This newly established group represents the core volunteer leadership for the division - a world innovator in diagnosis, treatment, and research aimed at combating disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract. The ambassadors will play a key role in enhancing the engagement of the community and broadening the awareness for the division and its work.
Unified by their commitment to advancing medical science through philanthropy and community building, the ambassadors will serve as thought leaders, engaging others to envision what their understanding and involvement of the extraordinary work performed each day by the division's top physicians and scientists and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH
Chief, Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
Director, Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center
Lincy Foundation Chair in Clinical Gastroenterology
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Founder, Andre Agassi Foundation for Education
Founders, Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation
Peter Diamandis, MD
Chairman and CEO, XPRIZE Foundation
Gary Gitnick, MD
Founder & Chairman of the Board of Governors, Fulfillment Fund
Chief Emeritus, Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
James N. Gianopulos
Chairman and CEO, Paramount Pictures Corporation
Chairman, Andell Inc.
Ray R. Irani, PhD
Chairman and CEO, Ray Investments, LLC
G. Bradford Jones
Founding Partner, Redpoint Ventures
Partner, WndrCo and CEO & Co-Founder, DreamWorks Animation SKG
Co-Founder, Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Foundation
Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, The Walt Disney Company
President and CEO, Payden & Rygel
President, Open Pictures
Co-Founder, Melvin and Bren Simon Charitable Foundation
Consultant, Integrative Health and Wellness
Gregory Annenberg Weingarten
Vice President and Director, Annenberg Foundation
After turning pro at the age of 16, tennis prodigy Andre Agassi rose to international fame, earning 60 men's singles titles, including eight Grand Slam singles championships, over a 20-year career. A former World No. 1 player, Agassi is the only male player ever to win all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal. He was also a member of three winning Davis Cup teams (1990, 1992 and 1995). On July 9, 2011, Andre was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame for the Class of 2011.
While his tennis career took him all over the world, Agassi always stayed connected to his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1994, at the age of 24, he created the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. Early activities included building a shelter in Las Vegas for abused and neglected children, creating the Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Club, and developing Team Agassi, a tennis program that nurtures professional players and puts college within reach.
Over 17 years, the Foundation has honed its mission to focus on transforming public education. In 2001, in partnership with the Clark County School District, the Foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy (Agassi Prep) in historical West Las Vegas. Recognized as a model charter school, Agassi Prep graduated its first senior class in June 2009 with a 100 percent college acceptance rate, as were the graduates in the class of 2010 and 2011.
Each year the Foundation's primary fundraising vehicle, the Grand Slam for Children, brings together international stars to raise awareness and money. Since the inception of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education in 1994, $177 million dollars has been raised to benefit the mission of the Foundation including $118 million from the Grand Slam for Children fundraising event.
Since retiring in 2006, Andre Agassi has increased his focus on his Foundation and on promoting education reform. He is also building a lifestyle business through endorsement relationships, joint venture investments and real estate development. In November 2009, he released his autobiography Open, which reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
In June 2011, as part of an effort to expand his impact on education, Andre partnered with Canyon Capital Realty Advisors on an innovative new real estate fund - the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund - to promote the success and growth of best-in-class charter schools in urban communities across the United States.
Andre launched BILT by Agassi & Reyes in early 2012 to provide the public with the actual fitness machines hand-developed by him and his strength and conditioning trainer, Gil Reyes. Andre won eight Grand Slam titles and dominated the world of tennis throughout his long career by recognizing the importance of strength, conditioning and safety through the use of these innovative machines.
He is married to tennis superstar, philanthropist and businesswoman Stefanie Graf. The couple resides in Las Vegas with their children, Jaden Gil and Jaz Elle.
Peter Diamandis, MD
Dr. Peter Diamandis is the chairman and CEO of XPRIZE, which leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Best known for the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private spaceflight and the $10 million Progressive Automotive XPRIZE for 100 mile-per-gallon equivalent cars, XPRIZE is now launching prizes in Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy, and Education.
Diamandis is also an international leader in the commercial space arena, having founded and run many of the leading entrepreneurial companies in this sector including Zero Gravity Corporation, the Rocket Racing League and Space Adventures.
As co-founder and chairman of the Singularity University, a Silicon Valley based institution partnered with NASA, Google, Autodesk and Nokia, Diamandis counsels the world's top enterprises on how to utilize exponential technologies and incentivized innovation to dramatically accelerate their business objectives.
Dr. Diamandis attended the MIT where he received his degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering, as well as Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D. Diamandis' personal motto is: "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!"
James N. Gianopulos
Jim Gianopulos is chairman and chief executive officer of Paramount Pictures Corporation, a role he assumed in April 2017. In this position, he oversees the studio’s film and television operations worldwide, including production, marketing, distribution and all other facets.
Prior to joining Paramount, he served for 16 years as chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, overseeing all feature film production, marketing, and global distribution of film and television content in all media for Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions and Twentieth Century Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios.
During his time as chairman and CEO of Twentieth Century Fox, the studio had its most profitable years ever, stemming from a broad range of successful films, including Hidden Figures, Deadpool, The Martian, The Revenant, Kingsman: The Secret Service, SPY, the X-Men and Planet of the Apes films, Life of Pi, The Fault in Our Stars, The Descendants, Black Swan, Juno, the Night at the Museum pictures, the Taken series, The Simpsons Movie, Borat, The Day After Tomorrow, Walk the Line, Star Wars Episodes 1-3, Minority Report, and Moulin Rouge, among many others. Under his leadership, the studio released the Academy Award-wining Best Pictures Titanic, Braveheart, Birdman, 12 Years a Slave and Slumdog Millionaire.
Mr. Gianopulos also has the unique distinction of having championed two of the biggest gambles, and the two highest grossing films of all time: Avatar and Titanic.
Additionally, from 2009-2012 Mr. Gianopulos oversaw Twentieth Century Fox Television Studios, producers of The Simpsons, 24 and many other successful shows.
Previously, Mr. Gianopulos served as president of Twentieth Century Fox International. Before joining Fox, Mr. Gianopulos held senior management positions at Paramount and Columbia Pictures.
Mr. Gianopulos is a governor and the treasurer of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, a member of the Board of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, as well as a trustee of the American Film Institute. He is involved in a number of civic and philanthropic activities including serving as chairman of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, on the National Entertainment Advisory Council for the Anti-Defamation League and on the Board of the X-Prize Foundation.
Dr. Gary Gitnick
Dr. Gitnick is the chief emeritus of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He received his bachelor of science and doctor of medicine degrees at the University of Chicago, after which he completed an internship at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. From there he completed internal medicine and gastroenterology subspecialty training at the Mayo Clinic and also spent three years as a research associate at the National Institutes of Health. He joined the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1969. He was chief of staff of the UCLA Medical Center and was medical director of the UCLA Health Care Programs. Dr. Gitnick has produced over 300 publications and is the author or editor of 63 books.
Dr. Gitnick is former president of the Medical Board of California. He is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Health Professions Education Foundation, an organization established by the California Legislature for the development of health care delivery programs for indigent people. He has conceived and promoted the development of the voluntary California Physicians Corps and conceived and promoted AB 982 the California Physicians Educational Loan Repayment Program that provides loan repayment to young physicians who contractually agree to work in non-profit indigent care clinics for three years or more.
He is the founder and chair of the board of governors of the Fulfillment Fund, a nonprofit organization providing motivational and college access programs to over 3,000 disadvantaged students in Los Angeles and 1,200 in Las Vegas. The Fulfillment Fund motivates them to complete school, broaden their socio-economic horizons, and facilitate their higher education through motivational and tutoring programs and through guaranteed college scholarships.
Andrew Hauptman is the chairman of Andell Inc., a private investment firm and family office he controls with his wife, Ellen Bronfman Hauptman. Andell invests directly in private and public companies and real estate and acquires control and minority stakes. Andrew oversees the firm’s investment strategy and is actively involved in Andell’s operating businesses.
Andrew currently serves on the advisory board of Altas Partners and has been a director of numerous public and private companies, including BSN SPORTS, Dick Clark Productions, Koor Industries, Loews Cineplex Entertainment, Storage Mobility (PODS), and Canyon Ranch Holdings, amongst others. From 2007 – 2019, Andrew was owner and chairman of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Under Andrew’s ownership, the Club experienced dramatic growth, with the franchise value increasing more than ten-fold. The Club was also consistently recognized for its deep community engagement, having most recently won the 2019 ESPN Sports Humanitarian of the Year award. Andrew led a complex and successful effort to move the team back to the city of Chicago and Soldier Field.
Other examples of past and present companies within the Andell portfolio include The Seagram Co. Ltd, MyEyeDr., NSC Minerals, AmWINS, Watco, USI Insurance, Medforth Global Healthcare Education, Savage x Fenty, and University of St. Augustine. Andell’s real estate platform includes a variety of investments across all asset classes and throughout various parts of the capital structure.
In addition to this work, Andrew is deeply involved in several philanthropic and civic organizations. Andrew serves as a national trustee of City Year and is co-founder and chair of City Year Los Angeles. He is a director of The Bronfman Hauptman Foundation and co-founder and trustee of The Charles Bronfman Prize. Andrew is a member of the Yale University Council, the trustee advisory board of the Center for American Progress, the advisory board of The Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs, and the leadership council of International Medical Corps. Andrew also serves on the leadership council of Service Year Alliance and is a co-chair of the organization’s “Serve America Together” campaign, calling on 2020 presidential candidates to make national service a priority. Andrew served as president of the Chicago Fire Foundation for twelve years and in 2017, he was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame as Sports Advocate of the Year.
Earlier in his career, Andrew was a senior executive with Universal Studios in London and played a key role in the oversight of its international operations, focusing primarily in the music and filmed entertainment groups. Andrew also previously produced feature films through Andell Entertainment, including “State of Play,” starring Russell Crowe and “Millions,” directed by Danny Boyle. Prior to his time in the media industry, Andrew worked in restructuring and mergers and acquisitions at Alex. Brown & Sons in New York.
Andrew holds a BA from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Dr. Ray R. Irani
Dr. Ray R. Irani is the chairman and CEO of Ray Investments, LLC, a privately held investment company.
Prior to the formation of Ray Investments, LLC, Dr. Irani served as executive chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation from May 2011 to May 2013 after serving as chairman and chief executive officer from 1990 to 2011. He had been a director of the company since 1984 and served as president and chief operating officer of Occidental from 1984 to 1990. Dr. Irani joined the company in 1983 as chairman and chief executive officer of Occidental Chemical Corporation. He served as chairman of the Board of Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd. (now Nexen Inc.) from 1987 to 1999. Prior to working for Occidental, Dr. Irani was president and chief operating officer of Olin Corporation.
Dr. Irani serves on the Board of Directors of Wynn Resorts and is a member of The Conference Board and The Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Irani is a trustee of the University of Southern California, a trustee emeritus of the American University of Beirut and a member of the Lebanese American University Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, and serves on the advisory boards of RAND's Center for Middle East Public Policy and the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
In 2012, he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering, and in 2011 he was awarded the designation Chevalier of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest award bestowed by the French government on citizens and foreigners.
Dr. Irani was born in Beirut, Lebanon and holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the American University of Beirut and a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Southern California. He holds 50 U.S. patents and more than 100 foreign patents, is the author of the book Particle Size, and has published more than 50 technical papers.
Brad Jones is a partner of Redpoint Ventures. Prior to founding Redpoint, Brad was a general partner with Brentwood Venture Capital, a firm he joined in 1981. Brad currently focuses on technology opportunities located in Southern California. He has managed successful investments in biotechnology, communications, Internet commerce, internet infrastructure, medical devices, semiconductors, software, and wireless. He has served on the board of ten public companies funded by Brentwood and Redpoint, and currently is a board member of Stamps.com and a number of private companies. Brad received the Los Angeles Venture Association's first Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was honored with the Supporter of Entrepreneurship Award by the Ernst &Young Entrepreneur of the Year program.
Brad received an AB in chemistry, summa cum laude, and an AM in physics from Harvard University. Brad also holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was an Arjay Miller scholar, and a JD from the Stanford Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif.
Jeffrey Katzenberg currently serves as partner of WndrCo, a well-capitalized start-up that will serve as an incubator for major New Media and technology initiatives.
Katzenberg has been a leader of American media for more than 40 years.
In 1994, along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, he co-founded DreamWorks SKG, which has produced a number of celebrated films, including three Best Picture Academy Award® winners – American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. In 2004, DreamWorks Animation became a publicly-traded company, with Katzenberg serving as chief executive officer and director.
Under Katzenberg’s leadership, DreamWorks Animation became the largest animation studio in the world, releasing 32 animated feature films, which have enjoyed both critical and commercial successes, earning sixteen Academy Award® nominations and two wins for Best Animated Feature. In addition to critical success, DreamWorks Animation has been recognized on five occasions as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by FORTUNE® Magazine. In 2013, it became one of the first Hollywood studios to make a major investment in emerging digital media with the acquisition of AwesomenessTV, which is now one of the top networks on YouTube. In August, 2016, DreamWorks Animation SKG was sold to Comcast for a sale price of $3.8 billion.
Prior to co-founding DreamWorks, Katzenberg served as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. During his tenure, the studio produced such landmark animated films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast – the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar® – as well as live action hits including Good Morning, Vietnam; Three Men and a Baby; Dead Poets Society; Pretty Woman; Father of the Bride and Sister Act. Katzenberg previously served as president of Paramount Studios, where he was involved in now-classic films including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saturday Night Fever, Grease and Best Picture Academy Award® winners Ordinary People and Terms of Endearment.
In 2013, Katzenberg was awarded the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes.
Together with his wife Marilyn, Katzenberg provides support and leads fundraising efforts on behalf of dozens of local, national and international organizations focused on healthcare, education, the arts, Jewish causes, children, civic improvement and the environment. In addition to serving as chairman of the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation, Katzenberg sits on the boards or serves as a trustee of the following organizations: AIDS Project Los Angeles, American Museum of the Moving Image, California Institute of the Arts, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Geffen Playhouse, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and The Simon Wiesenthal Center. He also supports the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Boston University. Together with DreamWorks Animation, Katzenberg founded the DreamWorks Animation Academy of Inner-City Arts in 2008.
Mr. Manoukian, (also known as Bob), is a well-known and respected member of the Armenian community and is a major supporter of numerous charities throughout the world.
Having finished his education in Cyprus and England, he entered the business world, which included involvement with property investment and construction, retailing, soft drink bottling, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, renewable energy, the leisure industry and banking. Together these businesses employ thousands of people worldwide.
He is married to Tamar, and they have four children. He has continued his family’s tradition of charitable work throughout the world with a particular emphasis on education, medicine, culture, the environment and Armenian causes, both secular and religious.
His scholarship funds have enabled several thousand academically able students who lack financial resources to further their education and his post-graduate programmes at universities in the United States, the United Kingdom and Lebanon have helped provide essential skills for tomorrow’s community leaders.
He supports many children’s charities throughout the world and has been a major donor to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Action Innocence, UNICEF (where he is a board member), Prince Albert II Foundation, Mission Enfance and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He continues to be a major benefactor of the Royal Opera House in London, and has funded the construction by them of both the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop and the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre.
He was the sole financial supporter of major cultural exhibitions, such as the “Treasures of the Ark Exhibition” held at the British Library to commemorate 1700 years of Armenian Christianity, and the highly acclaimed “Rome-Armenia” Cistine Chapel Exhibition at the Vatican, which was opened by their late Holinesses Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin I. He has funded the construction and refurbishment of several schools, a church in London, the building of a large ecclesiastical library and several other buildings for the Armenian Church.
As a result of these generous charitable works, he has received recognition from the community, the church and governmental bodies.
Kevin Mayer is senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer of The Walt Disney Company and oversees Corporate Strategy, Business Development, Acquisitions, Enterprise Information Technology, Innovation, Brand and Franchise Management, and Global Corporate Alliances. He was named to the position in June 2015.
Mr. Mayer most recently served as executive vice president, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, where since 2005 he led a team focused on profitable growth opportunities by targeting emerging businesses new to Disney's existing portfolio and evaluating new technology and business models. The group also executes all mergers and acquisitions.
During his tenure, Mr. Mayer has overseen Disney's strategic acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Club Penguin. He also managed Disney's investment in Hungama and UTV in India, enhancing Disney's growth outside of the United States. Further, Mr. Mayer and his team handled the divestitures of Miramax and ABC Radio. In 2009 and 2011, "The Deal" readers named Disney the Most Admired Corporate Dealmaker in the media sector.
Mayer rejoined Disney from L.E.K. Consulting LLC, where he was a partner and head of the Global Media and Entertainment practice. In that position his responsibilities included global oversight of all media-related consulting projects including due diligence efforts for mergers and acquisitions, development of business strategies for new technology ventures such as portable music devices, online music services, video on demand and broadband ISP services, and the creation of comprehensive anti-piracy strategies for motion picture studios and trade associations. He also devised plans for companies to offer electronic sell-through for movies, cable television networks, television programming and music.
Prior to L.E.K., Mayer held leading positions at interactive and Internet businesses. As chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Interactive he managed all aspects of new media business, including content, sales, business and technology development, and distribution. While at Clear Channel, Mayer successfully launched local subscription ticketing services. While at Disney, Mayer worked in both strategic planning and at Walt Disney Internet Group. At the Internet Group, he served as executive vice president and as such was responsible for the operations, business plans, creative direction and distribution of Disney's popular web sites, including ESPN.com and ABCNews.com. Mayer first joined Disney in 1993 as manager, strategic planning where he spearheaded strategy and business development for all of Disney's interactive/Internet and television businesses worldwide.
Mayer received his MBA from Harvard University in 1990, and holds a MSEE from San Diego State University and a BSME from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Joan Payden, CFA, is the president and chief executive officer of Payden & Rygel, the global investment management firm that she founded in 1983. Payden has overseen the firm's international expansion and its growth to more than $90 billion in assets under management. In 1992, the firm launched Payden & Rygel Investment Group, a family of mutual funds, of which she is chairman. Subsequently many of these strategies were duplicated in offshore funds domiciled in Ireland. In 1998, Payden & Rygel Global Ltd. was founded in London. Prior to founding Payden & Rygel, Payden was the first national woman partner and managing director of west coast operations for Scudder, Stevens & Clark.
She is a member of the Board of Visitors of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, a trustee of the University of Southern California, Occidental College and Loyola Marymount University. She also serves on the board of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the California Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Sports Council. Payden is a past member of the board of The Automobile Club of Southern California, the LA' 84 Foundation, AECOM Technology Corporation and The John Tracy Clinic. She is past chairman of the Investment Counsel Association of America. Payden holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. She is a graduate of Trinity College in Washington DC with a degree in mathematics and physics, and a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
Chip Rosenbloom is an American filmmaker, businessman and philanthropist.
Rosenbloom's independent production companies have been instrumental in the development and production of over 25 feature films in the past two decades. Feature films include the Sundance Award-Winning Documentary Fuel, The Weinstein Company's release The Girl in the Park directed by Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn starring Sigourney Weaver, Kate Bosworth and Keri Russell, Sony Pictures' The Call directed by Brad Anderson, starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin.
Current productions include the Ryan Ferguson documentary - the story surrounding Ferguson's murder conviction that was overturned after spending 10 years in prison. Rosenbloom additionally produced Brad Pitt's feature film debut Across the Tracks as well as the Broadway stage production of August Wilson's Radio Golf, honored with a 2007 Tony nomination as Best Play.
In addition to producing, Chip adapted and directed Shiloh, based on the Newberry Award-winning trilogy by best-selling author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, about a young boy's attempt to rescue an abused dog. Nominated for a Humanitas Award, the film led to two sequels becoming a significant franchise for Warner Bros., a critic's delight and a multi-million unit DVD both in the United States and in more than 27 countries around the world.
A rare hybrid of creative energy, Chip is an active songwriter with songs recorded by Sheena Easton and Rita Coolidge among others. He has ten songs featured on a new album by Dayna Lane, who was voted one of Voice of Country's rising new stars. He recently produced a documentary on the history of the electric guitar Turn It Up! starring Kevin Bacon.
Rosenbloom is a graduate of USC Film School. He began his career at Aaron Spelling Productions and later worked in development for Mace Neufeld Productions.
Rosenbloom serves on the boards of the Fulfillment Fund, a mentoring and scholarship charity, Clinton Foundation Health Access Initiative, President's Council for Feeding America and Earthjustice.
He is married to the former Kathleen Melville. The couple has two children, son Alexander and daughter Olivia.
As a tireless advocate for programs that transform lives, Mrs. Bren Simon honored her late husband Melvin Simon's generous spirit with a gift to create the Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center at UCLA. This multi-disciplinary center will provide an infrastructure to develop cutting-edge treatment and support for generations of patients.
All clinical efforts and key centers for excellence of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, will fall under the umbrella of the new center. The transformational gift has already made a difference for countless patients. The center has recruited key clinicians and physician-scientists, enhanced its translational research program and patient care enterprise as well as advanced diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to managing a variety of chronic disorders.
In addition to this healing gift, over the past three decades Mrs. Simon has been committed to supporting programs whose purpose is to forge strong bonds of international unity, which is why she is honored to be a patron of the United States Institute of Peace.
Along with various national projects, Mrs. Simon is dedicated to a variety of international welfare programs. Under her direction, The Melvin and Bren Simon Foundation has donated a substantial amount of resources to the National Democratic Institute, a large portion of which has been allocated to a number of groups that support women's political participation.
Each year, a percentage of that commitment is given to winners of the Madeleine K. Albright Grant. Most recently, this funding was presented to the Women's Discussion Club of Kyrgyzstan. Formed in 2006, this organization was one of the first groups in Kyrgyzstan to bring together women from diverse backgrounds and political parties to defend the rights and interests of women nationwide.
Other programs to which this support was distributed include the NDI Maghreb Youth of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow Program, The International Network of Women in Politics (iKNOW Politics), NDI Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Alliance of Women Leaders, NDI Guatemala and the Political Association of Mayan Women, and the NDI Guidebook to Women's Political Participation.
Another prolific example of Bren Simon's passion for international gender equality and political progress is the indelible impact she has made in La Romana, Dominican Republic. In 1998, Bren Simon joined the Mission International Rescue Foundation, dedicating a tremendous effort to the children and young women of La Romana, with such projects as Centro de Promocion Rural Max Simon and Bren Simon MIR Foundation Girls' Vocational School. Through these organizations, the MIR Foundation provides religious, social, education, and health services to those in this impoverished area.
In addition to directing both the Melvin and Bren Simon Charitable Foundation and the Joshua Max Simon Charitable Foundation, Mrs. Simon personally supports numerous local and national organizations, including The Children's Bureau, The Aspen Institute's Society of Fellows, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and numerous cultural and philanthropic programs and community wellness centers.
Also heavily engaged in domestic political programs and organizations, in 2001 Mrs. Simon founded Activote America, whose purpose is to empower individuals with the information and understanding necessary to voice concerns, address issues, and ultimately impact change through the voting process. It has been a long-term goal of Bren Simon to reach, educate, and encourage young voters to participate in the voting process.
Currently, Mrs. Simon has committed considerable resources to The Clinton School of Public Service to provide five scholarships for those individuals seeking a Master of Public Service degree, which serve to empower young individuals pursuing degrees in politics and public service.
The current CEO of MBS Associates, LLC and former owner of the design firm Corporate Design Associates, Inc., Bren Simon has attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Florida Atlantic University, having also earned honorary degrees from Northwood University in Florida and Indiana University. She and her late husband, Melvin, have two children and two grandchildren.
Vicky Vlachonis, integrative health and wellness consultant and author of The Body Doesn’t Lie, was born in Athens, Greece, to a tennis coach father and a yoga teacher/health guru mother. After becoming one of the first women in Europe to earn a masters of science in osteopathy from the European School of Osteopathy, she began her professional career as a European osteopath, pain-management expert and musculoskeletal specialist, treating dancers from the Royal Ballet, major productions such as Cats and The Lion King and members of the British Royal family.
Early in her career she began working in London’s most prestigious holistic practices, including the Hale Clinic, the Integrated Medical Centre and The Birth Company, where she worked closely with some of the top obstetrician’s preparing women for pregnancy and performing cranial osteopathy for newborn babies. She established her own practice in 2001 in London, later moving it to Los Angeles where she works closely with IVF specialist, registered dietitians, TMJ specialist, endocrinologists and medical scientists creating individualized holistic programs for her patients.
Vicky is the proponent and developer of “The Positive Feedback” method focusing on the mind/body connection and pain management. Her successful pain eradication method was developed over 16 years working with a wide range of clients, from celebrities and CEOs to overworked ballerinas, working moms and children. Today, Vicky shares her holistic healing treatments and methods all around the world, helping patients prepare their mind and body before PTA meetings and play dates, concert halls and board rooms, movie sets and red carpets. Vicky currently works with notable personalities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Chris Martin, Nicole Richie and Sir Elton John. In addition to her Beverly Hills practice, she serves as a Goop contributor and advisory board member for Women’s Health Magazine.
Having realized she could only reach a limited amount of people with her hands-on osteopathic treatments, Vicky also began to participate in major health oriented events as a health expert public speaker. This is where she is able to teach her holistic approach to wellness to the masses by educating the audience on various methods for listening to their bodies and making wise health discussions for the future.
Vicky is also a member of the General Osteopathic Council, British Acupuncture Council and approved BUPA Wellness Professional. For more information, please visit www.vickyvlachonis.com
Gregory Annenberg Weingarten
Gregory Annenberg Weingarten is vice president and director of the Annenberg Foundation, a family foundation that supports the worldwide community through its grantmaking, technical assistance and direct charitable activities. Through Gregory’s own grantmaking initiative GRoW @ Annenberg, he supports humanitarian efforts across the globe as well as innovative projects in health, education, the arts and civic and cultural life. Some of Gregory’s recent successful efforts include repatriating sacred Native American objects, funding a much-needed hospital in Bangladesh, supporting families inflicted by violence in South Los Angeles, and helping low-income students from underserved Los Angeles high schools achieve their dreams of a college degree.
Gregory is a member of various boards and advisory committees including the National Park Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, The Getty Center, the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A graduate of Stanford University, Gregory has a degree in political science. He worked as a journalist at The Times of London before embarking on a career as an artist. Gregory’s work has been shown in galleries and private collections throughout Europe and the U.S. and he continues to paint in his studio in Los Angeles.
Having lived in Paris for many years, Gregory’s efforts to create a vibrant partnership between France and America have earned him several honors. In 2007, he earned the title of Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters). In 2009, Gregory received the distinction of Grand Mécène et de Grand Donateur de la Culture (Grand Patron and Grand Donor of Culture). In 2012, Gregory was appointed to France’s prestigious Legion of Honor (Légion d'Honneur), France’s highest honor for military and civil merits.
Along with his wife and philanthropic partner Regina, Gregory is active in the lives of his two children and, through them, is helping shape the next generation of philanthropy.