Speakers and Upcoming Events

Nancy Farias, EDD Director

Nancy Farias, of Sacramento, has served as Chief Deputy Director of External Affairs, Legislation and Policy at the California Employment Development Department since 2020.  Farias was Director of Government Relations at SEIU Local 1000 from 2017 to 2020. She was Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Senator Henry Stern from 2016 to 2017 and District Director at the Office of Assemblymember Mike Gatto from 2015 to 2016. She was Deputy Secretary of Legislation at the Government Operations Agency from 2013 to 2016, Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs at the California Department of Human Resources from 2012 to 2013 and Legislative Director at SEIU Local 1000 from 2009 to 2012. Farias was Senior Vice President at Smith, Ruddock & Hayes from 2008 to 2009 and an Associate at Wolkon & Pascucci LLP from 2002 to 2008. Farias earned a Master of Science degree in Political Science from Suffolk University and a Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School.

Devin C. Hughes, Motivational Speaker and Author 

Devin C. Hughes is the current Founder of Devin C. Hughes inc., a boutique training and development firm created to help established and emerging leaders grow to reach their ideal potential as well as their teams. He currently works with a number of startups and large global organizations setting up best practices for their people strategy.

He is a captivating speaker, author, and culture expert. He helps leaders drive growth and engagement by aligning workplace culture with success. With 20 years of experience in conflict resolution, generational differences, and culture change, he is the author of 21 books and has spoken in over 15 countries.

Devin’s experiences working on employee engagement strategy, evolving corporate cultures, talent management, and diversity & Inclusion brings a unique perspective in helping his clients plan for positive growth and evolution. His approach which draws from the sciences of positive psychology, positive organizational research, appreciative inquiry, neuroscience, mindset, and mindfulness. As a result, clients receive the cutting edge in research on well-being and flourishing. 

Rob Claudio. EDD Workforce Services Deputy Division Chief 

He is a graduate of San Diego State University – California State University 1985 – 1990 with a bachelor’s degree > Sociology and self-initiated minor in Management, PR & Advertising.  Rob is currently employed as Deputy Division Chief Orange County, CA Area. California Employment Development Department

Mr. Claudio has worked for EDD since March 1991 – to the present, 30 plus years in Orange County, California Area. He oversees State of California, EDD workforce development staff and management in all of Orange County. Ensures all federal funds associated with workforce programs are leveraged among required Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Partners along with community stakeholders. As a mandatory Partner of the America’s Job Centers of California, he serves on the three Workforce Development Boards in Orange County: City of Anaheim, City of Santa Ana, and County of Orange.

He is responsible for goals associated with staff capacity building, employer engagement, change management and continued customer focus on product service and delivery. Extensive administrative experience with maintaining budget expenditures, personnel transactions, and program performance. Collaborate, foster, and develop relationships with various workforce stakeholders including federal, state, county, and various non-profit entities. Vast experience in working with various institutions of higher learning, such as, community colleges, universities and private institutions with common goals related to training and employment preparation of unemployed or underemployed job seekers. Substantial knowledge in collaborating with employers within the Orange County Region, in addressing their workforce needs. In addition to serving on a number of boards in an advisory capacity, He also was a prior steering committee member of the Orange County Veterans and Military Families Collaborative.

Rob is also a Copy Writer for St. Martin De Porres Catholic Church – Yorba Linda, CA for the past 6 years. He provides copy writing editing and suggestions on correspondence and marketing materials. Provides ongoing support to the Communications Team of the parish to ensure all written published materials meet the standards for the parish.

Since California become California Workforce Connection (CWC) Rob has written eighteen articles for our newsletter the Cal-Liope. Over the years he has written over four hundred forty-one articles for his blog. Each one is a gold nugget of great advice and inspiration.

In the past Rob has spoken at many of our conferences and events. He was the winner of the Toll Trust Award for 2006.

“As the author of your life, you get an interesting choice in that you may have not selected the type of beginning your life had, however, you certainly get to map out how you want the rest of your life to play out. In writing our own personal growth chapters, I also firmly believe that we need to ensure to learn from our mistakes and be careful not to repeat any of the things which did not serve us well previously.”

“The opportunity to change or re-invent your life is a daily decision. Choose wisely.”

Senator Josh Newman

Grew up on the East Coast, in New York State, in a little city called Poughkeepsie, about an hour and half north up the Hudson River from New York City. Josh Newman is a United States Army veteran, community activist, non-profit founder, and State Senator for the 29th Senate district of California. A graduate of Yale, Senator Newman has been motivated by public service his whole life.In 2016, I ran a successful grassroots campaign for the California State Senate, focused on a message of service, common sense, and accountability on behalf of the residents of the 16 cities across three counties in California’s 29th Senate District.As their representative to the State Senate, I successfully guided more than 20 pieces of legislation that supported veteran services and mental health resources, improved local schools, helped businesses create jobs, and protected open space.

As a public servant, I pride myself on being active, accessible, and accountable, unafraid to put constituents over politics and working families ahead of special interests. My wife Darcy and I live in Fullerton with our young daughter and four weird but lovable rescue Chihuahuas

Penny Lambrite, CEO Clutter Cleaners, Paws & Patriots

Penny has over 35 years of administrative experience in a wide variety of industries, both public and private sector including Walt Disney Corporation.

Penny is a longtime resident of Orange County.  She attended Orange Coast College, Belmont College, (now Belmont University), in Nashville Tennessee and Cal State University Fullerton.

As part of her civic volunteering Ms. Lambright has served as an Inspector on both the state and local elections.  Penny was a longtime volunteer for the Huntington Beach Police Department in both their VIPS (Volunteer in Police Services) and Neighborhood Watch program.  On occasion, she played “Mc Gruff the Crime Dog”.

2021 Speakers

Stephanie Stone, United States Navy (Ret)

“Veteran Issues on Teleworking”

Stephanie Stone is the Chief Deputy Director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Ms. Stone currently serves as the Outgoing Chair of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Military Advisory Council.

Stephanie Stone holds a BS degree from University of Southern Illinois, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from University of San Francisco, and was Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in Los Angeles. She is presently attending the University of Southern California Doctorial in Policy Planning and Development program.

Andy Core

“Change Your Day, Not Your Life”

Andy Core is a credentialed, award-winning speaker on thriving in today’s high demand world. He provides high energy/high content presentations that improve employee engagement, productivity, retention, and resiliency.

2 Professional degrees (BS Biology, MS Human Performance)

2 decades of experience as a researcher, author, and speaker

Armed with a master’s degree in the science of human performance, he has spent over twenty years researching ways to better equip people to thrive in today’s high demand workplaces. “I’d love to help your people develop great attitudes, achieve huge accomplishments, and lower costs.”

Rita Saenz, Director of California Employment Development Department

Former Positions:
Director, CA Government Affairs, Xerox
Director, Communications, Fiscal Intermediary Contract, ACS/Xerox
Director, Health and Human Services, Western Region, ACS/Xerox
CEO, Academy for Coaching Excellence
Director, CA Department of Social Services
CEO, Maria Nemeth Associates, LLC
CEO, Holiday Project
Secretary, Gubenatorial Appointments
Assistant Secretary, Gubenatorial Appointments
Director, Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs
Director, Office on Alcoholism
Special Assistant, Department of Alcohol Beverage Control

Speakers 2020

Kenneth Durazzo, Vice President of Technology Research and Innovation

Ken Durazzo is the Vice President of Technology Research and Innovation in the Dell EMC office of the CTO. His team focuses on Cloud Native Technologies, Nascent Computing Architectures, and Machine / Deep Learning, with a primary focus on industry-scale emerging technologies with a 2-7 year event horizon. He comes to Dell EMC from Huawei, where he was the Vice President of Carrier and Enterprise Network Innovation. Prior to Huawei, Ken was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco, where he worked on several technologies, including; Service Insertion / Chaining, SDN, Internet Scale and Branch office Routers, Data Center Switches, Security, Wan and Application Optimization, Server Load Balancing and Wireless LAN technologies.

Prior to Cisco, Ken was an IT architect for a large multinational company, focusing on security, business application development and DC/ LAN/WAN architecture.
Ken has been working with or on Opensource platforms for well over 20+ years.
He has a Masters of Science in Computer and Information Systems.
Thesha Sims

Thesha Sims, Sr. Strategic Enterprise Customer Success Manager, has been with Adobe for over 13 years leading projects, managing teams, and designing solutions. For the past two years, she has advised senior leaders at higher education institutions (public and for-profit) on designing effective strategies for their online learning platforms. Focusing on sustainable practices to deliver value, she’s passionate about developing leaders and leveraging good data to drive decisions. Thesha is an CWC member.

2019 Speakers

Coach Ron Nash

Secret strategies on the LinkedIn platform

Ron has taught his personal branding and networking methodologies at conferences, including Social Media Examiner; world-class educational institutions, including the University of California at Los Angeles; USC, Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, Pearson College UK and numerous corporate organizations.

He has also worked with celebrity brands to the likes of Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer), Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle (Author of “The Power of Now”), Don Miguel Ruiz, and Brian “Mr. UGG” Smith (Founder of UGG Boots).

William M. Burke

Lessons Learned from the Mountains
I don’t care who you are or what difficulties you face in your life, you should make great plans for your future. It is said modesty is a virtue. I believe modesty is not a virtue when it comes to self-assessment and goal setting. There is no limit to what you can accomplish in life if you dream big, commit yourself to success and work hard.

On April 26, 2019, Bill will discuss his successful South side climb of Mt. Everest and will present dramatic photos and video of the climb. He will talk about the challenges, risks and joys of climbing the world’s highest mountains and will share the techniques he uses to physically and mentally prepare for these exhausting expeditions. Bill will also display the equipment required for an alpine mountain climb.

Victor Bloomberg

Strategic Leadership During Disruption: Integrating Workforce Innovations

“Victor Bloomberg’s presentation on Engaged Leadership was nothing short of inspiring. Victor completely captured the audience with his energy and conviction. He presented specific data in a manner that was both humorous and entertaining, while still getting the truth of his message across to the entire audience. He is the true expert on making a permanent shift in communication with engaged leaders. Victor Bloomberg of Excellence Inspired would be a huge asset to anyone looking for an amazing, one-of-a-kind speaker.”
– Angelique Rewers, CEO,

External sources of disruption are intensifying, as is the impact on CWC and its members. This interactive session produces knowledge that supports follow-up by the members after the conference. The demonstrated techniques for identifying a hot topic and the diversity of perceptions can be used, repeatedly, to test ideas about disruption and strategy. The methods promote buy-in at all levels. Results fit the organization’s culture and governance.

2018 Speakers

Dr. Richard Pimentel

Richard is an internationally-renowned consultant, keynote speaker, and professional trainer. He has the well-earned reputation for being North America’s premier speaker on disability and employment issues.

Working with major companies and Workforce Development/ Rehabilitation organizations on Workforce Diversity, Disability Inclusion, Job Placement, Job Retention, Leadership and Attitude Change, his work is credited for producing enduring changes in corporate and employment training cultures.

Milt Wright

Milt is the creator and founder of Milt Wright & Associates, Inc. His philosophy in founding a company was to design and produce programs, services and products to assist employers integrate persons with disabilities and other individuals with employment barriers into the workforce. For more than 34 years, under Milt’s leadership, Milt Wright & Associates Inc. has provided consultation, products, tools and seminars on job placement, job retention, attitude change, motivation, satisfaction and productivity.

Tiana Sanchez

Tiana is a Best-Selling Author, Global Podcast Host, and Speaker who partners with innovative companies to foster a more confident and competent workforce in the new economy. For over 17 years she has been in the trenches serving as Corporate Trainer and Business Consultant to top leaders in the financial, utility, local and federal government, and non-profit industries across the U.S. Through award winning leadership programs, specialized keynote presentations, and training seminars, Tiana has helped enterprises such as So Cal Edison, County of San Bernardino, U.S. Government, Black Chamber of Commerce, International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), and Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA) to develop the people they lead so that they can add tremendous value to the people they serve. Tiana wholeheartedly believes, “that people, like wine, must be nurtured, cultivated and given time to mature to yield the very BEST.

Join Now

If you are not a member, now is the time to join. Build a plan to enhance your career, learn to work with others as you build relationships through networking, obtain training and gain experience through your professional association.

Join Now

© California Workforce Connection