Who We Are

The Cornell Alumni Association of Northern California, also known as Cornell Norcal, is an alumni volunteer run organization whose mission is to engage Cornell alumni and to celebrate the spirit of Cornell University here in Northern California.

Cornell Norcal was founded in 1979 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. We represent approximately 15,000 Cornell alumni, students, and parents across the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout our 35-year history, we have been fortunate to draw countless alumni volunteers to staff our boards of directors and to plan and host our activities.

What We Do

We bring together Cornellians. We host close to 100 events every year, including lectures, book clubs, rock climbing, happy hours and volunteer events, to name just a few. We also collaborate with Cornell University Alumni Affairs, who hosts a local listserve, CAANC-Connect, which is read by thousands of local Cornellians every day.  Alumni can post questions regarding job searches, networking, house-hunting and more to CAANC-Connect.

Cornell NorCal instituted two Cornell endowed scholarships—the Ira B. Degenhardt Tradition Fellowship and the Peter E. Lee Tradition Fellowship—both of which are managed by Cornell University. With alumni support, we fundraise and make contributions to these scholarship funds on a regular basis.  These funds allow us to award Tradition Fellowships to two deserving students from the Bay Area for each year of their four-year tenure at Cornell.

We fund and partner with CAAAN, the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network.  CAAAN is a group of 9,500 Cornell alumni who serve as enthusiastic ambassadors to prospective students and families during individidual meetings with freshman applicants, state college fairs, and local receptions for admitted and entering students. CAAAN members not only share their experiences and information about Cornell, but also help to personalize the admissions process for thousands of candidates each year.

Board of Directors

Cornell NorCal is managed by a committed group of volunteer alumni who are elected annually by our membership. Alumni serving as board members for the 2016-2017 term are as follows:

Ryan Luginbuhl, M.D., President

Dr. Ryan Luginbuhl, Arts ’03, is a physician, entrepreneur, and advisor. He is the CEO and co-founder of GovRock, the first city-designed community resilience platform to mobilize a city's population. Prior to founding his own startup, Dr. Luginbuhl was the Acting Chief Medical Officer and Director of Clinical Design and Outcomes for Acupera, a population health and care management platform, where he developed a Design Thinking-based methodology of clinical workflow development and led the teams responsible for creating and tailoring clinical workflows to client needs and ensuring improved clinical outcomes. He serves as an Advisor for Commercialization for the Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University where he works with portfolio companies. As President of Cornell NorCal, he provides leadership and direction to the organization, coordinates club activities, establishes short- and long-range objectives and goals in conjunction with the board of directors, and structures the organization to ensure continuity of leadership by providing opportunities for new leaders to develop and to be mentored.

Laura Guzman, Vice President 

Laura Guzman, CALS ’05, MBA ’14is a Vice President with WSP USA, a global engineering and professional services organization, where she is responsible for managing marketing and business development. She has over 12 years of experience as a senior operations and marketing executive in the design, technology, agriculture and non-profit sectors. She has been an active member of the Cornell alumni community since graduation, having served on local association boards and committees during her time in the New York Capital District, Washington, DC and New York City. She moved to San Francisco three years ago, and in addition to serving as a member of the Cornell NorCal Board, she currently serves as the President of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS) Alumni Association, and is an active member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women (PCCW).

Wade Pitts, Treasurer

Wade Pitts, Hotel ’94, has a successful career grounded in the fields of Wealth Management, Finance Services/Software, and Business Development. Committed to improving the industry and community, Wade is Board member/Treasurer of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Bay Area and the Chair of NorCal Financial Planning Association Conference. He is also an active member of the Guardsmen (Bay Area group dedicated to fundraising to provide summer camp experiences for at-risk youth,) and the SF Chamber of Commerce. In his spare time, Wade teaches Krav Maga, the Israeli Defense Force fighting system.

Aliza Cohen, Secretary

Aliza Cohen, ENG '04, is Corporate Counsel for Penumbra, Inc., a medical device company based in Alameda. Aliza is a first-year participant on the Cornell NorCal board, but has volunteered with CAAAN in San Francisco and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

William F. Murphy, General Counsel

William F. Murphy, JD '78, is a founding partner of Dillingham & Murphy in San Francisco.  He has served as Vice-Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the American Bar Association's General Practice Section, and is a member of the State Bar of California's Labor & Employment Law Section. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Cornell Law School Alumni Association (2001-2005).   He serves as a mediator on the Mediation Panel of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Raj Gorrepati, Director of Marketing and Membership

Raj Gorrepati, MBA ’12, is a manager of mid-market sales at Google. He's responsible for the promotion of NorCal membership and the development of strategies designed to grow the overall membership base. The Director works cross-functionally with other board members to integrate membership development strategies into club activities and communications.

Linda Lam, Director of Social Media Communications

Linda Lam, Ag '14as a young alumni in the Bay Area, is very excited to bring new energy to the board. She grew up in Hong Kong and hopes to bring more variety and diversity into Cornell NorCal. She also serves on the board of the Cornell Asian Alumni Association and leads the Cornell Dining Club. Linda is passionate about bringing people together and loves to cook. She has met some amazing and driven people in the Bay Area and is looking forward to meeting more.

Christine Moy Harmon, Director of Technology

Christine Moy Harmon, CALS '97, has lived in the Bay Area since graduating from Cornell, but is still a New Yorker at heart. She has worked in the technology and building industries, and now brings her love of marketing and education to her day job at the University of California. When not promoting and fostering continuous learning, she enjoys spending time with her family, knitting, and baked goods (creating and eating). During her first year on the board, Christine hopes to increase the efficiency of Cornell NorCal's technological systems.

Dan Herr, Co-Chair of Events Committee

Dan Herr, ENG '07, is a NorCal and Tahoe native who has worked in Private Equity since receiving his MBA in 2013. In addition to coaching basketball and facilitating Startup Weekends in his free time, Dan is passionate about tech, private investment, artificial intelligence, craft and home brewing, skiing, and the great outdoors. He is excited to help lead the events team and plan many new adventurous events as a member of the Cornell NorCal Board.

Boris Pavlovic, Co-Chair of Events Committee

Boris Pavlovic, MBA ‘14, leads DocuSign’s Executive Briefing Program. Prior to that, he spent several years with Microsoft in a variety of marketing and sales roles. Boris is excited to leverage his unique background in technology and hospitality in his role as the Events Co-Chair. He’s also looking forward to serving as the liaison between Cornell NorCal and the Johnson Club of the Bay Area. In his free time Boris enjoys running, yoga, sailing, and other outdoor activities. He’s also a wine enthusiast – a passion he considers his only vice.

Anthony Asta, Director of Events

Anthony Asta, MBA ’04has more than fifteen years of experience in software engineering management, software architecture, distributed systems design, business intelligence, data warehouses and financial management at several companies including Corning, Google and Twitter. He is currently a Software Engineering Manager at Uber, where he leads a team of Software Engineers within the Platform Engineering division.  Anthony has been involved in Cornell Norcal activities for many years and has served on the Board of Directors for nine years with a passion for organizing outdoor and athletic events.

Kate Kastenbaum, Director of Events

Kate Kastenbaum, Hotel '05 is the human resources leader at Certain, Inc., the event automation software company that helps marketers drive results from events. She serves on the board of UpStart, a Jewish innovation non-profit, is a member of the San Francisco Jewish Federation's Fellows program, delivers meals through the Jewish Family & Children Services' Chicken Soupers program and serves as co-chair of the San Mateo CAAAN committee. She looks forward to meeting you all and your pups at the new Big Red Dog meetups.

Karen Lau, Director of Events

Karen Lau, Arts '05, recently relocated to San Francisco from New York City. She currently provides tax and advisory services to multi-national corporations and globally mobile executives. Previously, she worked as a tax and wealth planning attorney for private clients. In her spare time, she is passionate about travel, health, and fitness. She is serving her first term on the Cornell NorCal board as an Events Director. 

Catherine Meng, Director of Events

Catherine Meng, B.Arch. '09, is serving her first term on the Cornell NorCal Board. As a relatively recent transplant to the Bay Area, she is excited to meet other alumni in the area and bring new ideas and energy to the events team. By day, Catherine is a practicing architect at DLR Group | Kwan Henmi, where she focuses on student housing and multi-family residential projects. By night, you can find her trying new restaurants and bars around San Francisco, enjoying concerts at the SF Symphony, or performing with her improv team in the Mission.

Pamela Morris, Director of Events

Pamela Morris, CALS ’07, has been volunteering for Cornell for 10 years as a CAAAN member and for five years on Class Council. She has spent her career in healthcare and has a personal interest in biotech and digital health/health analytics startups. Pamela also received her MBA from Berkeley Haas. In her free time, you can find Pamela hiking in the National Parks or in the canyon country of southern Utah. 

Brittany Richards, Director of Events

Brittany Richards, MBA '07, is an entrepreneur, dynamic business builder and advisor. She brings over 15 years of experience working at the crossroads of innovative new business models and existing legacy systems and thinking. Currently, she advises clients in the technology, media, and telecom on payments, treasury, and trade solutions at Citi. She is also a Managing Director at Quinn International, where she invests in seed stage companies. Prior to her current role, Brittany was a Venture Director at Citi Ventures, was Head of Corporate Development North America TTS Citi, and founded her own advisory practice. Brittany moved to San Francisco in 2014 and serves as a Director of Events for Cornell NorCal.

Jay Schurman, Director of Events

Jay Schurman, Ag '78, has a successful career grounded in the fields of Wealth Management. He relocated to California in 2006 and has been participating in Cornell NorCal events ever since. Jay looks forward to putting on networking, outdoor, and social events for the Cornell community.

Raj Uppala, Director of Events

Raj Uppala, MBA '15, is a marketing and business development professional in the technology sector with previous roles in product line management, applications and design. He is an emerging technologies enthusiast and enjoys bringing people together with similar interests. To unwind, Raj enjoys the outdoors in all shapes and forms, traveling, and taking his motorcycle out for a spin.

Xiaohua Yang, Director of Events

Xiaohua Yang, Ph.D., CALS ’12, trained as a plant scientist, has a professional interest in the sector of digital agriculture. She moved to the Bay Area in 2015 to join a startup company focused on indoor agriculture. She co-founded Euddia, a weather insurance company, in 2016 with two other Cornellians. Xiaohua is an Ambassador Expert of GMO Answers and moonlights as a docent at SFMOMA.

Victor Tancredi-Ballugera, Past President

Victor Tancredi-Ballugera, ORIE ’95, is a husband and proud father of two. This is his fifth year on the Board after serving as Secretary, Vice President and President. Victor has 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field. He is a Lucasfilm alumnus, and is interested in the It Security field. You can contact him at victor.tancredi at gmail.com.

Staci Friesel, Chair, Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network

Staci Friesel Ag ’97, has a long career as a Cornell Alumni volunteer.  She currently sits on the Cornell Trustee Council as well as the ‘C’AC (Cornell Advisory Commitee to Admissions).  For the past thirteen years, she has served in a leadership capacity for Northern California CAAAN (Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network), chairing both San Francisco and San Mateo Counties before leading Northern California as General Chair.

Are you interested in serving on the Cornell NorCal Board of Directors? Please contact us at president@cornellnorcal.com.


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