CNM's 501(c)onference

May 9-10, 2023
Resilience at the Center

This year’s 501(c)onference explores the importance of fueling nonprofit resilience. Join us as we discuss practical strategies and successful approaches that can help the communities we support not only survive, but thrive. You will hear insights and case studies from visionaries, connect with peers, and come away inspired to work toward a more resilient future.

Together, we’ll learn why it’s no longer enough to just sustain nonprofits, but how we can transform our impact, our communities, and the world by working across all sectors to fuel nonprofit resiliency.

Featured Speakers

Karen Bass Circle 501(c)onference

Karen Bass

City of Los Angeles

Holly Mitchell Circle 501(c)onference

Holly J. Mitchell

Supervisor, 2nd District
County of Los Angeles

Anthony Rendon Circle 501(c)onference

Anthony Rendon

Assembly Speaker, 62nd District
California State Assembly

Over a two-day period, this year’s 501(c)onference will place nonprofit resilience at the center of the conversation.

Our Sponsors


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Community Builders

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The Schedule

Tuesday, May 9 - In-person

On Day One, we’ll meet in person at the California Endowment in downtown Los Angeles and be inspired by local stories of resilience in action. We’ll hear insights and case studies from visionaries, connect with peers, and come away inspired to work toward a more resilient future. Morning coffee, midday lunch, and afternoon snacks will be provided.

Plenary: 9:45 - 10:00 AM

Centering Nonprofit Resilience
Hear from inspirational organizations that have illustrated through decisive action that nonprofit resilience is key to community resilience. 

Panel 1: 10:20 - 11:15 am

Community-led Efforts to Advance Organizational Resilience
Explore innovative approaches to supporting more organizational resilience through better funding and nonprofit and community-based networks.


  • Sam Joo (Moderator) – Vice President, Student & Community Services, Para Los Niños
  • Leslie Cooper – Vice President of Organizational Development, Community Coalition
  • Masih Fouladi - Deputy Executive Director, CAIR Los Angeles
  • Dina Walker - President & CEO, BLU Educational Foundation

Panel 2: 1:00 - 2:10 pm

A New Deal: Nonprofit Contracting Reform
Leaders from multiple sectors discuss a shared vision for striking a new deal between government and nonprofits through a more equitable partnership.


Keynote: 2:35 - 2:50 PM

Karen Bass, Mayor of Los Angeles

Wednesday, May 10 - Virtual

On Day Two, conference attendees and the wider nonprofit sector will gather virtually to focus on strengthening our collective resilience – both as nonprofits and as sector partners. Virtual networking opportunities will be available.

Session 1: 9:10 - 10:10 am

Equitable Recovery Initiative:
Access to Public Funds

Bolstering nonprofits’ access to government funding through resources and learning opportunities.


Session 2: 9:10 - 10:10 am

Forging New Partnerships with Media
Working together with the media to promote community causes and issues.


Session 3: 10:20 - 11:20 am

Key Elements of Organizational Resilience in Nonprofits - Principles and Practices
Hear from experts and build on your own toolbox of organizational assets and resilience principles and practices.


Session 4: 10:20 - 11:20 am

Forging Impactful Partnerships with Nonprofits:  Cross-Sector Partnerships serving the Unhoused 
Addressing the challenges of serving the unhoused and preventing homelessness takes partnerships and alliances across all segments and sectors of our communities.


  • Leslie Robin (Moderator) – Senior Strategist, Center for Nonprofit Management
  • Keith Anyon – Vice President of Administration, St. Joseph Center
  • Manny Flores – Executive Director, North Valley Caring Services

Session 5: 11:30 - 12:30 pm

Resilience for the New Workplace
Workplace resilience can mean overcoming challenges, adapting to a new reality, and staying optimistic.


Session 6: 11:30 - 12:30 pm

Forging Impactful Partnerships to Address Community Needs: Innovative Strategies by Health Care Providers
New approaches are needed to support populations who tend to struggle the most to lead healthy lives and thrive.


Resilience at the Center

Our community’s health, strength, and heart are rooted in the resiliency of the nonprofit sector.

Strong, resilient nonprofit organizations are the key to strong, resilient communities. In times of crisis – like a global pandemic – we are the helping hands and the boots on the ground. Drawing on our know-how, passion, and deep-rooted connections, we act.

Community centers become respiratory wards. Food pantries become vaccine sites. Organizers become health navigators. Case managers put their own health on the line to meet individual needs.

Nonprofits drive community-centered innovation and create opportunity. We build coalitions to bring about positive change. We lead movements to build greater equity and justice for those who are historically marginalized. We find solutions to the challenges that seem unsolvable.

By placing resilience at the center of our work,
we can unlock our sector’s true potential to overcome
the challenges that plague our people and the planet. 

COVID Protocols

Masks are not required at this time, but we ask you to be considerate of fellow attendees’ health and comfort and practice mindful social distancing. If you are exhibiting any signs of cold or flu symptoms, please stay at home. We are monitoring developments around COVID-19 and will adjust event guidelines accordingly.

Event Details

In-person  | May 9
Virtual  | May 10

Location for Day One:
The California Endowment
1000 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Location for Day Two:

Registration Fee:
Day One & Two Admission: $295.00 

Day Two Admission Only: Scholarships are available for SoCal nonprofits to attend at no cost. 

Karen Bass

Mayor of Los Angeles

With an agenda focused on bringing urgency, accountability, and a new direction to Los Angeles, Mayor Bass started her mayoral term with a focus on housing people immediately and increasing safety and opportunity. Previously, she founded the Community Coalition to organize the predominantly Black and Latino residents of South L.A. against substance abuse, poverty and crime.  She went on to serve in the California Assembly and was elected by her peers as Speaker, making her the first African American woman in U.S. history to lead a state legislative body. While representing Los Angeles and Culver City in Congress, Mayor Bass helped protect small businesses during the pandemic, created policy to drive local jobs from federal infrastructure funding, and led the passage of what the Los Angeles Times called “the most significant child welfare policy reform in decades.”  Mayor Bass earned a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from CSU Dominguez Hills and her master’s degree in social work from USC.

Learn more about Mayor Bass.

Holly Mitchell

Los Anglees County Supervisor
2nd District

A third generation Angeleno and daughter of parents who were public servants, Supervisor Mitchell leads with a deep understanding of the vital safety net LA County provides for millions of families and is committed to ensuring that all residents can thrive. Since being elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2020, she has made poverty alleviation a countywide priority and has anchored an equitable recovery plan from the health and economic pandemic caused by COVID-19. Within her first year as Supervisor and with support from the County Board of Supervisors, Mitchell passed a landmark guaranteed income program, made LA County the first in the nation to phase out urban oil drilling, and strengthened the County’s ability to quickly respond to mental health crises among our unhoused residents.  Supervisor Mitchell represents the two million residents of Los Angeles County’s Second District – including the neighborhood she grew up in – Leimert Park, along with the cities of Carson, Compton, Culver City, El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Lawndale, Los Angeles (portions), Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and a dozen unincorporated communities.

Learn more about Supervisor Mitchell.

Anthony Rendon

California State Assembly Speaker

Since 2012, Speaker Rendon has represented the Southeast Los Angeles communities that comprise the 62nd Assembly District and for the past seven years has served as Assembly Speaker.  In that role, he has led some of the most progressive and productive legislative sessions in memory. Among the Assembly’s accomplishments during that period are restoration of funding for early childhood education, a landmark $52 billion transportation funding plan, extension of California’s climate change reduction and clean air goals, and the nation’s first $15 minimum wage. He authored Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion state water bond that voters overwhelmingly passed in 2014.  In recent years, Rendon has led historic changes to law enforcement’s use of force rules, expanded worker protections and restrictions on predatory lending, and helped to put more women as heads of committees and non-elected positions in the Assembly.  Before election to the Assembly, he was an educator, non-profit executive director, and environmental activist. Rendon attended Cerritos Community College and California State University, Fullerton, and earned his Ph.D. from UC Riverside.

Learn more about Speaker Rendon.

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Otha Cole

Director of Strategy & Communications
Nonprofit Sustainability Institute

For 13 years, Otha has worked with organizations, nonprofit leaders, and social causes to address acute and systemic issues affecting California communities. A passionate generalist, he uses his background in nonprofit development, philanthropy, and project management to support the social impact ecosystem in Southern California.  Previously, Otha worked with the Play Equity Fund where he helped launch the Alliance: Los Angeles, a collaborative initiative comprised of the 12 major professional sports teams in the Los Angeles area. While at Community Partners, he served as a liaison, technical advisor, and thought partner for social entrepreneurs looking to sustain and grow their impact. Currently board chair of LA Forward Institute, Otha earned a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from San Jose State University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Learn more about Nonprofit Sustainability Institute

Sam Joo

Vice President of Student & Community Services
Para Los Niños

As Vice President of Student & Community Services for Para Los Niños, Sam designs and develops performance indicators and strategies to move Para Los Niños toward its vision of strong communities, powerful families, and excellent education. Sam leads a team of seven directors, and 100+ employees working toward transforming communities, strengthening children and families, and supporting youth transitioning toward higher education and the workforce. Prior to joining Para Los Ninos, Sam was was director of the Magnolia Community Initiative (MCI), a voluntary social innovations network of 70+ organizations in partnership with community residents to improve child and family well-being in MCI 500-block catchment area. Sam also worked with KYCC (Koreatown Youth and Community Center) as the Director of Children and Family Services, to diversify the staffing and leadership structure to better address the evolving needs of Koreatown community. Sam previously served on the board of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and has worked with a number of partnerships in support of children and families.

Learn more about Para Los Niños.

Keith Anyon

Vice President of Administration
St. Joseph Center

Keith has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 15 years and prior to joining St. Joseph Center, he served as Director of Administration at Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health.  He has led efforts to significantly diversify the agency’s workforce, opening opportunities by removing degree qualifications from certain positions; partnering with community-based organizations to seek candidates with lived experience with homelessness, mental health, substance use and justice involvement; participating in workforce development programs to widen pools of qualified candidates to enter the homeless services sector; and expanding the agency’s portfolio of internship programs, with multiple disciplines and with an emphasis on working to engage colleges and universities with a significant population of first-generation college students.

Learn more about St. Joseph Center.

Linette Arauz

Assignment Desk Editor
Telemundo 52

Linette is a two-time Emmy Award-winning Assignment Desk Editor and special project producer for Telemundo 52 and NBC4 News. Throughout her career at Telemundo 52 news, she has produced educational segments such as “Pizarron 52” and partnered with LA County Department of Children and Family Services to highlight child adoption in the segment “Esperanza de un Hogar”. Her outstanding commitment to community-based stories was recognized by the City of Los Angeles for immigration and community coverage. Linette is an active leader with NBCU Employee Resource Group “Unidos,” which aims to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization. Arauz earned her B.A. in Radio and Television Broadcasting from Cal State University, Los Angeles and a master’s in management and leadership from the University of La Verne. Linette is currently working on a certification in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Learn more about Telemundo 52.

Annie Chang

Vice President
Nonprofit Finance Fund

Annie leads NFF’s strategy for engagement with BIPOC nonprofits and other partners in communities to ensure NFF’s work is driven by community. She joined NFF in 2015 as a consultant and in that role, partnered with nonprofit leaders and funders to build the financial health of the social sector through designing initiatives and delivering customized financial management consulting. Before joining NFF, Annie was a Senior Program Officer at First 5 LA, a management consultant with Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice, a program manager at Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment, and a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow and Legislative Consultant with the California Legislature. Annie received her B.A. in political science from UCLA and her master’s degree in public policy from USC.

Learn more about Nonprofit Finance Fund.

Nancy Clifton-Hawkins

Director of Community Benefit
City of Hope

Nancy leads City of Hope’s efforts to appropriately address health inequities of the most vulnerable communities in its Southern California service area. She started her career in the Peace Corps, working in Thailand for three years. As an agricultural extension agent, partnering with a nutritionist, she experienced the value of building community and honoring someone’s culture as a way of helping people live healthy lives. She has applied that philosophy throughout her career of promoting public health. Nancy has two master’s degrees from Loma Linda University: in public health promotion and education, and in global health. She worked inside a healthcare agency before starting her own business providing public health program planning, evaluation, and curriculum design as a consultant.  Nancy has served in voluntary positions with the Orange County Breastfeeding Coalition, the Brea Family Resources Center Advisory Council, and the National Council for Health Education Credentialing.

Learn more about City of Hope.

Leslie Cooper

Vice President of Organizational Development
Community Coalition

Leslie is the Vice President of Organizational Development at Community Coalition. She started her career in local government with the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, coordinating communications strategies and policy initiatives. Since joining Community Coalition, Leslie has coordinated fundraising strategies that have helped the organization raise more than $25 million in funding from government, foundations, corporations, and individual donors. She has played significant roles in building the capacity of other local non-profit organizations through training and coaching.  In her current role, she leads strategies to increase the organization’s human and financial resources.  Leslie received both her B.S. in Kinesiology and her MSW degree from the University of Southern California.

Learn more about Community Coalition.

Effrain Escobedo

President & CEO
Center for Nonprofit Management

Efrain is dedicated to increasing the civic engagement of historically underserved and marginalized communities and transforming systems through more human-centered approaches. For nearly two decades, he has worked within the philanthropic, government, and nonprofit sectors to advance this mission. Previously, Efrain served as Vice President of Public Policy & Civic Engagement at The California Community Foundation (CCF). Prior to that, he worked in governmental and legislative affairs for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, and before that, in voter and civic engagement for the NALEO Educational Fund. Efrain is board chair of Hispanics in Philanthropy and serves in leadership and advisory roles with the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Southern California Grantmakers, and as a Speaker Appointee of the CA 2020 Census Complete Count Committee. Efrain earned his bachelor’s degree at USC and an MBA at the University of La Verne.

Manny Flores

Executive Director
North Valley Caring Services

Manny’s lived experience informs how he leads the organization in instilling ownership and equity for all stakeholders. Under his leadership the ‘community center’ has grown from serving 1,400 individuals a year to now serving more than 244,000 people annually, from four part-time staff members to twenty-nine full-time employees. NVCS is now the largest single-site food distribution center in the San Fernando Valley distributing over 100,000 pounds of food each week. Manny’s passion for people, his heart for justice, his visionary leadership are inspirational – and led to NVCS being honored as 2020 Nonprofit of the Year by former Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian.

Learn more about North Valley Caring Services.

Masih Fouladi

Deputy Executive Director
CAIR Los Angeles

Masih has 10 years of advocacy experience, working to protect the civil rights of the African, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities, focusing on defeating systemic injustices that harass, harm, and criminalize communities of color and immigrants through legal, media, and grassroots advocacy.  He is an expert on issues of immigration policy and at combating Islamophobia, hate crimes, school bullying, government discrimination and racial targeting of Muslim Americans. He serves as the policy co-chair of the Immigrants Are LA coalition where he advocates for LA County to be more equitable and inclusive in its investments and programming for the immigrant community.

Learn more about CAIR Los Angeles.

Sandra J. Hill-Glover, Ed.D., MSW

Senior Strategist
Center for Nonprofit Management

A trained social worker, Sandra centers her work on organizational growth and development with a focus on assessment, asset mapping, change management, board and staff development, and strategic planning. She has developed innovative and sustainable programs and services supporting diverse communities including Black and Latinx transitional age youth, families and children who were unhoused, and new mothers and their babies’ health and wellness needs. In 2020, Sandra created ImpactHill, a consulting firm dedicated to helping nonprofit, governmental, higher education, and community-based entities enhance their service delivery capacity. Her background in social work education as an Associate Dean and Professor allows her to apply her expansive conceptual and theoretical knowledge to her consulting and training practices with organizations. Sandra received her Doctorate in Educational and Transformational Leadership at University of New England, Master of Social Work degree at Clark Atlanta University, and Bachelor of Arts in the Social Sciences with an emphasis on African American Studies and Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Josie Huang

Asian American Communities Reporter

Josie reports on the intersection of being Asian and American and the impact of our growing communities in Southern California.  She started working in newspapers straight out of college, with assignments that took her from Central America’s largest dump to coastal Mississippi post-Katrina. Josie made the jump to public radio as a host and reporter for Maine Public Radio. She joined the LAist newsroom in 2012, where she has covered various beats — immigration, housing and religion — always keeping an ear out for underrepresented voices.

Learn more about LAist.

Rosalina Jowers

Director of Communications & Marketing

Rosalina leads communication strategy development and execution for impact and marketing campaigns tied to Participant’s content. She has led the strategy around campaigns tied to films and series including Judas and the Black Messiah, Slay the Dragon, When They See Us, JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE, and the upcoming Netflix / Higher Ground documentary Descendant.  Rosalina has brought critical attention to advocacy campaigns, resulting in measurable wins for impact partners, from historical landmark status to increased voter mobilization. This work was recognized in multiple categories for the Shorty Awards, Shorty for Social Good Awards, Inc.’s Most Innovative Company, Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas competition, the Webby Awards and the Anthem Awards.  Prior to joining Participant, Jowers was the Research and Policy Manager for The Hub Project, a progressive advocacy organization and prior to the The Hub Project, she worked on public affairs, social impact, and diversity-related communications campaigns at Weber Shandwick, supporting clients including Nike, Adidas, Dove, and Sweetgreen. She received her B.A. in Communications from Villanova University and an M.S. in Public Relations and an M.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University.

Learn more about Participant.

Jessica Huey

Los Angeles BDO FMA

An experienced nonprofit and public sector professional, Jessica leads California government partnerships, focusing on supporting government grantees. She has actively explored the intersection of government, business, and nonprofit sectors to creatively solve social problems. Jessica brings a background in budgeting and financial management as well as an understanding of cross-sector partnerships, particularly with local government. Previously, she served as a Project Manager for the City & County of San Francisco in the Office of the City Administrator and as a Labor Negotiations Analyst and a City Hall Fellow for the City & County of San Francisco where she performed financial impact analysis on labor and budget negotiation proposals. Jessica earned her M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Public Policy & American Institutions and in Hispanic Studies, both from Brown University.

Learn more about BDO FMA.

Zahirah Mann

President & CEO

Zahirah leads SLATE-Z, a collective impact effort addressing economic revitalization and environmental sustainability in South Los Angeles. SLATE-Z collaborates with 100 local partners and is part of a national Promise Zone Network working to transform 22 high poverty communities. Prior to joining SLATE-Z, Zahirah was a Senior Program Officer at The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, where she helped launch and lead the Foster Together Network, a countywide collective impact initiative. Zahirah has worked at the Annenberg Foundation and United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Before entering philanthropy, Zahirah represented a broad array of nonprofit and governmental entities as a community economic development and environmental attorney.

Learn more about SLATE-Z.

Scott Pansky


A co-founder of the agency, Scott leads Allison+Partners’ Social Impact group. He developed the agency’s proprietary Corporate Socialanthropy™ process, which helps corporations identify social impact partners and builds the foundation for long-term campaigns that incorporate employee recruitment and retention programs, internal and external communications, and cause-related marketing strategies.  Prior to Allison+Partners, Scott opened the Los Angeles office of Connors Communications and spent eight years with The Gable Group. Previously, he worked with the City of San Diego and helped to launch the Aaron Price Fellows. Scott teaches sponsorship and cause marketing courses through UCLA Extension, speaks globally on cause-related marketing, and serves on nonprofit boards and advisory committees, including Adopt-A-Classroom, City Scholars Foundation, West Valley YMCA and the Southern California Leadership Network. He sponsors the Enid Ruth Pansky Aspire Award at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and is a supporter of SDSU’s School of Journalism & Media Studies.

Learn more about Allison+Partners.

Shaun Randolph

Program Officer
California Community Foundation

Shaun manages LA n Sync efforts and priorities including work-group and advisory board coordination, grants management, advocacy, public/private partnership development, fundraising, and strategic planning.  Prior to joining CCF, Shaun was a FUSE Corps Executive Fellow in the New Orleans Mayor’s Office and then served as Executive Director of the New Orleans Mayor’s Fund.  As a former serial entrepreneur, grant writer, social enterprise consultant, and innovative finance pioneer turned venture capital/private equity advisor, Shaun remains dedicated to harnessing some of the most profit-driven concepts from the private sector and re-tooling them into vehicles for social impact via public-private partnerships.

Learn more about California Community Foundation.

Leslie Robin

Senior Strategist
Center for Nonprofit Management

As a coach, consultant, and trainer with more than 30 years’ experience in the nonprofit philanthropic field, Leslie utilizes her consulting, training, and executive coaching skills to support the nonprofit industry and its leaders to address emerging issues. Leslie oversees CNM’s Leadership Development programs to equip managers and leaders with the skills necessary to lead the diverse and changing workplace. She is a trailblazer for fostering change and meeting social and community needs through strategic planning, board and leadership planning, and organizational development. Her all-encompassing nonprofit experience includes organizations in the arts, education, Jewish communal, environmental, public safety, and health agencies. Leslie is a member of the Association of Talent Development (ATD) and the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Leslie holds a master’s in urban planning from the School of Public Administration of New York University and a B.S. in Business Administration from UC Berkeley. She is a Certified Governance Trainer for BoardSource, an Associate Certified Coach with the ICF, and serves as a visiting lecturer at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. 

Lizette Escobedo

Associate Vice President of Civic Engagement & Advocacy

AltaMed Health Services

Lizette has dedicated more than twelve years of her career to mobilizing and empowering communities to ensure they have a voice in the democratic process. Prior to joining AltaMed, she held roles including NALEO Educational Fund’s National Director of Civic Engagement and its Director of National Census Programs, and SEIU Local 2015’s Communications Director. In 2016, Lizette was elected to serve as delegate representing the 57th Assembly District and in 2019, was named Woman of the Year by California Assembly Majority Leader, Ian Calderon. Lizette earned a B.A. in Communications and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

Learn more about AltaMed Health Services.

Dr. D'Artagnan Scorza

Executive Director of Racial Equity
County of Los Angeles

Dr. Scorza is tasked with championing the elimination of structural racism and promoting efforts to deepen the County’s work on diversity, equity and inclusion. His life’s work is centered on building leaders who fight for equity in communities and schools. In his previous roles as the Executive Director of Social Justice Learning Institute, a UC Regent, and the President of the Board of Education for the Inglewood Unified School District; he launched programs that helped youth of color become social justice leaders and college graduates. He also helped pass policies that prioritized $160 million for student services across UC campuses and secured $350 million to support school construction for K-12 schools. As a U.S. Navy Iraq-War Veteran and civic leader, he has received numerous awards and accolades, including the UCLA Recent Graduate Achievement Award and recognition by the Empowerment Congress among its 40 Emerging Civic Leaders under 40.

Learn more about LA County’s Anti-Racism, Diversity, & Inclusion Initiative.

Renee Smith-Maddox, Ph.D.

Teaching Professor
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

With a passion for inspiring and empowering others to create social change, Dr. Smith-Maddox teaches graduate-level courses on topics such as design thinking, social change and innovation, organizational development, and serves as an advisor for Capstone Projects. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the fields of nonprofit management, youth development, and college access. Dr. Smith-Maddox’s extensive knowledge in designing and managing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives is informed by her experience as an education analyst in the NYC Board of Education, an executive director in the social sector, and a teacher researcher with inquiry-based research projects in K-12 schools. As an equity-minded practitioner, strategist, anti-trafficking advocate, and champion of empowerment initiatives for women and girls, she is also a venture catalyst and thought partner, designer, planner, and facilitator committed to working with visionary leaders developing data collection tools for data-driven interventions that advance equity and social justice.

Learn more about Renee Smith-Maddox, Ph.D.

Benjamin Torres

President & CEO

Benjamin’s entire career has been focused on placing the tools of democracy directly in the hands of society’s most marginalized residents through education, training, engagement, and multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic community building. For the last 25 years, his voice and leadership have supported the South LA region’s Black/Brown neighborhoods to increase their social capital and economic opportunity through inclusive democratic and power building action and the strategic utilization of highly effective public, private, nonprofit, and resident partnerships. Prior to becoming CDTech’s President and CEO in 2010, Benjamin served as the Vice President of the Working Democracy Division and Director of CDTech’s Community Planning program at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College (LATTC); the MultiCultural Collaborative’s Community School Initiative in Watts; and the Multi-Cultural Education Consortium in Santa Barbara.

Learn more about CDTech.

Dina Walker

President & CEO
BLU Educational Foundation

Dina has more than 20 years’ experience working with educational, government, and community organizations. As president and CEO of BLU Educational Foundation, she leads a team that provides educational and human services programming to youth, adults, and organizations to build healthy, productive communities in the Riverside and San Bernardino counties of California’s Inland Empire.  Now, through BLU’s Institute for Civic Engagement — a leadership pipeline to help those who have historically lacked representation, she is teaching a new generation how to be change-makers.

Learn more about BLU Educational Foundation.

Laura Wittcoff, DSW, LICSW

Principal & Adjunct Professor
Intrinsic Group & USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Co-founder and principal of the Intrinsic Group and Adjunct Assistant Professor at both the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, Laura consults in the areas of strategic thinking, creative problem solving, change management, mentorship and culture. She has developed a decision-making method, Gamifying Engagement®, for organizations to capitalize on better understanding and delivering their message to increase their visibility. Laura developed and launched a podcast, now a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Small & Gutsy®, to support nonprofits and social impact organizations in their efforts to spread their message and broaden their networks. Laura serves as co-chair of the UCLA Stroke Rescue Council of Advocates, as a member of the UCLA Health System Board and as a member of the Go North West Task Force and the Jewish National Fund’s Media and Content Advisory Committee. Laura received her doctorate from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, her master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University, and a post-graduate fellowship in Organization Development from the Boston Institute for Psychotherapy. She is a recipient of the Jane Addams Award from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

Learn more about Intrinsic Group.