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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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The SDSU Los Angeles Regional Council poses at mission control at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (Photo: Jimmy Steinfeldt, Tari Weiss) The SDSU Los Angeles Regional Council poses at mission control at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (Photo: Jimmy Steinfeldt, Tari Weiss)

Aztecs Everywhere: LA Regional Council Update

The SDSU Los Angeles Regional Council recently toured the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
By SDSU News Team

Whether it’s a special sendoff for incoming Aztecs or connections made through the Aztec Mentor Program, San Diego State University Regional Councils develop strong networks and support the university’s goals of fundraising and student success.

This month, the SDSU News Team met with the SDSU Los Angeles Regional Council to learn more about its members, news and events, including the group’s summer tour of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) led by fellow council member, Jordan Evans ('93).

Tell us about the LA Regional Council and its members.

The LA Regional Council launched in 2013 and currently has 31 members, chaired by Gary Weiss (’79). Our mission is to serve as advocates for SDSU, and support the university through:
  • Access - Opening doors for SDSU students to future employment through mentoring, internships, introductions and jobs.
  • Outreach - Identifying and cultivating alumni and other supporters to strengthen the SDSU network in our area.
  • Support - Providing access to an SDSU education with our donations to the LA Regional Scholarship fund and/or other university initiatives.
Our members are involved in a wide variety of industries, from finance and accounting, to exploring the universe. Many are involved in the entertainment industry, including George Sunga (’55), who produced some of the most beloved television sitcoms in the 1970’s and 1980’s. You can thank Mort Marcus (’77) for “South Park” and Phil Segal (’84) for “Ice Road Truckers.” They, along with Fabio Golombek (MA ’87), head companies that produce many well-known reality TV, talk shows and independent films. Dave Shaw (’91) oversees global marketing for 20th Century Fox and Scott Hollestelle (’90) develops strategic partnerships for The Walt Disney Studios.

Even members in finance and accounting fields have relationships with the entertainment industry. Becky Harshberger (’85) heads the payroll division at Entertainment Partners, overseeing payroll for every actor in Hollywood. Weiss, Joe King (’94) and Chris Riegel (’83) lease office space to companies in the entertainment industry, while Fred Solomon (’59) does their corporate taxes. Dan Feinberg (’84) and David Hunzicker (’76) advise on investments. For many years, Rick Rosas (’87), a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was the “man with the briefcase” who tallied the votes for the Academy Awards.

Other members also have fascinating careers, such as rock photographer Jimmy Steinfeldt (’80), who has photographed most of the great rock stars since the 1980’s. Sue Ganz-Schmitt (’86) writes children’s books. John Wills (’65) and Mike Stevens (‘83) consult with businesses worldwide, and Keri King (‘94) has the critical job of forming future Aztecs as an elementary school teacher. Several attorneys also belong to the council, including business attorneys Alex Brucker (’67), Howard Wollitz (’70), and one of the nation’s leading environmental attorneys, David Cranston (’81).

Rounding out this impressive group is Evans, our “Martian Aztec” who led the team that landed the Curiosity Rover on Mars and now oversees the mechanical systems division at JPL. He has nine NASA Achievement Awards for exceptional contributions to projects and is a recipient of the prestigious NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, one of our nation’s highest civilian honors.

Tell us about an important SDSU-related initiative that the regional council is undertaking.

Over the past year, the LA Regional Council exceeded its $50,000 funding goal for the LA Regional Endowed Scholarship fund and plans to award at least two, $7,500 scholarships to students who hail from LA County. Additionally, Wills, Marcus, and Rosas have set up their own scholarship funds to help students succeed at SDSU.

What kind of mentoring and/or recruiting activities is your council involved in?

The council is extremely committed to student success, and all of the members have either become Aztec Mentors or have hosted interns. During our recent tour of the JPL, the Council invited four SDSU students to join the group. During our tour, they discussed the students’ work and goals, and provided advice and mentorship. Several members are also working to expand internship opportunities at their companies.

Evans actively recruits from SDSU for JPL internships and had four student interns this past summer. Marcus, Golombeck and Segal have all hosted interns at their production studios. Harshberger had such a positive experience hosting interns that she has developed a large, formal internship program that she’s rolling out next summer to SDSU students. Hollestelle is helping to establish SDSU as an internship and recruitment “hub” at The Walt Disney Company, and is organizing a “Disney Aztec” gathering for SDSU alumni who work at the Disney companies in the Burbank area.

If you are a passionate Aztec alumnus or parent in LA County who would like to actively support SDSU, you are welcome to join. For more information, please contact Michelle LaGrandeur at 619-594-1476 or

Touring Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The SDSU Los Angeles Regional Council was treated to a tour of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory by Jordan Evans (‘93), who led the team that landed the Curiosity Rover on Mars.