Feb 12 2018

OCBC Recognizes Orange County ‘Game Changers’ at Annual Dinner; Welcomes Steve Churm as 2018 Chairman

IRVINE, CA—Four scientists, a philanthropic-minded business executive and a professional baseball player with jaw-dropping talent Thursday were celebrated as Orange County ‘Game Changers’ by more than 700 business executives, academic leaders and elected officials at Orange County Business Council’s Annual Dinner and Installation of the organization’s 2108 Board of Directors. Steve Churm, Chief Communications Officer of FivePoint, was sworn in as Chairman of OCBC’s Board of Directors.


Robert Herjavec, star of the ABC hit-series, Shark Tank, and founder of the Herjavec Group, an international cybersecurity firm, delivered the event’s keynote address.


To kick-off its 2018 theme: ‘Game Changers: Orange County Leaders Transforming the World’, OCBC recognized Dr. Payam Heydari of UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering; Jeff Roos, Western Regional President of Lennar Corporation; Mya Le Thai, a former UCI doctoral candidate in Chemistry; Chapman University’s Dr. Hesham El-Askary; Cal State Fullerton Astrophysicist Jocelyn Read; and Shohei Ohtani, the international baseball superstar recently signed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.


“OCBC reached out to our universities, community leaders and industry partners looking for ‘Game Changers’ working today to change your lives tomorrow,” said OCBC President and CEO Lucy Dunn, following a video retrospective of Orange County Game Changers past and present.  “What we heard back was nothing short of incredible. These are people making amazing progress with global impact in their respective fields – and all of them are working right here in Orange County.”


Churm, while accepting the mantle as 2018 Chairman of the OCBC Board of Directors, heralded Orange County as a region with “a style, culture and taste all its own. It has indeed become home to a legion of game changers. We don’t follow the trends setters. We are the trend setters whether it is retail, transportation, education, health care, technology, real estate or simply lifestyle.”


OCBC’s 2018 Game Changers are:


Dr. Payam Heydari

A professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California Irvine, Dr. Payam Heydari was the lead investigator in the development of a silicon microchip-based component known as a “radiator.” The miniscule device emits millimeter wave signals that can penetrate solid surfaces and provide extremely sharp resolution images. The radiator will allow the development of gadgets that used to be the fantasy of science fiction, such as Dr. McCoy’s tiny tricorder device in the 1960s television series, Star Trek. Heydari is also the architect of a brain-computer interface that has the potential to restore walking ability and sensation in people with spinal injuries.


Jeff Roos

Roos is the Western Regional President of Lennar Corporation, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders. His passion for designing communities and building homes for people is more than just a function of his job; it is a part of his abiding belief that homelessness is an indignity that no one should suffer. That’s why Roos is leading the development of a voluntary, sustainable private-sector funding solution to homelessness called the HOMEFUL Foundation. HOMEFUL facilitates an innovative partnership between homeowners who collaborate to help end homelessness by agreeing to donate a tenth of a percent of the proceeds of their home sale to qualified 501(c)(3) public charities working to eradicate homelessness. Funds are used to provide temporary and permanent shelter as well as to underwrite operational costs for homeless care providers.


Mya Le Thai

A former University of California, Irvine doctoral candidate in Chemistry, Thai lead a team of UCI researchers that has developed nanowire-based battery technology with the ability to be recharged hundreds of thousands of time. Thai’s nanowire breakthrough moves us closer to the development of a battery that would never require replacement. Scientists have long been in pursuit of nanowire application in batteries since they are exceptional conductors and have large surface areas. But they are fragile and have a limited lifespan. Thai discovered that by coasting a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and wrapping in an electrolyte gel, it was able to be cycled as many as 200,000 times over three months without losing any capacity or power and without damaging the nanowires. Truly, a battery that never dies.


Dr. Hesham El-Askary

Dr. El-Askary is Director and Professor of Hazards, Global and Environmental Change and Computational Science

Programs at Chapman University. One of the world’s leading earth systems researchers, Dr. El-Askary is the regional coordinator for the GEO-CRADLE research project. The project’s ultimate mission is to create an international solar atlas to guide decision making on global climate change, food security, and access to raw materials and clean energy production. Dr. El-Askary’s research also has led to innovative predictive weather modeling, and is being used to develop one of the largest completely solar powered hospitals in North Africa. His work in collaboration with renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Magdi Yacoub is providing clues to the causes of Kawasaki Disease, a rate childhood illness that affects the blood vessels.


Dr. Jocelyn Read

An assistant professor of Physics at California State University, Fullerton, Dr. Read was an instrumental player in a global collaboration of scientists and engineers to build instruments able to observe titanic astral events in the universe. Last August, Dr. Read lead a team of her students and fellow faculty members that observed – for the first time ever – gravitation waves produced by colliding neutron stars in a galaxy 130 million lights years from our own Milky Way home. The interstellar collision produced gravitation waves – not unlike ripples in water – that were recorded by two observatories in the United States and Europe thanks, in part, to the work of Dr. Read and her team. The science gleaned from the event will potential lead scientists close to an understanding of the origins of the universe and a better ability to measure its expansion. Dr. Read has also been the recipient of numerous grants, including nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation to recruit and support under-represented students in gravitational wave science.


Shohei Ohtani

When the sounds of the bats begin and the boxes of Cracker Jacks are opened this April marking the beginning of another Major League Baseball season, all eyes will be on Angel Stadium of Anaheim to witness perhaps the game’s greatest talent since Babe Ruth. Shohei Ohtani, the 23-year-old phenom who signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the off season, is a flame-throwing ace pitcher and a power-hitting slugger in a 6-foot, 4-inch, 203-pound frame. Highly recruited by teams throughout the league, Ohtani’s numbers are mindboggling: As a pitcher in the Japanese League, he posted 48 wins vs. 15 losses over five seasons with a 2.52 ERA. At the plate, he posted a plus .300 batting average his last two seasons and 48 home runs during his brief career in the Japanese League. By all accounts, Ohtani could be the game-changing player the Angels need to recapture the American League Pennant and the organization’s second World Series championship.



About OCBC:
Orange County Business Council is the leading voice of business in Orange County, California. OCBC represents and promotes the business community, working with government and academia, to enhance Orange County’s economic development and prosperity in order to preserve a high quality of life. OCBC serves member and investor businesses with nearly 250,000 employees and 2,000,000 worldwide. In providing a proactive forum for business and supporting organizations, OCBC helps assure the financial growth of America’s sixth largest county. For more information, visit www.ocbc.org

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