VIP Luncheon Speakers
Kim Baldonado is a six-time Emmy Award-winning reporter for NBC4. She can be seen on the NBC4 News at 11 a.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Baldonado is known for tackling complex issues in her news stories. She has been recognized for taking on such topics as the state of public education in Los Angeles and the changing face of homelessness in Southern California. During her tenure at NBC4, Baldonado has received a myriad of professional awards including a prestigious National Edward R. Murrow Award for her work on the half-hour special “LAUSD: Battle for Control,” and Los Angeles-area Emmy Awards for live news coverage, social issues and education. Her other honors include 5 Golden Mikes and an Associated Press Mark Twain Award. When Baldonado was a student, she was a scholarship recipient of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. She credits the organization with helping her earn a degree in Social Science from U.C. Berkeley.
Academy Award®-winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks, including her portrayal of the first female president of the United States in ABC’s hit show “Commander in Chief.” She is the founder of the nonprofit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters — and reduce gender stereotyping — in media made for children 11 and under. Davis was recently appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in Information and Communications Technology for the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union. She also serves on the board of the White House Project, and is the chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women. Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College.
Erika Green Swafford
Erika Green Swafford began her career not in entertainment, but in hospitality after graduating from Cornell University’s Hotel School. She earned her MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. Using graduate school to transition into entertainment, she rose through the ranks to become an executive at Oxygen Media. Swafford made the official leap to the creative side after being accepted into the Warner Bros writing program in 2007. She was also part of the inaugural WGA Writer’s Access Project and has had material selected for inclusion in CBS’ Women Writer’s showcase. She writes and performs on stage and has performed selected works for "15 Minutes of Femme", "I Love a Good Story", "Write Club" and the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival. Swafford staffed on the hit WBTV/CBS drama, "The Mentalist", during it’s inaugural season and was on the show for six seasons. She has gone on to become a writer and co-executive producer on ABC’s "How to Get Away With Murder" and is currently on NBC’s "Reverie".
Nicole Haggard, PhD, teaches in the Film, Media and Social Justice program at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Through her project “Race, Sex and Hollywood,” Haggard has spent 14 years studying and contextualizing the intersection of race and gender in American culture and the media’s ability to impact society. Among her publications are the “Film and Television” entries for the Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California (2016 and 2017), and chapters in “Race in American Film” (2017) and “American Multicultural Studies” (2013). Haggard founded the Center for Women in Hollywood and serves on the board of the Center for Restorative Justice Works.
Caroline Heldman, PhD, is an associate professor of politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles and the research director for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Her research specializes in media, the presidency and systems of power (race, class, gender). She has edited and authored numerous books and papers, and has been active in “real-world” politics as a professional pollster, campaign manager and political commentator. Heldman co-founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter and the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. She also co-founded End Rape on Campus (EROC), Faculty Against Rape (FAR) and End Rape Statute of Limitations (ERSOL).
RSWG Program Speakers
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. She leads the Center's efforts related to applied research, education and policy analysis. She holds a PhD in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Lisa Mae Brunson
Lisa Mae Brunson is a creative visionary, speaker, author & social innovator that is committed to impacting humanity on a global scale. She was named Long Beach Post’s 2016 “40 Under 40” Winner, and she is a commissioner on the Commission for Technology and Innovation for the City of Long Beach. She is the founder of Wonder Women Tech, a global conference platform highlighting, celebrating, and educating women and the underrepresented in STEAM, and has launched Junior Innovation Camps for underprivileged kids. She is founder of two hackathons – Hacks 4 Humanity, a hackathon for Social Good, and Wonder Women Hacks, a hackathon to address challenges facing women and girls. She volunteers with the Long Beach Code for America Brigade, and other tech initiatives geared towards civic engagement and community building. She helped organize a global #Fishackathon with the U.S. Department of State and is excited to build long-lasting global partnerships to expand the vision of Wonder Women Tech.
Danielle Carrig is an entertainment executive and communications expert who heads publicity operations, creative communications and industry relations at Netflix, the world’s leading entertainment service. Previously, Carrig served eight years as senior vice president of communications and public affairs for Lifetime at A+E Networks, where her work helped to make Lifetime one of the most trusted brands among women. Broad Focus, the company’s major initiative that began under Carrig’s leadership, is dedicated to increasing the numbers of women in behind-the-camera roles as directors, writers and producers at Lifetime. In just one year, the network achieved gender parity with female directors by tripling the number hired. Carrig holds an MA in women’s studies from UCLA, where she focused on the implications of U.S. foreign policy on women’s lives in the developing world. Carrig earned her BA in political science, humanities and gender studies summa cum laude from Valparaiso University. She sits on the board of directors for Close the Gap CA, a campaign to increase the number of women in the California legislature.
Emily Chang is the author of "Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley". In Brotopia, she seeks to understand—and end—the staggering gender inequality in the tech industry, by addressing how we got here and how can we foster real change. Chang is also the anchor and executive producer of "Bloomberg Technology", a daily TV show focused on global technology, and Bloomberg Studio 1.0, where she regularly speaks to top tech executives, investors and entrepreneurs. She was previously a CNN correspondent based in Beijing and London, and has won five regional Emmy awards for her reporting. She is a graduate of Harvard University.
Patricia G. Greene
Patricia G. Greene, PhD, is the 18th director of the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor. Greene is a former entrepreneurship professor at Babson College where she held the Paul T. Babson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies. While at Babson, she served terms as first the dean of the undergraduate school and then as the provost. Greene was the founding national academic director for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative and the global academic director for the 10,000 Women program, a global initiative that fosters economic growth by providing women entrepreneurs around the world with business and management education, mentoring and networking, and access to capital. Greene has numerous books and articles to her credit. She earned her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, her MBA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and her BS from the Pennsylvania State University.
As chief impact officer, Holly Gordon oversees all development and execution of social impact campaigns for Participant Media, further strengthening the company’s mission to create entertainment that compels and inspires social change. These global, multi-year campaigns are driven by the company’s content and powered by strategic partnerships to address the most important issues of our time. Gordon co-founded and currently co-chairs Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education. Forbes Magazine named the Girl Rising campaign the “No. 1 Most Dynamic Social Initiative of 2012.” Gordon is also the co-chair of The Nantucket Project Academy, an accelerator for social change leaders and ideas. Prior to launching the TNP Academy and Girl Rising, she served as director of content for the Tribeca Film Festival. She came to Tribeca from ABC News, where she worked for 12 years as a producer and booker for major news broadcasts. Gordon is a member of the 2015 class of Presidential Leadership Scholars, serves on the boards of Unreasonable Group and All In Together, and is a strategic advisor to The One Love Foundation.
Veronica works as the senior director of business initiatives for Lyft in San Francisco, leading the team's corporate development strategy and many of Lyft's social impact priorities. Prior to this, Veronica was the first government relations hire for Lyft and in two years, worked to build the government relations team and the foundational structure for Lyft’s long term policy and regulatory success. In 2015, she was named one of Fast Company Magazine’s Most Creative People in Business, later named one of Levo League’s inaugural Levo 100- profiling millennials who are transforming the world as we know it. Juarez is an advisor to VamosVentures, a venture capital fund to support Latin entrepreneurs and she is currently looking for ways to do more to support immigrant families in the United States that fear and experience deportation. Veronica is a graduate of Stanford University and Phillips Exeter Academy.
Shereen Marisol Meraji
Journalist Shereen Marisol Meraji co-hosts NPR’s Code Switch podcast exploring race and identity in America. Meraji has worked at NPR for over a decade. She started as a producer for national news magazines such as All Things Considered, and is now an award-winning, on-air correspondent. Since her mother is Puerto Rican and her father is an Iranian-Muslim immigrant, Meraji has long questioned where and how she fits into America’s complex racial puzzle. This curiosity has led directly to the most fulfilling work of her career with NPR’s Code Switch.
Ann McElaney-Johnson, PhD, is the 12th president of Mount Saint Mary's, the only women’s university in Los Angeles. She is recognized as a thought leader for women’s issues and a champion for innovative teaching and learning. McElaney-Johnson is a member of boards including the Women in Public Service Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; and the advisory council of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, among others. She has over 25 years of service to liberal arts colleges throughout the country as a faculty member, associate dean and chief academic and student affairs officer.
Somjita Mitra, PhD, is the director of the Institute for Applied Economics at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC). She is involved in the planning, designing and conducting of research and analysis for clients, local businesses and governments, as well as for LAEDC’s internal departments. Her focus is in regional analysis, economic impact studies, and the industrial and occupational structure of local economies. Before joining the LAEDC, Mitra was an economist for a local economic research and litigation consulting company evaluating economic damages, estimating lost profits, identifying key economic issues and developing necessary analytical and empirical frameworks. She received her BA in economics and political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her MA in politics, economics and business, as well as her PhD in economics, from Claremont Graduate University.
Emily Musil Church
Emily Musil Church, PhD, is a strategist and thought leader in harnessing technology to address global challenges for social good. Church directs the impact work for the Global Learning XPRIZE, where she bridges the worlds of research, innovation and global development. Prior to joining XPRIZE, Church spent over a decade in academia where as a professor she specialized in African history, human rights and women’s global issues. Her diverse background working with academics, politicians, and executives provided the opportunity to manage strategic partnerships, design complex research projects, oversee budgets, speak to a range of international audiences, and publish in various outlets. Church has a PhD and MA from UCLA, and a BA from Drew University.
Judith Williams, PhD is a consultant, academic researcher, and corporate human resources leader. Williams has been at the forefront of the culture change movement in technology and entertainment – with a deep focus on analytics and strategies to identify and disrupt bias in social systems and corporate culture. She served as Global Head of Diversity at Dropbox, as well as Global Diversity and Talent Programs Manager at Google where she led the unconscious bias program and developed programs to mentor and accelerate the careers of technical women. Williams currently advises the ReFrame Project, which works toward to attaining gender parity in the film, television and media industry. A graduate of Harvard College, Williams pursued an M.A. and PhD from Stanford, followed by work as a researcher and college professor. Her research explored ideas of gender, race and national identity in theatre and popular culture in the U.S and Brazil.