The Best of the Best
These distinguished marketers are the top influencers within their particular fields and have proven that they are the very best of the best
Jean Walcher has more than 25 years of experience in the communications and marketing fields. She has distinguished herself on both the agency and client side with large and small public relations agencies in San Diego and New York. She spent seven years working in Los Angeles in TV and film production. She launched J. Walcher Communications in 2001, and is the agency’s primary client contact, involved with each campaign at all times. She leads a team with decades of experience, combined with creative energy, and a love of the business. Prior to JWC, she was vice president of marketing and public relations for the American Council on Exercise. She has worked in full-service agencies including Ruder, Finn & Rotman, one of the country’s oldest PR firms. Walcher has been actively engaged with Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, one of San Diego’s primary advocates for urban planning, and also helped launch Barrios Hermanos, a project between South Park and Colonia Federal in Tijuana. JWC’s current clients include Lyft San Diego, United Way of San Diego County, Zephyr, Hazard Center, Bazaar del Mundo and the California Athletic Trainers Association. She also provided PR and event planning for the dual-branded hotels Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. Live. As a woman business owner she strives to break down the stereotypes that exist about women.
Rick Griffin is the recipient of the San Diego Press Club’s 2017 Andy Mace Award, the press club’s lifetime achievement award for outstanding contributions in the fields of public relations and journalism. The award is given to those who have “exemplified fairness and integrity, as well as effectiveness in disseminating the truth to concerned publics.” He is also the recipient of the American Advertising Federation’s Silver Medal Award. He has served on boards with the San Diego Advertising Club, San Diego Building Industry Association and San Diego Radio Broadcasters Association. After graduating from San Diego State, Griffin began reporting for community newspapers, metro dailies and the major wire services. Over the years, his clients have included education, banking, health care, technology, real estate, business-to-business, hospitality, tourism, retail, sports, law firms and law schools. He directed Grossmont College’s 50-year anniversary celebration. Today, Griffin writes a weekly media news column for the Times of San Diego, and Sigma Delta Chi. He has served as a fill-in preacher at churches throughout Southern California, and officiated at the weddings of both of his children.
As founder of Alternative Strategies, a communications firm he founded in 2000, William Lopez has continued to rise to the top in his field. His client list is impressive, now numbering over 50, and includes some iconic food destinations such as Rise & Shine Restaurant Group, Wood Ranch’s locations throughout Southern California, Union Kitchen and Tap, Barrel Republic, Fish Shop and Waterbar. Lopez has dedicated his time and talent to numerous San Diego organizations, including Chula Vista Police Foundation, Escondido Police Officers Association, MADD, Mamafest, Marine Corps Community Services, San Diego Oceans Foundation, the Polinsky Center, Urban Street Angels, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and the Barrio Logan College Institute.
Leah Grace Dawson
Leah Grace Dawson is the director of outreach and communications for Gomez Trial Attorneys. She manages and supports all charitable, community and marketing efforts for the firm. She just launched 2 Feet 1 Goal, a non-profit that uses sports to create leaders in underprivileged communities. The nonprofit vision is to encompass this world as one through sports and to provide the resources for an athlete to progress in their God-given gifts and talents to make the world a better place. Dawson volunteers her time in Uganda, Africa, on a mission to help underprivileged families and children. She donates her time at a local church bookstore and volunteers with the Brain Injury Foundation. Dawson is a member of the National Association of Professional Women and is a graduate of the University of California Irvine.
Emily Pippin is the director of marketing and communications at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP), the only all-girls school and the oldest high school in San Diego. She is an incredible marketing professional with a wide range of experience, including brand development and management, website management and design, crisis communications, public relations and media strategy, graphic design, social media marketing strategy, project management, strategic planning and agency and internal team management. Her experience has transformed OLP. She single- handedly launched the marketing department and then spent three years growing it to include staff. She elevated OLP from San Diego’s “best kept secret” to a widely recognized nucleus of women’s thought leadership. Additionally, in partnership with the Head of School and Institutional Advancement offices, her work running the marketing department has resulted in increased attendance and funds raised at all OLP events. She is a graduate of OLP and San Diego State University.
Angie Lasagna is vice president of community relations and media affairs at Mission Federal Credit Union. She has been instrumental in creating innovative campaigns, which have both propelled small nonprofits to significant growth and created a substantial increase in Mission Federal’s membership drive. She sits on numerous nonprofit boards and is very active in the community. Before joining Mission Federal, Lasagna was a member outreach manager for Navy Federal. She started her banking career at California Bank & Trust as a customer service representative. She was recognized as a rising star by SD METRO Magazine with a 40 Under 40 award. Lasagna is a graduate of San Diego State University,
Renae Arabo has won numerous awards and been recognized as one of East County’s most involved citizens. She is a member of the East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation Board, has served as chairwoman of the East County Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Oversight Committee for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District bond program and is a reserve board member for the Ladies of Hope. She was named a Woman Who Impacts San Diego by SD METRO in 2014 and 2016, and was a nominee for El Cajon Citizen of the Year in 2015. Feb. 6, 2015 was declared Renae Arabo Day by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Joice Truban Curry
Joice Truban Curry is president and chief executive officer of c3Communications Inc., a national, award-winning public relations agency which she started in January 2000. She creates and leads programs for clients spanning the arts, education, hospitality, tourism, retail, business-to-business, restaurant, consumer products, nonprofits, wellness, health care and entertainment industries. Before founding c3 she served as media relations director and national spokesperson for Children’s Hospital and Health Center San Diego (now Rady Children’s Hospital). She has also worked as a press secretary in the California Legislature. Curry is a two-time past president of the San Diego chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and is a director of the Starlight Theater San Diego’s Civic Light Opera’s executive committee. She recently promoted Cirque du Soleil’s “TORUK The First Flight” over Thanksgiving weekend which was the firm’s first movie-based concept show — never seen or done before. She has volunteered for the Salvation Army and led a major campaign for the Veterinary Specialty Hospital. Curry is a graduate of San Diego State University.
Melissa Deen is vice president of marketing for Sunrise Management. She is a results-driven marketer with 10 years experience in multiple facets of the real estate industry. She is responsible for providing exceptional and cutting edge marketing services to a broad range portfolio of clients. Deen develops and executes unique, cohesive marketing plans that integrate traditional and new media, promotions, publicity and web sites. Prior to joining Sunrise, Deen was vice president of sales and marketing for Ami Samuel Interiors, where she was responsible for corporate marketing and business development. She is a graduate of Fairfield University in Connecticut, and is an active member of the Building Industry Association.
For over 15 years, Karen Korr has been a force in San Diego’s legal community. In her position at the San Diego County Bar Association, Korr oversees all strategic communications, branding, public relations, member communications, social media, and print and online publications for the 10,000-member organization. Korr is considered to be a trailblazer in the national bar association world, as she led the development of the SDCBA’s smartphone app — the first comprehensive bar association app in the entire 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, and secured media coverage that stressed the importance of reinvestment for our community.
As vice president of SWS Engineering, Bree Wong has helped grow the company to the point where it generated 50 percent more revenue over the past five years through her application of unique tactical-pursuit methodologies. Her leadership has extended to the community. During her tenure as president of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, she grew the chapter’s membership by 15 percent, decreased the nonprofit’s overhead expenses by $10,000 annually, and was second runner up for SMPS’ National President of the Year award in 2016. As president-elect of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) San Diego, Bree is laying groundwork to grow the local chapter’s reach, membership, revenue and sponsorships while connecting likeminded professionals through events and networking opportunities.
Kristi Taddonio is the site leader for Amazon’s Prime Now building in San Diego. She spent the three years prior launching Amazon’s logistics operation in San Diego, which now operates in three local cities (San Diego, National City and Carlsbad), and worldwide. Additionally, she was the first female to run an Amazon Logistics operation where she laid the groundwork and set the standards Amazon now operates under for logistics. She has traveled internationally to support logistic operational launches, and continues to hire and develop the best talent for Amazon. She has been a leader in multiple communities over the past 10 years.
Toni McMahon’s exceptional marketing skills have demonstratively raised the profile of Fuscoe Engineering and Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) San Diego, as well as several other organizations. McMahon devised a Fuscoe marketing roadshow to educate clients about the new MS4 stormwater permitting regulations and unique technology available through the firm’s civil engineering practice. As a result, she’s diversified the type of work her firm secures. She’s further expanded Fuscoe’s client list to include companies in the industrial, higher education and commercial markets. She established and manages the local office’s public relations program and reconfigured the firm’s inner-office learning lunches into a marketing campaign.
Katie Yee, a prominent commercial real estate industry marketing and business development professional, is a principal and chief relationship officer at San Diego-based Latitude 33 Planning & Engineering. Her elevation to the role of principal was an acknowledgement of the value she has for the firm and an important precedent in an industry where the principal spots are often occupied by architects and engineers only. At Latitude 33, Katie has married the firm’s branding and culture through consistent, representative messaging and design elements. She has evolved the firm’s marketing outreach effort to focus not just on the firm’s projects and services, but also on its people, highlighting the energy and innovation that comes from a multi-generational team. Previously, Yee managed business development at KCM Group, where she overhauled nearly the entire business development and marketing program. In addition to her work duties, Katie currently serves as one of marketing co-chairs for the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network international convention coming to San Diego in 2018.
Tyler Sickmeyer is the founder and CEO of Fidelitas Development, a full-service marketing and advertising agency serving local, national and global clients. With over a decade of marketing experience, Sickmeyer brings his unique insight and experience in sharing techniques and solutions for today’s marketing industry. Fidelitas Development applies a client-first approach in establishing client relationships and maintains a results-driven methodology, which has led to success with a variety of clients across the world. Sickmeyer serves on the board of Live Ventures Inc., a publicly-traded company that owns and operates businesses in the retail and flooring industries.
Michael Giesbrecht, director of marketing and business development at Latitude 33 Aviation, is a business leader combining an MBA with 15+ years of successful marketing, management, technology and aviation experience across startup and Fortune 500 corporations. He is passionate about identifying new marketing opportunities and developing innovative business strategies. Combining his passion for aviation with his background in technology & business development, Giesbrecht leads the marketing and business development initiatives at Carlsbad-based private jet charter company Latitude 33 Aviation. Giesbrecht’s previous experience includes overseeing multimillion-dollar product lines and new business initiatives at Hewlett-Packard and performing technical marketing for a Boeing subsidiary.
Charles Chamberlayne, a principal at Chamberlayne | PR, is a communicator, connector and expert at developing public engagement strategies for businesses, universities, government officials and other high-profile individuals. For over 15 years, Chamberlayne has forged invaluable relationships in political, social and business circles from Southern California to the nation’s capital. His resume includes work as a spokesperson and communications strategist for a major U.S. city mayor, three U.S. senators and a speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Drawing from his vast network and professional experience, Chamberlayne has the ability to create communications tools, brand identity and messaging to attract public support from audiences in political, business, religious and minority groups.
Tracy Smith, head of marketing and branding at STM Goods, has been the leading visionary for the San Diego company for nearly two years. Modestly, he attributes the recent success of the brand to the hard work and dedication of his entire team. Last year was a major year of transformation for the company and its two brands, STM Goods and Element Case. Upon joining the company, Smith was tasked with leading the rebrand of STM Bags to STM Goods, which involved a tremendous effort across the entire marketing team as well as a good portion of the entire organization. The process took over a year to develop and was hailed as a great success.