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Community Member Spotlights

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find interviews from our community members and content partners – the folks who’ve been heavily involved with us, collaborating with us on content, sponsoring our mission and spreading the word about the work we do.

Donna Giraud | Contemporary, Abstract Fine Artist

Eternal optimist. Ambassador of kindness. Painter of positivity. My name is Donna Giraud and I am an abstract artist specializing in large scale, textural paintings with a west coast influence. Living and practicing in North Vancouver, BC, Canada, I have been creating artwork for the last 20 years and my work can be found in private and commercial collections all over North America. Read more>>

Diana Ourthiague | Senior Vice President of Customer Success at Scientist.com

Hi, my name is Diana Ourthiagueand I am the Senior VP of Customer Success at Scientist.com. I joined the company 7 years ago after completing my PhD in Biochemistry from UC San Diego. My role at Scientist.com is to develop and manage our day-to-day customer and supplier interactions through our marketplaces. My team helps researchers looking to outsource a research project find the right suppliers and provide top-notch customer service throughout their entire source-to-pay journey. Read more>>

Megan Brickwood | Singer-songwriter

She grew up in a small former mining town in rural northern California. Much of her identity as an artist is rooted there, but she also takes inspiration from artists of the 1960’s like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Neil Young who she grew up listening to on her parents’ stereo. After leaving home to pursue music, Megan landed in Los Angeles and became immersed in the local music scene, playing venues around town while writing, recording, and ultimately producing her music. She has played at locally renowned venues such as The Hotel Café and Genghis Cohen. Megan is influenced by folk, Americana, classical and Celtic musical styles. She writes on acoustic guitar and piano. Her EP, Where the Wind Lays Heavy, pays homage to her rural northern roots and the trials of love, heartache and the road less traveled. Read more>>

Karla Coppel | Founder of Karemi Cosmetics

Hi, my name is Karla Coppel, Married to a great Guy and Mom of 2 amazing boys one 17 (Karlo) the other one 7 (Emiliano). I am the Founder of Karemi Cosmetics, a new makeup brand focusing on the well being of women, bringing only the best clean beauty products to the industry. I strongly believe that women are the pillars of society, and that is why it is my mission to educate and inform them about the hidden dangerous in cosmetic products, and also, encourage them towards self care, in every area of their lives. Read more>>

Lisa McCabe | Owner of Lovely Leaps

Lisa McCabe lives in sunny San Diego with her amazing hubby Ricky, beautiful daughter Gianna-Grace and another little princess on the way due in July. She went to school for dance but ended up as an engineer designing the cables used in government drones. But after five years of engineering, she left to be with her newborn daughter. During this time, she went back to her love for dance and created Lovely Leaps dance studio with the idea that her daughter would have a place to go where she could feel confident and included. “Lovely Leaps’ mission is to cultivate the love of dance in the younger generation, making sure each child feels seen, heard and loved in their dance journey. Just this past year Lovely Leaps has taught over 10000 kids virtually and held their first in-person recital this past year. Lisa heart is to help others mothers and women know that if she can follow her dream while meeting the demands of motherhood, so can they. Read more>>

Buddie Roots | Nazir Music Group Inc. CEO

My name is Buddie Roots. Born and raised in San Diego, Ca. I consider myself a roots musician, as roots music is in my opinion a combination of all Black music styles together, of which I fully enjoy each. C.E.O of Nazir Music Group Inc. Producer Artist Songwriter Musician. I Am Rootsie Read more>>

Jocelyn Sevier | Filmmaker & Musician

My name is Jocelyn, I am a filmmaker based in San Diego, California. Over the past few years, I have written, produced, and directed films, as well as wrote a book or two. I began writing my first crime drama series “ILLFaded” and my first sci-fi series “The World We Know”. I am currently working on my first feature film “The Heart To Fight” and my short film “Clean My Plate”. During the filming of “The World We Know” and “ILLFaded”, I began working on a short film called “Johnson & Robunson – Crime Scene Killer” that is currently on Amazon Prime. Read more>>

Dr. Candice Seti | Licensed Clinical Psychologist

I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a practice online and in San Diego. To supplement the work I do with my clients, I am also a Certified Nutrition Coach, a Certified Weight Management Specialist, a Certified Expert Life Coach, a Certified Personal Trainer, and a Certified Insomnia Treatment Clinician. In my practice, I work one-one-one with individuals, helping them understand their maladaptive behaviors and thought patterns, while replacing them with a healthier perspective that allows them to overcome self-sabotage and thrive in their lives. Read more>>

Tony Alessandra | Online Behavioral & Employee Hiring Assessment Provider

I have been a graduate professor of marketing, Internet entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker. I earned a BBA from Notre Dame, an MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing in 1976 from Georgia State University. I am the founder of Assessments 24×7 LLC, a company that offers a variety of online assessments, including the widely used DISC profile, Motivators assessment, Emotional Intelligence assessment, and several 360º effectiveness assessments. I have co-authored 41 books, including the best-selling The NEW Art of Managing People; The Platinum Rule; Collaborative Selling; and Communicating at Work and have been featured in over 100 audio/video programs and films, including DISC Relationship Strategies; The Dynamics of Effective Listening; and Gaining the EDGE in Competitive Selling. Read more>>

Caryn Kirchhoff-Herrera | Facilitator of Healing

Hi! My name is Caryn and I am a facilitator of healing! What does that even mean, right? Well I use many different healing modalities and knowledge on different herbs and holistic practices to aid you in being the best version of you. I aid people in working through their trauma and help them Integrate the tools to control grow and heal. Allowing one to learn it is ok to release pain and stagnant energy that we hold in the body. I absolutely love helping people get to their highest spiritual potential! Connecting with self and the universe or God. Whatever it is you believe in. Bridging them together to create the relationship and communication to live and feel your best. Read more>>

Robin “R. D.” Kardon | Author

Greetings! I’m Robin “R. D.” Kardon, and I’m a novelist living in San Diego, California. I’m a former attorney, professional pilot and consultant, and my two published novels, FLYGIRL and ANGEL FLIGHT are both best sellers that follow the professional and person lives of a female pilot, Tris Miles. Although all of the characters in my books, including Tris, are fictional, the workplace issues confronting women and minorities, and personal challenges faced by my characters are all too real. I like to keep my work authentic and grounded in all of our experiences. Check my books out- and I hope you enjoy them. Read more>>

Alan Silberstein | COO of CBD Organics

My name is Alan Silberstein. I was originally born in Mexico City and moved to San Diego, CA when I was 7 years old. I studied business administration at Chapman University and joined CBD Organics as COO in May of 2019. Read more>>

Kat M-Cox | Self-taught Artist

My name is Kat and I’m a full-time mom and self-taught artist. I spend my days with my family and spend most nights painting. I’m a plant enthusiast and am very passionate about sustainability and making our Earth greener. I believe in spreading love through ethereal artwork and working together toward a new world where empathy is everywhere. I paint tranquil, abstract landscapes both digitally and by hand with heavy body acrylic on canvas. I am most known for my organic floral paintings and love for octopuses. Read more>>

Zisek | Senior Leader, Front Desk Supply

I have had a varied career, both in terms of they types of companies, but also my roles within them. I currently am part of the Senior Management Team at Front Desk Supply. I have worked for both Fortune 50 companies, as well as well funded startups, as well as bootstrap sized companies. Industries include Heath Care to High Tech to Software to Printing (current). I have also worked in both Finance / Accounting and Marketing. Currently I oversee a number of areas within our nimble, versatile company. All of these experiences and roles are a great fit at Front Desk Supply, as we are highly focused on the end customer. We do our best to blend marketing and design expertise with best of breed manufacturing understanding so that we can “Making your hotel more profitable and your guests’ stay more memorable.®”. Read more>>

Michelle Castro-Martha | Owner and baker

I was born in Tijuana, Mexico and moved to the US almost 11 years ago. I went to college, worked for corporate for some years, then got married and started a family with my high school sweetheart. When I became a mom, I knew I didn’t want to leave my daughter back at home to work somewhere but I still wanted to do something… So, I started baking, since I already had the basics because my mom used to bake cakes and my grandma baked for us all the time. I never took culinary classes but I do love to learn thru tutorials and blogs. One thing led to another and I found myself baking cupcakes and cookies for my family who where my first customers and supporters. Since then, almost 9 years ago, I’ve been baking and growing my lil business. Read more>>

Erica Rood | Owner of Inspire Balance Coaching and Life Coach for Parents, Teens, and Young Adults

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been drawn to working with young people. From volunteering at youth shelters to teaching both locally and internationally, and now offering a unique blend of coaching and teaching to girls and parents, helping raise wise, motivated, and empowered young people is my passion and purpose. When I learned about Teen Life Coaching I thought, this is it! It was described as a field devoted to self-discovery, action, and accountability. Read more>>

Mackenzie Belcastro | Novelist & Mindset Coach

I am a magical realism novelist, mindset coach, and a holistic wellness writer. Read more>>

Mariami Bibilouri | Songwriter, Recording Artist

Hello! I’m a recording artist and songwriter originally born in Georgia the country (not the state.) I grew up in New York and studied Music & Arts at Emerson College and Berklee College of Music and moved to Los Angeles in 2018 to further expand my sound and brand. I studied Musical Theater and Jazz and grew up in a household that championed music so from an early age I fell in love with the Arts. My passion for songwriting came alive at 19, when I first visited my country after having immigrated at the age of 6. I was so filled with awe at the culture, topography, food and people that I was exploding at the seams with inspiration and love. I began writing songs for my first album then and never stopped. Read more>>

Manuel Sanchez | Licensed Real Estate Agent

I am a licensed real estate professional in San Diego, CA. I have been in the business for 3 years and have closed over $30M in sales. My real estate business revolves around helping home sellers and home buyers accomplish their real estate goals. I do this by guiding them through the process of the sale which I consider to be both a privilege and a responsibility that I takes quite seriously. Prior to joining the world of Real Estate, I was in the high line automotive industry working for such brands as Porsche and Lamborghini. There I became an expert in figuring out how to provide clients a tailored, high end customer service and deliver results. I start with fully appreciating each client and then finding creative ways to fulfill their Real Estate needs, this is how I approach my love for sales. Looking to purchase a new home? Avoid feeling overwhelmed and use my experience and knowledge to find the home of your dreams. Thinking of selling? Exposure is everything. Leverage my experience, marketing tools and tactics to turn “selling” into “sold”. Have questions? I am here to help find answers and provide insights into the local area. Read more>>

Arash Tebbi | Media Creator and Marketing Strategist

Hello! My name is Arash, and my daily goal involves trying to think outside the box for my clients. More specifically, I create engaging commercials and ads so that a business can attract more customers or sell more products. Sometimes we just offer ideas, sometimes we write storylines, and sometimes we do everything, from producing a commercial to creating the ad and running it on social media. Read more>>

Paula Sturm | Registered Dietitian, Functional Medical Nutrition Therapist, Master Mindset Coach

Hi! I’m a Registered Dietitian, Functional Medical Nutrition Therapist, and a Master Mindset and Wellness Coach. I love helping women overcome digestive and hormone issues through nutrition, functional medical testing, strategic supplement use, and neuro-linguistic programing (NLP). My approach to wellness encompasses the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of health, I’ve found that only focusing on the physical doesn’t get to the full depth of issue someone is struggling with. Read more>>

Michael Pritsker | CEO, Happy Head Massage

My name is Michael Pritsker. I’m a businessman, chiropractor, stand up comedian, and former mma fighter. I’m also the father of two wonderful, smart, handsome, little…cats named Tootsie and Mr. Gajillionaire. I got two teenage sons too but the kittens are easier to handle. In San Diego I’m known as Mr. Happy Head. I’m the founder and CEO of Happy Head Massage which currenlty has 7 locations throughout San Diego. Read more>>

Jonathan Smith | Founder of SW/FT

I am a nomadic Alabama native who relocated to San Diego in 2017 from Los Angeles. I’ve lived all over the place: New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and now here. Over the past 5 years or so I’ve noticed that I find pleasure in writing. Not just traditionally, but in every sense of the word. After pursuing an education in Journalism and Public Relations, I decided that the best thing for me and the lifestyle I’ve created for myself would be to own my own business. Starting off from a blog that a friend and I ran, SW/FT was named many things before officially sticking. Fast forward almost one year later and here we are! Read more>>

Adam Martin Disbrow | American Expressionist Painter

I was born in a small town in Central Virginia, USA, May 15, 1986. I was homeschooled, and then attended a small unconventional private school. At the University of Virginia, I studied science, but changed to English Literature— art history, language arts, and critical analysis were my key focus during these formative years. I have always been an artist. I recognized this about myself as a child. I cannot remember when I began to experiment with painting. In my youth I studied visual art, music, creative writing, and sculpture – and have received formal instruction in all of these areas. Having practiced these forms of self-expression facilitated my self-awareness, and I declared myself publicly as an artist in 2012. Read more>>

Rick Hohn | Inspirational Blogger, Artist

Born with Cerebral Palsy that affects my arms, legs and speech, I have done amazing accomplishments including writing books and paintings with a head pointer. I am retired after 18 years working as a consultant for the Tobii Dynavox manufacturer that makes speech devices, but now I am an associate pastor for My church, Winds of Harvest, in San Marcos, CA. Besides all this, I write blogs on Facebook and videos on YouTube. Read more>>

Tianna Curatalo | Creative Wix Guru, Founder

Hello! I’m Tianna, your creative Wix guru. With my entrepreneurial spirit and Wix website design skills, I have a true passion for helping businesses successfully build their brands. Utilizing my talents in design, branding and marketing, I have created and implemented brand strategies for everything from large companies to local small businesses. I earned a degree in Merchandise Marketing from FIDM in Los Angeles, and went on to graduate from the Art Institute in San Diego with a B.S. degree in Advertising. My motto is “inspired by imagination, driven by results,” and I have applied that personal ethos to a broad range of professional experiences; from developing business websites, to running my own successful digital agency built around utilizing the Wix platform. Read more>>

Jonathan Yackley | Deputy Executive Director of Rise Up Industries

Thanks so much for having me. I’m the Deputy Executive Director at Rise Up Industries, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working with formerly incarcerated, previously gang involved individuals. RUI provides the only reentry program in San Diego County specifically focused on this subset of the formerly incarcerated (those who grew up in street gangs). The mission of RUI is to minimize gang involvement by providing integrated gang prevention, intervention, and post-detention reentry programs. We began this three-pronged approach with the Reentry Program. Our 18-month Reentry Program is in its sixth year of operation and provides a comprehensive set of services including employment, job-training, case management, tattoo removal, counseling, mentoring, education assistance, financial literacy, life skills training, and work ethic development. RUI pays full-time wages to Reentry Program members as they work their way through the program. Read more>>

Frank Rios | Private Chef, Caterer

I operate Tainos Pop-up Restaurant and Private Chef/Catering. I was born and raised in the Bronx to two amazing Puerto Rican parents who taught me family and cooking was everything. I spent much of my teenage life in NYC until I joined the Navy in 1994. The journey took me to many places where I had the privilege of exercising my palette on many different types of food from all over. B line it to today I am retired from the military and enjoying life. I have always been the cook in the family and what I find important is not only providing a dish that taste amazing but providing a visual display to please the eye as well. I came up with the idea of Tainos mostly in part because of the pandemic. I figure why not bring Fine Dining Puerto Rican Cuisine to people kitchen. So I’ve done a number of private events and now I’m adding a monthly pop-up event that comprises of a four course event with wine and amazing latin music. Read more>>

Alex | Creator of Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt & Sherlock In Your Homes

I created, own and operate Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt and Sherlock In Your Homes. Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt is a live, in-person competition where teams explore a city and solve clues to reveal the murderer. Sherlock In Your Homes is an online version of our scavenger hunts that can be played anytime. Read more>>

Dave Oates | Crisis PR and Reputation Repair Specialists for Businesses, Non-Profit, Government Organizations, and Individuals

I started my career nearly 30 years ago as a U.S. Navy Public Affairs Officer and later as a Corporate Chief Marketing Officer and Non-Profit President, I LOVE helping individuals and organizations address a myriad of crises, including handling employee and executive misconduct, cybersecurity attacks, product recalls, mass layoffs, large-scale accidents, criminal investigations, and civil litigation matters. Read more>>

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