC News, and Entrepreneur, Inc. In 2023, she won a Stevie Award for Woman of the Year for Business Services. HubSpot named her one of the top business coaches in America. LinkedIn named her a Top Voice for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Forbes magazine named her the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on X, formerly Twitter. Melinda earned a B.A. in Communications Studies from Virginia Tech and an Executive MBA from Drexel University.

Gillian Johnson, COO

Gillian Johnson is Chief Operating Officer of Quintessence, where she is responsible for planning and executing strategic initiatives and international expansion. She also manages the company’s finance function. She was formerly COO of Envision2bWell Inc., a corporation dedicated to enabling and inspiring health and well-being for humankind. She has also served as COO and Chief Compliance Officer at Hillview Capital Advisors, a registered investment company with over $800 million in assets under management. Gillian has an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurial Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in International Economics from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Eric Emerson, Director of Human Resources

Eric Emerson is the Director of Human Resources and a Senior Consultant with Quintessence.  With over fifteen years of experience in employment law and as a leader in human resources, Eric is the subject matter expert on all things dealing with hiring, retention, training, and employee relations. He has consulted with companies on a broad range of issues, including developing and revising administrative policies, designing and implementing impactful training programs and employee engagement initiatives, and helping to find difficult-to-locate candidates to fill an important position. Eric is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has a Juris Doctor from the University of Dayton, and a Master’s Certificate in Human Resources Management from Villanova University.

Letitia Crippen, Director of Content Strategy

Letitia Crippen is the Director of Content Strategy at Quintessence. She is a dynamic producer and creative strategist boasting over a decade of experience in producing compelling programming for television, streaming platforms, and live conferences. She is the co-creator of the award-winning TV series "We Talk Weekly" and "The Invincible A-List w/ Vince & Joan." Letitia is a self-identified "multiculturalist" and harbors a profound passion for diversity and fostering human connections, inspired in part by her upbringing as a military brat with experiences living abroad. She has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and an M.S. in Television Management from Drexel University. 

Leyanis Diaz, Bilingual Business Consultant

Leyanis Diaz is a bilingual business consultant and coach at Quintessence. She is a dedicated small business advocate, engaging speaker, and influential Afro-Latina figure. Leyanis's extensive work in community relations and economic development has taken her around the world. Her collaborative efforts have spanned a diverse spectrum of businesses, non-profits, and organizations, both large and small. Notable names on her journey include CNN en Español, Univision, Ford, America's Small Business Development Centers, and KIND Snacks. Leyanis earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida International University and an MSc in Entrepreneurship from University College London.

Olivia Thomas, Brand Strategy Consultant

Olivia Thomas is known as The Brand Counselor at Quintessence. As the Director of Brand Strategy, she is dedicated to crafting compelling brand strategies that resonate with our customer’s dream clients. Olivia's mission is to help businesses build legacies through the telling of captivating brand stories. She helps businesses connect authentically with their audiences, paving the way for sustained success as their businesses and products mature. Olivia has a degree B.A. in Journalism from Eastern University and an M.A. in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University.