Ani Duzdabanyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia where she started her investigative journalism career. One of her first assignments was exposing the violations of children’s rights in orphanages and specialized schools. Since then, she has worked in television as a reporter and anchor, and she now writes for numerous publications from her desk in California, specializing in Armenian topics. She writes stories of Soviet Armenia and the diaspora expatriates who emigrated to the United States. The Armenian-American Chamber of Commerce awarded her with the Women in Journalism award in 2016.
Molly McPherson is a nationally-recognized expert in crisis management. She knows how to clean up a mess and turn it into a win. McPherson came into the FEMA office of External Affairs post-Hurricane Katrina and helped the agency launch its first social media program. Today, she is Indestructible PR, and her podcast, Confident Communications, follows through where her book, Indestructible, began by helping others reclaim control and respond with confidence in a media crisis.
Sean Patrick O’Reilly
Sean Patrick O’Reilly created Arcana Comics in 2004, which has since become Canada’s largest comic and graphic novel publisher. He has worked with the likes of Stan Lee, Gene Simmons from KISS, Mark Hamill, Bill Paxton, and Christopher Plummer, to name a few. With 5,000+ characters and over 300 titles, Arcana is a mini-studio and creative machine. His animated and book titles include: Kade, The Clockwork Girl, Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, Pixies, and Pandas and Aliens.
Dr. Michael Nuccitelli
Anyone with an Internet account is technically at risk of a cyber attack. Dr. Michael Nuccitelli is a New York State licensed psychologist and has been researching online aggressors, or iPredators, since 2009. He is also the encyclopedic last word on all things cyberpsychology. He has culled a list of cyberbullying tactics and provides the general public with a host of resources to recognize and protect oneself from an iPredator.
California-born Angela Legh was six when her family home burned down, and her family moved from place to place before her parents divorced. Tragedy struck her again when her family’s home was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire. Legh used these incidents as a catalyst for change and growth. She is a development coach and the author of a children’s fairy tale series: The Bella Santini Chronicles. These books were written to help guide pre-teens through the emotions she felt as a young girl. The text acts as a tool to help children process and work through feelings of abandonment, bullying, and a host of other situations.
For many years, Samantha Demers worked at the seat of power with the Government of Canada. She had her finger on the public pulse as an events coordinator, security and promotions officer, among other very cool positions. Today, she is a Sherpa for those who have trouble getting out of their own way. A host on Twitter Spaces, Demers creates a safe space for other creators who are afraid to start, whose limiting beliefs are holding them back, and who are afraid to open themselves publicly to share what they know that others might need to hear.
Wajeeh Amir Lion is the first openly gay man from Saudi Arabia to obtain political asylum in the United States. Once his parents confirmed he was gay, they took away all of Lion’s freedoms, and he was under direct threat of the Saudi government. He sought help from his alma mater, Kansas City University, where the head of LGBTQ services ushered him to safety and found him legal help. Because homosexuality is illegal in his Saudi Arabia homeland, Lion was granted asylum in 2018. He has since been committed to international advocacy for human rights, anti-violence, and LGBTQ rights.
Madalyn Sklar is a serial entrepreneur, community builder, and leading Twitter marketing expert. With 26 years of digital marketing experience and 18 years of social media marketing under her belt, she’s been ranked the #1 Social Media Power Influencer in Houston. Each week Madalyn hosts the #TwitterSmarter Twitter chat that brings together hundreds of people in an active one-hour discussion revolving around Twitter marketing. Huffington Post has named Madalyn one of 50 Women Entrepreneurs to follow.
He was at the top of his game and blessed with enough talent to enjoy the fruits of professional football and make it work for him in the business world. Educated in finance and responsible with his money, then one wrong move, and it all disappears. Marques Ogden’s National Football League career as an offensive lineman stemmed for five years with four teams. His rookie salary set him up nicely for his future, so when he retired from the game, operated a successful construction company, then found himself bankrupt, foreclosed on, and spiraling into the abyss.
He took his life back and is a successful business and leadership coach, and cohost of The Lev and Marques Show, alongside ESPN broadcaster, Leverett Ball.
J Haleem Washington
Jamar “J Haleem” Washington pushed through a precarious youth to attend college. He struggled to make ends meet, so engaged in white-collar crimes to survive, thus became a convicted felon. This felony amplified the disparities in judicial system, and also kept J Haleem from securing the corporate job his college degree qualified him for. He was recently pardoned for those crimes, almost 18 years to the date. Today, J Haleem is an entrepreneur and founded the non-profit organization, I Won’t Starve Academy, provides education and training for entrepreneurs and career development focused on creating successful intrapreneurs.
He played over 1,100 games in the National Hockey League. He anchored the Montreal Canadiens to their 23rd Stanley Cup in 1986. Ryan Walter’s hockey resume is long and storied. Drafted second overall in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft by Washington, he played out the bulk of his career in Montreal, then retired in Vancouver. All Star, Man of the Year, players’ association president, Walter also played and coached with Hockey Canada. Today he is a leadership development coach, alongside his wife, Jenny.
Jennifer Buchanan has spent 30 years working with people of all ages, from individuals, non-profit organizations, corporations, to prisons with music therapy. She has authored three books: Tune In, Wellness Incorporated, an Wellness, Well Played: The Power of a Playlist. She is the Executive Director (and past President) of the Canadian Association of Music Therapists.
She’s worked with some of the biggest names in sports and business. Her firm, Blue Sky Sports & Entertainment, is the only woman-owned company to represent National Hockey League coaches and team executives. Kim Zayotti is the woman who created Flutie Flakes has represented Cam Neely, Carlton Fisk, Dennis Eckersley, Doug Flutie, Carl Lewis, Brad Marchand, and many more. Her key staff members are female.
Tonya McKenzie is the founder of Sand & Shores PR & Leadership Firm and a Los Angeles County Commissioner. She published a memoir titled, A Child’s Memories of Cartoons and Murder, addressing gun violence, PTSD, domestic violence, and predatory behavior. Tonya is also the host of My Morning Coffee Podcast with Lieutenant Gia Neil of the LA County Sherriff Department and Leaders & Learners Podcast. She also co-hosts #PRLunchHour on Twitter.
Tahiera Monique Brown
Tahiera Monique Brown is all about helping others, particularly survivors of domestic abuse. Her story is difficult to describe, except that it would make even the chillingest thriller movie cringe on its heels. Her production company is Darkness to Light Films. She is also the author of Annihilator of Innocence and Hunger Pains in Our Heads.
Audley Stephenson, aka The Audman, spent five years of podcasting in the National Basketball Association with his show: The Breakdown with Dave and Audley. Today, he is the deputy commissioner of basketball operations for the National Basketball League of Canada. His podcast, The Audacious Living Podcast, features business, media, sports, and entertainment figures.
He’s won four Grey Cups and the only XFL championship. Jim Barker has a storied football career as a coach and administrator. Joining the Canadian Football League in 1996, Barker became the youngest head coach in 1999 when he replaced the legendary Hall of Famer, Don Matthews in Toronto. Barker was the CFL Coach of the Year in 2010. Today, he is an Executive and Advisor for the Toronto Argonauts.
Tonya Scholz is a true influencer. Founder of kNOw-AGING, Inc. and SocialChats, she leads the Association of Women in Communication, South Florida and is an early adopter of livestream. She also has an incredible back story as having been on the last flight out of Vietnam at the close of the Vietnam War.
Having built a loyal following by engaging and interacting on Twitter as her own campaign manager, Samantha has a deep knowledge and understanding of how to harness the power of social media and make it work for business. She started from scratch and went from a kitchen table business to digital influencer, all thanks to the magic of Twitter.