Six business and civic leaders from throughout the San Diego region were honored this month as recipients of LEAD San Diego‘s 2017 Visionary Awards.
“The theme of this year’s event, ‘Leadership — it’s all about the people,’ was woven throughout the program,” said Paul Komadina, LEAD board member and chair of the awards. “In addition to recognizing some extraordinary people, the event gave us the opportunity to wrap up celebration of LEAD San Diego’s 35th anniversary year.”
The six honorees, who received their awards before a crowd of nearly 900 at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, are:
Anne Ledford Evans — Neil Morgan Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement
Evans presided over Evans Hotels for 30 years. She and her late husband William D. Evans founded the company in 1953, when they took the risk to be the first to build on Mission Bay, opening the 52-room Bahia Hotel. The Evans family also opened the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa on Mission Bay in 1958, and redeveloped The Lodge at Torrey Pines in 2002.
Shara Fisler — LEAD Graduate of the Year
Fisler, a graduate of LEAD’s 2003 class, is founder and executive director of Ocean Discovery Institute, a nonprofit organization that uses ocean science to empower young people from under-served urban communities to become scientific and environmental leaders. Over the past 18 years, the institute has worked with more than 65,000 young people. Fisler successfully completed a $17 million capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art science facility in City Heights that is scheduled to open in September.
Mark Dankberg — Economic Opportunity Award
The co-founder of ViaSat, Dankberg has held the position of chairman of the board and CEO ever since, growing the firm from three to 4,200 team members, with more than 2,100 at its Carlsbad headquarters. He is an acknowledged industry expert in the communications, aerospace and defense sectors, and the leading visionary for a new generation of satellite systems, including ViaSat-2, the world’s highest capacity communications satellite, which successfully launched into orbit June 1.
Joe Panetta — Ronald Kendrick Memorial Award for Regional Collaboration
President, CEO and a member of the board of directors of Biocom, Panetta heads California’s largest and most-experienced trade association for the life science industry. Biocom works on behalf of more than 800 members to drive public policy, build a network of industry leaders, create access to capital and introduce cutting-edge STEM education.
Dr. James W. Turpin — Charles Nathanson Memorial Award for Cross-Border Region Building
Turpin founded Project Concern International and led the organization for almost 15 years. While a physician in Coronado, he volunteered at a health clinic in Tijuana, where in 1961 he saved the lives of two small children who were dying of pneumonia. The experience inspired him to found Project Concern to fight disease and poverty among the world’s most vulnerable people.
Eric Occhipinti — The Community Spotlight Award
Creator of March for Mothers, a 5K fun run/walk, Occhipinti ensures that 100 percent of its proceeds go to supply impoverished, single new mothers in urban desert communities with one year’s supply of fresh, organic, made-to-order baby food delivered twice a week, along with educational resources. Through partnerships with the International Rotary Club and The Flying Samaritans, he assists Mexican children born with cleft lips by making organic baby food and hand delivering it until the child is healthy enough for a life-changing operation.
LEAD San Diego provides education and dialogue on issues of critical regional importance, helping a cross-section of community leaders become more informed and civically engaged.
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