Our People

Founder & Executive Director

Dr. Hei-ock Kim

Dr. Hei-ock Kim

Founder and Executive Director

Hei-ock’s experience in nonprofit administration and harnessing the collective voice of communities spans over 14 years. Her expertise includes strategic partnering with agencies, businesses and nonprofits; fundraising; media relations and marketing; and designing events and academic curricula. A graduate of Princeton University and The Juilliard School, Hei-ock also holds a doctorate from Catholic University of America in classical piano performance.

Board of Directors

Brian Cohen

David Alvarez

City of San Diego

David grew up in Barrio Logan on San Diego’s working waterfront. His childhood experiences sharpened his resolve to fight for social, economic and environmental justice. Elected to the Council in 2010, David’s many achievements include the building of Cesar Solis Park in the South Bay and creating more opportunities for local small businesses. He serves on numerous boards, including the League of California Cities Latino Caucus, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and The Science Exchange.

Alan Gin

Alan Gin

Assoc. Professor of Economics, University of San Diego

Alan is best known for developing and publishing USD’s widely publicized Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, a monthly report on the outlook for the local economy. He is also one of the affiliated faculty members of USD’s Center for Real Estate, a member of the Advisory Board of the Asian Business Association of San Diego, and a Board member of the Hong Kong Association of Southern California (San Diego Chapter).

Pamela Payton

Pamela Payton

Assistant VP of Digital and Media Communications, University of San Diego

Pam’s rich history as a role model for leadership includes founding several important resources for African-American students at the University of San Diego, and serving on the boards of Girl Scouts and the San Diego Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Formerly director of USD’s Community and Government Relations, Pam is now the university’s chief spokesperson as assistant vice president of Digital and Media Communications.

Brian Cohen

Brian Cohen

Spatial Data Scientist, The Nature Conservancy

Brian has been a strong advocate of gender balance throughout his work in social and environmental justice, environmental conservation, and demographic analysis. He was particularly active in correcting the hiring culture in his role as associate director of a technology consulting firm. Brian calls upon 20+ years of nonprofit experience in advising the Kim Center. He is currently a spatial data scientist at The Nature Conservancy.

Jane Tanner

Lisa Marie Harris

Director of Finance/Treasurer,
San Diego County Water Authority

Lisa Marie’s career in finance spans over 24 years. She has served in both the public and private sectors as Finance Director of the San Diego Water Authority, Chief Deputy Treasurer for the County of San Diego Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office; Executive Director of CA Debt and Investment Advisory Commission; Assistant Deputy Airport Director for the City and County of San Francisco – San Francisco International Airport. Most recently, Lisa Marie was Senior Vice President for Siebert Brandford Shank LLC.

Alan Gin

Jessica Crawford

Director of Marketing, Sharp Metropolitan Medical Campus

Jessica is a former reporter turned marketing communications professional who loves the challenge of helping people understand complex ideas and information. She is a working mother who is passionate about mentoring women in the workplace as well as fostering safe and adaptive work environments that help both women and men thrive.

Steve Makoff

Steve Makoff

Board Member, Interfaith Interventions, Inc.

Steve is a former teacher, and also served as executive director of several nonprofits and youth camp organizations for over 40 years. In addition to his duties with the Kim Center, Steve is on the board of Interfaith Interventions, Inc., a nonprofit designed to promote respect and understanding between people of diverse faiths.

Jane Tanner

Jane Tanner

Founder, Genesa Leadership Institute

Jane has extensive business experience in both Fortune 500 companies and small to mid-tier entrepreneurial organizations, as well as a strong academic background in psychology, coaching and leadership. Jane is the founder of Genesa Leadership Institute, which is a leadership development organization that offers a transformational approach to personal and organizational success.

Advisory Council

Samantha Begovich, J.D., Esq.

Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County

Samantha is one of two senior prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office Lifer Unit. She serves on the boards of The San Diego Foundation, the Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement, and the Access Youth Academy, and is also an educator and frequent speaker about the criminal justice system. Samantha is a faculty member at the University of San Diego, and received her law degree from Stanford Law School.

Laura Benedict

Associate Director of Philanthropy, The Nature Conservancy

Laura Benedict is a philanthropy profession with over 20 years fundraising experience. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy Laura worked as the Director of Development for the College of Sciences at San Diego State University. She received her bachelor’s degree in Art History at the University of Southern California.

Georgia Case

Principal, Idea Group

Georgia has been recognized locally and nationally for her work helping to incubate and launch several groundbreaking organizations and projects designed to improve community health and well-being, including Bikestation Long Beach and City Fabrick. She is the principal of Idea Group, a PR, marketing and fundraising consultancy for nonprofits and social ventures.

Stephanie Gaines

Program Coordinator, San Diego County Watershed Protection Program

Having served as a lead planner since 2007, Stephanie is the key County liaison with the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan Group, and routinely interfaces with many agencies and nongovernment organizations. She supervises staff in the Science & Monitoring and Policy, facilitates the San Diego Region Copermittees working groups, and provides outreach to business, industry, and local community groups.

Tara Jeyaratnam

Principal, GreenDreamsE

Tara has long advocated for working women and social responsibility in the automotive, manufacturing, retail and tech industries. As an engineer and as a consultant, she has addressed myriad issues from labor violations to human trafficking, and in 2010 founded the nonprofit GreenDreamsWomen to job-train women in her homeland of Sri Lanka.

In San Diego, Tara is a frequent speaker, founding board member and COO of the Harvard Kennedy School Community, board member of the Diplomacy Council, and an appointee to the County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

Jen Keyes, CPA

CFO, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

Jen has worked extensively with nonprofit organizations, private companies, and philanthropists. She also contributes her talents to a variety of San Diego organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, Dreams for Change, and the San Diego Police Foundation. Jen is a graduate of LEAD San Diego.

Tracey Mueller-Gibbs

Visionary/Founder, Rowan’s Yellow Treehouse

Tracey has nearly a decade of experience working in the nonprofit industry, and is passionate about achieving equity among all groups. Alongside her work with the Kim Center, she is the Visionary/Founder of the nonprofit Rowan’s Yellow Treehouse.

Tiffany Thomson

Senior Marketing Manager, HELIX Environmental Planning

Tiffany is passionate about gender equity and helping to develop and mentor women in the workplace. With 20 years of experience in communications, she has a long history of leading strategic marketing efforts for a variety of industries including consulting, healthcare, and wellness.

Michele Wallerstein

Former Executive Vice-President, Women In Film

Michele’s long career as a successful Hollywood literary agent and owner of The Wallerstein Company gives her firsthand understanding being a woman in a man’s world. Her hard work and tenacity led to her serving on the board and as executive vice-president of Women In Film for many years. She is currently a best-selling author and a screenplay, novel and career consultant.