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, digital health executive, entrepreneur, and advisor. He is the CEO and co-founder of a stealth digital health startup. Prior to founding his own healthcare 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 ’14, is Chief Operating Officer for design technology consultancy, Microdesk, responsible for corporate operations and marketing. 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 just over a year ago and in addition to joining the Cornell NorCal Board, she currently serves as the Northern California representative on the CALS Alumni Association Board of Directors, and is an active member of a Cornell Senior Honor Society alumni association.
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.
Karen Siwinski, Secretary
Karen Fellowes Siwinski, Arts '95, has been self-employed in the real estate industry since 2001. Prior to that, she worked in investment banking at Thomas Weisel Partners (SF), BT Alex. Brown (NYC) and Chase Securities (NYC). She earned her MBA from Columbia Business School in 2000. She lives with her husband and three sons in San Francisco. She has been active with CAAAN for several years. This is her first year on the Cornell NorCal Board.
William F. Murphy, General Counsel
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.
Christine Marchuska, Director of Social Media Communications
Christine Marchuska, HUMEC ’02, is a second year participant on the Cornell NorCal board. She is the Director of Investor Relations for Verifone, the global leader in secure payment solutions. She has been in the Bay Area for three years now and enjoys using her social media skills to engage and grow the Cornell NorCal community.
Simon Taranto, Director of Technology
Simon Taranto, CALS '10, is a second-year participant on the Cornell NorCal Board. He is a Software Engineer at BackerKit. Simon recently moved from Colorado to the Bay Area and is focusing on creating an effective and easy to use technology platform to help Cornellians connect.
Carolyn Strauss, Chair of Events Committee
Carolyn Strauss, MPA ’12, relocated to California in 2012 and has been participating in Cornell NorCal events ever since. In addition to serving her first term on the Cornell NorCal board, Carolyn volunteers as a troop leader and event manager for the Girl Scouts. She currently works as a Client Services Manager at a small, mission-driven startup. In her free time, Carolyn enjoys backpacking, taking French classes, and sailing her Spencer 1330.
Anthony Asta, Director of Events
Anthony Asta, MBA ’04, has 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.
Katerina Daveynis, Director of Events
Katerina Daveynis, CALS '11, is serving her first term on the Cornell NorCal board. She is currently Senior Product Manager of the Public Sector vertical at Vlocity, an industry-specific cloud software company. In addition to participating in Cornell NorCal, Katerina also volunteers with CAAAN (Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network) and Upwardly Global (an organization that helps skilled immigrant job seekers find employment). As Events Director, she is looking forward to organizing events centered around two of her passions, technology and community service.
Rosemary J. Fantozzi, Director of Events
Rosemary J. Fantozzi, MILR ’09 is a second year member on the Cornell NorCal board. Rosemary has a passion for people operations and quality affordable healthcare. She is currently part of the Revenue and Partnerships team at LinkedIn. Before Revenue, she led a dynamic HR path in talent acquisition for product launches, project management for Corporate Development & Strategy, HR Business Partner consulting, and Labor Relations. She also volunteers with The Last Mile and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area.
Jeremy Goodwin, Director of Events
Jeremy Goodwin, BS ILR ’96, has more than fifteen years of experience in international finance and served on the boards of directors of several NASDAQ listed companies in senior management roles. Previously based in Hong Kong, London and Beijing, he moved back to his native California to found SYNCFAB - an on demand design and local manufacturing platform. Jeremy is a second year participant on the Cornell NorCal board.
Marina Gruber, Director of Events
Marina Gruber, JD '10, is an Attorney at Littler Mendelson P.C., specializing in Labor and Employment Law. Marina has been active with Cornell NorCal for the last four years, planning several alumni events in the Peninsula and South Bay and serving as the organization’s Secretary for two years and the Co-Chair of the events committee for one year. Marina is also active in The Club – Silicon Valley, Leading Women in Technology, and volunteers for Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County.
Dan Herr, Director of Events
Dan Herr, ENG '07, is a NorCal and Tahoe native who works in Private Equity business development since receiving his MBA in 2013. In addition to coaching high school basketball and facilitating Startup Weekends in his free time, Dan is passionate about artificial intelligence, craft and home brewing, skiing, and the great outdoors. He is excited to plan many new adventurous events as a member of the Cornell NorCal Board.
Linda Lam, Director of Events
Linda Lam, Ag '14, as 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.
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.
Avina Sun, Director of Events
Avina Sun, MPS ’12, is a first-year participant on the Cornell NorCal board. She is excited to work with other members and bring more diversity to the community. She is currently working for OceanIQ Partners, a new venture based in Silicon Valley. Avina is primarily involved in sourcing and analyzing capital deal flow and business development globally. Previously she worked for a national agency as a social media coordinator in the press office. In working with the national agency she also facilitated business exchange between the U.S. and China, which led to her immersion in the dynamic world of tech startups. During her leisure time, she likes to swim, cook and explore the hidden corners of the Bay Area with friends.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.