2022 Brunch with Experts Speakers

Each speaker will host two sessions. 

Chris Brennan, Performance Specialist, Insperity

Topic | Building Balance-How leaders can create an energized, motivated and happy workforce

If the last 2 years have taught employers anything, it is for the need to keep laser focused on ways to retain and attract talent. During this session, Insperity Performance Specialist Chris Brennan will share ideas on how business leaders can prioritize employee wellness, build a stronger culture, and lead a more energized and motivated team.

Linda DiMario, Director, Community Engagement, Octane Foundation for Innovation

Topic | "Community Impact: Octane Foundation for Innovation At Work"

DiMario is a multi-dimensional economic development professional with over forty years’ experience in public, private and non-profit sectors. She served as the Greater Irvine Chamber’s Executive Vice President for over seven years leading a full scope of economic development and tourism work including business attraction, business growth foreign direct investment campaign, skills gap and talent attraction solutions, growing the Irvine/OC innovation eco-system and winning the 2018 Presidential “E” Award for export assistance.

Currently, DiMario serves as Director, Community Engagement for the Octane Foundation for Innovation (OFI). In this role, she leads a portfolio of community initiatives including Women Leaders of Octane; STEAM Fellows and STEAM Ahead projects directed at growing STEAM study and careers in underserved and underrepresented communities and Non-Profit Accelerator and NPA 2.0 building sustainable and effective non-profit social enterprises. In addition, the Greater Irvine Chamber contracts with her to sustain the FDI work helping UK life science and tech companies expand to Irvine/Orange County.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Orange County World Affairs Council and Octane. She previously served on the Destination International Board of Directors and served as president of the Western Association of CVBs in addition to many charitable and community organizations.

Rebecca Pacillas – Chief People Officer, American Advisors Group Human Resources

Topic | Leading and Managing a remote work force in a post-pandemic world: After 2 years of a Pandemic, the workforce has changed. How do companies reimagine a post-Pandemic model for the “next normal” workforce?

As Chief People Officer, Rebecca is responsible for developing and executing a human resource strategy that supports business objectives and aligns our core values and culture. Rebecca oversees the entire HR organization, including talent acquisition, learning & development, benefits, internal communications, and corporate engagement. She joined in 2012 with more than 20 years’ human resources experience, including VP of HR for TOMRA North America and Director of HR at RMA Land Construction.

Delilah Panio, VP, Capital Formation, TMX & Chair of Women Leaders of Octane Funding Committee & Xandra Laskowski, Founder and CEO, SEA Angel Investors

Topic | "Funding Options for Female Founders: Learn About Different Funding Options from Bootstrapping to IPO and Everything in Between"

Delilah Panio is Vice President of U.S. Capital Formation for Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) based in Southern California. In this role, Delilah advises U.S. companies on the opportunity to list and raise capital on Canada’s premier equity markets.  Delilah is also the founder of Fortuna Funding and works with women entrepreneurs to get investor-ready. She is a frequent speaker and pitch competition judge and coach, and was named in the “2019 Top 100 People in Finance” Magazine.

Previously, Delilah spent 10 years at TSX and TSXV in business development and strategy. She has advised many companies on the going public process and provides an understanding of private and public financing options in Canada and the U.S.

Delilah is an Advisory Board Member for MAPLE Business Council, a trade organization between Canada and Southern California, and is Co-Chair of the Capital Council for WE Global, an innovation studio for women entrepreneurs. Delilah is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of We Are Enough, a non-profit that educates women on why and how to invest in women-owned businesses and/or with a gender lens.

Delilah holds an MBA in Enterprise Development and a BA in English and has completed a certification as a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner.

Xandra Laskowski is an angel investor and startup advisor with over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience with large multinational tech companies as well as startups as founder, investor, advisor and board member. She has held positions as Worldwide Commodity Manager and National Major Accounts managerial roles before moving into the Angel Investment and startup worlds. She founded OSEA Angel Investors in 2017, a woman focused angel investment group based at the UCI Cove, University of Irvine, California.

OSEA Angel Investors is an investment syndication partner with Titan Angels (CSUF), The Cove Fund, Angel Syndication Network, Antler, Stella Angels, TiE Global, The Players Impact, Women Angels of the Bay Area and Tech Coast Angels, Through Xolas, Ms. Laskowski provides startup consulting assisting entrepreneurs in producing their "Startup Roadmap".

In 2019 Ms. Laskowski was included in the Orange County Business Journal OC 500 Directory of Influence for Innovation and in February 2020 was nominated to the Orange County Business Journal Woman in Business Awards. In October 2020 Ms. Laskowski was awarded the Connected Women of Influence Gamechanger Award for her work with OSEA Angel Investors.

Andy Richardson, Director, Baker Tilly

Topic | "Going Public: A Path for Success. Considerations between IPO, SPAC, and Reverse Mergers"

Andy Richardson is an Audit Director in Baker Tilly’s Assurance Practice and has more than fifteen years of experience providing financial statement audit services to publicly traded and privately held companies in several different industries. Throughout his career, he has worked closely with companies ranging from start-ups in the development stage to multi-billion dollar organizations with domestic and global operations. 

Recently, Andy has advised clients through initial public offerings, SPAC transactions, and reverse mergers.  In addition, Andy also currently serves as auditor of several NASDAQ listed public companies based in Southern California.   

Going public is a massive, transformational effort with the potential to enhance value and create new growth opportunities for companies.   In his role at Baker Tilly, Andy works closely with executives, investment banks, tax advisors, underwriters, and attorneys to help his clients achieve success when going public, whether that is through a traditional IPO, SPAC, or reverse merger.   This includes advising his clients as it relates to IPO readiness, preparation of registration statements and establishing corporate governance structure.   


Neal Rickner, Managing Director & Scott Kitcher, General Partner, Elevation Ventures

Topic | Climate Tech in SoCal

Alex Rubalcava, Stage Venture Partners 

Topic | Getting Funded in 2022

Earl Slee , Chair of the Octane CEO Peer Group & Kip Knight, Chair of the Octane Marketing Leaders Peer Group

Topic | Octane Peer Groups

Octane Peer Groups are designed to support executives to make more effective decisions and generate powerful solutions. Join Earl Slee and Kip Knight, Chairs of Octane's CEO and Marketing Leaders Peer Groups, to discuss the power and ROI a peer group offers to each member and their company.  From personal and professional development to providing and receiving focused input on pressing challenges, members gain greater skills to lead their teams more effectively and grow their businesses.  

Todd Stallard, GM Local Business US & Per Kristiansson, Director US Business Development, Sigma Connectivity, Inc.

Topic | "Accelerating IoT Adoption: Information Technology is Revolutionizing Products"

Smart, connected technologies are unleashing a new era of opportunity and competition. Our clients look beyond the technologies to win customers in this competitive transformation. Let’s discuss the options of the Connected World.

Sigma Connectivity, Inc.
We are a global tech-house with the mission to innovate, create value and growth with connected solutions and devices which makes us, and our partners unique. With one of Europe’s most advanced design, test, and verification labs, we meet our clients’ specific needs of bringing smart, connected products to market

Mitch Wexler, Partner, Fragomen

Topic | Work Visa Options for Foreign Tech Founders & Critical Talent. Mitch will discuss various employment authorized US Visas for foreign national founders as well as for critical employees

Clay Wilemon, Chief Executive Officer, 4L Data Intelligence

Topic | "Branding & Rebranding Your Company"