University of Southern California

Senior Fellows

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

Martha Adams is an award-winning storyteller who travels freely between the commercial realm of TV, the independent world of filmmaking and all things digital media. Originally brought on to produce the film at the center of the Girl Rising campaign, she is now the Chief Creative Officer and was featured in 2013 by Newsweek/Daily Beast as one of "125 Women of Impact." Adams is a Senior Fellow at The University of Southern California's Marshall Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab which recognizes leadership at the intersection of business and social impact, she serves as a Film Expert for the U.S. Department of State diplomacy program American Film Showcase, and in 2015 Novus awarded her "Humanitarian of the Year."

She has spent years working with the girls featured in Girl Rising and frequently speaks on the subject of girls' empowerment, radical change and the critical role storytelling plays. Recent engagements range from the FiSahara Film Festival and INmarket Conference to corporate events for Shearman and Sterling, Charles Schwab, Microsoft and Stroz Friedberg.

She began her career at Discovery Channel and after five years in production and programming, she co-founded Arcwelder Films. She executive produced a wide range of films, including four series and eight specials (including Inside the Kill Box, Citizen Soldier, Robots Rising and Spies Above) that won an array of awards including a National Emmy, Worldfest Houston prizes, New York Film Medals and Cine Awards. Audiences can enjoy her documentaries in more than 188 countries around the world, on networks such as Discovery and National Geographic. Martha graduated cum laude from American University in Washington, D.C.

Jessica Aronoff Jessica Aronoff is vice president of 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 at organizations including the Children's Partnership, the California Women's Law Center and Public Counsel.

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

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 30 years. In 2008, Green Dot began to operate Alain LeRoy Locke High School in Watts, restructuring 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 to 24-year old voters 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.

Sanjay Bhatnagar is a global innovator and business leader who directs new generation green enterprise at WaterHealth International. Mr. Bhatnagar founded THOT Capital Group, a private equity firm based in New York, in 2001. Prior to setting up the THOT Capital Group, 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 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.

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Meredith BlakeMeredith Blake is the founder and CEO of ProSocial, a nationally recognized public interest attorney and a social entrepreneur with 20 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 has over 20 years of experience in the human rights field at state, national and international levels. Having joined 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.

Prior to joining CAST, Kay was director of the Rape Prevention Resource Center of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Sacramento, California. 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 Hillary Rodham Clinton by the Women's Foundation of California.

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omar brownsonOmar Brownson is an Angeleno is inspired by the way the LA River brings our city together. With a background in real estate private equity, project development and public-private partnerships, Omar was hired as the first executive director of the LA River Revitalization Corp. in January 2011. He has been described as having the heart of an activist and the mind of a capitalist.

He completed a joint Master in Public Policy and and a Master in Urban Planning from the Harvard Kennedy School and Graduate School of Design, respectively, 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).

CanterMarlene Canter was twice elected 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 its Government Leadership Award. In 2009, Ms. Canter received the Educator of the Year award from Loyola Marymount University's School of Education.

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.

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Ken DeemerKen Deemer is a founding partner and former Chairman of Los Angeles Social Venture Partners, a group of business professionals who promote philanthropy in L.A. and 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 co-founded chairman and served as 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 20 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 bachelor’s degrees in physics and electrical engineering from MIT and an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Ari EngelbergAri 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 percent 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 Master of Business Administration from UCLA.

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Laura FerrettiLaura 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 D.C.-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. 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. Impact Philanthropy helps to build more effective nonprofit organizations through strategic planning, fundraising advising, executive search services and strategic counsel to family foundations.

Allison Graff-WeisnerAllison Graff-Weisner is a Southern California native who 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 18th 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.

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Amir HemmatAmir Hemmat 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 8 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 since 2003 for nonprofit organizations.

He has a B.A. in economics from UCLA and received his master's in public health from USC.

Melodie HoldenMelodie Holden is a social entrepreneur and technology consultant who founded VSI, a non profit organization working in Africa and Asia that brings affordable, life-saving medicines to the market, integrates them into the health system and makes them available to women in need.

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

Melodie is an engineer and economist who credits her rigorous scientific training as the foundation for her approach to business. She is a mother of two young kids and lives in Southern California.

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Trish D KarlinTrish Devine Karlin is the vice president of global business planning for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), where she 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 holds an MBA from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and a B.A. in public policy and child development from Hampshire College. She 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 KopaldLarry Kopald is a leading brand-building architect who spent over 20 years at some of the world's leading advertising agencies, representing the world’s largest companies, from American Express to McDonalds to Pepsico. His creative work has helped launch billion-dollar brands including Acura, Huggies and Oracle, and has won hundreds of awards from Cannes to Clio.

He is presently managing partner and founder at Kopald/Stranger, a change agency working with companies like WalMart, Patagonia, Coke, Nike and Target, as well as the governments of Mexico and Canada in areas such as sustainability, food, energy, health and wellness, and CSR.

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 worked on the environmental communications for the Olympics, Hollywood and the United Nations, 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.

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René JonesRené Jones is the founding director of the UTA Foundation at United Talent Agency, 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 and continued on to become a 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.

John Kobara In 2008,John Kobara was appointed Executive VP and chief operating officer for the California Community Foundation (CCF), the 50th largest foundation in the nation. CCF is LA's foundation specializing in assisting high net worth families, individuals, corporations and nonprofits pursue their philanthropic visions. CCF was established in 1915, and today has more than $1.4 billion in assets. For more than 35 years, John has been leading and managing diverse and complex nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Prior to his appointment at CCF, John was CEO of the CK12 Foundation, a nonprofit technology startup that provides no-cost textbooks to K-12 market. He also served as president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, senior vice president of Online Higher Education for Sylvan Learning Systems Inc., president and CEO of, vice chancellor of External Affairs at UCLA, executive director of the UCLA Alumni Association, and vice president and general manager of Falcon Cable TV. John currently serves on the boards of the national Grameen America Advisory Board, Japanese American National Museum, Coro of Southern California, LA Kitchen, SCGA Junior Foundation and Walden University. He earned degrees from UCLA, USC and Occidental College.

Michelle Kydd LeeMichelle 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. Since 1995, the CAA Foundation, 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 senior fellow at the USC Marshall School of Business' Society and Business Lab. Michelle lives with her husband, Damon, and their sons, Carter and Beckett, in Santa Monica Canyon, California.

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Vivienne LeeVivienne Lee brings deep expertise to her role as Regional Director of REDF's efforts in Southern California. Vivienne leads REDF's expansion strategy, builds partnerships, and creates pilot programs that can serve as models as REDF scales a social enterprise ecosystem region-wide. Working at the intersection of social impact and business value, Vivienne believes REDF can serve as an intermediary to develop the critical connections required to build businesses that create jobs.

Prior to joining REDF, Vivienne led Citibank's community development efforts where she managed nonprofit partners; helped oversee a $3 million giving budget to support high impact programs focused on creating economic opportunities for low-income families. She started her career in the social impact space in Hawaii as an Americorps VISTA developing a statewide asset building program. She earned a master's in city planning from MIT and a bachelor's from Occidental College. Among other leadership roles and recognitions, Vivienne currently serves on the board of directors of the Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation, Skid Row Housing Trust, Union Bank Community Advisory Board and Opportunity Fund's Southern California Regional Board.

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Dr. Meg PalisocDr. Meg Palisoc is the co-founder and CEO of Synergy Academies, a nonprofit organization that operates nationally recognized urban public charter schools in South Los Angeles, California. Over the past 10 years, Palisoc helped start three schools — Synergy Charter Academy, Synergy Kinetic Academy and Synergy Quantum Academy — which serve over 1300 students a year in grades K–12. Prior to starting Synergy, Meg was a former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher, writing coach, and visual and performing arts coordinator. Teaching was a second career for Palisoc —s he was formerly the director of Engineering Career Services at the University of Southern California, and she left her job to pursue teaching after she witnessed firsthand how there were not enough inner-city students persisting in college, let alone in the engineering fields. Under Meg's leadership, Synergy's schools are becoming model STEM schools that empower students to excel in science, technology, engineering and math. In 2013, Synergy's elementary school was named the Best Urban Elementary School in America and the #1 charter elementary school in California. Synergy's new venture was recently highlighted by The Walton Family Foundation when they recognized Meg as one of four Education Reformers to Watch. She is a Fellow of the 10th class of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
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Jonathan ParfreyJonathan Parfrey is executive director of Climate Resolve, a climate change communications organization. Parfrey served as director of the GREEN LA Coalition for four years and in 2008, 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.

Marco PetruzziMarco 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 turn around Locke High School in Watts and began operating it in fall 2008, restructuring it into 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 his bachelor’s in industrial engineering and his MBA from Columbia. Marco, an active community member, is married and has two children. His oldest son attends a Green Dot school.

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Paul PolizzottoPaul Polizzotto, is the president and founder of Eco Media, which allows advertisers help fund tangible, meaningful solutions to some of our nation's most urgent social problems. Paul created and oversees the patent-pending EcoAd, WellnessAd and EducationAd programs that are transforming advertising into an engine for positive social change.

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.

Deborah S. RamoDeborah 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.

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.

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.

Ms. Ramo serves on the executive committee of Human Rights Watch's California Committee South and is a 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.

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Michelle Rhone-CollinsMichelle Rhone-Collins has spent 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; developed service learning programs for immigrant youth; and organized a social justice and community service trip to the Punjab region of India.

Prior to LIFT-LA, Michelle was the executive director of The Children's Nature Institute in Los Angeles, which under her leadership, became a model for environmental advocacy and holistic community development. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Duke University and master’s of education in psychological counseling from Teacher's College, Columbia University.

Tara RothTara 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 from 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.

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Laura RubboLaura Chapman Rubbo is the director of 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, a 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 has a master’s in international affairs from the George Washington University and a bachelor's degree in economics and German from the University of Connecticut.

Fran Seegull 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 and wellness and medical technologies. 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. 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, serves as 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. She earned her bachelor’s in economics from the Columbia University and her MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Rose ShumanRose 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 and international development, and process, service and product innovation in new and emerging markets.

Rose is also Founder & CEO of Open Mind and writes & speaks widely on social enterprise and development, and her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, The UK Guardian Development & Social Business, International Trade Forum and Public Service Review: International Development issue.

MartineMartine Singer is president and CEO of Para Los Niños, where she leads a staff of more than 400 professionals who each year serve 7500 of LA's most impoverished children and their families through three charter schools, eight pre-schools, a range of mental health and social services, and extensive community outreach and parent engagement programs. Overseeing an annual budget of $32 million, Martine leads PLN's transformation from a social services agency to an education provider with wraparound social services. Prior to joining PLN, Martine served as executive director of Hollygrove, a 135-year-old LA nonprofit with a rich history of helping at-risk children and their families. During her tenure, she oversaw Hollygrove's transition from residential to community-based services and its merger with the statewide agency EMQ FamiliesFirst. Martine founded and served as publisher for the first foreign-language edition of The New York Times and launched the Los Angeles Times' award-winning online service in 1993. Martine also founded her own consulting firm serving media and communications clients as well as nonprofit organizations.

Martine is a board member of Wise Freedom School Partners and Making Poverty History. A native New Yorker, Martine holds a bachelor's from Sarah Lawrence College and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

SiroyaShivani Siroya is the founder and CEO of InVenture, 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.

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, 2011 Echoing Green Fellow and 2011 Unreasonable Institute Fellow. She holds a master’s in public health from Columbia University and a bachelor’s 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.

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TellalianDaniel Tellalian is a principal of Emerging Markets, Inc., an economic development consulting firm that assists the private sector to responsibly pursue business opportunities in low-income areas nationwide. Daniel leads client engagement in the firm's regional banking and food retailing sectors, assisting a number of successful financial institutions and supermarket operators in California and across the country. His primary client services include market research and analysis, real estate siting and entitlements, customer segmentation, community marketing strategy and campaigns, strategic partnership design, deal sourcing and structuring, workforce development, management consulting, and community relations. Daniel also consults with clients on strategic grantmaking initiatives, market expansion strategies, and investment opportunities for traditional and impact investors. He currently serves as the firm's lead for deployment of the $270+ million California FreshWorks Fund, the nation's largest healthy food financing initiative, endorsed by First Lady Michelle Obama. He has also been retained by numerous economic development entities to attract new enterprises, such as banks and supermarkets, to underserved communities.

A proponent of neighborhood-scale development, Daniel has over a decade of working knowledge designing and executing place-based initiatives, and was a founding board member of the Emerging Markets Development Corporation. Prior to his role at Emerging Markets, Daniel enjoyed successful career stints as a real estate and land use attorney, commercial developer, certified public accountant, nonprofit executive and alternative lender. He is a licensed CPA and a member of the California bar. Daniel has an economics degree from the Wharton School of Business and graduate degrees in law and business from UC Berkeley. He is also an Echoing Green fellow.

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Paul Vandeventer serves as the president and 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 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.

david washingtonDr. David Washington is a philanthropy consultant based in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles and oversees 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 STEM 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.

Before joining the White House, Dr. Washington had a long history of building bridges between the worlds of philanthropy and the private sector as a policy consultant. He served as a City Commissioner and was responsible for overseeing zoning, planning, and real estate issues surrounding the West Los Angeles communities.

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.

Michelle YatesMichelle Yates is the director of corporate social responsibility for Adobe and executive director of the Adobe Foundation, where she 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.

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. Michelle received her bachelor’s in international relations from Tufts University and her MBA from the London Business School.

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