Speaker, Author, Minister
Timothy Alexander is a faith-driven young man who has dedicated his life to motivating and inspiring others. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Timothy attended Erwin High School and was ranked eighth best high school football player in the state. Timothy had the opportunity to play for any college in the country. However, this all changed in 2006, when he was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Timothy was left to find his purpose in life while paralyzed. After the accident, he went on to graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he double majored in Criminal Justice and Communication Management. He later earned a Master’s degree in Communication Management. Not only was he successful in his studies, but he was an inspiration to fellow students on the UAB campus. He was also the first paraplegic to receive a football scholarship.
However, his proudest moment came in July 2016. For the first time since being paralyzed, Timothy was able to stand up on his own while on the football field. This caught the eye of major news publications including ABC National News, TMZ Sports, and many others. Timothy was the recipient of an Emmy Award in January 2017 as the Sports Program Feature: for the 31st Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Timothy is a living example of his signature phrase, “We don’t need it to be easy, we just need it to be possible.”
Nancy Baker Cahill
Artist, Innovator, Communicator
Nancy Baker Cahill is a multi-disciplinary artist and founder of 4th Wall, a free Augmented Reality (AR) app which allows users to place art in 360 degrees anywhere in the world. Nancy received her B.A. in Art from Williams College. From 2010-2012 she initiated and led a collaborative art project at Homeboy Industries called “Exit Wounds.” Works from this project were exhibited throughout Los Angeles as part of the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM)’s “Folk Art Everywhere” program. In 2015, she designed and led a collage workshop with homeless individuals under the aegis of a CAFAM grant. She is also the recipient of an ARC Grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation.
Solo exhibition highlights include the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Ochi Projects, her Virtual Reality (VR) public art project on the IF (Innovation Foundation) sponsored Sunset Digital Billboards, and a VR/AR event at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) in April 2018.
Nancy has been profiled by Forbes Magazine, Fast Company, The Smithsonian Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, KCET’s award-winning “Artbound” series, LA Weekly, Aesthetica, Good Magazine, LA Magazine, LA Weekly, and Peripheral Vision Arts. She has also appeared in several podcasts, including Feminist Crush and State of the Art. She will be a featured speaker at the AR-focused A.W.E. Conference in early June and recently served on the Women in Leadership panel sponsored by Sotheby’s Institute of Art and CGU in early May. She served for years as a member of the Hollywood Public Art Advisory Board, is a member of the Pasadena Art Alliance, an Advisory Board member of Fulcrum Arts, and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at LACE.
Jeffrey S. Bucholtz
Motivator, Educator, Consultant
Jeffrey Bucholtz is director of We End Violence, a violence prevention social business that provides performances, educational materials, curricula, consulting services, and Agent of Change bystander intervention programming. For four years, Jeff served as president of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council, a county-wide collaborative body designed to increase cross-sector prevention and response efforts around domestic violence.
Over the past 17 years, Jeff has worked as an activist, organizer, and public speaker, providing consultation, presentations, and performances in the fields of sexual violence, masculinity, relationship violence, gender normativity, popular culture, violence prevention, stalking, bullying, working in alliances, feminist thought, collaboration, and the intersectionality of oppression. Jeff has done extensive work with the male community to engage and involve men in violence prevention, including his work as co-chair of the San Diego Men’s Leadership Forum.
Jeff is an award winning adjunct faculty member at Southwestern College where he teaches Oral Communication, Interpersonal Communication, TELA Communication (part of an African-American learning community), Public Speaking, and Small Group Facilitation. In addition, Jeff works as a public speaking consultant with Speak for Success, and teaches courses on Violence Against Women and Popular Culture and Identity at San Diego State University.
Researcher, Futurist, Crypto-enthusiast
After her first month of college at Lehigh University, 18 year old Dana Budzyn went into septic shock and was put in a medically induced coma for a month. She went from being a third place junior volleyball Olympian and recruited college basketball player, to learning how to walk and function again. After one year and five major surgeries, the worst of her illness was over.
During this long recovery, Dana decided to return to school and study bioengineering to pay tribute to the doctors and engineers whose technology saved her life. She interned at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developing use cases for space technology in the medical, forensic, and environmental fields. In her research, she realized the potential of aggregated health data and how this could not only help solve some of the largest medical mysteries in the world, but could give individuals a vested interest in and ownership of the cures themselves. With this in mind, Dana left Lehigh University, 11 credits shy of a degree, to focus her time on datavest, a startup that focuses on empowering individuals to own and capitalize their data.
Visual Storyteller, Dancer, Music Lover
Steven Butler is a multi-talented creative with an open mind, passion for storytelling, and aptitude for intersecting multiple art forms. He harbors the stage presence, confidence, and spatial awareness of a dancer; the storytelling ability of a seasoned writer and filmmaker; and the social responsibility of an informed artist. He began his creative career as a dancer and choreographer with credits including Transformers 2, The Latin Grammy’s, Weeds, Good Morning America and artists including Ludacris, Nick Carter, Aaron Carter, Paulina Rubio, Cheat Codes and Macy Gray. He received a Bachelor of Arts in film from ArtCenter College of Design, graduating with distinction. His directing credits include music videos for Precarious Records, Ultra Records, and Raid Records. He has also received recognition for his writing, directing, and producing from Slamdance, The Addy Awards, Zooppa, Standard Vision and the Academy of Television & Sciences Blue Ribbon Panel.
Complementing his choreography and film work, Steven serves as the Media Coordinator for Designmatters, the ArtCenter’s Social Innovation department. In addition to shaping the department narrative by managing its website, blogs, and social media channels, Steven also oversees the departmental archive of digital media. In this role, he builds relationships with media partners and professional organizations to expedite asset requests.
By intersecting his creative passions and vast practical experience in varying artistic fields, Steven aims to use art as a means of storytelling that both engages and inspires viewers and participants, while simultaneously shaping a progressive and culturally relevant narrative.
Problem Solver, Explorer, Trailblazer
Tracy Drain relishes being on the forefront of space exploration. She is a Systems Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA and is currently the Deputy Project System Engineer on the Psyche mission. She received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kentucky and a MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
In her 17 years at the JPL, Tracy has been involved in the development, testing, and operation of several missions: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (a science and relay orbiter at Mars), Kepler (a space based observatory searching for Exoplanets), Juno (an orbiter at Jupiter), and her current adventure, Psyche. Psyche will launch in 2022, on a mission to study the solar system’s largest metal asteroid.
Tracy is passionate about space exploration and STEM fields in general and loves taking every opportunity to share her enthusiasm with students, parents, and teachers.
Entrepreneur, Foodie, Olympian
Lauren Gibbs is a graduate from Pasadena’s own Westridge School for Girls. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree from Brown University and an Executive MBA from Pepperdine University. Having been an athlete for most of her life, Lauren played volleyball for Brown and served as team captain during her senior year.
After finishing school, Lauren pursued a career in sales. Having worked for a number of notable organizations, Lauren was climbing the corporate ladder when she was presented with the opportunity to attend a tryout session for the U.S. National Bobsled Team. Three months later, she was selected to represent Team USA as a rookie member of the 2015 Women’s National Bobsled Team. Seeing the opportunity to chart a different path in her life, Lauren made the decision to leave her six-figure role as a Regional Sales Director to pursue a different dream, to become an Olympian. Thrust into a sport she had never competed in or even watched, Lauren transformed herself into an elite-level bobsledder in just four years’ time.
In January 2018, Lauren was named to her first Olympic Team to compete in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. With her teammate, Elana Meyers Taylor, Lauren earned a silver medal helping Team USA continue the trend of success for the Women’s Bobsled program. Lauren found her passion in public speaking, where she enjoys sharing her story of taking risks, overcoming adversity, and taking action, which she does while she continues to train for her second Olympic Team in 2022.
Erika Jayne Girardi
Performer, Author, TV Personality
A natural-born entertainer, Erika Jayne Girardi has raked in a whopping nine #1’s on the U.S. Billboard dance chart, toured the globe and racked up superstar fans like Ariana Grande and Christina Aguliera. On top of that, the Atlanta native is a New York Times bestselling author, cast member and fan favorite on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and virtual character in the mobile app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. She has also appeared on major network television programs like ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, CBS’s The Young and The Restless, and Paramount’s Lip Sync Battle.
With her popularity soaring across America, Erika’s famous face has been seen on just about every top-tier media platform, including Ellen, Good Morning America, Nightline, Larry King, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and People Magazine. The blonde siren’s always-perfect hair and makeup – on-camera and on the red carpet – has made her a marketing target for the beauty industry, scoring Girardi high-figure partnerships with popular brands like TooFaced and Beauty Blender for Sephora. It’s hard to believe that with all this, Erika Jayne is just getting started…
Peter and Adenike Harris
Father, Daughter, Allies
In their presentations and workshops, Peter and Adenike Harris, also known as Pops‘nAde, provide practical and loving lessons learned from years of courageous “call-and-response” dialogue that helped them heal in the years after Adenike revealed her stepfather had sexually abused her from the ages of 14 to 22. In the spirit of Lift Every Voice and Sing, Pops‘nAde reveal how they became thriving survivors through tears, candor, imagination, and even hard-won laughter. Pops‘nAde are 21st Century Conversation Starters and Healing Partners with a dynamic message: “We’re all worth healing and no silence is good that keeps you from talking to people who can help you.” Pops‘nAde are living examples, whose powerful service offers a roadmap to rich, loving, and inspiring non-abusive relationships.
In their individual creative and professional work, Adenike works for a model arts education organization serving underserved youth in Los Angeles. She is a Certified Integral ‘Whole Living’ Coach, after graduating in 2015 from New Ventures West in San Francisco. She earned her Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies in 2011 at Georgia State University, and graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. Peter is an award-winning cultural worker since the 1970’s, Artistic Director of Inspiration House, which produces cultural, artistic, educational, and media products. Peter is the founder of The Black Man of Happiness Project, a creative, intellectual, and artistic exploration of Black men and joy. He’s author of The Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My Unalienable Right, a book of personal essays, earning him the title of an American Book Awards winner in 2015. (Photo credit: Tiffany Judkins)
Altruist, Coach, Connector
To Tim Hartley, community is everything. When he’s not working as a residential real estate agent in the Pasadena/Los Angeles area or raising his two sons with husband, Jason of 19 years, he is actively engaged in helping many others throughout the community.
Tim’s enthusiasm and commitment are an inspiration to everyone he meets. He serves on the board of Monte Cedro, a senior living community in Altadena; coaches for Pasadena’s Special Olympics swim and soccer teams; and serves on the steering committee of All Saints Foster Care Project.
Add to all this, in his free time, Tim works as a hospice volunteer.
Storyteller, Scientist, Humorist
Bryan Kett is a writer and storyteller from the Midwest who now lives in Los Angeles. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in biology and education, he spent his first few years out of college teaching high school science in Chicago.
On a whim, after his first year teaching, he began taking writing classes at Chicago’s famed Second City. There, he fell in love with the craft of writing, and went on to earn his Master’s degree in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University. Still a scientist at heart, Bryan loves weaving personal narrative and scientific explanation to create illuminating, entertaining stories for the screen and stage. In his free time, Bryan loves fishing, despite the fact that he hasn’t caught a fish in years.
Ashlee Marie Preston
Host, Commentator, Activist
Ashlee Marie Preston is a media personality, writer, speaker, and civil rights activist. She is the host of a podcast/vodcast entitled “Shook with Ashlee Marie Preston” which examines news, politics, entertainment, and pop culture through a social justice lens.
Ashlee Marie is historically the first trans woman to become editor in chief of a national publication. She has been featured by Teen Vogue, NBC, New York Times, BuzzFeed, HuffPo, The Washington Post, and many other news outlets. She was named one of The Root 100’s “Most Influential African Americans of 2017”, and was profiled as one of LOGO/NewNowNext and PopSugar’s top 40 LGBTQ’s of 2017. Ashlee Marie was a candidate for California State Assembly District 54 in 2018; making her the first openly trans person to run for California State Legislature.
Urologist, Professor, Surgeon
Dr. René Sotelo recently moved to Los Angeles, from Venezuela, after being highly recruited by the University of Southern California (USC). He serves as a professor of urology at the Institute of Urology at USC and Medical Director of the International Services at Keck Medicine of USC.
Recognized for his leadership in the field of laparoscopic and robotic repair techniques, Dr. Sotelo has performed more than 3,000 advanced laparoscopic-robotic surgeries, including complex urinary fistulae, radical prostatectomy, partial nephrectomy, cystectomy, and inguinal lymphadenectomy. He is considered a pioneer among his peers and one of the most experienced surgeons in the world, for using these techniques to treat patients. As a distinguished researcher, Dr. Sotelo has published more than 60 articles on urology.
Rounding out more than 18 distinguished international awards from scientific and governmental associations such as the American Urological Association, European Association of Urology and International Society of Urology, Dr. Sotelo has been recognized as one of America’s Top Urologists in 2007, from the Consumers’ Research Council of America, and, most recently, among the 2017 Top Doctors in Pasadena Magazine.