Executive Vice President, Global Sales
Visionary management consultant and entrepreneur James was born to Chicago postal workers William and Camille Lowry. He graduated from the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago and Grinnell College in Iowa. Lowry served in the Peace Corps in Tanzania and Puerto Rico before earning a master's degree in public international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
In 1968, Lowry was McKinsey Consulting's first African American recruit. At McKinsey, Lowry convinced corporate clients of the value of investing in minority communities and sought to increase the firm's number of African American consultants. He continued this work while attending Harvard Business School, where he served as class president in 1973. On assignment from former Commerce Secretary Juanita Morris Kreps, Lowry produced a report on the status of minorities in the twenty-first century that attracted the attention of numerous municipal and corporate clients, including PepsiCo and Ford. He founded James H. Lowry & Associates in 1975. Lowry's strategic partnership with Ford led to the automotive giant sourcing more than $3 billion dollars of goods and services to more than 300 minority suppliers. In 1981, he approached his former employer, McKinsey, about its disappointing number of African American consultants, which he helped increase to nearly 100 by 1999.
In 2000, Lowry was recruited to join the prominent Boston Consulting Group. As a president of its Chicago operation, he has been credited for his productive involvement in the North American Black Diversity Initiative, a program that fosters the development of African American management consultant professionals on college campuses and within the company. An adjunct faculty member of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, Lowry developed a lauded education program for minority business professionals in 2002. Lowry has a daughter, Aisha. He lives in Chicago with his mother and his wife, Doris.
Peggy Alford is the Executive Vice President, Global Sales for PayPal Holdings, Inc., where she oversees the global sales and distribution of PayPal's products and services and leads the strategic Customer Success and Go-to-Market teams that help drive PayPal's position as the preferred digital payment method for consumers and businesses around the globe.
Ms. Alford has held numerous senior leadership roles at PayPal, including Senior Vice President of People Operations; Chief Operating officer for Asia Pacific Region and Global Cross Border Trade; and Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for the Americas Region.
In March 2019, Ms. Alford returned to PayPal after two years (September 2017 to February 2019) as Chief Financial Officer and Head of Operations at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic organization.
Prior to joining PayPal in 2011, Ms. Alford worked at Rent.com, a national internet real estate listing service and former subsidiary of eBay Inc., where she served in positions of increasing responsibility, including President, General Manager and Chief Financial Officer.
Board and Advisor Roles
In April 2019, Ms. Alford was appointed to the Facebook Board of Directors becoming the first black woman on its board. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Macerich and SoFi.
Ms. Alford was an honoree at the 2018 Culture Shifting Awards which recognizes leaders and pioneers of diversity.
Ms. Alford holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Dayton and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Omar Johnson, former CMO at Beats by Dre and former VP Marketing at Apple, is a marketing innovator in the art of collaboration. His proprietary methodology, Culture-Centric DesignTM, sits at the intersection of data, cultural insights, and big ideas and is fueled by a team with diverse backgrounds, languages, and points of view. Culture-Centric DesignTM powers his newest venture, ØPUS brand studios, a modern brand management company comprised of a multi-disciplined collective of award-winning executives, athletes, strategists, creatives, and musicians who understand the anatomy of world-class brands.
At Beats Electronics, Johnson was responsible for brand development, brand positioning, advertising, retail experience, entertainment and sports marketing, as well as digital marketing for all global efforts. Adweek named Johnson a “Brand Genius”, and Business Insider named him one of the “Most Innovative CMOs”. Under Johnson’s tenure, Beats grew from $20 million to a $1.6 billion dollar (revenue) category leader, becoming the #1 premium headphone in 21 countries including North America, UK, France, Germany, South Korea which led to the subsequent purchase by Apple for $3 billion in 2014.
Johnson drove explosive growth in the headphone category through groundbreaking campaigns including #ShowYourColor Solo Campaign, Powerbeats starring LeBron James and The Pills featuring Chris Rock and Eminem. He used viral marketing and influencers to expand the brand at venues such as the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Cup and NBA Finals which helped turn Beats into the headphone of choice for the best athletes in the world.
Previously, Johnson led innovative marketing programs for international brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and Campbell Soup. As an advertising lead at Nike, Johnson produced some of Nike’s most memorable TV commercials including “Rise,” starring LeBron James, “All Together Now,” featuring Kobe Bryant, and “The Most Valuable Puppets”.
Johnson also built the Nike+ sports music platform, establishing Nike’s first revenue-generating relationship with record labels. Johnson and his team created an industry-first sports music program with Universal, Interscope, Sony, Capitol, Def Jam and more than 25 independent labels. This collaboration sold +5 Million tracks and deepened the connection between music and sports.
Johnson is from Brooklyn, NY. He received a BS in Biology and Chemistry from Georgia State University and an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Valence & Upfront Ventures
Co-Founder & Partner
Kobie is a Co-Founder of Valence and a Partner at Upfront. He joined Upfront in June 2016 after having previously worked at Silicon Valley based Accel, where he led investments including UserTesting, Campaign Monitor, AdRoll, and Invoca (also an Upfront portfolio company). Prior to Accel, Kobie was the Chief Marketing Officer at REVOLVE, one of the largest global fashion ecommerce players based in Los Angeles.
Kobie brings to Upfront expertise in SaaS businesses and marketing technologies. He has deep knowledge of emerging sectors including VR and AR and was an early personal investor in Oculus, later sold to Facebook for $2B. Earlier in his career, Kobie helped found OpenView Venture Partners and was an investor at Insight Venture Partners where he sourced notable early investments in Exact Target (acquired by Salesforce for $2.5B) and Instructure (NYSE: INST).
Kobie graduated from Harvard University where he was captain of the track team and a multi Ivy league champion sprinter. He still remains the university's current record holder.