"down under / ON TOP" is a series of interviews designed to shine a spotlight on Australians making their mark on the world. Nine San Francisco-based Aussies share their experiences.
Nina Blackwell is Senior Director of Global Public Affairs for Yahoo! Inc. where she is responsible for the corporation’s communications strategies across a number of divisions including Public Policy, Human Rights, Privacy, Online Safety, Philanthropy, Litigation and Law Enforcement.
Nina joined Yahoo! after seven years working for U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, first as Special Advisor and then as Press Secretary and Spokesperson. Her work with Senator Clinton began in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks and spanned the successful 2006 Senate reelection campaign and the 2008 Presidential Campaign.
Following her arrival in the United States in 1999, Nina also worked on Senator Bill Bradley's 1999 presidential campaign, then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2000 campaign for the U.S. Senate and the 2001 Campaign for Mayor of New York City.
Prior to leaving Australia, Nina was the National Campaign Manager for the Australian Republican Movement, working on both the Constitutional Convention Election and Referendum campaigns. Nina has also held a number of roles in Australian politics, providing political, legislative, communications and policy advice on both the State and Federal level.
Nina has a Bachelor of Laws with Honors from the University of Technology, Sydney and a Masters in Political Science from The University of New South Wales.
Laura Chambers is senior director of PayPal Mobile with overall responsibilities focused on “mobilizing PayPal” and bringing outstanding PayPal applications and features onto the mobile platform. Chambers leads the design and development of PayPal mobile ensuring excellent end-to-end mobile experiences for all PayPal customers. She also directs the development of mobile Web technologies and helps to develop and communicate PayPal strategy and financial plans across the organization.
Throughout her five year career at PayPal and eBay, Chambers has held numerous strategic roles in PayPal, Marketplaces, Skype and eBay Inc. Chambers headed PayPal’s funding mix product team and was a member of the strategy team, where she developed new product ideas and led several strategy projects for merchant services. Most recently, as the chief of staff at eBay Inc., Chambers developed and shaped executive communications and events and led critical business projects including customer retention and corporate strategy.
Prior to PayPal, Chambers worked for McKinsey & Company, focusing on strategy, financial performance improvement and organizational design/governance for the telecommunications/technology, financial services, airlines and retail industries.
Chambers received a master’s degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in arts/commerce from the University of Melbourne.
Tim Griffith is an architectural photographer working in San Francisco, Singapore, Australia and China for editorial, corporate and advertising clients.
Long-time social entrepreneur, Danny has achieved global recognition as an environmental activist, spokesperson, and opinion leader. The residential solar power company, Sungevity, Inc. which he co-founded in 2007, has been an integral part of his life's mission to promote the use of clean energy and eliminate the world's dependence on fossil fuel. The company uses an internet based approach to build and design residential solar arrays. His accomplishments have earned him numerous awards, including: Innovator of the Year, from PBS program, Planet Forward, for pioneering an easy-to-access and affordable residential solar solution. Danny previously served as a campaign manager for Greenpeace Australia Pacific and directed Project Underground, an organisation committed to the human rights of people struggling with mining and oil operations.
Three decades of directing orchestras, choirs, operas, ballet, and musicals in the USA, England, and Australia have made Australian-born Dr. Kathleen McGuire one of the most versatile conductors of her generation. Specializing in working with large forces, she has a reputation for "charming" performers and audiences alike with her good humored manner at the podium.
In September, 2011, she was appointed as Minister of Music and Arts at the Congregational Church of San Mateo, CA, directing the Chancel Choir and overseeing all arts components at the church.
In 2005, McGuire began her tenure as principal conductor of the Oakland-based Community Women's Orchestra. She has led the Orchestra at five performances at Davies Symphony Hall and its first out-of-state tour, commissioned and premiered works by established, historic, and emerging women composers, and spearheaded the Orchestra's 25th anniversary celebrations in 2010.
In addition to her work with the Orchestra, in the fall of 2010, McGuire embarked on a new project in San Francisco as the founder and artistic director of Singers Of The Street (S.O.S.), a choir including people who are homeless and disadvantaged, with a mission to sing for justice, healing, and joy.
For more than a decade (2000-2010), McGuire served as artistic director and conductor of the 200-voice San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (SFGMC). She brought new purpose to the Chorus in its efforts to reach out to and support communities; under her leadership, SFGMC raised close to $500,000 for Northern California charities. Her memorable performances, season after season, are preserved in more than a dozen award-winning CDs and DVDs. Nationally and internationally, McGuire directed SFGMC and other choruses at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall (2001), and at choral festivals in Sydney (2002), Montreal (2004), Chicago (2006), Miami (2008), and Auckland (2010).
Prior to arriving in San Francisco, McGuire conducted for twenty years in Colorado, the United Kingdom, and Australia, leading professional, school, and community orchestras, choirs, operas and musicals. She completed studies in conducting, composition, and music education, and graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2000). Her renowned arrangements, orchestrations, and compositions are widely performed throughout the United States and abroad, and she appears frequently at conferences and festivals as a guest conductor and presenter. Her many accolades include San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declaring April 22, 2010 as Kathleen McGuire Day. She received a 2010 Special Citation from The American Prize in Conducting for Excellence in Music Education, and she was a KQED 2010 Local Hero. On December 31, 2010, she was named the first-ever Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. In January 2012, ABC-TV presented her with a "Profile of Excellence" Award. Her complete bio is found in Who's Who In The World and other notable publications.
John is founder of SnappyLabs, a startup innovating in the mobile app space. SnappyCam, on iPhone, is the world's fastest smart-phone camera that captures super high-resolution "living photos" so you'll never miss the perfect moment. John earned his Ph.D from the University of Melbourne (2006) and is a celebrated Australian researcher. He received the Chancellor's Prize for his dissertation on making DSL broadband networks faster, in 2007 was featured in The Age Melbourne Magazine's Top 100, awarded Victorian Fellow in 2005 and the RMIT University medal in 2002. He is co-inventor of four patents, recently acquired by Ericsson AB.
Al Ramadan helps build legendary companies and great leaders.
Ramadan has a passion for technology, innovation and the experience delivered to the customer. He believes that great experiences are great business and companies with a differentiated Point of View break out of the crowd.
He has experienced first hand what it takes to be a leader in the technology industry - from early stage VC backed companies through to mature public companies. He started his career as a Mathematician / Computer Scientist and moved into Executive Management and Leadership positions. He has deep insights into the technology and mobile markets and was selected by TIME as one of the most influential people in the digital economy.
Today he is focused on developing early stage companies into category leaders. He participates as a Board Member, a Strategic Advisor and in some cases an Angel Investor in companies wanting to change the world.
Mark Soloman has been a mergers and acquisition investment banker for 15 years, the last 12 of those have been in the U.S. covering the telco, media and tech industries. Mark has worked on a number of the largest M&A transactions in these sectors including News Corp's $12BN sale of DirecTV to Liberty Media; Verizon's $13BN yellow page directory spin off; Nextel's $45BN merger with Sprint and Alltel's $27BN leveraged buyout.
Dr. Alan Trounson
Alan Trounson, Ph.D., is Head of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Prior to this he was Professor of Stem Cell Sciences and Director, Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories at Monash University, and the Founder of the National Biotechnology Centre of Excellence Australian Stem Cell Centre, as well as Global Scientific Strategy Advisor.
Professor Trounson graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1971 with an M.Sc. in Wool and Pastoral Sciences. In 1974 he was awarded a Ph.D. in animal embryology by Sydney University. From 1974-1976 he was awarded the Dalgety Research Fellow at the ARC Institute of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry at Cambridge University. In 1977 he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at Monash University, and by 1984 was a Reader in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.