These amazing leaders are providing expert guidance and support to help insure that our 2018 conference is an outstanding experience for participants and contributes to moving California forward as a beacon of positive change. We thank them for their passion and enthusiasm for our conference!
Founder/President, Commonway Institute
Dr. Shariff Abdullah is a consultant, author and advocate for inclusivity and societal transformation. Shariff’s meta-vision and mission are simple: we can create a world that works for all beings. He promotes heart-centered inclusivity, compassionate dialog, and a society based on vision. His vision and work are informed by his inclusive spiritual practices, his growing up with racism and generational poverty, his legal background as a successful attorney, and his inclusivity experiences in over 100 distinct cultures, spanning 45 countries.
Founding Partner, Living Room Conversations
Joan Blades is a co-founder of LivingRoomConversations.org an open source effort to rebuild respectful discourse across ideological, cultural and party lines while embracing our core-shared values. When we care about each other we work to find ways to meet each other’s core needs. She is also a co-founder of MomsRising.org and MoveOn.org. A mediator (attorney) by training and inclination, she is a nature lover, artist and true believer in the power of citizens and our need to rebuild respectful civil discourse while embracing our core shared values.
Founding President, World Business Academy
Rinaldo S. Brutoco, is a successful entrepreneur, executive, author and futurist, and the Founding President of the World Business Academy. An economics and business expert specializing in energy policy, renewable energy, finance, innovation, and causes of, and adaptation strategies for, climate change, Mr. Brutoco publishes cutting-edge articles and books, as well as producing a monthly podcast (New Business Paradigms: Conscious Commentary on Business and Society). For more than thirty years, Mr. Brutoco has been an international leader in advancing the nature of good corporate governance, corporate accountability, transparency, and ways that corporations can fulfill their social compact by providing goods and services that the public needs and wants in appropriate, financially prudent ways.
Co-founder, Global Exchange
Described by The New York Times as the “Paul Revere of globalization’s woes,” Dr. Kevin Danaher is a Co-Founder of Global Exchange, FairTradeUSA, and the Green Festivals. He is the author or editor of 12 books, including his two latest, “The Green Festival Reader: Fresh Ideas from Agents of Change”; and “Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grass Roots.” He is on the faculty at Feather River College, in Quincy, California.
Vice President, Mercey Springs Foundation Charter for Compassion
Brenda Astara Gustin, Ph.D., has focused her life upon peace and freedom. The continuous thread in Brenda’s life is the joyful opportunity to actively highlight the work of like-hearted people dedicated to improving life through collaborations locally and worldwide via several platforms including BraveHeart Women, The Charter for Compassion Women & Girls Sector, Chill Sacramento and Mercey Springs Foundation.
Board President, Chill Sacramento
Laura Hansen’s parallel tracks of 20 years of business consulting and entrepreneurship alongside 25 years’ training and teaching how people think, how groups behave, and what inspires people to change gives her a balanced approach to help clients pursue triple bottom line success. She’s also an artist, inventor with five patents and has over a dozen awards for her advertising copywriting. Laura’s current project is Chill Sacramento, a nonprofit offering educational opportunities for personal severance community stewardship.
Learning Director, SALAM Community
Asif Haq served on the planning committee for CA Vision 2020 in 2017. He is the Learning Director at SALAM (Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims) where he focuses on outreach, interfaith liaison and organizing interfaith and diversity events. Asif also leads the Speakers Bureau, presents at schools and colleges, and leads tours and presentations at SALAM for various groups. His overarching interest is in bring communities and faiths closer together.
Trustee, East Side Union High School District
J. Manuel Herrera, a Silicon Valley elected official, envisions the transformation of the public square in our communities and an emerging 21st Century politics that is whole, generative, and personally transformative. Manuel writes and speaks about integrating principles of the spiritual quest with public leadership, politics, and the public process (“The Reconciliation of Love & Power”). Manuel unveils conflict, power, and compromise as alchemical pathways for spiritual evolution and social change. He integrates these political elements into an emerging 21st century consciousness based on a new and higher rationality that expresses as love and power in our personal and public lives.
Spiritual Leader, Director, Radio Host, Brahma Kumaris Meditation Museums, America Meditating Radio
Sister Dr. Jenna is a spiritual leader, author, radio and TV personality, renowned speaker and founder and director of the Meditation Museum in Maryland and Virginia. She serves as one of the Evolutionary Leaders in service to conscious evolution and was selected by Empower a Billion Women 2020 as one of 100 Most Influential Leaders of 2015. Her mission is to decode critical current issues and offer a perspective for folks to find clarity, power, and insight.
She has traveled to over 80 countries where she continues to provide practical life tools and solutions that empower people to foster and build stronger relationships. Her wisdom, peace, and compassion for humanity are expressed through the variety of initiatives she spearheads for youth, women, governments, and communities. She has collaborated with Fortune 500 companies on key issues and her syndicated radio show, America Meditating is a popular global online show.
Senior Pastor, Higher Hope Christian Church
Reverend Dr. Joy Johnson describes her calling as a “public theologian.” As President of Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT), she leads in mobilizing public sentiment around social justice grounded in faith - working alongside clergy/leaders of varied faith traditions and ethnic backgrounds. She is the founder, president and key driving force of Life Matters, Inc. (LMI), a non-profit, social services organization providing life-transforming skill development to residents in 8 (eight) low-income apartments. Dr. Johnson currently serves at Agape Alive Church in Roseville and is deeply committed to building bridges of unity among leaders in the region.
Founder, Sacred Centers
Anodea Judith, PhD, is a globally recognized teacher and author of 9 books on various aspects of psychology, spirituality, and social change. She is the founder and director of Sacred Centers, an international teaching organization, and has masters and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology and human health. Her double award-winning book, THE GLOBAL HEART AWAKENS, addresses social change, while her earlier books, WHEELS OF LIFE and EASTERN BODY, WESTERN MIND, have become classic in psychology and spirituality. Her most recent book is CHARGE AND THE ENERGY BODY.
Executive Vice Chairman, Ygrene
Stacey Lawson, Vice Chairman of Ygrene Energy Fund, is an entrepreneur, business executive, political leader and author. She brings 24 years of experience in the areas of finance, clean energy, technology and manufacturing to her work and is dedicated to furthering the principles of social enterprise, sustainability and awakened leadership within our business, financial and political institutions.
Stacey was a candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s 2nd congressional district where she advocated for property assessed clean energy (PACE) and other leading economic, environmental and social justice initiatives, as well as authored “Making More in America: How Restoring America’s Manufacturing Strength Can Help Rebuild Our Middle Class”.
Board Chair, Social Venture Network
Jared “Gagan” Levy sits on the board of directors for the prestigious Social Venture Network, a premier socially responsible business community, and for the Love Serve Remember (Ram Dass’) Foundation. He is an adjunct professor for the University of Colorado advertising program and is founder and CEO of WE ARE GURU, a nimble, mindfully different strategic marketing agency focusing on empowering movements and purpose driven brands. He is recognized as a leader in building movements for the greatest good, based in San Francisco, lives in Marin county with his wife Jyoti, their daughter Jaya Grace and ever-present dog Beans.
Vice President, International World Peace Rose Gardens
Diana Martinez is vice-president of the International World Peace Rose Gardens, as well as a retired educator and mental health therapist. She has spent her life mentoring and advocating for youth and families and encourages people, young and old, to further their education, in or out of the classroom; to give back to their communities; and to engage in civic involvement.
Since re-locating to a small agricultural community in Southern California to assist her aging parents, Diana has focused on issues affecting the elderly, immigrants and farmworkers.
Diana thrives on collaborating with like-minded souls who are seeking to create a more peaceful and caring world for future generations.
Educator, Transnational Indigenous Activist
Marcelo Garzo Montalvo (Mapuche, Chilenx) is an award-winning educator, activist, musician, dancer, and PhD Candidate in Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. As a scholar and educator, Marcelo teaches courses and conducts research on Prison Abolition, the History of Race and Ethnicity in the United States and Native American /Indigenous Issues in the Americas. He also serves his community as an Aztec ceremonial dancer with Calpulli Huey Papalotl. His art, research and activism focuses on decolonization and inter-generational, inter-cultural healing.
Co-Founder, Growing a Global Heart
Belvie Rooks is an educator, film and television producer, writer and life-long human rights and social justice activist whose activism was inspired by meeting Dr. Martin Luther King at age 15. As a producer she has worked on many projects including co-producing the award-winning House on Coco Road for Netflix and the Fox Family Channel series, Courage, about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
As Co-Founder of Growing A Global Heart with her late husband, poet Dedan Gills she traveled extensively in Africa, the United States and Canada engaging with communities in ceremonial tree plantings designed to help combat climate change while bridging the socially constructed "divides" of race and class.
In 1994, as part of Artists for a New South Africa, she helped raise $1 million for voter education and registration in South Africa's very first free elections leading to Nelson Mandela's election.
President/CEO, Future 500
Called a “master of environmental entrepreneurism,” Bill Shireman has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing programs that align the interests of major corporations and their stakeholders. He develops profitable business strategies that drive pollution down and profits up.
As President and CEO of the Future 500, he helps the world’s largest companies and most impassioned work together to improve the profits and performance of business.
Advocating technology as a driver of green growth, Bill has led the development and deployment of these and other tools, at diverse companies in Asia, Europe, and throughout North America. He advocates market-based environmental policies – contending they can be more effective than many command and control laws.
Partner, Living Economy Advisors
Marc Strauch has more than 30 years of experience working with CXOs and thought leaders of F500, Global 2000 and startup companies in software and cloud-based services, clean-green technology, new and conventional media, environmental, housing and economic public policy and social community building. Marc has been a thought leader advancing progressive initiatives and helping build companies in alternative energy, community social architecture, transformative media, information and clean-green technologies, internet adoption, rich media, and cyber security. Marc is also an award-winning filmmaker and photographer. LinkedIn Profile.
Co-Founder, CEO, Responsive Intelligence
Daniel Sunshine is the CEO of Responsive Intelligence, a consulting firm that combines mindfulness, emotional intelligence and neuroscience to offer programs and trainings to global organizations. He began his career as an innovator for companies including PBS, National Geographic, and AARP. His innovation experience is coupled with decades of mindfulness experience and bringing it to thousands of individuals within national health care organizations, fortune-100 companies, and both public and private schools. Daniel received his MBA from George Washington University. He leads workshops and lectures on mindfulness and innovation and envisions a future where mindfulness is woven into the fabric of society.
Co-Creator/President, International World Peace Rose Gardens
SylviaVillalobos has been passionately working for world peace as Co-Creator of International World Peace Rose Gardens (IWPRG) since 1988.Her many years as an educator and community outreach coordinator prepared her well to conceptualize, develop and coordinate IWPRG’s youth programs in conjunction with garden and community events. These programs have involved more than 31,500 youth, including international students.Her upbringing in a loving Latino family, plus early inspiration by various peacemakers, instilled in her the practice of working for peace in a nonviolent, loving way. She enjoys the creative challenge of this work and will continue to apply her skills and abilities to strengthening communities across the globe. http://worldpeacerosegardens.org/
Co-Founder, Living Economy Advisors
Since first discovering the notion of sustainable development in the late 80’s Gregory Wendt has been passionate about applying his gifts in fields of economics, business and sustainable and responsible investing. He currently heads the west coast effort of StakeHolders Capital, an investment advisory firm specializing in Impact Investing and Wealth Management and has founded two non-profits, Green Business Networking and Green Economy Think Tank. He enjoys serving families to align their wealth through investments that reflect their priorities and concerns for a better world.
Founder, Compassionate Arts in Action
Felecia Lenee Williams, better know as Fe Love to her fans is the host and creator of the Artist Eclectic pLAygROUND, a “pop-up” event space that supports artists and innovative entrepreneurs primarily in the Pasadena and Greater Los Angeles area. She is on the Leadership Team for Compassionate California.org, co- founder of Compassionate ARTS IN ACTION, and serves as Youth Program Director and Creative Strategist for Posts for Peace and Justice. Felecia is also a healer and a certified massage therapist focused on energy balancing. Her primary goal is to support youth, especially regarding health, public safety and social justice.
Executive Director, A Community for Peace
Visionary, passionate and fiercely dedicated to the empowerment of every victim of trauma and abuse, Elaine M. Whitefeather is a recognized authority in the field of domestic and family violence and has created and resurrected over 40 domestic violence programs both nationally and internationally. Taught and encouraged all her life by indigenous teachers from each of her cultural backgrounds (Japanese, African American, Native American and German), she takes the wisdom from these many paths and creates a bridge of understanding that has catalyzed progressive changes across the globe. “Legacies are left in the minds, hearts and lives you change…” is the philosophy and underlying spirit that keeps her visioning, building and expanding hope in our world through the lives she touches each and every day.
Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Zachary Norris is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and a former director of our Books Not Bars campaign. Prior to rejoining the organization, Zachary co-founded and co-directed Justice for Families, a national alliance of family-driven organizations working to end our nation's youth incarceration epidemic.
In addition to being a Harvard graduate and NYU-educated attorney, Zachary is also a graduate of the Labor Community Strategy Center's National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles, California. Zachary is a loving husband and dedicated father of two bright daughters, whom he is raising in his hometown of Oakland, California.
Conference Leadership Team
Stephen Dinan, Lora O’Connor, Anasa Troutman and Sister Jenna