Honoring the 40 Under 40
Presenting Our 40 Under 40 Honorees
A Salute to 40 Outstanding San Diegans
SD METRO is proud to present winners of our 40 Under 40 Awards for 2015, a group of men and women who represent some of the best and brightest minds of San Diego County.
The 2015 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 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.
Roberto Alcantar is the district representative for state Sen. Marti Block, serving as Block’s point person on labor issues, public safety, transportation, human trafficking issues, K-12 education, international trade and overseas constituent services. Alcantar has worked on a number of local political campaigns in a variety of roles, promoting San Diego progressive candidates to win elective office. Prior to working for Block, Alcantar worked for Feeding America San Diego, a local nonprofit that serves as a food bank and anti-hunger advocacy organization. He worked closely with community members facing severe situations and poverty and helped them receive benefits, food assistance and ensured that they had a path for self- sustainability. He advised other nonprofits on state policies and anti-hunger legislation. Alcantar worked in the State Department and focused on foreign policy issues regarding the East Asia Pacific region, led research on strategic use of natural resources and developed international policy recommendations for the East Asia Pacific region. Alcantar is a member of the city of San Diego International Affairs Board, and was confirmed by the City Council to advise the city on matters of international affairs and development.
is managing attorney for the Law Offices of Ben Aguilar, a firm representing individuals in immigration, bankruptcy and family law matters. Beyond his law practice, Aguilar is devoted to serving the public and the legal community through his service on a number of boards, including the San Diego La Raza Lawyer’s Association, the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, where he is president, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Alumni association and No Silence No Violence. Aguilar just concluded his term of service on the San Diego County Bar Association’s New Lawyer Division, where he was the chair of its networking committee. While he was community outreach chair of La Raza Lawyers, Aguilar put together various non-partisan seminars to educate the public on the importance of voting during the District Attorney’s election last June. Aguilar is a regular volunteer at the Family Justice Center where he meets with victims of domestic violence and provides pro bono consultations.
Amanda Allen launched Aguirre Allen Law, a real estate and business law firm in May 2014, that represents a broad range of clients including developers, property owners, brokers, landlords, tenants, nonprofit organizations and, not the least, entrepreneurs with big dreams. Notably, Allen serves as counsel for the developer of the innovative temporary urban development in Downtown San Diego – the Quartyard, a project that took an empty city block and turned it into a thriving community space for concerts and other activities. The mother of a 2-year-old, Allen is a relentless advocate for women and girls. She is on the board of the Lawyers Club of San Diego, and was the past chair of the Reproductive Rights and Women’s Advocacy Committee. Allen is a founding member of Empower Charter School, an innovative public charter school designed to prepare children for the industries of the future by creating critical thinkers today. Before starting her own law firm, Allen practiced at Hecht Solberg, where she was instrumental in winning a California Supreme Court case that affected real estate development throughout the state.
Reema Makani Boccia
Reema Makani Boccia began her career at a local boutique public relations firm, but launched her own public relations agency, Two Rivers Strategies, in 2013. The name is an homage to the Tigris and Euphrates, the two rivers of Baghdad, the city of her birth. She is a first-generation Chaldean-American who immigrated to San Diego when she was 8 years old. Boccia has spent years building her skills as a business leader and community advocate through extensive involvement in a myriad of organizations. She is a volunteer for the Iraqi Christian Relief Fund, lending her expertise to help raise record-breaking funds for Christians being executed in Iraq. Working for an ambulance company for many years inspired Boccia to become involved in Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), to help with its fundraising efforts. In 2007, she was presented with MADD’s Volunteer of the Year Award. In addition, Boccia has been an active volunteer and board member of the Public Relations Society of America for more than 10 years. She served as president of the San Diego chapter in 2014 and hosted the Western Regional Conference. Boccia is a LEAD graduate and worked on a group project for the San Diego Zoo, leading to her work on one of the zoo’s flagship events.
Windus Fernandez Brinkkord
Windus Fernandez Brinkkord had no sooner graduated from the University of San Diego in December 2002 than she found a lifelong profession at Trilogy Financial Services in March 2003. She apprenticed into the financial services industry and now actively manages more than $60 million in assets for her clients as Trilogy’s senior vice president of investments. As an independent financial planner, Brinkkord is not tied to products or services and has developed a unique approach to building financial plans that are personalized for each individual/family with whom she works. In the last 12 years with Trilogy she has been in the top 5 percent of their advisers and in 2008, she won the prestigious national award for Trilogy’s Woman of the Year. Brinkkord served four years, two of them as president, on the board of Wounded Warrior Homes, an organization that helps service members who are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She now serves on its advisory board. After her husband, Kurt survived kidney cancer, they found an organization — Immerman Angels — which pairs cancer survivors and cancer spouses with other people going through the same ordeal.
Dennis-Michael Broussard is the founder of Silk Road Productions, an organization that creates events and provides consults with nonprofit organizations about reaching their goals and becoming more efficient. Since he moved to San Diego, Broussard has created fundraisers and awareness events for the Foundation for Change, the International Humanity Foundation, Operation Samahan and many others. In 2014, he founded Project Water Buffalo as a community-based, grassroots organization to raise money to bring water filters to poor slums and villages in Senegal, West Africa. He also co-created the television show “Asian Voices” which spotlights the contributions of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Southern California, sharing the stories of an otherwise “invisible” community. Broussard volunteered at an education center in Western Indonesia last year where he taught English to children. He also volunteered at an orphanage in northern Thailand and helped build a classroom for that center. He is dedicated to empowering the Asian American community (he is half Asian) through his community engagement and activities.
Luke Daniels, president of the Richman Group of California Development Co., can claim responsibility for 2,500 residential units, many of them trophy projects in San Diego – among them Park Laurel overlooking Balboa Park, and 1Mission in Mission Hills. The 1Mission project incorporated an 80-year-old retail building into a new residential mid-rise and was awarded the PCBC Gold Nugget Grand Award for best mixed-use project in the Western United States. His most recent achievement involves securing local government approval for three residential developments valued at more than $150 million. Daniels has also found solutions for problem properties. When the Fat City Lofts project in San Diego met with opposition by a powerful consortium, Luke re-created the plan and entitled the property as a mixed-use hotel and sold it in a matter of weeks. Whether developing luxury condominiums or affordable housing, Daniels emphasizes style-conscious and environmentally friendly design that engenders pride in the development team and in the customers. For example, at 1Mission, to maintain the look of the historic community, his team followed the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards of Restoration. The amenities and gathering spaces at each of his company’s project areas are a reflection of the interests and lifestyle of the residents.
Leah Grace Dawson
Leah Grace Dawson, director of outreach for Gomez Trial Attorneys, leads all outreach and marketing activities for San Diego’s largest plaintiff’s personal injury and consumer law firm. In that capacity, she is heavily involved in a variety of philanthropic and charitable causes, both in San Diego and internationally.
Each year Dawson coordinates on average 50 local charitable events and travels abroad to Africa and Jamaica to help others less fortunate as part of the firm’s outreach programs.
In a very short time, Dawson has taken Gomez Trial Attorneys’ community involvement to a very high level. Between her positive marketing and community activism, she is the perfect face for both Gomez Trial Attorneys and the larger San Diego legal community.
Play makes people happy, a belief that drives Megan Dickerson, manager of exhibition development at The New Children’s Museum, to bring creativity, exploration and art-making to community members who might not otherwise be able to experience it. In her first year at the museum, Dickerson developed a “spy game” that has been very successful keeping older children engaged. She also led the development and launch of the Sandbox Gallery, one of the Museum’s first in-house designed and executed art installations. She is currently leading the exhibitions team as it plans and curates the museum’s California-themed exhibition that opens to the public in October. Before joining the museum in late 2013, Dickerson left her creative mark on Massachusetts through her work at six museums and cultural institutions in that state, having spent 10 years at the Boston Children’s Museum as senior community partnerships manager. Here at home, she plays a hands-on role in the museum’s annual Mass Creativity program – an artist-led and community outreach effort that includes a series of six workshops throughout various under-served neighborhoods in San Diego. People from across the county are given an opportunity to work alongside artists as they create pieces that will eventually become part of a larger in-museum exhibition.
Antoine Didienne, born and raised in France, and a San Diego resident since 1999, is the founder of Vavavida, a company that retails ethical fashion accessories. The enterprise stemmed from Didienne’s belief that fashion can be an agent for positive change for both consumers and producers. The company sources its products from artisan cooperatives worldwide that adhere to fair trade principles. The products are mostly made by women and for women, thus the company invests in programs that empower women both in the United States and around the world, in what is called “full circle economics.” Through its main nonprofit partner, Project Concern International, Didienne invests part of the revenue in the communities from which he gets his products. Didienne also supports the Susan G. Komen Foundation which ensures that women diagnosed with breast cancer have access to the care needed, including diagnostics, treatment, transportation and basic living needs.
Jason Evans, an associate attorney with the CaseyGerry law firm, is a key member of its complex litigation team, focusing on consumer class actions, product liability and serious personal injury litigation. During his four-year tenure with CaseyGerry, Evans has prosecuted many multi-million dollar cases including complex, high-stakes personal injury and products liability involving serious and catastrophic injury, wrongful death, and traumatic brain injury. His broad experience involves both state and federal courts throughout California and nationwide. Among the high-profile cases he has recently played a key role in: obtaining major awards for victims of the tragic Reno Air Show catastrophe and a complex class action lawsuit against the city of Chula Vista regarding a Telephone User’s Tax, resulting in an $8 million settlement to Chula Vista residents. Prior to joining CaseyGerry, he worked for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, drafting requests for restraining orders for victims of domestic violence and elder abuse. Evans is the vice chair of the San Diego County Bar Association’s Forum for Emerging Lawyers, representing young lawyers throughout the county.
Although she started her job as community affairs manager for the Monarch School only eight months ago, Katherine Field has revamped the school’s communications strategy, community relations program and development program. Her vocation is positioning Monarch to be a national model for how communities can best serve homeless youth. The typical student arrives at Monarch three years behind grade level, yet he or she progresses one full year academically for every six months spent at Monarch. More than 92 percent of the school’s 2014 graduates went on to higher education or full-time employment. Before landing the job at Monarch, Field was the district director for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and played a key role in the senator’s work to pass immigration reform and became the key person on cross-border infrastructure along the Southwest border. Field also served on the General Service Administration’s Government Liaison Committee that oversaw the redesign and construction of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the largest land port in the western hemisphere. In 2010, Field was selected for the inaugural class of the New Leaders Council-San Diego Chapter (now the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA)), a local nonprofit organization that trains and develops young progressive leaders through a year-long fellowship. Following her fellowship, she was elected to the SDLA board.
Jake Fishman joined Gap Intelligence in 2005, becoming the firm’s fourth employee, but growing his role and responsibilities as the company grew. He is currently the firm’s business director, serving on its executive team and as co-leader of its analyst division, while managing the firm’s expanding PC and printing teams. Fishman is considered the country’s leading office and production printing analyst and is sought after worldwide. Fishman often travels across the U.S. and Asia to present to top executives from every major print manufacturer including Canon, HP, Lexmark, Konica Minolta and Xerox. As business director, Fishman is the brainchild behind a new feedback loop platform to ensure that Gap Intelligence understands the needs of its clients and develops products and services built on a foundation of customer empathy. Simultaneously, he is leading the development of the company’s consulting service, and serves on the Gap Intelligence New Category Team, which recently added smartphones to the firm’s research portfolio, and is planning two more research category additions later this year.
Wyn Furman, program specialist for community scholarships at The San Diego Foundation, is a passionate advocate for the power of philanthropy to enhance communities. As a dedicated employee of The San Diego Foundation as well as an innovative board member of the San Diego Leadership Alliance and Animal Rescuers Without Borders, Furman’s professional accomplishments will have a ripple effect in the San Diego community for years to come. During her five years at the foundation, Furman has excelled in several roles that demonstrate her leadership in the community. In her first professional role, she coordinated the survey of 30,000 county residents through Our Greater San Diego Vision on issues ranging from education, community amenities, jobs and economic growth to future land use and planning scenarios for San Diego. She then served as the foundation’s manager of community research where her work resulted in more than $4 million in donor advised grants. In March 2015, Wyn joined the foundation’s Community Scholarship Program, the largest provider of scholarships for local students outside of universities, providing high-level support by recruiting and training volunteers to serve on selection committees, facilitating application reviews, and determining student award packages.
For the past 10 years, John Greenwell has served as the Science Department chair and the seventh grade level chair at KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy and taught middle school science. It is evident, from his varied roles, that he enjoys working with his students, many of whom hail from low-income households in Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, Golden Hill and Shelltown. Greenwell is a tireless and dedicated educator, working directly with his college-bound students nearly 11 hours a day and is responsible for a large number of initiatives and programs at KIPP Adelante. As a member of the National Science Teachers Association, he piloted mastery-learning and grading and implemented the new national curriculum, the Next Generation Science Standards, at his school. At a time when many educators are using the old California state science standards, John brought innovative projects, real-world experiences, and multi-modality activities that allowed his students to excel academically. Greenwell has a long history of leadership with broad community efforts. He currently serves as the co-director of the San Diego Leadership Alliance, an organization dedicated to building young leaders with the skills and networks needed to make a more profound impact in the San Diego metropolitan area.
Jonathan Harrill, the global general counsel at Amobee, a subsidiary of SingTel, a leading digital marketing technology company, is an expert in online privacy and data use, compliance and media law. He oversees all mergers and acquisition activity, as well as advertiser, partner and vendor contracts and negotiations. He resolves the diverse legal needs of a growing global business in a rapidly changing environment where media and data-use evolve faster than the legal and regulatory statutes. Besides that, he leads and manages daily operations across both compliance and legal departments. Harrill has played a critical role in overseeing two major acquisitions: the 2011 Frontline Direct and Adconion Audience Network merger, creating Adconion Direct; and the 2014 acquisition of Adconion Direct by Amobee for $235 million (in a dual purchase alongside Kontera Technologies Inc.). He was an integral part of leading the company through the due diligence process during the acquisition, and the subsequent unification of the three companies under one name. In the community, Harrill works with several local organizations, including the Southern California Special Olympics, Feeding America and Father Joe’s Villages. He served as a mission trip leader with Come Build Hope, a volunteer project that builds homes in Baja California for the underprivileged.
Cassandra Hearn is the owner of the Law Offices of Cassandra Hearn APC, where she practices criminal defense, family law and dependency law. She started the firm after serving as a prosecutor with the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. While there, she worked with the surviving families of victims of vehicular manslaughter and worked closely with the civil attorneys working on the same cases. Because they presented a unified front, they were able to achieve a tactical advantage for the victims’ families. During her time with the City Attorney’s Office, Hearn achieved a winning record, including 15 full jury trials. Hearn is co-chair of the Lawyers Club of San Diego Mentorship Committee and an active member of Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. She has expanded her advocacy for victims as the president and founder of a nonprofit organization called Counter Balance: Foundation for Victims of Crime. Hearn has worked with victims of spousal rape, traumatic brain injury, felony stalking, and police brutality. She takes on pro bono cases every year for victims of violent crime, assisting them through the criminal process and fighting for them in civil court and refuses to take a penny from any victim.
Dr. Thomas Ichim
Dr. Thomas Ichim, senior vice president of Creative Medical Health Inc., has focused from an early age on advancing medical sciences. Ichim’s passion for medicine is due in large part to his mother’s being afflicted by leukemia while he was quite young. Ichim was granted his first patent at age 19 for a novel means of treating leukemia and at 21, Ichim founded the Batu Center for Leukemia Research, a nonprofit organization, which raised more than $250,000 for a clinical trial he and his team designed. Ichim’s career truly began to flourish after he moved to San Diego. He was cofounder of bioRASI, a contract research organization that grew from two employees in 2007 to more than 150 employees and revenues in 2014 of $34 million. In 2007, Ichim joined the public company Medistem Inc. as chief scientific officer, and subsequently, chief executive officer, in which capacity he led a team that discovered a new stem cell, the Endometrial Regenerative Cell. Ichim was lauded for his accomplishments in a Dear Colleagues letter by Congressmen Duncan Hunter and also by Governor Schwarzenegger. The letter touted the cell’s potential for treating multiple sclerosis. For his work on this issue, Ichim won the “Top Publication of the Year” in 2008 from BioMed Central, a publisher of over 200 biotechnology journals.
Alyson Jamison is the senior program manager at Stalwart Communications, a leading public relations agency in San Diego. At Stalwart, Jamison is responsible for spearheading a variety of marketing, business development and public relations initiatives for clients and has successfully secured media coverage for their executives in some of the most well-known broadcast, print and online outlets in the field. Jamison joined the agency in 2008 following a successful stint as the business development coordinator for Soltek Pacific Construction Company. Jamison considers her greatest professional accomplishment to date was earning her accreditation in public relations, a grueling test of her dedication and perseverance. In the community, Jamison volunteers with Rolling Readers, a nonprofit that inspires low-income children to learn to read. She also has participated in many charitable events, including the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and the Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk.
Karen Korr has been a force in San Diego’s legal community for more than 10 years. As the director of communications for the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA), she oversees all strategic communications, branding, public relations, social media and print and online publications for the 10,000-member organization. She is considered a trailblazer, leading the development of the local bar association smartphone app – the first comprehensive bar association app in the country. She was also a pivotal part of the organization’s first lobbying effort, working with the Court Funding Action Committee to develop messaging to share with San Diego’s legislators about the need for reinvestment in our court system following drastic budget cuts. In 2013, Korr developed all communications and messaging regarding the SDCBA’s transition to its new headquarters at the Bar Center at 40, after 25 years. The “Moving with You” campaign successfully communicated to the SDCBA’s members and the wider legal and business community the uniqueness of the association’s new space, and its position as the “hub” of San Diego’s legal community. “Karen’s understanding of how to communicate to different audiences, ability to work on multiple high-profile projects simultaneously and ‘can do’ attitude have been integral to our success as an association,” says Richard Huver, 2015 SDCBA president.
Elvin Lai is president and CEO of Ocean Park Inn and Hotel and co-founder of HOTELbeat Inc., CFO and partner of Abnormal Company and the Cork & Craft Restaurant. His passion for innovation and entrepreneurship has led him to become a top leader in the San Diego community. Since his early 20s, Elvin has founded many companies, served on various boards and devoted his time and resources to bettering San Diego. In 2014, he was awarded the Discover Pacific Beach Community Patron Award for his leadership, time and dedication to bettering the Pacific Beach community. The Asian Business Association of San Diego named him Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year. He is president of the board of Discover Pacific Beach and was appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Board. He also is an active board member of the San Diego Tourism Authority and the San Diego Hotel Motel Association. He is a graduate of the University of San Diego.
Grayson Lafrenz is co-founder of Power Digital Marketing, one of the fastest growing online marketing agencies in San Diego. Power specializes in lead generation and brand introduction. He is also co-founder of squaredout.com, a start-up focusing on building the world’s largest event-advertising network connecting online publishers with local event advertisers. He and his partners have also founded and run several successful Internet marketing ventures including an e-commerce business specializing in selling electric bikes. He is a big brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego and speaks regularly as a guest lecturer to business and marketing majors at SDSU, Cal State San Marcos and Point Loma Nazarene University. Lafrenz has been recognized by Impact Magazine and was a featured presenter at Customer Engagement World in New York City. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona.
James Langley is a partner at Schwartz Commercial Realty. He grew up in Fort Ross in Northern California, an abalone fishing village where he and his brother were raised by their mother in a single-parent household. His high school was an hour and a half from his home so he commuted three hours each day to attend school. He excelled in baseball and basketball, had an opportunity to play professionally but instead enrolled at Point Loma Nazarene where he earned his degree. Langley’s mentor at Point Loma Nazarene was George Fermanian, who inspired him to build a database and to network with successful people. Through that, Langley met Ben Schwartz. James has now built the company to $1million in fees in 2014. He volunteers at Tecolote Baseball Academy and coaches Little League. He contributes to Athletes Touch, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Voices for Children and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Langley has developed a nonprofit to provide travel to baseball games for those children who are unable to afford to do so.
Fernando Landa is a partner at Crosbie Gliner Schiffman Southard & Swanson (CGS3). He is a real estate attorney with a broad transactional practice across the United States. He specializes in the acquisition, development, financing, leasing and disposition of commercial real estate assets. He represents a variety of developers, investors and lenders in the purchase and sale, financing, leasing and management of all asset types, including hospitality, office, industrial, retail and mixed-use properties. He joined CGS3 in 2013 as the firm’s seventh partner. CGS3 was formed in 2013 by five highly respected and long-standing partners of Allen Matkins. Previously, Landa had been general counsel for Trigild, a real estate services firm. He has served on the board of Voices for Children Young Professionals Group, helping to raise awareness and funds for an organization that provides court-appointed special advocates for San Diego’s foster children. He has been awarded the prestigious Morning Star Award by the California Bar Association’s Real Property Section. Landa holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a juris doctor and master’s degrees from the University of San Diego.
Sean Mayer is the founder and principal of Legacy Real Estate Ventures LLC. Legacy focuses on inefficiencies within the real estate market that compliments the value-added strategy imbedded within Mayer’s DNA. Legacy adds value in each investment while decreasing the risk profile of the asset on top of maintaining maximum profitability. Mayer’s strong entrepreneurial spirit began at an early age. Before the age of 15 he had sold two Internet auction houses to a subsidiary of eBay. He manages three generations of wealth within the Mayer Family Office and established Legacy Real Estate Ventures LLC in 2009 as the investment arm for the family office. Mayer is currently entitling a 1,700-acre luxury master planned community in Potrero Valley. He is a devout philanthropist, maintaining an active agenda of altruistic undertakings which include participating in the Grossman Burn Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association, East Bali Poverty located in Indonesia, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities. He is a graduate of UC San Diego with a master’s degree from the University of San Diego.
Steven G. Martin
Steven Martin is an attorney at Best, Best & Krieger LLP. He has built a multi-faceted career focused on environmental and natural resource use issues, and he has consistently challenged himself to become a valuable adviser to his clients. He is a member of the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources and Special Districts practice groups and assists public agency clients with a variety of local governance issues. He serves as general counsel to the South Bay Irrigation District. Martin has been involved in several large litigation matters related to water disputes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Coachella Valley and other parts of California. Martin has a unique technical background which he is able to leverage into assistance for his clients. He holds a degree in agriculture and plant sciences from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and a law degree from Pepperdine University. He was selected for the 2015 San Diego Super Lawyer Rising Star list, which no more than 2.5 percent of young attorneys are so honored to make.
Lupita Morales is the patient services manager for Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. Fresh Start is a nonprofit dedicated to the needs of children and teens with physical deformities. Through her role, Morales oversees that all patients receive a high quality level of care regardless of their families’ income or social status. She has organized and supervised screening clinics with the purpose of spreading the mission to the families that need it most on both sides of the border. She has forged partnerships with local groups, including the San Diego County School District, Ronald McDonald House Charities as well as international partnerships with Hospital Infantil Del Las Californias, ConnectMed International and the International Program at Rady Children’s Hospital. While Morales is a member of Big Give, a philanthropy group of her church, she volunteers as much of her time as possible with ConnectMed in Tijuana. She is a graduate of Cal State San Marcos.
Vivian Moreno is director of Binational Affairs in the office of City Councilman David Alvarez. She serves as a liaison between the office and Mexican government and business leaders. She is also the liaison for the Otay Mesa community where she oversees regional transportation issues and economic matters and works collaboratively with state and federal agencies pertaining to the neighborhood. She has served as president of San Diego County Young Democrats. Moreno has completed several leadership training programs, including the San Diego Water Authority’s Spring 2014 Citizens Water Academy and the New Leader’s Council fellowship in 2010. She is a member of the City of San Diego’s Latino City Employees Association. Moreno holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in international relations from UC San Diego.
Stephen T. Pelletier
Stephen Pelletier is a partner at Higgs Fletcher & Mack. His legal prowess and success extends well beyond the norm for someone his age. He is a recognized expert in business and tort litigation, including real estate, environmental law, product liability disputes, contract law and construction litigation.
He has skillfully represented international, corporate and individual clients in catastrophic injury matters, ranging from general negligence and complex product liability disputes to wrongful death matters and has achieved successful outcomes. Pelletier has become one of the region’s top litigators.
He was captain of the UC San Diego baseball team and received the John Ralph Memorial Award for excellence in academics and athletics. He is a graduate of the California Western School of Law.
Alison Phillips is the communications manager for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. She has quickly become an expert on the challenges and opportunities facing San Diego businesses and takes to heart the Chamber’s mission to make San Diego the best place in California to do business. She has developed solid trust relationships with local journalists who know she will deliver the needed information, quote or access to Jerry Sanders, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer. Phillips has helped position the chamber as a strong advocate for businesses, a collaborator who brings together groups for a shared purpose. She has led the chamber’s participation in the Computers 2 San Diego Kids initiative, which matches computers, laptops and tablets with disadvantaged families. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara.
Emily Pippin is the director of communications and marketing for the Academy of Our Lady of Peace. She has established a social media presence for the school, created a quarterly magazine, managed and disseminated online communications, planned engaging networking events and acted as the communications representative for outside media outlets. Pippin is on the cutting edge of her generation, pursuing the paths less traveled within the world of digital communications. She is always “on the go” helping students with available extracurricular opportunities as well as assisting them in securing scholarships. As a graduate of the Academy, she achieved many accolades as a stellar student. She continues her legacy as an employee of San Diego’s only Catholic, college prep school for girls. She is a graduate of San Diego State University.
Jamie Quient is an attorney with Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch which she joined after completing a prestigious judicial clerkship working for Michael M. Anello, a federal district court judge in the Southern District of California. Outside of her legal practice, she is committed to advancing the diversity of the legal profession and serves as a member of her firm’s Diversity Committee. Despite her demanding practice, she finds time to assist indigent and vulnerable members of the community with their legal needs pro bono. She has represented a disabled HIV/AIDS patient in a housing discrimination case, assisted a sex trafficking survivor in resolving outstanding criminal issues from the time she was trafficked and is currently helping a labor trafficking survivor obtain immigration relief through the Casa Cornelia Law Center. Quient has already been named a 2015 Super Lawyer Rising Star. She is a member of the board of the Lawyers Club of San Diego, a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University and holds a law degree from the University of San Diego.
Philip Rasori is the chief operating officer at MCT Trading Inc. MCT is a mortgage pipeline hedging and risk management advisory services firm providing independent analysis, training, hedging strategy and loan sale execution support to clients engaged in the secondary mortgage market. He has dedicated his career to helping implement solutions for automated loan risk analysis that is utilized by the secondary market on Wall Street. To help alleviate an industry-wide problem that contributed in part to the mortgage meltdown, Rasori developed a unique hedging model adopted by hundreds of lenders and banks in the mortgage industry. The model helps them assess loan risk and loan quality before being sold to large banks and investors on Wall Street. He is the driving force behind MCT’s program to help thousands of Kenyans in need of food, medical care and shelter, and spearheads the firm’s efforts in providing blankets and food to the homeless in San Diego. He is a graduate of UC San Diego.
Maya Rosas is the policy assistant at Circulate San Diego, the region’s leading organization advocating for transit, walkability and smart growth land uses. She is an emerging leader in San Diego on urbanism, policy and local land uses. Not only does she assist on the policy front, but Rosas has also established herself as the leader in the office on social media engagement, online infrastructure, and moving Circulate’s advocacy efforts in new technology. She has worked on projects ranging from the Regional Walk Scorecard to analyzing capital improvement program budgets and TransNet expenditures. Rosas was a Fulbright Fellow, affiliated with the Universidad Politecnica Zacatecas in Mexico. There she instructed college-level English courses to advanced students and faculty alike. While at Pitzer College, Rosas started a club to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to day laborers in the area. She is a graduate of Pitzer and is studying for her master’s degree at San Diego State.
Tony Russell is a managing director at JLL (formerly known as Jones Lange LaSalle). In his 14 years as a commercial broker, he has established himself as one of San Diego’s top brokers. He has handled more than 6 million square feet of lease and sales transactions with a value exceeding $1 billion. He is a member of JLL’s nine-person, high-powered landlord agency team and leads the marketing for several of San Diego’s most prominent office projects, including the Aventine, Sorrento Towers, Paseo Del Mar, the Point and Rio San Diego Plaza. Russell is active with several charitable organizations, including the Marine Corps. Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club and Baja Challenge. MARSOC was established to provide benevolent support to active duty and medically retired personnel and their families, as well as to the families of Marines and sailors who have lost their lives. Russell is an Arizona State University graduate.
Amanda Seimer is a vice president for sales and business development at Unisource Solutions, one of the leading furniture management and facilities companies in California. Since joining the firm, Seimer has been bringing in business, creating new networks and building a very strong reputation and presence in San Diego. At Unisource she leverages her creative sense to select furniture and interior design that align with the goals which a client is trying to achieve. Unisource is the sole provider of furniture for Biocom’s 650-plus members in San Diego. Seimer is also a current board member of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) for the fourth consecutive year. She has helped grow and support CREW’s mentoring, promotion and education programs. Seimer is a graduate of Roosevelt University.
Ronson Shamoun is the president, chief executive officer and founding attorney of RJS Law, San Diego’s leading tax law firm. He has extensive experience in representing individuals and businesses before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the California State Board of Equalization (SBOE). He has a sterling reputation with the United States Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office in multiple jurisdictions. RJS Law has an enviable reputation among taxing entities for being steadfast advocates on behalf of its clients. Shamoun has been able to successfully reduce major financial penalties and potential jail time for clients who have run afoul of both the IRS and FTB. He was able to reduce one client’s IRS liability from $250,000 to zero by taking advantage of a little-known provision in the IRS Code. He has a bachelor’s degree in accountancy, a doctorate and a Master of Laws in Taxation, all from the University of San Diego.
Taylor Schulte is the founder and chief executive officer at Define Financial. Define is a boutique wealth management firm providing comprehensive financial planning services. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and is vice president of the San Diego BeachCats (U of A alumni) whose goal is to raise money to fund scholarships to send local high school students to the University of Arizona.
He is vice president of the ICON HOA.The goal of the organization is to preserve the stability of the ICON community and protect its structural integrity. Schulte is the recipient of the Five Star Wealth Manager Award, an honor bestowed on less than five percent of wealth managers in San Diego.
Corey Wright is the president of Wright Brothers Inc., a San Diego firm which specializes in building rapidly evolving web applications for the residential real estate industry. He has overseen the launch of several successful online products, including a recruiting solution for Keller Williams brokerages and WingWire, an award-winning custom web design tool for Realtors. His company is rare in its attention to detail and dedication to his employees. He teaches graduate-level business courses at Point Loma Nazarene University, and in professor evaluations he frequently ranks among the highest in the school, a feat usually accomplished by professors twice his age. He has personally donated thousands of dollars to Kenyan farmers, which has resulted in the creation of four sustainable farms. He is an alumnus of Point Loma Nazarene and holds a master’s degree from San Diego State University.
was the director of business development at KCM Group before recently joining Latitude 33. Latitude 33 is a planning and engineering firm founded in San Diego in 1993. Yee plays an active role with many industry nonprofit organizations. She has spent her entire professional career in real estate and development and is an active member of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women). Yee is heavily involved with the San Diego Downtown Partnership, the Urban Land Institute and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Yee’s charity work benefits from her love of running to give back through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and organizations supporting research on autism, breast cancer, multiple sclerosis and the military. She also co-leads her daughter’s Brownie Girl Scout troop. She is a graduate of San Diego State.