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Forecast: Diverse LJ group will make a mark in ’09

Editor’s note: With the new year ahead of us, the Light decided to give readers a peek into the possibilities that stand before us. We’re looking at the future with an eye to what some of our community, business and cultural leaders could contribute in the coming months.

By Dave Schwab and Kathy Day

Staff Writers

Longtime business owner Jennifer Clark stands a chance to be a reasoned and quiet leader among local business people as she takes her seat next week on the Promote La Jolla board of directors. As the largest vote-getter by far in the recent election, she’ll be looked to as the leader of the new majority leading the local business improvement district. Having owned Maudlin Interiors for 15 years, she certainly knows the Village. As a mother of three, she’s probably pretty good at working out disputes. And in her campaign statements, she said that “during this difficult time in our economy, it is more important than ever to think in new ways, to attract new customers, and to put aside old issues and arguments.”

Look for her to live up to her pledge and be a peacemaker.

Christine Forester

continues her dual life as a businesswoman and a member of President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team. She’ll be among those celebrating in the Capital on Jan. 20 when the new president takes office, although part of her time will be spent in meetings on topics ranging from urban policy and the arts to technology and government reform.

She says she can’t be specific about her part in the administration other than to say she’ll be busy and staying in La Jolla, continuing her work in developing business and marketing plans for her clients.

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Fresh off her role as vice chair of Obama’s National Finance Committee and a member of his Arts Policy Committee, look for Forester to offer up some thoughtful ideas to the new president’s team that combine her insights as a trained architect and businesswoman.

Since joining La Jolla Music Society as its president and artistic director in December 2005,

Christopher Beach

has invigorated its programming, initiated a long-range plan to expand its artistic offerings and laid the foundation for an overhaul of its administration.

With this year the Society’s 40th anniversary, he’s got a busy year ahead from producing a Summerfest he’s calling “glorious” to bringing a new mix of international talent, jazz, dance and ballet to the stage.

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While the economic challenges may slow efforts for some arts and cultural activities, look for the Beach-led Music Society to have a banner year despite the challenges. As he puts it the “mission is to bring the world to San Diego.” We think he’ll succeed.

Deb Neuman

, UCSD’s new vice chancellor for external relations, is one of those people who’s likely to stir things up - in a good way - both on campus and in the greater San Diego community in the coming year. It’s her job to raise money and the university’s reputation and keep watch on all communications and public affairs matters

With her quiet-but-engaging demeanor and experience as chief fundraising officer for CARE and vice president of corporate communications at IBM, she brings a global view to the campus. It may well pay off in the year ahead as the state budget squeeze closes in on the university system.

Look for her to put on her game face and pull in some new friends to help build awareness of the amazing things happening at UCSD and to make a lot of new friends for the campus while she’s at it.

Commercial Realtor and community activist

Trenton Bonner

broke out on his own last year, opening an independent commercial realty office in the Jewel.

A Texas native, Bonner has a well-deserved reputation as a successful promoter of community events. As current president of La Jolla Kiwanis Club and a Town Council trustee, Bonner played a leading role in raising funds for the community’s biggest annual events in 2008, including the Christmas Parade, La Jolla Half Marathon and the Kiwanis pancake breakfast.

He’s not shy about exhorting others to contribute to worthy causes and will challenge those who don’t take an active part.

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If you see him heading your way, get out your wallet and be prepared to put in some work for the community.

It’s been just over two years since

John Bolthouse

took the helm as full-time executive director of La Jolla Historical Society. In that short time, he’s helped to transform the organization, which has become proactive in fundraising to accomplish a number of ambitious goals, including the metamorphosis of historic Wisteria Cottage into the Society’s new headquarters, museum exhibit space and gift shop.

A USD grad school alum, Bolthouse worked previously as archivist at the Tailhook Association dealing with Naval carrier aviation. He also was assistant curator at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Texas and head archivist, deputy director and vice president for operations at the San Diego Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park.

He’s another working against the economic tide, but with a well-managed campaign and his strong leadership the society has already raised enough to complete the new archives storage facility.

Watch for him to find new ways to engage La Jollans in the history of the community.

Since 2003,

Richard Liekweg

has been at the helm of San Diego’s only academic medical center with its 540-bed two-hospital system. He is part of the executive team leading the implementation of a clinical strategic plan to expand and improve UCSD patient services.
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He’s one busy guy who’s intimately involved in the expansion of the medical campus, from the state-of-the-art Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center to planning for a new 125-bed inpatient addition to Thornton Hospital.

Liekweg is certain to be at the forefront of healthcare reform, in a year with a new administration and continued economic pressures. An advocate of finding new ways to provide access to quality care, he’ll play a big part as the medical center and Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Engineering work to discover novel therapeutics and technologies, and through innovative programs and solutions, not just in San Diego but beyond. And he won’t let anyone at the university forget about the potential in partnership with what he calls “La Jolla’s extraordinary research, biotech and pharmaceutical community.”

Christopher Ashley

is the new kid on the block in San Diego’s arts neighborhood. Selected to replace the legendary Des McAnuff as artistic director for La Jolla Playhouse last year after a 10-month search, he’ll be looking to put his own imprint during the theater’s 2009 season.

He brings a wealth of talent, most recently exercised as the artistic affiliate of the Manhattan Theatre Club. While in New York, he drew plaudits from the sometimes-tough critics in the Big Apple. “Xanadu,” which he directed on Broadway and then brought to the Playhouse, earned a Tony nomination.

Watch for Ashley’s mark on a dynamic lineup in the new year. He’s sure to continue the Playhouse tradition of bringing innovative theater to San Diego.

La Jolla architect

Tim Golba

graduated last year, moving up from president of La Jolla Community Planning Association to take a four-year seat on the seven-member city Planning Commission, which makes recommendations to the City Council on regional planning and land use.

As a planning commissioner, Golba has given input on development projects large and small, including approving a scaled-back plan to reconfigure Westfield UTC regional mall. He is one of those charged with guiding growth and development citywide, ensuring development is well designed and serves the public’s needs.

Gazing into his crystal ball, Golba sees cutting-edge urban design in San Diego’s planning future. “I’m seeing a lot of interest from a lot of people in using renewable materials,” he said, “and I think we’re going to be seeing more sustainable design in the future.”

He’ll be pushing for more sustainable design and forward thinking in regional planning in the coming year. Watch for him to put the pressure on as the city moves to implement its general plan.

Another person who graduated this year was longtime La Jolla community planner

Sherri Lightner

, who successfully ran a grass-roots campaign to succeed termed-out District 1 Councilman Scott Peters.

Look for her to be a leader with what she calls her “ground-up” approach to local government.

Neighborhoods stand to have a louder voice with her in the council chambers, especially with the overall change in the political dynamic of the council, which now numbers six Democrats and two Republicans under Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Lightner will have her hands full with the ongoing recession and budget cuts being pushed by the mayor. But don’t expect her to be a shrinking violet just because she’s a rookie.