We are happy to announce the completion of our inaugural Alumni Scholarships Annual Report and Honor Roll. Please take a moment to look through the report and celebrate the achievements of this last fiscal year.
Valerie Aenlle-Rocha received her B.A. from UCLA in 1979 and her J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1986. She is a prosecutor for the County of Los Angeles. For the past seven years, Valerie has served as the legal advisor to the Los Angeles County Criminal Grand Jury.
Valerie began her career as a deputy district attorney for the County of Los Angeles in 1988. In 1990, she moved to Miami, Florida but returned to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in 1994. Two years later, Valerie began a nine-year assignment in the Special Investigations Division, where she investigated officer involved shootings and prosecuted high level corruption cases involving elected public officials, judges, lawyers, and law enforcement personnel. She presented many of those cases to the Criminal Grand Jury. Valerie has tried over 90 trials to verdict.
For over 20 years, Valerie has been involved in a number of UCLA and UCLA Alumni Association programs which include: the Freshman and Bunche Scholarships, Distinguished Senior Award, Alumni Academy (where she was a cluster leader for two years), Awards Resource Committee, San Gabriel Valley Chancellor Associate’s Committee, and the UCLA Legacy Society.
Additionally, Valerie is a past president of the La Cañada Community Scholarship Foundation, the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, and the Latino Prosecutors Foundation; all organizations which support education. Currently, she is a trustee of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, a patroness of the Glendale Chapter of the National Charity League, and is a member of the La Cañada Thursday Club. Her participation on various boards and committees supporting the La Cañada School District earned her the prestigious Golden Apple award which recognizes outstanding parental leadership and support for district schools.
John Gong has over 30 years of progressive experience working for some of the most highly regarded brands in the world. Rising to become part of the executive leadership team of The Walt Disney Company, he has balanced his professional pursuits with a community focus through volunteerism and mentoring.
John was honored as The Walt Disney Company Executive Volunteer of the Year in September 2014. He became vice president of global events and show production for Disney Consumer Products in September 2008. In this role, he oversees events and productions to include marketing and media events, sales meetings, product launches, and more for Disney’s consumer products division globally. Disney Consumer Products is the business segment of The Walt Disney Company that extends the Disney brand to merchandise ranging from apparel, toys and home décor to books and magazines, foods and beverages, stationery, electronics and animation art.
John’s rise to vice president at The Walt Disney Company has also included roles such as director of product development and creative services, Walt Disney Art Classics, and product manager and senior buyer, Disney Stores Worldwide. Through it all he has brought a singular devotion and work ethic to his career that has garnered praise from his peers and direct reports alike.
John earned a B.A. in fine art from the University of California, Los Angeles. Throughout his career, John has consistently focused on giving back to the community through volunteerism and leadership work with multiple nonprofits and community based organizations such as Burbank Cultural Arts Foundation, Los Angeles Team Mentoring, Disney VoluntEARS and the UCLA Ralph Bunche Scholarship Committee. He currently sits on the boards of Hillsides Home for Children and East West Players.
As president of the Alumni Scholars Club (ASC), Tiana is on a mission to truly bring out the best in all Alumni Scholars through ASC and to facilitate the ever-so-important interactions between Alumni Scholars themselves, Bruin alumni, and the UCLA Alumni Association while maintaining and strengthening ASC’s presence on campus. She is a third-year bioengineering major aspiring for a career in patent law for biotechnology companies. From Anaheim Hills, neighbor to the happiest place on Earth, she’s loving exploring LA (especially the amazing food).
Apart from ASC, Tiana is an active member of the Regents Scholar Society and the Biomedical Engineering Society, conducts undergraduate research in a bioengineering laboratory, is a Peer Learning Facilitator for the UCLA Academic Advancement Program, and is a certified lifeguard. She spent this past summer interning with UCLA External Affairs at the UCLA School of Law. Her hobbies include swimming, especially at Sunset Rec, going to the beach, reading, trying new foods, and enjoying all the various opportunities UCLA has to offer.
Jebber Cozzi is vice president and financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. He graduated cum laude from UCLA with a B.A. in Psychology. He earned a M.S. in Psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to his service on the Alumni Scholarships Steering Committee, Jebber has served as a district chair and area chair for the program. He and wife Kimberly have three children Jacob, Mia, and Nickolas
Susan Crockett has 17 years in the retail and marketing industries working as a wardrobe consultant/stylist representing Doncaster Women’s Designer Clothing. Prior to her position at Doncaster, she served as the marketing director for Maril Products.
While at Doncaster, Susan has led the top agency in her district and has been recognized for her achievements by earning the Doncaster Gold Circle for sales. In addition to her experience in retail and marketing, Susan was a secondary teacher at University High School in Irvine, CA.
Susan graduated from the UCLA College of Fine Arts as a dance major in 1971. She returned to earn her secondary teaching credential in 1972 and has maintained a strong relationship with the university by volunteering for various committees and events. In addition to serving on the Alumni Scholarships Steering Committee, Susan is co-chair of the Chancellor’s Fund Orange County Regional Committee. She has also served on the UCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Alumni Scholarships Freshman Scholarship Committee, chaired the Alumni Academy, participated on the Parent’s Council, and is a Chancellor’s Associate. She is the proud mother of two UCLA graduates and married to a UCLA alum.
George Elwood-Miranda currently works as a health care consultant. He enjoys the project-based work as he is gaining experience in a wide variety of administrative tasks in a health care setting.
In 2009, George was selected to receive a UCLA Alumni Scholarship and also competed at National Finals. During his four years at UCLA, he held several leadership roles in the Alumni Scholarship Program and also worked with the Alumni Association as a public relations coordinator, marketing director, and finance director.
In addition to working with the UCLA Alumni Association, George interned at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center as a Care Extender volunteer. He conducted research at the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior where he analyzed the relationship between negative emotional stress, heart rate, and baroreflexivity. George also interned at APLA: AIDS Project Los Angeles where he was a community health researcher.
George graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in biological anthropology and a minor in Spanish in 2013. George’s goal is to become a triple bruin by returning to UCLA to earn an M.B.A. and M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management.
Nadine Elwood is currently a high school Spanish teacher at Esperanza High School in Anaheim, CA. She has been recognized for her outstanding contributions to the field of education by being named the 2008 District Teacher of the Year and a semi-finalist for the 2008 Orange County Teacher of the Year. Nadine most recently served as a co-presenter for the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District Common Core Implementation. Nadine also serves as the WASC/Single Plan Coordinator at her school and has also chaired more than 20 WASC Accreditation Visits throughout California and Hawaii. Additionally, Nadine serves as her school’s representative to the district’s Superintendent’s Council, District Curriculum Council, and the district’s Common Core Task Forces.
In addition to serving on the Alumni Scholarships Steering Committee, Nadine has held leadership roles with the UCLA Parent’s Council from 2009-2014. Nadine chaired multiple committees which earned her the 2009-2010 Parents Council Volunteer of the Year Award. Currently, Nadine serves as president of FLA-Orange County and is a member of the California Language Teachers’ Association (CLTA). As a member of the CLTA, she has served as local chair for two state conferences and co-chaired the Southern California World Language Conference this past October. Nadine has also served on the STS Review and Sensitivity Bias Training for CAHSEE in Sacramento. She is proud to have received PTSA’s highest honor, the Golden Oak Award last year.
Nadine earned a B.A. at Long Beach State where she majored in Spanish, with a minor in English, emphasis on second language acquisition. She earned her M.Ed. at Alliant University in San Diego. Nadine is the proud parent to UCLA graduate, George Elwood-Miranda, who was a four-year Alumni Scholar and a 2009 National Finalist, and daughter Megan, who is a 2014 graduate of Concordia University in Irvine. Nadine lives in Cypress, California with her husband of 32 years.
Doug Garcia is the director of research for Colliers International where he is responsible for the organizational and strategic development of the research function in the partnership’s ten offices located throughout Northern California and Nevada. Doug has played an integral role in Colliers administration as he has served on various internal committees, both regional and national in scope. These committees include the Project Steering Committee, USA Research Council, and Colliers.com Website Committee.
For the past 10 years, Doug has been involved in the UCLA Alumni Scholarships Program as a committee member, district chair and National Finals judge. He has also taken on increasing roles and responsibilities within the UCLA San Francisco Bay Area Bruins Network; chairing the Northern California Scholarship Luncheon and currently serving on the Network’s Board of Directors as the secretary.
In addition to volunteering for UCLA, Doug and his family volunteer for the annual Dublin Pride Week, where the Dublin community forms teams to address various beautification/clean-up projects around town.
Doug graduated from the UCLA’s School of Letters & Sciences in 1999 with a degree in economics. His interests include camping and taking vacations with his wife Kelly and two young boys, Gabriel and Roman. Doug has completed the 2013 & 2014 Tough Mudder runs at Lake Tahoe and is preparing for the 2015 run.
Roxanne Neal’s career spans over 20 years at UCLA, including the Division of Undergraduate Education, Honors Programs and Undergraduate Admissions. Her current position oversees all new student advising and enrollment, New Student Orientation, the College Summer Institute, and yield and transition programs for new students. She has been involved and chaired numerous committees at UCLA, including course enrollment for all undergraduates, pathways to commencement, Bruins for Life, and True Bruin, among many others. She was one of the co-creators of the True Bruin statement of ethical values and initiative and including the upcoming True Bruin Traditions Award.
Roxanne has been involved in professional associations for orientation, retention and transition, including the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA), and participated in numerous regional and national conference committees. She has presented at conferences, high schools, and colleges on topics pertaining to academic advising, enrollment, progress to degree, preparing for college, technology in orientation programming, diversity training and programming, family orientation programming, and issues facing women in education and society. Roxanne received her degree at UCLA in history in 1984.
Keith Sinclair is president of Sinclair Co., a real estate development agency in Thousand Oaks, CA. He is active in redeveloping commercial spaces in the communities of Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Oxnard, Pasadena, South Pasadena, and Whittier.
Keith is a long-time supporter of UCLA and donor to the Athletic Department. In addition to serving on the Alumni Scholarships Steering Committee, Keith is a member of the UCLA Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Committee. He was also a member of the Cornell University Council Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, participates as a judge at the annual Real Estate Development Competition at USC Marshall School of Business, was a member of the Scholarship Selection Committee for Nordstrom’s of Southern California, on the Board of Directors of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, and is involved with the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association.
Keith’s interests include mentoring underrepresented minority students. His hobbies are body-surfing, running (including Boston, Los Angeles, New York, & London marathons), and attending UCLA football and basketball games. Keith served in the United States Naval Reserves in the 1960’s.
Karen Swanson has over 35 years working in education as a middle school and high school teacher. During her teaching career, Karen served as the department chair for her school’s history department, chaired the Gifted and Talented Education Committee, and was a BTSA State Reviewer. Her service to her schools earned her several education awards which include the Masonic Teacher of the Year Award, District Teacher of the Year – OUSD, and was recognized in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.”
Karen graduated from UCLA in 1977 with a B.A. in history. She maintains a strong commitment to the university and its students by participating on several committees within the Alumni Scholarships Program which have included the Lew and Edie Wasserman Grant, Freshman & Transfer Student Scholarships, and serving as the district co-chair for the Bunche Scholarship. Karen is also a UCLA Alumni Inland Empire Network Leader, and a recruiter for the UCLA College Fair.
Aris Tagle is the director of analytics at Phenomenon, a marketing and ideation agency based in Los Angeles. Aris leads all marketing analytics efforts for digital and traditional media for all of the agency’s clients which span multiple industries. Aris has held management and leadership roles in marketing, business development, strategic technology planning, consumer products, telecommunications, financial and advertising industries. He previously held leadership roles in marketing and analytics at large organizations such as Guthy-Renker, Herbalife, and AT&T.
Aris earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from UCLA, M.B.A. from Yale University, and is a graduate of the Riordan MBA Fellows Program. Aris’ service to UCLA extends into numerous organizations which include: UCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Pilipino Alumni Association of UCLA, and in the UCLA Riordan Programs. His interests include community service, volunteering, philanthropy, event planning, sports, arts and culture, and travel.
George Wade is president of Bay Laurel Advisors, a consulting firm to the expanding location based entertainment and tourism market. With over 34 years in the entertainment and leisure industry, George has helped lead the development of high-end, mixed-use entertainment projects which include theme parks, themed attractions, and location-based entertainment venues. During his career, he enjoyed the opportunity to participate in some of the industry’s most prestigious projects. Today, his firm provides strategic advice to project developers and major entertainment brands including Cartoon Network, Crayola Corporation, Hallmark Corporation and Hasbro Corporation.
After graduating from UCLA, George began his career in entertainment with the Walt Disney Company working on the development and construction of EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. He also had the opportunity to contribute to the development of a wide range of projects in a variety of roles that include Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, The Forum Shops Las Vegas, The MGM Grand Hotel Las Vegas, and projects in 10 countries around the world including the People’s Republic of China.
George is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. He earned a bachelor of fine art in theatrical design in 1979. He has worked with the UCLA Alumni Scholarship Program for over ten years, with 5 years as district chair, and 1 year as an area chair. George has been married to UCLA alum, LeeAnn Yelavich Wade’77, M.Ed. ’81, for 35 years and has two sons.
Charlie Woo is the co-founder and CEO of Megatoys, an international toy manufacturing company headquartered in Los Angeles. Charlie started this business with his brother Peter in 1989 and they have grown it to the current size of having 600 employees in Los Angeles. Charlie is also known as the founder of the Los Angeles Toy District, and is credited with turning the once blighted industrial area in Downtown Los Angeles into a thriving international trade business district where he helped hundreds of immigrant entrepreneurs start their businesses and create thousands of jobs.
Charlie is a former chairman of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and has been the only Asian American to head the 126-year old business organization. Under his leadership, a reorganization effort was initiated that resulted in the Chamber restoring its reputation as the premier civic and business organization in the region. He currently chairs the Workforce Investment Board for the City of Los Angeles, a body that oversees the nation’s second largest workforce development system and has been recognized as the model program for the country. He has been leading this commission under Mayors Bradley, Riordan, Hahn, Villaraigosa, and Garcetti. He is widely respected for his leadership in bringing business, labor, the diverse community and economic development groups together to develop innovative job training programs targeting growth industries. He previously served on the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) Affairs and the State Commission for Economic Development.
Charlie has found time to serve on the boards of many civic organizations. He is the chair of Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE), a non-partisan community group that provides leadership development, as well as voter education and registration programs for the API community. He also serves on the Board of Committee of 100, an international membership organization of prominent Chinese Americans, and the Los Angele Police Foundation. He is a trustee of Pitzer College and Southern California Public Radio. He previously served as chair of the Asian Rehabilitation Services, President of the Los Angeles Historic and Cultural Neighborhood Council, chair of the Central City East Association. Additionally, he served on the boards of LA Library Foundation, Town Hall Los Angeles, LA Inc., LA’s Best, American Red Cross LA Chapter, YMCA Metropolitan Los Angeles, International Visitors Council, as well as the Advisory Board for the School of Public Affairs at UCLA.
Charlie came to Los Angeles from Hong Kong at the age of 17 to attend UCLA where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. and M.S. in physics. He and his wife, Ying, reside in Rancho Palos Verdes. His older son Geoffrey heads a startup technology company in Silicon Valley and his younger son Justin works at Megatoys.
Brett York has over 20 years working in the Human Resources Industry. He has managed numerous HR Information Systems projects and implemented HR Systems & Technology Solutions for companies in various industries which include retail, media, utilities, education, and local government.
Brett’s leadership and volunteer service is strongly rooted in his undergraduate years at UCLA. Brett was the Chapter President of the Gamma Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, helped charter the first Black Greek Letter Organization Council at UCLA, and served as Program Coordinator for the UCLA Black Student Alliance. In these positions, Brett developed and led programs aimed at supporting a diverse and inclusive community at UCLA. His program initiatives included the Special Education Exposure Project (SEEP) and the Jefferson High School Tutorial Project. His accomplishments earned him the Chancellor’s Marshall Service Award which recognized students for outstanding volunteer service at UCLA and in the community.
Brett has maintained a strong connection to UCLA since graduating with a B.A. in economics in 1986. He has served as the Bay Area chair for the Ralph Bunche Scholarship committee, is currently a member of the Alumni Scholarships Steering Committee, and was previously on the Board of Directors for the UCLA Alumni Association. In addition to his work with UCLA, Brett supports the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts who honored him with the 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of his leadership and development initiatives.