PEOPLE: Newsmakers

Auto Club Puts Its Stamp on Travel Firm

Further solidifying its stake in Pleasant Holidays, the Automobile Club of Southern California has installed one of its own to head the company.

After 34 years with the Auto Club, the largest affiliate of the American Automobile Association, Tim Irwin will move from vice president of travel to president.

The Auto Club quietly acquired a majority stake in the travel firm in 1999 and was broadly criticized when its position was made public in 2001. There were allegations the Auto Club was directing travelers to its affiliate without disclosing the relationship, though the state attorney general found that the lack of disclosure was not illegal.

Despite the Auto Club's investment, Irwin said it is important that the travel agency be run separately. "It's been made very clear to me that (the Auto Club) wants this to be run in the entrepreneurial spirit," Irwin said.

While Pleasant hasn't been immune to the broad decline in the travel business since Sept. 11, Irwin said the company sees signs of a rebound. Still, he has no illusions about the challenges the company faces.

"It's very important we do the right things to maintain our profitability," said Irwin. "We need to offer great programs and travel packages, but at the same time keeping our expenses low."

An Auto Club lifer, Irwin started working for AAA while attending California State University Los Angeles. He left school in 1967 to work for the club full time and served in a variety of positions, moving from auto-travel counselor to district manager and corporate travel manager before being named vice president of travel.

He is moving from his office in Costa Mesa to Westlake Village and at the same time moving his residence from Chino to Thousand Oaks. He lives with his wife of 35 years. They have four married children.

Conor Dougherty


Accounting & Consulting

Erika Joseph and Jim Pitrat were recently selected as partners at Lewak Greenbaum & Goldstein LLP in Los Angeles. Pitrat will continue to work both in SLGG's securities industry practice group while remaining an integral part of the firm's audit and accounting team. Joseph will work in the audit practice group.

Advertising & P.R.

Fifth Gear Advertising in Marina del Rey has added several new staff members. Michael Larson has been hired as director of new business development and also serves as an account executive. Also new are Amanda Smith and Marc Felt, both account executives. And Amanda Park has joined as a designer.

James L. Williams has been hired as managing director of Ruder Finn/Los Angeles, a public relations firm. He will be responsible for day-to-day leadership of the Los Angeles office, as well as elevating the firm's presence in Southern California. Prior to joining Ruder Finn, Williams was managing director of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide's Los Angeles office.

Banking & Finance

First Federal Bank of California in Santa Monica has named Armando Brescini senior vice president, construction loans. He is responsible for the origination, quality control and construction disbursement of the newly established construction lending department. Prior to joining First Federal Bank of California, Brescini was the executive vice president and chief lending officer at Frontier State Bank, specializing in construction financing.

Bruce Walker has been named to head the western region for Securities Training Corp. in Los Angeles, a developer of training programs for the securities, banking and insurance industries. As a first vice president, he is responsible for client relations, development of client programs and instructor training in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Walker has been with the firm since 1989.


Woodbury University in Burbank has named Thomas Harrington dean of the School of Business and Management. Woodbury previously served as a professor of decision sciences, director of college accreditation and coordinator of college undergraduate programs at the University of South Florida and Florida Gulf University.


Playboy Entertainment Group Inc. in Beverly Hills has made several appointments. Stephanie Black has been named senior division vice president-direct marketing. She is responsible for building the organization's transaction focused sales and marketing efforts. Prior to Playboy, she was founder and chief executive of Carbon Communications, a software company. Shirley Rohn-Saito has been named vice president of satellite and special markets. She previously served as executive vice president of sales and marketing at the Hot Networks. And Kerry Hirschberg has been named vice president of worldwide operations. He is responsible for overseeing the traffic and operations departments. Most recently, Hirschberg served as vice president of production at Califa Entertainment. Additionally, Claude Howard has been promoted to division vice president of marketing. Howard most recently served as vice president of satellite and special markets.

Griffith W. Foxley has been promoted to senior vice president, corporate legal affairs, at ABC Inc. in Los Angeles. He previously served as vice president, corporate legal affairs.

Robert G. Friedman and John Goldwyn have been appointed to new roles within the motion picture group at Paramount Pictures. Friedman has been elevated to chief operating officer of Paramount Pictures and vice chairman of the motion picture group of Paramount Pictures, where he is responsible for worldwide theatrical marketing, distribution and acquisition of feature films and worldwide marketing and distribution of home entertainment. Goldwyn has been promoted to vice chairman of the motion picture group of Paramount Pictures and president of Paramount Pictures. He is responsible for the company's annual slate of films, which includes overseeing the acquisition of literary properties, development, budgeting, casting and production of motion pictures.

Jim Henson Co. has promoted Nicole Goldman to director of corporate communications and special projects. She is responsible for creating and executing publicity campaigns. Goldman previously served as manager of corporate communications and special projects.

Health Care

International Remote Imaging Systems Inc., a Chatsworth-based manufacturer of urinalysis workstations, has appointed Cesar M. Garcia as executive vice president. He is responsible for the company's Iris Diagnostics division and StatSpin subsidiary. Garcia most recently served as president of Primera LLC of Philadelphia, a management consulting company.

Larry Twersky has been named president of Futuredontics Inc., operator of the 1-800-Dentist dental referral service. Based in Los Angeles, he plans to incorporate additional technology and services to the company's existing marketing program. For the past 12 years, Twersky has worked as a consultant for Futuredontics while simultaneously serving as chief executive of Solid Climb, a business productivity-consulting firm.

High Tech

Tekelec, a Calabasas-based developer of telecommunications signaling infrastructure, has named Lori Craven vice president and general manager of its network systems division. She has assumed responsibility for the company's core network infrastructure and applications business. Craven most recently served as vice president, mobility solutions development, at Lucent Technologies.


Richard Reeves has been named sales manager for Shutters on the Beach and Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. Most recently, he served as account director at the St. Regis Los Angeles.


Edward G. Marley has been named vice president and controller at SCPIE Holdings Inc., a provider of professional liability insurance to the healthcare industry. He will oversee the company's Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory reporting, financial planning process and accounting financial systems. Most recently, he was chief financial officer, secretary and treasurer for CAMICO Mutual Insurance Company in Northern California.


Thomas P. Lambert has been elected managing partner of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles. He has been a member of MS & K;'s governing board since 1980 and will act as the firm's chief executive.

Gary W. Nugent has been admitted to the partnership in the Los Angeles office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. He joined the firm in 1996 and is a member of the litigation group and the general litigation practice.

Gregory A. Nylen has been named a shareholder in the Los Angeles office of Greenberg Traurig. He is a member of the firm's litigation practice.

Andrew J. Thomas has been named partner in the Los Angeles office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. He specializes in media law, intellectual property and general litigation.

Real Estate

Jeffrey Bedell has been named vice president of energy management at Macerich Co. in Santa Monica, a real estate investment trust that focuses on the acquisition and redevelopment of regional malls. He was previously branch manager/director of operations for the Southern California Region at the Long Beach office of Bosek, Gibson & Associates, and energy analysis and engineering firm.

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