January 4, 2024

Irvine, Orange County Leaders Contribute to a Model Community

By Bryan Starr, President & CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber

As published in the Dec. 18, 2023, Orange County Business Journal


There are countless individuals, organizations, and programs that make Irvine and Orange County an exceptional place in which to live, visit, and do business. Through its 2023 award programs, the Greater Irvine Chamber has had the honor to recognize some of those outstanding contributors. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to them here (including their titles and organizations they served at the time of the recognition).








  • Educator of the Year: Ben Case, Art Department Chair & Instrumental Music Director, Northwood High School
  • Distinguished Educator - Career & Technical: Margaret Moodian, Ed.D., Associate Professor, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Massachusetts Global
  • Distinguished Educator - University: Susanne Phillips, DNP, ADRN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, Senior Associate Dean and Clinical Professor, UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, University of California, Irvine
  • Distinguished Educator - University: Fadel N. Lawandy, CAIA, Director, C. Larry Hoag Center for Real Estate and Finance; Director, Janes Financial Center; Associate Professor, Finance and Real Estate, Chapman University
  • Distinguished Educator - Community College: Patricia Beckmann-Wells, Ed.D., Professor, School of Fine Arts, Irvine Valley College
  • Distinguished Educator - High School: Rob Blaney, Director of Vocal Music, University High School
  • Distinguished Education Program: National Science Foundation S-STEM Scholarship Program, Irvine Valley College
  • Distinguished Education Program: Portola High School Engineering Department
  • Distinguished Education Program: University Lab Partners

Through its Irvine Forward Foundation with the generosity of donors including The Webb Group co-founder & advisor Joan Webb, the Greater Irvine Chamber this year awarded its:

  • Irvine Forward Foundation Community Scholarship, recipient: Elizabeth Bank
  • John Colvin Memorial Scholarship, recipients: Arjun Adabir and Neil Pal
  • Col. Thomas U. Wall Memorial scholarship, recipient: Joshua Ochoa






  • Authentic Leader: Jennifer Anaya, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Ingram Micro
  • Game Changer: Coleen Cunningham, M.D., Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, University of California, Irvine; Senior Vice President and Pediatrician in Chief, CHOC 
  • Advocate: Kathryn Hamel, Ph.D., CEO, The Hecht Trauma Institute
  • Entrepreneur: Dominque V. Jones, CEO & Owner, Propel Cycle Inc.
  • Lifetime Achievement: Deborah Levy, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association Orange County
  • Executive: Lindsay Oglesby, CEO, Tax Relief Advocates
  • Innovator: Tiffany Roberts, Vice President & FMB Foundation Director, Farmers & Merchants Bank
  • Innovator: Amanda Samaan, Founder & CEO, Revolver PR
  • Game Changer: Nicole Suydam, President & CEO, Goodwill of Orange County
  • Rising Star: Amanda Walsh, Community Relations Manager, University of California, Irvine
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