Recent Speakers

Crossing Cultures in Today's World       

Featuring LueRachelle Brim-Atkins, Principal at Brim-Donahoe & Associatesd

When: April 13, 2017


LueRachelle Brim-Atkins grew up in segregated Naples, Texas. She was born in a hospital for black families as the hospital for white families was not available to her family. She went to an all-black school filled with hand-me-downs from the white school and similar experiences followed throughout her life. Her Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology transformed her perspectives and connected her early life experience to her future. 

LueRachelle has built a life based on educating others and providing opportunities for people to develop broader perspectives about the communities they live in and the people around them. Included in her work today, she helps build cross-cultural community by bringing together constituents from local synagogues, churches, and mosques. Together they create reusable feminine care kits for girls and women in Africa, which unites them in a common cause. Working side-by-side, they learn from each other and discover the beauty inherent in all people as they make meaningful connections. 

See you in April to hear more of LueRachelle’s incredible story and learn from the powerful work she does in our business and social communities. Her model for connection can teach us all something about how to strengthen our ties to others and become more comfortable with differences.  



LueRachelle Brim-Atkins has been a progressive consultant, executive coach, facilitator, educator, and trainer for over three decades. She grew up in the South, attended graduate schools in the East and West, has lived in the Northwest since 1972 and has traveled to 31 countries. She interacts with and fosters cross-cultural community interactions daily with cultural and racial communities different from her own in both her professional and personal life. In her volunteer activities, she leads joint-venture sustainable projects for clean water, libraries and sanitary products in Kenya and Cameroon. This way of life has given her a deep understanding of cultural norms and differing views of race and social justice, institutional racism, diversity and poverty. LueRachelle has taught in public K-12 education and in universities, provided training and consulting services in corporations, school systems, governmental agencies, law firms, public transit companies, health care organizations, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, professional associations and boards. In all of these environments, she champions clear communication, equity and social justice and speaks widely on social change, leadership, and change management. 

LueRachelle’s formal education includes a B.A. in English from the University of Texas,a Masters in Urban Education from the State University of New York and a Masters in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Additionally, she has formal training in inter-cultural communication, training and development, diversity, race and social justice and holds certificates of completion from the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish County and the Center for Work and the Human Spirit—Leadership Development Intensive. 



Claiming Your Social Media Space       

Featuring Tracey Warren, Social Media Strategists, and CEO of Social Playground

When: March 9, 2017

In 2009, Tracey Warren experienced the worst year of her life. To pull herself out of unbelievable grief, she started helping a friend with her social media and discovered she had an affinity for it and liked helping people make meaningful connections in the growing online world. She learned from her own tendency to hide out in this unfamiliar terrain and pushed herself to experiment with being bolder, learning how to “stand up and stand out” in the process. Her business and expertise has grown and now allows her to share critical components of social media success such as how to:

  • Be more authentic
  • Find your target audience and engage them
  • Claim your space with your unique voice and presence

Tracey Warren wants to change the way entrepreneurs and small business owners use Social Media to market their business. Her mission is to help them create community, build relationships and ultimately make more money. She works with clients for the long term and becomes an essential part of the team creating and curating content and truly building a community so the business owner can focus on what really drives revenue! She has a degree in Journalism from Whitworth University and published her first book in 2013, “Six Word Lessons for Successful Social Media.”  


Expose Your Self-Limiting Beliefs       

Featuring Stephanie Owens, Business Coach, Entrepreneur, and Author

When: February 9, 2017


Therapist turned entrepreneur, Stephanie Owens delivers a unique perspective to business by sharing key communication secrets that quickly build trust and long-lasting relationships to help her clients grow their businesses quickly and easily, without feeling pushy.  

Stephanie Owens specializes in teaching overachievers and high performance professionals turnkey communication tools and mindset strategies to achieve more and stress less.  She successfully built three thriving referral-based businesses from scratch without paid advertising or cold calling using short cuts she learned by applying her therapy bag of tricks to the business world.  Now, she teaches others these trade secrets so they can attract more business in record time just by knowing how to talk with people in a way that is not only authentic, but also a perfect fit for how the human brain was designed to operate. 

Stephanie is the author of a book entitled No Is The New YES!:  The Overachievers Guide To Achieve More & Stress Less 


Stephanie Owens grew up strong, capable, and sure of herself. But, underneath all that confidence she always felt others should come before her. She made life look effortless and it worked until she expanded her family and it became too much. The joy she had always taken in her work as a therapist and then in the non-profit world helping others, faded into stress and a lack of confidence. 

This forced a change and she developed a set of tools that allowed her to make subtle shifts in her own life, reestablishing the balance and focus she craved. In partnership with her husband, she changed the direction of her business, founding Stephanie Owens International, and now works to help others “find the right tool at the right time so little things don’t become big things.” 

Our February breakfast will feature Stephanie and her incredible gift for helping others tackle the tough topics that are so common in our conversations today: perfectionism, balance, and knowing how to focus our energy in the right places. Stephanie shares a peaceful, happy life with her amazing husband and their two impressive college-aged kids near Tacoma, WA.



Expose Your Self-Limiting Beliefs       

Featuring Sarah Bird, CEO, Moz

When: January 12, 2017  

“Too often, empathy is considered a liability in corporate environments. Empathy makes us better colleagues and builds better products.” Sarah Bird on Twitter

“Surround yourself with people who will challenge you.” Sarah Bird

“Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Forgive yourself and others. For yourself: If you’re challenging yourself, you’re going to make mistakes. Think about what you’ll do differently next time, then get over it and move on. For others: The greatest gift we can give someone is affirmation that they are worthy of our regard independent of their achievements. Be tough on the outcome and kind to the human.” Sarah Bird interviewed by Monica Nickelsburg for Geekwire, May 19, 2016


Sarah Bird serves as the CEO of Moz, a software company helping online marketers measure and improve search, social, and content marketing. Sarah has overseen the growth of Moz from a few hundred to over 30,000 passionate customers from all over the world. Moz also host the world’s largest community of online marketers with over two million visits to the Moz blog each month. 

A student of the world, Sarah attended Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada; Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey; University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, Washington; and East China University School of Law and Politics in Shanghai, China. After practicing law for several years, Sarah threw herself into the startup lifestyle and helped build Moz from the ground up. She sets the company strategy and drives execution through alignment, authentic company culture, and transparency. She regularly speaks about culture, entrepreneurship, search marketing, and business models. Her credits include the University of Washington, Fledge, Startup Weekend, the Microsoft Accelerator Program, Seattle Tech Meetup, the White House Summit on Working families, Seattle Interactive Conference, and Defrag. She was named a Top 100 Women in Tech by the Puget Sound Business Journal. 

She supports many charitable and educational institutions, including Solid Ground, Seattle Girls School, Playground by the Sound, Resilience Rising, Ada Developers Academy, and WACAP. She is on the board of Sitrion, a private company improving enterprise productivity, and the Washington Technology Industry Association.

“You get to decide how you see it.” David Foster Wallace



Jazz Up Your Life and Business with Your Innate Artistry       

Featuring Dr. Gloria J. Burgess, Founder and CEO, Jazz Inc., and Author

When: December 8, 2016  

 After rising to the upper echelons of the tech world at Honeywell, Xerox, Citigroup, and Adobe, Gloria reconnected with her love of the arts. She returned to the poetry and music of her youth, first weaving those interests back into her personal life and then into her corporate practices. The greater her reconnection to art became, the more she realized that what she enjoyed most about her career was working creatively with people and re-designing organizational processes to be in harmony with today’s professionals. Twenty years ago, Gloria re-imagined her career and launched her own coaching and consulting business, Jazz, Inc. The rest is history in the making.

We sat down with Gloria and gained some insight into this spirited woman’s journey and a taste of what she will share with us. 

Q: What's the value of art in your work?

A: When we’re young, we love to play. As we grow older, many of us stop playing. Life is serious. There is too much to do. We simply forget how much fun play can be. But the notion of play and having a space for play – or a playground, if you will – is very important. When we play, ideas float in and things appear that were formerly invisible to us. I tap into this notion of play in my work with corporations and individuals, and we have a lot of fun. We also get a lot of hard work done together.

Q: How do you approach people who do not think of themselves as creative types?

A: I believe that everyone is artistic and creative. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for many of us to marginalize our artistry and creativity. By recognizing our innate artistry, putting it front and center, we see the world and work through a different prism. This will often spark conversation and ideas that permit creative solutions and change.

Q: How do you factor the notion of play into your own work?

A: I enjoy playing and collaborating with my clients. What I do looks very different for each one. Every few years, I set aside time to purposely and deliberately re-imagine myself. This allows my work to evolve and stay fresh. I particularly love purposeful play because it affords me the spaciousness I need to dream up new, imaginative ways to approach my work.

Q: Where does your notion that play is important stem from?

A: My parents, who were amazing, creative people. Despite the challenging circumstances they faced, they taught me and my four sisters to dream big. Forget about dreaming outside the box. My parents taught us to dream outside the building! And they taught us the importance of making a life that is worthy to pass on to others, which fuels my spirit both at Jazz, Inc. and The Lift Every Voice Foundation – a non-profit organization I founded to bring technology, leadership, and the arts to underrepresented youth.

Join us for breakfast on December 8, as we hear more from Gloria about her incredible passion for life and how you can find ways jazz up your life and business, creating your own playgrounds for conversation and opening the door for artistry in every aspect of your life.

Dr. Gloria Burgess loves nothing more than inspiring others to create a bridge from what was… to what is...  to what can be. And she’s dedicated her life to doing just that. In all aspects of her life, Gloria celebrates the indomitable power of the human spirit.

As a mom, community leader, leadership consultant, executive coach, and educator, Gloria is passionate about empowering and equipping women to create a positive, vibrant future.

Founder and CEO of several for-profit and non-profit organizations, Dr. Burgess is also a dynamic, sought-after speaker and an award-winning author and poet. Gloria has shared the stage with luminaries such as Dr. Phil, Marianne Williamson, and Dr. Bernie Siegel. She has also been featured on numerous television and radio programs, including NPR, British Public Radio, and Seattle’s renowned Dr. Pat Show. She is currently working on Dare to Be You, a book and on-demand program for women of all ages; a book series for young people based on her best-selling book Legacy Living; and a children’s picture book, Pass It On!. Gloria’s latest books and on-demand programs include, Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside and Flawless Leadership: Connecting Who You Are with What You Know and Do.


Discover the Magic in Your Personal Brand       

Featuring Erica Mills, Founder, Claxon and Claxon Univeristy

When: November 10, 2016  


Word guru, Erica Mills, is masterful at using words to transform ideas into compelling messages. Like a magician, she guides individuals and organizations along journeys of discovery, bringing out the exciting and complex information needed to define a brand identity both personally and professionally. When you have a core message you love, it is easy to present you and your business with confidence and passion. Join us for breakfast on November 10, as Erica livens up our morning with humor and a boatload of great information to give structure to defining your personal brand, including:

  • Practical insights and tips gleaned from leading hundreds through the branding process.
  • A deeper look into where personal and professional branding come together.
  • Examples from her personal experience of the potential found in authenticity.

Erica Mills is on a mission to make sure everyone knows how to use better words to create a better world. She heads up Claxon, a research-driven consulting firm, and is the driving force behind Claxon University, an online learning platform. Erica is the Director of the Nancy Bell Evans Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, where she also lectures. Erica is the author of the book: Pitchfalls: why bad pitches happen to good peopleand the creator of The Wordifier, a free, online tool powered by the most comprehensive research done to date on language usage in the social sector. Her work has been featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Stanford Social Innovation Review. 



Past to Present: The Evolving Experience of Women in Business and Marriage       

Featuring Stephanie Coontz, Author and History Maven

When: October 11, 2016  

 Shed your work day and kick up your heels at WBE’s annual evening celebration where we welcome the extraordinary Stephanie Coontz, bestselling author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap and A Strange Stirring:The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.

We are living in a time of unprecedented social and economic change. It can be difficult to absorb it, much less understand what it means. To give some perspective, Stephanie will deconstruct a little history and put a spotlight on surprising key factors influencing our society today. Drawing from decades of her research on women, families, and marriage, she will explore the contradiction between the growing acceptance of interpersonal equality (gender, race, sexual orientation) and the now larger threat, the growth of economic inequality.

Join us for music, conversation, cocktails and plentiful hors d'oeuvres on Tuesday evening October 11, as we experience the wisdom of a uniquely influential and irreplaceable national treasure, Stephanie Coontz.


 Megan Karch

Maintaining a Culture of Success

Featuring Megan Karch, CEO, FareStart         

When: September 15, 2016 

From the time she was little, Megan Karch had a community created by family, her school, and the broader farming community she grew up in.  The feeling it gave her was one she wanted to recreate in every aspect of her life, and she understood the connection between the strength of her community and her own success. This knowledge inspired her to ensure others have the same accessibility to a community that cares about them and participates in their social, emotional, and economic well-being.

This has been the key element driving her career, first working in a human services firm in Baltimore and then coming to Washington to lead FareStart. She was attracted to the passion she saw in the FareStart culture and the ability to give more than just food, but also valuable job skills and a community that restores dignity and a sense of belonging.

Join us for breakfast on September 8, as Megan shares visionary wisdom gleaned from nearly 30 years leading organizations through extensive growth, and her first experiences with the homeless community as a child. Whether as a solopreneur or as part of a larger organization, this knowledge and will help you evaluate your own business culture and community with new eyes.

During her 15-year tenure, Megan Karch has been an instrumental part of FareStart’s significant expansion, paving the way for a broader impact on homelessness in King County: including increasing the number of individuals served by 400%; growing business revenues from $800,000 to $4,000,000; purchasing and renovating a new $12,800,000 facility; and launching a national expansion effort resulting in 68 members representing three countries. In 2015 alone, more than 800,000 meals were prepared and served to adults and children in need, and 206 individuals graduated from FareStart’s culinary training program, with 91% of adult graduates achieving employment within 90 days.

Under Megan’s leadership, FareStart has received many prestigious awards including the Downtown Seattle Association’s “2007 Champion” award, the Mayor’s “End Hunger” award, Seattle Human Services Coalition’s “Organization of the Year,” the Alliance of Non Profits’ “Evergreen Award” and the James Beard Foundation’s 2011 “Humanitarian of the Year” award.

Megan has served as board president of the Alliance of Non Profits, board president of NPower, board member of the Metropolitan Improvement District (MID) and as a member of the Governor’s State Advisory Board on Homelessness. In 2005, Megan  was named one of the “40 Under 40” by the Puget Sound Business Journal, and in 2007 was voted one of the top 20 Women of Influence in Puget Sound. In 2011 Megan was recognized as one of 10 “Women of Valor” by Senator Maria Cantwell and in 2012 won Executive Excellence award by Seattle Business Magazine. In 2013, she was recognized by SeattleMet in their annual Light a Fire Awards as an “Extraordinary Executive Director.”

Prior to joining FareStart, Megan lived in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area where she held the position of Vice President of Vocational Services for Humanim, a nonprofit human services agency. In her free time, she enjoys a host of outdoor activities including sailing, cycling and skiing.





 Jessica Tonani

“Embrace the Path That Finds You”

Featuring Jessica Tonani, CEO, Verda Bio       

When: August 11, 2016

You know you are going to love an interview when it starts with, “I was a bit of a wild child.” Jessica Tonani did not disappoint. We spoke to her for two hours on a warm Friday and we left the interview both in awe and enchanted by her humor, depth, and wisdom. A few highlights from our time together:

  • Jessica went to Washington State University and received the Howard Hughes Fellowship. Growing up in Spokane, that choice allowed her to stay close to family.
  • She worked in a lab doing research on viruses that insert themselves in the DNA of cells, replicate, and in the process cause cancer.
  • In another job, she sold microchips that had the human genome tiled on them for a company that searched for genetic mutations in the genome that may apply in situations like drug reactions or detecting bioterrorism.
  • While waiting for insurance coverage for a major illness, Jessica suffered severe nausea. Discovering the power of medical marijuana to ease her symptoms, she became a resource for others needing the same treatment. In doing so, she discovered the immense variability in the chemical content and quality in each dose and founded her company Verda Bio to do testing and research on marijuana. When she discovered you cannot grow marijuana for testing, she set out to change the law and she did.
  • She and a friend collect and deliver over 1,000 pounds of clothes, school supplies, and dental care supplies to kids in Mexico each year.

Join us for breakfast on August 11, as Jessica shares more of her incredible and interesting journey, encouraging us to explore all of our options and live fully.

Jessica Tonani is the CEO of Verda Bio; a marijuana research company which she co-founded.  Verda Bio performs genomic, analytical and agricultural research on cannabis and cannabinoid based therapeutics.   Over the last 3 years, Verda Bio has worked with the Washington legislature to implement new laws enabling research on marijuana; most recently leading to the passage of SB6177. 

Jessica is a biotechnology professional with two decades of experience in life sciences at firms such as Affymetrix and Sequenom where she held multiple positions.  She is an entrepreneur having founded multiple companies including a successful consulting company which is regularly retained by venture capital firms, Fortune 500 pharmaceutical and life science firms, as well as venture backed biotechnology companies. 

Jessica has been widely quoted as an expert in the biotechnology field in journals such as NatureScience, Popular Science and Genome Technologies.  Jessica was a Howard Hughes fellow with an MS in immunology and a BS in microbiology.


 Sue Taoka

Building Your Community Based Business Mindset

Featuring Sue Taoka, Executive Vice President, Craft3       

When: July 14, 2016

Sue Taoka grew up on vegetable farm in a small Colorado town, the only Japanese family in their community. Living and working with three generations under the same roof taught her the importance of “owning a piece of the rock,” rather than simply working someone else’s land. When she was in high school, a friend was killed in the Vietnam war and Sue began to question what was going on beyond her local world. It was a pivotal moment seeing the broader world for the first time. This new knowledge combined with her childhood experiences, expanded her social and political awareness, prompting her to get involved, particularly through a civil rights lens. She stayed passionate and involved throughout college and into her first jobs as an activist, eventually inspiring her to attend law school in Seattle.

Although she never ended up practicing law, she found a place where she could make a difference in the local Seattle community. Sue worked first as a community organizer focusing on housing and civil rights with Bob Santos, a well-known Seattle civil rights activist. After 10 years making change in the International District, she made the decision to try to make change through local government and joined the staff of then Seattle Mayor Norm Rice as his Deputy Chief of Staff. Eventually, she left city government to tackle community issues from a different angle; she led the development of the International District Village Square, a multi-use and multi-generational anchor to the International District. This development provides senior services and affordable housing, respecting its residents’ cultural heritage, and supporting local small businesses, essentially returning to her own roots by helping those in the International District find their piece of the rock.

These incredible achievements led her to Craft3, where the key is empowering communities to build themselves. Craft3 believes that communities become more resilient through investment, discrete support that leads to a “density of dots” that create critical mass, which builds community resilience. For example, if real estate development is directed locally, community residents are empowered to put the pieces in place that allow their community to thrive from housing to small business spaces where entrepreneurs can make a living. With better access to local capital, those small businesses, often denied credit through traditional banking channels, expand and grow in ways that allow the entire community to benefit. This combination of elements builds stability and a higher quality of life for everyone.

Join us for breakfast on July 14, as Sue shares:

  • How these ideas impact us as small business owners or employees
  • How we can grow our businesses (and benefit our communities at the same time)

Sue Taoka is currently an Executive Vice President at Craft3, a nonprofit, non-bank community development financial institution.  She is based out of the Seattle office developing strategies that provide access to capital that strengthens the resilience of distressed and immigrant communities.  She also focuses on organizational infrastructure improving the health and resilience of Craft3.

For 14 years Sue served as Executive Director of the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), the major property management and community development organization in the Chinatown International District.  Before that she served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Norm Rice for housing, economic and community development, neighborhoods, parks, and libraries.   And before that Sue led the International District Improvement Association.

Sue was a founding member of the National Coalition of Asian Pacific American Community, is a member  of the boards of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Seattle Investment Fund, Yesler Community Collaborative and the Friends of Little Saigon. She has recently been appointed to the Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council and  the Community Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board.

Craft3 is a non-profit community development financial institution (CDFI) with a mission to strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience in Pacific Northwest communities. We do this by providing loans and assistance to entrepreneurs, non-profits, individuals and others who don’t normally have access to financing. We then complement these financial resources with our expertise, personal connections and other advocacy for our clients. Learn more at


 Kris Hermanns

“Ensuring the Freedom for All to Live Safely, Openly, and Genuinely”

Featuring Kris Hermanns, CEO of Pride Foundation       

When: June 9, 2016

While many develop resilience and confidence from adversity, Kris Hermanns was lucky to learn these important life skills from the support and unconditional love of her family. Raised in a family of dairy farmers in Wisconsin, she was allowed, and even encouraged, to be her authentic self from an early age. Working on the farm, she did not have to conform to anyone’s expectations about what a girl should be or look like—she got to decide what it meant to be a girl for herself.

It wasn’t until her environment expanded beyond the comfort of her family life that she began to feel the pressure of pre-established gender norms, and gain a sense of the difference between safe self-expression and being different in a way that people did not understand. The former was generated from a place of happiness and internal sense of integrity and authenticity, while the latter was based in fear and the unknown.

Growing up, she learned to be successful in many different social groups. Being both academic and athletic, she was able to build bridges into both communities. Learning to connect with people from different walks of life and perspectives, contributed to the many skills that made her successful at Harvard and continue on in her roles as activist, leader, and community builder.  

In her current role as CEO of the Pride Foundation, Kris’s primary work continues to be, at its core, about building community. While her focus, right now, is on the LGBTQ community, the benefits of her work expand beyond this community. In recent years, significant progress has been made in achieving legal support for the LGBTQ community to have equal rights, but there is still much progress to be made to ensure every LGBTQ person can live safely and openly in the communities they call home.

Legal and social challenges are abundant and the fight for full lived equality for LGBTQ people is far from over, just as it is for many other communities formed around race, religion, or gender, for example. Achieving equality for any single one of these groups, is intricately enmeshed with the equality of all the others. While it may not always be clear how the struggles of others have an effect on us, it is often from them that we can gather the strength to define ourselves free from pressure and external expectations.

Join us for breakfast on June 9, as Kris takes us on a journey into her world, helping us see the bigger picture and our role in creating a safe place for everyone to reach their full potential in communities of compassion and care.

Kris has been working for more than 25 years as a nonprofit strategist, fundraiser, and executive. She developed a strong work ethic and sense of optimism from her early life working on a farm in rural Wisconsin, and brings these core values to all of her endeavors.

She has currently found a calling that bridges two of her passions, advocating for equity and social justice and the field of philanthropy. As the CEO of Pride Foundation, a regional community foundation committed to expanding opportunities and advancing full equality for LGBTQ people and their families across the Northwest, Kris connects with local, grassroots leaders and organizations carrying out this work, engages in national LGBTQ movement efforts, and mobilizes individual and institutional resources to affect real change in the lives of people who are impacted most by injustice.

Before joining Pride Foundation, Kris was the deputy director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, where she provided day-to-day internal management of the organization, led the development department, and advised on strategic direction. Prior to that, she was a program officer with The Rhode Island Foundation, where she created Equity Action, a field-of-interest fund for LGBTQ concerns, and developed the grant making program for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island.

Kris also has worked for Brown University’s Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service, which builds links between the university and the local nonprofits by developing partnerships that address community-identified needs. She earned a Masters of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University and a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Pride Foundation


Celeste Mergens

Our Perspectives, Our Reality: Decoding Differences to Build Empathy and Understanding

Featuring Celeste Mergens, Founder and Executive Director of Days for Girls International       

When: May 12, 2016  -  7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Celeste Mergens has taken an unusual and indirect path to becoming a humanitarian. She started out in college studying electrical engineering, but it was not her passion. She left to start a family and in doing so found one of her true passions, and one she is quite good at. In 2014 she was awarded Mother of the Year for Washington State.

While raising six children, she still found time to nurture her other loves, one of them writing. She wrote her first musical as a youngster, which was performed by her classmates in 4th Grade. To rekindle her connection to the craft, she attended a writer’s conference in Maui. It was transformative and not wanting the experience to end, Celeste came home to found the acclaimed Whidbey Island Writers’ Conference.

Celeste ran that organization until she realized she needed a change but it was unclear what. Seeing an article about Dr. Pedro Sanchez, winner of the 2002 World Food Prize (an award for individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world) she was so moved she reached out to him in a letter. In a story best told in her words, this letter changed the course of her life and many others when she was invited to join the award ceremony. Through the people she met, she began visiting impoverished places around the world, joined the Clay Foundation, a humanitarian organization, and began working on improving conditions within rural and arid communities.

This exposure led her to ask more questions than she had answers for about topics in a wide range, bringing her to a critical question, “What are they doing for feminine hygiene?” By talking to local women and girls about the subject, she bridged the gap between her perceptions and the reality, and by understanding their need based on their circumstances and culture, she formed the plan for Days for Girls. Her experiences with this project and throughout her life have taught her the importance of valuing differences and learning how to understand them, not just to tolerate them to solve a problem, but to really embrace them, allowing everyone to stand tall in their strength and courage, proud of what they bring to the world. 

Join us for breakfast on May 12, as Celeste parlays her experience into words of wisdom and a plan for all of us to build bridges, connecting with each other in ways that build us all up so we can bring the best of ourselves to every interaction because we know we will be appreciated and valued for who we are.  

Celeste Mergens is the Founder and International Executive Director of Days for Girls, an award-winning nonprofit which was featured in Oprah's O Magazine and named by Huffington Post in 2015 as an organization whose mission will shape the next decade. She is the mother of six children and grandmother of 13 and was named 2014s American Mother of the Year for Washington State. She joins us having just traveled from her work in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kenya, and speaking at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Days for Girls was born in an inspired moment, after an event in the slums of Kenya prompted the idea for a simple and sustainable solution to reversing cycles of poverty and violence against women. Today, just seven years later, Days for Girls International has reached more than 300,000 girls and women in 101 nations on six continents.


Scilla Andreen

Faith in Innovation: Trusting Yourself and Your Ideas

Featuring Scilla Andreen, CEO and Co-Founder of

When: March 10, 2016

While studying Political Science at NYU, Scilla Andreen could not have imagined the unique turn her life would take with a single phone call. Her boyfriend needed a substitute costume designer to work on a commercial and called Scilla. She stepped in to help and discovered she loved the work. Thrown into the unfamiliar world of costume design, Scilla learned quickly and her portfolio of experience grew along with her film industry knowledge.

When her shows were on hiatus, Scilla took the opportunity to produce and direct films. Attempts to distribute them exposed her to a whole new side of the business and took her around the world. She found the industry practices tough to maneuver, lacked transparency, and as the film creator, there was little chance to make money. This presented an opportunity to change the system. She created a new model for paying and providing data to filmmakers through her company, More than a decade later, IndieFlix has fulfilled its promise as a platform for film makers to get their work seen and to be paid fairly for their product, and Scilla is a sought after thought leader and change agent in the film industry.  

Join us for breakfast on March 10, as Scilla shows us how to get thrown in the water and swim, take advantage of opportunities, and not be afraid to try something different, even when it seems radical and hard (and you might be a little shy).

CEO and Co-Founder of, Scilla Andreen is a producer, director and Emmy nominated costume designer with deep roots in the entertainment industry; producing several award winning films including festival favorites, "Outpatient", "The Flats" and Sundance hit, "Bit Players". Her first film, "Mutual Love Life", received Oscar Consideration. Scilla has worked in print, television, commercials, industrials, and features here and abroad. She has spoken on numerous panels at Sundance, SXSW, Women in Film, etc. and is immersed in film related organizations worldwide.

She began her career in film while attending NYU as a political science major, working part time as a photographer covering the United Nations for the Wall Street Diplomatic World Bulletin. She and her partner Carlo Scandiuzzi created IndieFlix to be a fee-free, one-stop shop for filmmakers to reach the broadest on-line audience while keeping their rights and the lion share of the profits.

Her favorite past times are thinking up tag lines, reading, sailing, Fly fishing, cooking and napping on the beach. She is best known for her contagious loud laughter and when she's not staying up too late working or buying domain names, Scilla can usually be found hanging out with friends and family.


Indie Flix


Laura Landau

“Optimizing Your Microculture for Life Balance”

Featuring Laura Landau, Author, Speaker, and Work-Life Balance Coach

When: February 11, 2016

Every day we face the dilemma of where to spend our time. There is pressure everywhere--work, family, personal interests—that clamors loudly for attention. It can be overwhelming just to manage the decision making. Laura Landau, when confronted with an intense work environment and a changing personal life, chose to be different and craft a path that would work for her.

Her experience taught her about the power of advocacy and creativity in crafting just the right balance, which will be different for everyone. During her 16 years at Microsoft, Laura was asked to share her experience with other work groups and realized an opportunity to help others with their work-life balance. Her knowledge and strategies were parlayed into a book as well, and now she works with solopreneurs, corporate groups and individuals to help them find their own mix that works. She dispels the myth that it is only family that creates a legitimate case for balance, and expands our “permission” or perspective to include education, personal development, or anything that we want to enrich our lives.

Join us for breakfast on February 11, as Laura introduces the concept of building your own microculture that is reflective of your values, and how that demonstrates powerful leadership and provides an example for others. She will discuss the unique challenges faced by solopreneurs as well as those in larger organizations, and debunk the myth that ambition and balance are mutually exclusive.

Laura Landau spent twenty years in corporate America, including sixteen years at Microsoft Corporation, balancing a competitive work environment with two kids and a husband. At Microsoft, she had roles in executive development with a focus on women, high potential employees, and millennials. After advocating for herself then showing how a part-time schedule benefited both the company and her, she created her own proactive microculture. With this experience and expertise, she spent her final seven years coaching and mentoring on work-life balance and career development, demonstrating a different type of leadership.

She was so inspired by her personal experiences and coaching others to write a book about work-life balance in her "free time". Thus, she wrote The Life Balance Playbook in the back of her (quite comfortable) mini-van during her kids' activities. After three years-worth of one-hour writing blocks, it was published in 2015 and received critical acclaim from Kirkus Reviews who called it, “Pragmatic, inspiring advice.” Based on the book, she has built the Excellence through Balance series of workshops to help organizations embrace and support work-life balance.

Laura was born and raised in Newton, Iowa and earned her BA at Luther College. She then migrated north to the “big city” of Minneapolis. While there she earned her MBA from the University of Minnesota while working full time (except for her quarter-life-crisis-hiatus in Stockholm...). She now lives in Bellevue, WA with her family. Laura is a consultant and speaker on life balance, collaboration and effective communication.


Madeline Gerwick

"The Prosperity Equation: How Does Universal Energy Affect Your Business"

Featuring Madeline Gerwick, Business, Personal and Economic Astrologer, and Author

When: January 14, 2016

Madeline Gerwick did not set out to become a business astrologer. She wanted to be an economist, but after recognizing the powerful similarities and linkages between the cycles of economics and astrology, a passion was born. She finished her degree in economics and worked in the corporate world for many years, doing astrology at night. Ultimately, it became too uncomfortable to keep these two lives separate, and she formally combined them, 20 years ago, to found Polaris Business Guides LLC.

Since then, she has helped hundreds of individuals and businesses generate abundance, avoid pitfalls, and manage their day-to-day affairs, all through understanding when energy is working to their benefit or detriment. The power of this was demonstrated when astrologers studied 1,400 bankrupt companies for an article published in a prominent New York financial paper. Their research uncovered that all of them were started during what Madeline calls a Time-Out period (aka a void of course moon). Through her Good Timing Guide, she identifies those red, Time-Out periods along with an array of other information related to communication, marketing, sales, planning and strategy that helps you plan and manage your life to be as successful as possible.

Much as a thermometer indicates a temperature, but doesn’t cause it, astrological occurrences do not cause events to happen. The planets are simply indicators of the universal energies that are occurring above and here on Earth simultaneously. Carl Jung referred to this as the synchronous universe. We benefit from understanding the energy being created as stars and planets move through their cycles, which enables you to use that energy for your benefit.

Join us for breakfast on January 14, as Madeline demonstrates how astrology can help you maximize prosperity through working in harmony with those cycles of energy as we move into 2016. She will share an overview of what is forecasted, highlighting key periods and special cycles that have a stronger influence.

Madeline C. Gerwick is an internationally recognized, business, economic, and personal astrologer, speaker, and author. She has a BA degree with honors in economics, and she's listed in several Who's Who books, including Who's Who in the World. She annually writes The Good Timing Guide: Time Codes for Success, and she's a contributing author to the business anthology, Einstein's Business: Engaging Soul, Imagination and Excellence in the Workplace. She also co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Astrology, available from Penguin Group. She is now heard the first Friday of each month on the Jeff Rense show ( and previously hosted her own radio show for over 5 years.

Ms. Gerwick began advising subscribers to buy gold in 1999, when it was $260 per ounce. She correctly forecasted well in advance the “tech wreck” of 2000, the general downturn in the economy before economists expected it, and the major financial crash of 2008. She continues to advise subscribers about the continuing changes to come. Foreseeing what was ahead, she began offering Prosperity Training with other facilitators to provide business people with new tools to prosper in any economy. She has taught “8 Keys to the Ultimately Prosperous Business” since 2002.

Her company, Polaris Business Guides, is a metaphysical, consulting and training firm which guides organizations and individuals to prosper by working in harmony with the Universe. Please visit her at or call her in Arlington, WA, toll free at 877-524-8300.


Paula Boggs

"Be the CEO of Your Life"

Featuring Paula Boggs, Musician, Lawyer, and Philanthropist

When: December 10, 2015 

Like writing and performing a song, Paula Boggs’ life unfolds in a series of verses, a powerful chorus, and a phenomenal bridge. Each verse has been unique, containing powerful work in the US government, including at the White House, and now serving on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities; legal and leadership work in organizations like Dell and Starbucks; and her best verse yet, as a singer and songwriter. The chorus rejoices with vulnerability and passion, especially passion for people and causes that are important to her. All of these exquisite components build to a life changing bridge that took her back to a first love, music.

After tragedy struck, Paula picked up her dusty guitar and started writing and singing her way through grief. It was a gift that not only allowed her to move forward, but guided her to reconnect with her true north, that unique place we all work toward in our lives. Her true north allowed Paula to take leaps of faith and work through difficult times, face challenges, and look back with courage to see the beautiful grace that is obscured at the time, but in reflection always becomes a clear path. 

Join us for breakfast on December 10, as Paula shows us the excitement and joy in reinvention, and how being the CEO of your life enables you to follow your true north in every decision you make through finding the courage to take those difficult leaps of faith. What is your true north?

Paula Boggs is the founder of Boggs Media, LLC, a business that manages her music, speaking, and other creative business activities. She is a Philanthropist, Fundraiser, Public Speaker, Lawyer and Musician. She is also a Board Member of numerous for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Paula Boggs served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Law and Corporate Affairs at Starbucks Corporation from 2002 to 2012. Her prior professional experience includes serving as Vice President, Legal, for Products, Operations and Technology at Dell Computer Corporation, and as a partner at the law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis, LLP. She also had a 14-year career in public service, including serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and in various capacities as an attorney for the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense and the White House Office of Legal Counsel. She served seven years as a Regular Officer in the United States Army, and earned Army Airborne wings and a Congressional appointment to the US Naval Academy – among America’s first women to do so.

Paula Boggs is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), and earned a bachelor’s degree in International Studies (economics, energy policy) from Johns Hopkins University. She was also an adjunct professor at the University of Washington School of Law.

Since leaving Starbucks, Paula Boggs has volunteered for a presidential campaign as a national surrogate, serves on for-profit and non-profit boards, and raises and gives money in support of causes she champions. In 2013, President Obama appointed her to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Paula Boggs has written and recorded two music CD’s (16 songs), and owns the U.S. Copyrights. She is also a Voting Member, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Pacific Northwest Chapter.

Her current civic and professional activities include:

Current Boards: Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (2014-Present); Avid Technology, Inc. (2015-Present); Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees (1998-Present: Past Chair, Audit & Insurance Committee, Chair, Student Life Committee; member of Executive and Academic Affairs Committees, Co-Chair, JHU Legacy Society, Member, JHU Capital Campaign Executive Committee, member, Peabody Institute National Advisory

Board member); KEXP (Public Radio Station licensed by University of Washington) Advisory Council & Board (2007-Present: Board Secretary, Co-Chair, Capital Campaign).

Past Boards: American Red Cross National Board of Governors); Sterling Financial Corporation (NASDAQ); White House Council for Community Solutions; School of Rock LLC; Premera Blue Cross: Chaired, Investment and Compensation Committees; Pinnacle Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ); Seattle Art Museum; Association of Corporate Counsel; Georgetown (TX) Economic Development Commission: Chair, 2001-2002; Georgetown (TX) Public Library Foundation; Vice-Chair 1998-2000; Greater Seattle YMCA); Vice-Chair, Washington State Equal Justice Coalition; Legal Aid for Washington (LAWFUND) Board President 2006-2008.

Other: JHU Peabody Institute and Carey Business School Dean Search Committee Member; NAACP Life Member; Donor and Creator, The Boggs Fellowship, 1998-Present (Given to HBCU graduates or underrepresented persons of color who pursue graduate studies in the physical, biological or engineering sciences at Johns Hopkins University); Loren Miller Bar Association Member; American Bar Association House of Delegates (1993-Present); Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Docket Editorial Advisory Board; Lincoln Center Institute 2010 Imagination Award Advisory Panel; Co-Chair, Washington State Campaign for Equal Justice; Mentor, Guiding Lights Weekend; Presidential Classroom for Young Americans, Volunteer Instructor; Chair, Law & Government Cluster, Greater Seattle YMCA Black Achievers Program.

Paula Boggs’ professional honors include:

U.S. Army Infantry Parachute Badge (Airborne, 1980); Defense Meritorious Service Award (1987); Presidential Service Badge (President Ronald Reagan, 1988); U.S. Department of Justice Special Achievement Award (“for sustained superior performance of duty;” 1990, 1991); Who’s Who Among Rising Young Americans (1992); Secretary of Defense Award For Excellence (Secretary William Perry, 1994); Selectee, Puget Sound Business Journal's “40 Under 40” (1995); Recipient, 1998 Boalt Hall Alumni Association Recent Alumnus Award; 2003 King County Bar Association Pro Bono Firm of the Year, Starbucks Legal Department; ABA 2006 Spirit of Excellence Award; 2006 Sergeant Shriver Award for Equal Justice; Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle 2006 “Spirit” Award; 2007 Corporate Counsel Women of Color Diamond Award Honoree; 2008 Asian Bar Association of Washington President’s Award; Honoree, 2008 National Bar Association Wiley A. Branton Award; 2008 Honoree, Council on Legal Education Opportunity 40th Anniversary West/Northwestern Region, Individual Leadership Award; named NASDAQ’s 2009 Top General Counsel; 2009 Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumnus(a) Award ; Honoree, Puget Sound Business Journal 2010 Women of Influence; 2011 Loren Miller Bar Association President’s Award, Designee, 2012 WNBA Seattle Storm Woman of Distinction;

Designee, 2013 American Bar Association “Notable Member,” Seattle Girls School 2014 Grace Hopper Award for Lifetime Achievement Honoree, The Mission Continues 2015 Compass Awardee.


Shana Greene

"Persistence: The Hidden Key Ingredient"

Featuring Shana Greene, Founder and Executive Director of Village Volunteers

When: November 12, 2015

Shana Greene founded Village Volunteers 12 years ago and since then has been partnering with people around the world to empower, renew and heal areas struggling to overcome economic, social and health related hardships. Their work focuses on sustainability — environmental and economic — as well as building everything they do on a platform that is locally self-sustaining. The cornerstones of their highly successful programs include international volunteerism, which enables knowledge sharing across cultures; collaboration to develop income-generating opportunities; and providing educational, fundraising and grant writing assistance. The work provides a window into the barriers women face to accomplish activities women in the United States take for granted, such as going to school or work, regardless of menstrual status. 

Six years ago, with this challenge in mind, Shana along with a Scandinavian team of Industrial Designers discovered that water hyacinth, an invasive, aquatic weed that is a problem all over the world is an effective absorbent. This highly invasive aquatic weed doubles in size every six to eighteen days and impacts fresh water sources all over the world.

Following her core principle of partnership, an international development team was assembled from four continents to turn this invasive plant into a change agent for women in the form of a menstrual pad. It has been a long development road, but because of persistence and a strong belief in the value of the product and the business model, Shana and the team have closed in on the finished, fully patented product that will change the lives of women substantially.

Join us for breakfast on November 12, as Shana demonstrates the power of tenacity in the face of time and challenging logistics, and shares how to maintain enthusiasm when all you see are obstacles. She will be joined by Sharon Simaloi Leina, a 17-year-old Maasai young woman and the daughter of one of Village Volunteers’ Kenyan partners who founded Namunyak Maasai Welfare. Sharon will speak to the issues around girls and women and menstruation and her passion for helping other girls.

Shana Greene is the founder and executive director of Village Volunteers. Village Volunteers is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with rural village and capacity-building programs to support the development of sustainable solutions to community challenges. They promote self-sufficiency by collaborating to enhance economic and educational opportunities, food security, and health conditions, with respect for the environment and culture.

One of the women’s initiatives of Village Volunteers is the Empowering Women Period program. This project will set up women-run businesses making biodegradable sanitary napkins out of water hyacinths, an invasive plant species. After a six-year development cycle, a pilot project was launched this year in India that is a sustainable, women-run business, providing income, health insurance and an essential product to women and girls.

Shana is driven, engaged, and passionate about helping others develop businesses that are healthy and sustainable. The work of her organization was featured on CNN, NPR, the New York Times, Prevention magazine and many others.

Sharon Simaloi Leina  is the daughter of a dynamic mother and father who run an NGO called Namunyak Maasai Welfare in Kilgoris, Kenya. Growing up with these strong role models, she developed a love of education, equality for all, and a strong work ethic. She attended a top high school in Nairobi, where she was able to excel and graduate at the age of 16 years. Sharon has taken a very active role in thoughtfully designing a program where she can help girls with the challenges they face in Kenya. She hopes someday to open SaWa Centres in schools throughout Kenya to help navigate the enormous challenges they face in living self-sufficient, sustainable lives. Sharon and Village Volunteers/Empowering Women Period are entering into a partnership to distribute locally produced biodegradable sanitary pads made from the invasive species, water hyacinth and public health information.


Roz Solomon

"Powerful Leadership:
How to Develop It, How to Use It

Featuring Roz Solomon, Community and Citizen Engagement Activist

When: October 8, 2015

From the start of her career as a litigation attorney and judge, Roz Solomon has been interested in culture, leadership, and power. Who are our leaders? Why? How do they amass and retain power? How do they use their leadership and power to maintain cultural norms? How do those norms serve us or harm us?

Too often leaders amass power to enrich themselves or their families and friends. Instead of using it to improve society, they use it to maintain their own position and standard of living – regardless of the costs. Used properly, leadership and power are tools for generating trusting relationships, for empowering others, and for building sustainable economies that support truly inclusive societies.

How do we shift our concepts of leadership and our use of power to move in that direction every day? How do we practice compassion and respect for the environment while meeting the demands of the “bottom line?” It is easier than you think.

Join us for breakfast on October 8, as Roz shows how she went from “be the change you want to see” to the actual “I am the change I want to see.” She will share simple practices we can all use to become powerful leaders – leaders who are purpose-driven, support families and friends, create thriving businesses, and build prosperous communities.

Roz Solomon has worked in the public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors as a founder, leader, and advocate for over 25 years. She works across ideologies and professions on a range of social issues including community relations, early learning, workplace health, and redefining prosperity and well-being.

She is a Principal Member of the Athena Group, a member of the Rethinking Prosperity project at the University of Washington Center for Communications and Civic Engagement, and a Vice-President of Civil Survival LLC. Roz is also a founding member of ReuseH2O, a nonprofit that advocates for water reuse.

In 2010, Roz co-founded the Washington Business Alliance with David Giuliani and Howard Behar. Roz was the executive director of the Business Alliance where she built the organization and crafted its long-term strategic plan and shorter-term operating plans. Before starting the Business Alliance, Roz was the principal of IA Consulting where she developed and implemented the Seattle/King County Board of Health healthcare reform project and engaged in legislative advocacy with state and federal lawmakers. Prior to these positions, Roz served as an administrative law judge for the State of Washington, taught at the Seattle University law school as an adjunct professor, and had a corporate litigation practice in Seattle, Washington.

Her publications include:

Editor’s Notebook: “New Alliance Sets Ambitious Course,” Spokane Journal of Business, May 1, 2012. (Interview between Editor Kim Crompton and Roslyn Solomon)

Why Business Must Work with Government,” Puget Sound Business Journal, April 6, 2012.

Global Goes Local: Integrating Human Rights Principles into a County Health Care Reform Project,” Health & Human Rights Journal. Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 105 – 112 (2009).

Roz serves on the boards of the Center for Women and Democracy, the Children’s Music Foundation, and the Seattle Colleges District Foundation.

Roz spent most of her life in Washington State where she enjoys hiking, travel, running with her dog, and spending weekends in the San Juan Islands.

Roz has a J.D. from the University of Washington and a B. A. from Wellesley College.


Senator Pramila Jayapal


"Translating Participation Into Power"

Keynote Speaker: Senator Pramila Jayapal, Representing Washington's 37th District

When: September 10, 2015 - WBE's Annual Evening Event

Inspiration has led our September speaker on the difficult path of creating and driving social change. From her early days working to serve rural economies in Thailand, India and across Africa, to now representing the constituents of the 37th Legislative District, Senator Pramila Jayapal has successfully worked to improve the lives of others, especially women. She will shed light on how women’s participation in public service, both in and out of elected office, influences the political agenda, and will provide an update on the status of issues affecting women being discussed in our State’s capital.

Join us on September 10, for our annual evening of learning, comradery, and conversation, as Senator Jayapal encourages us to help society support and value those in public service, and to find ways to participate outside of elected office and influence the future of all women through your community voice.


Sachi Shenoy

"Genuine Engagement for Real Success"

Featuring Sachi Shenoy, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Upaya Social Ventures

When: August 13, 2015 

From early on, Sachi Shenoy heard this question at the dinner table, “How can I help?” It was not theoretical, but a genuine call to action passed from father to daughter. Raised bi-culturally in India and the United States, Sachi embraced both of her identities by spending time with her large, extended family across the sea and her smaller family here in the southern United States. She learned from her father’s wisdom, but also from the sense of community she felt in India, and the close-knit support they provided each other.

When her husband got a job in Delhi, it was a chance for Sachi to leave finance on Wall Street and begin to answer that question for herself, “How can I help?” She started in microfinance, working with ultra-poor women. She listened attentively to their stories and wishes, discovering what they truly wanted…sustainable work. The answer for her was clear. She could help by creating enduring jobs for women where they could develop self-respect, learn new skills, and feed their families with a job that would last. This connected them to women everywhere—a common thread made of sustainable good work, genuine confidence, and self-respect.

Through finding and solving the real hurdle for these women—sustainable jobs—by genuinely listening and understanding, Sachi was able to answer the “how” and Upaya Social Ventures was born. Her organization has created over 2,000 jobs to date and has provided an enduring positive impact for men and women in the communities they serve.

Join us for breakfast on August 13, as Sachi shares inspiring reflections on finding the real problem, the best solution available at the moment, and the role being genuine plays in that process. Whether founding a social venture, working at an entrepreneurial enterprise, or applying creative talent in a larger organization, the same core elements bring you genuine success.

Sachi Shenoy has a decade of experience in developing social enterprises to meet the needs of the poor and ultra-poor, designing and implementing field interventions, and conducting social performance evaluations and investment advisory for a variety of organizations throughout Asia. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Upaya and on the Advisory Board of the Chicago Booth Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI). Her work was featured in the Wall Street Journal – India and the Stanford Social Innovation Review. In 2014, she was named to the Puget Sound Business Journal's, “40 Under 40” list, an honor that "spotlights the top business leaders under the age of 40 who excel in their industry and show dynamic leadership." 

Sachi spent three years at Unitus, where she most recently served as Director of Global Programs and led the Social Performance Management Implementation Project (SPM IP) and Sorenson / Unitus Ultra Poor Initiative. Prior to Unitus, Sachi served as Area Manager at SKS Microfinance Pvt. Ltd., leading the organization's entry into the New Delhi urban microfinance market. In 2005, Sachi authored the business proposal for the SKS Ultra Poor Program, designed to uplift rural, destitute populations. Sachi has also worked at New York-based CDVCA, where she evaluated seed-stage social enterprises and constructed investment recommendations for its Central Fund; JP Morgan Chase, where she worked in the Sales & Trading division; and Price Waterhouse LLP, where she served as a management consultant for the financial services industry.

Sachi holds a B.A. in Economics and an M.B.A. in Finance and Entrepreneurship with High Honors from the University of Chicago.

Upaya Social Ventures


Jane Park

"The Art of Making Mistakes"

Featuring Jane Park, CEO and Founder of Julep

When: July 16, 2015 

Being an entrepreneur is tough. Whether you own your own company, or are in the perfect job, the reality is you never have all the answers to the millions of questions and issues that arise when making your dreams come true. Even with experience, your unique approach and vision need to find their way into how you do business. A former consultant at BCG and executive at Starbucks, Jane Park took her experience and applied it to building Julep. She wanted to found a company that supported women and operated on the basic idea of doing the right thing because it is the right thing, not simply because she should. Thus, Julep was born to provide a unique place for women to care for themselves and gather with friends, as well as provide employees with a living wage in a non-toxic work environment.

Creating and building were exciting, but there were so many decisions to make every day there was less time to belabor each one in search of the perfect solution. Instead of sinking under the stress of perfection, these moments of quick decision-making enabled innovation and solidified a key element of the Julep culture, being able to make mistakes and learn from them. This ability to experiment connected the Julep team with their customers using social media and other forms of technology, allowing them to gather feedback about what customers wanted versus telling them. This first in the beauty industry has driven their explosive growth since they founded their first salon in 2007.

Join us for breakfast on July 16, as Jane gives us tips and tricks for creating a fail and learn mindset, and shares some thoughts on should’s best friend, perfection; and how letting go gives you the freedom you need to take more risks and stand out in the marketplace.

Born in Korea and raised in Toronto, Jane Park is a social beauty guru and successful technology entrepreneur. She is one of an elite group of women CEOs who has raised over $50 million in venture financing from Andreessen Horowitz and Maveron, as well Leslie Blodgett, Creative Artists Agency and JayZ. Jane’s work history includes Starbucks, BCG, and the CEO Forum on Education and Technology.  She holds an AB from Princeton University and a JD from Yale, and was recently appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to the Board of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

Jane founded Julep in 2007 to bring women together to give them a voice in beauty. Today, Julep is the only beauty brand that creates new products based on crowd-sourced customer feedback gathered online, through its iOS app, and in-person Maven Meetups around the country. Because of Julep’s unique online community, Julep is able to launch innovation 10x faster than traditional beauty brands. Julep also brings the best of innovation to Sephora, Nordstrom, and QVC. Julep’s honors and awards include:  Allure Beauty Breakthrough, CEW Best Indie Beauty Brand, QVC Best Nail Care Brand, and Oprah’s Favorite Things.

Jane is passionate about helping young women expand their comfort zones and discover their voices. She is one of the most transparent and vulnerable CEOs, and shares her imperfections and struggles openly in the hopes of inspiring younger women to feel seen and not alone. A sample of topics Jane loves to connect on: “beauty for those of us who aren’t makeup artists”; beauty without rules; entrepreneurship; social innovation; “wear one hat” as a leader, spouse and mom.


Julia White

"Closing the Confidence Gap: Why Confidence Matters"

Featuring Julia White, General Manager, Office Product Marketing, Microsoft Corporation

When: June 11, 2015

Confidence is a belief system that builds over time. Society, your family, and ultimately you answer the question—what are you capable of? Then, experience reinforces your beliefs. Many women learn to play it safe, hold back, or wait until it is perfect— behaviors that result in missed opportunities, underutilized talent and skill, and untapped potential.  

It is this story that ultimately defines how successful you are going to be, because your level of confidence and the way you use your confidence, determine how people see and hear you. Julia White’s story is filled with experiences that challenged her and compelled her to decide who and how she would be in the world early on. From embracing what made her unique, to dealing in the world of judged sports as an Olympic-hopeful synchronized swimmer, Julia learned how to believe in herself despite others’ perception of her success and failure. With support from family and mentors, she built an unshakeable view of her capabilities that enables her to succeed as a woman in the predominately male field of technology and in many other endeavors, including a winning swim from Alcatraz.

Join us for breakfast on June 11, as Julia shares how showing up and doing well are not enough, and the importance of doing what is necessary to show up for yourself, even when it is uncomfortable.

Julia White is responsible for product management for Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Office 365. Julia oversees the product value proposition, product readiness, deployment programs, competitive intelligence, product evangelism and customer experience across Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Office 365.

Julia joined Microsoft in 2001 as a product manager within the Server and Tools Business Group. Julia spent four years within the Server product team holding multiple roles, followed by two years within the US Subsidiary leading the reseller marketing, channel rebates and sales incentive programs teams.  Julia joined the Office Division in 2008 leading the Exchange Server and Online marketing team until early 2012.

Prior to Microsoft, Julia worked at Intuit on the Quicken and Quickbooks products lines in product marketing and product planning functions. 

Julia holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication with honors from Stanford University.


Jenna Lange

"Connect, Be Clear, Compel: Keys to Confident Communication"

Featuring Jenna Lange, President, Lange International

When: May 14, 2015 

Experience is the best teacher. Jenna Lange was a shy girl who loved competitive figure skating. She realized early on that winning took energy, focused practice, and an element of fun. Preparation helped her to overcome anxiety and perform well. She drew on that feeling later in life, when she began a career in sales. Calling on her skating experience, she learned to step out of her shyness in order to communicate persuasively and effectively.

Jenna’s personal success as a communicator led her to coach others about the many difficulties we all face when trying to get our point across. She found patterns between the way people communicate and their results, and uncovered many myths that lead smart, talented people astray. The differences in how women and men communicate rose to the top. While women have found more seats at the conference room table, ineffective communication skills have limited our voices and impact. Women’s wisdom, knowledge and insights are often left unheard and underutilized.

Everyone has the opportunity to make changes, sometimes big and sometimes small, that yield dramatic results. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn to connect, be clear, and compel!

Join us for breakfast on May 14, as Jenna shares:

  • Useful strategies to overcome key challenges in women’s communication patterns.
  • How to find your voice in the room.
  • Simple but effective ways to influence others and drive them to action.
  • Tips to be a better public speaker.


Jenna has been coaching and consulting executives in business communication skills and strategies for over 15 years. Her experience crosses countries, industries and business communication challenges. Jenna has worked with senior management at companies including Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, The North Face, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, J Walter Thompson, Google, Expedia, Levi Strauss, Russell Investments and more.  Her areas of expertise include consulting and coaching for major communication events such as key note presentations, major sales pursuits, investment or product road shows, contract negotiations, strategic customer meetings and large seminar presentations. Jenna also designs and facilitates leadership programs across the globe through Duke Corporate Education. In this role she has worked with Rio Tinto, Statoil, Ericsson, Microsoft, Raytheon, Anglo and more global organizations as an integral part of the design and delivery team.

Jenna earned her MBA from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management, speaks fluent Spanish and conversational Portuguese and worked for several years in Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. She is often called upon to work with international cross-functional pitch teams. She has conducted customized training programs to help international teams throughout Europe and Latin America sell, negotiate and communicate more effectively. She has delivered key note presentations in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Spain as well as throughout the United States.

Jenna’s personalized approach to senior executive coaching has built her an excellent reputation in the industry. She has the ability to instantly connect with senior leaders, and to coach them through the behavior change they need, in order to more effectively manage and lead teams, build creative stories, or simply model positive communication best practices.

Before launching Lange International, Jenna spent five years as a Principal Consultant with Rogen International, a global communication consultancy, where she built and managed the company's West Coast operations. Jenna has been an adjunct professor at the University of Georgia Terry College Of Business and the University of Washington Foster School of business.

Jenna has published the book; “Please don’t picture them naked. Ten strategies for public speaking for fully clothed professionals.”

Lange International


Mary Bicknell

"Live Your Big, Crazy Dream"

Featuring Mary Bicknell, Success Coach, CEO, Author, Therapist and Mentor

Everyone has blind spots, areas that obstruct our vision and hold us back.  They prevent us from living authentically and fulfilling the Big Crazy Dreams in our minds and hearts. What triggers a blind spot is unique to each person and situation, but the result is common…standing in front of success but never quite reaching it, personally or professionally.

Despite a varied, powerhouse career, Mary Bicknell knew she was not quite there in her life yet. She had dreams, but hid behind her successful life, not believing, like many women, that it is possible to not only want to have it all, but to truly have it all. When she was willing to step outside the box she built for herself, she could see her blind spots and take action. The result was a bold move to be her highest and best self, and a career transformation.  She developed an innovative program, The Big, Bold Life & Biz Plan, to help other women do the same through identifying and embracing their dreams, then breaking through their blind spots to achieve them.

Join us for breakfast on April 9, as Mary gives us:

  • A simple tip to overcome the number one blind spot keeping success at bay
  • The key to unlocking your Crazy Big Goal
  • The most effective closing question to ask your potential client
  • Critical triggers keeping you stuck in a holding pattern and how to eliminate them right away

The facts about your thoughts and beliefs about money with a mini assessment

And, she will inspire us to step into our Crazy Big Dreams, guilt free, and boldly live everything we are and want to be.

Mary Bicknell is the Owner and CEO of See The Signs LLC, a successful business providing personal and professional advice to women. She is the author of How to Have a Better Love Life, 21 Secrets to Get You Started and the creator of THE BIG, BOLD LIFE & BIZ PLAN. A speaker, blogger, and coach, Mary has been featured in publications online and off.

For over 25 years, Mary has dedicated her professional life to empowering women. Based in Portland, Oregon, Mary supports and mentors women across the globe to use her system to embrace their personal evolution in life and business.  She is a trained cognitive behaviorist with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work as well as a Certified Transformational Coach who specializes in neuro-linguistic programming.

With her specialized and vast experience, Mary is uniquely suited to help women find their place in today’s complicated world.  As a licensed psychotherapist, Mary helped countess women in a private practice setting, worked at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore Maryland, and served at the State Capitol of Oklahoma as a Statistical Policy Analyst.  She lobbied politicians to recognize women’s rights and participated in marches on the National Mall in Washington DC. Before starting her company in 2012, Mary was a highly successful entrepreneur for one of the largest global direct sales companies. As a top 2% performer, she was instrumental in training the sales force.

She loves hiking, cooking, crafting with her snaggle-tooth daughter, River and husband, John. She works out to 80s heavy metal, but never listens to it in the house. With three cats, she is one cat short of being a crazy cat lady. Give her a good psychological thriller and she will happily curl up on the sofa with a roaring fire and get lost in the twists and turns of the mind she loves so much.

Her mission is to support women in WANTING IT ALL and HAVING IT ALL-unapologetically. She encourages women to stop believing they must sacrifice in order to have all the love, money and time they desire.

Mary Bicknell


Stacy Flynn

"Changing the World One Thread at a Time"

Featuring Stacy Flynn, CEO and Co-Founder of Evrnu

When: March 12, 2014

Life has a sneaky way of changing our direction in mid-step, forcing self-evaluation and difficult choices. At these junctures, there are often more questions than answers, which require faith and fortitude to solve. It was while sitting in a polluted conference room in China—experiencing first-hand the devastating impacts of something she contributed to—that Stacy Flynn found herself in just such a place. The question looming…continue to be part of the problem or be a problem solver.

Stacy chose the more difficult path, and applied her incredible depth of textile knowledge and her passion for preserving the apparel industry, to fixing what is the second most toxic industry on the planet: textile production. This decision brought her career in alignment with her life purpose and fueled her fire, driving her past the naysayers to a solution. Engaging and collaborating with industry experts, chemists, government agencies, and large retailers, she built a business based on doing the right thing.  She demonstrated how looking at an issue with new eyes and fresh thinking can transform it and perhaps ourselves in the process.

Join us on March 12, as Stacy shares a new view of sustainability with a few different tips and tricks we can employ right now. She will reinforce the need to believe in ourselves and our ability to make a difference by giving us a front row seat on her journey from no to yes.

Stacy is a textile and apparel specialist with a BS in Textile Development and Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology and an MBA in Sustainable Systems from Bainbridge Graduate Institute at Pinchot University. She is actively reinventing the textile and apparel business model to preserve the future of apparel.

After a diverse background working with both start-ups and large multi-national corporations like DuPont, Target, Eddie Bauer, and Rethink Fabric, Stacy launched Future Resource Collective (FRC), a collaboration hub and incubator for sustainable innovations in the apparel and textile industry. In 2014, FRC launched its first social purpose corporation, Evrnu, which uses a patent-pending technology that recycles cotton garment waste to create premium, renewable fiber.

From her years in the field, Stacy brings a strong understanding of customer needs, deep knowledge of the industry's supply chain, and the creativity necessary to build trust and develop relationships in order to collectively solve tough issues. She skillfully combines vision and specialization to make new initiatives successful, and uses these strengths to facilitate collaboration with diverse stakeholders and drive innovations to fruition.

Stacy has received the following recognitions for the Evrnu (formerly Loopool) technology: 2013 Regional Winner, Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge; 2014 Regional Winner, Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge; 2014 University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge, Honorable Mention; 2014 University of Washington Business Plan Challenge Investment Round Finalist; 2014 Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship, Wildcard Candidate; 2014 Grand Prize winner of Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch; 2014 Social Venture Partners Audience Choice Award; and 2014 Lion’s Den Best in Show.


Tali Edut

"Following the Signs in the Accidental Journey"

Featuring Tali Edut, Co-Founder of AstroStyle, Horoscopes by the AstroTwins

When: February 12, 2014

Planting the seeds of possibility is second nature for Tali Edut.  Passionate about bringing higher consciousness around women’s issues, she co-founded, HUES (Hear Us Emerging Sisters), with her twin Ophira, a groundbreaking multi-cultural women’s magazine focused on every subject affecting women from health to politics.  HUES was in circulation for seven years before selling to a larger publisher, but the experience produced a field of possibilities for forays into other forms of media and combining new and old passions into unexpected career avenues.

In true “and one thing led to another” fashion, the serendipitous chain of events that followed inspired Tali and Ophira to delve deeper into their astrology hobby, using it to address issues that affect women in a fun, accessible way.  They were able to give women the insight to understand the forces the universe was applying to their lives, and information to make choices to maximize the benefits available to them.  With a following of over eleven million webpage views per month, and bestselling astrology books including Love Zodiac and Momstrology: Parenting Your Little Ones By The Stars, they have brought this magic to a broad spectrum of women around the world.

Alongside these adventures, Tali did not lose sight of her passion for media design.  She parleyed her gift for writing and graphic design into helping others create powerful brands and marketplace presence, applying her skills to her own business as well.  It did not take long before all signs pointed to a full-time focus on astrology leading her to expand the business to include individual astrology consultations, teaching the basics of astrology and leading annual retreats to Tulum, Mexico.

Join us for breakfast on February 12, as Tali shows us how to trust our desires and allow the universe to guide us to our highest outcomes, and how, when we allow ourselves to explore our own lives without judgment, we can find our true calling and success.

Tali Edut, in partnership with her identical twin sister Ophira, is founder of the The AstroTwins and is a professional astrologer. Their spot-on predictions reach millions of people through their website,, their web series “Astrologica” on, guest appearances on SIRIUS/XM Radio, and their columns, which include, ELLE Australia, TV Guide and Interview Germany. They are also contributors to People, The Huffington Post and other media globally. The AstroTwins have been featured in the New York Times Sunday Styles, and have appeared as ambassadors for many major brands in the United States. They “bring the stars down to earth” with their unique, practical approach to astrology, and their readings, events, retreats and appearances are in high demand. Ophira and Tali are the authors of four astrology books: AstroStyle, Love Zodiac (a guide to the men of the zodiac), Shoestrology (discover your “birthday shoe”) and Momstrology (their #1 Amazon best-selling astrological parenting guide).


Dr. Marilyn Gist

"Human Dignity:  The Heart in all Relationships"

Featuring Dr. Marilyn Gist, Associate Dean and Professor of Management, Albers School of Business and Economics, Seattle University

When: January 8, 2014

The rhythms of a woman’s life are irregular and filled with curves instead of lines.  We give birth, care for the elderly and sick, and tend to the raising of children alongside manifesting our own dreams and purpose. This beautiful weaving we create is often undervalued in our more linear world.  So, how do we maintain our sense of self-worth when our basic human dignity is challenged because we tend to life in a different way? 

Dr. Marilyn Gist has explored the answer to this question and the broader discussion around human dignity for several decades.  She has learned and experienced how our sense of self-worth is at the heart of our self-efficacy–our beliefs about what we can do. The topic remains as relevant today as it was when she began. Fueled by experiences throughout her life and especially in the workplace, Marilyn became passionate about understanding the effects of being judged, discounted, manipulated or devalued based on personal differences such as gender, religion, class, race or national origin.  Among the many effects, the impact to self-worth causes people to stall in their personal and career development and to repeat the same behavior with others by perpetuating the same actions, attitudes and beliefs.  Because women live in a non-linear way, they are particularly impacted by this cycle. 

Join us for breakfast on January 8, as Marilyn explores the importance and practice of positive self-worth, and how when we value ourselves, we can change our lives by building confidence in our ability to fulfill our dreams and positively influence the world around us by supporting the self-worth of others.    

Dr. Marilyn Gist has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of executive development.  She is presently Professor of Management and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Albers School of Business and Economics, Seattle University. In addition, she serves as Executive Director of the Center for Leadership Formation providing academic direction for their executive degree and certificate programs. 

Prior to this, Marilyn held the Boeing Endowed Professorship of Business Management at the University of Washington, where she was also the Faculty Director for Executive MBA programs for many years. In addition to her academic roles, she has served in management positions in the public and private sectors, and has extensive consulting experience.

Marilyn is an internationally recognized scholar. Her research emphasized confidence-based factors in motivation and training and leadership assessment and development. She has over 25 publications in leading scholarly outlets. Google Scholar, which monitors how often a publication has been cited by other scholars, provides one measure of the quality or importance of a person’s work. It shows that Marilyn’s work has been cited roughly three thousand times in articles and books that were published subsequently by other people. Her current publications include “Developing Dual-Agenda Leaders” (co-authored with Professor Sharon Lobel) in the 2012 Journal of Corporate Citizenship, and”Self-Efficacy” (co-authored with Angela Gist) in the 2013 Oxford Bibliographies in Management.

Marilyn earned her BA from Howard University and her MBA and PhD from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park.


Valerie Segrest

"Nourish the Land, Nourish the Soul"

Featuring Valerie Segrest, Nutrition Educator and Fellow for the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy

When: December 11, 2014

The Puget Sound has been home to humans for over ten-thousand years.  A rich ecosystem has sustained these native people, resulting in a bond with the land that provided not just deep meaning but a pattern and flow for life.  Valerie Segrest, a direct descendent of the local Muckleshoot tribe, has always felt an important responsibility to continue the legacy of this important bond and to help others see the beauty and value of protecting this knowledge and the experience of connecting directly with nature. 

Watching the Tribal Elders inspired Valerie to learn more about health and nutrition.  She returned to school investing her heart, spirit and mind in understanding the deep links between health and the connection to our food.  She became passionate about understanding nutrition related diseases and how they are the symptoms of greater problems, not just the problem itself.  Through her studies, Valerie became a community educator, a tribal health advocate, and eventually an author of a powerful book resulting from her community based research.  

Join us for breakfast on December 11, as Valerie inspires us to get closer to our food systems allowing us to heal our land and ourselves, and as we do, we become more invested in protecting them.   This involvement provides a layer of nourishment science cannot measure, benefits to our families and communities today, and creates a positive legacy for many years to come.     

“To be a sovereign tribe, we need food sovereignty.  When our ancestors signed treaties, they made sure we’d be able to flourish physically, culturally, and spiritually for centuries to come.  Our Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project builds community food resources and helps knowledge keepers to share their gifts so we can sustain a healthy food system in the future for everyone.”

                                                            Valerie Segrest, Muckleshoot, Project Coordinator

Valerie Segrest is a native nutrition educator who specializes in local and traditional foods. As an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, she serves her community as the coordinator of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project and also works for the Northwest Indian College’s Traditional Plants Program as a nutrition educator. In 2010, she co-authored the book Feeding the People, Feeding the Spirit: Revitalizing Northwest Coastal Indian Food Culture. Valerie received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University in 2009 and a Masters Degree in Environment and Community from Antioch University. She is a fellow for the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy. Valerie inspires and enlighten others about the importance of a nutrient-dense diet through a simple, common sense approach to eating.


Libba Pinchot

"Collaborative Healing and Positive Deviance: Uncommon Solutions to Common Problems"

Featuring Libba Pinchot, Co-Founder of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute

When:  November 13, 2014

Taking a stand in today’s world can be complicated and intimidating.  Life is often a game, and the winners are those with the most power and resources.  This power imbalance can leave us feeling frustrated and at the mercy of others, unable to influence the future whether it is addressing climate change or doing the right thing on the job.

Libba Pinchot began her career in children’s on-line education at the advent of the computer age and since then, has written books, consulted about organizational systems to Fortune 500 companies, and co-founded the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, an alternative school of business that focuses on sustainability and social responsibility. She is at once the master of reinvention, the champion of positive deviancy, and the healer of moral injury, most of which occur when power becomes misaligned.  She is also a leader, teacher and change agent for the “big”—such as large organizations and social issues like climate change—but has not forgotten the importance of working the smaller scale too, like groups and individuals wanting to make incremental but powerful change.  She strives to help others find ways to balance the power in their own lives and organizations. 

Join us for breakfast on November 13, as Libba shares stories from the field on how healing moral injury can help many women find capabilities they never knew they had, and how when it remains a silent wound, it maligns our confidence and desire to move forward and contribute. Come learn how to look for ways to be a positive deviant and find uncommon solutions to common problems. 

Libba Pinchot is an educator, consultant and social entrepreneur, and also PhD candidate in organizational systems, studying women’s leadership of social and environmental innovations within large corporations. In 2002, she co-founded the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI) to help re-invent work (such as the work of business) as a positive force for equity and a healthy planet. BGI offers innovative, accredited MBA programs in sustainable and socially responsible business. At BGI, Libba still holds the role of Ombudsman, balancing the power by helping the organization’s members “speak truth to power,” in order to improve the system from any position or predicament they find themselves in.

For twenty-five years before BGI, Libba consulted on corporate innovation (intrapreneuring) and taught leadership development in big companies, government agencies and non-profits, while co-parenting three children. Before that, she served as a family systems therapist; as a biodynamic farmer co-leading a crafts business (her business education); director of a head start teacher training center; and (her first real job) curriculum writer/teacher in the 1960’s at Stanford’s first computer-assisted education lab. In the recent decades, she has also co-developed a permaculture wilderness learning center on Cortes Island called Channel Rock, where education and employee groups gather for deep learning. She says that she and Gifford, her husband of 40 years and her co-author of book The Intelligent Organization, want their work to serve all children, including their five little grandchildren.  

Pinchot University



Rev. Judith Laxer

"The Goddess in the Mirror:  Empowered for Success"

Featuring Rev. Judith Laxer

When:  October 9, 2014

Thousands of years ago, women were revered as life giving miracle workers and for their nurturing nature, their wisdom, and their strength. With the rise of the patriarchy that still holds power in our world today, women were relegated to subservience in every arena: religious, cultural, and social. Although we have come a long way, these subconscious and internalized beliefs continue to rob us of power.

Fascinated and chagrined by this historical shift and its societal impact, Rev. Judith Laxer began to explore the ancient belief in the Divine Feminine. This absolutely changed her life and her perception of woman’s place in the world. Inspired, Judith dedicated herself to teaching these mysteries to other women. She witnessed that as they began to recognize their nature as divine, they emerged more powerful, stronger and more confident. This expanded spiritual viewpoint allows women to be their authentic selves, to gain clarity about their wants and needs, to become true believers in a woman’s right, ability, and especially in our era, responsibility to hold up half the sky. Judith treasures her calling and dedicates her work to restoring the balance between female and male energy in our culture.

Join us on October 9, as Judith encourages us to question many elements of what we were taught about being a woman and our place in the world. She will show us how an empowered spiritual life restores wholeness, ensuring a more satisfied and successful life, filled with magic and abundance.

Originally from New York, Rev. Judith Laxer moved west in 1989. She took her lifelong interest and study in psychic phenomena and metaphysics and began the professional transition from a career in the Performing Arts to one in spirituality.

On the Summer Solstice in 1992, Judith became a licensed, Ordained SHES (Spiritual Healers and Earth Stewards) Minister. Since then, she has created and officiated at countless ceremonies and rituals as a Minister and Priestess.

As a teacher, Judith has been creating and leading classes, workshops and programs in spiritual development, Goddess consciousness, and psychic awareness since 1993, as part of her private practice and at spirituality conferences and gatherings nationally.

In June of this year, her book Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers was published by Booktrope publishing.

She enjoys a successful private practice that includes spiritual counseling, psychic Tarot readings, certified Hypnotherapy, Teaching, Reiki, and Shamanic healing practices. She is the founding Priestess of Gaia’s Temple, and her ministry is growing as she provides monthly Goddess Worship Services.


Andrea Brenneke

"Restoring our City, Restoring Connections, Restoring Ourselves"

Featuring Andrea Brenneke, Director of Restorative Justice for the City of Seattle     

When:  September 11, 2014

In August of 2010, a Seattle police officer shot and killed John T. Williams, a First Nations wood carver. The tragedy and injustice sparked outrage and protests across the city and tension escalated, especially between communities of color and the Police Department. As the Williams family dealt with the grief and rage over their devastating loss, they sought justice and a peaceful response that would honor their brother. Legal proceedings and other long-term efforts to address the shooting began, but the immediate and urgent needs of the Williams family were not being met.  Attorney and Restorative Justice practitioner Andrea Brenneke proposed a Restorative Justice approach to meet those needs, build relationships and understanding, and develop a common path forward that would promote healing and accountability. Just two weeks after the shooting, a Restorative Circle was held between Police Chief John Diaz, top department officials, the grieving family, and members of the community that helped achieve those objectives and contributed to the community-driven positive changes needed by our city.

Andrea’s work as a community healer and Restorative Justice practitioner developed through a long and deep history in community-based social change work and her love of Seattle, where she was born and raised. During her 20 years as a civil rights and employment lawyer, she used the dominant justice system as a tool of social change, but also sought innovative approaches. She studied and practiced alternatives to resolve conflict and promote healing, including mediation and other established alternative dispute resolution techniques.  Community-based Restorative Practices struck a powerful chord as Andrea studied peace making and apprenticed with Dominic Barter.  His Restorative Circles work with youth and communities in Brazil has been extremely successful in restoring community connections and reducing violence; Restorative Circles are now used in communities, schools, justice systems, organizations, and families around the world.

Andrea initially incorporated Restorative Circles and other Restorative Practices into her legal practice and community service. The significance and success of the Restorative Circle in the Williams case inspired efforts to make Restorative Practices more available in our community; eventually, this led to an opportunity to work full-time with the City of Seattle on a Restorative Justice Initiative to support use of Restorative Justice on a broader scale.

Join us for our annual celebration dinner on September 11, a marked day of remembrance, as Andrea shares her story of making a difference, leading us through the principles of Restorative Justice and the practices of Restorative Circles.  We will discover opportunities to use this philosophy and these tools in our homes, our businesses, and our communities, expanding our capacity to be the change agents we all want to be.

September 11 also kicks off the Compassion Games in Seattle.  For more information on the Compassion Games visit:

"No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise."  -Marian Anderson

 For more information, see Andrea's article at:

Andrea Brenneke is a passionate advocate for justice and a facilitator of community healing and empowerment. In May of 2013, she began serving as the Director of Restorative Justice for the City of Seattle where she incubated a Community Restorative Justice Pilot Project.  Since 2010, Andrea has been working with communities to learn and practice restorative justice, using a variety of Restorative Practices including Restorative Circles as developed by Dominic Barter.  In the immediate aftermath of a Seattle police officer's fatal shooting of a First Nations wood carver, she facilitated a Restorative Circle between then Police Chief John Diaz, top department officials, community members, and the grieving family. 

Andrea brings to this work twenty years of experience as a civil rights and employment lawyer with MacDonald Hoague & Bayless in Seattle (1992-2013).  Andrea’s litigation successes include substantial settlements and trial verdicts for discrimination and retaliation, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, failure to accommodate disability, free speech, due process, police and government misconduct. Andrea was voted by her peers one of Seattle’s Top Lawyers, Seattle Magazine, January 2005 and was recognized during her practice as a Washington Law and Politics “Super Lawyer” from 2003-2013.  Andrea also is a trained mediator.

Andrea’s education includes: Harvard Law School, J.D. cum laude, 1992; University of Washington, BA with Honors and Distinction in Political Science, cum laude, 1988. Her substantial publications include: Violence Against Women Act: Law and Practice, Clark Boardman Callaghan, 1997 (co-author/editor); “Civil Rights Remedies for Battered Women: Axiomatic and Ignored,” XI Law & Inequality; A Journal of Theory and Practice 1, 1992 (author); Harvard Human Rights Journal, 1990-92 (editor).

Andrea’s public service includes a long history of engagement and grassroots involvement in her community and she is a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow (2000). She served on the Washington State Bar Association’s Board of Governors, the board and legal committee of Legal Voice (formerly the Northwest Women’s Law Center), and Chaired the King County Bar Association’s Young Lawyer’s Division. She served for many years as an Amicus Committee member of the Washington Employment Lawyers Association and has been a long time Eagle supporter of the Washington Association of Justice (formerly WSTLA).  She is a former board member of the Compassionate Action Network, Intl (now Charter for Compassion, Int’l).

 Currently, Andrea is a licensed practitioner with the United Centers for Spiritual Living and serves on the boards of Compassionate Seattle and the


Beth Takekawa, Wing Luke Museum

"Celebrating Volunteers as Cultural Deciders and Social Change Agents"

Featuring Beth Takekawa, Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience     

When:  August 14, 2014 

Museums at their heart are storytellers; they do this by being the eternal voice and platform for people to share their experiences with the world through photographs, artifacts, and words.  The ability to do this is empowering for any individual or collective, giving value to their lives beyond their children and grandchildren.  Beth Takekawa saw this empowerment in the faces of the Asian American community in Seattle as they gathered in a basement to share cherished treasures from their lives as immigrants, internment survivors, and community developers.  She saw the strength and joy it brought to the Asian American community to be able to say, “I was here too.”

Wanting to be a part of that experience, Beth became a volunteer at the Wing Luke Museum and organized their opening celebrations.  When she became part of the full-time staff, she brought with her knowledge of the volunteer experience and recognized the depth and perspective each volunteer brought to the role.  At the same time, she also saw how underutilized and undervalued they were.  The Wing Luke Museum undertook a new way to think about the role of volunteer in their organization.  They began to think of them as Community Advisors, talented leaders who gave their time, creative horsepower, and business savvy.  This new model has taken hold in volunteer settings across the country and is quickly becoming a new standard for how to think about these valuable resources.

Join us for breakfast on August 14, as Beth highlights the tremendous impact and social value community advisors have as change agents, thought leaders, and cultural deciders.  She will celebrate each of us as community advisors and explore how women undervalue their volunteer contributions and how changing the perception of our role as volunteers can empower us.

Beth Takekawa is Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (The Wing) in Seattle, Washington, a cultural institution with a unique emphasis on the community-based development process. The Wing is the only pan-Asian Pacific American (APA) museum in the U.S., the first Smithsonian Institution affiliate in the Pacific Northwest, and a newly-designated Affiliated Area of the National Park Service. Founded in 1966, The Wing is located in Seattle’s culturally rich and lowest income neighborhood, the Chinatown-International District.

Beth was hired as the Museum’s Associate Director in 1997 and in 2008 became Executive Director. She was part of the leadership team that executed a ten-year process to build the organization and conduct a $23M capital campaign and expansion project. The museum’s new home, the historic 1910 East Kong Yick building, opened in June 2008. In 2010 the Wing received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, presented by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

Beth has over 25 years experience in community economic development, working in the private, public and nonprofit sectors in program development, finance and administrative management. Prior to her tenure at The Wing, she served as asset manager for the Seattle Housing Authority, administrator for the Washington Association for Community Economic Development and for Spectra Communications, Inc., a media and management consulting firm. She owned and managed a general contracting and development firm in New York City. Beth completed a Bachelor of Arts in Music at Hunter College, New York City. She is a 2011 Salzburg Global Seminars Fellow, one of 56 leaders from museums and libraries worldwide invited to a convening in Salzburg, Austria to discuss the era of participatory culture.

Beth is appointed by the governor as a commissioner on the Washington State Arts Commission. She also serves on the boards of the Downtown Seattle Association, a business member-based champion for a healthy, vibrant urban core; the International District Emergency Center, a community-based nonprofit emergency response center; and is a member of U.S.-Japan Council, a national organization of Japanese American leaders that promotes people-to-people relationships with counterparts in Japan. She was a National Planning Committee member for the Minidoka Internment National Monument, a national historic site remembering the U.S. government’s World War II incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry.



Vicky Lee, Seattle Theatre Group

"Making the Case for the Arts as Necessity, not Luxury"

Featuring Vicky Lee, Director of Education and Performance Programs at Seattle Theatre Group  

Through studying the arts in Indonesia, Japan, and cultures other than her Midwestern roots, Vicky Lee realized in most places music, dance, and theater were simply part of life.  Closer to home, she worked on projects in diverse communities.  She realized the same way the arts fostered creativity, intellectual capability, and confidence in other cultures, worked here too.  It became her mission to ensure all people had access to arts programs, and that the arts would become part of the fabric of life here, not something optional.

Join us on July 17, as Vicky talks about performance arts ability to transform our youth, as well as build the next generation of powerful women. Graduates of her programs will treat us to a live dance demonstration.

Since 1999, Vicky has held the position of Director of Education and Performance

Programs for the Seattle Theatre Group (STG), the largest non-profit arts organization in the region.  She is involved with a variety of other arts organizations and speaks at conferences including TEDX Seattle, Starbucks Foundation Language of Hope writing program for at-risk youth, Seattle Center’s Cultural Festivals, King County Arts Commission, and Seattle Children’s Theatre. She grew up on a farm in Soldier, Iowa and now manages three family farms growing corn and soybeans.



Lara Feltin, CEO of and

"Building a Meaningful Social Media Network"

Featuring Lara Feltin, CEO of and  

When:  June 12, 2014

Lara Feltin has always been an independent business owner.  Early in her role as an entrepreneur, she felt a critical piece of networking was missing.  She sought a community of peers whose focus was not selling, but instead supporting, sharing and collaborating.  That desire inspired her to create a different kind of social network that met her needs and provided an online tool that supports real-life connections.  Her first venture,, was born in 2005, introducing “networking that doesn’t suck.”  To boot, she also found a new career path as an expert in how to thrive in online communities.

Through growing her business, Lara came to look at social media as a toolkit that complements face-to-face interactions and has the power to help users find “authentic relationships with business in mind.”  She discovered that great success occurred when people had a clear understanding of their needs, desired outcomes, and what they could offer, then paired those with the most effective tools in the social media management toolkit.  This strategy enabled an expansion of the online network beyond a focus on prospects, and opened up rich opportunities in nurturing other connections that yielded peers, collaborators, co-conspirators, advisors, and partners.

Join us for breakfast on June 12, as Lara untangles the mystery of successful social networking and expands our vision of our online network to be more than people who receive a newsletter.  She will explain the difference between social media networking and social media marketing, and help us build an online know-how and toolkit that will feed our hearts and pocketbooks.

As the Cofounder and CEO of Biznik – – an online community and business networking tool for independent business owners.  Lara Feltin has spent the last 9 years building Biznik into an award-winning social media company connecting over 100,000 micro business people worldwide.

Lara was named one of Seattle’s "Top 25 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs" by Seattle Business Monthly, and included in Seattle Magazine’s 2008 Power Players list of "Most Influential People." Techflash named Lara one of Seattle’s Top 100 Women in Technology.

Lara's new project -- MyFive -- takes business networking to the next level. By identifying your five most important business contacts, MyFive helps you Get More Gigs by narrowing your focus on the relationships that matter. Go to to stay in the loop on MyFive's development and launch.



Liz Vivian, Women's Funding Alliance

"State of the Union on Washington Women: How Far Have We Really Come?"

Featuring Liz Vivian, Executive Director of the Women's Funding Alliance

When:  May 8, 2014

Sometimes, it is hard to believe we have only had the right to vote for 100 years.  It is difficult for young women to fathom the kind of challenges women faced in the ‘50s and ‘60s, establishing themselves in careers and as influential voices in their communities.  Thousands of women before us have labored to create the opportunities available to women now.  Which begs the question heard from backseats across the country, “Are we there yet?”

Liz Vivian, an expert in issues affecting women and girls locally and nationally, will help us answer that question.  Raised to believe in women’s power to shape and sustain their communities and families, Liz recognized that fighting for better lives for women was simply who she was, a calling she could not ignore.  Motherhood reinforced her tenacity to create a world for her daughter where she has equal opportunity to succeed or fail, and her efforts are rewarded on merit not gender.  She wants to overcome the fact that for girls, leadership aspirations peak at age eight and only one in five believes she has the qualities needed to become a good leader. 

Through a tapestry of stories and statistics, Liz will paint a picture of where we are and where we need to go.  She understands the challenges women face in the areas of health, safety, and economic opportunity.  Through her work at the Women’s Funding Alliance, we will learn how we can become involved in the effort to continue the work started so many years ago putting women where they belong: on equal footing in society, in all of those areas.  Unless we make change, women and girls will continue to feel the negative effects of economic and social challenges created by policies and systems that stack the deck against them.

Join us for breakfast on May 8, as Liz invites you to join her in giving women a stronger voice.  Because, while we make individual choices that drive incremental change, it will be our collective voice, rising together, that makes the big change. For more information, contact us at 206.696.1506.

Liz Vivian brings almost twenty years of community leadership experience in the private, nonprofit and public sectors to her role as executive director of the Women’s Funding Alliance, Washington’s leading philanthropic organization making change for women and girls.  Previously Liz served as senior manager of Global Corporate Citizenship for The Boeing Company, executive director of Seattle Youth Involvement Network, national field director for Rock the Vote and transformational leadership consultant to community organizations including NPower Northwest, PONCHO, Aradia Women’s Health Center, Seattle Young People’s Project, and Washington Women’s Foundation. Liz is a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow and in 2003, was honored as one of the region’s “40 Under Forty” by the Puget Sound Business Journal. Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Redlands and a Certificate for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Trinity College London. She was born in New York City and raised in Seattle where she currently lives with her husband and daughter.

Women's Funding Alliance


Whitney Keyes

"Moving From Management to Leadership: How to be a Leader in Your Own Life"

Featuring Whitney Keyes, Author and Speaker

When:  April 10, 2014

After more than a decade planting the seeds of opportunity, Whitney Keyes landed her dream job – to teach, coach, and consult with individuals and organizations around the world on how to be successful entrepreneurs and leaders.  The path to get there was filled with learning how to lead her life, not just manage it. 

The daughter of entrepreneurial artists, Whitney developed a passion for growing businesses that were not only successful, but also added something beautiful to the world.  Her first job after striking out on her own, offered the opportunity to work with hundreds of small businesses, and paired her with a courageous manager who allowed her to take risks with her ideas.  This resulted in learning from both success and failure–powerful lessons.  These early opportunities were the foundations for a lifetime of helping others have the same courage. 

Through her work, Whitney saw a consistent pattern emerge–people mired in the day-to-day tasks of managing people, process, and products, stifling the truly valuable work of leadership.  However, this challenge became the doorway to understanding the difference between leadership and management, and provided a path to coach people to employ more leadership skills, which delivered greater personal satisfaction and improved outcomes. 

Join us for breakfast on April 10, as Whitney talks about the challenges we face as women utilizing our leadership capabilities and the five strategies we can use to overcome those hurdles and become leaders in our own lives.          

Over the past 20 years, Whitney Keyes has worked as a senior Microsoft manager, strategic adviser for American Express, and as a marketing consultant to thousands of individuals and organizations around the world.  She is the winner of the Small Business Administration’s 2013 Women in Business Champion of the Year Award for Washington State and author of the book, Propel: Five Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing and Accelerate Business (Career Press).

Whitney received three grants from the U.S. State Department to empower women leaders, social entrepreneurs, NGOs and youth in Malaysia and Africa (Kenya and Namibia). Her most recent work in Malaysia resulted in an honorary fellowship with the University Malaysia Kelantan, a university focused on entrepreneurship, and the overall program was selected among thousands of other initiatives funded by the U.S. government to be included in U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry’s briefing paper on successful public diplomacy programs.

Whitney serves as a professor and fellow for the Center for Strategic Communications at Seattle University and guest lectures for the University of Washington and other academic institutions. She teaches Global Reputation Management and related marketing communication courses. She also manages a consulting practice, delivers keynotes and facilitates workshops for organizations including the Small Business Administration and Port of Seattle.

While at Microsoft, Whitney managed global marketing campaigns, including the launch of Office 2000, an $8 billion business. She helped create the company’s first Corporate Social Responsibility report and primary philanthropy program, Unlimited Potential, which continues today.

Prior to that role, Whitney worked for the City of Tacoma’s Economic Development Department. She helped manage the Neighborhood Business District Revitalization Program, advocating for over 500 small businesses to help them survive and thrive. She began her career managing her family’s wholesale and retail art businesses.

Whitney writes for business publications and produces content for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Biz Bite Blog. She co-produced and hosted over 50 episodes of, a weekly, online web talk show. Based in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A, she can be reached at



Rachel Dexheimer

"Moving Beyond Survival to Thrive in a Changing World"

Featuring Rachel Dexheimer, Trainer, Speaker and Coach

When:  March 13, 2014

As a specialist in working with women leaders, Rachel Dexheimer knows it is not just surviving but thriving that allows us to show up powerfully in our daily lives.  Once struggling to discover what she had to offer her communities at home, work, and play, she now understands the importance of trusting who you are and taking care of your physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.  In today’s world, this is difficult as our lives change faster than we can digest.  How do we find our place in this swirl and then step into it with our full, wholehearted selves?

Yearning for a simpler way to understand human connection, Rachel borrowed wisdom from the animal kingdom and created a unique framework based on animal behaviors that allows us to understand others and what we all have to contribute.  Rachel will teach us how using these ideas, and others like them, help us build deeper connections and guide our actions toward amazing results. 

Join us for breakfast on March 13, as Rachel shares meaningful insights on how to live a deeply fulfilling life, creating the most powerful competitive advantage, thrival.


Rachel is a powerful and dynamic trainer, speaker, and coach who spent 18 years thriving in the cultural and technical complexities of Fortune 500 companies including Lucent, AT&T, and McCaw Cellular.

While she reveled in building strong business relationships, creating high performing teams, and leading global implementation projects, there was something missing - a contribution to the greater good.

She now combines that experience with her entrepreneurial expertise to propel business professionals to new levels of success.

Rachel is passionately committed to continuous learning.  She holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University and a Bachelor of Science in Workforce Training and Development.  She is a Certified Professional Coach through Antioch University and inviteCHANGE, and credentialed through the International Coach Federation.

Contributing to her community is vital to Rachel's sense of fulfillment.  She currently serves as a lead facilitator with Leadership Eastside, convening leadership for the greater good.  She is President of the Board of the Pacific Northwest Organizational Development Network.


Rachel Dexheimer


President, Fran's Chocolates

"A Love Story: How a Romance with Chocolate Led to Enduring Success"

Featuring Fran Bigelow, President of Fran’s Chocolates

When:  February 13, 2014 

Inspired by both Julia Child and a visit to a Parisian chocolate salon, Fran Bigelow opened her first patisserie and chocolate shop 30 years ago.  Today, Fran’s Chocolates is known around the world, and Fran is credited with sparking the artisan chocolate revival in the United States.  With a focus on highlighting the true flavor of chocolate, Fran strives to find new and unique ways to experience the pleasure of eating this complex and flavorful food.

In order to keep her focus on the right things, Fran relies on a core set of business principles.  Powerful but simple ideas — such as work to your strengths and stay true to your mission — enable her business to grow and allow her products to evolve and remain innovative, while driving market standards.

Join us for breakfast on February 13, as Fran talks about what happens when true love and a mind for business collide.

Fran Bigelow’s passion for chocolates began with her first taste of French confections in 1969. The rich and delicate flavors captivated her senses unlike anything she had previously experienced. In 1982, she opened Fran’s Patisserie and Chocolate Specialities in Seattle, finding special satisfaction in sharing the pure joy of chocolate with her customers. Her pursuit of perfection led to intense, exquisite confections and much acclaim in local, national and international press.

Devotion to furthering the art of chocolate is reflected in every recipe, method and ingredient. Each confection is made in small batches with meticulous care and skill in Fran’s Seattle facility. A family owned and operated company, Fran works alongside son Dylan, Director of Chocolate and daughter Andrina, CEO. With three retail shops, in Downtown Seattle, University Village and Bellevue and a thriving website – – as well as a wholesale division, Fran’s Chocolates has earned a following that continues to grow.


Maria Ross

"Reboot and Reframe:  Seven Lessons a Brain Injury Can Teach You for a Richer Business and Personal Life"

Featuring Maria Ross, Author, Speaker, and Chief Brand Strategist at Red Slice

In 2008, after moving to a new city, buying her first house, adopting a dog and starting her own consulting business, Maria Ross was struck with a brain aneurysm and hemorrhage at the age of 35.  Doctors dubbed her recovery “miraculous” and as she healed and recovered, she re-booted her brain and kick-started Red Slice — her branding and marketing consultancy — back into high gear.

Because of her cognitive and psychological impairments, Maria found new ways to adapt her business so she could continue advising clients on how to translate captivating stories into irresistible brands.  She soon saw many parallels between her personal struggle and professional success and realized the seven strategies that healed her body and soul were equally applicable to successful branding and entrepreneurship. 

Today, her business is thriving and since her injury, she has published two books, been featured in national media, and produced amazing client results…all after a health crisis many people do not survive.

 On January 9, come hear Maria’s captivating, funny and inspirational story of being knocked sideways out of her life by an event that taught her new meanings to the words no, patience, focus and humor.  She will show us how life’s hardest lessons can fuel your efforts to build an irresistible business, career and brand.

Maria Ross is a brand strategist, author and speaker who believes cash flow and creativity are not mutually exclusive.  As creator of Red Slice, she blogs weekly and advises start-ups, solopreneurs and small to midsize growth companies on how to craft irresistible brands.  Maria is the author of the highly praised Branding for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budgetand her Amazon best-selling humorous and heartfelt memoir Rebooting My Brain:  How a Freak Aneurysm Reframed My Life.  A dynamic speaker, she delights audiences ranging from The New York Times to the Chamber of Commerce to BlogHer with her wit and wisdom and has appeared in numerous media outlets, including MSNBC, ABC News, The Huffington Post,, NPR and Entrepreneur Magazine.  Spark a convo with Maria @redslice or join her Facebook tribe at

See Maria’s many slices of wit and wisdom and join her free email list at


Sumi Tonooka

"Growing on the Edge"

Featuring Sumi Tonooka, Jazz Pianist and Composer 

When:  December 12, 2013 


For four-year-old Sumi Tonooka, the piano was a playground where she found fun, experimentation, and joy.  She told stories and wove together a multitude of sounds as the notes came alive beneath her fingertips.  Sumi shared her love of piano with her mother, who took her to see Thelonious Monk live when she was 13.  From the moment he struck the first chord, Sumi was hooked on jazz piano.  

Sumi strives to maintain that same sense of playfulness and vibrancy as a professional musician.  Her 30-year career and artistic range continue to evolve in myriad directions.  As a performing jazz pianist and recording artist, Sumi counts among her many accomplishments and talents the founding of a recognized, professional recording label and adept composer.  Her work is hailed as “fierce and fascinating” (Jazz Times), “inventive,” and “a total delight” (Cuadranos de Jazz, Madrid).  

Attaining success is not easy, and Sumi know that as well as any.  For her, each step requires facing a new set of risks, the need to stretch, and being willing to expose her work to peers and audiences around the world.  As an improvisational jazz musician, she experiments constantly.  She understands the need to put herself out there and make mistakes, often on stage, in order to learn and grow.  Her achievements come from being true to herself and ensuring that her work resonates with her vision, which also sustains her through the challenges.   

Join us for breakfast on December 12, as Sumi encourages us to find the artist in ourselves, and explains how the same principles that foster creative growth in her music career apply to all of us.  Through her words and her music, Sumi will help us celebrate our successes and inspire us to acknowledge our achievements every day. 

During a career spanning more than 30 years that has taken her from Philadelphia to Boston, from New York City to Seattle, Sumi Tonooka has developed a body of work that surprises and delights audiences—quietly piling up accolades from jazz writers and fellow musicians.   

In 2013, the American Composers Orchestra and The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, in cooperation with EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discover Network, presented Tonooka’s first work for symphony orchestra as part of the second Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings.  

In her most recent solo recording, NOW, “Tonooka covers a lot of stylistic territory in a perfectly sequenced show, and plays with a rare spirituality and musical sagacity.  A superb solo piano outing” (All About Jazz).  Her 2009 recording, Initiation (ARC Records, with tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay), garnered an “honorable mention in the 2010 Village Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll.  Recording often in trio or quartet with such noted jazz stalwarts as bassist Rufus Reid, and drummers Akira Tana and Lewis Nash, Tonooka characteristically blends her own compositions with highly personal readings of jazz standards.  

In addition to her symphonic and chamber works, jazz recordings and performances, Sumi has composed more than a dozen film scores, including the Academy Award-nominated Family Gathering by Lise Yasui, and Daring to Resist by Martha Lubell, which aired on PBS.  She is also featured in A Note of Hope, a 2011 full-length documentary from Citygate Films on the youngest victims of HIV/AIDS in Africa.  She toured West Africa as part of a sextet featuring her musical compadre of two decades, jazz violinist John Blake, Jr.  Their recorded output includes A New Beginning:  Live at The Village Gate, Kindred Spirits (as a duo), and The Traveler featuring Boris Koslov on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. 

As a member of The Rufus Reid Quintet, Tonooka appears on the CD and DVD The Rufus Reid Quintet:  Live at the Kennedy Center (Motema).  The group appeared at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York in 2007 for the release performance. 

Tonooka’s career has been chronicled on several highly regarded jazz books, including Living the Jazz Life by Royal Stokes, ln the Moment by Francis Davis, and Madame Jazz, by Leslie Gourse (all published by Oxford University Press). 

As a professional response to an inherent void within the music industry, Tonooka, along with alto saxophonist Chris Burnett and tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay, co-founded the Artists Recording Collective (ARC), an internationally recognized brand and professional recording label. She now divides her time between her responsibilities as ARC’s chief public relations officer, and composing and performing for an increasingly widespread audience of jazz aficionados.

Sumi Tonooka has been called a “fierce and fascinating composer and pianist” (Jazz Times), “provocative and compelling” (The New York Times), and “continually inventive, original, surprising, and a total delight,” (Cuadranos de Jazz, Madrid).

Peggy Kelsey

"Patience, Persistence, Perspective, and Not Just a Little Pluck"

Featuring Peggy Kelsey, Author and Photographer    


Gathering StrengthArmed with an idea and motivated by disbelievers, Peggy Kelsey embarked on an ambitious project to give a voice to Afghan women who transcended the stereotype prevalent in Western culture.  These women were courageous, intelligent, and fierce.  Their stories demonstrated creative survival at their core, but more than that, they taught the most basic fundamentals of success for anyone, anywhere.  All of this remains true today.  

Through hours of conversation with Afghan women in country, Peggy learned how small changes in perspective can yield huge results; how patience reveals hidden gifts; how persistence will often achieve the goal; and when put together, much more is achievable than anyone can imagine. 

Captured in luminous images, the strength and beauty of Peggy’s subjects shine from the pages of her book, Gathering Strength: Conversations with Afghan Women.  The photos, along with her words, open a window for us to see another’s experience more clearly. 

Join us for breakfast on November 14th as Peggy shares her own story of growth and determination, and how in an effort to give others a voice, she gave herself one too.  We will hear about some of the remarkable Afghan women she met, learn from their successes, and understand how we can help each other thrive in the years ahead. 


Peggy Kelsey began her world travels as an exchange student in Iran in the early 1970s. She spent a summer traveling alone through India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.  After finishing her degrees in Education and Social Work, she and her husband traveled around the world, marrying in Jordan, and worked for two years in Bahrain and Yemen. When they returned to the United States, they started a family and worked together in their magazine distribution business. 

In the early 1990s, change came quickly when Peggy started a photography business, her husband became a pilot and they moved to Mozambique for two years before settling again in Austin, Texas.  It was there, in 2002, Peggy met a delegation of 14 Afghan women.  Their strength, humor and resiliency was contrary to the media image (at the time) of Afghan women as helpless victims.  This dichotomy inspired Peggy to start the Afghan Women’s Project. She went to Afghanistan the following year and created a photo-documentary chronicling the narrative histories and thoughts of 40 Afghan women. 

In the spring of 2010, she returned to Afghanistan to meet new women and gain fresh insights.  Her book Gathering Strength: Conversations with Afghan Women was published in October, 2012.  It has received enthusiastic critical acclaim, including a recent endorsement from Kite Runner author, Khaled Hosseini. Peggy travels around the country sharing the stories of Afghan women through her exhibit and slide presentations.

In 2007, Peggy went to Jordan to begin a similar project with Iraqi refugee women.


Angie Lepley, Owner, Tangerine Travel

"The Power of Culture to Shape Success"

Featuring Angie Lepley, Owner, Tangerine Travel 


2013 Puget Sound Business Journal’s Best Workplaces Bronze Award winner, Angie Lepley, knows a thing or two about the power of culture.  She owns a travel agency. Tangerine Travel, transports people to far off lands, but the culture she has created right here at home is what has kept her in business for twenty-five years. 

When Angie decided in high school she wanted to be an entrepreneur, a few things were clear.  She wanted to build a company based on work she loved; she wanted to create relationships of trust and mutual respect; and she wanted it to be like a family.  At the time, she may not have called it culture but Angie can link her success directly to the many imperceptible, but impactful elements in their work environment that has meant the difference between relevance and obsolescence.  She and her team move mountains together and adapt quickly as the travel industry changes rapidly around them.  These elements are reflected in their brand and the strength of their customer relationships.  

Join us for breakfast on October 10th as Angie gives us insight into what she has done to create an inspiring company she is proud of and how you can build your own culture, whether you are a one person show or have hundreds of employees. 

P.S. And after her presentation, as a certified agent for booking space travel, we can all book our tickets to space through her agency!


Angie Lepley, President and Owner of Tangerine Travel, Ltd., has been involved in the travel business for over 28 years.  After working in the industry for a number of years, she decided there was a better way to run a travel agency than she had experienced.  Angie harnessed her travel industry passion and created a better place for agents to work.  She started her company with the simple philosophy of treating each employee and client as an individual.

Today Tangerine Travel has been in business for 25 years and continues to expand and flourish.  Angie has evolved her business strategy to stay ahead of the competition and thrive. With 70 employees, Tangerine Travel is the largest independently owned travel agency in Washington State and is also the largest woman owned agency in the Pacific Northwest. They lead the industry in applying the latest travel technology, which allows them to offer innovative travel solutions. 

Tangerine Travel is located in the Bothell/Woodinville area.  The spa inspired offices provide a relaxed atmosphere for planning travel, whether it is a corporate trip or a vacation of a life time.  Travel is so fast-paced and stressful these days, it's time for a travel agency that can help relieve some of that stress, from the moment you make your first request.  Tangerine Travel has taken travel planning in a new direction:  Refreshing Service ~ Refreshing Human Touch. 

Recently Angie was selected by Virgin Galactic, a company owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Richard Branson, to be one of only 45 travel consultants in North America to be an Accredited Space Agent.  Virgin selected Angie and Tangerine Travel because of its affiliation with Virtuoso, a leading organization in luxury travel.

Angie has grown her company by listening to her clients' needs and living the philosophy of “one step further” service.  This willingness to go beyond what is expected, and the personal relationships built through a human connection, enables Tangerine Travel to achieve success.

Tangerine Travel


Jane Barry, Principal, Linksbridge

"Overdrawn and Overextended? Revitalize Personal Activism with a New Paradigm"

Featuring Jane Barry, Principal, Linksbridge

When:  August 8, 2013  -  7 a.m. - 9 a.m.   (Breakfast Pricing)  

Where: Women's University Club (Learn more)  

Prompted by an alarming trend in activist* burnout, Jane Barry became an expert in the toll extracted through endless giving.  She researched and wrote extensively about the topic.  It was clear if people didn’t talk about and invest in personal sustainability, they would have nothing left to give -- losing valuable passionate and creative energy.   

Using lessons learned from building a sustainable business and her work with women around the world, Jane will take you on a journey to build your own sustainable life.  Her stories and experiences working with women human rights defenders will highlight the importance of building a safe place to talk about the ledge many women live on as they stretch beyond their own limits.  She will talk about making space for reflection and nurturing yourself in order to expand what and how much you can contribute to the work you do.  You will learn how investing in yourself is linked with the success of your business and other personal endeavors, and the high cost of forgoing that investment.

Join us for breakfast on August 8th to celebrate the volunteer and activist in all of us as we take a moment to reflect on the powerful and important work we do.  Begin the process of building a solid, safe community to talk about and change the way we think about our investment in others.

*Linksbridge uses the term ‘activist’ broadly to describe anyone who gives time, energy and resources to help build a better world – in their own communities and abroad – paid or unpaid, spanning the spectrum of ‘informal’ volunteers to non-profit professionals.


Jane Barry, a human rights activist and author, is a principal at the Seattle-based consulting firm, Linksbridge.  Jane has over 10 years of experience consulting to leading international organizations and non-profits on humanitarian aid, development assistance, and human rights, specializing in the intersections of peace, security and gender.

Most recently, she has designed and co-facilitated a series of workshops on exciting new concepts called ‘integrated security’ and ‘sustaining activism’ for human rights defenders from Asia, the former Soviet Union, Latin America and Africa (in collaboration with international human rights organizations such as the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, Frontline International Foundation for Human Rights Defenders and Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights).

Her latest publications include: Integrated Security: The Manual; Insiste, Persiste, Resiste, Existe: Women Human Rights Defenders Security Strategies (with Vahida Nainar); What’s the Point of the Revolution if We Can’t Dance? (with Jelena Djordjevic); and Rising up in Response: Women’s Rights Activism in Conflicts.

Jane also has considerable experience in humanitarian and human rights emergencies at the global policy level and in the field, where she worked for several years in the former Soviet Union, the Balkans and Africa designing and managing emergency response programs. She holds a Certificate in International Human Rights Law and Practice from the London School of Economics (LSE) and a BA from Middlebury College in Soviet Studies.


Lindagail Campbell, Lindagail & Associates

"Building Credibility and Boundaries in Business:
Be Heard the First Time"

Featuring Lindagail Campbell, Verbal & Nonverbal Communications Expert and International Master Trainer of Neurolinguistics; CEO of Lindagail & Associates

When:  July 18, 2013  -  7 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Where: Women's University Club

Communications expert Lindagail Campbell always liked to figure out how things work, from ranch equipment to horse psychology to airplanes. After years of success in business—where she easily discovered how to make a million dollars—Lindagail had a difficult and deeply life-changing experience. She discovered more about her own heart and her way in the world and then was compelled to figure out how people tick—and ultimately how to coach them toward more fulfilling lives.

Helping others through a “heart of the mind” approach, Lindagail was very clearly led to her successful calling. A master trainer in public speaking and in the peak-performance skills of neurolinguistic programming, she teaches techniques that help people learn how to transform their thinking and verbal and nonverbal communication. The result? You learn how to figure out what you most want in life and how to get it through personal empowerment, creating influence, and by establishing credibility and appropriate boundaries.

Come to WBE’s July 18 breakfast, where you will thoroughly enjoy Lindagail’s engaging presentation. She will show you how you can begin now to enjoy greater credibility and through simple, specific adjustments you can make in your voice quality that will help you set clear boundaries. She will also cover her unique personal story—becoming a pilot straight out of high school, running a ranch, training horses, and creating big success in venture capital.

Be sure to calendar WBE’s July breakfast—to be held the third Thursday instead of the usual second Thursday. You’ll also enjoy the dedicated time to network for clients, discover professional opportunities, explore WBE’s leadership-development volunteer opportunities, and much more.

Lindagail is an internationally acclaimed NLP Master Trainer. Over the past 23 years, she has taught NLP, presentation skills, and storytelling to more than 7,300 students across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and in Europe. She is a keynote speaker, communications consultant, peak performance coach, and trainer for Joe Dispenza’s work in “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.” Lindagail’s clients have included Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, the U.S. Forest Service, Providence Hospital, KPS Health Systems, Bonneville Power, Boeing, Nike, U.S. Department of the Interior, and AT&T. She has been a guest on television and radio as an expert in NLP.

Lindagail was born in Seattle and grew up riding horses along the mighty Columbia River in Central Washington. She earned her pilot’s license at 18 at the Ellensburg airport and flew as a bush pilot in Alaska and Australia when she was only 20. She went on to study banking and finance at Louisiana State University, then worked in property development and raised venture capital for successful partnerships. As an entrepreneur, Lindagail founded several successful companies, sold them, and retired at 32. The following year her husband died suddenly. It was the art and science of NLP that helped her cope.

In 1991, Lindagail founded the NLP Institute of Oregon in Ashland. For 12 years, she based her trainings in Portland at Marylhurst University. In Guadalajara, Mexico, she helped establish an NLP training center and was a guest trainer there for seven years. In 2010, she moved from Southern Oregon to downtown Kirkland and established NLP Pacific with trainings in Seattle, Portland, and on Maui. She is also leading groups to the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador.

Lindagail’s NLP teachers include John Grinder, Judith Delozier, Michael Grinder, Steve and Connirae Andreas, Lara Ewing, and Robert Dilts. She has also been influenced by the writings, recordings, and films of Dr. Milton Erickson, Gregory Bateson, Virginia Satir, and Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, and contemporary teachers Angeles Arrien, David Whyte, and Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

Lindagail is a certified NLP Master Practitioner and holds numerous certifications including Advanced Language Skills, Trainer Training, NLP in Health, NLP in Business, and Words that Change Minds. She is trained in Hakomi psychotherapy, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” with Joe Dispenza, and she is a Guild Certified Teacher of the Feldenkrais Method®. Lindagail also served as a board member of Mediation Works in Medford, Oregon, and co-founded the 140+ member community choir where she performed as an auditioned member of an ensemble.

In her free time, Lindagail enjoys sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands, singing with the Seattle Women's Chorus, social dancing, birdwatching, swimming, and time outside near water under the changing sky. She has traveled widely both at home and abroad to over 40 countries. 

Website: NLP Pacific


Dr. Monica Dixon, Ph.D., R.D.

Against All Odds: Navigating a Rocky Journey Toward Success"

Featuring Dr. Monica Dixon, Ph.D., R.D.

When:  June 13, 2013  -  7 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Where: Women's University Club 

How do we focus on the right things and manage to the make the most of what life has to offer?  How do we get past the naysayers who don’t believe in us or the barriers placed before us?  How do we keep moving forward when we feel broken, tired and alone?

None of us can escape the challenges life throws at us or the vast demands on our time and energy.  Running a business, having a family, participating in a community and pursing our passions can leave us confused and drained about what our priorities should be and what direction to take, especially when we meet those all too familiar forks in the road. 

For Dr. Monica Dixon, the wellspring of her life has been the pursuit of passion in everything she does, whether it’s career, marriage, motherhood, friendships or volunteering. Her commitment to living a passionate life has helped her navigate the perilous waters of negative messages, unclear paths, and often seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Her deep belief in the power of listening to our intuition and having the faith required to follow it has helped sustain her through the most difficult and tenuous times of her life. 

Monica will share with us her inspiring and motivating life’s journey and the roles commitment and passion have played at every stage. Monica’s personal philosophy of “Live, Laugh, Love, Learn, and Leave a Legacy,” is the underpinning of everything she does. It’s resulted in a grand adventure in her own life, yet also improved the lives of thousands of others through her motivational speaking. She will help you identify your most important commitments, give you a map to assist in discovering your own passionate life and help you develop your personal philosophy of living.

Join us for breakfast on June 13th and learn how a once homeless high school student became an internationally known author, speaker, business owner and expert in her field as Monica shares her incredible journey to a successful and meaningful life. 

Like the quilts she is passionate about making for those less fortunate, the life of Dr. Monica Dixon is a motley collection of pieces woven together to create a vibrant piece of art. 

Beginning as a Catholic-educated Midwestern farm girl, the oldest and only girl of six children, Monica heard there’d be no money for college, and she’d fail anyway. Being one to eternally ask questions of everything and everyone eventually got her tossed out the door, having to survive on her own. Marrying her grade school sweetheart and love of her life got her off the streets, but presented another problem…the life of a military nomad.  Continuous moves were a constant barrier to college, but she developed an ingenious business model for cleaning homes during the day, then working third shift in a restaurant to pay her way through a private college to become a Registered Dietitian, a career she’s been passionate about ever since.

Early in her career as a university professor, Monica recognized the emerging epidemic of obesity and looked for innovative ways to take action.  In addition to speaking to any audience who listened, she expanded her level of expertise through a Ph.D. in Psychology from Saybrook University in San Francisco, graduating top in her class of 80 students.  Her unconventional university experience did more than increase her knowledge of psychology, it established a new way of thinking and operating.  Monica is now one of the nation's leading experts on obesity. Her first book Love the Body You Were Born With: A Ten Step Workbook for Women, written in 1996, was published in three languages.  This event also launched her career as a writer, speaker and trainer.  Her groundbreaking work on improving access to healthy food in Washington State earned her the “Creative Leadership by Example” award from the Centers for Disease Control in 2005.

Married to a military officer for 35 years (and still, the love of her life!), Monica remains committed to serving our country.  She has been actively involved with issues central to the military and has trained many soldiers and their families across the nation to optimize their lives through their many transitions.  In her role as a Commander’s wife, she was charged with supporting spouses of those in active service, giving her unique insight into the challenges and lives of military families.

Often the solitary caregiver of her two sons, she had to creatively balance motherhood with her other passions of quilting, volunteerism, hiking and kayaking, writing and building a wildly successful catering business. Her innovative solutions to finding this balance prompted her to write Walking the Tightrope: 101 Ways to Manage Motherhood in 2012.

Monica continues to focus on improving the lives of others and works in economic development and community building, motivational speaking and facilitating on a variety of topics, including creativity, communication and living the healthiest life.  She has been a frequent guest on radio and television and her work has appeared in Self, Marie Claire, Essence, Good Housekeeping and Mademoiselle magazines.   She believes deeply in giving back and her many contributions include establishing a scholarship enabling college women to travel, serving on numerous Board of Directors and making quilts for soldiers, children and those suffering from illness and addiction.


Renata Kowalczyk, The Collaborative Economy Catalyst

How You Can Thrive in the new ‘Collaborative Economy’ by Unlocking Hidden Resources"

Featuring Renata Kowalczyk, MBA, The Collaborative Economy Catalyst

When:  May 9, 2013  -  7 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Where: Women's University Club 

In running a business and trying to make it grow, we often focus on beating our competition and investing cash in equipment, supplies, and advertising. But what if you set aside that paradigm—and instead were able to conserve your cash and expand your business using an “old” approach that’s “new” again?

There are surprising and business-boosting payoffs to participating in what small-business consultant Renata Kowalczyk calls the “collaborative economy.” It’s a values-based way to do business that, for Renata, was strongly influenced by her upbringing in Communist Poland.

Just as “collaborative economy” implies, you can and should, according to Renata, seek opportunities to work with others—even your competitors! You can also retain more of your company’s cash by bartering and trading, and you may easily discover “hidden” sources of cash among your assets. Renata will share her own stories of quite fruitfully collaborating with her supposed competition, as well as stories of her clients’ success with their own collaborative economy tactics. And, her personal journey toward starting her small-business consulting company will amaze you.

Join us at the May breakfast and hear about Renata’s fascinating life journey, which began in a small farming town in Poland. In Dzierzoniow, her family had everything they needed because they relied on their community rather than solely on unpredictable supermarkets and government rations. At age 23, Renata arrived in New York City with more courage than money toward creating her American dream. Her realized dream quickly kicked into high gear—it included an Ivy League MBA, high-powered Wall Street strategic management jobs, and deluxe penthouse condo.

Don’t miss Renata’s story of how that American dream evolved into a nightmare and how she bravely yet instinctively “created and then un-created that life” and now enjoys building community and helping businesses thrive in charming Bellingham, Washington. Join us on May 9 for this inspiring presentation and lots of formal and informal networking opportunities.


Renata Kowalczyk left Poland a few days after the Berlin Wall came down and arrived in New York City with just $20 in her pocket and a few lines of English. She believed the Big Apple was the perfect place to start her American Dream.

The abundance of opportunity and Renata’s desire for success mixed well with the contagious energy of New York. Renata quickly expanded her meager resources into a comfortable and successful life in the city. One success soon followed another: a degree in Economics, an MBA from the prestigious Columbia Business School, a career with Wall Street firms helping build products, systems and organizations, and a penthouse condo in Manhattan.

Though she knew that on the outside her life seemed perfect, Renata suffered panic attacks, sleepless nights, and an insatiable feeling of emptiness. It seemed that no matter what she did, who she worked for, how hard she worked, or how much money she made, her life felt meaningless. She saw no signs that her 12-hour workdays were making much difference for her companies’ customers and staff nor the community. Burned out, Renata walked away from everything in 2008.

After moving on, her first focus was on two key lessons learned from growing up in a country with very limited resources, but with an abundance of connections. Number one, she reflected on that concept that asking for help builds community. Number two, she thought of her father’s cautionary statement that unused talents are wasted. Realizing these were crucial parts of her new path, Renata was compelled to lead business efforts that build community and provide opportunities for people to use their gifts to their fullest.

Renata regards the community of Bellingham, like her hometown, to be a place where trust and connections are the most valued “currencies.” Three years after Wall Street, in her consulting practice, she partnered with her biggest “competitor” in Bellingham. They doubled their market while making more than $22,000. Now, as her consultancy has matured, Renata is more than ever committed to share everything she has discovered along her journey so you and your business will thrive in the “new economy” that she calls the Collaborative Economy.


Maryann Nelson, C Level Consulting

12 Steps to Financial Empowerment & Unleashed Creativity"

Featuring Maryann Nelson, MBA, President & CEO of C-Level Consulting

When:  April 11, 2013  -  7 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Where: Women's University Club

You work for yourself, or you’re planning to, because you’ve got the drive and talent and it’s your dream. But what about the math?

Unfortunately, far too many entrepreneurs just haven’t spent the time looking under the hood of their business or idea. They’re unclear on the money engine—how to make sure enough will keep coming in and how much is the right amount. Fortunately, you have seasoned business whiz Maryann Nelson to help empower you as she demystifies business-finance concepts, such as the balance sheet, income statement, and financial strategic planning.

Maryann has consulted with solopreneurs and multi-million dollar companies, and she’s found that plenty of people in business have passion and terrific ideas, but not quite enough education in the dollars and cents required to successfully run or expand a business. But there’s great news in the way Maryann teaches: Getting involved in the financials, rather than abdicating it all to your accountant or bookkeeper, frees up your creativity and enhances decision making. She says that financial knowledge helps get rid of fear and even guilt and lets ideas flow. Maryann’s other good news is that people tend to discover they know a lot more about finance than they realized.

Maryann’s presentation will help you become more strategic and better understand risk. She has helped her clients address questions such as:

  • Can I afford to launch this new product right now?
  • Which of the comparable office spaces should I lease?
  • Does my plan realistically allow me to live my dream?

Don’t leave your entrepreneur plan entirely up to the Universe—come to the April WBE breakfast and let Maryann help you bite into the math, which she thinks you just might savor. And as part of her talk, Maryann has a planning exercise so we can start right away.

Join WBE on April 11th and get more business-math savvy while you enjoy networking for clients and professional opportunities, mentoring or being mentored, perhaps reinventing yourself, and more.


Maryann was born and raised in Seattle, and spent most of her professional career in the local banking profession. Three days after graduating from Ballard High School, she got a night job as a data entry operator. She then worked her way up until she reached the position of CEO and Chairman of the Board.

Maryann’s journey saw her as a founding executive officer at three separate community bank start-ups. She held the titles of Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for more than 25 years, and developed a keen sense of connection between the strategy and tactics of success. Maryann did a brief “tour of duty” in the municipal sector, serving as the Finance Director for the City of North Bend. Maryann’s focus now is her private consulting and mentoring practice where she tunes up companies and fine-tunes leaders. With a hero-worship admiration for business owners and executives, she helps clients from a perspective of best practices, practicality, professionalism, and profits.

Maryann has been active in several professional and service organizations. She currently serves as a director for Seattle Community Law Center and a Trustee for Seattle Girl’s School. In the past she has served as an officer and board member for the Community Bankers of Washington, Soroptimist International and Bank Administration Institute. She served as a trustee for a large insurance program, and was a member of the Seattle Chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization. She is a past member the National Association of Corporate Directors and Seattle 4 Rotary. She has taught courses for the American Institute of Banking and presented at various professional conferences.

Maryann is a graduate of the Honors Liberal Arts program at Seattle University and holds an MBA from the University of Washington.

Maryann’s website: C Level Consulting


Sonya Stoklosa, Executive Athlete

Change your Thinking Habits for more Clarity and Direction"

Featuring Sonya Stoklosa, President & Founder of ‘Executive Athlete’ Executive Leadership Coaching

When:   March 14, 2013  -  7 a.m. - 9 a.m. 

Where: Women's University Club

From an early age, we develop beliefs shaped by our personal experience, family dynamics, culture, and influential people. Those beliefs add up to the collection of stories each of us consciously, and unconsciously, tell ourselves.

And most often, these stories aren’t doing us any favors.

So, what if you could learn how others, including top-level business leaders, were able to overcome personal roadblocks born simply from their misguided thought processes? And what if you could learn to delve into your own stories and behavior patterns—with the goal of a lasting mindset change?

According to psychology expert and leadership coach Sonya Stoklosa, it’s first important to realize just how universally human it is to feel stuck in our stories—ones that hold us back, send us off in the wrong direction, and tell us what we can and can’t accomplish. Sonya says, it’s all a matter of “un-blinding” yourself to those habits.

Here’s some of what Sonya will cover to help us learn to transcend the stories that simply are not our friends—so that we can achieve more authentic leadership, peace of mind, and greater fulfillment of our goals:

  • The three universal truths about how our beliefs create our stories (for one, absolutely no one escapes fear and doubt)
  • How time management is but one approach to handling our busy lives; there’s also energy management—something Sonya learned as a competitive skier as well as through her work with athletes, top executives, and other achievers.
  • How the rather common “Impostor Syndrome” particularly affects—and how it can best be overcome.

 Come to the March 14 breakfast and shine a light on your unwanted ways of thinking, and plan on trading them in for truly life-enhancing ones.

As an elite athlete and corporate executive—she competed in the 1998 Olympic Trials in skiing—Sonya learned firsthand that professionals who develop an ‘athlete mentality’ can operate at peak-performance levels. She believes that the ‘Executive Athlete’ can balance the increasingly complex challenges and responsibilities at work and at home, while attaining excellence. Top athletes have long benefited from coaching, which is seen as integral to their success. Sonya has found that business leaders are now benefiting from the dramatic developments in performance coaching that have been available in the sports world for decades.

Sonya’s client list includes leaders from global companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, Starbucks, 3M, The Four Seasons, St. Jude Medical, Kinetic Concepts, Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Northern Trust, UBS Wealth Management, U.S. Bank, and Hill+Knowlton. Sonya aims to deliver peak-performance individual coaching to C-level and other senior executives with a passion for inspiring change through dynamic and challenging interaction.

Sonya earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and an M.S. in Sports Psychology from Purdue University. In addition, she participated in advanced executive coach training at The Newfield Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and is a Newfield Certified Coach (NCC). Sonya is also a member of the International Coach Federation and holds a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential.

In addition to her coaching practice, Sonya was an instructor in negotiation at the University of Washington and is a regular speaker for corporate audiences nationwide. She has served on the Board of Trustees of The Henry Art Gallery, ACT Theatre and Seraph Capital Forum and is currently an Advisory Board member at The Trust for Public Lands. Sonya has also been an active volunteer with Social Venture Partners, Seattle Symphony and The Cascade Conservation Partnership.

Sonya’s business: Executive Athlete, LLC

Executive Athlete




Mary Jane Pioli, MJ Pioli & Company

Think Like a CEO to Boost Your Business & Life ..featuring Insight and Advice from a Host of Women CEOs" (February 2013)

with Mary Jane Pioli, Executive Coach, Business Strategist, & Group Facilitator

When:   February 14, 2013  -  7 a.m. - 9 a.m. 

Where: Women's University Club

What if you could get authentic, tailored advice from several female CEOs at once—women who run $1-2 million-plus companies and who have a breadth of insight to share? WBE’s February 14 breakfast presentation has it—exclusive, wise counsel from many points of view through a special program featuring executive coach and business strategist Mary Jane Pioli, plus her WPO executive colleagues facilitating our table discussions.

Mary Jane is the facilitator for the Bellevue and Seattle chapters of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), a peer-advisory organization that uses a roundtable discussion approach, among other tools, to help its members create greater financial, business, and personal success. In her executive coaching company and in her role as WPO facilitator, Mary Jane covers business-development strategies, creating and refreshing business visions, ways to “think bigger,” and implement focused business strategies with effectiveness and ease. The influential WPO members Mary Jane works with come from advertising, accounting, user experience, medical devices, technology, law, and other professions.

Key to her presentation and exclusively for WBE, Mary Jane surveyed more than a dozen successful CEOs, asking them thought-provoking questions that included:

  • What was the most impactful thing you focused on that grew your business to the $1 million revenue mark?
  • What kinds of organizations/groups and mentors proved most valuable in your career (and life) that helped drive your success?
  • Which of your beliefs has had the biggest impact on your ability to lead your business to meet your vision?

Come jump your business forward with the inspiration and education of these talented and authentic executive women this February 14.

Bio of Mary Jane Pioli, MJ Pioli & Company
Mary Jane is an executive coach, group facilitator, and business strategist who helps her clients define and implement their intentions and goals with clarity and integrity. She is the co-leader of the Seattle and Bellevue Chapters of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), an international peer advisory organization for women presidents, CEOs, and business owners who run companies with annual revenues greater than $2 million in the product sector and $1 million in the service sector.

For her WPO work, Mary Jane draws from extensive experience as Client Relations Director for Perkins Coie, the Northwest’s largest law firm; as Northwest Marketing Director of Arthur Andersen and Accenture; and as Client Service Manager for advertising and PR agencies including The Rockey Company and Borders Perrin and Norrander. She has developed and implemented professional training programs, created Client Satisfaction Programs, produced results-driven business development programs, established successful proposal and presentation systems, and facilitated proactive marketing programs.

With a BA from Ohio State Univ. School of Journalism, Mary Jane has continued her education to earn a certification in professional coaching (CPC) from The Academy for Coach Training with additional course work from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI).She is also recognized as part of the Leader to Leader Institute Facilitator Network as a certified facilitator of Peter Drucker’s “The Five Most Important Questions” Assessment Tool.

Mary Jane is also the co-CEO of her family along with engineer/entrepreneur husband Dave, and they have two daughters: goofy labradoodle named Ringo and sweet mutt named Ella. Together they are prone to adventure and international travel, having spent a perspective-gaining year-long sabbatical in Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.

MJ Pioli & Company

The Women Presidents’ Organization (an international nonprofit member organization)


Awilda Verdejo, Singer, Voice Coach & Former Professional Opera Singer

Breathe Into the Incredible Power of Your Whole Voice” (January 2013)

Featuring Awilda Verdejo, Singer, Voice Coach & Former Professional Opera Singer

Take a long breath. Breathe deeply…  While you’re at it, you can find your voice.

We know we should breathe deeply and fully so that we might regain calm, think clearly, and nourish our bodies. But did you know that through our breathing, we can also release the incredible power of the voice?

Riding on our breath, intertwined with its soothing power, is our voice. According to Awilda Verdejo, the voice is complex and very human—and unlike what people tend to think, it is not something outside of ourselves. Awilda says that when you make the commitment to fully accept your voice, it is a wondrous way of “coming home” and connecting to your ever-evolving inner authority. This connection will help you to live more consciously in your body, honor your intuition and intention, and speak your truth— influencing every part of one’s life.

Awilda’s talk on January 10—in her rich contralto speaking voice—will be a true treat as WBE’s first breakfast of 2013. As an accomplished singer of many types of music, former professional opera singer, and a vocal coach, Awilda has learned that the unique voice each of us possesses is about far more than the speaking or singing voice.  It is spiritual, intellectual, emotional, intuitive, cultural, genetic—and we can fully use all those components all of the time.

Don’t miss this captivating talk on how finding and owning your voice is an extraordinarily empowering way to live in the moment and create a deeper connection to the self and others. January is your fresh-start chance to embrace all things WBE— networking for clients and professional opportunities, mentoring or being mentored, reinventing yourself, learning through volunteering, and much more.

Bio of Awilda Verdejo

Awilda Verdejo has always sung. Her first solo was at age four to a captive audience of 300 people at church. Afterwards she declared, “When I grow up, I will be a singer.”

Awilda’s first career was teaching high school English in New York City, going the seemingly safer career route her family envisioned. But she still sang, and her keen self-awareness was taking root: When she experienced pain or disappointment, she’d tell herself that she would be okay because she had “a little piece of gold in her throat.”

After a few successful years of teaching, Awilda answered her calling and applied to The Juilliard School, where she was accepted on full scholarship. Though she grew up singing salsa, pop, hymns and musicals, at Juilliard she found that her voice loved opera—and opera loved her voice. Her Juilliard-honed singing carried her to the world stage as a professional opera singer. Among the operas that loved her voice and that she loved to sing were Aida, Madama Butterfly, Jenufa, Norma and Tosca. She sang for The New York City Opera, The Munich and Hamburg State Opera Houses in Germany, The Arena of Verona in Italy, The Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, and The Pyramids in Egypt.

Awilda also discovered ‘Spirituals,’ a type of music that originated with American slaves. Feeling a strong identity as an opera singer, Awilda was initially unsure about accepting her first opportunity to sing a Spirituals concert. Hearing Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” at the funeral of Princess Diana, Awilda realized the comfort singing can bring. She found that doing the Spirituals concert was profoundly rewarding—she was on an empty stage, “stripped” and no longer an opera singer wearing beautiful costumes surrounded by dramatic sets and lighting. She was simply Awilda, and she had found another genre of music that loved her voice and that she loved to sing.

Awilda no longer sings opera professionally; now she sings all kinds of music and coaches others, and she counts peace missions among her travel endeavors.

The Compleat Voice

The Compleat Voice website


Ann Medlock, Giraffe Heroes Project

Don’t Like What’s Out There? Why Not Change It? (December 2012)
How One Woman Set Out to Publicize Stories of Heroic Generosity

Featuring Ann Medlock, Founder & Executive Director of the Giraffe Heroes Project

In this season of giving, we contagiously buy presents and give our time and money to charities. December is ideal for celebrating selflessness and generosity — this month’s breakfast brings you inspiring stories of ordinary people whose extreme acts of giving earned them special commendation as heroes.

WBE presents Ann Medlock, who had a seemingly outlandish idea back in the ‘80s that became an international campaign to spread the word about people sticking their necks out for the common good. Her “giraffe” stories focused on positive news items about people who had simply seen a need and acted—often heroically.

Ann had a distinguished, even glamorous career as a freelance writer and publicist when the idea for the Giraffe Heroes Project struck her. She knew of people quietly engaged in risky or challenging activities for the benefit of their communities and causes, while noting that the media focused only on the ugliness or trivial in the world. Ann well knew the power and humanity of positive storytelling and how the resulting inspiration spreads like wildfire. She created the Giraffes to widely share the work of—and to help empower—those successfully tackling causes from saving wetlands to rescuing young Asian sex workers to including teens with disabilities in high school cheerleading. (You may just know of a certain Giraffe doctor—Patch Adams, who inspired a movie about his life’s work.)

Join us December 13 for networking, a delicious breakfast, and fascinating anecdotes from Ann’s life and how she tenaciously launched her successful nonprofit. She’ll share some stories with us of the true heroes she’s met around the world years running and expanding the Giraffes Heroes Project.


Ann Medlock is the founder and Executive Director of the Giraffe Heroes Project. Her background includes editing Viet Nam Presse in Saigon; chairing the Children’s Cultural Foundation in New York; freelance writing for magazines and corporations, and media consulting for Western Union, AT&T, and the U.S. Maritime Administration. She has been editor-in-chief of Children’s Express, a curriculum developer at Macmillan and Science Research Associates, and speechwriter to the Aga Khan. Ann currently blogs for the Huffington Post on a range of topics. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, and has published one novel and one book of poetry. Read more about Ann here.

Giraffe Heroes Program

Website for the Giraffe Heroes Project   



Deanna Oppenheimer, CameoWorks, LLC

“Transformational Leadership in a Transformed World” (November 2012)

Featuring Deanna Oppenheimer, founder and CEO of CameoWorks, LLC, & former CEO of Barclays UK Retail and Business Bank


 Where do you fit in today’s fast-paced global economy? If you think the wider world has little to do with you or your business, think again—you or your company are likely influenced by global entities every day. And you or your ideas might be absorbed into an international company, or your organization could find itself competing with one. All of this rapid, widespread change translates to the ideal time for the traditionally female style of leadership.

According to Deanna Oppenheimer, global power is moving away from the parochial “command and control” form of leadership and toward diversity of thought, collaboration, positive influence, and fostering of trust. One reason that these traits are critical is that sophisticated data is coming into businesses at lightning speed. That information must be analyzed and acted on ‘yesterday’ by stakeholders who can achieve consensus quickly—and Deanna says it’s happening when trust among customers and clients is at an all-time low.

Join us at the November 8 breakfast and learn more from Deanna about how women can best position themselves to develop, keep, and transfer power in today’s unpredictable, diverse, and incredibly data-enabled business world. She’ll share stories of her transformational business leadership experiences and discuss additional traits that best serve leaders—now and into the future


Recognized globally as one of the decade’s most influential leaders in financial services, Deanna Oppenheimer is an acclaimed turnaround strategist known for her ability to transform entrenched institutions into customer-centric champions.

Deanna was hired by Barclays PLC in 2005 to renovate its 350-year-old retail bank from the inside out. Six years later, the once staid organization had blossomed into a retail banking powerhouse, and Deanna was ranked as one of the two most powerful women in banking. As CEO of Barclays UK Retail and Business Banking division, she spent her first two years turning the under-performing business to one that was stable and strong—notable even in the best of times, and particularly remarkable when the global financial crisis hit the UK. Despite the unprecedented upheaval, Barclays UK Retail and Business Banking division delivered exceptional results under Deanna’s leadership. In 2009, she earned the additional title of vice chair, Global Retail Banking, and was responsible for turning around its business in all of Western Europe. Shortly afterward, she added the role of chief executive of Europe Retail and Business Banking.

Deanna had already implemented a similar approach at Washington Mutual when she led its growth from a tiny Northwest thrift to a national leader in retail banking. Under her guidance, WaMu was named as one of the ‘Top 40 Store Concepts in the World’ and was selected as the ‘Best Retail Bank’ in America.

After six years in London, Deanna returned to Seattle to continue a role she created in 2005—as founder and CEO of CameoWorks, LLC, a global retail and financial services advisory firm that works with clients’ “C-suite” executives to provide expert guidance for transformational leadership, international market development, and large-scale change management.

Deanna speaks at national and international forums, covering topics that include the importance of diversity, the power of combining analytics with creativity to renew an organization, and the value of global experience. She has degrees from the University of Puget Sound and completed the advanced executive program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.


Carolyn Kelly

"We Can’t All Be Ginger Rogers—How Always Striving for Better Can Be a Misstep" (August 2012)

Featuring Carolyn Kelly, former Seattle Times President and Chief Operating Officer


Moving up the ranks and helping run a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily paper, Carolyn learned much over her 33-year career at the Times. She realized that being overly perfectionistic can cause you and you alone to pay a price—like when you labor over something no one’s likely to notice. She also has found that the mindset of always striving for better can often hinder staying focused on what really matters.

Carolyn has even seen these kinds of issues for women echoed in popular business and leadership books. She’ll discuss how The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Good to Great, First Things First, and others champion concepts that women tend to experience are not as conducive to a healthy work/life balance as we think. Carolyn will share her own maxims for approaching life with integrity and authenticity.


Carolyn Kelly was President and Chief Operating Officer of The Seattle Times when she retired at the end of 2010. She joined as a financial analyst in 1977 in her mid-20s, moving through the ranks to hold positions including marketing and news business director, VP/CFO, and senior VP/general manager. When she was named president and COO in 2001, she joined only a handful of women in the U.S. who had risen to an executive position at a major newspaper. She oversaw advertising, circulation, corporate marketing, employee resources, finance, information systems, and operations.

Carolyn regularly held board posts and volunteered for nonprofits during her busy executive life. She continues this passion in a high-energy retirement role, serving as president of the YMCA of Greater Seattle board of directors and as scholarship committee chair on The Seattle Foundation board. She is also on the advisory boards of the Seattle University Albers School of Business, Women’s Funding Alliance, and Seattle Girl’s School.

Carolyn’s service and leadership awards include being honored as one of the Seattle Storm’s “Women of Inspiration;” receiving the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award; and being recognized with a Gonzaga University Distinguished Alumni Award. She received her bachelor's degree from Gonzaga University and her MBA from Seattle University.


Chris Curtis

"Alliances Are Everything — Keys to Effective Collaboration" (July 2012)

Featuring Chris Curtis, Director of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance


You’ve created a vision. You’ve set a goal. Now it’s time for the special magic of collaboration—just the right alliances to help you bring your dreams to fruition.

Many of us know the thrill of shared passions when the ideal collaborators jump on board. But what allows people to stay engaged and see things through in the best possible way? And especially for the long haul?

Chris Curtis has deep knowledge of how successes happen when partnerships are able to find their synergy and work toward a truly collective vision. At the July 19 breakfast, she’ll share stories of what she learned from developing Seattle’s neighborhood farmer’s markets and their alliances, including having the right attitude, diligently serving as an advocate, and much more.

Find out how Chris navigated and learned to work with diverse groups—individuals, tight-knit and image-conscious communities, a breadth of public service agencies, government councils, and other organizations—to create a public benefit for nearly 20 years.



In 1993, Chris Curtis established Seattle’s first neighborhood farmers’ and food-only market, the University District Farmer’s Market. Today, her Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance runs six others in Seattle.

Chris is known for starting and maintaining the markets, and for her ongoing advocacy of local farming and the importance of farmer’s markets to our rural and urban landscapes. Her mission encompasses supporting farmers and healthy food, protecting farmland, building community, and making sure low-income consumers have access to locally produced food.

Chris donated thousands of hours to various organizations, including the national Farmer’s Market Coalition and the Washington State Farmers Market Association (WSFMA). She’s worked to bring local meats, cheeses, and food stamp machines to farmer’s markets. WSFMA recently honored Chris with the newly created “Advocate of the Year” award at their annual conference. Chris is a past recipient of the Seattle Weekly's Pellegrini Award given to leaders in the local food movement.


Anna GottliebLee Rhodes

"The glassybaby Story—How One Woman’s Fight Against Cancer
Inspired a Mission-Driven Business" (June 2012)

Featuring Lee Rhodes, Founder of glassybaby

Human beings can be profoundly rewarded by slowing down to breathe and enjoying the simple things. Like the warm, beckoning glow of candlelight through richly colored glass.

When she was sick with cancer, that beautiful, soothing light helped heal Lee. It also stirred her—it became the simple idea for a wildly successful business and remarkable charitable giving to people battling cancer.

Lee was fighting cancer while raising small children when she first dropped a tea light into a beautiful handmade glass cup and found comfort and healing. With the same determination that beat cancer, Lee channeled her energy into sharing the love and hope of unique, colorful glass votives. They became incredibly popular, even coveted, and Lee found herself the accidental entrepreneur: she hired artisan glassblowers, and glassybaby was born.

Learn from Lee how simple ideas and determination can go hand in hand toward making wonderful things happen. And what to do when we run into the people who discourage our ideas or undermine our determination? Lee will share too what the naysayers were babbling about in the early days of glassybaby, now a nearly $8 million per year enterprise.


Lee came from Boston to Washington to be a rower at the UW. She left school without graduating and went to work handling merchandising for Nike, then got married and had three children.

Today, Lee’s glassybaby has three Seattle stores and one in New York City. She was approached by Jeff Bezos of Amazon, who now owns 20% of the company. From the beginning, Lee made goodwill a foundation of glassybaby—the company has donated more than $875,000 from its revenues to charities.

Lee was honored as Entrepreneur of 2011 by Entrepreneur magazine—the first time for a woman. Her 2012 goal for glassybaby is to give away 10% of its sales to charities that support people dealing with cancer.

Anna GottliebAnna Gottlieb

"The Tenets of Tenacity" (May 2012)

Featuring Anna Gottlieb, Executive Director and Founder of Gilda’s Club Seattle

We’ve all heard “persistence pays off.” And we admire people who are relentless in achieving their goals. But what exactly does tenacity entail? Find out what Anna Gottlieb did when she answered her question, “how hard can this be?” in choosing to start one of the first Gilda’s Clubs in the nation.

Determined to open the free community center for those affected by cancer, Anna faced the elements of square one—she needed a nonprofit business plan, a building, board members and other alliances, and sustainable funding. The original Gilda’s Club didn’t offer a blueprint nor seed money, and Anna’s then-career was not in business administration.

Come to the May 10 WBE breakfast and learn more about what fuels the fire of tenacity—including listening to your instincts, handling rejection (yes, rejection!), seeing surprising connections, and not taking yourself too seriously. These and more were critical to helping with the challenges Anna experienced in her deeply compassionate drive to create a supportive environment for patients, families, and friends dealing with cancer. Given the inspiration of Gilda Radner, it of course had to be a place where humor was as welcome as tears.

And because the need for persistence continues, Anna was able to line up a famous TV celebrity for the club’s 15th annual "Surviving with Style" fashion show and luncheon in June!

Anna Gottlieb’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was young. No one talked about it and her mother cried a lot. Years later, Anna's 36-year-old sister-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia, but there was nowhere to go for support.

Anna first read about Gilda's Club in People magazine in 1996. She knew she had to get involved and went right away to New York City to visit the first Gilda's Club. It was for anyone dealing with any cancer. Anna felt the club’s spirit, caring, and Gilda’s love of humor. Five years later, the bright red doors of Gilda’s Club Seattle opened on Capitol Hill—the first West Coast Gilda’s Club (there are 28 Clubs today).

Anna earned a Master’s in Public Administration. In her previous career in “the other Washington,” she was a lobbyist and worked for various senators. Gilda’s Club Seattle | About Gilda


Peggy TaylorJan Hendrickson 

"Bring Your Heart to Work—The Bottom Line Will Be Better for It" (April 2012)

Featuring Jan Hendrickson, Managing Partner, Denny Hill Capital 

Take heart that now, more than ever, business is a woman’s world, too. And fortunately, the heart has a vital role. 

Join us at the April 12 breakfast as Jan shares how compassion and sensitivity in the workplace are essential to a company’s bottom line. She’ll tell us how these traditionally feminine traits crucially shape a company’s culture, customer relationships, and more.

Having grown up terribly shy, Jan credits her quiet demeanor with helping her to develop the active listening skills inherent in her leadership style. She’ll discuss how leading with emotional intelligence has resulted in more effective decision-making, negotiation, and collaboration—skillful management her male colleagues have come to greatly appreciate. 

A long-time proponent of empathy having a role in organizational success, Jan is passionate about the guidance in books  such as Emotional Intelligence, Work and the Human Spirit, and Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose. Jan is also passionate about entrepreneurs—her talk will touch on her exciting work funding and helping manage cutting-edge startups.


Jan Hendrickson has worked with early-stage startups for more than 10 years as a venture capitalist and investment banker. She is co-founder of Denny Hill Capital, a multi-industry venture capital firm supporting Pacific Northwest entrepreneurs. Jan handles capital raising, governing, advising, investing, and fund management. She has provided governance and executive experience for a number of company boards, and currently serves on the boards of Tully’s Coffee, PhotoRocket, butter LONDON, and others. A Seattle native, Jan’s career experience also includes business and financial planning services for high-growth companies ranging from technology start-ups to The Boeing Company and New Balance Athletic Shoes. 

Honored last year as one of 15 “Women of Influence” by Puget Sound Business Journal, Jan earned her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington. She is past Chair of the Woodland Park Zoo Board of Directors, serving longer than any Chair in the zoo’s 110-year history. She is past president and current trustee of the Frye Art Museum and a founding director of the Seattle-based Women’s Bioethics Project.


Anna GottliebPeggy Taylor

"Activate Your Creativity: Practical Ways to Bring Innovation into Your Work and Life" (March 2012)

Featuring Peggy Taylor M.Ed., Senior Advisor & Co-founder of Young Women Empowered

Believe it or not, you are innately creative. Join us as creativity expert and social entrepreneur Peggy Taylor talked about ways to tap into your own creativity and use it as an individual-changing, world-changing tool to help you more deeply connect to your work, life, and higher purpose.

At our March breakfast Peggy talked about her personal journey and how she discovered her own creative power—at a time when she needed it most. She talked about learning to unlock and more effectively use creative thinking in every aspect of your life through creativity warm-up exercises. Learn what portion of your creativity is inborn, and what you can do to cultivate it. And explore how creativity impacts team and group dynamics. 

Peggy’s vast experience in founding and working with creativity in nonprofit organizations provides perspective and insights to help you understand, nurture, and channel creative thinking in your own life and turn it into action to accomplish remarkable things. 


With a Master’s of Education in Creative Arts in Learning, Peggy brings over 30 years of experience as a social entrepreneur in both the non-profit and profit sectors.  She is the co-author of Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life, which has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide and the co-founder of a non-profit for teenage girls called Young Women Empowered (YWE) where she serves as Senior Advisor for Curriculum and Facilitation. YWE is an intergenerational, intercultural teen girls’ leadership and mentoring organization that imparts confidence and leadership skills in even the shyest young women through the use of creativity.

“Purpose + Serendipity = Creating Your Own Luck” (February 2012)

Rebecca Lovell Featuring Rebecca Lovell, Chief Business Officer of GeekWire

When you reach one of those pivotal career crossroads and know you’re ready for a change—but you’re not sure what it is—sometimes the answer may come from committing to being purposeful but intentionally open to possibilities you can’t even imagine. Sometimes we may wonder, “How are some people so lucky?” Rebecca is one of those people. As she completed her MBA studies 5 years ago, three subsequent ideal career opportunities have been offered to her without her seeking them.

Rebecca is a Seattle native and life-long geek turned entrepreneur enthusiast. After a decade of operations management and business development in the corporate world, she caught the startup bug and served as the Program Director for the Alliance of Angels, then the Executive Director for the Northwest Entrepreneur Network. Addicted to tech and entrepreneurship, she is a mentor for Tech Stars and Founder Institute, a community advisor to Startup Weekend, and teaches a class on venture capital investing in the UW MBA program. She has been a judge in the International Venture Capital Investment Competition, currently serves on the Foster Business School Employer Advisory board, and has joined the Northwest Entrepreneur Network board of directors. 

A newly minted but proud Husky, Rebecca received her MBA from the UW in 2006, earned distinction as a Dean’s Scholar and was awarded the McGowan scholarship. A phi beta kappa, she received her BA in History from Carleton College, was a valedictorian at Garfield High School, and recovering mathlete turned shameless karaoke junkie.

"Get Your Brain in Gear for the New Year" (January 2012)

With Dr. Terri Gilbert, Application Scientist,  Allen Institute for Brain Science

 Post Event Reading Recommendations: 

Incognito:  The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives by Dean Buonomano

Your Brain At Work:  Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus and Working Smarter All Day Long, by David Rock

Strange but true—your brain doesn't really care about your dreams and goals! Rather, your brain is designed exclusively for your survival. It’s not wired to nurture the possibilities of your future. Consequently, to realize the magnificent vision you have for your life, you need to employ creative management to push through your brain's basic instincts.  

Terri Gilbert, PhD, Application Scientist from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is an expert in understanding the incredible complexity of the brain. She has over 15 years of experience delivering technical presentations and training sessions to a variety of audiences, and has held positions in both academia and industry. She currently spearheads the user support program for the world’s largest brain atlas database, the Allen Brain Atlas resources, designing and delivering live trainings and webinars to global audiences. Her position at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a nonprofit medical research organization dedicated to accelerating the understanding of how the human brain works, allows her to combine her love for communicating science and working with people who are passionate about what they do.

Dr. Gilbert has a Bachelor’s degree in physics from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, with a minor in environmental science. She received her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of New Mexico, School of Medicine and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of New Mexico and the University of Washington. "Three Steps to an Enduring Vision" (December 2011)


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