1. LIBBY DUANE ADAMS
Chief advocacy officer, co‑founder, Alteryx
In 1997, Adams co-founded Alteryx, whose worldwide customers now include AT&T, Walmart and McDonald’s. As one of the few female founders of a tech company that has successfully gone public (it’s current market cap is $3.5 billion), she makes sure Alteryx puts diversity and inclusion into practice.
2. MIKAELA ARROYO
Director, New Home Trends Institute
As director of the New Home Trends Institute, Arroyo talks to homeowners, architects, developers and designers to learn exactly what people love (and don’t love) about their homes. Armed with that knowledge, she helps guide residential construction to solve problems and meet desires.
3. LAURA BOURDEANU
Vice president, OncoGambit
Bourdeanu, an oncology medical provider, co-founded OncoGambit, which connects cancer patients with the most up-to-date and customized information on treatments. This platform provides personal treatment reports backed by scientific evidence from more than 1,100 cancer experts. “There is never enough accurate information for people with cancer,” says Bourdeanu, who says her firm’s research helps both doctors and patients save precious time.
4. MARY CHEVAL
Principal, Ware Malcomb
Cheval oversees the Interior Architecture & Design Studio for Ware Malcomb, an award-winning international design firm. Clients include Toyota Financial Services, Thales Avionics and Karma Automotive. “Organizations should actively support the idea of well-being and understand the connection between wellness and business success,” she says.
5. KEMAL CURIC
Global design director for the Lincoln Motor Co.
After redesigning the 2015 Ford Mustang and 2017 Lincoln Continental, Curic designed the 2019 Lincoln Aviator, named “best American luxury car in a generation” by Road & Track. He calls the Lincoln design studio in Irvine home, adding, “This is probably the most successful automotive studio powerhouse in the world right now.”
6. MATILDE DE SANTIAGO
Program coordinator, Irvine Ranch Conservancy
Five minutes with De Santiago will completely change your next hike. You’ll know which plants have the best aroma, which have medicinal value, and which you can eat. She spends her days studying native plants and providing opportunities for the community to enjoy the 30,000 acres of open space managed by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.
7. BRIANNE FORD
Chief technology officer, Irvine Unified School District
Under Ford’s watch, IUSD students design and build their own robots; they peer into virtual human hearts with VR glasses; and they use green screens to film and edit their own films. Technology encourages their curiosity, the Stanford alumna says, and increases the chances they’ll become lifelong learners.
8. MARY GARRETT
Managing partner, Ernst & Young OC office
A Woodbridge High alumna, Garrett leads a team of over 500 professionals for Ernst & Young, the county’s second-largest accounting firm by employee count. She works with national and global clients on IPOs, mergers, acquisitions and international expansion. “Our philosophy is to build a better working world, using innovation to bring value to our clients,” she told the Orange County Business Journal.
9. DR. STEVE GOLDSTEIN
Vice chancellor of health affairs, UCI
Goldstein leads a team of 11,000 people that includes UC Irvine’s College of Health Sciences, UCI Medical Center, UCI Health – and a coming $1.2 billion medical complex. Thanks in part to this system, Goldstein says, “Irvine residents have access to care that is provided only at the best institutions in the world.”
10. & 11. GINA AND JENAE HEITKAMP
Co-creators, Nickelodeon’s ‘Middle School Moguls’
The Heitkamp sisters launched their hit Nickelodeon TV show, “Middle School Moguls,” in 2019 after Gina hatched the idea in a UC Irvine MBA class and developed it at UCI Beall Applied Innovation’s incubator program for entrepreneurs. They’ve since launched a kids’ book at Toys R Us and promise “exciting things” in 2022.
12. NOAH KERNER
Serial entrepreneur Kerner co-founded Acorns to help novice investors create wealth by automatically investing small change from everyday credit card purchases. “We are putting the tools of wealth-making in everyone’s hands,” he says. Investors range from Jennifer Lopez to investment firms Black-Rock and Comcast Ventures.
13. AVIKA PATEL
Author, speaker, student
After excelling at Irvine public schools, Patel now attends Stanford, where she directs a group of student entrepreneurs and co-founded a workshop teaching high school girls computer-science skills. She’s already written two books and been named a Mars Generation 24 Under 24 leader.
14. JOHN PHAM
CEO and co-founder, InBrace
Pham uses aerospace technology to create braces that work without being seen. InBrace fits behind the teeth, and its memory wire (used in satellites) straightens teeth with minimal adjustment. InBrace’s novel approach has already raised $175 million from investors.
15. LEANNE PIETRASINSKI
Co-owner, Honey & Butter Macarons
This popular Irvine Spectrum Center bakery has been serving up never-before-seen (or tasted) macarons since 2016. Its 175K Instagram followers watch to see what special pop-culture collaborations Leanne and her co-owner husband, Pawel, will dream up next. In-season specialties include Asian-inspired flavors like durian, mango and passion fruit, rotated with bestsellers like Milk & Honey, Enchanted Berries, Oreo and Fruity Pebbles.
16. MATT PRINCE
Sr. manager of PR & brand experience, Taco Bell Corp.
Prince has contributed to several cultural phenomena emanating from the company’s global headquarters in Irvine: from Taco Bell weddings to the taco emoji. He also mentors young marketing and communications professionals and has created a resource, netnetsynergy.com, to help them break into the industry.
17. DAVID RELYEA
Director of data science, BlackBerry
After earning degrees at both Caltech and Princeton, Relyea now supervises research and development at BlackBerry, which creates software that uses artificial intelligence to stop cybersecurity threats. This software is used by all G7 nations, all leading commercial banks and nine of the top 10 automotive manufacturers.
18. KENNY RUETER
Executive chairman and co‑founder, Kajabi
In 2010, Kenny Rueter built his kids a homemade water toy, which sparked the idea for Kajabi, a platform for entrepreneurs to sell their expertise online. Last year, Kajabi users sold nearly $3 billion in goods and services, while Rueter’s company was listed among Inc. magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private companies for the sixth consecutive year.
19. ROBERT SANTANA
CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast
Santana has updated five local Boys & Girls Clubs, including Irvine’s, with a host of modern amenities like STEM classrooms, rock-climbing walls, drone obstacle courses and robot competitions. “We’re developing the next generation of leaders,” he says, “so it’s important that we ensure these kids are well-rounded.”
20. RJ SCARINGE
Founder and CEO, Rivian
In 2009, Scaringe, just 26, and his dad took out second mortgages to raise the initial funds for Rivian. Now his electric-vehicle company is being hailed as the next Tesla. The charismatic CEO, who calls Irvine home, has vowed to set aside 1% of Rivian’s stock for projects that address climate change and biodiversity crises.
21. NOELLE SMILEY
Assistant chief, Irvine Police Department
Smiley oversees one of most technologically advanced, safest cities in America. The assistant chief has enjoyed a decorated career since joining the department in 2000, including a Meritorious Service Award and a Community Service Award. She holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from UC Irvine.
22. RU WEERASURIYA
Co-founder, Ready At Dawn
After a successful run with Blizzard Entertainment, Weerasuriya co-founded Ready At Dawn, turning out virtual reality hits like “Lone Echo.” He’s now joined forces with Facebook’s Oculus, thanks to Irvine, he says: “I will tell you, the gaming industry in Irvine is one of the strongest anywhere. Our acquisition by Facebook reaffirms that.”