Johanna Maska, Former White House Director of Press Advance, CEO of Global Situation Room

Johanna Maska, Former White House Director of Press Advance, CEO of Global Situation Room

Johanna Maska is CEO of GSR.  For eight years Maska worked as Director of Press Advance for President Barack Obama, managing President Obama’s public image on trips for eight years across the United States and to 40 countries including extended tours of Asia, South America, Europe and Africa. She played an important role on both successful Presidential elections, starting in Iowa in 2007 and concluding in early 2015.  Prior to that Maska worked in politics in Iowa and Kansas.  Maska has since worked in media and technology and works now to promote positive global growth for brands.

Brian Lowry, CNN

Brian Lowry, CNN

Brian Lowry has been a media columnist and critic for CNN since April 2016. Before that spent 12 years as a columnist and chief TV critic at Variety, preceded by seven years at the Los Angeles Times as a reporter and columnist covering the television industry.

Lowry has been a contributor to National Public Radio and Foxsports.com and is the former co-host of "Square Off," a weekly talk program about the television business on TV Guide Network. He is also the author of two authorized companion guides to the Fox series "The X-Files."

Lowry graduated from UCLA.

Chris Silbermann, Managing Director, ICM Partners

Chris Silbermann, Managing Director, ICM Partners

Mr. Silbermann is the Managing Director of ICM Partners.  In addition to running the day-to-day management of the agency, which encompasses a team of more than 200 agents in Los Angeles, New York and London, Chris personally guides the careers of some of the most influential creative voices of our generation.  Mr. Silbermann is very active in local, state and national politics.  Both he and ICM Partners are actively involved in helping their communities through generous charitable giving, volunteer days of service, and Foundation Grants to charities that specialize in bringing the arts andgreater opportunities to lower income, disadvantaged and critically ill children.  Mr. Silbermann is the Chairman of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, serves on the board of the California Nature Conservatory and is the former president of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society.

Rory Carroll, Foreign Correspondent, The Guardian

Rory Carroll, Foreign Correspondent, The Guardian

Rory Carroll is an Irish journalist who has been a foreign correspondent for the Guardian for almost 20 years. He covered the Mediterranean and the Balkans in the late 90s before moving to Africa where he covered wars, elections and economic shifts. He spent most of 2005 in Iraq covering the escalating insurgency. From 2006 to 2012 he was based in Caracas as the paper's Latin America correspondent. He wrote a biography of Hugo Chavez which the New York Times said was essential to understanding today's crisis in Venezuela. For the past five years Rory has been based in Los Angeles, covering the western US and Mexican border.

Stephen Cheung, President, World Trade Center Los Angeles

Stephen Cheung, President, World Trade Center Los Angeles

Stephen Cheung is the President of World Trade Center Los Angeles (WTCLA).  The WTCLA supports the development of international trade and business opportunities for Southern California companies as the leading international trade and foreign direct investment attraction organization in the Los Angeles region.

Prior to his current role, Cheung was the Secretary General of International Trade and Foreign Affairs for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and was responsible for managing policies and programs related to the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports, International Affairs and Global Trade.  Cheung served on the Boards of Directors of the Los Angeles Regional Export Council and the Los Angeles Business Council, and was the lead organizer for Mayor Garcetti’s international trade missions to Mexico, China, Korea and Japan.

Concurrently, Cheung was the Director of International Trade for the Port of Los Angeles – the busiest container port in North America, and was responsible for developing programs to increase trade through the Port of Los Angeles, and facilitate goods movement through the Southern California region.

Cheung joined the Port of Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti’s administration after serving as Managing Director of International Trade and Clean Technology for the City of Los Angeles.  He was the City’s lead organizer for the historic visit to Los Angeles by the Vice President of China, Xi Jinping in 2012.  Furthermore, Cheung implemented the city’s strategic plan to make Los Angeles a global capital of clean technology by building the infrastructure to support research, development and manufacturing with key partners such as the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and Port Tech LA.

Cheung was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Los Angeles where he received both his bachelor’s in Psychobiology and master’s in Social Welfare from UCLA.

Brett Bruen, President, Global Situation Room

Brett Bruen, President, Global Situation Room

During twelve years as a U.S. diplomat, Brett became a specialist in using strategic communications to influence the course of crisis and conflict. As Director of Global Engagement at the White House, he created some of the government’s most innovative international programs for reaching new audiences around the world. While at the White House, he was responsible for public diplomacy programs, international media, crisis communications, and global entrepreneurship programs. Brett coordinated the United States’ response to Russian propaganda, developing the first interagency communications taskforce to push back against misinformation. Brett also unified public and private entrepreneurship programs for the first time under one banner, as part of the President’s Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative.

While in the diplomatic service, Brett worked in the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea, Iraq, Venezuela, Argentina, Zambia, and Eritrea. In his current role as President of the Global Situation Room®, he runs a consulting firm specializing in strategic communications, international public policy, and crisis management. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the Federal Executive Institute, where he trains senior U.S. Government leaders on strategy and world affairs. Brett graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in International Relations and Political Science. He holds a Masters in Global History from the London School of Economics. Brett speaks fluent Spanish and French.

Jeffrey A. Williamson, Director, Center for International Trade Development, California State Trade and Export Promotion Program

Jeffrey A. Williamson, Director, Center for International Trade Development, California State Trade and Export Promotion Program

Jeffrey A. Williamson has 25 years global marketing experience in the public and private sectors, having conducted business in more than 50 countries (China, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East) in consumer electronics, consumer package goods, defense and medical products. He currently provides the strategic leadership for the Centers for International Trade Development (www.citd.org), and the California State Trade and Export Promotion Program, which led over 400 California businesses in 40 overseas trade missions/exhibitions in the past three years, helping small exporters capture over $150 million in new business. Jeff also is a part-time Professor of Global Marketing at California State University, Fullerton, Mihaylo School of Business, where he teaches global marketing. He has appeared in over 100 news publications worldwide, and several live television interviews on CNBC Asia, Nightly Business Report,  Channel News Asia, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and others.

Jeff has been a panel expert for the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC; worked with UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business on a study of the impact of Services Exports trade for California (2006); and received the President’s “E-Award” for export service excellence (2013). Jeff received a B.A. Economics from Arizona State University and an MBA from California State University, Fullerton. 

Kal Raustiala, Professor at UCLA School of Law, UCLA International Institute

Kal Raustiala, Professor at UCLA School of Law, UCLA International Institute

Kal Raustiala is professor at UCLA School of Law and the UCLA International Institute, where he teaches in the Program on Global Studies. Since 2007 he has served as director of the UCLA Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations. The Burkle Center is UCLA's primary academic unit for interdisciplinary research on international affairs.  From 2012-2015 he served as UCLA’s Associate Vice Provost for International Studies. A graduate of Duke University, Professor Raustiala holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, San Diego. In 2016 he was elected Vice President of the American Society of International Law.

Professor Raustiala's research focuses on international law, international relations, and intellectual property. His recent publications include "Governing the Internet," American Journal of International Law (2016); "Fake It Till You Make It: The Good News About China’s Knockoff Economy,” Foreign Affairs, (July/August 2013); “NGOs in International Treaty-Making,” in The Oxford Guide to Treaties (2012);  and Does the Constitution Follow the Flag? The Evolution of Territoriality in American Law, (Oxford, 2009). His most recent book, The Knockoff Economy: How Imitation Sparks Innovation (Oxford, 2012), written with Christopher Sprigman of NYU Law School, has been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

Professor Raustiala has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Princeton University, the University of Chicago Law School, Melbourne University in Australia, and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 2016, he was the Yong Shook Lin Visiting Professor of Intellectual Property at the National University of Singapore. Prior to coming to UCLA he was a research fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, a Peccei Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems, and an assistant professor of politics at Brandeis University. A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Professor Raustiala has served on the editorial boards of International Organization and the American Journal of International Law and is a frequent media contributor whose writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New Republic, the New YorkerWired, the International Herald Tribuneand Le Monde.

Scott Jarus, Serial Entrepreneur, Transformational Leader

Scott Jarus, Serial Entrepreneur, Transformational Leader

Scott Jarus is a serial entrepreneur, transformational leader and the former chief executive of several successful private and public companies. Over the past sixteen years, he has overseen the rapid growth and financial success of three companies, two public and one private, resulting in very significant increases in shareholder value.

In early-2014, Mr. Jarus became an investor in and joined the Board of EV Connect, a provider of electric vehicle charging station solutions. From 2014 to 2016, Scott served as CEO for EV Connect to oversee and accelerate its growth, operational success and capital raise.

Mr. Jarus was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ironclad Performance Wear (ICPW.OB), an investor in and Chief Executive Officer of Cognition Technologies, Chief Executive and President of j2 Global Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: JCOM), and President and Chief Operating Officer for OnSite Access.  Mr. Jarus has 30 years of management experience in the telecommunications industry, including Senior Vice President of Operations at RCN Telecom, co-founder and Vice President of Multimedia Medical Systems, and Vice President of Operations of Metromedia Communications

Mr. Jarus serves on the Boards of Directors of Oversee.net, EV Connect, and Food Forward (a non-profit organization). He is also on the Board of Advisors for OnRamp Fund and Sutton Capital.

Mr. Jarus has been a member of the Tech Coast Angels (TCA); and is a partner with the LA Chapter of Social Venture Partners (SVP). He has been a coach, mentor and judge for the TCA Fast Pitch and the SVP Social Innovation Fast Pitch competitions for more than eight years. He has also been a TEDx coach. From 2012 to 2016, Mr. Jarus was named a Senior Fellow with the Graziadio School of Business & Management at Pepperdine University.

In 2005, Mr. Jarus was named National Entrepreneur of the Year for Media/Entertainment/Communications by Ernst & Young and Los Angeles Entrepreneur of the Year for Technology in 2004.

Mr. Jarus holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Kansas. He is married with two children and lives in Manhattan Beach, CA. In his “free time”, he is an AYSO National (Soccer) Referee, Grade 7 USSF Referee, a National Referee Assessor and an AYSO Area Referee Administrator.

Felena Hanson, Founder, HERA Hub

Felena Hanson, Founder, HERA Hub

Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven.  Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provides a productive environment for growing businesses.  Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to meet with clients and to connect and collaborate with like-minded business owners, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous.

She has three company owned locations in San Diego and licensed locations in Phoenix, DC, and Sweden, with more cities launching soon. She’s on a mission to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020.

Felena and Hera Hub have been featured in Inc Magazine, the BBC News, Forbes, and the New York Times.  She is a published author and international speaker.  Her book, “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business” is available on Amazon.

Jessica Vollman, Founder, The Vollman Group

Jessica Vollman, Founder, The Vollman Group

Jessica Vollman is the founder of The Vollman Group and works with startups to scale company operations globally through strategy, marketing and consistent customer experience. 

Prior to founding The Vollman Group Jessica was one of the first employees at education company General Assembly, most recently serving as Director of New Market Expansion. She helped develop the company's go-to-market strategy, led market research, managed launch operations, and built strategic partnerships, enabling the company to scale to 700 employees in 14 cities around the world. 

At General Assembly she worked with a team of 14 marketing producers to develop marketing strategies and also developed and executed partnerships with various organizations, including Facebook, Conde Nast, SXSW, American Express, The New York Times and Pearson, among others. 

Jessica also advises early-stage teams and serves as a Council Member for Gerson Lehrman Group. Prior to joining General Assembly she held various marketing roles at Mediabistro, International Meeting Managers, Tribeza Magazine and Sony Music Entertainment. 

Dr Rollan Roberts, The Business Battleground & Former CEO of Hoverboard

Dr Rollan Roberts, The Business Battleground & Former CEO of Hoverboard

Dr. Rollan Roberts is an internationally-renowned, best-selling author, CEO, TV personality, and former CEO of the Hoverboard company - the single, hottest, global consumer product of 2015.  In addition to being recognized as the “Top 100 Most Influential Floridians” of 2015, he has led several global, high growth companies and has a record of creating some of the fastest growing companies in America.  He has a Doctorate degree in Global Business and Entrepreneurship, holds two patents, and is a master at implementing systems and corporate turnarounds.

Andrew Weitz, The Weitz Effect

Andrew Weitz, The Weitz Effect

Described as one of the best dressed men in Hollywood, Andrew Weitz uses his innate sense of style to help clients look and feel their very best. Applying a holistic approach, Andrew works from the inside out – first understanding a client’s needs and goals, and then working with them to develop their personal style, build their confidence and ultimately reach a higher level of success in life. During his successful tenure as a talent agent at William Morris Endeavor (WME-IMG), Weitz found himself constantly sharing tips and knowledge with his celebrity clients and industry colleagues, essentially being their trusted go-to style guru.

But there was one specific experience that changed the course of Weitz’s career. A close friend had reached a point where everything in his life became stagnant and couldn’t seem to take his career or relationships to the next level. Weitz happily took him under his wing and through a combination of style consulting and lifestyle advice, helped his friend regain his confidence and achieve success in his professional and personal life. Weitz suddenly understood that empowering others through style was his life’s calling. Leveraging his 18 years in the entertainment industry, he created The Weitz Effect brand and has dedicated himself to his passion for style and helping people realize their full potential.

Weitz has been featured on TODAY on NBC and in  numerous issues of The Hollywood Reporter as well as GQ, British GQ, Newsweek, Angeleno Magazine, LA Confidential, Los Angeles Magazine and on the leading fashion site for men, MrPorter.com, among many others. He is also a member of the British Fashion Council and the MrPorter Style Council. Originally from Philadelphia, Weitz, resides in Los Angeles, California with his beautiful wife Stacy and their twin boys.

​​​​​​​Venkat Chayanam, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer (CSTO), TRI-COR Inustries

​​​​​​​Venkat Chayanam, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer (CSTO), TRI-COR Inustries

Mr. Chayanam guides TRI-COR’s cross functional and cross-organizational teams in the conceptualizing, planning, designing and implementing leading-edge technology and business solutions and services that exceeds challenging business objectives resulting in significant cost savings, improved quality, and increased customer satisfaction.

Venkat is a thought leader with 18 years of experience in leading enterprise transformation initiatives in both private and public sectors. His areas of expertise and interests include delivering value to business organizations and their customers by strategizing and implementing Business Technology Solutions and Enterprise IT Services. He is a Certified Enterprise Architect (CEA from FEAC Institute) and holds a M.S. in Computer Science and completed Executive Education in Strategy and Innovation @ MIT Sloan Business School.

Michele Ruiz, International Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur and Author

Michele Ruiz, International Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur and Author

Michele Ruiz is a communication specialist, a bi-lingual entrepreneur, a bestselling author and keynote speaker whose passions are entrepreneurship, empowerment, all things communication, content marketing, social media and technology.

As an entrepreneur she is focused on educating, inspiring and empowering business owners. She’s also a communication specialist, sharing insights, guidance and strategies related to communications, crisis communications, content marketing, social media marketing, and thought leadership. She shares content, her blog and her videos via social media with her almost 100k followers across all channels. Michele contributes to 3rd party media and content sites as an entrepreneurial and communication expert. Michele also represents some of largest corporations in the world as a brand ambassador wanting to harness the power of her influence in their relevant marketing campaigns. Some of these high-value influencer campaigns have included national speaking tours. Michele is a keynote speaker on a variety of topics including inspirational and motivational themes based on her life story. She also speaks on business communication, content marketing, crisis communications, social media, entrepreneurship, leadership and empowerment.

In November 2015, Michele was given the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) as one of two outstanding women entrepreneurs from the United States. Additionally, Michele is a recipient of the 2014 Enterprising Woman of the Year honor by the national magazine of the same name.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Michele Ruiz enjoyed a long career as an award-winning broadcast journalist, beginning her broadcasting career co-anchoring Channel One News. From there, she moved to KTLA in Los Angeles. In 1998, she joined KNBC-TV as a reporter and anchor of the 6:00 pm newscast. Michele received 16 Emmy nominations during her news broadcasting career, 5 Emmy’s, 4 Golden Mikes as well as LA Press Club Awards.

Michele is a member of the Executive Advisory Committee for Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), an advisor to Macy’s Executive Leadership as a member of the retailer’s Supplier Diversity Advisory Council, and an advisor to the United States Golf Association as part of the USGA’s Ambassadors Group focused on diversity and inclusion initiatives in the sport of golf.

Natalie Byrne, Head of Brand Development and Purpose, Unilever Prestige

Natalie Byrne, Head of Brand Development and Purpose, Unilever Prestige

Natalie Byrne is a purpose-driven Brand Strategist, Storyteller & Activist, Champion for Women & Girls. Her expertise includes purpose-driven branding and business development that includes building brand equity across marketing, communications, thought leadership, media and consumer engagement. By embedding social impact into a brand and building effective partnerships and solution-oriented programs that meet business needs, the private sector becomes an activist, global leader and game changing voice in the marketplace.

PETER PETRIK, FOUNDER, SKVARE, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PROFESSOR

PETER PETRIK, FOUNDER, SKVARE, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PROFESSOR

Peter Petrik is an entrepreneur, business proprietor, and a frequent strategy consultant to business owners. He speaks five languages and with years of corporate, consulting, and entrepreneurial experience in the technology field, Peter is an expert in open source architecture as well as in the integration of third party database systems. 

Peter has both an MBA as well as a Master of International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management. Peter's experiences include international assignments and practical business knowledge in information technology, sales and marketing, finance, and business development. 

Peter regularly shares his knowledge and expertise as a School of Management professor at the University of Texas at Dallas as well as numerous top international business universities in Europe, Asia, and South America. He served as the founding board member of the Dallas AfterSchool Network and consistently continues to volunteer his time and efforts with local and national non-profit groups.

Barbara Minuzzi, Co-Founder and General Partner, BABEL Ventures

Barbara Minuzzi, Co-Founder and General Partner, BABEL Ventures

Founder of BABEL Ventures and INVESTHAUS. Barbara is a venture capitalist and financial advisor to ultra high net worth families and has raised over $250 million for real estate and high tech companies in both Brazil and the US.

In 2014 she moved to Miami and co-founded INVESTHAUS USA, LLC where she was not only diversifying her client’s portfolio abroad in real estate and private banking but also started to explore venture capital investments.

She soon became an advisor and angel investor to several high-profile startups such as Spinn Coffee, CALA, OccamzRazor, Cue and Singu.

In 2016, Barbara moved to San Francisco to start her own venture firm, BABEL Ventures.  With extensive experience in diversifying investments and building strategic portfolios, Barbara leads BABEL Ventures and is the chief networker with founders and VC firms in Silicon Valley.

Evelin Weber, Founder, Narra Life

Evelin Weber, Founder, Narra Life

For over 10 years Evelin worked in Equity Research banking for Citigroup and traded fixed income derivatives for Man Financial.  In the past seven years, Evelin has channeled her passion for philanthropy working with The Lawrence Anthony Foundation in South Africa and in 2014 launched The Philippine’s Foundation. 

 The Foundation has received 5 global awards and its purpose is aimed at creating an empowered, inclusive, sustainable community in the Philippines by providing livelihood support and education programs. Through her work in finance and philanthropy she became more aware of how micro-lending programs utilized data inefficiently to financially empower a person out of poverty.  

In 2016, Evelin founded Narra.

Chris Hale, Founder and CEO of kountable, Inc

Chris Hale, Founder and CEO of kountable, Inc

Chris Hale is the founder and CEO of kountable, Inc., a San Francisco-based start-up that combines data science, social capital, and proven financial instruments to provide highly-scalable financing solutions to underserved “missing middle” entrepreneurs in developing countries. Kountable™ creates a low-friction, cloud-based bridge between investors in developed countries and the massive opportunity to finance the most promising, driven, established and well-networked entrepreneurs in emerging economies.

Mr. Hale concurrently serves as the COO of Perigon Wealth Management, an RIA serving approximately 100 families and managing almost $1 billion in assets.  Over the last two years, under Mr. Hale's leadership, Perigon Wealth Management has doubled its headcount, grown its assets under management almost six-fold, and in 2014, was named one of the 50 fastest growing RIAs in the country.

Mr. Hale earned his Bachelor's degree in Biology and English from Williams College.