Cassie Betts is CEO/Founder of the fashion-tech company District2.Co out of Silicon Beach. District2, is a virtual garment district that helps the apparel manufacturing industry reinvent and redefine the global supply chain in such a way that will empower “the little guy”, while simultaneously striving to reduce carbon footprint impact and increase sustainable practices. It is a B2B platform that connects designers with factories.
She is also the Director of Tech Learning for Black Women in Tech. She was a homeless teen who worked her way up the Apparel Industry’s corporate ladder to a six figure salary. District2.Co was founded in 2013, has won awards and accolades, and is revenue generating with a valuation of $3M. Cassie learned to code at age 9, but went into the apparel industry where there is very little coding applied. She started a youth initiative in South Central called MISLA or Made In South LA, to introduce at-risk youth to entrepreneurialism, coding and digital literacy. MISLA has now evolved to an Urban Economic Accelerator. Operating with an “Each One Teach One” approach, underrepresented minorities are trained in web development and software engineering while volunteering with local non-profits to train youth to code.
Cassie is currently taking advanced coding courses at Code District in order to empower herself as a tech CEO and teach youth to code. She is a single mother of two, who in her spare time enjoys hiking, boxing and teaching her boys to be
Brent Bushnell is the CEO and co-founder of Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based experiential entertainment company. The interdisciplinary team strives to create immersive, social fun and is currently building a network of micro-amusement parks featuring free-roaming VR, robot bartenders, an interactive supper club and more. Previously they launched STEAM Carnival, a traveling showcase of high-tech entertainment and student STEAM workshops. They’ve captured action sports content in 360 videos for brands like the NFL, NBA, Indy and the Olympics for use in VR activations at the Super Bowl, All-Star games and in retail. The company regularly serves as immersive entertainment partners for brands and location-based facilities.
Previously, Brent was the on-camera inventor for the ABC TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. He was a founding member of Syyn Labs, a creative collective creating stunts for brands like Google and Disney and helped OK Go build the Rube Goldberg machine for their viral This Too Shall Pass music video that garnered 50+ million views on YouTube. Brent is board president of the Two Bit Circus Foundation, a 501(c)(3), that deploys STEAM-based programs to inspire students about invention and operates annual STEAM Carnivals bringing the excitement of STEM & STEAM to communities around the world. He’s a Sir Edmund Hillary Fellow and enjoys mentoring teens in entrepreneurship via programs such as NFTE. He’s a supporter of Clowns Without Borders and publishes on Twitter @brentbushnell.
Chris has had a significant amount of experience in both the venture capital and entrepreneurial ecosystem. He was previously Chief of Staff at Andreessen Horowitz, founder of restaurant technology startup PictureMenu, and also worked with Jermaine Dupri at SoSo Def as a music producer and engineer. Chris is a Kauffman Fellow graduate (Class 19), advisor to New Story Charity, The Black Economic Alliance, and member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.
Now the Chief Digital Officer of Braintrust CAA-GBG, the largest brand management agency in the world with 24 offices in over 20 countries, Kendra leads a global team of digital marketing experts and social media natives. The BrainTrust, the social media agency that Kendra founded in 2016, joined CAA-GBG which is a joint venture between Global Brands Group Holding Limited (“Global Brands”), and Creative Artists Agency (“CAA”).
Prior to BrainTrust gaining notoriety and success, Kendra saw an opening in the market for digital, social and influencer marketing, and she co-founded Digital Brand Architects. Now in its sixth year, DBA grew quickly from an idea at a kitchen table into the go-to firm for influencer management. Working ahead of trends and predicting opportunities, Carpe diem is not just a saying to Kendra – it is a way of life.
Austin is also committed to encouraging underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in tech and entrepreneurship. He is an active volunteer in various local youth entrepreneurship programs. Austin received his MBA from NYU Stern with a specialization in Media, Entertainment, and Technology and his BA from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.
Perhaps best known for the short BuzzFeed documentary about his journey from Compton to Google, he is a frequent public speaker at schools and other student organizations. He was awarded the 2016 INROADS Trendsetter Award for his work promoting diversity in tech.
Anthony graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. His GPA was horrible, so don’t ask.
Currently the Senior Director of Product Management for Beachbody on Demand, Kasha is the kind of manager who makes building, organizing and growing a product team look effortless. Although a lifelong iOS devotee, after successfully launching the native Android and Amazon Fire TV apps for Beachbody’s pioneering fitness streaming platform, Kasha now considers herself “platform agnostic”.
Kasha also provided strategic guidance for FOX and ABC, specializing in platform development and sponsored campaigns for their respective television networks. When she’s not working, Kasha is living that LA life, as an avid practitioner of yoga, lover of vegan tacos and pursuer of the perfect gel manicure.
Eric Garcetti is a fourth-generation Angeleno and the 42nd Mayor of Los Angeles. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley — the son of public servants and the grandson and great-grandson of immigrants from Mexico and Eastern Europe — Mayor Garcetti’s life has been shaped by a deep commitment to the core values of justice, dignity, and equality for all people.
These ideals have fueled the Mayor’s relentless drive to fulfill our common obligation: to give children and families of every race, faith, background, and income the chance to get a good education, live on safe streets, earn a decent wage, breathe clean air and drink clean water, receive affordable medical and child care, and build a future of their own choosing.
Angelenos are experiencing the remarkable results of his vision and leadership: the Mayor led and won a campaign to pass the boldest local infrastructure initiative in American history, funding a once-in-a-generation expansion of public transportation. He launched the L.A. College Promise, the most ambitious higher education access program in the nation — serving more than 4,000 students, many of whom are overcoming poverty and are the first in their families to pursue the dream of higher education. He is confronting a homelessness crisis by leading an unprecedented regional alliance committed to getting people off the streets and ending chronic homelessness. He put more money in workers’ pockets by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and cut business taxes to help drive a historic economic recovery that has created a record number of jobs in legacy industries like entertainment and aerospace. And in 2018, he formed a historic partnership with the philanthropic sector to refurbish nearly 350 athletic courts across the city — to support his plan for universal sports and fitness programs that are both free and local for all children in Los Angeles.
The Mayor’s leadership is making an extraordinary impact on the national and international stages: he rallied more than 400 mayors in cities across America to adopt the Paris Climate agreement after the Trump Administration pulled out of the pact. He led the first National Day of Action on Immigration, and has put unprecedented local resources toward providing Dreamers and others with legal aid to fight deportation. He signed America’s strongest earthquake retrofit law to protect thousands of people’s lives from natural disaster. And he successfully led the bid to bring the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to the United States for the first time in more than 30 years. He has lived and worked in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and was the first Mayor in the United States to appoint a Deputy Mayor for International Affairs to coordinate trade policy and attract new opportunities for global investment.
While Mayor Garcetti has taken on these enormous challenges, he has also reimagined how city government delivers the most basic services. Since July 2013, L.A. has paved 10,754 miles of road; cut the average pothole repair time by half; implemented a $1.4 billion plan to repair every sidewalk in every community, and greatly expanded the number of trees in neighborhoods across the city. He created Clean Streets L.A. — a block-by-block assessment of 9,100 miles of streets that identifies neighborhoods with the most needs, and prioritizes delivery of resources. Under his leadership, L.A. has been rated the nation’s best-run city by the Bloomberg What Works Cities initiative and become the number-one solar energy city in America.
The Mayor’s government service began on the L.A. City Council, where he spent four terms as Council President before being elected Mayor in 2013 and winning re-election in 2017 by the widest margin in the history of Los Angeles.
Beyond his time at City Hall, Mayor Garcetti has served his country as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve, and taught at the University of Southern California and Occidental College.
The Mayor received his B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University, and studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and later at the London School of Economics. He is also a jazz pianist and photographer.
He and his wife, First Lady Amy Elaine Wakeland, are the proud parents of a daughter, Maya, and have been foster parents for more than a decade.
Since he was overwhelmingly elected in 2008, and reelected in 2012 and 2016 to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Mark Ridley-Thomas has distinguished himself as an effective leader for more than two million Second District residents. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and LA Care, the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.
Prior to his election to the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas served the 26th District in the California State Senate, where he chaired the Senate’s Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. While in the Senate, he served as Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus in 2008 and led the Caucus in unprecedented levels of cooperation and collaboration with counterparts in the Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucuses.
Mark Ridley-Thomas was first elected to public office in 1991 and served with distinction on the Los Angeles City Council for nearly a dozen years, departing as Council President pro Tempore. He later served two terms in the California State Assembly, where he chaired the Jobs, Economic Development, and Economy Committee and served the Assembly Democratic Caucus. His legislative work addressed a broad range of issues with implications for economic and workforce development, health care, public safety, education, budget accountability, consumer protection and civic participation.
He is widely regarded as the foremost advocate of neighborhood participation in government decision-making by virtue of his founding of the Empowerment Congress, arguably the region’s most successful 26-year initiative in neighborhood-based civic engagement. Ridley-Thomas’ political career was preceded by a decade of service as the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles (1981-1991).
The Supervisor graduated from Manual Arts High School (Class of 1972) and then earned BA and MA degrees along with secondary and adult education credentials from Immaculate Heart College. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas went on to receive his Ph.D. in Social Ethics from the University of Southern California focusing on Social Criticism and Social Change.
He is married to Avis Ridley-Thomas, Co-Founder and Director of the Institute for Non-Violence in Los Angeles. They are the proud parents of Sinclair and Sebastian, both Morehouse Men. Sinclair earned an MBA degree at USC’s Marshall School of Business, works in the investment banking industry, and resides in San Francisco with his wife Shaunicie, an attorney, and 1-year old son Duke Flynn. Sebastian formerly represented California’s Fifty-forth Assembly District (12/05/13-12/31/17). He will now turn his attention to political empowerment, millennial civic engagement, and training a new generation of leaders throughout the state of California as Chief Strategist for the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation Project beginning in March of this year.
Jay Tucker (’09) is a marketer, educator and technology leader with more than 20 years of experience in the technology, academic and entertainment sectors. At UCLA’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports (MEMES), Tucker is responsible for the center’s vision, thought leadership, educational offerings and major events, including the annual PULSE conference and the MEMES Media, Entertainment and Sports Summer Institute.
“MEMES has been at the center of a number of important shifts in the industry landscape,” says Tucker. “We continue to see the rise of digital and internet-based content; the shift to mobile phones and tablets as primary devices for viewing, listening and playing; and new platforms and services that are changing the way people think about entertainment and its value. Our goal is to remain at the center of the conversation as the industry embraces new technologies and business models and finds new ways to monetize entertainment content.”
Previously, Tucker handled marketing and programs at the Institute for Communication Technology Management (CTM) at USC’s Marshall School of Business. He founded Silicon Beach @USC, a two-day event featuring a venture competition and a conference focused on innovation, investment and new ventures related to technology and digital content. He also partnered with executives at OgilvyRED to relaunch their Verge Summit, and with Variety magazine to launch the first-ever big data conference in partnership with PwC. Tucker also managed the Advanced Management Program, CTM’s executive education course focused on leadership for the digital age.
“I am passionate about helping executives and entrepreneurs embrace disruption, drive innovation and build powerful solutions,” says Tucker. A seasoned technology leader, he has taught courses on technology management, technology convergence, digital media and media literacy to professionals at corporations and nonprofit organizations. He also serves on the board of the Southern California chapter of the Society for Information Management (SCSIM) and speaks at academic and industry events, covering digital technologies and media, technology startups and other topics.
Tucker holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, an M.A. in instructional and learning technologies from Columbia University, and a dual bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in political science and African and Afro-American studies. He resides in Santa Monica, California.
Jonathan is an editor at TechCrunch. Previously he worked as a senior reporter for Dow Jones & Co., covering venture capital and private equity investment from New York and Shanghai. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
across the company, ensuring that WeWork’s foundational values are infused into all aspects of the company’s culture, design, products and operations.
Miguel and co-founder Adam Neumann started WeWork in 2010 in New York City. Before WeWork, Miguel and Adam started Green Desk, a turnkey eco-friendly work space based in Brooklyn. Previously, Miguel worked on the international rollout of American Apparel’s retail
Miguel began his entrepreneurial career by co-founding the company English, baby! – an English as a second language learning platform and social network – that is still thriving
Originally from Oregon, Miguel studied Architecture at the University of Oregon, where he also played basketball.
Stefanie joined Impact America Fund in 2015 to combine years of transactional experience with a passion to drive more equitable capital in venture. Emerging as a voice of “Black Women VCs” (Fast Company), Stefanie has centered her efforts around network effects that propel the work of bootstrapped entrepreneurs—an ode to her father who overcame tremendous challenges as a low-income business owner.
Prior to IAF, she co-founded Quarterback Impact while also managing fund development for an impact investment evergreen project. In 2014, a 6,000 mile road trip to work with entrepreneurs across the US led to her deepened involvement in building more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems in order to amplify the economic imperative for venture investment in overlooked markets. Before the switch to venture, Stefanie served as a Vice President in Citigroup’s global banking division. She received her M.B.A. from the Ross School at the University of Michigan and her B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Webb’s entrepreneurial experience and history of engagement within “at-risk youth” in Los Angeles has lead him to his true life purpose, philanthropic work promoting leadership development and entry-level employment as a gateway to a fulfilled life. Karim believes opportunity and progress do not just happen but that working toward creating even the smallest ripple is capable of causing a wave of positive results. And under his leadership, Webb’s Team Members have learned to activate possibility in their lives by exercising their muscle of excellence.
Webb is also Co-Owner and Operations Partner of PCF Restaurant Management, a multi-unit franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings. Beyond Buffalo Wild Wings and 4thMVMT, Karim is an advisor to the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA) and holds a number of Board positions including the California Community Foundation, the Brotherhood Crusade, Everytable, and the Living Through Giving Foundation: Hashtag Lunchbag.
Noah Rubin brings more than a decade of media and entertainment experience to his role as VP of Creative Ventures at Merry Jane. Following a stint as the platform’s Editor-In-Chief, he’s pioneered new territory for the emerging company, especially with the launch of Snoop Dogg’s hit cookbook From Crook to Cook that builds on the success of Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party on VH1. He has also become a prominent and relied upon voice in the cannabis conversation as a regular on-air contributor at streaming news outlet Cheddar.
Before Merry Jane he was Editor-In-Chief of Nas’s media platform/production house Mass Appeal. He has also worked with outlets like Complex, VIBE, and XXL. In the television realm, he has produced and developed shows and pilots for networks including MTV, VH1, and Adult Swim.
In addition to his editorial and television work, Rubin has an extensive music background. He is the former VP of Music at Decon Records (now Mass Appeal Records), home to artists like Run the Jewels, Pusha T, and the Hood Internet. Rubin’s credits also include grammy-winning A&R work for global EDM phenomenon Flume, production on two highly regarded albums for Wu-Tang Clan, as well as mixing for experimental producer and Kanye West-collaborator Evian Christ.
Noah holds a BA in Anthropology from New York University with a specialization in Ethnomusicology. He also holds a certificate in Mandarin Chinese from Beijing University.
Donna Byrd is the founder of Blue Butterfly, a digital startup that is reinventing the funeral planning process. The company helps coordinate funeral planning and purchasing in a way that allows families to receive support from their community, honor their loved one and reduce costs.
Prior to Blue Butterfly, Donna was the founding publisher of TheRoot.com, the #1 black news site in the US with 8 million readers. In 2015, she successfully spearheaded the sale of The Root to Univision Communications.
Donna’s career started in corporate America where she worked for Procter & Gamble and The Coca-Cola Company. At Coke, Donna served as an Associate Brand Manager in their new business department and as a Brand Manager on Coca-Cola classic. Upon leaving Coke, Donna began her journey as a serial entrepreneur and helped start the first of five companies. She helped launch ezgov.com; BlackAmericaWeb.com for radio personality, Tom Joyner; Kickoff Marketing; TheRoot.com and most recently, Blue Butterfly.
Donna has a BA in American Government from The University of Virginia, an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and serves on the boards of Black Girls Rock; Village Capital, and The Bail Project, a nonprofit with a revolving fund to pay bail for people accused of misdemeanors.
Martin began investing in multifamily real-estate in South Central Los Angeles, Compton, Watts and other neglected communities a decade before these areas became designated Opportunity Zones. SoLa Impact’s $100 million Opportunity Zone (OZ) Fund is one of the few OZ Funds that has already been actively deploying capital in LA’s OZs.
Martin was previously an operating executive at several technology companies and a venture capital partner at Accretive Partners and General Atlantic Partners in New York. He graduated with Honors from the Wharton School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania.
After raising Series A at the beginning of 2018, Joymode is making Joe’s vision a reality in Los Angeles. There are over 100,000 registered users and an expanding service area, with a goal to have coverage all the way down to San Diego by the end of this year. Once Southern California is experiencing more moments of Joy, the team will set sights on the rest of the United States, then the world.
Sophia currently serves as a board member of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce Foundation and Latinas Lead California. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Pepperdine University and her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Phoenix.
Previously, he worked for the Southern California Association of Governments, the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization. Horton served as the primary point of contact for external affairs with elected officials as well as sub-regional, state, and federal stakeholders in Los Angeles and Orange counties while helping leaders in Southern California develop plans to address growth and improve quality of life. “
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