Alumni Networks Conference 2021

Cal State LA Alumni Association Conference 2021 - People, Purpose, and Passion

Event Details

People, Purpose, & Passion:
A Professional Development and Networking Conference
Presented by the Cal State LA Alumni Networks

Thursday, May 6, 2021
5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (PT)
Via Zoom Meeting

The Cal State LA Alumni Networks

People networking around cocktail tables with Univision welcome sign

About us

The Alumni Networks are affinity-based groups under the auspices of the California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) Alumni Association. We serve alumni and students by building platforms to connect, by advancing the interests of the Cal State LA community, and by providing an array of educational, career-oriented, social, and civic programs for alumni members.

Program Details

We invite alumni and current students to a conference-style professional development and networking event. Join us to make new connections and gain valuable insight from different industry leaders, experts, doctors, and CEOs on topics that focus on what unites us as alumni: people, purpose, and passion.

 - Welcome and Overview -

Edgar Garcia-Mora ('09)
Alumni Networks Representative, Alumni Association
Associate Vice President, Bolton & Company

Dr. Janet S. Dial
Vice President for University Advancement, Cal State LA

- Keynote Remarks -

Capri Maddox ('91, '95)
Executive Director, LA Civil + Human Rights Equity Department
City of Los Angeles

- Alumni Network Breakout Sessions -
Each network is hosting a breakout room featuring guest speakers, conversations, and/or activities specific to their group. Attendees will be invited to rooms based on the selection submitted at registration.

Not sure where to start?
Explore what each network has to offer by clicking their drop-downs below.

- Closing Remarks -
Opportunity drawing winners will be announced during this time.

Building Pathways for Black Alumni, Students, and Our Community in Higher Education
Presented by Sesley Lewis ('17, '20) and Erick West ('16, '18)

Meet the new leadership of the Black Alumni Network! Join us in a round table discussion on how we can create opportunities that elevate our community through increased visibility, constructive programming, charitable initiatives, and fostered connections.

Click here to learn more about the Black Alumni Network.


Headshot of Sesley Lewis, Class of 2017 and 2020 Sesley Lewis ('17, '20)
Basic Needs Senior Manager, University of California, Riverside
Chair, Black Alumni Network

Sesley Lewis has worked within the field of education for nearly eight years. She discovered her passion for education in student affairs during her undergraduate career as a student assistant in the Division of Student Life at Cal State LA. As a student, she often helped students experiencing basic needs insecurities and championed the efforts, development, creation, and implementation of the Basic Needs Initiative campus-wide. This included the formation and opening of the Cal State LA food pantry, CalFresh Outreach program, Emergency Housing program, and many other programs related to Basic Needs. She also served as co-advisor for the Black Student Union and Halisi Steppers, mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students. Click here to learn more about Sesley.

Headshot of Erick West, Class of 2016 and 2018 Erick West ('16, '18)
Ph.D. Candidate, Higher Education Leadership Policy Studies, Howard University
Co-Chair, Black Alumni Network

Erick West is a professional scholar, social justice advocate, and former college athlete. Currently, as a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University, Mr. West is passionate about promoting equity and ethnic representation within the higher education system. With aspirations to become a University President, his research at Howard focuses on holistic education for student-athletes in higher education. He is an active member of AERA where he has done presentations about his work on Black male teachers and teacher prep programs. During his academic career at Cal State LA, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree, he was an active member of the Black Student Union, Housing and Residence Life, and Men’s Track and Field. Click here to learn more about Erick.

How to Land a Job Without Applying
Presented by Jonathan Javier

If you thought you knew everything about applying to jobs, think again. This transformative discussion will retool your approach to adopting new and proven methods in this evolving job market as a digital landscape. Whether you are recent graduate, mid-career professional, or thinking of a career transition, this session will equip you with valuable insight on how to land that dream job. Q&A and networking to follow. Session moderated by Chair of Business Alumni Network, Karolina Montenegro ('18).

Click here to learn more about the Business Alumni Network.


Headshot of Jonathan Javier Jonathan Javier
CEO/Founder, Wonsulting

Jonathan Javier is the CEO/Founder of Wonsulting, whose mission is to “turn underdogs into winners”. He's also worked in Operations at Snap, Google, and Cisco coming from a non-target school/non-traditional background. He works on many initiatives, providing advice and words of wisdom on LinkedIn and through speaking engagements. In total, he has led 210+ workshops in 9 different countries including the Mena ICT Forum in Jordan, Resume/Personal Branding at Cisco, LinkedIn Strategy & Operations Offsite, Great Place To Work, Talks at Google, TEDx, and more. He's been featured on Forbes, LinkedIn News, Yahoo! News, Jobscan, and Brainz Magazine as one of the youngest top jobs search experts and amassed 600K+ followers on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok as well as 30+ million impressions monthly on his content. Click here to learn more about Jonathan.

The Circle of EEP: Cultivating the Next Generation of Early Entrance Program Graduates
Presented by Andrea Arias, Ed.D.

The Early Entrance Program afforded us unique opportunities, lifelong relationships, and mental tools to leverage our gifts. Let's bring it full circle and help the next generation! New network leaders, Dr. Amy Wat ('12) and James Walker ('01, '04) hope you will join us to reunite, learn about exciting updates regarding today's Early Entrance Program, and discover ways to get involved with other alums and current EEP students.

Click here to learn more about the Early Entrance Program Alumni Network.


Headshot of Andrea Arias Andrea Arias, Ed.D.
Assistant Director, Early Entrance Program at Cal State LA

Andrea E. Arias is the Assistant Director for the Early Entrance Program at California State University, Los Angeles. Prior to this assignment, she was part of the public education system for over twenty-years in a range of roles including teacher, specialist, and administration. She is an advocate for creating equitable solutions for students to develop the skills necessary for success in college, career, and post-graduation life. She earned a Doctorate of Education from Pepperdine University was named “Best Professor Ever” by students enrolled in her first university course. Click here to learn more about Andrea.

Educator Self-Care and Mindfulness
Presented by Smita Malhotra, M.D.

As schools reopen and we transition to another new normal, self-care should be a top priority. Join us for a refreshing session on strategies for personal well-being in times of ambiguity and stress. The conversation will be moderated by Education Alumni Network Chairs, Ileana Davalos ('86, '93) and Jose M. Rodriguez ('98, '02). Q&A and networking to follow.

Click here to learn more about the Education Alumni Network.


Headshot of Smita Malhotra, MD Smita Malhotra, M.D.
Pediatrician, Writer, Speaker and Student of Life

In 2014, Dr. Malhotra began to help heal the whole child and family by combining traditional medicine with alternative therapies such as mindfulness, meditation, acupuncture and yoga. Her goal is to change the paradigm of parenting and heal children from the inside out. She has contributed to the Washington Post, HuffPost and other publications. Dr. Malhotra is a dynamic speaker and am able to connect with parents from all walks of life whether it is talking about pediatric issues or about how yoga and mindfulness can heal both parent and child. Click here to learn more about Smita.

Southern California Edison's Pathway 2045 and Re-imagining the Grid
Presented by Anthony Johnson, P.E.

Join us for a brief discussion of SCE’s Pathway 2045 and Re-imagining the Grid whitepapers. Followed by an implementation of a Grid control systems that supports the vision incorporated in the whitepapers. Conversation led by ECST Alumni Network Chairs, Maida Lopez ('03) and Ricson Chude ('08). Q&A and networking to follow.

Click here to learn more about the ECST Alumni Network.


Headshot of Anthony Johnson, P.E. Anthony Johnson, P.E.
Consulting Engineer, Southern California Edison (SCE)

Anthony Johnson is a Consulting Engineer in the Asset Management, Strategy, and Engineering Group in the Transmission and Distribution Business Unit of Southern California Edison (SCE). He has been working at SCE for 30 years. Mr. Johnson is the Chief Engineer of the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program and a key subject matter expert for developing and implementing SCE's next-generation Grid Management System. He provides technical expertise for developing advanced technologies across the company and has held positions as a responsible engineer, area engineer, test technician supervisor, and project manager. He is also an active participant in IEEE Power System Relaying Committee and the Power System Communications and Cybersecurity Committee.

Anthony is a double alumnus of Montana State University, earning his Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering in 1986 and Master's degree in Electrical Engineering in 1988. Mr. Johnson is a Senior Member of IEEE, and a registered professional electrical engineer in the State of California.

The Art of Making Connections and Keeping Them
Presented by Ligiah Villalobos

In an industry where it's all about who you know, this insightful conversation will refresh your outlook and give you the edge. Join us and learn from writer, producer, consultant, and educator Ligiah Villalobos on lessons from her career trajectory, starting out as a dancer, pivoting into radio due to a knee injury, and overcoming obstacles that led to executive roles in mainstream television and film. She will show us how she succeeded as a woman of color in a primarily white, straight, able-bodied, male industry. We'll also get a special sneak peek at her current animated film project "Koati," which features Sofia Vergara and Grammy-award winner Marc Anthony. This session is facilitated by network leader and Director of Inclusion and Equity at the Writers Guild of America West, Tery Lopez ('03). Q&A and networking to follow.

Click here to learn more about the Entertaiment & Arts Alumni Network.


Headshot of Ligiah Villalobos Ligiah Villalobos
Writer, Producer, Consultant, Educator and Lecturer
Faculty, College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and USC School of Cinematic Arts

Ligiah Villalobos is a Writer, Producer, Consultant, Educator, and Lecturer. She is best known for the independent feature film Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), which she wrote and executive produced and was acquired by Fox Searchlight and TWC at Sundance. The movie was made for under $2M and earned over $23M worldwide.


More recently, Villalobos was a Cultural Consultant on the Academy Award-winning Pixar movie, COCO, and she wrote on two Netflix animated series, Super Monsters' Monster Pets and StarBeam.

Villalobos co-wrote the Lifetime TV Movie, The Real MVP, produced by Queen Latifah, she is the recipient of the Humanitas Prize for her TV movie, Firelight, produced by Alicia Keys for Hallmark Hall of Fame, and she was the Head Writer on Nick Jr.'s, Go, Diego! Go! for three seasons. 


Villalobos is currently developing an animated series for Sesame Workshop, another series for Dreamworks TV Animation, and recently adapted the YA Novel Gabi: A Girl in Pieces as a one-hour drama series for HBO Max and Anonymous Content. She is also writing on the upcoming PBS series, Rosie's Rules. Koati, an animated film that she co-wrote, will be released in late 2021.


Before becoming a writer/producer, Villalobos was both a network and studio executive. At the Walt Disney Company, she launched eight children's shows in seven countries and then oversaw six primetime shows at The WB.


In addition, Villalobos teaches at Cal State LA and at USC School of Cinematic Arts. She is on the Board of Immigrant Defenders Law Center and on the Honorary Board of The Point Foundation, the largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students of merit. She received her MFA from Antioch University in Creative Writing. Click here to learn more about Ligiah.

Beyond the RN: Maximizing Your Growth Potential in the Field of Nursing
Presented by Dr. Ali Tayyeb ('07, '10), and Dr. Chris Recinos ('10)

Just in time for this year’s National Nurses Week! Join our session to inform both novice and experienced nurses in the professional development of self and others in nursing. The next steps of professional development can often be difficult and guidance to do so is scarce. With decades of collective experience in nursing, Dr. Tayyeb and Dr. Recinos will guide a discussion that will educate, motivate, and empower nurses in taking the next step into their professional careers.

Click here to learn more about the Nursing Alumni Network.


Headshot of Ali Tayyeb. Ali Tayyeb ('07, '10), PhD, RN, NPD-BC, PHN
Assistant Professor, Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing at Cal State LA
Chair, Nursing Alumni Network

Dr. Ali R. Tayyeb is a United States Navy Veteran, Jonas Veterans healthcare Scholar, and Assistant Professor at Cal State LA. He is also the creator and host of the RN-Mentor Podcast. Dr. Tayyeb has over 25 years experience in the healthcare field with the last 10 years spent in nursing education with both experience in service and academia. Dr. Tayyeb is Nationally board certified as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist. Click here to learn more about Dr. Tayyeb.

Headshot of Chris Recinos Chris Recinos ('10), PhD, RN, FNP-BC, NEA-BC
CEO, Nurse Leader Network
Assistant Professor, Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing at Cal State LA

Dr. Chris Recinos is the CEO and founder of Nurse Leader Network, and is a nurse executive, entrepreneur, innovator, podcast host, and speaker. She is also the creator of the mental health app for teens, “Hello, Harmony”.  Her former roles include Chief Nurse Executive for Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center, Deputy Nurse Executive for the Veterans Administration, and a variety of nursing professor, nurse practitioner and registered nurse roles. In her spare time, she can be found advocating for mental health and suicide prevention policies. Click here to learn more about Dr. Recinos.


This event is free for attendees. Registration is required. Click on the button below to submit your RSVP. The deadline to complete registration is by 5:00 p.m. (PT) on Monday, May 3, 2021.  For questions, please contact Christina Garrison at [email protected].

We look forward to seeing you then!