Dion Aroner is deeply rooted in California government. After six years as a State Assemblywoman and 25 years as Chief of Staff to her predecessor, Tom Bates, she knows how to get things done in state government. She is an undisputed expert in state budget and human services issues, and has the institutional memory to help clients successfully navigate the Legislature and Administration. She began her career as a social worker for Alameda County and developed her leadership skills at an early age by becoming the first woman president of Service Employees International Union 535. Dion is a native San Franciscan, a proud graduate of UC Berkeley, and a longtime resident of the East Bay. She serves on the Boards of Freight and Salvage (a folk music venue in Berkeley), Seneca Center (serving severely emotionally disturbed children), and Safe Kids California.
Elmy Bermejo is an experienced government and civic leader with a passion for building, connecting and strengthening relationships to assist people and organizations achieve their goals. She has been a senior government official with more than 25 years of experience in executive level management, strategic planning, policy development and advocacy. She has a successful record of collaboration with public and private stakeholders on a range of issues including paid leave, disaster relief and small business. Elmy recently served as a Senior Adviser and Outreach Director for Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, the first woman ever elected to this position in California She previously served in President Barack Obama’s Administration as the Regional Representative for the Secretary of Labor in the Western United States and as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in Washington D.C. Her public service includes working for several elected officials including Retired CA State Senators John Burton and Don Perata, former Congressmembers Lynn Woolsey and Mel Levine and the late U.S. Senator Alan Cranston. Elmy is currently the President of the San Francisco Commission on the Environment, serves on the board of The Beneficial State Foundation and is an Advisory Member of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE). She is also a founding member of the Emily’s List Latina Advisory Council and EMERGE, an organization that trains Democratic Women to run for local office. She previously served on the California Commission on the Status of Women and is a recipient of the Dolores Huerta Woman of Courage Award from the US Hispanic Leadership Institute. Elmy’s family owns Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant a well-known and beloved San Francisco institution for more than 50 years. There she gained valuable insights and sensitivity to the challenges faced by small business owners, many of whom are immigrants.
Tess Bridgeman served as Special Assistant to President Obama, Associate Counsel to the President, and Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC), where she covered the full range of issues relating to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. Bridgeman previously served in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser, where she was Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser. Prior to that role, she served as an Attorney Adviser in the Office of Political-Military Affairs, focusing on armed conflict, detention issues, and the intersection of the law of armed conflict and human rights law. Bridgeman clerked for Judge Thomas L. Ambro of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and served at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Earlier in her career, Bridgman worked as a consultant for the World Bank Inspection Panel, where she conducted the first comprehensive assessment of the World Bank’s community-driven accountability mechanism, and co-founded a food security and community development organization in Oaxaca, Mexico. A Rhodes Scholar, Truman Scholar, and Gardner Fellow, Bridgeman has a D.Phil. in International Relations from Oxford University, where she focused on global governance and international institutions; a J.D. from NYU Law School, magna cum laude and Order of the Coif, which she attended as a Root-Tilden-Kern and Institute for International Law and Justice Scholar; and a B.A. with University Distinction and Departmental Honors from Stanford University.
Michelle has lived in California since 2001 and became a US citizen in 2011. She studied history at Oxford University. Her Ph.D. thesis examined the institutional treatment of female juvenile delinquents in Victorian England. Michelle worked for two years at the Royal Commission for Historical Manuscripts in London. She then worked on legal aid and family law policy at the British Ministry of Justice, and was also a speechwriter for the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg QC, under the Labour government. Michelle was the senior staff member at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University from 2005-09 (under director Professor Londa Schiebinger) where she was responsible for everything from refurbishment of the building to editing research papers to creating publicity materials. Since 2008, Michelle has been devoting most of her time and energy to philanthropy. Being the first in her family to go to university, Michelle has a passionate belief in the power of education to open doors and change lives. Her philanthropic interests are generally around education, criminal justice reform, and the empowerment and security of women and girls. She was co-chair of the Criminal (In)Justice Action Circle of the Women Donors Network 2011-13, and served on the Silicon Valley Regional Board of the nonprofit Reading Partners from 2010-13. Michelle joined the board of Breakthrough Silicon Valley in January 2014. She has also been part of the Women GO giving circle since 2009. In 2013, Michelle became the co-owner of a horse training and rider instruction business in Woodside, CA. She lives with a husband, two teen daughters, two dogs, and more horses than is really sensible.
Kim Carter is the Founder/Ambassador of Time for Change Foundation. Certified in accounting with an emphasis on non-profit organizations, Kim was inspired to leave the corporate world in 2002 to start Time for Change Foundation. Motivated by her own experiences as a formerly incarcerated woman, Kim made it her mission to help women and children make the transition from homelessness and recidivism to self-sufficiency. Kim is a powerful voice for women who bear the scars of poverty, homelessness, and incarceration. It is Kim’s belief that by providing these women with training and the opportunity to develop life skills, in a nurturing and supportive environment, they will become independent, active participants in their communities. She aspires to the work of her idol, Harriet Tubman, by lighting a path and leading others to freedom from addiction and incarceration. Her motto is that “a lit candle loses nothing when it lights another.” Kim is also a motivational speaker, an advocate, an author, a graduate of the Women’s Foundation of California’s Women’s Policy Institute and more recently a developer.
Fabiola DeCaratachea is a Director at Richard Heath & Associates, Inc based in Fresno. She provides leadership and oversight to the development and execution of outreach and education efforts in support of multiple programs, especially around access to healthcare for low income families. She is skilled at organizing and implementing complex outreach programs and ensuring success. Fabiola has 15 years of experience working with culturally diverse and under-served communities, including serving as a previous Program Officer focused on the Central Valley for the Women’s Foundation of California. She has a strong commitment to building partnerships and formalized relationships with, and among, community partners who provide direct services and funding to under-served communities. She has a B.A. in Political Science from Mount Holyoke College and is a bilingual in Spanish and English. Fabiola is Latina and lives with her husband and children in the Fresno area.
Julie Dubick combines her background in law, public policy and nonprofit work as a partner in H.G. Consulting Group, providing in-depth stakeholder and public engagement, long-term strategic planning and community dialogue on a wide range of issues for corporate, public and nonprofit organizations. Julie began her professional career at the United States Department of Justice as a trial attorney and was promoted to general counsel and assistant director of the US Marshals Service, where she worked on programs such as the Witness Protection Program. She later joined the San Diego law firm of Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek as a partner and member of the management team. She tried cases in both state and federal courts and represented both individuals and major local and national corporations. Currently Julie is an adjunct professor of law at California Western School of Law in San Diego. In 2005 Julie joined the office of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, initially as director of policy and later as chief of staff. In that capacity, Julie brought together diverse stakeholders to develop and implement programs to improve life for all San Diego citizens. Julie is passionate about mentoring, especially young women seeking to enter the workforce to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Julie is currently the co-chair of the mentoring committee of Women Give San Diego. She has written and lectured, including the article, “Raising Successful Children on a Working Woman’s Schedule.” She is married to attorney Mitch Dubick and they have three children: a lawyer, a venture capitalist and a college senior soccer goalie. Julie serves on the board of several nonprofits, including PsychArmor Institute for military mental health, Monarch School for homeless students, Girl Scouts San Diego and Imperial Counties and several organizations devoted to women and children. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Case Western Reserve School of Law.
Sandra Flores was appointed the first program director of the Fresno County Preterm Birth Collective Impact Initiative, a collaborative effort to reduce the number of babies born prematurely in Fresno County. The Fresno County Preterm Birth Initiative is part of the larger $100-million, 10-year Preterm Birth Initiative, led by the University of California, San Francisco, and funded by Lynne and Marc Benioff and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Fresno County is one of six sites selected for the Preterm Birth Initiative, and the only site implementing the collective impact model. Alameda County and San Francisco are the other two U.S. locations, with international sites that include Nairobi, Rwanda and Uganda. Sandra was the Senior Program Officer for the Central Valley Community Foundation (formerly Fresno Regional Foundation). She was with the Foundation from 2007 through 2016. As part of her role at the Central Valley Community Foundation, she oversaw the competitive grant making program which included Arts & Culture, Youth, Human Services, and Environment. As Senior Program Officer she also led the Teen Pregnancy Prevention and High Impact grant making initiatives on behalf of the foundation. A native of Fresno, Flores attended Fresno City College and received her bachelor’s degree in history from Oklahoma City University. She is a member of the Adolescent Sexual Health Work Group, an organization through the California Department of Public Health that promotes and protects the sexual and reproductive health of youth in California.
Marlene Garcia is Manager of the Strategic Initiatives Group of Apple Education at Apple Inc., where she advocates for transforming education to serve the needs of students in the 21st Century by leveraging the power of technology to improve teaching and learning outcomes. Prior to joining Apple in 2012, Marlene was Vice Chancellor for Government Relations at the California Community College Chancellor’s Office where she led the California Community College System Government Relations Division with responsibility for representing statewide community college students before the California Legislature, the Governor, and Congress. As an executive-level professional, Marlene has extensive workplace and educational experience working on state and federal education and technology policy, inclusion and diversity, leadership development and educational programs which promote success, equity, and diversity. She has a consistent track record of proven results in successive educational, political and business roles, while demonstrating sustained, stand-out leadership skills as a senior executive and driver of educational and corporate culture. She is a creative, innovative and strategic thinker and trusted advisor to CEOs, elected official and executive leadership teams.
Linda Gebroe has worked as a professional communicator for nearly four decades. From 1987 until her retirement in 2014, she owned and operated Gebroe Communications Services, a business that helped scores of organizations communicate their messages to myriad audiences and markets. In 1975, after graduating with honors from Ithaca College with a degree in communications, she began her career in public relations. She worked with an amazing variety of clients including retail, corporate, travel and nonprofit organizations. She developed and implemented successful communications programs that generated national publicity and awareness. In 1985 she became accredited by the Public Relations Society of America. Linda opened her own business in 1987. By doing so, she was able to do what she loves most—writing. Her essays have appeared in local and regional publications, and she continues to write and record commentaries for KQED Radio, San Francisco’s National Public Radio station. She has been able to help organizations and causes she truly cares about. She has served on the boards of Horizons Foundation and the Women’s Alcoholism Center. She has volunteered her time and services to numerous organizations, including the Women’s Foundation of California, the Women’s Cancer Resource Center and 826 Valencia, an organization dedicated to helping local school children with their creative writing skills.
Business leader who brings strategic thinking, creative insight and operational rigor to establish enduring impact to organizations and the balance sheet. Entrepreneur by default, with 20+ years of experience working across Fortune 100 and 500 companies, strategy consultancies, and design firms—commanding a depth of capability and leadership adaptable to global markets, scale, and demands of the C-Suite.
Karen Jordan currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer at the San Diego Blood Bank. She is a a performance-focused finance professional, offering extensive experience and broad set of skills in cash flow analysis, variance analysis, cost tracking, financial model development, reporting, and budgeting. Known for solid analytical skills and keen eye for detail, I thrive at formulating wealth accumulation and preservation plans, and strategically allocating resources using in-depth industry knowledge. I am decisive and growth-focused with unparalleled work ethic and innate ability to lead and motivate multiple teams and personnel toward peak performance. Prior engagements include SVP of Finance & Operations at WomenCare Global International, and senior financial roles in the San Diego area and Dublin, Ireland. A licensed CPA, she received her undergraduate degree from the Dublin Institute of Technology.
Surina is a proud Californian by way of Connecticut and Pakistan. A first generation immigrant, Surina came to the US with her parents and five older siblings in 1973, and has been dedicated to gender, racial, and economic justice issues for most of her life. As CEO, Surina oversees the Foundation’s strategic direction which is focused on building community-based power through investing in effective community-based organizations, training community leaders in policy advocacy, connecting key partners, and mobilizing significant financial resources. Surina first became involved with WFC as a volunteer in 2004 serving on a grants review committee. She joined the staff in 2005 as a Senior Program Officer and was promoted to Director of Programs and then Vice President of Programs. In 2011 Surina was recruited by the Ford Foundation to design and launch Ford’s LGBT Rights Initiative and went on to become a Director in the Democracy Rights and Justice Program where she shaped more than $30 million in annual grantmaking around the world to expand rights for women, LGBT people, people living with HIV/AIDS, and in the areas of strengthening democratic participation and governance. She returned to WFC as CEO in 2014 and is dedicated to engaging more people to join the Foundation and its partners to support those who are most impacted by the problems in their community to develop solutions to advance gender, racial, and economic justice. Earlier in her career Surina served as Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (now OutRight Action International) where she worked to advance the human rights of LGBTQI people and people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Prior to that she was a research analyst for Political Research Associates, conducting groundbreaking research on the Right’s attacks on women and LGBT people. She currently serves on the Boards of Funders for Reproductive Equity, Alliance for Justice, and La Cocina. Surina is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Campaign for College Opportunity, a founding Advisor for the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative, and a member of the Public Policy Committee for Southern California Grantmakers and Northern California Grantmakers. She previously served on the Boards of numerous organizations including Funders for LGBTQ Issues, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, Outright Action International, and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Surina is a widely recognized expert on gender, racial, and economic justice and a frequent commentator on the power of women’s philanthropy. In 2015, Surina was recognized with a Leaders in Action Award from Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and in 2017 the South Asian Network recognized Surina with a Community Solidarity Award. Her writing and research have been published widely in print and online publications including the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Philanthropy News Digest.
Diane Manuel is a Financial Advisor with Urban Wealth Management. She joined Urban Wealth Management after a successful career with Merrill Lynch, the California Endowment, and The J. Paul Getty Museum. She has published articles on Investopedia.com, Nasdaq.com and on the Urban Wealth Management website, where she writes a series focused on philanthropy called “Your Life. Your Legacy.” Diane is a founding member of the Giving Circle Angelenos 4 Los Angeles which is active in the entrepreneurship and the promotion of innovative solutions to support uplifting change in the African-American community in Southern California. Diane has over 20 years of experience helping individuals and organizations in their efforts to identify, implement, and accomplish their goals. Additionally, Diane is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional.
A third-generation native Angeleno, Sen. Holly J. Mitchell is the proud daughter of career public servants and the protégé of community leaders who instilled in her a passion for service. She continued her family legacy of “firsts” when she was named the first African American to chair the powerful Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee in December 2016. Less than two months later, a profile in The Los Angeles Times described Mitchell as the “Legislature’s moral compass.” She proved to be just that in 2017 and 2018 when she oversaw the adoption of consecutive state budgets of nearly $200 billion each and won wide praise for directing funds to elementary and college students, the health-care systems and long-neglected programs to assist infants, the elderly, youth and working families. She serves on several committees, including being named in January as vice chair of the Joint Committee on Rules Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response.
Quency L. Phillips is a proud Chicagoan and Northwestern University alumnus, currently based in Morgan Hill, CA. He is an entrepreneur, public-speaker, writer and influencer with extensive experience in marketing and the management of professional athletes and entertainers. His work in the nonprofit and public sectors has been focused on the Bay Area’s affordable housing crisis and developing grassroots leadership. He is currently Chief Marketing Officer for eHarvestHub Inc., and serves as a Board member at Somos Mayfair in San Jose, CA, and the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center in San Mateo, CA. He was formerly a member of the Housing Advisory Committee for the City of Gilroy, CA.
Raul Salinas is the managing shareholder at AlvaradoSmith’s Los Angeles office. He has extensive business, government and international litigation experience and handles a wide range of major litigation cases in a number of industries for public and private sector clients. His practice areas include employment, civil public integrity prosecutions, commercial and cross-border agreements for public and private institutions in both the United States and Mexico. He also regularly advises public entities on issues pertaining to public law affecting personnel, government contracts, conflict of interest matters and other municipal related matters. Raul has assisted and participated in trials in state and federal courts and handled numerous contractual/binding arbitrations in domestic and international matters. He has lectured on contractual arbitration agreements and is knowledgeable in all aspects of various alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. He is admitted to practice in all California state courts and the United States District Courts for the Northern, Central and Southern districts of California and in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Samala is Co-Founder + Managing Partner at Jump Canon, a venture firm offering early stage investment to founders of spectacular, unconventional and underrepresented backgrounds. She’s been committed to inclusive innovation and disruptive creativity in tech since long before “inclusion” and “disruption” became en vogue. Samala embodies multitudes — a believer and weaver of strong social fabric, a Wharton business school grad, and a DJ that’s played all over the world. Inexorably unique and grounded in her experiences as a serial creator/founder/entrepreneur, Samala’s accomplishments transcend the confines of any one industry, medium or continent. But is always grounded in community. She built and co-founded America’s first national organization to serve Asian Pacific American communities online: 18MR.org. Through new media, digital campaigns and groundbreaking online vehicles for civic engagement, her team reached and organized Asian Pacific Americans during an election cycle that saw the highest voter registration and turnout for the country’s fastest growing demographic. She was on the Story of Stuff Project’s founding team as Director of Strategy & Media, creating capacity to entertain, educate and engage over 40 million people globally for environmental justice. Her work and writing in technology, social innovation and civics has been featured at the Obama Administration’s White House LGBTQ Technology & Innovation Summit, at the Aspen Institute, and in Forbes, The New Yorker, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and Al-Jazeera and Refinery29. Prior to launching 18MR.org and seven movies with The Story of Stuff Project, Samala created START Mobile, one of the earliest digital media distribution networks for mobile. The global platform helped more than 500 artists — including Shepard Fairey, Justin Bua, David Choe, and Apex — reach new markets via mobile devices. At peak popularity, START had users and art installations across the United States, Central & South America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, India, China, and Russia. As a consultant, Samala has worked with institutions like Tides, the National Association for Independent Schools, and Intersection for the Arts. She was a Senior Advisor for Social Innovation for Mozilla, contributor to the Aspen Institute’s Latinos and Society Program, member of New Media Ventures’ Investment Committee, and currently serves on the World Food Programme’s Innovation Accelerator Advisory Council.