40 Under 40 Awards — 2014
Star Hughes, a director at Hughes Marino, shares the spotlight with 39 other outstanding San Diegans in our annual awards program.
Presenting Our 40 Under 40 Honorees — 2014
A salute to 40 outstanding San Diegans
SD Metro is proud to present winners of our 40 Under 40 Awards for 2014, a group of men and women who represent some of the the best and brightest minds of San Diego County.
The 2014 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon will be held Oct. 3 at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island, across from the airport. Registration is at 11:30 a.m. The luncheon and program lasts from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Genoveva Aguilar is the lead organizer for SEIU-United Service Workers West. She grew up in very humble beginnings in Sherman Heights, which is one of San Diego’s historic barrios. Aguilar became a mother in 2009 when she took on the responsibility of becoming the legal guardian to her 10-year-old nephew Felipoe Aguilar after her brother’s tragic death. She has been a longstanding community and labor leader who has been recognized as one of the best organizers in San Diego. Aguilar is a magna cum laude graduate of Mission Bay High School, which allowed her to become the first in her family to attend college. She graduated from the University of San Diego with degrees in Ethnic Studies, Sociology and Spanish. She is the founder of Casa De Vecinos Organizados, a grassroots organization dedicated to building resident leadership around community empowerment and social advocacy in low- to moderate-income communities. Aguilar was recently honored by the California Legislature as the 80th Assembly District’s Woman of the Year.
Before becoming the manager of public affairs for Southwest Strategies, Pedro Anaya worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly a decade. He has built successful community relations and outreach programs for a number of clients, including General Dynamics NASSCO, Lamar Outdoor Advertising and SANDAG. Anaya continues to provide Southwest Strategies with a strong grassroots community presence in the region’s Latino and Spanish-speaking communities. He currently serves on the San Diego Padres Hispanic Community Advisory Council and the City of Chula Vista Planning Commission. He is the publisher of an e-newsletter, La Voz de San Diego, dedicated to keeping San Diego connected. Subscribers include more than 8,000 community leaders. Anaya received the Cesar E Chavez Social Justice Award, the Channel 10 Leadership Award and SD METRO Magazine recently profiled him as a Metro Mover. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and Chicano studies. He earned his master’s degree in nonprofit management and leadership studies at the University of San Diego.
Jason Anderson is president of CleanTECH San Diego, a nonprofit organization that positions the greater San Diego region, including Imperial County and Cali Baja, as a global leader in the clean tech economy. Under his leadership, CleanTECH San Diego is working to accelerate clean technology innovation and adoption of sustainable business practices for the benefit of the economy and the environment. He leads several initiatives critical to the mission of the organization, including the Biofuels Initiative, advocacy efforts and economic development programs. He also serves as executive director of the CleanTECH San Diego Education Foundation, which is designed to develop education and workforce programs aligned with the mission of CleanTECH San Diego. Anderson has led statewide and national efforts to organize clean tech clusters throughout the state and country to advocate on behalf of the industry. Anderson is a graduate of the University of Texas.
Adriana A. Avalos
Adriana Avalos is the compliance officer for Kaiser Permanente in which she oversees, maintains and supports the compliance and ethics programs in San Diego. She is responsible for educating, training and consulting San Diego’s 7,700 employees and 1,100 physicians on Kaiser Permanente’s Corporate Compliance Program and the Code of Conduct. Under Avalos’ leadership, Kaiser Permanente San Diego licensed and opened its first state-of-the-art, all private Neonatal Intensive Care Unit allowing families and their special babies the privacy and comfort to heal and start their lives together. She licensed an eight-bed, single-room Antepartum unit, giving mothers with complicated pregnancies a healing and comforting environment in the privacy of their own room. Avalos is a visionary leader who promotes diversity, excellence and ethics in the work she does on behalf of Kaiser Permanente and the community. She is a 2013 LEAD IMPACT graduate where she helped develop a master plan for the San Diego Rescue Mission. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Avalos holds a master’s degree from UCLA and a law degree from the University of San Francisco.
Ben Avey is the manager of government and media relation for Family Health Centers of San Diego. He successfully obtained more than $1 million in grant funding for the Family Health Centers, coordinated a nursing referral program that enabled hundreds of low-income students to gain access to health care, created the social media program for the U.S. Navy’s Naval Base and Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, and has served as an elected member of the San Diego County Republican Central Committee. Avey is president of the Barrio Logan Association, serves on the health committee of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Lions Club of Downtown San Diego. He was awarded the U.S. Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal for his service during the 2011 tsunami earthquake and nuclear emergency in Japan. He is graduate of San Diego State University.
Ryan Berman is the founder and the chief creative officer of i.d.e.a., an integrated marketing agency in San Diego that helps lifestyle and challenger brands increase sales, build equity and awareness and positions brands as leaders in their respective categories. His award-winning work can be seen in creative campaigns for Caesar’s Entertainment, PUMA, Ringling Brothers, SUPRA, KSL Resorts, Qualcomm and many others. He has worked on campaigns for Pony, UNICEF, Bumble Bee Foods, Von Dutch, Subway, Volvo, Universal Studios, Evian and other brands throughout his career. Berman founded Fishtank Brand Advertising and in 2010 he merged Fishtank with the public relations, advertising and social media agency Bailey Gardner to form i.d.e.a. in March 2012. He is known and respected in the marketing industry for his blue-sky thinking: creating big ideas that can be scaled to fit a client’s needs and budget. He has won 31 ADDY Awards from the San Diego Ad Club and awards from San Diego’s American Marketing Association. “i.d.e.a. is a fun, challenging, stimulating and creative place to work,” admits Berman. The company has grown by 231 percent in capitalized billings and 96 percent in staff size in just over two years. Berman is a graduate of Ithaca College.
Joshua M. Bonnici
Joshua Bonnici is managing attorney at Bonnici Law Group. He is a native San Diegan who has a passion for giving back to the community. Whether it was through traveling with his home church to Mexican orphanages or volunteering at a local high school for homeless teenagers, Bonnici has a long history of aiding those in need. He founded the Bonnici Law Group in 2012 in order to bring a personal and passionate experience back to the practice of law. He also provides free legal advice for small claims litigants through the Small Claims Advisory of the San Diego Superior Court. He is a member of the American Association of Justice, which supports the work of attorneys in their efforts to ensure justice in American courtrooms. Bonnici is president of LeTip of Old Town and is involved in the business networking groups “6 Degrees” and “Tasteful Tuesdays.” He is a graduate of UC San Diego and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
Stephanie Burns is chief executive officer of Chic CEO, an online platform for female entrepreneurs. Chic CEO provides how-to information and tools for women starting businesses. It has been named one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurial Websites for Women by Forbes just six months after its launch. With 50,000 women entrepreneurs subscribing to the Chic CEO newsletter, it has become the No. 1 resource for any woman who wants to follow her entrepreneurial dreams. Burns is on the board of directors and chairs the Development Committee for Employment & Community Options, a San Diego nonprofit that educates and empowers low-income adults with developmental disabilities with the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve their personal goals.
Angela Jae Chun
Angela Jae Chun is a recent addition to CaseyGerry’s trial team, specializing in serious personal injury, products and premises liability and maritime litigation. She chaired seven jury trials in both state and federal court, for employment discrimination, wrongful termination, breach of contract, personal injury and product liability claims. She has also chaired an employment arbitration hearing for employment discrimination. During her tenure at CaseyGerry, Chun has helped settle, mediate and litigate a full gamut of cases. She won a $7.5 million settlement for a client who slipped and fell on the deck of a resort pool. A serious ankle sprain eventually developed into Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a chronic condition that causes searing pain and difficulty with motor functions. Chun also successfully recovered a $1 million policy limits settlement for a 5-year-old girl who was seriously injured when a shelf fell on top of her at a convenience store. She has strong ties to the Korean community and serves on the board of the Korean Bar Association of San Diego. Chun is a graduate of UC San Diego and the California Western School of Law.
Melinda Dicharry is president and chief executive officer of Paradigm Mechanical Corporation. Paradigm specializes in working with project teams to design and build mechanical systems for medical, laboratory, government and industrial facilities in Southern California. The company’s mechanical systems include, but are not limited to, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) controls, piping and energy management. Dicharry has been active in the construction industry for more than 10 years. After getting her undergraduate degree in business administration, she received advanced mechanical trade education at UC San Diego as well as at the Turner School of Construction. She is currently the president-elect of the San Diego Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Through her work with the NAWIC, Paradigm supports the Boys and Girls Clubs of East San Diego, City of Hope and Make-a-Wish Foundation. Dicharry has grown Paradigm from a company with $200,000 in revenue in 2010 to $5.25 million in 2013.
Deborah Dixon is a 2007 graduate of California Western School of Law, was elected in 2013 to the partnership at Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie and is only the fifth female partner in the 51-year history of the firm. Presently, she is the only woman partner. In just seven years out of law school, her remarkable talents have been recognized by her colleagues and the community. She has exemplified the highest ideals of professionalism and ethics. Dixon is a board member of the Lawyers Club of San Diego whose mission is to “advance the status of women in the law and society.” Not content to excel merely in her busy law practice, she has made substantial and ongoing contributions to the administration of justice through her commitment to improving the quality of legal education by mentoring new lawyers and by providing concrete training opportunities to law students. She and her husband dedicate their time by fostering dogs through Second Chance Rescue Center and she continues to provide pro bono legal services to indigent and vulnerable members of the community.
Amy Gonyeau is chief operating officer of Alpha Project, which is instrumental in providing homeless and at-risk populations with direct services. She oversees more than a dozen programs throughout the county that provide affordable housing, residential substance abuse treatment, supportive housing for people with special needs, basic and emergency services for the homeless, transportation assistance, employment training, preparation and placement, as well as overseeing the City of San Diego’s Downtown emergency shelter for single adults. For more than two decades, Gonyeau has been involved in countless groups that involve advocacy for the homeless, domestic violence, substance abuse and LGBT. Her most recent achievements include her role in the creation of 223 new beds for homeless and very low-income populations in Downtown San Diego. Her leadership has helped spur Alpha Square, a $447.5 million public-private development project that will provide another 201 units of affordable housing to low- and very-low income renters for 55 years. She is a graduate of Champlain College in Burlington, Vt.
Ryan Green is founder and chief executive officer of Get 1 Free. The company produces Get 1 Free magazine and Get 1 Free.com. The magazine is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive guide to free offers from local San Diego merchants and businesses. The monthly is direct mailed to 16 San Diego County regions and three Riverside County regions and reaches almost 1 million households. Get 1 Free’s revenues are projected to hit $9 million this year. It is the largest circulated, four-color magazine in San Diego County. In 2013, Green completed the acquisition of the Uptown/Downtown Community magazine. This year he is launching a smartphone app that will work on both IOC and Android platforms using newly introduced beacon technology. He has volunteered at the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots program, the San Diego Food Bank, the San Diego Surfrider Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and, more recently, the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is a graduate of UC San Diego as well as the prestigious Lund University in Sweden.
Ted Harrington is an executive partner at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) where he drives the company’s thought leadership efforts. He believes strongly in the mission of security through which he can help protect people and companies against attacks from sophisticated hackers. An alumnus of Georgetown University, he has followed the Jesuit ideal of serving others throughout his career. “It’s the wild, wild west in terms of digital security, and we have the chance to change the world” is Harrington’s famous mantra. Since he joined ISE, the company’s revenues have grown by an average of 41 percent every year, retained 96 percent of its customers and has firmly cemented itself as the de facto incumbent in at least two industries. He has earned the honor of special appointment to the USC Entertainment Technology Center, where he provides security guidance to a very select group of entertainment executives. Harrington is a mentor with ProKids, which provides guidance to at-risk youth through the game of golf. One young man who Harrington mentored escaped a life of crime, graduated from college and became a proud employee of Qualcomm and SAIC.
Chanelle Hawken is the executive director of public policy for the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce. She plans and manages the advocacy agenda for the chamber, represents the business community’s interests before government bodies and researches and analyzes government policy. She also serves as the chamber’s liaison to several non-chamber committees and organizations including the Port of San Diego, SANDAG, the Convention Center, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Biocom and Connect. She is a graduate of LEAD San Diego, an executive board member of the North County Economic Development Corporation and coordinated two award-winning United Way workplace campaigns as a volunteer for United Way. Hawken is a graduate of UC San Diego, with a major in political science, and the University of San Diego Law School.
Directly out of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, and without a single connection in San Diego, Nicole Heeder opened a law practice dedicated to bringing justice back to the workplace. Today, Law & [M]ocean is a thriving plaintiff’s employment boutique law firm dedicated to the vindication of employee rights. She also founded Thriving Solos, a networking group designed to serve the business management needs of solo and small firm attorneys. Heeder devotes her time to various organizations focused on improving the status of women such as the Community Outreach Committee of Lawyers Club of San Diego. She is a Women’s Resource volunteer and an active member of the Ethnic Relations and Diversity Committee of the San Diego County Bar Association. Heeder is also on the board of the New Lawyer Division of the county bar association. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University.
Cody Hooven is a senior environmental specialist at the Port of San Diego. She is a leader on regional climate change efforts and collaborations. She is co-founder and the chair of the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, which brings together local governments in the region to support climate action through partnerships with nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, business and academia. Hooven manages the Green Port program for the Port of San Diego. Her role is to be forward-looking and find ways to increase the environmental sustainability of the Port itself and of its waterfront businesses, which range from cargo to cruise operations to commercial, recreational, and hospitality firms. She volunteers at the Ocean Discovery Institute that provides marine science education to underserved students in City Heights. Hooven holds degrees from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a master’s degree in Marine Biodiversity from UC San Diego and an undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii.
Star Hughes is a director at Hughes Marino, the largest tenant representation company in San Diego, where she specializes in Downtown commercial real estate. She earned her master’s degree in business administration at the University of San Diego, completing the two-year program in one year at the age of 21, after earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of San Diego at the age of 19. In addition to graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 overall GPA, she served as the president of Mortar Board, a national collegiate senior honor society. Now with a mastery of the market, and nearly 1 million square feet of tenant transaction work under her belt, Hughes has made a name for herself representing the young startups that are turning Downtown San Diego into a fledging tech hub. She has helped dozens of entrepreneurs get the space they need to grow their businesses. Hughes is also an avid supporter of nonprofit organizations including Jewish Family Service of San Diego and the San Diego Symphony. A prolific writer, she regularly blogs about gender equality and other issues relevant to young, professional women and gives advice to students who want to follow her example and graduate early with minimal debt.
Keith B. Jones
Keith Jones is managing principal and partner at Ace Parking. He is on the board of directors of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the San Diego Police Foundation, the Herb Klein Leadership Roundtable and Sharp Hospital. Jones’s community commitments are many, and include Rachel’s Women’s Homeless Center, Promises to Kids, Navy Seals Special Warfare Unit, Lymphoma/Leukemia Society, Helen Woodward Animal Center, Stand Up for Kids, March of Dimes, Father Joe’s Villages, Betty Ford Center Foundation, Serving the Hungry Inc., St. Vincent de Paul of Phoenix, Regional Task Force on the Homeless, Art Walk, USO, Mental Health Systems, San Diego Humane Society, Warrior Foundation, San Diego Festival for Science and Engineering and Finish Chelsea’s Run, benefiting Chelsea’s Light Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Shoot to Cure Huntington’s Diseases and the American Cancer Society. He is a graduate of New York University.
In 1998, Kristen Kavanaugh chose the path less traveled and accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. As she embarked on her military journey, she made a commitment to service, which has become a cornerstone of her life’s work. Kavanaugh learned to live by the Navy’s core values: honor, courage and commitment and became a Marine officer upon graduation. As the budget officer for the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, Kavanaugh was responsible for the day-to-day management and execution of over $650 million in Navy and Marine aviation. In her current role with Trident Proposal Management, a locally operated disabled and veteran-owned small business organization, she serves as the market development manager where she is responsible for creating and implementing innovative strategies to identify and win business for government contracting companies. She holds a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis on military social work from the University of Southern California.
As chair of the San Diego City Council’s Infrastructure Committee, Councilman Mark Kersey is working to rebuild San Diego. He is leading the charge to improve San Diego’s deteriorating roads, sidewalks, storm drains, parks and libraries. Through the development of the city’s first ever, multi-year infrastructure investment plan, Kersey is driving the city towards a comprehensive approach to acquiring, planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, renovating and rehabilitating the city’s infrastructure. He is also spearheading the effort to bring open data to the city as vice chair of the city’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. Kersey worked with a group of local technology experts to develop a draft open data policy that is currently under review. He is also involved with the Global Cities Initiative and with the San Diego Foundation, Rancho Bernardo Rotary Club, First Book San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital. He is an alumnus of both Northwestern University and UCLA.
Korben Konrady is the CEO and founder of BARR Corporate Health, a San Diego-based corporate wellness company that engages employees and empowers them with choices and opportunities. He started BARR with the dream of bringing preventive health programs to corporate America to increase performance and job satisfaction as well as cultivate a healthier community. His pursuit of adventure and sport has taken him around the world to participate in everything from the Olympic Trials with Team USA Bobsled to running with the bulls in Pamplona. He was an all-star college rugby player while attending Pittsburg State University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and economics. Konrady is committed to helping provide pro bono medical care in the Dominican Republic and returns each year as a volunteer on the medical team through Buen Samaritano. He serves on the organizing committee for the San Diego Sports Medicine Foundation and last year co-produced the largest free public health fair in San Diego history.
Lauren Lek is the head master of The Academy of Our Lady of Peace, the oldest continuously operating high school in San Diego and is the first lay leader of this all-girls high school. OLP was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1882. Lek launched a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) technology initiative where students are encouraged to bring whatever device they’d like to use as a learning tool in the classroom. She has enhanced the school’s STEM science and technology class offerings and supported the school’s first-ever Robotics Club and Competition Team. In her short time at the Academy, Lek has been active in embracing a collaborative approach by way of reaching out to her faculty and staff to nurture the ideas and innovation right under her roof. She has sought guidance from the University of San Diego and San Diego State for the future of academia at OLP. Lek embraces the extraordinary benefits of an all-female learning environment and the importance of the partnership with the all-male St. Augustine High School. She leads with an example of open communication and positive reinforcement to find creative solutions to complex issues arising in education.
Consuelo Martinez is a young woman on the rise in Escondido. A passionate leader for social justice and immigration rights, Martinez has a vision for a united Escondido, where people feel they have a voice in the place they call home. The natural next step is for her to run for public office in the city she loves. Since her early 20’s, she has held voter education workshops in both Spanish and English. A community organizer at heart and the co-founder of the Escondido Human Rights Committee, Martinez has increased the visibility of the ACLU in North County and ran its first North County office. She has contributed to the successful, nonpartisan Latino GOTV campaign, Nuestro Voto, Nuestro Futuro (Our Vote, Our Future) and is the membership chair of the Route 78 Rotary Club of North County. Martinez was a 2012 Fellow at the San Diego Leadership Alliance/New Leaders Council and a commissioner of the Escondido Community Services Commission.
Dominique Molina created The American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches (AICTC) and is the driving force and visionary behind the San Diego-based company that is changing the way tax professionals approach tax planning. After working with hundreds of business owners and investors across the country, her client waiting list grew to more than two years long. Realizing the need to bring proactive tax strategies to the millions of business owners and investors in America, she created an elite network of tax professionals including CPAs, EAs, attorneys and financial service providers. Molina has successfully licensed tax professionals as Certified Tax Coaches across the country. She is a member of several boards of nonprofit charitable organizations, most notably Retrouvaille of San Diego, an international organization providing assistance to couples in troubled marriages. Molina is also involved with Culture Shock San Diego and is a three-time Amazon Best Selling author. Her latest book, “Why Didn’t My CPA Tell Me That?” is set for upcoming release. She is a graduate of San Diego State University.
Joseph Mishriki is the area president of Wells Fargo’s Desert Border community bank. His territory consists of 40 locations in San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties. A 22-year financial services veteran, he is responsible for $3.3 billion in deposits and oversees a successful team of more than 700 diverse employees. He serves as the bank’s business proponent for its Southern California region, helping to support Wells Fargo’s key business initiatives, strategies and partnerships for 190 locations and more than 250 business partners. Under Mishriki’s leadership, Wells Fargo has been the No. 1 SBA lender to San Diego’s small business owners for the past five years. He is the finance chair on the board of United Way of San Diego, and a board member of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. He has been chair and board member of the Foundation for Kids and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Mishriki is the current board adviser for the Middle Eastern Team Member Network group for San Diego. He ran the Diocese of Los Angeles Coptic League, which had year-round sports for high school and college students. He is graduate of the University of Southern California and holds a master’s degree with the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington.
Gretchen Newsom is the political director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW, Local 569). Prior to joining IBEW, she was with LeSar Development Consultants, a social innovation firm that assists clients with growing healthy, thriving and vibrant communities. Newsom was a principal and director of communications and legislative affairs at LeSar. Prior to joining LeSar, she was a special assistant to the chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. As an active community leader and current president of the Ocean Beach Town Council, she has actively worked to preserve and improve community resources, advocated for a sustainable local economy while enhancing community dialogue and civic engagement. Newsom is an executive board member of the Point Loma Democratic Club and an active member of the OB Historical Society. She is a graduate of Humboldt State University and was the school’s Woman of the Year in 2004.
Kim Reed Perell
Kim Perell is president and CEO of Adconion Direct, a global leader in true cross-channel advertising solutions across display, video, mobile, email and social channels. She is also president of Adconion Media Group, a digital media holding company that provides a portfolio of brand and performance solutions for advertisers worldwide. She oversees 26 offices in 20 countries with more than 550 employees. She was previously the CEO of Frontline Direct, a leading performance marketing company which she self-funded and grew to over $100 million in annual revenue. Frontline was acquired by Adconion in 2008. Perell was the first woman to be named to the board of Adconion Media Group. Perell embraces “Conscious Capitalism,” which is the ability for businesses to positively impact the world by operating with a higher purpose. Each quarter, Adconion Direct volunteers at a local organization as an opportunity for employees to give back. She is a 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and was named the 2013 Entrepreneur of Year by the National Association for Female Executives.
Maria Trakas Pourteymour
Maria Pourteymour is a co-founder and chief cuisine officer of Luna Grill. As the creator of the original Luna Grill concept, she oversees the implementation and realization of the corporate mission. Her responsibilities include menu design, culinary research and development, and the establishment of ingredient quality standards and cooking processes to consistently achieve full freshness and outstanding taste. She volunteers at Father Joe’s Village and personally supports St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital as well as organizations that assist orphanages and widows who are living below the poverty level in their respective countries. Through Luna Grill, Pourteymour helps raise funds for the students of San Pasqual Academy. The success of Luna Grill in San Diego and Orange counties has made its expansion throughout Southern California and as far east as Texas natural extensions for its continued growth.
Jeremy Raimo is the senior director for business development and rehabilitation for Tri-City Medical Center. Since joining Tri-City eight years ago, he has founded its profitable and prestigious Orthopaedic and Spine Institute, developed and marketed San Diego County’s only spinal robotic surgery program, created a cost-saving orthopedic nurse practitioner role and ushered in new best practices for the benefit of patients across North County. He joined Tri-City as a physical therapy supervisor but as his leadership qualities were quickly recognized, he was promoted to rehabilitation services operations manager. After obtaining his MBA from San Diego State University in 2009, Raimo became the orthopedic service line administrator. The Orthopaedic and Spine Institute is now a leader in robotic surgery and joint replacement. Raimo is an ambassador for Tri-City Hospital Foundation, the link between the community and the medical center. He serves on the board for the Boys & Girls Club of Vista and is a volunteer coach for the City of Carlsbad’s youth recreational basketball league.
Alex Rojas is owner and broker of Shore Point Real Estate, a thriving residential and commercial real estate brokerage and property management company in Pacific Beach. He specializes in representing clients buying and selling real estate at the beach with an emphasis on builder-developer projects. At the same time that Rojas took on the enormous responsibilities that come with entrepreneurship, he and his fiancé adopted two children, a brother and sister, ages 14 and 11, who needed a good home. His generous spirit is evident in his personal life and outside the home where he regularly volunteers as a soccer coach, team organizer and school charity sponsor. He organized Swing for the Schools, an annual golf outing whose proceeds are dedicated to Pacific Beach public schools. Rojas coaches Boys Under 12 indoor soccer team every Saturday and organized the Boys Under 11 Riptide Soccer team, which won the Presidio Soccer League championship. He has also served as president of the Mission Bay Real Estate Association.
Marney Reid is the marketing program manager for Medtronic, a global industry leader in medical devices. She is also the founder of Stilettos On The Glass Ceiling, which is a Forbes Top 100 Website, and MarneyReid.com, a website exclusively focused on how to advance your career. Reid is currently building a program within Medtronic Advanced Energy and paving the way for entrepreneurs in the corporate world. Through her personal ventures, Reid has been featured in the New York Times, Room for Debate (twice), featured on Find Your Aim radio show as well as the Local Job Network. Reid’s passion is to help individuals achieve personal and career success by identifying and utilizing their authentic value. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara.
Elizabeth Schott began leading Accion San Diego in 2009. It is a nonprofit micro-lender that in 2009 had a staff of seven and a loan portfolio of $2.6 million. Under her leadership, Accion now has a staff of 15 and the portfolio has surpassed the $4 million mark. Both 2012 and 2013 were record-breaking years in terms of local production. Today, Accion serves more than 3,000 aspiring and existing small business owners, providing 1,000 of them with educational training or access to small loans ranging from $300 to $50,000. The almost 600 entrepreneurs in Accion’s client portfolio use their Accion loans to start or grow their business and better provide for their families, while also boosting the regional economy and creating or sustaining more than 1,200 jobs in the San Diego region. Schott is a founding member of the San Diego Foundation Civic Leadership Fund Steering Committee, founder and core leader of the San Diego Microfinance Alliance and Summit, the Torrey Pines Bank Advisory Board, the Comerica Advisory Committee and supports charities focused on breast cancer awareness and research.
Scott Slater is the founder of 50/50, a restaurant brand that delivers a well-rounded, dining experience for a broad demographic of guests. Slater’s first 50/50 opened in 2009 in Anaheim Hills but he centered the concept on his creation from a Chargers tailgate party years before — the original “50/50” patty — made of 50 percent ground bacon and 50 percent beef. In 2011, the second Slater’s 50/50 opened in Huntington Beach. The first San Diego restaurant opened shortly thereafter in Liberty Station and this year Slater opened another restaurant in San Marcos. He’ll soon open his first Swine Bar that will focus on his passion for pork. Each month at all Slater’s 50/50 locations, various charitable organizations host in-restaurant happy hours with a portion of all proceeds benefiting the organization directly. Slater supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation and spearheaded a fundraiser to benefit the CHOC’s Neuro/Oncology unit where one of his regular customers received treatment. Slater is a member of the board of directors of the California Restaurant Association and is a graduate of San Diego State University.
Josh Sonne is a civil litigator attorney with HechtSolberg. His professional accomplishments are significant for someone his age, as are his community contributions, which center on helping disadvantaged or challenged children achieve their potential. He is involved with SAY San Diego, the Larry English LEAD Foundation and with Hand in Hand in Africa. SAY San Diego supports the positive development of young people, their families and communities through delinquency prevention. The Larry English LEAD Foundation helps to create opportunities to broaden the mindset of young athletes and Hand in Hand in Africa is an organization dedicated to raising AIDS awareness in the US and Africa. Sonne and his wife spent three weeks in South Africa in 2012 helping to train and mentor local communities on AIDS prevention, and constructing community centers for orphans who are HIV positive. He is also an adjunct professor of law, teaching classes in legal writing. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and holds a J.D. degree from Georgetown University.
Donald Sheppard is an attorney at Higgs Fletcher & Mack, specializing in immigration and nationality law. He has assisted a myriad of corporations and individuals on a wide range of cases, including visa classifications, employment-based immigrant petitions, alien relative petitions, immigrant removal defense and naturalization/citizenship issues. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers in 2013 and 2014. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on immigration issues. He also teaches an immigration course for Southwestern Community College’s paralegal program. He is currently a board member with the Professional Alliance for Children, an all-volunteer organization comprised of local attorneys and financial professionals who donate thousands of hours of free legal and financial advice to families caring for a sick or injured child. Sheppard is chair of the Immigration and Nationality Law Advisory Commission for the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Marshall University, with a major in economics, and his law degree is from New York University.
In 2009, Sue Swan joined Gruenberg Law, where she represents whistleblowers and victims of discrimination, harassment, and wage theft. She currently manages and mentors two attorneys and handles approximately 45 cases. Swan’s guiding philosophy is that as a plaintiff’s attorney she has to be tenacious and agile to make up the difference in resources between her clients and the defendants. She has obtained multiple six-figure settlements, including a recent seven-figure settlement in a sexual harassment case against a restaurant and its manager. Swan has represented grocery workers, bus drivers, teachers and other union members and employees. She represented victims of Ralph’s Grocery Company’s criminal conduct during a labor dispute which resulted in Ralph’s ultimately pleading guilty to five felonies and paying $50 million in restitution and $20 million in criminal fines. Swan is a grassroots political volunteer, a member of a number of women’s lawyers groups and is a former prosecutor. She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley’s Hastings College of Law. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin.
Bree Tsaniff is vice president of business development at SWS Engineering Inc., a local civil engineering firm. She has been with the company since its founding in 2007. Tsaniff’s passion and drive is inspiring, and her career path has been anything but typical. In fact, she started working in the design and construction industry at age 19. When she joined SWS Engineering she was named the firm’s marketing manager. Her areas of expertise encompass health care, educational facilities, affordable housing, commercial real estate, hospitality, civic and infrastructure. She is active in the San Diego Housing Federation, an organization that sustains vital affordable housing programs for lower income San Diegans, and currently serves on the membership committee and as the Rising Leaders co-chair. She supports the Boys and Girls Club of San Marcos, the Preeclampsia Foundation, Helen Woodward Animal Shelter and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Chad Urie is an executive vice president of a dynamic, nine-person, full-service real estate team at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) that works with landlord/owner clients throughout San Diego. Having structured nearly $1 billion in real estate transactions, Urie has been one of the most successful San Diego brokers over the past five years. He performed what he refers to as “dynamic property repositioning” for several of his clients, including Sorrento West, owned by BioMed Realty. He was also able to perform another brokerage coup for Amlyin Pharmaceuticals, which sought to dispose of 500,000 square feet of excess real estate in a very troubled market. Urie and his team have been retained to represent some of the most high-profile commercial properties in San Diego, including Sorrento Towers, Enclave Sorrento, Towne Center Technology Park and San Diego Tech Center. He is a graduate of Covenant College and Point Loma Nazarene University.
Casey Wright is the founder, owner and chief executive officer of Wright Brothers Inc., a web development company that specializes in lead generating websites for the real estate industry. Under his direction, WBI has more than doubled its revenues for three consecutive years and has established itself as an innovative leader within the industry. Wright engages with the business leaders of tomorrow, teaching graduate courses at Point Loma Nazarene University and is a sought after keynote speaker at web conferences. He recently started Thankful Thursday, a service initiative wherein local businesses take one Thursday a month to contribute to the community by feeding the homeless or donating toys to the Rady Children’s Hospital. He is also a volunteer at Baja Dog Rescue, a charity that rehabilitates dogs and adopts them to San Diego families. He also launched REDcareers, a lead generation website exclusive to Keller Williams Realty. He is a graduate of Cal State Los Angeles.
Thank you to the 40 Under 40 Judges