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40 Under 40 Awards: The Class of 2011

Written by

Honoring high achievers in business and civic affairs

Meet an amazing group of men and women — the 40 Under 40 Class of 2011. They were culled from a field of more than 90 nominations, each one a leader in his or her chosen field.

Selection of these young business and civic leaders who are helping shape the region’s future couldn’t have been done without the dedicated work of SD Metro’s panel of judges. The are: Richard Cloward, a retired Navy captain, owner of Pacific Shore Maps and executive director of Map & Atlas Museum in La Jolla; Gail Stoorza-Gill, member of the board of directors of Voice of San Diego and Security Business Bank, owner of The Right Question LLC and founder of Stoorza Ziegaus and Metzger; Robert Gleason, chief financial officer and general counsel for Evans Hotels and  chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority; Adrian Kwiatkowski, vice president of Bartell & Associates; Jack Monger, owner of Monger & Company, a strategic advocacy firm; Cynthia Morgan, partner, Higgs Fletcher & Mack and member of the board of directors of Centre City Development Corp; Mitch Mitchell, senior vice president of  Sempra Energy; Ileana Ovalle, senior manager, external affairs, for Cox Communications; and Louise Toro, historic preservationist and owner of Historic San Diego Marketing & Consulting.

You’ll meet this year’s honorees in the following pages, but you can celebrate with them in person on Sept. 13 at a noon luncheon in their honor at the San Diego Convention Center. Tickets are $75. Contact Bob Page at (858) 229-8909 or Rebeca Page at (858) 761-7797.

The honorees:

Lori Keim


Senior Director of Patient Services
Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest

As senior director of patient services for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Lori Keim has been key in implementing agency migration to an electronic medical records system to better serve the organization’s 150,000 patients (through nearly 300,000 visits in 2010) seeking lifesaving cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and contraception. Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest operates 19 health centers in San Diego and Riverside counties. She was a driving force in securing a grant that enabled Planned Parenthood to provide low-cost Gardasil, the HPV vaccine to women 19-26, as well as introducing several innovative concepts in making contraception more available. Keim is a widely respected and admired leader who has inspired her staff and colleagues. She has served as the fundraising chair of the Stella Nova Dance Company and is a member of both the Medical Group Management Association and American Public Health Association. Though she is active in the San Diego community, Keim also instructed conversational English and promoted healthy lifestyles to students in the Czech Republic. Keim has achieved a great deal in her 34 years. She began her career providing in-home medication, referrals and case management services to adolescent females on probation.

Kyla Winters

Chief Development Officer
Alpha Project for the Homeless

Kyla Winters is the chief development officer for one of San Diego’s most well-known social services nonprofit organizations, the Alpha Project for the Homeless. Winters oversees policy issues, fundraising, public relations, marketing and grants.  She has been with Alpha for over 13 years, spearheading such projects as Hospice for the Homeless Program through Alpha Project. In August 2009, Winters became ill with bacterial meningitis and spent four months in hospitals fighting kidney failure, respiratory failure, multiple cardiac arrests and eventually quadruple amputations. Less than two years later she is walking on prosthetics and is more committed than ever to her agency, causes and community. Winters has recently started working with Sharp Healthcare Foundation on its INSPIRE campaign, where she is focusing on garnering support for oncology, rehabilitation and organ transplant programs. She was recently honored by Sharp Hospital with the 2011 Victories of Spirit Award for her remarkable rehabilitation and ongoing community service. Winters offers outreach for recent amputees at Sharp Rehabilitation Hospital, is active with homeless outreach and assists with the annual Winter Shelter for the homeless. She was involved with the San Diego Women’s Foundation for many years and has served on its board of directors.

Jason Hansen

Financial Advisor-Private Client Group
Jason Hansen has earned a solid reputation as a member of the community who understands the importance of giving back. The Arizona native relocated his family to Carlsbad 12 years ago and began working as an investment adviser. In 2009 he was recruited to work for Wells Fargo Advisors in Carlsbad, and in 2010 he was awarded a Wells Fargo Advisors National Volunteer Service Award for his volunteer efforts in the community. Hansen is the membership chair of the Scripps Encinitas Memorial Hospital Community Advisory Board. During his tenure, the board has doubled its membership. In addition, Hansen watched one of its members give the largest philanthropic gift in the hospital’s 45-year history. The $10 million gift from the Leichtag Family Foundation added to his efforts in supporting the hospital expansion, which will include a new 27-station emergency department. Hansen is also a founding member of the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation, which encourages and facilitates philanthropy for residents in Carlsbad. In its first four years, the foundation has granted over $197,000 to causes such as a fifth grade economic curriculum, hospice care, food and transportation for senior citizens, and help for families of divorce. Hansen is also an Eagle Scout Board of Review member for the Boy Scouts of America and recently completed the prestigious Wood Badge training curriculum.

Rahil K. Swigart

Associate, Higgs Fletcher & Mack
Rahil K. Swigart has practiced law in San Diego since 2003, and has been an associate attorney with Higgs Fletcher & Mack for more than four years. Swigart is a senior associate in the firm’s Bankruptcy and Business Reorganization Practice Group and is involved in firm’s operational management. She helps chair the firm’s diversity committee and reviews and promotes the firm’s diversity policy and commitments. She is a licensed California real estate broker and is also currently enrolled in the LEAD San Diego Impact Program. Swigart works with the nonprofit organization California Community Catalyst (Veterans Community Services), which assists newly discharged veterans in the transition to civilian life. Swigart and her team are working on funding grants and other restructures so the entire community program will become a permanent institution. As a current member of the Lawyer’s Club of San Diego, Swigart serves as a task force chair for the 2011 Woman’s Resource Fair. Swigart is a member and past board member of the Iranian American Bar Association and serves as a committee member for the Girl Scouts of America. She holds a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State and law degree from California Western School of Law.

Matthew Baker

President, Feast On This
Matthew Baker is founder and president of Feast On This, a full-service caterer, staging events from very small to very large, and from casual to very formal. Since its inception in 2000, Feast on This has built an impressive reputation with a clientele that includes many of San Diego County’s leading businesses, civic and charitable organizations. Baker has spent his entire working career in the food service and restaurant business, completing his training at the Regional Occupational Program in Costa Mesa. Recognized for its originality in theme and presentation, Feast On This is known for offering custom menus and superior attention to detail. Baker is also active in various charitable programs. He is involved with the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross. He  assists emergency personnel in local emergencies, such as running the Camp Pendleton field kitchen during the recent fires, and is on call as a primary food resource for the American Red Cross. Profoundly deaf from birth, Baker has taken a special interest in educating and mentoring deaf children and those who wish to enter the culinary field. In this role he routinely lectures at regional primary and secondary schools, and arranges cooking lessons for kids.

Paul Azzi

President, San Diego Private Bank
Paul Azzi is one of the youngest bank presidents in San Diego. As president and co-founder of San Diego Private Bank, which was formed in 2006, Azzi brings over 15 years of local branch banking experience to his position. He is widely recognized as one of the top private bankers in San Diego, with experience in operations, lending, management, marketing and budgeting.  Previously, he served as vice president for California Bank & Trust, managing its La Jolla office where he was responsible for the management of a full-service retail branch focusing on private banking clients. He is former board chairman and treasurer of SAY San Diego, a member of the Blue Ryno Foundation (Ryan Klesko’s Foundation) and a member of the Tony and Alicia Gwyn Foundation. He currently serves on the Scripps Health Foundation Planning Advisory Board and is a graduate of LEAD San Diego. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from San Diego State University.

Robin Madaffer

Partner,  Schwartz Heidel Sullivan
Robin Madaffer, a partner in the law firm of Schwartz Heidel Sullivan, specializes in representing private and public sector clients in real estate, land use and environmental regulatory matters. She is a professor at California Western School of Law where she teaches land use and environmental regulation. Madaffer has been leading Downtown San Diego’s efforts to solving the homeless issue, serving on the executive committee and as member of the board of directors for the Downtown San Diego Partnership. In 2010, Madaffer and her Ending Homelessness Leadership Team led the effort to survey the homeless Downtown on three consecutive mornings beginning at 4 a.m. each day, with more than 400 volunteers helping to conduct the survey. For her dedication to solving homelessness issues in San Diego, Madaffer received the Chairman’s Alonzo Award in 2010. Madaffer is also the district council chair for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) San Diego/Tijuana for 2011-2013, an international organization dedicated to providing leadership in responsible land use to enhance the total environment. She speaks regularly at various professional organizations and universities, including the San Diego County Bar Association, San Diego County Taxpayers Association and ULI, among others.

Fernando Landa

General Counsel, Trigild
With considerable commercial real estate and legal experience, Fernando Landa is general counsel for Trigild, providing key legal and strategic expertise to company management. In this capacity, he develops and negotiates commercial contracts and leases, serves as receiver, represents the company in court hearings and interprets law and regulations related to corporate issues. Prior to joining Trigild, he was an associate with Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley, a San Diego real estate law firm, where he was involved in the acquisition, development, financing, leasing and disposition of commercial real estate assets. A LEED-accredited professional, he was an associate with London Group Realty Advisors, providing strategic consulting services and financial analysis for real estate developments and investments throughout the Southwest and Mexico. Landa holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in real estate from the University of San Diego School of Business Administration and a law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. He was recipient of the 2010 Associate of the Year Award presented by the San Diego Building Industry Association, receiving the accolade based on his industry and community involvement.

Jessica Klarer Pride

Attorney, Casey Gerry
Jessica Klarer Pride was secretary of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the American Association for Justice, the nation’s largest trial bar, and assumed the role of treasurer of the AAJ’s Young Lawyer’s Division in July. She was elected by her peers three times to serve as a board member for the San Diego County Bar Association, New Lawyers Division; is a board member with the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego and a member of the Lawyer’s Club of San Diego and La Raza Lawyers Association. Pride is closely involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters, a youth mentoring organization, and has been a support system to her “Little Sister” for three years. She has started training to work the legal clinic for Center for Community Solutions, a center that works to heal and prevent sexual assault. Other projects which have been especially gratifying for her include helping to rebuild homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina with fellow members of the American Association for Justice, working with Wills for Heroes to draft wills for police officers and coaching students at Helix High for a mock trial. “Supporting the community goes beyond just giving free legal advice,” says Pride.

Ron Troyano

Managing Co-Partner, Alchemy Restaurant
Ron Troyano is a man ingrained with the ideals of community, kinship and collaboration. As a young man, he was able to travel solo through Mexico, South America and Europe and go on to build several art galleries in both San Diego and Santa Monica. Before opening Alchemy, the South Park restaurant focused on local and sustainable fare in 2009, Troyano had his hand in creating a beverage program at Django, a popular New York restaurant. Driving much of Troyano’s community involvement is Alchemy, a “blood, sweat and tears” passion-project, built from the ground up, that echoes the sophistication and nutritionally aware mindset that San Diegans are flocking to. Dedicated to the sustainable food movement, the foundation of Alchemy’s food lies in fresh, high-quality produce, poultry and meats delivered daily. Another huge community initiative for Troyano and Alchemy is their student cooking class partnership with Albert Einstein Academy, where both Troyano and Alchemy Executive Chef Ricardo Heredia are helping to foster the healthier food movement in local schools across San Diego. Troyano also co-created the GROW School Food Training Program to support the school food movement and volunteers for training of food service personnel in scratch cooking methods in San Diego County schools.

Johanna Schiavoni

Partner, Jacobs Schlesinger & Sheppard
Johanna Schiavoni recently became a partner with Jacobs Schlesinger & Sheppard. In her law practice, she specializes in federal and state court appellate litigation, including business litigation, criminal and white-collar cases, and immigration appeals. Before joining the firm, she was an associate with Latham & Watkins for six years, spending three years in that firm’s New York office and three years in its San Diego office. Schiavoni also completed two federal judicial clerkships. From 2006 to 2007, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. From 2002 to 2003, she clerked for the Honorable Christina A. Snyder in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Schiavoni counsels clients during pre-trial and trial phases of litigation, and throughout appeal and post-appeal proceedings. Much of her practice focuses on crafting legal strategy, either in trial court proceedings looking ahead to a potential appeal, or on appeal, particularly where there is ambiguity or arguable nuance in the law. She appreciates the creative and strategic focus of her legal practice and is enjoying the opportunity to pursue her entrepreneurial work interests as a partner in a boutique law firm.

Eric P. Ganci

Owner, Law Office of Eric P. Ganci
Eric P. Ganci started his own law practice right after graduation from law school at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. He has the rare privilege of being able to say that he has been profitable each year of operation. Ganci has had five trials in the last year– winning two and losing three– in the tough area of DUI defense.  He researched and wrote for the supplement of the California Drunk Driving Defense secondary source, considered Ca’s “DUI Bible,” and is trained, both in the Officer and Instructor level, in Field sobriety testing. He serves on the Board of the New Lawyers Division of the SDCBA and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Alumni Board, and is an active member of Lawyers Club. Ganci is also very active with other legal communities, including La Raza Lawyers Association, California DUI Lawyers Association, National College for DUI Defense, and the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. Ganci also participates in organizations outside the legal sphere, including the Human Rights Campaign. He was named a Finalist in the San Diego Daily Transcript Young Attorneys and was recently awarded the San Diego County Bar Assoc. Outstanding Service by A New Lawyer Award.

Karen E. Hernandez

Associate, Cooley LLP
Upon graduation from West Point, Karen E. Hernandez was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. She spent seven years on active duty, achieving the rank of captain before leaving the Army in 2004 to attend law school at UCLA. Hernandez’ positions included battalion disbursement officer, company executive officer, chief of military pay (Yongsan Army Installation, Seoul, South Korea), battalion personnel officer, battalion operations officer, finance company commander and recruiting company commander. After graduating from UCLA, Hernandez joined the San Diego office of Cooley LLP where she is an associate in the business department. Hernandez’ practice involves providing legal counsel to companies at all stages from emerging growth companies to public companies. She advises on public and private financings, securities regulations, mergers and acquisitions, complex transactions and corporate governance. She has built a reputation as client-focused, hard-working, practical and business smart. Hernandez serves as outside counsel on a pro bono basis for nonprofit organizations, including the Monarch School Project, Athena San Diego Foundation, Outside the Lens and many others. Hernandez is a founding board member and the chief financial officer of Ms. JD, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the success of women in the legal profession.

Joanna Archer

Assistant Vice President, Regents Bank
When Joanna Archer was 17, she worked at a bank over the summer to save money for college. Because of unexpected financial circumstances, Archer’s parents were unable to send her to college, and Archer, who was doing well at the bank, decided to stay in her job. She learned quickly and, at 23, was hired by Scripps Bank as back office clerk. Within three years, Archer was managing the department and had tripled her salary. At age 29, Archer was recruited by Regents Bank to be manager of central operations and cash management, a job typically held by seasoned banking professionals. She currently holds the title of assistant vice president and manages two departments — the Central Operations Area, which oversees all wire transfers in and out, exception items like returning non-sufficient funds and fraud prevention, and the Electronic Banking Department. She also acts as a consultant for Regents Bank’s clients who require assistance setting up and operating remote deposit capture, other remote banking products and ACH origination. Archer, whose son Ty was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 10, dedicates her time to the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation and was presented the Golden Shoe award from JDRF her first year raising funds for the organization.

Lucia Tovar-Matthews

Executive Director, DIÁLOGO
Lucia Tovar-Matthews founded DIÁLOGO Public Relations, the fastest growing, independently owned Hispanic PR agency in the West, boasting a team of more than 40 PR pros and working with a roster of brands. Tovar-Matthews founded DIALOGO to help organizations effect change by engaging Hispanic audiences. In 2009, Page One Media, in association with Televisa Publishing, invited Tovar-Matthews to become a columnist for its award-winning publication, PODER Hispanic Magazine. She also developed DialogueOne, her clients’ new single-resource for real time access to PR campaign analysis and tracking. In 2010, she opened the long-planned Mexico City division of her company, launched a media syndication service, and rolled out DIÁLOGO360, a communications platform. DIÁLOGO360 brands participate in cutting-edge research and promotion provided by DIÁLOGO360 Hispanic consumer members. Tovar-Matthews has been a leader in community organizations that seek to improve the conditions of the youth in Los Angeles, San Diego and Mexico. One such organization is the It’s All About The Kids Foundation, a nonprofit that creates innovative programs to benefit children’s charities and enhance the lives of less fortunate children and their families. Tovar-Matthews and her team were awarded Best California PR Agency to Reach Latinos Using Social Media in 2010 by Latinos in Social Media.

Christopher Rutgers

Executive Director, Outdoor Outreach
Chris Rutgers and his nonprofit organization Outdoor Outreach were the subject of an Outdoor Magazine article, which wrote: “In November 1992, at age 18, Rutgers left behind an abusive childhood in California and moved to Alta, Utah. He became a dishwasher and later started free skiing competitively, an experience that changed his life. After seven years, Rutgers left the mountains for San Diego to start a nonprofit called Outdoor Outreach. His goal? To transform the lives of at-risk kids by introducing them to positive experiences in the outdoors.” Since its founding in 1999, Outdoor Outreach has taken more than 5,100 youths on more than 1,770 outings, including rock climbing, snowboarding, surfing, snorkeling, mountain biking and backpacking. It is the only agency in San Diego and one of just a few in the country to utilize outdoor physical experiences to provide youth with support, relationships, resources and opportunities they need to become successful adults. Participants come from inner-city schools, teen homeless shelters, foster care facilities and drug-rehabilitation programs as well as high schools in disadvantaged areas of San Diego. Rutgers has been nationally recognized as an expert on programming for youth at-risk and is a past recipient of KGTV Channel 10 Leadership Award and Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Best.”

Mike Morton Jr.

President and CEO, The Brigantine Restaurant Corp.
A member of The Brigantine Restaurant Corp. since 1992, Mike Morton Jr. currently serves as president and CEO of the popular San Diego chain. Morton’s advancement to that position in July 2008 is the result of his outstanding commitment to the company through years of experience in numerous capacities. The Brigantine Restaurant Corp. currently operates seven Brigantine Seafood Restaurants, five Miguel’s Cocinas and The Steakhouse at Azul La Jolla, and is in the process of designing and opening a sixth Miguel’s Cocina in Carlsbad this fall. In addition to his duties with Brigantine, Morton serves on the board of directors of the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of San Diego Rotary, Club 33 and the San Diego Yacht Club. He enjoys competing in marathons and triathlons. Morton is also the co-chair for Fish Across the Border in which he travels annually to Mexico near Ensenada and distributes food and clothing to those in need. Morton graduated from Vanderbilt University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, and received his master’s degree from the University of Southern California.

Erica Holloway

Principal, Holloway Media Strategies
Erica Holloway stands out among her peers as an innovative media strategist, a shrewd government relations adviser and a passionate advocate for reform. She has consistently been at the forefront of cutting-edge media relations and consultation, working for some of the region’s most powerful elected officials, including communications director and policy adviser for Senate Republican leader Dennis Hollingsworth and County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. She also served as a strategist for prominent political campaigns and efforts, including the media campaign design and launch for the Oxy Task Force of San Diego County (now the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force), as well as their Call to Action — the prescription drug take-back days that have removed thousands of pounds of prescription drugs from the streets. Holloway co-authored the county legislation that brought prescription drug drop boxes to sheriff’s substations — a practice that has been adopted by police departments across the county. As principal of Holloway Media Strategies, Holloway has provided strategic media and political counsel to some of San Diego’s high profile campaigns including San Diegans 4 Great Schools and in 2010 for the Speaker Education Project. She was recognized in 2010 with two Emmy Awards for her work on the “Oxy Abuse Kills” public service announcement series.

Carmen Vann

Project Executive, Turner Construction Co.
With 15 years of experience in the construction industry, Carmen Vann has managed some of the most interesting projects in San Diego. After graduating from North Carolina A&T State University with a degree in construction management, Vann began working for a small minority contractor as a construction engineer. She later moved to Nashville, Tenn., and in July of 2000 joined Turner Construction Co.’s Nashville office. Vann took on the lead project engineer role on several school projects. She saw her involvement in school construction as an opportunity to play a part in educational outreach. Vann transferred to Turner’s San Diego office in 2003, moving quickly through the ranks from project engineer to project executive. She worked on high-profile projects such as the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research and The Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. The Hard Rock Hotel project received multiple awards in 2008 including the CMAA Project Achievement Award and CCDC Paradise in Progress Award, among others. Currently, Vann is project executive in charge of the San Diego New Central Library, a 500,000-square-foot, LEED Silver designed facility. At completion of the Downtown library, the combined construction volume of projects Vann has managed will be over $400 million.

Crystal Scripps McKellar

Senior Associate, Morrison & Foerster
Playing the role of Becky Slater in TV’s “The Wonder Years,” Crystal Scripps McKellar became “the face” for Tree People and Heal the Bay organizations encouraging young people to get involved in environmental issues (Her sister, Danica, was Winnie Cooper on the TV series). After years of acting, she went on to earn a history degree from Yale, and a Master of Studies (Roman history) from Oxford (with distinction). At Harvard Law, she started the In Vino Veritas 50-member wine club. After clerking for Judge Marilyn Huff, she practiced law at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. She’s now a senior associate with Morrison & Foerster, the 16th largest law firm in the U.S., where she handles securities, M&A, antitrust and commercial litigation. Scripps McKellar also does pro bono work focused on helping refugees seek asylum. She is active on the board of directors for Summer Bridge of San Diego, which holds a six-week camp at La Jolla High every summer for fifth and sixth graders from low-income neighborhoods. Summer Bridge provides academics, artistic outlets, civics and leadership training. In 2009, she was one of three associates worldwide listed among 100 women in “Women in Antitrust” by the British publication Global Competition Review. She passed the bar exam in California, New York and Massachusetts.

Mike Alfred

CEO and Co-founder, BrightScope Inc.
A noted and quoted financial expert, Mike Alfred is CEO and co-founder of Brightscope Inc. Launched in February 2008, BrightScope offers a ground-breaking approach to providing information that can be used to evaluate and monitor 401(k) plans and financial advisers. The company regularly attracts national media attention for its work, and Alfred has appeared on CNBC, ABC News, Fox Business News and NPR. Building the company over the past few years, Alfred and his team have overcome challenges that often end the life of young, fast-growing companies. They have navigated complex government bureaucracies and political issues to get access to information at the heart of the business, spent thousands of hours inputting data and inventing the algorithms needed to make it useful, and have raised money from a group of investors during the economic downturn. Recognized for their expertise, Alfred and his brother, Brightscope President Ryan Alfred, have worked with the House, Senate, General Accounting Office, and Department of Labor on retirement plan issues, particularly on target date funds and total plan fees. In addition, Alfred teaches financial literacy to minority students through the Links Achievers Program, the Pathways to College Network and Jack and Jill of America. He received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Jim Navarra

Director of Marketing, Jerome’s
As part of the family business known to San Diegans as “Jerome’s,” Jim Navarra, a third-generation family member, brings a multi-faceted approach to his role as director of marketing for the company. Since 2007, he has built a creative program to support Jerome’s new go-to marketing strategy moving away from a sales oriented strategy and towards a value-based commitment for customers with an everyday-low-price-model known as “Jerry’s Price.” Navarra keeps his eye on the pulse of marketing strategy to ensure the company continues to grow. Navarra has recently supported the company’s strategic investment in expanding Jerome’s retail locations to Corona and Murrieta. Navarra has a firm handle on the big picture of the company from his role as board member to his hands-on role as marketing director. Through his efforts he has improved overall market share by almost 12 percent and overall mattress market share by 58 percent since 1997. He takes his role seriously in carrying on the family’s tradition of supporting important causes. He has developed marketing programs that support nonprofit organizations including San Diego Food Bank, ArtWalk and Challenged Athletes Foundation, among others. In 2009, he raised $10,000 in sponsorship of a participating athlete for the Challenged Athletes foundation yearly event.

Susan Riggs Tinsky

Executive Director, San Diego Housing Federation
Susan Riggs Tinsky was appointed executive director of the San Diego Housing Federation in September 2010. Prior to that, she was an attorney with the San Diego law firm Best, Best & Kreiger, specializing in affordable housing and redevelopment law. She worked for the San Diego Housing Commission from 2001-2004. In her last assignment there, she served as chief policy adviser working on public policy issues such as San Diego’s linkage fee. Tinsky served previously as vice president of government affairs for the San Diego Association of Realtors and was on the adjunct faculty of San Diego State University and Southwestern College where she taught housing policy and real estate economics, respectively. Tinsky is president-elect of Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 (C3), former co-chair of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Housing Policy Committee, and serves on the board of WalkSanDiego. She is also participating in Sustainable San Diego’s steering committee. Tinsky was in the LEAD San Diego Class of 2003 and is a licensed real estate salesperson. Tinsky received her law degree from Thomas Jefferson Law School in 2008. She holds a master’s degree in city planning from San Diego State, where she was outstanding graduate of the year in 2002.

Sara E. Aghassi

Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, County of San Diego
Sarah Aghassi is deputy chief administrative officer for the county of San Diego’s Land Use and Environment Group, which means she is responsible for the successful operation of the seven high-profile departments that make up this division. Reporting directly to Chief Administrative Officer Walter Ekard, she oversees Public Works; Environmental Health; Planning & Land Use; Parks & Recreation; Agriculture, Weights & Measures; Air Pollution Control District; and the Farm & Home Advisor, which, together, have a combined workforce of 1,550 persons and an annual operating budget of $400 million. She also ensures that the policy directives of the county Board of Supervisors are implemented. Previously, she served as director of San Diego County’s Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs Office. Aghassi was also the County of San Diego’s liaison for the American Recovery Act projects, managing over $118 million in federal economic stimulus funds awarded to the county. Aghassi serves on the board of directors of the San Diego Spine Foundation and the Iranian-American Scholarship Fund. She has been volunteering for more than seven years with a local grassroots, volunteer-run, nonprofit organization, Dollar-A-Month Fund, which raises funds to support efforts throughout the world to improve the lives of children.

Chad Ruyle

Partner, Ruyle & Ruyle
Native San Diegan Chad Ruyle is co-founder of You Walk Away, billed as the nation’s foremost authority on foreclosure assistance. Since its founding in 2007, You Walk Away has helped tens of thousands of people and has been featured on “60 Minutes,” the “Today Show,” Fox News and CNN, among others. It has also been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and many other national publications. Ruyle started You Walk Away because he saw a need amongst his clients and network of people needing advice about foreclosure, and realized that individuals who were struggling financially had to pay high legal fees to get information, and many struggled to find solutions. He wanted to provide a program for homeowners with an upfront, affordable fee for guidance, information, legal consultations, tax consultations and more. Ruyle is also a partner at Ruyle & Ruyle, a firm specializing in trust and estates, where he focuses on areas of estate planning, transfer tax planning and asset protection. In addition, he co-founded PEERS Network (Philanthropy, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Relationships, Social), a group of local entrepreneurs whose mission is to give back to the San Diego community by helping enhance philanthropic pursuits while providing a network to encourage entrepreneurism.

Brian Malarkey

Partner, Executive Chef, Searsucker and Burlap
Chef Brian Malarkey is an award-winning executive chef, Bravo Top Chef finalist and special host of TLC’s Mega Bites. A native of Oregon, Malarkey opened his first restaurant in  2010 in the heart of the Gaslamp, called Searsucker, serving New American classic cuisine, emphasizing approachable and unpretentious dishes. In July 2011, he opened the Del Mar restaurant Burlap, serving meat and seafood accompanied with bold sides and Asian influences. Previously, Malarkey worked as executive chef at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. While he was executive chef/operating partner of Oceanaire San Diego, the restaurant received more than 60 industry awards, and in 2009, Malarkey was voted Best Chef in San Diego for his work there.  Malarkey is involved in the community and offers his time to a number of charities, including The National Kidney Foundation, It’s all About the Kids, the San Diego Zoo, KPBS, the Huntington’s Disease Society of San Diego, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Eldercare. He broke a world record by constructing gigantic cuisine all for charity within 48 hours for TLC’s show “Mega Bites.” Malarkey’s personal achievements include “Gold Medallion for Chef of the Year,” Best Seafood-Fine Dining (2006-2009), Zagat Top Ten Restaurants (2007), Wine Spectator Award of Excellence (2005-2008) and the DiRoNA Award of Excellence.

Zach Schlagel

Manager, Government & Community Affairs, UCSD Health Sciences
Zach Schlagel works as manager of government and community affairs for UCSD Health Sciences. Schlagel led Health Sciences system’s efforts to go 100 percent smoke-free at all of their medical facilities. This three-year process included the creation of a task force that consisted of key physicians, administration, staff and community members. With Schlagel as company leader for the 2010 UCSD Heart Walk Team, the organization raised over $65,000 for the American Heart Association and was one of the top five companies in San Diego County for overall fundraising. He personally raised over $3,600 and was the top individual fundraiser at UCSD last year. This year he spearheaded a Go Red for Women campaign, which raised over $4,200, launched an informational campaign for staff about cardiovascular disease prevention and featured both the UCSD Medical Center at Hillcrest and the UCSD Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center being lit red for the month of February. Schlagel currently serves as chair for San Diego North Chamber of Commerce’s Health Committee. Since he became chair, membership has increased by over 50 percent and the committee has coordinated several well-attended forums on health care reform and workplace wellness.

Doug White

Manager, Government Affairs, Cricket Communications
Whether the commitment has been local, state or federal, Doug White has been involved in progressive politics for the entirety of his career. Starting out in former Gov. Gray Davis’ administration, White later cut his political teeth in Washington, D.C. Additional political and policy work — for the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, the Obama presidential campaign and Presidential Inaugural Commission, Toni Atkins for California State Assembly and Howard Wayne for San Diego City Council campaigns — only furthered Doug’s resolve to become involved with the political process. Currently, White is manager for government affairs at Cricket Communications. Within the seventh largest wireless provider in the country, his primary responsibilities include overseeing the corporation’s 50-state legislation and regulation program. He works directly with state legislators, regulators, coalitions, associations and various other stakeholders to support company positions and increase awareness for Cricket’s universe of interests. Highlights of the interdepartmental teams he has led include Cricket’s participation in the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program. Through a government grant, Cricket provides free modems and mobile broadband service to 1,000 low-income individuals, helping them bridge the digital divide. White is also a Democratic State Central Committee member, elected delegate from Assembly District 76.

Andrea G. Musicant

Associate, Klinedinst PC
Andrea Musicant is a recognized authority on employment and labor law, and was a partner at a previous firm before joining Klinedinst as an associate. She is a former judicial extern to the Honorable David R. Thompson, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She earned her law degree from the University of California Hastings College of Law, where she was an oral advocate in national Moot Court competition and a member of the Hasting’s Women Law Journal. Previously, Musicant graduated magna cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley. Musicant is a member of Lawyers Club of San Diego, which seeks to advance the status of women in the law and in society. She also served on the board of directors and as vice president of the organization, and chaired the organization’s annual dinner in 2011. Musicant has worked with Casa Cornelia, a public interest law firm providing quality pro bono legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations, for almost seven years. Musicant is a recipient of the Wiley E. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys who give back to the community through pro bono service.

Tony Toranto

Partner, Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps
Tony Toranto is a versatile attorney at Luce Forward who handles a variety of complex matters including both real property and business transactions. The value of his transactional matters ranges from several million dollars to $700 million. Before becoming a lawyer, Toranto spent a number of years in private equity. This background gives him a unique perspective, enabling him to better serve his clients and approach problems with an innovation and creativity uncommon to those his age. Toranto became an income partner at Luce Forward in January 2010, and within a year became an equity partner. Toranto takes on responsibility with ease and adapts to the ever-changing business landscape. He currently chairs Luce Forward’s nationally renowned Climate Change, Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology (CREST) practice group. Some of his recent work in the CREST group includes representing renewable energy developers in the acquisition of more than 20 utility-scale solar plant sites and in the acquisition, title matters and project finance for a $220 million renewable energy project. Toranto is a cabinet member of the Salk Institute Excelerators, a research institution that studies neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology to make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of infectious diseases.

Alice Lee Benjamin

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Palomar Medical Center
Alice Lee Benjamin has been working as a nurse for over 13 years at various hospitals in Southern California, primarily in acute and critical care areas with an affinity for cardiovascular medicine. She is currently the clinical nurse specialist for the cardiac, orthopedic and neuroscience services at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. In this capacity she works as a consultant to the Department of Nursing, the medical staff and administration. She collaborates with leadership and staff to ensure the provision of nursing care meets the standards identified in the professional literature, the standard statements of professional organizations and state and federal regulations. Benjamin focuses on the needs of patients, collaborates in the development of orientation programs, didactic presentations and clinical mentoring for novice to expert practitioners. She is currently a preceptor for graduate advanced practice nursing students at SDSU and Point Loma Nazarene University. Benjamin devotes much of her time as a mentor and public speaker by encouraging early interests in health care professions via programs such as Interlink Pathways, Gear Up and by speaking at various high schools, universities and community events. She also recently facilitated a community forum in conjunction with UCSD’s Antiviral Research Center focusing on the state of HIV/AIDS in San Diego County.

Scot Ginsburg

Managing Director, Tenant Representation, Jones Lang LaSalle
Scot Ginsburg is a commercial real estate broker with Jones Lang LaSalle who has spent the last 11 years representing corporate real estate users, tenants and occupiers of commercial real estate. Before venturing into real estate, he launched an Internet technology company and, in his own words, “lost everything.” He spent years rebuilding a career and his finances. Now, Ginsburg is dedicated to helping tenants. His passion representing tenants comes from that personal experience as founder of a technology startup where he was the tenant playing on an uneven field in the landlord’s favor. After that, he knew he could do a lot to help tenants understand the leverage they have and negotiate deals that help them keep their rent costs in check while providing the space they need to operate and grow. He has excelled, quickly rising to the rank of managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle. He has transacted approximately $500 million worth of deals on behalf of his clients and usually generates nearly twice the yearly transaction amounts of most of his colleagues. Ginsburg has been the No. 1 producer at Jones Lang LaSalle San Diego for the last several years. He is on the board of directors of San Diego Venture Group.

Travis Carter

Vice President, Hughes Marino Inc.
Travis Carter, a native San Diegan, has devoted his career to commercial real estate. A licensed real estate broker, Carter focuses on orchestrating long-term fully integrated solutions that involve analyzing his clients’ business objectives and delivering viable real estate options. His experience encompasses strategic planning, market assessment, financial analysis and lease negotiations. Carter represents legal and accounting firms through the Downtown, Mission Valley, UTC, and Del Mar Heights market areas. He has represented more than 150 companies with real estate needs totaling nearly $60 million in transactional value. In 2006, Carter developed an after-school music program for high school students. He gathered local musicians with the idea of providing singing, guitar, drums, and bass guitar lessons to hundreds of local junior high and high school students. The program took off  and is still providing an opportunity for high school students in San Diego to get involved in music and play in a band on stage in front of an audience. Currently, Carter devotes time on the weekends serving at Ladle Fellowship in Downtown San Diego. The ministry provides food and shelter to the homeless. Carter also serves on the board at Vista Hill Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting troubled young people and people with developmental disabilities.

Tommy Trause

Club Manager, University Club atop Symphony Towers
Tommy Trause is club manager at University Club atop Symphony Towers in Downtown San Diego and is in charge of daily operations. The University Club is the preeminent club for social and business connections in the greater San Diego area, and recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. A graduate of Cornell’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management and a veteran of the Bohemian Club, Trause previously served as the interim general manager at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia. He also served as the food and beverage director at Columbia Tower Club in Seattle upon completing ClubCorp’s former leadership and development program. The leadership and development program provided concentration in a trainee’s discipline and exposure to many departments, including accounting, food and beverage, membership and private events. Before joining Pyramid Club, Tommy spent six months traveling through Asia. He is involved in the community, giving time as a Big Brother for Big Brother Big Sister, and is a supporter of the American Diabetes Association. In 2010, he was presented a Circle of Excellence Award and in 2011 he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Ron Morabito

President and CEO, V Group
Ron Morabito is president and CEO of V group, which provides signage, trade show displays, printing and promotional products. V Group has handled many projects for a number of local companies, colleges and universities and has been the preferred sign company for SDSU Athletics for the last three years. V Group also had the privilege of providing signage for a U.S. Olympic team event as well as providing all the signage for the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. Morabito sits on the board of trustees for the San Diego Sports Commission, which in addition to bringing sporting events to San Diego supports a wide variety of youth programs for underprivileged and at-risk children. He has volunteered his time as well as all the signage for the All About Kids Foundation in San Diego. In addition, Morabito worked with Home Start, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation and Boys and Girls Club of San Diego. He serves on the committee for the Huntington’s Disease Foundation’s annual “Shoot to Cure” event and his company has donated all the signage for this event for the past two years. V Group was named winner of the award for “Excellence in Customer Service” at the 2010 San Diego Small Business Awards.

Allison Beall

Director of Business Development, Pacific Building Group
Allison Beall has positioned Pacific Building Group (PBG) as a leader in its industry and helped the firm thrive even in tough times. As director of business development, Beall’s relationships and marketing savvy were instrumental in winning more than $35 million worth of building contracts in 2010 alone. She played a key role in securing valuable new business relationships and contracts with Qualcomm, Northrop Grumman, Cushman & Wakefield and Cassidy Turley. At PBG, Beall is responsible for new business development with a focus on strategic growth and client service within the commercial real estate industry. She works closely with the project management team to provide owners, brokers and design teams with the best possible pricing and scheduling. She manages all aspects of PBG’s marketing efforts, including advertising, public relations and special events. Previously, Beall was director of client relations for a boutique law firm that specialized in construction and business litigation. During her four years with the firm, she developed strategic relationships with the principals of local general and specialty contractors. Beall has been actively involved for the past five years in the growth and strategic planning of CREW San Diego, serving on the board of directors since 2009 and now as president.

Reed Caldwell

Founder & CEO, The ServInt Corp.
Reed Caldwell is the founder and CEO of ServInt, a managed Web hosting company based in the Northern Virginia technology corridor and newly expanded to the San Diego area. Caldwell founded ServInt in 1995 at age 19 as an undergraduate at the University of Richmond, and the company has since expanded its network to include data centers in Southern California, Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. Caldwell’s vision and leadership have led ServInt to become one of the most successful privately held hosting companies in the U.S. His organization has been awarded top honors from respected industry reviewers such as HostReview, TopHosts and FindMyHost and it has a rating with the Better Business Bureau and Web Host Report Card. Caldwell says he is proudest of his company’s corporate culture and its innovative approach to human resource management. In an industry characterized by rapid staff turnover, Caldwell’s progressive approach to training, health care, family-centric benefits and worker empowerment have yielded some of the most committed, loyal employees in the hosting industry. Caldwell is also an active venture philanthropist who has spoken about philanthropy and technology at universities, including the University of Beijing and the London School of Economics.

Jason Hull

Managing Director, Commercial Real Estate, Trigild
As Trigild’s managing director of commercial real estate, Jason Hull has maximized value on more than $4 billion in distressed commercial real estate for special servicers and lenders, and currently oversees all Trigild-managed commercial real estate assets. Previously, he was a senior acquisition director with Interwest Capital, and was also a senior analyst with Cherokee Investment Partners, a real estate private equity fund that specializes in mixed use developments of environmentally contaminated properties. But one of his proudest accomplishments was completing rigorous training and serving for six years as a U.S. Navy SEAL. Hull is involved with NAIOP and Urban Land Institute and also coaches basketball and lacrosse for his young children. Hull applies the energy and zeal that drove him during his years as a Navy SEAL to each deal at Trigild. In addition to his skills in real estate management, operations and strategic planning, the U.S. Naval Academy graduate was decorated for valor in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Pauline Martinson

Executive Director, I Love A Clean San Diego
Pauline Martinson considers herself one of San Diego’s modern environmentalists, and puts her passion to use in her leadership role at I Love A Clean San Diego. As the organization’s executive director, Martinson has been a breath of fresh air for this 57-year-old nonprofit, doubling its staff and budget size and expanding the organization’s reach further than ever before. Her ability to shine a spotlight on environmental issues and the organization itself has led I Love a Clean San Diego to become a household name in San Diego. Forces of 30,000 San Diegans now participate in the organization’s inland and beach clean-ups each year, and Martinson’s leadership has led to the development of an innovative information resource for community members interested in recycling. She also led the creation of a program for youth that takes them out of the classroom and into nature to explore the outdoors and learn new lessons about the environment. Martinson  serves on several environmental committees, including the Otay Valley Regional Park Citizens Advisory Committee, Technical Advisory Committee for Solid Waste and San Diego’s Regional Sustainability Partnership. She has served as an environmental expert on a variety of panels and as a facilitator for the Rady School of Management’s California Clean Innovation Conference.

Wesley Keegan

CEO and Founder, TailGate Beer
CEO and Founder Wesley Keegan believes his company, TailGate Beer, offers a marriage of craft beer loving and tailgating lifestyles. Keegan and his late father came up with the idea for TailGate Beer in 2004. Keegan, originally a home brewer, piloted recipes of his own design for entry into the Great America Beer Festival. After receiving recognition from his peers, Keegan entered into a contract brewing operation, which has blossomed into a full-fledged partner brewing agreement. Keegan still remains present to physically brew every batch of TailGate Beer. Keegan’s original vision for the company was one that would give back to the community. The company recently held its first “Can Cancer” TailGate at San Diego’s Petco Park. The family-friendly tailgate was in honor of Mother’s Day and in support of the City of Hope Foundation. Keegan chose the City of Hope Foundation not only because it is an outstanding organization that treats thousands of patients with life threatening diseases but because it holds a special place in his life. This year, Keegan’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently receiving world-class treatment from the City of Hope. Keegan has also assisted in events for local groups like San Diego Firefighters and Toys for Tots.

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We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

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