Irvine/OC, California Delegate Profile
John Russo, City Manager, City of Irvine. John was named Irvine’s fifth City Manager in July 2018. Born in Brooklyn to Italian immigrant parents, John received his Bachelor’s Degree from Yale and his law degree from New York University. John spent nearly six years on the Oakland City Council and more than eleven years as Oakland’s City Attorney. As Oakland’s Chief Legal Officer, John won numerous Bay Area, state, and national awards. Most notably, in 2004, California Lawyer magazine named him “California Lawyer of the Year” for the public sector. John was President of the League of California Cities. In recognition of his productive tenure, the League honored John in 2005 by making him the first recipient of its “Champion of Local Democracy” award. John has served as City Manager in Alameda and Riverside, California. In both cities, he promoted open and responsive government, bureaucratic reform, and fiscal conservatism. As a former City Councilmember and City Attorney, John brings a deep and unusually broad perspective to City Management.
Leigh Volkland, Senior Director, Government Affairs for Edwards Lifesciences directing the company’s legislative issues in the fifty U.S. states since 2008 and global government affairs since 2015. Leigh’s government affairs experience includes Director of Public Affairs for Pacificare, driving the development of the Medicare Modernization Act; Principal of Bustin & Company, a Dallas-based consulting firm where she developed the government affairs practice and focused on electric utility restructuring, and Vice President of the Public Affairs Coalition for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Leigh began her career working on political campaigns. She currently serves on the Board of the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce, the California Lifesciences Association Political Action Committee (PAC) Board, and the Advamed PAC Board, the medical device industry’s political contribution giving mechanisms in California.
Bill Carpou, CEO of OCTANe, Orange County’s premier early stage accelerator specializing in technology and medical technology to provide capital and expertise for early stage companies. OCTANe also serves as the connecting organization to convene the Southern California innovation ecosystem. Prior to joining OCTANe, Bill served as an operating partner at the private equity firm, Blackstone including leading a key portfolio company. Recruited to this position by Blackstone, he was responsible for all aspects of revenue including sales, marketing, channel expansion, strategic alliances, acquisitions and customer service. Prior experience includes 3 years as a partner at Profit Recovery Partners (“PRP”) and senior executive positions at IKON Office Solutions for 18 years leading revenue and M&A activities within IKON’s global operations, now RICOH. He began his career with the Xerox Corporation and earned his securities license at Merrill Lynch. He has served on the board of the Barclay Theatre, the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Villanova School of Business, Villanova’s Institute of Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship and is a member of the Chief Executive Roundtable at the University of California, Irvine.
Kate Klimow, Chief Administrative Officer and Director of External Relations, UCI Applied Innovation, the crossroads where university research, industry, innovation and entrepreneurship meet, interact and drive economic impact for the region. In a dual role, Kate oversees UCI Applied Innovation’s operations including facilities, IT, events, finance and human resources, as well as providing leadership for central marketing, media and community engagement. Kate has a broad-based business perspective gained from working within both the public and private sectors throughout her public affairs career including Fortune 500 companies, regional business organizations, non-profits and a state Governor. In addition to active involvement with a number of community organizations, she presently serves as the Chair of the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce; the Chair of Second Harvest Food Bank and is on the board of the OC Forum. Kate also serves as the Staff Advisor to the University of California Regents.
Andy Downer, Horizon Consumer Science & British American Business Association, a motivated and driven international management consultant and Global Connector of people. For over 25 years, Horizon Consumer Science has been helping small to Fortune 500 companies grow strategically, using science-based intelligent-logic research. Its empirical work delivers the answers to questions that organizations don’t know. Horizons comprehensive advisory reports help clients to position, brand, evaluate, communicate and innovate. Andy is a Board member of the British American Business Council Orange County. Applying his innovative experience, Andy is proud to be part of the positive transformation and growth that the BABC is experiencing with partners such as the Irvine Chamber. An advocate for social impact, Andy is the Board Chair of Pure Game, a sports-based youth-development and character education not-for-profit. Under his guidance, Pure Game has grown from 7 to 50 schools in the past 18 months.
Lynn Stewart, Director of Business Development at CSU Fullerton – Extension and International Programs. Lynn has over 25 years of international trade experience. She leads the development of professional and continuing education programs that meet the needs of employers, the business community and students. She has also established a foreign investor assistance program that provides one-on-one assistance to investors and connection to state and local resources. Most recently, Lynn served as the Director of the Orange County Center for International Trade Development where she assisted importers, exporters and foreign investors as well as globalized education and the local workforce. She has spent many years working with businesses of all industries as a trade consultant and business advisor both privately and for the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) in Long Beach and Orange County, CA. Additionally, Lynn spent several years as Director of International Sales and Marketing for an environmental company initiating their global expansion.
Steven L. Small, Ph.D., M.D., is Professor of Neurology, Neurobiology and Behavior, and Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, and Chief Scientific Officer of the Medical Innovation Institute. He was the Chair of the Department of Neurology from 2010-2017. Dr. Small is also Professor Emeritus of Neurology and Psychology at The University of Chicago. As a scientist, Dr. Small has been a pioneer in understanding the anatomy and physiology of the human brain and its relation to function by direct investigation of human subjects. This work has encompassed the study of normal adults and children, adults with neurological disease (especially stroke), and children with developmental impairments. As Department Chair, Dr. Small doubled department size and expanded significantly the volume and quality of neurological services for the only academic medical center in Orange County, California, the sixth largest county in the United States, with a population of more than 3 million people.
Carlos Oregon, Vice President of Operations and Principal Consultant, Thinkbox Technology Group. Carlos has over 15 years of experience in operations and technology both in C-Level support and Program management roles. Mr. Oregon has a myriad of experience in IT consulting and Global program/project management initiatives in the Pharmaceutical, Life Science, Education, Entertainment, Corporate, and Government sectors. He has participated in enterprise wide initiatives for Data Center migrations, VOIP upgrades, infrastructure, low-voltage and project recovery. Prior to joining Thinkbox Technology Group, he was a senior member of the engineering team at WET Design, where he was responsible for the project management and coordination of technology, production, and logistics for iconic water features, including the world’s largest water feature at the Burj, Dubai development in UAE. He is U.S. Air Force (USAF) veteran serving 15 years.
Dr. Sesha Neervannan, Senior Vice President, R&D, Allergan, responsible for all Drug Product Development from early Research to Commercialization, across all Therapeutic Areas. He is also the R&D Site Leader for the Irvine Site. He brings 25 years’ experience in the Life Sciences industry helping develop medicines working for Allergan, Amgen and Bristol‐Myers Squibb. He has contributed to R & D of several marketed drugs that help patients in the treatment of ocular and dermatological diseases such as macular edema, glaucoma, dry eye disease, rosacea and other conditions – products include Ozurdex™, Latisse™, Acuvail™, Lumigan 0.01%™, Zymaxid™, Trivaris™, Restasis® MultiDose, Rhofade™, Aczone® Gel 7.5%, and BOTOX® as well as several OTC artificial tears products. Sesha serves on Advisory Boards CHDI, a non‐profit dedicated to finding a cure for Huntington’s Disease; NineSigma, an open innovation company and Non‐Biologics Complex Drugs (NBCD) Working Group. He received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at The University of Kansas.
Jason Lantgen, Vice President and Market Lead for the Technology and Life Sciences practice group, Jones Lang LaSalle Orange County, has been supporting corporations and institutions on their real estate strategies for over ten years in Southern California. Utilizing client-centered strategies, Jason advises clients on a full range of strategies through the development planning and execution to ensure that goals are achieved and interests are protected. Currently Jason sits on the Advisory Council for OCTANe, a non-profit that fuels job growth in Orange County, and is on the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish Foundation Orange County and the Inland Empire.
Kaitlyn Nguyen, Manager of Economic Development, City of Irvine has filled a position created in 2018 to strengthen outreach to the business community. Nguyen oversees economic development efforts, working with internal colleagues and external partners to promote the City as a great place to conduct business. Besides her duties to attract, retain, and expand opportunities, she creates and evaluates strategies to ensure business success with companies of all sizes and complexities. Nguyen worked for 22 years for the City of Riverside. Prior to her hiring in summer 2018 to the City of Irvine, she was Senior Project Manager in the Community & Economic Development Department. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cal State San Bernardino, and a master’s degree in management, also from Cal State San Bernardino.
Linda DiMario, Executive Vice President, Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce, leading the economic development and tourism work - business attraction and retention, workforce and skills development, international development, trade and export programs and FDI initiatives resulting in the Chamber winning the 2018 Presidential “E” Award for Export Services. Before joining the Chamber, she owned an economic development consulting practice working with over 100 cities and organizations in the U.S., served as CEO of the Arlington (TX) Convention & Visitors Bureau working on the Dallas Cowboys Stadium development, CEO of the Long Beach Area (CA) CVB to transform the city’s economy, VP Sales & Marketing for Tucson, AZ. and Oakland, CA. organizations and national sales at Hotel Queen Mary and Disneyland Hotel. She serves on the Board of Directors for the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and OCTANe.
Bryan Starr, President & CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce. Bryan leads one of the largest and most influential chambers in California, overseeing economic development, tourism, Chamber operations and the Irvine Chamber Education Foundation. Previously he served as senior vice president to Orange County Business Council (OCBC), overseeing external affairs and serving as the lead advocate for the business community in Orange County. Prior to OCBC, Bryan served as CEO of the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Southern California, Orange County Chapter. Starr began his association management career with the Associated Builders and Contractors of Southern California as director of government affairs in 2004, served as a junior staff member to the Committee on Ways and Means, United States House of Representatives and numerous public boards including Orange County Council of Governments, OC Waste and Recycling, the City of Irvine’s Green Ribbon Commission, and was a founding board member of the Irvine Community Land Trust.