Wisdom Captures come from great leaders, achievers and peacemakers alike. Hear from former US Ambassadors, ultra-endurance athletes, a range of C-suite execs, and international peace activists as they relate stories of wisdom that are as diverse as our leaders themselves.

Samah Bayazid // Filmmaker & Activist

Samah Safi Bayazid is one of the first professional hijabi filmmakers who, along with her husband, is making great strides in the world of Islamic film. Most well known for her work on the Inspiration series with Sheikh Omar Suleiman and Mohammed Zeyara, Samah has also worked on music videos with Maher Zain and other great projects. She gives great insight and inspiration to those who are interested in going into the film industry. Samah is known by giving intensive workshops in “Creative Writing” in different countries to help spread this knowledge.


Former US Ambassador to Armenia

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Heffern, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served as the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia from 2011-2014. His prior experience included Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at USNATO, Brussels; DCM in Jakarta, Indonesia; and, Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. Other previous posts include: USNATO; Tokyo; Malaysia desk officer in Washington; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Guangzhou, China. From 1994-1996, Heffern served as a Pearson Fellow on the Asia Subcommittee for the House International Relations Committee.

Prior to entering the Foreign Service, Heffern served in the office of Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO) as the Senator’s Office Director and Research Assistant. Heffern is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and received a B.A. from Michigan State University.


Stacey Bradford
Executive Director // Sixdegrees.org

Stacy is the Executive Director of SixDegrees.org, a non-profit started by actor Kevin Bacon. Mr. Bacon turned the Six Degrees game connecting him to other Hollywood actors into a game-changing nonprofit aimed at using everyday activities to connect people and causes. It’s social networking for social good, helping to amplify the unsung heroes in communities everywhere. She also co-founded TEDxTysons, an independently organized TED event in Fairfax County, VA, that has now held two successful events in the area.


Carolyn Warner
State Superintendent of Public Instruction // Arizona

Carolyn Warner is Founder and President of Corporate Education Consulting, Inc. (CECi). Her firm offers advisement, speaking, seminar and training services focusing on workforce/work place issues, education, leadership, women's issues and public/private partnerships. CECi's clients are Fortune 500 companies, foundations and numerous national associations. Warner served for twelve years as Arizona's elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the first non-educator to hold that post. Increased accountability and the formation of business-education partnerships were hallmarks of her administration. Under her leadership, Arizona had the nation's first sequential job skills identification initiative. Among her numerous awards are Policy Leader of the Year by the National Association of State Boards of Education, the Racial Justice Award from the YWCA of the USA, and the Carl Perkins Humanitarian Award from the Association for Career and Technical Education. She is the author of four books, including the best-selling The Last Word, A Treasury of Women's Quotes.

Patricia Márquez
Dean // Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego

Patricia Márquez is Dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego–the first stand-alone school of peace and justice in the United States. The Kroc School prepares students from around the world in peace building, human rights, conflict resolution and social innovation. Since her arrival at USD in 2007, Dr. Márquez has developed the Center for Peace and Commerce (CPC), the Social Innovation Challenge and the USD ChangeMaker Hub. Previously, Dr. Márquez was a professor and Dean at IESA, a School of Business in Caracas, Venezuela. Her research centers on the intersection of business and social value creation, with an emphasis on poverty alleviation through market mechanisms.  In 2016, Dr. Márquez received the San Diego Business Journal Women Who Mean Business Award and in 2017 she was given the San Diego Downtown Breakfast Rotary Club Peacemaker of the Year Award.

Dr. Márquez has a BA from Bowdoin College, and received her MA and PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.


Harmony Walton
Founder // Bridal Bar

Harmony is a wedding marketing expert, wedding business consultant, talk radio host, and the founder of celebrity wedding spot, The Bridal Bar. She has over a decade of experience in wedding marketing, consulting and brand representation within the luxury wedding industry. She began her weddings career as a contributor to National Bridal Magazine, at which time she discovered the need to support wedding professionals through a more diverse and hands-on approach to marketing and advertising and thus The Bridal Bar was born. 

Since its inception, The Bridal Bar has been featured in over 100 media outlets, including The Associated Press, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Entertainment Tonight, Town and Country Weddings, People Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, US Weekly, and many more.


Rob Scheer
Founder // Comfort Cases

After overcoming years of abuse and homelessness, Rob founded Comfort Cases, a non-profit organization that provides backpacks with essentials to tens of thousands of foster kids. Over the past year and a half, Scheer has received much-deserved recognition for the charity’s invaluable work: In March of 2016, Rob was honored at the Family Equality Council Impact Awards in Los Angeles, California. In August 2016, he and Comfort Cases were featured in People and was a guest on NBC’s “Today.”


Keith Wilmot

Keith Wilmot is the current CEO of Dscoop, and the former President & CEO of Leadercast. After spending twenty years leading marketing and innovation for global brands, he accepted the role of Chief Executive Officer of a growing leadership company. The mission of Leadercast is to build leaders worth following. Most recently Leadercast launched a new technology platform, Leadercast Now, uniquely designed for time-starved leaders to strengthen leadership insights to action.

Previously, Wilmot was the Global Vice President of Creativity & Insights at The Coca-Cola Company. In this capacity, he founded and launched IGNITOR, an internal creativity and innovation approach. IGNITOR is a now a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company. His team was responsible for solving complex business challenges by translating insight into actionable, commercial ideas. His team also built global creativity and innovation capability throughout the system. He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Jennifer, and their four children.


Patricia Ware
President & CEO // Ware Development Group, Inc.

Patricia Funderburk Ware is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Ware Development Group, Inc. (WDG), a corporation specializing in networking and relationship building in the areas of media and entertainment, health advocacy, community revitalization, and youth entrepreneurial development. Through WDG, she has also provided leadership training for future leaders in Africa, China and Europe.

Mrs. Ware brings a diverse professional background to her corporation. As an actress, she performed with the National Players Classical Acting Company on a cross-country and world tour and was the first statewide actress-in-residence for the North Carolina public schools. As an arts administrator, she founded and directed a statewide non-profit organization that became a national model to preserve the cultural and artistic heritage of racial and ethnic minorities. In the health arena, Mrs. Ware served as a political appointee in two presidential administrations: George H. W. Bush Administration as the Director of the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and George W. Bush Administration as the Executive Director of the US Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Health. She has also served as a consultant, board/committee member or advisor in four other Presidential Administrations: Jimmy Carter (National Endowment for the Arts); Ronald Regan (National Endowment for the Arts); Bill Clinton (Collaborative Workgroup on HIV/AIDS and Women – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); and Barack Obama (White House Office of Public Engagement- African Affairs).


Ricardo Valencia
SVP Diversity Marketing // ING North America Insurance Corporation

Ricardo Lopez Valencia has been Senior Vice President of Diversity Marketing at Ing North America Insurance Corporation since 2003 and is responsible for its diversity marketing initiatives and financial wealth development programs. Mr. Valencia joined and served at ING Group in 2001 as Vice President of Hispanic Markets. He served as First Hispanic president of Arizona's Future Farmers of America since 1983. Mr. Valencia served as Director of Education for USA Today, where he helped make K-12 outreach a major initiative for the nation's newspaper. He served as Director of Professional Development for career and technical education for the State of Arizona. He served as a Director at Ambassadors Group Inc. from May 2007 to June 19, 2014. Mr. Valencia serves as Director of National 4-H, the National Future Farmers of America Foundation, the Children's Hospital Corporate Advisory, the New York Hispanic Ballet and the West Ed, a national nonprofit education research, development and service agency. Mr. Valencia served as a Director of National PTA, International Association of Marketing Students (DECA), the White House Millennium Youth Initiative and the U.S. Department of Education's Partnership for Family Involvement. He served as Executive Director of the National Future Farmers of America Alumni Association.


Richard Askam
Founder // WNC Communiations Agency

Richard Askam is an accomplished speaker and successful entrepreneur who now shares his vast experience with other organizations, and individuals, keen to succeed in our ever-changing world.

Starting from scratch in a rented garage in his twenties, he built one of the country’s most profitable independent wine merchants.  Using success as a springboard for further innovation, and by responding to what the market needed, he created another start-up company – which is now the UK’s largest personalized gift business. In less than a decade it has delivered significant profit for global brands such as Barclays, Interflora, Coca-Cola, Unilever and United Biscuits.