Guest Speakers

During November’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, Sac State will welcome innovators and founders of local startups to share their personal journeys and offer valuable advice. We hope these free presentations helped you find inspiration that will make you Sacramento State's next Game Changer. 

Click here for photos from Global Entrepreneurship Week. 


Clarisse Baca and John Meidinger

Clarisse Baca '12 (Business Administration) '15 MBA is a co-founder of Activity Jungle and leads business development. Clarisse was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico and came to Sacramento to play tennis for the Sac State Women’s team as an undergraduate. She's currently the Sac State Women’s tennis head coach. 

John Meidinger '09 (Government) '16 MBA is a co-founder of Activity Jungle and is in charge of business strategy and marketing. He's also a marketing representative for Federated. 

Clarisse and John will speak on the abilitity to adapt to change and how to connect with people and existing resources. 

Dale Carlsen

Dale Carlsen '84 (Business Administration) is the founder of Sleep Train, Inc., an employee-owned company that is ranked the No. 1 mattress retailer on the West Coast. His business endeavors have earned him the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Sacramento Metro Chamber Businessman of the Year and the Chamber’s Sacamentan of the Year.

While earning his degree at Sacramento State, Carlsen developed an awareness of the challenges facing children in the foster care system. He and his wife, Katy, created Sleep Train's Foster Kids program, which for more than 20 years has collected funds, clothing and school supplies for foster children. In addition, his company’s Ticket to Dream Foundation has been a frequent supporter of Sacramento State’s Guardian Scholars program, a support network for former foster youth pursuing a degree at the University. Carlsen will speak on risk taking and dream making during a plenary session. 

Michael Casper and Michael Lynch

Valley High School classmates, and football teammates, Michael Lynch MPPA '14 and Michael Casper '10 (Communication Studies) were able to avoid the common pitfalls of other young men of color by holding one another accountable and pushing each other to succeed. After graduating from Sacramento State, Lynch began working as a staffer in the California State Assembly and Casper as a Branch Manager for US Bank.

In the fall of 2012, Lynch approached Casper about starting a program at Valley to help other young men of color attend and graduate from four-year universities, recognizing early on that obtaining a college degree was their vehicle for a better life. These conversations and a deep desire to help other young men of color escape the shackles of poverty and violence eventually lead to the creation of Improve Your Tomorrow.

Casper and Lynch will speak on the power of mentoring.

John Chapman

John Chapman is an adjunct professor of biological science and president of Stem Cell Partners LLC., which works with medical companies to develop products that use the body’s own healing properties to improve wound care. He was part of the Sac State-based biomedical team that took home top honors in a National Science Foundation-funded effort to identify effective means to market medical breakthroughs. 

James Chu

James Chu '13 (Criminal Justice) was born and raised in Sacramento as a first generation American and learned at an early age to take risks and initiative to help contribute to the needs of his family. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. During his time there, he co-founded Haven & Florin, a company that focuses on designing multifunctional made in USA backpacks for the everyday explorer. The company is currently expanding its product line after the success of its product, the Ruckpack. 

James Chu

Maritza and Roshaun Davis

The Sacramento power couple of Maritza ’07 (Communication Studies) and Roshaun ’08 (Journalism) return to their alma mater to share their story as founders of the event marketing agency, Unseen Heroes. Using the local landscape as their canvas, this duo specializes in transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary with memorable experiences for the entire community. Listen in as the couple reveals valuable business insight on how they’ve built an award-winning agency.


Evelyn Fallon

Evelyn Fallon ’79 (Business Administration), MBA ’81 enjoyed an innovative career as an organizational consultant, finding an unfilled niche as an adviser for the energy, insurance, health care, financial services and software industries. Using her entrepreneurial spirit and business-management background, she grew her business to serve clients such as AT&T, Novo Nordisk Entotech, Inc. and Providian Financial Services. She was an adjunct faculty at Sacramento State in 1985 in the College of Business Administration and is now an active member of the Renaissance Society. 

Evelyn Fallon

Tiffany Fraser and Lisa Wrightsman

As former standout soccer players at Sac State, Lisa Wrightsman ’05 (Communication Studies) and Tiffany Fraser ’09 (Communication Studies) know what it takes to create a winning team. However, instead of working with formally trained athletes, Lisa and Tiffany coach a Street Soccer USA team that helps homeless women overcome abuse and addiction. Join these inspirational and innovative alumnae as they share their deeply personal journeys that have led them to become social entrepreneurs and role models to women ready to win on and off the field. 

Fraser and Wrightsman

Ana Klein

Ana Klein ’95, MBA ’10 has risen the ranks to become vice president and CFO of Sunsweet Growers, Inc., the world’s largest handler of dried tree fruits—namely prunes—with an annual revenue of $340 million. She became Sunsweet’s first female and youngest CFO in 2004. Klein has been recognized as the 2015 College of Business Administration Alumna of the Year and CFO of the Year by the Sacramento Business Journal in 2014.

Klein will speak about the characteristics of success, drawing on her own experience as the first in her family to attend college.


Garry Maisel

In 1996, Garry Maisel ’80 (Business Administration-Finance) was the first employee of Western Health Advantage, a non-profit organization that now includes 250 employees and more than 130,000 members. Maisel is an active community board member, he currently lends his expertise and experience to Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE), Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council and the American Heart Association, among others.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recipient is active with numerous other non-profits, including Valley Vision, the Mercy Foundation, B Street Theatre and Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

Garry Maisel

President Robert S. Nelsen

Robert S. Nelsen is the eighth president of Sacramento State. His experience in public higher education spans nearly three decades, most of it in the University of Texas system. He was president of UT-Pan American from 2010-14 and served as special advisor to UT’s executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. Among his many awards and honors, Nelsen was named Man of the Year by the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 

Mark Otero

Mark Otero ’99 (Computer Science) sold his successful social gaming company, KlickNation, to video giant Electronic Arts and served as general manager of EA’s BioWare Studios in Sacramento and San Francisco. As CEO and co-founder of KlickNation, he grew his company into a multi-million dollar operation that employed more than 70 creative professionals. An entrepreneur and game fanatic, Otero has become a sought-after expert in the field of social applications, virtual goods and free-to-play games. By building a Silicon Valley caliber gaming technology firm in Sacramento, he has been credited with infusing the area with a new business industry.


Pandora alumni employees (see Lisa Sullivan-Cross and Ryan Takao below) present a panel session on “Technology Reimagined: How Pandora continues to innovate.” They will speak about the multidisciplinary approach it takes to create innovative entertainment in an ever-changing technological and social world. Panelists will also share their personal stories of how they arrived at Pandora (from college through internships to how they were hired) and provide students recommendations on how they can find their own path to working for an entrepreneurial company…or create one of their own.

Stacey Powell

Stacey Powell '92 (Accountancy) is the founder of Finance Gym, a social venture where you and your money get stronger. She also founded Creating Answers, a chief financial officer firm providing excellent financials and financial coaching to small business and not-for-profits. Her sole purpose is to change the way people interact with their money so that they don't just know better, they do better. 

Stacey will present tips for "planning your future."

Stacey Powell

John Schimandle

John Schimandle '80 (Electrical and Electronics Engineering) worked at HP for 25 years, and was a Senior Design Engineer and the Sac State College Recruiting Manager before he left the company in 2004 to start his own consulting firm. At HP he was involved in many areas of engineering in both Manufacturing and R&D, hardware and software design and test. As part of the HP Sac State recruiting team he served on many industrial advisory boards, managed HP’s college equipment donation program grants and was commencement speaker at two Sac State Graduations.  For the last 12 years, he has been the president of Iguana Vision, Inc. and helps small to mid-sized companies, primarily in the Sacramento, Grass Valley and San Francisco Bay area, with embedded systems (hardware and software) design projects. He is very active in mentoring Sac State students in various ways from hiring interns, providing real world projects to graduate classes, coaching senior project teams and being an MEP mentor. He also teaches basic physics to kindergarten classes in Loomis and Rocklin.

John Schimandle

Manmeet Singh

Manmeet Singh is biological sciences major who will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in December. She is currently applying to graduate schools and hopes to continue her biomedical work in wound treatment. She was part of the Sac State-based biomedical team that took home top honors in a National Science Foundation-funded effort to identify effective means to market medical breakthroughs. 

Warren D. Smith

Warren D. Smith, professor of electrical and electronic engineering, is a renowned specialist in biomedical engineering whose cutting-edge research has produced exciting medical breakthroughs. Smith will speak during two seperate sessions. 


Mayor Darrell Steinberg

Darrell Steinberg is one of Sacramento’s most accomplished public servants, serving the Sacramento community for more than 20 years on the Sacramento City Council, and in the State Assembly and State Senate. He is a founder and chair of the Steinberg Institute for Advancing Mental Health Policy and is director of policy and advocacy for the UC Davis Behavioral Health Center of Excellence.


Lisa Sullivan-Cross

As Vice President, Growth at Pandora, Lisa Sullivan-Cross '93 (Communication Studies) has strengthened the Pandora brand and developed marketing programs that contribute to the company¹s active user and revenue growth, as well as its customer retention gains. With more than 20 years marketing experience, she is an innovative data-driven marketer with a track record building and growing businesses at companies such as Lucasfilm, Warner Bros.,, Evite, and Nielsen Business Media (Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Adweek).

Lisa Sullivan-Cross

Ryan Takao

While studying at Sacramento State, Ryan Takao '13 (Mathematics) worked part-time at a call center until late 2012 where he transitioned to a part-time role working remotely for a San Francisco based start-up, who had a booth at a career fair at Sac State. After graduating, he worked full-time as a consultant performing client implementations for a variety of use cases and clients.

In mid-2014, an opportunity presented itself at Pandora within the Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) Team managing and improving the financial model, where Ryan has been able to liaise with many different stakeholders within the business. Since joining Pandora, Ryan has facilitated the launch of a sales planning model, build out of a model for Ticketfly’s FP&A Team, and continually improve and add functionality to the consolidated Pandora model.

Dr. Chris Yu

Dr. Chris Yu is the co-founder and CEO of Anpac biomedical, a company that selected Sacramento as its home for North American expansion. Dr. Yu is a highly successful business executive, innovative engineer, and pioneering inventor, filing more than 200 patent applications. A proven, serial entrepreneur, Dr. Yu has consistently delivered solid returns to investors (more than 100X and 30X respectively in two start-up companies).

Over his 20-year career, Dr. Yu’s innovative and profitable work has spanned the fields of medical devices for cancer screening, biology, signal detection, transducer design and fabrications, among many other technologies. Attendees at his session will learn about the landscape of innovation.