University of Southern California

Senior Fellows

Jessica Aronoff Allison Graff-Weisner Deborah S. Ramo  
Steve Barr Amir Hemmat Michelle Rhone-Collins  
Sanjay Bhatnagar Melodie Holden Tara Roth  
Meredith Blake René Jones Laura Chapman Rubbo  
Kay Buck Trish Devine Karlin Fran Seegull  
Omar Brownson Larry Kopald Shivani Siroya  
Marlene Canter Michelle Kydd Lee Rose Shuman  
Ken Deemer Jonathan Parfrey Paul Vandeventer  
Ari Engelberg Marco Petruzzi David Washington  
Laura Ferretti Paul Polizzotto Michelle Yates

Jessica Aronoff spacer Jessica Aronoff is Vice President, Philanthropy for Roll Global LLC, a privately held, $3 billion international company that owns a number of high-profile brands including FIJI Water, POM Wonderful, Teleflora, Wonderful Pistachios and JUSTIN Wines. Jessica is responsible for guiding the philanthropic, community investment and CSR initiatives of the company, its subsidiaries and its owners. She also oversees the company's one-of-a-kind employee giving program, RollGiving, which donates $3 million each year to causes and organizations chosen by employees in the communities where they live and work.

Prior to joining Roll Global, Jessica worked exclusively in the nonprofit sector, primarily on social justice issues affecting women, children and families. She worked for over 10 years at Break the Cycle-a national nonprofit organization working with youth prevent and end domestic violence-including serving as the organization's Executive Director from 2004 to 2008. Jessica's other experience included working at The Children's Partnership, the California Women's Law Center and Public Counsel.

Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and her law degree from UCLA School of Law.

spacer Steve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999 with the vision of transforming secondary education in California by creating a number of high-performing charter high schools using available public dollars. Under Steve's leadership, Green Dot became the leading change agent in the region, starting in fall 2000 by founding one of the first comprehensive public high schools in the Los Angeles area in thirty years. In 2008, Green Dot began to operate Alain LeRoy Locke High School in Watts, re-structuring it into eight small public schools.

Green Dot's leadership in pushing for improved public education led the Los Angeles Times to name Steve as one of 100 most influential people in Southern California in 2006. In addition to leading Green Dot, Steve is a State Board of Education appointee to the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, where he provides policy recommendations to the State Board of Education on charter school-related issues.

Prior to founding Green Dot, Steve held a number of leadership positions in political and social service organizations. In 1990, Steve co-founded Rock the Vote. The Rock the Vote campaigns and field efforts led the way in the first upward surge in 18-24 year old in voting since the passage of the 26th Amendment. Following Rock the Vote, Steve led the successful efforts to pass the Motor Voter Bill, which was signed into law in 1994 by President Clinton. Thirty million Americans have registered to vote via Motor Voter.

Steve hosted President Clinton's National Service Inaugural event, which led to the creation of Americorps. He then oversaw an Americorps after-school program project in South Central and East Los Angeles that focused on helping single mothers transition off of welfare.

Steve has been active in politics throughout his professional career, serving several presidential campaigns and as a finance chair for the Democratic Party. Additionally, Steve has helped drive political change through television, as a national correspondent on the nationally syndicated Disney-produced "The Crusaders", as a contributor to Discovery Channel's "Why Things Are?", and as a writer in national magazines such as George. Steve authored "The Flame: An Unlikely Patriot Finds a Country to Love" (Morrow, 1987).

spacer Sanjay Bhatnagar, as a global innovator and business leader, leads new generation green enterprise at WaterHealth International. Mr. Bhatnagar is also the founder of the THOT Capital Group, a private equity firm based in New York. Prior to setting up the THOT Capital Group in January 2001, Sanjay was the CEO of Enron Broadband Services for Middle East and Asia, based in Singapore. He was also Chairman and CEO, Enron South Asia. Earlier, he worked for Schlumberger as an engineer and manager in several countries worldwide.

Sanjay received an MBA with Honors, from Harvard University, a Master's degree in Engineering from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering with distinction from the Indian Institute of Technology. He has also held other pivotal positions such as Director Emeritus, US India Business Council (USIBC), US Chamber of Commerce, Washington DC, Director, Punj Lloyd Construction Company, India, Director, AIESEC International, President, American Chamber of Commerce in India (1999-2001), Member YPO/WPO, Chairman, Infrastructure Committee, Confederation of Indian Industry (2000), Member, National Committee on E-Commerce, Confederation of Indian Industry (2000) and Member of ISOC (Internet Society International) Geneva.

Back to top of page

Meredith BlakeMeredith Blake Meredith Blake is the Founder and CEO of ProSocial, a nationally recognized public interest attorney and social entrepreneur with twenty years of experience in creating positive social change. ProSocial is an innovative agency working with influencers to create social change movements. In this role, Meredith works with clients to create deep impact philanthropic initiatives and social impact campaigns grounded in research and with an eye toward sustainability.

Prior to launching ProSocial, Meredith worked as Executive Vice President at Participant Productions. Among Meredith's notable achievements at Participant was the social action campaign that accompanied the release of Vice President Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Before building the social action department at Participant, Meredith spent 10 years running Break the Cycle, the nonprofit organization she founded to empower youth to end domestic violence.

Kay BuckKay Buck Kay Buck has over twenty years experience in the human rights field at state, national and international levels. Joining CAST in 2003, Kay leads the longest-running anti-slavery organization in this nation, and was the first to advocate for laws to protect victims and open a shelter for trafficked women and girls in this country. CAST today is the go-to resource for the media, policy makers, law enforcement, and the philanthropic community for information about modern-day slavery. It remains the only organization in the country to provide comprehensive care and leadership development programs for trafficking survivors. Through broad community outreach on local, state, national and international levels, CAST spotlights the issue of trafficking so that more victims will be free and empowered, while every-day citizens have the opportunity to get involved to end modern-day slavery in our lifetime.

Under Kay's leadership, CAST built an international technical assistance program, a strong network in Mexico (CAST Mexico), and a model Client Services Program that provides intensive legal and social services to survivors of trafficking. Working with its national networks to establish the first Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000, CAST has taken leadership roles in several legislative initiatives on transparency of supply chains, victim protections, and training for law enforcement. The first program Kay developed at CAST was its one-of-a-kind leadership development program for survivors of modern-day slavery who are using their voices collectively to impact systemic change. CAST was recognized with the California Association of Non Profits Innovation Award and the United Nations Association Global Citizens Award.

Prior to joining CAST, Kay was Director of the Rape Prevention Resource Center of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Sacramento, CA. She was appointed to the California Alliance to Combat Slavery and Trafficking, which published the first CA Report on Human Trafficking. In 2005, she was recognized as a Change Maker Dream Maker alongside Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton by the Women's Foundation of California. In 2012 she was nominated for the LA Business Journal Non Profit Citizenship Award and was featured in Life Moments for Women, a book telling the story of one hundred women leaders in California. Kay spent over five years in Asia working with a network of non-governmental organizations on anti-slavery projects. She participated in the planning of several international conferences, including the World Conference on Women.

As a leader in the human rights movement, Kay has a personal and professional commitment to developing non-governmental organizations and positioning them as key collaborative stakeholders for social change. Kay holds a Bachelor's degree in Women's Studies, and resides in the greater Los Angeles area with her husband Don, their daughter Synneva, and a very moody cat named Azuli.

Back to top of page

Kay BuckBrownson Omar Brownson as an Angeleno, is inspired by the way the LA River brings our city together. He believes in hope and a world of possibilities.

Omar was hired as the first executive director of the LA River Revitalization Corp. in January 2011 with a background in real estate private equity, project development and public-private partnerships. He has been described as having the heart of an activist and the mind of a capitalist. The River Corp. acts as a hub to drive forward tangible change and sustainable real estate along the river. The LA River offers open space, recreation, and a continuous greenway for 51-miles across the heart of our city.

He completed a joint-Masters in Public Policy and Urban Planning from the Harvard Kennedy School and Graduate School of Design where his team won the first ULI/Hines Urban Design Competition. He was recognized as an Americorps Public Ally and then Coro Fellow after graduating from the University of California, Davis. Among other leadership roles and recognitions, he has served as Chair of the Board of the Liberty Hill Foundation; Southern California Leadership Network California Connections Fellow; Member of the Mayor's Los Angeles Food Policy Council; the Advisory Council of the venture philanthropy group REDF; Advisory Board of the for-profit social enterprise Isidore Recycling; and Stanton Fellowship of the Durfee Foundation (2014-15).

Most of his adventures and inspirations have been LA-born, including his wife and two daughters. He's training for his first marathon.

CanterspacerMarlene Canter, overwhelmingly elected twice to the Los Angeles City Board of Education, served as Board Member for District 4 from 2001 to 2009 and as President from 2005 to 2007. The Los Angeles Business Journal named her Woman Executive of the Year in 2006 for her leadership of the Board. In 2008, the League of Women Voters presented her with their Government Leadership Award. In 2009, Ms. Canter received the Educator of the Year award from Loyola Marymount University's School of Education.

During her tenure on the Board, Ms. Canter made teacher quality and children's health and well-being her top priorities. She authored resolutions to ban the sale of soft drinks and junk food in LAUSD schools – which passed in 2002 and 2003, respectively – making LAUSD the first large urban district in the nation to approve such bans. California and many other districts have since adopted similar nutrition reforms.

Ms. Canter was willing to take on controversial issues and authored successful resolutions calling for increased scrutiny in teacher evaluations, the granting of tenure and changes to the state Education Code governing the certificated employee dismissal process. She sat on the LAUSD Teacher Quality Task Force and played a role in developing recommendations for legislative changes regarding teacher dismissals and seniority, strategies for implementing a merit pay system and improving the teacher evaluation process.

Ms. Canter chaired the Board's Charters and Innovation Committee, a new committee she conceived to help drive school and District transformation. The Committee supports the District's efforts to create innovative partnerships, provide oversight for charter schools, and to facilitate reforms in the District.

Drawing on her 30-year career as co-CEO of a successful teacher training company, Ms. Canter also created the Board's Human Resources Committee. The committee, which she chaired for 4 years, oversaw impressive improvement in the recruitment of highly qualified teachers. Ninety-four percent of the District's new hires now meet the State's definition of highly qualified compared to 64 percent of new hires in 2002/03.

Ms. Canter began her career in education as a special education teacher at Alta Loma Elementary School. She went on to co-found and serve as the co-CEO of Canter & Associates, now Laureate Education, Inc. The company became one of the world's leading teacher-training organizations and trained more than 1 million K-12 teachers worldwide. It developed an extensive catalogue of professional development programs, distance learning graduate courseware and resource materials for teachers, administrators, and parents.

Ms. Canter also sat on State Superintendent Jack O'Connell's P-16 Council and on the Board of Directors for her alma mater, Pacific Oaks College. She is also an advisor to the Children's Partnership, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan child advocacy organization. Ms. Canter also has served on the Boards of Directors for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Kehillath Israel Synagogue of Pacific Palisades.

Since her time with LAUSD, Ms. Canter serves on the Board of Directors for Vista Del Mar Child and Family Center and City Year. Additionally, she is the Board Chair of Los Angeles Education Pioneers, on the Board of Directors and Chair of the Education Commission for Green Dot Public Schools, on the Board of Directors and Co-chair of the Academic Commission for the Fielding Institute and on the Board of Visitors at Loyola Marymount School of Education. Ms. Canter is a Los Angeles City Ethics Commissioner, was the 2010 Loyola Marymount University Commencement speaker and has an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Loyola Marymount University, was the commencement speaker in 2011 at Pacific Oaks College and is a Senior Fellow at the USC Marshall Society & Business Lab.

Ms. Canter resides in Los Angeles and has two grown children. She continues to be an advocate for quality education for all children and is pursuing a chaplaincy degree at the Academy for Jewish Religion, Los Angeles.

Back to top of page

Ken DeemerspacerKen Deemer is a founding partner and former Chairman of Los Angeles Social Venture Partners a group of business professionals who contribute their time, money, and expertise to promote philanthropy in L.A., and to help nonprofits expand their capacity and effectiveness. The organization currently focuses on organizations addressing education and the environment, and co-sponsors with USC, the annual Social Innovation Fast Pitch. Mr. Deemer was also a co-founder and former Chairman and President of the Tech Coast Angels, one of the largest and most active angel investor groups in the country. Mr. Deemer also serves on the board of Environmental Charter High School.

Mr. Deemer is an active private investor and has over twenty years of venture capital experience as a General Partner of InterVen Partners, a firm that he co-founded in 1985.

He has invested in and served on the boards of numerous public and private companies in technology, manufacturing and specialty retailing. Earlier in his career, he was a co-founder of a direct marketing company, My Favorite Charities, marketing manager of a computer peripherals company and a systems engineer with Hughes Aircraft Company.

Mr. Deemer holds BS degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering from MIT and an MBA, with distinction, from Carnegie-Mellon University. His wife, Candy, is an author and management consultant. They have three sons.

Ari EngelbergspacerAri Engelberg is a Los Angeles native. In 1996, while attending graduate school at UCLA, he co-founded, which is now the Internet postage leader, commanding over 85% market share. Ari was responsible for venture capital relationships, regulatory relationships, and strategic partnerships.

In 2000, he left to co-found Archive, Inc., a data storage services provider, which was sold in 2002.

Ari then returned to his alma mater, Harvard-Westlake School, to teach American history and coach basketball for several years before becoming Bright Star Schools' first CEO in late 2007. Ari currently sits on the Boards of Valley Charter Schools and

Ari is a founding partner of the Los Angeles Social Venture Partners and has previously held positions on the boards of Bright Star Schools, Ethos Water, eTeamz, CoreObjects Software, the Sherman Oaks Nursery School, the Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund of Los Angeles, the Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles, and Jewish Big Brothers-Big Sisters. Ari holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Psychology from UC Berkeley and a Juris Doctor and Masters of Business Administration from UCLA.

Back to top of page

Laura FerrettispacerLaura Ferretti's community-focused philanthropy experience brings together strategy and impact. A cum laude graduate of Smith College, Laura also holds an MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA and began her career working for a Washington DC-based Presidential Commission and national foundation. A cum laude graduate of Smith College, Laura also holds an MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA and began her career working for a Washington DC-based Presidential Commission and national foundation. Laura went on to hold senior fundraising positions at the Fulfillment Fund and United Way of Greater Los Angeles, both nationally known organizations undergoing significant change during her tenure. She has firsthand knowledge of building diversified revenue streams, growing individual giving, and engaging board members and staff in fundraising to achieve organizational goals.

In 2000, Laura founded her consulting firm, Impact Philanthropy LLC, and since then has partnered with over 50 local, national and international organizations with an approach that is results-oriented: making clear the connection between mission and money, and the respective roles that staff and board members play in building resilient organizations. Impact Philanthropy helps to build more effective nonprofit organizations through strategic planning, fundraising advising, executive search services and strategic counsel to family foundations.

Clients to date include (partial list): Abraham House, Advocates for Children, After-School All-Stars, Arts for LA, Caine's Arcade/Imagination Foundation, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, Center for Innovative Education/LA's Promise (pro bono), CicLAvia, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Daniel Pearl Foundation, Equality Federation, Foyer de Sion, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Girls Inc. LA, GlobalGirl Media, Grand Street Settlement House, Hand In Hand, Hollygrove, Joshua Venture, Padway Foundation, Peer Health Exchange LA, Shane's Inspiration, Southern California Institute of Architecture, Dwight Stuart Youth Foundation, The Rape Foundation, Shane's Inspiration, The Unusual Suspects, Voices In Harmony (pro bono), The World Is Just A Book Away and Youth Policy Institute.

Laura also serves as the Board Chair of the Los Angeles chapter of Advisors in Philanthropy (LA-AiP), and has made feature presentations on fundraising and capacity building issues at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, USC's Marshall and Public Policy Schools, Community Partners, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the William Morris Endeavor Foundation.

Allison Graff-WeisnerspacerAllison Graff-Weisner Allison Graff-Weisner, a Southern California native, serves as the Executive Director of City Year Los Angeles (CYLA).

In 2007 she moved to Los Angeles to launch CYLA, leading the organization's eighteenth site. Starting with 75 corps members in its founding year, CYLA has quickly grown to meet the needs of the region, expanding to 275 corps members in its seventh year. Prior to launching CYLA, Allison served as the national Alumni Director for City Year, Inc.

Allison has worked at numerous community development and education organizations in the U.S. After running parent involvement programs at 20 schools in the Bronx with Learning Leaders, an organization that engages 10,000 volunteers in New York City schools, Allison became a leader of the program department.

Prior to Learning Leaders, she taught and ran an after-school program in Washington, D.C. during her year of national service with Public Allies. She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Harvard Kennedy School, and has two children, Maya and Gil.

Back to top of page

Amir HemmatspacerAmir Hemmat has focused on being a social entrepreneur and community advocate throughout his career—especially in the areas of education, healthcare, the environment, and challenges facing underserved minority communities.

Amir is Co-Founder of SABEResPODER® (SEP) and serves as President and CEO. SEP is a venture funded Spanish-language media company that provides educational content to the U.S. Hispanic community and produces comprehensive and practical educational solutions. SABEResPODER's media platform is a national multimedia network with presence in 50 U.S. markets reaching over eight million unique consumers annually.

Prior to SEP, Amir was Vice President of Development at PROFMEX, a worldwide research consortium where he led the management of national policy initiatives. He has also served as a Policy Advisor to federal, state and local government in the U.S. as well as Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County.

He is also the founder of Catalyst Consulting, a venture management firm focused on social entrepreneurial opportunities that achieve the double bottom line: doing good and doing well. Through Catalyst, Amir has assisted for-profit and non-profit organizations on capacity building, program development, strategy, and public relations. Amir has helped raise over 30 million dollars since 2003 for non-profit organizations.

Amir calls Los Angeles home and despite a busy schedule, finds additional ways to serve the community: as a Board Member with the Gang Alternative Program, a Commissioner with the Los Angeles County Commission on Nutrition, an advocate for growing the "Green Economy" and an active investor in early stage "Clean Technology." Amir has completed four years of clinical and laboratory research which culminated in a published research article, "Calcifying Vascular Cells," Journal of Cardiology (November 2001) and is co-author of three educational guides on the U.S. health care system with over 500,000 copies distributed nationwide. He has a B.A. in Economics from UCLA and received his Master's in Public Health from USC.

Melodie HoldenspacerMelodie Holden is a social entrepreneur and technology consultant. Her work in international health saved the lives of thousands of mothers in developing countries, resulting in stronger families and lasting impact to their communities.

Melodie's core work was to influence top government and business leaders, showing possibilities for health interventions using mathematical modeling and real-life scenarios. She forged public-private partnerships to bring large-scale impact to the underserved.

To accomplish this, Melodie founded VSI, a non-profit organization working in Africa and Asia. VSI's niche is bringing affordable, life-saving medicines to the market, integrating them into the health system, and making them available to women in need.

During her tenure, VSI established a public and private sector distribution network and spearheaded market development, providing 3M doses in just 5 years. VSI brought life-saving medicines directly to 146,000 women and trained 23,000 providers. After leading the organization as President/CEO with a staff of 50 people around the world, Melodie retired in 2011.

Before VSI, Melodie worked for IBM as a consultant to businesses on strategy and technology. At the dawn of the Internet age, she lived in Asia and Australia and traveled extensively through Europe and North America advising, building systems, teaching, and developing new businesses.

Melodie is an engineer and economist who credits her rigorous scientific training as the foundation for her approach to business.

Melodie is a mother of two young kids and lives in Southern California.

Back to top of page

Trish D Karlinspacer Trish Devine Karlin is the Vice President, Global Business Planning for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), where she serves as a key member of the senior executive team. Currently, Trish leads a global team that directs business planning, partnerships, resource development and health systems strengthening for EGPAF's international programs, which represent $150 million in HIV program services each year.

Trish joined EGPAF in its early days, and has been instrumental in its exponential growth over the past 15 years, particularly in the development and successful implementation of international AIDS care and research programs in countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Since joining EGPAF in 1994, Trish has played a central role in on-the-ground establishment of HIV prevention and care programs in more than 20 emerging countries, including India, China, and multiple countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These programs, which serve women, children and families affected by HIV/AIDS, have positively affected the lives of more than 12 million women and their families--and have advanced EGPAF's mission of ending pediatric AIDS.

Trish has helped to build EGPAF offices in 12 African countries and has led the development of new, locally owned and led non-profits affiliated with EGPAF in four countries. She has served in past roles to oversee country management, program implementation, program monitoring systems and research initiatives. Trish is particularly interested in program design and evaluation, fundraising, non-profit governance and organizational development.

Trish holds a Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and a B.A. in Public Policy and Child Development from Hampshire College. Trish is a Senior Fellow at the USC Marshall School of Business Society and Business Lab, and serves on the Board of the John M Lloyd Foundation.

Larry Kopaldspacer Larry Kopald Considered a leading brand-building architect, Larry Kopald spent over twenty years at some of the world's leading advertising agencies, representing the worlds' largest companies, from American Express to McDonalds to Pepsico. Larry helped launch such billion dollar brands as Acura automobiles, Huggies diapers, Oracle, and Chicken McNuggets. His creative work has won hundreds of awards, from Cannes to Clio, and been nominated for both Grammy and EMMY awards.

Larry left the traditional advertising business to co-launch THINK New Ideas, a technology-based marketing company during the infancy of the digital revolution, which grew from 30 to 700 employees in under two years, and was sold in 2004.

He is presently managing partner and founder at Kopald/Stranger, a change agency working at the center of responsible transformation. Applying the tools of business development (market analysis, strategy, social and traditional communications) Kopald/Stranger works with companies like WalMart, Patagonia, Coke, Nike and Target, as well as governments from Mexico to Canada in areas such as sustainability, food, energy, health and wellness, and general CSR as it relates to core organizational objectives. Current projects include strategy and branding to re-invent the supply chain for the $1.3 trillion apparel industry, visioning a new city being built in Alberta, Canada, development of a national communications campaign for Mexico designed to help green the country, and working with the DOE on a massive land-use project.

Larry has been involved in the environmental movement for nearly two decades, working with environmental, scientific, corporate, and both NGO and governmental agencies. He has done the environmental communications for the Olympics, Hollywood, and the United Nations, the last of which honored him at the UN for his efforts on behalf of the planet. Currently Larry sits on boards of 1% For The Planet, Greenpeace, The National Marine Sanctuaries, Environmental Entrepreneurs, and WILD.

Back to top of page

René Jonesspacer René Jones professional background includes corporate philanthropy, non-profit development, and fundraising. She is the founding Director of the UTA Foundation at United Talent Agency (UTA), a talent and literary agency based in Los Angeles and New York. As Director, Jones provides strategic guidance for UTA's clients and executives in their pursuit of meaningful philanthropy and oversees charitable, volunteer, and enrichment programming for the agency.

Prior to launching the UTA Foundation, Jones began her career in the U.S. Senate continuing on to become finance director and consultant for many high-profile national campaigns. She then moved into the non-profit sector where her experience included serving as development director for several national non-profit organizations.

In her current capacity, Jones advises global, national and local organizations on best practices for effective entertainment industry engagement. Her community involvement includes serving as board chair of Healthy Child Healthy World, board member of Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp, and Global Ambassador for Vital Voices. Jones has traveled to over sixty countries and resides in Los Angeles with her family.

Michelle Kydd Leespacer Michelle Kydd Lee is the Founder and Executive Director of the CAA Foundation at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a talent and literary agency based in Los Angeles, with offices in New York, Nashville, St. Louis, London, and Beijing. The CAA Foundation, since 1995, has used the natural resources of the entertainment community to create positive social change. In her role, Michelle serves as a consultant to clients, executives and corporations on their philanthropic and pro-social initiatives. Additionally, Michelle holds the title of Director of Culture at CAA, supervising several other divisions of the agency.

Michelle has served on various charitable organization boards and currently sits on the board for Points of Light, Project Rebirth, Los Angeles Communities In Schools, and the advisory boards for the Ad Council, FEED and IDEO.

She is a member of the 2009 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute and is a member of the USC Marshall School of Business' Society and Business Lab Senior Fellow. Michelle lives with her husband Damon and their sons Carter and Beckett, in Santa Monica Canyon, California.

Back to top of page

Jonathan Parfreyspacer Jonathan Parfrey is executive director of Climate Resolve, a climate change communications organization. For the past four years, Parfrey served as director of the GREEN LA Coalition, Southern California's environmental coalition. In 2008, he was appointed by Mayor Villaraigosa to the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners where he is serving a five-year term. He is also President of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. He is a board member of Kid's Progress Inc., a member of the Vision Los Angeles advisory committee, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition advisory committee, a founding board member of CicLAvia, and the steering committee of the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability.

From 1994 to 2007, Parfrey served as director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. In 2003, Mr. Parfrey was appointed to Governor Schwarzenegger's Environmental Policy Team, and was previously appointed to Governor Davis' select committee on radioactive waste disposal. In 1992, Parfrey received the Paul S. Delp Award for Outstanding Service, Peace and Social Justice. In 2002 he was awarded a Durfee Foundation Sabbatical Fellowship. In 2010, he received a Stanton Fellowship.

Marco Petruzzispacer Marco Petruzzi originally joined Green Dot as President and Chief Operating Officer in January 2007, and was promoted to CEO in October 2008. During Marco's tenure, Green Dot won Los Angeles Unified's School Board approval to turnaround Locke High School in Watts and began operating it in fall 2008, re-structuring it into fall smaller, college-prep schools. The Locke Transformation Project is the realization of Marco's work on Green Dot's Board of Directors, where he served from 2002 until 2006, in which he led a pro bono consulting project to develop a model for the transformation of overcrowded, under-performing urban public schools. Under Marco's tenure, Green Dot has tripled in size and is now operating three schools that were previously chronically underperforming schools under LAUSD. Currently, Green Dot serves 10,000 students in low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

Prior to joining Green Dot, Marco was a partner at Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, working with clients in the USA, South America, and Europe. Marco earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering at Columbia University in 1985, and earned an M.B.A also from Columbia University in 1990. He has extensive international experience, having lived in six different countries, and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Marco, an active community member, is married and has two children. His oldest son attends a Green Dot school.

Back to top of page

Paul Polizzottospacer Paul Polizzotto, has expanded and honed his vision during his decades-long career as a social entrepreneur: to transform advertising into an engine for positive social change. As president of EcoMedia, the company he founded in 2002, Paul created and oversees the patent-pending EcoAd, WellnessAd, and EducationAd programs, which are making his vision a reality. Through this innovative business model, advertisers help to fund tangible, meaningful solutions to some of our nation's most urgent social problems.

Paul is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the Environmental Protection Agency's "Environmental Hero" recognition (1999), the Santa Monica Baykeeper's and the Waterkeeper Alliance's prestigious "Keeper Award" (2002), and Coastal Living Magazine's Leadership Award (2003). In 2006, he was named a Public/Private Visionary by Vanity Fair Magazine and in 2009, EcoMedia received the United States Conference of Mayors' Excellence in Public/Private Partnerships Award. In 2012, the EcoAd program was an Edison Award winner in the area of social innovation.

Paul serves on the Board of Advisors of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s Waterkeeper Alliance and is a Grades of Green Board Member. In addition, his groundbreaking work has made him a sought-after speaker. He has represented the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in the UK, Sweden, Turkey, and Greece and is a frequent guest lecturer at business schools throughout the country, including at USC's Marshall School of Business, where he is a Senior Fellow as well as an inaugural member of the Board of Advisors for the Society and Business Lab.

Deborah S. Ramo spacer Deborah Ramo is President and Founder of Mondiale Corporation. As a strategic communications executive with more than 20 years of experience and an extensive background in entertainment and social issues, she applies a unique cross-sector approach that draws on multiple disciplines. Ms. Ramo is a recognized leader in the areas of communications, marketing and global corporate citizenship.

Recently, Ms. Ramo led the Mondiale team's efforts to advance the Democracy is… program, a public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of State, Center for International Private Enterprise, International Youth Foundation, Taking IT Global, NBC-Universal, and YouTube. The program uses creative challenges (e.g., photo, video, Twitter) intended to spark a global online dialogue on democracy. Ms. Ramo's efforts led to a robust program that integrates multiple points of entry and engagement, along with a diverse partner base designed to expand international reach and creative capital. Today, more than 6,000 people from 132 countries have participated directly while 6.6 million have engaged in the online conversation.

Other select client engagements have included the World Economic Forum, Vivendi Universal, the City of Los Angeles, One Economy Corporation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Universal's international networks and the Universal Music Group. Prior to launching Mondiale Corporation, Ms. Ramo was Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Universal Studios. In that capacity, she was responsible for worldwide corporate communications and corporate identity. Ms. Ramo also developed and led Universal's first corporate social responsibility strategy including its philanthropic efforts, company-wide charitable giving and volunteer programs for the company's 14,000 employees.

Ms. Ramo also founded Rosen & Company, a strategic marketing and communications firm with offices in Los Angeles and New York. The company's roster of clients included Sony Corporation of America, Phillips Media, House of Blues, MCA, Benetton and the New York Stock Exchange. Earlier in her career, Ms. Ramo was Executive Vice President Worldwide Publicity and Corporate Communications for Paramount Pictures Corporation. Prior to that, she served as Director of Media Relations for HBO where she established the department's West Coast operations.

Ms. Ramo serves on the Executive Committee of Human Rights Watch's California Committee South and is member of the International Board's Communications Committee. Ms. Ramo is also a co-founder of Workplace Hollywood, a nonprofit that provides job development services to disadvantaged youth. In addition, she is an advisor to One Bay Creative and a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and serves on the board of KCRW, NPR's flagship radio station for Southern California. She also serves on the Los Angeles Executive Board of Spark, an innovative nonprofit committed to ending the dropout crisis in the United States.

Back to top of page

Michelle Rhone-Collins spacer Michelle Rhone-Collins has over 25 years working in the youth and community development fields and has stood up for equity and access for disenfranchised individuals and communities. Currently, Michelle Rhone-Collins is the founding Executive Director of LIFT-LA, an organization that is working to bring holistic and enduring solutions to poverty alleviation and has been recognized by the New York Times and Fast Co. as one of the most innovative and humanitarian approaches to building economic stability to struggling communities in the country.

Michelle began her career working with homeless and runaway teens as part of the University Settlement House in NYC's Lower East Side. While there, she ran empowerment groups that taught participants community organizing tools to create both individual and systemic change. She designed progressive youth leadership development, college preparation, and arts in education programs; directed a residential camp program for children from lower income urban communities; created a Hip Hop theater youth production that showed at the Bowery Ballroom, Central Park Bandshell, and Nuyorican Poets Cafe; developed service learning programs for immigrant youth; and organized a social justice and community service trip to the Punjab region of India. As the Executive Director of a community center in Beacon, NY, Michelle led the charge to keep land from being developed so that it could continue to be used for community purposes and worked to create a new model for gentrification.

Prior to LIFT-LA, Michelle was the Executive Director of The Children's Nature Institute in Los Angeles, CA. Under her leadership, The Children's Nature Institute became a model for environmental advocacy, and justice and holistic community development as a lead partner in the Magnolia Community Initiative. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Duke University and Masters of Education in Psychological Counseling from Teacher's College/Columbia University with a focus on racism, racial identity, and mental health. She is also the proud mother of two beautiful children ages 10 and 14, her ultimate source for motivation and inspiration.

Tara Roth spacer Tara Roth is the president of the Goldhirsh Foundation. Prior to this role, Tara bridged the worlds of marketing, media, and philanthropy as the founding COO of GOOD and a social strategy advisor. Tara began her career in marketing and business development for NBCinternet and Infoseek. She has worked with organizations such as Participant Media, Fifteen Foundation, and the New Schools Venture Fund.

As a senior advisor to GOOD, Tara helped launch the Pepsi Refresh Project. Tara received a bachelor's degree at Cornell University, and has an MBA from Oxford University where she was awarded a Skoll scholarship in social entrepreneurship. Tara serves on the executive council of Innovate LA (InLA), on the board of Southern California Grantmakers, and as an advisory board member of LA n Sync's Bell Commissionand 826LA. ᐧ

Back to top of page

Laura Rubbospacer Laura Chapman Rubbo is Director, International Labor Standards at The Walt Disney Company, headquartered in Burbank, California. Disney's International Labor Standards program seeks to foster safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces wherever Disney-branded products are made. Laura plays a key leadership role at Disney in managing strategy, policy and programs for Disney's global supply chain labor standards program. Among her specific responsibilities, she leads the global factory monitoring program, external stakeholder engagement and communications, industry collaboration, supply chain philanthropic investments, risk assessment, research, and training.

Laura is Vice Chair of the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the United States Council for International Business, a Board Member of Social Accountability Accreditation Services, a Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California's Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab, member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Connecticut's Human Rights Institute, and member of the Advisory Board of Social Accountability International. Laura was also part of the United States delegation to the International Labor Organization's 2014 International Labor Conference. Laura has a Master's Degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University and a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and German from the University of Connecticut.

Fran Seegullspacer Fran Seegull is Managing Director of Investments at ImpactAssets-a non-profit investment company that provides an impact investment asset management platform for investors and donor advisors seeking a blend of positive social and environmental outcomes, financial return and risk management.

Previously, Seegull was Managing Director and COO of Funk Ventures, an early-stage venture capital and acceleration firm investing in clean technology, sustainable living, health & wellness and medical technologies-industries where it seeks to achieve market rates of financial return, as well as social and environmental impact.

With her BS in economics from Barnard College at Columbia University, Seegull became Program Officer at the Santa Monica-based Peter Norton Family Foundation.

After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School, Seegull was a management consultant in the corporate strategy practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers. She also served in PwC's global strategic ventures group, investing firm capital in nascent technology companies.

From 2000 to 2002, Seegull was VP of business development at Novica United, a venture-backed social enterprise that retails and wholesales home decor products made by artisans in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In 2002, Seegull founded a management consulting practice, providing strategy and business development services to businesses, non-profits and family foundations. She conducted strategy engagements for mid-market media companies, including National Geographic, MediaNews Group and NPR West, as well as multi-channel retailer Blair Corporation and Nestle. Seegull also has partnered with many entrepreneurial clients to create and implement growth strategies and has advised family foundations on high-impact grant making and asset management.

Seegull serves on the board of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. She is Senior Advisor to the Social Financial Innovation group at Ashoka and Senior Fellow at the Society & Business Lab at USC's Marshall School of Business.

Graduating with a BS in economics from Barnard College at Columbia University, Seegull was a program officer at the Santa Monica-based Peter Norton Family Foundation.

After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School, Seegull was a management consultant in the corporate strategy practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers. She also served in PwC's global strategic ventures group, investing firm capital in nascent technology companies.

From 2000 to 2002, Seegull was VP of business development at Novica United, a venture-backed social enterprise that retails and wholesales home decor products made by artisans in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In 2002, Seegull founded a management consulting practice, providing strategy and business development services to businesses, non-profits and family foundations. She conducted strategy engagements for mid-market media companies, including National Geographic, MediaNews Group and NPR West, as well as Nestle and multi-channel retailer Blair Corporation and Nestle. Seegull also has partnered with many entrepreneurial clients to create and implement growth strategies and advised family foundations on high-impact grantmaking and asset management.

Seegull serves on the board of Lucky Earth and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation and is a Senior Fellow at the Society & Business Lab at USC's Marshall School of Business.

Back to top of page

Rose Shumanspacer Rose Shuman is an experienced international management consultant, a recognized social entrepreneur, and a TED Fellow.

A founding partner at BrightFront Group, Rose specializes in business strategy, CSR & international development, and process, service and product innovation in new and emerging markets.

Rose is also Founder & CEO of Open Mind - Question Box, a developing world information technology nonprofit. Question Box has been recognized in the New York Times; UK Sunday Telegraph; Times of India; Indian Express; and BBC Digital Planet amongst others.

Rose writes & speaks widely on social enterprise and development. Recent articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review online, The UK Guardian Development & Social Business sites, International Trade Forum, and Public Service Review: International Development issue.

Siroyaspacer Shivani Siroya began developing the idea for InVenture in late 2010, with the aim of unlocking financial access for unbanked/underbanked customers in emerging markets.

She has a wide array of professional experiences in investment banking, health costing and microfinance. She previously worked at UNFPA, Citigroup and Health Net. Shivani is a 2013 Ashoka Fellow, 2013 TED Fellow, 2013 Ashoka Fellow, 2011 Echoing Green Fellow and 2011 Unreasonable Institute Fellow. She holds a M.P.H from Columbia University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. She lives in Los Angeles and when she's not InVenturing, she keeps herself busy and optimistic by heading outdoors, kick boxing, practicing yoga and has a counter-intuitive love for sloths.

About InVenture: InVenture is a mobile technology and data science company accelerating the unprecedented emergence of 3 billion unbanked people into the global middle class. InVenture's solution includes consumer-facing applications and big data analytics working in unison to flip the traditional credit model and put power into the hands of newly empowered consumers, thereby unlocking trillions of dollars in purchasing power and credit in the world's most important (yet most neglected) markets. InVenture's work has been recognized by USAID, the Economist, Vodafone, Bloomberg, and Forbes.

Back to top of page

spacer Paul Vandeventer serves as the President & CEO of Community Partners, a civic sector incubator and intermediary organization serving more than 135 projects and managing revenues of more than $15 million annually. Community Partners provides springboard services – technical, programmatic, consultative, financial and administrative – to emerging groups, established agencies, broad-based community initiatives, and private foundations in Southern California. Paul co-authored with researcher Myrna Mandell, Ph.D. the book Networks that Work: A Practitioner's Guide to Managing Networked Action. He also authored the recently re-published From Chaos to Community: A Guide for Helping Friends and Neighbors Recover and Rebuild After a Major Disaster. Paul lectured from 1997-2003 and continues to teach occasionally in the graduate program of the University of Southern California's School of Policy, Planning and Development.

He has accepted an appointment as a Society and Business Lab Senior Fellow at USC's Marshall School of Business and now serves on the expert review panel advising the Corporation for National and Community Service on proposals to the Obama Administration's $50 million 2010 Social Innovation Fund. He serves on the membership advisory committee of Independent Sector, a national advocacy group comprised of foundations and large national and regional nonprofits, and as a board member and trainer with the leadership organization Coro Southern California. He serves also on the boards of Flintridge Preparatory School and Furious Theatre Company in Pasadena, the cutting edge ensemble theatre company in residence at the Pasadena Playhouse.

spacer Dr. David Washington is a philanthropy consultant based in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles overseeing "Partnerships for Purpose," an initiative focused on leveraging the resources of government, philanthropy and business for pro-social change. Prior to this endeavor, he served as the interim CEO of "Change the Equation," the science, technology, engineering and math non-profit inspired by President Obama and founded by the CEOs of Xerox, Kodak, Time Warner Cable and Intel, as well as the Carnegie and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations.

Previously, Dr. Washington served President Obama as an Associate Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement where he assisted with public-private partnerships within the business and foundation communities. His White House duties also included serving as the point person for the children and families' community and the transportation community, in addition to the sports and entertainment industries, regarding philanthropy and pro-social efforts. On the Presidential Transition Team, Dr. Washington worked as the Special Assistant to the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs & Public Liaison, a time period in which the strategies for public-private partnerships within the White House were developed. David also served as a senior advisor for the California Obama for America team beginning in February 2007. His primary duties revolved around mobilizing Los Angeles' young professional communities, local elected officials, the entertainment industry and the fundraising community.

Before joining the White House, Dr. Washington had a long history of building bridges between the worlds of philanthropy and the private sector. A former Senator Edward M. Kennedy health policy fellow and public policy advisor with The California Endowment, Dr. Washington later went on to become a philanthropy and policy consultant. He also served as a City Commissioner appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, responsible for overseeing zoning, planning, and real estate issues surrounding the West Los Angeles communities of Bel Air, Beverly Crest, Pacific Palisades, Mar Vista, Westwood, LAX, Westchester, Marina del Rey, and Venice.

While serving with The California Endowment, a private health foundation with over $3 billion in assets, Dr. Washington specialized in advocacy and public policy support for grantees and the behavioral health program. He also led efforts to develop strategic partnerships with elected officials, the entertainment industry, corporations, and individual philanthropists. While working with Senator Kennedy's office, he oversaw the drafting of the Senator's bill on diabetes, aspects of his mental health legislative response to the 9/11 tragedy, and other children's health issues.

Raised in West Los Angeles, David is a graduate of Yale University and studied abroad at Oxford University in England. He received his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Masters in Legal Studies from the University of Nebraska Law School. While in Lincoln, he also worked as a forensic psychologist in a medium/maximum security prison, and as an intern in the Capital's unicameral legislature for the ranking member of the Senate. He completed his clinical psychology residency at Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital, while simultaneously interning for Senator Kennedy in his Boston regional headquarters.

David is a proud Los Angeles native who resides in Venice while on the West Coast. He has practiced tai chi for the past decade and, when not running on the beach or doing something athletic, can be caught in the movie theaters on any blockbuster opening weekend. His work passion is strategically connecting the dots between the worlds of public policy, business, the entertainment industry, and philanthropy for positive social change.

Michelle YatesspacerMichelle Yates is the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Adobe and Executive Director of the Adobe Foundation, positions she assumed in 2012. At Adobe, Michelle is responsible for all CSR strategy, management, and reporting globally.

Previously, Michelle spent 10 years building and leading the CR program at Warner Bros. Entertainment, where she served as Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. In that role, she was responsible for protecting and enhancing the company's reputation by understanding the impact that Warner Bros.' businesses have on society and the environment, developing strategies to address these impacts, and implementing supporting programs. Under Michelle's leadership, several signature programs were developed that were replicated at the other Time Warner divisions. She also managed several Time Warner-wide initiatives such as the global Ethical Sourcing Program, stakeholder engagement, managing the depiction of controversial content issues in their films and television productions, and multi-disciplinary diversity initiatives. Michelle was also responsible for developing CR metrics reporting for both Warner Bros. and Time Warner Inc.

Her previous experience includes strategic development work in London for Globalegacy, a social venture firm that brings government, the private sector and nonprofits together to comprehensively address urban poverty. Michelle also spent several years in the sustainable building industry, first managing operations at the U.S. Green Building Council during the formative years of the LEED™ green building rating system, followed by project management at, a start-up B2B e-commerce company for the sustainable building industry, where her focus was business plan development and venture capital funding strategies. She received her undergraduate degree in International Relations from Tufts University, her MBA from London Business School, and holds a Certificate in Corporate Responsibility from the Boston College Carroll School of Management. Michelle was a member of the Global Reporting Initiative Media Sector Working Group and was the founding Chairperson of the Burbank Arts Education Foundation.

Back to top of page