Building a social stock exchange for social work

 Advisory Council


Jim Gilmer  Prof. Gilmer recently joined Camdia Holdings LLC/Global Genetics Corporation and is an Adjunct Professor at Springfield College of Southern California School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Prof. Gilmer serves on the Board of Directors of the California Pan Ethnic Health Network and as the President of Mental Health America of California. He is the former Co-Chair of the California Mental Health Services Act Multicultural Coalition, and the former Co-Coordinator of the African American Strategic Planning Work Group of the California Reducing Disparities Project by the Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity. He is a key original member of the founding executive team for CYPHER, now CYPHER X.

David Greco — Prof. Greco is a nationally recognized thought leader on social sector financing and the CEO of Social Sector Partners. He is a professor in the Masters in Social Entrepreneurship and Change program at Pepperdine University and currently serves on the Southern California Advisory Board for Opportunity Fund. He recently led the Real Cost Project in California, a statewide initiative to mobilize funders in providing real cost funding to the social sector. Previously, he served as Interim President/CEO for Northern California Grantmakers, board member of Social Venture Partners Los Angeles, and the Vice President of the Nonprofit Finance Fund.

Judith Iglehart — Dr. Iglehart is a founding partner of SAYJ Global Partners, a global firm focused on speeding companies to funders and helping them to meet their business objectives. For the past 14 years she was the Keiretsu Forum President for International Chapter Development and Operations. She conceived and initiated international business development and marketing activities for Keiretsu, and developed and oversaw chapters in Paris, London, Spain, China, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Central Canada, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Prague, Scandinavia, South Korea, Japan, and Dubai. She held lectures in the US, the UK, the EU, and China on business angel investing, in Latin America on Sustainable Cities, and served as a judge for the IBM Smart Camp (Madrid), at Barcelona Activa, at the CES in Las Vegas, and at Microsoft. She is an accredited business angel investor in 2004 and previously served as the Chief Research Development Officer at the University of California’s Discovery Grant program, the President/CEO of BARTA-Tech Ventures Network, and as Deputy Sr. Vice President for Business and Finance at the UC President’s Office.

Mariah Lichtenstern is pushing Sacramento to become California’s next Silicon Valley. As a founder, investor, and public speaker, Mariah is one of the most important entrepreneurial figures in the growing Sacramento startup ecosystem. Currently, Mariah divides her efforts between a slew of various roles. As a self-described “activist entrepreneur”, Mariah spends time working with DiverseCity Ventures (a venture capital firm that she co-founded); managing Cineshares (a startup that she co-founded); leading Sacramento Founder Institute (of which she’s the Managing Director); mentoring with multiple organizations (including Draper University, Startup Weekend and Sacramento State); and serving on the Tech Advisory Committee for CleanTech Fund, CalSEED.

R. Paul Maiden, PhD (Chair)— Dr. Maiden is a member of the full-time teaching faculty of University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, teaching both in the DSW and MSW programs. From 2010-17, Dr. Maiden served as Executive Vice Dean and Professor with operational responsibility for five academic centers, spearheaded the development of the school’s military social work, created the San Diego Academic Center, expanded the school's annual global immersion offerings, and led the development of the school's Virtual Academic Center, the first fully synchronous and asynchronous web-based MSW program serving a national and international student population. He also lead the development of the DSW, a professional doctorate in Innovation, Leadership and Advanced Social Work Practice Management Complex Systems. Dr. Maiden brings 30 years of expertise to the field of workplace human services. He serves as the Chair of the Advisory Council.

Jeff McKenzie Mr. McKenzie is a recognized community and business leader in the African American community. He is passionate about social justice and community development, and the link that culture and arts play in engaging the youth. Mr. McKenzie is the founder and CEO for McKenzie Systems Engineering,  an engineering firm that provides a full spectrum of project management, system engineering, test and evaluation services from concept definition through life cycle support across the defense establishment. He is a key original member of the founding executive team for CYPHER, now CYPHER X. 

Glenn Omatsu — Prof. Omatsu is an educator who works with community and labor groups and international solidarity networks.  He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1947 as part of the post-World War II internment, third-generation Japanese American cohort.  At UCLA, from 1985 to 2002, he served as associate editor of "Amerasia Journal," the nation's leading research publication in Asian American Studies; and editor of CrossCurrents, newsmagazine of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, where he developed and taught classes relating to student and community activism. At California State University, Northridge, where he currently teaches classes in service-learning, he serves as Faculty Mentor Program Coordinator for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) assisting low-income students. He has worked with a number of interethnic alliances in Los Angeles, including the New Otani Workers Support Committee in Little Tokyo and the Koreatown Restaurant Workers Support Committee, campaigns for immigrant rights, and other struggles for social justice. At UCLA, he was named an honorary life member of the national Mortar Board, an honors society. 

Daisy Ozim — Ms. Ozim is the founder of Resilient Wellness, a public health blockchain protocol designed to reestablish cultural medicine access for marginalized communities. As a board member for the Bay Area Entrepeneurship Alliance, she works to ensure access to resources and support for emerging entrepreneurs. She is a Commissioner for the Alameda Public Health Commission and her work is centered around decolonizing philanthropy, technology and public policy. Daisy also runs the Blockchain for Social Justice collective, a platform that promotes education and access of blockchain technology for marginalized communities.

Larry Palinkas, PhD Dr. Palinkas is the Albert G. and Frances Lomas Feldman Professor of Social Policy in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California; he also holds secondary appointments as professor in the departments of Anthropology and Preventive Medicine. Dr. Palinkas is a co-lead for the "Create Social Responses to a Changing Environment" grand challenge of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and a key author of the white paper on the grand challenge of climate change, titled Strengthening the Social Response to the Human Impacts of Environmental Change.

Greg Wakatsuki – Mr. Wakatsuki is the Founder and CEO of Young Moon, a smart sustainable city tech firm and provider of water treatment systems and integrated water treatment solutions for Small Island Developing States. He has over 35 years of experience in technology transfer, and brings with him a global network of technology innovation professionals and financiers.


Executive Team


Ana Alvarez, DSW, LCSW  TBD

Dionne Ash, DSW, MBA, MSW is a faculty member of University of Southern California School of Social Work where she teaches Business Management for Social Workers. Dr. Ash has over 23 years of professional experience working with at-risk students, 11 of those years spent in management. She currently serves as an Administrator with Pupil Services, supervising Pupil Services and Attendance Counselors in over 200 schools in the North West region of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the U.S. Dr. Ash is a recognized leader in her field, garnering acknowledgements from the California Department of Education, State S.A.R.B for implementing a model S.A.R.B. program for promoting student success. Her focus is on AASWSW GC 3 to end intimate partner violence. Dr. Ash is a key member of the founding executive team for CYPHER X.

Angela Flowers, DSW, MSW is an advanced professional social worker with 23 years of experience working with the underserved population in Los Angeles County. Dr. Flowers is the recipient of several commendations from the County of Los Angeles for housing over 250 families out of the Skid Row area. Dr. Flowers is a member of the Skid Row Collaborative Committee, a mentor for the LA Youth Conservation Corp, and an AmeriCorps Service Assistant in the Skid Row area. Dr. Flowers is currently employed by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services as a Children’s Social Worker. She holds a Master of Social Work from California State University Long Beach and a Doctorate in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Dr. Flowers is a key member of the founding executive team for CYPHER X.

R. Bong Vergara is the founder and director of CYPHER X. Over his 18-year career, he raised over USD 21M for health centers, community clinics, and social service agencies. He served as a Global Engagement Fellow for the UN Foundation’s First Annual Global People Summit in the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, was nominated in 2016 for the Momentum for Change Award by the UN Climate Change Secretariat, and was asked to present at the 2018 UN Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation for the UN SDGs. His focus is the integration of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in social work (click to access article) to advance AASWSW GC7 and GC8 (click to access article). 




Eugene Suh -- Eugene is an Innovator-in-Residence. He is a natural citizen-scientist, a serial tinkerer, who sees the value of pairing wealth generation with social justice. He is engaged in a few special projects related to robotics and energy storage. He is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. 


Jessica Lynn Kimble, aka 'J-Lynn' -- J-Lynn is an Artist-in-Residence. She is an independent hip-hop artist based in Ventura County, California who co-wrote and performed CYPHER's theme song, My Knowledge Counts. She was the lead for The Droughtinadors, which won 1st place at SED2014. J-Lynn works to establish 'climate hip-hop', conscious hip-hop focused on the human impacts of climate change and innovation. For a taste of 'climate hip-hop', check out our themesong on our home page. 


Joseph Owoundo -- Joseph is an Innovator-in-Residence for CYPHER-Africa. Born and raised in the village of Nyahera, Kenya, he has first-hand experience with the inaccessibility of safe drinking water, food inadequacy, and lack of clean energy. He is a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, with twin combat and expeditionary tours in the Middle East and North Africa. His academic training is in African international and developmental affairs, has managed a Community Peace Project in Kenya in partnership with the European Union, and is currently working on a water solution project for farming communities in Kenya.  


Dorsy Frances -- Dorsy is an Innovator-in-Residence for CYPHER-Africa. She is a Schools Climate Change Actor from Kenya. As a PAKEMA Ambassador and the secretary to IDEAS Kenya, she mobilizes primary and high school students from Kisumu and Nairobi Counties to be environmental advocates. She works with Kisumu Green Projects to engage students in tree-planting and city clean-up projects. She is passionate about the role of the youth in climate change mitigation and adaptation.


Mark Okowa -- Prof. Okowa is an Innovator-in-Residence for CYPHER-Africa. He is governance and development consultant with over 10 years experience in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. He is a 2005 Global Knowledge Partnerships (GKP) Youth and ICT award winner, with expertise in community development research, right based policy advocacy, peace building and conflict mitigation. Currently an adjunct lecturer of Political Science and Sociology at Maseno University in Kenya, Prof. Okowa is a PhD candidate at the University of Aberdeen (UK), holds a Masters degree in International Relations and Democratic Politics from the University of Westminster (UK) and a Bachelors’ degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Maseno University in Kenya.


Xiaoxia 'Kathy' Liu, PhD -- Prof. Liu is an Innovator-in-Residence for CYPHER-China. She is an Associate Professor at Shanghai Institute of Technology Department of Social Work. She is a scholar on the link between social work and social entrepreneurship, and recently completed a Visiting Professor appointment at USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work to explore models of social work based social enterprises. She is passionate in promoting the potential of urban and rural marginalized communities in China to use social entrepreneurship as a tool for human and social development.

Samuel Park — Sam leads the Technical Workgroup exploring social welfare use-cases for blockchain technology. He is interested in applying technology to innovate solutions in the social sector. His 4 years in the US Army allowed for opportunities to organize communications with NATO operations as a Joint Node Network Administrator and a Satellite Communications Team Leader. After the military he worked in homeless services and in redistributing liquidated waste to non-profit organizations. He is a current graduate student at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

CYPHER logo with white.png

Our logo denotes how we correct the omission of local knowledge and practitioner input in the design of technology solutions.  

Angle brackets: HTML code is punctuated by angle brackets, thus, a symbol that highlights the grand challenges of harnessing technology for social good.

Innovation cog & light bulb: The light bulb symbol for an idea with the gear symbol for innovation highlight the link between social innovation and social entrepreneurship, and the value of both social change and building wealth.

CYPHER: A reference to 'cipher', a cryptograph, like the puzzle of the Grand Challenges of social work that we all "need to crack."