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Tuesday, Nov 28, 2023

40 Valley Professionals Who Don’t Let Age Get in Way

40 Valley Professionals Who Don’t Let Age Get in Way Marx Acosta-Rubio Founder, One Stop Shop Age 33 Marx Acosta-Rubio used $70,000 from his mother’s life savings in 1998 to start Chatsworth-based One Stop Shop, a computer peripheral company. The firm is now headed for $8 million in sales this year and Mom was paid back long ago. In fact, One Stop Shop has grown 60 percent to 80 percent every year since 1998. The Venezuelan-born entrepreneur’s secret. In talking with him, it seems his driving factors are learning how to master the art of selling, a positive mental attitude and a strong desire for personal growth. “I believe that no matter who you are you genuinely can get better,” Acosta-Rubio, whose company donates a portion of its proceeds to the American Cancer Society and makes many other contributions to charitable causes, none of which he will mention claiming that the highest form of giving is one without recognition. Acosta-Rubio came to this country in 1977 and graduated from UCLA in 1992. He went to law school but dropped out. “What I wanted to do was become an entrepreneur,” he said. An avid reader and listener to personal growth tapes and CDs, Acosta-Rubio eventually studied the art of selling after stumbling badly in his first attempts. “The only thing I had in my favor was I was teachable,” he said. But the tough days of eating “spaghetti and ketchup” are behind him now. He hopes to build a $100 million company within five years. How? “Always take action,” he insists. Jason Schaff Lisa A. Allison Partner, Lever, Lippe, Hellie & Russell Age 37 Lisa Allison knew early on where her career path would lead. She was just 16 when she enrolled in her first accounting course. It was not only challenging, but fun, she recalled. Today, Allison is a full partner in the Woodland Hills-based accounting firm, Lever, Lippe, Hellie & Russell. A respected professional involved in many business organizations, Allison is also active in the community as board member and past treasurer of the Wellness Community’s Valley/Ventura County chapter and through her volunteer work with animal welfare organizations. A graduate of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Allison began her career with Deloitte & Touche and later joined other firms before arriving at Lever, Lippe, Hellie & Russell in 2000. “It’s my goal to work with my clients and help them grow their businesses,” she said. Having been named partner in the firm in January, Allison has continued to build on her reputation and career that has served the Valley business community for the past 16 years. “Lisa consistently receives high regards from her clients and peers,” said Judi Rose, director of public affairs for Valley Community Clinic. Besides her ongoing practice, Allison has continued to teach accounting courses at her alma mater Cal Lutheran. “I tell students that accounting is challenging but it’s also interesting and fun.” Carlos Martinez Glen Becerra Simi Valley City Councilman Public Affairs Region Manager for Southern California Edison Age 39 How he balances his time between fatherhood, a seat on the Simi Valley city council, his numerous positions on boards and commissions and a high-profile post at one of the region’s largest public utilities, remains a mystery. But it’s clear Glen Becerra made a decision early in his life to put his passion for public service to full use. “I’m one of those people who don’t believe you have the right to complain if you aren’t willing to get out there and get involved,” said Becerra, a second generation Simi Valley native. Since 1996, Becerra has served as Public Affairs Region Manager for Southern California Edison, a position that put him front and center during the critical and controversial 2001 state energy crisis. Becerra is serving out his second term on the city council of Simi Valley. He previously sat on the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors from 1996 to October 1998, is a current member of the board of directors for the Simi Valley boys and Girls and is closely involved with the Simi Valley Education Foundation and the Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County. Becerra previously worked as a legislative aid to Assemblyman James L. Brulte and as deputy director for the office of external affairs under former Gov. Pete Wilson. In April of 2001 President George W. Bush appointed him to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, which recognizes and honors top achieving high school seniors across the country. Becerra holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California at Berkley and attended the Executive Fellowship Program, a public policy program sponsored jointly by the governor’s office and the Center for California Studies at California Sate University Sacramento. He and his wife Sally have two children. Jacqueline Fox Cory Bertisch CEO, My Gym Enterprises Age 37 Cory Bertisch wanted to become a child psychologist after college. However, he saw a golden opportunity to work with children and help them build confidence and self-esteem through fitness and gymnastic activities. “He loves kids,” said My Gym Enterprises chief financial officer Jamie Bertisch, “and he doesn’t have time for anything except the company which is where he feels he can make the biggest difference.” After graduation, Bertisch and partner Monique Broulard Vranesh bought My Gym Van Nuys in 1989 from its founders, William Caplin and Yakov and Susi Shermans, and never once looked back. Five years later, Bertisch was the driving force behind Gym Consulting Inc. (GCI), recently renamed My Gym Enterprises, the parent company responsible for franchising My Gym Children’s Fitness Centers worldwide. From the onset, Bertisch has overseen all corporate operations from sales, expansion to employee development and now serves on its Executive Council. Today, the company has opened 112 My Gym Children’s Fitness Centers worldwide, catering to the early learning needs and skills of children from 3 months to 9 years of age. Bertisch holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in child psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He recently became a parent and now lives in Sherman Oaks with his wife and daughter. Rosanna Mah Brandon Bogeaus Regional Vice President and Manager Mercantile National Bank, Encino Age 34 It has been just two years since Brandon Bogeaus opened the first San Fernando Valley branch of Mercantile National Bank, but the unit has already gained considerable visibility in the community. “Working from scratch and without the huge name brand recognition and budget of other banking giants, Brandon has, nevertheless, made huge inroads in the Valley business community,” said Judi Rose, director of public affairs at Valley Community Clinic. As regional vice president and manager of the Encino branch, Bogeaus is responsible for business development. He has carved out a niche for the bank serving health-care companies and surgery centers, along with other businesses. Bogeaus, 34, has developed a reputation for customer service that he said is the linchpin of the bank’s successful entry into the marketplace. “We became successful at it because we’re very responsive,” he said. Bogeaus also sits on the board of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, serving on the group’s health committee. He has also taken an active role for the Pierce College Foundation. Shelly Garcia Amy Brandt President, WMC Mortgage Age 30 At 30, Amy Brandt heads one of the leading sub-prime mortgage lending companies in the country. The Van Nuys native was recently named president of Woodland Hills-based WMC Mortgage, replacing Scott McAffee, who served as CEO and president until his appointment as chairman of the board earlier this year. Brandt essentially left behind a law career when she joined WMC as a sales associate in 1997. She quickly made a name for herself at the company, ranking as top sales performer year over year until 2000, when she was named executive vice president of production. Brandt played a key role in WMC’s 2002 transition to an all Internet-based lending firm, a risky move but one that clearly paid off: monthly loan revenues skyrocketed from $12 million to more than $250 million the first year and the company has never looked back. Brandt, her husband and son live in Canyon Country. She holds a law degree form Arizona State University and degrees in Spanish and political science from the University of Southern California. Jacqueline Fox Tamika Bridgewater Realtor, Paramount Realty Age 32 Tamika Bridgewater says she’s pretty much known where she was headed since she was a young girl growing up in Reseda. “My mother used to always ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up,” says Bridgewater. “I always said that I wanted to help people. That’s the driving force behind everything I do today.” Bridgewater, a Granada Hills resident, is a licensed Realtor who works primarily with first-time homebuyers. Once each month she conducts free seminars at her church for lower income workers and fellow parishioners on how to qualify for loans and other programs for first-time buyers. Bridgewater served as the president of the Black Chamber of Commerce from 1998 to 2002. She also sits on the nominating committee for the Girl Scouts of the San Fernando Valley, is a board member of Northridge-based Sisters Inspiring Sisters, a support group for women entrepreneurs, and serves on the board of the San Fernando Valley Financial Development Corp., which helps businesses obtain government contracts and loans. Bridgewater, her husband and two-year-old son live in Granada Hills. Jacqueline Fox Kelly Bruno Senior Associate, ONEgeneration Age 33 Working with senior citizens and providing them with a better life is Kelly Bruno’s job. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Bruno, a senior associate of intergenerational program development at Van Nuys-based day care provider ONEgeneration has been instrumental in developing her company’s day care program geared for both children and adults. Under the program, both, children and senior citizens participate together in specific supervised activities. “It’s such an innovative program that I’m sure in 10 years we’ll see everyone with this kind of intergenerational program,” she said of the program which has become a national model for others around the country. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in social work from Azusa Pacific University and a master’s degree in social work from Cal State Long Beach, Bruno began her career at Ember Maclay Skilled Nursing Facility in Sylmar where she eventually became its administrator. After five years at Maclay, Bruno moved on to ONEgeneration where officials were developing the so-called multigenerational approach to daycare. Having been trained in both gerontology and early childhood education, Bruno is especially qualified to lead the multigenerational effort which has become her crusade of sorts. “I really believe in what we’re doing and in the benefits that it provides to the elderly in particular,” she said. Carlos Martinez R. Steven Davidson President and CEO, Zengen Inc. Age 37 Most startup biotech companies bet the ranch on a single idea, and, if it fails, so does the company. Thanks to President and CEO R. Steven Davidson, Zengen Inc. does not have to risk it all in its scientific pursuits. Davidson engineered Zengen into three divisions one for over-the-counter products, one to develop peptide molecules and one to develop drug delivery systems a plan that has helped the company both to reduce its risk and expand its opportunities. The OTC division allows Zengen to work on products requiring far shorter development cycles that can, potentially, help to support the more time consuming work of pharmaceutical development and biological research. And by separating its peptide and drug delivery efforts, Zengen can better market its products to form alliances and partnerships with other firms, a key element in bringing these products to market. The business model is financed by the company’s first product, Zicam. When the OTC cold remedy proved successful, Zengen sold it, netting $17 million the company has used to finance its other endeavors. While not entirely new, such a business model is still relatively rare among biotech companies that are typically run by medical researchers and engineers, rather than business professionals. Davidson took a U-turn after initial plans to go to medical school. Instead he received an MBA in international finance and a Ph.D. in biopharmaceutical project management from American University of Astorias in Spain. He made the choice because he liked business, but wanted to remain within the biotech industry. “When you can manage that process and bring a technology so great it helps millions of people, who wouldn’t want that?” Davidson said. Shelly Garcia Maribel De La Torre Mayor Pro-Tem, City of San Fernando Age 32 Since her election in 2001 to the city council, Maribel De La Torre, 30, has played a key role in breaking the gridlock over long-term development plans for the 2.4 square-mile city of San Fernando. De La Torre is the oldest of six children born to immigrant parents and has lived in the city her entire life. Her sister, Cindy Montanez, now an Assemblywoman representing the Valley’s 39th District, was the mayor of San Fernando when De La Torre first came to office, which made the pair the first sisters in the country to serve on a city council at the same time. Alongside her sister and the current five-member council, De La Torre has been instrumental in getting long-stalled developments in the city back on track. Those plans include a mixed-use retail center on the site of the San Fernando Swap Meet, which will also include a new school, as well as a major revitalization plan for the city’s downtown core. “A lot of times people forget to identify back with the community,” said De La Torre. “We are now just really taking the ideas of the community and what they want and developing what they want to see. So we are listening to our constituency now. We aren’t pushing our agenda now, we’re pushing the agenda of the people who live here.” De La Torre is the founding member of the San Fernando Historic Homes Preservation Group and serves on the boards of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and the San Fernando YMCA. She is married and has two sons. Jacqueline Fox Mitchell Englander Chief of Staff for Greig Smith, City Councilman District 12, Founder and President of Issue Strategies Inc. Age 33 Mitchell Englander says he was dragged into politics “kicking and screaming.” But the fact that he’s made a career out of running campaigns for and against many Valley and citywide elected officials since he was 23 years old, is a pretty strong indication he likes what he does for a living. In fact, his career has spread so far and wide that it’s actually come full circle: In 1991 he helped re-elect recently retired L.A. City Councilman Hal Bernson, who ran against Julie Korenstein. This spring he did the same for newly elected City Councilman Greig Smith, who also defeated Korenstein in the race for the same district 12 seat. “It’s a career coming full circle, with all kinds of races in between,” said Englander, a 33-year-old Valley native who was born in Encino and raised in Woodland Hills. Englander now serves as Smith’s chief of staff, but is also president and founder of Issue Strategies, Inc., which has managed campaigns for many local elected officials, including long-time Valley representative, Joel Wachs and Assemblyman Keith Richman’s brief campaign for mayor of the proposed new Valley city in 2002. He sits on the board of directors for the Valley Leadership Institute and previously was tapped by Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg to the California State Bar Special Committee on Attorney Diversion and Oversight. Englander lives in Glendale with his wife, Jayne and their two daughters. Jacqueline Fox Jim Felton Partner, Greenberg & Bass Age 39 Here’s what one colleague had to say about Jim Felton: “You immediately know he’s got a really great heart and is just a warm, caring person,” said Andrew Bridge, managing director of the child welfare reform programs for The Broad Foundation. “And he went out of his way to help a bunch of kids I doubt he’ll ever meet, but he took the time to care about.” Forget that Felton, at 39, is a partner at Greenberg & Bass, one of the top 15 law firms in the San Fernando Valley. Or that next month, when he assumes the presidency of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, he will be one of the youngest presidents in its 77-year history. Felton has also distinguished himself through his good works. He is active in groups that range from the Valley Community Legal Foundation, which administers funding for the community, to the Brandeis University Alumni Association and the Jewish Federation, where he works to develop leadership skills in young adults. And on “adoption Saturdays” he can be found at the courts, helping to provide homes for children. “You will never have a kind of feeling in court as you will when you see the face of an adopted kid and know you are part of it,” said Felton, who graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University and received his law degree at UCLA. A business litigator, Felton doesn’t do family law, but when Bridge, who was a schoolmate in high school, introduced him to the Alliance for Children’s Rights, Felton took up the cause, not just by himself, but by also enlisting the assistance of a number of other attorneys at his firm. “I feel that part of my responsibility as a member of our society is to try to do some good,” Felton said. “It’s just what we’re supposed to do.” Shelly Garcia Dario Frommer Assemblyman for the 43rd District which includes Glendale, Burbank, and Toluca Lake Age 39 Dario Frommer may have had a little political experience under his belt when he launched his 2000 campaign for office. But few predicted he would beat out his Republican challenger for the 43rd District Assembly seat his first time at bat, much less by a 51 to 48 percent margin. Frommer, 39, is now wrapping up his third year in office representing portions of the east Valley. He says he’s simply doing what he set out to do as a young man growing up in Glendale. “I’ve really always thought of politics as a chance to make a difference in my community,” said Frommer. “I’m a grandson of immigrants from Mexico, who came here very poor, but, because of the opportunities here, were able to achieve their dreams. What I love about my job is that every day I get to help people do just that. Big dreams and small.” Frommer is playing a key role in the Legislature’s push for health care reform. He is currently the chair of the Assembly Health Committee and, alongside his predecessor, Assemblywoman Helen Thomson, authored a bill aimed at controlling the rising costs of care in California. He has also either authored or co-authored legislation to ensure that working mothers have time and space to breast feed their children and provide educational programs for blind school children. Frommer previously served as appointments secretary to Gov. Gray Davis and as political director for Davis’ 1998 campaign for office. He served as chief of staff to former Senator Art Torres, has been tapped as Outstanding Young Californian by the Jaycees and recognized as one of the top 20 ‘awyers under 40 in California by The Daily Journal in 1999. Frommer holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Colgate University and a law degree from the University of California at Davis. Jacqueline Fox Felipe Fuentes Deputy Mayor, San Fernando Valley Age 32 When a local resident called the mayor’s office to complain that shoes were still dangling from her neighborhood power lines after a clean-up plan was announced, Felipe Fuentes went to work. The deputy mayor for the San Fernando Valley personally went to the site, and when the shoe was removed, knocked on the constituent’s door to tell her so. “The biggest kick I get,” said Fuentes, “is I’ll pick up the phone and actually troubleshoot a problem for a constituent.” The hands-on approach comes easily to the lifelong resident of the San Fernando Valley, but no easier than his role as head of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Advocacy, overseeing a range of services from neighborhood block grants to sanitation and building safety and the city’s volunteer corps. “One of the things that makes Felipe stand out is he really can traverse diverse circles,” said Los Angeles City Council President Alex Padilla of Fuentes, who served as the councilman’s deputy for three years before he joined the Mayor’s Office. “He’s just as comfortable working at the grass roots level, rolling up his sleeves, going door-to-door, meeting folks in backyards and living rooms and converted garages, but equally comfortable in board rooms and city hall and some of the most formal settings where people think power brokering is going on. He’s able to be not just comfortable, but work effectively and bridge the various communities that make up Los Angeles.” After graduating college with a degree in political science, Fuentes says he never expected to work for the city. “I was working for a lefty non-profit that was always suing the federal government,” he recalls. But when Padilla entered city government, Fuentes says he got “re-energized to serve again.” His first assignment on Mayor James Hahn’s team was to serve as point-person on the fight against secession. There, as with his previous posts, he worked the street, engaging local residents and presenting the city’s position. With the secession movement retired for now, Fuentes spends his time working to remove blight, and organizing the city’s volunteer corps of about 1,000 recruits who are mobilized during crises. Shelly Garcia Senta Greene Program Director for Jumpstart Northridge Age 32 When Senta Greene first saw the alarming statistics for high school dropouts and juvenile delinquency, she knew that the problems facing our education system had to be challenged right from the start at preschool age. Together with two faculty members, Greene initiated an AmeriCorps-funded program last fall known as Jumpstart Northridge to help struggling low-income preschool children throughout the San Fernando Valley by providing one-on-one attention in language, literacy, social and intitiative skills. “Senta is genuine, passionate and dedicated,” said Stephanie Hopkinson, a colleague and child life specialist from the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. “She looks at her work as an investment for the [children’s] future and for the impact it has on society. She doesn’t do this for prestige but what we are doing for all children, families, schools and adults.” At California State University, Northridge, the 32-year-old Greene recruits, trains and pairs college students with preschool children with learning challenges. Under her leadership, 40 undergraduates from various disciplines put in more than 10,000 field hours of community service and served over 400 families in the San Fernando Valley during the last academic year. Greene is well-known at state and national educational agencies, and her age truly belies her wealth of experience and expertise in Child Life development. She has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the California Department of Education’s Board for Child Development and was also a past member of the national think tank for Early Head Start, a learning program geared towards the needs of children from birth to age 5 and their families. Rosanna Mah Nancy Gump Melancon Special Events Sales Manager, Andy Gump Inc. Age 34 Nancy Gump Melancon has a tough act to follow. Eventually, she will take over one of the most well-known companies in the greater San Fernando Valley one which has a family-business tradition of strict rules of customer service. As Special Event Sales Manager of Andy Gump Inc., a temporary site services company that began as a supplier of portable toilets but has now branched out to include temporary power and fencing, Gump Melancon has helped grow that division of the company from $100,000 to $3 million in sales annually over the last 14 years. The department targets several market segments such as party planners, production, annual events and major events. Her company has had such customers as the Super Bowl, U.S. Open and the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. To prepare her to take over the company when her father, Barry, hands over the reins, Gump Melancon is also spending time working in each department of the company to learn how they function. As she learns the ropes, Gump Melancon is quite aware of the tradition started by her grandfather Massena “Andy” Gump a half-century ago. Over the years, she’s spent much time watching her father and how he runs the firm. “I just listened on how he did things,” Gump Melancon said. “He pushed me to reach farther than I ever thought I could. (The business) is in my blood.” Jason Schaff Jerri Hemsworth CEO Newman Grace Inc. Age 38 When Jerri Hemsworth was a girl, she loved to draw and often pretended to run her own business or a slew of imaginary companies. It was her way of having fun and using her creativity that would later come in handy in her future career. Hemsworth went on to graduate from Pepperdine University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in advertising. She went on to become a production artist and typesetter for graphic design firms before joining consumer magazine publisher Challenge Publications as a typesetter and production artist before moving on to Werner Publishing and Aware Products. In 1996, she founded Newman Grace Inc., a Woodland Hills-based brand development and advertising firm. Since it began, the company has grown into a $2 million-a-year business. “I never set out to own my own business, but it just came to me naturally,” she said. “We do marketing and public relations so that makes us different from a lot of other advertising firms.” Hemsworth received the Business Owner of the Year Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners Ventura County chapter. She also has served as past president and Corporate Economic Development Chair of that organization s. Carlos Martinez Nancy Hoffman Vanyek Chief Executive Officer, Mid Valley Chamber of Commerce Age 39 She may live in the Santa Clarita Valley, but don’t think for a minute Nancy Hoffman Vanyek’s heart isn’t in Van Nuys. If you need more proof, consider the fact that she has worked for the Mid Valley Chamber of Commerce since 1987, formed under the merger of the Van Nuys and Sepulveda chambers, and, since, 1993, served as its chief executive officer. When she took over her current post, the chamber was deep in debt and membership was dwindling. Today, it is out of the red and operating on an annual budget of about $300,000. Her strategy was simple: tap her experience in the financial services industry and stick to the motto she learned when she first set up her own marketing and communications company at the age of 21. “I always made sure we put some money into a savings account for a rainy day, because I grew up on the notion that you always made sure you put something you earned away for yourself,” said Hoffman Vanyek. She was raised in Reseda, an area she says she’s watched decline over the years and one of the many reasons she works so tirelessly to help nearby businesses grow and prosper. In addition to pulling the chamber out of debt, she also managed to eliminate an annual expense of roughly $20,000 by replacing the monthly newsletter with the chamber’s first on line newsletter, launched roughly nine months ago. Hoffman Vanyek holds a bachelor of arts degree in management from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate of Institutes of Organization Management at Stanford University. She is the past president of the Southern California Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and serves on the board of the Western Association of Chamber Executives. She and her husband share “parenting” responsibilities for their four dogs, Bo, Shadow, Chance and Sierra. Jacqueline Fox Mandy Jacob President/Founder Inkorpa LLC Age 31 The fact that Mandy Jacob is running four different companies speaks for itself: The South African-born entrepreneur is just one of those people who isn’t happy unless she’s wearing several hats at once. But it’s what each of those hats are for that sets her apart. Her primary company, Burbank-based Inkorpa LLC, helps business owners in South Africa and other points around the globe navigate the rules for establishing operations here on U.S. soil. She came to Burbank on assignment from her former employer General Electric, which transferred her to a post at NBC Studios in 2000 where, she says, she quickly got bored. “I was working 10 hours, 12 hours a day and still going and people would be leaving saying ‘what are you still doing here?”‘ she said. According to Jacob, she got the idea for Inkorpa after receiving several inquiries from fellow South Africans with questions about how to obtain clearance to work or set up a business in the United States. “I just figured that if so many people were interested in this, that there had to be a market for a business helping them along,” said Jacob. But she didn’t stop there. She also owns and runs the Global Immigration Consulting Alliance which helps link business owners with potential partners outside their own countries, and a non-profit called the South African Business Club, a three-month-old chamber of commerce of sorts for expatriates with four chapters in operation and four more forming across the country. Finally, she recently purchased Digital Holographics, which makes jewelry engraved with holographic images. “These companies are my babies,” says Jacob. She holds a bachelor of commerce and master of economics from the University of Cape Town, a master’s in international economic law from the University of Warwick in England and an MBA from Babson College in Massachusetts. She and her husband live in Burbank. Jacqueline Fox Larry Krutchik Principal, The Edison Group Age 38 Larry Krutchik left the legal profession to help form his own strategic communications firm. There was too much paperwork and too many administrative tasks in being a lawyer. Besides, he felt the job would keep him away too much from his family. “I’m doing something I love, but I’m home for dinner,” he says. And his work for clients has earned him respect throughout the Valley business community. “I felt my legal skills could be better applied in a more impactful way,” Krutchik says about his work “solving problems and creating opportunities” for clients in the public relations, legislative and community relations arenas. His company’s clients include 21st Century Insurance and WellPoint Health Network. Because of his work done for clients in the industry, Krutchik plays a key leadership role in the health-care debate in the Valley. In addition to being a board member of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, he has served on its executive committee, and has been co-chair of the federal issues committee and health care committee. “I think I’ve been able to help the business community understand how what happens in Washington affects the San Fernando Valley,” he says. Krutchik, who lives and works in Encino, has influence beyond the business community. He’s been an active board member and volunteer of the Encino Little League for the past few years, being a mentor to kids and teaching them what he says are “life lessons.” According to Krutchik: “It’s so much more than baseball.” Jason Schaff Joshua S. Kushner Publisher, Valley Scene Age 37 Four years ago, Joshua S. Kushner was bored of reading alternative weeklies which, to him, regurgitated the same old grunge news and frustrated politics targeted for a young audience. “To be honest, Valley Scene came about from an awareness that there was so much politics in publishing that was taking place it was negative and underground,” said Kushner. “We felt that there was a demand for the lighter side of news, to bring us out of the underground and political rut as every paper seemed to be publishing the same things.” In 1999, together with the help of his partner Patricia Bradford Rambo II and $5,000 in capital, Kushner launched the Granada Hills-based Valley Scene magazine out of his home, an 18-page publication that focused on entertainment and leisure activities ranging from restaurants and film reviews to fashion tips and spa treatments. Four years later, the publication has grown three times in pages and circulation is 70,000 printed copies per issue. It is distributed free at local restaurants, health clubs and retail stores. Prior to being a publisher, he owned and operated Entertainment Advertising with his wife, Patricia, from 1992-1999. Always a music lover at heart, Kushner has also recorded two albums under Torrential Publishing, which were distributed nationwide from 1993-1996. He still continues to record music and has recently licensed music for film and commercial use. Kushner holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Florida School of Arts. He moved to Los Angeles 15 years ago and now resides in West Hills with his wife and 2 children. Rosanna Mah Jenni Kwon Director of Workforce Training and Development, Valley Economic Development Center Age 33 The old saying “money makes the world go round” doesn’t hold true for Jenni Kwon. She says that what motivates her is a belief in something priceless. “I have a strong belief in God, and my work is one way in which I can serve and administer to people,” said Kwon, who currently designs and implements assistance programs at the Valley Economic Development Center to help people obtain employment, or start or maintain their own businesses. “I guess you could work anywhere for a paycheck, the reason I am working is to assist people, to help them grow and to achieve self sufficiency.” Since 1996, Kwon has worked for several non-profit organizations. Prior to her current position, Kwon was the assistant director of the North LA County Small Business Development Center in Van Nuys, maintaining four satellite offices with a budget of over $1.7 million. During her time at SBDC, she served 2,330 businesses, created 298 jobs and saved 112 more. In recognition of her service for the Korean community, she received the prestigious Chung Sol Award from the Korean American Coalition for Community Service in 2000. She also served on the White House Council on Environmental Justice Conference Planning Committee in 1998. Kwon holds a master of arts degree in urban planning from the University of California at Los Angeles and a bachelor’s degree in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine. She and her husband, Ryan, live in Tujunga. Rosanna Mah Jordan Levin Entertainment President, WB Network Age 35 Named president of the WB Network’s Entertainment Division at 33, Jordan Levin capped his fast rise in the competitive network television business. Today, Levin is leading his Burbank-based network’s surge in ratings and revenue as it consistently tops its competition in the 12 to 34-age brackets. “Television is always a challenge and when a show becomes a hit, it’s really about a combination of talent, hard work and luck,” Levin said. Under his leadership, the network has improved its overall ratings and has gone from a consistent money loser to profitability in just two years. Due largely to the increasing number of hit shows on its schedule, the network has managed to garner a growing chunk of viewers each year. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s Radio/Television/Film program, Levin began his career with the Walt Disney Co.’s Touchstone Television unit where he helped develop series such as “Ellen,” “Boy Meets World,” and “Bakersfield P.D.” He went on to serve as manager of current programs for Disney/Touchstone Television where he helped establish the Walt Disney Writers Fellowship Program, which provides opportunities for writers. In 1994, Levin joined the WB as its first head of comedy development and current programming. He rose through the ranks as vice president of development, executive vice president programming, co-president three years ago before receiving his current appointment. Carlos Martinez Tina Brock McCoy Branch Manager, Venturi Staffing Partners Age 29 Taking over Venturi Staffing’s struggling Woodland Hills branch was just the challenge Tina Brock McCoy wanted back in 2001. “I like challenges and it was a difficult time not just for us, but a lot of different companies,” said McCoy. Today, her Woodland Hills branch is growing two years after being on the verge of closing due to a sharp decline in business. Born in Ireland where she attended University College Dublin with degrees in Spanish and Economics, McCoy moved to the United States shortly after graduating. She soon became interested in the staffing industry through the aid of her then area manager, Yolanda Cuervo. “She had owned her own business at one time and she was very passionate about the work she did,” McCoy said. After working three years at AccuStaff, McCoy joined Venturi Staffing in 2000 where she rose to become branch manager at its Woodland Hills office which has become the company’s third most successful branch. During her tenure, her office won her company’s Comeback Branch of the Year Award, along with an award for posting the highest profit increase of any branch. McCoy is membership chair of the Professionals in Human Resources Association, San Fernando Valley District, and served on that group’s board of directors in 2002. She is also active with the Make A Wish Foundation in Los Angeles. Carlos Martinez Oscar Mendoza Corporate Officer, Twins Roofing Inc. Age 29 Oscar Mendoza has only run for public office once. And it was for a seat on a city council for a municipality that didn’t even exist: The proposed new Valley city under Measure F, defeated at the polls in 2002. At 29, Mendoza would have likely been the youngest member to represent a would-be Valley city, had he won the election. But considering his involvement in Valley politics and community service, he certainly would have had a lot to offer and if the push to create a separate city were to be revived, you can bet he’d be at the center of round two. Mendoza serves on the boards of Valley VOTE, which spearheaded the secession campaign, and The Valley Group, formed in the wake of the 2002 election, and the Sylmar Chamber of Commerce. He served as a paid intern in 1999 to former State Assemblyman Tony Cardenas and worked on the campaign to elect City Councilman Alex Padilla. Mendoza, a Mexico native, has lived in Sylmar since 1991. He is currently a corporate officer for the family business, Twins Roofing, Inc., which he co-founded alongside his stepfather in 1992. Mendoza is also president of Alta California Properties, Inc., a real estate investment firm he established earlier this year. Mendoza holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University, Northridge, and is currently working on his master’s degree in public administration. He has an 11-year old son and also holds a black belt in martial arts. Jacqueline Fox Ron Nechemia Chairman, CEO EurOrient Financial Group Age 37 From his high rise offices in Encino, Ron Nechemia can just about peek over the hill that separates the San Fernando Valley from the rest of L.A., but Nechemia’s vision extends much farther. To be precise, it extends clear across the world. As chairman and CEO of EurOrient Financial Group, a private, global-development bank, Nechemia brokers, structures and helps to implement projects that bring roads, transportation, communications systems and other infrastructure improvements to developing countries, mostly in Asia and Eastern Europe. Since it was founded in 1988, EurOrient has structured and guided more than $15 billion worth of projects about 50 are currently in the pipeline. But the company’s impact goes well beyond the dollar value of the investments it directs. The only private organization of its kind, EurOrient also seeks to shift the axis of operations from the state to the private sector, developing nothing less than a new economic model for the developing countries where it operates. Unlike governments or the private enterprises that go into developing countries independently, EurOrient insists its projects meet three criteria: The projects must be self-sustaining and not require state subsidies once they are up and running; they must generate jobs, economic and social development, and they must distribute wealth across the population. “We are focusing on broadening the distribution of economic opportunity to give it to as many people as possible,” said Nechemia. “We are partners based on economic and social development, not just on me, me, me and gimme, gimme, gimme.” Nechemia was one of only seven representatives of the private sector invited to participate in the United Nations General Assembly International Summit on Financing for Development last year, an annual conference that brings together the heads of state of 50 countries. And he was named honorary chairman of the Presidential Business Commission under President Bush for 2003. Shelly Garcia Alex Padilla Los Angeles City Councilman, representing the 7th District, City Council President Age 30 Alex Padilla was first elected to the city council in June 1999, becoming its third-youngest member in Los Angeles history. He ran unopposed and was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2001, and quickly elected to serve a two-year term as council president the first Latino to hold the post in more than a century. The tall, soft-spoken, 30-year-old Pacoima native stood firmly behind anti-secessionists and helped his mentor and supporter, Mayor James Hahn, beat the measure to create a new Valley city in 2002. He also stunned many in the political arena when he chose to back Hahn’s campaign for office over fellow Latino Antonio Villaraigosa. But Padilla showed his constituents recently that he isn’t afraid to break ranks on principal when he publicly opposed Hahn’s proposed 2003/04 budget proposal. Padilla represents one of the more economically distressed districts in the Valley, where, until recently, some streets went without lighting for years and on others, drugs, gangs and racial violence have long dominated. But things are improving. Padilla has secured funding for a new water park in Pacoima; established a new branch of the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles at Hansen Dam; secured $9 million to fund the Valley Youth Initiative, a job skills training center and is working to create a multi-million dollar program for economic development for the northeast Valley. Jacqueline Fox Liz Post Executive Director San Fernando Valley Bar Association Age 39 When Liz Post joined the San Fernando Valley Bar Association as executive director nine years ago, the organization had about 800 members and little visibility in the community. Today, the group has 2,100 members, a size that now allows the SFVBA to provide 100 hours of educational programs for its members annually, up from about 36, and this year qualified the group for its first delegate to the American Bar Association. Post says the progress is due to the presidents and boards who have led the association during her tenure. But others say Post deserves much of the credit. “Liz has been at the forefront of really getting the association engaged in reaching our membership,” said Jim Felton, a partner at Greenberg & Bass and president of the SFVBA. A New York native, Post worked for her congressman in Washington, D.C. as legislative director before enrolling in graduate school. With a master’s in public administration from New York University, she joined Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy where she did legislative work before moving to Los Angeles. At the SFVBA, Post has not only had to coordinate the interests of all the attorney members, she has also brought the community’s judges into the fold, holding bi-monthly meetings with the jurists. Shelly Garcia Jose Pulido City Administrator, City of San Fernando Age 38 When Jose Pulido returned to his native city of San Fernando, he came home with a promise to help rebuild the place where he was raised and his parents still reside today. “I never really left the city,” said Pulido, 38, who was appointed city administrator in 2001. He had previously served as the economic and community development manager for the city of Montebello. “I would drive around here once a week when I came to visit my parents and I’d see so much potential.” Flash forward nearly two years and much of that “potential” has shifted to “progress.” Since his arrival, the city of San Fernando has secured a $150,000 grant from the state to pay for revitalization efforts for its downtown corridor. A disastrous attempt to bring in a big-box retail center has finally been replaced with a successful plan to build a mixed-use development with housing, retail and even a school on the site of the San Fernando Swap Meet, with relocation assistance for the swap meet vendors locked in. Pulido replaced John Ornelas who was viewed by many as a slow-growth administrator and stepped down after several head-butting sessions with some former city council members. But it’s a new day in San Fernando, and there are new faces on the council who, like Pulido, can recognize the potential and are ready for more progress to follow. With Pulido at the helm, San Fernando is quickly emerging as one of the Valley’s newest old cities in which to live, work and even play. Jacqueline Fox Scott Reiner Chief Executive Officer Glendale Adventist Medical Center Age 39 Scott Reiner, chief executive officer for Glendale Adventist Medical Center, is the youngest administrator to hold a top executive slot for a medical facility of its size. GAMC has 457 licensed beds, roughly 600 physicians and just over 1,700 employees. Reiner assumed the title in March of 2001 after serving as the hospital’s chief operating officer. At the time, the hospital was in the red and still reeling from the arrest of one of its respiratory therapists, the so-called “Angel of Death” who has since been convicted of hastening the deaths of six Adventist elderly patients. Reiner rolled up his sleeves and, through a series of executive shakeups and a restructuring of the hospital’s finances, has managed to pull the facility out of the red. GAMC is amid a multi-million-dollar expansion program and continues to receive awards and recognition from state and federal agencies and associations for its excellence in care. “Our history is one thing, but it’s really the people who fulfill the mission and reflect the quality of care,” said Reiner, a licensed nurse who trained at GAMC before shifting over to the administrative side of the industry. Jacqueline Fox Neil Rogers Co-owner/Chef Caf & #233; Bizou Age 39 It isn’t often that a San Fernando Valley restaurant successfully exports its formula over the hill. But that’s what Caf & #233; Bizou has done, twice over. Now with locations in Pasadena and Santa Monica as well as its original location in Sherman Oaks, the restaurant continues to rank No. 1 on the ZagatSurvey of most popular restaurants. “Every restaurant should take lessons from this Cal threesome,” is how the current review in the 2003 ZagatSurvey reads. First opened in 1994, Caf & #233; Bizou’s continuing popularity can be traced to a number of factors, not the least of which is its $2 corkage fees and its policy of offering soup or salad with dinner for just a buck more. But it is the restaurant’s formula its California-French menu at prices well under the cost of such fare at most other places in town that has drawn its staunchest admirers. That menu is the work of 39-year-old Neil Rogers, co-owner of Caf & #233; Bizou and its chef. Rogers and his partner, Philippe Gris, who manages the restaurant, got the idea for Caf & #233; Bizou while working at now-closed Caf & #233; Katsu in West L.A. They noticed that business there picked up when the restaurant distributed discount coupons and they decided to build Caf & #233; Bizou around the central idea of bang for the buck. It isn’t always easy, and Rogers says he constantly monitors both the quality of ingredients and the prices he pays for them. Shelly Garcia Scott M. Sachs Partner, Good Swartz Brown & Berns Age 37 Scott Sachs prides himself on his work. So when it came to leaving the beleaguered accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP, he found himself much in demand before eventually moving on to Good Swartz Brown & Berns LLP. Today, just a year after arriving, Sachs is already a partner at his firm where he’s considered a rising star. Noted for his “can do” attitude and technical skills for getting at and resolving problems, Sachs has earned the respect of his colleagues and peers. Involved in his early career in developing initial public offerings and working with newly-formed public companies, Sachs earned a reputation for his hard work and ability to get things done. “Each client is different and each job is different, but you have to throw yourself into the work to succeed,” he said. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Sachs has continued to develop his knowledge through membership in a variety of professional organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants. Sachs is also involved in non-profit organizations such as his membership on the finance committee of the Board of Directors of the Girl Scout Council of the San Fernando Valley. He is also involved in the Advisory Board of the Entrepreneurship Institute. Carlos Martinez Zachary Schuler President and CEO, Cal Net Technologies Age 28 Just five years out of college, Zachary Schuler is already running his own technology company, Cal Net Technologies. It seems fitting for Schuler, whose father owns a manufacturing company. By focusing on local businesses in a wide range of industries as clients, Schuler has slowly built his business through high quality work and ability to respond quickly to customers’ needs. Despite a down economy last year the company posted $1.6 million in revenue, or a 64 percent increase over the previous year. Schuler’s rise in the IT world began when he started working at a Circuit City store in the Valley where as a sales associate, he was often asked by customers about helping them install their computers. Two years later, Schuler, who was still attending Cal State Northridge, founded PC Literate, a company that a year later became Cal Net Technologies, out of his fraternity house in 1996. With just a handful of clients and himself as the only employee, the new company went on to gross just $15,000. A year later, the revenue doubled and continued to grow as Schuler began hiring a small staff to handle the increasing amount of work. Today, the company has a dozen employees and serves scores of business in the Valley and the greater Los Angeles area. Carlos Martinez David Schutz Director of Management Development /Training, AMJD Corp., Santa Clarita Age 36 David Schutz is the youngest of three brothers now all working as partner/owners of AMJD Corp., a family owned business started by their father, Tony, in 1980. The company owns and operates five McDonalds franchises in the Santa Clarita Valley. Schutz came on board in 1990 after earning his degree in finance and working for a short period for Grubb & Ellis as a broker in San Diego. He began his career in fast food on the front lines, flipping burgers and operating the register before working his way up to management and then finally becoming a certified franchise owner in 1996. He now oversees all aspects of training and management development for each of the five stores. The company is a large contributor to the Santa Clarita Valley’s 32 elementary schools, holding monthly “McTeacher Night” fundraisers, which donate 20 percent of a portion of daily proceeds to a designated school. The company has also purchased a room at The Ronald McDonald House for $25,000 for children who have cancer and offers meals to local schools at discounted rates to balance out the menus of pizza and hot dogs. Schutz is married and has two children, ages 5 and 3. Jacqueline Fox Cameron Smyth Mayor, City of Santa Clarita Age 32 Cameron Smyth is the proverbial go-to guy when it comes to growth in Santa Clarita. As mayor of the rapidly growing city, Smyth has seen the influx of new residents, new homes and new businesses to his community. Working with his fellow city council members, the 32-year-old Smyth has helped bring about developments that have added hundreds of new homes while attracting new jobs and businesses to the area. Active in the California Republican Party, Smyth began his career as a field representative with Assemblyman “Pete” Knight where he eventually became his deputy chief of staff. Today, Smyth is public affairs manager for Shell Oil Products, but has continued to be active in his community through local non-profit organizations, such as the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Special Olympics and other groups. Just last April, the California Jaycees named Smyth, along with seven others, as Outstanding Young Californian. The son of active members of the Santa Clarita Valley community, Smyth grew up being actively involved in the area’s groups. His father Clyde Smyth was superintendent of the William S. Hart School District and, his mother Sue was a longtime teacher in the Newhall school district. Both were involved in numerous organizations and city boards and commissions. Carlos Martinez George Stavaris Senior Associate, Colliers Seeley International Age 32 George Stavaris saw the American dream unfold firsthand. His parents emigrated from Greece in the 1960s with nothing, built a business and provided for the family. The dream has guided him, not just in his work, but in the civic responsibilities he’s assumed, and the way that he has approached those roles. “It’s a methodical approach to coming to a fair decision,” said Sandor Winger, deputy executive officer for the Local Agency Formation Commission, who was chair of the North Valley Area Planning Commission when Stavaris joined. “He tries to ask the right questions, and he will try and find a compromise if there is a compromise and if a compromise is necessary. It’s really a thing called what’s fair, and he looks for it.” As COO of his family’s business, Hercules Painting & Decorating, Stavaris saw companies that hired workers at sub-union wages, failed to meet their workers’ comp responsibilities and shirked other fair employment practices, so he became involved on a number of committees and groups calling for reforms in the contracting industry. Since 1999, when he left the family business to become a commercial real estate broker, he has involved himself with the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, on the San Fernando Valley Business Advisory Commission set up by California State Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg, and, most recently as founding member and current president of the City of Los Angeles North Valley Area Planning Commission. Stavaris sees his role as helping to balance the needs of business and communities. Shelly Garcia Francisco Uribe Director of Governmental and External Affairs, Verizon Age 32 Francisco Uribe is talking candidly about public perceptions of business, especially big business. “A lot of times people think of business and corporations as something that’s not part of the community,” he says. “I think my job is to give heart to a corporation in the community. To demonstrate through involvement that we care about the future of the community, that it’s important that it thrives and makes progress.” As director of government and external affairs at Verizon, Uribe has made that demonstration his life’s work. His job is to assess the programs that the company’s charitable foundation participates in, and he has executed in a way that serves Verizon as much as it does the community. A graduate of USC, via El Camino College, Uribe first entered public service while a college intern. He worked as staff assistant to the United States Attorney General and at the White House Office of Public Liaison, assigned to the associate director for Hispanic, environmental and religious community issues. He joined Verizon in 1998 as public affairs director, and assumed his current post in 2001. In his first effort overseeing Verizon’s foundation money, Uribe sought out Los Angeles Mission College because, he, the first in his family to attend college, was also a product of the city’s community college system. Since then, he has gone on to establish links with such groups as New Directions for Youth, a non-profit that works with students at risk. Shelly Garcia Ronda Wilkin Area Director of Community Relations, Sunrise Senior Living, Inc. Age 39 Ronda Wilkin served as executive director of Sunrise Assisted Living of West Hills, overseeing the opening of the first Sunrise community in the San Fernando Valley which is running at full capacity with 78 residents. She has now returned to her roots in marketing and public relations in a new position for Sunrise as area director of community relations overseeing West Hills, as well as the Northridge facility, with roughly 140 residents. Wilkin’s territory will also include two new facilities set to open in 2004, an 85-resident location in Studio City, and a fourth in Woodland Hills, which will also serve about 85 residents. The opening of the West Hills facility is considered one of the most successful launches for the Virginia-based company, earning Wilkin a spot on Sunrise’s 2003 President’s Club for her 2002 performance. Wilkin previously served as center director of the West Valley Jewish Community Center, where she oversaw 20 departments and pulled the facility the largest JCC in Los Angeles out of a five-year deficit. The New York native has, to date, secured more than $60,000 for the 2003 Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Los Angeles serving on the organizations’ San Fernando Valley Education & Program, development and LA Memory Walk Steering committees. She is a board member of Hand in Hand Family and Child Development Center and previously sat on the board of directors for the Public Relations Society of America. Jacqueline Fox Tom Ybarra Sales Manager, Crown Disposal Age 38 Tom Ybarra, sales manager for Crown Disposal in the San Fernando Valley region, has volunteered and donated much to the area within the last 20 years. At the ripe age of sixteen, Ybarra began working in his family’s trash hauling company. In 1983, the company was sold to Crown Disposal, where he began as a driver eventually working his way up to sales manager which has been his position for the past seven years. Representing his company in 1993, he chaired the Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Mixer and Golf Tournament Committees. He has also dedicated huge sums of time to the cleaning of the Los Angeles River and the guiding of several tours of Crown Disposal’s facilities in hopes of showing others the importance of recycling and cleanup. For the last couple of years, Ybarra has served as the chair of the Northeast San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce and has helped host the event held for the Nobel Prize Laureate Rigoberta Manchu Tum. He has partnered up with San Fernando Clean Up Days, the Christmas Toy Drive, the Arbor Day Celebration, and the Mayor’s Menudo Festival. Michelle Tuberman Tanya York President, Founder and CEO, York Entertainment Age 34 The direct to video and DVD film business is a particularly unforgiving one: competition is fierce and, without a finger firmly on the pulse of trend-setting story lines, the risks for those entering into the industry are extremely high. But Tanya York, a petite Jamaican-born 34-year-old former actress and filmmaker herself, has, by most accounts, beaten those odds to become one of the most successful distributors in the business, focusing on a niche industry: urban-action films targeted primarily to young males between 18 and 35. Her company, Encino-based York Entertainment, which she launched in 1990, snatches up new independent first-releases she calls “testosterone-driven” pictures, which contain themes revolving around sex, violence, rap-inspired characters and general mayhem. By the end of its first decade York had grown revenues for the company from $500,000 to $22 million. York was recently named one of Hollywood’s most influential women in The Hollywood Reporter’s Power 100 list and featured in Entrepreneur magazine. Jacqueline Fox

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