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 2019-2020 term are as follows:

Alison Harrigan, President

Alison Harrigan, SHA '10, is a Senior Associate at Korn Ferry Executive Search, where she specializes in working with travel, hospitality & leisure companies on executive recruitment and talent consulting. Prior to Korn Ferry, Alison worked for The Ritz-Carlton Residences and Vail Resorts Development company in Vail and Breckenridge, Colorado on the development and brokerage of luxury real estate. A Northern California native, Alison is glad to recently be back in the Bay Area after living in Colorado and New York. In her leisure time, Alison chips away at her goal to run marathons in all 50 states and read all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels.

Brittany Richards, Vice President

Brittany Richards, MBA '07, is an entrepreneur, dynamic business builder andadvisor. 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. 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.

George Israel, Treasurer

Laura Bloch, Secretary

Laura Bloch, Arts ‘88, works as an attorney, property manager, and manager of two teenagers. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and now lives in San Francisco. In addition to serving as secretary for Cornell NorCal, her Cornell volunteering includes serving as a CAAAN ambassador as well as the Class of ‘88 membership chair and reunion registration chair. 

Ryan Delaney, General Counsel

Ryan Delaney, JD '13, LLM '13, is currently the General Counsel at Fig, a tech startup that publishes and crowdfunds video games, where he has a particular interest in securities matters and corporate governance. Earlier, he worked at the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Palo Alto, and prior to law school Ryan worked at another startup, Main Street Hub (acquired by GoDaddy). Ryan is excited to serve in his first year on the Board and continue to meet more Cornellians in the area.

Leo Mehr, Director of Technology

Leo Mehr, BS '16, is currently working as a software engineer at Sisu Data, a small startup in SF. He founded a Cornell CS Alumni group that has 500 members and is active in creating regular alumni events. In the past, he has worked at Google, Cisco, and a high-frequency trading firm in NYC. He is currently completing an MS in Computer Science at Stanford but fondly reminisces about his time at Cornell.

Elise Mun, Director of Social Media

Elise Mun, Hotel '18 is a Customer Success Manager at a Digital Marketing Software company in Santa Clara. During her time at Cornell, she primarily focused her studies on Services, Marketing, and Operations Management. A Saratoga native, Elise enjoys searching for the best foodie spots in the Bay Area on the weekends and snapping pics for her Instagram page. She looks forward to serving on the board and encourages members to share their #CornellNorCal moments on Instagram and Facebook!

Mari Abe, Director of Communications

Mari Baker, Arts '03, helps brands build trust with audiences they care about most. As SVPat Peppercomm, she helps clients navigate across integrated disciplines including branding, digital, and both internal and external communications. Prior to joining Peppercomm, she worked on lifestyle and consumer accounts at Dentsu Communications. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling and horseback riding. 

Michael Sutyak, Director of Marketing & Membership

Michael Sutyak, Engineering ‘09, is an entrepreneur and advisor that has centered his career around building and scaling startups in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He has more than 10 years of experience as a growth and product thought leader, working primarily in the B2C technology space. Michael founded and currently runs the Format Agency, a company focused on content generation and SEO.  Prior to that he worked for Airbnb helping to build out their Experiences business vertical, as well as Tubi TV, KIXEYE and others.  Prior companies he started include Crowdsets, a marketplace connecting musical artists and their fans, and Mobile Growth Sage, a mobile acquisition agency.

Angelo Chiu, Director of Events

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.

Catherine Meng, Director of Events

Catherine Meng, B.Arch. '09, is an architect at DLR Group | Kwan Henmi where she focuses on student housing and multi-family residential projects in the Bay Area. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Catherine has also lived in New York City, Houston, and Shanghai before moving to San Francisco. She lives in the city with her husband, also a Cornellian, their infant daughter and maltipoo. In her spare This is her third year serving as a Director of Events on the Cornell NorCal Board, and she’s excited to continue planning fun events and meeting new Cornellians in the area.

Ellen Taylor, Director of Events

Ellen Taylor, JD '16, is an attorney at Berliner Cohen, one of the largest and oldest law firms in San Jose serving the business and regulatory needs of private business and public agencies. She is looking forward to serving her first year on the Board.

Jennie Huo, Director of Events

Jennie Huo, Chemical Engineering '07, is an American Heart Association Instructor. She enjoys quality time with close friends and family, dining out on a patio with a nice Summer breeze, discovering hidden gems around the Bay Area, playing lake sports, listening to audiobooks, and travelling off the beaten path. She has been living in the Bay Area for over 8 years now and is looking forward to sharing her favorite local venues and sights in upcoming events.

Karen Lau, Director of Events 

Karen Lau, Arts '05, relocated to San Francisco from New York City. She provides tax and advisory services to multi-national corporations and and works with corporate clients to align their global mobility/talent/rewards approach to their broader business strategies, priorities and growth plans. Previously, she worked as a tax and wealth planning attorney for private clients. She is passionate about travel, health, and fitness. In her spare time, she enjoys snowboarding, golf, hiking, biking, yoga and running. She is serving her third term on the Cornell NorCal board as an Events Director.

Kevin Bassney, Director of Events

Mae Lum, Director of Events

Mae Lum, A&S '84, is Deputy Director at the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association, where she oversees the functional areas of membership, communications, and program development. Before entering nonprofit organization management, she worked in scholarly and educational publishing after earning an MA in International Relations. In her free time, Mae is an active animal rescue volunteer, deejays at a bar in downtown Oakland, and travels to all corners of the world. 

Melissa Baxter, Director of Events

Melissa Baxter, MBA'20 is the Cornell Executive MBA America's program (San Jose Boardroom), graduating in May of 2020. Currently, she is the Waste Zero Manager for San Benito County and Founder of Nothing Wasted Consulting. She is native to the Bay Area and enjoys spending time with family, traveling and working out. Her true passion is connecting with others. Melissa has strong connections to Stanford University, Graduate School of Business and finds true enjoyment in networking with others schools. She is thrilled to be about of the board and ready to plan fun filled events.  

Niru Anisetti, Director of Events

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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