Innovation, Job Creation, Start-Ups, and Patents – The Leadership Challenges in Silicon Valley

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2015
Time: 6:00pm-8:30pm


Five CEOs, distinguished by their brilliance, their experience, their grit, and their success, will discuss the challenges and the hurdles of being a CEO in today’s environment. What works with leadership, what does not, what are mistakes they will never make again, what do they see looming in the future?

Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and one of the Valley’s most distinguished business leaders, will moderate. We hope you can join us!




Marci Harris

Founder & CEO,

Marci Harris is CEO and Co-founder of POPVOX, a nonpartisan civic engagement platform connecting people and policymakers. A former Congressional staffer and lawyer, Marci says that her “first startup was a town,” as she led Jackson, TN’s rebuilding efforts following a 2004 tornado. She received a B.A. in International Relations from Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland and attended law school at the University of Memphis (J.D.) and the American University Washington College of Law (LL.M). From 2007-2010, she worked in the U.S. House of Representatives covering tax, trade, and health for a senior Ways and Means member.

Marci serves on the board of LaunchTN and the advisory boards of VoteRunLead. She was named one of Fast Company magazine’s Top 100 Most Creative People in Business (2012), received a Tribeca Film Festival Award for Creative Disruption (2012), and was listed as one of DC’s “Tech Titans” by Washingtonian magazine (2013), a 2013 “FastCase 50,” and a 2014 “Digital Citizen of the Year.” She is an inaugural Technology and Democracy Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Ash Center.



Jennifer Hopp

Founder & CEO,

Jennifer founded WeMakeItSafer to address problems with product safety and recall effectiveness. She understands the business challenges that arise with safety matters and, as a mother of two, is passionate about finding ways to improve communication between companies and consumers, especially as it relates to product safety and recalls.
Prior to WeMakeItSafer, Jennifer was a testifying and consulting Commercial Damages Expert, helping companies deal with crises, including product recall, for over a decade. Most recently, she was a Principal with ERSGroup and, before that, a Senior Consultant with Navigant Consulting.

On the technology side, Jennifer has several years of experience with database technologies and built the original backend for WeMakeItSafer. She also designed and built the front-end of WeMakeItSafer’s current website. Jennifer has been recognized as a Product Recall Technology Expert and is often asked to speak on topics such as recall effectiveness and product registration.



Laura Mather

Founder & CEO,

Laura is a change-making entrepreneur and a world expert in combating Internet fraud. She co-founded Silver Tail Systems in 2008 and built it to a team of 100 that protected over one billion accounts before it was acquired by RSA, the security division of EMC, in December of 2012. Laura began her career at the National Security Agency and then before pioneering anti-phishing practices for eBay and PayPal in the early 2000s.

She recently founded Unitive, a company developing software to transform the talent management landscape by bolstering traditional human resource processes with software to eliminate unconscious bias and get the right people into the right jobs.

In 2012, Laura was named number 16 on Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business list, number six on Fortune’s list of Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, and number nine on Business Insider’s list of Most Powerful Women Engineers. In 2013, she was named to the top 50 Future Digital Strategists for Corporate Boards by Agenda magazine.



Geetha Vallabhaneni

Founder & CEO,
Luminix, Inc.

Geetha is driven by the desire to innovate and to execute. Smart, determined, and affable, she is a natural leader with over 15 years of experience in Silicon Valley in key areas including product development, sales, business development and customer service. Currently Geetha is the Founder and CEO of Luminix, a mobile enterprise company. Luminix creates enterprise software with a focus on user experience. Luminix servers customers across many industry segments including many Fortune 500 companies. 

Geetha holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical engineering and a master’s degree in Computer science. In her spare time, she loves to run, read, mentor young students and entrepreneurs, and contemplate big existential questions and come up with various ways to change the world for the better.



Pedro Espinoza

Founder & CEO,

Pedro Espinoza is a trilingual entrepreneur that started his first venture at the age of 10 in Miami by selling French toasts in his neighborhood. By the age of 14, Pedro won the Peruvian national inter-club tennis competition, which enabled him to foster tenacity. Thanks to his successes in tennis, Pedro applied this discipline to his professional career while working for Toyota Autoespar. In high school Pedro founded Yatay, a nonprofit that uplifted the self-esteem of 50 children in the Andes via music. During the summer after his freshman year of college, Pedro founded his first business – SmileyGo – at Stanford’s engineering 145, taught by Tom Kosnik and Rebeca Hwang. At the age of 19, Pedro launched Alpaca, an e-commerce platform that empowers Latinas to become global entrepreneurs by selling their handcrafted clothing products to a worldwide customer audience. By the age of 20, Pedro earned his International Management Certificate at Stanford University. Currently, Pedro is part of the Haas School of Business Class of 2017 with an emphasis in Technology Entrepreneurship. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and Cal Alumni Association have recognized his leadership. In 2015, Pedro became a member of the Under 30 Changemakers and was recognized as a Latino Tech Entrepreneur by Latino Built. 






Carl Guardino

President & CEO,
Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Carl Guardino, one of Silicon Valley’s most distinguished business and community leaders, is the President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a public policy trade association that represents nearly 400 of Silicon Valley’s most respected companies.

In February 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Guardino to a four-year term on the California Transportation Commission and has been reappointed twice by Governor Jerry Brown. He also serves on numerous other boards and is actively involved in a wide range of community organizations and projects. In 2000, the San Jose Mercury News named Guardino one of the “Five Most Powerful” people in Silicon Valley.

Guardino has been the chief executive of the Leadership Group since January 1997. He previously served as vice president of the organization between 1991 and 1995. He also held an executive position in governmental affairs with Hewlett-Packard and he spent six years on the staff of Central Valley Assemblyman Rusty Areias, the last three as his chief assistant.
Known throughout the region as a consensus builder, Guardino has championed a number of important issues, especially in the areas of transportation and housing.

Guardino was born and raised in San Jose and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from San Jose State University, where he is a Distinguished Alumnus. He is a member of Junior Achievement’s “Silicon Valley Business Hall of Fame” and the recipient of the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from City Year, and is the second recipient of the “American Public Transit Association’s Business Executive of the Year.”