Newswise — Dec. 12, 2017 — Ten representatives from a variety of industries and non-profit organizations will be joining the CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Business & Technology Partnership Executive Committee. Included in the group of new additions are two CSUCI faculty members.
“With these new members, we have connections from agriculture, technology and finance to education and the non-profit sector,” said CSUCI Director of Major Gifts, Carrick DeHart. “It allows us to get a complete industry view so as to better serve the region and our students.”
Bringing a legal and agricultural perspective to the committee is business attorney Melissa Sayer, principal (owner) of Matilija Law, Inc., in Ventura.
When Sayer isn’t helping businesses and entrepreneurs through her firm, she can be found at her citrus and avocado ranch near Santa Paula, which has increased her understanding of the challenges facing farmers and small businesses in the region.
Michele Newell is the public affairs representative in Ventura County for Aera Energy, LLC, a natural gas, oil exploration and production company jointly owned by Shell Oil Company and ExxonMobil. She manages Aera’s community relations, volunteer efforts and corporate giving.
From the non-profit sector comes Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) President & CEO Vanessa Bechtel. Bechtel oversees about $100 million in charitable assets and, among other responsibilities, manages investments for 90 nonprofit agency endowments throughout Ventura County.
Bechtel co-founded Monarch Wealth Strategies in 2008 in Santa Barbara and was honored as Business Woman of the Year by the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce in 2010.
Erick Went, Chief Technical Officer at Matter Labs, is an entrepreneur skilled at business development, sustainability, research and strategic planning, to name a few talents he brings to the committee.
Matter Labs is a Camarillo-based think tank and startup studio specializing in emerging technology and innovation.
Also joining the committee is producer Robert “Bob” Bekian, owner of Spotburner, a video marketing company and Loyal Studios, a digital content production facility.
Bekian has developed content for the web, the small screen and large screen. He also produced over 800 digital projects for brands such as Adidas, Acura, Coca Cola, L’Oreal and Amgen.
New committee member Paul Visueta is Senior Vice President/Relationship Team Leader for Rabobank in Santa Barbara. He has also serves as Manager of Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management for Rabobank’s Agribusiness and Commercial divisions.
Certified Financial Planner Louie A. Valdez is Senior Vice President—Wealth Management Advisor at UBS Financial Services, Inc. The Valdez Wealth Management Group specializes in management advice for affluent families in the Conejo Valley.
Valdez’s family has been in the Conejo Valley since 1958, when they opened one of the first restaurants to serve Thousand Oaks, Casita Valdez.
From the education sector comes Debi Owens, who just retired from 40 years in public education. Owens taught special education classes for Hathaway Elementary School in the Hueneme School District. Owens—an athletics and water polo enthusiast—owns and operates a youth water polo club.
From the CSUCI faculty comes Associate Professor of Business Susan Andrzejewski, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jason Isaacs, Ph.D.
Andrzejewski is Chair of the Business program in the Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics and is also executive director of the Entrepreneurship & Small Business Institute (ESBI).
Isaacs has a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and specializes in control systems, linear systems and robotics.