Speakers

Elle Solomon

Elle Solomon is a wife and mother who enjoys preparing the next generation of education leaders. Elle Solomon is a former tax law consultant who works in education law as a passionate education policy advocate championing education equality. As a native Chicagoan, she witnessed first-hand the adverse effects of education inequities. Overcoming insurmountable odds as a youth, her life mission remains transforming America’s education landscape through policies of racial and gender inclusion.

Inspired by Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Charles Hamilton Houston, the first African American Dean of Howard University Law School, who trained Thurgood Marshall; and Shirley Chisholm, the first African American [and woman] to run for President of the United States, Elle is determined to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged and underserved. Mrs. Solomon is helping to reshape the social conditions of marginalized children across the nation. She works diligently in aiding schools and agencies to address America’s skills gap.

Elle Solomon’s commitment to education equality motivated her to utilized her Doctor of Jurisprudence, her LL.M. (advance law degree), and her Juris Master Law degree in media education to advance educational children television programming a teaching tool. She is a graduate of the Women Campaign School at Yale University. She travels extensively speaking on the importance of empowering both minorities and young girls as the next generation of leaders by intersecting technology, innovation, and education. Lastly, Elle Solomon, advocates education policies focusing on Higher Education, closing the achievement gap, and dismantling the school to prison pipeline – – all in an effort to promote equal access to a quality education and reducing mass incarceration for children of color in America.

Wendy Bunnell

Wendy Bunnell is an international best selling author, speaker, and entrepreneur. Her mission in life is to spread messages of hope and healing to help individuals raise their personal value so that they can form the life, income, business, and relationships that they have always dreamt about but never knew how to create.

Wendy is also the driving force behind the book and movement, “Success through Failing”, recruiting 24 other powerful and inspiring women who are combining forces to change the hearts and minds of thousands of women.

She has several successful businesses including a thriving real estate career, network marketing background, as well as her busy mentoring and speaking career.

Even with all of her busy endeavors, her family is frontrunner in her life and include six children and eight grandchildren.

You can find out more about Wendy at www.wendybunnell.com

Connie Sokol

Connie Sokol is a national speaker, bestselling author, media personality, and​ ​mother of seven. She is a regular contributor on the top-rated lifestyle show “Studio 5 with Brooke Walker” ​(www.ksl.com/studio5). Ms. Sokol is a bestselling author who has written 1​7 books, including ​What Now? 8 Ways to Deal with Life’s Difficulties, ​Faithful Fit & Fabulous, Create a Powerful Life Plan, and​ ​40 Days with the Savior.​ ​She is the founder of the Back to Basics program, ​teaching women to live more purposeful, organized, and joyful lives. Ms. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats. For her TV segments, blog, podcasts and more, visit www.conniesokol.com.

Amanda Wilkinson

From humanitarian work on the Masai Mara of Kenya to global policy advocacy at the United Nations, Amanda Wilkinson has lived a big and beautiful life. But perhaps her greatest lessons were learned when her son Bennett unexpectedly passed away in 2011.

As a wife, mother of 5 and international speaker, coach, writer and advocate, Amanda is passionate about helping individuals ignite the fire within and create a life of peace, passion and purpose so they they can start paying it forward – not IN SPITE of what they have been through – but BECAUSE of it.

She truly believes that we are each on our perfect journey and that every experience we have been given is for our highest good.

Emma E. Houston

Emma had plans to celebrate her oldest sisters’ 50 birthday celebration in New York City and they did not involve worrying about Stage III Breast Cancer. In 2005 on her 49th birthday and at her annual check-up she received the Cancer news and did what every level headed woman does; she purchased red 4 inch heels and strolled into treatment in style. Although she saved a small fortune on shampoo and hair appointments; she spent it all on “heels” and mascara for the seven (7) eyelashes that she prayed to keep. Family and close friends can attest that what ultimately got her through rigorous chemo treatments was not only her “attitude” but her faith and belief that God would see her through. Covered with her faith and belief in God, in 2010 Emma stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to address 100’s of thousands of people on behalf of the Huntsman Cancer Institute and to tell “somebody” that God is good all the time.

Emma E. Houston was appointed as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion by Mayor Ben McAdams in 2016. Before that, Emma was the Assistant Program Manager for Aging and Adult Services and started her county career in 2002. Emma was the first to bring national accreditation status to a senior center in the state of Utah and became a team lead in 2013 in ensuring all 16 senior centers received national accreditation status. She is an advocate for diversity, leadership, high performance, creativity and innovation. Emma has an understanding of the process of organizational transformation and has facilitated conversations for local organizations and community groups in SLC. Her presentations have provided knowledge on how to create culturally compatible and inclusive working environments.

A longtime community volunteer and advocate, Emma is the former chairwoman of the Governor’s Office of Ethnic Affairs, executive secretary for the YWCA Utah, The Children’s Justice Center, Utah Aging Alliance Board, and the Senior Centers and Nutrition Sites Board. Emma currently serves on the Reverend France A. Davis Scholarship Board, The Utah State MLK Commission, The HistoryMakers Regional Board and is the president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Upsilon Beta Omega Chapter. Emma has strong affiliations with The Huntsman Cancer Foundation, The Judge Anne Striba Cancer Foundation and The Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation Utah Affiliate.

Emma holds a B.A. in Business Management and a MBA in Business Administration, both from the University of Phoenix.ng; Cancer has its perks.

Nubia Pena

Ms. Nubia Peña received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in May 2016. During that year, she was selected as one of 25 law students in the nation to be recognized and highlighted for her social justice activism in the National Jurist, a leading news source in legal education.

Ms. Peña has actively sought to bring awareness to issues of violence and systemic oppression through her personal faith-based initiatives and professional endeavors. She has a decade of experience assisting survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, and violent crimes as a Law Enforcement Victim Advocate. Since 2007, Ms. Peña has been the Training and Prevention Education Specialist at the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) where she developed trainings on Dating and Interpersonal Violence, Assisting Immigrant Survivors, Human Trafficking, Faith-Based Advocacy, Youth Survivors, and Social Justice as a Prevention Framework.

Ms. Pena also travels nationally as a Training Consultant bringing awareness to the intersections of trauma and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, an epidemic that targets our most vulnerable youth by streamlining them into the juvenile justice system. In addition, Ms. Pena is a member of the zealous team at the Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys where she advocates for youth rights during detention and delinquency proceedings.

Amanjot Kaur

An American Sikh, Amanjot Kaur is a musician, artist and KRI/Yoga Alliance certified Kundalini yoga instructor. She is an active member of the local Indian Sikh community. Amanjot regularly travels the United States teaching yoga and studying with her music instructors, Kim Robertson, Snatam Kaur and Bhai Kultar Singh. Later this year she is moving to India for the opportunity of studying classical Gurubani Kirtan full time. She is passionate about finding opportunities to share the sacred music of the Sikh tradition with all peoples; spreading the Sikh message of service, compassion, equality and oneness.

Toni Ragsdale

Toni Ragsdale is a woman that is well rounded with much experience in life challenges and overcoming the labels of society. She was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in one of the most feared areas of the city. Covered in crime and poverty but she knew from an early age that being born in and raised in the ghetto would not limit her. But she would evolve into a solution, not a statistic.

She became a widow in her early thirties and a single parent of three children. She is now is married to Rev. Jay Ragsdale and having the same life interest, they soon began to work together in the community. She is very active in her family and church home; Calvary Baptist was the stone that elevated her community involvement.

She is currently the Director of Children’s Church for five years now. Toni is also The Director of the Women Ministry at Calvary Baptist Church, and a youth counselor for the 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders for planning activities.

She was the co-director for four years of a mentoring group that she and a great friend implemented called G.R.A.CE. Which was for girls ages 13-18 inside their church

Toni and Rev. Jay Ragsdale (husband) are the founders of the Fill the Pot ministry, and it has been active now for nine years. And every Sunday they meet the needs of an average of 406 people within our community. By providing hot meals, clothes, hygiene, spiritual materials, prayer, encouraging words, and love. And throughout the weekday food and clothing resource for families are provided upon request, an AA Class on Wednesday evenings. She also organizes community service hours ordered by the court or assigned via, schools, and church.

Toni Ragsdale currently resides on the board for the Road Home, in Slc. She has also worked closely with the KIDS EAT PROGRAM and the Nebo School District kids after school meals program.

Her faith in God, allows her to have no limits as she carries out the desires of her heart. I can do all things through Christ, that strengthens me.

Shantel McBride

Shantel McBride is a Hospice Chaplain, Certified Trainer, nationally renowned Inspirational Speaker, and Grief Counselor. She is out touching others to awaken their inner genius and passion – to live their purpose from the inside-out. Shantel reignites the spark of unlimited potential and opportunity. As a National Best Selling Co-Author of the book Success through Failing, clients say  she embodies the Circle of Life. She’s known to add ‘splash to their dash’ – not only walking beside others while they take their last steps on earth, but teaching people how to really live while alive.

Vilia Von Tonder

Vilia has had the opportunity to live globally and interact and love people on all parts of the world. She grew up both in France and South Africa and learned several languages and was immersed with diversity and various cultures.

She later served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Switzerland and France. She is a third generation convert to the church and finds strength and peace through its teachings.

Vilia later moved to the states and lived in several including Alaska, Arizona and then finally Utah where she has been for the past 20 years.

She has been an accountant for many years helping both nonprofit and for profit businesses. She is the current board chair for 100 Humanitarians which helps with projects and education for Kenyan families and women.

Beyond this, she is a chocolatier and loves the culinary arts and cooking, baking, and spreading love through food and the connection it brings.

Celina Milner

Celina is a trusted center of influence with an extensive diversified network. Her passion and enthusiasm lies in serving the communities of her home town. Born and raised in West Jordan, Utah, Celina’s first career was in the travel and hospitality industry where she worked in various roles bringing business conventions, conferences, and destination travelers to Salt Lake County boosting the local tax revenue.

In 2013, Celina was honored to serve in Mayor Ben McAdams inaugural administration with Salt Lake County as his Community Liaison and Special Projects Director. Most recently she was the Director of School Engagement in Utah and Nevada for Project Lead The Way (PLTW), which is the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs helping students develop the skills necessary to succeed in our global economy.

Professionally, she’s worked to bring businesses, people, and communities together through the nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors. Her experience has shown her how to find common ground and collaborate on effective solutions.

She has also served on the board of several local non-profit organizations and educational programs which promote the interests and wellbeing of women and children. In her spare time she devotes her personal efforts to organizations that focus on the empowerment of women, safety of children, and the advancement of underserved communities.

She also dedicates her time to promoting civic engagement and political participation at all levels. She ran for the House of Representatives for District 34 in Taylorsville in 2012 and for Utah State Senate District 6 of West Jordan in 2016. She is currently writing a book, The Birth of an Election: A Compilation of Women’s Experiences Running for Office, and is a political reporter for HER Magazine during the legislative season up at the Capitol.

Cantor Wendy Bat-Sarah

Cantor Wendy Bat-Sarah was raised in San Diego, California, where she earned a B.A. in Social Anthropology with minors in Spanish and Russian from San Diego State University. Since 1989 she has served the Jewish community as a teacher of music and Jewish Studies, as a prayer leader, and as a chaplain. Cantor Bat-Sarah earned a Masters of Jewish Sacred Music and was ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion, CA in May, 2014. She received her commission from the Conservative Movement’s Cantors Assembly in May of 2018.

In the summer of 2015, Cantor Bat-Sarah moved to Salt Lake City to serve the Jewish community of Utah as the Cantor and Religious School Director of Congregation Kol Ami, a dual-affiliated Reform & Conservative synagogue.

Within all branches of Judaism there are two positions of professional, ritual leadership. These positions, for which one studies for many years and receives ordination, are called Cantor and Rabbi. A rabbi is a specialist in Jewish law, tradition, and history. A cantor is a specialist in Jewish ritual, liturgy, and ceremony. In our public roles, we are often interchangeable. Both rabbis and cantors can perform Jewish weddings, funerals, and other life cycle events, and both have considerable background in each other’s specialties. In my case, I hold the dual role within this community as both the cantor of the synagogue, and the Director of our afterschool program, which teaches Hebrew, and Jewish history and ritual.

Cantor Bat-Sarah is committed to creating and sustaining an intellectually and spiritually vibrant experience of Judaism for people of all ages.