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The life-saving, life-affirming work of The Trevor Project springs from the powerful intersection of storytelling on stage and film.
In 1994, producers Peggy Rajski and Randy Stone saw writer/performer Celeste Lecesne bring to life Trevor, a character they created as part of their award-winning one-man show WORD OF MOUTH. Convinced Trevor’s story would make a wonderful short film, Stone and Rajski invited Lecesne to adapt it into a screenplay. Rajski directed the movie and TREVOR went on to win many prestigious awards including the Academy Award® for Best Live Action Short Film.
The Oscar-winning film eventually launched a national movement. When producer Randy Stone secured an airing on HBO with Ellen DeGeneres hosting, director/producer Peggy Rajski discovered there was no real place for young people like Trevor to turn when facing challenges similar to his. She quickly recruited mental health experts and figured out how to build the infrastructure necessary for a nationwide 24-hour crisis line, and writer Celeste Lecesne secured the funds to start it. On the night their funny and moving coming-of-age story premiered on HBO in 1998, these visionary filmmakers launched the Trevor Lifeline, the first national crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of young people in crisis have reached out to The Trevor Project’s multiple in-person and online life-saving, life-affirming resources–Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, TrevorSpace and Trevor Education Workshops.
The Trevor Project is the premier organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ teens and young adults.
View The Trevor Project Board Conflict of Interest Policy and Agreement.
CEO, Fowlkes Consulting
Dr. A.C. Fowlkes is the Chief Executive Officer of Fowlkes Consulting which is an LGBTQ+ sensitivity and transgender inclusion consulting firm. He is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and has worked in the field of Diversity and Inclusion for over 10 years. He is an LGBTQ+ Subject Matter Expert and Thought Leader. His passion for LGBTQ+ sensitivity and inclusion is palpable and has resulted in him becoming a highly sought-after speaker and consultant. He has provided training and consultation in multiple settings which include but are not limited to: the financial sector, the aerospace sector, the prison system, institutions of higher education, and psychiatric hospitals. As a transgender man himself, Dr. Fowlkes has a profound appreciation for the impact (both blatant and subtle) of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Dr. Fowlkes is a Forbes Contributor, where he writes about LGBTQ+ sensitivity, transgender inclusion, and allyship.
Dr. Fowlkes has a Ph.D. in health psychology with a clinical specialization. His clinical training has afforded him an opportunity to work at various levels in the mental health field, most recently serving as the Chief Operating Officer or Interim Chief Executive Officer for multiple behavioral health facilities. He has also provided clinical services in the prison system, having previously served as the Chief Psychologist of the second largest prison in Virginia. Dr. Fowlkes is a Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider. He has worked with some of the highest-risk sex offenders in the country. He has operated in positions of clinical and executive leadership for the past ten years and has developed a reputation for improving clinical product and patient satisfaction which in turn leads to improvement in key performance indicators. He is a proponent of transformational leadership and prides himself on his ability to grow leaders.
President, Zevia, PBC
Amy Taylor leads Marketing, Sales, Operations and People Departments at Zevia PBC. Together they aim to address global health and sustainability by providing a platform of great-tasting, zero-sugar, affordable beverages made from plants, without selling a single plastic bottle. Zevia seeks to join their peer ESG companies in the better-for-you food and beverage space to ensure their products are affordable and sustainable – for the communities they serve and for the planet.
Previously, Amy served as President and Chief Marketing Officerfor Red Bull North America. She led the brand’s overall strategic marketing and positioning in the US, working in partnership with the Global Headquarters in Fuschl, Austria. Amy spent 20 years at Red Bull, serving in roles including Executive Vice President/General Manager for the East Business Unit (2012-2017) and as Vice President, Marketing (2007-2012) for North America among other sales and marketing leadership roles.
Before her time in the beverage world, Amy logged six years in sports marketing, holding positions with the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks and producing events for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.
Amy is a former Division I NCAA / USA Track and Field athlete and a current weekend warrior. She is an avid global traveler and a “professional appreciator” of many forms of creativity across art and music. She spent many years in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood before logging time in Los Angeles, California and in Portland, Oregon with her partner. Amy serves as an advisor, mentor or active member at selected start-ups and advocacy groups with a focus on social responsibility, human rights, equity and equality.
Founding Partner, MHBC
Antonia has 40 plus years’ experience in the construction and property industries and leads her own business that she formed in 2007. Having transitioned in 2000/2003 in a very male-dominated working environment, where there was no history or visible LGBT influences to draw on, she presses for positive change for LGBT+ good in all business spheres, but especially in her chosen career path of Surveying. A Board Director of the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust, Diversity Role Models, Terrence Higgins Trust, and a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors, and advisor to other organizations, she particularly seeks equal opportunities for Women/LGBT+ within the Construction Industry, which has of course been a side of business generally slow to react to such. She was shortlisted in 2017 for the Gay Times ‘Success in Entrepreneurship’ Gary Frisch award. In 2018, she was nominated in the NatWest British LGBT Awards – Inspiration Leader category, and nominated amongst a group of “exceptional surveyors from The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)” to celebrate their 150th Anniversary, showcasing significant and positive impact that surveyors have made to society through those 150 years.
Global Head of Human Capital Management, Goldman Sachs
Bentley is global head of Human Capital Management. He is a member of the Management Committee, Human Capital Management Executive Committee, Partnership Committee, Firmwide Enterprise Risk Committee and Global Inclusion and Diversity Committee. Bentley first joined the firm in 1999 in the Investment Banking Division in the Sydney office. He rejoined Goldman Sachs in 2020 as a partner in the Human Capital Management Division in the New York office.
Previously, Bentley worked in human resources at several multinational organizations across various industries, including Johnson & Johnson, where he served as head of human resources for the global supply chain. Prior to that, he held several leadership roles in human resources for Standard Chartered Bank’s private banking and consumer banking businesses, based in Singapore and India, and worked at Barclays Capital in Asia. Bentley started his human resources career in executive compensation consulting at Mercer.
Bentley earned a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) in Labor and Industrial Relations and Economics from the University of Sydney in 1997 and an MPhil in Management from Cambridge University in 1999.
Writer, Volunteer Counselor
Caroline Bird, The Trevor Project’s longest serving counselor, has a passion for empowering others to help themselves. She graduated from Training Group #1 when Trevor’s first dedicated call center opened in Los Angeles in 2006. In addition to working on the Lifeline, Caroline’s experience at Trevor has encompassed various roles including, mentor to trainee volunteers, role play leader at numerous trainings, and TrevorLIVE Co-Chair. Caroline takes a particular interest in and enthusiasm for advising fellow Board members on all aspects of the Volunteer experience which lies at the very core of Trevor’s operations. With hearing, first-hand, of the hardship, discrimination and challenges faced daily by LGBTQ youth, Caroline is passionate about the work of The Trevor Project and is an enthusiastic ambassador for the organization.
Born and raised in England, Caroline’s background in television production encompasses music, entertainment, children’s, and breakfast news programming. After becoming a mother, Caroline was presented with the opportunity to pursue a long-held desire to “give back” and became a counselor at ChildLine, a UK helpline for “young people in trouble or in danger”. Caroline answered calls at ChildLine’s national call center in London for eight years before relocating to Los Angeles with her family in 2004.
Beyond life at Trevor, Caroline is a writer, athlete, avid traveler, and mentor/advisor to small start-ups. Married to Andy, Caroline splits her time between Los Angeles and New York City, which is home to their two adult sons, Charlie, and Toby.
The product of a happy, stable upbringing, Caroline came to Volunteering with a desire to “give back”. While she had no expectations, her interactions with LGBTQ youth in crisis have proved to be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of Caroline’s career.
Co-CEO, Tusk Strategies
Chris Coffey is Co-CEO of Tusk Strategies. He led the New York and New Jersey practice for Tusk Ventures and for Tusk Strategies for 9 years before taking over as Co-CEO of Tusk Strategies in 2021.
He’s run successful legislative efforts in cities and states across the country. In New York, he specializes in creating major media campaigns that dominate news coverage for days and weeks at a time. Successful examples include Uber, the Times Square Alliance, Bird, Bloomberg and NYCLASS. In 2017, he served as a senior strategist to Corey Johnson’s winning campaign for Speaker of the New York City Council, and the New York Times called him an informal advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 election efforts. He led Tusk’s work on Andrew Yang’s 2021 campaign for NYC Mayor as Co-Campaign Manager.
Prior to joining Tusk, Chris worked for Mike Bloomberg for 12 years at City Hall, on Mike’s three electoral campaigns, and at Bloomberg L.P.
During Chris’ time in City government, he helped set up the first-ever NYC Digital Office at the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. He co-authored the Roadmap for the Digital City, which Mayor Bloomberg unveiled as the first digital blueprint for City government in the nation. Before that, Chris worked on the 2009 Bloomberg campaign as a senior communications strategist, as First Deputy Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit where he helped manage the Mayor’s community relationships, and as an assistant press secretary and director of Mayor Bloomberg’s advance team.
Chris also serves as the Chair of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and sits on the boards of Women in Need (WIN), and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Chris has been named a rising star by City & State and the Queens Courier. He was named to the 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 City & State’s Power Pride list of influential gays in New York. He was also on the 2021, 2020 and 2019 City and State top 100 most influential New Yorkers list. He frequently appears on NY1 as an expert on New York politics, and guest lectures at NYU on government and public policy. Chris was born and raised in New York City and now lives in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn with his husband and their two children.
Vice President, Mergers & Acquisitions and International Development at AMC Theatres
Jason Cole is a 30-year veteran at AMC Theatres. A series of varied positions has led him to the role of Vice President, Mergers & Acquisitions and International Development where he guides the company’s strategic growth in the U.S. and abroad. He simultaneously serves as the Managing Director of Odeon Cinemas Group’s Northern Europe territory as well as leads OCG’s group-wide food & beverage team.
Jason grew up in Kansas and began his career as a movie theatre manager in Fort Worth after graduating with a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film from Texas Christian University. He worked in various AMC locations in Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Japan.
Jason joined AMC’s corporate headquarters in Kansas City in 2000 and served in a variety of roles including training, guest services, international operations and strategic partnerships. He oversaw the food & beverage team during a time of great innovation as the company developed its dine-in and enhanced F&B concepts. He moved into corporate strategy as AMC led the industry in the drive to upgrade the guest experience with enhanced seating, sight & sound and food & beverage.
In his current role, Jason played leadership roles in the acquisition and integration of Starplex Theatres and Carmike Cinemas in the United States and Odeon Cinemas Group and the Nordic Cinema Group in Europe. This series of transactions propelled AMC to be the largest movie theatre chain in the United States, in Europe and in the world. He also led the project team that brought movie theatres to Saudi Arabia after a 35-year absence through a joint venture with the Public Investment Fund under the AMC banner.
Jason has served as co-chair of AMC’s philanthropic organization, AMC Cares, which benefits AMC associates through scholarship programs, provides disaster relief in impacted AMC communities and grants cash awards to organizations in the areas of arts & culture, health & human services, education and employment. AMC Cares distributes over $1 million a year through these efforts.
Partner, Allen & Overy LLP
Julian is a Partner in the Investigations and Litigation Group at Allen & Overy. He represents companies, officers, directors, and executives in white-collar criminal cases, securities and regulatory enforcement matters, anti-corruption and internal investigations, related complex litigation (including trial-ready civil litigation), and compliance matters. These matters include complex domestic and international disputes, investigations, and enforcement actions by criminal and regulatory authorities, including the DOJ, SEC, and various other federal and state agencies. Julian’s practice also includes the design, implementation, and review of anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) compliance programs, and ABC due diligence in connection with corporate transactions.
Before joining Allen & Overy, Julian was a Senior Managing Director, and member of the leadership team, at K2 Intelligence, an international investigative, compliance, and cyber defense services firm. His practice focused on large-scale and high-profile corporate investigations involving corruption and various types of fraud; and investigations in support of high-stakes international and domestic legal disputes.
Previously, Julian served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) where he was a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Unit. Among his many prominent cases at SDNY, Julian served as a lead prosecutor in the investigation of the Bernard L. Madoff Ponzi Scheme, the largest financial crime in world history.
In addition to his service as a federal prosecutor, Julian was appointed Deputy Attorney General for New York State and Deputy Chief of Investigations for the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, an executive commission established by the Governor of New York, in coordination with the Attorney General of New York, to probe systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in New York government, political campaigns, and elections.
Julian began his career as a law clerk to the Hon. Kim McLane Wardlaw of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Thereafter, he worked for several years as a litigation associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell.
Julian was selected by Crain’s New York Business for its 40 Under 40 Class of 2016.
Julian received his J.D. from Columbia Law School with honors, where he was the Executive Managing Editor of the Columbia Law Review, and his A.B. from Harvard University with honors.
In addition to serving on The Trevor Project Board of Directors, Julian is a Founding Member of the American Constitution Society and a lifelong member of the NAACP. He currently resides in New York City.
Lauren Morelli is a writer, director, and producer. In 2019, she was included in Variety’s “TV Scribes to Watch” list, as well as their “Inclusion Impact” list. Over the past several years, Lauren has served as showrunner and executive producer of Overlooked for Netflix— produced by the Obama’s company, Higher Ground, and based on the celebrated New York Times column of the same name— as well as Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, starring Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, and Elliot Page. Lauren helmed an entirely queer writers room for the show, with episodes directed by both trans and gay directors. She has also had the honor of working on the first five seasons of Orange Is the New Black, which received 17 Emmy nominations, six Golden Globe nominations, and six Writers Guild nominations. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2007, Lauren received a BFA in Modern Dance from Marymount Manhattan College, which was about as useful as her father predicted it would be. Lauren was raised in Pittsburgh by an accountant and an English teacher, but she can neither add nor spell.
Pelvic and Gynecologic Surgeon
Marci Bowers, M.D. of Burlingame, California, is recognized as a pioneer in the field of Gender Affirming Surgery and is the first person with transgender history and the first woman to perform Gender Affirming Genital surgeries for the trans community in the world.
Dr. Bowers is a pelvic and gynecologic surgeon with more than 30 years’ experience. She is a University of Minnesota Medical School graduate where she was class and student body president. After residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Washington, she practiced in Seattle at the Polyclinic and Swedish Medical Center.
Dr. Bowers left Seattle in 2003 to apprentice with the legendary Dr. Stanley Biber, considered the “Father of Transgender Surgery.” In 2010, she relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area community of Burlingame, CA. She has now performed more than 2100 primary MTF Vaginoplasties and 3200 Gender Affirming Surgeries overall. In 2014, Dr. Bowers was hired to resuscitate transgender surgery at Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel. Subsequently, she initiated trans surgical education programs at Mt. Sinai (New York/2016), Denver Health (2018), the University of Toronto Women’s College Hospital (2019), Northwell Health (2020), and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (2020). The Mt. Sinai Transgender Surgical Fellowship is the first of its’ kind. Dr. Bowers performed WPATH’s first 2 “live surgery” vaginoplasties at Mt. Sinai in 2018 and 2019.
Dr. Bowers is the WPATH President-elect and has served on the board of directors for both GLAAD and the Transgender Law Center. Her transgender work has been highlighted by appearances on Oprah, CBS Sunday Morning, Discovery Health and the TLC reality series, “I am Jazz”. She was interviewed in 2021 by Leslie Stahl for the CBS News program 60 Minutes. Dr. Bowers is recognized as one of the 100 most influential LGBT people on the Guardian’s World Pride Power List and one of Huffington Post’s 50 Transgender Icons, was called the Transgender Surgery Rock Star (Denver Post), the Georgia O’keefe of Genitalia (unknown) and the Beyonce of Bottom Surgery (KPFK-FM in North Hollywood).
MPH Candidate and Retired PWC Partner
After 34 years at PWC, Mike is currently pursuing his Master’s of Public Health at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University focused on health equity. Mike also completed a senior fellowship at Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative. This interfaculty initiative is across the Harvard graduate schools dedicated to prepare experienced leaders for a next act of social impact.
Mike also serves on the Board of The Commons-Provincetown and on the executive committee as treasurer. His previous Board experience included The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the United Way of the Bay Area, Project Open Hand, GLAAD, and as a trustee of the PWC Foundation.
At PWC, Mike served as the Chief Diversity Officer from 2016-2019 on the senior leadership team reporting directly to the CEO. In this role, he drove strategy and initiatives to create an inclusive work culture for over 50,000 employees Mike also served as a M&A partner assisting clients executing IPOs and divestiture transactions.
Senior Partner, EY
Orlan has spent the past two decades serving in a variety of senior leadership roles in business, media, public service, nonprofits, and philanthropy as a Senior Partner at EY and Deloitte, entrepreneur, venture capital investor, film producer, author, presidential appointee, philanthropist, and member of a number of boards. In 2014, he received a Presidential Appointment by President Barack Obama to the Global Board of Governors of the United Service Organizations (USO) where he continues to serve. His consulting career spans strategy, growth, innovation, operations, transformation and M&A transaction advisory services for companies and private equity and VC firms in the healthcare, life sciences, consumer and technology sectors. He currently serves as EY’s Global Client Service Partner for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) responsible for overseeing EY’s global relationship with J&J, EY Global Life Sciences Value Chain Innovation Leader, member of EY’s Global Life Sciences Executive Board, and as a member of EY’s Northeast Region Leadership Team representing EY’s largest accounts in the Northeast. He previously served as EY’s Americas M&A Transactions Life Sciences Leader. Over the past few years he has focused his efforts on activating growth and innovation at the intersection and convergence of the healthcare, life sciences, consumer and technology sectors through architecting innovative alliances and partnership opportunities for his clients, EY and various players in the evolving healthcare ecosystem.
Prior to joining EY, Orlan was a Partner with Deloitte Consulting where he held a number of practice, management, and account leadership roles and as Deloitte Consulting Chief Diversity Officer. He is both an entrepreneur having started B2C technology and real estate ventures and an intrapreneur having founded a number of successful practices, alliances and service offerings with EY and previously Deloitte. He advises entrepreneurs and startups in the healthcare, life sciences, consumer, media and technology sectors and serves on the Advisory Boards for Big Think and Max Ventures, a New York based technology and consumer focused VC firm. He is a member of the Partnership for New York City (PFNYC), the Partnership Innovation Council and the Partnership Fund’s Healthcare Advisory Board. In 2017 he worked with the PFNYC, J&J, the New York Genome Center, and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York State administration to bring Janssen Labs (JLabs) to NYC, a first of its kind accelerator specializing in early stage life sciences companies in New York.
Orlan is a passionate social entrepreneur having launched a number of social change and impact ventures and initiatives in publishing, documentary filmmaking, civil rights, philanthropy, and military and veteran’s affairs. As a former member of the Obama Administration appointed to the USO Board of Governors he represented President Barack Obama, founding and chairing the USO’s Digital Advisory Council and serving on the Audit and Entertainment Advisory Committees. In 2014, he and the USO teamed with world renowned musician and entertainer Beyoncé Knowles to bring a special holiday message and exclusive concert movie screenings of HBO’s On the Run documentary film to over 2,000 troops in war zone locations across the Middle East. In 2016, he collaborated with the USO and J&J to make it possible for the production of USO – FOR THE TROOPS, a one-hour documentary film chronicling the rich history of the USO that premiered on PBS in commemoration of the USO’s 75th Anniversary. He currently serves on the USO’s Strategic Planning and Development Committees. He was also a member of the NYC LGBT Center’s Board of Directors and founder of The Center’s Young Leaders Council and in 2016, he was named to the OUTstanding and Financial Times list of the 2016 Top 100 LGBT Leaders.
He is a successful film producer having produced HBO’s critically acclaimed The Out List documentary film and was a contributing author to the I Am Ecowarrior and The Out List books. Orlan was Executive Producer on HBO’s critically acclaimed The Out List documentary film with celebrated celebrity photographer and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Released on the heels of the historical Supreme Court rulings striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, The Out List is a documentary film featuring a diverse cross-section of Americans sharing personal and professional stories, both heart-wrenching and triumphant of the LGBT experience in America and the fight for civil rights. The Out List featured some of today’s leading LGBT voices in America including Ellen Degeneres, Cynthia Nixon, Neil Patrick Harris, Wanda Sykes, and Dustin Lance Black and aired on HBO all over the world in the summer of 2013. Along with Greenfield-Sanders, Orlan published The Out List book which accompanied the HBO film and where he wrote the Foreword. Orlan also took on another passion tackling the topic of environmental sustainability and climate change with pioneers of the movement by publishing and serving as a contributing author to I Am Ecowarrior, a book featuring distinctive photographs and interviews with more than 50 global game-changers. Orlan conducted many of the book’s interviews covering a variety of themes including leadership, social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and innovation in environmental sustainability and climate change, with such luminaries as Ted Turner, Sir Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Jane Goodall.
He is a David Rockefeller Fellow, Nantucket Project Fellow and member of the Executive Leadership Council. He holds a B.S. in Finance and International Business from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Chief Equality & Inclusion Officer, P&G
Shelly is responsible for leading strategies to make P&G one of the most innovative, diverse, and inclusive companies in the world. As a seasoned Human Resources and Transformational leader, she actively champions diversity and inclusion—driving strategic and tactical shifts in talent systems to build a pipeline of outstanding and diverse talent. She has also served as a leader of the company’s LGBTQ+ affinity group driving global expansion of the network to more than 5,000 employees and 40 countries. Shelly is also an active member of P&G’s Corporate Women’s Leadership Team.
Shelly joined P&G in 1985 as a sales representative for the company’s food division. She has spent the past 30 years in Human Resources, with a long track record of driving transformational change. She has deep expertise in organization development, change management and transformation, employee relations, and executive staffing and development. Shelly has served some of the company’s largest businesses in this capacity. Shelly led the evolution of P&G’s diversity and inclusion strategy to equality and inclusion, which focuses on actions and outcomes for their employees, through their brands, with their business partners, and in their communities.
Shelly is well regarded as an organization strategist who drives meaningful business results through thoughtful choices and caring leadership. She is business and people-focused, results-oriented, and widely recognized for the trusting, collaborative relationships she builds. In 2016 Shelly was recognized with P&G’s Inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Inspirational Leadership Award.
Born in Lakewood, Ohio as the youngest of 15 children, Shelly is an avid writer, storyteller, speaker, and humanist. Shelly’s first book, No Blanks, No Pauses, a mixture of memoir and poetry was released in 2021. Shelly’s words give us hope that we too can heal, connect, and love more expansively than we ever thought possible. Shelly and her wife Cindy have three daughters, Ali, Kate, and Nicole, and live in Cincinnati Ohio.
Founder & CEO, Social Driver
Thomas Sanchez, Founder and CEO of Social Driver, is an innovator and entrepreneur focused on the intersection of marketing and technology. Under his leadership, Social Driver was named “DC’s Coolest Companies” (DCInno) and the 7th fastest growing agency in the United States (The Agency 100). Thomas is an advocate for innovation in education, diversity in business, and inclusion in technology. He recently named a Minority Business Leader by the Washington Business Journal and appointed by the mayor of Washington D.C. as an advisor to the District government. Whether building businesses, mentoring young entrepreneurs or working with clients, Thomas evangelizes his beliefs that the future is bright, progress is social and the drivers make history.
Thomas started his career at Cerner Corporation, leading new initiatives around the world. His views on how technology impacts the workforce were included in The 2020 Workplace by Jeanne Meister. He has been a featured speaker at conferences including Mobile Commerce World and The National Press Club. He mentors young entrepreneurs as a judge for The George Washington University Business Plan Competition, a contest his team won in 2011.
Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer
Vanessa M. Benavides is senior vice president and chief legal officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals. Benavides serves as the general counsel and manages the legal, compliance, and regulatory functions. In this role, she is responsible for implementing an integrated approach to foster a better understanding of enterprise risks and solutions, while advancing support of our evolving business strategies.
Benavides reports directly to Kaiser Permanente’s chair and chief executive officer and is a member of the National Executive Team. Benavides joined Kaiser Permanente in 2015 as chief compliance and privacy officer. Prior to that, she was chief compliance officer for Tenet Healthcare, where she managed ethics and compliance programs across all Tenet-owned entities, including acute care hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, outpatient centers, physician practices, commercial and government health plans, and Conifer Health Solutions, Tenet’s health management services subsidiary. She also served as senior regulatory counsel during her 10-year tenure. Before joining Tenet, she served as legal counsel for Caremark Rx, a pharmacy benefit management company, and was in private practice with the law firm Locke Lord, LLP.
Benavides is a member of the board of directors of the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit created by Congress to mobilize philanthropic and private sector resources to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s critical health protection work. Benavides is also a member of the board of directors of The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. Benavides also served on the national board of directors of the Human Rights Campaign. In 2012, the Dallas Business Journal named her a Top 40 Under 40 honoree, and in 2014 recognized her as a Top Minority Business Leader. In 2018, the San Francisco Business Times named her one of the Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business. Benavides is a member of the Leadership Dallas Class of 2013 and is an active participant in the Health Care Compliance Association and the American Health Lawyers Association.
Benavides holds a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law, where she served as articles editor for the Iowa Law Review. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is a California Registered In-House Counsel. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University.
Vasudev Bailey, PhD, is a Senior Partner at ARTIS Ventures where he focuses on investing in novel and breakthrough health and life sciences companies. He is an investor and / or board member in Eko, Unnatural Products, Aether, IDbyDNA, Freenome, Excision, Climax Foods, Lemonaid Health, Seed Health, Outpace, ViaCyte, Association for Women in Sciences (AWIS), Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering, and The Trevor Project, and helped incubate FIG through ARTIS Labs. He is the founder of the ARTIS Ventures Healthcare Pioneers, which brings together some of the world’s brightest minds to accelerate and incubate life-changing ideas in healthcare. In his past role as Venture Partner at ARTIS, he helped portfolio companies with their business development and growth strategy.
Prior to ARTIS, Vasudev co-founded and served as the general manager of the GLG Institute — the world’s largest network of CEOs and CXOs. There, he worked with C-suite executives from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Teva, McDonald’s, and others to build a forum to connect retired executives with aspiring leaders. He previously served as a consultant at McKinsey & Company.
Vasudev received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering (the use of nanotechnology and epigenetics for personalized chemotherapy and early cancer detection) from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he was recognized as both a Siebel and a Medtronic Scholar and member of Sigma Xi. He graduated magna cum laude and phi beta kappa from UC Irvine with a degree in biomedical engineering, and was a Regents Scholar, Hodson Foundation Fellow, Whitaker Foundation Fellow, and Henri Samueli Endowed Scholar.
Vasudev has published over 30 scientific papers/abstracts and holds four provisional patents from his research in nanotechnology for the early detection of cancer. He later broadened the technology for advancing personalized chemotherapy. He has been recognized as one of the world’s leading biomedical engineers by the Siebel Foundation.
He has spoken on the topic of biotech, healthcare, and entrepreneurism at events including SALT, DTx West, Health 2.0, GIANT Health, London Technology Club, Johns Hopkins Research Symposium on Engineering in Healthcare, AWIS Summit, and East/West CEO, and has been a distinguished guest lecturer at UC Irvine, Johns Hopkins, and UCL. He has been quoted as an expert on biotech and healthcare in CNBC, Venture Capital Journal, HIT Consultant, Startupedia, International Business Times and more.
Vice President of Global Brand Engagement & Design, American Express
Walter Frye is the Vice President of Global Brand Engagement & Design at American Express. In this role, he oversees the brand’s long-running Small Business Saturday and Shop Small programs, celebrity talent partnerships, the design of our cards and lounges, and a newly formed multicultural marketing team.
In the last year, Frye helped American Express achieve its most successful Small Business Saturday on record, driving almost $20B in spend on the day in celebration of its tenth anniversary. He also forged new brand partnerships with Lizzo, Issa Rae, and Lupita Nyong’o, and celebrated the opening of The Centurion Lounge at LAX Airport, which his team designed.
Prior to his current position, Frye was Vice President of Global Entertainment and Sports Experiences, where he negotiated and managed global deals with Live Nation, U.S. Open, Coachella, Austin City Limits, and Wimbledon. He’s also led the brand’s partnerships with wide range of music artists including Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift. He’s also held roles on the Global Consumer Marketing Team and Global Operations in his 13-year tenure at the company.
Walter’s awards include a prime-time Emmy for Outstanding Interactive Video (with Taylor Swift), Billboard 100 Most Powerful Players in Music, AdAge 40 Under 40 and the Out100. Walter holds an MBA from Harvard Business School received a bachelor’s in Economics from Yale University.
Project Consultant / Pitching and Producing Master Classes / Public Speaker / Advocate
Peggy Rajski is an Oscar-winning filmmaker and founder of the groundbreaking nonprofit The Trevor Project. Rajski won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short with her directorial debut, the short film Trevor (1994), a poignant comedy about a young teen whose world is turned upside down when word spreads at school that he might be gay. Her experience with the film led her to create The Trevor Project, America’s first 24/7 suicide prevention service dedicated to LGBTQ young people. In 2014, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Short Film and Animation Branch named her a Live Action Icon, and she was recently recognized as a Pioneer of Queer Cinema — the only non-LGBTQ-identified filmmaker to be included — in UCLA Archives’ film series highlighting 30 landmark works documenting queer life. Trevor is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent film collection, and a musical adaptation of the film opened Off-Broadway in November 2021 and was acquired for streaming on Disney+.
Over her decades-spanning career, Rajski has produced numerous award-winning feature films, served as the Dean of LMU’s School of Film and Television, taught at NYU’s top-ranked Graduate Film program, and has conducted workshops and master classes in the U.S. and abroad on pitching and creative producing for many organizations including Film Independent, Sundance Institute, American Film Institute and the Motion Picture Association. Additionally, she is a long standing member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), Film Independent, and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Rajski currently chairs AMPAS’ Student Academy Awards Committee, sits on the Producers Branch Executive Committee, and has been a longtime judge for the Academy’s coveted Nicholls Screenwriters Fellowship.
In November 2022, she stepped into the role of Interim CEO at The Trevor Project to help steward the now 500+ person organization’s transition to its next chapter. Her tenure has seen the prioritization of Trevor’s crisis services’ infrastructure and reach, strengthening DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) initiatives as well as implementing structural changes to improve employee culture and support – all while supporting the Board of Directors’ search for Trevor’s next CEO. Her goal – from founding day in 1998 to today – is ensuring Trevor’s legacy as a vital and industry-leading lifesaving resource for LGBTQ young people. The organization’s focus on continuous improvement safeguards the quality of Trevor’s suicide prevention and intervention efforts, and assures the organization is well-equipped to advance LGBTQ rights in this ever-changing world.