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Improving the quality of life, financial independence, and confidence of women in Southern California

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

6:00pm to 9:00pm Long Beach Marriott 4700 Airport Drive Long Beach, California


GOOD EVENING & WELCOME! I am Marah Fineberg-Kuck, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, based in the Long Beach/Seal Beach area. I’m the Founder & Host of tonight’s Inaugural Women’s Symposium of Southern California (WSSC). International Women's Day, originally called International Working Women's Day, is celebrated on March 8th every year. Creating this local event to honor International Women’s Day is very near and dear to my heart. My goal/dream is to hold this event annually each March 8 th at a location in Southern California accessible to the public with a wealth of resources for all attendees.


During my 15 years as a Financial Planning professional, working in a male dominated investment and financial industry, the need for an event like this became apparent to me as there are essential items to be discussed. Women are a major force in the economy as primary breadwinners and financial decision makers. As strong and powerful leaders in their families and communities, we need to help each other recognize, organize, celebrate, and focus on how to improve the quality of our lives and our families. WSSC aims to enhance our every-day know-how and skill sets on financial planning, career development, business awareness, and non-traditional careers such as STEM Careers and Politics.


What does International Women’s Day Mean to me? It is a reminder of how important it is for women to support one another in All Realms of life and to work together to improve gender parity. WSSC is for all women – pioneers, nurturers, philanthropists - to know it’s ok embrace femininity, while pursuing your goals. It’s my vision to create a forum to discuss, learn, and innovate together around current trends to empower women to reach their goals and full dreams.


As a trusted CFP® to many client households and businesses across the United States, I am eager to share my personal experiences and story with you. I look forward to hearing your story too! I encourage you to enjoy the program, participate, and provide lots of helpful feedback on the Event Evaluation at the end of the Symposium. This is a grassroots event for the betterment of our future, a historic time in History for women, and time to celebrate the advancements of Women in Southern California and around the world. Thank you again for joining us tonight!

Warm Regards & Cheers~ Marah Fineberg-Kuck, CFP® , CRPC

Founder & Executive Director Women’s Symposium of Southern California


In Honor of International Women’s Day

Theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world

Agenda - Wednesday, March 8th 2017 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Grand Ballroom

6:00 p.m.

Registration & Sign-In


Cash Bar with Complimentary Hors d’oeuvres

Grand Ballroom

6:15 p.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Grand Ballroom History of International Women’s Day

Host: Marah Fineberg-Kuck, CFP®, Founder of WSSC

Master of Ceremonies: Michelle Patterson, CEO, Women Network, LLC

Women’s Rights: CeCe Sloan, UN for UN Women

Grand Ballroom

6:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker – Inspiration

Alicia Whitney, Owner of Sea Legs Wine Bar

Most influential 2016 - The Orange County Register

Grand Ballroom

6:45 p.m.

Review Symposium Format & Breakouts

Michelle Patterson, CEO, Women Network, LLC

Room assignments attached

7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Breakout Session 1 (choice of A, B, C, or D)

A- Planning B- Family C- Small Business D- Transitioning

Room assignments attached

7:40 p.m. – 8:10 p.m.

Breakout Session 2 (choice of A, B, C, or D)

A- Planning B- Family C- Small Business D- Transitioning

Grand Ballroom

8:15 p.m.

General Session – Closing Remarks

Guest Speaker: Aimee Johnson, Allianz, VP Financial Planning Strategies

Grand Ballroom

8:30 p.m.

Wrap-up by Michelle Patterson, CEO, Women Network, LLC

Presentation of 2017 Charities WSSC Supports

Raffle and Door Prizes announced

9:00 p.m.

Symposium Concludes – Musical Exit


A Special Thank you to the 2017 WSSC Advisory Committee Volunteers who have worked diligently to make WSSC a reality! Thanks to their Passion to share the vision for WSSC and their undaunting Commitment to make Women’s Symposium possible. Thanks to their personal support of WSSC as donators with time, in-kind and financial donations to fund WSSC nonprofit startup costs to help make this event possible. We thank you!

WSSC Advisory Committee: Marah Fineberg-Kuck CFP®, Carolyn Wyatt, Carrie Logue, Lauri Blanchard, Susan Viator, Monica Groves, Pat Hale, Chris P. Brown, Diana Yanez, Jeanie Alessandrini, Kirsten Larsen, Sharon Cooper, Madelon Wallace, Merrietta Fong, Shannon Switzer, Theresa Murphy, CeCe Sloan, & Jessica Tejeda.

Program Committee:

Chair: Marah Fineberg-Kuck CFP®

Co-Chair: Susan Viator

Event Planning Committee:

Chair: Lauri Blanchard

Co-Chair: Carolynn Wyatt

Marketing Committee:

Chair: Carrie Logue

Co-Chairs: Monica Groves, Diana Yanez, Kirsten Larsen, Sharon Cooper

Partnership Committee:

Chair: Marah Fineberg-Kuck CFP®

Co-Chair: Diana Yanez

WSSC Internship Program:

Intern: Jessica Tejeda; Senior at California State University, Long Beach

Intern Coordinator: Pat Hale

WSSC Executive Committee:

Executive Director: Marah Fineberg-Kuck CFP®

WSSC Attorney: Shannon Switzer, pro-bono basis

WSSC CPA: Merrietta Fong, pro-bono basis

Also a Very Special Thank you to all of the Program Participants, Soroptimist International of Long Beach (SILB) volunteers, Precious Life Shelter volunteers, USNC for UN Women, Seal Beach Host Lions Leo’s Club for volunteering at this inaugural event along with the other countless attendees that jumped-up to volunteer today as well. All of you helped make this grassroots awareness event a success! Thank you ALL very much!


2017 WSSC Event Priority theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world

Women’s’ Symposium of Southern California (WSSC) has chosen to align their annual Symposium program theme with the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), of UN Women. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.


Proceeds from the 2017 Women’s Symposium of Southern California will be donated to the following charitable organizations: United States National Committee for United Nations Women, Soroptimist International of Long Beach (SILB), and Precious Life Shelter.


USNC for UN Women Purpose: Building strong collaborations to increase awareness of the issues that affect females globally and locally

Soroptimist International of Long Beach (SILB) Purpose: assist women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects.


Precious Life Shelter Purpose: Provides residential and supportive services for homeless, adult, pregnant women (non-denominational)

Save the Date for 2nd Annual Women’s Symposium next year: International Women’s Day is Thursday, March 8th 2018!

General Sessions

Michelle Patterson, CEO- General Sessions- Master of Ceremonies

Michelle Patterson is the CEO of Women Network LLC, a media and production company giving women a voice to share their message. Women Network is creating the largest community of women globally, and they are the exclusive event producer of the California Women’s Conference. Mrs. Patterson is also the founder of Global Women Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit public charity created to bring women together to create global change by empowering them to transform their communities. Its mission supports women to effectuate this change through serving as a world-wide conduit for connecting community, mentoring, education, and financial support.

A successful event promoter; a lauded business accelerator (youngest Regional VP and National Sales Trainer for Robert Half, the world’s largest specialized recruiting firm); a sought-after media commentator (The Huffington Post, CNBC, Fox Business News, Bloomberg and hundreds of TV and radio stations); an energetic and engaging public speaker; host of a weekly radio show on Women Network Talk Radio; Ms. Patterson is also the headlining author for a women’s anthology, Women Change the World, featuring notable celebrity contributors as well as five other books. In 2016, Ms. Patterson was awarded a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by President Barack Obama and the Corporation for National and Community Service for her lifelong commitment to building a stronger nation through volunteer service.

Recently Ms. Patterson was awarded the Corporate Advocate Award at the Los Angeles Business Journal’s annual Women’s Summit. She was also Knighted by the Orthodox Order of St. John Russian Grand Priory, honored as the Woman of the Year by the World Boxing Council, and has spoken at the United Nations on the topic of Women and the difference they are making in our world. Mrs. Patterson lives in Ladera Ranch, California with her husband of nearly twenty years, Eric, and their two children, Jaclyn and Chase.

CeCe Sloan –Activist - General Session Guest Speaker: Women’s Rights

CeCe Sloan has been an activist for women's rights throughout her life. As a leader of several organizations, including the president and founder of the SoCal Chapter of United States National Committee of UN Women.(formerly UNIFEM, the United Nations Development fund for women) she has helped to make changes in equality. A member of AWID, Association of Women's Rights in Development, she has attended the conferences and met with thousands of women there and at the Beijing Conferences. Particularly interested in the expression of women's voices in the visual and performing arts, she has woven that into her annual International Women's Day events. Her mission is to see the end of violence against women and girls everywhere.

Alicia Whitney- CEO/ Owner - General Session Key Note Speaker

Restaurateur Alicia Whitney is one of the hottest rising stars transforming Southern California’s culinary landscape. At her seven coastal-themed dining destinations, she presents reinvented regional cuisine for modern palettes – all while elevating the local food scene to embrace gourmet flavor profiles and artful presentations. This accomplished entrepreneur has combined her passion for life, love of wine and food, professional experience and success to transform Huntington Beach, California, into a culinary destination. Early in her career, Whitney developed a versatile skill set and gained exposure to various food and beverage industries working in casino marketing and venue development in Las Vegas.

She parlayed that knowledge to create an instant sensation with her own business when she opened her first coastal concept, SeaLegs Wine Bar, in 2012 – then doubled down on the success by opening a second location at Los Angeles International Airport in 2015. For her achievements, the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce recognized Whitney as Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015.

She continues to captivate Southern California locals and visitors alike with emerging restaurant concepts under her new PRKJT Restaurant Group banner. SeaSalt Woodfire Grill, which opened in April 2016, presents a seaside interpretation of Santa Maria-style barbecue. The menu features meat slowgrilled alongside seasonally fresh vegetables over an open redwood oak fire and topped with sea salt creations blended in-house. But perhaps Whitney’s biggest contribution to bringing gourmet dining to classic surf locations is her development of four concession-style eateries along historic Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach.

Opened in June 2016, SeaLegs at the Beach is a surf-side rendition of SeaLegs Wine Bar, the awardwinning wine bar and lounge that Gayot named as one of the top 10 restaurants in Orange County, California. At SeaLegs at the Beach, sun-kissed diners can enjoy SeaLegs’ acclaimed Chicken Chianti Tacos or fresh Ahi Poke Nachos as they toast the sunset with a glass of rosé or craft beer. Whitney designed SeaLegs at the Beach to accommodate wedding receptions, food and music festivals and other special events, with capacity to fit hundreds of people. Her contract with the California State Park System gives her exclusive rights to cater any event held at the beach.

The other three concession-style eateries at Bolsa Chica State Beach include the palate-expanding Pacific Kitchen, which showcases locally sourced items of sustainable fish practice from the Pacific Ocean, SeaSalt Woodfire Burger, featuring burgers and homemade shakes, and Beach City Provisions, a destination for comfort food. Beyond the opening of boardwalk concessions, Whitney aims to continue to push boundaries and shake up the coastal culinary scene, relying on her entrepreneurial spirit and zest for living to envision successful new dining and entertainment concepts.

Aimee Johnson, General Session - Guest Speaker- Women in Transition

As VP of Advanced Markets, Aimee Lynn Johnson is responsible for speaking with clients and financial service professionals about ways to effectively accumulate, protect, and distribute wealth. Johnson brings more than 15 years of industry experience as a speaker at national and regional events throughout the country. She specialized in topics related to women’s markets, divorce, Social Security, transitioning, healthcare, and retirement.

Before joining Alliance Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) in 2008, Johnson was a senior filed consultant with Thrivent Financial and also held positions with Thrivent as a health product specialist and regional sales consultant. Prior to Thrivent, she was a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley.

Johnson holds the following Designations CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor), CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter), CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst), and ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant). She also holds FINRA Series 7 and 65 securities registrations.

Breakout Sessions:

Breakout Session A- Planning:

Carolyn Wyatt-Financial Advisor- Session Leader A- Planning

Carolyn Wyatt returned home after completing a degree in economics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a passion to inspire everyone to start investing. During the early years of her career, she developed a bedrock belief that all investment plans begin and end with the clients they are designed for. This foundation has helped her build a practice that is client centric and involves a diverse range of investment products and services. Financial security is a concern for most families, and Carolyn loves the opportunity to work with her clients and their families to provide the long term stability they are looking for. The world of investments can be complicated and intimidating; Carolyn strives to help her clients navigate these challenges with ease. In her spare time, Carolyn enjoys entering cooking and baking contests, where her Dark Chocolate Oreo Cake earned a blue ribbon at the county fair.

Melissa Roe, CIMA, AIF- Key Note Speaker Session A- Planning

Melissa Roe is Managing Director and serves as the National Head of UIT Sales for Nuveen’s Global Private Client Group. She also leads all strategic partnerships for the Western Division of the wire channel.


Melissa has 20 years’ experience in financial services. She was previously Vice President, Advisor Consultant for Nuveen’s Global Private Client Group covering the greater Los Angeles and Southern California areas. Prior to joining Nuveen, Melissa held positions as a Financial Advisor at American Express and as Regional Marketing Director at Sunamerica.


Melissa received her BS in Business Administration from the University of La Verne and her securities registrations include the Series 7, 24, 63 and 65. She earned the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation, and the AIF.

Ms. Shannon C. Switzer - Attorney at Law- Panelist Session A- Planning

Shannon Switzer is partner with the law firm of Craton, Switzer & Tokar, LLP. Shannon earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California. Shannon earned her Juris Doctorate degree from Chapman University School of Law. Shannon is admitted and qualified to practice before all of the State Courts in California, the U.S. District Court (Central District of California), and the Supreme Court of the United States. Shannon earned her certification as a mediator under the Dispute Resolution Programs Act in California. Shannon is a member of the Orange County and Long Beach Bar Associations - Trust and Estate sections. Shannon serves on the Chapman University School Law Alumni Advisory Board and the Chapman University Endowment Council. Shannon's primary area of practice is focused on estate planning, asset protection, and estate administration. Shannon works with the Public Law Center to provide volunteer pro bono legal services to Orange County residents in need. Shannon is a native of Orange County, raised in Villa Park and now calls Old Town Seal Beach her home.

Karla Mara- Mortgage Consultant NMLS# 632882- Panelist Session A- Planning

Karla Mara has in the mortgage industry for more than 14 years. During her career, she’s learned what it takes to be an outstanding loan officer: customer service and know-how. Clients appreciate her honesty, dependability and experience. In addition to delivering consistent client satisfaction, Karla brings a passion for helping people with her to work every day. She loves that she has the opportunity to help people buy or refinance their dream homes.

Karla believes that customer satisfaction and being transparent and reliable is what it takes to be better than the rest. There are so many other loan officers who don’t dedicate passion to their business. Karla loves to help other people, and when she puts the passion behind her work, it just can’t be beat. She is also known for being knowledgeable of current trends in her real estate and loan industry and understanding her client’s goals completely. Karla works to make the mortgage process as stress-free and simple as possible for her clients.

Karla began her mortgage career in 2003. She started out on the operations side as a loan processor, was promoted to a funder and then decided the sales side is where she wanted to be. Clients rely on her comprehensive experience with the entire mortgage process, as she is equipped to explain the details of their loan and what it takes to qualify. Helping people become homeowners is so rewarding that Karla decided to dedicate my career to helping clients achieve this lifelong goal and to helping others save money on their mortgages.

Breakout Session B- Family:

Kirsten Larsen- VP, CFO, Avid Volunteer, Wife & Mother - Session Leader Session B- Family

Kirsten Larsen-Pruitt is a Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of a local Engineering & Manufacturing (E&M) company with 25 years of experience in the STEM industry. Kirsten brings considerable expertise to the Women’s Symposium of Southern California Advisory Board because of her know-how, dedication, and experience. Her professional career is notable with 25 successful years filled with financial and strategic management and planning tactics in the E&M industry. Kirsten is past President and current Board Secretary of SAFE Chapter One, a national organization whose mission is the preservation of human life through research and development in fields of safety and survival.

As an avid volunteer, she has held various roles among community organizations dedicated to enhancing quality of life. Kirsten is past President (1995-2000) and has held an Honorary Board member position of Rebuilding Together Long Beach since 2000. Additionally, she has served in various Board positions and volunteer roles for The Junior League of Long Beach from 1992-present. Kirsten continues to support both organizations and is often called upon as a guest speaker, advisory member or public spokesperson.

Community activism and philanthropy is very important to Kirsten. SPCLA, animal welfare, and animal rights are issues important to her and her family. She and her daughter dedicate weekly volunteer service hours at the PD Pitchford Companion Animal Village and Education Center. She is also highly involved in Boy Scouts, student art exhibitions and fundraisers as well as all of her children’s school programs. Kirsten has lived in Long Beach, California for over 25 years with her husband Stephen and their three children Ella, Ben & Theo enjoying the beach and uplifting the community together.

Judy A. Willis- Key Note Speaker- Session B- Family

Judy graduated from Boston College Law School and began her career as in-house counsel to H.P. Hood dairy in Boston. She worked for Parker Bros. Games for five years where she did the licensing of all new products as well as extensive work policing and protecting their trademarks and copyrights.


For 20 years Judy worked for Mattel Toys, where she began as head of the Intellectual Property Law and Licensing department. In 1996, she was promoted to Senior Vice President, Business Affairs in which she was responsible for all worldwide in-licensing of entertainment properties and new product ideas.


Judy has taught numerous seminars in Intellectual Property Law including at Northeastern University, Columbia Law School and for the Practicing Law Institute. She has also been a guest speaker on Licensing and Negotiating for the American Bar Association, the International Trademark Association, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cal Tech Management Association, USC, BookExpo America, etc.


She retired from Mattel in 2009 and now spends her time volunteering with children. She has volunteered at Rainbow Services at their emergency domestic violence shelter for 17 years working with the kids. She has also volunteered at a high school for the past six years working in the College Center helping students with personal statements, financial aid, scholarships, resumes, interviewing skills, career counseling, etc.

Ana Arguello, MS, MFT - Panelist Breakout Session B- Family

Ana has been involved in multiple areas of psychological focus for the past 25 years. She first received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1991 and furthered her education with a Masters of Sciences in 1999 both from California State Universities.


She has been fortunate in being in an array of settings that included the penal system, community psychology, and private practice. Ana has been in community based psychology for the past 8 years; encompassing all that is individual, family and child relational. She has developed an expertise in Child Parent Psychotherapy, a therapy with focus on parent child relational diatribe and treating very young children while also engaging the caregiver/parent. Ana also has extensive training in Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Adolescence and Postpartum Depression.

She has been a featured guest on KCET’s Place of our Own and a speaker for Los Angeles Unified School District. Ana spent 15 years working for the Federal Department of Justice in the capacity of Drug Treatment Specialist and collaterally in Speakers Bureau and the Hostage Negotiation Team. She received extensive training in Addiction Recovery, Motivational Interviewing and Rational Behavior Therapy. Ana is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist consulting and practicing near you.

Sharon Cooper- Financial Advisor- Panelist Breakout Session B- Family

As an Edward Jones financial advisor, Sharon Cooper believes it’s important to invest her time to understand what her clients are working toward before they invest their money. Working closely with clients and their CPA, attorney and other professionals, Sharon can help determine the most appropriate financial strategy for her clients and their families. She can also help with client’s retirement savings strategy so they have more options when they retire, regardless of what they decide to do. Sharon began her Edward Jones career in 2016 as a financial advisor in Venice/Marina Del Rey.


Prior to joining Edward Jones, Sharon was a professor of finance for Rock Valley College and a director of project management and operations in the food and beverage industry. A 1989 graduate of Rockford University, Sharon holds an MBA in finance/business administration. In addition, Sharon graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor degree in chemical engineering. Active in the communities in which Sharon lives, she is also a former board chair of Winnebago County CASA. Along with her spouse Dan, they have two grown children who live in the community and inspired their decision to relocate from the Chicago area.

C. Breakout Session- Small Business

Monica Groves- Session Leader C- Small Business

Monica Groves has an extensive background in connecting with people and building relationships through grassroots organizing and increasing awareness and involvement, advocacy, and empowerment to bring about effective solutions to health and social justice challenges that face women of color. Monica holds a Master of Arts degree in Media Communications with emphasis in Communications Management from Webster University and has managed community outreach and engagement for several non-profits in the Greater Los Angeles Area.


Monica is a storyteller, writer, facilitator, and activist and is the voice of; Giving Everyday Empowerment to Phenomenal Women. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA and is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Women’s Symposium of Southern California Advisory Board, and the SexSpeaks Storytelling Collective.

Madelon Wallace- Key Note Speaker C- Small Business

Meet Madelon Wallace, founder and CEO of Solutions By Madelon, Incorporated. Madelon is passionate about helping people transform their ideas and company into an even more thriving business in any economy. For over two decades she has helped build brands, properties and businesses. Working with powerhouse brand owners and holders like The Hershey Company, Hasbro, Nickelodeon, Marvel, and Fruit of the Loom to name a few.


Over her career she has generated over $1B in business growth, brand extensions and new product development across multiple industries and product categories. Madelon not only thrived in the domestic market, she has also developed international business in Mexico, Canada, Latin America and Asia.


Ms. Wallace earned her BS in Agriculture Business with a minor in Business Administration and Economics from Lincoln University. She continued her education at Webster University earning an MA in Marketing. Madelon is also a strong supporter of her community, volunteering as an entrepreneur and an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. In addition to her service, she is a board member and advisor to multiple non-profit organizations.

Merrietta Fong- MBA, CPA, Partner - Panelist C- Small Business

Merrietta Fong brings more than 25 years of public accounting experience to the firm’s varied client list. She is an expert in business consulting, audit, and corporate and personal taxation. Sensitivity to her client’s personal goals has made her a trusted advisor to many seeking to sell their companies or crafting a succession strategy. Along with being an integral client-handling partner at the firm, Merrietta is also its primary rainmaker. Merrietta describes the reason for her successful client relationships as “A love for people; a love for hearing their stories and their creative ideas; the journeys they’ve taken and the vision they have for their future.” Her ability to relate on the most human of levels sparks new ideas and new ways of serving her client’s purposes. She has built a firm specifically designed to fulfill her clients’ financial goals as related to the rest of their lives.

Merrietta and the firm regularly work with clients in a variety of industries including: manufacturing, professional services, wholesale, sport, distribution, technology, construction, entertainment, consulting, real estate, retail, & import/export. Among the varied professional services Merrietta and the firm provide are: Audits, reviews, compilations of financial statements for all types of non-SEC enterprises, Audit of employee benefit plans, Tax preparation, Consulting services, & International tax consulting.

Merrietta has dual bachelor’s degrees in French and Spanish from DePauw University and was a student in residence at Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia. She also has an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Merrietta is a member of the AICPA and the California Society of CPAs. She is also active on the boards of a number of nonprofit and humanitarian organizations in the area. Merrietta says, “These organizations and their activities inspire me toward new ways of creative problem solving. They expand the joy of life, while giving a little something back in return for the privilege of serving.”

Chris P. Brown- VP & Manager, Panelist C- Small Business

Chris P. Brown comes to Women’s Symposium of Southern California with over 40 years’ experience in the area of Banking & Lending helping Retail and Business clients with all of their banking needs. As the Vice President Relationship Manager at Opus Bank, Chris currently oversees $40 million of deposits and has managed offices with as much as $100 Million over the last 6 years. In addition, she manages and coordinates both Retail Banking Services and Business Banking Loans in Long Beach. Chris is a strong leader and mentor within her own Bancorp, not to mention the larger banking community locally, and well respected by her peers. Her smiling face and warm demeanor reassures clients that they are in the right hands; her knowledge and expertise confirms it.

Recently, Chris has focused on managing financial relationships with emphasis on serving high-net worth individuals and their families, business owners and entrepreneurs. Chris prides herself not only on managing clients’ relationships but works closely with business partners to provide comprehensive banking solutions that meet each client’s specific needs.

Chris maintains active involvement in several community service organizations and takes her role in the community seriously. She is currently a Board Member for the Long Beach Chamber Women’s Business Council, Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, CSR Children’s Foundation and is affiliated with the non-profit N2Giving.

Chris is married to Don Brown also of Long Beach and they have been together for 36 years. Together they have 4 grown children, 7 grandchildren and a great granddaughter. During their free time, they enjoy spending time with friends, wining and dining, as well as taking trips to favorite spots like Paso Robles, Monterrey, Palm Springs and Catalina Island.

Marah Fineberg-Kuck, CFP®, CRPC- Panelist C- Small Business

Marah’s mission is to help people create, grow, preserve and distribute wealth by taking into consideration every aspect of their financial life. She delivers customized sound guidance & comprehensive financial planning & investment advice. Her greatest satisfaction comes from helping her clients achieve their financial goals for today and the future. Throughout her career, Marah has consistently grown professionally through continued education, and her business has expanded through positive client referrals. Marah has extensive experience working with clients from all walks of life such as business owners, government entities, pension plans, retirees, charities and professionals throughout the country. Marah implements specific tax efficient strategies and solutions, such as strategic and tactical investment selection, to help enhance diversification and reduce volatility in one’s financial plan.

Marah Fineberg-Kuck, CFP®, CRPC- Panelist C- Small Business

CeCe Sloan has been an activist for women's rights throughout her life. As a leader of several organizations, including the president and founder of the SoCal Chapter of United States National Committee of UN Women.(formerly UNIFEM, the United Nations Development fund for women) she has helped to make changes in equality. A member of AWID, Association of Women's Rights in Development, she has attended the conferences and met with thousands of women there and at the Beijing Conferences. Particularly interested in the expression of women's voices in the visual and performing arts, she has woven that into her annual International Women's Day events. Her mission is to see the end of violence against women and girls everywhere.

Marah attended University of California, San Diego where she received her double bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Chinese Studies. She also received a certificate in International Trade Finance from Alher’s Center for International Business & the San Diego World Trade Center Global Strategy and Management Certificate Program. Since 2002, Marah has been a featured guest speaker at several nonprofit events, and conducts pro-bono work such as educational seminars relating to financial planning. Marah is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC); and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®). Marah has been recognized as a Five Star Wealth Manager the last five years in a row (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, & 2013) in the Los Angeles Magazine. In addition, she was invited & attended Barron’s Top Women Advisors Summit in 2014, which ignited her to start WSSC.

Away from the office, Marah is the President and Executive Director of Women’s Symposium of Southern California (WSSC). She is also an active Director in the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce for the past 5 years and current Chair the local Governmental Affairs Committee. She has also been a Member of International Lion Club since 1998. Marah likes to spend her free time with her husband, Aaron, sharing hobbies which include dancing, traveling the world, music, sports and volunteering in multiple local community events together.

Breakout Session D- Transitioning

Susan Viator- Sales Vice President - Session Leader D- Transitioning

My passion is to help clients achieve their financial dreams and goals. With significant experience and expertise in coupling insurance planning with advanced marketing strategies, I consult with financial advisors and their clients in the areas of estate, charitable and business planning as well as wealth transfer and multi-generational planning. My commitment is to listen to what the client wants and needs and creatively design an appropriate solution that effectively accomplishes their goals in a tax efficient manner at a reasonably affordable cost. As part of the Know Your Client process, I take great care to factor in family dynamics, potential obstacles and other aspects encompassing the client's financial landscape. Using advanced planning methodologies, I guide clients and their advisors to implement their best financial solution.

An extensive background in life insurance allows me to select the right insurance program for each client. With access to the top industry carriers, I shop for the carrier and product that meets the client's need and oversee the underwriting process to achieve the best offer to deliver the final product. I am fortunate to have achieved success over the years and received recognition for my sales achievements. I also devote some of my personal time to local groups to give back. I volunteer at the local library for their Literacy Program, teaching adults to speak English for over 10 years. A love of fashion has translated into assisting young girls and adult women to dress professionally for work, volunteering my time and energy to Women Helping Women special events and fundraising efforts. Striving to keep physically and mentally fit, I run half marathons, practice yoga at the beach and take a daily jog by the beach.

Aimee Lynn Johnson- Keynote Speaker Session D- Transitioning

As VP of Advanced Markets, Aimee Lynn Johnson is responsible for speaking with clients and financial service professionals about ways to effectively accumulate, protect, and distribute wealth. Johnson brings more than 15 years of industry experience as a speaker at national and regional events throughout the country. She specialized in topics related to women’s markets, divorce, Social Security, transitioning, healthcare, and retirement.

Before joining Alliance Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) in 2008, Johnson was a senior filed consultant with Thrivent Financial and also held positions with Thrivent as a health product specialist and regional sales consultant. Prior to Thrivent, she was a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley.

Johnson holds the following Designations CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor), CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter), CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst), and ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant). She also holds FINRA Series 7 and 65 securities registrations.

R. Christine Brown, Attorney at Law- Panelist Session D- Transitioning

Christine received her bachelor’s degree from U.C. Santa Barbara and is a 1992 graduate of the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She is formerly a partner in the law firm of Popeney, Lebetsamer & Brown, LLP. In January 2002, she opened her own law firm which concentrates solely in the area of elder law. Her special emphasis is on Medi-Cal long-term care planning and the concerns of the elderly, while also applying her extensive experience in estate planning, trust administration, probate and conservatorships.


Christine is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the South Bay Bar Probate and Estate Planning Section, as well as other community organizations concerned with the needs of older adults. As an active member of her community and State Bar, Christine volunteers regularly at various Superior Court Probate Departments in assisting the public with legal issues. She works regularly with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (“CANHR”) and the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center.

Roberta Fitzgerald- MBA, CLTC - Panelist Session D- Transitioning

As a Financial Advisor, Roberta knows that financial planning must be catered to each individual's specific needs and goals. Her team’s mission is to provide financial solutions to fulfill clients’ visions for the future by managing and building upon their current situation through comprehensive financial planning.


Roberta has been in the financial services industry for 23 years. She worked in the banking industry for over 15 years prior to establishing her own business. She has a nationwide financial planning practice under the umbrella of Northwestern Mutual located in Downtown Los Angeles. Her extensive knowledge and experience paired with her passion to serve others allows her to help clients achieve financial prosperity. Her accomplishments have enabled her to qualify for Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards in the Western Region with Northwestern Mutual.

Roberta specializes in providing strategic advice to help successful women, attorneys, physicians, business owners and their families meet their financial goals. She also collaborates with fellow advisors to educate clients on wealth management and estate planning solutions.

Having graduated with a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Management from Mount Saint Mary’s University, she believes in continued education to ensure she provides expertise in the building of her clients’ plans. She is currently studying to obtain her Certified Financial Planning (CFP®) designation and currently holds a State Certification in Long Term Care planning. She is a member of multiple associations and community organizations such as Step Up, New BLK Wallstreet, ImagineIf, National Black MBA Association and Mount Saint Mary’s and CSU Dominguez Hills Alumni Associations.

Ecy O’ Roake- Advisor Medicare Solutions Panelist Session D- Transitioning

As a Caregiver to my own family members, I quickly saw the need to be an advocate for the senior community because Medicare is not Easy to understand and the Health plan you choose is so important when it comes to your individual needs. Being a resident in Orange County for the past 50 years, I decided to educate myself and I am currently Licensed and Certified to offer Medicare Advantage plans as well as Medicare Supplement plans and Part D prescription Drug plans.


I work with people that are turning 65 and new to Medicare, people who are retiring and those that need extra help understanding their choices when it comes to Medicare. I also help individuals select the right plan, review the drug options and provide additional resources when those needs arise.

Having the patience and understanding of the needs of seniors and helping them navigate their Medicare choices is what I pride myself in doing… I have established great relationships with not only my personal clients but with others in the community. In addition to the English language, I also speak Spanish and Portuguese.

I currently Educate and Present Products at: Hospitals, Doctors’ Offices, Senior Living Communities, Assisted Living Communities, Community Centers, Senior Centers, Community Events.

I believe earning your trust and being available is a very important part of building a long lasting relationship.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT & ENCOURAGEMENT to help us hold this Cost-Free Symposium Annually

2017 WSSC Presenting Title Sponsor:


2017 WSSC Partner Sponsor:


2017 WSSC Supporter Sponsors:


Contributing US Government Agencies:


This event is possible with the Gracious Donations from Sponsors to cover the cost of this event, and participating agencies who provided educational materials.

Women’s Symposium is 100% pure Educational Event for the public where marketing and sales to attendees is prohibited unless you are a sponsor, or materials pre-approved. The 2017 WSSC Suggested Donation per Symposium Attendee is $25.00 and is not required. Educational Materials have been submitted by various professionals and educators in Southern California on pro-bono basis.

Note: 2018 Women’s Symposium So Cal Sponsorship Opportunities are Available for 3/8/18. To Review WSSC Sponsorship Packages , visit, inquire at:

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