Mark Bretz
Mark Bretz

The Greater San Diego Association of Realtors has named former U.S. Marine officer Mark Bretz as director of public and political affairs.

SDAR said Bretz, an expert in political, environmental and policy initiatives, will be involved in influencing public policy and awareness among realtor members as a liaison among SDAR, its membership and the community.

In addition, the association said Bretz will build partnerships with industry leaders to build coalitions for SDAR’s positions on real estate laws and regulations and educate members on the importance of political activism and financial support to promote public policy affecting local, state and national real estate issues.

Bretz was previously an adjutant officer in the U.S. Marine Corps with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego. He joined the Marines in 2018 after serving for five years as director of communications and government affairs for the Cook County’s Assessor Office in Chicago.

He also spent five years (2008-2013) as a legislative aide in the Illinois House of Representative and four years (2008-2012) as a campaign manager and field director for the Democratic Party of Illinois. He graduated in 2007 from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

“We are excited to welcome Mark and know that he will hit the ground running, as an important advocate for our mission,” said Michael Mercurio, CEO of the Realtor group. “Our members will benefit from his talent and experience as the association presses for, or in opposition to, regulations and policies affecting the livelihood of the real estate industry.”

SDAR has 20,000 members, according its Facebook page, making it the largest trade association in San Diego and one of the largest local realtor associations in California.

3 New Staffers Join PR Firm Nuffer, Smith, Tucker

Nuffer, Smith, Tucker, a San Diego public relations firm, has announced the addition of three new staff members, including Brogan Bunnell as account executive, Elise Frankel as account coordinator and Kimberly Schwede as senior graphic designer.

Bunnell, a native of Nashville and graduate of the University of Alabama, was previously with the Nashville office of Gresham Smith, a national architecture and engineering firm, where she managed the firm’s social media platforms and public relations efforts. At NST, she will work on the WD-40 account.

Frankel, a 2021 graduate of San Diego State University, was previously an account coordinator at TW2 Marketing in San Diego. She also was a client report lead with the Glen M. Broom Center for Professional Development in Public Relations at SDSU. At NST, she will work on WD-40 and Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Produce.

Schwede, with more than 20 years of graphic design experience, previously operated her own graphic design company called Kimberly Schwede Design in San Francisco. Previous clients included Jones Lang LaSalle, Salesforce, Google and Real California Milk. At NST, she will oversee graphic design capabilities and manage creative design across all client accounts.

“We’re thrilled to have three new team members that fit seamlessly into our agency culture,” said Teresa Siles, NST president and partner. “Both our agency and client roster continue to expand and the addition of Brogan, Elise and Kim positions us to continue to pursue opportunities in new sectors, while honoring our commitment to our current clientele.”

Opened on April 1, 1974, NST is considered San Diego’s oldest operating public relations agency. It was founded by Dave Nuffer and Bob Smith, both deceased. In 2020, three long-time employees, including Siles, Mary Correia-Moreno and Price Adams, acquired the agency.

Rady Children’s Hospital Appoints VP of Strategic Marketing

Rady Children’s Hospital has hired Irena Boostani as vice president of strategic marketing and external affairs.

The hospital said Boostani will spearhead strategy development and execution for an integrated marketing program that will advance the goals of the organization and build awareness and differentiation, as well as support new market development. She will oversee media relations and thought leadership, events, digital marketing, social media and influencer relations.

Irena Boostani

With more than 20 years of marketing and public relations experience, Boostani was previously a senior VP at the San Diego office of Team Lewis, a global marketing and communications agency with 24 offices around the world. During her seven years (2015-2021) at Lewis, she developed programs for companies in the technology, energy and healthcare industries and founded two new practice areas for the agency. Boostani helped grow the San Diego office to become the largest in the U.S. network.

She also spent two years (2012-2015) as director of media relations for Comunicano in San Diego, three years (2008-2012) at ARKAT Consulting as a principal and one year (2001-2002) as a public relations account executive with Chan and Associates.

“It’s been a dream of mine to join the team at Rady Children’s, an organization that is unequivocally synonymous with the pillar of our community,” Boostani said in a statement. “As a marketer and a parent, I am really looking forward to advancing awareness of the expertise, innovation and excellence of the organization and our medical experts nationally, as well as internationally.

Boostani holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Penza State University in Russia, a master’s in business administration from San Diego State University and a certificate in marketing from the University of California San Diego.

San Deigo News Media Groups to Gather for Holiday Party

Several San Diego-area, news media-related professional and networking groups have planned a holiday party from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 16, at The Church by The Lost Abbey, an event venue at 1313 J St. in San Diego’s East Village.

Expected attendees include members of the San Diego Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists San Diego Professional Chapter, Asian American Journalists Association of San Diego, National Association of Hispanic Journalists San Diego-Tijuana chapter, Online News Association San Diego and San Diego Association of Black Journalists.

Admission is free. Food and beverage choices will be available for purchase. Reservations are requested for food planning purposes. To RSVP, notify the president of one of the participating groups or send an email to

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.