Women in Leadership Luncheon Speakers

To sponsor the luncheon, or purchase tickets, visit www.corola.org/luncheon

Click the dropdowns below to read each speaker’s bio.

Mayor Karen Bass
43rd Mayor
City of Los Angeles

Karen Bass is the 43rd Mayor of Los Angeles and the first woman and second African American to be elected as the city’s chief executive. With an agenda focused on bringing urgency, accountability, and a new direction to Los Angeles, she has started her term with a focus on housing people immediately and increasing safety and opportunity in every part of Los Angeles.

A daughter of our city, Mayor Bass was raised with her three brothers in the Venice/Fairfax neighborhood and is a proud graduate of Hamilton High School. After serving as a front-line healthcare provider as a nurse and as a Physician Assistant, Mayor Bass founded the Community Coalition to organize the predominantly Black and Latino residents of South L.A. against substance abuse, poverty and crime, and to pioneer strategies to address the root causes behind the challenges faced by underserved neighborhoods.

She then went on to represent Los Angeles in the State Assembly and was elected by her peers to serve as Speaker, making her the first African American woman to ever lead a state legislative body in the history of the United States. Her time in leadership intersected with the Great Recession, and she was honored with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for reaching across party lines and making tough decisions to keep the state from bankruptcy while protecting vital services.

While representing Los Angeles and Culver City in Congress, Mayor Bass helped protect small businesses during the pandemic, created policy to drive local jobs from federal infrastructure funding, and led the passage of what the Los Angeles Times called “the most significant child welfare policy reform in decades.”

Mayor Bass earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences from CSU Dominguez Hills before graduating from the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program and earning her masters degree in social work from USC.

Mayor Bass’s oldest daughter Emilia planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps working for social change. The Mayor continues to be inspired by Emilia and her son-in-law Michael’s passion for life. She has three other children, Scythia, Omar and Yvette, and two grandchildren, Michael and Henry, who live in the Los Angeles area.

Natalie Samarjian
President & CEO
Coro Southern California

Natalie is President and CEO of Coro Southern California. Coro’s mission is to strengthen the democratic process by preparing emerging leaders for effective and ethical leadership in public affairs. Under Natalie’s leadership, Coro has developed a new strategic plan, expanded programs, partnerships, and revenue, and cultivated a growing community of Coro alumni who are transforming communities across the country.

Natalie comes to Coro Southern California from the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC), where she worked to address the comprehensive and unique legal needs of women and girls through impact litigation, public policy advocacy and legal education. Prior to CWLC, Natalie was Staff Attorney and Dickran Tevrizian Fellow at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA), where she provided individual representation to victims of domestic violence, supported impact litigation, including a successful appeal in Montagner v. Montagner, engaged in public policy advocacy, and conducted extensive community outreach and legal education. Before joining NLSLA, Natalie was a Labor and Employment litigator at Rutan & Tucker, LLP. While at Rutan, Natalie was actively engaged in pro bono efforts, successfully representing an asylum seeker before the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to embarking on her legal career, Natalie was a Human Capital Consultant in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Public Sector practice where she led the firm’s National Public Sector Human Capital Community of Practice Initiative.

Natalie earned her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law, her Master of Science at the Heinz School of Public Policy & Management at Carnegie Mellon University, and her Bachelor of Arts UCLA. Natalie is an alumnus of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and Emerge California, and was a recipient of the Empowerment Congress’ Emerging Civic Leaders 40 Under 40 award and a recipient of LA Impact-Makers to Watch award. Natalie serves on the boards of Public Counsel and the UCLA Alumni Association.

Darsha Philips
General Assignment Report
NBC4 News

Darsha Philips is an Emmy-nominated general assignment reporter for NBC4, reporting weekdays on the NBC4 News at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and on weekends on the NBC4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Philips comes to NBC4 from KABC-TV and prior to that at the FOX affiliate KTXL-TV in Sacramento, CA and the NBC affiliate KULR-TV in Billings, MT. She has covered countless breaking news stories for NBC4 across all newscasts, and her tenacity, creative approach to stories and deep knowledge of communities throughout Southern California have been invaluable to the news team. Philips also has a passion for reporting inspiring stories of people and diverse neighborhoods in the southland. Philips has covered every major local news story in the region including the shuttle Endeavor returning to Los Angeles, the Montecito mud slides, the San Bernardino terror attack and many wildfires, to name a few. She graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Architecture. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and loves to cook Indian food, carrying on her Sri Lankan mother’s tradition.

Jenny Vazquez-Newsum
Chief Executive Officer
Untapped Leaders

Jenny Vazquez-Newsum, Ed.D. is a leadership facilitator, the author of Untapped Leadership: Harnessing the Power of Underrepresented Leaders, and the Founder of Untapped Leaders, a leadership development organization specializing in uncovering overlooked capacities and untapped talent.

Prior to founding Untapped Leaders, Jenny served as the Vice President of Training and Programs at Coro Southern California where she expanded and oversaw the organization’s suite of program offerings. During her tenure at Coro, she designed and facilitated new cohort-based programs, including the creation of Coro’s Women in Leadership program which she has continued to support as a facilitator.

Through her work at Untapped Leaders, Jenny spearheads a leadership development community platform, cohort program, and events designed by and for multicultural leaders. She also partners with organizations to deliver leadership training sessions grounded in marginalized perspectives.

Jenny holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, an M.P.A. from New York University, and an Ed.D. from the University of California – Los Angeles.

Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky
Los Angeles City Council, 5th District

Katy Yaroslavsky serves as Councilwoman for Los Angeles’ Fifth City Council District, representing neighborhoods and communities she has been a part of nearly her entire life. Elected in 2022, CM Yaroslavsky, currently serves as Chair of the City Council’s Energy & Environment committee, Vice-Chair of the Ad Hoc Olympics committee, and is a member of the Budget & Finance, Planning & Land Use Management, and Transportation committees. In March 2023, Mayor Karen Bass appointed Councilwoman Yaroslavsky to serve on the LA Metro Board of Directors.

Advocating for a sustainable and liveable Los Angeles has been at the center of Councilwoman Yaroslavsky’s career. Prior to her election, she served as a senior policy advisor to LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, where she created LA County’s first Office of Sustainability, and led the development, negotiation, and adoption by voters of Measure W, one of the largest infrastructure and jobs programs in our region’s history. She helped create the Clean Power Alliance — a coalition of thirty-two local cities and counties that serves over 3 million ratepayers and is the largest provider of green power in the nation. Councilwoman Yaroslavsky previously served as General Counsel to the Climate Action Reserve, a leading environmental non-profit focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Councilwoman Yaroslavsky is guided by the belief that the biggest challenges our City is facing – homelessness, generational poverty, racial injustice, climate change, a declining quality of life, and an economy that doesn’t work for most Angelenos – are all intersectional. She believes that these issues will only be solved by doing the hard work of building coalitions, fighting for equity in city services, and initiating authentic, inclusive, and thorough community engagement.

A graduate of public schools, including UC Berkeley and UCLA Law School, Councilwoman Yaroslavsky currently resides in Mid City with her husband Dave, their three children, and their cats.

Jennifer Price-Letscher
President & CEO
The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation

Jennifer Price-Letscher is President & CEO of The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, a responsive grantmaker dedicated to improving the well-being of Los Angeles County residents.  With more than $400 million in assets, the Foundation distributes $20 million annually to nonprofit organizations addressing civic and cultural, education, health, and human services needs.  Amplifying its impact, the Foundation partners with philanthropic organizations and civic and governmental agencies to maximize the effectiveness of its grantee partners and the region’s nonprofit sector as a whole.

Since joining the Foundation in 2011, Price-Letscher has served in various roles, most recently as Vice President of Grants & Initiatives, where she oversaw the Foundation’s responsive grantmaking and shaped special initiatives focused on collaboration, organizational effectiveness, and systems change.  Under her leadership, the Foundation significantly expanded its engagement in public-private partnerships and collaborations, which now include the Foster Together Network, the LA Arts Recovery Fund, LA County Center for Strategic Partnerships, Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative, and a suite of programs supporting nonprofit leadership and professional development.

A graduate of the University of Oregon and Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management, Price-Letscher holds bachelor’s degrees in American Studies and English, and a master’s degree in Positive Organizational Development and Change Management.  She holds professional certifications in college counseling, leading and coaching with emotional intelligence, building sustainable enterprises, nonprofit financial stewardship, and appreciative inquiry, and was named a Council on Foundations Career Pathways Fellow in 2017.

Prior to joining The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Price-Letscher spent a decade at the Sterling Foundation, building programs promoting college access and success.  She also led capacity building and grantmaking programs with the Whitecap and Hillcrest Foundations, and held various leadership roles within arts and culture, education, and youth development nonprofits.   She is a founding board member for the SEED School of Los Angeles and serves as an advisor, commissioner, or board member for several organizations, including the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and Southern California Grantmakers.  Previous appointments include service as Board President at Hill & Dale Family Learning Center, Vice Chair of the Westside Neighborhood School, and a founding board member for Diavolo Dance Theatre.  


Nichol Whiteman 
Chief Executive Officer
Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation 

With a relentless dedication to improving communities in neighborhoods that need help the most, Nichol  Whiteman serves as Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation  (LADF). An equity-focused leader, Nichol guides LADF in tackling the most pressing problems facing Los  Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness and social justice for all  Angelenos. Nichol bravely works to improve the complex struggles the City faces using every tool in her  arsenal to ensure that ZIP codes never define opportunity. A child of Jamaican immigrants “in search of a  dream” and a first-generation college graduate, Nichol is a visionary working to narrow gaps in opportunity  and access—all while creating a source of pride and safety for those who often live in the shadows. 

During her tenure as CEO, LADF transformed and built a team of dedicated people, strong operations,  committed partners, and flexible funding with sustainability. While leveraging the Dodger brand, Nichol  supports and amplifies the voices of marginalized populations. Through community infrastructure, sports based youth development, leadership & capacity building, equity-focused grantmaking, strategic  community engagement and knowledge sharing & convening, Nichol has built an alliance of community  partners who fight for the resources that all youth deserve.  

Under Nichol’s leadership, LADF launched its cornerstone program Dodgers Dreamteam, the first-ever  LADF Scholarship, College & Career Accelerator, Science of Baseball Initiative, LA Reads and more.  LADF also completed its 60th Dodgers Dreamfield, created a multi-million dollar benefit gala, distributed  9.2 million meals, and raised over $90 million. Collectively, Whiteman has cultivated partnerships that  have resulted in more than $53 million in community investment impacting over 9.8 million children,  including $6 million in 2022 All-Star Game Legacy Projects. 

With a degree in Economics from Spelman College, Nichol’s diligence resulted in positions in investment  management and publishing before beginning a philanthropic career as VP, Western Region of the Jackie  Robinson Foundation. As a Black woman in Major League Baseball, Nichol understands the importance of  access. She uses her resources to open doors and opportunities for youth from all backgrounds. In addition  to her professional achievements, she mentors countless professionals at all stages of their careers. In 2021  she was a Fellow in the University of Southern California’s Center for the Political Future and she currently  serves as a Senior Fellow at USC’s Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab. Included in the Los Angeles  Business Journal’s “Thriving in Their 40’s” list, Nichol fights for the opportunities and support all  communities deserve. 

The New York native has been recognized throughout the industry for her exceptional contributions having  been awarded the 2022 Benjamin E. Mays Award from A Better Chance, Up2Us Sports Legacy Award,  and was named a finalist for the CEO of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. In 2020 she earned the National  Medical Fellowship Leadership in Philanthropy Award, the Visionary Award presented by Southern  California Leadership Network, and the MOSTe Motivating Our Students Through Leadership Experience  Lantern Award among many others. In 2018, she received the Sports Business Journal Game Changers  Award and the Anti-Defamation League’s Deborah Award. Her 2017 honors include Ebony Magazine’s  Woman Up Award and The Pink Tea Rose Foundation’s Progressive Leadership Award. 

Nichol holds positions on the advisory and regional boards of Covington Capital Management, ESPN  Return to Play Fund, Shoes That Fit, Davinci Schools Board Fund, YMCA Metro LA’s Sports and Impact  Panel, the Center for Healing and Justice through Sport and Positive Coaching Alliance. Additionally, she  serves as an Ambassador for the LA Opera and is a member of the Women’s Leadership Council. Attracting attention from acclaimed journalists, she has been featured in outlets including the New York Times, Forbes  Magazine, and the LA Times. 

A product of Nichol’s unwavering dedication, the Los Angeles Dodgers is now the proud owner of an  ESPY. Named the 2020 ESPN Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, the highly-coveted award recognized  LADF’s work as the team’s official charity. Celebrating the meaningful and specific work that Nichol leads,  LADF is the recipient of the Aspen Institute 2020 Project Play Champion, 2020 Beyond Sport Award for  Reducing Racial Inequalities, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2021 Sports Award, the 2022 Liberty  Hill Visionary Award among others. 

With a firm belief that each person has the power to positively impact a life, Nichol’s journey continues to  be full of inspiration and hope as she fights for young people to realize their dreams. She resides in Los  Angeles with her husband Timothy and two sons, Timothy Jr., and Nicholas.

Papia Gambelin
Managing Director, State and Local Government Affairs – Western Region
United Airlines

Papia Gambelin is a nationally recognized executive in business, community, and government leadership. A master connector between people, ideas, and causes, she is widely respected for her work.

Prior to joining United Airlines to manage west coast government relations, Mrs. Gambelin was president of Platinum Advisors’ Silicon Valley division where she led political strategy and public affairs initiatives for respected Fortune 100 brands. Her work with emerging and well-established companies in a variety of industries including energy, education, transportation, development, and environmental has created opportunity for businesses to grow revenues and champion diversity.

With her strong versatile and technical knowledge, she has developed political strategies, brokered partnerships between private firms and nonprofit associations, advised public agencies on communications plans, and represented developers and companies to gain approval of land use projects from local and state governments.

In 2009, the Silicon Valley Business Journal named Mrs. Gambelin among the 40 most influential people in the region under the age of 40, and in 2014, the YMCA of Silicon Valley honored her with the organization’s Trailblazer Award. Her participation on boards throughout the Bay Area aligns with Mrs. Gambelin’s passion to serve diverse communities and create healthy, prosperous places to live and work. She is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Silicon Valley, and a member of the Exceptional Women Awardees Foundation.

In 2021, Mrs. Gambelin was named a Power Player by Silicon Valley Magazine in the publication’s most prestigious annual issue. She and her husband, Darrin, live on the beautiful Silicon Valley peninsula, and are the proud parents of two boys and two dogs.