About CI Foundation

The CSU Channel Islands Foundation was established for the purpose of encouraging and accepting private gifts to the University. State funds alone cannot provide for all the costs associated with providing the finest education possible to our students.

The mission of the CSU Channel Islands Foundation is to support the University's strategic agenda and institutional mission. The Foundation is the catalyst and conduit through which gifts and endowment income flow to provide immediate and long-term support of the University. The Foundation will also assist the University by creating strong relationships with alumni/ae, friends, and partners in the state of California who seek to use their goodwill and influence for the strengthening of CI's mission and goals.

Board of Directors

George Leis, Chair

National Head of Private Banking, Union Bank

Mr. Leis was recently promoted to National Head of Private Banking, previous position was that of Private Banking National Sales Manager and before, the Regional President of Union Bank’s Central Coast Region following the acquisition of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust (SBB&T) in December 2012. Prior to joining Union Bank, Mr. Leis was President & CEO of Pacific Capital Bancorp (PCBC), a $7 billion in assets community bank holding company that included SBB&T. PCBC had over 1,000 employees and 47 branches.

Janet Garufis, Vice Chair

President & CEO, Montecito Bank & Trust

Ms. Garufis has spent 25 years in retail, business, commercial, and private banking. Ms. Garufis began her banking career over 30 years ago with Security Pacific Bank, now Bank of America, with experience in retail, business, commercial and private banking.

Larry Hibbler, Secretary

Owner & President, Simi Valley Ford

Larry Hibbler is the President and Owner of Simi Valley Ford in Simi Valley, California. Larry has been in the automobile industry for nearly 43 years. His extensive career has included an array of positions and roles, including – salesperson, sales manager, general sales manager, partner, and principle owner.

Edward Birch

Ambassador, Union Bank

Dr. Birch has more than 35 years’ experience in the field of management. Named Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of California at Santa Barbara, he also served as Executive Vice President at Westmont College and at Michigan State University. He served as Vice President for the highly successful 1984 U.S. Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Hugh Cassar

President & CEO, Kretek International

Mr. Cassar is currently the Honorary Consulate of Malta. He along with his wife, Keets, focus their philanthropic efforts on the local community, donating along with becoming personally involved in charities such as Casa Pacifica, The Wellness Community, and The Alliance for the Arts.

Ann Deal

CEO, Fashion Forms First

Ms. Deal Created Fashion Forms in 1993, which has become the nation’s leader in women’s intimate apparel. Ms. Deal is also the Executive Publisher of Ventura LIFE Magazine, and is an active and generous philanthropist in her own community of Ventura.

Henry Dubroff

Editor, Pacific Coast Business Times

Mr. Dubroff is founder and majority owner of Pacific Coast Business Times, the award-winning, weekly business journal for Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties in coastal California.

Robert England

Partner - Ferguson, Case, Orr, Patterson, LLP

Mr. England’s practice emphasizes estate planning, trusts and probate. He is AV-rated, has been certified by the State Bar of California as a Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law and is a former licensed Certified Public Accountant.

Christine Garvey

Retired Banker and Lawyer

Ms. Garvey is currently serving as a director on four public company boards: Healthcare Properties, Prologis, Toll Bros., and Union Bank. Additionally, she is a director on the not-for-profit boards on iCivics, Habitat for Humanity Southern Santa Barbara County, La Casa de Maria, and Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. While in banking, Christine has managed over 200 million square feet of space at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank in London, as well as managing real estate lending at Bank of America.

Mark Hartley

Co-owner, Fitzgerald Hartley Company

Mr. Hartley has invested in real estate and has managed a full roster of musical talent including LeAnn Rimes, Brad Paisley, and Olivia Newton John. He also serves as Chairman of the Board at The Academy of Country Music, and maintains offices in Ventura and Nashville, TN. In addition to a successful career in the music industry, Mr. Hartley also owns the Watermark restaurant in Ventura, CA.

Ralph T. Iannelli, Jr.

President & CEO, Essex Capital, Corp.

Investor, executive, and business owner Ralph T. Iannelli Jr. is 40-year veteran of the finance, venture capital, and technology markets. From the beginning of his career as a securities trader at a Wall Street firm to his current role as President and CEO of Essex Capital Corporation in Montecito, California, Ralph Iannelli has garnered a vast amount of experience and knowledge within the investment community.

William Kearney

Sr. Vice President, Merrill Lynch

Mr. Kearney joined Merrill Lynch in 1975. During his career with Merrill Lynch, Bill has coordinated private placements for the West Coast, served as the Sales Director for offices from Encino to San Luis Obispo and served on the National Advisory to Merrill Lynch Management. In 2004, Bill was honored with the Merrill Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hank Lacayo

President, Congress of California Seniors

An Air Force veteran and former national director of the United Auto Workers' political and legislative department, Mr. Lacayo has advised U.S. presidents, members of Congress, Senate, and governors, marched for civil rights alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., championed the rights of farm workers with Cesar Chavez, and helped to found and lead the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Douglas McRae

Financial Consultant

Mr. McRae has been in the financial industry for more than four decades serving in the investment management and trust fields working with business owners, medical and legal professionals, corporate executives and entertainment field executives. Over the last thirty years he has served on numerous not-for-profit boards focusing on fund development and financial management.

Chris Meissner

President, Meissner Filtration Products, Inc.

Mr. Meissner was born and raised in Southern California. He attended Santa Clara University in Northern California, and graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. In 1989 he established Meissner Filtration Products, Inc., which develops, manufactures, supplies and services advanced microfiltration products and single-use systems worldwide. Mr. Meissner has been a part of numerous local organization's boards and committees. 

Lon Morton

CEO & Co-Chief Investment Officer, Morton Capital Management

Lon Morton’s career began at the age of 18 as a professional baseball player with the California Angels and then the Cleveland Indians organizations.  He entered the employee benefits profession in 1968.  In 1978, he founded The Morton Company, an actuarial and pension consulting firm, which was sold in 1990 after growing to service more than 1,400 pension and profit sharing plans.  In 1981 Mr. Morton founded Morton Capital Management, a Registered Investment Advisory firm, integrating the use of traditional and alternative investments on a fee only basis.  In July of 2006 he sold Morton Capital to a regional bank. On October 18, 2013, Mr. Morton led his management group in reacquiring Morton Capital Management from Union Bank.  He serves as the CEO of Morton Capital Management.  In addition, Mr. Morton has been continually recognized by Barron’s as one of the top 100 RIA’s in America. Mr. Morton has served various charitable and industry organizations.  He currently serves on four non-profit Boards and is a contributor to many more. He has authored numerous articles and has been a guest on radio and TV programs. Mr. Morton is married, has two adult daughters, five grandsons and lives in Lake Sherwood, California.

John Notter

Proprietor, Westlake Village Inn

Mr. Notter is a member of the Board of Directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and is Chairman of the Board of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Mr. Notter was instrumental in the development of the city of Westlake Village and is the owner of Westlake Village Inn, Bogies, and Mediterraneo Restaurant.

Diane M. Palumbo

Corporate Vice President of Human Resources, MannKind Corporation

Ms. Palumbo has been Corporate Vice President of Human Resources for MannKind Corporation since November 2004. Prior to joining MannKind, she was President of her own Human Resources Consulting Company. From June 1991 to July 2003 Ms. Palumbo held various positions with Amgen, Inc., a California based Biotechnology Company. Ms. Palumbo has also held Human Resources positions with Unisys and Mitsui Bank Ltd. of Tokyo. In 2011, Ms. Palumbo was appointed to the Southern California Biomedical Board of Directors. She is a founding member of the Southern California Biomedical Women, Work and Wisdom (W3) Networking Group. She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, from St. John’s University, NY. Ms. Palumbo has had a lifelong passion for animals. In 2014, she set up her own charitable fund for collies and shelties named The Lad White Rose Collie Fund. Her fund has helped many rescued collies and shelties receive much needed medical care, food, and sponsorships throughout the country.

Emilio Pozzi

President, American Tooth Industries

Mr. Pozzi’s professional career covers prestigious positions with the Organizing Committees of the 1990, 1994, and 1999 FIFA World Cups, the Olympic Games of Atlanta, Salt Lake, Athens and Torino. Most recently, he has served as the Local Liaison for the International Paralympic Committee at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, and as Bid Consultant for the successful bid by the City of Sochi, Russia, to host the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Blaise Simqu

President & CEO, SAGE Publications, Inc.

Blaise R. Simqu is the President and Chief Executive Officer of SAGE Publications, one of the leading academic and educational publishers in the world. The SAGE group of companies includes SAGE Publications, Inc., Corwin Press, and CQ Press based in Washington, DC., in the U.S.; SAGE Publications, Ltd. in the U.K.; SAGE Publications, Ltd. Pvt., in New Delhi, and SAGE Asia-Pacific in Singapore. Blaise has been part of the SAGE organization for more than 20 years. He has held a variety of positions from Editor to Vice President to Executive Vice President. He was appointed C.E.O. in 2004. Blaise has also worked with the Hampton-Brown Company, Jossey-Bass Publishers and the Kinko’s Corporation.

Peter Wollons

President & CEO, Airborne Technologies, Inc.

Mr. Wollons founded Airborne Technologies in 1973 after graduating from college with a degree in accounting. His career in Aerospace grew over the years to become a major manufacturer of airframe structural components for the United States Air force and Navy as well as governments throughout the world flying US manufactured aircraft.

Zohar Ziv

Retired Corporate Financial Officer

Mr. Ziv has over 25 years of executive management experience and an excellent track record across a diverse set of business environments, including large to small size and public and private companies. Prior to Deckers, he held the CFO position for eight years at various diversified companies and industries. Mr. Ziv received his B.S. in Accounting from CSU Northridge and his M.B.A. in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird). He was born and raised in Israel for 22 years and thereafter worked and lived in Asia for two years. Subsequently he moved to the United States.

Scott Zolke

Partner - Loeb & Loeb LLC

Mr. Zolke focuses his practice on media, entertainment, sports and intellectual property law. He has handled acquisitions and sales of media properties and programming, and other intellectual property assets. In the area of sports law, Mr. Zolke has substantial experience handling a variety of matters, including media rights, venue, sponsorship and naming rights agreements. Additionally, Mr. Zolke handles a substantial amount of intellectual property matters, including name and likeness exploitation, branding and licensing.

Faculty and Student Representatives:

Cynthia Wyels

Faculty Representative - Professor, Economics

Cynthia came to CSU Channel Islands in 2005 keen on improving access to higher education for historically underrepresented populations. Beyond her mathematics teaching and research, she has collaborated to bring in over $7 million in federal grants to CI and another $8 million to the CSU, developed programs for STEM student success, directed the Masters in Mathematics program, and taken leadership roles in faculty governance. She is a strong advocate of undergraduate research and believes it is particularly meaningful for students from non-traditional backgrounds. Among her many awards is the Mathematical Association of America’s Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

Alex Yepez

Student Representative

Alex is currently a senior majoring in Sociology with a double minor in Communication and Chicano Studies. He has been a part of TRiO Student Support Services program and served as an Orientation Leader, an ASI Board member, and a Student Government Senator. Alex currently works in Career Development Services on campus helping other students with a variety of services that assist with their career development journey.