NEWSMAKERS
Former Vivendi Marketer Aims to Alter Academic Hue

Iris Gelt has left the fast track for an academic track.

The former vice president of external communications and public affairs at Vivendi Universal Entertainment, parent of Universal Studios, has become senior vice president of marketing and communications for the Art Center College of Design.

"Early in my career I taught public school," said Gelt, who started the newly created position on May 12. "I've always loved the academic environment."

Gelt handled media relations, public affairs, educational outreach and philanthropy efforts for Vivendi, which plans to sell off its entertainment assets (she said her decision to move on was not based on those sale plans).

The school "has a great reputation and is well known in the art and design world, but it's been referred to as the 'best kept secret' outside of that," said Gelt. She plans to apply her background to develop a communications strategy that will boost fund raising and recruiting efforts for the Art Center.

Her goal is to broaden awareness of the Art Center's offerings. "More than half the world's car designers are Art Center graduates," Gelt said. "They designed the PT Cruiser, the Porsche Boxster, they're at BMW and all the top car makers. Our graduates are also working in marketing, advertising and can be found all over the film and entertainment industry."

The Art Center plans a $13.5 million campus expansion in downtown Pasadena, including an exhibition hall and facilities that will house galleries and community art programs.

The new position was developed to help the Art Center redefine itself, and to increase enrollment, particularly from international students, by making the school more visible. "The challenge for me is to take what is the image of what we know is there and develop it into what can be," Gelt said.

As for her own artistic ability, Gelt admits it is limited. "I'm a great appreciator of art and museums, and I've studied art history, she said. "But I really wish I could paint. Maybe now I'll learn."

Gelt lives in Studio City with her two young adult children.

Koula Gianulias


Accounting

Debi Weiss has been appointed director of marketing for Grobstein Horwath and Co. LLP. Weiss previously was area marketing manager for Ernst & Young LLP in the Pacific Southwest.



Advertising

Eda Murphy has been hired as account manager, western territory, for Structural Graphics, a design firm specializing in magazine inserts and direct mail pieces. Murphy, who will be based in Los Angeles, will be responsible for the company's West Coast accounts and for generating new clients. She previously served as manager of special markets for Centis Custom Products.



Architecture

Johnson Fain has promoted Kristen Geraci to an associate. Geraci, who previously was an accounts manager, joined the firm in January 2002. John M. Adams has been hired to serve as a senior project manager on complex architectural and urban design projects. Adams previously worked at Gensler in Santa Monica.



Consulting

Amy Tucker has been hired as account manager at Aquent, where she will be responsible for day-to-day client services and talent management for the firm's creative business. She previously was sales operations manager for Tachyon Inc.



Entertainment

Tara Sorensen has been named vice president of development for the children's programming and production unit at National Geographic Television and Film and will be based in Beverly Hills. She had been vice president of creative affairs for the family entertainment division of Sony Pictures Television.



Mike Richards has joined Dick Clark Productions Inc. as senior development executive and producer. He will be responsible for developing, producing and selling new programming. Richards previously produced and wrote for shows on NBC, Fox, MTV, USA Network, Sci-Fi Network and Paramount.



Matthew Glotzer has been named vice president, video-on-demand and business development for Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. He will be responsible for supporting the company's activities in the global video-on-demand markets. Glotzer, who has been with the company since 1999, most recently was vice president, business development.



Finance

Union Bank of California has promoted JoAnn Bourne to executive vice president and group head of the bank's new commercial deposit and treasury management division. Bourne, based in Los Angeles, joined Union Bank in 1981 and will lead the group handling institutional markets, government services, corporate deposit services and eBusiness solutions within the bank's commercial financial services group.



Government

L.A. Mayor James Hahn has appointed Erica Kim to the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission. She will be responsible for support and outreach to enhance community relations in the city. Kim currently is an attorney with her own practice, where she specializes in civil and business litigation.



Health Care

Health Net Inc. has appointed Joyce Li chief actuarial officer. Prior to joining Health Net, she served as senior vice president and actuary for WellPoint Health Networks.



William T. Walker has been appointed to the board of Health Sciences Group Inc., a pharmaceutical company specializing in nutritional supplements and skin care products. Walker is the founder of Walker Associates, a corporate finance consulting firm.



Law

Peter A. Nyquist has been promoted to partner at Weston Benshoof Rochefort Rubalcava and MacCuish. Nyquist represents clients in environmental litigation and regulatory enforcement actions. He has been with the firm since 1998.



Richards Watson and Gershon has named Roxanne M. Diaz a partner in the firm's public law department. Diaz specializes in public law areas including land use, planning and redevelopment. She has been with the firm since 1995.



Peter McGraw has joined Reed Smith Crosby Heafey as business manager of the firm's Los Angeles, Century City and Westlake Village offices. McGraw previously served as legal administrator at the San Diego office of Brobeck Phleger and Harrison.

Non-Profit

Alan I. Rothenberg has been elected chairman of the Los Angeles Sports Council. Rothenberg, who retired from law firm Latham & Watkins in 2001 and is a professional mediator and arbitrator, was chairman and chief executive of the 1994 World Cup Organizing Committee.



Bunni Dybnis has been elected president of the Western Regional Chapter of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Dybnis is director of professional services for LivHOME, an at-home assisted living company.



Jay Davis has been named leadership council chair of the Special Friends of Miller Children's Hospital fund, a non-profit established to raise money for the Miller Children's Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Davis is executive vice president of Universal Care in Signal Hill.



Real Estate

General Growth Properties, owner and manager of the Northridge Fashion Center, has filled two management positions. Richard C. Forster, former vice president of operations for Sims-Group Management Inc., will serve as general manager of the center. Linda Smith Frost will serve as senior marketing manager. She previously held marketing positions with Century City Shopping Center and Marketplace and South Coast Plaza in Orange County.



Phillip B. Valtairo has been named chief financial officer of Younan Properties, a commercial real estate investment firm in North Hollywood. Valtairo will be responsible for debt and equity financing, investor relations, joint ventures, acquisitions and dispositions and financial reporting. He joined Younan from USBX Inc., where he served as vice president and chief financial officer.

Retail

Unified Western Grocers Inc. has announced three executive promotions. Daniel J. Murphy will serve as senior vice president, perishables and retail services, overseeing the company's meat and deli departments in California and perishables in the Pacific Northwest. Christine Neal was promoted to vice president and treasurer, responsible for managing accounting activities and banking relationships. Warren Fish was promoted to assistant treasurer and will be responsible for internal cash management planning and control.



Relax the Back, a back-care specialty store, has appointed Michael Conigliaro as director of franchise development. Conigliaro, who will be based in Cerritos, will be responsible for targeting new franchise candidates and expanding the company's national presence beyond their current 85 stores. He previously served as franchise development manager for Gold's Gym International Inc.



Technology

Monica Urquidi, a sales consultant with Administaff, has been appointed to the advisory committee for Los Angeles County's Business Technology Center, which houses 26 start up technology firms.



Ronald Hart has been appointed to the board of advisors of Applied DNA Sciences, provider of DNA security solutions for corporate and government agencies. Hart is a founder of the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority.

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