“There's power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.” - First Lady Michelle Obama
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Saturday, September 25, 2021
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Melina Abdullah, PhD, is professor and former chair of Pan-African studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She was appointed to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission in 2014. Abdullah is a womanist scholar-activist – understanding the role that she plays in the academy as intrinsically linked to broader struggles for the liberation of oppressed people. She was among the original group of organizers that convened to form Black Lives Matter and continues to serve as a Los Angeles chapter lead and contributes to the national leadership. She is a leader in the fight for ethnic studies in the K-12 and university systems and was a part of the historic victory that made Ethnic Studies a requirement in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Abdullah is co-host and co-producer of the weekly radio program Beautiful Struggle which airs on KPFK, part of the Pacifica radio network.
Emerald Archer, PhD, is the director of the Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University. She has dedicated her career to studying questions related to gender equity and women’s representation in non-traditional domains such as the United States military. Through the Center, Archer’s primary goal is to promote and increase gender equity in California and our region, and she leads the Center's efforts related to applied research, education and policy analysis. Archer has also published articles in The European Legacy and Armed Forces & Society, and is the author of a book titled “Women, Warfare and Representation: American Servicewomen in the Twentieth Century.”
Zulema Garcia, ’95, serves as Senior VP – Internal Audit for Herbalife Nutrition, a global nutrition and health company with operations in over 94 countries. Zulema oversees internal audit globally. She joined Herbalife October 2019 and was previously an audit partner for KPMG LLP, one of the top four public accounting firms worldwide, in their Los Angeles Office. She joined KPMG in 1995, was admitted to the partnership in 2008, and served as an audit partner until September 2019. During her time with KPMG, Zulema completed a three-year rotation in KPMG’s Audit Quality and Professional Practice Group in New York. She also served as Diversity Partner Champion for KPMG’s Audit Practice in the US.
Zulema received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Accounting, from the Mount in 1995 and is a certified public accountant in California and New York.
Zulema currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Mount St. Mary’s University, the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California and Boys & Girls Club of Metros Los Angeles. She was previously a Women Leaders Cabinet member of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and a board member of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. She has been a member of the Association of Latino Professionals for America since 1994.
Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson is the 12th president of Mount Saint Mary’s University, the only women’s university in Los Angeles, and a leading advocate for the advancement of women and innovative teaching and learning. She has spoken at international conferences and institutions, including the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C. She led the creation of the Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California. Ann is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, and the Board of Directors for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She is also Board Chair of the Women’s College Coalition and is on the ambassador council for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. After majoring in French literature at Holy Cross, she earned a master’s degree in French from Middlebury College and a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Kimberly Nao is a transformative educator who holds the Fritz Burns Endowed Chair Assistant Professor of Education at Mount Saint Mary's University where she teaches courses on language diversity, linguistics, and teacher professional development. Her research interest is exploring the intersections of yoga, schooling, and social justice. She works extensively on diversity and equity issues with a particular emphasis on the intersection of race and gender. She facilitates discussions on these issues as a consultant for Peace Pros LA and as a Diversity Fellow the Mount. She has trained teachers, police officers, university faculty and staff, and health care providers across the Los Angeles area on issues related to anti-racism, gender, sexuality, and toxic masculinity with the goal of reforming and breaking down structures that oppress marginalized groups.
Ngoc Nguyen’s career in entertainment started in the film festival circuit at South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin Film Festival. She left to join Miramax Films where she worked on the studio’s awards PR campaigns and in unit publicity on set for Troublemaker Studios. She was then hired by Creative Artists Agency for their Corporate Communications Department and eventually left to work for Paramount Pictures as an entertainment publicist. During this time, Ngoc simultaneously served as the talent liaison for the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament Championships.
Ngoc began working as Head of Publicity for the inaugural TEDx Women’s Summit in Austin. Eventually, because of her experience as a publicist and an independent producer, she re-teamed with Women Rising, the team behind the Women’s Summit, as an Associate Producer for a docu-series and as a PR consultant for the 2018 United State of Women Summit. Simultaneously, Ngoc served as Head of Development for Academy Award® Winner Octavia Spencer’s ORIT Entertainment.
In 2019, Ngoc joined TIME’S UP Foundation as the Interim Head and, in 2020, she stepped into the role permanently. Since joining the organization, TIME’S UP has launched the TIME’S UP Guide to Working in Entertainment, safety resources for performers; CRITICAL, a database and initiative for underrepresented critics and journalists; and the "Women in Production” PSA.
Lori Nishiura Mackenzie is co-founder of the new Stanford VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab and lead strategist, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, collaborating at the intersection of the two organizations. Lori was featured as one of the BBC’s 100 Women in 2017, and she was interviewed for the award-winning documentary, bias, which premiered in 2018. Her work has been published in the Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, BBC, San Francisco Chronicle, and brand eins. Prior to her current roles, Lori served as the executive director of the Stanford Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Lori brings 20 years of marketing strategy and business management experience at companies including Procter & Gamble, Apple, eBay and PayPal.
JoAnna Novak's debut memoir Contradiction Days will be published by Catapult in 2022. Her short story collection, Meaningful Work, won the 2020 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest and will be published by FC2 in 2021. Her third book of poetry, New Life, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. She is the author of the novel I Must Have You and two previous books of poetry: Noirmania and Abeyance, North America.
Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. Her essay “My $1000 Anxiety Attack” was anthologized in About Us: Essays from the Disability Series of The New York Times. She is a co-founder of the literary journal and chapbook publisher Tammy, and an Associate Professor in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary's University.
Rachel O'Leary Carmona has helped to inspire, equip and mobilize people to shape the actions and policies that affect their communities for well over a decade. A recognized expert on building transformational online and offline communities and networks, O’Leary Carmona has held leadership positions with Amnesty International, Women for Women International, Girl Scouts of the USA, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Wisconsin Public Television, and with the Mayors offices in Memphis, Tennessee and Somerville, Massachusetts. She currently serves as the executive director for Women's March National.
Cleo Wade is a friend, community builder, and the author of the bestselling books, Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life and Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change. She has been called the poet of her generation by Time Magazine and one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company. Cleo sits on the board of The Lower East Side Girls Club, the National Black Theatre in Harlem and the Women’s Prison Association. When Cleo is not at home in California with her partner, Simon Kinberg, and their daughter, Memphis, she can be found traveling around the country on her sold-out book tours, which have become a safe space to laugh, cry, hug, and offer support to fellow readers.
Suzanne Walsh, JD, became president of the Bennett College in the Fall 2019. Walsh earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Cornell University, as well as a master’s degree in social work and law degree from Case Western Reserve University. She is a member of the Ohio Bar, and has received national recognition for her portfolio of work with organizations at the intersection of innovation, technology and learning. One of her main focuses is to identify ways to transform the College and keep it relevant in a rapidly changing educational environment.
Meredith Woo, PhD, was inaugurated as president of Sweet Briar College in fall 2017. Before joining Sweet Briar, she was the Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia.
An expert on international political economy and East Asian politics, President Woo has written and edited seven books. The most recent is Something New Under the Sun, a collection of essays about liberal arts education.
She was the executive producer of an award-winning documentary film, “Koryo Saram: The Unreliable People,” about Joseph Stalin’s ethnic cleansing of Koreans living in Far Eastern Russia during the Great Terror. The film won the Best Documentary Award from the National Film Board of Canada.
A native of Seoul, President Woo came to the United States to study at Bowdoin College in Maine. She completed her master’s degrees in international affairs and Latin American studies and a doctoral degree in political science at Columbia University.
Disclaimer: Mount Saint Mary’s University strives to be a community open to the expressions of diverse opinions and perspectives. We welcome engaging and thoughtful dialogue on timely topics. The views and opinions expressed by speakers, presenters and attendees at our events do not necessarily reflect those of the University.