Mex bios 2018



Eduardo Acosta
Vice President
RL Jones

Eduardo Acosta is the Vice President of R.L. Jones Customhouse Brokers, where he has been a partner since 1996.  RL JONES has offices at all 8 major southern border ports, as well as in Los Angeles.  Eduardo started his brokerage career in San Diego/Otay Mesa in 1990.  He got his Brokers license in 1997.

He just finished a four year term as president of the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce, as is currently the Vice President of the Pacific Coast Council (PCC).  He is an active member of the SD Brokers Association, Tijuana Development Corporation (DEITAC), Tijuana Maquiladora Association (Index), and a board member of the Smart Border Coalition.

Eduardo is married (Anna) and has 3 children (Eduardo, Anna Lucia, and Maria Ines


Francisco Albiter
Director Station Operations & Customer Service for Latin America
Alaska Airlines Inc.

I have 22 years of experience in the Airline Industry as I started working for a mexican airline named TAESA ( Transportes Aereos Ejecutivos). I have been working for Alaska Airlines for almost 18 years, with a background in Finance and afterwards I received a promotion to Director of Airport Operations and Customer Service for the Latin American Region.


David Alvarez
San Diego City Council, District 8

Elected to the San Diego City Council in 2010, Councilmember Alvarez chairs the Environment Committee and Otay Mesa Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District Public Financing Authority. He is a member of the Smart Growth & Land Use, Infrastructure and Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations Committees. Additionally, he serves on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Board, SANDAG Borders Committee, Otay Valley Regional Park Policy Committee, and Bayshore Bikeway Working Group. He also is a member of the Board of Director’s for Local Progress, the League of California Cities Latino Caucus, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), a board member of the San Diego Coffee Training Institute, Workshop for Warriors Board of Advisors, and serves on the Advisory Board for The Science Exchange.

Councilmember Alvarez has been successful in restoring vital city services in each year of the City’s budget, including funding increases for libraries, police and fire protection, more street repair and installation of street lights and reducing retiree health care costs. His achievements include the creation of Cesar Solis Park, the first park built in decades in the South Bay, development of a new library for San Ysidro, a long awaited safe pathway for San Ysidro students, and has spearheaded the revitalization of Barrio Logan, including the formation of the Barrio Logan Planning Group. He has been a regional leader in advocating for more park space in the South Bay, increasing and safeguarding San Diego’s water supply, border infrastructure and decreasing border wait times to increase trade and commerce, and creating more opportunities for local small businesses.

David lives in Logan Heights with his wife Xochitl, their daughter Izel, son Javier and his father.


Patricia Alvarez de los Cobos
Energy Communications Corp./Televisa

Patricia Alvarez de los Cobos is the founder, president and CEO of Energy Communications Corporation located in San Diego, CA. Since 1989, Energy Communications Corporation has been the representative for one of the leading and oldest Hispanic Media TV Stations in San Diego (XEWT-12) and Tijuana (XHUA-57).

For the past 28 years, Energy Communications Corporation, is devoted to educate and promote the importance of the growing San Diego/Tijuana region.   Patricia is well respected and recognized as an innovative entrepreneur and humanitarian, who places the Hispanic community and more importantly Hispanic media as paramount in breaking down walls utilizing the advancement of language and culture. Patricia is a leader with the vision and insight it takes to succeed in today’s dynamic times.

Born in Mexico City, Patricia lived with her family for several years before choosing to further her education in the United States as well as Europe. She utilizes her experiences and knowledge she gained while living and studying abroad regularly to make her a more professional and successful President and CEO.

Patricia is a member of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Otay Chamber of Commerce, the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce. On top of forming part of the Otay Chamber of Commerce, she sits on the Executive Board, where holds the position of Secretary.

Patricia recently joined the Board of the South County Economic Development Council and has also been a valuable board member and co-founder of the former San Diego Ad Club. She served as a committee board member since 2007 for Hands Across the Border benefiting Project Concern International. Patricia was also part of the Kyoto Laureate Symposium Committee in 2007 and again in 2008.

One of Patricia’s proudest accomplishments in her philanthropic work was serving on board of the Susan G. Komen Foundation of San Diego, known for providing assistance to millions of women fighting breast cancer, until 2013. Patricia left the Susan G. Komen Foundation of San Diego in 2013 to be a board member for a new foundation also aiding women fighting breast cancer: We Support You.

Patricia is a proud member of the Sharp Chula Vista Hospital Board of Director as well as  Board of Directors of Fundación Castro Limon in Tijuana, a foundation supporting pediatric cancer research. Since 2015, she is a trustee of the well-known Mingei International Museum, and President of their Community Engagement Council.

Patricia has garnered many community awards along with being nationally recognized by the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) for her superior achievements as a “Latina in the Media.” Patricia was granted the Hispanic Business Leadership Award from the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and has been recognized by a variety of organizations for her contributions to the community, such as: the San Diego Medical Society and the San Diego Blood Bank. She was also awarded the San Diego Women Who Mean Business Award along with the Multicultural Heritage Award. In 2008, Patricia was humbled to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Advertising Club of San Diego. More recently, she was awarded with the Community Leadership Award by Project Concern International together with the General Consulate of Mexico in San Diego.

Under her leadership, Energy Communications Corporation was chosen as the recipient of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Business Center’s Award.

In March of 2014, Energy Communications Corporation celebrated its 25th anniversary proudly serving the San Diego/Tijuana region. Chula Vista Mayor, Cheryl Cox, recognized Energy Communications in appreciation for its tireless service to the South Bay community.

Ernesto Arredondo Jr.

Chief Banking Officer
Seacoast Commerce Bank

Ernesto Arredondo Jr. is the Executive Vice President, Chief Banking Officer for Seacoast Commerce Bank headquartered in San Diego, California. A 19-year financial services veteran, Arredondo oversees the national expansion of the Bank and its Commercial Specialty Deposits Business, and reports directly to the CEO.

In 2016 and 2017, Arredondo was recognized as one of San Diego’s 500 most influential business leaders by The San Diego Business Journal, and in 2015, San Diego Magazine awarded Arredondo with the prestigious Volunteer of the Year Award at the Annual Latino Impact Awards.

In 2013, Arredondo was nominated and accepted into the Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers Program. He was also recognized as being one of the “Top 40 under 40” business executives within San Diego by the San Diego Metro Magazine. Arredondo was recently invited to join the Stanford University Latino Entrepreneurship Board.

Arredondo served as the Chair for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce February 2016-January 2018. He currently serves on boards for Father Joe’s Villages, The San Diego Police Foundation, and The American Red Cross.

A California native, Arredondo graduated from California State University, Los Angeles where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in international business. He also holds Investment series 6, 63, 26, licenses, in addition to life and health insurance licenses.


Ricardo Arredondo
Sportfishing Association of California

Specializes in maritime law.

He has represented clients in the negotiation and implementation of various kinds of contracts involving the maritime industry, including sale of vessels, ship finance, construction and repair of vessels and naval artifacts, all forms of charter parties, salvage, port and maritime works as well as general commercial and corporate matters.

He has also dealt with regulatory proceedings and matters, including, registration and flagging of vessels, navigation permits, cruise ships, registration of shipping companies, transportation permits, concessions and permits for construction, use, and exploitation of maritime terminals and port facilities.

He currently oversees the regulatory and contractual compliance of various company’s fleets of foreign and national vessels dedicated to service in the oil, port and tourism sector in Mexico.

Graduated from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, with postgraduate diploma in Civil Law from Universidad Panamericana.

He collaborated as international associate at Hill & Hayden Rivkins (Houston).


Sam Attisha
SVP & Region Manager
Cox Communications

As senior vice president and region manager for Cox Communications in California, Sam Attisha is responsible for leading employees and overseeing day-to-day operations in Orange County, Palos Verdes, San Diego and Santa Barbara. Attisha is also a member of Cox Communications’ National Diversity Council, which focuses on supporting diversity and inclusion within the company and in the community.

Attisha has been in his current role since July 2016. Prior to that, he served as vice president of business development and public affairs for Cox California. He joined Cox in 2007 as the vice president of business development and public affairs for San Diego, facilitating new business partnerships and providing leadership and strategic direction to the government, community, media, and public relations functions in San Diego. In 2011, he became vice president of business development and public affairs for California, assuming statewide responsibilities.

Attisha has held various roles within Cox Communications, including Government and Public Relations Manager in San Diego from 1995-96, and National Accounts Manager at Cox’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta. In 2007, he returned to Cox to lead the Public Affairs team in San Diego.

Attisha currently serves as chairman of the board of directors for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, where he is also part of the management council. He is also on the board of directors and executive committee for the USS Midway Museum and California Cable & Telecommunications Association. In addition, Attisha is a board member of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, and serves on the Corporate Council for Make-A-Wish San Diego.

Attisha grew up in El Cajon, Calif. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of San Diego, and an MBA from California State University, Sacramento.

He and his wife, Shereen, have three sons.


Kristin Auraas
Legislative Affairs Advisor
Sempra Energy

Kristin currently serves as Legislative Affairs Advisor in Sempra Energy’s Issues Management Department. In this capacity, Kristin is responsible for identifying, prioritizing and analyzing policy issues that relate to Sempra and its various business units.

Prior to joining Sempra in 2015, Kristin worked for the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, where she conducted detailed and objective policy analysis of issues most affecting taxpayers of San Diego County, primarily focused on transportation, energy, water and infrastructure.

Originally from Oslo, Norway, Kristin moved to San Diego to attend the University of San Diego, where she studied political science. She currently resides in Encinitas with her husband and their two dogs.

Paola Avila

Vice President, International Business Affairs
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

As Vice President of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Paola Avila brings 20 years of experience in public policy, community outreach, and government relations. In her current position, Avila focuses on advocacy of domestic and international public policies that enhance economic prosperity through trade, commerce and robust international relationships. With her experience in both the private and public sectors, Avila represents the business community on distinguished panels throughout the nation, on topics ranging from infrastructure to immigration to trade, having a grasp on diverse topics impacting commerce. In 2017, Avila was elected to chair the Border Trade Alliance, a tri-national organization that advocates for public policy that enhances North America’s competitiveness through free and secure cross-border trade and commerce. From 2000 to 2005, Avila served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Mayor of San Diego, where she advised on economic development policy and binational affairs. Avila then started her own public affairs consulting business assisting large and small companies with economic development opportunities and land use planning. Avila later served in Senator Ben Hueso’s office advising him in several policy areas including water, energy and economic development obtaining bipartisan support for state legislation. In 2016, Ms. Avila was appointed by the San Diego Mayor and City Council to the Board of Directors of Civic San Diego. She also serves on and the Board of Directors of the SIMNSA Foundation and on the Board for the Foundation for the Children of the Californias, a tri-national collaboration with Canada, the United States, and Mexico, supporting the Hospital Infantil de las Californias. Her past community involvement includes serving on the IBWC Citizens Forum, the Borderview YMCA Board of Directors and as Executive Boardmember of the Mexican American Business and Professional Association. Avila is recognized as a leader in the industry winning multiple awards including Latino Leaders Magazine’s 2014 San Diego’s Most Influential Latinos, Cross Border Leader by San Diego Magazine at their 2015 Latino Impact Awards, South County EDC’s 2017 Regional Leadership Award and, most recently, Girl Scouts San Diego’s 2018 Cool Women. She was also named San Diego Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Cross Border Leader of the Year and selected as a finalist at the San Diego Business Journal Women Who Mean Business Awards.

Avila graduated from the University of California San Diego with a B.A. in Economics.


Whitney Benzian
City of Coronado

Whitney Benzian is a Councilmember in the City of Coronado.  Professionally, he owns a residential real estate practice and serves as a VP of Public Affairs for the California Apartment Association. Benzian also serves on the board of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and the Metropolitan JPA.  He is married with three children.


Jaymie Bradford
Executive Vice President & COO
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Jaymie Bradford leads the Chamber’s strategy and vision as the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Jaymie oversees the Chamber’s day to day operations, directs public policy initiatives, and develops and implements long-term goals and strategies to ensure the organization is meeting its goal of making San Diego the most business-friendly region in California.

Jaymie joined the Chamber team in 2016 as Vice President of Public Policy and Economic Research. Prior to that role she worked in San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office as Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Policy, managing a team that handled everything from intergovernmental and binational affairs to water, environmental and land use policy for the city.

Bradford also served in a similar capacity for Interim Mayor Todd Gloria. She was Director of Intergovernmental Relations during Jerry Sanders’ tenure as Mayor of San Diego and worked in policy and public affairs for the City of San Diego for a decade. She was appointed to the Convention Center Board of Directors in 2017 and was voted by her fellow board members to serve as Chair in 2020.

While earning her degree in Political Science at UC San Diego, she was a member of the NCAA Women’s Soccer team. Jaymie also served on the board of the Emilo Nares Foundation, a non-profit that helps underprivileged families who have kids with cancer meet basic needs, especially transportation to treatments.


Carlos W. Bustamante Anchondo
Inmuebles Especializados Matrix, S.A. DE C.V.

Carlos Bustamante Anchondo served as Mayor of Tijuana by the PRI-PVEM Coalition. (2010-2013).  He also served in the role of President of the State Committee of Financing and Strengthening of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional in Baja California during the campaign of Mr. Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta (rip), President of the State Financing Committee of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional during the Presidential campaign of Dr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, and as Senator Candidate for the State of Baja California (2000).

Mr. Bustamante is currently, Member of the Board of Directors of the Universidad Tecnológica de Tijuana (UTT), Member of the Economic Development Council of Tijuana (Consejo de Desarrollo Económico), President of the Consulting Board of Former Presidents of the CCE of Tijuana, Member of the Consulting Board of the Consejo de Desarrollo Económico de Tijuana, A.C., and Chairman of the México-United States Binational Commission of Local Governments, of the National Federation of Mexican Municipalities (“Federación Nacional de Municipios de México, A.C. FENAMM”).

Mr. Bustamante has been a Member of the Executive Board of the Mexican Employers’ Confederation COPARMEX, (Confederación Patronal de la República Mexicana) from 1978 to 1980, served as Executive President and Founder of the State Development Council of Baja California, from 1979 to 1983, Founding Partner of the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce Western Area in Los Angeles, California, 1980 and as First President of the Business Coordinating Council of Tijuana (Consejo Coordinador Empresarial, CCE); National Vice President of the Mexican Association of Industrial Parks (Asociación Mexicana de Parques Industriales Privados A.C., AMPIP), from 1992 to 1993, National President of the AMPIP, from 1993 to 1994 and Member of the Board of Grupo Posadas until 2006.

In the promotion of the national industry, Mr. Bustamante has served as member of the San Diego Trade Development Council 1979, Hong Kong Trade Development Council 1980, Japan Consulting Institute 1980 and as President of the Entrepreneurs Association of Baja California (Asociación de Empresarios, A.C.), 2000.

He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego, California.  Carlos Bustamante has served as President of the Coast Delegation of Baja California, National Chamber of the Transformation Industry (CANACINTRA) from 1975 to 1978, President of the National Commission of CANACINTRA for the promotion and coordination of the border industry and in-bond industries from 1977 to 1979.


Frank Carrillo
Francisco Carrillo is founder, president and chief executive officer of the SIMNSA Health Plan, a licensed California health care service plan. In 2000, SIMNSA became the first Mexican organization to attain regulatory approval in the state of California, with the issuance of its Knox-Keene license. In 1998, Carrillo played an instrumental role in the development and passage of legislation that amended California law and created opportunities for true cross-border health plans in California. Prior to the creation of SIMNSA, Carrillo worked as a consultant for over 20 years with unions and other organizations seeking trans-border health care. A large portion of his career was dedicated to assisting agricultural employers who wanted to provide health care services in Mexico for workers and their families. Carrillo was born in Mexico and came to the United States as a child. As the son of migrant workers, his principal drive and passion in life has been to further develop trans-border health initiatives between Mexico and the United States. He resides in San Diego, California and is a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Mexico.


Sylvia Casas Jolliffe
Casas International Brokerage, Inc.

Mrs. Casas-Jolliffe Casas-Jolliffe is President and Co-Founder of CASAS International Brokerage, one of the largest U.S. Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders along the California-Mexico border. She was licensed as a U.S. Custom Broker in April 1984 and, since then, has garnered over 30 years of experience in International Trade.
Mrs. Casas-Jolliffe’s career has been focused on becoming an expert in Customs Rules and Regulations as well as in the day-to-day Customs Brokerage business occurring in the Southern California – Baja California region. Her vision for providing personal and professional Customs Brokerage services was formalized in the establishment of her own brokerage, CASAS International Brokerage, Inc. in September 1984. Through its CBP National Permit and affiliates in the U.S., CASAS International offers brokerage services at every Port of Entry in the United States. Along with these affiliates, located in Texas (Daniel B. Hastings, Inc.) and Arizona (Pacific Brokerage, Inc.), CASAS is a member of the CPH Group. This group covers the entire U.S.-Mexico border, servicing over 1000 clients in U.S. and Mexican customs brokerage, international freight forwarding, warehousing, and transportation.


Ivette Casillas
Council Member
XX Ayuntamiento de Tijuana
Marcela Celorio
Consul General
Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores

Marcela Celorio, is a Mexican career diplomat that has served at the Mexican Embassies in the United States, Israel, Belgium, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Mission to the European Union. She also served as Deputy Consul General at the Consulate General of Mexico in New York.  She is an attorney from Escuela Libre de Derecho and holds two Masters Degrees; one in Diplomatic Studies and the other in National Defense and Security.

As Consul General of Mexico in San Diego, she has been one of the strongest advocates for the US-Mexico relationship, particularly for the Calibaja region. As a result of identifying the strong interdependence and linkage that exists in the border within the binational community, she coined the role as cross border Consul, putting her effort to support the initiatives that will lead this region into a more competitive and prosperous one.  Last April, she was elevated to the rank of Ambassador of Mexico, becoming the first woman Ambassador graduated from her Alma Mater.


Carolina Chavez
Director Binational Affairs and PR
Carolina is Director of the SIMNSA Foundation, Binational Affairs and Public Relations. Carolina has worked over ten years in Binational Affairs both in San Diego and Tijuana. She has served as Liaison for the Office gaof the State of Baja Congress Member Marco Antonio Novelo, Liaison for the City of Ensenada Baja California and the City of Tecate’s Mayor Cesar Moreno. She served as Binational Affairs Liaison in the Office of the City of Tijuana and Coordinator of the Binational Affairs Office, Technical Secretary of the Border Affairs Committee chaired by Councilmember Luis Manuel Bustamante Mora and Technical Secretary of the Border Affairs Committee chaired by Councilmember Edgar Fernandez Bustamante.


Doug Clark SR.
Manager, Sales and Community Marketing San Diego
Alaska Airlines

I was born and raised in the San Francisco area, where I started working for Alaska Airlines over 35 years ago. I have been representing Alaska Airlines in San Diego for over 25 years.  As Manager of Sales and Community Marketing, my job focus is to increase passenger usage of Alaska Airlines for both business, and leisure travel.  I’m also responsible for promoting the Alaska Airlines brand in the community throughout San Diego County.  This includes working with non-profit organizations, and local community events.

I have been a member of Rotary in the Escondido area since 2000.  I am a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, Past President, and served as Community Service Director for over a decade.  My volunteer service has included being a firefighter & EMT, little league coach, high school band booster, VP of the PTA, Boy Scout Leader, Boy Scout Eagle Board of Review Chairman, and volunteer instructor for Junior Achievement.

I am married with four adult children, and seven grandchildren.  My spare time is focused on my family.  I enjoy cooking large meals for them , and helping to maintain the fleet of cars they drive.  Family is a priority for me, so I try to support them with all that life brings.


Ben Clay

Ben G. Clay has retired as a principal with Carpi & Clay, a government relations firm with offices in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.  He has more than 35 years experience working with public agencies, private-sector companies and organizations.  He specialized in legislative and administrative advocacy at the State of California.

Ben serves on the boards of the San Diego Symphony Association, the California State Railroad Museum, the City of San Diego Qualcomm Stadium Advisory Board and the San Diego River Conservancy.  He is a past President and current member of the Rotary Club of San Diego, a former past President of the San Diego Symphony, and a former board member of the San Diego Natural History Museum.  He was also the Chair of the San Diego Rotary Club Centennial Celebration.  Additionally, Ben is the Chair of the San Diego River Conservancy.

A graduate of San Diego State University, Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration.  He has remained active at SDSU.  Ben and his wife, Nikki, co-chaired the University’s Centennial Celebration in 1997, and they were honored as SDSU’s “Alumni of the Year” in 1998.

Ben has served as a Captain in the US Army Medical Service Corps from1969-1972.

Ben and Nikki have a son, Jonathan, who lives in Davis, CA with his wife Heather and daughter Iris.  Ben and Nikki reside in the Mission Hills area of San Diego.


Nikki Clay
Strategic Counsel
The Clay Company

She currently is chair of The Old Globe, Co-Chair of LEAD Board, and serves on the Board of Scripps Health. She is also past Chair of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the San Diego Bowl Game Association (Holiday Bowl), and is still serving on the boards of those organizations.

Nikki earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from San Diego State University, where she was honored by the University as “Woman of the Year.”  She and her husband, Ben, also received the President’s Service Award, and were honored as Alumni of the Year. She remains actively involved with her alma mater, serving on the SDSU Campanile Foundation Board.


Sharon Cloward
San Diego Port Tenants Association (SDPTA)

Sharon Cloward became President of the San Diego Port Tenants Association (SDPTA) in January 2004, following a very competitive and extensive search process.  She is the first woman in the history of the organization to hold this position.  The Port Tenants Association was founded in 1989 and represents over 300 businesses in the five Port cities that surround San Diego Bay.  Its members are tenants of the San Diego Unified Port District.  These include large industrial businesses like General Dynamics – NASSCO, BAE and Continental Maritime; Bay front hotels such as the Grand Hyatt San Diego, San Diego Marriott, Sheraton San Diego and Hilton Bayfront; maritime shipping companies and retail shopping complexes; museums including the USS Midway and the Maritime Museum; numerous marinas/yacht clubs, and hundreds of restaurants from Chula Vista, Coronado, National City, Imperial Beach and San Diego.

Sharon Cloward’s many civic endeavors are extensive.   Ms. Cloward volunteered numerous hours for Americas Cup 92 and also worked on America’s Cup 95.  She was a Committee Member of the Superbowl Relations Committee, Past Chairwoman of Kona Kai International Yacht Clubs Annual Event (America’s Schooner Cup Races).  Past President and current Board member of Fleet Week San Diego and the Maritime Museum, current Treasurer of the Sailing Events Association San Diego Board of Directors and current Board member of the San Diego’s Business Leadership Alliance. She is a member of La Playa and Point Loma Yacht Clubs. Ms. Cloward is responsible for securing a $5.9 million dollar grant from the California Energy Commission in 2016 to demonstrate electrified trucks and forklifts on Port Tidelands.

Ms. Cloward is the founder of the SDPTA’s annual Bay clean-up effort known as “Operation Clean Sweep,” that has grown to include over a thousand volunteers and over $100,000 of in-kind services provided by the many industrial tenants on the water front.  Ms. Cloward is also a founder of San Diego Bay’s Working Waterfront Group, a consortium of waterfront businesses focused on protecting the 42,000 jobs on the San Diego waterfront.  On the personal side, Sharon Cloward is a Breast Cancer Survivor and a single mom to daughter Chelsea.


Kevin Cohen
General Manager, Latin America Consumer Broadband Services

Kevin studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan and proceeded to move back to his original home, San Diego, to work at Viasat. Kevin has been at Viasat for over ten years moving from engineering, to program management, product management, to business development, running a government business and now running Latin America Broadband Consumer Services. He also received a Master’s in Business Administration from San Diego State University while at Viasat. He also speaks six languages, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish and Russian. In his spare time, he likes to golf, watch soccer (especially Atletico Madrid), exercise and traveling internationally.


Charlie Copelan
CBIS Real Estate

Internationally recognized commercial real estate and capital professional working on a broad range of projects across the U.S. and Mexico.

Founder and managing partner in CaliBaja Partners. Exclusive representative on Baja Palisades, a 600-acre coastal master-planned development that is available at $240 million. Co-Founder and partner of CaliBaja Surf, a proposed man-made surf venue.

Investor in Bottles & Wood, Park & Rec, Little Italy’s Loading Dock, and Waypoint Public Del Sur.


Gustavo De La Fuente
Executive Director
Smart Border Coalition

Executive Director, Tijuana-San Diego Smart Border Coalition.  The Coalition’s mission is to work with regional stakeholders to make border crossings more efficient, be they pedestrian, passenger vehicles or cargo.

President and CEO, Intelligent Office of San Diego.  Provides over 200 businesses and start-ups with flexible office space, customized phone reception and administrative services to conduct business professionally, at a fraction of the traditional cost.

Partner, Kingstone Financial.  Company offers planning services and customized financial options to high net worth individuals and family offices in the areas of stocks/bonds, insurance, and real estate.


CEO, Omnicable (2007 – 2010), the 7th largest cable television network in Mexico, with operations in three states (Sonora, Baja California and Chihuahua).

CEO, Editorial Diario de la Frontera (2002-2004; 2007-2010), a regional newspaper group in Sonora, Mexico.


Vice Chair, International Community Foundation (ICF).  The organization provides a variety of philanthropic products and services including donor advised funds to individual, corporate and family foundation donors, and agency/friends of funds to non-U.S. non-profit organizations seeking fiscal sponsorship in the United States.

Board Member, Stanford Alumni Club of San Diego, since 1/2016.

Board Member of the Mexican Cable Chamber (CANITEC), 2004-2009.


MBA, Harvard Business School, 1997.

M.A., International Policy Studies, Stanford University, 1991.

B.A., International Relations and French Studies, Stanford University, 1991.


Serge Dedina
Chair Borders Committee

Serge Dedina was elected Mayor of Imperial Beach in November 2014. A first-generation American, he moved to IB in 1971 at the age of seven and grew up on the southeast side of town near the entrance to Ream Field.  Serge attended Berry and Harbor View Elementary Schools, Mar Vista Junior High and Mar Vista High School (Class of 1982). He put himself through UCSD while working as a City of Imperial Beach and Silver Strand State Beach Lifeguard where he rescued more than 500 swimmers.

While growing up in Imperial Beach, Serge helped conserve the coastline and open space that make Imperial Beach one of the most beautiful beach cities in California.  As a member of the Imperial Beach Youth Commission and Tidelands Advisory Committee, Serge worked with residents, the business community and government agencies to improve the quality of life for residents of Imperial Beach, including rebuilding the Imperial Beach Pier after it was destroyed in winter storms.

The Executive Director and co-founder of WILDCOAST, an award winning non-profit organization for both its programs and high standards of financial and administrative management, Serge helped secure tens of millions of dollars to build a new sewage treatment plant along the U.S.-Mexico border, saving taxpayers more than $100 million in the process. He received the California Coastal Commission’s “Coastal Hero” Award and the San Diego Zoological Society’s Conservation Medal in recognition of his conservation efforts. He is a member of the Sweetwater Unified School District’s Hall of Fame, received an honorary degree from Southwestern Community College, and was honored as a John Muir Fellow at UCSD.

As a father of two boys, Serge has worked to make Imperial Beach a more family-friendly community. He was involved in the effort to build a free community skatepark and provided scholarships for children to attend Junior Lifeguard programs. As a member of the Mar Vista High Poseidon Advisory Board, Serge has mentored MVHS students and provided them with internship and volunteer opportunities. He was a member of the Sheriff’s Community Advisory Group, co-founded the Imperial Beach Collaborative and was a member of the SDG&E Community Advisory Board.


Mauricio Diaz
Director/Licensed Customs Broker
JD Group

Mauricio Diaz is a Licensed US Customs Broker with over 10 years of experience in international trade. Mauricio is a Director at JD Group US Customs Brokerage, a division of JD Group Integrated Logistics Services.  JD Group is a Logistics company offering Warehousing, Transportation, Customs Brokerage services in the Cali-Baja Region. JD group currently has more than 450 employees and over 500,000 square feet of logistics facilities.  At JD Group Mauricio oversees trade agreements (NAFTA), compliance, and anything related with US Customs Regulations and Partner Government Agencies on behalf of their customers.

Mauricio has a diverse background in trade regulations, business development, project management and sales.

Mauricio earned his undergraduate degree in International Business and Entrepreneurship at Loyola Marymount University. Mauricio also earned an executive MBA from the Wharton School of Business.  He is fully bilingual in English and Spanish with strong bi-cultural skills and business development experience in both Mexico and in the USA.


Jorge Diaz Jr
JD Group

Is the CEO of JD Group and is a recognized businessman and consultant in Custom Brokerage, Supply Chain, Logistics and Finances focused in providing strategic solutions to world class companies with manufacturing facilities throughout the California and Baja California region.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business from Monterrey Institute of Technology and an Executive Management degree from IPADE School of Business.

Served as board member with the Employers’ Confederation of the Mexican Republic (COPARMEX) in Tijuana from 2011 to 2014.

He is currently a board member at the Tijuana Economic Development Council (DEITAC) and the Maquiladora and Manufacturing Export Industry (INDEX)

Fully bilingual in English and Spanish with strong bi-cultural skills and business development experience in both Mexico and in the USA.

JD Group currently has more than 450 employees and over 500,000 square feet of logistics facilities.


Diana Escalante
Marketing Manager
City of Tijuana

Was born on December 15, 1977 in Mexicali Baja California. She has a degree on Communication Sciences from 1997 to 2001 at Baja California Autonomous University. I qualified and participated in several workshops, courses, diploma courses focused on the media and government. Most of my work experience has been developed in the government sector: federal, state and municipal. I also worked at a television station as a host and reporter. Currently, I am the marketing manager of the City of Tijuana.


Louis Escareno
General Counsel
Duty Free Americas/UETA

As President of Escareño & Associates, Louis Escareno is an attorney and  specializes in public affairs and government relations while also serving as Corporate Counsel to Duty free Americas/UETA, the largest duty free store chain in North Amenca.

Escareno brings more than 30 years of experience in public policy and border relations.

Prior to establishing his private practice, Escareno pursued his passion for public service with roles such as Special Assistant in the US Senate, White House Staff Assitant in the Office for Hispanic Affairs, Director of Federal Relations  in the City of Houston where he was also in the Mayor’s Office and as Special Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Texas Attirney General.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Escareño graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and a Doctorate in Juresprudence from the  University af Houston Law Center.

Escareno rhas garnered a number of awards and honors, including San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Government Business Advocate of the Year, recipient of Mexican Amencan Solidarity Foundation Senior Fellowship in Mexico and John K. McCloy Urban Fellowship in Germany. He serves on the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce Binational Board, the Border Trade Alliance , the Birder Philanthropy Pannership, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce.


Enrique Esparza, Jr.
Co-Production Int’l., Inc.

ENRIQUE ESPARZA JR, CEO of CPI, has been involved in the cross border manufacture sector for 25 years.  Originally from Tijuana and raised on both sides of the border, truly a bi-national individual that understands and dominates the issues related with manufacturing in Mexico.  He currently serves on the board of several business chambers/associations both in Tijuana and San Diego.

Enrique has been an integral part in the set-up of over 100 manufacturing sites along the border as well having created thousands of jobs in the region. He has strong relationships with business leaders on both sides of the border and a strong commitment to the communities in the region.

Kevin Faulconer

City of San Diego

Kevin L. Faulconer became the 36th mayor of San Diego on March 3, 2014, on a campaign message of bringing San Diego together and restoring integrity to City Hall.

Shortly after taking office, Mayor Faulconer began implementing his vision for “One San Diego,” a unified city with an inclusive city government that creates opportunities for San Diegans and delivers results for every neighborhood.

His accomplishments include directing 50 percent of all new major revenue toward neighborhood improvements; doubling the miles of streets repaired annually; hiring the first female police chief in San Diego history; improving emergency response times in underserved neighborhoods; increasing hours at libraries and recreation centers to their highest level in a decade; opening bridge shelters to help homeless families and veterans; negotiated a new agreement with police officers to address recruitment and retention problems; helping innovative companies grow and expand right here in San Diego, and bringing a customer-service attitude to city government.


Elizabeth Fitzsimons
Vice President, Leadership & Engagement
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

As Vice President, Leadership & Engagement, Elizabeth develops and implements the various programs of Chamber affiliate LEAD San Diego and directs the Chamber’s marketing and events programs, including digital marketing, earned media, and dozens of annual events.

Before joining the Chamber in 2015, Elizabeth held positions at Rady Children’s Hospital, the County of San Diego, and The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Elizabeth serves on the City of San Diego’s Board of Library Commissioners, the Board of Directors for the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, and the Board of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. She lives in the San Diego neighborhood of Del Cerro with her husband and three children.


Juan Antonio Flores
EVP Government Affairs
Port San Antonio

Juan Antonio Flores currently serves as Executive Vice President for Government Affairs at Port San Antonio, a local development authority created by the City of San Antonio and the State of Texas for purposes of redeveloping the former Kelly Air Force Base.

Port San Antonio is a 1,900-acre industrial complex that is home to over 80 private and public organizations and approximately 12,000 workers centered in the aerospace, logistics/manufacturing and government/military sectors. The Port has almost 8 million square feet of leased facilities that include hangars, workshops, warehouses, offices, educational/training centers and workforce housing.

In his capacity as Executive Vice President for Government Affairs, Mr. Flores leads Port San Antonio’s engagement with local, state and federal governments, and works to develop and implement priorities and initiatives in advancement of the Port’s mission of infrastructure improvement, economic development and job creation at Port San Antonio.

Mr. Flores has over 25 years of experience in government relations and public affairs management, most recently having served as Associate Director of Public Affairs for the North American Development Bank (NADB), a US-Mexico financial institution focused on developing infrastructure projects in the U.S.-Mexico border region. In his capacity at NADB, Mr. Flores oversaw the Bank’s legislative affairs in both US and Mexican federal congresses, as well as the Bank’s community and media relations programs throughout the US and Mexico.

In addition, Mr. Flores has served on various boards, including for the San Antonio-Mexico Friendship Council, for which he currently serves as Vice-President; the Board of Directors of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C. and is remains actively involved in various capacities with his alma mater, St. Mary’s University.

Mr. Flores was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, is married to Marisa Balderas-Flores, and has two children, Natalie and Samuel, who are currently students at the University of Texas at Austin.


Kenneth Franke
Sportfishing Association of California

Ken has been President  since 2009. He is currently a member of the U.S. Commerce Department Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee and is the Chariman of the Recreational Fisheries Sub-committee. He currently participates as a member of the Port of San Diego Environmental Advisory Committee.

Ken is also a charter boat captain with 35 years experience sportfishing and conducting marine research activities. He completed a 28 year career with the San Diego Harbor Police and has worked with the U.S. and Mexican Governments to restore regional tourism  – this includes being a member of the Executive Board of the San Diego Port Tenants Association. He is currently leading SAC to expand its non-profit ranks in Mexico and the United States to facilitate job growth and to attract business to both sides of the border.


Michael Furby
Marathon Construction Corporation

I am a graduate civil engineer from UCLA. Incorporated Marathon Construction in 1981 performing specialty construction in waterfront construction and environmental restoration work. Marathon Construction has performed over 400 projects and has helped shaped San Diego’s waterfront, constructing a majority of the shipbuilding/ship repair facilities and notable waterfront structures.


Courtney Gant
Member Relations Manager
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Courtney is Member Relations Manager at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Within the membership department Courtney’s role includes close cooperation with the Chamber’s International Business Affairs team to develop relations with cross-border businesses in both Mexico and the U.S. Courtney works to grow and strengthen the Chamber’s relationship with our binational members to support their efforts in growing cross-border commerce and trade in the region.

A native of San Diego with an extensive international and business background Courtney lived in Spain for ten years where she managed sales and marketing efforts into Europe and North Africa for Pearson Education. She then spent five years in London where she worked in the corporate events and hospitality sector for an agency specializing in global sporting events such as the Olympics and World Cup. Once back home in San Diego Courtney embarked on her own entrepreneurial journey and founded an online fundraising marketplace for schools that grows small business. Courtney is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara.


Denice Garcia
Director of International Affairs
Office of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Denice was born in Tijuana, Mexico and raised in San Diego, California. Growing up in a dynamic border town had a strong influence on her desire to pursue a career in community and international relations. Through her work and civic commitments, she became passionate about binational issues and Latino business community empowerment.

She currently serves as the Director of International Affairs for Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer for the City of San Diego. She previously served as Director of Community Outreach and Economic Development for San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey, helping to establish a new bi-national focus for his office. Prior to that, she worked in the Office of the Mayor Jerry Sanders in the City of San Diego as Director of Boards and Commissions and Protocol/Binational Affairs.

Before embarking on her civic career, Denice worked as Events and Corporate Relations Manager for the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as Special Projects Director at Latino Literacy Now/Edward James Olmos Latino Book and Family Festival. She executed the first annual National Latino Literacy Day and Folklorico Championships for the organization.

Denice received her Masters Degree in Public Administration as a National Urban Fellow at CUNY in New York City. She is also a graduate of San Diego State University, with a degree in International Business, an emphasis in Latin America and Spanish, and a minor in Psychology. She studied at the Universidad de Salamanca, Spain.

She currently serves on SDSU’s Presidents Latino Advisory Council, is past Legislative Chair and Honorary President of the National Latina Business Women Association, San Diego Chapter; a graduate from LEAD San Diego’s IMPACT program (2010); and a graduate of the H.O.P.E Leadership Institute (2009) from Hispanas Organized for Political Equality. She was recognized by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2016, receiving the Bridge Builder Award, and she was awarded the Binational Endeavor Award from the South County Economic Development Council in 2017.


Juan Manuel Gastelum
City of Tijuana



o             12/1/2016 – Present: City of Tijuana Mayor, elected on June 5, 2016.

o             2012-2015: Federal Congressman during the 62nd Legislature of the Mexican Congress. Elected by relative majority.  Secretary of Tourism and Border Issues Commissions.  In his leadership position in the Border Issues Commission, he led the opposition to the Value Added Tax increase in the border area.

o             2010-2011: Director of Baja California’s Property and Commerce Public Registry.

o             2007-2010: Baja California State Congressman during the 19th Legislature.

o             2000-2001: Interim Mayor for the City of Tijuana.  The Mayor at the time ran for Governor of Baja California.

o             1987-1989: Public Counsel for Mexico’s Federal Judicial branch.

–        EDUCATION

o             1978: Obtained law degree from Universidad de Sonora.

o             Obtained Master’s Degree in Civil Law from Centro de Estudios de Posgrado de Derecho in Mexico City.

–     OTHER

o             Presenter on “Property Public Registry in Baja California” at the OECD in Mexico City.

o             Has been a member of the following organizations: Early Risers Group, Tijuana Rotary, and was president of the Parents Association of Instituto México de Tijuana.

o             Born on October 31, 1954 in Tijuana, Baja California.


Jose Luis Gonzalez Canales
Coordinador de Fomento y Desarrollo Economico
City of Tijuana





Nancy Gudino
International and Public Affairs Manager
Cross Border Xpress

Nancy Gudino is the International and Public Affairs Manager for Cross Border Xpress. She is responsible for positioning CBX to be both proactive and appropriately responsive to public policy, legislative, regulatory and community issues and opportunities primarily focused on the San Diego region. She previously served as Deputy Director of Government Relations and International Affairs for Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and as a Policy Advisor, and Community Outreach Representative during the administration of Mayor Jerry Sanders in the City of San Diego. As the wife of an active duty Marine, the military stationed her family in the Northeastern region of Pennsylvania from 2013-2015 where she worked as a Field Representative for U.S. Senator Pat Toomey.

Nancy is a graduate of the University of California San Diego, and holds a degree in International Studies with an emphasis in Political Science and a minor in Public Service in Government.


Courtney Hammond

Courtney Hammond is a leader in Deloitte’s National Security Sector and has supported four components within the Department of Homeland Security. She currently leads several project teams for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration and Services. She has extensive experience leading complex program management efforts for large-scale system modernizations and balancing diverse public/private stakeholder needs related to trade and cargo, border security, and immigration issues. Her solution offerings include program management, human capital, strategic communications, analytics, technology adoption, and workforce planning. Recent experiences include providing programmatic support at the executive level for the CBP Customs and Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) program, Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) technologies, National Targeting Center (NTC), and other government initiatives seeking to protect national and economic security. Courtney also sits on the Board of Directors for the Women in Homeland Security Organization.


Luis Manuel Hernandez Gonzalez
Index Tijuana

Luis Manuel Hernández González graduated as a Certified Public Accountant by the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC) Mexicali campus, has Master’s Degree in Administration from the Tecnológico de Monterrey and a PhD in Business by the International College of the Atlantic (USA).

In 1997 served as CareFusion’s account supervisor. In 2003 he was appointed Comptroller for the company Controles de Mexicali. He has also been a teacher since 2005, at the ITESM (Monterrey High Studies Technology Institute), Cetys University and Angok de Mexico.

In 2012 he was appointed Vice President of Tijuana’s Maquiladora Industry Association, the same year acquired the position as Secretary of the Medical Products Cluster, position he held up to July 2015.

In 2013 was named Counselor in DEITAC (Economic and Industrial Development of Tijuana), in that same year he served as Finance and Planning Manager within Medical Greatbath.

In 2016, was appointed President of the Maquiladora and Export Association – INDEX Tijuana, position he presides up to this day; and at the same time he serves as DJO Global CFO.


Karen Higareda
Project Manager
Woodward Logistics

Born in San Diego, CA and raised in Tijuana Mexico, Karen is an example of a binational citizen. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Universidad Iberoamericana, and a Masters degree in Landscape and Urbanism at Woodbury University were border cities were mainly studied. She landed a seasonal coordinator job at the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce, which allowed her to understand the impact of the border and its interaction in a commercial perspective, which led to a different turn in her career. Since 2014, Karen is a Project Manager at Woodward Logistics Services. A logistics company providing customs brokerage, warehousing, transportation, and security to companies like Nissan, Toyota and Caterpillar.


Deyi Infante
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Grupo Abadi

Graduated in 2009 with a Business Administration Degree from Universidad Santa Maria, Subsequently, she obtained a Marketing Specialization from Universidad Central de Venezuela – Caracas-Vzla.

She has developed in a transnational company in marketing and sales areas such as Citibank,. LG Electronics, Microsoft etc. She has an extensive experience in business development, planning,, business development, strategic and product marketing.

In the last two years of her career, she has worked in Marketing Management in Mexico and currently holds the position of Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Grupo Abadi, having responsibility for the direction and planning of the products and services


Jorge Izquierdo
Strategic Planning
Baja California Railroad Inc.

Jorge’s activity on BJRR has been focused on promoting railway benefits for the Calibaja region, as well as to create awareness on specific and potential industrial markets. This year’s focus is on to provide attention on following up the development of the Desert Line project; helping to understand the needs and roles of different key players as well as different stakeholders that will have an involvement in the achievement of this longing project. This includes the institutional coordination between US & Mexican authorities that are also involved to help us determine the conditions and infrastructure needs to reopen the international POE through the existing Tecate BC & Campo California railway.


John Jolliffe
Casas International Brokerage, Inc.

Experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the logistics and supply chain industry. Skilled in Intelligence Analysis, Operations Management, Government, Navy, and Emergency Management. Strong business development professional who became a two star Admiral in the Navy.


Curtis Johnson
Mexico Sales Director
Calpine Energy Solutiions

Mr. Johnson is a Director at Noble America Energy Solutions where he specializes in extracting market value for commercial and industrial clients in deregulated energy markets.

He has been involved in deregulated retail electricity markets since their inception in the United States: being on the ground floor to bring customer choice to both the California and Texas markets. Since this beginning Mr. Johnson has worked with clients in every market where customer choice exists in the United States.

Subsequently, Mr. Johnson brought market value to clients in Mexico by directing Noble America Energy Solutions’ highly successful cross border electric energy program. The success of Mexico importers has lead to Mr. Johnson’s involvement with: Mexico’s governmental agencies, involvement with other allowable generation programs, Mexico Energy Reform and development of intellectual proprietary solutions specific to Mexico.


Stephen Kane
Vice President
Burns & McDonnell

Stephen Kane manages Burns & McDonnell’s California transmission and distribution group, consisting of more than 100 professionals including engineers, project and construction managers, project controls specialists, and administrative staff. He is the executive-in-charge for SCE and SDG&E relationships and has extensive experience working with other California clients. Additionally, Stephen is a project director specializing in the program management of major transmission projects. He is responsible for all aspects of program management including consultation, siting, regulatory, and engineering, procurement, and construction. He has also developed a number of project management and project controls initiatives aimed at improving project execution performance. Stephen has experience managing projects in the utilities, oil & gas, petro chemical, and brewing industries.

Stephen enjoys hiking, running, road and mountain biking, and walking the dogs.


Michael Kulis
Director, Inter-Governmental Relations
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Michael Kulis, Director, Inter-Governmental Relations, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Mike serves as Director of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s Inter-Governmental Relations Department.  He joined the Airport Authority in 2003 and is responsible for the development and implementation of the Authority’s federal, state, and local legislative and regulatory agenda.  Mike also directs the Authority’s legislative consultants in Sacramento and Washington, DC.

Prior to his current position, Mike served for seven years, first as Policy Advisor, then as Deputy Chief of Staff to San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.  He was responsible for advising Supervisor Jacob on the following policy issues: transportation/transit, public works, airports, economic development, electricity deregulation, air pollution control, water/wastewater, environmental health, taxes, and SANDAG.

Before joining Supervisor Jacob’s staff, Mike served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Arlen Specter.  In his five years with the Senator, he was responsible for advising Senator Specter on the following policy issues: education, environment, public lands, disaster assistance, agriculture, and the arts.

Mike is a graduate of Villanova University, a member of the American Association of Airport Executives, Airports Council International-North America, the California Airports Council, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.  He resides in the community of San Carlos with his wife and two sons.


Victor Lagunas
Adviser in Social Media
City of Tijuana

Víctor Lagunas Peñaloza, adviser in social media strategies of digital communication and social networks, photographer, social media consulting in political communication, campaign management, currently advises the City of Tijuana and manages the social networks of the Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum.


Karen Landers
General Counsel
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

Karen Landers is General Counsel for San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).  MTS provides bus and light rail transit in the city of San Diego, nine surrounding cities and areas of south and east San Diego County.  MTS owns additional railroad right of way used for freight operations, including the 70-mile binational Desert Line that connects San Diego County to the manufacturing sector in Tijuana-Tecate, Baja California.

Landers received a B.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Southern California and her law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law.  After law school, she spent nine years as litigation associate with the law firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP, primarily representing public agencies in labor and employment, eminent domain/inverse condemnation and construction disputes.  She then worked as a Senior Deputy County Counsel for the County of San Diego, representing various County departments, boards and commissions. In 2011, Landers joined MTS as General Counsel.  At MTS she represents the agency in all legal matters and supervises the Land Management, Risk/Workers Compensation and Internal Audit departments.  MTS has two in-house attorneys and uses a panel of outside counsel firms for representation and advice related to specialized matters.


Carlos Larios
Project Manager
Burns & McDonnell

Carlos has fourteen years of experience managing projects such as utility scale gas fired power plants, transmission lines, substations, solar thermal and photo voltaic generation plants. He has 17 years of experience in planning, managing, and controlling scope, cost, quality, safety, risk, regulatory compliance, schedule, stakeholders and communication throughout the project’s life cycle. He is a registered Project Management Professional, and focuses on value creation in an ethical, safe and team working environment.

Bureau Veritas North America*

San Diego, CA | 2007 – 2015

Director. Managed operations of a $4 million revenue business unit. While here, he improved efficiency, reduced costs, increased revenues and improved systems and organization. Prior he was a project manager of inspectors, engineers and safety monitors working on energy projects under the California Energy Commission’s jurisdiction built to applicable conditions of certification, local ordinances and industry standards.

Some of the projects he worked on while here include:


â–º         Genesis Solar 250 MW, solar thermal (Blythe, CA)

â–º         Ivanpah Solar 392 MW, solar thermal (Mojave desert, CA)

â–º         McCoy Solar 250MW, solar photo voltaic (Blythe, CA)


â–º         Limon & Lone Star electrical transmission Line (Korea and Texas)

â–º         Sunrise Powerlink 117 mile / 500kV  transmission line (California, Dubai, India, México)

â–º         East West Ontario Transmission Line, seven towers proto testing (India)

â–º         Midway Bannister 8 mile / 230kV transmission line (Imperial Valley, CA)

â–º         Blythe Energy Transmission Line 67 mile /230kV transmission line (Blythe, CA)

â–º         Ave 58 Substation (La Quinta, CA)


â–º         Big Horn Wind Energy Farm 50MW (Big Horn, WA)

â–º         El Cajon Peaker Power Plant 45MW (El Cajon, CA)

â–º         Palomar Energy Center Thermal Energy Storage Tank and Chiller (Escondido, CA)

â–º         Edgewater Unit 5, air quality control retrofit (Sheboygan, Wisconsin)

â–º         Cameron LNG liquefaction project, risk analysis sessions, PEP support (San Diego, Houston)


Germán Jesús Lizola Márquez
Director General
Comisión Estatal de Servicios Públicos de Tijuana CESPT

Es Arquitecto por la Universidad Autónoma de Baja California. La práctica profesional lo ha llevado a incursionar en el servicio público y en la iniciativa privada, como emprendedor, en empresas del sector de la construcción principalmente en el rubro de vivienda.

A lo largo de su trayectoria profesional se ha orientado sobre todo en áreas relacionadas a la planeación urbana con una visión integral. Entre los cargos que ha desempeñado están: Subdirector de Obras Públicas Municipales, Director de Administración Urbana y Director de la Unidad Municipal de Administración,  éstos dentro del ámbito municipal.

Ha sido Subsecretario de Infraestructura y Desarrollo Urbano del Estado y Director de la Comisión Estatal del Agua donde estuvo altamente involucrado en el desarrollo del Plan Hídrico 2035 para Baja California, el cual permite establecer una visión de largo plazo en la materia.

Su interés por el tema hídrico lo ha llevado participar como miembro de la Sección Baja California de la Asociación Mexicana de Hidráulica, convirtiéndose en el primer Presidente de la recién creada asociación, con la meta de lograr una gobernanza hídrica.

Actualmente se desempeña como Director de la Comisión Estatal de Servicios Públicos de Tijuana, con el compromiso de fortalecer al organismo para mantener la eficiencia y calidad en el servicio a la población de Tijuana y Playas de Rosarito de la mano con una diversificación de las fuentes de abastecimiento, la óptima operación del sistema de saneamiento y un mayor impulso al reúso de agua.


Maria (Mery) Lopez-Gallo
Community Empowerment Director

Mery Lopez Gallo; graduate student from San Diego School of Broadcasting: She is the Community Empowerment Director for Univision San Diego Amor 102.9 & Que Buena 106.5 radio stations; Mery is also the Executive Producer/Host of “De Viva Voz”, Univision Radio’s Sunday morning Community Affairs show. With her approximately 1,000 shows to date, she has empowered the Hispanic community with important information, interviewing representatives from major government agencies and other organizations from both sides of the border. Some of her more memorable interviewees have been former Ambassador to the U.S. in Mexico Jeffrey Davidow, Secretary of the United States Army Louis Caldera, Ernesto Ruffo Appel Governor of Baja California.Mery has been instrumental in helping to raise $2.1 million dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (through annual Radio-thons). She is a dedicated supporter of several non-profit organizations, currently serving on the Board of Directors of Teatro Mascara Magica, YALLA & The Southwestern College Foundation. Mery was invited by the Mexican Government to serve on their nationwide advisory board for the Institute of the Mexicans Abroad from 2009 to 2011. As part of that effort, she headed the Media commission and was recognized by the former IFE, Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute, for her instrumental role in creating a campaign to promote the vote among Mexicans living in the US during the 2012 Mexican presidential elections. Her dedication has been recognized by several leading organizations such as: San Diego Radio Broadcasters Association (4 AIR Awards), MADD (National Media Award), and CCNMA (“La Pluma” award for best Spanish Radio Program). Mery was the recipient of the 2008 KPBS Hispanic Heritage Local Hero Award, the 2010 National Alliance for Mental Illness Media Award and Univision Radio’s own prestigious “The Power of Ideas” Award. Berkley University honored her with the “Americas Initiative” Community Champion award for 2011. In 2013 SD Magazine included Mery in their most influential Latinos Edition. In 2014 she received by far the highest honor by being recognized by the San Diego Ad Club as The Multi-Cultural Marketer of the year. In 2016 Mery was chosen as the Grand Marshal at the Herencia Hispana Parade. Mery is one of the most highly regarded personalities in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region. She was invited by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) to write an essay that was published in the book Mexicanos en el Exterior, Trayectoria y Perspectivas.


Olivia Maldonado
Binational Affairs
City of Tijuana

Olivia has experience in public relations, Binational affairs, event planner on diplomatic and economic sectors. She has been working twenty nine years in the government sector. Fifteen of those have been focused in Binational affairs (US-Mexico). In the private sector Ms. Maldonado is the Director of Mujer de marca, an online store in Mexico of Swarovski glasses and accessories. She studied Business Administration at the Universidad de las Californias in Tijuana


Arnulfo Manriquez
President & CEO

Arnulfo Manriquez serves as President & CEO of MAAC, a nonprofit organization providing Leadership, Advocacy and Community Services in the County of San Diego. He has served in executive leadership positions for the past eleven years and has worked in the nonprofit sector for the past 25 years.  Arnulfo has dedicated his career working directly with underserved individuals, households and communities of San Diego by maximizing self-sufficiency. This year, MAAC is celebrating 53 years of service and has been a leading advocacy organization in the areas of Housing, Education, Health and Career Pathways. Arnulfo’s experience has focused on Community and Economic Development, Affordable Housing, Strategic Planning and Education programs throughout the San Diego Community.

Arnulfo presently serves as Chair of the Board for Housing California, a statewide nonprofit advocacy organization as well as Treasurer of the board for the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Arnulfo is also the president of the board of Urban Council Development, Inc. a nonprofit affordable housing development organization. Mr. Manriquez has recently become a member of UCSD’s Chancellor’s Community Advisory Board.

Arnulfo holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD, 1993) and a Masters of Arts degree in Leadership and Non-Profit Management from the University of San Diego (USD, 2005). As a first generation immigrant who grew up in San Diego, Arnulfo understands firsthand the challenges faced by under-represented communities and is committed to ensuring opportunities for self-sufficiency and safety for families who need it most.


Lidia S Martinez
Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots
Southwest Airlines

As Manager of Community Affairs & Grassroots for Southwest Airlines, Lidia S. Martinez leads a Team responsible for community outreach in the West Coast. She is also the primary point of contact for community outreach in Southern California and supports national efforts in Washington, DC.


David Moreno
Secretary of Economic Development
City of Tijuana

Graduated from the Autonomous University of Baja California on international business, with a degree in economic development from the University of Oklahoma.

Currently is the Secretary of economic development for the City of Tijuana, in the field professional he served as Executive Director of the Tijuana economic development Council, were he lead as CEO.

Previously he worked as a technical Secretary of the Commission of economic development of the Tijuana City council during the period 2007-2010, he promoted the foreign and national investment, he was part of the bonding with the different business agencies, also promoted the development of the economic sector and coordinated them to budget support assigned to the community, this during the 19th administration of the City of Tijuana.

He collaborated in the Tijuana economic development Council as Project Manager where he structured the working committees, worked in the obtaining of public resources for the Tijuana tourist promotion and the projects of the strategic plan of the city


Cecilia Ortega

Lic. Cecilia del Carmen Ortega Covarrubias, graduated from Foreign Trade and Customs by the Iberoamericana University of Northwest. Winner of the National Award as the best university student of the country in 1994 and received in Los Pinos by the President of Mexico Mr. Carlos Salinas de Gortari. With 24 years of professional practice, she has developed in the public sector as well as in the private sector, starting in the Border Customs of Tijuana like assistant of the Port Director; Founder in 1997 of the companies GRUPO IMEXPO and IMEXPO DIVISION, dedicated to foreign trade and to the sale of wholesale products in department stores nationwide. Co-founder of GRUPO EUSAGA and general manager of the group companies. General Director of Eusaga Logistica Internacional, Legal consultants in foreign trade and customs. In the academic field she has worked as professor since 2012 in various subjects; Director of the Foreign Trade Career and creator of the Career of Logistics Strategies and Global Supply that is currently taught in TBC University.  Elected as a woman of the month of September of 2016 by the magazine Mujer Actual.

During the year 2017 she has participated in several forums including the Cross-Border Business Forum organized by the San Diego Regional Chamber talking about NAFTA; the one organized by the magazine Business Connection with the subject: The treaty in the era of Trump What can we expect? As well as imparting the Foreign Trade Master’s Degree for IMMEX companies organized by INCOMEX.

Counselor of the Chamber of Commerce of Otay and member of the IBA (International Business Affairs) of the Regional Chamber of San Diego.


William Ostick
Consul General
US Consulate General Tijuana

Will Ostick is a career Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Department of State.  Prior to his current assignment as U.S. Consul General in Tijuana, he served as Director for the Office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.  He previously served as spokesperson and press advisor for the bureau.

In June 2011 he graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) with a master’s degree in national resource strategy. From 2007 to 2010, he served as information officer at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid.  Previously, he served as public affairs officer and information officer in Panama.

Other Foreign Service assignments include country desk officer for Argentina; desk officer for public diplomacy for Brazil and the Southern Cone; public affairs officer in Niamey, Niger; cultural affairs officer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and, assistant information officer in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  He joined the U.S. Information Agency in 1989, which merged with the State Department in 1999.

He graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens with a BA in journalism and holds a master’s degree in international commerce and policy from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.   He speaks Spanish and French.

Mr. Ostick is married to Catherine L. Tremayne, and they have two daughters.


Alison Phillips
Communications Director
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Alison Phillips is the Chamber’s Communications Director serving as the organization’s primary media contact and supporting the Chamber’s overall communications efforts and strategic plan which includes a greater emphasis on public policy and communications. With a background in public relations, marketing and events, Alison joined the Chamber in May 2014 from the San Diego County Bar Association where she served as Communications & Special Events Manager.

Prior to that she was an agency PR practitioner handling public relations efforts for various consumer and hospitality related brands. Alison is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara.


Frank Edward Plant
SDRS Harborside

Edward “Ed” F. Plant, a native Californian grew up in San Diego.  In 1969 Ed purchased his first company in insulation, off 8th & Imperial Avenues in Downtown where today, Petco Park is home to the San Diego Padres. Ed’s son, Frank, has worked with Ed since 1979.   In 1981 Ed purchased the large refrigerated warehouse, across the street from his insulation supply business that came to be San Diego Refrigerated Services, Inc. (SDRS).  He sold his insulation business to his first employee and that company still thrives today.

In 1996, Ed purchased the Union Ice cold storage facility on port tidelands in National City that is now San Diego Cold, a commercial public cold storage warehouse.  Frank operated Harborside, the Port of San Diego’s cold storage facility at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal since 1997.  SDRS expanded to Harborside in 2000.  With over 265 breakbulk ships of both perishables and cut paper since 1997, over 4,000 Dole containers, and over 100,000 metric tons handled annually, Harborside has done business with Central and South America, Australia, and the Near East.  Harborside is also a hub for San Diego’s growing breweries.

Ed Plant’s vigilant efforts to save waterfront businesses and jobs earned him the title as first Chairman of the Working Waterfront Group in 2004. He has served as a San Diego Food Bank Director; headed the Economic Development Committee for the National City Chamber of Commerce; 2007 and 2008 Chairman and currently on the Executive Board of the S. D. Port Tenants Association; 2002-2005 Director of San Diego Community Bank; former South Pacific Chapter Representative of the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW);  lifetime member of the San Diego Bowl Games Association, and on the Board for the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.

Ed is proud grandfather to Hunter, Molly, Jackie, and Charlotte. He enjoys his sailboat and plays golf.  Quarterly he escapes to the family’s home in Mammoth for some quiet time and fishing.  Ed continues to travel the world promoting business for San Diego.


Bridget Premont
Head, Political & Economic Section
U.S. Consulate General Tijuana

Bridget Premont is the Political & Economic Chief at U.S. Consulate General Tijuana.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 2002 she has served as a career diplomat overseas at Embassies Port-au-Prince, Nicosia, Quito, Ottawa, and the U.S. Mission to the EU.  In Washington she was a desk officer for the Dominican Republic and crisis management officer in the Secretary’s Operations Center.  Before joining the Department, Bridget worked in government relations in Washington and as a foreign policy research assistant at the Brookings Institution.  She earned her B.A. from Gonzaga University and a Master of Science I was born on April 22, 1990 in Tijuana Baja California. I’m the youngest of three siblings, I went to CUT university and obtained a major in communication and adversiting with a concentration in public relations. I graduated in December 2014. I have worked in human development and currently earning a Life Coach certification. I worked 2 years at the Marriott in public relations . Currently I work as an Assistant Public Relations for the council woman Lic. Elvia Rangel for the government in Tijuana Baja California Mexico since December Foreign Service from Georgetown University.


Leyla Mariana Ramirez Salazar
Assistant of the Council
City of Tijuana

I was born on April 22, 1990 in Tijuana Baja California. I’m the youngest of three siblings, I went to CUT university and obtained a major in communication and advertising with a concentration in public relations. I graduated in December 2014. I have worked in human development and currently earning a Life Coach certification. I worked 2 years at the Marriott in public relations . Currently I work as an Assistant Public Relations for the council woman Lic. Elvia Rangel for the government in Tijuana Baja California Mexico since December 2016.


Elvia Rangel
City of Tijuana

Elvia Rangel Garcia was born on January 16, 1974 in Irapuato Guanajuato, Mexico. At her age of 4 year’s old her family and she move to Tijuana B.C Mexico, City where Elvia had the opportunity to study. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree on economy at the University of Baja California, and she obtained another Degree on Public Administration and Politic Sciences. As well she has a master on Public Administration degree. On December, 2016 she join the Tijuana city council with a representation of PAN party.


Alejandro Romero
Consular Officer
Mexican Consulate in San Diego

Alejandro Romero holds a Law Degree from Universidad Autonoma de Baja California and a Masters in International Economic Relations from Universidad de Guadalajara. He served as an analyst at the Mission of Mexico to the European Union and Embassy to Belgium in Brussels for 2 years where he acquired knowledge in international politics, cooperation and trade issues.

Born in San Diego and raised in Baja California, Alejandro is a proud member of the Calibaja binational region.


Heidy Salum
Director of Binational Affairs
Baja California State Government

Heidy Salum serves as the Director of Binational Affairs for the Government of Baja California heading the positioning and promotion of the State, and strengthening and cultivating the binational relationship with both government and private sectors. In her role, she is involved in the diplomatic relationship at the state level as well.

Coming from an international background, Heidy has over 15 years of experience in international marketing, business development and corporate relations. Previously, Salum has served as Director of Marketing and Commercial Development at Follajes Telon in Costa Rica and Director of Business Development at Alliant International University where she had the opportunity to be actively involved in the San Diego Community. Most recently, she was an independent consultant representing several international companies in different industries in Mexico, United States and Costa Rica.

She is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and is part of the International Business Affairs Committee.

Salum graduated with honors from United States International University (USIU) with a Bachelor’s degree in international business and a minor in marketing, with certificate programs in organizational leadership and international relations.


Gustavo Sanchez
Presidente Municipal/City Mayor
22 Ayuntamiento de Mexicali

Born in Mexicali 54 years ago.

Graduated Law School at UABC

Masters in Tax Law at UAG

Founder of the Legal Company Sanchez, Aguilar, Esquer & Associates

Member of the Board of the National Chamber of Commerce in Mexicali (CANACO)


Tax prosecutor of the State – 1989-1995

Trustee Attorney – 1995-2001

Deputy Senator of the Republic to Sen. Victor Hermosillo.

State Congressman with leave of absence for the XXI Local Legislature of the State of Baja California

Currently Mayor of the City of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. Serving as head of the XXII City Council. (2016 – 2019 Period)


For 12 years a member of the Board of the Children’s Home for Boys (CAHOVA) dedicated to the rescue of street children.


Jerry Sanders
President & CEO
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Jerry Sanders began his lifelong career in public service when he joined the San Diego Police Department at the age of 22, fulfilling his dream of becoming a police officer. He ascended the police department ranks, serving as the SWAT Team commander before becoming one of the youngest police chiefs in the city’s history.

In 1999, Sanders retired from the police force and became CEO of the United Way of San Diego, where he reduced the organization’s costs and increased fundraising by 20 percent. Three years later, he chaired the board of the local chapter of the American Red Cross. He increased financial transparency at the chapter and helped restore the nonprofit’s credibility.

In 2005, with his reputation as a successful turn-around executive, civic leaders urged Sanders to run for mayor. After winning in a special election, Mayor Sanders immediately launched a top-to-bottom review and streamlining of city operations, which eliminated more than 1,800 positions from the city budget.

Under Mayor Sanders, city financial staff completed six years’ worth of back-logged audits, allowing the city to return to the public bond markets in January 2009 — helping to fund the mayor’s commitment to repair San Diego’s long-neglected water, sewer and transportation infrastructure. Sanders also introduced Managed Competition to city government, which allows private companies to compete against city employees for the right to provide a variety of municipal services.

In addition to his broad reform agenda, Sanders has placed a high priority on economic growth and job creation during his time in office. Specifically, the mayor has been a champion of the region’s promising clean technology industry – including solar energy, biofuels and other environmentally-friendly products.

Sanders’ focus and leadership on water reliability led to widespread adoption of water-efficiency measures throughout the city. Since then San Diegans have responded by cutting their water use by 21 percent since 2007. Leading by example, he reduced his own home water consumption by 54 percent during that same period.

Sanders completed his second and final term as Mayor in December 2012.

Sanders currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.


Zabel Solis
Chief of Staff
City of Tijuana

Has a degree in law from the University of the North-West in Mexico, a diploma in labor law by the House of the legal culture of the Supreme Court of Justice, with studies in labor and constitutional law by the Council of the Federal judges. His passion for the labor law has allowed him to climb various positions under the Government, in the Conciliation Board attached to the Ministry of labor and Social Welfare in the State of Baja California; he has completed his academic education with studies in international business, as an important part in the construction of a comprehensive legal view.

Mr. Solis has served as a professor for many universities UABC, CESUN y UNEA at Tijuana.


Victoria Stackwick
Principal, Office of Government Relations

Victoria Stackwick is the Principal Legislative Analyst in the Office of Government of Relations for SANDAG. She serves as a liaison for the agency and advocates for regional infrastructure projects at both the state and federal levels of government. Prior to her work at SANDAG, Victoria served as a policy aide on Capitol Hill for several Members and Committees. Victoria holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Virginia Wesleyan College and a Master of Arts in Government from the Johns Hopkins University.


Sherman Stocker
Corporate Relations Manager
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Sherman D. Stocker is the Corporate Relations Manager for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, where his key responsibilities include management of high-end member relations, development and promotion of sponsorship sales.

Sherm has been involved in the regional business community for over 40 years with senior leadership roles with companies such as Excel Tape Company, where he worked with training programs worldwide, San Diego Optical, Coffee Connections and Rent Protectors, Inc.

In his spare time, Sherm sits on numerous youth sports boards, helps out as a volunteer coach, umpire and past baseball coach at High Tech High School.

Sherm resides in San Diego with his wife Jo Ann.


Gary Swedback
NAI Mexico

Mr. Swedback owns and manages all 11 NAI Mexico offices. As as a commercial real estate executive in Mexico and Latin America for 25 years, he has personally planned, launched and closed over 450 projects including land development, portfolio sales, facility leases and build to suit construction. His teams are active in industrial, hospitality and mixed use sectors.

NAI Mexico and NAI NAFTA offices have completed over 50 million square feet of office, retail, and industrial transactions. Gary Swedback became president of NAI Mexico in 1999, and established NAI NAFTA in 2002.

He and his team provide advisory and transaction services for corporate planning, site selection, multi-country analyses and feasibility projects for global and domestic firms in Mexico and Latin America.

In 2016 Mr. Swedback created Panamericas Partners to provide consistent real estate advisory services for global clients in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.  Panamericas maintains locations in most markets from Mexico to Argentina.

Swedback has been interviewed and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Site Selection, Expansion Management, Twin Plant News, and the New York Times, among others. His team developers and manages the North American Site Selection Index published bi-annually in Site Selection Magazine.

Mr. Swedback speaks several times each year at Latin America events such as the Mexico Logistics event, Mexico’s Aerospace Industry event, Mexico’s Auto Industry and Global Operations Directors Forums.


Mitch Thompson
Otay Water District

Mitch Thompson grew up in Los Angeles and attended UCSD where he graduated magna cum laude with a double degree.  His 40-year career includes local government, starting a successful community development bank, and real estate development, investment and consulting.  Mitch continues to be an active developer, investor and realtor in the South Bay area of San Diego County while also remaining active in a number of local civic issues.  He has served in a variety of leadership positions on the boards of both non-profits and government agencies including the Chula Vista City Council and the Otay Water District, where he currently serves as Vice-President of the Board.  In addition, he currently serves on the Boards of the San Diego County Water Conservation Authority and the Southwestern Community College Foundation.

He lives in Chula Vista and enjoys international travel with a cultural emphasis with his Tijuana-born artist partner, Luz Espinoza and their family.  They particularly enjoy frequenting all parts of Baja California from Los Cabos to Tijuana enjoying the wide array of Baja cuisine.  Mitch has been a resident of the South Bay since 1987 and has been a Chula Vista resident since 2007.


George Todd
CO-Founder Director
Chosen Foods LLC

As CO-Founder and a Director of Chosen Foods George started the companies US operations in San Diego just over 6 years ago. Today Chosen Foods is the 5th Fastest Growing Food Company on the 2016 INC 5000 and 47th overall. Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil is the largest selling brand of Avocado Oil in the world. The oil is sold in over 35,000 retail locations in the US, Canada and Internationally. In addition to Avocado and Sesame oils Chosen Foods is a strong player in the US Chia and Quinoa markets and now the worlds largest producer of Avocado Oil MAYO.

Prior to becoming President of Chosen Foods in 2010 George consulted with for Early Stage Tech Companies, Develop financial models, Private Placement Documents, Capitalization and ROI models, raise private equity capital and develop strategic business/finance partners.


Katie Tran
Marketing & Events Director
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Katie is a Certified Meeting Professional through the Convention Industry Council and serves as Marketing & Events Director for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is responsible for strategic planning, marketing and overall production of Chamber events. Katie has produced events for the Chamber and partner organizations that range from small workshops or meetings to large dinners, mixers and multi-day delegation trips in Sacramento, Washington D.C. and Mexico City. A native San Diegan, Katie is knowledgeable in new and old venues and vendors, which help in keeping events fresh, unique and relevant.

Prior to joining the Chamber in 2006, Katie interned at the Asian Business Association of San Diego where she assisted in events, marketing and membership development. Katie graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in Communications and Minor in Economics.


Roberto Valdes
Grupo Valcas

Residential developer in Baja specializing in tourism oriented projects such as Bajamar and Rancho Tecate. Member of the Ensenada EDC and Tecate EDC. Studied architecture in Ibero university in Mexico City wher he was born.


Shawn VanDiver
Customer Relationship Executive

Shawn VanDiver is a Client Relationship Executive in San Diego serving Deloitte’s efforts in the region and around the country. He serves on several boards and committees at the local, state, and national levels focusing on human trafficking, national security, and civic engagement. Having never had an opinion he neglected to share, he has been published in local, national, and international outlets, including the San Diego Union Tribune, USA Today, and The Guardian. Locally, he serves on the board of the Women’s Museum of California and is a Co-Founder and Director of the Truman National Security Project San Diego Chapter. He attended National University and the Naval Postgraduate School, earning degrees and certificates in Domestic Security Management, Homeland Security and Safety Engineering, and Information Systems and Operations. He serves as faculty for San Diego State University and guest lectures at others. A 12-year Navy Veteran, he enjoys cooking, sailing, and spending time with his incredible fiance and their 9-year- old aspiring pirate or engineer.


Steve Vaus
Vice Chair

Steve Vaus was elected Mayor of Poway in 2014. Prior to becoming Mayor, he served as a Councilmember from 2012 until 2014, and was Chair of Poway’s Budget Review Committee from 2010 to 2012.

In addition to serving as Mayor, Steve is Vice Chair of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Board of Directors. He also serves on the SANDAG Public Safety Committee.

Steve is a Grammy Award winning recording artist and has won numerous Emmy Awards. He has produced artists including Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, The Commodores, Randy Travis and others. He is the founder and executive producer of Carols by Candlelight, an annual benefit Christmas concert celebrating its 29th anniversary in 2018.


Ivan Vera
Private Secretary
City of Tijuana

Ivan Vera Cervantes, Bachelor in communication sciences graduated from Humanities Faculty of the UABC university in 2012.  Currently private Secretary of Mayor of Tijuana, from November 30th, 2016 to date.


Pedro Villegas
Director of Community Relations
San Diego Gas & Electric Company

Pedro Villegas is Director of Community Relations for the San Diego Gas & Electric Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sempra Energy, a Fortune 500 company based in San Diego, California. Mr. Villegas is responsible for SDG&E’s corporate philanthropy and relations with non-profit and community-based organizations in San Diego County and south Orange County. Mr. Villegas’ career includes several positions managing external, legislative, policy, and international affairs in private, state government, and non-profit sectors. He has served in the California State Assembly, as Deputy Director of the Speaker’s Office of International Relations and Protocol, as Principal Consultant to the Committee on Jobs, the Economy, and Economic Development, and as Senior Consultant to the Assembly Select Committee on California-Mexico Affairs. Prior to state government, Mr. Villegas was on the staff of the Pacific Council on International Policy and was a Fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies and the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies, both on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. Mr. Villegas holds a Master of Pacific International Affairs degree from the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies of the University of California, San Diego. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and International Relations from the University of Notre Dame. He serves on the board of directors of the National Conflict Resolution Center, the San Diego Tourism Authority, Rise San Diego, and the Downtown San Diego Partnership.


Susana Villegas
SVPR Communications

Susana Villegas is President of SVPR Communications, a public relations firm specializing in community stakeholder management and strategic Spanish- and English-language communications and media services.

Her firm serves clients in the areas of economic development, cross-border commerce, water, tourism, energy, news media, government, and affordable housing.

Ms. Villegas has extensive experience in San Diego city government and political campaigns.  She served as Policy Advisor to San Diego City Council President Ben Hueso.  She was Campaign Coordinator for Cornerstone Strategies, where she managed fourteen campaigns for school board, city council, mayor, State Assembly, and ballot propositions.  Ms. Villegas was also Director of External Affairs for Casa Familiar, a non-profit organization serving the border communities of San Diego, California.

Ms. Villegas serves on the boards of the Barrio Logan College Institute, the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, the Chula Vista Charitable Foundation, and the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.  She is a member of the 2013-2014 class of the San Diego Policy Leadership Institute.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Ms. Villegas has a degree in Communication Sciences from the prestigious Universidad del Valle de México.  She is fluent in Spanish and English and is a certified interpreter.


Christopher Ward
City of San Diego, District Three

Councilmember Chris Ward was elected to represent San Diego’s 3rd City Council District in June 2016, and took office in December of 2016. He serves as Chair of the Select Council Committee on Homelessness, Chair of the Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations Committee, Vice Chair of Budget Committee and as a member of the Rules and Infrastructure Committee. As well as Vice Chair of the San Diego County Regional Task Force on the Homeless. He previously served as the Chief of Staff to State Senator Marty Block, also

representing the communities of the Third City Council District and most of the City of San Diego. In these capacities, Chris has been strongly committed to excellence in constituent services, facilitating public participation in policymaking, and organizing state and local resources to make our neighborhoods a better place every day.

Previously, Chris was an environmental planner at the firm EDAW, working with local government to develop land use plans and conduct environmental review. Before dedicating a career to public service, Chris worked as a researcher at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at UCSD on the front lines of San Diego’s burgeoning biotech sector. Councilmember Ward has been active in the community through volunteer services for many years prior to taking office, serving on his community planning group and the San Diego Community

College District’s Citizens Oversight Committee. Chris has been a member of the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation board of directors facilitating endowments and providing philanthropy for LGBT Youth, HIV/AIDS, senior and other nonprofit organizations as well as a member of the San Diego LGBT Center Board of Directors. He served on the San Diego GLBT Historic Task Force, volunteered with a number of other organizations, and was accepted in the Truman National Security Project Class of 2015 Partners. Chris earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Public Policy and Urban Planning at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He and his partner Thom are homeowners in University Heights with their daughter, Betty and cairn terrier, Monty.


Jason Wells
Executive Director
San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce

Jason M-B Wells, 44, is the chief executive of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, where he represents commerce at the World’s busiest land-border crossing and San Ysidro’s Business Improvement District.  Wells is responsible for building, among other strategic partnerships:  the San Ysidro Smart Border Coalition in 2007 – bringing federal attention and change to his tiny, yet powerful border-community – including two new, international pedestrian crossings; the Binational Chamber of Border Commerce in 2010 – a historic conglomeration of economic development organizations from both sides of the US/ Mexico border; and the Border Public Art Committee in 2015.

Jason was elected in 2010 to the San Ysidro School District Governing Board, and voted by his peers  President of the Board in 2013 and 2014 – the first re-elected President in over 20 years.  Completing his term, Wells was responsible for leading the district through an administration overhaul, implementing historic “local control funding” mechanisms and negotiating the district out of a teacher’s strike by going above and beyond in union representation strategy efforts.

Awards/Service: South County EDC’s Annual Award for Bi-National Endeavors; San Diego Metropolitan 40 Under 40 award; LEAD San Diego graduate; 1st Class of the US Department of Homeland Security Citizen’s Academy; FBI Citizen’s Academy; San Diego District Attorney’s Academy; SDPD – Southern Division’s Captain Advisory Board; Latino Advisory Committee for both Mayor Faulconer and the SDPD Chief.

Wells is a US Navy vet, over two enlistments and the proud father of four.


Meena Westford
Special Projects Manager
Metropolitan Water District of Southern CA

As Special Projects Manager at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Meena Westford is at the forefront of efforts to resolve some of the West’s most important water issues. Westford is a key member of the Metropolitan team that works on issues to resolve the ongoing imbalance of supplies and demands on the Colorado River, including assignments with environmental stakeholders throughout the Southwest and with water users in the Republic of Mexico.  She is Metropolitan’s lead staff person in the agency’s San Diego office, where she holds leadership roles advancing clean technology, and represents Metropolitan on key business and civic organizations that all benefit from Metropolitan’s sustainable water management.

Prior to joining Metropolitan in June of 2012, Westford worked for the San Diego County Water Authority, managing the agency’s water use efficiency and dry-year water transfer programs.  Westford also worked for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for nearly 20 years, where she helped to develop one the agency’s first conservation programs and advanced other leading programs, such as its Title XVI programs, throughout the Mid-Pacific and Lower Colorado regions as well as held complex assignments in Washington, DC.

Westford is a long-time San Diego resident. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Resource Economics from San Diego State University and holds a master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. Her master’s explored the future role of recycling and reuse to help advance solutions in the Colorado River basin.


David Yow
Legislative Policy Administrator
Port of San Diego

David Yow serves as Legislative Policy Administrator for the Port of San Diego.


Kenia Zamarripa
Director of International Business Affairs
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Formerly Director of Marketing and International Affairs for the Sportfishing Association of California (SAC), Kenia Zamarripa joined the Chamber as Director of International Business Affairs in June, 2017. While at the SAC, she fostered close working relationships with a number of key government, business, industry, and association officials in Mexico and San Diego. She also led key projects with the Mexican government to establish new permitting protocols for foreign tourists. In addition, she coordinated regular public outreach efforts to educate and provide updates from the Mexican government on issues and regulations pertinent to the sport fishing community.

Zamarripa acquired her BA in Marketing Administration from CETYS Universidad in Tijuana, Mexico in 2009. In 2015, she completed her MSc in Global Marketing Management from the University of Liverpool, UK. In 2017, she also received her PG Certificate in Human Resources from the University of Liverpool, UK.

At the Chamber, Zamarripa is responsible for facilitating business, political, and cultural relationships across the regional business community and advocating for business-friendly legislation that encourages cross-border trade and an improved binational business climate.


Marinee Zavala Aguire
News Reporter

Marinee Zavala was born in Tijuana Baja California and has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, and is currently enrolled at Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior CETYS taking classes to conclude her Master’s degree in administration “MBA”.

She currently Works as a news correspondent/journalist for Televisa in San Diego County, where she creates local and international news reports for Televisa Tijuana and Televisa Mexico, in which she highlights complex problems that affect the United States and Mexico border, as well as other international issues, some the subjects include terrorism, The FBI, Dreamers, Deported Families, Presidential campaigns, she’s interviewed congress men, presidential candidates and Narco tunnel explorations between San Diego and Tijuana

Working directly with the community and has recently covered the stories of murdered journalists

She knows the dynamics that come with live news reports, or live on location feeds, which she does right now on border news, she handles crisis and high impact situations, has experience in being a live news anchor.

She was in charge of the celebrity and culture section in Televisa, where she handled the camera, microphone and planning of the stories, she also anchored the section for the various news programs, at de 6:00 PM, 2:00 PM and 6:30 AM, she interviewed big music personalities like Enrique Bunburi, La Ley and various Art Leaders in our community.

She worked 4 years for the TV station channel 154 (176 today), exercising various duties on TV communications and journalism

She has abilities to create news reports about social, political, sports economic, and academic issues and subjects

She covered the 2012 Pan-American games in Guadalajara, where she created special reports related to sports, specifically handball

Participated in the production area and was chief in charge of news information at CNR channel 154 in Playas de Rosarito

Produced and hosted a TV and Radio Show called “Buenos Dias Rosarito”, which aired through channel 154 and Radio Formula 950 AM at 7:00 AM, the show was oriented around tourist/visitor information and promotion of the city.

Has produced social interest, magazine and English news print and TV shows

And is also capable of producing, creating and hosting, news shows, reports and stories