Keynote Speakers

Vu LeVu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Vu’s passion to make the world better, combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves. Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at

Tamika ButlerTamika Butler serves as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a non-profit organization that addresses social and racial equity, and wellness, by building parks and gardens in park-poor communities across greater Los Angeles. Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing, communications, and nonprofit leadership. Recently, she was the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Prior to leading LACBC, Tamika was the Director of Social Change Strategies at Liberty Hill Foundation, and worked at Young Invincibles as the California Director. She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as a public interest employment lawyer at Legal Aid at Work (previously Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center).

Speakers and Panelists

Natalia AbramsNatalia Abrams, Executive Director, Student Debt Crisis (SDC).
Natalia Abrams is the Executive Director of Student Debt Crisis (SDC) where she advocates for student loan debt reform, and the creation of lending solutions for all borrowers and students pursuing affordable and accessible higher education. Through her work with SDC Abrams has appeared on CNBC, Fox News, NBC, “CBS Sunday Morning,” and her writing has appeared in The Nation and The Huffington Post. Abrams has often been cited as a subject matter expert discussing the economic injustices facing students and borrowers. It is safe to say that no one knows more about student debt, both the individual applications and the policy matters, than Natalia!

Michael AlexanderMichael Alexander, Executive Director Emeritus, Grand Performances
Michael Alexander was the artistic and executive director for the free public concert series presented by Grand Performances in downtown Los Angeles at California Plaza from 1990 to 2017. He served multiple terms as chair of the California Arts Council and is a co-founder of California Arts Advocates. A native Angeleno, he prepared for his role as executive director by working as a teenager as a clown in the Los Angeles City Circus. Michael is a member of the CalNonprofits Board of Directors.

Nancy BerlinNancy Berlin, Policy Director, CalNonprofits
Nancy leads CalNonprofits policy strategy and work that protects and promotes California’s nonprofits. In addition to legislative advocacy, Nancy directs campaigns that engage CalNonprofits' more than 10,000 organizational members in support of the nonprofit community and the people that nonprofits serve and speak for. Nancy is former director of the California Partnership, was the project coordinator for the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, and worked for more than 15 years at nonprofits addressing homeless issues, including Alexandria House, where she also served on the board for 20 years.

Liz BluesteinLiz Bluestein, Vice President, Public Counsel
Liz Bluestein is the Chief Operating Officer, Vice President and General Counsel at Public Counsel, responsible for supervising and coordinating the operational work of Public Counsel's various legal programs and administrative departments, and ensuring compliance with applicable corporate and legal requirements. Liz is an advisor to the State Bar Business Law Section's Nonprofit and Unincorporated Associations Committee. She is also a past Chair of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the Tax Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She has taught a non-profit tax and transaction clinic as an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles.

John DobardJohn Dobard, Associate Director of Political Voice, Advancement Project California
Dr. John Dobard is the Associate Director of Political Voice at the Advance Project California where he leads advocacy efforts to make governments more participatory and representative of the communities they serve. Previously, Dr. Dobard served as Advancement Project California’s Manager of Strategic Initiatives where he co-created the Political Voice program and worked with coalitions across the state to secure equitable electoral systems through the California Voting Rights Act. He also oversaw several key organization-wide initiatives, including an initiative to urge the Los Angeles Unified School District to adopt a student need index to guide allocation of Local Control Funding Formula dollars.

Christina DragonettiChristina Dragonetti, Nonprofit Student Debt Project Manager, CalNonprofits
Christina Dragonetti is the Membership and Marketing Manager at CalNonprofits where she is responsible for recruitment, retention, and engagement of CalNonprofits members. Christina also manages the Nonprofit Student Debt Project at CalNonprofits where she helps educate nonprofits and their staff about the Public Service Loan Foregiveness program through webinars, a toolkit, and speaking engagements. Christina serves on the board of the League of Women Voters of California.

Efrain EscobedoEfrain Escobedo, Vice President, Education & Immigration, California Community Foundation
Efrain Escobedo is Vice President, Education & Immigration Programs at California Community Foundation. Escobedo has had an extensive career, dedicated to increasing civic engagement and ensuring public policies and institutions not just serve but also empower our communities. He has worked nationally and locally on efforts to increase citizenship, voter participation and the Census and is recognized nationally and locally as an active leader and expert in Latino civic engagement and elections policy.

Jennifer FearingJennifer Fearing, CalNonprofits Sacramento Advocate
Jennifer Fearing is the President of Fearless Advocacy, Inc. - a Sacramento-based advocacy firm specializing in advancing the policy agendas of mission-based and cause-oriented organizations. In 2017, Jennifer was named by Capitol Weekly as the 93rd most powerful person in the California capitol community. She has helped pursue nearly one hundred positive state and local legislative and regulatory outcomes and has led - with creativity and tenacity - many high-profile successes. She was instrumental in the formation of a new Assembly select committee on the nonprofit sector.

Rosemary Fei Esq., Principal, Adler & Colvin
Rosemary's firm represents nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations exclusively, and her practice spans the full range of nonprofit and tax-exempt legal issues, with emphasis on political advocacy issues and nonprofit corporate governance. Rosemary is known for her immense grasp of nonprofit law and for her ability to explain complex legal precepts. She currently serves on the CalNonprofits board.

Tania IbanezTania Ibañez, Senior Assistant Attorney General in charge of Charities
As the Section head, Tania leads a team of lawyers and auditors in Los Angeles and San Francisco who investigate and bring appropriate legal actions against charitable fundraisers, charitable trusts, and charitable organizations to protect the public from fraudulent or misleading solicitations, and to recover the loss of charitable assets. As Senior Assistant, Tania also oversees the publication of training and educational guides, including the recently released Attorney General's Guide for Charities. Tania also serves on the board of directors of the National Association of State Charity Officials.

Marian KaanonMarian Kaanon, CEO, Stanislaus Community Foundation
During Marian’s tenure, the foundation, located in Modesto, has nearly tripled its charitable assets under management and now supports two large-scale initiatives to boost the ‘cradle to career’ education pipeline: Stanislaus READS! and Stanislaus Futures. In 2006, Marian was named by The Modesto Bee as one of ’20 Under 40’ young civic leaders to watch, and in 2015 she was named an Outstanding Woman for Stanislaus County.

Ditas KatagueDitas Katague, Director of the California Complete Count – Census 2020
California Complete Count – Census 2020 for the State of California, is an important effort with large and lasting impacts on California. Previously, Ditas served as the Director of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Census 2010 project. In 2000, as Chief Deputy Campaign Director for the Governor’s Census 2000 California Complete Count campaign, she led a groundbreaking multi-lingual, multi-media outreach effort that resulted in a mail-in return rate that outpaced the entire nation.

Surina KhanSurina Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Foundation of California
Surina is a proud Californian by way of Connecticut and Pakistan. The Women's Foundation makes grants to community-based organizations, trains community leaders in advocacy, and connects people and resources. Surina is a widely published and admired writer as well: “Philanthropy, not only here in California but across the nation, has the opportunity — and a responsibility — to support advocacy work that is critical to ensuring that California, and the United States, continue to lead the way to a better, fairer, safer world."

Pete Manzo, President and CEO, United Ways of California
United Ways of California coordinates the community impact and advocacy work of California’s United Ways, and speaks out for low-income and vulnerable communities. Previously, Pete was Director of Strategic Initiatives for The Advancement Project, a civil rights “action tank,” Executive Director and General Counsel of the Center for Nonprofit Management, and Directing Attorney of Community Development Programs for Public Counsel. A straightforward and insightful writer, Pete's OpEds on behalf of the nonprofit community have been published in the LA Times, the Huffington Post, and Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Jan MasaokaJan Masaoka, CEO, CalNonprofits
Jan Masaoka is CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits and leads its advocacy and program efforts. She is a leading writer, thinker, and speaker on nonprofit organizations with particular emphasis on boards, business planning, and the role of nonprofits in society. Previously she has served as executive director of CompassPoint and founder/writer of Blue Avocado for 8 years. She has written several books, was named Nonprofit Executive of the Year by Nonprofit Times, and is an eight-time designee as one of the “Fifty Most Influential” people in the nonprofit sector nationwide.

Terence Mulligan, President and CEO, Napa Valley Community Foundation (NVCF)
NVCF distributes between $3 million and $5 million annually to nonprofits in Napa County. Terence was a noted leader in organizing private and public resources to help people affected by the fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties. Prior to joining the staff of NVCF, he served in development at the Peninsula Community Foundation in Silicon Valley, and has held jobs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Institute for International Economics and Accenture. Terence is Board Treasurer of CalNonprofits, and a board member of the California Wellness Foundation.

Shane GoldsmithShane Murphy Goldsmith, President/CEO, Liberty Hill Foundation
Shane sits on the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, and she is the co-chair of the California Executive Alliance for Boys and Men of Color SoCal Region. Her standing and influence is reflected in her membership on the Southern California Grantmakers Board of Directors and both the Advisory Committee for the Black Equity Initiative of the JIB Fund and the board of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH).

Perla NiPerla Ni, CEO, GreatNonprofits
Perla Ni is the CEO and founder of Perla was the founder and publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review where she continues as a frequent contributor. With CalNonprofits and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Perla co-founded, where grantees provide feedback to foundations. Perla also founded and currently directs which brings mobile and technology solutions to outreach and enumerator recruitment. In 2010, she was named a "Top Philanthropy Game Changer" by the Huffington Post.

Sue SiglerSue Sigler, Executive Director, California Association of Food Banks
Sue Sigler brought 25 years of experience in direct services and consulting to CAFB when she became the executive director in 2008. CAFB represents 40 food banks who, partnering with 6,000 nonprofits, provide food to more than two million Californians each year. Sue's advocacy and structural work is credited with doubling the amount of food donated by California farmers. She is an experienced and savvy advocate herself, as well as knowing how to hire policy staff and work with contract lobbyists. Sue is a member of the CalNonprofits Board of Directors.

Gene TakagiGene Takagi, NEO Law Group and author, Nonprofit Law Blog
Gene Takagi is the managing attorney of NEO Law Group and contributing publisher of the Nonprofit Law Blog. At NEO, Gene has represented over 600 nonprofit organizations on corporate, tax, and charitable trust law matters. He has been published by the New York Times, Nonprofit Quarterly, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and more. Gene is a recipient of multiple awards for his work, including Outstanding Nonprofit Lawyer (American Bar Association, 2016), and Northern California Super Lawyer (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Gene is generous with his volunteer time and has helped countless nonprofits in strategic issues and in advocacy for the nonprofit community.

Marcos Vargas, Executive Director, Fund for Santa Barbara
Marcos leads the organization in ongoing efforts to drive economic, environmental, political, and social change throughout the region. Marcos’ experience includes serving as the founding Executive Director of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE). Among the victories during his 14-year leadership, CAUSE defeated the largest mining company in the world to stop an offshore liquefied natural gas terminal that would have been the largest source of pollution in the region. With a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from UCLA, Marcos is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2014 Outstanding Citizen Award from the California Federation of Teachers and the Cesar Chavez Leadership Award from the United Farm Workers. Marcos is a Sundancer in the Lakota and Mechica traditions, and is actively involved in efforts to expand the knowledge and application of Native American indigenous teachings.





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