Robin Lee

Robin Lee has been playing an important role within Southern California’s start-up and venture capital communities throughout her career. She has evaluated thousands of business plans and has guided scores of early stage companies and entrepreneurs through the angel investment funding process. Her familiarity with many different business models and her broad knowledge of the venture capital industry enable her to help entrepreneurs navigate the process and ultimately to connect with optimal investors.

During her tenure at Tech Coast Angels, the largest angel investor group in the United States, she was instrumental in helping fund over 150 companies and placing over $250 million from investors to entrepreneurs. Subsequent to her tenure at Tech Coast Angels, she continued to help entrepreneurs in every aspect of their ventures’ entire continuum from validating ideas to exit strategies as the Venture Consultant at Startup UCLA accelerator and at Blackstone Launchpad at UCLA entrepreneurship program. She personally consulted to over 150 ventures during her tenure at UCLA.

She has served as a mentor at the Founder Institute, StartEngine, Women Founders Network as well as a judge at numerous business plan competitions. She has taught at universities as a guest lecturer and at entrepreneur education programs in both United States and in Korea. She is an Executive in Resident at Bixel Exchange, an entrepreneur support program from City of Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. She runs an accelerator program with selected startups from Korea, accessing her vast network of both successful entrepreneurs executives and credible investors. Currently she serves as advisor for several startups and helps startups in every aspect from ideation to exit as venture consultant thru her consulting firm, Robin Lee Venture Consulting.



Chris Whittaker

Chris Whittaker has 30 years of government experience with 26 years as an Army officer specializing in logistics, operations, government software and planning. He is currently a city manager for Rockdale, Texas, a rural community in Central Texas serving also on two boards(Association of Rural Communities in Texas and Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District)  and numerous municipal committees. He has his own company, ATX Logistics which provides support to small businesses.


Jim Brisimitzis

Jim Brisimitzis has over 17 years of enterprise, channel, and Startup experience through companies such as Bell Canada, Nortel Networks, PeopleSoft, Oracle and over 11 years with Microsoft. Currently Jim is the General Manager of the Microsoft for Startup program in the United States. His team is responsible for Startup engagements across the US and in partnering with leading US Startup accelerators/incubators.. Prior to joining the US team Jim led operations for Microsoft Ventures globally in addition to creating and launching their “HiPo” program; an exclusive engagement for Startups with significant market potential.


Jim has led many internal innovation efforts from SMB mini-servers to hyper-scale computing HW/SW stacks. As an “intrapreneur” Jim appeals to opportunities that help large organization rapidly innovate new and emerging opportunities from concept to customer adoption. He hold a degree in Business Management from Trent University of Peterborough Ontario, Canada. Jim and his family reside in Seattle WA.

Zac Bookman

Before co-founding OpenGov, Zac served as Advisor to U.S. Army General H.R. McMaster on the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force – Shafafiyat (Transparency), an Anticorruption task force at the International Security Assistance Forces headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. He previously practiced trial litigation at Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, where he represented Silicon Valley and Fortune 500 clients in contract, trade secret, white-collar criminal, and patent matters. Zac was a law clerk to the Honorable Sandra S. Ikuta on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and a Fulbright Fellow in Mexico, where he studied transparency through the lens of Mexico’s Freedom of Information Act. He holds a J.D. from the Yale Law School, an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.A. from the University of Maryland.

Fred Pelard

Based in London and working globally, Fred Pelard works as a strategy trainer, consultant, facilitator & coach. He specialises in helping teams and organisations solve complex problems. A French rocket-scientist by training, Fred been lecturing on strategic thinking and complex problem solving to the CEOs and management teams of major corporations and consulting firms around the world for the best part of 20 years.

Fred started his career in management consulting (with Deloitte), and then completed his MBA at INSEAD. He’s been working as a strategist ever since, first with Kalchas and then with Instigate Group, where he’s worked with some of the leading organisations in media, FMCG, retail, financial services, defence, not-for-profit and consulting.

He currently divides his time between three areas of equal interest & excitement: designing & delivering strategic thinking sessions (training, talks, facilitating strategic away-days for boards and management team, and conducting high-impact strategy projects & ideas generation challenges.

Kiran Jain

Kiran Jain is the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of Neighborly, a venture-backed company delivering modern public finance to build the infrastructure people rely on to work, live, and play. She is the former Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Oakland, one of the inaugural cities in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network. Kiran has served as a senior deputy city attorney focusing on land use, urban redevelopment and municipal governance. She is the founder of the Civic Design Lab focused on building community resilience.

From 2010 through 2013, Kiran served on the board of Asian Law Caucus, the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving low-income Asian Pacific American communities. Kiran also served as the founding attorney for Kiva, a nonprofit microfinance platform with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Kiran has received several honors for her work including the Asian American Bar Association’s Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy, NAPABA Best Lawyers Under 40 and Next City Vanguard.


Felicia Curcuru

Felicia Curcuru is the CEO of Binti. Felicia was first introduced to the world of adoption many years ago when her sister adopted two children. Years later, Felicia began volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster youth in San Francisco. Through these experiences and coming from a technology background, she saw a lot of opportunity where technology could improve the outcomes of families and children in the foster care and adoption world. She co-founded Binti and has dedicated herself to that since.

Prior to starting Binti, Felicia had a career in business and technology. She was previously an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company. She was later the first employee, Head of User Experience and Director of Business Development at FundersClub, a leading online venture capital firm and Y Combinator graduate. Felicia graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a guest blogger on Huffington Post, SF Globe and She is an avid traveler who has lived in 7 countries and speaks 3 languages. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis, dancing, cooking and hiking.

Ansaf Kareem

Ansaf Kareem is a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, an early stage venture capital firm with over $4 billion of committed capital that has backed over 250 companies globally, including Snap, Nest, Mulesoft, Nutanix, Byjus, Clever, Elementum, and many other leading companies. Prior to Lightspeed, Ansaf worked on the product team at RelateIQ, an early stage enterprise SaaS company that was acquired by Salesforce for ~$400M. Ansaf started his career as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company in New York, where he managed teams and advised clients globally in the financial services, healthcare, government, and technology sectors.

Ansaf was selected as one of the inaugural members of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers and served in a variety of social/public sector capacities including as a member of the Aspen Institute’s Impact Careers Initiative, U.S. State Department’s Generation Change, Board of Directors for the Interfaith Youth Core, and as policy fellow for former Newark Mayor Cory Booker during his successful campaign for United States Senate.

Ansaf has a Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School where he was a George Leadership Fellow, a Master in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School where he was a David M. Rubenstein Fellow, and a BA with honors from Stanford University.

Cyd Harrell

Cyd Harrell is well known in industry and government for her creative approach to UX research and service design. In her work with Code for America, the Center for Civic Design, and recently at 18F, she strives to merge a geek’s enthusiasm for the digital with a humane sense of modern civic responsibility. She believes that design is an important practice for everyone focused on bringing our shared institutions into the 21st century, and she also believes that design can do much better at including all perspectives. When not helping public servants use design for good, she serves on the board of the Institute for Applied Tinkering, which operates radically alternative school and enrichment programs.

JC Velten

JC is the founding partner of Zealmark, an innovation agency that helps tech companies in Silicon Valley craft their unique sticky story, develop innovation processes and generate a culture of ingenuity. JC always has a foot in the “do-good” space, and Zealmark also helps social enterprise companies stand from the pack with kick-ass communication and marketing. JC is also the Chairman of the Harvard Business School Community Partners, which generates pro-bono consulting opportunities for HBS’s 7,000 Bay Area alumni so they can help non-profits using their business skills and talents. This 30-year organization has doubled in size in JC’s two years as chairman.

He started his marketing career in brand marketing at Procter & Gamble’s international division developing all business aspects of multi-billion dollar brands in Latin America and Europe. Actually, his six years there saw a couple of failed product line extensions for the brands he was working on.

After his Harvard MBA he decided to go the tech route and landed a job at Silicon Graphics. In 2000 he started the tech firm SoftCoin. The company created the first offline-to-online promotions for dozens of brands at Pepsico, Dr Pepper Snapple, P&G, Unilever, Nestle & Kraft; and got venture capital investment from Greylock, RRE and Draper, before it was sold to Kroger in 2012. JC invented the SoftCoin – for which he holds three patents – wrote the tech specs for all the company’s products during his years at the company and ran marketing. After SoftCoin he started a couple more ventures including The Funding Bee (TFB), Couperate, and Vocal.

JC has an MBA from Harvard Business School, two bachelor degrees – in Marketing and in Economics – from the University of Texas at Austin, and a masters in philosophy from ITAM in Mexico City. JC is an avid screenwriter, a guest teacher at Stanford and USF, and a science nerd.

Wayne Sutton


Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur co-founder of Tech Inclusion and BUILDUP. BUILDUP is a Bay Area, non-profit that connects, mentors and educates underrepresented technology entrepreneurs through the BUILDUP Fellows program and workshops. Tech Inclusion focuses is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, consulting and workshops. Wayne experiences ranges from years establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Wayne shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Wayne’s life goals is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world. Wayne Sutton writes about entrepreneurship, startups, diversity & inclusion in tech at

Barbara Pivnicka

Barbara Pivnicka

Barbara Pivnicka is co-founder of a technology start-up providing enterprise data harvesting and analytics. The start-up has forged strategic alliances and established partnerships with SalesForce, Thomson Reuters, KPMG and NetSuite.

She serves as President and CEO of the San Francisco Global Trade Council, which promotes international trade opportunities and global alliances for companies, agencies and sovereign nations.

Ms. Pivnicka served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Tier Technologies, Inc., a publicly traded IT systems integrator, and was a member of its management team, responsible for the integration of three foreign acquisitions and a re-branding of the parent public company.

Prior to joining Tier in 2000, Ms. Pivnicka was Director of Regional Marketing for Deloitte, responsible for marketing and business development with a team of 19 marketing managers, creative services personnel and research analysts. She joined Deloitte in 1986, and served on the Management Committee as well as on the Partner’s Council.

In 2001, Ms. Pivnicka was appointed Honorary Consul of the Slovak Republic, the first woman in the US to hold the post. She was elected Vice Dean of the San Francisco Consular Corps, the third-largest consular community in the US, whose members represent 78 countries, and currently serves as Executive Officer for the Consular Corps.

She holds a BA in English and Art History from the University of San Francisco, and was chosen as a scholar in the Humanities Program.

Jennifer Pahlka

Jennifer PahlkaJennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America, a national non-profit that believes that government can work for the people, by the people, if we all help. She recently served as the US Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she architected and helped start the United States Digital Service. She is known for her TED talk, Coding a Better Government, and the recipient of several awards, including MIT’s Kevin Lynch Award, the Oxford Internet Institute’s Internet and Society Award, and the National Democratic Institute’s Democracy Award. She spent eight years at CMP Media, where she ran the Game Developers Conference, Game Developer magazine,, and the Independent Games Festival. Previously, she ran the Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 events for TechWeb, in conjunction with O’Reilly Media. She is a graduate of Yale University and lives in Oakland, California with her daughter, husband, and six chickens.

Julie Lein

Julie Lein

Julie is a co-founder and Managing Partner of the Urban Innovation Fund. The Urban Innovation Fund is a venture capital firm that invests in transformative urban technology. It provides seed capital and regulatory expertise to entrepreneurs solving our toughest urban challenges – helping them grow into tomorrow’s most valued companies.

Previously, Julie co-founded Tumml, an urban ventures accelerator. During the last three years, Tumml has incubated 33 startups, who have raised $37M+ in funding and launched products/ services for over 2.2M people.

Prior to founding Tumml, she worked as an Education Pioneers Fellow with Revolution Foods, a healthy school meals provider for schools where she reported directly to the Co-founder and CIO on projects ranging from financial budgeting to IT information systems. Her work in urban entrepreneurship has been featured in numerous press outlets, including CNN, TedX, Forbes, and The San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Julie has an MBA from MIT Sloan and a BA from Stanford.

Ian Kalin

Ian Kalin

Ian Kalin began working as Chief Data Officer at the U.S. Commerce Department in March 2015. As Commerce’s first-ever Chief Data Officer, Ian is responsible for developing and implementing a vision for the future of the diverse data resources at Commerce. He works with all 12 Commerce bureaus to unlock more data that help support a data-driven Department and economy.

Prior to joining the Commerce Department, Ian worked in the private sector supporting large organizations like Google, as a Special Consultant on Civic Data, and start-ups like Socrata, as their Director of Open Data, in business efforts to help governments modernize their data and transparency programs.  In these roles, Ian helped over 150 governments to improve the quality of the diverse services they deliver.

Ian started his career in the U.S. Navy as a Counter-Terrorism Officer and later as a nuclear engineer. After the Navy, Ian was an executive at PowerAdvocate, where he supported over $30 billion of power plant and transmission line construction. He was later recruited by the White House as one of the first Presidential Innovation Fellows, where he helped support national open data policies and programs. Ian also spearheaded the U.S. Energy Data Initiative, which works to unlock data from public and private sectors to ignite entrepreneurship.

Ian has a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University and a Masters in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University.  He has also received awards from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the Department of Energy for his work on civic innovation.  Ian’s wife is a successful investment professional.

Peter Hirshberg

Peter Hirshberg

Peter Hirshberg has led emerging media and technology companies at the center of disruptive change for more than 25 years.  Peter serves as chairman of the City Innovate Foundation, an organization formed with The San Francisco Mayor’s office, UC Berkeley and the MIT Media Lab to promote a network of global civic innovation centers. He is co-author of the forthcoming “Maker City”,  with which examines economic development and the many experiments that are defining the renewal of America’s Cities. As an advisor to United Nations Global Pulse he’s addressed the General Assembly on real-time data for international development and is editor of, “Taking the Global Pulse.”

Peter is co-founder and Chairman of San Francisco’s Gray Area Art and Technology Theater, a center for digital media eduction, incubation, performance and exhibition. At Gray Area his team helped pioneer Urban Prototyping, a global movement that engages citizens in the co-creation and co-planning of their cities.

He’s worked with executive teams at Time Warner, Best Buy, Hertz, Sony, Unilever, Thomson Reuters, IBM, Verizon, GE, Estee Lauder, Telefonica and many others on digital and growth strategies. Peter is the former Chairman of Technorati, the pioneering social media search engine and ad network.

During a nine year tenure at Apple Computer, Hirshberg headed Enterprise Marketing. He is a Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and a Henry Crown fellow of the Aspen Institute.  In 2015 he was a contributor to the MIT anthology, “From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond: The Quest for Identity and Autonomy in Digital Society.”

Nick Ellis

Nick Ellis

Nick is a serial social entrepreneur focused on solving public interest problems through business model innovation. He previously served as VP of Innovation at TrueBlue, a $2BN+/year NYSE-traded blue-collar staffing firm, where he reported to the CEO and Board of Directors.

Prior to TrueBlue, Nick founded Job Rooster, a software company focused on reducing unemployment that was acquired by TrueBlue. Early in his career, Nick advised California cities on the issuance of over $400 million in municipal bonds as an investment banker. Between 2011-2013 he served as the appointed District 8 representative to the San Francisco Parks & Recreation Open Space Advisory Committee.

In 2013 Nick was selected as a White House Fellow finalist. In 2010, he was named a New Leaders Council Fellow and a West Coast Venture Capital Fellow for his work as a social entrepreneur. Nick is a graduate of the London School of Economics (MSc), where he was elected Class Representative, and Stanford University (BA), where he captained the men’s water polo team to consecutive NCAA Division I championships.

Adarsh A. Desai

Adarsh currently leads the World Bank Innovation Labs, overseeing a variety of programs ranging from Big data Analytics, Social Enterprise Innovations for service delivery to poor, Open Aid Partnership, Open Innovation, and Human-centered Design.

Adarsh also leads the emergent innovations program, with a present focus on Big data Analytics for development. The emergent innovations program other interests are in Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) and civilian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) and it’s applications and impact on development.

In his prior work at the World Bank, Adarsh has managed programs on ICT-enabled citizen engagement, Geospatial data, E-learning, and other technology enabled platforms, having a global reach and impact. Adarsh also worked on other innovative programs including Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) and ICT for Education (World Links program) in Africa. Adarsh coordinated the first Global Survey on Education Readiness, in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

Adarsh has a Masters Degree in Software Engineering and Information Systems Management from the George Washington University and a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering from M.S. University of Baroda, India.

Ashley Meyers

Digital Services & Product Management, City of San Francisco

As part of the Digital Services team and formerly an Innovation Fellow at the Office of Civic Innovation, Ashley helped write the City’s first-ever Digital Service Strategy, co-founded the Civic Bridge program, and brought a modern, agile, user-centered approach to a new affordable housing application service.

In 2010 she was awarded a Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and spent a year studying cross-sector policy issues in Northern California. She is a member of New Leaders Council, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and a founding member of Bay Area women’s leadership group Women Get It Done.


Alissa Black

Director of Investments at Omidyar

As Director of Investments at Omidyar, Alissa’s role is to improve the relationship between citizens and government through driving sector-level change in government and the emerging civic technology ecosystem. Alissa is also a board member of Unite Us, software that connects health and social service providers.

Bernadette Clavier

Bernadette ClavierBernadette Clavier is the Director of the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business which educates insightful leaders for social and environmental change. Prior to this, she was in charge of the center’s social innovation programs and before that of its communications, digital strategy, and conferences.

Bernadette came to the US from France where she worked as Vice President of Seasonal Products for E. Leclerc, the French retail chain equivalent of Wal-Mart. Sourcing over 40,000 SKUs from around the world, she witnessed first hand the challenges of the global supply chain, including human rights and social and environmental issues, and contributed to growing the nascent corporate citizenship culture of her organization. She developed a first of its kind assortment selection online tool which gave the organization an edge in the seasonal category. She pioneered e-commerce in France making E. Leclerc the first hypermarket nationwide to offer products online for the 1998 holiday season. As the Toys Category Manager at the E. Leclerc central buying office from 1992 to 1997 she consistently maintained a #1 position on the market, constantly innovating communications. Prior to joining E.Leclerc Bernadette relaunched Erector Set in France as a brand manager for toy maker Meccano.

She sits on the board of ICSF, a nonprofit consulting organization that supports the scaling of social ventures. She holds an MBA from H.E.C. Paris, speaks French, English, and German and lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children. In her spare time she created an organic food program for Bay Area schools, advocates for autism spectrum disorders awareness, and works as part of The Climate Reality Project team.

Specialties: Social innovation, social entrepreneurship, responsible business, Web & e-commerce strategy, product and category management, brand development, promotion and advertising, negotiation.

Ayesha Khanna

Ayesha KhannaAyesha Khanna is the president of the Points of Light Civic Incubator, which puts people at the center of change by supporting social entrepreneurs and early stage civic ventures around the world. As part of this role, she founded the Civic Accelerator and oversees the organization’s global efforts. Points of Light is the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, engaging 4 million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year.

Ms. Khanna has worked across sectors and led nonprofit, for-profit and political organizations. She is a co-founder of the startup Fuse Corps, co-led Atlanta Women for Obama and transformed several leading nonprofit organizations, including the local YWCA and United Way, after building healthcare centers in central India and beginning her career at Andersen Consulting LLP (now Accenture).