Modini Legacy in Healdsburg

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Date(s) - Wednesday, March 25, 2015
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa

Modini Legacy in Healdsburg

Judy Johnston MacDonald

Judy Johnston MacDonald

Today we will be meeting Judy MacDonald Johnston.

Judy’s impact in Sonoma County has been largely outside of her professional field. She was the trustee for Jim and Shirley Modini  who left their 1,725-acre Healdsburg ranch to ACR (Audubon Canyon Ranch).

Shirley and Jim Modini, courtesy of The Press Democrat

Shirley and Jim Modini, courtesy of The Press Democrat

After the Modinis passed on, Judy gave a short TED talk in 2013 on how to have a good end of life, and for a while she was fully occupied with the communications that talk inspired. She is now “back to business” and plans to share with the Rotary Club what she has learned about how the unexpected turns in our personal lives can intersect and enhance our professional lives.

“I am a serial entrepreneur who has always been drawn to helping kids be smarter. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Our parents were dedicated public school teachers. I went to UNC-Chapel Hill (BA, International Studies) and UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management (MBA). When I decided to switch from tech to publishing, I took the Stanford Professional Publishing Course.

With my friend and longtime business partner Rosie Augustine, I am on my third venture, Blue Lake Children’s Publishing. Our flagship program is The Tessy & Tab Reading Club, designed to build independent reading skills in preschoolers ages 2-5. We also created Clark the Baby Shark, a series of reading toys for babies and toddlers.

Prior to Blue Lake, I was the CEO and co-founder of Kibu Inc., an online integrated marketing company servicing the teen girl demographic. Kibu was a quintessential late bubble phenomenon. We raised a first round of $22M in February 2000 from investors that included Jim Clark, Kleiner Perkins and Allen & Co. After analyzing post-crash possibilities, we decided to shut down the company and return the capital to the investors in October 2000.

Before Kibu, I co-founded PrintPaks Inc., a developer of multimedia craft kits with Rosie Augustine and Irit Hillel. We launched in May 1995, backed by August Capital, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Northwest Venture Associates and Bay Partners. After producing 22 award-winning products in eight countries, the company was sold to Mattel Inc. in January 1998.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked for Hewlett Packard from 1988-1995, starting as Product Manager for the first color DeskJet and leaving as the Worldwide Product Marketing Manager for the DeskJet brand. Our team developed what has become HP’s most consistently profitable business in the last decade.

I have always been interested in children, education and entrepreneurial pursuits. As a volunteer at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon I became interested in the reading skills of very young children. I am a supporter and past board member of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. I like reading, cooking and hiking. One of my favorite hobbies is mentoring young entrepreneurs, and especially women, in starting businesses.”

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