Matt Ellis--Director, Vice President, CB Richard Ellis, Inc
Matt is a vice president at CB Ricard Ellis (CBRE), a commercial real estate services firm, and the director of its carbon services business, which advises real estate owners and occupiers on carbon emissions management strategies and offsetting solutions. Prior to this, Matt was an associate broker with CBRE working on corporate real estate and led its Sustainability Practice Group - a niche practice group of brokers focused on clean technology and green building real estate requirements.
Outside CBRE, Matt co-chaired the San Diego Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council's Emerging Green Builders Committee, which engaged students and young professionals on green building topics and career development from 2009-2010.
Matt has undergraduate degrees in economics and the study of religion from UC San Diego and an M.S.B.A with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from San Diego State University. While at UCSD, Matt played water polo and competed in the NCAA Division I water polo national championship match in 2000 and was team captain in 2003. Matt is from Tustin, CA and has lived in San Diego since 1999.
Zach Goldman--Principal, Malk Sustainability Partners
Zach is a founder of Malk Sustainability Partners (MSP), a management consultancy focused on partnering with corporations to incorporate environmental values into business strategy. In this position, he has introduced executives across the health care, information communications technology and real estate sectors to best management practices and negotiated partnerships between clients and multi-national firms to draw on technical expertise.
Prior to joining MSP, Zach led client engagement as the business development manager at the Midtown Niki Group, a real estate private equity firm. He was responsible for developing client relationships and interfacing across their organization to guide transactions to successful conclusions. Zach co-developed Midtown Niki’s Green Finance program, where he helped Midtown Niki clients to build alliances with the US Green Building Council and leading technical experts.
Zach holds degrees in business administration and political science from the University of Southern California, is a US Green Building Council LEED Green Associate, and RABQSA Certified Competent in ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems. As an avid backpacker, triathlete, eco-challenge racer and amateur mountaineer, Zach is drawn to sustainability by a driving passion for the outdoors.
Omar López is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Southern California, School of Social Work. He received a BA (1999) from UCSD with a double major in sociology and Spanish literature and a MSW (2001) from SDSU. He is currently completing an MPA program at SDSU with plans to transfer and continue his graduate studies at USC. Prior to his current position, Omar worked for SDSU as field faculty and liaison with administrative responsibilities with the County of San Diego, HHSA-Child Welfare Services (CWS).
Omar has an eight-year background in county government as a child welfare social worker delivering direct services and in administrative roles, including international liaison and internship and training coordinator at policy and program support, for HHSA-CWS. Concurrently, he served as an executive board officer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Locals 535 as president, and 221 as secretary), which led to a unique perspective on administrative issues and practices. He has also worked as a research consultant for Columbia University (NY) and as trainer/instructor with SDSU Academy for Professional Excellence, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College and Rady Children’s Hospital.
He serves on non-profit boards such as the Chicano Federation of San Diego County, Inc., the House of México in Balboa Park and the San Diego Latino Social Work Network. Omar is originally from México City and immigrated to the United States in 1989 as a non-English speaking teenager. He enjoys boxing, long-distance running, yoga and watching his Chargers win! He lives in the Marina District downtown.
Jennifer Kish--Attorney, Law Office of Jennifer E. Kish
Jennifer Kish was born and raised in San Diego. She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Jenn is a recent admittee to the California Bar and is currently working as a solo practitioner in San Diego and Riverside Counties. Her practice focuses on misdemeanor criminal defense, family law and juvenile dependency and delinquency.
While in law school and since becoming admitted to the bar, Jenn has volunteered at the Madge Bradley Domestic Violence Clinic writing requests for restraining orders for survivors of domestic violence and elder abuse. In 2009, she received the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services from the State Bar of California for her work at this clinic.
Jenn also founded the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, a national organization committed to advancing reproductive rights as basic human and civil rights. In January 2010, Jenn was elected to the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. As a passionate advocate for women’s rights and reproductive rights, Jenn plans to eventually expand her legal practice to encompass those areas.
Brittany Applestein Syz--Associate, Solomon Minton Cardinal LLP
Brittany Applestein Syz is an associate at Solomon Minton Cardinal LLP specializing in real estate and corporate transactional matters. She has been able to use her legal experience to work on several pro bono cases regarding affordable housing, housing rights, and real estate issues for women’s groups and food banks.
After working for a senior citizens group in Hunters Point, San Francisco, she was asked to sit on the nonprofit’s board to assist in the development of senior housing in a resource poor area. Since moving to San Diego at the end of 2009, Brittany joined the Lawyers Club and worked with the Community Outreach Committee to construct a garden for a local women’s shelter, as well as revise their lease. In addition, she has organized volunteers to read at Porter Elementary School in Lincoln Park and to work at the San Diego Food Bank.
Brittany was a 2011 NLC fellow and was subsequently elected to be the alumni representative on the board. NLC has assisted her in becoming more involved in the San Diego community.
Brittany graduated cum laude from Harvard University, obtained her master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and received her law degree cum laude from University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Heather Laird--Learning Communities Director, Community HousingWorks
Stephen Heverly--Council Representative, San Diego City Councilmember Sherri Lightner
Norma Rodriguez--Organizer, Center on Policy Initiatives
Norma currently works at the Center on Policy Initiatives as an organizer. Her previous work experience includes grassroots organizing mainly focusing on immigration issues and civic participation. She has also been chair and coordinator of Fiesta Del Sol, San Diego's largest Latino street festival which is a two-day event celebrating the history, diverse cultures and engagement of the people of San Diego.
Norma has also taught art and Spanish. She obtained her bachelor's degree in studio art with minors in education and Chicano/Latino studies from the University of California, Irvine and a master’s degree in Latin American studies with an emphasis on international migration from the University of California, San Diego.
She is originally from Porterville, California and her parents are from Puruandiro Michoacan, Mexico. Norma had the opportunity to participate in the Mexican Migration Field Research Program, a binational research project between Yucatan and the U.S. while doing her master's work and was one of the authors of the book which published their findings. She enjoys good books, practicing hot yoga and running.