Meet Our Breakout Speakers
Our speakers are experts in their fields who have designed timely and engaging presentations for the EBWC—find out more about who they are.
Kristie Van Leeuwen
President/Chief Communications Strategist, People Reader, Inc.
As the founder and Chief Communication Strategist of PEOPLEREADER, Kristie helps individuals and firms achieve sustainable revenue growth through a focus on the 5 C's - Communication, Connection, Collaboration, Clarity and Coaching. Prior to founding PeopleReader Inc. a decade ago, she spent 15 years leading sales teams in both Canada and the United States. Kristie consistently achieved the highest of results as a producer, playercoach and ultimately a national sales leader. Kristie has invested over 20,000 hours working with individuals and teams on combining both the strategic and tactical aspects of sales coaching, as well as the behavioral and communication techniques required for success. As a Master Coach, Communication Strategist, Behavioral Analyst and one of few non-government agents Nationally Certified as a Body Language and Deception Detection Expert. Kristie brings not only a strong knowledge base, but also an unquenchable desire to help people become the best they can be.
Director of Program Management, Kennerley-Spratling, Inc.
Erika Calabro is a graduate of the Leadership Contra Costa program and has served on the EBWC planning and agenda committee for two years. Erika has worked in the Plastics and Manufacturing industry for the better part of 19 years, in addition to pursuing a General Contractor license. As a woman who has broken boundaries and proven equal in male-dominated careers, she is committed to supporting the next generations of women to SOAR even more.
Komal Ahmad, founder and CEO of Copia, is solving the World’s Dumbest Problem by ending hunger and reducing food waste globally. Under her leadership, Copia has recovered over 1,500,000 pounds of food and will feed 2 million people this year with high-quality food that would have otherwise been wasted. Her company has managed food recovery from high profile events including Super Bowl 50 and the Oscars. Most recently, Copia served food to victims and first responders of the California wildfires. Copia is recognized as 1 of the top 3 startups run by women in the U.S and 1 of the top 8 startups graduating out of Y Combinator.
Komal graduated from UC Berkeley with honors and was awarded Forbes 30 Under 30, the University of California’s Global Food Changemaker, 2016 Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and a 2017 MIT Solver. She has been named by Fast Company as one of the Most Creative People in Business and a Toyota Mother of Invention by Toyota. She has been highlighted by Marie Claire as one of the most powerful and impactful women in business and was recently honored with the Nelson Mandela Humanitarian Award.
The reasonable woman adapts herself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to herself. Komal is an unreasonable woman.
Founder and CEO, Thoughtful Human
Meet Ali — mushroom marketer turned zero waste cardpreneur. Ali founded quirky greeting card start-up Thoughtful Human in October 2017, which works to take the "greetings" out and put the human into cards and how we communicate — specifically in challenging relationships and life circumstances (think cancer, grief, addiction, etc.). Thoughtful Human emphasizes radical empathy and works to build community, educate, and de-stigmatize conversations about physical and mental health. Thoughtful Human products are now available in Whole Foods Market throughout the Bay Area, Target.com, and debuting nationwide and overseas this spring. O’Grady and Thoughtful Human have been recognized by Diablo Magazine’s 40 Under 40, Bustle, Brit & Co, The Mighty, Mental Floss, Thrive Global, and more.
Photo Credit:Cali Godley
Scouting Coordintaor, Oakland Athletics
Alvarez, 25, completed her first season as the A’s scouting coordinator in 2018, making her the first woman in their front office to be hired as a talent evaluator. In her current role, she scouts players, helps prepare the A’s for the MLB First-Year Player Draft and works with the club’s scouting database. Prior to rejoining the A’s on a full-time basis, she spent a year as a Baseball Operations Assistant, focusing on sports science with the Cincinnati Reds. She began her career with the A’s as a Baseball Operations intern in 2015, which led to the club sponsoring her for scout school. Alvarez gained experience on the baseball operations side while she was in college at the University of Virginia as the Student Manager for the baseball team and through internships with the Commissioner's Office in 2014 and the Boston Red Sox in 2016, focusing on amateur scouting. She also served as a Membership Intern for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 2013 after completing internships with the San Rafael Pacifics Baseball Club in 2012 and First Wind in 2011. The Bay Area native is a 2015 graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Bachelors of Science in Commerce from the McIntire School.
Cohort Lead, Galvanize
Jenny is in the business of using natural curiosity and play to make the most out of our days on this planet. An advocate of authenticity, occasional awkwardness, and laughter, Jenny helps adult learners in the tech space be the best humans they can be. She teaches classes on metacognitive skills, communication, feedback, and time management, and offers one on one coaching every so often.
Lisa Barnett Sween is a Principal and Office Managing Partner of the San Francisco, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She represents employers in all aspects of employment law and litigation, including state and federal employment harassment and discrimination litigation, wrongful discharge litigation, FMLA, CFRA, ADA, and wage and hour litigation. In addition to her litigation expertise, Lisa regularly counsels employers on preventative employment policies and practices involving all areas of federal, state and local employment law, including recruiting and hiring, employee handbooks, leaves of absence, discipline and termination, workforce reductions, discrimination and harassment, reasonable accommodation and wage and hour. Lisa has conducted over 200 hours of harassment prevention training in various jurisdictions throughout the United States. Lisa's counseling practice includes strategic human resources advice in preparation for mergers and acquisitions, preparing executive and other employment agreements, offer letters, proprietary information agreements, non-competition and non-solicitation agreements. Lisa has given numerous presentations on a wide variety of employment-related issues to organizations including the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA), the California Employer Advisory Counsel and the American Conference Institute. Before joining Jackson Lewis, Lisa was a partner in the employment and labor group at one of California’s largest law firms, where she served as the national vice-chair and chair of the San Francisco employment department.
Politics and Government Reporter, KQED
Katie Orr is a Sacramento-based reporter for KQED's Politics and Government Desk, covering the state Capitol and a variety of issues, including women in politics, voting and elections, and legislation. She's previously covered politics for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and KPBS in San Diego. Katie received her master's degree in political science from San Diego State University and holds a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University. In 2013, she was named by The Washington Post as one of the country's top state Capitol reporters.
Operations, Women's March Oakland
After the 2016 election, Alison co-founded Women’s March Bay Area when she saw a need for a local march in her own community. In 2017, and after recognizing Oakland’s unique place in American activism, she co-founded Women’s March Oakland, where she currently oversees operations and logistics for the annual marches and programs. Alison is passionate about uplifting the lives of women and children and has volunteered since age 12. Most recently she was the program manager at Women's Centers International based out of Oakland. She is currently the project manager with Level Management overseeing commercial construction projects in San Francisco. Alison graduated from Saint Mary's College of California with a BA in international area studies and minors in Spanish and Women’s Studies.
Program Manager, Women's Foundation of California, Women's Policy Institute
Tania Flores serves as Program Manager for the Women’s Policy Institute-State (WPI-State) and WPI Alumni Network programs at the Women’s Foundation of California. In this capacity, she supervises program operations, leads program design and development processes, and facilitates trainings and workshops. Since joining the Foundation in January 2016, she has expanded WPI Alumni Network programming and spearheaded the program’s transition to becoming fully trans-inclusive. Originally from Cuernavaca, México, Tania graduated summa cum laude from Occidental College with a double major in critical theory and social justice and English and comparative literary studies.
2018 City Council Candidate, Former Elected Assembly Delegate, Nonprofit Administrator
Pam Harris is leader, administrator, and media professional dedicated to fostering social equity and inclusion through direct community and political engagement. Her community organizing and service have earned her the Mildred Parish Massey Legacy Award from Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a Social Justice Champion Award from California Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and a Reel Sisters of the African Diaspora Prize, among other honors. For 25 years, Pam has worked in the nonprofit, documentary film, and philanthropy sectors. She’s devoted her career to issues such as youth development, violence prevention, health care reform, LGBTQ rights, and racial and socioeconomic inclusion, by providing financial management and operational support services to values-aligned nonprofit organizations. Her current and former clients include Causa Justa | Just Cause, Rockwood Leadership Institute, Thousand Currents, and Black Lives Matter Global Network. She served as an elected Assembly District Delegate for District 18 from 2017 to 2019 and is a former board member of the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club. A former Fulbright Fellow to Uruguay, Pam holds a B.A. from Vassar College and a Masters in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in a bilingual home with her two children and her wife, Carolina De Robertis, a novelist and San Francisco State University professor.
Dr. Alan Brast, PhD, CCHT, CSA, NLP
Alan D. Brast, Ph.D., Inc.
Dr. Alan Brast has 4 decades of experience working in the medical / mental health field. His primary areas of expertise include suicidology, medical hypnotherapy / analysis, grief and trauma counseling for suicidal ideation, rape, battering, abuse, anxiety, phobia disorders, and other areas of medical psycho trauma. He does extensive lecturing world wide and teaches the understanding of these maladies to medical, mental health and educational professionals at several universities. Dr. Brast is affiliated with John Muir Medical Center, has served on the county trauma team and sees patients for the Contra Costa Crisis Center as well as his private practice in San Ramon.