Meet the Fall 2020 Women in Leadership
Cohort 4

We’re thrilled to announce our fourth WIL cohort!

Angela Arunarsirakul
EDI Task Force Associate 
UCLA Anderson School of Management
Angela Arunarsirakul is passionate about helping young people reach their potential through increased access to a quality education. She is currently working on designing and implementing initiatives to recruit diverse students to and retain them in business school. Drawing from her previous work as an educator, she also engages in consulting in the edtech space in Southeast Asia. Angela holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson. She also graduated from UCLA with degrees in Southeast Asian Studies, History, Political Science, and Asian American Studies (quadruple major) and a minor in Public Affairs. A native Angeleno, she is looking forward to refining her leadership skills and growing with a diverse group of women working across different industries.

Francesca Cramer
Associate Software Engineer
The Walt Disney Company
Francesca is a software engineer with The Walt Disney Company. In her nearly ten-year tenure at the company she has served in various capacities, first starting in Corporate Communications before being selected for Disney’s CODE: Rosie program and making the transition to technology. She currently works with the Direct-to-Consumer & International segment, supporting many of the company’s consumer-facing web products. Francesca has a passion for diversifying the face of technology and ensuring women have a path to success in the typically male-dominated field of software engineering. Growing up in different towns around California and Texas, she now resides in the greater Los Angeles area with her spouse and two young children. She is excited to join this cohort of Women in Leadership to grow her leadership skills and learn from the experiences of others in this incredible group.

Laura Cuellar
Program Manager-Child Friendly City Initiative
UNICEF’s at the Mayor’s Office of Education in the City of Houston
Laura Cuellar is the Program Manager of UNICEF’s Child Friendly City Initiative at the Mayor’s Office of Education in the City of Houston. Her passion to create education opportunities for marginalized communities including immigrants, low-income families, and first-generation youth led her to become an education and children’s advocate, community organizer, and coalition builder. She is skilled at creating partnerships to build community and capacity among diverse individuals, groups, and organizations. She is a mentor to hundreds of youth and is a firm believer that supporting local leaders from different backgrounds and perspectives can truly change the world. As part of CORO’s Women in Leadership program, Laura hopes to how to transition from a community facing professional to a more systems level position. She also looks forward to discussing how both quantitative and qualitative data can be used to create a more balanced approach to program and policy development.

Janet Victoria Fernandez
Senior Account Executive
Elevate Public Affairs
Janet Fernandez is a Senior Account Executive at Elevate Public affairs, where she focuses on communications and coalition building. She works with reporters across the state, advocating for clients, who include some of the largest companies in the world. With experience in coalition building and community engagement, Janet works with diverse organizations and communities statewide. Janet earned a B.A. degree in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Through the CORO Women in Leadership Program, Janet is eager to explore various leadership and communication styles to further her leadership skills. She looks forward to cultivating relationships with the diverse women in the program.

Alexis Howell
Partner Lead
Alexis Howell oversees sales strategy, digital technology transformation, and client relationship management for leading media, FBR, and automotive marketers at Google. Prior to Google, Alexis was an Enterprise Sales Director at NationBuilder, a SaaS community organizing software product and platform that helped nonprofits, political campaigns, and private companies build their digital organizing strategy using integrated technology. Alexis graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Double Bachelors degree in Dance and Business Communications from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Alexis is thrilled to be joining CORO WIL and looks forward to learning from others’ experiences to help shape her own professional brand, building relationships with women across a variety of sectors, and gaining the tools to advocate for herself as she continues to grow in her leadership journey.

Katie Hren
Community Health Supervisor
Katie Hren is a healthcare professional with strong clinical skills, experience in systems work, and a demonstrated commitment to serving others. In Katie’s professional experience she has worked in a variety of social service and health care settings ranging from mental health facilities, community-based organizations, hospitals, and private practice. Currently, Katie serves as the Community Health Supervisor in the Community Benefit and Systems Planning Department at Cedars-Sinai. In this role, she is supervising the design and implementation of a systems wide social determinants of health program, aiming to increase patient health by addressing health-related social needs in vulnerable patient populations. Born and raised in LA, Katie graduated with her B.A. in Human Development from CSULB and holds a dual master’s degree in Social Work and Public Health from USC. Katie looks forward to engaging in a network that empowers women and learning new skills to build upon her leadership narrative.

Shala Jackson
Dispatch Team Lead
Southern California Gas Company
Shala began her career with SoCalGas, gaining unparalleled experience in the utilities space, while also establishing herself as a respected leader. Currently working as a Dispatch Team Lead for SoCalGas, Shala is widely known for her leadership, passion, and employee relations expertise. Her visionary perspective has taken her to work with different departments throughout the company to collaborate on processes and procedures. Shala loves helping people and being a mentor. She has spent much of her career in the utilities industry, gaining experiences in areas such as procurement, storage and distribution of gas. Shala has been recognized by SoCalGas for her leadership in diversity. Shala hopes to gain insight on how to improve her communication and empowered professionalism while attending CORO. Though managing is her primary job function by day, Shala also enjoys spending time with her family, painting and playing or watching sports.

Ella Lein
Drilling/Engineering Manager
Southern California Gas Company
Ella Lein is the Drilling/ Engineering Manager for Southern California Gas Company.   She holds dual MS degree in Petroleum Engineering and Mineral Economics and International Management of Petroleum Industry from Colorado School of Mines and French Petroleum Institute. For the first 26 years of her career, she spent working for an international Oil and Gas Co in the USA and in the Middle East. For the past 4 years Ella has been working for SCG at Aliso Canyon field in Porter Ranch, CA. Ella hopes to gain additional skills that would allow her to succeed and progress in her leadership role and to hear and learn from other women managers’ experience.

Elvia Lima Ortiz, CPA
Gas Accounting and Reconciliation Manager
Southern California Gas Company
Elvia Lima Ortiz is currently a manager within Southern California Gas Company. She is responsible for ensuring proper accounting and reporting for a gas trading portfolio of over one billion. Together with her peers, she is involved in projects to continue bringing Southern Californians options for cleaner and renewable fuels in support of California’s climate goals. Elvia has close to 15 years of experience in accounting and finance, mainly within the investor owned utility sector. Through her career she has worked in several areas ranging from strategic financial planning, communication to investors and executive management, compliance oversight, and capital project accounting. She has been responsible for accounting and reporting for over $15 billion in capital assets and related depreciation. Elvia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with option in Accounting from California State University, Los Angeles and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state of California. By participating in Coro WIL, Elvia looks forward to discussing different leadership styles and the best strategies to inspire others.

Janet Lopez
Executive Director of State Government Relations
University of Southern California
Janet Lopez is currently employed as the Executive Director of State Government Relations for the University of Southern California (USC). At USC, Janet manages various legislative issues impacting the university and its 19 professional schools. Before joining USC, Ms. Lopez worked for a diverse group of employers to promote early childhood education and health care access for low-income populations. She also worked for both Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor Davis.  Janet holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Political Science and History from U.C. Berkeley and a Master in Public Administration (M.P.A) with USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. Ms. Lopez, an English Learner, is a native Californian and grew up in Galt. As a Coro Women in Leadership program participant, Janet hopes to find real comradery with like-minded women who want to support themselves, their organization and mentor the next generation of women in our communities.

Deena Mangrum
Director, Talent Strategy and Human Resources
Para Los Niños
Deena Mangrum began her career in corporate finance before finding her passion for the social sector.  She has extensive experience in human resources, talent acquisition and entrepreneurship and most enjoys work that supports under-represented students and families.  She currently serves as the Director, Talent Strategy and Human Resources for Para Los Niños, an education non-profit organization where she oversees the organization’s talent management systems through the full employee experience to retirement. She is passionate about creating opportunities for students of color and also serves as Board Chair of Valiente College Preparatory Charter School.  Deena holds a BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California, and a MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.  Deena is excited to join the Coro Women in Leadership program to develop her capacity as a leader in the public sector and learn from a diverse group of women across various business industries.  

Karla C. Pérez-Mendoza
Chair- World Languages & Cultures Department
Geffen Academy
Karla C. Pérez-Mendoza is part of the founding, pioneering team that made Geffen Academy a reality in 2014. Today, she works as the chair of the World Languages & Cultures Department and looks forward to making this division the best among its peers. She also leads Geffen Academy’s research efforts. Dr. Pérez-Mendoza has taught in K-12 and university settings. Some of these campuses include Middleton Elementary, Flintridge Sacred, ELAC, UCSD, UCLA and CSUDH.  Besides a wide breadth of teaching experience, she has published academic articles in the fields of education, linguistics and Latinx policy. Dr. Pérez-Mendoza holds a PhD in Education from UCLA, an M.A. from the University of California, San Diego and a B.A. from Pomona College, both in Latin American Studies. Dr. Pérez-Mendoza looks forward to meeting talented women in leadership who aspire to maximize their potential for the betterment of our society.

Stephania Ramirez
Senior Program Officer, Strategic Initiatives
California Community Foundation
Stephania Ramirez supports the president and CEO on special projects, including overseeing regional efforts for the 2020 Census and the Fellowship for the Visual Arts. She previously led the foundation’s centennial campaign, celebrating the impact made by the California Community Foundation, its donors and grantees over the past hundred years. Before joining CCF in 2012, Ramirez worked at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, where she oversaw a portfolio of science learning, research and exhibit grants in the San Francisco Bay Area along with the launch of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis. In 2004, she oversaw the Upward Bound Summer Program at Jose State University, and provided counsel on college preparatory courses, academic tutoring, cultural enrichment activities and financial aid services. She has also provided consulting services to clients on grant management operations, fundraising, program budgeting, publications and events. Ramirez holds a bachelor’s in mass communications and international development studies from the University of California, Berkeley and certification in advanced project management from Stanford University.

Ana Lynn Rocio
Senior Management Analyst II
City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering
Ana Lynn Rocio is a Senior Management Analyst II with the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, managing their Recruitment/Training and Administrative Services Sections while serving as their Gender Equity Liaison and member of their Racial Equity Committee. Before joining the Bureau of Engineering, Ana Lynn worked at the Housing and Community Investment Department, managing the City’s network of community centers that help low-income residents increase their economic opportunities and domestic violence emergency and transitional shelters. Ana Lynn also served as the Senior Director of  Community Development Policy and Programs for then Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. During her tenure, she worked with the City Council, City Departments, and community stakeholders to adopt the City’s Five-Year Housing and Community Development Consolidated Plan and Annual Plans to fund community, economic, and housing development projects. Ana Lynn is excited to enhance her skills to lead effectively during this challenging time.

Ivette Serna
Deputy Director of Government Affairs
L.A. Controller Ron Galperin
Ivette Serna currently serves as the Deputy Director of Government Affairs for L.A. Controller Ron Galperin. In this role, she works closely with all elected offices at City Hall, in addition to the California State Legislature, to help advance the Controller’s policy recommendations at the local and state levels. She has over seven years of government relations experience, having previously worked for a Los Angeles City Councilmember prior to joining the Controller’s Office, and has been involved with several community organizations focused on making Los Angeles a more equitable city. As a native Angeleno, she hopes to continue building a career in public service to advocate for policies that will improve the humanitarian, social, and economic issues impacting the City of Los Angeles. Through the Coro Women in Leadership program, she looks forward to building cross-sector relationships, and gaining insight and knowledge from the diverse group of leaders involved in the program.

Siari S. Sosa
Team Lead
Material and Equipment Group
Southern California Gas Company
Siari S. Sosa is a Materials Engineer graduate of the Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela, with a minor in Metallurgy. After two years working as a Quality Control Engineer for a Pressure Vessel Manufacturer, Siari attended the University of Southern California for Graduate School, where she worked as a Research Assistant in the area of Superplastic Ceramics, and received both Masters and Doctorate degrees in Materials Science, in 1998 and 2001 respectively. Pursuing a career in applied research for the oil and gas industry, Siari became a Senior Materials Engineer at the Southern California Gas Company Engineering Analysis Center (EAC). Over the past 16 years, Siari expanded her role within her group becoming a Principal Engineer and later a Team Lead for the Material and Equipment group, with a total of 22 employees under her leadership, including engineers, technicians, contractors and inspectors.

Alex Stabler
Strategic Marketing and Communications Consultant
Alex Stabler is a strategic marketing and communications consultant specializing in entertainment and public affairs. Alex most recently worked as a Senior Manager at Endeavor, (WME-IMG) creating partnerships, executing activations and procuring talent for clients including Amazon Alexa, Microsoft and QVC. Previously, at 42West, Alex navigated studios, networks and digital platforms through the media landscape for companies including Oscar-winning Anonymous Content, Buzzfeed Motion Pictures and theSkimm. Prior to 42West, Alex worked at The Glover Park Group, a leading public affairs and government relations firm. There, she created legislative and regulatory communications campaigns for organizations including The Arab Republic of Egypt, Freedom to Marry, The Gates Foundation and implanted award campaigns for films such as American Sniper, The Imitation Game and American Hustle. A Los Angeles native, Alex earned her Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from UC Berkeley.

Belle Staurowsky
Green Tara Project
Before her non-profit, Belle started competitive karate at age 37. Eight years later, having won national and world titles, she asked herself, “What else can I do?” She read ‘Half the Sky’ and became aware of human trafficking. With only a desire to help, she flew to India in 2010 and taught 75 at-risk and rescued girls. At the end of the trip, she asked, “What else can I do?” For over a year, Belle then researched human trafficking and found impoverished, vulnerable women had no access to personal safety and esteem-building programs. So in 2012, Belle formed Green Tara Project, a 501(c)(3), the first-of-its-kind program to teach females victimized by human trafficking for free. Since then, over 1,200 women and girls have received her safety training in some of the most dangerous places in the world. Today, Belle continues to ask herself “What else can I do?” and seeks ways to end human trafficking. In addition to Green Tara Project, Belle runs her own business development and marketing company.

Dr. Anne L. Viricel
Executive Director
San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra

Dr. Anne L. Viricel became Executive Director of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra in 2013, bringing over 25 years of business and strategic expertise in both the public and private sectors. She has simultaneously served as an award-winning professor at the University of Redlands School of Business for over 20 years. For the past five years, she has also held publicly elected office as Chair of the San Bernardino Community College Board of Trustees. Dr. Viricel also serves as an officer of the boards of the San Bernardino County Museum Association, the San Bernardino Valley Concert Association, and the San Bernardino County Arts Connection. She is also an author of both academic and industry papers and, most recently, collaborated on the autobiography of educator Dr. Margaret Hill. Through Women in Leadership, she hopes to advance her skillset to create a stronger and more meaningful platform for service.

Melissa Wickman
Senior Director of Development
Special Olympics Southern California
Melissa Wickman has nearly 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations on  developing and implementing funding strategies. She currently serves as Senior Director of  Development at Special Olympics Southern California, where she provides strategic direction  and grants expertise for the organization’s development team covering 11 counties. Prior to  joining Special Olympics, she ran a boutique consulting firm and served as Board President of a  local nonprofit. Wickman was also a spokesperson and core rider for Girls on the Move, a three month cross-country bicycling expedition, designed to educate and inspire women and girls  across the nation about overcoming obstacles, personal development, and community  involvement. Wickman has a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a bachelor’s  degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She looks forward to some deep self exploration and networking with other leaders through the Coro Women in Leadership program.

Nina Williams
Field Team Lead
Southern California Gas Company
Nina joined SoCalGas in 2004 and has since progressed through the different positions, from Meter Reading, Energy Technician Residential, Field Instructor for Northwest Region, Field Supervisor and currently a Field Team Lead. In her current job classification, Nina is responsible for: safety, environmental, budget, and training to over 55 employees. What Nina hopes to gain from this program is to develop a better understanding of organizational structures, personal leadership styles, network building, active listening skills, how to build on her presentations skills and team building skills.