Alyssa is a sophomore in high school who is especially passionate about acting. For someone who loves being on the stage so much, she knows that it is very likely that as a person of color, her stage and screen time will be limited. Despite these racial barriers, she still has big dreams, and hopes that her dreams will not have to suffer as a result of the lack of demand for actors like herself.
Elizabeth Melendez Fisher
President/CEO, Selah Freedom
Elizabeth has been described as “part healer, part businesswoman, all resolve. If Selah Freedom is bringing light into the darkness, as the slogan says, then Fisher is the one behind the megawatt.” Selah Freedom educates over 45,000 annually, has residential safe houses in Florida and Chicago, leads at-risk teen prevention programs, and trains and equips law enforcement agencies. Fisher speaks nationally about the root of sex trafficking, received the prestigious Tampa Bay Business Woman of the Year Award for the Nonprofit Category in 2014, and has been featured in various media outlets. Prior to Selah Freedom, Fisher worked in the Chicago area as a therapist and in leadership development. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.
Founder & CEO, Conic Group
Ruben is a thought leader in design and strategic facilitation, who helps leaders imagine and enact visionary change through purpose-driven dialogue with their customers and workforce. His work experience spans three continents in the areas of organizational strategy, design and innovation management, and stakeholder engagement. He holds a master’s degree in Design from the IIT Institute of Design and a MBA from Loyola University Chicago.
Founder, Giving Artfully Kids & Giving Artfully
Sitinee is a wife, mom of four, and social entrepreneur. She is the founder of Giving Artfully Kids, a curriculum teaching children the importance of kindness and giving through crafting, and of Giving Artfully, a platform connecting crafters and organizations needing handcrafted items. Prior to starting her own business, she was project manager and health care consultant for Stanford’s Children’s Hospital and UnitedHealthcare. She has her master’s degree in Public Policy and in Health Services Research and Policy from the University of Minnesota.
Lisa Thornton, M.D.
Lisa is a mom and a pediatrician who specializes in the care of children with disabilities. She is passionate about providing reliable health information for families and believes that childhood is the best time to develop lifelong healthy habits for the body and mind. Dr. Lisa is Medical Director of Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation at LaRabida Children’s Hospital and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. She is also an assistant professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Orthopedic Surgery & Rehabilitation at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She has provided health commentary for numerous TV shows and other media outlets and has led audiences to a greater understanding of a variety of topics including childhood obesity, childhood disability, and overall health and wellness. Dr. Lisa was a TEDxOakParkWomen 2015 Speaker and is pleased to return as the 2016 event’s emcee.
Dr. Amy Faith Ho, M.D.
University of Chicago Medical
Amy is an emergency medicine physician, writer and speaker. Her works include features in Forbes, TEDx, NPR, Chicago Tribune and media features on the TODAY Show, Discovery Channel and TLC. Dr. Ho takes a special interest in sharing a physician’s unique perspective on issues in society—violence, mental heath, addiction and healthcare policy—and uses her writing and speaking to do so.
Partner/Attorney, Mayer Brown LLP
Joanna is a partner in the Chicago office of global law firm Mayer Brown LLP and focuses on complex construction transactions. Joanna chairs Mayer Brown’s Committee on Professional Advancement and serves on its Partner Promotion Committee, Women’s Leadership Committee and Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. She was a 2015 Fellow in Leadership Greater Chicago and serves on the Board of Directors of the Anixter Center and Cabrini Green Legal Aid. She is the proud mom of two sons.
Primary Directress, Alcuin Montessori
Margaret is an experienced Montessori teacher and consultant with over 15 years of experience. She has spoken at numerous conferences, given lectures, and shared presentations for many years about different aspects of Montessori philosophy and child development in general. Her most recent conference presentation on Cultivating Charitable Minds was featured in Montessori Leadership magazine. Her consulting work connects her with schools and teachers around the world. Prior to her work in Montessori, she worked in various art galleries and in her personal art studio, which she continues to do. Margaret holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from Southern Illinois University—Carbondale and University of North Texas with a specialty in Fine Art and Design.
Diana Cristina Sanabria
Diana is a proud Puerto Rican psychotherapist, wife, and mother of two, living in the suburbs of Chicago. She has been assisting the Latino community in the city for the past 17 years as an individual and couples therapist. She received her master’s degree as a clinical social worker at the University of Michigan and is currently in private practice. Diana has always danced in some form or another. In her native Puerto Rico, dancing to salsa and merengue at any family gathering was the norm. While an undergraduate student, she was part of the dance group Tropicalísimo. While in Chicago, Diana learned and performed both Spanish flamenco with the group Compañeras Too, and Arabic Raqs Sharqi with the Fringe Benefits Troupe.