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 2018-2019 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 '14, is Senior Vice President, National Director of Marketing and Business Development with WSP USA, a global engineering and professional services organization, where she is responsible for leading marketing strategy and business development for the U.S. property and buildings practice. She has over 13 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 has lived in San Francisco with her husband (also a Cornell grad) for over four years now, and in addition to serving as a member of the Cornell NorCal Board, she currently serves as the Past-President / Northern California representative of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS) Alumni Association, and a member of the Cornell University Council and President’s Council of Cornell Women (PCCW).


Raj Uppala, Vice President of Events

Raj Uppala, MBA '15, is a product management, marketing and investment professional with a focus on emerging technologies. He co-founded NimbusRay to develop IoT and Virtual Reality solutions, and held prior roles in product line management, marketing and design engineering. He is also a Fellow at Triphammer Ventures, a VC firm that co-invests in Cornell alumni led startup’s. Raj is serving his third year on the Cornell Norcal board, and is thrilled to be a part of the dynamic events team that brings the local Cornell Community together. To unwind, Raj enjoys the outdoors in all shapes and forms, DIY projects, travel, and taking his motorcycle out for a spin.


Dan Herr, Vice President of Marketing & Membership

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.


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.


Alison Harrigan, Secretary

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.


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.


Michelle Wan, Director of Technology

Michelle Wan, BS '15, Software Manager at Workday, leads a dynamic development team to build a planning solution that enables customers to better plan, execute, and analyze across the enterprise all in one system. Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Cornell University.


Jessica Lin, Director of Social Media Communications

Jessica Lin, BS '12, studied biomedical engineering at Cornell. She is currently enjoying her time in the educational tech space where she teaches blockchain development at Udacity. Previously, she helped develop and deploy enterprise healthcare technologies as well as taught Android development. When not tinkering with computers, you’ll likely find Jessica training for her next Muay Thai fight.


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.


 

Boris Pavlovic, Director of Events

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.


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.


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. In her free time, Catherine enjoys trying new bars and restaurants in the city, taking her dog on walks at Ocean Beach, and hosts the Design Voice Podcast, which features women in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. This is her second 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.


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, yoga and running. She is serving her second term on the Cornell NorCal board as an Events Director.


Kelly Eng, Director of Events

Kelly Eng, is a financial advisor and specializes in comprehensive advising for families and business owners. She institutes the uncommon financial strategies of the wealthiest 10% of the population and help people build more wealth with less risk, have better access to their money, pay less taxes over their lifetimes, and protect themselves better along the way. Kelly previously worked in institutional portfolio management and has found working directly with people much more fulfilling.  Kelly was born and raised in New York City and has lived in San Francisco for a long time. In her free time, you will find her traveling, organizing charity and other events, spending time with family and friends, and dancing hip hop and salsa.


Pamela Morris, Director of Events

Pamela Morris, CALS '07, lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and loves putting on events from Cornell that are family friendly and/or located in the East Bay. She has been active as an alum of Cornell for more than 10 years, meeting with hundreds of applicants through CAAAN and serving on Class Council. As an undergrad she studied Biology in CALS, and went on to get her MBA at Berkeley Haas. Professionally, she works in health tech in SF. In her spare time, Pamela and her husband are on a mission to visit all 59 National Parks in the US (27 down so far)!


Sally Shi, Director of Events


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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