StoryCon16 Speaker Bios


Jessica Angélica, Gender and Women’s Studies, Undergraduate


Jessica Angélica Reyes is a 4th year Gender and Women’s studies/English undergraduate student aspiring to attend medical school to become an OB/GYN. She is from a lot of places including Los Angeles, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Jessica’s passions are rooted in prison abolition work and reproductive justice for incarcerated womxn. She is a writer, poet, and finds reading literature queer women of color crucial to her survival in academia. Currently, Jessica’s research explores the relevance of cultural competency in a medical field that has structurally, and through practice, reproduced racism, homophobia, and patriarchy. Jessica is also an undergraduate research assistant for the SurrgARTS project on surrogacy. Lastly, Jessica is an intern at the Multicultural Community Center at UC Berkeley, which has been the ultimate place of learning and healing for her. Her ultimate goal in life is to practice medicine in a way that is accessible to her various communities and true to her ancestral modes of healing.


Marvin Crespin-Gamez, Public Health, Graduate

MarvinCrespinGamezMarvin Crespin-Gamez was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, specifically South Central LA. He went to the University of California at Riverside and graduate with a major in Latin American Studies in June 2012. Shortly after, Marvin was selected to be part of the team designed to re-launch Peace Corps’ operations in Nepal after an eight year absence sparked by the nation’s civil war. As a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) he was assigned to implement a USAID-funded food security project, specifically looking into nutritional issues in the Western Hills of Nepal. Marvin’s Peace Corps experience and previous global work solidified his career and personal interests in immersing his work around the fields of public health and international development. Marvin loves traveling, hanging out with friends over a cup of medium dark-roast coffee from Latin America and dancing to his favorite Latinxs jams!


Sabine Dabady, Public Health, Graduate


Sabine is delighted to be here in the Bay Area, at UC Berkeley, and as a storyteller at StoryCon 2016. After college, Sabine worked for several years booking tour dates for dance and theater companies in Brooklyn, NY, her hometown. A bike accident, a global food systems course, and a season of volunteering at a farmers' market were some of the factors that motivated Sabine to pursue a path in Nutrition. As Sabine develops her public health toolbox, she wants to incorporate storytelling. She’d be thrilled to get a bellylaugh from you today, but will settle for a chuckle.



Smitha Gundavajhala, Public Health, Undergraduate

Smitha GundavajhalaSmitha Gundavajhala is a third-year undergraduate Public Health major and Public Policy minor at Cal. In her time here, she has focused on mental health, telling stories about health, and advocacy, both through education and policy. She first realized the power of narrative writing for her high school’s news publication, and has since extended this power through to advocacy and policy as Editor-in-Chief of the Public Health Advocate, and at Young Minds Advocacy and the Labor Occupational Health Program. On campus, she is involved in mental health advocacy through her involvement in the ASUC and through the Mental Health Coalition.




David Riemer, MBA
Executive-in-Residence, Haas School of Business
Founder, Box Out Industries
Co-Founder, Spiral Staircase

davidriemerDavid lives at the intersection of innovation and storytelling. He helps entrepreneurs, artists and business people focus their ideas through the power of narrative. In short, he helps people get their story straight. After running an ad agency and holding numerous senior marketing roles in Internet companies, including Yahoo!, earlier in his career, David created Box Out Industries to work with innovators and Spiral Staircase to collaborate with artists. He teaches at Berkeley-Haas Business school and speaks all over the world about the power of storytelling.



Lauren Valdez, Public Health and City and Regional Planning, Graduate


Coming from an environmentally burdened community in Los Angeles, Lauren's work focuses on improving health outcomes in low-income communities of color. Lauren has worked in the field of Environmental Justice as a community organizer and health correspondent in Wilmington, CA. Lauren believes in using the power of multimedia and online tools for community storytelling, education, and advocacy. Professionally, Lauren has years of experience in producing multimedia, community development, and coordinating nonprofit projects internationally. Currently Lauren is pursing a dual-masters in city planning and public health at UC Berkeley.


Alison Walter, Sociology, Undergraduate


Alison Walter is from Sacramento, California and graduated from Sacramento Country Day School. She is a third-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying Sociology and African American Studies. Alison discovered her strength in leadership through participating in the National Teen Leadership Program for the duration of four years in high school. As a member of the UC Berkeley Mental Health Coalition she hopes to improve the attitude toward mental health. She found her passion for mental health advocacy through her own experiences with mental illness. By speaking out and sharing her story, she hopes to change the stigma around mental illness and encourage a wider discussion.