Disney Forum

Disney Forum is an annual speaker event series that features top-tier candidates in the form of keynote speaking events and panels. This series is hosted by Communication Department. Stay tuned for Disney Forum news/events here!

"Communication, Community, & Crisis" Series (2020-2021)

Alumni Panel: Careers in Communication, Community, & Crisis

Moderated by: Virginia Prior

April 29, 2021


Lara Adra '20

Pictured: Lara Adra '20

Lara Adra is a digital marketing specialist with notable, international experience at China-based design and tech company, PITAKA. In her role, Lara co-lead Kickstarter campaigns, managed various social media accounts, and assisted in influencer outreach. In her final year of college, she held the title of Public Relations Coordinator and Event Planner for “The Future of Journalism” Disney Forum speaker series at Saint Mary’s College of California. Upon graduation, she accepted a role as an Influencer Marketing Lead for CBS TV and now, in her current position, she is a Developer Marketing Coordinator at Apple.

Aubrey Williams '17

Pictured: Aubrey Williams '17

Aubrey Williams is an SMC alumnae, Class of 2017. She has been working in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for 6 years in nonprofit, government, amd tech. Currently she is a Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist at the Wikimedia Foundation and a leadership fellow with the climate justice organization, 350.org.

Ariana Vargas '16

Pictured: Ariana Vargas '16

Ariana Vargas is in her fourth season with the Golden State Warriors as the Community Relations Coordinator. In this role, she is responsible for managing and executing all aspects of the Warriors educational programming, including project conception and creation, identifying program delivery partners, and key stakeholder engagement with corporate, community, government and school partners. Her other responsibilities include developing cause-marketing strategies for the Warriors Community platforms, managing execution of game-day community activations, and donations of tickets to nonprofits and school partners.

A San Jose native, Ariana enjoys combining the love for her Bay Area community and her passion for sports into a meaningful career. She graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Spanish.

Jazo Moises '13

Pictured: Jazo Moises '13

Jazo Moises is a Comms Planning Supervisor at the New York office of Wieden+Kennedy, an independent advertising agency headquartered in Portland, OR. Jazo has been able to contribute to work including Super Bowl campaigns for Bud Light, McDonald's and the NFL, sport and entertainment partnerships for Weight Watchers and State Farm, and social content for Smirnoff and Google. He also teaches advertising strategy at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, where he completed a graduate degree in Media Studies.


From Managing Emotion to Trauma-Informed Management: A New Direction in Crisis Communication

March 22, 2021

Dr. Stephanie Madden

Pictured: Dr. Stephanie Madden

Dr. Stephanie Madden is an assistant professor of public relations in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University. Dr. Madden has a passion for advocacy and social justice issues, and her research focuses on the intersections between activism, crisis communication, public safety, and social media. 

Dr. Madden earned her B.A. in communication studies from Vanderbilt University and a M.A. and Ph.D. in communication from the University of Maryland. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Dr. Madden was a full-time researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. During this time, she helped to develop a FEMA-accredited risk and crisis communication training and conducted research on FEMA's Wireless Emergency Alert system.  

Corporate Social Responsibility and Crisis Communication: Risks, Opportunities, and Ethical Implications

March 15, 2021

Dr. Zifei Fay Chen

Pictured: Dr. Zifei Fay Chen

Dr. Zifei Fay Chen is an assistant professor in the Communication Studies Department at the University of San Francisco (USF). She is the coordinator of the Public Relations Minor program and the founding faculty adviser for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) USF Chapter. Dr. Chen's research centers on corporate social responsibility, social media strategies, startup and entrepreneurial public relations, and crisis communication and management. She is the conference director for the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC), the current outreach chair of the Educators Academy Section of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Public Relations Research and Public Relations Journal

Note from the Disney Forum: Dr. Chen is participating in this event without compensation, and to honor her time, the Communication Department has decided to donate the usual honorarium we pay to speakers to stopaapihate.org, an organization dedicated to tracking hate crimes against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the U.S. We are concerned by the recent rise, both locally and nationally, in racist and violent actions against Asian American Pacific Islander individuals and communities, and stand in solidarity with stopaapihate.org and other organizations dedicated to taking a stand against racism and hate.


44 Days Honoring Black History Keynote Speaker: Angela Rye in Conversation with Bedford Palmer

Co-Sponsor: Black Lives Matter Subcommittee

March 5, 2021 

For more visit https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/inclusive-excellence/44-days-celebration.

Pictured: Angela Rye


From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: Risking Difficult Dialogues

With Luz Casquejo Johnston, Rashaan Meneses, & Amissa Miller

Co-Sponsor: Seminar Informal Curriculum

February 17 & 25, 2021

For details visit https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/collegiate-seminar/news-and-events.


Community Resilience Through Communication

November 19, 2020


Candice Elder

Pictured: Candice Elder

Candice Elder, an East Oakland native, is the Founder and Executive Director of The East Oakland Collective (EOC). Candice has a BA in Political Science and a minor in African-American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MS in Criminal Justice, with a concentration on reform of the criminal justice, from the University of Cincinnati. Candice has an extensive background in law, philanthropy, and nonprofit management. 

​Candice founded EOC in 2016 to drive racial and economic equity in East Oakland. It was the long stemming disinvestment and lack of resources in East Oakland that compiled Candice to start this grassroots membership-based organization harnessing the collective power of millennials. Candice brings her wealth of experience serving on community focused committees, boards, and more to her leadership role in EOC and the community. Prior to starting EOC, Candice was a legal professional for 10 years and has worked in plaintiff class action law firms in employment and antitrust law fields. Candice previously worked as the Executive Coordinator and Membership Manager for the Women's Funding Network, the largest philanthropy network of women's funds and foundations in the country.

Candice has received numerous awards and recognition, like The Root's Top 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2019, named Top 6 Under 40 by the Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), and many more. She has also been featured in Oakland Magazine, KQED, San Francisco Chronicle, DemocracyNow! for her work in advocacy, policy, and organizing with unhoused populations.

For more information visit https://www.eastoaklandcollective.com/our-team.html. 

Dr. Bedford Palmer II 

Pictured: Dr. Bedford Palmer II

Dr. Bedford Palmer II, is an associate professor and the chair of the Counseling department at Saint Mary's College of California, as well as a licensed psychologist. He earned his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of California Irvine, his Master’s degree in psychology from California State University Long Beach, and his Doctorate in counseling psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Dr. Palmer completed his predoctoral psychology internship at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Dr. Palmer’s teaching and clinical interests are in professional ethics, supervision, conceptualization and treatment planning, community mental health, and multicultural competence development. His research interests involve multicultural and social justice psychology, ally identity development, multicultural competence, training of psychologists, and psychology in social media. Dr. Palmer provides psychotherapy and diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting to a diverse clientele of individuals and organizations. He produced and co-hosted the Naming It podcast and is the author of "Daddy Why Am I Brown?": A healthy conversation about skin color and family.

Follow Dr. Palmer's Instagram and Twitter @drbfpalmer and find his book at http://www.deeperthancolor.com and podcast Naming It at www.namingitpodcast.com

Jade Begay

Pictured: Jade Begay

Jade Begay, Creative Director, is Diné and Tesuque Pueblo of New Mexico. Begay leads NDN Collective’s multimedia content development through strategic narrative development and creative content design. Begay has extensive experience as a multimedia producer, filmmaker and communications professional working in non-profit and Indigenous organizations. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Video and a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Leadership.

For more visit https://ndncollective.org/people/jade-begay/.

Dr. Ori Tzvieli

Pictured: Dr. Ori Tzvieli

Ori Tzvieli is a Deputy Health Officer and Medical Director in Contra Costa County Department of Public Health. He has led the county's COVID-19 operational response since the beginning of the pandemic, including testing, contact tracing, laboratory, forecasting and surge-planning aspects of the response. He was among the group of regional health officers who signed the first-in-the-nation shelter in place order in March of 2020 . He is a practicing physician currently working in addiction and homeless medicine. Ori lives in Berkeley with his wife, 2 daughters, dog, 2 cats and 8 chickens.


Making Sense of Communication in Times of Crisis:

Featuring Dr. W. Tim Coombs & Samuel McCormick

October 20, 2020

Dr. W. Tim Coombs 

Pictured: Dr. W. Tim Coombs

W. Timothy Coombs (PhD from Purdue University in Public Affairs and Issues Management) is a full professor in Department of Communication at Texas A&M University and holds the Abell Endowed Professorship in Liberal Arts. He has received the 2002 recipient of Jackson, Jackson & Wagner Behavioral Science Prize from the Public Relations Society of America, the 2013 Pathfinder Award from the Institute of Public Relations in recognition of his research contributions to the field and to the practice, and the 2014 Business Impact Award from the Association for Business Communication and USC Marshall School of Business, Center for Management Communication. Dr. Coombs has won multiple PRIDE awards from the Public Relations Division of the National Communication Association for both books and research articles. He is also a member of the prestigious Arthur W. Page Society.

Dr. Coombs was a Fulbright Scholar in Estonia in the Spring of 2013. In the Fall of 2013 he was the named NEMO Professor at Lund University, Helsingborg Campus. In 2015 he was invited to lecture at Tsinghua University, Beijing China. In 2015 he was designated an honorary professor in the Department of Business Communication at Aarhus University. He is also the current editor for Corporation Communication: An International Journal.

Dr. W. Timothy Coombs’ primary research focuses on crisis communication. In 1995, he published the first article that would lead to the articulation of the Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT). SCCT is recognized as one of the most influential theories in crisis communication. His work has been at the forefront of establishing crisis communication as an identifiable research field within corporate communication. The recognition of his expertise is reflected in the variety of speaking engagements in U.S., Europe, and Asia. He has keynoted at a number of academic and practitioner conferences as well as lecturing on crisis communication at a number of international academic institutions. Since 2000, his works have been cited 6,300 times. Most of those citations involve the crisis communication research. His book Ongoing Crisis Communication has been cited over 3,000 times. His seminal work on article on crisis communication in 1995 has been cited over 1,000 times. That article was awarded the 2014 Business Communication Impact Award from the Marshall School of Business at USC for being the most cited article over the past five years (2009-2013 in this case) in the following top business communication journals.


Samuel McCormick

Pictured: Samuel McCormick

Samuel McCormick teaches Communication Studies at San Francisco State University. He is interested in communication, social theory, and the practice of everyday life, especially as these topics intersect with broader issues in intellectual and cultural history.  His first book, Letters to Power: Public Advocacy Without Public Intellectuals, won the Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression, the James A. Winans - Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, and the Everett Lee Hunt Award. His second book, The Chattering Mind: A Conceptual History of Everyday Talk, was recently published by the University of Chicago Press. Professor McCormick is currently at work on two new book projects: one on animal philosophy and another on Lacanian psychoanalysis.


Please visit our Past Series Highlights for information about previous Disney Forum Speaker Series events HERE and watch full recordings of the series events on the Saint Mary's Library Digital Commons HERE (restricted to Saint Mary's College of California community).