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Aaron Byzak, MBA

Director of Government & Community Affairs, UC San Diego Health Sciences

Aaron ByzakAaron Byzak has served as director of Government and Community Affairs for UC San Diego Health Sciences since 2009. In this role, Mr. Byzak is responsible for all legislative and community relations on behalf of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego and UC San Diego Health System at the local, state and federal levels, in the private, public and government sectors.

He joined UC San Diego Health Sciences after acting as the policy advisor of Health and Human Services for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Over the past 10 years, Mr. Byzak has worked as an adviser on policy and political matters for elected officials at the state and local level, including as a district representative for the office of Senator Bill Morrow. He served as an assistant public affairs officer and strategic services specialist for the Tri-City Healthcare District, and served as a federal health policy reform surrogate speaker for Senator John McCainís 2008 presidential campaign. Additionally, Mr. Byzak spent more than 6 years working for American Medical Response (AMR) as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and EMT senior field training officer on basic and advanced life support ambulances in San Diego County. He also acted as the Critical Incident Response Team leader for AMR.

Mr. Byzak serves on the board of several local nonprofit agencies, including the San Diego Organization of Healthcare Leaders (SOHL) and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and is the president of the board of directors for the North Coastal Prevention Coalition (NCPC). He has been recognized with two Emmy Awards by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, a Silver Bernays Award from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), The Regentís Award for Early Career Healthcare Executive of the Year from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), and a 40 Under 40 Award by San Diego Metropolitan Magazine. Additionally, Mr. Byzak was nominated for Modern Healthcare Magazine's Up & Comers Award in 2011, and was a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal's Healthcare Champions Award.

He earned his master of business administration in health care management from the University of California, Irvineís Paul Merage School of Business and also holds a bachelorís degree in social science from Chapman University. Additionally, Mr. Byzak earned a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. He lives in Oceanside with his wife, Amanda, and their young son, Adam.


Michael Peterson

Director of Workforce Development and Recruitment Strategy, Sharp HealthCare

Michael PetersonMike has previously worked for three Fortune-500 companies and currently works as the Director of Workforce Development and Recruitment Strategy for Sharp HealthCare, which was recognized as a 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient, the nation's highest Presidential honor for quality and organizational performance excellence. 

He currently serves as a Board Member for the Talent Acquisition Group of San Diego and is a member of the California Hospital Association's Workforce Committee.  Mike has also been the President of the San Diego Association for Health Care Recruitment where he is also a former Vice President of Marketing/Communications. In addition, Mike is a former two-term Vice President of Membership for the San Diego affiliate of the National Human Resources Association.

Mike holds a Bachelorís Degree in Public Administration and a Professional Certificate in Human Resource Management, both from San Diego State University. He is also holds a PHR certification from Human Resource Certification Institute, a Recruitment Leadership Certificate from the Human Capital Institute and is a graduate of the Human Resource Leadership Program at the University of California San Diego.


Tana Lorah

Kaiser Permanente, Community & Government Relations Manager

Tana LorahA native of Chula Vista, Tana manages Kaiser Permanenteís relationships with community based organizations, civic leaders, and business groups. Tana works on the development and execution of Kaiser Permanente San Diego's community & government relations programs. This includes charitable support of nonprofit organizations and coordination of sponsorships, partnerships and volunteer efforts in the community.

Tana brings 15 years of government and community relations experience, serving most recently as associate director and chief operating officer for the San Diego County Medical Society Foundation. Tana is a member of the South County Economic Development Council and is a board member for the Mexican American Business & Professional Association (MABPA).


Kristie Grover

BIOCOM Institute, Executive Director

Kristie GroverKristie Grover is the Executive Director and primary founder of the BIOCOM Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports science education and creates pioneering opportunities for students, teachers, and scientists to work together for mutual benefit. †The mission of the BIOCOM Institute is to create comprehensive education initiatives that advance science literacy, and to serve as a bridge between learning institutions and life science companies.

Kristie is recognized as a knowledge resource for workforce development and science education in the life sciences industry. Together with the BIOCOM Institute Board, which is composed of top executives in the life sciences sector, Kristie develops the Instituteís initiatives. She also is responsible for designing and running the Instituteís activities, including the Science Education Speakers Bureau, the BioCollaborative and the Online Workforce Center.

Under Kristieís leadership, the BIOCOM Institute and partners have raised $9MM to provide education, training, and placement services to incumbent, dislocated, and unemployed workers in the greater San Diego region, through the Biotechnology Readiness, Immersion, Certification and Degrees for Gainful Employment (BRIDGE) and Educating and Developing Workers for the Green Economy (EDGE) grants.

Previously, Kristie served as Director of Workforce Development for BIOCOM, the nationís premier industry association for the life sciences community.† Kristie managed the workforce and education activities related to a $2.5 MM grant received in conjunction with the San Diego Workforce Partnership through the Presidentís High Growth Job Training Initiative.† Kristie also served as Director of Operations for the San Diego Regional Technology Alliance (RTA) for five years. The RTAís mission was to support the development, application, and commercialization of technology to create jobs, respond to industry changes, and foster competitiveness.

Kristie has been recognized by the Carnegie Corporation and The Opportunity Equation as an education innovator who is infusing STEM capacity into our schools by offering critical support. †Kristie serves as an advisor and participant in many external organizations including: ARCS Foundation, Biotech Employee Development Coalition, Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes, ConnectEd Biomedical and Health Industry Council, A-G Education Consortium, and the San Diego Biotechnology Education Consortium.

Kristie received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies-Organizational Communication, with a Minor in Human Resources Management, from California State University, Chico.


Maritime Technology

Joel Valenzuela

Director of Maritime Operations, Port of San Diego

Joel ValenzuelaMr. Valenzuela directs the operations, maintenance and development of the Port's maritime facilities and infrastructure, including the Port's cargo and cruise terminals, public piers, wharves and docks.

He is also responsible for ensuring maritime facilities' compliance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations, administering the Port Tariff, which contains provisions and rates applicable to all commercial maritime activity in San Diego Bay, as well as enforcing maritime lease agreements and contracts.

Mr. Valenzuela is a certified Professional Port Manager, having completed extensive training through the American Association of Port Authorities. In addition to his career with the Port's Maritime Division, Mr. Valenzuela also served as a project analyst in the Port's Executive Offices. In this role, he prepared budgets and performed economic, financial and qualitative analyses of organizational issues.

He holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from San Diego State University. His undergraduate degree is in Management Science and Economics, earned at the University of California, San Diego.

His professional affiliations have included serving as an Infrastructure Committee Member for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, an Issues Advocacy Committee Member of the San Diego World Trade Center, and memberships with the San Diego Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Asian Business Association, the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego South County Economic Development Council. Additionally, he is a graduate member of LEAD San Diego.


Todd Roberts

General manager, Marine Group Boat Works

Todd Roberts

Todd Roberts, a San Diego Native, began sailing boats on the San Diego Bay at age 5.  Knowing the ocean had a special place for him, Roberts went on to earn a bachelorís degree in business with an emphasis in marine transportation from the prestigious California Maritime Academy. He holds a USCG Master of Ocean license which allows him to operate any vessel up to 1600 gross tons on any ocean and a USCG Third Mate Unlimited license which means he can sail as senior officer on any ship, any ocean.  

Roberts is a well-renowned industry expert in the repair, refit and construction of boats.  He has overseen the design and construction of vessels in excess of 100 feet, managing refit plans for government, commercial and private boats alike.  He has been the general manager for Marine Group Boat Works (and its predecessor South Bay Boatyard) since 2000.  As vice president, Roberts leads all departments: quality control, safety and security, projects, purchasing, accounting and marketing/communications.  He emphasizes ethical, high-quality, safe and eco-friendly business practices, holds employees and their families in the highest regard while offering a professional work environment.  Roberts also implemented a policy to hire, buy and source as many workers, products and services locally as possible.  

Roberts is an advocate for giving back to the community.   He sits on the Board of Directors of the California Maritime Academy Foundation and the San Diego Port Tenants Association.  He enjoys spending his free time with his wife Andrea and two children, Parker and Jillian.  Aside from boating on the San Diego Bay, his other favorite pastime is standup paddle boarding and being active in both of his kidsí competitive sailing adventures in and around local waters.


Derry Pence

Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association, President

Derry PenceI served in the U.S. Navy for 26 years.† My career was focused on ship design, shipbuilding and ship repair.† I worked on the AOE 6 acquisition and shipbuilding program and my last tour of duty was as Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Puget Sound in Everett, Washington.† After retiring from the Navy, I joined General Dynamics NASSCO where I was the Manager, Repair Contracts. I retired from General Dynamics NASSCO in 2009 and have become the CEO of the Ship Repair Association. † I am currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association.† I am a registered Professional Engineer in California.

My educational background is B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona; M.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School; and a M.S. Degree in System Acquisition Management from the Naval Postgraduate School. Completed Executive Program Management Course at Defense Acquisition University.† Completed Executive Summer Session at Penn State University.†

Teaching experience includes Cogswell College in Everett, WA (1996-1997); DeVry University/Keller Graduate School since 2001.† Taught courses in program management, occupational behavior and leadership, management, senior project management.


John Hartney Pasha

Pasha Automotive, Senior Vice President

John PashaA native Californian, John was born in Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the youngest of five children, all of whom actively work in a family-owned business, The Pasha Group, and its affiliated companies. John’s grandfather started the company in San Francisco 65 years ago in 1947. Today it is a well-known global transportation services enterprise, with three main operating divisions: Automotive, Maritime, and Relocation Services.

John received a BA from Santa Clara University, with an English major, and minors in Business and Spanish. He has worked and lived in South America and Europe in various capacities including managing and servicing military cargo and commercial shipments throughout Europe.

John has been in San Diego since 2004 managing Pasha Automotive Services as VP of Operations, domiciled at the National City Marine Terminal. This company began handling automobiles in 1990. That first year, the company processed 30,000 cars and employed about 300 people. In recent years, we processed over 400,000 cars; In fact, the company is nearing the four million mark. John is an active community steward recently serving as Chair of the National City Chamber of Commerce and currently as Co-chair of San Diego’s Working Waterfront Group.

As our National City business has grown, so has his family. He has been married for fifteen years to Erin Pasha, and has four children: the ‘Swiss Kids’ Riley (12) and Georgia (9), and San Diegans, Claudia (7) and Carly (5).