Women's Emerging Leadership Forum (WELF)

Women's Emerging Leadership Forum Lam Family College of Business San Francisco State University logo with graphic of six female heads silhouetted in green blue purple red orange and yellow

WELF 2023 Information

The 9th Annual Women's Emerging Leadership Forum is hosted in collaboration with the San Francisco office of KPMG. We're looking forward to seeing you!

  • Date:  Friday, November 3, 2023
  • Time:  8:15 a.m. - 2:45 p.m.
  • Location:  KPMG LLP, 55 Second Street, 11th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105

Reasonable accommodations: This event welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations upon request. Please send an email to welf@sfsu.edu at least 5 days before the event to request reasonable accommodations.

The Lam Family College of Business (LFCoB) at San Francisco State University is hosting our 9th Annual Women’s Emerging Leadership Forum as an in-person event. 

WELF is a lively, engaging forum designed to help you achieve your full potential in the workplace by bringing together a diverse group of successful and aspiring leaders to exchange stories and hard-earned insights, share knowledge and learn how to avoid common pitfalls on the path to career and life advancement.  As an attendee, you will also identify ways to enhance your leadership skills, while making meaningful connections and expanding your professional network.

This year's theme is "Embracing Change and Alchemizing the Future.”  

We are proud to present an amazing line-up of speakers who will share their one-of-a-kind stories, having lived through, managed, envisioned, and materialized various forms of change in their professional and personal lives.

WELF attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the book, Vekita Full Potential, by Forbes contributor/author/entrepreneur Nicole Serena Silver.

Complimentary continental breakfast, lunch, and coffee/tea are included, as always.

TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT FOR THIS YEAR'S WELF!  If you didn't have an opportunity to buy a ticket this year, we hope you will join us next year.

If you booked your ticket, we look forward to seeing you on November 3rd at WELF!

Photo and Video Release Notice

This event takes place in a public venue and will be VIDEO RECORDED and PHOTOGRAPHED for distribution through various California State University outlets.  All event attendees (or parents/guardians of minors attending the event) acknowledge that they may appear in these recordings and photographs by attending or participating in this event and agree to the University’s use of photographed or videotaped materials through the University’s websites, applications and other channels of communication.


    Morning Speaker

    Kelly Craven2

    Kelly Wong Craven

    Director and Associate General Counsel for Facebook, Meta

    Kelly is a Director and Associate General Counsel at Meta Platforms, Inc., where she leads a diverse group of talented product attorneys who provide solutions-oriented legal counseling on a global scale to Facebook product, engineering and business teams.  Her pillar advises across products like News Feed, Stories, Groups, and Video products, as well as the search, ranking, machine learning and AI that powers them for Facebook’s 2 billion daily active users. She’s also the co-chair of the Meta Legal’s Pro Bono & Community Service Steering Committee, organizing opportunities for lawyers and legal professionals worldwide to support and advance underserved and underrepresented communities that inspire them to bring the world closer to equity.  Previously, Kelly handled a wide range of intellectual property issues for Yahoo, Inc.  She dedicated 8 years to private practice at two marquis Am Law 100 firms, Howrey and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, where she was a litigator and also helped manage IP enforcement strategies for some of the top brand owners in the world.  She holds advanced degrees from Pepperdine University School of Law and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, and Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley.  As a lifelong book lover, nominally aspiring writer, and enthusiastic bedtime story narrator, she believes in the power of words – most importantly the ones you use to frame your life and empower those around you.

    Keynote Speaker

    Sally Thornton

    Sally Thornton

    CEO and Founder, Forshay

    An instigator on how to thrive in the future of work, Sally founded Forshay in 2011 to connect the Bay Area's most innovative companies with exceptional talent through executive recruiting, project-based work, and improving the system of work through increased diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Forshay was awarded #290 on the Inc. 5000 "Fastest-Growing Private Companies" list for 2015. Prior to founding Forshay, Sally co-founded and was CEO of Flexperience. Under her leadership, Flexperience grew into a nationally acclaimed firm, and was awarded “Top 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies” in 2010 by the San Francisco Business Times. A recent speaker in two TEDx talks, Sally is a frequent keynote speaker on the future of work, women in leadership, the science of work/life blend, applying design thinking to make work better, harnessing the value of a multi-generational workforce, and talent recruitment and engagement strategies. Sally has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, BBC, Forbes, YahooFinance, Huffington Post, KQED radio, NBC11 News, ABC7 News, among numerous other media publications.Sally co-founded WorkLab in 2015, a design thinking community of action committed to making work better, based on her work with Stanford's "Redesigning and Redefining Work" project. She is committed to prototyping new workplace strategies and systems that align with the lives of today's workforce so companies can better harness talent for mutual success. Sally lectures regularly at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business as well as UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. She serves on the Advisory Council of Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research.


    Chia-Lin Simmons

    Chia-Lin Simmons

    CEO, LogicMark, Inc.

    Chia-Lin Simmons is passionate about delivering cutting edge technologies that change people’s lives. From pre-seed startups to Fortune 50 companies (Google, Amazon), she continues to be an early leader in AI, IoT (health care communications, remote patient monitoring, connected car, connected home, wearables), mobile, e-commerce, digital media, social, etc. As the CEO of LogicMark (NASDAQ: LGMK), she is focused on the care economy - helping people stay safe and the confidence to age in place. As a technology executive, she is active in health communications / remote monitoring, automotive tech, digital media, IoT, tokenization/block chain, and intersection of AI, E-Commerce and Social. She is active in technology investments, with focus on direct and LP investments, with several millions invested in early-stage venture capital firms. She is a corporate LP/director investor, launched #BindersProject to help connect female founders to investors and an angel investing through the Xoogler Angel Network, Orange Bridge Capital and other angel networks. She consults and mentors startups, non-profits and privately held companies as a strategy, investment, business development and marketing consultant. 

    Rachel Konrad

    Rachel Konrad

    Chief Brand Officer, The Production Board

    Rachel Konrad is Chief Brand Officer at TPB, where she leans into all aspects of communication, marketing, and creative initiatives for TPB and its portfolio investments. Rachel is also a lecturer of management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where she co-teaches the popular class “Winning Writing” with 10-time Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Kramon. Before TPB and Stanford, she served on management teams in three countries, reporting to Elon Musk at Tesla (2008-2011), Carlos Ghosn at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi (2011-2016), and Pat Brown at Impossible Foods (2016-2021). She currently serves on boards of early-stage businesses trying to solve global warming, biodiversity collapse and our public health crisis. She’s also a director at nonprofit Earth League International, which helps lock up shadowy kingpins who commit crimes against the environment.  Rachel graduated from Northwestern University with Bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and History. She won a Pew Fellowship to the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She spent more than a decade as a journalist. She binge-watches too many dark comedies and, sometimes simultaneously, clocks roughly 10,000 steps a day with Molly, a feisty German Shedder rescue.

    Heather Watkins

    Heather Watkins

    Co-Founder and COO, Bold Reuse

    Heather Watkins is a seasoned marketing executive with a track record of driving growth for technology startups. As the Chief Revenue Officer at Bold Reuse, she oversees Marketing, Sales & Finance, leveraging her expertise and passion to drive growth for a company that is committed to reducing waste and carbon emissions. Heather's lifelong interest in waste industries and sustainability stems from her family background - her father and grandfather built wastewater treatment plants, and she herself has worked at Republic Services. She is passionate about solving climate change through business and has dedicated her career to driving growth for companies that share her vision. Before joining Bold Reuse, Heather ran a consulting agency where she served as a fractional CMO for tech startups and impact tech companies such as Contentful, Iterable, OpenGov, and OpenInvest. Heather's experience also includes roles as an early employee of Marketo, which went public in 2013, and Optimizely, which was acquired in 2020. She leveraged that experience when she joined Impossible Foods to run B2B growth, where she leveraged the power of business to tackle one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time - food sustainability. She also sits on the Board of the Rebuilding Center, a non-profit organization that aims to make reuse and repair affordable for all, reduce waste, and make the best use of our planet's limited material resources. 

    Fireside Chat

    Thuy Vu

    Thuy Vu

    Co-Founder and CEO, Global Mentor Network

    Thuy is a seven-time Emmy award winning news anchor who’s currently Co-founder and CEO of the Global Mentor Network, where she’s democratizing mentorship and leadership development by providing scalable opportunities to help close the equity gap. Prior to the Global Mentor Network, she had a distinguished career in journalism.  She anchored the current affairs program “KQED Newsroom” in San Francisco on one of the nation’s largest and most respected PBS stations.  She has also been a reporter and anchor for NPR, as well as CBS and ABC stations. Thuy immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam with her family at the end of the war and lived in two refugee camps prior to resettling in Duluth, Minnesota.  She is a sought after speaker and moderator, especially on empowerment, entrepreneurship and diversity issues. She’s been featured by major media outlets such as CNN and the New York Times. When she’s not busy running her startup, Thuy enjoys serving as a founding member and Board Chair of The RealReal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The RealReal publicly traded company.  She has also been an Advisor at DocuSign.  And most of all, she enjoys being a mom to her teenaged daughter. Fun fact – Thuy’s immigration story is a featured interactive exhibit at the Angel Island Immigration Museum in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Opening Remarks and Fireside Chat

    Guiselle Nunez

    Guisselle Nunez

    Associate Vice President, Strategic Marketing and Communications and CMO, San Francisco State University

    Guisselle helps organizations and individuals communicate their value and achieve success through enduring marketing and personal branding strategies. She serves as chief marketing officer in higher education, she has led successful, multi-million dollar branding and enrollment marketing communication campaigns. She is a unique, multi-faceted executive professional with experience leading marketing, communications, and public affairs strategies. Her personal philosophy is to “help improve the lives of others.” She is a speaker, coach and author of the book "Take Charge of Your Brand." Her passion is to help women (with a special focus on Latinas/women of color) understand how to communicate their value, and advocate for themselves by building a strong, personal brand.

    Panel Moderator

    Bahar Javadizadeh

    Bahareh Javadizadeh, Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor of Management, Lam Family College of Business, San Francisco State University

    Bahareh Javadizadeh, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Management at San Francisco State University. She specializes in Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior. Her research explores the individual and organizational outcomes of perceived identity threat in the workplace, the creation of façades of conformity as a coping mechanism, and the buffering role of the climate of authenticity. Moreover, she has an interest in exploring glass ceiling beliefs among women and minorities as well as civility in the workplace. Alongside her research, Bahareh has taught several courses in Human Resource Management, Organizational Behavior, and Teamwork. In her teaching, she centers her effort on the wholesale establishment of a challenging, engaging, and thought-provoking environment in which students are continually confronted with provocative questions and tasked with applying course materials to real-world examples.

    Closing Remarks

    Gulnur Tumbat

    Gulnur Tumbat, Ph.D.

    Professor of Marketing and Lam-Larsen Community Engagement Initiative Director, Lam Family College of Business, San Francisco State University

    Marketing Professor Gulnur Tumbat, Ph.D., has used her extraordinary experiences on the highest mountains in the world in her academic research and in her speaking engagements on topics such as risk taking, making decisions in dynamic contexts, managing uncertainty, and achieving ambitious goals through strategy, leadership, persistence, entrepreneurship, and passion. She has published in prestigious academic outlets such as Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Marketing Theory, Consumption, Markets and Culture, Journal of Consumer Behavior, Advances in Consumer Research, European Advances in Consumer Research, and Handbook of Research on Digital Media and Advertising: User Generated Content Consumption. In addition to being a business behavioral scientist, she is an elite endurance athlete who climbed six of the seven summits including Everest, the highest points on each geographic continent with only Antarctica’s remaining.


    8:15 - 9:00 a.m.:  

    Registration, Complimentary Continental Breakfast, Coffee/Tea, Networking

    9:00 - 9:15 a.m.:  

    Welcome Remarks

    Guisselle Nunez, Associate Vice President, Strategic Marketing and Communications and CMO, San Francisco State University

    9:15 - 9:45 a.m.:  

     Morning Address

    Kelly Wong Craven, Director and Associate General Counsel for Facebook, Meta

    9:45 - 10:00 a.m.:  

    Change Stories from the Audience

    10:00 - 10:30 a.m.:

    Coffee/Tea Break & Networking

    10:30 - 11:45 a.m.:  

    Keynote Address

    Sally Thornton, CEO and Founder, Forshay

    11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.:

    Lunch Break & Networking

    12:15 - 1:30 p.m.:  

    Panel Discussion

    • Chia-Lin Simmons, CEO, LogicMark, Inc.
    • Rachel Konrad, Chief Brand Officer, The Production Board
    • Heather Watkins, Co-Founder and COO, Bold Reuse
    1:30 - 1:45 p.m.:  

    Short Break:  Stretch, Refresh, Hydrate

    1:45 - 2:30 p.m.:

    Fireside Chat

    Thuy Vu, Co-Founder and CEO, Global Mentor Network

    2:30 p.m.:

    Closing Remarks

    Gulnur Tumbat, Director, Lam-Larsen Community Engagement Initiative, and Professor of Marketing, San Francisco State University

    This event is hosted in collaboration with the San Francisco office of KPMG. We thank them for their support.

    KPMG logo

    Contact Us

    If you have any questions or are interested in partnering with us or becoming a speaker at a future WELF event, please email us at gulnur@sfsu.edu.

    Learn more about the Lam-Larsen Community Engagement Initiative.

    Event Photos and News Story