Past Mathews Leadership Forums

2019 Speakers


Melissa (Elam ’95) Baffa

Development Officer, Foundation and Corporate Relations

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History


Melissa Baffa serves as the Development Officer in charge of Foundation and Corporate Relations at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and as an instructor with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University, Channel Islands. Previously, she worked for the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast as vice president of Program and Volunteer Services, as the executive director of the Gull Wings Children's Museum and of Friends of Channel Coast State Parks. After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology, Baffa taught middle school science in Simi Valley and marine biology in the Upward Bound program based at California Lutheran University, and worked as a research associate at Amgen. 

She is a science communication fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust, having sailed on the E/V Nautilus in 2015, 2016, and 2018, exploring the deep sea alongside Dr. Robert Ballard and sharing her experience on and through blogs and newspaper articles. An avid nature and outdoors enthusiast, Melissa is also active in her community, serving as the President of the Board of Directors of the Ventura County Leadership Academy, on the Advisory Council for the Ventura Land Trust, and as an advisor to KidSTREAM Children’s Museum. She lives in Ventura with her husband, John, and their two children. 

Kelly Culwell

Kelly Culwell ’95, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Evofem Biosciences


Dr. Kelly Culwell is an obstetrician/gynecologist specializing in women’s health and contraceptive research. She currently serves as chief medical officer for Evofem Biosciences, a San Diego-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company committed to developing and commercializing innovative products to address unmet needs in women’s sexual and reproductive health. After graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, Culwell completed her medical training and residency at the University of California, Davis, and University of California, San Diego, respectively. She earned a Master of Public Health from Northwestern University, where she also completed a fellowship in family planning and contraceptive research. She spent several years living abroad working for global organizations including the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London and the World Health Organization in Geneva. Her current body of work includes the development of global guidelines for clinical practice, provision of clinical care for underserved populations in Southern California, frequent lectures to medical students and healthcare providers, and authoring book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles on women’s health.

Rudy Gonzales

Rudy Gonzales ’97

Government Relations Manager

Southern California Edison


 Rudy Gonzales serves Southern California Edison as the management representative for cities in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County. He began his career with the company over 35 years ago as a meter reader and joined the Local Public Affairs department in 1993. Throughout his career, Gonzales has served on the boards of many non-profit, business and community organizations, including El Concilio Family Services, Ventura County Economic Development Association, Ventura County Leadership Academy, Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, Moorpark Chamber, Calabasas Chamber and the Conejo/Las Virgenes Future Foundation. He is a proud graduate of California Lutheran University, where he earned his B.S. in business management. He also is a graduate of Leadership Southern California Class V and Ventura County Leadership Academy Classes 2 and 24. He received the 2019 Ventura County Leadership Academy Founder’s Award and the Pacific Coast Business Times Latino Business Award. Gonzales resides in Thousand Oaks with his wife, Nathalie, and their teen-age daughters, Emma and Erin.

2019 Facilitators

  • Edgar Aguirre '99, Major Gift Officer, California Lutheran University 
  • Gerhard Apfelthaler, Dean, School of Management, California Lutheran University
  • Melissa Baffa '95, Development Officer, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
  • Jaime Boscarino, Deputy Finance Director, City of Thousand Oaks
  • Deana Colman, Human Resources Director, University Village Thousand Oaks / Oak View
  • Jason Corey, Accountant, Jacobs & Jacobs
  • Kelly Culwell '95, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Evofem Biosciences
  • Jim Friedl, General Manager, Conejo Recreation and Park District
  • Robbie Gluckson, Director of Marketing, Development and Community Outreach, UCLA Health
  • Rudy Gonzales ’97, Government Relations Manager, Southern California Edison
  • Tim Hagel, Chief of Police, City of Thousand Oaks
  • Shawn Howie
  • Deborah Kniss, Certified Residential Specialist, RE/MAX
  • Jill Lederer, CEO, Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Alex McIntyre, City Manager, City of Ventura
  • Tracy Noonan, City Attorney, City of Thousand Oaks
  • Jennifer Strong, Wealth Manager, Montecito Bank & Trust
  • Michael Teasdale, Trustee, Ventura County Board of Education
  • Beth (Dooley, MPPA '15) Ward, Records and Property Management, Oxnard Police Department
  • David Watson, Managing Partner, Oak Asset Management


2019 Sponsors
2019 Photo Gallery



2018 Speakers



Emily (Melander '07) Barany



Emily Barany has an insatiable need to solve problems, create efficient systems and empower people. In 2011 she launched VISIONALITY with a mission to help organizations dream big and a commitment to transform their dreams into reality.

VISIONALITY strengthens and runs the business operations side of nonprofits, allowing the organizations’ internal staff and volunteers to focus on the programming necessary to deliver their missions.

Last December, as the Thomas Fire raged, Barany leveraged her resources and connections to create a second venture called Thomas Fire Help, which connects help with need on a grassroots level. At the community-sourced online platform, survivors can quickly find what they need, from initial food and shelter to longer term needs like housing and recovery services.

The Pacific Coast Business Times has named Barany one of the top 40 under 40 Business Leaders and VISIONALITY the #1 Best Place to Work in the Small Business category. 


Tom Holt '95

President & CEO, Urbane Cafe


Tom Holt is the founder and Chief Believer of Urbane Café. His first career began at age 16 as a professional motocross racer. When his racing days concluded, he headed to college, graduating from Cal Lutheran with departmental honors in kinesiology, with an emphasis in physical therapy.

After college, he opened the Juice Stop in Camarillo which expanded to three more successful locations and one of the first mobile juice trailers. In 2002, he sold the juice bars to Robeks Juice.

In September 2003, Holt opened Urbane Café in his home town of Ventura. The restaurant offered healthy, delicious salads and sandwiches that guests began to crave. Holt continued to develop the concept, and in 2017, the Panda Restaurant Group invested in the growing expansion. Today, the family friendly restaurants are located throughout California.

Holt serves on the State Board of the California Restaurant Association and is a member of Young Professionals Organization.


Mike Panesis (Moderator)

Executive Director, California Lutheran University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Mike Panesis is a startup community leader in the Conejo Valley and Ventura County. Before coming to Cal Lutheran, he ran UC Santa Barbara’s New Venture Competition. He is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship and early stage investing.

He is a chair emeritus of the Board of Governors of Tech Coast Angels, the largest accredited angel investor group in the country. He heads TCA’s Central Coast Investor Network and is a founding member of the Santa Barbara Angel Alliance. His career spans a diverse range of industries and roles, including executive management, tech startups, information technology management, and management consulting for local and multinational companies.

Panesis holds an MBA in marketing from Rutgers University and a BS in computer science for business from the DeVry Institute of Technology. He lives in Camarillo with his wife and two children, and serves on the Steering Committee of the Ventura County Greek Festival. 


Marisol Rodriguez '94, MPA '00

Fire Captain, Ventura County Fire Department


Marisol Rodriguez has been with the Ventura County Fire Department as a firefighter since 1995. Now assigned to the training division, her responsibilities include serving as a Community Emergency Response Team instructor running fire academy programs, acting as a public information officer for the department and being the on-call safety officer. 

Rodriguez was the safety officer on duty the evening of Dec. 4, 2017, when the Thomas Fire broke out near Santa Paula. While assigned to the Thomas Fire for more than half of December, she saw evidence of the value of fire department programs aimed at reducing fire hazards around homes and training homeowners how to respond. This experience helped prepare her for her current assignment, to help raise education and awareness about those campaigns.

Rodriguez earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s in public administration from Cal Lutheran, a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology from Capella University, and certification as a professional coach from Erickson Coaching International. She is an instructor with the Los Angeles City Fire Department’s Leadership Academy, and holds affiliations with the American Psychological Association and California Psychological Association. 


  • Gerhard Apfelthaler, Dean, School of Management, California Lutheran University
  • Emily Barany '07, Owner, VISIONALITY
  • Adam Cavallero, Regional Lead Physician,UCLA Health, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA
  • Stefan Cosentino, Hospitality and Tourism Program Director/Assistant Professor, School of Management, California Lutheran University
  • Heather Cousin, Library Services Director, Thousand Oaks Library
  • Beth Dooley '12, MPPA '15, Police Records and Property Manager, Oxnard Police Department
  • Andrew Fox '98, Mayor, City of Thousand Oaks
  • Jim Friedl, General Manager, Conejo Recreation and Park District
  • Ingrid Hardy, Assistant City Manager, City of Thousand Oaks

  • Holt, Tom '95, President & CEO, Urbane Cafe
  • Moyo, Thembi '00, Senior Manager of Finance, Amgen
  • Mike Panesis, Executive Director of the California Lutheran Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Bill Robe, Vice President, TOLD Corporation
  • Marisol Rodriguez '94, MPA '00, Fire Captain, Ventura County Fire Department
  • Jeannette Ruggiero '91, Director, Oakview Health Center
  • Paul Witman, Professor, School of Management, California Lutheran University
  • Russell Young '71, Former Chief Financial Officer of Lyondell Chemical Company
  • Robert Zitsman, Executive Director, University Village Thousand Oaks
Photo Gallery


Finding Your Path to Success

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017
5:45-9:00 p.m. in the Lundring Events Center 
This event is full. Please call 805-493-3151 to be put on a cancellation list.




Russ Young

Russell S. Young '71

Former CFO of Lyondell Chemical Company

Read Bio

Russell S. Young retired as senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Lyondell Chemical Company after 18 years in the high-performance chemical and oil refining industries. He was involved in numerous multibillion dollar joint ventures and jumbo transactions after successfully overhauling the company’s business processes and launching the new public company with the largest industrial IPO to date. As an executive, he oversaw all financial functions as well as information technology, investor relations, public and government affairs, and quality assurance.

A former controller for the Atlantic Richfield Company/ARCO, Young was the chief negotiator for $17 billion in financing projects, including international joint ventures. He has served on numerous corporate and foundation boards.

He received his bachelor’s in economics from Cal Lutheran in 1971, followed by an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

He attributes much of his success to working within a culture of encouragement.


Danielle R. Everson '07

Partner, Clark*Everson LLP

Read about Danielle


Casey Preston ’03

President, GTK Analytics, Inc.

Read Bio

Casey Preston has been in the Digital Marketing/Web Design industry for over 15 years. Casey recently orchestrated a merger between his Westlake Village, CA based company Stratosphere Marketing Solutions, Inc. and Irvine, CA based GTKonnect, Inc. (global trade software company) to form GTK Analytics, Inc. a world class digital marketing and product development company. Preston serves as the President (Co-Founder) of the newly founded GTK Analytics, Inc. Preston's role includes day to day operations for 25 plus employees, product/service development for over 1000 clients (400 Insurance Agencies), business development, client experience and much more. Prior to co-founding  Stratosphere Marketing and GTK Analytics, Preston began his career at as a Regional Sales Manager, managing the largest book of business in the company and running online marketing strategies for Realtors and Brokers throughout the country. After his role with, Preston served as a Major Digital Media Consultant for Fox Interactive Media/ providing advertising campaigns and solutions to Fortune 500 companies. Most recently prior to Stratosphere and GTK Analytics, Preston was the Regional Sales Director for Listingbook LLC a client servicing software application for Realtors and Brokers. Preston managed the entire Western States including Broker Sales, MLS Acquisitions, Company Partnerships and Business Development.

In his spare time Preston enjoys playing golf, coaching, watching football and spending time with his family. Preston is married to Ambyr Preston and they have three young children son Everett 8, daughter Dylann 6 and daughter Ella 4. The Preston’s reside in Southern California.


Thembi Moyo ‘00

Senior Manager of Finance, Amgen

Read Bio

Born in Zimbabwe, Moyo migrated to the United States in 1997 for the purpose of pursuing her higher education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in accounting from California Lutheran University in 2000 and worked at Ernst & Young LLP in the Assurance and Advisory group from 2000 through 2004. During her tenure at Ernst & Young, Moyo also attended the University of Notre Dame – Mendoza College of Business and graduated with a master’s degree in accounting and finance. Moyo has held several roles of increasing responsibility in the accounting and finance area with specific focus on streamlining processes, initiating process improvements. Her specific areas of expertise are in SEC reporting, controllership functions, and financial planning and analysis.  She currently is senior manager of Finance at Amgen and sits on the Development Supply Chain Leadership team as the Finance lead. 

Outside of her professional career, Moyo enjoys spending time with her family and friends and plays an active role in her children’s school and athletic activities. Moyo and her family live in Newbury Park.


  • Adam Cavallero, M.D., Internal Medicine, UCLA Health
  • Danielle Everson '07, Partner, Clark*Everson LLP 
  • Jim Friedl, General Manager, Conejo Recreation and Park District
  • Michael Goldfader, Executive Director, UBS Financial Services
  • Tim Hagel, Commander, Ventura County Sheriff's Department
  • Jill Lederer, CEO, Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Kim Milstien, CEO, Ventura County Medical Center
  • Thembi Moyo '00, Corporate Accountant, Amgen
  • Tracy Noonan, City Attorney, City of Thousand Oaks
  • Casey Preston, CEO and Founder, Stratosphere Marketing Solutions
  • Jeannette Ruggiero, Human Resources Director, University Village Thousand Oaks 
  • Timothy Weaver, Senior Adjunct Professor, Bachelor's Degree for Professionals, Cal Lutheran
  • Russell Young '71, Former Chief Financial Officer of Lyondell Chemical Company
Photo Gallery


Culture of Encouragement

Thursday, October 13, 2016

5:45-9:00 p.m. in the Lundring Events Center 

Keynote Speaker

Russ Young

Russell S. Young - Former CFO of Lyondell Chemical Company and Alumnus of class of '71



Video from the most recent event.

Photo Gallery


A Dollar Here, a Dollar There: the Difference it Makes

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Michael Panesis - Executive Director, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Cal Lutheran’s School of Management

Panel members
  • Michael Powers - CEO of the County of Ventura
  • Jill Lederer - CEO of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Matthew Fienup - Economist for the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at Cal Lutheran’s School of Management
  • Gerhard Apfelthaler - Dean, School of Management at Cal Lutheran
  • Ann Bonitatibus - Superintendent, Conejo Valley Unified School District
  • Geoff Dean - Sheriff, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
  • Rauz Eshraghi, M.D. - General internal medicine, UCLA Health
  • Matthew Fienup - Economist, Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at Cal Lutheran’s School of Management
  • Herbert Gooch - Professor of political science, Cal Lutheran
  • Nathalie Gosset - Senior director, Market and Technology Innovation Evaluation at the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering at USC
  • Eric Harrison - President and CEO, United Way of Ventura County
  • Deborah Kniss - Real estate broker, Kniss & Alaniz Real Estate @ Remax
  • Jill Lederer - CEO, Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Rick Lemmo - Senior vice presicdent-Community Relations, Caruso Affiliated
  • Michael Panesis - Executive director, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Cal Lutheran’s School of Management
  • Shirley Poon - COO, Lynn Oaks Compounding Pharmacy
  • Michael Powers - CEO, County of Ventura
  • John Short III - Senior vice president, UBS Financial Services


Video from the most recent event.

Photo Gallery