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2012 Speakers and Panelists

Geena DavisGeena Davis, Academy Award-winning actor and founder, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

In addition to her work in film and television, Geena Davis is the founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, focused on female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children's media and entertainment. She is also a former trustee of the Women's Sports Foundation, serves on the Board of the White House Project, is an appointee to the California Commission on the Status of Women, and is an official partner of UN Women in its effort to change the way media represents women and girls worldwide.


Maria Contreras-SweetMaria Contreras-Sweet, executive chair and founder of ProAmérica Bank

Maria Contreras-Sweet is the executive chair and founder of ProAmérica Bank, the first Latino-owned commercial bank in downtown Los Angeles in more than 30 years. As Secretary of California's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency under Gov. Gray Davis, she was the first Latina to hold a cabinet position in the state government. She is the founding president of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), an organization dedicated to training Latinas in leadership and advocacy.


Azure AntoinetteAzure Antoinette, poet/spoken word artist, photographer, advocate

Azure Antoinette is a spoken word artist, poet, author, urban photographer, youth and arts advocate. A native of Los Angeles, Antoinette has performed and written for Nike, American Cancer Society, UCLA, USC, Former First Lady Maria Shriver, TED, and Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col. Lee Archer to name a few. Her work has appeared in several national campaigns and most recently signed to collaborate with headphone mogul Beats By Dre. Antoinette was a featured poet in the 2011 O Magazine Inaugural Poetry Issue. Antoinette is a nationally touring public speaker, using her love for words and living as a conduit to inspire others. She spends her time between New York teaching at the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria and opening & closing conferences with thematic material and riveting workshops on apathy and doing what you love for a living. Author of 3 books, “Bittersweet”, “Commissioned” and her newest title “for the sake of BREVITY”. Antoinette resides in Brooklyn, New York.


Maria BlancoMaria Blanco, vice president for civic engagement, California Community Foundation

Blanco oversees the foundation's Civic Engagement Department, which promotes collaboration and advocacy across the nonprofit, public, and private sectors to address community problems. She has a long and distinguished career in law as a litigator and advocate for immigrant rights, gender equality and racial justice. Blanco was executive director of the UC Berkeley Law School's Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity (Warren Institute).


Helen BoutrousHelen Boutrous, chair, department of history and political science, Mount St. Mary’s College

Dr. Helen Boutrous is the Chair and an Associate Professor of the History & Political Science Department at Mount St. Mary’s College. She is the Director of the Pre-Law program, and coach of the college’s award-winning Mock Trial and Moot Court teams.  A specialist in bureaucratic theory and process, her article “Regulatory Review in the Obama Administration:  Cost-Benefit Analysis for Everyone” was recently published in the Administrative Law Review.  Before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s, she was an attorney for the Federal Government in Washington D.C.  She received her PhD from Georgetown University in American Government and Public Policy; her JD from the University of San Diego School of Law; and her BA in economics from UCLA.


Kimberly FowlerKimberly Fowler, CEO/Founder, YAS Fitness Centers

Yoga expert and entrepreneur Kimberly Fowler is the founder/CEO of YAS Fitness Centers, a chain of yoga and indoor cycling studios in Southern California. A former triathlete and cancer survivor, Fowler worked as a lawyer and as COO of a $200-million corporation for two decades before starting her own company in 2001. Her cross-training workouts started a yoga revolution and now fitness studios all over the nation follow her business model. She has expanded her brand to include sportswear and has authored a best-selling book about yoga.


Ann McElaney-JohnsonAnn McElaney-Johnson, president, Mount St. Mary’s College

Ann McElaney-Johnson, the 12th president of Mount St. Mary's College, assumed leadership of the Mount on July 1, 2011. She was formerly vice president for academic and student affairs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, N.C. McElaney-Johnson brings 23 years of service to small, residential liberal arts colleges, as a faculty member, associate dean and chief academic officer to her new role as president of Mount St. Mary’s College. She is passionate about the importance of women’s colleges, and a strong advocate for women’s education and leadership issues.


Judy PatrickJudy Patrick, president and CEO, Women’s Foundation of California

In her 13 years with the Women’s Foundation of California, Patrick has led the Foundation’s advocacy and policy change work, including the development of the groundbreaking Women’s Policy Institute. Prior to her work with the Foundation, she worked for several organizations dedicated to women and girls, and has worked as a researcher and program evaluator in both the public and private sectors.


Linda J. SaxLinda J. Sax, professor and author

Linda J. Sax is a professor in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at UCLA and division head for the Higher Education & Organizational Change program. She is currently studying issues related to women in STEM and the experiences of students and faculty at women’s colleges through grants from the National Science Foundation and the Women’s College Coalition.  Sax is the author of more than 70 publications, including The Gender Gap in College: Maximizing the Developmental Potential of Women and Men.


Val ZavalaVal Zavala, vice president, news and public affairs, KCET

Val Zavala is vice president of news and public affairs at KCET. She is also the anchor of KCET’s weekly award-winning newsmagazine, “SoCal Connected.” She has been at KCET since 1987, playing a vital role in the long-running newsmagazine “Life & Times,” as well as other news programs and specials. Her work has won 16 L.A. Area Emmys, eight Golden Mikes and multiple L.A. Press Club awards. Zavala is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Mount St. Mary’s College.