AVA is an action-oriented learning community for ambitious professional women. We provide an open, honest place to learn and practice the tools and skills you need to Assess, Visualize, and Advance your career. 


We are not a fluffy social networking organization. We are not a membership organization. We are not an industry organization.  And we are not a micro-learning environment that passively shares skills. 

Whether you want to be the best executive assistant, a valued technologist, or the CEO, there are important skills and abilities needed that set you apart and let you take flight. We introduce these skills and help you Assess your current state. We guide you to Visualize where you want to go and which path to take. And we help you Advance by your own definition. 


We tackle timely, meaty and complicated skills required for your professional advancement. We offer solution-oriented, macro-learning environments like workshops, spring board discussions, role playing, pair feedback, and other interactive programs.  

While our content and programs focus on the obstacles and critical skills for professional women, AVA is open and inclusive to anyone wanting to learn from what we have to offer. 


The founders of AVA started it because we wanted to share from our collective professional successes and failures.  Each founder has a diverse path to professional success with a wide range of skills, competencies, and capabilities. Between us we have military, non-profit, academia, corporate, global/international, administrative, retail, c-suite, small and large, public and private work experience. Collectively, we have over 80 years of experience, worked in every region of the world, and had every level or responsibility.  Personally and professionally we have experienced many of the obstacles and the keys for professional success. 

We invite you to come try one of our programs and to follow our social for tips and tools so that you are ready when the time comes to put yourself forward,  #advancewithava

Build skills, capability and confidence.


AVA Founders

Carleen Kreider

Carleen recently completed a successful career in the packaging industry, for $3 billion industry leader, Aptar Beauty + Home, most recently in the role of President, Global Market Development. She has a proven track record of leading innovation and high-performance teams on 4 continents.  A dynamic leader, Carleen is consistently the spark to fuel innovative ideas and winning teams across multiple constituencies and cultures. She is a valued peer and a sought-after manager who creates exceptional results with the key principles of servant leadership, inclusion, and integrity. AVA brings together these key principles with a focus on women leaders and the incredible impact they bring across disciplines and industries. 

Carleen earned her Bachelors Degree in Biology from Wake Forest University in Winston Salem North Carolina.  She went on to receive her Masters in Management in Marketing from Northwestern University.


Steph Barry

Steph Barry has been in global business for 20+ years. She served in various worldwide leadership positions at WD-40 Company. She is also President of Aqua Business Consulting and advises organizations on C-level strategy, innovation, marketing, leadership, culture and global business.  She is currently Managing Director, Global Markets for Solatube International, the world leader in tubular daylighting devices. 

Steph is a visionary and impactful leader, who builds culturally diverse, global teams, she formulates and executes unique strategies and enterprise solutions that strengthen competitive position, transform mature or underperforming businesses and deploy best practices in complex operations. 

She has lived and worked throughout the Americas, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. With a Bachelors of Science degree in political science from the University of California at San Diego and a Master in International Business from the University of San Diego, she is fluent in English and business Spanish and conversant in German and Mandarin. 

Alex Wilhelm

Graduating from the United States Naval Academy, Alex Wilhelm began his extensive leadership career as a naval officer and served as a Navy helicopter pilot. Assignments included numerous deployments overseas and roles including Instructor Pilot, Commanding Officer, and Air Boss of an Amphibious Assault Ship.

Academically, Alex earned his  MBA at University of San Diego and  the soft skills necessary to build and sustain high performing teams in the Leadership Fellows program. He guided  over 200 students in peer-to-peer mentoring and team development. He currently serves as a Lecturer in Management at the University of San Diego, the Director of Military Programs and Services at Point Loma Nazarene University. He leads courses in Organizational Behavior, Change Management, Team Dynamics, and Strategic Management.

Alex' consulting company, Precision Guided Solutions, LLC., clients include Qualcomm, University of California San Diego, and the San Diego Symphony. His consulting focuses on communication, empowerment, and shared success. 


Jaya Cummaragunta

Originally from India, Jaya Cummaragunta moved to the US to attain her masters degree in horticulture and got her MBA from Santa Clara University while working full-time.


With more than 20 years’ experience as a highly successful project manager and director in the consumer goods industry,Jaya has mastered performing in highly complex, adverse and diverse environments. She is known for accomplishing wins with cross-functional teams and managing diverse, high-performing teams around the world. As a Chief Operating Officer, Jaya orchestrates the strategic direction and daily management of organizations. 

Jaya is passionate about helping women be professionally successful. 

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