WHITNY SOBALA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OPTIMIST
Whitny is a heart-driven marketer, business leader and Optimist, and has spent over 14 years building brands and creating culture.
Whitny started her career at PepsiCo, where she spent 12 years honing her marketing expertise through various Marketing roles including, brand management for multi-million dollar, joint venture and emerging lifestyle brands, health and wellness innovation, media strategy, and sports marketing. Motivated by her strong entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, Whitny made the move to NYC-based invention start-up, Quirky.com, as Director of Marketing and Brand Strategy, where she helped lay the foundation for growth and build marketing launch plans.
Passionate about unlocking the potential of people and brands to drive positive social change, Whitny then founded Added Perk, a brand consulting firm that partners with social impact ventures and business leaders to unlock true potential and deliver brand “purpose” through culturally relevant brand strategy and business innovation.
While on this path, Whitny met fellow Optimist, artist and (art)reprenuer, Riley Johndonnell. Inspired by his vision of working in Optimism to create a new paradigm among life-style brands with a focus on generating positive social change, Whitny joined forces with Riley to develop and lead UMEWE.
Whitny holds a BA degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated Magna cum laude with a double major in Spanish and Communication and a Marketing concentration from the Wharton School of Business.
RILEY JOHNDONNELL, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, (ART)REPENEUER, ACTIVIST
Award-winning artist, activist, creative director and (art)reprenuer, Riley seeks to inspire Optimism and promote radical new forms of positive social change.
Riley Johndonnell worked as a freelance advertising and marketing director for numerous federal organizations and foundations focused on helping urban youth in crisis— through which he developed an interest in the cultural impact of marketing, as well as the social power of style and design.
Throughout the early ‘90s Riley was a celebrated art and fashion director (producing marketing strategies and materials for such companies as Bombay Sapphire, Knoll, BCBG, Canon, Jaguar, Levi’s, Birkenstock, Vueve Clicquot and Esprit), while simultaneously working with community support programs for troubled youth. In 1993 he won a California State Senate award for his human rights efforts.
In the mid-‘90s he moved to San Francisco to explore his interest in mass communications as an art medium. Within a month of his arrival, he co-founded Surface magazine. Riley and the Surface staff utilized their international publication (and its affiliated projects) to explore the link between art and commerce while gaining media acclaim, numerous awards and a devoted readership along the way. Riley owned Surface magazine for 15 years and served as editorial director for nine of those years.
Riley retired from Surface and continues to work on innovative art, design and cultural projects through the filter of Optimism and the intention of making a postiive impact.