Pay It Forward - Pay It Forward Luncheon
Spring 2021 Webinar Series
Royal Rebel: Fresno State Alum, Princess Soma Norodom shares her professional and
April 28, 2021
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Please join us on April 28th for Pay it Forward at Fresno State as we welcome Princess
Soma Norodom to share her personal and professional journey. Known as the “royal
rebel” (also the title of her first book), Soma will amaze you with her drive, dedication,
and work ethic.
Soma was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 1969. She is a direct descendant of King Norodom I, the Founder and Patriarch of the Cambodian Royal Family. In 1975, after the fall of the Cambodian capital to the Khmer Rouge, her father brought her and her family to Long Beach, California. Soma moved to Fresno and attended California State University, Fresno earning a bachelor's degree in Telecommunications in 1993 with an emphasis in News and Public affairs and shortly thereafter, a master's degree in Mass Communication in 1996. After a series of jobs in media and marketing in Fresno, Soma decided to return to Cambodia in 2010 to care for her father, whose health had begun to decline as well as claiming the title of Princess of Cambodia. During her four years in Cambodia, Soma created the first English Speaking radio talk show, was a columnist, learned the Khmer language, learned the protocols required as a Princess in the Royal family, and worked hard to support local charities. including creating her own foundation and spoke passionately about social justice, freedom of speech and education.
Upon returning to the United States in 2014, Soma had to readjust to life in the United States and began writing her first book “Royal Rebel” that is available from Amazon and other bookstores. She has continued to work with charity organizations and became the Ambassador for Digger Foundation that raises awareness and funds to design special equipment to clear landmines in war-torn countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, Ukraine, etc.
As is the case with all of our Pay it Forward speakers, Soma’s professional and personal journey continues to be an adventure--one filled with twists and turns, some difficult intersections, and lots of challenging and rewarding times. She currently is in the process of moving from Atlanta where she worked for the Atlanta Falcons and helped grow a church with a pastor, she met during her time in Cambodia to Chattonooga, TN. She is committed to continuing her philanthropy work and is working on finishing her second book called “Watch with the Wind and Just Breathe”.
We are honored to have Princess Soma Norodom share her personal and professional journey with Fresno State students, faculty and Central Valley community members at Pay it Forward attendees on April 28th from 12:00-1:30.
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March 2021 Webinar
Embracing Change in Times of Uncertainty
Pivoting Your Personal and Professional Journey in Response to COVID-19
Change is inevitable in both our personal and professional lives. In fact, it is the only aspect of our lives that is constant. Join us for an insightful discussion on adapting to change during these uncertain times and how the panelists managed to pivot and change during the past year due to COVID-19.
November 2020 Webinar
Life Beyond Fresno State
Ever wonder what life after school is like? If so, watch this engaging interactive panel discussion with five recent graduates from Fresno State and the Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program (EMP). The EMP is a 16-year-old program with over 400 students having completed the program. EMP offers students from all disciplines the opportunity to build an entrepreneurial mindset and develop impactful relationships with Central Valley business leaders. This unique panel discussion will provide current students with insight into how graduates with an entrepreneurial mindset have enhanced their professional journey.
September 2020 Webinar
Hear from the Director of Fresno State’s Career Development Center, Debbie Young,
and Employer Connection Specialist, Damian Lay for a special online Pay It Forward
Summer 2020 Webinar Series
Life, Leadership, and Legacy
Virtual Zoom Sessions
February 11, 2020
February 11, 2020
Owner, Brown Bear’s Hot Dogs
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Satellite Student Union
Great “food for thought,” coupled with a delicious Brown Bear’s Hot Dog, makes for
a fantastic kick-off to our 2020 Spring Pay it Forward Luncheon Forums.
Hot Dog fans will not want to miss the February 11th Pay It Forward Luncheon Forum featuring Brown Bear’s Hot Dogs from the famous family-owned Fresno eatery! Not only will you get a sample of what makes Brown Bear’s Hot Dogs one of the best in the Central Valley, but you will have the opportunity to listen to owner Benjerman Raya share his inspirational personal and professional journey.
Benjerman and Jennifer Chu-Raya, owners of Brown Bear’s Hot Dogs, have more than 30 years of combined experience in the food industry. Initially, operating from a hot dog cart, Benjerman and Jennifer have grown their business to a permanent drive-through restaurant in north Fresno. Benjerman, a native Fresnan, understands the importance of passion, perseverance, a strong work ethic and a positive attitude. Sign up today for a very special (and delicious!) start to our Spring Pay It Forward series.
November 12, 2019
Ben Runyon and Becca Cartier
October 11, 2019
September 12, 2019
Hall of Fame Sales Manager turned Entrepreneur.
"I've gone from sales to CEO, and now I Train, Speak, Coach, and Invest to build great businesses. I aim to inspire innovators to become better leaders. I absolutely love teaching, coaching, and building entrepreneurial leaders!"
April 9, 2019
John Shegerian is a serial social entrepreneur who focuses on solving global problems through game changing innovation to build successful, socially responsible companies. John is also an inspirational public speaker, being invited to speak at conferences and provide keynote speeches at a variety of special events.
No stranger to “recycling lives” and serving up second chances, in 1993 Shegerian co-founded Homeboy Tortillas and Homeboy Industries, which continues to serve as a paradigm for urban renewal in America and was awarded the New York Stock Exchange Building for the Future Award for creating new jobs and opportunities for gang-impacted youth in post-riot Los Angeles.
Shegerian is also the creator of the popular Bulldog Root Beer brand, which he launched in 1997.
Shegerian then co-founded FinancialAid.com, filling the financial aid gap for higher education and generating one of the most successful student loan companies in the country. While at FinancialAid.com, he also created RateYourCampus.com (a college student polling and feedback community), leading to the creation of CampusDirt.com (which evolved into the most relevant and visited college search engine of its time). Also, CampusClix.com was created and became one of the first college social networking properties on the web.
In October 2004, Shegerian and his partners sold FinancialAid.com and all the aforementioned affiliated properties to Education Lending Group, which was purchased in February 2005 by CIT (NYSE: CIT).
Shegerian founded Addicted.com in 2005, one of the largest web resources for individuals seeking help for addictions online. The website boasts a database of over 20,000 addiction centers across the United States.
Shegerian is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of ERI, the United States’ leading recycler of electronic waste and the world’s largest IT asset disposition (ITAD) and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company. ERI processes more than 275 million pounds of electronic waste annually at eight locations, serving every zip code in the United States, and providing peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses that their personal data is responsibly destroyed.
Shegerian is the co-founder and CMO of The Marketing Masters, a digital marketing and web development company that builds effective, ROI-driven marketing campaigns for businesses large and small.
Shegerian co-founded Som Sleep, a drink formulated to help individuals achieve better, more restorative sleep.
Shegerian is a member of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business’ Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) Advisory Board and was named the Clean Tech Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California by Ernst & Young.
March 1, 2019
Dr. Jeffrey Davis is the founder and CEO of Exploring 4 Solutions, LLC, and an Executive-in-Residence
at the Crowd Innovation Laboratory at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social
Science. In 2017, Jeff joined the board of the nonprofit Girlstart. He is a recognized
international leader, educator, speaker, author and consultant in collaborative innovation,
human system risk management in health care systems, and space and aviation medicine.
He provides deep technical knowledge based on more than 30 years of experience in
NASA, commercial aviation and academia. He has strong skills in the risk management
of complex healthcare systems in space flight, aviation and occupational health environments,
and organizational change through collaborative and open innovation efforts. Jeff’s
unique experience and insights across government, academic, corporate and non-profit
settings provide a depth of technical knowledge that builds bridges between various
disciplines and partners.
Prior to his CEO role, Jeff served as the Director, Human Health and Performance, and the Chief Medical Officer for the NASA Johnson Space Center. In these roles he provided technical leadership and management for medical care, biomedical research and technology development for space exploration. Jeff also promoted the use of open innovation in NASA to enhance problem solving and organizational development. He initiated the NASA Human Health and Performance Center (NHHPC) in 2010 and served as its director until 2017. The NHHPC is a major collaborative center for NASA with over 150 members in public, private, academic and nonprofit sectors. Along with partners, Jeff established the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) in 2011 and served as the deputy director until 2017. CoECI provides consulting expertise to NASA and other federal agencies for the use of open innovation.
Dr. Davis received his B.S. degree in Biology from Stanford University, an M.D. degree from the University of California at San Diego, and a Master of Science degree from Wright State University. He is certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. Past positions include Professor, Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch; Corporate Medical Director, American Airlines; and Chief, Medical Operations, NASA Johnson Space Center. His national board participation included service as the chair of the American Board of Preventive Medicine; chair of the Residency Review Committee for Preventive Medicine; and president of the Aerospace Medical Association.
February 5, 2019
Lynne Ashbeck is the senior vice president, community engagement and population wellness for Valley Children’s Healthcare. In her role, Lynne works with physicians, hospital staff and community leaders to formulate and implement population wellness strategies designed to improve the health outcomes of children and their families in their neighborhoods, schools and community. Lynne’s work reflects her career-long efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, with children leading the list of her passions.
A respected civic leader, Lynne is currently serving her fifth term on the Clovis City Council. She was first elected in 2001, served as mayor from 2003 – 2005 and again from 2013 – 2015. She founded the Clovis Citizen’s Academy, a five-week training program to help Clovis residents learn more about local government and is active with the League of California Cities Institute for Local Government initiatives around civic engagement and public participation. Prior to her election to the City Council, Lynne served on the City’s Personnel Commission and Planning Commission.
Lynne is an adjunct professor at Fresno Pacific University, teaching conflict resolution courses in both the undergraduate healthcare administration and graduate leadership programs. She is involved in Governor-appointed roles on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission and the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and as a board member or co-chair in many community and regional organizations.
Prior to joining Valley Children’s, Lynne was the regional vice president for the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, serving nearly 40 hospitals in 10 counties. She also had professional experiences in population health at local medical centers; higher education as the extension programs director at California State University, Fresno; and agriculture, with nearly 20 years of work on behalf of the dairy industry as the vice president, program services for Dairy Council of California. She also served as a senior mediator/facilitator with the Center for Collaborative Policy, California State University, Sacramento.
Lynne completed both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in home economics/nutrition at Fresno State and is a registered dietitian. She completed a master’s degree in conflict resolution and peacemaking from Fresno Pacific University.
The Pay It Forward luncheon series brings together Fresno State students and community professionals. Each luncheon is led by a different leader, from or with strong ties to the Central Valley and Fresno State. This event acts as a forum for dialogue, explores in-depth issues, and allows for impactful networking.
November 16, 2018
October 12, 2018
As Chief Marketing Officer at DRINKS, owner and operator of popular direct-to-consumer properties Martha Stewart Wine Co. and Wine Insiders, Josiah leads customer acquisition, revenue generation, and corporate communication efforts. Josiah brings over a decade and a half of progressive experience in brand building, direct marketing, customer acquisition, and business development.
Prior to DRINKS, Josiah ran business development for the social game studio Meteor Games, where he worked with Facebook management to help develop the growing multi-billion dollar Facebook games channel, and spearheaded partnerships that resulted in the free acquisition of millions of new players. In addition, Josiah led revenue generation efforts that resulted in 1,000% per-user revenue growth after just one year.
As mobile applications were first introduced, Josiah founded JooJoo Mobile, a boutique mobile game and application development studio that serviced the Los Angeles entertainment industry. Josiah started his career at Hydra, an online performance-based marketing company, where he spearheaded product and business development and built the company’s award-winning creative team.
September 13, 2018
As the only First Impressions Consulting certified consultant based on the West Coast, Gia Kazarian’s personable demeanor and professional development expertise are the formula for achieving desired personal and professional results. With over 15 years of experience in human resources and leadership development, Gia works with individuals to strengthen their social skills, self-awareness and professional behaviors through a proven method.
First Impressions Consulting was founded by Dr. Ann Demarais; author and psychologist of New York. First Impressions helps you discover how you are perceived at work, while navigating your career, and in social situations. We help you gain self-awareness, provide you with supportive and constructive feedback, and show you how to take practical steps to realize your goals. Our unique methodology combines business and social psychology, is grounded in academic research, built on real-world experience, and tailored to the individual. Follow-up data shows that more than 90% of our clients have used their First Impressions coaching with lasting, positive impact.
Gia’s history with the First Impressions team and passion for improving individuals through education is infectious, as you can see in her career. She has directed and implemented leadership development and HR programs for Fortune 500 companies. She brings this national experience and exposure to the California’s Central Valley.
Gia’s clientele includes people working in the following industries:
• Customer Service
• Human Resources
• Legal Services
She works with individuals, teams, and organizations on how to tell the truth and collaborate in a way that allows them to unlock opportunities, achieve new results, and gracefully produce needed changes on-the-spot.
Gia lives with her husband of nine years and their two young sons. She enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, trying new fitness activities and connecting with her Armenian roots in supporting cultural events. Above all, Gia thrives in meeting new people and helping others seek their full potential.
Education & Certifications
• Master’s Degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology (NYU)
• Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Minor in Workplace Studies – University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
• Myers-Briggs Qualifying Program Certification
• Leadership Coaching & Tool Certifications
• Results Coaching Systems Experience
April 11, 2018
As CEO and co-founder of Bitwise Industries, Irma Olguin Jr. oversees the company’s operations teams, as well as tech-focused training program, Geekwise Academy, and custom software development firm, Shift3 Technologies – ensuring each’s fidelity to mission, strategy, and long-term goals. In 2010, she created 59DaysOfCode, a competition highlighting and encouraging the Valleyʼs tech industry. A year later, she co-founded Hashtag, an open workspace for designers and developers alike. In 2013, she co-founded Edit LLC to solve efficiency and data issues in the ag industry. But it was in 2012, over a Red Bull (her) and gin and tonic (him) with her IP attorney, Jake, the decision was made to build a company focused on strengthening Fresno’s tech industry and leveraging it as the economic driver to remake a city. The best part of all of her ventures, she says, is figuring out what role someone is best suited for. Admittedly, adjusting the world so people can spend more time doing good work and less time worrying about filling the gas tank is the only way she knows how to save the world.
March 19, 2018
Judge Robert Oliver has more than 40 years of legal experience in Fresno County. A business and estate planning lawyer for 22 years, Oliver was appointed to the Fresno Municipal Court in April of 1995 and elevated by consolidation to the Superior Court in April of 1998. Immediately prior to retiring from the bench in January 2015, after nearly 20 years of service, he sat by assignment on the Court of Appeal, Fifth District in November-December 2014.
Judge Oliver has joined Baker Manock & Jensen as Of Counsel, where he will specialize in dispute resolution and mediation to help resolve issues between people and organizations. He is a Board Certified Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Specialist.
Among his assignments, Judge Oliver served in the trial department for 11 years, presiding over more than 200 jury trials. As Supervising Judge of the Probate Division, he was directly involved in more than 200 case settlements. He also served as presiding judge of the five-court Juvenile Department and as a member of the appellate panel of the Superior Court. He chaired the Court's jury oversight committee and was a member of statewide committees dealing with jury and judicial outreach issues. He served as an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Fresno County Superior Court for more than nine years. He served as a member of the Executive Board of the California Judges Association; was elected in 2008 as a Vice President and served as Vice President of the California Judges Association Foundation.
Judge Oliver has been a law school adjunct faculty member, teaching secured real property transactions and corporate law. He has taught business organization law for the paralegal program at San Joaquin College of Law and business law at the Craig School of Business, California State University, Fresno. Throughout his career, he has been a frequent speaker and panelist on a variety of subjects including: communications skills; conflict resolution in the probate case; ethical issues for the business lawyer; the realities of succession planning; practical charitable giving ideas; and ethical considerations for the estate planning professional.
Judge Oliver's dedication to the community and legal profession is demonstrated by the following examples of organizations in which he has served as president or chair. Saint Agnes Medical Center Foundation: Rotary Club of Fresno; Fresno City and County Historical Society; Fresno Estate Planning Council; Fresno County Interagency Council for Children and Families; California State University, Fresno Foundation; National Conference of Bar Foundations; the Foundation of the State Bar of California; Fresno County Bar Association; Fresno County Young Lawyers. Oliver was also elected a member and a vice president of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California; and was appointed to the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission (JNE).
February 28, 2018
Terance Frazier was born in Oakland, California. He received a B.S. in Criminal Justice, while playing baseball at Fresno State. Mr. Frazier’s hard work and skill led the Fresno State Baseball team to win the championship three years in a row. In 1992, he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics and a few years later played with the St. Paul Saints of Minnesota.
Upon his retirement from professional baseball, Mr. Frazier returned to Fresno to pursue his interest and passion of real estate investment. In 1996, he partnered with Mr. Steve Hosey to establish a real estate investment company with a focus in acquisition of distressed single family homes. This venture took off and with growth came diversification of investments.
Mr. Frazier’s experience and expertise allowed him to grow his personal business. In 2004, he established TFS Investments, LLC, where he serves as the Managing Member. With a passion for improving neighborhoods in the inner city, Mr. Frazier continued to invest in renovations of distressed single and multi-family housing in the city of Fresno. TFS Investments, LLC currently invests in approximately 100 residential properties per year and has invested in approximately 10,000 over the last 20 years. Identifying the needs that exist in the inner city, he continued to grow his venture by diversifying his investments and entering into partnerships with other local developers to build large commercial projects like Campus Pointe and Midstate Bowl.
Today, the company specializes in all areas of residential and commercial real estate, with an extensive portfolio that not only includes Central California, but also Texas and Georgia. TFS Investments, LLC has steered over $600,000,000 in investment dollars from a large investment group over the last 20 years to the Fresno market. Due to Mr. Frazier’s experience and relationships in the development world he has been successful in developing projects that have given synergy to initiatives like the revitalization of Downtown Fresno. These projects include condominiums, retail stores, and office spaces. His vision for a revitalized Downtown Fresno has generated much interest from local and out of state investors. Mr. Frazier is part of the group of investors developing condominiums that will oversee the Chuckchansi Park and a Public Market that will be an anchor and centerpiece of the new Fulton Street in Downtown Fresno. TFS Investments, LLC has positioned itself to be one of the largest investors committed to seeing Downtown Fresno become an entertainment hub for the Central Valley.
Mr. Frazier is also the President of Central Cal Baseball Academy (Central Cal), a non-profit which he founded in 1997. Central Cal focuses on the development and mentoring of student-athletes in an environment that encourages sportsmanship and academics. The non-profit is committed to mentoring at-risk youth and ensuring that cost is not an obstacle to motivated players. Central Cal emphasizes academic achievement, substance abuse education, and community service. The non-profit has a track record of 100% high school graduation, sends kids to college and the major leagues.
Mr. Frazier has five children and is very active in his community. He serves on State Center Community College District (SCCCD) Foundation Board, SCCCD Executive Committee, Dugout Club, Fresno State Alumni Association, Southwest Community Development Corporation, Mayor-Council Code Enforcement Task Force, Fresno State Alumni Engagement Committee, and is President of the Fresno State Baseball Alumni Association.
Mr. Frazier has received many accolades and recognition for his personal success, but also for the commitment to improving the community. In 2011, Senator Michael Rubio (ret.) recognized recognized him as Man of the Year in the State of California.
Other awards and accomplishments include: Businessman of the year by the National Republican Congressional Committee, NAACP’s Image Award for Business, 2015 Fresno County Office of Education Athletics Honoree, 2015 SCCC Wall of Honor Inductee, Economic Development Award from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (San Joaquin Valley Alumnae Chapter), 2015 Urban Leadership Champion in Entertainment and Business and the 2016 Success in Real Estate and Construction Award (both were presented by the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce). Most recently, he was recognized for his 20-year service to helping at-risk kids reach their full potential through the sport of baseball.
November 7, 2017
Genesis Wilson is in CFO of Dutch Bros Fresno, which she owns with her husband Brent. This duo has been running the franchise in Fresno for nearly 10 years. Together, they have built the business to include 5 locations, both drive through and walk up, and an event truck that serves throughout the community. They currently employ over 230 people.
Genesis holds a Business Administration Degree from California State University, Northridge and she is a member of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. In addition, it is important to both Genesis and Brent that their company be a force for good in the community, and they have donated over $181,000 to local organizations like the Marjaree Mason Center, Poverello House, Valley Children's Hospital, MDA, and Boys & Girls Club. More than the money they donate, they work very hard to teach philanthropy to their employees by regularly involving them in giving process.
October 16, 2017
September 14, 2017
April 27, 2017
March 14, 2017
February 16, 2017
November 7, 2016
October 13, 2016
September 14, 2016