What is TEDxPasadenaWomen?
TEDxPasadenaWomen is a group of women and men seeking to transform the conversation. We reach for this goal by providing a forum for the cross-pollination of ideas and expertise between industries, socioeconomic groups, ages and life experiences.
Our local conference is designed to create a community of bright minds with diverse interests to share discourse inspired by TEDx talks that are idea-focused, and to cover a wide range of subjects. Our conference fosters learning, inspiration and wonder—and is sure to spark conversations that matter.
Heather Heimerl Brunold
Executive Director & Licensee
Heather Heimerl Brunold has been a thought leader in education, specializing in adolescent development and family/school dynamics, for more than two decades. After completing her doctorate in education from the University of Southern California, Heather became recognized as an expert in school type and its role in college preparation. A fifth-generation Southern Californian, she established PreparedToLaunch, LLC, an education consulting firm that cultivates long-term success for young people, as well as Words2Action, a nonprofit whose mission is to engage a community of learners, leaders and educators – through spoken word and tangible action – to change the world, one idea at a time. Heather is a helper, healer and teacher. Her passion for learning and her love of community building are the reasons she enjoys serving TEDxPasadenaWomen as the Executive Director/Licensee.
Social Media Guru
Jenna Arak is a professional copywriter and freelance writer with over a decade of experience in public relations, digital marketing and content marketing. A native of Southern California and current Pasadena resident, Jenna is a storytelling teacher and a mentor with WriteGirl. She has worked with several high-profile clients, and her writing has been featured in many magazines and websites. Jenna shows women how to use the written word to share their stories—teaching, connecting and impacting others. Her mission is to encourage women to follow their dreams, build upon their strengths, encourage deeper connections and bring innovative ideas into the world through storytelling.
Megan Baxter was born and raised in Pasadena, and is currently a senior at La Salle High School. Accepted to Santa Clara University as a Computer Engineering Major, Megan is part of generation of women paving the way in technology. As the youngest member of the TEDxPasadenaWomen Board, Megan’s dedication to TED has inspired all who meet her. Megan was incredibly moved by the TedXPasadenaWomen event last October, knowing instantly she wanted to volunteer with the event in any way she could. Megan has been enthusiastically embraced as a member of the Board, bringing fresh ideas and a perspective of how to reach a new generation of women. Megan looks forward to what this year will bring, for all of the knowledge she will gain, and for the incredible people she will meet along the way.
Master of MailChimp
Dana Bean is deeply rooted in Los Angeles’s nonprofit community. As a nonprofit development and communications executive, she has been helping nonprofit organizations advance their missions, increase visibility and raise the funds they need to thrive for nearly 15 years. As the Director of Development for Union Station Homeless Services, an organization that provides homeless shelter services, housing and family programs, Dana provides oversight for the organization’s diverse fundraising and communications efforts. Dana holds a Master of Public Administration with a focus in nonprofit sector management from California State University-Northridge.
Carla Buigues is a mother of two amazing children, a real estate broker, a community leader and a philanthropist. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she migrated to the U.S. at 14. At Mount San Antonio College, Carla began her career at Transamerica Financial Services, becoming a top producer and quickly reaching a management position. She established a real estate company at 25, armed with the passion she acquired following the footsteps of her entrepreneur father. With over 25 years’ experience in real estate, she is part of the John Aaroe Group. Carla’s greatest achievement is being a mother, while being a multi-million dollar top producer and serving communities.
Interactive/Social Space Manager
Sunny Cui is an undergraduate student majoring in Electrical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining TEDxPasadenaWomen, she served as the head organizer of two TEDxYouth events in her hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Her experience working with youth-led organizations and nonprofits taught her to never underestimate the power of the community in delivering social change. Sunny is passionate about social activism, youth engagement, and entrepreneurship. She is always eager to discuss cutting edge ideas and meet like-minded people who wish make the world a more positive place. As Director of Interactive Spaces, Sunny is excited to build a lasting attendee experience that makes the TEDxPasadenaWomen network all the more connected and the ideas all the more actionable.
Speaker Curation Manager
Thirty years ago, Rachel Countryman began her career as a math teacher, coach and dorm parent at a Massachusetts boarding school. Before moving to Pasadena three years ago, Rachel worked as an administrator, college counselor, academic planner and academic dean at Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut. Rachel assists with the coordination and transitions program of the K–12 systems at Polytechnic School. A volunteer in Poly’s kindergarten classrooms, she also serves on the Board of Trustees of Sequoyah School in Pasadena. Rachel’s career has been enriched through a family legacy of education. As a third-generation educator, Rachel is dedicated to educating the minds of tomorrow.
Special Guest Production
Celina Guerrero is a business development strategist, identifying untapped business opportunities and creating strategies and relationships for professional services firms and nonprofit organizations. Previously, Celina was a booking agent and manager at Columbia Artists Management in New York City. Upon returning to her native Pasadena, Celina was the Director of Innovate Pasadena, an organization connecting technology, science, design and entrepreneurship communities. Celina serves on the leadership team of Pasadena Women in Technology and currently works with Project Scientist, a summer STEM camp for girls, and with Orange Grove Consulting, a women’s leadership firm. Celina earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and her master’s degree from Fordham University Graduate School of Business.
Amy is an award-winning marketing, branding and communications leader who helps growing companies in the technology sector jump-start their marketing. For more than a decade, Amy served as Vice President of Marketing & Communications for media technology company, Vubiquity, where she oversaw marketing, communications, public relations and events, and lead the company’s global rebranding from Avail-TVN to Vubiquity. Amy moved to Pasadena 15 years ago, after six years in London, where she earned her MBA at London Business School and ran Inflight Entertainment for British Airways.
Director of Partnerships
Grace Mellis brings more than 20 years of experience of working in management and strategy at organizations ranging from consulting to banking and finance at firms such as Booz & Company and JPMorgan Chase & Co. She has held managing director and chief financial officer roles. She is currently working on a startup, and she is on the advisory board of two other startups. Grace is happiest when she can combine her love for problem solving with her love of creating new businesses. She’s passionate about people, education, coaching and development.
With her desire to help people, childhood friends often joked that Christina should become a nun. Pursuing another path, Christina has spent the past nine years in law enforcement, working for the FBI. Deeply impacted by the events of September 11, Christina joined the FBI in its New York office. Currently serving as a Supervisory Intelligence Analyst for the FBI’s Los Angeles office, Christina is dedicated to recognizing, educating and empowering young leaders. In a profession with so few women, Christina encourages women to embrace leadership positions. A Pasadena native, Christina was happy to return to California six years ago. Christina is thrilled to be a part of the TEDxPasadenaWomen team.
Katerina is a passionate government relations professional. Her grassroots organizing and political advocacy work has spanned over seven years with the University of California Students Association, the University of California, Irvine, and the Syrian American Alliance. Katerina has also worked as a grant writer and fundraising consultant. After completing her Bachelor of Arts at the University of California, Irvine, Katerina is expanding her progressive political advocacy work under the tutelage of Pasadena-based political consulting firm, The Strategy Group. Her mixture of fundraising, advocacy work, passion and intelligence, make her perfectly suited to take on the role as Salon Coordinator and Grant Writer of TEDxPasadenaWomen.
Prior to moving to California, Jacqueline Samols worked in a number of capacities in the creative world from animation to advertising. Communication is the thread that weaves together Jacqueline’s personal and professional interests, from an undergraduate degree from Brown University in Semiotics (the study of how communication takes place) to her interest in the third TedXPasadenaWomen event. Along the way, Jacqueline earned a Master’s Degree in Communications from the USC Annenberg School of Communications, where she taught public speaking to undergraduates. Jacqueline’s expertise in communication has also provided her the opportunity to work with MBA students at the Marshall School of Business to improve upon their presentation skills.
Budget and Finance
Rebecca brings two decades of experience as a financial and accounting professional, partnering with leaders and visionaries in support of organizations that make the world a better place. With a master’s degree in International Management and as a Certified Public Accountant, Rebecca brings a humanistic perspective to the “numbers,” knowing financial reporting represents the people of an organization, their efforts, endeavors and hopes. Rebecca works at Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in Human Resources and Benefits. Recently, she implemented systems to comply with the Affordable Care Act and California Family Paid Sick Leave as well as managing retirement benefits for physicians.
Jennifer Thibault has 15+ years of nonprofit management experience, including special event coordination, communications and volunteer supervision. She is a problem solver with keen attention to detail. Jennifer graduated from the University of Southern California School of Theatre and worked as a stage manager, theatrical producer and performer until settling down in Pasadena with her husband and two children. She focuses on the nonprofit sector, giving back to her community as a volunteer and as a paid consultant. Jennifer was thrilled to join the TEDxPasadenaWomen team as Stage Manager in 2016 and will continue in that role this year.
Bearer of Gifts
Patti has served in leadership roles with Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 Companies for over 30 years, and in the human resources consulting industry for the past 20. Her latest adventure is as a Director, Client Success and Engagement Solutions leader for Insprius LLC, where she helps “companies bring joy to work– one experience at a time.” Patti grew up in West Covina, and her family relocated to Pasadena ten years ago. Today, she makes service to the city a priority. Patti is a member of the Leadership Pasadena Class of 2017 and a Volunteer Recruitment Chair. Producing empowered, inspired and connected leaders who strengthen our diverse communities led Patti to join this year’s TEDxPasadenaWomen Board of Directors.
What is TEDx?
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxPasadenaWomen, where x = independently organized TED event.
At our TEDxPasadenaWomen event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.