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Dr. Inna Kanevsky has been a professor of psychology at San Diego Mesa College since 2005. She was born in the Soviet Ukraine, and came to the U.S. in 1994 as a refugee from newly independent Ukraine. Originally a math teacher, she earned an M. S. in Applied Behavior Analysis from CSU LA and her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from UCSD.
Teaching is her passion, and during the pandemic, while the classrooms where closed, she created a popular TikTok channel @dr_inna. It began as a way to make short content videos for her online classes, but became a go-to resource for debunking psychology related misinformation and fact checking. She is known for always “bringing her receipts” by providing research sources relevant to her posts, which is why she is often contacted by various news media sources to discuss social media psychology-related content.
She now spends a lot of time and effort advocating for free Ukraine.
Yao is an Investor and tech veteran with two decades of experience in technology, partnerships, and investing. She has founded companies, helped corporations launch new innovation initiatives. She is on the board of Carbon Optimum, a carbon sequestering company removing carbon dioxide from polluting coal, cement, steel plants and circularly producing biomass for carbon negative fuel, fertilizer, food, and methane reducing animal feed. She has a particular passion for scalable, executable climate solutions to save the planet as well as helping entrepreneurs, women, and social causes with projects in place to build global communities, push more women into executive positions.
Yao was named by Forbes as one of eleven women at the center of New York’s digital scene and TechWeek’s 100 most influential people in tech. She is a sought after speaker in areas of building internet companies, technology, big data, innovation, entrepreneurship, and climate. Yao and her efforts have been featured in World Economic Forum, Fortune, INC Magazine, Reuters, Daily News, Red Herring, Crains, American Venture, and TED. She leads a 17 year network of 10,000 women across 30 cities touching every corporation. She believes in minority and women’s access to capital in fair ways and works to increase those funds in different ways.
Sara’s impromptu performance of Gene Kelly’s mesmerizing dance routine from Singin’ in the Rain earned her a month of disciplinary probation at her religious school in Tehran. This not only granted her a passion for acting as a politically transgressive medium but it also paved her a lifelong path devoted to the fight for human rights.
Sara Seyed is an actor, writer, producer, and an international lawyer specializing in human rights law, feminist legal theory, and children’s rights for over a decade. Formerly based in London, she has worked extensively on addressing sexual violence, human trafficking, and Iran’s death penalty cases with organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Bar Association. In 2018, she graduated from Harvard University after completing a residency at the Moscow Art Theatre and the American Repertory, working with renowned theater directors in Moscow, Boston, Krakow, Paris, and London. She went on to claim international recognition, starring alongside Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actors across various genres in feature films before making her mark in notable television shows on Netflix, Apple TV, Paramount and Hulu. Her latest film soared to No. 3 at the US box office a few weeks ago. She currently serves as an Ambassador for the United Nations and the Together Band initiative of Goal No. 3: Reduced Inequality and Goal No. 5: Gender Equality. She is the co-chair and one of the founding members of the Iran Democracy Council. Currently, she is working on her anticipated TED talk as well as a documentary about the Women, Life, Freedom Revolution.
Dr. Angela Neese is a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of research, teaching, and clinical experience. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Bradley University and her master’s degree from Northern Illinois University, Dr. Neese conducted her doctoral research in Zambia, Africa and earned a PhD from Northern Illinois University. Her dissertation research was published in the Journal of Research in Adolescence and sparked a lifelong interest in cultural implications on psychology.
Clinically, Dr. Neese specializes in in the treatment of children and adolescents, with particular interest in the impact of complex developmental trauma and ADHD in adolescent girls. As a single mother of a child with ADHD and a neurodivergent person herself, Dr. Neese has a passion for helping other neurodivergent individuals and their parents begin to understand their brains in the healthiest ways possible.
Dr. Neese is also interested in the unique role of cultural influences in transferring mental health models across populations. Her research on the impact of stressful life events and adolescent depression in Zambia, Africa, illuminated the perils of ignoring cultural differences in the mental health field. This experience continues to inform the way Dr. Neese conceptualizes the transfer of mental health constructs, incorporating not just cultural differences, but also neurological and functional variations among groups.
Miss Toto lives in Chicago, IL but started drag in Miami. She is a shark tagging, bodybuilding, international DJ/ drag sensation. She created and lead the first annual Drag-N-Tag shark tagging fundraiser with Field School for Pridelines in 2021, raising money for queer youth in Florida. Miss Toto’s other pursuits are the #SEEETOTODIE series, Choke Hole XXXTreme Drag Wrestling, DJing, as well as designing a fashion collaboration with award winning designer, Níco Perez. It just takes one second until you’ll be saying “#IMINLOVEWITHMISSTOTO”!
Eve Geroulis is a strategist and educator exploring the synergies and intersection of politics, technology, economics, and culture on a global stage. After a 20+year career with international advertising agencies, tech start-ups, and co-founding a VC funded lifestyle dot com, Eve joined the faculty of Loyola University Chicago Quinlan School of Business in 2003. She teaches within the Department of Marketing at Loyola, and has served as visiting faculty at the Edhec School of Business in Nice, France, The American College of Greece, and College Year in Athens.
In addition to her teaching, Eve has worked in Europe and the United States addressing the role of pedagogy in strategic planning and innovation for universities and corporations. She has commented on mercantile and political realities for news organizations throughout the United States, and delivered a TEDxAcademy Talk in Athens in October 2011, and the opening address of the EU Marie Curie Actions Research & Innovation Conference in Brussels in July 2012. Eve holds her BA in Political Science & Journalism from Loyola University Chicago and her MSA from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism. She lives in her native Chicago with her husband, and their four children range in age from the Class of 2016 to the Class of 2023.
She is, consequently, a spirited believer in the promise and possibility of the next generation. Fervently committed to abandoning 20th Century paradigms if we hope to address 21st Century challenges, Eve – named after the mother of all mothers, and in the spirit of her namesake – is a professional pessimist but a personal optimist. She remains enthusiastically open to explaining that dichotomy.
Jason William Johnson, also known as Notorious B.I.Z., is an economic development leader, professor, entrepreneur, and Ph.D. candidate with over 15 years of experience training and coaching entrepreneurs. He is also a hip-hop recording artist and producer that uses music to educate and inspire entrepreneurs.
Jason served as Director of the Chicago Urban League Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation from 2017-2021, where the business startup program he designed helped over 500 entrepreneurs successfully start businesses. He also led programming that supported established businesses in acquiring $145,000,000 in new contracts and financing.
He’s been a featured subject matter expert and contributor for Forbes, is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership and served as an adjunct professor at Illinois Institute of Technology from 2019-2021.
Currently, Jason is a Director at Next Street, a firm that provides governments, philanthropy, and corporations with solutions that connect small businesses with the right resources at the right time. He is a faculty member for Experiential Classroom, a premier clinic that teaches best practices in entrepreneurship education to university and community college faculty across the country. He’s also an instructor on Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, where he teaches the OKR course.
As an entrepreneur, Jason launched and operated a boutique advisory firm that provided strategy consulting, web development, and brand consulting to small to medium-sized businesses and nonprofit organizations from 2009-2013. He also was co-founder and CEO of Konveau, a technology firm that used personality compatibility to help people break the ice at networking events. In his spare time, Jason enjoys meditation, music production, songwriting, playing with his collection of tech toys, and spending quality time with his wife and two sons.
The program will feature Speaker David Ambroz, a national poverty and child welfare expert / advocate, Emmy nominated, and best-selling author. He was recognized by President Obama as an American Champion of Change. He currently serves as the Head of Community Engagement (West) for Amazon. Previously he led Corporate Social Responsibility for Walt Disney Television, and served as the President of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission, where he has led the efforts to pass ground breaking policy, including the Mobility 2035 Plan, Home Sharing Ordinance, Cannabis Regulation, Linkage Fee for affordable housing, Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance, and the Hotel/Motel Conversion Ordnance for homeless housing.
David also served as a California Child Welfare Councilmember, and as a Commissioner with the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk, is formerly a contributing writer to Huffington Post, and helped author and advocate numerous laws and policies, including the extension of foster care to 21, Chafee Independence Act, efforts to protect LGBTQ foster youth, and policies to ensure access and success in higher education – including founding the Guardian Scholars in Los Angeles.
After growing up homeless and then in foster care, he graduated from Vassar College and later from UCLA School of Law. He is a member of the Television Academy, Board Member of Equality California, and now lives in Los Angeles.
Madison is a Product Manager at Indeed.com who specializes in developing machine learning approaches to enhance metadata generation for candidate job matching in 19 global markets. A passionate advocate for AI ethics, she takes an optimistic yet conscientious approach to the use of AI solutions. Her expert-in-the-loop approach to scaling taxonomy coverage was recognized and featured in a published paper at RecSys Conference 2022. She manages a team of 120+ taxonomists, data scientists, and engineers, and has pioneered her team’s ability to drive innovation by augmenting her teams work with AI solutions.
Born and raised in Lagos Nigeria and later migrating to the United States at an earlier age, Abiodun Durojaye understands the systemic barriers within the U.S that impact people with ethnic and black sounding names. Often this impact is mostly felt amongst immigrants and people of color. Abiodun spent decades under the alias of “Abbey” because Abbey “fit in” the spaces that she wanted desperately to be a part of and impact. She recently took back her name and is on a journey to educate on the significance of one’s name and cultural identity.
As Executive Director of Urban Alliance Chicago, Dr. Abiodun Durojaye continues her career of empowering people, particularly low-income, first-generation, and marginalized young people, to break down barriers and take a seat at the table. Abiodun has not only lived experiences and dedicated her career to paving the way for young people of color in the world of work. She has formed instrumental relationships that create meaningful impact in the lives of young people. Abiodun has participated in several podcasts and conferences to talk about systemic barriers that young people of color face and how the role of society to create meaningful change. Abiodun is so committed to this work that her dissertation focused on ethnic and black sounding names and how and why using those names can validate people in the space of work. Abiodun is the recipient of the “Indiana INTERNnet IMPACT Award for College Career Development Professional of the Year” award for her unique ways of creating access to internship and work opportunities for students.
Whitney Reynolds believes in more seats at the table, inspiration in the hard moments and hope for all. This mindset for unique programming originally bucked the trend when The Whitney Reynolds Show launched in 2012 on PBS. The show’s inspirational mission developed from Whit’s firsthand experience with a challenging childhood. She had the gift to gab & combined that to create a program that flips the script. One that invites the viewers to switch seats and feel seen for exactly where they are.
She is the Executive Producer, Host and the “Chief Inspo Officer” of the Telly Award winning and Emmy Nominated Whitney Reynolds Show. Prior to launching her nationally syndicated program, she worked in news for NBC and went on to launch her first talk show on that network. During college at Baylor University she interned for Good Morning America and fell in love with the national stage and its potential reach. When Whitney was just 25 years old she stepped into owning her own show and creating Whitney Reynolds Media. Not being owned by the network truly jump started her entrepreneurial journey. Whit’s business mentor is Melissa Bernstein of Melissa & Doug who like Whitney, also started her business in an extra space in her home, however it has since grown to a 500 million dollar company.
Whitney’s “safe space” mission however, doesn’t stop with her TV program. Since 2013 she has hosted a motivational “give back” segment on iHeart Radio and in 2021 launched a national iHeart Podcast, Pop and Positivity. She also authored Beyond The Interview and has a column in Cancer Wellness Magazine. Over the years Whitney has helped in fundraising over 2 million dollars for local and global charities through her media work. She currently sits on the Advisory Council for Dress For Success and is on the board for The Service Club of Chicago.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Whitney’s learned how to combine southern charm with big city hustle. Her motto is: “If the door closes, find the darn window.” Whitney lives in Chicago, in the Roscoe Village neighborhood with her husband (Dave), twins (Marlowe + Acher) and shih tzu (Sir Crouton). When she’s not on camera, it’s guaranteed you will still find her talking, she simply loves people and their stories.
Harry Lennix is an accomplished film, television and stage actor and producer who was born and raised in Chicago. For the past 10 seasons, he has starred as Harold Cooper, on NBC’s THE BLACKLIST. Moviegoers know Lennix as General Calvin Swanwick (a.ka. Martian Manhunter) from THE JUSTICE LEAGUE, MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, Commander Lock in THE MATRIX: RELOADED and THE MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS, and Joe Adams in the Oscar® winning RAY. He made his screen debut as Dresser in the fan favorite movie: THE FIVE HEARTBEATS. Lennix also recurs on the Showtime series BILLIONS.
Lennix made his Broadway debut in Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson’s Tony nominated RADIO GOLF. For the stage, he directed LeKethia Dalcoe’s drama A SMALL OAK TREE RUNS RED, which went on to win the Audelco Award for best production in 2018, as well as Robert Townsend’s THE FIVE HEARTBEATS, which received three NAACP Theater Award nominations. Other directing credits include: THE GLASS MENAGERIE by Tennessee Williams for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company. As an actor for the stage he starred in August Wilson’s KING HEDLEY II at the Mark Taper Forum. In 2001 he played Iachimo in CYMBELINE for Theatre for a New Audience at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the first American company invited to perform in Stratford Upon Avon.
In July 2014, Lennix created Exponent Media Group, a movie production company he founded with longtime Chicago associate Steve Harris.
Harry remains very active in the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago communities, participating in various programs and events. Harry’s most recent endeavor is the foundation of the Bronzeville Renaissance Project, a performance arts-based land development company dedicated to reestablishing the cultural prominence of Chicago’s Southside.
Harry lives between New York and Los Angeles with his lovely wife, Djena Graves Lennix, a businesswoman.
Jui is the founder of AInspire, an organization that increases diversity in AI by making AI education accessible to learners of all ages and backgrounds. AInspire has served over 26,000 students across more than 91 countries and 49 U.S. States.
In addition to her studies and her work at AInspire, Jui is an AI and neurotechnology research intern with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLabShirley Ryan AbilityLab (utilizing AI to optimize medication timing for Parkinson’s patients) and at Stanford University School of Medicine (1st author on paper published in the Journal of Neurointerventional Surgery).
Chad Thomas started his teaching career at an alternative school for teens in the juvenile system in Indiana and was awarded the Wal-Mart teacher of the year in 2001. After moving to Chicago, he became a Nationally Board Certified English and Reading teacher at Farragut High School. In 2009, he became one of the founding teachers at Talent Development Charter High School in the West Garfield neighborhood – and in 2010 he made his transition to leadership serving as assistant principal of Harper High School where he became a nationally certified “”New Leader,” a national leadership training program for principals. His work was featured in NPR’s podcast “This American Life: Harper High School”.
Chad took over as principal at Sullivan High School in Rogers Park in July 2013 – at a time when Sullivan had been on academic probation for 13 straight years. He dramatically transformed the lowest-performing high school on the north side of Chicago into a flourishing neighborhood high school. Through Thomas’ leadership, the school has seen its freshmen on track increase from 65 percent to over 97 percent (top ten in CPS), and the college enrollment increase over 20 percent. Sullivan serves as one of the most diverse schools in the country with over 35% special education and 65% bilingual students, and over 40 languages spoken in the school Recently, the book “Refugee High – Coming of Age in America” was released, the book documents a year in the life at Sullivan capturing Chad’s story of serving as the leader, and the journeys of students and their families from refugee camps to Sullivan. The book has received national reviews from the Washington Post and various media outlets.
Mr. Thomas is also a professor at Loyola University and served as principal fellow for the CEO office of Chicago Public Schools. He was also was the first principal to serve as a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs “Emerging Leaders” cohort. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in English Education from Quincy University and a Master of Arts in School Leadership from Concordia University.
Landon Campbell is a 24-year-old Podcaster and Media Executive based in Chicago, IL. He’s the Co-Founder and Host of two popular podcasts: inTheir20s and Venturing in VC.
Upon graduating from DePaul University during the pandemic, Landon created the popular inTheir20s podcast as a way to share the best advice with fellow twenty-somethings.
On the show, he interviews top business leaders and influencers to explore what they did in their 20s. His notable past guests include: Steve Wozniak, the Mayor of Miami, Ev Williams, Dr. Meg Jay, Guy Kawasaki, and Kat Cole.
Ivo H. Daalder is President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and host of World Review with Ivo Daalder. He served as the US ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013.
Prior to his appointment as Ambassador to NATO by President Obama, Daalder was a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, specializing in American foreign policy, European security and transatlantic relations, and national security affairs. Before joining Brookings in 1998, he was an associate professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and director of research at its Center for International and Security Studies. He also served as director for European affairs on President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council staff from 1995 to 1997.
Ambassador Daalder is the author and editor of 10 books, including The Empty Throne: America’s Abdication of Global Leadership (with James M. Lindsay). Other books include In the Shadow of the Oval Office: Profiles of the National Security Advisers and the Presidents they Served — From JFK to George W. Bush (with I. M. Destler) and the award-winning America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy (with James M. Lindsay). Daalder is a frequent contributor to the opinion pages of the world’s leading newspapers, and a regular commentator on international affairs on television and radio.
Ambassador Daalder was educated at the universities of Kent, Oxford, and Georgetown, and received his PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is married to Elisa D. Harris, and they have two sons.
Dr. Courtney Wells received their BS in Psychology at John Carroll University, their MA in Community Counseling at John Carroll University, and their Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at Texas Woman’s University. They completed their predoctoral internship at the Dallas Veteran’s Affairs and their postdoctoral fellowship at the Jesse Brown Veteran’s Affairs, specializing in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, chronic pain, and substance use. Courtney was also the creator and Director of the Trauma Program at one of the largest Partial Hospitalization and Outpatient Programs in Chicago.
Courtney is a prolific reader of mystery novels and a tamer of two Pekingese.
David Hommy Gonzalez is Executive Director of Port Ministries, a 501(c)3 non-profit located in south side Chicago “Back of the Yards” neighborhood. As Director, David developed seven programs and services that holistically work together to address the ongoing needs of southside Chicago communities.
Before Chicago, David held the position of Program Director at AS220, a non-profit arts organization in Providence, RI. While there, David worked on the Broad Street Studio program which used various art forms to aid adjudicated young people transition back to their communities. He coordinated a dozen multidisciplinary Artist to mentor while leading his own youth-led Hip-Hop performance troupe.
Heavily influenced by his love of art, David Hommy Gonzalez is always trying to create out-of-the-box projects that aim to educate, inspire, engage and empower.
Mia Saini Duchnowski is a journalist, engineer and a successful entrepreneur who sold her first VC-backed company, Oars + Alps, to SC Johnson. Currently, she is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, where she teaches workshops on entrepreneurship, serves as a mentor to start ups, and judge for the New Venture Competitions.
She is the Co-Founder and Board Member of Oars + Alps, after serving as CEO for six years.
Oars + Alps is a digitally native skin care brand for people who lead an active, on-the-go lifestyle. The products are made with naturally-derived, premium ingredients and are sold on Target and Amazon to name a few. The company launched in 2015 after Mia quit her high-profile job as a TV Reporter/Anchor with Bloomberg TV, one of the largest financial TV networks in the world.
Mia spent over three years with Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong and in New York City where she was responsible for global economic, political and business coverage. She was the first person at the network to interview the Chairman of Microsoft, John Thompson, after he became Chairman. She’s interviewed hundreds of CEOs and heads of states including the former CEO of
Burberry, Angela Ahrendts, and Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson. She’s routinely covered breaking news stories, such as the disappearance of MH 370, Nelson Mandela’s death, and Steve Job’s passing.
Prior to joining Bloomberg in June 2011, Mia served as an Anchor and Reporter for Forbes TV.
She reported from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as well as interviewed prominent business leaders including Warren Buffett, former FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, Blackstone co-founder Pete Peterson, former Bear Stearns CEO Ace Greenberg, SAP CEO Bill McDermott and more. Earlier in her career, Mia was a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, working in hedge fund sales and marketing. There, she helped establish strategic relationships
with hedge funds representing over $1.2 billion in portfolio value.
Mia holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School. She has a double major from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in neuroscience and media studies, and a double minor in civil engineering and management science. While at MIT, she interned at NASA Ames Research Center doing artificial intelligence research. She was featured in Glamour Magazine as
one of their Top Ten College Women in 2004.
Mia was named as one of Crain’s Magazine 40 Under 40 in 2020. She sits on the Women’s Board of the Chicago Lincoln Park Zoo. Mia actively interviews high school seniors looking to study STEM subjects at MIT. She is also active in the Chicago startup ecosystem as an angel investor. She loves cycling and watching film noir movies and lives in Chicago with her husband
and their five kids.
Dr. Jessica Esquivel is an Associate Scientist at Fermilab where she works on the Muon g-2 Experiment which recently announced its exciting Run 1 results, increasing the experiment/theory tension from 3.7σ to 4.2σ. She is one of ~100 Black women with a Ph.D. in physics in the country, the 2nd black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in physics from Syracuse University, and the 3rd Black woman to hold an Associate Scientist position at Fermilab. Her graduate research focused on studying ghostly particles called neutrinos interacting in the MicroBooNE Experiment using innovative machine learning techniques like those used in facial recognition software. She received her bachelor’s in electrical engineering and applied physics from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. She identifies as female, Black, afrolatinx, lesbian, neurodivergent, physicist, and Texan. Dr. Esquivel is a recognized advocate for creating just and equitable spaces in physics and focuses on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in her community engagement efforts. She is an organizer of APS-IDEA and a co-founder of BlackInPhysics and the Change-Now collective. Dr. Esquivel’s accomplishments include spearheading the sponsorship of Fermilab at Wakandacon, a 3-day afro-futuristic convention that strives to create a safe space for the black community to explore their interests from comic culture to STEM. Dr. Esquivel has also been selected as a AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador, appeared on CBS’s Emmy nominated educational program Mission Unstoppable where she discusses the physics behind makeup, and appeared on the Science Channel’s How the Universe Works discussing how neutrinos could be the key to the mysteries of our universe. Dr. Esquivel is a Texas transplant living in Chicago with her wife and three furbabies.
Jesse Ilhardt co-founded VOCEL in 2013, and was named the Executive Director in 2021. Prior to co-founding VOCEL, she worked for six years as a pre-K teacher and teacher coach at Teach For America. Across these roles, she has combined intellectual horsepower, creativity, and business acumen to develop innovative early education programs, lead high-impact teams, and cultivate champions. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and has presented at Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, the Austin Early Childhood Symposium, the Collaboration for Early Childhood Symposium, and the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health Spring Seminar Series. As a teacher, leader, and mother of two young children, Jesse believes deeply in the extraordinary capacity of young children, the power of play and relationships, and the importance of investing in the adults who nurture young children’s development.
Professor Lebowitz studies and treats childhood and adolescent anxiety at the Yale Child Study Center. His research focuses on the development, neurobiology, and treatment of anxiety and related disorders, with special emphasis on family dynamics and the role of parents in these problems. Dr. Lebowitz is the lead investigator on multiple funded research projects, and is the author of research papers, books and chapters on childhood and adolescent anxiety including the bestselling ‘Breaking Free of Child Anxiety and OCD’. He is also the father of three great boys.
Dion Dawson is a philanthropic leader who founded Dion’s Chicago Dream, a nonprofit with a mission focused on food insecurity and inequality through an innovative and transformative lens. Dawson’s goal is to challenge the traditional idea of solving food insecurity through the stabilization of quality and access. With transparent operations, consistent quality, and a deep commitment to a resident-informed process that meets residents and recipients where they are, he prioritizes the end-user experience. Dawson is an award-winning military journalist, communications specialist, philanthropist, and son of Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. His philanthropic achievements include being named an Echoing Green Fellow and American Express NGen Fellow.
Chef Carlo Lamagna is a Philippine-born, Detroit-raised, CIA- and Chicago-trained chef. Lamagna is the chef-owner of modern Filipino restaurant, Magna Kusina, located in Portland, Oregon.
In the city of Lamagna’s early childhood, Detroit, he grew up amongst Midwestern sensibility and genteel, gained a strong sense of family and an understanding that food was from farms, not grocery stores.
His mother Gloria sent young Lamagna and his elder siblings to the Philippines to live with their father, Wilfredo. Gloria and Willie wanted their children to be in touch with their culture. From his father, cooking and eating in the way that he himself grew up was a key point in Carlo’s understanding and appreciation of Filipino food and culture.
Lamagna began a pop-up dining series, Twisted Filipino, in 2013 in Chicago and continued them in Portland with great success.
While Lamagna cites respected chefs influential in his career, philosophy, and leadership style, the chef he most reveres is his late father, Willie, who, alongside his mother Gloria, serves as a major influence of his modern Filipino restaurant, Magna Kusina
Angela Ford is the Founder and Executive Director of The Obsidian Collection Archives, a nonprofit 501c3 organization focused on reclaiming the Black Narrative. This effort includes getting the images and articles of Black newspapers, photographers, organizations, community and privately-owned archives into the marketplace and on the Internet. Today’s effective journalism in the Black Diaspora depends heavily on access to accurate history of the past. For decades, Black history was only recorded by Black legacy newspapers and photojournalists. Once hidden for generations, OCA is making available images and other information to the public from American archives with the UK and Kenya soon to follow. Obsidian is not only telling the stories but building platforms to help global Black Media tell the stories. Angela conceptualized the platform WROTE for Black writers and will soon publish the digital outlet, Obsidian Magazine.
Not only passionate about the Black narrative, Angela cares about the Black community. As a Community Philanthropist, she’s created the program that contributed 500 bicycles in one day, twice. With 30 years’ experience as an entrepreneur, she has the skills and fortitude to bring this cultural history to the world. She has a B.S. in Management from Illinois State University and an adult son who speaks 3 languages and has lived in three other countries.
Dr. Alberto Espay is Professor and Endowed Chair of the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Center for Parkinson’s disease at the University of Cincinnati. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed research articles and 8 books, including Common Movement Disorders Pitfalls, which received the Highly Commended BMA Medical Book Award in 2013 and Brain Fables, the Hidden History of Neurodegenerative Diseases and a Blueprint to Conquer them, coauthored with Parkinson patient and advocate Benjamin Stecher, selected by the Association of American Publishers for the PROSE Award honoring the best scholarly work in Neuroscience published in 2020. He has served as Chair of the Movement Disorders Section of the American Academy of Neurology, Associate Editor of the Movement Disorders journal, and on the Executive Committee of the Parkinson Study Group. Among other honors, he has received the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Health Care Hero award, the Spanish Society of Neurology’s Cotzias award, and honorary membership in the Mexican Academy of Neurology. He currently serves as President-Elect of the Pan-American Section of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society. With colleagues at the University of Cincinnati, he recently launched the first biomarker study of aging (CCBPstudy.com), designed to match people with neurodegenerative disorders to available therapies from which they are most biologically suitable to benefit, regardless of their clinical diagnoses.