The State of Local Media
Sept. 14, 2018
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Simi Valley (Google Maps)
- Amy Johnson- News Anchor and Reporter, KCBS/KCAL9
- John Loesing - Editor, The Acorn Newspapers
- Lance Orozco - News Director, KCLU Radio
- Darrin Peschka - News Director and Senior Editor, Ventura County Star
- Mary Olson - Associate Vice President for the KCLU Broadcast and Digital Network (Moderator)
Amy Johnson knew from an early age that she wanted to be a television news reporter. After graduating from California Baptist University in Riverside on a four-year volleyball scholarship, she began her news career at the CBS affiliate in Coos Bay, Oregon. Her career path took her to Columbia, South Carolina, Milwaukee and Boston before leading her back to Southern California and to the KCBS/KCAL team in 2005. She helped to launch the Ventura County bureau the next year. Johnson was named Volunteer of the Year for the Milwaukee Boys and Girls Club for her work in an after-school reading program and has worked as a mentor to at-risk youth. She lives in Ventura County with her husband, a military pilot, and their two young sons.
John Loesing has been with Acorn Newspapers since 1999, helping to oversee the company’s growth from one local publication to five that serve communities from Calabasas to Camarillo. As managing editor for these papers, he coordinates all Acorn editorial content in print and online. With a broadcast journalism degree from the University of Missouri, he also hosts This Week in Beverly Hills, the news update program for the city government television channel. He was a host on the Financial News Network, the precursor to CNBC, and worked in television news in the Miami and Cincinnati markets. He is a two-time California Newspaper Publishers Association award winner and a past winner of the STAR Award recognizing excellence in government television programming. He’s also an avid hiker, surfer and mountain climber.
Lance Orozo, has been leading and developing KCLU’s local news coverage since 2001. From fires and mudslides to Ronald Reagan's funeral, he has provided award-winning local coverage of the biggest news events in the region.He has won four national and more than 200 regional journalism awards for KCLU and has been named the Associated Press Small-Market Reporter of the Year in the western United States 10 times. The national honors include three from the Society of Professional Journalists for Best Radio Feature Reporting among small-market stations, and an Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Audio Sports Reporting from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Orozco is a familiar face in the region, having worked nearly two decades as a television reporter and weathercaster in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. His adventures included an unexpected guest appearance on “Late Night With David Letterman.”
Darrin Peschka was promoted to her role as news director of the Ventura County Star in 2017. She started as a copy editor at the Star in 2002 and later served in various newsroom roles from community news editor to senior editor. In May, she graduated from the Master of Public Policy and Administration program at Cal Lutheran. She received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.
Mary Olson was part of the team that signed KCLU on the air in 1994. Under her leadership, the station grew to become a network, consistently ranked number one in the region and winning hundreds of awards, that serves the Central Coast from Westlake Village to San Luis Obispo. She previously worked in television syndication and served as the national marketing director for Ticketmaster. She earned her bachelor’s in mass communications from Purdue University and her Master of Public Policy and Administration from Cal Lutheran. A Rotary Club member, she serves on nonprofit boards and donates her time as an emcee and auctioneer. In 2018, she won the Trailblazer Award from Women’s Economic Ventures. KCLU listeners know her voice and high energy from membership drives. She lives in the Conejo Valley with her husband, three children and dogs.
Hot Topics: L.A. and Beyond
Nov. 9, 2018
Warner Center Marriott, Woodland Hills (Google Maps)
- Jeff Gorell - Deputy Mayor, City of Los Angeles
The Honorable Jeff Gorell has been a state assembly member, criminal prosecutor, university professor and military intelligence officer. As Los Angeles’ deputy mayor for homeland security and public safety, he supervises a staff of 65 and oversees programs with more than 30,000 city employees, including the police, fire and emergency management departments. The Mayor’s Office of Public Safety also houses LA’s Gang Reduction Youth Development program, the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team, LA Cyber Lab, the Mayor’s Office of Resilience, and three federally funded homeland security and counterterrorism programs. Gorell sits on the Executive Steering Council of the U.S. Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and serves as chief administrator of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Urban Area Security Initiative. He and his senior staff coordinate with regional, state and federal agencies to ensure that Los Angeles is prepared for public safety emergencies and natural disasters.
Gorell is also in the U.S. Navy Reserve and has been deployed twice to Afghanistan, where he was decorated for leadership in a combat zone. He is currently the commanding officer of a Pacific Fleet intelligence unit in San Diego with more than 75 officers and enlisted personnel. He earned his BA in history from the University of California, Davis, and his JD from University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law. He lives in Camarillo and has two young sons, Jack and Steven.
Museums: The Next Generation
Jan. 29, 2019
Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort (Google Maps)
- Elena Brokaw - Barbara Barnard Smith Executive Director, Museum of Ventura County
- Robin Gose - CEO, MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
- Luke Swetland - President and CEO, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
- Melissa Baffa - Development Officer, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (Moderator)
Elena Brokaw has worked in all aspects of the administration of cultural organizations. Currently, she is steering a reinvention of the Museum of Ventura County as a more sustainable, relevant and accessible institution. Her extensive experience in fundraising includes serving as director of alumni development for the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and creating and staffing a nonprofit foundation for the City of Ventura’s parks and recreation department. She also provides services to nonprofits, corporations and governmental agencies through BrokawJackson Consulting. In previous consulting work, she completed cultural plans for the cities of Reno, Minneapolis and Capitola, California. She has also facilitated public art planning processes for San Diego, Reno and Minneapolis. Brokaw serves on the boards of Women’s Economic Ventures and the Ventura College Foundation, is a member of the Harvard Selection Committee, and is on the faculty of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Cal Lutheran. She earned her bachelor’s degree in art history from Harvard University.
Robin Gose has been a STEM educator for more than 20 years in classroom and museum settings. She joined the MOXI team in 2017 during its inaugural year as Santa Barbara’s hands-on science museum and destination for families. In this role, she oversees the museum’s operations, finances, outreach and programming to fulfill a mission “to ignite learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity.” Her passion is to make science fun for diverse, young learners to promote their social, cognitive and emotional development. She earned her bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental resource management from the University of Texas at Austin and a doctorate in educational leadership from UCLA. She came to Southern California to oversee programs at the California Science Center, then transitioned to teaching K-5 science at an independent school in Los Angeles. She joined MOXI after three years as director of education at Thinkery in Austin.
Luke Swetland began his museum career at Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, overseeing the development of an archival research center. His professional work in Los Angeles began at the Japanese American National Museum. During his tenure in its senior leadership from 1995, the Little Tokyo museum undertook construction of a new pavilion and doubled its operating budget and staff. In 2001, Swetland joined the Getty Conservation Institute and worked to develop the international cultural conservation field’s premier abstracting and indexing resource. At the Autry Museum in Los Angeles from 2008, he served as vice president and COO and later became the acting executive director. Swetland came to his current job in 2013. He holds master’s degrees in American studies and information and library science from the University of Michigan. He has served on various not-for-profit boards.
In addition to her role at Santa Barbara’s natural history museum, Melissa Baffa serves as an instructor with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University, Channel Islands. Previously, she worked for several different Ventura County nonprofit organizations, taught middle school science in Simi Valley and marine biology in the Upward Bound program at Cal Lutheran, and worked as a research associate at Amgen. Since 2015, the nature enthusiast has been a science communication fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust, exploring the deep sea alongside Dr. Robert Ballard. Baffa is also active in her community, serving on the board of directors of the Ventura County Leadership Academy and the Ventura County Women’s Economic Roundtable. She graduated from Cal Lutheran in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in biology. She lives in Ventura.
March 8, 2019
Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel (Google Maps)
- Amanda Sabicer - Senior Advisor, Market Transformation, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)
Amanda Sabicer has over 15 years of experience in for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises. She devoted her early career to helping low-income New Yorkers overcome barriers to employment and obtain living-wage jobs through workforce development. Later, she worked for Amgen’s Oncology Sales and Marketing department, where she was named Rookie of the Year for the Western Region. After several years as a strategy and development consultant, she joined Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator in 2014 as vice president of development, supporting the mission to create a green economy. In her new role at LACI, she works on a project funded by the California Energy Commission that convenes entrepreneurs and researchers in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties in order to accelerate clean energy technology commercialization. Sabicer graduated with a BA from Pomona College and received her MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
Technology Solutions: Cybersecurity to Health Care
May 7, 2019
Lundring Events Center, Cal Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks (Google Maps)
- Payal Kamdar - CEO, VSolvit
Payal Kamdar founded VSolvit (pronounced “We solve it”) in 2006 as a technology services company focused on the federal government. VSolvit’s expertise in data analytics, business intelligence, data warehousing, facilities management, geographic information systems and application development has been recognized at a national level. Kamdar measures success for her company by two criteria: how well it serves its customers and community and how far it elevates the performance of team members. Kamdar is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. She has participated in the Port Hueneme Industry Council Partnership and the LA Regional Small Business Development Center Board, and served as vice president of the Channel Islands chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. She is a role model for her two daughters and mentors select businesses for future growth.