Raul Cardenas, Jr., PhD is President and CEO at J.K. Mullen High School in Denver Colorado. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Pepperdine University, his Masters from Northern Arizona State, and his PhD from Arizona State University (ASU). Dr. Cardenas comes from a family of educators and learned very early the value of listening. That early experience led him to higher education. Along the way, he started two charter high schools in Arizona for high-risk groups, so that those students would be on track to college. Since that experience 15 years ago, Cardenas has continued working to get young people into education pipelines. Prior to his current position, he worked as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for the University of Colorado, Denver. During his long tenure at both CU Denver and the University of Northern Colorado, he has become aware that Colorado has some of the lowest rates in the country for students going to college. It is this statistic that has motivated his work.
Michael H. Cook, Esq., is a partner and co-chair of the Health Care Group at the law firm of Liles Parker PLLC in Washington, DC. Michael practices law in the area of health care, and during his more than 40 years of practice has headed the DC office health care practices of several major national and international law firms. A Fellow of the American Health Lawyers Association, Michael has also served as an advisor on health care policy to the campaigns of candidates for national and state political office and has lectured and published extensively in the area. He currently serves of the Boards of the Center for Public Service and Scholarship at Shenandoah University, the Political Science Department of Temple University, and the Osteoporosis Foundation, and was appointed by the current Governor of Virginia to serve on the Board of the Department of Medical Assistance Services – the Department that administers Virginia’s Medicaid program.
Professor Robert C. Fellmeth, AB Stanford U., JD Harvard U., Price Professor of Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego School of Law, Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Institute since 1989, Board of the National Association of Counsel for Children since 1998 (President 2010-12), Secretary-Treasurer of the Partnership for America’s Children currently, Board of Public Citizen since 1994, former State Bar Discipline Monitor 1987-92, litigation re child rights (25 published appellate cases), legislative advocacy and sponsorship of child related statutes 1988-present, author of the law text Child Rights and Remedies (Clarity, 3d edition, 2013).
Glen L. Friedman, President and Founder, Ideas & Solutions! Inc. Recognized as a Cable Pioneer, Friedman has participated in the evolution of the entertainment industry. From satellite TV to streaming apps on a mobile phone, Mr. Friedman has helped shape how consumers, literally, view Hollywood. For over three decades, Friedman has been on the forefront of major media change with his key involvement in the launch of DIRECTV, XM Satellite Radio, High Speed Internet, television for mobile devices, mobile content measurement and other important technological advances. As Principal of Ideas & Solutions! for the past 20+ years, Friedman has thought outside the box as a consultant. From start-ups to huge conglomerates – including long-running, multiyear engagements with such companies as DIRECTV, Fox, Discovery and the Saban Capital Group – his insights into marketing and business strategies, as well as the rapidly evolving trends in technology, have been crucial to his clients’ success. Glen Friedman has a B.S., Management and Organizational Behavior from Babson College. He completed the Executive Management Program, University of Denver. He is active with many non-profit organizations and was awarded the Inspiration Award from Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles for outstanding commitment to youth and families.
Brian Gray, CPA , is a partner at Gursey | Schneider LLP, Brian specializes in income tax planning, annual tax return filings and audit defense for businesses and their owners. Brian has extensive experience working with high net worth individuals and their estate planning attorneys to design and implement tax efficient estate plans. Brian is a member of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Economics with a minor in Accounting from University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to joining Gursey | Schneider LLP, Brian held positions as a tax director at a national accounting firm and as director of finance and tax for a family office.
Judy Hackett, has over 25 years of experience in both B2C & B2B strategic planning, marketing, advertising, brand development, sales and product management. Previously, she was the Chief Marketing Officer for Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., Web.com, and CareerBuilder. She is a founding partner and CMO in the LA-based investment firm, Bryant-Stibel. Judy began her career in broadcast television and served as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advertising for TBS Superstation. She has received numerous industry awards in her career including an EMMY, ADDY, PRSA Phoenix and Promax Gold Medallion. She graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Journalism and in 1996, received the university’s Young Alumni Award. Judy serves as President of the Los Angeles Chapter of The CMO Club, a global community of CMOs committed to solving marketer’s biggest challenges. Judy and her husband Bruce, reside in Pacific Palisades, California.
Fatuma Johnson, a junior at our First Star University of Utah Academy, has been elected as our first First Star Student Board Member. Originally a refugee from Somalia, Fatuma is full of energy, love and joy and cares deeply about First Star and the First Star mission. With plans to pursue a career in nursing, she is already a strong leader at the University of Utah Academy and within her local community. We are thrilled to welcome her as the student representative who will help elevate First Star Academies across the country.
Peter Samuelson, Co-Founder and President of First Star, and CEO of PhilmCo Media llc, Mr. Samuelson is a serial pro-social entrepreneur. In 1982 he co-founded the Starlight Children’s Foundation; by 1990 the positive psychological impact of Starlight seeded his next pro-social endeavor, Starbright World, co-founded with Steven Spielberg. 1999 saw the formation of First Star, 2005 EDAR Everyone Deserves a Roof, and 2013 saw him launch ASPIRE, the Academy for Social Purpose in Responsible Entertainment. In the midst of all this Peter has produced 26 films and raised four children. Educated at Cambridge and the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, Peter resides in Los Angeles with his wife Saryl, and continues to fight every day for those less fortunate, chief among them America’s abused and neglected children.
Adrien Sebro, Ph.D. has previously worked as a mentor and Program Coordinator for the First Star UCLA Bruin Guardian Scholars Academy for foster youth in Greater Los Angeles from 2011-2018. He graduated with his BA in Women’s Studies from UCLA, his MA in African American Studies from Columbia University IRAAS, and received his Ph.D in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA. Dr. Sebro is currently an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Radio, Television and Film at the University of Texas, Austin.
Kathleen Strottman, For almost twenty years, Kathleen has been a sought after expert on policies related to the welfare of children. As a trusted advisor to Senator Mary Landrieu, Kathleen worked to pass key pieces of legislation including the Intercountry Adoption Act, the Child Citizenship Act, the Adoption Tax Credit and the Family Court Act. As Executive Director for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and the Global Alliance for Children, Kathleen sought to increase the opportunity for positive dialogue and the exchange of best practice between the United States and its partner countries. A regular presenter at national and international conferences, Kathleen has appeared on CNN, Fox News, CBS, C-SPAN, PBS and numerous other media outlets. Kathleen attended Whittier Law School’s Center for Children’s Rights, where she graduated with honors and received a state certified specialty in juvenile advocacy. She and her husband, Matt, are the proud parents of four children and live in Alexandria, Virginia.
Vince Thompson lives in Los Angeles and helps First Star with communications, partnerships and donor engagement. He’s lead sales organizations for AOL and Facebook, is a best-selling management author and has served as a startup company CEO and a public company board member. In addition to his work for First Star he invests and consults with his firm Middleshift. Thompson holds a degree in communications from USC and an MBA from Pepperdine University.