Each year, the San Diego Business Journal compiles a list of the top 500 influential business leaders and executives in San Diego County, providing a comprehensive overview of the region’s business landscape. This year, 35 over them are SDNEDC board members and investors on the SDBJ 500.
Meet our influential members below!
As the CEO of San Diego North EDC for the last 5 years, Erik Bruvold has engaged more than 80 businesses in recruitment, attraction, and retention efforts; revamped SDNEDC’s website; and increased programs and investors; all while building operational and strategic reserves for the first time in the organization’s history. He is also president of National University’s System Institute for Policy Research.
Congratulations to SDNEDC Board Members Name in SDBJ 500
Aaron Byzak is the Chairman of the Board for SDNEDC. He oversees partnerships and community engagement at Tri-City Medical Center, leading the creation of a notable employee engagement program in 2023. As founder of Hazel’s Army, he advocates for vulnerable populations.
James Callaghan, Jr., incoming 2024 Chairman of SDNEDC, leads TURN Behavioral Health overseeing 950+ employees and $120+ million in annual revenues. He has extensive experience in nonprofit governance and a commitment to social impact.
Sara Katz sits on the SDNEDC board executive committee as the secretary. She specializes in water programs across states and countries, working with notable clients like the City of San Diego and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Congratulations SDNEDC Investors Named in SDBJ 500
With nearly 16 years at the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, Casey Castillo oversees key functions for the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County. He actively engages in community service through coaching and church activities.
Chris Megison has been a trailblazer in solving homelessness since 1993, utilizing a leadership style learned as a U.S. Marine. He’s known for his visioning and consensus building, disrupting the status quo with impactful social initiatives.
Sunny Cook, a California community college CEO for 15 years, has led MiraCosta since 2015, implementing new degrees (including a biomanufacturing bachelor’s degree). She co-chairs the Inclusive Economic Development Steering Committee of the San Diego Regional EDC.
Star Rivera-Lacey has led leader since 2021, formerly a 23-year SDCCD adjunct professor. She examined low-income Latinx student-counselor dynamics in her Ph.D. dissertation, emphasizing aspiration and achievement.
Mark David Milliron, NU President and CEO since October 2022, leads one of the nation’s largest private nonprofit universities. He serves on multiple boards supporting education.
Nancy Rohland-Heinrich has been with the National University System for 34 years. She serves as a board member with Junior Achievement of San Diego County for five years.
Ellen Neufeldt has been CSUSM’s president since 2019. As the university’s fourth president, she oversaw the opening of the Innovation Hub, addresses societal needs; and strives to close educational gaps.
Ronald Ramirez, CoBA’s dean since April 2022, started his career in telecommunications, semiconductors, and oil industries and is a member of the Military Affairs Advisory Council.
Since 2015, David Brooke has led MyPoint, a credit union with $600+ million in assets and 30,000 members, contributing to innovative finance solutions for consumers.
Kim Folsom founded the first revenue-based financier and online accelerator for million-dollar small businesses. Folsom also established LIFT Development Enterprises, aiding underrepresented small business owners facing capital access challenges.
Todd Lane, at the helm of Cal Coast since 2014, has grown the credit union to $3.6 billion in assets, nearly 200,000 members, and 26 branches, offering online and mobile banking with 30,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. With 30+ years of finance leadership, Lane serves on boards, emphasizing continuous improvement.
Jane Finley manages all Kaiser Permanente facilities in San Diego, including hospitals, 24 medical offices, and 7,700+ employees. A past chair of the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, she serves on the Board of Trustees of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
Since September 2022, Kerry Forde manages Kaiser Permanente’s San Diego facilities, including hospitals and 24 medical offices, and previously served as Chief Nurse Executive. Her career began in 1992 as a registered nurse in London.
Diane Hansen leads Palomar Health, California’s largest hospital district, recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and Healthgrades. She’s also listed among Becker’s Hospital Review’s “177 Women Hospital Presidents and CEOs to Know” (2023).
David Horton manages ambulatory and virtual care operations, previously overseeing Primary, Medical, & Surgical Services at Kaiser Permanente. Horton dedicates spare time to mentoring for organizations like the American College of Healthcare Executives, The Myositis Association, and Rare Action Network.
Dr. Michael Lalich leads the Southern California Permanente Medical Group in San Diego with 1,400+ physicians. In 2023, his role expanded with the opening of Kaiser’s $403.3 million San Marcos Medical Center.
Dr. Gene Ma became President and CEO of Tri-City Healthcare District in March 2023, previously Chief Medical Officer. He’s a 10-time honoree as one of San Diego’s Top Doctors in Emergency Medicine.
Chris Van Gorder elevated Scripps Health to a premier healthcare institution, consistently on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 14 years. Van Gorder also served 20 years as a Reserve Assistant Sheriff for San Diego County.
Kimberly J. Becker oversees fiscal and operational aspects at San Diego International Airport, including managing the $3 billion New T1 program. Under her leadership, the board promotes green practices among concessionaires and recognizes airlines adhering to the airport’s noise curfew.
With almost 30 years of experience in public policy and government affairs, Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell joined SDG&E and Sempra in 2005, named to his current posts in June 2023. He champions diversity and inclusion within Sempra and chairs the San Diego Housing Commission and Sharp HealthCare boards.
Caroline Winn has led SDG&E since 2020, serving 3.6 million consumers with 1.4 million electric meters and 873,000 gas meters. She started at the company in 1986 as an associate engineer. Socially, she chaired the 2023 American Heart Association Go Red for Women campaign.
With 30 years in gaming and extensive time at Harrah’s since 1993, Jill Barrett oversees operations, emphasizing the “Funner experience.” Experience in finance, operations, engagement, expansion, and strategy, she guides the resort.
Kurt Stocks heads LEGOLAND California Resort and previously served as General Manager of LEGOLAND Malaysia. In 2023, LEGOLAND California partnered with Merlin’s Magic Wand Foundation to donate over 3,000 LEGO sets to Rady Children’s Hospital patients.
Michael Neal leads one of San Diego County’s largest real estate owners and developers, overseeing 18+ apartment communities and 1,200 commercial spaces. He served as the former president of the Building Industry Association Board of Directors and a former board member of the California Building Industry Association.
With over 19 years in real estate, Adam Robinson has led RPG to acquire and develop 5.6 million sq ft of commercial real estate worth over $3 billion. RPG specializes in acquisition, development, and management of various commercial real estate.
Sam Attisha manages Cox’s West Region operations covering Arizona, California, Idaho, and Nevada. He chaired the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the California Cable & Telecommunications Association. Attisha participated in the “Cox Lipholstery Squad,” dedicated to men’s health awareness and education.
Larry Coval has been with Cox for nearly 20 years and serves as Division Vice President. He founded the Top Tech Awards in San Diego in 2008, honoring IT leaders. In 2022, Coval received a special Founders Award at the Top Tech Awards event.
In 2023, Ingo Hentschel became Market Vice President for Cox Communications in San Diego. A former U.S. Marine Corps crew chief, he joined Cox 31 years ago as a field technician. Hentschel serves on the boards of the USS Midway Museum, Cal State San Marcos Foundation, HMM-165 Reunion Foundation, and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.
Mark Dankberg, Viasat co-founder and CEO, is an industry expert in aerospace, defense, and satellite communications. He was named to the Connect Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2018 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asia-Pacific Satellite Communications Council in 2022. Dankberg actively contributes to space and broadband policy debates, including discussions on space junk.
Karen Haynes, president of California State University San Marcos from 2004 to 2019 and previously at the University of Houston-Victoria, significantly expanded CSU San Marcos. Recently, the university renamed its palliative care institute in honor of Haynes, who holds a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Texas at Austin.
Jessie Knight, Jr.‘s extensive involvement in local, state, and international issues included serving on the California PUC and holding leadership roles at SDG&E and Sempra. He manages Knight Angels, a private equity fund supporting grassroots leaders, chairs the Timken Museum of Art’s board, and is a Hudson Institute trustee.