The U-RYZE Team

Learn more about the amazing people behind our organization.

Dr. Brenda Thompson-El


Personal Motto: My purpose is to help people find what matters to them by getting to the essence of who they are and why they exist.

Dr. Brenda Thompson’s home base is Las Vegas, Nevada. She is an executive coach who has successfully helped companies across the world enhance emotional intelligence, optimize communication, and improve business operations. With almost two decades of coaching expertise and experience in a vast number of industries in everything from higher education to diversity and inclusion, she has written articles for national and business publications, is an active speaker across the globe, and has helped both national and international companies achieve tangible success.

She has a Doctor of Philosophy and International Psychology from The Chicago School of Psychology, a Master of Science in Organizational Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Human Relations and International Business from MidAmerica Nazarene University. She has worked in the fields of entertainment, telecommunications, higher education, health care, human resources, diversity and inclusion, employee relations, training, talent management, and leadership development.

Nahomi Ortiz

Board of Directors – President

Favorite Quote “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” The Emperor, Mulan

“I joined the U-RYZE vision because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have mentors and others who guided and provided coaching along the way. I realize now that not everyone has had the same opportunity. U-RYZE can change that! I want to be part of that change.

Nahomi Ortiz currently works at Unum as a Senior Inclusion and Diversity External Engagement Consultant. She has worked for Unum for 7 years where she has spent most of her career in the Talent Acquisition department. She has recruited for varies roles and supported many enterprise initiatives including recruiting for the first bilingual team. She has always been a champion of diversity and will continue to utilize her skills and passion as she connects Unum with the community.

Nahomi obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. During her collegiate years she learned the importance of giving back to her community. She has continued to be involved with varies organizations including UnitedWay Emerging Leaders where she served on the board, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and La Paz. She was nominated for the Latino Leadership Award in 2013 and recently graduated from Leadership Chattanooga. She currently serves on the board of A Step Ahead Chattanooga a non-profit organization focused on providing education, information, and access to birth control to young women in the tri-state area.

Nahomi has a passion for increasing talent and advancing racial equity among people of color. She strongly believes in the importance of mentorship and allyship to help advance talent. Nahomi partners with community organizations who demonstrate intentional efforts around inclusion, workforce development and economic growth for people of color. She is deeply involved in this work and fully committed to making a positive difference for people of color in the Chattanooga community.

Gerald Dunn

Board of Directors – Treasurer

Gerald Dunn calls Florida home and has over 40 years of experience in various leadership roles in Finance/Accounting with the Lockheed Martin (LM) corporation in Arkansas, Texas and Florida. Gerald also served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Florida A&M University. As a Change Agent he was able to lead the university on a path to fiscal recovery by introducing new methods and ways of thinking about university finances.

Gerald has many accomplishments at Lockheed Martin including but not limited to the development of a number of lean overhead structures that enabled LM to maintain market share in extremely price sensitive lines of business and extreme industry consolidation. Gerald also led Finance and Business Operations for P&L business areas that included P/L and long-range planning responsibilities to name a few. Besides the above, Gerald also successfully lead other multiple financial activities, employees in various finance job functions, and a diverse set of programs while providing leadership of the day-to-day operating activities within other business areas.

Gerald’s education consists of dual bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Business Management from Grambling State University, an MBA, with a focus on Corporate Finance, from the University of Dallas, and Leadership training programs at Carnegie Mellon University.

Gerald is now retired and is very active in his community. He currently serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the Boys Girls Club of Central Florida and an active member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

Emi Griess

Board of Directors – Secretary

“I joined the U-RYZE vision because I believe in the power of coaching, and during my time in the non-profit community I’ve seen what an amazing impact charities can have where they are really needed.

Emi Griess is the Communications Coordinator at Helping Hands Humane Society in Topeka, Kansas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Truman State University and a Master of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing from Kansas State University. Her career thus far has developed within the walls of the animal shelter where she works from customer service as an Adoption Coordinator to volunteer management as Volunteer Coordinator/Web & Social Media Manager and now non-profit storytelling through the HHHS website, social media, newsletters, and partnerships with local media. The life lesson she re-learns each day is that every person (and animal) has a story of their own and unique talents to share with the world. The more we are able to understand where others are coming from and what they have to offer, the more we benefit.

Vivienne Li

Board of Directors – Member

“I joined the U-RYZE mission because continuously learning and giving back to the community plays an important role in my life. During a very difficult period in my life, it was life coaching that saved me from a victim mentality. Coaching also supported me through the transition of leaving my work and friends, moving to the US, and reestablishing my entire life in my 40s. Coaching helped me become who am today, and I know everyone can do the same – be what you want to be.”

Vivienne Li was born and lived in Beijing, China before moving to the US with her family; she comes to U-RYZE from New Jersey. Vivienne has had a diverse career. She holds over 15 years of public relations and crisis management experience at Ogilvy and Hill+Knowlton in the area of IT, Telecom, and FMCG. She also served as deputy director in one of the most influential contemporary art museums in China (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art), responsible for public affairs and artist relations. All these professional experiences led her to the path of an entrepreneur. After going to Italy to learn authentic gelato-making, she established her own gelato studio and brand in China. Vivienne Li is someone who always welcomes changes and expands her comfort zone. Most recently, she has completed the training program that is certified by the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and became a qualified life coach. Vivienne is also a wife and a mother, plus a cat lover. She likes yoga, reading, and traveling.

Craig Murphy

Board of Directors – Member

“Our job on earth is to show people how beautiful and powerful they are, even on the days when they don’t see it themselves.” Craig Murphy

Craig Murphy is the Director of Human Resources at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. His Human Resources career started with Bank One in Columbus Ohio 33 years ago. Gaining his HR experience in Banking, Hospitality, Tech, and Retail, he has a strong background in leadership, coaching, management, leadership training, including specializing in diversity & inclusion training, and effective communication. 

Prior to joining Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Craig has worked for; Walt Disney, NationsBank, Bank of America, MGM Resorts International, Diamond Resorts  International, IHG, Switch, and also achieved his Real Estate license in the State of Nevada. Craig has held multiple management and director positions throughout the years. 

Craig is an avid lifelong learner and enjoys reading and studying leadership, coaching,  and self-improvement publications. His lifelong commitment has been to assist bring  out the best in others both personally, and professionally. Patient and the desire to  overcome whatever challenges, has developed him into a sought-after counselor, educator, mentor, and senior leader. 

When Craig isn’t in the office, or showing a house to a prospective buyer, you can find  him playing his Grand piano, or riding his wave runner on Lake Mead. He enjoys time  with family and friends, traveling, trying new dining experiences, catching a movie, or  attending the many shows, concerts, events that his city of Las Vegas offers. 

Kevin Richie

Board of Directors – Member

Favorite Quote “The wise man became wise by listening, not speaking.” Unknown

Why I joined this vision: “The marriage of mental health, serving those underserved and the transformative gift of coaching is a vision that is compelling and worth bringing to life in a world that needs more candles of hope. I’m honored to be asked to help light a match.”

Kevin Richie currently serves as Vice President of Talent Management for Compassus, one of the largest home health and hospice companies in the United States. Kevin brings almost two decades of healthcare human resources experience leading both local and multi-site, multi-state teams. Beyond that he is a certified Associate Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and understands well the important opportunity coaching represents in the healthcare space.

Prior to Compassus Kevin served as Vice President for Talent Management at eviCore where he oversaw talent acquisition activities as well as onboarding, leadership development, people analytics, diversity and inclusion, and internal professional coaching team.

Prior to his time at eviCore, he was Vice President of Talent Management and Organizational Development with Corizon Health and previously held several roles for Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) which is now part of Common Spirit as one of the largest non-profit health systems in the country. He has also held roles in global workforce planning and financial services. He brings a data driven approach to his teams which we will welcome here as we begin to build U-RYZE.

Kevin received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan and his Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds senior professional certifications in human resources and has been published and presented research at the Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology conferences. He has served on non-profit boards and has volunteered his time through his local churches in various service projects over the years. He is happily married to his wife of 18 years and has an eight-year-old daughter. 

Kevin is located in Franklin, TN just south of Nashville.

Tami Teixeira

Board of Directors – Member

Tami Teixeira’s home is in Little Compton, Rhode Island. She enjoys living on the east coast where she was born and raised close by in Westport, Massachusetts. Tami has over 20 years experience in the financial services, higher education, retail and hospitality industries. She has worked for large corporations including Sallie Mae, Nike and Airbnb. She specializes in the management of large, diverse contact center operations groups and outsourced, vendor managed, global centers. She has a strong technical background and a focused commitment to quality customer service in a results driven environment. She is also an MMS Certified Coach and certified COPC implementation leader. One of her passions is building strong teams from the ground up. When she is not working she loves to spend time with her two daughters, granddaughter and her dog Finn. 

Tami is joining U-RYZE because she believes that true servant leadership is creating the right environment for others to grow and thrive. She believes that access to coaching in underrepresented communities will have a lasting, positive impact on not only those who are coached but on the community as a whole.

Paul Valenzuela

Board of Directors – Member

Paul has over 30 years of experience in the Federal government and consulting focused on Human Capital, Program Management, and Management Consulting. He completed a career in the United States Air Force and has over 10 years of experience as a senior manager in consulting at Deloitte and AVER Consulting Group. He is certified in Strengths coaching and a certified coach, graduating from MMS (Motivation Management Services). Paul is passionate about high performing teams and helping individuals reach their desired potential.