Sacramento 2018 Delegate Biographies


Joe Ahn

Northrop Grumman Corporation | Corporate Manager of State & Local Affairs

Joe Ahn serves as Corporate Manager of State and Local Affairs for Northrop Grumman Corporation, a Fortune 500 company providing global security solutions specializing in aerospace and defense, autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, logistics to civilian and government customers worldwide. Ahn advises the corporation on national state and local public policy issues related to business development, management operations and government affairs.  Ahn has in depth knowledge and experience developing public policy in the areas of environment, labor, land use, taxes, and regulatory compliance.  Ahn began his tenure with Northrop Grumman as a government relations specialist, and later served as sector manager of public affairs for the corporation’s aerospace systems sector where he oversaw external relations program for California, Florida, New York and other strategic sites around the nation.

Before joining Northrop Grumman, Ahn served in positions of increasing responsibility in California state and local government having worked as a gubernatorial appointee in the Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency; deputy chief of staff to the state Board of Equalization; senior advisor to the Los Angeles County District Attorney; chief deputy to Los Angeles Board of Education; and as a higher education policy director with the California State University system.

Ahn received his Masters in Business Administration from Claremont Graduate University’s Peter F. Drucker School of Management with Beta Gamma Sigma highest honors, and received dual undergraduate degrees in Political Science and African American Ethnic Studies from California State University at Fullerton.  Ahn also completed the Strategy Development Executive Program at University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Mediation Program at Pepperdine University Law School.  Ahn currently serves as a leadership fellow with the School of Social Work, and as an ambassador with the Jess Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.



Dimitrios Alexiou

Hospital Association of San Diego & Imperial Counties | President/CEO

Dimitrios Alexiou, FACHE, is the President and CEO of Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties (Hospital Association), a non-profit trade association representing hospitals and health systems. Mr. Alexiou joined the Hospital Association in December 2014.

As President/CEO of HASD&IC, Mr. Alexiou provides leadership, representation, advocacy, and acts as an advisory on behalf of over 35 hospitals and health systems in the 2-county region. He also participates in the California Hospital Association’s Executive Management Group, representing nearly 450 hospitals and health systems statewide; and on CHA special committees to address issues of quality and patient safety, managed care, finance, and issues specific to non-profit hospitals, integrated systems, and academic medical centers. Nationally, he is engaged in hospital issues through the American Hospital Association Region Nine Policy Board and the Conference of Metropolitan & Regional Hospital Associations.

Regionally, Dimitrios is active on a number of health-related boards and committees, including the County of San Diego’s Health Services Advisory Board and Healthy San Diego; San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage Board; San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Health Committee; County of San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless Governance Board; San Diego Health Connect Board and the Children’s Initiative Board. He is also a member of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association Board and Health Committee.



Councilmember David Alvarez

San Diego City Council – District 8

Councilmember David Alvarez Biography Elected to the San Diego City Council in 2010, Councilmember Alvarez is currently Chair of the Environment Committee, and a member of both the Smart Growth & Land Use 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 newly formed San Diego Coffee Training Institute 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 and son Javier.



Wade Aschbrenner

The Charter School of San Diego | External Relations

Wade is responsible for facilitating external communications and community outreach for Altus Schools. He is beginning his 10th year at Altus Schools and has over 20 years of educational experience. In 2015 the Charter School of San Diego was a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in Education, a first time for the award to be presented to a single school in its 28-year history. The Baldrige Award is the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. Wade presented at the Quest for Excellence Conference-National Baldrige Award Conference and at numerous regional conferences on the importance of process and system innovation.

In 2017 he was the lead petitioner on two charter petitions authorized by the California State Board of Education. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from San Diego State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Central Michigan University. Wade is a member of Rotary Club of La Jolla, the California Charter School Association, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and is a lifetime member of the Aztec Alumni Association. His hobbies include golfing, watching his two teenagers play soccer, rugby, and lacrosse, and spending time on the beach in Carlsbad.



Paola Avila

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

As Vice President of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Paola Avila brings nearly 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. Leveraging our region’s assets such as our diverse and skilled workforce and land, air and sea ports she works to secure our position as a top global competitor. 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.

Ms. Avila serves on the Board of Directors of Civic San Diego and the Board of Directors of 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 and, most recently, South County EDC’s 2017 Regional Leadership Award. 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.




Sophie Barnhorst

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | Public Policy Advisor

Sophie serves as Public Policy Advisor to the San Diego Regional Chamber’s policy team, developing and executing various policy initiatives. Sophie leads the Energy & Water Committee and Defense, Veterans & Military Committee, and supports efforts of the Infrastructure, Housing & Land Use Committee. Sophie represents the Chamber at the San Diego Military Advisory Council Board of Directors and is co-chair of the Leaders 2020 Steering Committee.

Sophie graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in politics, and has experience working in local city government and government agencies including the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and the offices of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and then Councilmember Todd Gloria. Prior to the Chamber, Sophie worked as a program assistant for I Love A Clean San Diego. While attending UC Santa Cruz, Sophie worked as campaign coordinator for the most funded organization on campus – Student Environmental Center, which is a student-led, student-funded, sustainability organization.



Francis Barraza

Office of Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer | Senior Director of Community Engagement

Francis Barraza is the Senior Director of Community Engagement for Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. She formerly served as the Executive Director of the Republican Party of San Diego County, State Director of Hispanic Initiatives for the Republican National Committee, and most recently as the Campaign Manager for Mayor Faulconer’s successful reelection campaign. Ms. Barraza currently serves on the board of the San Diego Republican Lawyers’ Association, One San Diego, Latino Leadership & Policy Forum and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Young Leaders. She is a native San Diegan and received her J.D. from University of California, Davis School of Law and her B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from University of California, Irvine.



Kelly Batten

City of San Diego | Chief of Staff to Councilmember Lorie Zapf

Kelly Batten is Chief of Staff to Councilmember Lorie Zapf. Kelly manages all policy areas and outreach activities as well as staff oversight for Councilmember Zapf.



Nancy Batterman


Nancy Batterman, Chief Executive Officer of E&CO (Employment & Community Options), where she has provided more than 32 years of service to the nonprofit organization, is a leader in the advocacy for disability awareness and support. E&CO serves 1300 individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities within the following California counties: San Diego, Santa Clara, San Bernardino, Riverside and Santa Cruz. E&CO recently began the implementation of services in Austin, Texas. E&CO provides services for employment, independent living, community-based instruction and integration.

Nancy is an alumnus of San Diego State University, where she earned both her Master of Business Administration and her Master’s in Education. She continues her support of SDSU by mentoring SDSU students in their final year of college. Nancy is also active in the Developmental Disability Provider Network in San Diego. Nancy is an active fundraiser for E&CO and for the Endowment Committee of her local church, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church.

Nancy has been active in the California Disability Services Association (CDSA), the trade association for agencies who serve individuals with developmental disabilities in CA for more than 20 years. Nancy is active in local politics, where she has learned the value of grassroots efforts while working on campaigns and supporting disability advocacy issues. In conjunction with the CDSA, Nancy meets with local legislators on an annual basis and has a strong working relationship with Assembly Member Brian Maienscheins’ office.



Stefanie Benvenuto 

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | Director, Public Affairs

Stefanie is the Chamber’s Director of Public Affairs where she manages the legislative efforts of the Chamber, its coalition engagements and community presence.  Prior to the Chamber, she was the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for a major child welfare non-profit in Orange County and served as the District Director in the State Assembly.

Stefanie is proud to serve on the San Diego Housing Commission, as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and a board member of the California Women’s Museum. A graduate of California State University, Fullerton (go Titans?), she is an avid reader and mediocre gardener.



Alexandra Berenter

Downtown San Diego Partnership | Public Policy Manager

Alexandra Berenter is the Public Policy Manager for the Downtown San Diego Partnership, a non-profit organization that represents more than 11,000 property owners and 350 members. In this role, she leads the Partnership’s policy efforts on homelessness, and guides the overall advocacy strategy through development and implementation of the annual public policy plan. Prior to joining the Partnership, Alexandra spent six years working as congressional staff in Washington, D.C. where she managed a diverse legislative portfolio that included leading drought relief bill negotiations among the California congressional delegation. While earning her degree in Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, Alexandra was a member of the NCAA Women’s Softball team.



Randy Bogle

SDMAC | Executive Director

As a helicopter pilot Captain Bogle served in numerous operational and staff billets during his Navy career including establishment and command of the Navy’s first forward deployed H-46 Helicopter Combat Support Squadron, HC-5. He subsequently served as Commanding Officer of HC-3 and Executive Officer of USS OKINAWA (LPH-3). Shore assignments included 31st Company Officer and Flag Lieutenant to the Superintendent, United States Naval Academy; Flag Lieutenant to Commander, THIRD Fleet; completion of the Integrated Warfare Course at the Naval War College; duty at OPNAV as the V-22 Requirements Officer prior to selection as Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare); Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida; 76th Commandant of Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy; and Executive Assistant to the Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

Following retirement from the Navy, Mr. Bogle joined D.P. Associates Inc. (DPA), a Veteran Owned, Small Business providing training courseware to Navy and Marine Corps aviation units. He was promoted to Vice President for Training in April 2004 and in May 2004 DPA was purchased by L-3 Communications. As VP for Training for L-3 DPA, he provided leadership, management and oversight of three business areas which included courseware revision and maintenance, Maritime Business Development and Port Operations and Security Interoperability. Mr. Bogle is currently the Executive Director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council and in this capacity serves on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Economic Development Corporation.


Matthew C. Boomhower, JD, AIA

Southern Cross Property Consultants | President & Founder

Matthew is the founder and president of Southern Cross Property Consultants (SCPC) a construction management firm based in San Diego.  Matthew holds a license as an Attorney in California and received his Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law.  Matthew is a California licensed Architect with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Tennessee.  In addition to his work with SCPC, he maintains a boutique law practice at Boomhower Law, APC where he focuses on land-use and construction law and serves as outside counsel to a number of small businesses.  He is an adjunct professor at Woodbury University, School of Architecture (San Diego campus) where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on professional practice, contracts, and codes.  He is the author of numerous articles and has presented continuing education, professional development seminars, and educational programs to numerous groups, both locally and nationally.

Matthew currently serves on the San Diego Zoological Society Foundation’s Charitable Real Estate Committee, which advises the Foundation Board on the acceptance of real estate gifts.  He is a member of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Infrastructure, Housing, & Land-use and Small Business Roundtable policy sub-committees.  He also serves on the City of San Diego, Planning Department, Code Monitoring Team (CMT).  CMT is an advisory committee which helps staff identify code sections in need of update and evaluates proposed Land Development Code amendments.  CMT recommendations on proposed LDC amendments are reflected in staff reports to the Planning Commission and City Council.



Patrick Bouteller

City of San Diego | Director of Government Relations

Patrick Bouteller is Director of Government Relations for the City of San Diego and Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. In this role, he manages all intergovernmental affairs for the City of San Diego and is the lead on all state and federal policy issues affecting City and Mayoral priorities. Previously, Patrick worked as Chief of Staff to Council President Pro Tem Mark Kersey, Director of Government Affairs for the Port of San Diego, and as Capitol Director to Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. He is a proud UCLA graduate and downtown San Diego resident.




Jaymie Bradford

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

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 covered everything from intergovernmental and binational affairs to infrastructure, environmental and land use policy for the city.

Jaymie has extensive experience in local government. She has worked in policy and public affairs for the City of San Diego for over a decade including for the office of Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and as Director of Intergovernmental Relations during Jerry Sanders’ tenure as Mayor of San Diego.

While earning her degree in Political Science at UC San Diego, she was a member of the NCAA Women’s Soccer team. Jaymie serves on the San Diego Convention Center board and has 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.


Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry

San Diego City Council – District 1

Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry represents San Diego City Council District 1 and serves as chair of the Council Committee on Budget and Government Efficiency.
Barbara Bry is a high-tech entrepreneur and community leader who worked her way through college and grad school, earning a Master’s Degree in Business from Harvard. Barbara was on the founding team of several local high-tech companies, including, which has created hundreds of local jobs.
A leader in the San Diego business community, Barbara taught entrepreneurship at UCSD and founded Athena San Diego, an organization that supports the advancement of women in the tech and life science sectors. As a business journalist, she has also spotlighted the vibrant small business community that supports our city’s economy and was honored as Small Business Journalist of the Year for San Diego and Imperial Counties by the Small Business Administration.
Barbara has deep roots in the community and has lived in San Diego for 35 years. She is married to Neil Senturia, raised her two daughters here, and is a proud grandmother. She served as President of the Board of the Children’s Museum of San Diego and as Vice Chair of the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation.
Barbara is working to keep San Diego safe, clean, and prosperous.



Jerry Butkiewicz

San Diego County Water Authority | Director

Jerry Butkiewicz was seated on the Water Authority Board of Directors on December 5, 2016, representing the City of San Diego.

Director Butkiewicz resides in San Diego with his wife and is retired from Sempra Utilities as a workforce readiness manager. He was elected as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Labor Council in 1996 and reelected in 2000 and 2004 and also served as the executive officer of the Labor Council for nearly 12 years, striving to provide all Californians with a fair wage, affordable health care and a safe working environment. In addition, he was active in the San Diego Greater Chamber of Commerce, United Way of San Diego, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the Environmental Health Coalition and the State Workforce Investment Board.

He is currently the Vice Chair of the Water Authority Legislative and Public Outreach Committee, and a member of Engineering and Operations Committee and San Vicente Energy Storage Task Force.



Hugo Carmona

Cox Communications | Manager of Government Affairs

Hugo Carmona has over ten years of experience in public policy, legal advocacy, and community affairs. Since 2016, Hugo has worked with Cox Communications in their Government Affairs department focusing primarily on state legislative issues. Prior to joining Cox, Hugo worked in the district office of Congressman Scott Peters, most recently as his Deputy District Director, overseeing an office of seven staffers and managing a portfolio that included military, veterans, transportation, commerce, immigration, and bi-national affairs. Hugo participated in the 2014 efforts to secure Federal funding for the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the world’s busiest land port of entry, to improve infrastructure and cross-border commerce. Prior to working with Congressman Peters, Hugo worked at several boutique law firms and gained experience with labor, union organizing efforts, immigration, and housing. Before starting his legal career, Hugo worked in local government as a staff member at the San Diego City Council. Hugo is a member of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Young Leaders Board of Directors and a 2016 LEAD Impact graduate. Hugo is a member of the State Bar of California, graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law, and earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.



Frank Carrillo

SIMNSA Health Plan | President & CEO

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.



Damon Carson

Neighborhood House Association | Executive Vice President

Mr. Carson has spent his career gaining experiences that have steered him towards becoming an effective leader and advocate for some of the most vulnerable children and families in San Diego. Since 2000, Damon has been with the Neighborhood House Association in San Diego, CA. He joined the organization as a Compliance Analyst and has spent the last 15 years increasing his areas of responsibility within the Organization. Currently, he serves as the General Manager for Education, Instruction and Operation. He currently leads a team of 600 employees and manages a budget in excess of 80 million dollars annually. He is known for being an innovative and thoughtful leader with a passion for advocating for the country’s less fortunate individuals. He is best known for bringing a half billion dollars in federal funding for early childhood education through his leadership of the NHA Head Start program. Damon is active on the advocacy fronts at the regional and national level serving as Vice President of Region IX Head Start Association, and a founding member and Treasurer of the National Head Start Alumni Network. Damon completed his tenure as Vice Chair of National Head Start Association, and will commence his term as the recently elected Chair of the National Head Start Association. Mr. Carson holds a Juris Doctorate degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from San Diego State University.



Rafael Castellanos

Board of Port Commissioners | Chairman

Rafael Castellanos was sworn in to the Board of Port Commissioners on April 15, 2013, to represent the City of San Diego. He is the chair of the Port’s Environmental Advisory Committee. Rafael is also a partner with the law firm Solomon Minton Cardinal Doyle & Smith LLP in San Diego, where he specializes in commercial real estate and business transactional law. His professional affiliations include service on the Board of Directors of MANA de San Diego, the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. Rafael is a member of the California State Bar Association, the San Diego County Bar Association, the Mexican American Business and Professional Association, and the San Diego Foundation’s Business Forum on Climate Change. He was named one of the San Diego Daily Transcript’s Top Young Attorneys in 2008, and in 2011 was named one of San Diego Metro Magazine’s 20 Men Who Impact San Diego. Rafael graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and he earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School as a Cornerstone Scholar.



Councilmember Chris Cate

San Diego City Council – District 6

Councilmember Chris Cate proudly represents the Sixth District of the City of San Diego which includes the communities of Clairemont Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa, Rancho Penasquitos, and Sorrento Valley. Voted into office in 2014, he was the first Asian American elected to the San Diego City Council in over 50 years.

Councilmember Cate has been lauded for his solution-oriented approach to public safety, economic development and the environment. He is currently named to four City Council Committees and serves as Chair on the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods.

Prior to becoming Councilmember, he served as Vice President of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association where he championed local and state legislation to ensure that cities and public agencies exercised accountability, efficiency, and fiscal discipline on behalf of taxpayers. During his tenure, he successfully wrote the analysis for Proposition B, a local ballot initiative to save taxpayers more than $1 billion dollars in a 30-year period.

His government experience is as Policy Director for then City of San Diego Councilmember Kevin Faulconer of the Second District. He oversaw issues relating to the City’s budget as well as the implementation of key initiatives, such as competition for City services.

Councilmember Cate earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of San Diego.

The Councilmember and his wife, Maria, live in Mira Mesa.



Molly Chase

City of San Diego | Chief of Staff to Councilmember Chris Ward

Molly Chase brings years of experience as a council representative and policy advisor to her role as Chief of Staff to Councilmember Chris Ward. A San Diego native, she leads a team dedicated to providing strong constituent service and leading on policy priorities to address homelessness and invest in our District 3 neighborhoods. In addition to overseeing the staff of the Councilmember she handles issues related to transportation and is the liaison to Balboa Park.



Carolina Chavez

SIMNSA Health | Director of Binational Affairs, Public Relations and the SIMNSA Foundation

Carolina’s role at SIMNSA encompasses:
-Coordination of binational and border work meetings with City, State and Federal elected officials
-Acting as liaison with binational department Directors to follow up projects and regional issues.
-Organize and conduct meetings with government authorities between Mexico and United States (including Customs and Border Protection, the San Diego Association of Governments, CALTRANS, etc.).
-Directly responsible for the organization and logistics of the 7th Binational Mayor’s Association Summit held in Tijuana in 2011 and Binational Border Mayors Summit 2011, 2012
-Organization and logistics of tours with News Media, Mayors, Government Officials and Tourism Promoters and Non Profits Organizations, from the States of California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico throughout the State of Baja California.
-Organize introductory meetings between top-ranking officials of Mexico, United States, Germany, China and Europe.
-Directly responsible for creating agreements and setting up press conferences and meetings with the Mayors of Baja California and Baja California South.
-Draft and follow up of Sister Cities and collaboration agreements among cities and civil organizations.
Prior to her role at SIMNSA, Carolina worked at the Binational Affairs Liaison Office of Tecate Mayor Cesar Moreno, and also at the Liaison Office for the City of Ensenada.



Kathleen Cole

Metropolitan Water District of Southern CA | Executive Legislative Representative

Kathleen Cole, Executive Legislative Representative with The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, has been charged with managing the district’s state legislative program in Sacramento.  Ms. Cole has been with the agency for 26 years and is responsible for promoting and protecting Metropolitan’s state legislative objectives, working closely with Metropolitan’s Board of Directors, General Manager Jeff Kightlinger, management team and the District’s contract lobbyists in Sacramento.

Prior to her joining Metropolitan, Kathy was a registered lobbyist and office manager for Lynn M. Suter and Associates, a private advocacy firm which focused primarily local government issues.  She cut her teeth on legislative issues through her two years with the state legislative operation for the East Bay Municipal Utility District.



Council President Myrtle Cole

City of San Diego – District 5

Council President Myrtle Cole was sworn in as a member of the San Diego City Council on December 10, 2014. She is the first African-American woman elected to serve on the City Council as a councilmember and as council president as well as the first woman to represent the Fourth Council District. Myrtle has worked in the Fourth District since 1977 and has lived in the Rolando Park Community for more than 20 years. Myrtle is widely acclaimed as a passionate leader on the Council in the fight for increased public safety, infrastructure improvements, economic development and quality jobs. During her tenure, Myrtle is putting neighborhoods first and getting things done. She continues to make the redevelopment of the District’s commercial corridors a top priority, working with labor, civic leaders, and businesses to bring good jobs and quality retail to the heart of the community. Since Myrtle has started office, she has opened the first drugstore south of the 94 on Euclid Avenue, installed Market Street sidewalks, received funding for the Bay Terraces Senior Center, opened the new Skyline Hills Branch Library, and more. Myrtle will continue to advocate for projects and programs that will pave streets, fix sidewalks, improve emergency response times and public safety resources. Council President Cole proudly represents communities in Alta Vista, Broadway Heights, Chollas View, Emerald Hills, Encanto, Greater Skyline Hills, Jamacha, Lincoln Park, Lomita Village, North Bay Terraces, Oak Park, O’Farrell, Paradise Hills, Redwood Village, Rolando Park, South Bay Terraces, Valencia Park, and Webster.


Randa Coniglio

Port of San Diego | President & CEO

As CEO of the Port of San Diego, I oversee a workforce of more than 500 talented and committed public servants. In executing our mission, I am guided by the policy leadership and direction from our seven-member Board of Port Commissioners. Together, we are focused on continuing our agency’s movement toward 21st Century governance with a focus on excellent service to our constituents, businesses, and other community members. My mantra, which I share with my team on a daily basis, is “to do the greatest good by doing remarkably well.”

The Port of San Diego is where our region greets the world. On behalf of the State of California, our Port is an innovative champion for the 34 miles of San Diego Bay waterfront along Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego, balancing multiple uses on this waterfront spanning our five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities. The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.



Dante Dauz, J.D.

UPAC | Supervisor

Dante Dauz was born and raised in San Diego and has developed and implemented numerous community engagement and empowerment programs with the Union of Pan Asian Communities  throughout San Diego for 8 years.  Programs have included: reducing community violence, crime victim support, gang prevention, homeless advocacy, youth entrepreneurship, disadvantaged youth employment, and business development for individuals with serious mental illness.  Current projects include development of a diverse community center that focuses on embracing diversity, family strength, building neighborhood esteem, and business enterprise development called the UPAC Neighborhood Enterprise Center.

Dante has been a well-respected community advocate for over 20 years and maintains a reputation of being on the front-line of serious matters that impact the community. He also has a distinguished professional background in law enforcement, social services, and business ownership that has led to several acclaimed awards including Probation Officer of the Year and member of the Obama Volunteer Team award.  Collectively, he has supported over 3,000 youth and families through social services and has successfully supported numerous youth and families overcome the most difficult barriers by utilizing a variety of traditional, non-traditional, and innovative approaches.

As a former business owner, Dante has employed over 80 individuals that were in need of opportunities that other businesses were generally reluctant to offer.  He received his Bachelor’s Degree from San Diego State University in Criminal Justice and his Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law.



Ralph Dimarucut

City of San Diego | Policy Advisor to Council President Myrtle Cole

Ralph serves as a Policy Advisor for Council President Myrtle Cole. His responsibilities include advising and making recommendations on issues and policy impacting Housing, Homelessness, and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).





Dennis DuBard

General Dynamics NASSCO | Manager, Public & Government Relations

Dennis DuBard became the Manager of Public and Government Relations for General Dynamics NASSCO in August 2014. He is responsible for implementing NASSCO’s strategic communications initiatives as well as developing the company’s relationships with state and local government entities.

DuBard joined NASSCO in November 2010 as the Manager of Navy Programs Business Development. Prior to working at NASSCO, DuBard served as a naval aviator for more than 30 years with experience in Fleet Battle Group and Expeditionary Warfare Operations, including command of the USS PELELIU (LHA 5), Amphibious Squadron One, and Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Eight. He retired from active duty in 2007 with the rank of Captain.
Dennis is active in the local San Diego community serving on the Board of Directors for the California Manufacturing and Technology Association (CMTA), the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC), San Diego Fleet Week Foundation, the San Diego Port Tenants Association (SDPTA), the Navy Helicopter Association, the San Diego Bowl Game Association, and the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
DuBard is a native of Houston, Texas. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in Strategic Planning and International Affairs from the U.S. Naval War College.



Bill Earley

West Health | Chief Administrative Officer & General Consul

Bill Earley is responsible for all administrative, operational and legal aspects of West Health’s applied medical research and policy work in support of successful aging. This includes overseeing the organizations’ financial, human resources, information technology and other administrative functions. As general counsel, he leads West Health’s legal, compliance and governance efforts. Earley also plays a critical role in West Health’s local and state advocacy endeavors.

Prior to West Health, Earley served as regional chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties. Previously, he was a partner and attorney for an international law firm, and had his own law and management consulting firm.

Throughout his life and career, Earley has been dedicated to helping others. He received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal Award in 1985 for exemplary community service, and has worked with more than a dozen regional nonprofits, boards and public service entities, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and LEAD San Diego.

Earley holds a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and graduated with high honors from San Diego State University.



Clarissa Falcon

Falcon Strategies LLC | Principal Consultant/Owner

With 23 years of experience, Clarissa Reyes Falcon has demonstrated expertise in the government, community, and non-profit arenas.

Clarissa served as District Chief of Staff for the 40th California State Senate District represented by Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny from April 2003 until November 2010 overseeing three district offices in Chula Vista, El Centro, and Coachella. She fostered excellence in the staff by promoting a cohesive team environment and high-quality work performance that helped to bolster the reputation of the Senator’s office.

Prior to working for Senator Ducheny, Clarissa worked as key staff on public policy for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (SDREDC). In that capacity, she helped to develop the organization’s public policy priorities and provided regular communication to elected officials and partner organizations on the SDREDC’s strategic goals and mission. Accomplishments include helping to secure funding for the SR 905, the Brawley Bypass, legislation that enabled a financing mechanism for the construction of the East Otay Mesa Port of Entry, funding for the Tijuana River Valley and Otay River Valley Regional Parks and collaborating with government and groups on strategy to remove the South Bay Power Plant.

In November 2010, Clarissa started Falcon Strategies LLC., a firm that provides government and community relations consulting to both public and private entities including Metropolitan Air Park LLC, the Port of San Diego, BioMed Realty, SANDAG, Dart Container Corporation, and Simon Properties. Using her extensive knowledge and experience in coalition building and public policy Clarissa serves a broad spectrum of clients in navigating complicated government processes and strategic approaches to engaging with the public.

In continuing her service to her community, Clarissa has served as a Commissioner on the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women appointed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. She is immediate past Chair of the South County Economic Development Council, and sits on the boards of the UCSD Chancellor’s Community Advisory Board, South Bay Family YMCA, Circulate San Diego and serves on the Energy and Water Committee at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

She was also former Commissioner on the County Commission on the Status of Women. Clarissa received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Literature from the UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College in 1994.



Jamie Fox

City of San Diego | Chief of Staff for Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry

Jamie has extensive experience at City Hall and with local political campaigns. Her most recent role was that of Chief of Staff to former District 3 Councilmember Todd Gloria, who, during his tenure, served in both the interim mayor and Council President capacities. Her policy interests include public safety, education, labor, the arts community, and tourism. In addition to her work in government, she has been a Lecturer for the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at San Diego State University for over 10 years. Jamie was raised in Los Angeles, and came to San Diego to obtain bachelor’s degrees in consumer sciences and English, and a master’s degree in comparative literature. Outside of work, she can be found spending time with her family, and performing improvisational comedy. Jamie is responsible for the overall management of Councilmember Bry’s staff and the communities she represents in District 1. Her issue specialties are related to the Police Department, the City Attorney, Boards and Commissions, and overseeing the internal budget.



Chris Frahm

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck | Attorney

Law, politics and business converge around nearly every issue involving water, energy, infrastructure and other special projects in the San Diego region and across the state. Chris Frahm practices at that intersection, coordinating and strategically planning at the federal, state and local level to help her clients achieve their business objectives. She is known for her track record of success in making things happen, from initial strategic planning, through agreements, and, when necessary, assisting on defense against attacks in the media, in litigation or otherwise.

Long involved in public service, Chris has served as Chair of the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego Civic Theatre, and San Diego County Water Authority, representing the City of San Diego. She served as Vice-Chair of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and on the board and executive committee of the California Foundation on Environment and the Economy. She is currently on the San Diego Downtown Partnership board of directors.

With lobbyists and lawyers located throughout California, the southwest, and Washington, DC,
Chris and her firm have both sides of the aisle covered. While the Sacramento office includes
former president pro tem of the California State Senate, Don Perata, Brownstein’s Washington
office is headed by Marc Lampkin, named by POLITICO as a “need to know” K Street Power
Player. Now No. 2 among federal lobbying firms by revenue, Brownstein has top talent and
hands-on experience in natural resources, energy, healthcare, hospitality, tax,
telecommunications & media and more.



Timothy Fraser

Health Center Partners of Southern California | Vice President of Government Affairs

Tim Fraser recently joined Health Center Partners of Southern California as Vice President of Government Affairs where he leads all county, state and federal advocacy on behalf of the organization. HCP SoCal serves as the primary voice and health care policy advocate for community health centers that serve the health needs of communities throughout Southern California. Prior to joining HCP SoCal, Tim worked as Director of Government and Community Affairs at Family Health Centers of San Diego, one of the largest nonprofit health care clinics in the nation.

Previously, Mr. Fraser spent three years as Organizing and Acting Executive Director for Creative America, an entertainment industry nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about the impact illegal downloading has on the entertainment industry and global economy.

Before relocating to the West Coast, Mr. Fraser called Washington D.C. home. In 2009, Mr. Fraser was appointed by President Barack Obama as the Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign Stop.Think.Connect.™, a Schedule C Political Appointment. This position led a nationwide awareness and education effort increasing the public’s understanding of cyber threats and empowered individuals to be more secure online.

Early in his career, Mr. Fraser held a number of roles in national and statewide political campaigns. He currently resides in downtown San Diego with his wife, Amy and their adorable pug.



Jeff Gattas

UC San Diego | Assistant Chancellor & Chief of Staff

Jeff Gattas is Assistant Chancellor and Chief of Staff to UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. In this role, Jeff serves as strategic advisor to the chancellor and the campus executive leadership team, providing expertise and counsel on all aspects of leading an internationally ranked public research university.  He is the chief communications officer, developing communications strategies and tactics to achieve institutional goals and objectives while overseeing UC San Diego’s public relations, media relations and marketing. He also provides leadership and oversight for public affairs, directing advocacy and state and local government relations efforts, as well as managing business operations and the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.
Jeff has over 20 years of experience in communications, government and public affairs.  He joined UC San Diego in 2007 where he served in roles including Senior Director of Public Affairs and Executive Director of University Communications and Public Affairs. Prior to working at UC San Diego, he was San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Director of City Council Affairs, acting as liaison between the City Council and the Mayor’s office.  In addition, he served as Chief of Staff/Policy to San Diego City Councilmember and Acting Mayor Toni Atkins and District Director and Press Secretary for California Assemblymember Denise Moreno Ducheny.  He has managed and advised on several national, state and local political campaigns.
Before entering the public sector, Jeff worked in public relations and marketing, assisting organizations in meeting their strategic communication, community outreach and product development and placement needs. He represented a broad client base from Fortune 200 companies to entrepreneurial ventures to snowboarding and skateboarding magazines.
Jeff has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and a master’s degree in Mass Communications from San Diego State University.  He completed Harvard University’s Senior Executive program in State and Local Government at John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Jeff is also active in the community and has served on a variety of civic and community boards. Currently, he is on the Executive Committee for LEAD San Diego, the Downtown San Diego Partnership Board of Directors and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Committee.



Mike Hansen

Peninsula Law & Policy | Land Use & Environmental Attorney

Mike Hansen is a land use and environmental attorney with Peninsula Law & Policy.  He recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff/Chief of Policy and Director of Land Use and Environmental Policy for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.  Prior to that, he was an environmental and land use attorney at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton.  He received his JD from Northwestern University and BA in Political Science from UCLA.



James Hauser

City of San Diego | Chief of Staff to Councilmember Chris Cate

James Hauser currently serves as the Chief of Staff to City of San Diego Councilmember Chris Cate of the Sixth District. He has been actively engaged in San Diego politics having worked for local and state elected officials as well as on a number of local political campaigns. Prior to being in the Council District 6 office, James was the Campaign Manager for ‘Chris Cate for City Council 2014,’ and the Deputy Campaign Manager for ‘Kevin Faulconer for Mayor.’ He is also involved with numerous professional organizations, such as the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. In 2015, James received the distinction of being named one of the top 21 emerging leaders in the region by “Our City San Diego.”

James is a graduate from the University of California San Diego with a degree in Political Science and International Relations. He has lived in San Diego since 2007.



Chanelle Hawken

Cox Communications | Vice President, Government & Public Affairs

Chanelle Hawken is vice president of government and public affairs for Cox Communications California. In her role, Hawken provides leadership and strategic direction to the government, community, media and public relations functions for Cox’s California markets, which include San Diego, Orange County, Palos Verdes and Santa Barbara.

Hawken joined Cox in March 2016 as director of government and regulatory affairs.

Prior to joining Cox, she was vice president for public policy for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and was appointed to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Pure Water Working Group. She also worked in government and media relations with the San Diego Regional Airport Authority. Early in her career she served on the staff of Scott Peters, then president of the San Diego City Council.

The Encinitas resident received her bachelor’s degree in political science from UC San Diego and her law degree from the University of San Diego law school.

Cox Communications is part of Cox Enterprises of Atlanta. The family owned business has 50,000 employees (with 1,800 of them in California) and $17 billion in revenue.



Paul Hegyi

San Diego County Medical Society | CEO

Paul is Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego County Medical Society (SDCMS), the professional association for physicians in San Diego. Founded in 1870, SDCMS currently counts approximately 5,455 physicians and medical students as members. SDCMS — “Physicians United for a Healthy San Diego” — fights for access to quality healthcare for all San Diegans.

Paul joined SDCMS after five and a half years with the California Medical Association (CMA), where he served in the roles of lobbyist, vice president of the political membership, marketing, and communications departments. During his tenure, CMA reversed a 20-year trend of declining membership, posting a 15% membership growth and the largest total membership in the history of the association.

Hegyi serves on the Executive Committee of Champions for Health, a 501c3 subsidiary of the San Diego County Medical Society dedicated to improving community health and supporting physician volunteerism. He is also a member of board of San Diego Health Connect, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Policy and Health committees, San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage, the San Diego Lincoln Club, and the County of San Diego’s Health Services Advisory Board.

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Paul grew up in Sacramento, California. He received his MBA from the University of Southern California where he graduated with honors. He holds a BA in government from California State University, Sacramento. Paul helped create a course in the Business of Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, which he continues to teach along with two physicians.



Donna Jones

Law Offices of Donna Jones | Partner & Owner

Donna can help your company with virtually any issue it runs into with the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, City of Poway, Carlsbad, El Cajon, La Mesa, Chula Vista and other local agencies. Her speciality is navigating land use and environmental issues of all sorts, but particularly CEQA. Donna has deep and broad experience with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), having worked on EIRs, Negative Declarations and all other types of CEQA-related documents since 1994. In addition, she has years of experience on a variety of real estate and environmental issues, including negotiating agreements and obtaining permits from not only the local San Diego agencies but also the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the FAA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and more. She has obtained coastal development permits from the Port of San Diego, the City of San Diego and the California Coastal Commission for hotels,, housing and other development, including municipal solid waste facilities. She advises on initiatives and ballot measures, and advocates for her clients on land use and other types of lobbying issues. She has chaired Civic San Diego and served on the Historic Resources Board and many other boards and commissions. Give her a call!



Sara Kamiab

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | Director of Public Affairs

Sara Kamiab is the Director of Political Affairs and Education and Workforce Development Policy at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. She develops and facilitates the Chamber Foundation’s leadership programs, runs the day to day operations for the Chamber PAC, and conducts policy analysis for the Chamber’s Education and Workforce Development Committee. Prior to joining the Chamber, she directed large-scale voter turnout operations as the Get Out The Vote Director for candidates including Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Chris Cate. She also served as Campaign Manager for Councilmember Lorie Zapf, and most recently ran the Chamber PAC’s independent expenditure ground operations for the 2016 elections. Before getting involved in politics, Kamiab worked in the medical device industry as a Global Operations Specialist and managed supply chain logistics for Alphatec Spine’s international subsidiaries. In addition to her work, Kamiab enjoys volunteering in the community. For over two years, she has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Voices for Children, an organization providing support to foster youth in San Diego County. She also volunteers at the San Diego County Department of Animal Services. Kamiab is fluent in Japanese and Farsi. She received a B.S. in Global Supply Chain Management from CSU San Marcos.



Sean Karafin

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | Vice President of Public Policy & Economic Research

Sean Karafin, as the Vice President of Public Policy and Economic Research, oversees day-to-day activity of the public policy department and economic research efforts while managing the policy positions and agendas for the Chamber’s various policy committees. Sean joined the staff in early 2015 where he was an integral part of the public policy team and led economic research. His commentary has appeared in numerous media outlets on behalf of the Chamber including KPBS, San Diego Union-Tribune, and Voice of San Diego.

Sean has served and currently serves on multiple boards and committees including the Regional Taskforce on the Homeless Board, the City of San Diego’s Sustainable Energy Advisory Board, the Water Reliability Coalition, the Circulate San Diego Policy Committee, the United Way Policy Committee, and the North Park Community Association Board among others.

Before joining the Chamber, Sean served in multiple roles at the San Diego County Taxpayers Association including as Interim President and CEO from March through June of 2014. At the Taxpayers Association, Sean directed numerous policy and research efforts in the areas of taxation, efficient use of public resources, and good governance.

Prior to entering the non-profit sector, Sean held positions at two economic consulting firms: Applied Development Economics in the San Francisco Bay Area, and BW Research Partnership in North San Diego County. In these roles, Sean worked with numerous municipalities to make economic and fiscal policy decisions based on comprehensive research and sound analysis.

A San Diego native, he received a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in Economics and a master’s degree in Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Sean resides in the San Diego community of North Park with his wife, young son and baby daughter.



Sara Katz

Katz & Associates Inc | Founder, CEO

Sara Katz founded Katz & Associates in 1986. With her team of communication professionals, Sara manages community relations, public involvement and public affairs strategies for her clients.

Since beginning her career in public affairs in the 1980s, Sara has developed a recognized specialty in developing communication programs for local, state and federal public agencies. Her experience includes public outreach and involvement programs for major public works projects, social awareness programs and controversial public policy issues. Sara’s wealth of experience ranges from issues management, coalition building and facilitation to strategic planning, media strategy and crisis management.



Kim Kawada

SANDAG | Chief Deputy Executive Director

Kim Kawada became the Chief Deputy Executive Director at SANDAG on Dec. 1, 2013, after serving in a variety of leadership roles at the agency for nearly 19 years. She is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities of an agency with a $1.2 billion budget and about 330 employees.

Before her promotion, Kawada was the TransNet and Legislative Affairs Program Director. TransNet is the local half-cent sales tax for transportation approved by San Diego County voters. It’s the most significant local funding source for highway, local street, pedestrian, and bike improvements, as well as smart growth and environmental conservation.

Over the past two decades, Kawada has played an instrumental role in many of the agency’s programs and projects, ranging from long-term transportation planning to budgeting to setting legislative priorities. Her leadership on legislative efforts enabled SANDAG to operate new toll and managed lanes to expand travel choices, and to use innovative project delivery methods to save money and accelerate completion.

Kawada also has served as a key advisor for budgets during both up and down economic cycles. And she has extensive experience working with elected leaders throughout the region to build consensus to achieve wide-ranging regional goals.



Lisa Kay

Alta Environmental | President

As President of Alta, Lisa oversees client relationships and operations to ensure exceptional client service and effective project solutions. Over her career, Lisa has supported numerous industrial and government clients across the West Coast with their environmental quality and compliance issues. For more than 25 years, Lisa has provided strategic advice, led diverse stakeholder interest groups, represented clients in front of regulatory agencies, negotiated regulatory requirements, interpreted regulatory requirements, designed scientific studies, designed regional permit monitoring programs, implemented monitoring, and led planning efforts. She specializes in developing regulatory compliance strategies for Alta clients. Lisa is currently Chairperson of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee.


Kent Kauss

Sempra Energy Utilities (SDG&E and SoCalGas) | Regional Vice President

In September 2017, Kent Kauss joined San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Company as the Regional Vice President – External Relations. Kent reports to Mitch Mitchell, Vice President of State Government Affairs & External Affairs and will be located in the Sacramento office.

Kent brings significant energy-related expertise around state government and state agency policy and strategy. He was most recently the Senior Director and Chief Lobbyist for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) where he led the State Government Relations functions, including the development and strategy of legislative policy.

Prior to working at PG&E, Kent was a director at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) where he was responsible for the operations of the Office of Governmental Affairs and served as the liaison to the Governor’s Office and state agencies.

Kent holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.



Lisa Kelley

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | Marketing & Events Coordinator

Lisa joined the Chamber of Commerce in 2016 as the Marketing & Events Coordinator. Prior to joining the Chamber, Lisa managed circulation, events and digital media for WHERE San Diego Magazine, and held the position of Director of Weddings at V. Sattui Winery in Napa, CA.

Lisa graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a Minor in English. As a San Diego native and farmer’s daughter, she loves the unique personality of this “city of neighborhoods” and enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with various industries in Chamber events.



Councilmember Mark Kersey

San Diego City Council – District 5

San Diego Councilmember Mark Kersey represents the City of San Diego’s Fifth District. In 2016, he was reelected to a second term on a platform of rebuilding San Diego’s infrastructure, modernizing government and keeping San Diego’s economy competitive.

As Chair of the Council’s Committee on Infrastructure, Kersey is pursuing an ambitious infrastructure work plan that’s reforming the way the city evaluates, prioritizes, and invests in infrastructure. He’s the author of Prop H or Rebuild San Diego, which was approved by voters in June 2016. Prop H provides up to $4 billion in dedicated funding for neighborhood improvements without a tax increase.

Kersey focuses on utilizing technology to empower residents and streamline government. He introduced the City’s first Open Data Initiative, which makes large quantities of City data available to the public in a convenient and usable format.

He also works to provide economic development incentives to companies looking to expand into San Diego. He is building relationships across the border to help grow binational economic ties to take advantage of San Diego’s proximity to Latin America. He’s on the Board of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), where he helped steer the Brookings Metropolitan Export Plan and Foreign Direct Investment Initiative.

In addition to chairing the Infrastructure Committee, Kersey is Vice Chair of the Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations Committee and Rules Committee, and is a member of the Homelessness Committee. He serves as First Vice President of the League of California Cities and on the board of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority.

Kersey is an alumnus of Northwestern University and the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. He is the founder and owner of Kersey Strategies, a technological research firm.


el Kulis

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

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.


James Lawson

Presidio PAG, Inc. | President

James Lawson, President of Presidio PAG, Inc., brings more than a decade of experience in local government and lobbying to his clients. His diverse background includes creating public policy, advocating for private development interests and implementing complex strategic initiatives. Throughout his career, Lawson has built strong relationships in the public sector, private sector and on both sides of the political aisle.

Lawson’s career in San Diego began on the campaign of former San Diego City Councilmember and current San Diego Mayor, Kevin Faulconer. Following Faulconer’s 2006 election to the City Council, Lawson served in his office for over five years as Senior Policy Advisor and Liaison to Downtown San Diego where he was responsible for all matters related to land-use, redevelopment, housing and transportation.

Following his tenure in Faulconer’s office, Lawson joined a statewide public affairs firm where he spent four years in the firm’s San Diego office. During that time, he worked directly with several large corporations to develop and execute advocacy strategies. He also specialized in building broad and diverse coalitions to support his client’s interests.

Lawson is actively involved in several organizations throughout the San Diego region including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego County Taxpayer’s Association and the Downtown San Diego Partnership. He is also an elected member of the Downtown Community Planning Council, a body that advises the San Diego City Council on Downtown land-use issues and other public policy matters.



Tana Lorah

Kaiser Permanente | Senior Manager, Government & Community Relations

Tana Lorah joined Kaiser Permanente as a community benefit manager in 2010. Now serving as the senior manager of Government & Community Relations, Tana is responsible for legislative and community affairs for the San Diego County service area. Tana’s role continues to include Kaiser Permanente’s charitable support of nonprofit organizations through grant-making and through the management of sponsorships, partnerships and volunteer efforts in the community. Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente, Tana served as Associate Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer for the San Diego County Medical Society Foundation. In that role, she managed the overall operations and fundraising efforts of the foundation including directing the start-up and launch of the leading physician volunteerism project in San Diego. Tana serves as a board member with the following organizations: Berry Good Food Foundation and Kearney Mesa Planning Group and continues to advise and consult with other area non-profit organizations.



Lani Lutar

Responsible Solutions, LLC | President

Lani Lutar is president of Responsible Solutions, LLC, a public affairs firm specializing in advocacy, coalition building and government relations.  She has more than 15 years of experience in public policy research and analysis, strategic marketing and business development. Prior to establishing Responsible Solutions, Lutar led three respected local non-profit organizations as CEO over a period of ten years: San Diego County Taxpayers Association, Equinox Center and the Asian Business Association of San Diego. Under her leadership, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association effectively influenced a wide range of local and state legislation and dozens of ballot propositions. Most notably, Lutar was instrumental in crafting and advocating for Proposition B, the City of San Diego’s Comprehensive Pension Reform initiative, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2012 and is projected to save the City approximately $1 billion. Lutar firmly established the organization’s position as one of the most respected and influential public policy institutions in the San Diego region, consistently at the top of polls measuring voter trust. She serves on the board of directors of the One San Diego, San Diego Coastkeeper and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.  She is also a member of the advisory boards for the Pacific Arts Movement, Asian Business Association of San Diego, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Group. She earned a Master of Pacific International Affairs degree from the University of California, San Diego and graduated magna cum laude from San Diego State University with a BA in Psychology.



Marshall Merrifield

Port of San Diego | Commissioner

Marshall Merrifield was sworn in to the Board of Port Commissioners on April 15, 2013, to represent the City of San Diego. Merrifield serves as President/CEO and majority shareholder for Bluewave Security, which manufactures high-tech equipment for video and door-access surveillance. He previously was President/CEO and majority shareholder for the security company General Lock and Clark Security Products, the largest privately held security hardware business in the United States, until 2010. His past business affiliations have involved industries ranging from animation to investment banking. Merrifield cofounded Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad and has been a Board Member for the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA in Encinitas and for former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Economic Advisory Council. He serves as a member of the Campaign to End Homelessness’ leadership team. Merrifield graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.


Mitch Mitchell

San Diego Gas & Electric | Vice President – External & State Government Affairs

Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell is vice president of state governmental affairs and external affairs for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Company.

Mitchell is responsible for state governmental affairs for both companies and oversees all external affairs activities for SDG&E.

Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Redlands.

Mitchell currently serves on the boards of directors of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, San Diego Museum of Art, Voice of San Diego, The Sharp Hospital Board of Directors, the Jacobs & Cushman Food Bank Advisory Board, and The New Children’s Museum Advisory Board.



Neil Mohr

Republic Services | General Manager

Neil Mohr is General Manager with Republic Services and is responsible for the operations, safety, and environmental compliance of their post collection facilities in San Diego County. Neil oversees landfill operations at three facilities, including construction & demolition material recycling, organic waste composting, aggregate recycling, a transfer station, and landfill gas to energy projects that produce renewable power for the region. The San Diego facilities were a privatization project that Republic Services coordinated with the County of San Diego. Neil has a Civil & Environmental Engineering Degree from Pennsylvania State University and has over 30 years experience in the solid waste industry. He is current Chair of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’ Public Policy Committee. Neil is active in the San Diego community including supporting the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the San Diego River Foundation, I Love a Clean San Diego, San Diego Boys and Girls Club and the Industrial Environmental Association. He is past President of the San Diego County Disposal Association, a Board Member of the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation, and past Chair for the San Diego Chamber of Commerce’ Energy & Water Committee.



Jill Monroe

Point Loma Nazarene University | Director of Public Affairs

Jill Monroe joined Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) in August 2013 as the Director of Public Affairs. In this role Jill serves as a primary resource and point of contact for local neighbors, government entities, community organizations and media groups. She manages external strategic initiatives to enhance the university’s profile in the San Diego community along with legislative and policy issues affecting higher education. Working to develop and maintain relationships with media organizations, she also assists senior leaders with crisis management and communication. A 2007 PLNU alum and a graduate of LEAD San Diego, Jill began her career in San Diego in the office Mayor Jerry Sanders as a policy liaison before joining the County of San Diego in 2009. During her time with County, Jill worked for the Board of Supervisors as a healthcare policy advisor and community affairs representative before joining the County’s Health and Human Services Agency in 2011. In each role, Jill further developed her knowledge of community engagement, policy development and program administration.



Jack Monger

Industrial Environmental Association | Chief Executive Officer

As CEO of IEA, Mr. Monger represents approximately 55 regional manufacturing companies with over 55,000 employees.  IEA promotes responsible, cost-effective environmental laws and regulations, and facilitates environmental compliance among members.  IEA has the unique mission of promoting industry and protecting the environment.

Prior to joining the IEA, Jack Monger worked as a lobbyist and government / public relations professional in San Diego for 23 years.  Mr. Monger’s clients included companies and organizations in the fields of healthcare, real estate development, airport and maritime operations, travel and tourism, and the U. S. Navy.  Mr. Monger played a role in some of San Diego’s most controversial public policy issues such as San Diego’s switch to the Strong Mayor form of government, the development of Petco Park, and the establishment of the region’s clean syringe exchange program.

Mr. Monger is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served on active duty for six years.  Subsequent positions included: sales engineer — Honeywell, Inc.;  Staff Representative – San Diego City Council; Executive Director –  Hall of Champions Sports Museum; and VP, Business and Community Relations, — The Corky McMillin Companies.

Jack is a past-President of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and has served as a Board member for several organizations, including the San Diego Port Tenants Association, Community Health Improvement Partners, and the East Village Association.

Mr. Monger resides in Coronado with his wife, Darby.



Denise Moreno Ducheny

Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD | Sr. Policy Advisor

Denise Moreno Ducheny is currently the Senior Policy Advisor at UC San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (USMEX), based at the School of Global Policy and Strategy. USMEX contributes to the ongoing integration process between the U.S. and Mexico by providing a forum for thought leaders to engage in public dialogue, training future leaders, and supporting cutting edge research.

Ducheny served in the California State Senate from 2002 to 2010, in the California State Assembly from 1994 to 2000, and on the San Diego Community College Board from 1990 to 1994. Prior to her service in the Legislature, Denise was an attorney in private practice.

In both Houses of the Legislature she was the first woman and the first Latino to chair the Budget Committee, serving as Chair four years in each house. She served on many policy committees as well, including Water, Transportation, Housing, and Judiciary, and was actively engaged in developing bi-national meetings of legislators from California with U.S. and Mexican State Legislators along the length of the Border and among the Legislators of California, Baja California, and Baja California Sur.

In 2014, in recognition of her dedication to the U.S.-Mexico relationship, Denise was awarded the Premio Ohtli by the Mexican Government and was appointed by President Obama to the Board of Directors of the North American Development Bank where she continues to serve.

Ducheny holds a B.A. in history from Pomona College and a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.



Job Nelson

Port of San Diego | Assistant Vice President, External Relations

Job Nelson serves as the Assistant Vice President-External Relations for the Port of San Diego. In that role, he oversees marketing and communications operations, government and civic relations, and arts and culture for the Port District. Job was promoted from his previous role as Director of Government and Civic Relations where he directed all federal, state and regional lobbying efforts, as well as grants. He served in a similar role for the City of San Diego where he worked for Mayor Jerry Sanders as Director of Intergovernmental Relations. During his time with Mayor Sanders, the City secured over a billion dollars in state and federal funding.

Job’s career in public service includes time as a Chief of Staff for a City Councilmember, as well as serving as Senior Policy Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former San Diego Mayor Susan Golding, and as a Policy Consultant to the California Senate Minority Leader. He served as a liaison to the California Big 10 Mayor’s Alliance and as a representative at the Urban Partnership Advisory Group run by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Job Nelson’s private sector experience includes heading up University Relations and Strategic Planning for Point Loma Nazarene University. He has written opinion pieces that have run in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the North County Times, and the Daily Transcript. Job Nelson has a BA in Communications from Point Loma Nazarene University and an MA in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate University.



Charlotte Ochiqui

Neighborhood House Association | Chief Strategy Officer

Charlotte began her career in 1996 at the City of San Diego’s Economic Development Department as an analyst working on managing special projects then worked for the San Diego Mediation Center in 1998 as a dispute resolution specialist. In 1999, Charlotte joined the Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias at San Diego State University where she advocated before Congress and managed projects, personnel, and budgets. In 2000, Charlotte joined the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians as a Senior Management Analyst and was quickly promoted to Director of Education and soon thereafter, to Director of Community Services where she managed the tribe’s social service programs and developed innovative strategies for indigenous communities. Following successive promotions, and after 13 years with the Tribe, Charlotte left Viejas to focus her efforts on management of non-profit organizations. Charlotte joined Neighborhood House Association (NHA) in 2013 where she served the Vice President of Children Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and was promoted to Area Director in 2014. While in this capacity, Charlotte managed early childhood education teams and developed local, state, and national legislative strategies for the Head Start program. Charlotte is presently the Chief Strategy Officer at NHA. She is a member of the San Diego County Child Care Development Planning Council and completed the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Advance Executive Leadership Program in January 2018. Charlotte has a strong community services background and is experienced in assisting organizations with strategic planning, education, and advocacy.



Jeremy Ogul

Madaffer Enterprises | Public Affairs Director

As rapid technological innovation reshapes the dynamics of our daily lives, local and regional governments must work proactively to capture the benefits of innovation while anticipating and mitigating potential harm. This is Jeremy’s focus as Public Affairs Director of Madaffer Enterprises. Jeremy is responsible for developing and executing public affairs and media relations strategies for a variety of clients in the technology, environmental services, education, and public sectors. As a former newspaper journalist and editor, Jeremy applies his expertise in clear and effective communication to help clients craft messages that move stakeholders and decisionmakers. Jeremy’s ability to understand and interpret competing perspectives helps clients navigate politically charged landscapes to reach public policy solutions that meet both the client’s needs and the broader public good. When outcomes matter, Madaffer Enterprises delivers.



Edward Othmer

Stantec | California Stormwater Sector Lead

Ed Othmer, PE, CPESC, CPSWQ, QSP/D ToR, QISP ToR, ENV SP, PMP is the California Stormwater Sector Leader for Stantec and has more than 25 years of engineering experience as a storm water practitioner. Mr. Othmer is a registered civil engineer in California and has maintained a variety of other certifications. Mr. Othmer received his Masters in Civil Engineering from Tufts University. Mr. Othmer has served as Principal-in-Charge and Project Manager on a variety of small- and large scale stormwater projects and programs. Mr. Othmer routinely teaches stormwater classes for many organizations including UCSD Extension Program and Lorman Education. Mr. Othmer served as a Consultation Committee Member for the San Dieguito River WQIP, is a member of the SWRCB’s Industrial Stormwater General Permit TMDL stakeholder group, and serves on the TAC for the City of San Diego Offsite Storm Water Alternative Compliance Program. Mr. Othmer also serves as the Vice President of the Industrial Environmental Association and is a member of the Water Reliability Coalition.



Edward Plant

San Diego Refrigerated Services | President

Ed Plant, a native Californian grew up in San Diego. In 1969 Ed purchased his first company, 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 bought the large refrigerated warehouse, across the street from his insulation supply business that came to be San Diego Refrigerated Services (SDRS). In 1996, Ed purchased Union Ice cold storage facility on port tidelands in National City that is now San Diego Cold, a commercial cold storage. Frank operated Harborside, the Port’s cold storage at Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal since 1997. SDRS expanded to Harborside in 2000. Harborside has done business with Central and South America, Australia, the Near East; and is a hub for San Diego’s growing breweries, local produce markets and neighboring wineries. 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 SD Food Bank Director; on the Economic Development Committee for the National City Chamber; past Chairman and currently on the Executive Board of the SD Port Tenants Assn; lifetime member of the SD Bowl Games Assn, and on the Board for the San Diego Chamber. Ed is proud grandfather to Hunter, Molly, Jackie, and Charlotte. He enjoys his sailboat and plays golf. Monthly he escapes to the family’s home in Mammoth for some quiet time and fishing.



Daniel Reeves

Downtown San Diego Partnership | Senior Vice President of Economic Development & Public Policy 

Daniel Reeves joined the Downtown San Diego Partnership in April 2014 where he now holds the position of Senior Vice President, Economic Development and Public Policy. In this position, he leads the Partnership’s public policy initiatives and develops strategic partnerships with companies and organizations to foster economic progress downtown. Among many other things, Daniel works to ensure downtown offers companies the ability to be successful by advancing programs that resolve challenges such as parking and mobility, and the attraction and retention of talent. He leads the Partnership’s efforts to support and realize downtown’s large civic projects, works with the development community to support the entitlement process and navigate the City’s regulatory processes, and develops policy positions for the organization. He also focusses on ensuring Federal, State, and local decisions impacting downtown reflect the needs and wants of the downtown community.

Daniel serves on the Downtown Parking Management Group, as an advisory member of the Regional Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee, and sits on the Board of San Diego Young Leaders and co-chairs its Philanthropy Subcommittee. He is an active, Full Member of the Urban Land Institute and is a 2018 inductee to Lambda Alpha International – San Diego Chapter.

Daniel graduated from the University of San Diego in 2012 where he earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) degree.



Michael Reynolds

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, Mike manages all financial, investment, and banking operations of the Chamber. He oversees the Chamber’s Human Resources, Facilities and Technology departments, as well as the grants program, royalty programs, and non-member revenues.

Mike joined the Chamber from ClosingCorp, Inc. in San Diego, where he was Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration, and Chief Financial Officer. ClosingCorp is an early stage technology-enabled service provider of real estate data to the financial services industry.

At ClosingCorp, Mike led the financial, legal, and administrative functions of the organization. During his tenure, he completed multiple rounds of financing to fund product development, launch new products, and build the infrastructure of the company.

Before joining ClosingCorp, Mike held similar leadership positions at ProfitLine, Inc., SeminarSource, and WebSideStory, Inc., and began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC in San Diego. He has served on the boards of Voices for Children, Junior Achievement, Pacific Beach Town Council, and The Gillespie School. At Voices for Children and The Gillespie School, Reynolds served as Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair.

Mike is a graduate of LEAD San Diego. He earned a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University’s School of Accountancy, and a master’s in business administration from SDSU. Reynolds is also a Certified Public Accountant in the state of California. He lives in La Jolla with his wife and two sons.



Warren Ruis

San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) | Director, Regional Public Affairs

Warren Ruis is Director of Regional Public Affairs for San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E). In this role, he is responsible for the Company’s support of local governments, elected officials, staff and certain regional agencies. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Ruis was the Director of Community Relations for SDG&E, where he was responsible for building the Company’s philanthropy, employee and community engagement strategies. His team managed a diverse group of more than 600 non-profit partners San Diego and Southern Orange Counties.

A native San Diegan, Mr. Ruis Chairs the California Coast Credit Union’s Supervisory Board, is on the Board of Directors for The San Diego LGBT Community Center, and the Board of Directors of San Diego Grantmakers. He has a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration (Management) from the University of San Diego, a Masters Degree in Business Administration (Finance) from Pepperdine University, a Certificate in Project Management from the University of California at Berkeley, and an Associate in Risk Management (ARM) from the American Institute for Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters. Additionally, he is a 2015 graduate of Leadership North County, a 2013 graduate of LEAD San Diego and a 2012 graduate of Leadership East County.



Jerry Sanders

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce | President & CEO

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.


Zachary Schlagel

UC San Diego Health | Assistant Director of Government Affairs

Zachary Schlagel is assistant director of government affairs at UC San Diego Health. A recognized leader in the public health movement, his key responsibilities include developing and imple

menting plans for strategic community partnerships and advocacy initiatives. Prior to joining UC San Diego Health in 2007, Mr. Schlagel worked for a member of the U.S. Congress. In this role, he served as the local advisor to the representative on healthcare, education and environmental issues. Mr. Schlagel has also served as an advisor and volunteer on a number of local and national political campaigns. In 2011, he was recognized as one of San Diego’s “40 Under 40” by San Diego Metro Magazine for his active leadership. Mr. Schlagel advises local non-profit organizations on legislative strategy and advocacy, and serves in a leadership role for UC San Diego Health’s partnerships with the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and many others. After chairing UC San Diego Health’s successful smoke-free hospital effort in 2009, he joined the Leadership Board for the American Lung Association – San Diego, and was instrumental in the passage of e-cigarette regulations in the City and County of San Diego in the City and County of San Diego in 2014. His passion for diversity and inclusion led him to serve on the Board of San Diego LGBT Pride and the Mexican-American Business & Professionals Association. Additionally, he spearheaded the nation’s first-ever hospital lighting to recognize the LGBT community, which has become an annual tradition at UC San Diego Health.



William Short

Labcoat Group | Founder

William Short is a selftaught
biologist, programmer, and is the founder of Labcoat Group.
Labcoat Group helps companies discover and enhance their edge by building custom software empowered by machine learning, blockchain, 3D printing, and robotics. Currently, William is searching for new ways to serve the San Diego Biotech and Healthcare industries. Listening to talks all day can be enlightening, so once you’re in the mood to complain about discovered inefficiencies in your business you can reach out to reclaim those resources.



Whitney Skala

Whitney M. Skala A P.C. | Founder

Mr. Skala’s law practice provides strategic leadership and legal services for a wide variety of business and real-estate related transaction matters. The firm was named the top law firm in Real Estate and Business Sales by San Diego Magazine in 2017 and 2018. Mr. Skala presently serves as the Vice Chair of the Chamber’s Energy & Water Committee.




Sara Steinhoffer

Sharp HealthCare | VP of Government Relations

Sara Steinhoffer is the Vice President of Government Relations for Sharp HealthCare, representing the interests of the region’s largest healthcare provider at the federal, state and local levels of government. In this capacity, she was the recipient of the 2013 American Hospital Association Grassroots Champion Award. She formerly provided governmental and community liaison for UC San Diego’s main campus, medical center and school of medicine.

Sara began her professional career in Washington, D.C. as staff to two Members of the California Congressional delegation. She left Capitol Hill to promote the concerns of the nation’s top aerospace manufacturers, primarily in the area of procurement policy.

She is an active member of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and is immediate past chair of its Healthcare Committee. She chairs the political action committee for the California Hospital Association where she also serves on the Public Advocacy Board. She is also a board member for San Diegans for Health Care Coverage and the San Diego Metro Community Development Corporation.

Sara has a history of engagement in efforts to promote women in the sciences and elected and appointed offices through organizations such as the San Diego Science Alliance, California Women Lead and Leadership California.



Tom Sudberry

Sudberry Properties | Chairman of the Board

Prior to his role at Sudberry Properties, Tom completed two Vietnam combat cruises aboard the U.S.S. Constellation. Tom then went on to work at Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokerage Company in San Diego. He is now Chairman of the Board at Sudberry Properties.

Sudberry Properties develops and manages commercial properties in Southern California. The firm specializes in urban retail, community, and town center developments with an emphasis on mixed use and master-planned communities.

Major projects under development include the award-winning 230-acre master-planned community of Civita in Mission Valley, the 465-acre El Corazon mixed-use community and So Cal Sports Complex in Oceanside, the 850,000 square-foot Watermark mixed-use project in San Diego’s Scripps Ranch, as well as several others throughout San Diego and Riverside Counties. Since its inception, Sudberry Properties has developed or is in the process of developing approximately 10 million square feet of retail, office, apartment and industrial projects. It has entitled more the 6,550 residential units, and is completing construction of 1,300 apartments in San Diego County. The firm also specializes in entitling particularly challenging or complicated properties.



Amber Ter-Vrugt

Scripps Health | Senior Director, Government Relations

Amber joined the Scripps Health family in January of 2014 and serves as senior director, government relations. Amber is responsible for educating elected officials and regulators on the unique issues facing Scripps Health and tax-exempt health systems in the State of California in alignment with Scripps mission and corporate priorities. Amber represents Scripps with industry associations, public issue groups, and regional business, civic and community-based organizations. She also manages Scripps’ community relations program in coordination with corporate and marketing priorities. Prior to joining Scripps, Amber had been practicing public affairs in Southern California for 12 years. Some of Amber’s responsibilities in her career have included; grass-roots coalition building, crisis preparation and management, event coordination, political campaign management and strategy, media relations, government relations and community outreach. She has represented organizations in public, private and non-profit sectors, including but not limited to: Scripps Health, Sempra Energy, SDG&E, The Gas Company, LA Unified School District, Lockheed Martin, the County of Riverside, Bright Source Energy, Lewis Family of Companies, Brookfield, GE and Calpine Energy. Currently, Amber serves in the following leadership roles: Chair of the Board for the Vista Chamber of Commerce, Vice Chair of Cal State San Marcos’ University Council, and member of the board of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Amber, her husband Alex and son Ty reside in San Marcos, CA.



Steve Vaus

SANDAG | Board of Directors 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.



Shawn VanDiver

Deloitte Consulting LLP | Client 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 fiancé and their 9-year- old aspiring pirate or engineer.



Robbyn Wapner

SANDAG | Senior Government Relations Analyst

As a Senior Government Relations Analyst with the SANDAG Office of Government Relations, Robyn serves as a technical resource to the agency regarding state and federal legislation and policy that may impact SANDAG and the San Diego region. Robyn previously served as a senior policy analyst with the U.S. House of Representatives and has a number of years of legislative affairs experience working for both the executive and legislative branches, as well as a D.C.-based 501(c)(3) outreach organization.
Robyn earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Southern California, and her Master of Arts in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University.



Councilmember Chris Ward

San Diego City Council – District 3

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 Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee and Chair of the Select Council Committee on Homelessness, Vice Chair of the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee, and as a member of the Infrastructure and Rules Committees, as well as serving as the 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.



Meena Westford

Metropolitan Water District of Southern CA | Special Projects Manager

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.



Caroline Winn

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) | Chief Operating Officer

Caroline Winn is chief operating officer for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), one of Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities. Sempra Energy is a San Diego-based Fortune 500 energy services holding company whose subsidiaries provide electricity, natural gas and value-added products and services.

She has three decades of experience in the energy industry. Under Winn’s leadership, SDG&E is responsible for the safe and reliable delivery of clean natural gas and electricity to 3.6 million consumers in San Diego and southern Orange County. In her prior role as Chief Energy Delivery Officer, she oversaw SDG&E’s electric and gas distribution operations, customer services, and external and state legislative affairs.

During Winn’s tenure at SDG&E, the company has become a leader in delivering clean energy and power grid modernization, while also achieving the distinction of the most reliable utility in the western region for 12 straight years. She has been committed to creating a better customer experience, and lead the creation of one of the first energy marketplace online platforms to offer customers energy-saving household products and services with instant rebates.

Winn serves on the board of directors for SDG&E, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Western Energy Institute and Veloz. Winn is also on the board of advisors for the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center.

Beyond her board appointments, Winn also dedicates substantial time to motivating and mentoring women, especially those early in their careers. She serves as a source for inspiration for the next generation workforce to put community and customers first. As the former board chairwoman for the Classroom of the Future Foundation, San Diego’s premier organization focused on bringing technology and innovation to K-12 schools, Winn shaped the nonprofit’s vision and mission to create learning programs that apply proven business and technology-based practices in the school setting.

Winn has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and is a registered professional engineer in the state of California.



Tom Wornham

San Diego Private Bank | President & CEO

Tom is a native San Diegan. He took over as President and CEO of San Diego Private Bank and its Holding Company PBAM in 2015. PBAM:OTC:QX. Prior to that Tom had served a two year term as Chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors (10 year member). He had retired from Wells Fargo Bank after a three decade career in 2012 to serve SDCWA. Tom spent the last decade of his career at WFB as EVP and Regional Manager of the the Wholesale Banking Group in San Diego. In addition to his business activities; Tom has served as Chairman of the Boards of The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. and the Century Club of San Diego.



David Yow

Port of San Diego | Legislative Policy Administrator

Supports legislative efforts of the Port of San Diego.



Councilmember Lorie Zapf

San Diego City Council – District 2

San Diego City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf is serving her second term, currently representing the Beach & Bay Communities of District 2.

Recently, she was appointed the Chair of the Audit Committee where her primary goal is to promote efficiency in government.
She also serves on the City’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods, (PS&LU) and Infrastructure Committees and on the Boards of SANDAG, LAFCO and MTS.

Councilmember Zapf has been involved in raising the awareness of Human Trafficking, especially juvenile sex trafficking in San Diego County. As a former foster youth, she understands the foster system and is working to keep this vulnerable population out of the hands of traffickers and to ensure they have access to housing, a key element to ensure they are prepared to move forward once they age out of the system.

Councilwoman Zapf brings years of business experience to City Hall as the former owner of a successful natural food company that she and her husband grew from an idea to a nationally distributed product. Lorie uses her experience as a small business owner to help bring about common sense reforms and initiatives at City Hall that reduce the burdens of costly government regulations and fees.

Previously, she worked in radio and television broadcasting as a news reporter, a video producer, public relations manager, and executive director of a non-profit fighting frivolous lawsuits. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Cal State Northridge and a Master’s Degree in Marketing Communication from the University of Denver.

Lorie lives in the BayHo area of Clairemont with her husband and two musically talented teenage daughters who have also invented, patented and manufactured the Curly Petz toy.