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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

A THREE-DAY VIRTUAL EVENT FOCUSED ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
IN THE ISSUES IMPORTANT TO WOMEN

TM

Unstoppable women from the
AAPI, Black, Disability, Indigenous,
Latinx and LGBQTIA+ communities come together to discuss how their diverse groups are affected by the pressing issues women face today.
Panelists include thought leaders, 

founders of women-owned small businesses, activists, advocates, artists, coaches, educators and more.­

®

PASSIONISTAS PERSIST AWARDS 2022

The Passionistas Persist Awards honor prestigious women who have shown the fortitude to

overcome obstacles on their paths to following their passions and work to empower other women. 

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Laraine Newman

2022 Passionistas Persist Icon Award Recipient presented by Amy & Nancy Harrington

Laraine Newman is an Emmy and Annie nominated performer and an actual native of Los Angeles. She began studying improv at the age of 16. She, along with her sister Tracy Newman, is amongst the founding members of The Groundlings, now the farm team for SNL. Laraine has worked for directors ranging from Woody Allan to Guillermo Del Toro. She has a thriving career in animation and her credits can be found on IMDb. She has also written for Esquire, The Believer and McSweeneys. She is on the board of San Francisco Sketchfest, an alternative comedy festival now in its 20th year, and appears regularly in the long running award winning Broadway show Celebrity Autobiography. Her memoir, May You Live In Interesting Times, can be found on audible.com.

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Rebecca Cokley

2022 Passionistas Persist Humanitarian Award Recipient presented by Cara Reedy

Rebecca Cokley is a Program Officer, developing the U.S. disability rights program strategy at the Ford Foundation. Prior to joining Ford, Rebecca was the co-founder and director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress (CAP). She was responsible for organizing a campaign that resulted in an unprecedented 12 Presidential candidates developing disability policy platforms. Prior to her work at CAP, she served as the executive director for the National Council on Disability where she worked on sexual violence on college campuses, policing reform, and the civil rights of disabled parents. A three time Presidential Appointee, Rebecca served in key policy roles at the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as a successful stint at the White House where she oversaw diversity and inclusion efforts for the Obama Administration. 

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Soraya Chemaly

2022 Passionistas Persist Trailblazer Award Recipient

Soraya Chemaly is an award-winning author and activist. The former Executive Director of The Representation Project and Director and co-founder of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project, she has long been committed to expanding women’s civic and political participation. She writes and speaks frequently on topics related to gender, inclusivity, free speech, sexualized violence, and technology.  Soraya is also the author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger, which was recognized as a Best Book of 2018 by the Washington Post, Fast Company, Psychology Today, and NPR. Soraya currently serves on the national boards of  Educate Us and the Women's Media Center; a former board member of Emerge America, Women, Action and The Media, and the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project; and has served on the advisory councils of Trajectory Women, Women in Journalism, the Center for Democracy and Technology, VIDA, Secular Woman, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, No Bully, and Common Sense Media DC. 

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Danay Escanaverino

2022 Passionistas Persist Vanguard Award Recipient

Danay Escanaverino is an award-winning Latina serial entrepreneur, speaker and community builder. As CEO of boutique digital agency LunaSol Media, she connects brands to Latino consumers delivering millions of leads and sales to her clients. A Cuban immigrant and the daughter of a political prisoner, Danay is fiercely passionate about elevating the Latino community. As founder of LatinaMeetup she has introduced thousands of Latina brands to millions of consumers. As founder of AMIGOS, she has facilitated hundreds of job recruitments, grants, scholarships and other resources for Latino professionals. Danay is a board member of Latinas In Business and is a mentor for several accelerators and Latino youth programs.

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Kim Roxie

2022 Passionistas Persist Nova Award Recipient

Southern belle, seasoned makeup artist, licensed esthetician and member of the Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW), Kim Roxie is the Founder and CEO of LAMIK Beauty, a tech-enabled beauty brand that is poised to be one of the most inclusive in the market. Roxie's pivot from brick and mortar into the e-commerce and live shopping space has catapulted her to making LAMIK the first black-owned clean makeup brand carried by the major beauty specialty retailer, Ulta.com- changing the clean beauty game in Houston, Texas and beyond.

Winner of the Passionistas Persist Visionary Award to be revealed at the ceremony!

 

POWER OF PASSIONISTAS 2O22
CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS

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Maryam Ahmed (She/Her)

Maryam Ahmed is the owner of Napa, CA based Maryam + Company and the co-founder of the Diversity in Wine Leadership Forum. She works at the intersection of sommeliers, chefs, activists, sustainability experts, media and organizations focused on diversity and sustainability to design impactful educational programs and execute strategic projects in the food and wine world. In 2022, Maryam + Company launched Field Blends, an immersive food and wine travel experience focused on bridging a gap between industry and consumer knowledge as well as opening up conversations about wine, food, land, labor, and agriculture. Maryam is a cast member on James Beard Award Nominated SOMM TV and a partner at PLAYTE Kitchen.

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Dara Barlin (She/They)

Dara Barlin is a shameless instigator for positive change. She has over two decades of experience facilitating trust-building conversations, conducting research to inform policy and organizing action-driven campaigns for positive change. Her research has been featured at the United Nations, U.S. Congress, Institute for Public Policy Research and several other outlets. Her organizing campaigns have been touted as outstanding models by White House and State Department leaders. And she has been called one of the best bi-partisan facilitators in the business because of her ability to move politicians and activists beyond their differences to focus on solutions.

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Chelsea Byers has 17 years of experience leading programs and overseeing operations with nonprofits, grassroots and community organizations. She currently serves as a Human Services Commissioner in the City of West Hollywood. She is also an appointee to the 6th Cycle Housing Element Task Force in West Hollywood. Chelsea’s work with nonprofits has focused largely on supporting organizations and individuals to expand their capacity for impact and directing leadership development programs to create more powerful advocates. Chelsea is a dedicated voice on a range of issues including women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights, economic justice, climate resilience, homelessness, gun violence prevention, housing, and transportation.

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Elena Christopoulos (She/Her)

Sustainability & Political Consultant

As the founder of a sustainability management consulting firm, Elena's contributions have helped create over 500,000+ green jobs worldwide with 60% of the positions going to women and BIPOC. As a climate scientist and political advisor, she has actively worked throughout her career to bring more women and BIPOC to the table, in both fields and has successfully managed over 40 political and environmental campaigns worldwide. As a Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica her role is to advise City Council on sustainability issues and policies relevant to women and girls. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, She uses her voice to ensure we are represented.

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Abi Cole (She/Her)

Director and Producer

Director and producer Abi Cole recently graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is an environmental reporter with work published in the Guardian, Outdoor Life, and Popular Science. Between the Lines: Liz at Large is her first documentary.

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Andrea Dorfman    

Andrea Dorfman is a Halifax-based screenwriter and film director who creates experimental short and feature films, as well as mini-documentaries. She directed the Emmy Award–winning films Flawed (2010) and Big Mouth (2012) and two animated shorts based on poetry by Tanya Davis: How to Be Alone (2010) and How to Be at Home (2020), which was part of the Toronto International Film Festival’s year-end Canada’s Top Ten list for 2020.

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Katherine Fisher (She/Her)

Proof of Loss is Katherine Fisher’s directorial debut. She is an Emmy-nominated and Gotham, Peabody and GLAAD award-winning producer with 15 years of experience in narrative and documentary filmmaking in the U.S., U.K., Kenya and Congo. Her work has been screened at Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival (winner 2018 Special Prize), SXSW (winner 2019 Short Film Jury Award), LA Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival and BlackStar Film Festival, among others. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and is a 2018 Film Independent Project Involve Fellow, 2018 New Orleans Film Society Southern Producers Fellow, and 2018 20th Century Fox Global Inclusion Fellow.

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Shaleece Haas is an Emmy Award–winning documentary producer and a director based in Los Angeles. Texas Strong (2018) won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Documentary and premiered at SXSW. In 2020, she co-produced the final episode of the Peabody-winning PBS series, Asian Americans and was a consulting producer on the limited series, And She Could Be Next (2020 Tribeca Film Festival, POV).
Real Boy (2016) screened in 23 countries, earned 20 festival awards, and was broadcast nationally on PBS Independent Lens. Shaleece has been an Impact Partners Documentary Producing Fellow, Film Independent Documentary Lab Fellow and Working Films Fellow.

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Hunter "Pixel" Jimenez    

Writer

Hunter “Pixel” Jimenez is the writer, illustrator, and protagonist of To the Future, with Love. Hunter works in LGBT and housing activism and “believes everyone’s story is important — I'm so glad I’m able to share part of mine.”

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Treya Klassen 

Treya Klassen is the CEO of Design House Collective. They are a business engineering and creative firm based in Vancouver. Treya has over 30 years of experience creating brands and has built numerous successful companies. Her latest brand just launched in Vancouver, "Respect Your Universe". Ryu.com. She is also a communication course leader and public speaker, speaking on creating your life and having it all. Discover how to live the life you want and create your best future.

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Saskia Hostetler Lippy MD (She/Her)

Saskia is an active member of the Oregon Physicians Psychiatric Association and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. She serves as an Affiliate Associate Professor at Oregon Health & Sciences University. Portland Monthly honored her with Top Doctors Awards in 2013, 2014, 2020, and 2021. She volunteers 50% of her professional time pro-bono towards systemic change and building a stronger, more resilient community and planet. She has been conducting asylum interviews in Spanish with the student-led Oregon Health & Sciences Physician for Human Rights clinic. She is a member of the Multnomah Medical Reserve Corps and responds to public health emergencies in the capacity of behavioral de-escalation. As a graduate of the Yale certificate program in Climate Change and Public Health, she joined the advisory board for Oceanites, the only publicly supported non-profit Antarctic research program in the world. 

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Raquel Medrano

Transformational and Leadership Coach 

Raquel Medrano is a Transformational and Leadership Coach with over two decades experience in building and reinventing businesses from the ground up. She works with corporate executives and business owners, helping them expand their leadership, align their organizations, transform their relationship with what is possible and achieve unprecedented results. Raquel has worked across a wide variety of industries including construction, mining, banking, finance, education, and has extensive knowledge of the non-profit sector, having sat on many boards for education and non-profit organizations including in Chair positions. She is very passionate about contributing to the community, and is often involved in pro-bono work, mentoring leaders and igniting projects with social impact. 

Raquel regularly speaks at national and international forums in both Spanish and English.

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Angela Philp (She/Her)

Angela Philip is the founder of Queen of Possible. With a focus on women's leadership and personal transformation coaching, Angela’s clients reconnect with their creative energy and accomplish what's really important to them with greater power, joy and ease than they ever thought possible.

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Kim Roxie

CEO and Founder, LAMIK Beauty

Southern belle, seasoned makeup artist, licensed esthetician and member of the Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW), Kim Roxie is the Founder and CEO of LAMIK Beauty, a tech-enabled beauty brand that is poised to be one of the most inclusive in the market. Roxie's pivot from brick and mortar into the e-commerce and live shopping space has catapulted her to making LAMIK the first black-owned clean makeup brand carried by the major beauty specialty retailer, Ulta.com- changing the clean beauty game in Houston, Texas and beyond.

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Louise Sullivan

Transformational Management Consultant, Vanto Group

With 20 years in the field of transformation, Louise works with CEOs and their teams to reinvent themselves and deliver a future that wasn’t going to happen. After a personal transformation early in her career, Louise dedicated herself to a life of creating a world that works for everyone. Having spent 25 years living in Asia, speaking Indonesian, Japanese and Thai and working in a translated environment, Louise specializes in aligning and mobilizing teams with diverse backgrounds, cultures and languages.

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Crystal Lynese Walker has been creating outcome-driven equity solutions across various industries, including tech, higher education, and retail, for over 15 years. She's currently the Senior Director of Racial Equity at Work at Management Leadership for Tomorrow and the founder of Crystal Clear Consulting. She believes it's overdue that we free the potential of Black women within businesses and organizations while also striking a balance so Black women can thrive and live a fulfilled and free life.

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Inaya Graciana Yusuf

Inaya Graciana Yusuf is a Southeast Asian American artist and filmmaker based in Oregon and California. Raised in between Indonesia and United States, she is drawn to striking social, economic and cultural issues across the globe. Her mission is to pursue indigenous and global storytelling through the art of cinema. She aims to give voice to the causes, people and culture that otherwise are left unnoticed. She specializes in documentaries, branded content and live action films and has participated in film festivals throughout United States, Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Canada. Her clients include production companies and non-profit organizations that produce content aimed for broadcast at platforms such as BBC, PBS, NETFLIX, ESPN FILMS, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, FOX SPORTS NETWORK, NBC NEWS, SHOWTIME and HBO. 

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Melania Armenta (She/Her)

Art Director, RangeWater Real Estate

Melania Armenta is an openly out transgender Latin woman. Currently, she is an Art Director for RangeWater Real Estate and serves on the Mayor's LGBTQ+ Advisory Board. She is responsible for the creation, solicitation and stewardship of a current Artist-In-Residence program in a 5-state focus which includes Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Colorado. In her spare time, she enjoys leading philanthropic initiatives and collaborative conversations with artistic creatives in various markets.

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As a clairvoyant coach, author, and fiery public speaker, Dr. Melissa Bird has traveled around the world speaking to audiences at universities, conferences, and churches. Her combination of education, real life experience, and practical advice makes her a powerful force of change in the lives of the people she speaks to. Past audience members have described her as “fierce,” “revelatory,” “life-changing,” “enthusiastic,” and “inspirational.”

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Olivia Canie (She/Her)

Master of Public Health Candidate at Yale University

Olivia has five years of professional experience across the healthcare industry ranging from biotechnology to clinical research to project management and regulatory health policy in the public sector. Throughout, she has led and worked on high-impact projects in personalized immunotherapies as well as drug safety and effectiveness. She is presently a Master of Public Health Candidate concentrating in Health Policy at Yale University, where she is expanding upon her undergraduate education in cell biology at McGill University and professional experience in regulatory work and clinical trials to drive meaningful innovation and quality improvement in healthcare.

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Gabrielle Claiborne (She/Her)

Gabrielle Claiborne is the CEO of Transformation Journeys Worldwide, an inclusion training and consulting firm with a transgender and non-binary focus. She is a dynamic keynote and TEDx speaker and the author of Embrace Your Truth: A Journey of Authenticity. Gabrielle currently serves on the boards of five LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and her work has been featured in Forbes. In 2019, the Atlanta Business Chronicle named Gabrielle their Outstanding Voice for Diversity and Inclusion.
 

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Akanksha Cruczynski 

Writer and Filmmaker    

Akanksha Cruczynski, based in New York City, is a writer and filmmaker from India who grew up in Saudi Arabia. She moved to the U.S. for college, then studied comedy at The Second City, iO Theater and Annoyance Theatre  in Chicago. Akanksha’s graduate thesis film, Close Ties to Home Country, is a finalist for the Student Academy Awards and was shortlisted for the 2021 BAFTA Student Awards. The film won the Audience Award at Aspen Shortsfest and the Best Comedy Award at Indy Shorts International Film Festival, in addition to being shown at several other Academy Award–qualifying film festivals. Akanksha is passionate about telling stories from underserved communities and using humor to guide them.

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Cairo Eubanks

CEO of CairoSpeaks/CairoWrites and Storyteller-in-Chief of Bringing the Globe

Cairo Eubanks is the New Future Foundation Youth Representative to the United Nations and the Co-Chair of the United Nations Department of Global Communications Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee. She is a Keynote Speaker and Presenter for international workshops, panels, and conferences. Cairo is the Founder of Bringing the Globe, an edtech resource platform for cultural exchange and leadership development. An award-winning pageant queen, Cairo currently reigns as Miss Black Florida. She recently received the 2022 Young Pacesetter for Africa Development award on Africa Day at the United Nations.

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Jasmine Gonlin  (She/Her)

Founder, She Liberated

A humble, appreciative, and impactful leader with an entrepreneurial mindset. Jasmine has experience in strategy execution, public speaking, event coordination, social media management, recruitment, training and retention within a large organization. Curious and determined in all work, her most urgent priorities include accessible holistic wellness, community building, environmental justice and effective climate storytelling. Her methods vary, but the goal of all her work is ultimately to co-create an environmentally-supportive, feminine-empowered future for all to fully be their authentic selves.

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Judith Halbreich, LCSW is a youth activist and social worker who has had a successful executive career in social services, mental health, and clinical research. She created one of the first NYC foster care programs for infants suffering from AIDS, in addition to creating an award-winning independent living program for youth aging out of the foster care system. In 2018 she bought Floyd Patterson’s family estate and founded

Home of Champions.

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Dana Kaplan (She/Her)

Founder and Owner, Developing Empathetic Education with Dana (DEED)®

Dana Kaplan, Founder and Owner of Developing Empathetic Education with Dana (DEED)®, is an award winning Gifted and Early Childhood Educator and Social Emotional Intelligence expert. Dana's niche approach propels rich self-awareness while purposefully empowering children and adults to masterfully and confidently communicate and create the world they crave. Dana leads 1:1, small and large group workshops, and speaks internationally on how to empower and engage in hard conversations.

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Carolyn Koppel

Carolyn Koppel founded Aaron’s Coffee Corner while sitting with her son Aaron in his hospital room. Her mission is to provide 24/7 access to free Keurig coffee to the family, friends and caregivers admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Ann & Robert Lurie’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

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Selene Luna is Soledad on FX's Mayans M.C. and the voice of Tía Rosita in Disney-Pixar’s Academy Award & Golden Globe Awards' Winner Coco. Luna’s most celebrated standup comedy credit has been opening for several of Margaret Cho’s national tours. In 2019 Luna took to Washington, DC alongside U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer to advocate for disability rights on Capitol Hill.

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Dr. Gigi Moreno is a Senior Economist with the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), where she applies economics and data science to develop policy strategies for inclusive and sustainable economic growth throughout Southern California. Dr. Moreno is responsible for SCAG’s long-range employment projections, integral to the agency’s regional land use plan and environmental compliance strategy. Dr. Moreno has published numerous peer-reviewed papers in health economics, agricultural and environmental economics, and climate change policy. In addition to a B.A. in economics from Carleton College, Dr. Moreno has a Ph.D. in Agricultural & Natural Resource Economics from UC Berkeley.

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Cara Reedy

Director, Disabled Journalists Association

Cara Reedy, Director at Disabled Journalists Association, is a journalist, an actor, a director and a photographer. Perviously she was the Program Manager for DREDF’s Disability Media Alliance Project (DMAP). In her role as Program Manager for DMAP, Cara’s mission is to have disabled people control our own narratives. The world is missing out on some of the best stories on the planet, the journalist in her knows that can’t stand. She is former CNN and NPR producer and is currently developing two comedy pilots that focus on social justice.

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Alison Tedford is an author, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant and a mom. She is Indigenous (Kwakiutl First Nation) and based in Abbotsford, BC. She has over a decade of government experience and seven years of private sector experience creating information products that educate, inform and delight. Alison has helped executives, governments and brand leaders design their visions of inclusion, strategize about how to get there with practical, concrete action and find the words to talk about it.

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Shilpa Sunthankar is a screenwriter, director, and producer with a drive for stories about different cultures in coexistence, thanks to her background as an Indian-American woman raised in the “cowboy country” of Colorado. Her recent short film, Working Lunch (2018), inspired by the proliferation of hate graffiti after the 2016 US presidential election, premiered at the Toronto South Asian Film Festival and received a Regional Arts & Culture Council project grant. Her other short films, The Company of Thieves (2011) and Biography of an American Hostess (2004), have won awards including Best Director at the Los Angeles FirstGlance Film Festival, and have been licensed by the ShortsHD Channel, IndieFlix, and the CBC. 

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Julie Wedge (She/Her)

Senior Consultant, Wedge Consulting

Julie Wedge leads Wedge Consulting, a political consulting firm in the Sacramento region. Over the last 2 years, Julie served as Chief of Staff to the first openly LGBTQ+ Councilmember, former Oakland City Council President now Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan. Notably, she was Kaplan's campaign consultant in her latest challenging, yet successful 2020 reelection. Her extensive consulting experience also extends to the nonprofit arena, including global travel to facilitate culturally competent fundraising for a storied multinational environmental organization. For nearly a decade, Julie volunteered on the Board of The Sacramento Freedom from Religion Foundation.

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Sharon Arteaga

Filmmaker

Sharon Arteaga is a first-generation Mexican-American filmmaker from Corpus Christi, Texas, who convinced her mom to buy her a video camera instead of a quinceañera. Included in NALIP’s 2019 List of Latinx Directors to Know, Arteaga’s work playfully incorporates themes of generational, linguistic and cultural differences between people. She has won numerous short film competitions for her films When I Grow Up, Plane Pretend and When You Clean a Stranger's Home. She was a 2019 Tribeca Chanel Through Her Lens finalist for her short screenplay In Tow (runner-up at the 2020 New Orleans Film Festival South Pitch), a semifinalist in ScreenCraft’s Film Fund, and most recently, awarded the 2021 Mexican-American Cultural Education Foundation Filmmaker Grant. 

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Sonali Perera Bridges

Founder and President, Shero's Rise

Sonali Perera Bridges is an award-winning, dynamic, innovative leader with over 20 years of progressive experience in a wide breadth of educational settings. and the driving force behind Shero’s Rise. Sonali holds a BA from Mount Saint Mary’s University and an MBA from The University of Redlands. She is the Founder and President of Bridges Educational Consulting which provides college counseling for students, curriculum development and training for school districts and strategic enrollment management planning to institutions of higher education. 

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Shona Bernard Chandler

Consultant, Catalyze

Shona is a Consultant at Catalyze. Her expertise is in communication, project and team management. She has 30 years experience in human resources and cultural change management. Her skills include facilitation, training and development, analysis and strategic design. Shona’s experience includes consulting internationally throughout Asia, India and America. She has delivered programs and workshops to more than 20,000 people and has worked closely with all levels of management to design and implement strategies, plans, processes and systems. Shona has worked extensively with government departments, the private sector, charities and not-for-profit organizations. She has a degree in HR from the Sydney NSW University of Technology.

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