Former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams made history in 2018 when she earned the Democratic nomination for Governor of Georgia. Her campaign turned more voters than any Democrat in Georgia history, including former President Barack Obama, and invested in critical infrastructure to build progress in Georgia. After witnessing the gross mismanagement of the election by the Secretary of State’s office, Abrams launched Fair Fight to ensure every Georgian has a voice in our election system.
Abrams received degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and Yale Law School. Dedicated to civic engagement, she founded the New Georgia Project, which submitted more than 200,000 registrations from voters of color between 2014 and 2016. Under the pen name Selena Montgomery, Stacey is the award-winning author of eight romantic suspense novels, which have sold more than 100,000 copies. As co-founder of NOW Account – a financial services firm that helps small businesses grow – Stacey has helped create and retain jobs in Georgia. And through her various business ventures, Stacey has helped employ even more Georgians, including hundreds of young people starting out. And as House Minority Leader, she has worked strategically to recruit, train, elect, and defend Democrats to prevent a Republican supermajority in the House, and has worked across the aisle on behalf of all Georgians. During her tenure, she has stopped legislation to raise taxes on the poor and middle class and to roll back reproductive healthcare. She has brokered compromises that led to progress on transportation, infrastructure, and education. In the legislature, she passed legislation to improve the welfare of grandparents and other kin raising children and secured increased funding to support these families.
Stacey and her five siblings grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi with three tenets: go to school, go to church, and take care of each other. Despite struggling to make ends meet for their family, her parents made service a way of life for their children – if someone was less fortunate, it was their job to serve that person. This ethic led the family to Georgia. Stacey’s parents attended Emory University to pursue graduate studies in Divinity and become United Methodist ministers. Stacey and her younger siblings attended DeKalb County Schools, and she graduated from Avondale High School.
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is one of this generation’s most popular directors. From the critically acclaimed dramas A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 to the hit comedies Parenthood and Splash, he has created some of Hollywood’s most memorable films.
Howard directed and produced Cinderella Man starring Oscar winner Russell Crowe, with whom he previously collaborated on A Beautiful Mind, for which Howard earned an Oscar for Best Director and which also won awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. The film garnered four Golden Globes as well, including the award for Best Motion Picture Drama. Additionally, Howard won Best Director of the Year from the Directors Guild of America. Howard and producer Brian Grazer received the first annual Awareness Award from the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign for their work on the film.
Howard’s skill as a director has long been recognized. In 1995, he received his first Best Director of the Year award from the DGA for Apollo 13. The true-life drama also garnered nine Academy Award nominations, winning Oscars for Best Film Editing and Best Sound. It also received Best Ensemble Cast and Best Supporting Actor awards from the Screen Actor’s Guild. Many of Howard’s past films have received nods from the Academy, including the popular hits Backdraft, Parenthood and Cocoon, the last of which took home two Oscars. Howard was honored by the Museum of Moving Images in December 2005, and by the American Cinema Editors in February 2006. Howard and his creative partner Brian Grazer, were honored by the Producers Guild of America with the Milestone Award in January 2009, NYU’s Tisch School of Cinematic Arts with the Big Apple Award in November 2009 and by the Simon Wiesenthal Center with their Humanitarian Award in May 2010. In June 2010, Howard was honored by the Chicago Film Festival with their Gold Hugo - Career Achievement Award. In March 2013, Howard was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. In December 2015, Howard was honored with a star in the Motion Pictures category, making him one of the very few to have been recognized with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Howard is currently directing the documentary Pavarotti, about famed tenor and larger than life talent Luciano Pavarotti. The documentary is from the same team that worked with Howard on the critically acclaimed documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, which Howard directed. The film won a Grammy for Best Music Film in February 2017 and was nominated for five Emmy nomination, including Outstanding Documentary.
Howard recently directed the Han Solo spinoff Solo: A Star Wars Story and produced the second season Mars and Genius: Picasso for NatGeo. Genius: Einstein was recognized by the Television Academy with ten Emmy nominations – including Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Directing. It was Howard first directing nomination for television. The second season, Genius: Picasso garnered seven Emmy nominations, as well as multiple Golden Glove, Critic’s Choice and SAG nominations.
In 2009, Howard produced and directed the film adaptation of Peter Morgan’s critically acclaimed play Frost / Nixon. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, and was also nominated for The Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures by the PGA. In addition, Howard directed RUSH, also written by Peter Morgan, based on the rivalry of Formula One Race Circuit drivers James Hunt and Nikki Lauda.
Howard’s portfolio includes some of the most popular films of the past 20 years. In 1991, Howard created the acclaimed drama Backdraft, starring Robert De Niro, Kurt Russell and William Baldwin. He followed it with the historical epic Far and Away, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Howard directed Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise and Delroy Lindo in the 1996 suspense thriller Ransom. Howard worked with Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Kathleen Quinlan on Apollo 13, which was re-released recently in the IMAX format.
Howard’s other films include Inferno, In The Heart of the Sea, based on the true story that inspired Moby Dick; Made In America, a music documentary he directed staring Jay Z for Showtime; his adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling novels Inferno, Angels & Demons, and The Da Vinci Code staring Oscar winner Tom Hanks; the blockbuster holiday favorite Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey; Parenthood starring Steve Martin; the fantasy epic Willow; Night Shift starring Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton and Shelley Long; and the suspenseful western, The Missing, staring Oscar winners Cate Blachett and Tommy Lee Jones.
Howard has also served as an executive producer on a number of award-winning films and television shows, such as the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, Fox’s Emmy Award winner for Best Comedy, Arrested Development, a series which he also narrated, Netflix’s release of new episodes of Arrested Development, NBC’s Parenthood, and NatGeo’s Breakthrough, MARS, and Genius.
Howard made his directorial debut in 1978 with the comedy Grand Theft Auto. He began his career in film as an actor. He first appeared in The Journey and The Music Man, then as Opie on the long-running television series The Andy Griffith Show. Howard later starred in the popular series Happy Days and drew favorable reviews for his performances in American Graffiti and The Shootist.
Howard and long-time producing partner Brian Grazer first collaborated on the hit comedies Night Shift and Splash. The pair co-founded Imagine Entertainment in 1986 to create independently produced feature films.
Oscar®-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, whose 1998 turn in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE garnered her Best Actress honors at the Golden Globes®, Screen Actors Guild Awards®, and Academy Awards®, is also a decorated author, singer and entrepreneur. In 2011, she won an Emmy® for Guest Actress in a Comedy series for playing substitute teacher Holly Holiday on Glee, and her song, “Coming Home,” from the soundtrack for COUNTRY STRONG, was nominated for an Oscar® (the album went gold). In addition, Paltrow has authored three New York Times Best Selling cookbooks, My Father’s Daughter (2011), It’s All Good (2013), and It’s All Easy (2016)—the latter two hit #1.
In 2008, Paltrow founded goop, a lifestyle brand devoted to making every choice count, where food, shopping, and mindfulness collide: In particular, goop has gained acclaim for its focus on health, wellness, and clean eating, as well as its city guides, an insider’s perspective on the very best places to eat, shop, and stay in the world’s most compelling destinations. In fall 2018, on its 10 year anniversary, goop expanded internationally to the EU. Goop’s ventures include goop Magazine; goop book imprint; goop Lab, permanent stores located in Los Angeles, CA and NY and the In goop Health summit. In addition, goop has a tightly edited digital shop, a book imprint and its own product lines, including skincare, fragrances, apparel, bath soaks, and supplements.
Goop also strives to fulfill a mission of helping women reach their full potential and gaining autonomy over their own health. After serving as goop’s Chief Creative Officer since its inception, Paltrow assumed the CEO mantle in 2016, leading the company’s primarily female team of more than 150 to exponential growth. Paltrow also helped facilitate the #metoo movement, as she has always been comfortable pushing important conversations into the mainstream.
Other notable film credits include PROOF (for which she received a Golden Globe® nomination), Wes Anderson’s THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, Anthony Mighella’s THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, David Fincher’s SEVEN, the Farrelly brothers’ SHALLOW HAL, Alfonso Cuarón’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Douglas McGrath’s EMMA, SLIDING DOORS and Marvel’s IRON MAN franchise.
As President and COO of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell is responsible for day-to-day operations and managing all customer and strategic relations to support company growth. She joined SpaceX in 2002 as Vice President of Business Development and built the Falcon vehicle family manifest to more than 100 launches, representing more than $10 billion in business. Shotwell is a member of the SpaceX Board of Directors.
Prior to joining SpaceX, Shotwell spent more than 10 years at the Aerospace Corporation, holding positions in Space Systems Engineering, Technology and Project Management. She was promoted to the role of Chief Engineer of an MLV-class satellite program, managed a landmark study for the Federal Aviation Administration on commercial space transportation, and completed an extensive analysis of space policy for NASA’s future investment in space transportation.
In addition to being named the 2018 Satellite Executive of the Year, Shotwell was awarded the AIAA Goddard Astronautics Awards as well as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Ralph Coats Roe Medal. Fortune Magazine placed Shotwell at #42 on their list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2018 and Forbes named her #70 on their list of Power Women in 2017. In 2014, Shotwell was appointed to the United States Export Import Bank's Advisory Committee and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Advisory Council. Shotwell was elected to the honorable grade of Fellow with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Through leadership in both corporate and external science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, Shotwell has helped raise over $1.4 million for STEM programs reaching thousands of students nationwide.
Shotwell received, with honors, her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, and serves on their Board. She has authored dozens of papers on a variety of space related subjects.
Michael Ovitz founded Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in 1974 and served as its Chairman until 1995. Over that 20-year period, he grew the agency from a start-up organization to the world's leading talent agency, representing more than 1,000 of the most notable actors, directors, musicians, screenwriters and other personalities in the entertainment industry. Mr. Ovitz also served as President of the Walt Disney Company, from October 1995 to January 1997.
For most of the past two decades he has been a private investor and an advisor to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
An accomplished entrepreneur, executive, and investor, Reid Hoffman has played an integral role in building many of today’s leading consumer technology businesses.
In 2003 Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking service. LinkedIn is thriving with more than 500 million members around the world.
In 2009 Hoffman joined Greylock Partners. He focuses on building products that can reach hundreds of millions of participants and businesses that have network effects.
He currently serves on the boards of Airbnb, Apollo Fusion, Aurora, Convoy, Blockstream and a few early stage companies still in stealth. In addition, he serves on a number of not-for-profit boards, including Kiva, Mozilla Corporation, Endeavor, and CZI Biohub. Prior to joining Greylock, he angel invested in many influential internet companies, including Facebook, Flickr, Last.fm, and Zynga.
Hoffman is the host of Masters of Scale, an original podcast series and the first American media program to commit to a 50-50 gender balance for featured guests. He is also the co-author of two New York Times best-selling books: The Start-Up of You and The Alliance. His next book is focused on “blitzscaling”, based on his Stanford course of the same name.
Hoffman earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a bachelor’s degree with distinction in symbolic systems from Stanford University.
Mellody Hobson is the President of Ariel Investments. In this role, she is responsible for managing the firm’s business operations, development and strategic initiatives. In addition, Mellody serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Ariel Investment Trust.
Ariel Investments is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and has offices in New York City and Sydney, Australia. The firm manages assets of retirement plans, college saving accounts, and personal investment accounts. With strong ties to the community, Ariel is focused on making investing accessible for everyone. Individuals are able to invest $1000 in the firm’s mutual funds.
Mellody’s work outside Ariel is rooted in her passion for financial literacy and investor education. She is a regular contributor for CBS News, provides weekly money tips on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, and authors a column for Black Enterprise Magazine.
In addition to serving as a financial expert in the media, Mellody channels her expertise in many boardrooms. She is Vice Chair of the Board of Starbucks Corporation, and also serves as a director of JPMorgan Chase. Mellody is former Chair of the Board of DreamWorks Animation. As a Chicago-native, Mellody is involved in numerous organizations that focus on improving the city. She serves as Chair of After School Matters, a non-profit that provides Chicago teens with high-quality, out-of-school time programs. In addition, she is a board member of The Chicago Public Education Fund. In 2017, Mellody became the first African-American woman to become Chair of the Economic Club of Chicago in its 90-year history.
Beyond her philanthropic work in her hometown, Mellody is a board member of the Rockefeller Foundation, George Lucas Education Foundation, and Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. In 2015, Time Magazine named Mellody as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She has been awarded honorary degrees from Howard University, Johns Hopkins University, and St. Mary’s College. Mellody earned her AB from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy.
Dr. Kai-Fu Lee
Dr. Kai-Fu Lee is the Chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures and President of Sinovation Venture’s Artificial Intelligence Institute. Sinovation Ventures, managing US$2 billion dual currency investment funds, is a leading venture capital firm focusing on developing the next generation of Chinese high-tech companies. Prior to founding Sinovation in 2009, Dr. Lee was the President of Google China. Previously, he held executive positions at Microsoft, SGI, and Apple. Dr. Lee received his Bachelor degree from Computer Science from Columbia University, Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Honorary Doctorate Degrees from both Carnegie Mellon and the City University of Hong Kong. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Times 100 in 2013, WIRED 25 Icons , Asian Business Leader 2018 by Asia House, and followed by over 50 million audience on social media.
In the field of artificial intelligence, Dr. Lee built one of the first game playing programs to defeat a world champion (1988, Othello), as well as the world’s first large-vocabulary, speaker-independent continuous speech recognition system. Dr. Lee founded Microsoft Research China, which was named as the hottest research lab by MIT Technology Review. Later renamed Microsoft Research Asia, this institute trained the great majority of AI leaders in China, including CTOs or AI heads at Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba, Lenovo, Huawei, and Haier. While with Apple, Dr. Lee led AI projects in speech and natural language, which have been featured on Good Morning America on ABC Television and the front page of Wall Street Journal. He has authored 10 U.S. patents, and more than 100 journal and conference papers. Altogether, Dr. Lee has been in artificial intelligence research, development, and investment for more than 30 years. His New York Time and Wall Street Journal bestselling book AI Superpowers (aisuperpowers.com) discusses US-China co-leadership in the age of AI as well as the greater societal impacts brought upon by the AI technology revolution.
Congressman Adam Schiff
Congressman Adam Schiff represents California's 28th Congressional District, and throughout his tenure in Congress, he has focused on growing the economy, bolstering national security, strengthening our communities, helping small businesses, and improving education, safety and health care for our children. In his 10th term in the House of Representatives, Schiff currently serves as the Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence oversees the nation’s intelligence agencies including components of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, State and Energy. Schiff is currently on a leave of absence from the House Appropriations Committee.
In addition to his committee work, Schiff’s top priority is to create jobs and help improve the economy. Schiff has always believed that small businesses have been the true engine of growth in challenging economic times and has been fighting to enact tax relief for small businesses, to assist them with access to capital and to remove burdensome regulations. Schiff also believes that reestablishing America as a manufacturing powerhouse is crucial. Through these efforts, American businesses can begin growing and adding jobs again so that all Americans can enjoy a brighter, more prosperous future.
Schiff has also been a leader on national security and foreign policy efforts in Congress, and has pushed for a broader strategy that emphasizes diplomacy, intelligence reform, and efforts to stabilize countries that are at risk of becoming future failed states and havens for terrorists. He has advanced efforts to ensure the safety of all Americans by addressing nuclear proliferation, and is the author of the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act, which President Obama signed into law on February 16, 2010. Schiff has also been a leader on human rights, and a forceful advocate for recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23, introducing resolutions and giving numerous floor speeches on the matter, including one delivered in Armenian and another addressed directly to the Turkish people. Schiff has also been an outspoken leader in the effort to end or “sunset” the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, which he believes no longer applies to the current struggle against ISIS and the diffuse franchises of al Qaeda scattered around the world. Schiff also co-founded the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press in May 2006, a bipartisan, bicameral caucus that is chaired by Schiff. The Freedom of the Press Caucus aims to advance press freedom around the world by creating a forum to combat and condemn media censorship and the persecution of journalists around the world. Schiff is also the author of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, signed into law by President Obama on May 17, 2010.
As a former federal prosecutor, Schiff has made improving public safety, with an emphasis on smart, cost-effective solutions, a major focus of his work in Congress. Among his successes are obtaining federal funding to create a Foothills Regional DNA Lab in Glendale to speed the processing of DNA evidence in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, and other foothill cities and take violent offenders off the street. The lab began operations in April 2012. He also was able to obtain vital funding to assist the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department with eliminating a backlog of thousands of untested sexual assault evidence kits, resulting in numerous convictions in cases that would otherwise have gone unsolved. Legislatively, he introduced the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Act of 2012 which encourages states to collect DNA upon arrest for certain felonies in order to solve open cases and prevent further crimes, legislation which was signed in to law on January 10th, 2013.
A long time champion of the environment and mass transit, Schiff is the author of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act, which was signed into law by President Bush on May 08, 2008. As a State Senator, he wrote the legislation establishing the Gold Line Light Rail Authority and in Congress has led efforts to extend the light rail throughout the San Gabriel Valley. And because the Entertainment Industry is one of the largest job creators in the region and an economic powerhouse, Schiff is a leader on efforts to combat intellectual property theft and piracy. He is a founder and co-chair of the International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus, a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers dedicated to working with America’s international trade partners to secure the enactment of strong copyright laws and the vigilant enforcement of those laws.
Schiff is a strong proponent of science and believes that American leadership in space exploration is a key driver of American leadership in a host of high-tech and emerging industries. As a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, Schiff has fought hard to preserve and expand the robotic missions undertaken by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada-Flintridge, from missions to Mars to a future mission to Jupiter’s moon of Europa.
Prior to serving in the House of Representatives, Schiff completed a four-year term as State Senator for California's 21st State Senate District, chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Juvenile Justice and the Joint Committee on the Arts. During his time in Sacramento, he led legislative efforts to guarantee up-to-date textbooks in the classroom, overhaul child support, and pass a patient's bill of rights. Before serving in the Legislature, Schiff served with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles for six years, most notably prosecuting the first FBI agent ever to be indicted for espionage.
Born on June 22, 1960, Adam is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. He and his wife Eve (yes, it's true – Adam and Eve) have two children, a daughter, Alexa and a son, Elijah.
Lisa Borders is the President and CEO of TIME’S UP, leading the organization’s work to create safe, fair and dignified workplaces for women of all kinds.
Borders has nearly 30 years of experience in operations, marketing, government relations and public service. Most recently, she served as President of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) where she was responsible for developing the vision and overseeing the league’s day-to-day operations.
Borders has worked and delivered results in all three sectors: public, private and non-profit. Prior to the WNBA, Borders was Vice President of Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company and Chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation. Borders also served as Vice Mayor of Atlanta and President of the Atlanta City Council during Mayor Shirley Franklin’s administration.
Borders is a trustee of Duke University and is an advisory board member of Operation Hope. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Association of National Advertisers’ #SeeHer initiative, ensuring the positive portrayal of women and girls in media. Borders also and chairs the Borders Commission for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Borders holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s of science in health administration from the University of Colorado. She has a son, Dijon Bowden, who is a photojournalist and film producer in California.
Two-time Emmy and Grammy award-winning comedian Kathy Griffin is a towering figure on television, on tour and in publishing. She breaks through the entertainment clutter with her universally recognized brand of pull-no-punches comedy.
Kathy has performed for hundreds of thousands of fans around the globe. Buoyed by her dedicated and engaged fans, Kathy's live standup performances are legendary and in a class of their own. The fiery redhead has sold out to audiences with rave reviews throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia at such iconic venues as the Sydney Opera House, the Mark Taper Forum, Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. Kathy has also performed for active military servicemen and women in such war zones as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Uzbekistan. In 2013, Kathy was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for writing and starring in an unprecedented 20 televised stand-up specials - more than any comedian in history. In 2014, Kathy made history with her 6th consecutive Grammy nomination and first win for Best Comedy Album (Kathy Griffin: Calm Down Gurrl), joining Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin as the only other female comedians to ever win Grammy awards for Best Comedy Album.
Kathy’s unrivaled style of humor and prolific comedy pedigree makes her one of television's go-to hosts for premier live events. Kathy drew huge worldwide audiences to CNN's New Year's Eve special, which she co-produced and co-hosted with Anderson Cooper for 10 years. Kathy co-hosted The Billboard Music Awards LIVE three years in a row, the 41st annual Daytime Emmy Awards LIVE and AARP's Movies for Grownups Gala. Griffin's sure-fire hosting success led to her own LIVE late night talk show, Kathy. Griffin won two Primetime Emmy Awards for her hit reality series, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, which aired for six years on Bravo. It was nominated every single year of its run. The show also won the GLAAD Media Award for Best Reality Program. Kathy was a cast member on NBC's Suddenly Susan and guest starred on Seinfeld and Law & Order: SVU. She lent her unique voice to animated characters in Shrek Forever After and the award-winning television shows The Simpsons, American Dad, and Dilbert.
Kathy’s influence can also be found in publishing. Her boisterous and revealing memoir, Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Griffin’s much-anticipated second book, Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index, was also a New York Times Best Seller. Kathy has been prominently featured on the covers of The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek, and The Advocate, as well as in-depth profiles in New York Magazine and Forbes.
In addition to performing, writing and producing, Kathy is a renowned speaker and has taken her empowering messages of equality through activism and humor all over the country. Kathy’s passionate advocacy for women, the LGBT community, and other disenfranchised groups have been displayed through numerous candid and intimate conversations with award-winning journalists and moderators from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, the Hudson Union Society, 92Y, as well as tech giants Google and AOL.
Griffin's other awards and honors include: The Human Rights Campaign's Ally for Equality, GLAAD's Vanguard award, The Trevor Life Award from the Trevor Project, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Leadership in Entertainment honor, the Harvard College Distinguished Service Partner Award, Veterans Tickets Foundation Distinguished Donor Award, the Lambda Legal Liberty Award, a two-time Ladies’ Home Journal “Funny Ladies We Love” Recipient, and a Gracie Award for Outstanding Female Lead.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's acting career spans the last three decades, and ranges from television (3rd Rock From The Sun) to arthouse (Mysterious Skin, Brick) to multiplex (Inception, 500 Days Of Summer, Snowden). He made his feature screenwriting and directorial debut with Don Jon (Independent Spirit Award nomination, Best First Screenplay). He also co-founded and directs HITRECORD, an online community of over 700,000 people emphasizing creative collaboration over self-promotion. HITRECORD has evolved into a "community-sourced" production company, producing content for partners ranging from LG to Ubisoft to the ACLU, and winning an Emmy for its variety show HITRECORD ON TV.
DeRay Mckesson is a civil rights activist focused primarily on issues of innovation, equity and justice. Born and raised in Baltimore, he graduated from Bowdoin College and holds honorary doctorates from The New School and the Maryland Institute College of Art.
As a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter Movement and a co-founder of Campaign Zero, DeRay has worked to connect individuals with knowledge and tools, and provide citizens and policy makers with commonsense policies that ensure equity. Spurred by the death of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and beyond, DeRay has become a key player in the work to confront the systems and structures that have led to mass incarceration and police killings of black and other minority populations. He is also the host of the award-winning weekly podcast Pod Save The People - which creates space for conversation about the most important issues of the week related to justice, equity and identity.
International Medical Corps is thrilled to welcome back Jarl Mohn as Master of Ceremonies for our 2018 Annual Awards Celebration! This is the seventh year that Jarl has presided over our dinner event, a role he handles with style, humor and grace.
Jarl and his wife, Pamela, who is a member of our Leadership Council and Women’s Luncheon Committee, are beloved champions of International Medical Corps’ mission and lifesaving work. Throughout the years, the Mohns have been faithful advocates for International Medical Corps, built a strong community of fellow supporters and generously opened their home to host events such as our annual Women’s Luncheon.
Currently, Jarl is President and CEO of National Public Radio. Jarl also manages The Mohn Family Foundation, a philanthropic entity he and Pamela created in 2000.
Jarl was the founding President and CEO of Liberty Digital, a public company that invested in interactive television, cable networks and digital startups. Prior to Liberty Digital, he created E! where he was President and CEO. Jarl was formerly Executive Vice President and General Manager of MTV and VH1, where he led the transformation from music videos to long-form programming. Prior to his career in television, he worked in radio where he began as a disc jockey and moved through the ranks as a programmer, general manager and then owner of a group of radio stations.
Jarl has served on the board of directors of Scripps Network Interactive which includes HGTV, Food Network and The Travel Channel as well as comScore, CNET Networks, Inc. and XM Satellite Radio, Inc. among others. He also is a dedicated member of the philanthropic community, and has served as a board member or trustee for a variety of nonprofits, including University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, Southern California Public Radio KPCC and the World President’s Organization.
One of the most distinctive sprinters in the history of track and field with his powerful, upright stride pattern, Johnson is widely regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time. Four times an Olympic champion and eight times a world champion, he piled up a career total of 12 Olympic and World Championship gold medals by the time he retired from competition after the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Between 1990 and 1997, he created a remarkable sequence of 58 consecutive wins over 400 meters.
He also strung together a winning streak of 32 races over 200 meters between 1990 and 1992. He is the person to hold both the 200 meters and 400 meters world records and is the only male athlete to defend successfully the Olympic 400 meters crown.
His first Olympic gold came in Barcelona in 1992 when he was a member of the winning American 4 x 400 meters relay team. Four years later in 1996 at Atlanta, he became the only athlete in more than 100 years of Olympic history to clinch the double over both 200 and 400 meters at the same Games. He set a world record with his time of 19.32 seconds in the 200 meters.
At the 1999 World Championships in Seville, Johnson shattered the 11-year-old 400 meters world record of Butch Reynolds when he clocked 43.18 seconds - his fourth successive title over the distance. He also added gold in the 4 x 400 meters relay in Seville, which took him to a career total of eight World Championship gold medals.
At the age of 32, he rounded off his distinguished Olympic career with his fourth and fifth gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, winning the 400 meters and being part of the winning American 4 x 400 meters relay team. In 2008, Johnson, always a staunch advocate of zero tolerance for drug cheats, announced that he was returning the gold medal from that relay, when one of the members of that relay admitted to doping.
Johnson retired from competition as world-record holder over both 200 and 400 meters, a four time Olympic Champion and eight time World Champion. Today he is an award winning television commentator and documentary presenter. He is the President and founder of Michael Johnson Performance, a global leader in sports performance training with training operations and locations throughout the world, providing athletic training and support services to athletes and teams of all sports from youth athletes to some of the most recognizable professional and Olympic athletes in the world of sports. In retirement Johnson has also excelled as a keynote speaker. His appeal is global, taking him to all corners of the world to motivate and inspire employees of some of the world’s leading corporate and sports organizations.
David Sacks is co-founder and general partner at Craft Ventures. He has been a successful tech entrepreneur and investor for two decades. David was founder/CEO of Yammer, which was acquired by Microsoft for $1.2 billion in 2012. Previously, he was COO and product leader of PayPal during the famed “PayPal Mafia” founding era. He also served as interim CEO of Zenefits in 2016. David's investments include: Affirm, Airbnb, Bird, Facebook, Houzz, Opendoor, Palantir, Postmates, Slack, SpaceX, and Uber. David produced the award-winning independent movie Thank You For Smoking. AngelList’s Naval Ravikant has called David “the world’s best product strategist.”
Jackie Reses serves as the head of Square Capital, overseeing the team which has extended over $4bn in loans to small businesses across the US. Square Capital uses innovative machine learning models to inform underwriting decisions and manage risk for qualified sellers who have previously been unable to gain credit from traditional sources of capital. Jackie is also leading the development of a banking services business within Square, Square Financial Services (SFS), and will serve as the Chairman of the Board of this independently managed, wholly-owned company. She previously served as Yahoo’s Chief Development Officer and was on the Board of Directors at Alibaba Group. She also serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Economic Advisory Council.
Congressman Ted Lieu
"In 2014, Ted W. Lieu was elected to represent California’s 33rd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, succeeding retiring 40-year incumbent Henry Waxman. In his first term, Ted was elected president of the Democratic Freshman class by his colleagues.
In 2016, Congressman Lieu was reelected and currently serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was also appointed as an Assistant Whip for the Democratic Caucus.
Ted is a former active duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and currently serves as a Colonel in the Reserves, stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base.
In Congress, Ted has established himself as a leader on the environment; cybersecurity; civil liberties; and veterans.
He has been an outspoken proponent for tackling climate change. The first bill Ted introduced after coming to Congress was the Climate Solutions Act, which aims to make California’s ground-breaking renewable energy goals and climate emissions reduction targets a national model.
As one of only four computer science majors currently serving in Congress, Ted is frequently sought out for his insight on technology and innovation matters including cybersecurity, cloud computing and innovation as well as the sharing and creative economy. He has also introduced legislation to prioritize consumer safety in technologically-advanced cars as well as legislation that would ensure law enforcement and tech companies protect consumer privacy
Ted has been a leader in Congress against ethnic and racial profiling, and discrimination against the LGBT community. He serves as Whip of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Co-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, and Co-Chair of the Cloud Computing Caucus.
In his first term in Congress, seven pieces of legislation sponsored by Ted were signed into law. This includes bills to provide housing for homeless Veterans and retrofit vacant buildings at the West LA VA campus; combat foreign propaganda and misinformation; and require more stringent cleaning instructions for medical devices.
Prior to serving in Congress, Ted was elected to the California State Senate in 2011 and the State Assembly in 2005. Ted's legislative accomplishments include authoring landmark legislation regulating the subprime mortgage industry; a first-in-the-nation ban on gay conversion therapy for children; and a first-in-the-nation ban on the use of tanning beds for minors. Ted fought for California state tax reform that saved small businesses from millions in retroactive taxes, and tax incentives for film and TV production. Ted also co-authored California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act and co-authored the law banning state pension funds from investing in Iran’s nuclear and energy industries.
Ted started his elected service as a Member of the Torrance City Council in 2002. Prior to serving on the Council, Ted was a Torrance Environmental Quality Commissioner.
Looking for a better life and opportunity, Ted and his family immigrated to the United States when he was three years old. His parents went to flea markets and sold gifts and jewelry to make ends meet. Ted's family went from being poor and not speaking English well to opening up a gift store where Ted and his brother would help out in the family business. After many years of perseverance his parents were eventually able to expand to six stores. With the support of hard-working parents and a country that provided limitless opportunity, Ted would go on to attend Stanford for his undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Political Science, and then Georgetown University, where he received his law degree magna cum laude after serving as Editor-in-Chief of the law review. Ted also received four American Jurisprudence Awards.
Recognizing the great opportunities America had given to his family, Ted wanted to serve his country to preserve the American Dream. He joined the United States Air Force, where he served in the JAG corps. After serving on active duty for four years, Ted wanted to continue to serve his country and joined the Reserves. Ted has received numerous medals for his outstanding military service, including the Air Force Humanitarian Service Medal and multiple Meritorious Service Medals.
After serving active duty, Ted joined the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson as a litigator. In 2003, Ted joined the legal office at UBS Financial Services.
Ted's wife, Betty, is a Water Commissioner and a former California Deputy Attorney General. They live in Torrance with their two sons, Brennan and Austin.
For up-to-date information on Ted’s work in Congress, you can follow @RepTedLieu on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Ryan Smith co-founded Qualtrics in 2002 with the goal of making sophisticated research simple. As CEO, he has grown the company from a basement startup to one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the world. Qualtrics has more than 8,500 enterprise customers including over 75% of the Fortune 100, 1,800 colleges and universities worldwide, and 99 of the top 100 U.S. business schools. Qualtrics has received $400M in investment from Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Insight Venture Partners.
Ryan was named to Fortune’s 2016 40 Under 40, a list of the most powerful, influential, and successful young people in business, and was listed as one of Forbes’ “America’s Most Promising CEOs Under 35” in 2013. He is a frequent contributor to Fortune Magazine and has been featured in Forbes, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Inc., The New York Times, TechCrunch and USA Today, and has appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and FOX Business. Ryan is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is a frequent guest lecturer at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
Duff McKagan is one of the most recognized bassists in rock music history, best known as a founding member of the Guns N' Roses. McKagan has also become a prolific writer, as a five-year columnist for Seattle Weekly and stints as a weekly sports columnist for ESPN, as well as a financial columnist for Playboy.com. He has authored a bestselling autobiography "It's So Easy: and other lies", followed by his second book, "How to Be a Man: (and other illusions)". After attending Albers School of Business and Seattle University in his thirties, McKagan has established himself as a voice of business from within the music industry. Developing a reputation for financial knowledge, McKagan was highly sought after amongst other musicians for his advice on managing money. In 2011, McKagan partnered with investor Andy Bottomley to start Meridian Rock, with the aim of creating a capital management firm for musicians. McKagan resides with his wife Susan and two daughters, Grace and Mae, in Seattle, Washington.
Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm. He is also the president and founder of GZERO Media, a Eurasia Group company dedicated to helping a broad, global audience make sense of today’s leaderless world. Ian is a prolific thought leader, author and noted lecturer, regularly expressing his views on political issues in public speeches, television appearances, and top publications. Dubbed the “rising guru” in the field of political risk by The Economist, he teaches classes on the discipline as a professor at New York University and is a Foreign Affairs Columnist and Editor at Large for Time magazine. He is the author of several books, including the national bestsellers, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World and The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? and Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World. His latest book, Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism, is a New York Times bestseller. Find him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @IanBremmer.
Scott is Fair’s Founder and CEO, and a serial entrepreneur in the automotive and technology industries who has founded dozens of disruptive companies over the past 25 years. Prior to Fair, Scott founded TrueCar with the aim of eliminating negotiation from the car-buying process by providing data-driven pricing research to both dealers and consumers. Painter also founded Cars Direct, which took the pioneering step of introducing upfront pricing to auto retail. Painter regularly attends TED, All Things D, and is a member of the World Economic Forum, regularly attending and speaking at its annual meeting in Davos since 2011.
A lifelong inventor and successful entrepreneur, Jamie created the world’s first Wi-Fi video doorbell while working in his garage in 2011. The doorbell, then called DoorBot, has since transformed into what’s now known as Ring, a security powerhouse that offers several DIY home security products and services, including the popular Ring Video Doorbell that’s capable of preventing and solving neighborhood crime. Although much has changed since the company’s inception, it is the mission of reducing crime in neighborhoods that continues to drive Jamie.
Intensely dedicated not only to the Ring mission, but also to Ring Neighbors (what Ring calls its customers), Jamie is a loyal and trusted leader. He gives his team autonomy so that they can stay focused on what’s most important: the company’s mission of making neighborhoods everywhere safer.
Under Jamie’s direction, Ring has seen incredible success and growth. In 2018, Amazon purchased Ring, the company’s second largest acquisition. With the support of Amazon, Ring and Jamie continue to innovate and remain at the bleeding edge of home security.
Prior to Ring, Jamie founded several successful ventures including PhoneTag, the world’s first voicemail-to-text company, and Unsubscribe.com, a service that helped email users clean commercial.
Audrey Gelman is the co-founder and CEO of The Wing, a network of women-focused co-working and community spaces. The Wing’s mission is the professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women through community. Currently, The Wing boasts locations in New York, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.
Audrey and her co-founder, Lauren Kassan, have raised a total of $117.5 million in just over two years, making The Wing one of the fastest growing and highest funded women-led startups. Prior to founding The Wing, Audrey worked in politics and public affairs in New York and Washington D.C. She began her career working on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign, later serving as the Deputy Director of Communications for Scott Stringer during his campaign for City Comptroller.
Audrey has been recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30, Fast Company's "Most Creative People in Business," and most recently as one of Bloomberg’s “50 People Who Defined Global Business.” She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their three cats.
Travis is the Founder and CEO of Bird. His lifelong admiration of his mother, who drove a public bus for over 30 years, inspired him to revolutionize last-mile transportation. Travis has always been at the forefront of innovative transportation solutions, having served as Chief Operating Officer of Lyft and Vice President at Uber. He also founded Cherry, an on-demand car washing company, that was acquired by Lyft, and was Chief Revenue Officer at Yammer, which was acquired by Microsoft.
Manuel Bronstein is Vice President of Product for the Google Assistant, leading strategy and the product teams that design and build the Google Assistant experiences across all devices. He is also an active investor and advisor to tech companies. Prior to this role Manuel was Vice President of Product Management at YouTube, overseeing YouTube's mobile, desktop and living room applications, as well as growth, live, community and infrastructure. Previously, Manuel led the teams that launched YouTube's Kids, Music, and Gaming apps. Before joining YouTube, Manuel was VP of Product and General Manager at Zynga, where he led games and platform teams working on Poker, FarmVille, FarmVille 2 and the Zynga Network. Prior to Zynga Manuel worked at Microsoft where he led product, strategy and business for several Xbox products. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from USB in Venezuela and an MBA from U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business.
Nathan is the CEO and co-founder of Rival. Rival is an operating system for the most coveted live events on the planet, integrating next generation ticketing, data, marketing and security platforms. Rival is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Upfront Ventures, teams from every major US sports league and the English Premier League, and leaders of high profile Silicon Valley technology companies. Previously, he was Head of Global Media, Business Development and Commerce at Twitter, overseeing Twitter’s transformation as a social distribution platform for video and commerce. He joined Twitter in 2013 after serving as CEO of Ticketmaster. At Ticketmaster, Nathan led an historic turnaround of the business that saw it completely overhaul its technology platform, expand into mobile and analytics, and pioneer the integration of primary and secondary ticketing, while reaching record highs across key financial metrics, client renewal, and fan satisfaction in each year of his tenure.
Prior to the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2009, Nathan was CEO of Live Nation Ticketing (a division of Live Nation Inc.), where he built and launched Live Nation's ticketing and digital unit that ultimately forced the merger with Ticketmaster. Nathan joined Live Nation in 2006 through the purchase of Musictoday, an entertainment ecommerce business where he served as the CEO.
Nathan is a widely published thought leader in live events, social media and ecommerce, and is a regular contributor to Bill Simmons’ The Ringer.
Nathan graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a Well Member of Charity: Water, and sits on the board of Gibson Guitar.
A robotics and AI expert with specialty managing deep tech “moonshot” projects. Prior to founding Bionaut Labs Michael spent ~7 years as a senior investment manager at PDT Partners (formerly Morgan Stanley), creating proprietary investment strategies utilizing AI. Beforehand, Michael was an engagement manager at the NY office of strategy powerhouse McKinsey & Co., serving some of the largest Medical Devices and Pharma companies worldwide. Prior to Joining McKinsey, he worked as an advisor to PrimeSense, a 3D sensing company for consumer and commercial markets, best known as the technology behind Microsoft's Kinect and the iPhone X facial recognition. In 2013, the company was acquired by Apple Inc. Michael is a graduate of IDF elite Talpiot program and served at a technological unit of the Government of Israel as a senior project manager for 6 years. Michael holds a BSc summa cum-laude in Physics and CS from the Hebrew University, MSc from Weizmann Institute in Applied Mathematics (Thesis in Motion Control in Biological and Robotic Systems) and MBA from Columbia University.
Rémi Thomas is the co-founder and CEO of In&motion, a company that designs and sells smart wearable airbags for ski racers, horse riders and motorcyclists. In&motion’s vision is to use embedded and smart technology to develop highly protective wearable systems.
Prior to co-founding In&motion, Rémi worked for 7 years at the investment bank Lazard where he was part of the M&A Department in Paris and New-York, and the Foreign Government Advisory Department.
Remi holds an Engineering Masters from the French school ECAM Lyon and a Business Masters from HEC Paris.
Milana (Rabkin) Lewis
Milana (Rabkin) Lewis is the co-founder and CEO of Stem, a distribution and payments platform that simplifies finances for musicians and content creators.
Prior to founding Stem, Milana spent five years as a Digital Media Agent at the premier global talent and literary agency, United Talent Agency (UTA). She helped build UTA’s digital offerings by advising the agency’s individual and corporate clients on emerging distribution platforms, digitally-driven fundraising and monetization opportunities. Milana represented a roster of digital creators, ranging from top YouTube and Vine stars to prominent bloggers and social media personalities, and helped grow their social channels into sustainable and profitable careers. In addition to this work, Milana sourced investment opportunities for UTA’s then newly-formed venture capital division.
From her days at UTA to the helm of Stem, Milana continues to be a champion for the creative class by pioneering new ways to bring ideas to life and her drive of novelty.
She has been recognized as “30 Under 30” in 2017 by both Forbes and Inc Magazine, was named one of Refinery29's “30 under 30" most influential rising stars in 2012, and featured in Hollywood’s “New Leaders” by Variety.
Milana attended UCLA earning a B.A. from the Women’s Studies College, designing a major in Critical New Media Literacy.
Eric came to Nexkey with the vision to disrupt an industry that hasn't changed for hundreds of years, which is using keys to gain access to physical spaces.
His vision is to build a platform that is so reliable, secure and simple that his own family and friends use it every day.
In a career journey that began with the transition from Computer Engineer to award winning young Sales Professional, Eric’s progressive, analytical mindset and passionate pursuit of excellence, predicted his emergence in management and executive roles.
Eric came to Nexkey after heading Sales, Marketing & Business Development at Avegant, the leader in Light Field Display Technology for Mixed Reality. Prior to that he was VP Sales & Business Development for the acclaimed Security Software provider, Avira.
Derek Andersen is the co-founder and CEO of Bevy, a SaaS product that helps companies build community in real life. Bevy powers event communities for Salesforce, Atlassian, Red Bull, Harvard, Asana, Duolingo, and others. Derek co-founded Startup Grind, a community of 600 Chapters in 120 countries educating and connecting entrepreneurs. Since 2012 Startup Grind has hosted 7,000 events for more than 250,000 people. In 2010 he co-founded Commonred which was acquired by Income.com. Derek previously worked at Electronic Arts on games like Burnout and The Sims 3. Derek currently lives in Palo Alto with his wife and four children.
Ian Siegel is CEO and co-founder of ZipRecruiter, a leading online employment marketplace using AI-driven matching technology to actively connect millions of businesses and job seekers to their next great opportunity. Since the company’s inception in 2010, more than 1.5M employers of all sizes have used ZipRecruiter to find their next great hire and over 430 million job applications have been submitted through the site. Prior to co-founding ZipRecruiter, Ian held executive product and technology leadership roles at companies including CitySearch, Stamps.com, and Rent.com. He received his BA in sociology from Oberlin College and is based in Santa Monica, Calif.
Senator Scott Wiener
Senator Scott Wiener represents San Francisco and northern San Mateo County in the California State Senate. Elected in 2016, Senator Wiener focuses extensively on housing, transportation, civil rights, criminal justice reform, clean energy, and alleviating poverty. He chairs the Senate Housing Committee. Before being elected to the Senate, Senator Wiener served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, representing the district previously represented by Harvey Milk, and chaired the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Before being elected to office, Senator Wiener practiced law for 15 years, including nearly a decade as a Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. He also served in a number of community leadership roles, including co-chair of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center and on the national Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign. Senator Wiener has lived in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood since 1997. He received degrees from Duke University and Harvard Law School.
Mark Suster is the Managing Partner at Upfront. He previously was the founder & CEO of two successful enterprise software companies, the most recent of which was sold to Salesforce.com where Mark became VP, Products. Prior to being a founder, Mark was a software developer at Accenture where he lived and worked in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Mark is a graduate of UCSD and has an MBA from the University of Chicago.
On weekends my friends and I built treehouses & clubhouses. They served as our fortress, used to share stories and amplify each other’s imagination. We’d leave them only to explore, which consisted of the local laundromat where folks came to wash clothes and rehash the week, and to attend Sunday dinners in the neighborhood. Dinners were my personal favorite. They were always informal, mashed together and perfectly unplanned. Stories of times past, local gossip and jokes flowed throughout the night. They occurred at different homes, with random dishes, but there was a certainty about them that was reassuring.
We lived in South LA near gang violence, police brutality, drugs, extreme homelessness, and we were all poor, but through it all we depended on one another. Sometimes that meant sharing gut-busting laughter. Sometimes it meant running a power cord to a neighbor’s home because they couldn’t pay their bills that month. Other times it meant giving or receiving a quiet long hug because a relative lay slain in the middle of the street. There was inherent kindness in those moments, and it made us a closer community.
There was shared joy when a neighbor drove up in their newly purchased bucket (aka a beat up car) with shiny rims while playing loud music. Everyone would gather in the street to celebrate him for saving 3 years’ worth of his earnings, only to be interrupted by someone’s grandma lovingly yelling, “Enough now, turn that damn ruckus off!”
There was shared humanity when one of our homeless uncles would stop in to grab a bite and simultaneously teach us how to fix the chain on our bikes. We’d all hug him despite his perceived filth or odor and offer him shelter in the haphazardly built clubhouse.The lessons of childhood community carried me through my time behind prison walls from ages 16 to 21. It gave me the ability to see past people’s flaws and honor their humanity. The optimistic halls of academia at Loyola Marymount, where I studied Civil Engineering, suffocated me with memories of being broke with friends, yet having the resolve that we’d be okay. And varying professional endeavors, from running for state office to developing buildings throughout California, demanded that I remain open, vulnerable and willing to discover something new with someone new at any moment.
The distinct connection through it all, however, has always been kindness. Kindness has allowed me to be forgiven. It has taught me to forgive. It has grounded me in the most unsure moments and life-altering decisions. It has challenged me to push myself and others to be a reflection of our collective hopes and dreams for the world. It is the acknowledgement of vulnerability and the affirmation of our shared humanity. To me, Treehouse is now a home for this kind!
In college, I took a class on community organizing by Marshall Ganz, and after college, I found myself doing just that: working on John Kerry’s presidential campaign from a rural town in Arizona, organizing the community and managing volunteers. Throughout this time, one of the most lasting impressions was my observation that these volunteers were there for more than just the candidate; they were there for each other.
Two volunteers in particular manifested the strength of togetherness. One of these volunteers was a woman with limited mobility of her hands, and another, was a Vietnamese woman, still navigating the English language. I realized that together they could accomplish what they wanted to, but couldn’t individually, so I paired both women together and gave the woman without use of her hands a headset, and instructed the Vietnamese woman to be in charge of dialing. As a team, they were able to make calls, and do more than just support the same cause, but also support each other.
In America, money buys you isolation. The more you have, the bigger your backyard, the further you are from intimate moments like these that speak to the power of a shared humanity and human connectivity.
Moving forward in my life, this experience shaped how I view and value community, and I applied this to a community that had influenced me in a powerful way. After many trips to Israel, studying meditation, I organized my first silent meditation retreat. What began as a week-long retreat to gather my close friends evolved into an annual retreat, and soon after, metamorphized into a weekly Jewish meditation group for my friends, friends of friends, and beyond. Building this tribe, and the beauty I’ve found within it, lies at the core of why I support and insist on the creation of Treehouse – for within a strong, purposeful community is a place that people as individuals and as a group can find balance, peace and strength.
Mr. Hirschhorn is CEO of REDEF, a digital content curation company. Previously, Mr. Hirschhorn served as Co-President of Myspace Inc., an affiliate of News Corp. and as President of Sling Media, Inc. He has also served as Chief Digital Officer of MTV Networks and as a director of MGM and CFY. Mr. Hirschhorn currently is on the board of directors of Pandora. Mr. Hirschhorn holds a B.S. in International Business and Marketing from New York University's Stern School of Business.
Jason Calacanis is a technology entrepreneur, angel investor, and the host of the popular podcasts This Week in Startups and Angel. As a “scout” for top Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and later as an angel investor, Jason has invested in 150+ early-stage startups including 6 "unicorns" (billion-dollar valuations). His book "Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups: Timeless Advice from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000" was published by Harper Collins in 2017. He lives in San Francisco, California.
Kevin looks for interdisciplinary entrepreneurs solving big problems in healthcare and the life sciences. He's also a passionate gamer and invests in interactive media platforms, tools and content. Prior to joining Upfront in 2012, Kevin was at The Boston Consulting Group, where he advised on strategy, M&A and operations for technology, healthcare, and industrial goods clients in the US and Asia. Previously, Kevin worked at Verscend Technologies, a healthcare software startup in Boston, focusing on data analytics product development selling into payers and providers.
Greg primarily partners with founders who are directly and indirectly solving for consumer pain points through engaging experiences or differentiated technologies which tackle huge business challenges.
Before joining Upfront, Greg was the CMO for LA-based HauteLook, a leading online flash-sale retailer (acquired by Nordstrom). Previously, Greg was EVP of Business Development and Strategy at Live Nation, responsible for strategic direction and key business partnerships for Live Nation’s ticketing and digital businesses. Before Live Nation, Greg held a number of leadership positions at eBay, including Sr. Director of Business Development at StubHub; he also led eBay’s acquisition of StubHub in 2007. Greg received a BA in Political Science from the University of San Diego and an MBA from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.
Jeff Berman is a co-founder of Magnet Companies, a private equity-backed holding company based in Los Angeles. He has spent the past decade in leadership roles at the intersection of technology and media, including serving as President of Whalerock Industries, Head of Digital at the NFL, and in a series of roles at MySpace where he led the content, marketing, sales, public policy & communications teams, and launched MySpace’s first native video platform. Jeff's board experience includes Buddy Media (SAAS business acquired by Salesforce), Anine Bing (LA-based fashion/commerce company), and United to Protect Democracy (non-profit founded in 2017 to defend the rule of law). Before moving into the private sector, Jeff was in Washington, DC, serving first as a civil rights lawyer and then as Chief Counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer. He holds a JD from Yale Law School.
Frederic Court is the founder of Felix Capital, a London-based Venture firm with c. $300m under management. He was previously General Partner with Advent Venture Partners, and has been working in the tech industry as an entrepreneur and investor for 20 years. At Felix, Frederic focuses on investment in digital lifestyle opportunities, including brands, platforms and enabling technologies. He sits on the board of Farfetch (NYSE:FTCH), which went public in 2018 with a $7bn market cap, where he was the first investor in 2010 (Series A). Other illustrative investments include Zong (sold to ebay), Vitrue (sold to Oracle), Dailymotion (sold to Orange), Goop, The business of fashion, Highsnobiety, Mirakl, Deliveroo, Peloton. Frederic has been shortlisted in the Midas List Europe in 2017 and 2018, and was named "Investor of the Year" in Europe by its peers at the 2012 Investor All Stars event.