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Cover Story
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Cover Story

 Published: April 24, 2008

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OC’s 40 Under 40
They are among Orange County’s brightest professionals who have achieved a level of success that takes some people a lifetime. A brilliant attorney. A producer for one of Southern California’s top-rated morning news shows. A music producer. A creator of one of the most popular online games. And they make up this year’s crop of 40 Under 40.

Summer Rapp, 29
Vice President of Design, Quiksilver
Women’s Collection

Rapp took on the role of vice president of design for the Quiksilver women’s collection last year, after working as the assistant merchandiser/denim designer at Roxy, director of design at Volcom and head designer of Women’s Ever. Her Quiksilver collection is aimed at women ages 18 to 24 who have an independent vision. The source for her inspiration: travel.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to have a very healthy family around me, traveling with me and supporting me in my career ventures.”

Thomas Antunez, 32
Principal and CEO, Percentix, Inc.
Since he founded the company in 2003, Antunez has generated annual revenue of $5.5 million. Though he heads more than 150 enterprise performance-management plans for clients all over the world, Antunez still finds time to be involved in UC Irvine’s Merage School of Business and local nonprofits.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to grow a healthy family with my wife, have solidified Percentix’s position as a market leader and trusted business advisor, and continue to provide executive leadership for a private or public organization.”

Brenda Brkusic, 27
Channel Manager, OC Channel at KOCE-TV; Owner, Istina Productions
Brkusic has been given an important undertaking: changing the way OC receives its news. On top of being the channel manager of OC Channel, she writes, edits, directs and produces – she recently completed the documentary “Freedom from Despair,” which aired on PBS.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to have completed a number of documentaries that have impacted the world in positive ways. I hope to educate others and inspire them to be courageous in the face of their own struggles and dreams.”

Chris Metzen, 35
Vice President of Creative Development, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Metzen oversees the creation of the characters, places, events and histories behind all of Blizzard Entertainment’s games, including the series “World of Warcraft,” which now has 10 million subscribers worldwide. While the majority of his time is spent writing, Metzen also has a hand in game design, conceptual artwork and voice direction.

Where he sees himself in 10 years:
“Ten years? That’s a lifetime in game-developer years! God willing, I’ll still be slinging tales of high adventure – and helping to build far-flung worlds where peoples’ inner-heroes can come alive.”

Angela Chittenden, 30
Owner and Designer, Beach Bunny Swimwear
Chittenden launched her lingerie-inspired Beach Bunny Swimwear out of her Newport Beach home in 2004, and it has grown into a label with a national following. The suits have been featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition for several years, custom-designed for Heidi Klum and Petra Nemcova.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“Hopefully in 10 years, Beach Bunny will be an international brand! I would take time off to spend with my girls and my husband, and travel! Oh, maybe adding a few more little ones, too!”

Jason Chao, 26
Attorney, Bohm, Matsen, Kegel & Aguilera
Chao, the son of Chinese immigrants, works as a civil litigation attorney specializing in business and real estate. His passion for the legal profession shows in his courtroom performance, and his success in conflict resolution.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I plan on having a larger, more expansive role with my company. Hopefully by then, I’ll have acquired the experience and the savvy to guide new associates…I just hope I never lose the thrill that seems to just creep up moments before I have to open my mouth in front of a judge.”

Ashley Eckenweiler, 26
Independent Music Consultant and Talent Buyer for Orange County Performing Artscenter and Orange County Museum of Art
ocpac.org; ocma.net
An Orange County native, Eckenweiler books bands and produces alternative programming for local theater and art programs. Some of her recent contributions include the Indie Band Series at the Orange County Performing Artscenter’s Samueli Theater and the Orange Crush concert series at Orange County Museum of Art.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“The exact same thing I’m doing now for cultural institutions all over the world.”

Heath Clarke, 39
Chairman and CEO, Local.com
Since its inception in March 1999, Clarke has built Local.com into one of the most recognized local search engines in the U.S., delivering results to more than 15 million consumers each month. A frequent speaker and guest
lecturer at Pepperdine’s Executive MBA program, Clark (who was born in Canada, and raised in England and Australia) has been a finalist for numerous local business achievement awards, including the 2007 AeA High-Tech Innovation Award’s Outstanding Public Company CEO and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, 2007.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to have further developed a number of concepts I have, while spending a lot of time with my family and becoming more involved with the community. I feel I have a political calling, as well – I want to give back to this great country.”

Enrique Perez, 34
Executive Director of Business Development,
Rancho Santiago Community College District

Thanks to Perez, business education remains strong within the district and community. With the launch of its 5 business programs, Perez has played a crucial role in the local economy by raising $23.2 million that helped serve more than 1,500 entrepreneurs.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“This is the only place where I can work with a small business owner who wants to export a product, meet with mayors or governors, interface with faculty and students, and consult with Disney on an economic development initiative – all in the same day. I’m having such a great time doing it; I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Brett Sagel, 34
Assistant U.S. Attorney
As the prosecutor overseeing the federal corruption case against former Sheriff Michael Carona, Sagel has his work cut out for him. But don’t let his youthful looks fool you – this guy’s a pro. Since graduating law school in 1999 and being hired into the Attorney General’s Honors Program, he has prosecuted and won convictions in numerous multi-million dollar fraud cases. And last year, he obtained guilty verdicts against several members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang for murders they carried out behind bars. He’s known for his competitive and hard-working nature, and brilliance in his profession.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“Unless the St. Louis Cardinals inexplicably offer me a job in their front office, continuing my career in public service.”

Lee Cusey, 37
President, Applied Sports Technologies
Applied Sports Technologies developed a 100% digital wireless BodySensor System that allows an athlete to monitor and record his or her live-motion mechanics. A 3-D, computer-generated body-performance fingerprint is created so a coach can evaluate the athlete’s movements, and improper motion mechanics can be permanently corrected.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I will be watching my oldest daughter head off to college – that’s a reality check in itself – and I will be spending as much time as I can with my beautiful wife and my 2 other children.”

Torii Hunter, 32
Centerfielder, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Brought over from the Minnesota Twins with a 5-year, $90 million contract, this 7-time Golden Glover has been recognized for his philanthropic endeavors, winning Major League Baseball’s Marvin Miller Man of the Year award last season. Hunter also founded the Torii Hunter Project, a youth baseball initiative that increases opportunities for young players, particularly in inner cities.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I’d like to be spending more time with my family and doing TV work as a baseball analyst.”

Michelle Pulfrey, 31
“Style File” Producer, “Good Day LA,”
Fox 11 News

Pulfrey’s career with Fox started during her senior year at Chapman University. As a project, she and her classmates had to re-create a TV show. Her group chose to do “Good Day LA,” and she played Jillian Barberie (now Reynolds). After Reynolds saw the tape, she invited the group to the station for interviews, and that scored Pulfrey a job. Ten years later, she is Reynolds’ “Style File” producer, covering everything related to fashion and beauty.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I’d like to be as successful and happy as I am now, in whatever I’m doing – whether it’s working at Fox, or raising kids and having a family.”

Aman Lal, 25
Associate, The Hoffman Company
Ahead of his years, Lal has raised more than $40,000 for the county’s largest homeless shelter – Tustin-based The Village of Hope. On top of that and his work at the land brokerage firm, he also leads an Urban Land Institute panel benefiting disabled adults with children.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to have a family of my own and still be working at The Hoffman Company. It is my goal to be the very best in the business and maximize the value of my clients’ projects.”

Roman Tsunder, 33
President and Founder, Access 360 Media
Utilizing online, mobile and in-store communication, Tsunder’s media network company links to more than 100 million young people each month. He introduced the in-store network for fashion retailer Wet Seal, Inc., and helped Quiksilver go wireless.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“As Yogi Berra said, ‘It’s tough making predictions, especially about the future.’ But I’ll likely be doing 1 of 2 things: U.S. Ambassador to Monaco, or working on the next social phenomenon like MTV or Facebook.”

Melanie Rios Glaser, 37
Artistic director, Saint Joseph Ballet
Ríos Glaser, who earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from The Juilliard School in dance and choreography, works with underprivileged youth in Santa Ana, leading a progressive dance education program that goes beyond the art of movement. Many of Saint Joseph Ballet’s students come from struggling families, and some are considered at risk of falling into gangs. With her coaching and the help of a pre-collegiate mentoring and scholarship component, most of Saint Joseph Ballet’s students graduate high school and go on to college.

What she hopes to be doing 10 years:
“Let me be surrounded by even more kids and alumni making their way to more ample lives through the arts. I hope to be called to help other sprouting organizations inspired by the success of our model.”

Chris D’Amico, 37
Chief Creative Officer, DraftFCB, Orange County
Since 2004, D’Amico has played a key role in advancing the creative work produced by the Orange County office of DraftFCB, a global marketing communication firm that handles Taco Bell and Kaiser Permanente, among other accounts. His involvement with Taco Bell’s Talking Lions and Fourthmeal campaigns has propelled the brand into pop culture. Up next: reintroducing the American icon Smokey Bear with a “Get Your Smokey On” campaign. He is presently learning the fine art of balancing fatherhood, work and finding time to surf.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“Ten years is a very long time in advertising. Hopefully, I will be lucky enough to still be a creative force in this corner of the communications sandbox.”

Mark Kern, 39
President and CEO, Red 5 Studios
Kern co-founded Red 5 Studios, a game development company headquartered in Aliso Viejo and Shanghai, after working at Blizzard Entertainment for almost 8 years, where he headed the team that created World of Warcraft, the world’s most-played online game. He and 2 of his WoW teammates broke out on their own in 2005 to form Red 5 Studios and have been creating their own popular games ever since.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I want to be right here at Red 5, building the future of online games – with the success and means to pursue our own unique creative vision.”

Jordan Brandman, 28
Trustee, Anaheim Union High School District
In February, Brandman won a special election, making him the youngest trustee currently elected to the Anaheim Union High School District. He also serves on the Public Utilities Board in Anaheim. He previously worked for 2 governors in Sacramento as an environmental planner, and also served as the workforce development director for the Orange County Business Council.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I want to serve the parents, students and taxpayers of my school district the best way I can, for as long as I can. As for the future, I’ll be mindful and prayerful about where God may want to lead me.”

Meghan Kelley, 28
Women’s Lifestyle and Swim Designer for Oakley
Kelly graduated from Cornell University in 2001 and relocated to Huntington Beach last year. Her first designs for Oakley will hit stores in fall 2008, and the spring 2009 swimwear collection is gaining attention. She plays beach touch football in the OC Sport and Social League, and for the A division of the Orange County Women’s Soccer League.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I see myself continuing to do what I love, design with either an expanding role at Oakley, or perhaps exploring my own sportswear collection.”

Luke Allen, 26
Founder, Gemini Studios
Allen started his business at age 20, just a couple of years out of high school, and built it into the largest music rehearsal facility in OC, with annual sales of about $250,000, and total gross sales of more than $1 million. Among the bands to come through Gemini are Thrice, Atreyu, A Static Lullaby, Beautiful Mistake and Hellogoodbye.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I will always be an entrepreneur who plays music and is an avid student of life.”

Tal Golan, 39
President and Chief Technical Officer, Sendio, Inc.
Golan is the reason why some of us can check our inbox without seeing another Viagra email. The Sendio I.C.E. Box gets rid of spam without a filter and uses Sender Address Verification.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“Playing rock and roll with my band, in between extended travel with my wife and children.”

Roger Lloyd, 37
Partner, Play N Trade Franchise, Inc.
Starting as a Play N Trade video game franchisee, Lloyd has spent the last 4 years building a brand with the Play N Trade team, helping the company grow from fewer than 10 stores to more than 140 in the U.S. He maintains a balanced life, is happily married to his wife, Karin, and has studied martial arts for 8 years.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to combine my 2 passions, martial arts and business. My objective is to own a martial arts school with multiple locations. I want to teach and develop people using my core values to success, including both physical and mental awareness.”

Jennifer Cagle, 38
Senior Financial Advisor, The Keller Group Investment Management, Inc.
Cagle manages more than $200 million for clients, and she’s helped develop innovative programs aimed at helping women through transitions, such as divorce or widowhood. She’s also a founding member of Women Looking Forward, a new fundraising partner of Orange County United Way.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I love the clients I work with, so I hope to continue working with them, and to spend lots of time playing with my daughter at the beach.”

Kerry Shih, 31
Chief Strategist and Founder,
Communicado, Inc.

The founder of a company whose products manage converged-voice/data networks for more than 400 businesses, including Allergan, Shih isn’t a stranger to technology. He created a way for financial institutions to use debit cards over IP-based networks and developed the successful voice management system, VXTracker.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“Another exciting startup company.”

Neel Grover, 37
CEO, Buy.com
Grover leads Buy.com, an online shopping environment that offers more than 5 million products. (You may have seen the company’s television ad spots featuring Howie Mandel.) He also launched Buy.com’s Garage Sale service on Facebook, which lets users buy and sell items on their profile pages.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to be leading Buy.com as the biggest e-commerce company, leveraging strategic partnerships, capitalizing on key trends in online retailing and ensuring universal value-oriented shopping for anything
consumers want to buy.”

Shally Zomorodi, 30
Reporter and Co-anchor, “DayBreak OC”
As co-anchor and reporter for KDOC-TV’s “DayBreak OC,” the only televised Orange County morning news show, Zomorodi has been integral in the show’s overall development. Because of her passion for producing, she has recently been made features managing editor. This first-generation Persian-American is dedicated to her community and has helped raise money for a variety of causes.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“OC is my home, and I would be honored to continue serving my community right here… I hope to continue creating original content for film and television.”

Robyn Moder, 33
Co-founder and Executive Vice President, WPT Studios
At age 26, Moder was given the opportunity to launch WPT Studios. Since then, her studio has produced 6 seasons of the World Poker Tour, a global sports phenomenon. She’s also created a World Poker Tour women’s league and established several partnerships with well-known charities.

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I’m not sure I could have told you 10 years ago that I would have spent the last 6 years launching and growing a global sports sensation. I can’t tell you exactly where I’ll be, but I hope to be creating and building something somewhere.”

Torin Pavia, 36
CEO and Chairman, Arbitech
Pavia’s USC master’s thesis turned into a business that rakes in $180 million in revenue. Now teaching entrepreneurship at his alma mater, he passes on the wisdom from starting his own company and working in the global computer-distribution market.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“Saving companies millions and teaching.”

Reza Khorramian and Sunny Rajab, 37 & 27
President and CEO, Business Communications Solutions
Originally from Iran, this power couple has built a $4 million business providing communication services for companies nationwide.

What they hope to be doing in 10 years:
“Retired and traveling the world.”

Kathleen Johnson and Isabella Velicogna, 33 & 38
Assistant Professors, Earth System Science, UC Irvine
UC Irvine’s Department of Earth System Science has appointed these 2 women to be part of a 5-person team in studying abrupt climate change – specifically, the role of oceans and glaciers. Johnson is a geochemist and Velicogna is a geophysicist.

What they hope to be doing in 10 years:
• Johnson: “I hope to be leading an active research group at UC Irvine that continues to address important questions about the Earth’s climate. In addition, I look forward to seeing the future success of…students who I have taught and mentored.”

• Isabella: “I love my job, and I hope I will still be doing exciting research.”

Brad Davidson, 32
Co-founder, Synergy Training Center; Olympic bobsled hopeful
Davidson specializes in performance enhancement and corrective exercise, working with clients from stroke victims to NFL athletes. He has found a niche in spinal care, successfully working with patients who suffer from disc derangement, scoliosis, stenosis and spondylolisthesis. He’s also hoping to compete with the 2010 U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“Holding the hands of young individuals, inspiring and guiding them to go in the direction of dreams that were mistaken to be unreachable.”

Susan S. Huang MD, MPH, 36
Medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention; assistant professor, UC Irvine School of Medicine
Dr. Huang is an infectious diseases physician who leads the Infection Control team at UC Irvine in performing surveillance, policy development, education and prevention of health-care-associated infection. She also leads a research team in studying highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria, with a major focus on MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

What she hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to be celebrating the eradication of MRSA and researching innovative ways to reduce disease due to other problematic antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

Dan Vittone, 34
Senior Vice President, Voit Commercial Brokerage
Vittone is recognized within the commercial real estate market – he was noted as one of the top brokers in the company last year and continues to serve many private and institutional investors across the country. He has ranked among the company’s top producers for the last 2 years.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to have my own commercial real estate firm syndicating capital from private and institutional investors. Also, I hope to potentially cater my business to my affinity for travel by investing in commercial properties overseas.”

John Hamilton Jr., 36
Partner, Corporate Group, Rutan & Tucker LLP
Hamilton is one of the youngest attorneys to be named a partner at Rutan & Tucker. He represents small- and middle-market companies in all aspects of their businesses, including day-to-day corporate governance activities, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to still be representing successful and cutting-edge companies and entrepreneurs at work, and to still be actively involved in the lives of my 4 children at home.”

Traci Arntsen and Troy Arntsen, 33 & 37
Founders, Voluspa Candles
Celebrities like Katherine Heigl and Halle Berry can’t get enough of the Arntsens’ candles and home fragrances. They invested $3,000 into the now internationally known Voluspa, growing it into a company with more than 350 products and yearly sales of up to $10 million.

What they hope to be doing in 10 years:
“Founding new brands, a charitable foundation, and continuing to grow Voluspa through expanded distribution and retail stores.”

Stephen Chu, 28
Principal and owner, Flight Bistro & Social Lounge and Terra Powersports
flightoc.com; terrapowersports.com
Though still in his 20s, Chu is a seasoned entrepreneur. Already a successful owner of an auto-and motorcycle-parts company, he decided to try something new and opened his own restaurant in Huntington Beach. His vision was to create a one-of-a-kind destination, offering a contemporary setting for casual entertaining with Asian- and Italian-inspired small-plate dishes, an excellent wine list and an environmentally friendly atmosphere.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope my entrepreneurial endeavors afford me more time to do the simple things I used to do, like enjoying the beach, getting more exercise or just spending time with my family.”

Rick Smetanka, 40
Partner, Haskell & White LLP
One word comes to mind when describing Smetanka: generous. As partner at Haskell & White, he develops plans with clients to benefit nonprofits, offers discounted services for nonprofits, guides publicly traded companies through increasingly complex regulations, and is leading the expansion of the firm to San Diego.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I will continue training the next generation of CPAs, helping nonprofit and for-profit clients and boards develop and implement sustainable business models, and finding new ways to be significant.”

Jereme Snyder, 30
Vice President, Sperry Van Ness, Irvine office
Snyder has worked in commercial real estate brokerage for the past 7 years, and last year, he completed 17 transactions for a value of $200 million dollars, making him the No. 6 broker out of 900 Sperry Van Ness agents across the nation. This is not a small feat, especially during a real estate slowdown.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“With the current market conditions, I am very focused on my short term goals – adding value to my clients by helping them achieve maximum value for the sale of their properties, and also being a resource for new property acquisitions.”

Gavin Tucker, 34
President and Owner, Apira Science
Owner and Operator, Fearless Yachts Southern California
(by Porsche Design Studio)

Tucker holds the exclusive license in Southern California to sell the first luxury speedboats custom designed by Porsche Design Studio. On the horizon: a 68-foot flagship that will be the fastest, most-luxurious yacht in the world. But that’s not Tucker’s only business interest – he formed Apira Science in 2004 to promote the Revage 670 laser, clinically proven to stop hair loss and foster re-growth.

What he hopes to be doing in 10 years:
“I hope to be continuing to try to help people who are suffering with medical issues, and continue to push myself to the edge of my own abilities, personally and professionally.”


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