Strategic Board and Staff
Jay is President and Executive Director of The Big EQ Campaign. Generally acknowledged as a media pioneer, he is founder and former CEO and Editor-in-Chief of multiple award-winning and greatly successful (broke advertising records in the industry) LA Weekly newspaper, which he sold some years ago. Since then he has focused on three areas of activity.
(1) Starting, growing or saving media properties that have social value. Mr. Levin is knowledgeable about most elements of media and marketing, including developing sponsorships from major companies, and has a wide network of business and institutional allies and talent.
(2) Non-profit organizations, of which he has launched or co-launched five, including Fix Our America (money out of politics), the Community Media Project (poverty and job development), The Committee of Concern for Central America (human rights), and now The Big EQ Campaign and The California Social-Emotional Learning Alliance. He has also served on the advisory board of other non-profits, including the Liberty Hill Foundation (which earlier honored him as Man of the Year, as did the Office of the Americas) and the Green Business Network.
(3) As a successful if part-time life and executive coach for 20 years, this based on his life-long interest in and study of human development, in which he is trained as a practitioner, including via a Master’s Degree program in spiritual psychology. The same inner-and-outer-world management skills that constitute adult social and emotional learning, he believes, are even more effective with – and more easily adopted by – children.
DR. ROSLYN ELLISON BLAKE
Dr. Blake is CEO of MB Ellison, Inc., and COO of Bob Blake & Associates, which services the employee benefits programs of many government organizations in the Los Angeles region. Frequently honored as a leader in the African-American business and philanthropic communities, she has established her own program to elevate the lives of young people. Dr. Blake is also on the Board of Councilors at USC’s School of Pharmacy and the board of Getty House Foundation, and is active in the Women Presidents’ Organization, Women Impacting Political Policy, and the National Association of Women Business Owners. A graduate of University of Southern California, she is a trained pharmacist turned entrepreneur and C-suite executive. As a Big EQ board member, she will serve as Secretary and Treasurer.
Best known as co-founder and former CEO of Rhino Records, which itself became famous twice over – once as the vanguard company that founded and reprised remarkable music (and later films) and packaged these in an elegant and intelligent manner; and secondly as one of the most socially conscious businesses in America, one that encouraged company employees to mentor disadvantaged youth and donated millions to various community-based charities. After selling Rhino, he founded the company Shout! Factory and introduced to it the same social values and product focus, except with more attention to films and TV than music.
Widely respected as a philanthropist, he has served on numerous charity and non-profit social cause boards, among them the Chrysalis Foundation (homelessness and poverty) and Little Kids Rock, a national organization devoted to enriching children’s lives by providing musical instruments and training to schools across the country (more than 1,000 to date), a cause in which he is energetically active. Richard is also deeply committed to infusing SEL programs into all schools.
DR. AMY CRANSTON
Amy currently serves as the Executive Director of the California Social-Emotional Learning Alliance . Previously she was Director of Expanded Learning Services for the Ventura County Office of Education; also Co-Regional Lead for Region 8 of the California Department of Education’s Expanded Learning Division. A professional educator for nearly 20 years, she has been a teacher, school site administrator, county office administrator, and state representative for a four-county region.
A formal and passionate SEL expert, her Doctoral study focused on Social-Emotional Learning in K-12 Education. She has since brought her SEL expertise into service in various capacities at the local, state, and national levels. Dr. Cranston holds an Ed.D. in K-12 Educational Leadership and has published several articles based on her SEL research. Her book Creating SEL Environments is set for release in July, 2019 by Shell Education Publishing. Her additional areas of expertise include: Impact of poverty on education, social justice and educational equity for at-risk students, dropout prevention, college and career readiness, career and technical education (CTE), school climate and safety, family engagement, and afterschool expanded learning programs.
Mr. Duran is one of the 16 “Regional Leads” for Expanded Learning Programs in the State of California, responsible for providing technical assistance and grant compliance support to more than 50 school districts serving more than 21,000 children in 250 schools across four counties. Earlier, he managed a Boys and Girls Club department of 200 employees, overseeing multiple after-school programs. A major supporter of Social-Emotional Learning and a frequent speaker at community events and at education and government conferences, his most recent area of focus is on SEL in the Latino community.
A research scholar as well, his latest study looks at the prevention of health disparities for children exposed to violence in under-served communities. Two earlier studies examined health disparities for farm workers and indigenous Mexican populations living and working in Ventura County. He also has provided consulting assistance and training to government institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations and marketing agencies seeking to increase their outreach and services to the growing Latino community. Mr. Durán graduated from UCLA with a double major in History and Spanish Literature and holds a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the school.
Amanda Manares is a founding partner of Precision Health Technology Products, as well as an investor or Advisory Board member of multiple businesses and market disruptors in many industry sectors, including social impact investing. These service more than 30 global marketplaces. Her specialty has been securing market innovation and first-to-market advantages for several companies, including Appics AG and WeText. In this she draws on an extensive range of industry influencers, key strategic partners, global change makers and public figures she has cultivated over time. She is frequently called on for strategic development of business and selective nonprofit initiatives based on these factors, as well as for an innate skill at simplifying complex concepts, for her execution talents and instincts, and for her ability to understand and communicate organization missions to global markets.
Most recently, her interests and skills have gravitated toward entertainment and media and to navigating realms of virtual immersive technologies and blockchain ventures – including architecting crypto-philanthropic initiatives. As a mother herself, Amanda sees the emotional intelligence revolution and social emotional learning as a needed catalyst of an advanced society that has gained the skills to shed its destructive, conflict-ridden tendencies and prosper in a mutually caring and ever more innovative, fairer, and healthy new world. She also brings the vision of such a world to her role as a Founding Circle Member of the Stan Lee Foundation.
Mike Gormley achieved top recognition in his 40+ years in the music industry by setting into motion major artists’ international careers, including film composer Danny Elfman, the massively successful pop band The Bangles, Rod Stewart, Rush, BTO, The Police and Supertramp – this in roles as a record company executive and independent artist manager. He’s also been a music supervisor for TV and films, a music marketing/PR expert and, earlier, a journalist. He currently guides new talent seeking prominence in the industry.
As Publicity Director for Mercury Records, Mike engineered the media campaigns for Thin Lizzy, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Runaways and The Ohio Players, among others, and was instrumental in signing the pioneering punk band The New York Dolls and the groundbreaking German electronica artists, Kraftwerk. Later as VP-Publicity for A&M Records, he worked with Herb Alpert, Styx, Squeeze and others before starting the management firm Los Angeles Personal Development with Miles Copeland, manager of The Police. Artists he managed include African star Angelique Kidjo, hit songwriters Lowen & Navarro, Australian singer/songwriter Anne McCue, the producer/film composer Paul Schwartz, and Broadway and film star Paige O’Hara. Later as co-founder of Wildcat Records he signed Michael Damian and The Boomers. Marketing clients included Nickelodeon, hip-hop dance company Groovaloo, the Great American Food and Music Festival, Townsquare LLC and Rhino Records.
Mike is on the boards of Armory of Harmony, an organization that turns gun metal into musical instruments, and of Music Manager’s Forum U.S. Earlier he was on the Management/Legal Advisory Committee for ASCAP.
Paraag Lal is the Co-Founder of PKP Investments, LLC, a boutique family office firm focused on partnering with international and domestic family offices for investments in real estate assets (multi-unit, residential, & commercial), restaurants (casual dining and quick service), hospitality, and disruptive technology companies. PKP has partnered with several Silicon Valley’s tech companies, including Intel, Intel Capital, Google/YouTube, Facebook and Amazon. Earlier, Paraag worked for Intel (1996-2006) and Cisco (2006-2010). At Intel’s media and entertainment division, he brought Intel’s capacities to Hollywood’s major studios, post houses and gaming companies, ultimately helping drive billions in revenues. Post his MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, he was recruited to Cisco, where he grew its newly formed Entertainment Division into a multi-billion dollar division.
As an Uncle to his 6 and 4 year old nieces, Paraag is an ardent supporter of what he calls “amazing” social emotional learning as a sorely-needed curriculum to prepare students for successful lives and to create healthy communities, families and workplaces. He also sits on the Board of Advisors for the United Nations UNA-USA LA Chapter and, drawing on his technology and business acumen, on the boards of tech companies Ostendo, GVNG and Ready Set Jet, in each of which he is also an investor.
Ronnie is founder and CEO of Nordis Technologies, a high-tech national business communications firm that specializes in digital printing, electronic communications, billing and payment services focused on the Hospitality, Healthcare and Financial Services industries. The 30-year old company operates production facilities in Coral Springs, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada. Ronnie is the visionary behind Nordis Technologies flagship products Expresso and Expresso Pay which are cloud-based electronic billing and payment technologies that allow Nordis clients the ability to manage the complex communications and payment processes from their desktop.
Ronnie makes his home in South Florida and before launching Nordis Technologies created a fundraising company that delivered more than $50 million to schools and youth groups throughout the U.S. His passion for helping children keeps him active in several children-oriented charities, including Voices for Children Broward County, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the March of Dimes, and he is in the early stages of setting up his own children’s support foundation. Other causes he aids are the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, and the American Cancer Society.
Ted became a globally-recognized and respected social entrepreneur when he founded and was Executive Chairman of U.S. Doctors for Africa (USDFA),a humanitarian organization committed to increasing access to medical care for diseases and conditions affecting the people of Africa. Ted is also recognized as the catalyst of the African First Ladies Health Summit, and was a key adviser and contributor to the formation of the African Union Foundation.
In 2008 he received the United Nations’ Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award and Columbia University’s Harriet Tubman Freedom & Life Achievement Award, and was a NASDAQ Honoree. In 2004 he received the African Community – USA Award.
Now a resident of Los Angeles, he is a former U.S. Congressional candidate and a former member of the Business Advisory Council – U.S. National Republican Congressional Committee.
Passionate about improving the quality of life in Africa and the capacities of youth everywhere, Ted has worked closely with the leadership of many African nations, including as a strategic adviser to the Kingdom of Swaziland and has been a friend and informal adviser to several of Africa’s former head of state and their wives. His current focus is economic development.
Ted has worked with the Clinton Foundation, UN, WHO, Merck, African Union, World Bank, HHS, and many other national and international institutions. As with all our board members, his extensive life experience has led him to conclude that much of human misery, conflict, emotional pain and dysfunctionality will be relieved by universal training in emotional intelligence and relationship skills, starting with our youth.
Mark is founder and president of Ebling Holding Company, Inc., which incubates emerging consumer product brands with a special focus recently in the wellness space. He brings years of success and a gift for combining entrepreneurial companies with larger scale systems to produce market-leading results. He also partners with or consults to other entrepreneurs who share similar values and the passion to bring meaningful products to major markets.
His vision for helping children develop in healthy and creative ways was first significantly expressed in the mid-2000s when he partnered with Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Seymour in creating a nonprofit foundation that provided training in Creative Self Expressions to more than 140 high schools. Students were given scholarships and programs that promoted both creativity and critical thinking. The foundation proudly got to help students develop confidence and self-esteem as additional benefits from participating in the creativity programs.
Earlier, from 1986 to 2004, Mark was President of Ebling Holding Company Inc., which made a series of investments and operating deals with WNS Inc., a 950-unit specialty home décor and art store chain. From 2004 to 2006 he was President of a spin-off multi-brand division with 300 specialty stores – primarily in major malls across North America. Later, tapping his business development skills, he took over product expansion and marketing for Bissinger’s Chocolates and, with an innovative food subscription model, relatable TV advertising and an alliance with ethical and natural/organic organizations, he led it to rocket growth that transformed it from a small company to a national brand. In the process Mark became a spokesperson for Rainforest Alliance. Later, Mark became CEO and an investor in Clover Confections LLC., the parent company of Jo’s Candies LLC., a private-label manufacturer. Mark developed programs for all North American Starbucks, William Sonoma, Sur la Table, Whole Foods, Macy’s, Martha Stewart, Godiva, and Trader Joe’s.
Married with 3 children, in addition to his passion for healthy child development, he is passionate about healthier living, real food, the human condition, the arts, and nature.
Stephen Nemeth is a feature film and documentary producer and executive producer with dozens of films to his credit – – most produced by his independent film company Rhino Films. He is best known for the feature films Sessions, Why do Fools Fall in Love, Spaceman and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; and for the documentaries Fuel, Climate Refugees, The Monopoly Story, and Dogtown and Z Boys. He also developed numerous human rights related features and documentaries for Amnesty International while on the board of Artists for Amnesty.
An activist on several fronts, Steve serves on the board of Children Uniting Nations and joined his wife Blake Lindsley in stepping into the world of raising children’s emotional intelligence by funding the training of teachers in social-emotional learning. Among other boards he serves on are Wheels for Humanity, whose focus is helping the disabled; Friends of the Earth and Star Ecostation. Film Industry boards and advisory boards include, among others, the International Documentary Association and the Hollywood, Earth X, Carmel and Zurich Film Festivals. A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he was the recipient of the 2013 Global Action Award , the 2009 Vision Award for Documentary Producer and the 2009 Artivist Award for his advocacy and production of socially-conscious films.
Isaac Mizraki is a businessman and entrepreneur living in Los Angeles. He has founded and run numerous companies, primarily in the health care arena. These include Physician Management companies, Pharmacy and Medical Supply companies. His most recent company is focused on Wellness. He is a proud father and grandfather and a dedicated hiker who enjoys writing poetry and sculpting. As a strong supporter of education in general, he sees both the need for and value of the Big EQ mission and what it can accomplish in the lives of our children and in their present and future wellbeing.
Keith Montgomery is a serial entrepreneur and a NextGen technology specialist.
He is co-founder of several technology companies focused on Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud, and Enterprise Transformation. In addition to startups, Keith has worked with some of the largest organizations in the world including Cisco, McGraw-Hill, and the Department of Defense.
Keith uses a mathematician’s mind and linguist’s strategies to allow him to set powerful visions, build high-performance teams, and lead initiatives. By leveraging governance, leadership, data, security, and resilient systems, he’s led turnarounds and business transformations at Fortune 500, commercial banks, and professional services organizations.
As the creator of the Sustainable Disruption Management Framework (SDMF), Keith formulated a method that enables individuals, teams, and organizations to be resilient in the face of extreme change.
Resilience as an outgrowth of emotional intelligence is a core theme in Keith’s personal life, as well as a subject he speaks on to business and futurist groups. He believes humanity’s highest future is in developing the skills to manage life in a compassionate and resilient way.
In addition to his professional pursuits, Keith speaks multiple languages working with teams in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas.
TED SCHILOWITZ (Emiritus)
Ted is the official Futurist for Paramount Pictures and views universal emotional intelligence learning as a necessity for the future well-being of society. He spends his time and pursues his passion in a unique role in the motion picture entertainment industry. He works with studio leadership and the technology teams at Paramount/Viacom exploring forms of new and emerging technologies, with an emphasis on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Prior to joining Paramount, Ted was the Futurist at 20th Century Fox, where he worked on the evolving art, science and technology of advanced interactive visual storytelling. He was part of the creation team for the Martian VR and Wild VR experiences, which premiered at CES and Sundance as groundbreaking projects that pushed the envelope of Virtual Reality storytelling.
Earlier, Ted was a founding member of Red Digital Cinema (and first employee) and an integral part of the product development team. The Red One and Epic cameras have made a significant impact on the industry, winning a scientific and technical Academy Award. Many of the world’s biggest movies are now shot with these ultra high-resolution digital cameras. He is also is one of the founders/creators of the G-Tech product line of advanced hard drive storage products, and earlier was on the team that developed and launched the Macintosh desktop video division of AJA Video Systems, creating professional video products in tandem with Apple. The products from each of these endeavors are used massively worldwide for video production and on many of the world’s biggest movies, TV series and sporting events. Ted has presented worldwide at numerous conferences on the advancements in next generation visual experiences for the movie, TV and interactive entertainment industries, and has been featured in all the major entertainment and technology industries media and publishing venues, as well as in general interest media.
ERIK OBERHOLTZER (Emiritus)
Co-Founder & CEO of Tender Greens restaurant chain. A civic activist, Erik focuses on poverty youth, foster care, food justice and job training, economic empowerment and the environment. As a social entrepreneur, Erik works to change the cycle of poverty affecting at-risk youth, doing so in part with culinary training through Tender Greens’ Sustainable Life Project, which he founded. SLP enrolls economically-disadvantaged youth in a six-month farm-to-fork internship consisting of weekly farm visits, classic culinary arts classes and weekly on-the job training at Tender Greens. Graduates are eligible for full-time employment upon completion. Erik also is co-founder of P. Balistreri Salumi Company, the first of chef legacy companies incubated and brought to market through Tender Greens.
Erik serves as a board member of Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE LA), which focuses on economic development and runs eight Farmers Markets in under-served communities; and he is a board member of LA Kitchen, which aims to make an impact in food justice in LA with a focus on education and jobs training for disadvantaged youth. Organizations he supports include Covenant House, Sanctuary of Hope, The Boys and Girls Club, Inner-city Arts, and Food on Foot. Prior to co-founding Tender Greens, he spent more than over a decade working as a chef in some of the best restaurants in the world, including Bradley Ogden’s The Lark Creek Inn, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, Aqua with Michael Mina, Roland Passot’s Left Bank, Campton Place Hotel, and the historic Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hawaii.
OUR STAFF & CONSULTANTS
Matthew Spaur – Editor and COO
Jackie Wetzel – Parenting Editor
Angela Benedetto and Meg Foss – Writers
Lisa Deal – Art Director
Sri Govindarajan – Ecommerce Director
Cecile Kong – Business Coordinator
Monica Hutchison – TV News Project Coordinator
Laura Holka, Cheryl Sills – Public Relations Coordinators
Harsh Gohil – Social Media Manager
Will Pitts III, Jeff McCormick – Webmasters
Sasha Strauss, Brandi Veil, Greg Logan – Marketing Consultants
Alyona Lelyuskina, Stephanie Wolters, Laurie Fisher – Project Coordinators
Kim Denton, Joe Collins, Jessica Archibeque – Video and Graphic Creators
Caitlin Christensen–Research Manager
Melissa Vo/ Good Cause Group, Scott Brumer, Amy Moilica – Funding Consultants