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Global Empowerment Summit
Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
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Since 2001, Congresswoman Susan A. Davis has proudly represented California’s 53rd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Stretching from I-5 and Balboa Park on the west, through Mission Valley to East County, and continuing south to Chula Vista, California’s 53rd Congressional District includes much of the heart of San Diego.
In Congress, Susan serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. She also sits on the Education and the Workforce Committee. Susan’s signature issues include defense, education, health care, veterans’ affairs and election reform.
Prior to Congress, Susan served 6 years in the California State Assembly and 9 years on the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education. After growing up in northern California and graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Susan earned a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A Mid-City resident, Susan has been active in the San Diego community for nearly four decades. She is married to Steve Davis and they have two sons and three grandchildren.
Meg is Chief, Economic Empowerment at UN Women, responsible for a global team advocating for and implementing programs on sustainable development, engendering macro-economic policy and strengthening economic institutions to improve outreach and inclusion of women. It’s all about women’s economic empowerment! Our flagship programs are in entrepreneurship and investment; decent work and social protection; climate-resilient agriculture; and renewable energy. 2008 – 2015 Meg was Women and Trade Programme Manager at the International Trade Centre (a joint agency of the United Nations and WTO), responsible for the design and implementation of the multi year, multi million dollar programme to increase the economic benefits women derive from trade. Meg works with women owned enterprise to connect them to corporate and government buyers; and with institutions and government to improve the business environment for women exporters. Raising 20m over 5 years, the programme has resulted in USD30m in sales and letters of intent thus far. She is the former Deputy Director of the Evian Group at IMD – a trade think tank. Meg has also worked for the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, prior to which she was on the Australian delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Meg brings with her private sector experience gained from working in the financial markets and in management consulting. Meg has sat on several boards including the Australia-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Organization of Women in International Trade. Meg was awarded ‘Woman of the Year’ in 2013 by the Organisation of Women in International Trade; and a ‘World of Difference’ award in 2012 by The International Alliance of Women for her contribution to women’s economic empowerment. Meg holds a Master of International Studies and a Bachelor of Economics having studied in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Netherlands. She speaks English, French and Japanese.
Toni G. Atkins has dedicated her career—from her time working in women’s health clinics, through two terms on the San Diego City Council and three terms in the state Assembly, including her two years as Assembly Speaker—fighting on behalf of the people most in need.
Under her leadership, the Assembly Democrats championed the state’s first Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits nearly 1.5 million Californians and lifts 50,000 people out of poverty and 50,000 others out of deep poverty. She has also provided budget funding to help provide more affordable housing, one of the state’s biggest crises and the issue that is closest to her heart.
As Speaker, she helped stop the University of California from imposing a 27% tuition increase on students; was a leader in negotiating a $7.5-billion water bond that provides clean, safe drinking water and makes improvements to the state’s water system; has helped ensure California’s financial stability through a Rainy Day Fund; aided in finding a solution to the chronic under-funding of the State Teachers Retirement System; and has led the passage of two on-time, balanced budgets.
Speaker Emeritus Atkins is a coalition builder who believes sound government policies can impact people’s lives in positive ways. During her tenure as Speaker, funding for higher education in California has reached its highest-ever level. In addition to being a leading voice for affordable housing, she is a powerful advocate for women, LGBT community and a champion for veterans, individuals, and families experiencing homelessness.
While Speaker, Toni Atkins passed legislation that helps small businesses, preserves dignity for transgender individuals, protects wildlife, assists victims of domestic violence, protects our environment, ensures coastal access, and strengthens family justice centers, among other accomplishments.
Speaker Emeritus Atkins was born in Virginia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Emory & Henry College and completed the senior executive program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her life of public service began in San Diego in the mid-1980’s as director of clinic services at Womancare Health Center. She served from 2000 to 2008 as a San Diego City Council member and acting Mayor in 2005 before her election to the Assembly in 2010.
Atkins lives in the South Park / Golden Hill community of San Diego with her spouse Jennifer LeSar and their dogs, Haley and Joey.
Maya Brahmam is a Senior Communications Officer at the World Bank Group. She has managed communications for a range of clients within the World Bank, including the Bank’s Chief Economist and the high-level independent Commission on Growth and Development, chaired by Nobel Laureate, Michael Spence.
Maya is part of the Global Engagement team in External and Corporate Relations and is responsible for innovative platforms, such as TEDx WBG and WikiStage WBG. She is now developing the private sector constituency work in this team. Previously, Maya led communications for the World Bank’s Knowledge Exchange and Learning department, where she successfully launched the World Bank’s first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on climate change, citizen engagement and risk. She has developed and led innovative campaigns for the Bank; examples include the Nike-World Bank “Party in the Park” for gender equality, the first global Open Forum 2010, which opened up the Bank-Fund Annual Meetings to a broader public, and Arab Voices and Views, a high-level forum on the Middle East and North Africa. She organized and curated TEDx Sendai on the theme of natural disasters and TEDx WBG on the theme of Ending Poverty. In October 2015, she organized the first WikiStage WBG Lima on Social Inclusion.
Experienced in stakeholder engagement and relationship management, Maya has led the consultations in over 30 countries for the World Development Report 2007 and the global web consultations for the Governance and Anti-Corruption initiative.
Her areas of interest include climate change, growth and development, gender, youth, and knowledge for development. A native English speaker, she is fluent in French and is proficient in Spanish.
Martin Cooper is Chairman and Co-Founder of Dyna LLC. He is also Co-Founder of ArrayComm, LLC, headquartered in San Jose, CA and of GreatCall, Inc., the innovator of the Jitterbug cell phone and service. Cooper has been involved in and contributed to virtually every major innovation in personal wireless communications in his over 50-year career. He conceived the first portable cellular phone in 1973, and is widely recognized as an innovator in spectrum management. For 29 years, Cooper led a number of major businesses at Motorola; including high-capacity paging, trunked mobile radio, cellular radio telephone, quartz crystals and oscillators, liquid crystal displays, piezo-electric components, A.M. stereo technology, and various mobile and portable two-way radio product lines. Following Motorola, Cooper co-founded Cellular Business Systems, Inc., a cellular billing system company. Cooper has 11 patents in the communications field. He is widely published and continues to write and lecture around the world about wireless communications, technological innovation, the Internet, and R&D management.
Cooper was involved in industry and government efforts to allocate new radio frequency spectrum for the land mobile radio services in the U.S. and has testified before the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Senate. He serves on the U.S. Department of Commerce Spectrum Advisory Committee that advises the President of the United States on spectrum policy. Cooper has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Science Research and induction into the National Academy of Engineering in 2010. In February 2013, Cooper was co-recipient of the Charles Stark Draper Prize; one of the world’s preeminent awards for engineering achievement. In October, 2013, he was awarded the coveted Marconi Prize. Cooper has bachelors and masters degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and was awarded an honorary doctorate by that institution in 2004. He serves on IIT’s board of trustees, as well as the boards of several other public and private companies.
Naila Chowdhury is a leading management professional from Bangladesh. She has served in a UN agency as well as several multinationals, locally and globally (Norway, Thailand, Ukraine, Malaysia, and Pakistan). She has worked closely with Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus for more than 15 years. Her core focus now is women’s health and economic empowerment through modern information and communications technologies. She is also an advisor for the Ashoka Support Network Members, and a technical advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is an active mentor for Youth and Women in constructive entrepreneurship, information communication technology (ICT), global networking and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). She is presently one of the Founding Women Members of F4D in New York, USA and Board Director of Athgo International, USA. She holds a Master Degree in Marketing from Dhaka University, and a Senior Executive Business Management Diploma from Singapore National University, as well as an Executive MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden. Presently, she is the Chair of TeleConsult Group, US and Bangladesh. TeleConsult Group where Women come first, is an organization focused to ensure, competence and skill development, job opportunity for the under-privileged populations, and domestic violence and acid survivors.
Amanda Caniglia is the owner of the Bella Vista Social Club & Caffé, located at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. Bella Vista serves as the social hub for the Innovation and Biotech community on the Mesa, and Ms. Caniglia is honored to be viewed as a true connector of people, ideas, and companies. When not serving up celebrated food and conversation, (“Great minds deserve great food,”) she spearheads Miracle Coast No Boundaries, a grass roots movement to collectively engage San Diego stakeholders in positioning our Smart City—and especially the Mesa cluster of high-tech, biotech and science–on a global scale, driving awareness and business to the region. Ms. Caniglia is President of the board of Alliance4Empowerment. She is Small Business spokeswoman for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce; and not least a writer/columnist for San Diego Magazine (“Life on the Mesa.”) A graduate of UCSD in political science, dance, and Spanish literature, Caniglia spent several productive years in Spain and Brazil. She also has a teacher credential from SDSU and instructed courses in Business English for foreign businessmen and women before establishing the Bella V. Her strengths in strategic planning, effective marketing, and the delicate art of social networking all serve to expand opportunities for business growth and profitability in San Diego and the burgeoning mega-region.
Feroza Ardeshir is the Vice-president of Alliance4Empowerment. She is on her third career, having previously been a molecular biologist on a malaria vaccine project and a sixth grade Montessori School teacher. She is passionate about her family and friends, social justice, students of all ages, education, health, nutrition, science, yoga and meditation, feminism, world peace and saving the planet and all the creatures on it. All you need is love!
Dr. Rob Gailey teaches nonprofit organizational management and theories of economic development in the International Development major at PLNU and serves as the faculty advisor to PLNU’s Microfinance Club. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences, with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. As Director of the Center for International Development, Rob Gailey is actively engaged with students across campus to bring awareness and solutions to social issues that impact our global economy. The Center for International Development has funded several students to participate in international development conferences and research in the U.S. and abroad.
Jay Silverman, Ph.D., is Director of Research for the Center on Gender Equity and Health and a Professor of Medicine and Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. He has led multiple major government, foundation and UN-funded studies of gender-based violence (e.g., IPV, sexual assault, reproductive coercion, gender-based household maltreatment, sex trafficking) across multiple global regions regarding effects on women’s and girls’ reproductive and sexual health and the morbidity and mortality of their children. Dr. Silverman has published over 170 peer-reviewed scholarly papers on these issues, many in top-tier scientific journals. He is also co-author of an award-winning practitioner guidebook on the role of intimate partner violence in shaping family dynamics.
ROBIN SOL LIEBERMAN is an author and the Founder of TrueCharisma, a training and consulting firm committed to helping individuals and organizations communicate more effectively. Robin Sol has spoken at the United Nations Headquarters, worked with emerging global leaders through events organized by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with new arrival immigrants, refugees, prisoners, ex-offenders, university students and with the marketing teams of international companies such as Pfizer.
Robin Sol was introduced to the power of non-verbal communication during her world travels as a cultural anthropologist. Not particularly quick at picking up foreign languages, she began connecting with the world’s people using a universal language she already knew how to “speak”: charisma. She would go on to practice as a mind-body therapist in an attempt to understand how voice, body language, beliefs and emotions can be altered at will for more coherently powerful communication. Today, Robin Sol’s training and consulting firm, TrueCharisma, as well as her book, The Charisma Code: Communicating in a Language Beyond Words, make charisma’s barrier-breaking language accessible to the many. Robin Sol recently appeared on WTTG-TV (FOX) “Good Day DC” and SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel’s “Morning Briefing” to discuss the Charisma Types of the presidential candidates. To learn more, including what your own Charisma Type is, please visit www.TrueCharisma.com
Cassandra is a graduate of Columbia University 2013, a Professional Actor, Humanitarian and an athlete. She is also active philanthropically. Cassandra received the 2016 Women4Empowerment Gold Medal of Honor for her philanthropic work closely associated with empowering women and young girls. She has also been nominated to be on the Advisory Board of LDEO (Lamont – Doherty Observation Earth Conservatory) as a direct affiliation with her interests at Columbia University.
Cassandra has appeared on TV Shows, in Indie Films, Feature Films and on “Person Of Interest”. She secured a role in the Guild Hall’s Labor Day Production in East Hampton, New
York where she performed in “The Night of 75 Stars”, alongside Alec Baldwin and Bob Balaban, and she is slated for the Lead role in Kevin Sheaff’s upcoming Indie Feature Film entitled “In The Eyes Of Love & Vengeance” as ‘Apostle Saundra’, Iris Braun in Tyriq Mustaqyuim’s “From Sin To Salvation”, Mary Clarke in Steven Harris Anzelowitz’s “Hope Saves Manhattan”, and Constance in Gregory Brown’s “Eastern Citrus”.
Cassandra is a graduate of the 2 – Year William Esper Conservatory. Current roles include Tammy in Jon Dabach and Rob Margolies’ “I’d Like To Be Alone Now”, and the completion as Johanna Monevata in The Arkansas Repertory Theatre / Robert Hupp’s “August: Osage County” in July 2015.
Cassandra has helped to organize numerous charitable events in the New York area. She feels deeply that it is her privilege to give back for the many gifts she has received in life, and is active with many organizations that she supports. Among them are: Global Advisory Board Member & Global Ambassador of Women 4 Empowerment, New York Advocacy Board Member of the Sphinx Organization, Co- Chair of The Women’s Project, Global Ambassador of Sunshine Family Global, Chair of The Astaire Awards, Co- Chair of the New York Dance Alliance Foundation, Chairwoman of Fashion 4 Development’s Modavie Club, Global Curator of Fashion 4 Development’s Online Shoppe, Producer of the First Women’s Fashion & Film Festival, Producer of the Oberon Theater Ensemble, and Board Member of The Tank Organization. In addition, Cassandra supports the African Rainforest Conservancy, the Southampton Hospital, the American Cancer Society, the Hunger Project, Refugees International, NMA: the National Meningitis Association, and the Rescue For Horses Fund.
Prof. Rao R. Bhavani is the Director of AMMACHI Labs at Amrita University which focuses on innovating and deploying new applications in learning technologies to benefit the poor with a focus on women from socio-economically underserved communities. AMMACHI Labs does pioneering work on technology-enhanced learning and computerized vocational-education training delivered through multimedia-enriched applications and cost-effective haptic-enhanced simulators for perfecting manual skills. A central focus of Prof. Bhavani’s work has been to explore the use of skill-development as the baseline strategy, and women empowerment as the underlying vision. Her current project is a massive sanitation-awareness campaign that empowers women in rural communities to become ambassadors of change, by educating them about sanitation practices and training them to build their own toilets.
Dr. Ramesh R. Rao has been a faculty member at UC San Diego since 1984, and Director of the Qualcomm Institute, UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), since 2001. He holds the Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Telecommunications and Information Technologies in the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD, and is a member of the school’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department.
Prior to QI (Calit2), Professor Rao served as the Director of UCSD’s Center for Wireless Communications (CWC). Dr. Rao is involved on a day-to-day basis with a wide variety of research initiatives at QI. He leads several major interdisciplinary and collaborative projects and has been a PI on dozens of federal-, state-, foundation- and industry-funded grants. Dr. Rao is an IEEE Fellow and Senior Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology. He was named a Member of the UC San Diego Health System Advisory Board, a Member of the Board of the Academy of Neurosciences for Architecture, a Member of the Rady Children’s Hospital and Health Center Board IT Task Force and serves as the Vice President of the San Diego Indian American Society.
Dr. Rao earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1984, after receiving his M.S. from the same institution in 1982. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1980 from the University of Madras (the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirapalli). Dr. Rao received the distinguished alumnus award from the National Institute of Technology in 2010, the ECE Distinguished alumni award from the University of Maryland in 2012, the Professional Gordon Engineering Leadership Award from UCSD’s Gordon Engineering Leadership Center in 2010. He also received the 2011 Casa Familiar Abrazo Award for engagement with underprivileged area of San Diego.
Summer Stephan is a career prosecutor who has served as a Deputy District Attorney in San Diego County for more than 26 years, rising through the ranks to serve as Chief of the DA’s North County Branch and Chief of the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division. In 2012, she was appointed Chief Deputy District Attorney.
As a trial prosecutor, Summer tried more than 100 jury trials, including special circumstance homicides, sexually-violent predators, child molestation, sexual assault, child abuse, school shooting, and human trafficking-related cases.
Summer holds leadership positions in public safety on the national state and local level. She serves as Chair of the County of San Diego Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Advisory Council, and section Chair for the Human Trafficking Subcommittee of the National District Attorney’s Association Women Prosecutors Committee. She also serves as Co-Chair of the California District Attorneys Association Human Trafficking Committee.
Summer spearheaded the innovative “Know the Price” campaign which focused on reducing sexual assaults of college students. She also lead the award winning The Ugly Truth Human Trafficking Campaign- The She also chairs the Task Force on Threats of Targeted Violence to our schools and community. Summer was selected as one of only two prosecutors in California to serve on Governor Schwarzenegger’s Task Force for High-Risk Sex Offenders and Sexually-Violent Predators.
Summer is the recipient of numerous local, state and federal awards, including an FBI commendation for organized crime prosecution. She received The Outstanding Achievement award for special circumstance homicide prosecution involving the murder of an elderly woman, and Chuck Nickel Awards for professional excellence and statewide impact in public safety by the San Diego County Deputy District Attorneys Association. She is the recipient of the Prosecutor’s Award from San Diego Police Department’s homicide team. Summer was recently named Angel of Anti-Human Trafficking by the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition. She was also named “Modern Day Abolitionist” by 3Strands Global. Summer is the recipient of a 2014 commendation by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer as Commission Partner for creating positive change in the community.
Chief Deputy DA Summer Stephan is an instructor and trainer locally and across the state and nation on trial practice, mental issues in criminal justice, sex crimes and human trafficking. She is an instructor on leadership, including the National District Attorneys Association Executive Management Course: “How to go from Boss to Leader”. She has testified as an expert witness on public safety issues in the California State Legislature.
Summer received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Davis and her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She completed the “Driving Government Performance” Executive Education Course at the Harvard, Kennedy School of Government.
Starla Lewis, CEO of C.E.L.L. consultancy firm, is a transformational speaker and life coach who has developed lectures and facilitated seminars in Cultural Diversity, Life Mastery and Women Empowerment, nationally and internationally.
Starla Lewis has 40 years of research and experience in Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, African Studies, and Oral Communication have enhanced her ability to connect diverse communities.
Starla works with corporations, organizations, and schools. She is a performer poet, author and illustrator of Sunkisses, a multicultural/multilingual coloring book for children and adults. Starla creates an “edu-taining” environment through her experiential lectures, workshops and seminars.
In 2016 Starla will serve as curator for, “The History and the Hair Story: 400 Years Without a Comb” exhibition at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Starla’s most recent women’s empowerment workshop series focuses on cultivating self-love, building positive relationships amongst women, overcoming racism and sexism and healing mother and daughter relationships.
Starla is a two-time recipient of the “Bob Marley Peace” award, an inductee into the Women’s Hall of Fame, and is one of KPBS’ Local Heroes. Starla is a seven-time recipient of the Mesa College “Teacher of the Year” award. Starla Lewis’ work affirms that all people are brilliant, powerful, limitless, love.
Joslin Seeds is an avid proponent of confidence. She is the host, writer, and editor of her own show, “The Joslin Show” which celebrates diversity, self expression and empowerment. Having grown up in thrift shops, she has a superb eye for finding items and can dress people in much sought after and often high priced garments for a fraction of the cost. She also has her own radio show “Runway to Reality” and has become a muse and model for esteemed couture designers. Not without her own story, she prides herself on sharing that any situation can be overcome if we choose to love ourselves. Her brand is summed up in three words. Confidence. Comfort. Glamour. Three things, she believes everyone is entitled to. To feel beautiful. Everyone’s definitions of beauty and style are different and that’s what she nurtures.
Alisa exited prostitution over a decade ago and after years of hard work came to the understanding that prostitution is a systemic societal problem for women, children and men. Alisa pulls from both her life experience and academic knowledge to be a powerful public speaker as well as a published author, educator and policy advocate. She presents both regionally and nationally on the topics of prostitution and trafficking as forms of gender based violence and a societal problem. She sits on multiple boards of directors for nonprofits in Seattle, consults to governmental agencies and NGO’s across the country, is an advisory member of the the Buyer Beware team working to eliminate the demand for commercial sex in King County and is a firm advocate for Nordic Model implementation in the US. Alisa is above all things an activist for women’s rights and a mentor to others.
Twyla Garrett is an extraordinary entrepreneur, corporate speaker, and compelling author who has been personally invited to speak at The Whitehouse on the issues of creating jobs, economic growth and the controversial fiscal cliff of 2012. Garrett is known for her notable (sometimes 100% self-funded) business deals as much as she is for providing excellent opportunities to individuals facing immense challenges.
An Ohio native, Ms. Garrett attended John Marshall High School, Ursuline College (BA), and University of Phoenix (MA). While in high school Twyla learned to prepare complex tax returns and used her mathematical intuition to advance her business curiosity in college. She started off working for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in downtown Cleveland and move to San Diego, California and held positions of deputy controller NADEP and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Manager for Space and Naval Warfare System Command (SPAWAR). Feeling that entrepreneur itch, she left the federal government and started her own management consulting firm, Investment Management Enterprise (IME). IME employs people in three states and also overseas. The company provides homeland security and disaster preparedness and IT innovation services. IME is currently work on several inaugural preparation exercises.
As business took flight. Twyla Garrett provide a give back to Cleveland, a 1.5 million dollar entertainment complex designed to single-handily add to the improvement of Cleveland’s economic culture. Her entertainment complex has hired formally homeless individuals, provided musicians and artists with actual moneymaking opportunities, and served the community by supporting American goods and services. Always involved in the food and beverage industry, and with an upscale shopping plaza is the project currently in the works.
On a personal note, Twyla Garrett is an abuse survivor who has successfully disabled all the challenges associated with how and where she grew up. Isolated from her mother and siblings at the age of fourteen, Garrett was supported by a single father. Before the court-order to live with her father, Twyla had to endure psychological, sexual, and verbal abuse. Her strong will to thrive (not just survive) instilled a fighters-instinct. This “instinct” is why Twyla is able to use her positive drive as a motivator to start and grow many businesses. It is also what allows her to share insight (including that of her venture failures) with others who share an enthusiasm for business ownership. Mentoring young adults on the subject of business is a top priority for Ms. Garrett.
Twyla’s memoir will be published in 2016 and it will be followed by a series of “how-to” business books. Currently, Twyla’s business blog and social media accounts furnish motivational quotes and an over-the-shoulder view of her unique perspective on profiting in business while helping others.
Laura Kelly has a BS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a MA from the CA School of Professional Psychology. In years past she has worked in the field of disability advocacy promoting standards for accessible housing and public spaces. Currently Laura is writing a memoir about her 11 years of sexual abuse from her father and the psychological effect that had on the person she became. If you ask Laura what her greatest accomplishment is, she will say it was helping two baby boys become fine young men. Both of her sons are now independent, self-confident, happily married to lovely women. Given Laura’s own upbringing in a dysfunctional incest family, with no role models to guide her, this is no small achievement. When not found in her analyst’s office, you can find Laura writing, reading, gardening or cooking at home, or out at the theater or dancing.
Anita Raj, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine and Global Public Health and the Founding Director of the Center on Gender Equity and Health at the University of California, San Diego. Trained as a developmental psychologist, Dr. Raj has expertise in social and behavioral theories and intervention development, implementation science, and evaluation, as well as measures development, in her focal areas of interest which include sexual and reproductive health, gender based violence and inequities such as girl child marriage, and adolescent maternal health, as well as substance use and HIV. Dr. Raj has served as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on more than 40 federal, foundation and multilateral (e.g., UNICEF) grants conducting research in South Asia, the United States, Russia, and sub-Saharan Africa, and she has more than 150 peer-reviewed publications from this research. Her publications include papers in such prestigious journals as the Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association, and her research has been featured in media outlets across national settings.
Rubén is a native of Nayarit, México, where he completed studies in sustainable aquaculture and following his passion for all life, a bachelor in biology in Ensenada, Baja California.
After moving to the United States in 1994, Rubén received a Doctorate in chemistry and biochemistry from UCLA and soon after began his career in the San Diego biotechnology industry. Rubén has held a variety of positions in R&D, marketing, business development and technology commercialization. His professional career includes Becton Dickinson (PharMingen) and Biosite (now Alere), where he ran worldwide clinical trials to develop a life-saving bedside diagnostic for sepsis; Rubén later joined Chemicon (now Millipore-Sigma), where he managed R&D, worldwide clinical-trial operations, and marketing activities for the diagnosis of viral infections. While at Millipore-Sigma, Rubén founded the world-wide Scientific Collaborations group, tasked with developing novel solutions with academic partners across the globe for stem cell research, biomarkers, cancer, neuroscience, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Most recently, Rubén served as Vice President of Business Development and Technology Transfer for LA BioMed at Harbor UCLA Medical Center (an L.A. County hospital providing care to the underserved population and featured in the popular 1970’s series, Emergency!), where he focused his efforts on fostering the entrepreneurial ecosystem for startups. Working with local academic centers, the County of Los Angeles, LAEDC, LARTA and local REITs, Rubén championed the development of a 300,000 sq foot biotech park on the Harbor UCLA campus (the first of its kind in Los Angeles).
Rubén is a strong supporter of the regional innovation ecosystem. He has lent his expertise as a past member of BIOCOM’s FDA committee. Rubén has acted as a member of the Scientific Advisory board of UC Riverside’s department of Bioengineering, the advisory board to the Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program at the departments of Bioengineering at the University of Washington and at the University of Southern California, and the advisory board for graduate programs in Biotechnology at Cal State University San Marcos.
Joan Domingos née Ajayi was born in Nigeria, West Africa. Joan is a proud mother of four boys. A registered Geriatric nurse and an alternative singer/songwriter by profession, Joan’s nursing career was inspired by Joan’s mother’s heart disease in the mideighties. Joan worked two jobs in Germany, as a Geriatric Nurse (Examinierte Altenpflegerin) for “CARITAS” and as a professional singer, performing at Germany’s second best show in 2013 “FANTISSIMA” in Phantasialand.
Life put Joan in a traumatic situation because her first marriage ended as a result of substance abuse and domestic violence. Looking for a new beginning and safety from her abuser, Joan decided to take into consideration the convincing offer of work and most of all safety offered by her friend. Joan decided to move to the United States of America. Upon arrival she found herself engulfed in a vicious circle of abuse that made her feel trapped, helpless, and very afraid for her life and that of her Children. After the escape from her trafficker, Joan found her children and herself in several safe houses and safety transfers (she had relocated four times in 2 months). In the late summer of 2014 she moved with her children to San Diego to yet another safe house. Her feeling of helplessness and despair increased. While in Oceanside, she was referred to a legal firm “Casa Cornelia” which greatly helped and was to change her life for the better. Joan was enlightened of the different forms of human trafficking and came to the harsh realization that she was a victim of domestic violence and human trafficking. This made her case very complex. After several appointments she was referred to Carmen Kcomt who is the Director of the legal department of La Maestra Community Health Centers. She received Joan and her children with open arms and assisted them with endless resources of which were public benefits like the victims compensation program, therapy but to mention a few! This led to Joan’s introduction to La Maestra’s “Circle of Care”. Carmen introduced Joan to Zara Marselian, CEO of La Maestra Community Health Centers who also welcomed Joan warmly and has played one of the key roles in Joan’s healing process. Carmen referred Joan to La Maestra’s Generations program director Christopher Ewald in November 2014 who was looking for a music instructor at the time for the after school program. Joan had to prepare herself mentally and after a few months Joan started volunteering in February 2015. Joan is currently a music and academic instructor at La Maestra Community Health Center’s Generations After School Program, “Center for Youth Advancement”. Thanks to the tireless efforts of her attorney Carolina Martin Ramos and team at Casa Cornelia Law Center, Joan’s status and that of her children was adjusted in July 2016. Life has brought many challenges her way and she was able to surmount them by God’s grace and a strong support system, made up of family and faithful friends of which La Maestra’s “CIRCLE OF CARE” played the key role when she and her children were left at the mercy of the unknown.
“I choose not to see myself as a victim nor a survivor of human trafficking. I see myself as a single mother who is grateful to be alive and is empowered to advocate for myself and my children to not just exist in life but to enjoy life to its fullest. My goal is to enlighten and assist people from all walks of life who may be going through the same situation and may not even know it!! Human trafficking is real and happens in plain sight”.
For more information about Joan’s inspirational songs which also played an enormous part in her healing process please go to her webpages at www.bukidomingos.com or www.reverbnation.com/bukidomingos
Carmen Kcomt is a foreign attorney and former Magistrate from Peru; she has served in the Judicial Power for 10 years as a Superior Court Family and Juvenile Judge. Ms. Kcomt holds a Master’s Degree in International Law of Human Rights, she was a professor in two universities in Peru, Carmen has also worked for United Nations supervising the comply of the rights of the prisoners in detention centers in the northern part of Peru. Carmen was a guest teacher in the University of San Diego. She received the “Manual Wiley Award “ for her work as a volunteer with San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, she is the Delegate for the State of California before the Refugee Congress and the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, in 2014 she was awarded with the “Local Hero Hispanic Heritage “ by KPBS National broadcast, the last year she received the “Distinguished Citizen “ award by the San Diego County Bar Association, she is also graduated from the FBI Citizens Academy and from the District Attorney and Sheriff office Citizens Academy 2016. Ms. Kcomt is a prolific author, having written over 80 articles in newspapers in Peru and in San Diego, and has co–‐authored two textbooks regarding domestic violence and children’s human rights. Carmen is a member of the American Bar Association and currently she is the Director of the Legal and Social Department with La Maestra Community Health Centers, in charge of the Human Trafficking Program.
Born in Paris, France, and with a Masters degree in anthropology from the University of Texas in Arlington, a Masters in Public Health (MPH) from the University of North Texas and a doctorate in higher education leadership from San Diego State University, Dr. Migala joined UCSD in February 2013 as the Director of the International House.
Dr. Migala began working in higher education in 1992 at what is now the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center. During his tenure there, Dr. Migala served as the Assistant Director for International Health Related Programs, Director for Rural Health and as the institution’s liaison for US-Mexico border health issues.
Dr. Migala has also worked with the UN World Health Organization in the global polio eradication program along in Nepal (along the Nepali-Indian border), and has served in senior administrative positions in international non-profit organizations specializing in humanitarian aid, international health and development, medical education, and disaster relief. Through these efforts, Dr. Migala has developed, implemented and supported humanitarian aid, development and disaster relief programs in over 20 countries in Central and South America, Africa, South
and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Dr. Migala served as the Program Director for the first global conference on the Social Obligations of Universities in the Health of the Disadvantaged, co-sponsored by the UN World Health Organization and UNESCO and served on the international committee which drafted the UN Charter for the Social Obligations for Colleges and Universities.
Dr. Jamie Gates, cultural anthropologist and director of Point Loma Nazarene University’s Center and Reconciliation, co-lead the groundbreaking research project “Measuring the Extent and Nature of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region” (2013-15). He co-chairs the Research and Data Committee of the San Diego County Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and CSEC. He founded and directs the Human Trafficking Research and Data Advisory Roundtable (HT-RADAR) for SD County. He led the university in establishing the Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund for survivors of human trafficking to get their college degree. He leads an effort to design and implement a drama-based peer-to-peer human trafficking awareness training in San Diego’s middle and high schools. He serves as expert witness on human trafficking legislation. He also serves as faith-based organizer with regional and national faith-based organizations.
Mrs. Mester was trafficked for two years as teenager. She has an intimate understanding of the victimization these girls are suffering and uses her own life story to build public awareness, emotional connections with victims, and hope for those still trapped.
Mrs. Mester is currently on the board of directors for Hidden Treasures Foundation. In addition to this Mrs. Mester has served as Outreach Director, Media Relations, featured speaker in public awareness events and Fundraising Coordinator.
Mrs. Epps graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Arts and Sciences from San Diego State University and works at San Diego Center for Children as a Residential Counselor. In 2015 Mrs. Epps married Phil, a wonderful man who serves as Petty Officer in the Navy and together they devote themselves to helping the youth within their community.
Susan Munsey, LCSW is the Executive Director of GenerateHope where she leads a team of dedicated professionals & volunteers in the work of rehabilitating survivors of sex trafficking via housing, education, psychotherapy & adjunct therapies. Susan is a graduate of Smith College with a Masters degree in social work and over 20 years of therapeutic experience in the community, hospitals and private practice. Susan also educates community groups, churches, college students and more on sex trafficking in hopes of eradicating this issue.