Our Advisory Board
Nancy Gale, Designer/Owner of JAMAH, AMBITION, formerly In True Fashion, Creator/Founder, President & Mentor “Celebs are now turning to Los Angeles designer/owner and L’Oréal ‘Women of Worth’ and Los Angeles Business Journal ‘Women Making a Difference 2015’ nominee, Nancy Gale, for JAMAH’s gorgeous Italian leather totes that are all made with pride in the USA.”
Nancy Gale is an inspiring individual with a fascinating story of overcoming hardship and creating something beautiful out of the pieces. Business owner, designer, mentor and passionate activist, Nancy has become a strong force not only in the entrepreneurial world, but also in shaping future generations. She is currently a leader in the emerging trend of exclusive, yet accessible authorities and her passion for giving has become an integral part of her business.
She is the creative force behind luxury handbag, men’s bag and accessory line, JAMAH. Founded in 2000, JAMAH has become the top pick of some of Hollywood’s most well known celebrities including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Eva Longoria and Channing Tatum. In 2014 she was chosen to design customized bags for a 1st American family and also had the honor of personally presenting them to Bill Clinton. The ‘Clinton Collection’ debuted at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Nigel, California and was a symbol of the brand’s emergence as a preeminent American Luxury Design house.
Nancy not only sought to create a luxury brand that values individuality and American craftsmanship, but also one that connects cause and commerce so intrinsically that one cannot exist without the other. In 2010, driven by her mission to give, Nancy started AMBITION, a non-profit entrepreneurial program that caters to underprivileged youth and fosters innovative thinking, confidence and a positive work ethic through collaborative hands-on participation and powerful, consistent connections with mentors and speakers. A visit with Richard Branson paved the way for an impressive roster of entrepreneurs and business owners to proudly take advantage of the opportunity to serve as mentors. Students are exposed to real-world business experience and given the resources necessary to feel confident in who they are as individuals as well as their futures. Nothing is impossible with AMBITION and students are reminded of that every day.
Nancy’s path to commerce and cause, which she refers to as “CapCon”– capitalism with consciousness, combined with her resolve to overcome her personal tragedies has resulted in invitations to speak at a number of events to inspire teens, adults and fellow entrepreneurs. Recognizing, through personal experience, the challenges of owning a business, she is dedicated to helping others along their journey with true insight and inspiration. She speaks freely about the tragic events and hardships she has endured and how they have shaped who she is as well as her business. A victim of rape and a witness to the aftermath of her mother’s brutal murder, Nancy’s story of resilience makes her a powerful force, connecting with her students in AMBITION and proving to them that they can overcome anything and still make their dreams a reality. Nancy’s speaking engagements at universities and organizations allow her to impart her experience to inspire and motivate the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow.
Read more about Nancy here.
Contact Nancy at email@example.com
Kenneth Aldrich, President, The Aldrich Company, Seed Stage Investing Specialist and Public Company Director, AMBITION Business Development Advisor & Mentor
“AMBITION is the focus of energy that converts wishes to reality.”
Kenneth C. Aldrich is an investor and serial entrepreneur. He is currently Lead Independent Director and Chairman of the Nominating/Governance and Compensation Committees for Green Dot Corporation (NYSE:GDOT), the world’s largest provider of prepaid debit cards and related financial services, for which he led the original Angel round of financing. He was a Founder, and for several years, was Chairman and CEO, of International Stem Cell Corporation (OTC:ISCO), a publicly traded regenerative medicine company. Until it was sold to Alcon in 2014, he was a Director and Co-Founder of WaveTec Vision Systems, a privately held maker of optical measurement systems used by ophthalmic surgeons in custom cataract and vision corrective surgery.
Mr. Aldrich is also a board member or advisor to several other privately held companies for which he has provided seed stage financing, including Special Intelligence Service, a private provider of global security and security training for various US and foreign government agencies and corporate clients. He has been active in the investment business since 1975, and in early stage venture capital since 1993, was a founding member of the Los Angeles branch of Tech Coast Angels, a part of the largest Angel organization in the United States, and has provided early-stage funding and management assistance to a variety of successful start-up companies, including the companies listed above.
Prior to devoting full time to the investment business, Mr. Aldrich was the CFO and Chief Legal Officer of a publicly traded REIT, and was a private real estate developer and property owner in California, Arizona and Texas. As a developer, he co-developed the first Wind Energy Park in the Palm Springs, California area and was a founding member of the team that designed and built the first post-tensioned concrete high-rise building west of the Rocky Mountains, the first such building ever to meet California earthquake standards.
Mr. Aldrich holds degrees, with honors, from both Harvard University and Harvard Law School and practiced law with the Los Angeles-based firm of O’Melveny & Myers before leaving to build a career in real estate and finance. He is on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an advisor to various non-profit groups focused on educational improvement in the U.S. and abroad.
Brandie Cobb, Teacher, Economics & Government at Environmental Charter High School, AMBITION Education Advisor
“AMBITION is striving for greatness and never allowing yourself to get complacent. Greatness happens outside of your comfort zone.”
A graduate of Hampton University, Brandie Cobb has always been interested in education and helping others achieve their full potential. She knew since the second grade that she wanted to be a teacher. Growing up in Rancho Penasquitos, a suburb of San Diego, she realized her passion for history and began her journey down the road of education.
Brandie Cobb is a veteran teacher who has been in education for 10 years. Brandie began her teaching career in San Diego in the Poway Unified School district, but has spent the last 8 years of her career at Environmental Charter High School (ECHS). While at ECHS, Brandie has established the AVID and Softball programs as well as created partnerships with EmpowHer, NFTE and AMBITION. As an Economics and Government teacher, Brandie has always enjoyed working with teenagers in order to help them discover their passions and follow them as they continue their quest in college. Brandie believes in empowering students with the skills needed to become entrepreneurs so that no matter where they land in life, they can always rely on themselves to be successful.
Brittney Backos is the Co-Founder of Soirée du Jour, a company dedicated to the art and design of life’s celebrations in Los Angeles. Brittney brings pizazz and her zest for life to all of her entrepreneurial endeavors, especially Soirée du Jour, because if it’s not fun and bedazzled, it’s not worth doing. As a professional graphic designer for over 10 years, Brittney has developed brand strategy with major companies such as Fox, E! Network & Comcast. She also served on the Board of Directors for AIGA Los Angeles as Events Programming Chair. Brittney wishes to show younger minds that success never comes in a straight line and that a zig-zag or two never hurts anybody in the end.
Ryan Carmody, Co-Founder of Lunch Money Creative, AMBITION Business Development Advisor & Mentor
“AMBITION is failing regularly until you get it right.”
Ryan Carmody is the Co-Founder of Lunch Money Creative, a full service creative agency in Los Angeles. Having an established background in both the service and entertainment industries, Ryan packs a one-two punch when it comes to growing businesses. Aside from focusing on for-profit organizations, his heart lies with the empowerment and self-development of children. As the Treasurer on the Board of Directors for Leaps n Bounds, a recreational non-profit focused on enriching the lives of children with developmental disabilities in Los Angeles, Ryan cultivated a passion for grant writing and sourcing funds from private and public entities. Ryan hopes to help abolish the fear of failure in young entrepreneurs and aid them in their journey of becoming ardent leaders in their communities.
Dani Cordaro, CEO and Founder of Piccolo Public Relations, AMBITION Public Relations Advisor & Mentor
“AMBITION is enthusiasm for the fight.”
Dani founded Piccolo Public Relations in 2012 after several years with a boutique entertainment public relations firm. Prior to public relations, Dani dabbled in finance and even toyed with law school. Unable to feed her creative, bubbly personality, she found what she was willing and excited to fight for in PR. She now has the privilege of working with actors, directors, producers, designers, photographers, make-up artists, products, non-profits, and innovators
Dani holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminology, Law and Society from the University of California, Irvine.
Christine Heathman, Founder & CEO of GlyMed Plus, AMBITION Advocacy Advisor
“AMBITION is using your talent and creativity to inspire others.”
Christine Heathman, Master Aesthetician, CME and LMT is the Founder and CEO of GlyMed Plus and the GlyMed Plus Institute of Skin Science™. With over 25 years practicing clinical esthetics, her experience with the medical profession is well established.
Christine Heathman is an esthetic pioneer and was nominated as a ‘Legend in American Aesthetics’. Christine is a powerful speaker, world-wide lecturer, educator, author of several skin manuals, has written hundreds of skin science editorials. She was recently selected to the editorial board of a leading skin journal and is an innovator in the research and development of unconventional and progressive skin care and protocols used in the most prestigious skin care and medical clinics all over the world. A leader in her industry, owner and CEO of GlyMed Plus, a professional only skin care line, Christine has appeared several times on the popular health care program, The Doctors, to share her skill and expertise in Medical Skin Care. Recognized as a major influence in the field of Aesthetics by the American Aesthetician Education Association, Christine has remained steadfast and loyal to the professional, applying her extensive knowledge and experience to facilitate American Esthetics, and remains a commanding and authoritative influence in the skin care industry today.
Recognized for her work as a skin care expert, Christine Heathman received the coveted Crystal Award in Aesthetics in 2014. Christine Heathman, an esthetic pioneer, is a licensed master esthetician, lecturer, educator, author, mentor and advocate for the esthetic industry. As the owner of GlyMed Plus Professional Only Skin Care, Heathman has been a leader in research and scientific skin care and protocol development for 30 years.
James Kicklighter, Film writer/director, AMBITION Documentary Film Advisor & Mentor
“AMBITION is running relentlessly towards your goals with reckless abandon, heading to a destination definable, yet never attained, constantly aspirational as we aim our sights upon the next level of achievement.”
James Kicklighter is a multi-award winning writer/director whose work has been recognized by leading film publications around the world, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India and FilmInk Australia. Most recently, his film Desires of the Heart was an official selection of the 2014 Cannes Marché du Film and winner of Best Foreign Film at the 2013 Los Angeles Femme Film Festival. He is currently developing several films with a southern voice, including Erk, a biopic about legendary college football coach Erk Russell for producers Richard Saperstein (The Mist, Se7en) and Beau Turpin (Counterpunch) and Escaping Bellview, a coming-of-age film about the transition from childhood to adolescence.
Outside of entertainment production, Kicklighter produced the current ad campaign for the National Student Leadership Conference, profiling the most influential leaders in America, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee, Director of Operations for the U.S. Peace Corps, amongst others. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Department of Communication Arts at Georgia Southern University, his alma mater, where he was recently chosen out of over 30,000 living graduates to be listed on the inaugural “40 Under 40 Alumni” for “impact in business, leadership, community, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors.”
“AMBITION is working to fulfill my dreams, not someone else’s.”
A British educated Barrister, David Lewis is a fiery addition to the mentoring team with civil and criminal litigation experience in England, including cases in the High Court and the Old Bailey and civil litigation in the Los Angeles Superior Court. After being a partner with a major Los Angeles based national real estate law firm for many years, David began his own firm. Offering big firm experience at boutique firm rates, he specializes in all aspects of real estate transactional work including acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, secured loans and business entity formation.
Taura Mizrahi, Owner of The Write Approach, AMBITION Fundraising and Resource Development Advisor
“AMBITION is perseverance, grit and the drive to try, fail and try again. Success cannot come without surviving failure.”
Taura Mizrahi, owner of The Write Approach, has worked with non-profits in fundraising and resource development for over 15 years. Professionally, she began a career in service taking on the post of Director of Development with Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica and later Boys & Girls Club of Venice. In 2005, Taura started The Write Approach, offering freelance writing services to businesses and non-profits. Since 2011 she has worked exclusively with non-profits providing grant writing and resource development services. Her specialty is youth organizations and she is currently working with the Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley on an expansion and merger project. In the 2015 Taura has written over $500,000 in awarded grants and contracts for the organization. She has overseen several fundraising events, written grants, developed resource development and strategic plans, worked on various campaigns including a capital campaign and annual campaigns, coordinated direct mail appeals, and generated press and marketing materials. Taura graduated with her masters degree from the University of Southern California Master of Professional Writing Program and graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Humanities from the University of Colorado. Taura is always looking to further her education including courses with The Grantsmanship Center.
Alison Suffet Diaz, Executive Director and Founder of Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), AMBITION Program Advisor
“Keep it Real.”
Alison Suffet Diaz is the Founder and Executive Director of Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), a growing network of schools that has provided meaningful education to youth in underserved communities of South Los Angeles for more than twelve years. A lawyer by training and mother at heart, Alison founded Environmental Charter High School after her career as a public school teacher left something to be desired.
With the goal of creating real and meaningful life learning experiences with the help of a strong and dynamic team, Alison created a successful, rigorous curriculum and environmental approach that lead to a 93% college-acceptance rate for graduates and earned the school a ranking in the top 10% of California Schools. One of three nation-wide finalists in Obama’s Race to the Top Challenge, Environmental Charter HIgh school was in the first round of schools to be given Green Ribbon recognition and has been recently nominated as a Blue Ribbon School based upon academic achievement and improvement. Since then, the network has grown to include a MIddle School, with a new Middle School opening in the Fall of 2013. Soon to be a network of K-12 school, ECS will serve more than 3,000 students.
Alison holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from State University of New York, Albany, and Juris Doctorate from Temple University Law School, where she participated in a program called LEAP, teaching inner city youth about their constitutional rights. She earned her teaching credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills and after eight years of teaching, she developed the blueprint for what would be become Environmental Charter High School while working as a part time faculty member in the teaching credential program at Cal State Dominguez Hills as well as the Education Specialist at TreePeople. Alison serves on the Board of Directors for The Green Schools National Network and UCLA Extension Education Advisory Board. When she’s not at the school, Alison can be found on the slopes, skiing with her daughter, Taylor.