Hottest 25 People of Orange County

Geoff Shively

These are heady times for computer Wunderkind Geoff Shively. At the tender age of 21, he has seen PivX Solutions – the company he founded in 1999 – become a prominent player in the field of software security. Its 2003 revenues surpassed $2 million, and its computer- protection services have been employed by business behemoths such as Microsoft, Boeing and Sony.

Further boosting the company’s cachet, Shively oversaw the late- summer launch of PivX’s first product, Qwik-Fix Pro, which earned positive reviews in computer publications.

And if that weren’t enough, he was one of a couple hundred high- tech experts in the U.S. invited to the National Cyber Security Summit, held at the end of last year in Santa Clara. The conference represented the first joint venture on software security between the government (the Department of Homeland Security) and the private sector. Shively, an amiable young man who grew up in Irvine and loves to surf, was tabbed to chair a 40-member subcommittee, whose recommendations for protection against cyber attacks were included in a report the conference participants submitted to President Bush in March.

All of this on the resume of a guy barely old enough to buy alcohol. “Sometimes I get caught up in it,” Shively admits with a chuckle. “I’m going out to lunch with congressmen, meeting with people running the country, billionaire businessmen, leaders from China.

“I have to put it all in perspective and say, ‘Wow, I’m 21. If I can accomplish this from 16 to 21, what am I going to do between 21 to 30?’ There’s the possibility that if I want to, I can make a difference.”

He’s always been someone who has stood out. The 6-foot-5 scientist could assemble a computer from parts at 13, was a rogue hacker as a teen-ager, and left Newport Harbor High School in his junior year to pursue his business goals.

Now he’s attaining them – with his dad, Rob Shively, as his corporate cohort. The older Shively is the CEO of PivX. Rob does the financials, Geoff does the science.

The precocious techie says he and the 35 employees of the Newport Beach company are intent on staunching the costly damage that malicious hackers create for businesses.

“Our goal -I almost want to call it a crusade – is to implement security measures that are long-lasting, and to create a technology that moves with the security needs (of companies with elaborate computer operations), because those needs will change. They change every day.”

-By Paul Sterman

RESIDENCE: Laguna Beach

WHAT HE DOES: Founder and chief scientist of PivX Solutions

FAMILY: Single

HOBBIES: Downhill skateboarding, photography

FAVORITE ENTERTAINER: Loves all genres of music – punk, rap, classical and blues


RESIDENCE: Los Angeles

WHAT HE DOES: CEO, El Polio Loco

FAMILY: Married, two boys

HOBBY: Fly-fishing


Apparently, there is at least one more way to “do chicken right.” For Steve Carley, CEO of Irvine-based El Polio Loco, doing it right means more than just serving up good food. “El Polio Loco is successful because we have great people who are very passionate about what they do in the restaurants,” Carley says. “We also happen to have a fantastic product that has withstood the test of time and something that consumers continue to have indicated that they really, really appreciate.”

The head job at El Polio Loco came after many years of experience in the hospitality industry. During a 12-year stint at PepsiCo in the 1980s and ’90s, Carley rose to become vice president of development for Taco Bell. In 1996, Carley became the president and chief operating officer of Universal City Hollywood where he directed all components of the world’s No. 1 motion picture andTV- themed attraction. During his watch, Universal added the popular “Terminator 2,3-D” and the expansion of City walk.

Carley joined El Polio Loco in April 2001. In just three years under Carley, the chain has achieved record sales and is planning an aggressive expansion that includes 130 new restaurants in markets across the nation, including 10 in the Chicago area.

“When I came in, El Polio Loco had just been taken private after being the abused stepchild of the Denny’s Corp. I saw it as a great opportunity to take a fantastic brand with incredibly passionate people and bring discipline, planning, strategy and execution and take it across the country.

“From a consumer standpoint we know that we provide healthy food at a great value that our guests can customize to their own tastes in a clean environment with friendly people. The other secret about El Polio Loco is that it is a brand with tremendous attractiveness across ethnicities and demographics. We do as well in East LA. as we do in Santa Monica.

“We appeal to young people and yuppies, and we’re great with parents because our food provides their kids a guilt-free option. Surprisingly, we attract older folks who are not anywhere near the typical fast-food user.”

El Polio Loco’s format has fallen somewhere between the “fast” and “fast-casual” restaurant categories. Customers can order in the drive-thru or over the counter, where fresh food is delivered quickly. The stores also feature exhibition-style cooking, rare in either category. Carley calls it the “sweet spot.”

“The food is of a quality that is equal to or better than many sit-down competitors,” Carley says.

Exciting times await in the Windy City. “We’re taking a look at the research we’ve done in Chicago about the brand which indicates that people love the chicken. One of the reasons we know that is because we were at ‘A Taste of Chicago’ this year where we served thousands and thousands of people over the course of ten days.”

Why Chicago? Apparently it has nothing whatsoever to do with m the fact that Carley was born and raised on the city’s north side.

Carley’s formula for success is based on basic business principles. “I look at what’s happening with the consumer – with pricing and new products. Then I revert to operations -I like to look at competitive restaurants and see how they are doing. The third area is financial – the benchmarking areas.”

But even business principles are wrapped around the human factor. “It is a commitment to setting the highest standards of performance and attempting to achieve them.”

-By Steve Smith

Gregg Schwenk

If Gregg Schwenk were a screen hero, he’d be the Renaissance Man. Here’s a guy who’s an investment banker, an adjunct professor at Cal State Fullerton in the department of communications, and – in the role he’s best-known for – the executive director of the; Newport Beach Film Festival.

Actually, having the financial skills of an investment banker,can come in quite handy when you’re running a film festival, Such events don’t exactly generate rivers of revenue, and “the highly creative personality,” notes Schwenk, can sometimes view financial initiations as bothersome distractions.

Now in his sixth year of shepherding the festival, he has built solid foundation of financial supporters and sponsors, steadily the selection of films, raised the national profile and garnered growing media attention for the event.

This year more than 300 films from 40 countries were screened including some top-rate documentaries -and the 10-day festival drew more than 20,000 people. The opening night gala had all the excitement and glamour of a Hollywood premiere, including a red- carpet entrance with popping flashbulbs. In fact, a major Hollywood film did premiere before a packed theater draped in red velvet and filled with tuxedos and evening gowns. The film’s director and three of the stars were on hand to take bows.

The short-film format has become a particular area of interest for the festival. It screens more short films than any other feature- film festival in the U.S, according to Schenk, senior vice president at RSM EquiCo in Costa Mesa.

The fistival also spotlights Qrange County filmmakers, Southland film schools and OC filmmakers 18 and under. “One of our mandates is to make the arts accessible and open up the creative process to the greatest number of people.”

-By Paul Sterman

RESIDENCE; Newport Beach

WHAT HE DOES: Investment banker, professor and executive director of the Newport Beach Film Festival

FAMILY: Single

HOBBIES: Wine and travel

FAVORITE ENTERTAINERS: Frank Sinatra and Nora Jones



WHAT SHE DOES: High school student, troop support activist

FAMILY: Mother and father, Robbin and Mike; brother, Ryan, 10

HOBBIES: Basketball and theater

FAVORITE EMTERTAINER: MercyMe, a Christian band

When Shauna Fleming asked her father how many letters she should try to collect and send to the U.S. troops in Iraq, he playfully threw out a huge number: 1 million.

Well, dad has one determined daughter. Intent on meeting that goal, the 15-year-old has spearheaded a massive letter-writing campaign to American soldiers. And this month, about six months after she started the project, Shauna reached the mountaintop: The number of letters passed the 1 million mark.

“She worked really hard on this,” says Mike Fleming, who runs a skating rink and an entertainment center. “I never imagined anything to this extent… I’m just glad my daughter is someone who likes to take the initiative.”

Dubbing the project “A Million Thanks,” Shauna went to great lengths to get the word out, and she’s overseen a well-organized effort to gather and distribute the letters, which hav\e come in from all over the world. Her high school, Orange Lutheran in Orange, is her base of operations.

The letters she and others have written often have been the soldiers’ only lifeline to America. It’s been a much-valued outpouring of support and caring for the troops. Soldiers have e- mailed and called Shauna from Iraq to express their gratitude for the correspondence. And some write letters back, voicing those sentiments to Shauna.

“I get them a few times a week,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘You really have no idea what you’re doing for us – it makes such a difference. There’s so many times that if we lose a lot of men from our unit, it’s so hard to keep going, but if we read these letters, it boosts our morale.’ They feel that they’re fighting for the people writing these letters.”

Among the men who have established e-mail correspondence with Shauna is Everett Headley, a chaplain’s assistant serving in the Marine Corps, who was married just before he went to Iraq. In an e- mail message to OC METRO Magazine, the 21-year-old from Missoula, Mont., writes of the letters:

“It meant a lot for someone to take the time out of their day to remember us. It did impress me that someone as young as Shauna would take on something so big.”

To inform people about “A Million Thanks,” and let them know how they go about sending the letters, Shauna created a Website: aMillionThanks. org.

Sponsors, and donations included with letters sent to Shauna for distribution, have helped cover postage costs.

The letter-gathering effort continues, with the teen now urging people to send Christmas and holiday cards to the soldiers.

Shauna’s classmates (who showed up for Saturday mail-sorting parties), friends and family (including grandparents) all helped with the project.

But much of the operation’s success came down to her own dedication, which meant late nights working on the Web site, answering e-mails daily, setting up booths at summer fairs, figuring out logistical matters and doing as many media interviews – both local and national – as possible. On occasion, this meant rising at 4 a.m. to be interviewed on East Coast time for early-morning radio shows.

“It takes up a lot of time,” Shauna admits, “but the obstacles and problems can’t even compare to the rewards you get. That’s what you have to keep in mind when you start to feel tired.”

-By Paul Sterman


RESIDENCE: Garden Grove

WHAT HE DOES: Garden Grove city councilman, attorney, and candidate for the 68th district Assembly seat

FAMILY: Engaged to be married

HOBBY: Cigars


It is, we are pleased to report, a story that is common in America: Immigrant lands in the United States with one foot nailed to the floor and one hand tied behind his back. Through hard work and the belief that this is indeed the land of opportunity, he makes good, establishing himself in a successful career before going into politics.

This year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the only immigrant to tell this tale. For voters and supporters in California’s 68th Assembly district, this is the year of Van Tran.

In the years leading up to the fall of Saigon in 1975, the city’s residents were sheltered from the tragedies of the war.

“We lived in a pretty insulated environment,” says Tran. “The war was somewhere else, not Saigon.” At the age of 10, Tran and his family fled, winding up in a refugee camp at Fort Chaffee, Ark. “I can confidently say [the Vietnamese refugees] are the newest pilgrims. My mom was a dentist in Saigon and we lost everything – we picked up and ran for our lives,” Tran says.

From Arkansas, the Trans moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., to be near their sponsors.

Arriving in America, Tran spoke only two words. “I knew OK’ and ‘Salem,’ which is GI slang for ‘everything is fine.'”

In 1980,Tran’s parents chose to move to California so his mother could resume her dental career in a state that had no restrictions on foreign practitioners who passed their mandated tests.

“My dad was a teacher in Michigan and we were living a middle- class life. One day they got all the kids together and said they were going to sell the house and move to California. It was a decision they made for mom. We sold our house in 10 days and drove to California in a rented U-Haul.”

Finally settled in America, Tran immersed himself in opportunities. “I was a poli sci major at UCI,” says Tran. “My friends were changing majors like they were changing socks but I stuck with political science. I didn’t see politics as a career but as a way to serve and contribute.”

A few years later, the political bug bit. “I worked for Bob Dornan from 1985-1987 in D.C. and in the district. I was 20 years old and that was my first paid political job. In 1988,1 worked for a year for Ed Royce.” In 2000, Tran won a seat on the Garden Grove City Council.

Tran now is running for the 68th district Assembly seat and is expected to win. The district is one of the state’s most diverse, with its 190,000 registered voters stretching from Anaheim to Balboa Island.

“The key issues in the district are transportation and affordable housing,” Tran says. “There should be a better infrastructure so roads and freeways are expanded to promote our productivity. Less time on the roads means more time working. This has an impact on our quality of life.

“There is a shortage of affordable housing for seniors. The baby boom generation is now the ‘gray generation’ and there is a desperate need for senior housing.”

Tran lives with both his Vietnamese roots and the unlimited possibilities of his adopted homeland. “I have no doubt that [through politics] I am giving back the fruits of what my family and I have received through the years.”

So would he support a Constitutional amendment to allow a foreign- born president? “I’ll leave that to Arnold. I don’t see myself as doing this forever. I want new challenges and want to explore myself professionally.”

-By Steve Smith

Alan E. ” Lanny” Ross


WHAT HE DOES: President & CEO, Broadcom

FAMILY: Wife, Terri; four children and five granddaughters. Terri has two sons and one grandson.

HOBBIES: Target shooting, amateur radio call sign K7LAN, computing, golf and tennis.

For Lanny Ross, the decision to come out of semi-retirement to return to a full-time working position first as Broadcom’s COO, then its CEO, was not agonizing. “It is rare when I do not respond quickly to decision opportunities. I believe this decision was made in a board meeting and took around 30 seconds, because the need was obvious and I had the background to help out.”

At the time, Broadcom, once the shining star in the semiconductor universe, was hemorrhaging red ink: The company had lost more than $2.2 billion in 2002.

“There were no minuses in the decision, as I knew what had to be done and was aware of most of the dependencies,” he says.

It helped Ross that his wife, Terri, was not only from the semiconductor industry, but was supportive emotionally as well. At the time of his re-entry, Ross was battling a physical condition. “I was getting ready for a hip replacement one week before reporting. I have a world-class wife in Terri, who wanted me to follow my instincts with her total unconditional support, which is very mutual in our relationship.”

Ross makes it clear that while the company had financial challenges, they were not symptomatic of a basic failing in its operations. “It’s important to note that the $2.2 billion loss in 2002 was related to acquisition charges, and did not reflect the operational successes of Broadcom. That said, it was very clear that certain steps had to be taken to bring the company back to profitability.”

Ross’ actions proved successful and in March, the company posted its first profitable quarter in three years.

To achieve the goals, Ross reduced operating expenses and increased revenue; the result was profitability and positive cash flow. “We restructured the organization into four groups, each headed by an empowered group vice president deeply experienced in the applicable markets and technology. Revenue for 2003 was up more than 50 percent with 500 fewer people than we had in November 2002.”

Ross calls himself “A macro manager who provides clear, achievable targets accompanied by delegation of authority to execute at the highest level.

“This works only in the instance of mutual trust and confidence among team members. Forty-five years of experience helps give me the insight necessary to respond quickly to situations as they arise. I also have a deeply developed instinct for people, who they are, what they are and their potential.”

Ross understands that, in any industry, it is the people within an organization that make the difference between success and failure. “People continue to be any business’ major asset, and Broadcom has the highest personnel quality of any organization I have ever seen. It is truly remarkable. Our hiring standards are as lofty as are our results, a not so insignificant correlation. Another is execution excellence, an attribute instilled by our founders, Dr. Henry Nicholas and Dr. Henry Samueli. Their early standards of excellence remain an attribute of our [corporate] culture today.”

Looking to the future, Ross sees more changes. “Diversification is necessary for major scaling, so look for our internal growth to be supplemented by acquisition of technologies and product lines adjacent to our present portfolio.”

And will he be at Broadcom to lead the charge? “I will retire again within 12 months.”

-By Steve Smith

Mickey Mouse


WHAT HE DOES: World famous cartoon character

FAMILY: Girlfriend, Minnie, dog Pluto

HOBBY: Magic


It is hard to believe that Mickey Mouse, who started life in 1929 as Steamboat Willie, has reached the ripe old age of 75. But what will really make your head spin is mulling over just how much merriment – and money – Mickey has produced over the \past three- quarters of a century.

The diminutive mouse has long been a pop-culture giant -adored by children all over the world. He makes adults smile, too. Walt Disney himsefl provided the original high, squeaky voice for Mickey, and the cheery character embodies many of the qualities that marked Walt’s personality, says Marty Sklar, who wrote for Walt for 10 years.

“Walt was so optimistic and hopeful,” says Sklar, who now heads up the Imagineering department, the division that devises the rides and attractions at the Disney theme parks.

“He believed things would be better in the future – and he created Disneyland.”

Mickey has been a meal sicker for the Magic Kingdom – a signature character at the theme parks, star of numerous films, inspiration for the hugely popular TV show “The Mickey Mouse Club.” And don’t forget the mountains of merchandise this mouse moves every year for the Walt Disney Co.

According to Forbes magazine, Mickey Mouse merchandise generated $4.7 billion in sales in 2002, the latest year for which such statistics are available.

Sklar’s longtime friend and Disney colleague, John Hench – who painted the first official portrait of Mickey Mouse – had an interesting theory as to why the benevolent, big-eared creature has such universal and enduring appeal.

“Joe always said that it’s because Mickey was drawn in circles,” Sklar recalls. “Circles aren’t threatening; they represent innocence and happiness.” -By Paul Sterman

Mike McGee


WHAT HE DOES: Cal State Fullerton Gallery director and co- founder of Grand Central Art Center

FAMILY: Lives with his girlfriend, Andrea, and her 4-year-old son Alex

HOBBIES: Weightlifting, running and reading

FAVORITE ENTERTAINERS: David Byrne and Leonard Cohen

As an artist, Mike McGee has learned to solve problems creatively. In 1993, he faced a tough one as gallery director at Cal State Fullerton: The university was short on studio space. Where would his graduate arts students set up their easels? Ironically, the perfect solution was another problem, one owned by the city of Santa Ana: a rundown, nearly abandoned building built in 1924, off 2nd Street and Broadway, 10 miles from campus. Formerly known as the Central Market of Orange County, this boarded-up embarrassment was a blight on the landscape, overrun by dereliction and disrepair.

“It was a scary place,” recalls McGee. “Policemen would ask me, ‘What are you doing here? Are you crazy?'”

Guided by the vision of Don Cribb, a community activist who masterminded the surrounding area now known as the Artists Village, McGee saw its potential. Together, they convinced the university and the city of Santa Ana that refurbishing this building was in everyone’s best interests. They were right. In 1999, after the city invested $8 million to buy and reconstruct the facility, the Grand Central Art Center emerged as the jewel of Cribb’s celebrated redevelopment project. Today, this 45,000-square-foot phoenix is a vital link to the community, alive with art students who live and work there, and buzzing with commerce and purposefulness again.

Though partly subsidized by the city and the university, Grand Central nearly pays for itself. “We put together a plan that made the center an economic engine that was self-sustaining,” says McGee, who divides his time between his role as Grand Central’s project facilitator and his faculty obligations at CSUF.

McGee’s novel plan that generates about $350,000 a year to pay for the bulk of Grand Central’s day-to-day operations consists of several components: 27 apartments subleased to CSUF graduate art students ($600-$700 a month in rent includes a separate work studio); the Gypsy Den restaurant and a printmaking studio subleased to outside operators; and shared profits from a university-managed theater, and a sales and rental gallery. “It’s bringing a new economy to this area, a sense of pride.”

Best of all, it’s re-inventing a community. Lured by the “birds of a feather” concept, other creative businesses that share in the vision of an artist enclave have flocked nearby: DGWB advertising agency, post-production houses, a theater company, restaurants and Orange County High School of the Arts. “I think the Artists Village will continue to attract that kind of element,” says McGee.

He may be onto something. For the first time ever, arts and entertainment passed the tech sector as the major economic sector in California. Forget the “poor, starving artist” stereotype. Art has become a real moneymaker, and there’s a growing demand for it. “Santa Ana is really fortunate to catch this wave,” McGee says. He believes the surge in arts-related jobs is due in large part to the image-driven Internet and video-gaming industry.

McGee is particularly proud of the center’s well-attended art shows and exhibitions. The center also runs an artistic outreach program with Santa Ana High School that encourages kids to go to college.

“The connections between people and a sense of community aren’t something we put a lot of emphasis on,” says McGee. “I think this project does that in a real positive way.”

The city of Santa Ana agrees. It recently extended Grand Central’s 10-year contract an additional 20 years.

-By Lynn Armitage


Under the leadership of Kelly Monahan, BNC Mortgage has enjoyed a dramatic upswing in its financial fortunes. Check out the numbers:

In the early summer of 2000, just before Monahan led a management buyout of BNC and became the president and CEO of the company, BNC was producing approximately $80 million in loans each month.

Today the monthly total is $1 billion.

Pre-buyout, there were 300 employees. Now there are 1,100 – 400 in the Irvine headquarters alone. And the company keeps surging forward.

“The goal is $15 billion a year,” Monhana says.

BNC originates, purchases and sells nonconforming residential mortgage loans. An operating subdidiary of Lehman Brothers, the company is one of the nation’s largest wholesale subprime lenders.

The subprime industry is extemely competitive and the biggest players are here in Orange County, including Argent and Option One. Monahan, however, doesn’t seem daunted by the work ahead. He says he thrives on challenges.

At BNC, says the 47-year-old former C.P.A., business is flourishing, staff turnover is low, and the company has a corporate culture that is upbeat and supportive.

“I have the best job in the world.”

-By Paul Sterman

RESIDENCE: Aliso Viejo

WHAT HE DOES: President and CEO of BNC Mortgage

FAMILY: Married to Melissa, with three daughters: Lauren, 14, Meghan, 10, Kaylie, 8

HOBBIES: Wakeboarding and soccer



RESIDENCE: Trabuco Canyon

WHAT HE DOES: Founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and author of the best-selling hardback, nonfiction book in history, “The Purpose Driven Life”

FAMILY: Wife, Kay; sons Matt and Josh; daughter Amy and granddaughter Kaylie.

HOBBIES: Guitar, gardening, golf and anything outdoors


When Rick Warren talks, people listen. They also respond to his call, which W W is why the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest is often referred to as “the most influential spiritual leader in America.” Who else, after all, could get 9,000 volunteers from “The OC” to make time in their schedules to collect, sort and distribute three meals a day for 40 days in order to feed Orange County’s 35,000 homeless people? This is just a small part of his recent emphasis – “40 Days of Community.”

Warren’s influence, though, extends far beyond the borders of Orange County. The spiritual entrepreneur, who advises presidents and world leaders, has founded several of America’s largest and best known ministries: Saddleback Church, where 23,000 people attend service each weekend; the Purpose Driven Network, which consists of 139,000 churches worldwide; and, the largest Website for ministers. He is also the author of the fastest-selling book in history, “The Purpose Driven Life,” which has already sold more than 20 million copies.

“No one has been more astounded by the massive acceptance of the book than I am. I’ve received tens of thousands of notes from national leaders, academic leaders, generals, entertainers, billionaire CEOs and sports celebrities,” he says. “But I’ve also heard from prisoners and peasants and average people all over the world. The message is having a global impact.”

Warren’s previous book, “The Purpose Driven Church,” published in 1995, was also a hit. Translated into 25 languages, it won the Gold Medallion Award and was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. More than 350,000 pastors and church leaders from 120 countries have attended Purpose-Driven training seminars to date.

But despite Warren’s international influence, the essence and values of Saddleback Church remain the same. It is a safe haven for people who need help, hope and spiritual strength for life. The casual worship services have a refreshing honesty and openness about admitting shortcomings – “the hurts, habits and hang-ups that all of us struggle with,” says Warren.

Warren and his wife Kay both were 25 when they moved to south Orange County in January 1980 to start Saddleback Church in their condo with one other family. Today, one out of every nine residents in south Orange County attend each weekend.

Located on a 120-acre site (about the size of South Coast Plaza), Saddleback has an annual budget of $20 million-plus, 300 paid staff, more than 3,000 neighborhood small groups and 9,000 volunteers in ministry. As Forbes magazine noted, “If Warren’s church was a business it would be compared with Dell, Google or Starbucks.”

“I learn from the Bible, from my friendships with many effective CEOs and leaders, from my lifelong mentor Peter Drucker, and from experience. But God also gifted me with the ability to organize and lead,” he says. “The Bible is fi\lled with great insights for strategic thinking, planning, organizing, evaluating and leading. It contains thousands of years of leadership examples. I learn from everybody and everything, including critics. All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading. Growing organizations require growing leaders.”

-By Sandy Bennett

Donald P. Kennedy


WHAT HE DOES: Chairman emeritus, The First American Corp., and chairman emeritus, Bowers Museum

FAMILY: Wife, Dorthy; son, Parker S. Kennedy; two daughters, Elizabeth Myers and Amy Healey; and six grandchildren.



Don’t consider for a second that Donald P. Kennedy, who across 53 years has helped Santa Ana-based The First American Corp. become a leader in business information, products and services, has slowed up. Company president in 1963, chairman of the board in 1993 and chairman emeritus since 2003, Kennedy has now turned his energy to the Bowers Museum, one of the world’s great small museums.

And thanks to Kennedy’s business acumen and fund-raising savvy, the Bowers soon won’t be so little. The museum’s chairman emeritus – he served three years as chairman – has taken charge of the approximately $10 million planned expansion of the Bowers which, by June 2006, will double exhibition space to 100,000 square feet. The June 2005 groundbreaking of the North Wing will be the beginning of a 30,000-square-foot structure to include a 350-seat auditorium for lectures and presentations.

Over the past several years, the Bowers has secured some of the world’s great exhibits, being the first or one of the first to show them outside their country of origin. These include “Dead Sea Scrolls” (October 2001-January 2002); “Secret World of the Forbidden City” (February 2000-September 2000); “Gems! The Art and Nature of Precious Stones” (February 2002-February 2004); “Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World” (October 2003-September 2004); and “Queen of Sheba” (opened Oct. 17 and continues to March 13, 2005).

“I really feel so strongly that Orange County should stand alone, and that everything we do should be the best: Have the best private university, the best law school, the best museum, the best repertory theater,” says Kennedy, 85. “And we’re pretty near there.”

Kennedy has been instrumental in the museum’s latest coup – an exclusive agreement with the British Museum. The Bowers is the first museum ever to sign a long-term joint venture with the world-famous institution. The immediate results are the “Queen of Sheba” and the upcoming “Mummies!” exhibit (opens April 17, 2005).

The Bowers’ blockbuster exhibits also reflect the long-term work of museum President and Director Peter Keller and key volunteers such as Anne Shih and Ruth Seigle. Keller, who shared those trips to London with Kennedy, saw how a business giant helps ink an artistic deal. “He’s been a real mentor and teacher for me,” says Keller. “He knows what has to be done … and he can make it happen.”

The expansion of the Bowers, Kennedy believes, will be “the springboard for something else … a future move.”

Kennedy has reached out countywide. He is a major benefactor to Chapman University School of Law, where the law school building, Kennedy Hall, is named after him.

“You have to support activities in the county,” he says. “I was on the board at Chapman for a long time…and active in South Coast Repertory. And I’m on 3 or 4 boards now, stuff that I’m interested in. One thing it does, it keeps you busy.”

-By Craig Reem


RESIDENCE: Huntington Beach

WHAT HE DOES: Comedian, winner of the “Funniest Person in Orange County” contest

FAMILY: Single

HOBBIES: Tennis, writing, surfing and short walks on the beach

FAVORITE ENTERTAINERS: Brian Regan, Eddie Murphy, Dan Tosh

Marc Takemiya personifies the phrase “up and coming.” He also happens to be the winner of this year’s Orange County’s Funniest Person contest. The 25-year-old San Clemente native has participated in host Bill Word’s contest annually since its inception. True, the contest is – at three years – still in its infancy, but the fact that Takemiya has been one of the top two finalists every time has to mean something … right?

Yes. It means he’s truly a funny guy. Not the contextual, self- aware funny that pervades so many cookie-cutter sitcoms; not prop- reliant funny like Gallagher and Carrot Top; just an accessible guy who happens to have a great stage presence and a penchant for comedy. He proved just that on Sept 11 in the finate of a three- round contest at Martini Blues in Huntington Beach, competing alongside eight of Orange County’s funniest comics for a $800 purse and, more importantly, the chance to showcase his tatent for the crowd.

“I’ve been doing comedy for about three years now,” says Takemiya, who regularly participates in open mic nights. “My passion is doing stand-up. I perform three-to-five nights a week and some mornings as well.” As for this style: “I just get out there and tackle the stage.” Currently without representation, Takiemiya has no iliusions of grandeur, at least in the immediate sense. “I still consider myself to be somewhat of a beginner for the reason that one can always be funnier. The fonger we do it, the funnier we get. Someday whers I’m 97, I should be freakin’ hilariousl”

-By Matt Susson


RESIDENCE: Laguna Beach

WHAT HE DOES: Glassblower, one of People magazine’s “50 Sexiest Men Alive”

FAMILY: Married to Carmen Salazar

HOBBIES: Surfing and gardening

FAVORITE ENTERTAINER: Loves all kinds of music

Even before People magazine named him one of the “50 Sexiest Men Alive” last December, Caleb Siemon was gaining an increasing amount of exposure. Over the past few years, the young Laguna Beach resident has established a reputation as one of the finest in his artistic field of glassblowing. He creates translucent pieces with simple, graceful shapes and bands of vivid colors at his studio in Santa Ana – bowls, cylinders, vases – that sell for as much as $2,000 (though small pieces can begin at $100). His line of products ( is featured in more than 100 stores across the country – including Barney’s in New York.

Oh, yes, and then there’s that People magazine thing. The modest 29-year-old feels a bit awkward talking about it.

“It was embarrassing,” he says sheepishly.

Maybe it was the romantic image of the passionate artist that captivated People’s editors: the intense glassblower in sweat- soaked shirt glowing from the firelight given off by the 2,000- degree furnace he stands in front of for up to eight hours a day.

Yes, Caleb is definitely a hot guy.

But there will be no groupies for this glassblower: Siemon is happily married to Carmen Salazar, 29. Her response to the “50 Sexiest Men” tag?

“She just laughed,” says the good-natured Siemon.

His buddies had fun ribbing him about the honor.

Siemon has garnered quite a bit of national media attention, with stories in Elle, Vogue Hommes International, the Los Angeles Times, and fashion and style magazine Metro Pop.

He’s won praise for his strong glassblowing technique and visual touches, and orders from stores keep piling up.

“It’s nonstop,” says Siemon, who has five assistants working with him. “We can’t make pieces fast enough.”

His studio is located in a four-acre complex that also houses his father’s large jewelry-making facility. Bob Siemon is a well-known designer of faith- and inspirational-themed jewelry and other products, and it was watching his father work while growing up that inspired Caleb to make art.

Now the son is a rising art star whose work is in galleries and museums, and the father couldn’t be prouder. Bob will tell you how Caleb studied as an apprentice to Italian glassblower Pino Signore, considered perhaps the greatest in the world. And about the time Caleb went off to a prestigious art summer camp as a teen-ager and, having been introduced to glassblowing, returned home transformed to tell his dad that he wanted to be a glassblower instead of a jeweler.

Bob’s response?

“Go for it, dude.”

With that kind of support, Caleb has flourished. His father got a son in the special People issue, but he enjoys it more when Caleb gets recognition for making a great vase rather than for having a great face.

-By Paul Sterman



WHAT HE DOES: Dean of UC Irvine’s Graduate School of Management

FAMILY: Married to Pam; they each have two children college age or older

HOBBIES: Golf, travel, reading


Last month, South Coast Repertory premiered “Brooklyn Boy,” a semi-autobiographical play by Donald Margulies about an anguished writer whose visit to the borough where he was born sparks painful conflicts even as his career takes off.

Among those in the audience on opening night was Andrew J. Policano, the theater buff from Brooklyn who is the new dean of UC Irvine’s Graduate School of Management. He loved the production.

Unlike Marguiles’ troubled artist, this Brooklyn boy appears to be a very happy man who has embarked on a thrilling new adventure.

The journey began this summer. The former dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business, Policano was married in July. He and his wife, Pam, moved to Irvine, where Policano took the helm at the Graduate School of Management. So far, he reports, he’s thoroughly impressed with what he’s seen at the Irvine business school.

“There are very high-quality people here, a lot of very passionate people,” he says. “There’s great leadership, very good faculty and terrific students.”

And how does the 55-year-old economist like Orange County?

“What’s not to like?” he responds with a chuckle. “My wife and I love it here. Every day it’s beautiful.”

Policano disproves the stereotype that economists are dry, dull numbers guys: A lover of opera and Impressionist paintings, he also goes to Elton John and Rod Stewart con\certs – and grooves to the sounds of Prince, as well, who is one of his wife’s favorite entertainers.

And exactly how many business-school deans do you know that practice the art of calligraphy? Policano even used his elegant handiwork to address the couple’s wedding invitations.

After growing up in New York and attending college in the state university system there, Policano earned his master’s and P.h.D. in economics from Brown University. He was dean of the UW-Madison School of Business for 10 years, stepping down from the post in 2001 after having doubled the number of companies recruiting the school’s graduates.

One reason he’s so excited about being at UCI, Policano notes, is because of the high-flying business scene in the surrounding areas, where booming high-tech and financial companies are at the fulcrum of entrepreneurial development in the United States.

“I’ve already been meeting with very influential people in the business community,” says the dean, who taught in the finance department at Wisconsin.

His hope is that UCI’s Graduate School of Management can capitalize on this hometown, real-world resource by having its students – as part of their curriculum – get training and work experience at some of these thriving firms. In return, the companies will receive help from smart, talented, business-oriented people at zero cost to them.

“Everyone would gain from the situation,” says Policano.

The grad school chief will certainly have his share of challenges at UCI. While the business school is consistently ranked among the Top 50 in the country, its endowment is relatively small and it doesn’t have a deep alumni network to help raise the school’s profile or serve as a resource for students.

Policano doesn’t view these limitations as negatives. Rather, he sees them as “terrific opportunities,” fertile ground for growth as opposed to well-established ground where he’s not really needed to make an impact.

UCI officials are confidant Policano will indeed have a significant impact on the Graduate School of Management. They note that during his tenure as dean at Wisconsin, the business school’s endowment rose from $6 million to more than $95 million. Orange County expects big things from this Brooklyn boy.

-By Paul Sterman



RESIDENCE: Mission Viejo

WHAT HE DOES: Executive chef and partner, 230 Forest Avenue, Opah Restaurant & Bar and Agave Mexican Grill and Cantina

FAMILY: Wife, Michelle, and three children: Jacob, 7, Sydney, 5 and Emma, 4

HOBBY: Baseball



RESIDENCE: Laguna Beach

WHAT HE DOES: Partner, project architect and interior designer for company restaurants, and renowned residential architect

FAMILY: Wife, Miriam, and two children, Ryan and Jessica

HOBBY: Builds custom furniture

FAVORITE ENTERTAINERS: Sade and Astrid Gilberto


RESIDENCE: Laguna Beach

WHAT SHE DOES: Managing partner for 230 Forest Avenue, Opah Restaurant & Bar and Agave Mexican Grill and Cantina

FAMILY: Husband, Richard, a psychiatrist and wine consultant; three grown children and two grandkids

HOBBY: Scuba diving


RESIDENCE: Corona del Mar

WHAT HE DOES: Partner, new-site negotiator, and business development

FAMILY: Wife, Diane, and six kids; two golden labs and a eat

HOBBIES: Tennis, sailing, real estate development


What’s the sure-fire recipe for a winning restaurant? The right mix of concept, cuisine and kismet.

Twelve years ago, Terry Rothbard, a resident of Laguna Beach, was in Washington D.C. for a medical convention with her husband, Richard. The Rothbards owned a psychiatric hospital. They had dinner at the Blue Point Grill in nearby Alexandria, Va … and that meal changed their lives forever.

“The food was incredible,” remembers Rothbard, who right then and there had an epiphany to open a restaurant back in Laguna with Blue Point Grill’s impressive chef (and perfect stranger), Marc Cohen, the youngest executive chef in the Washington D.C. area. Rothbard contacted her friend, Mark Singer, an architect who knows Laguna Beach intimately, and asked if he knew of any locations that could be converted into a restaurant.

Here’s the kismet part. “Mark said, ‘Terry, you’re not going to believe this, but I just got a restaurant site approved by the City Council. The lease is with Jules Swimmer. All we need is a chef and a managing partner.'” Terry is still awestruck by the quirk of fate that jump-started the foursome’s first restaurant venture, 230 Forest Avenue, in Laguna Beach.

“My only stipulation was that if I could prove that 230 Forest Avenue would do well after about two years, then I’d like to work on a conceptual restaurant that could be reproduced in Orange County,” says Cohen, who has frequently been named one of OC’s great chefs.

Over a decade and many daily specials later, this dynamic duo times two has made good on that original deal and now own four other hot restaurants in Orange County: Opah Restaurant & Bar in Aliso Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and Irvine; and Agave Mexican Grill and Cantina in Rancho Santa Margarita – their newest concept restaurant launched this past July.

Dining establishments come and go, but this team has found a formula that sticks: creative, trendy food at reasonable prices in the heart of suburbia. Location has been the key.

Their first concept restaurant was Opah in Aliso Viejo, named after a 400-pound Hawaiian moonfish. “In Hawaii, Opah was once given away as a gesture of goodwill to people in the community,” Cohen says. By sharing the big fish, the fisherman ensured continued good luck with other catches. It has certainly worked that way for the four partners, who have opened two other, successful Opah restaurants in the past few years.

“Our goal with Opah is to bring more exotic ingredients to neighborhoods…mahi mahi, shitake mushrooms and dayboat scallops – which I’ll bet you can’t find anywhere else in Aliso Viejo,” asserts Cohen.

“We demand excellent work, from the cooks down to the servers (330 employees total), and Marc monitors every piece of fish that comes into the restaurant,” explains Rothbard.

Cohen whips up his specialties at all five restaurants each day, about 50 miles back and forth. He starts work at 6:30 a.m. and doesn’t stop hustling until midnight, seven days a week.

“And we’re all still married!” Rothbard jokes.

There’s talk of opening even more restaurants within a year. “We’d rather be running a million miles a minute than slowing down.”

-By Lynn Armitage



Imagine that. Had Orange County been a country, it would have ranked 11th in total medals (29) in the world, with 23 of 41 athletes connected to OC coming home with gold, silver or bronze.

While swimmers and water polo players dominated local lists, there was no more embraceable pair than the gold medallists in beach Volleyball, Kerri Walsh and Costa Mesa’s Misty May (On the cover and above). And there may not have been a better team at the Athens Games than the American softball team, which won gold, thanks in part to four county residents. And there was no team with a more storied history than the women’s gold-medal soccer team that included Julie Foudy of Mission Viejo and Joy Fawcett of Foothill Ranch. Here is a breakdown of awards and the cities to which the local athletes are connected:

Swimming: Amanda Beard, Irvine, gold in the 200 breaststroke and silver in the 200 IM and the 4×100 medley relay.

Aaron Peirsol, Irvine, gold in the 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke and 4×100 medley relay.

Larsen Jensen, Mission Viejo, silver in the 1,500 freestyle.

Lenny Krayzelburg, Irvine, gold in the 4×100 medley relay.

Colleen Lanne, Aliso Viejo, silver in the 4×100 freestyle relay.

Jason Lezak, Irvine, gold in the 4×100 medley relay and bronze in the 100 freestyle.

Kaitlin Sandeno, Irvine, gold in 4×200 freestyle relay, silver in 400 IM, and bronze in 400 freestyle.

Gabe Woodward, Aliso Viejo, bronze in 4×100 freestyle relay.

Water Polo: The bronze to the women who included Robin Beauregard of Huntington Beach, Jackie Frank of Seal Beach, Natalie Golda of Fullerton, Heather Moody of Anaheim, Amber Stachowski of Rancho Santa Margarita, and Nicolle Payne of Seal Beach.

Softball: The gold to the women who included Amanda Freed of Cypress, Lori Harrigan of Anaheim, Lovieanne Jung of Fountain Valley, and Natasha Watley of Irvine.

Beach Volleyball: Misty May, Costa Mesa, gold. Elaine Youngs, Lake Forest, bronze.

Cycling: Erin Mirabella, La Habra, bronze.

Soccer: The gold to the women who included Joy Fawcett of Foothill Ranch and Julie Foudy of Mission Viejo.

-By Craig Reem



WHAT HE DOES: Director of sales and marketing for high-rise condo builder Bosa Development

FAMILY: Married to Michelle; two children: Jeremy, 14, and Stephanie, 8

HOBBIES: Squash, golf, cooking

FAVORITE ENTERTAINER: Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)

Dennis Serraglio is the marketing man who helped sell homebuyers on the high-rise.

Not that he needed to do much persuading.

Vancouver-based Bosa Development, for whom Serraglio is director of sales and marketing, is building two 18-story towers of luxury condominiums in Irvine – one of the first high-rise residential projects in Orange County. County residents – and, in particular, danizens of Irvine, the quintessential planned community – have never seen the likes of such soaring homes. Before now, going vertical in OC has seemed verboten.

But while some dread such development in Irvine, any notion that prospective condo buyers would stay away from the Bosa project has been proven resoundingly wrong.

St was back in June when Bosa broke ground on the towers – called Marquee at Park Place, near the intersection of the 405 freeway and Jamboree Road – and by She end of September all 232 “condominium suites” were so\ld, reports Serraglio.

The sell-out of Park Place is just one more sign of a nationwide homesales boom. Residential builders have more work than they know what to do with, as peoples clamor for new homes in OC. The trouble is, the county is running out of available land.

There is nowhere to go but up, as Bosa is well aware. Thus, the two towers.

“The market is very deep,” Serraglio says of the demand for housing in this area. “We could sell up two more towers very quickly.”

And these are not cheap places we’re talking about here. The announced prices in the summer for Park Place unite ranged from an approximate starting price of $525,000 for a two-bedroom, 1,275- square-foot unit to $735,000 for a two-level, two-bedroom unit with a den, to $1.48 million for a penthouse unit And Serraglio says the prices have gone up “10 to 15 percent” since then.

He maintains lifestyle choices were a key reason why people bought the Irvine condos. “The demographics just demand that sort of project – nice, big, viable units. “The project is fully amenitized; it’s got a 24-hour concierge, pools, a spa, a weight room, everything people are looking for.”

-By Paul Sterman

Diedrich Coffee

There is something instructive about the choices that Diedrich Coffee, Inc. executives make when they order at one of their own coffeehouses. CEO Roger “Rocky” Laverty picks a medium Toffee Crunch, a cool, summery specialty drink that works on this dry Newport Beach day. Founder and namesake Martin Diedrich chooses a small drip-roast Kenya.

The Orange County-raised and-based company has made a remarkable financial recovery in the past year, moving into the black for the first time in several years after a bold expansion fizzled and the company limped back to its roots. In the fiscal year that ended June 2004, the publicly traded company earned $266,000 on revenue of $54.625 million. That is nothing to retire on, but it is a huge improvement from a net loss of $1.223 million for fiscal year 2003. The biggest part of the turnaround occurred in fourth quarter 2004, with net income of $92,000 compared to a net loss of $1.7 million for the same quarter in 2003.

The company has 482 retail outlets worldwide, including 23 Diedrich locations (19 in Orange County). The remaining stores are divided between Diedrich’s Gloria Jean’s and Coffee People brands. Diedrich is the No. 2 specialty coffeehouse company, behind -far behind – industry behemoth Starbucks, which has 8,000 coffeehouses in more than 30 countries.

During the past year, Diedrich has turned this seeming disadvantage into an advantage, making fun of itself while also saluting its business model with this clever ad pitch: “Diedrich, not so big.”

“We believe that we have an opportunity to develop and grow a specialty coffee concept that is unique – that has higher-quality products and local customer service with a community atmosphere,” Laverty says. “We have no intention to become a worldwide brand.”

But there is room, he believes, in the Southern California market to add numerous Diedrich coffeehouses. “There is a real advantage to not being huge like Starbucks, both in terms of developing a consistent culture among our employees and customers, and in being able to ensure the consistency of our product.” During the next year, the company plans to open five Diedrich stores in Orange County; 25 Gloria Jean’s domestically; and about 100 Gloria Jean’s worldwide.

Says Laverty: “The bigger and more successful Starbucks gets, the greater the opportunity for us to really grab hold of the solid No. 2 position.”

Both executives are appreciative of the Starbucks influence, which prompts people to drink specialty coffee. “Every advertising dollar they spend,” says Diedrich, “grows the pie for everybody else. They bring consumers … to a more refined approach to coffee.”

That, too, is the Diedrich model, with brands from across the world splashed inside every store: Columbia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia – a Brazil estate exclusive has been a big hit in the past several months. The company pushes its motto of “selling the world’s highest quality coffees.”

Laverty, a former Smart & Final CEO hired in April 2003, gets credit for refocusing the company and earning the profit that has recycled into the renovation of 17 Diedrich stores in the past year. But the rebound is more than new chairs and counters. Even in the dark days, the product was always first-rate, he says. So the company rebuilt its structure without ever having to recast its coffee.


The company has a fascinating history. Martin Diedrich’s grandmother, Charlotte, inherited a coffee plantation in 1916 in Costa Rica. Her son, Carl, German-born, joined the business in 1946 by studying the art and craft of roasting. He and his wife, Inga, purchased a coffee plantation in Antigua, Guatemala in 1966. By 1972 they were selling their beans in Orange County. In 1983, Martin Diedrich founded the company; the first coffeehouse still stands in Costa Mesa.

-By Craig Reem



WHAT SHE DOES: Medical doctor, professor and president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

FAMILY: Single; 24-year-old son working on Ph.D. in neuroscience

HOBBIES: Hiking, skiing and scuba diving


A long-time champion of women’s health issues, Dr. Vivian Dickerson is in the right place at the right time to impact the state of women’s health in this country. In May of this year she was sworn in, in front of thousands of her peers, as the 55th president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), based in Washington, D.C.

Dickerson, a resident of Orange, is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC Irvine and director of the division of general obstetrics and gynecology at the UCI Medical Center. With all her accomplishments, Dickerson still considers herself a late bloomer.

“Most kids in medical school knew they wanted to go into medicine since they were young,” Dickerson says. Not young Vivian. “As a response to the horrible stuff that went on in the Vietnam war, I joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Africa. I started working with women, many of whom were pregnant, and discovered this was what I wanted to do.”

A political science and music major in college, Dickerson returned to school to prepare for the new direction her life had taken. Interestingly, it was a comment during her medical school interview that may have predicted her future. “At age 29,” Dickerson recalls, “I was asked, ‘Why should we accept you over some young buck when you’ll be positively menopausal by the time you graduate?'” Now, a specialist in menopause, she is director of UCI’s Post Reproductive Women’s Integrative Health Center and a nationally known expert on the subject.

In her role as president of ACOG, Dickerson has presented her 10- point Women’s Bill of Rights. Among them: Freedom from discrimination based on gender, age, race, or ethnicity. “I’ve always felt it was important for women to be represented. At that time [during her med school interview], there were almost no women in obstetrics and gynecology.” Now, she says, women are the majority of those in residency, but gender disparity is clear in the top ranks. Dickerson is just the third female president of ACOG and the American Medical Association has had only one female at the helm.

A true torchbearer for women’s health issues, Dickerson says, “I’ve had a lifelong love of advocating for people not adequately represented.” As she leads the charge in her new role, more women surely will benefit.

-By Kimberly Porrazzo

Linda Spilker


WHAT SHE DOES: Cassini (Saturn exploration vehicle) deputy project scientist

FAMILY: Married with two daughters and one stepdaughter, all in college

HOBBIES: Hiking and traveling, especially to New Zealand


It all started with Santa Claus. Had he not delivered a telescope to a curious, nine-year-old girl from Yorba Linda in 1964, planet like Saturn might still be just a galactic mystery. Linda Spilker has always set her sights high: on the stars, you might say. The little girl with the telescope is now known as the ringmaster, an expert on the majestic rings that surround Saturn and an integral part of NASA’s team. As deputy project scientist for the Cassini project, the U.S. mission to Saturn, Spilker is part of the team that successfully placed a spacecraft into Saturn’s orbit last June.

Spilker remembers reading the “Golden Book of Astronomy” as a child and being fascinated with the planets and the solar system.

“When I was in first grade and the Mercury astronauts were in space, they stopped what we were doing in the classroom so we could listen to the news coverage” she says. That was the spark that ignited Spilker’s passion for the cosmos and launched visions of becoming an astronaut, “I was interested in space because of time I grew up in”, she says. “I was totally fascinated with Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in 1969 when I was 14 years old.”

Though she excelled in her advanced math and science courses in high school, her guidance counselor discouraged her from pursuing her passion, saying that she was heading into a field that not many women choose. “It was a very nontraditional field for women at that time,” Spilker admits, but she adds that both her parents and her teahers were very supportive. As an undergraduate at Cal State Fullerton, she earned her degree in physics, began to research meteorites and was soon hired to work on the Voyager mission. For 13 years she studied data sent back to Earth from Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, reveling in conducting the research she loved so much. Realizing that in order to pursue her own research she’d need an advanced degree, she earned a Ph.D. in geophysics and space physics at UCLA.

Spilker’s work helped pa\ved the way for the exciting strides that are being made in space travel today, with launches like the recent SpacShipOne, which will – accroding to its project leaders – enable civilians to soon enjoy space travel. And she’s not done yet.

“NASA’s long-range goals are to find earth-size planets around neighboring stars.” That may be 10 to 20 years away, but Spilker doesn’t mind the wait. “I like the feeling of exploration and discovery,” she says.

-By Kimberly Porrazzo

Jacqueline Chattopadhyay


WHAT SHE DOES: Fourth-year student at UC Irvine recently named one of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 College Women of the Year

FAMILY: Single

HOBBY: Dance


As Jacqueline Chattopadhyay thumbed through an issue of Glamour magazine when she was 14 years old, she was inspired by the young women who were highlighted for their leadership, work in community service and academic success. Today, the fourth-year UC Irvine student serves as an inspiration to others. This month, she was one of Glamour’s Top 10 College Women of the Year, chosen out of 500 applicants from across the country.

The 21-year-old, who holds honors majors in both political science and economics, was recognized for founding Students- Mentoring-Students at UCI. The outreach program helps disadvantaged high school students at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa to become competitive college applicants.

“I’ve always been interested in the topic of racial and ethnic minorities being able to have equal access to college,” she says. “I guess that partly comes from the fact that my parents come from two different cultures. I grew up very tuned in to the idea that one’s background does in many cases shape your opportunities and your social interactions.”

Chattopadhyay, whose says that “college has been the most important thing” in her life, works with a team of 12 UCI undergraduate students. Together, they assist students who have been identified as good college applicants, but who are unlikely to attend because of a number of barriers, such as language, finances and legal issues. Though workshops, such as one on how to write a personal statement, the team’s goal is to guide the students through the process.

“During my own time in high school, I found out that a lot of people were taking SAT prep courses or hiring private college counselors to usher them through the entire process, from standardized tests to applications, personal statements and so forth,” Chattopadhyay says. “And I really didn’t like the fact that these kinds of programs were almost making college admission a pay- for-place system. I think that admission should be based on merit, not how much you can pay to boost your SAT score.”

Earlier this year, Chattopadhyay won a Donald A. Strauss Scholarship to continue expanding the program. She also has received the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which recognizes individuals who are interested in bringing change to the community.

The Irvine resident, who will graduate in June, plans on pursing her education by attending graduate or law school. After that, she says, “I think I’d love to work as a speechwriter for a politician or work in a think tank. At some point, I might like to run for elected office, probably starting at the city council level, maybe going to state Assembly.”

-By Sandy Bennett