The Manex Board of Directors is one of the company’s strongest assets. As a group, our board members have backgrounds that represent diverse aspects of manufacturing, distribution, and supply chains.

Steve Tessler – Chairman of the Board

Executive Vice President and Director of Sales for California Bank of Commerce

Steve Tessler is a long time Manex board member and has been associated with numerous economic development and manufacturing causes in California.  His financial and bank acumen bring rigor to the board as well as his tireless pursuit of promoting and developing both Made In America and Made In California. Mr. Tessler reports to the Chief Executive Officer of California Bank of Commerce (CBC) and is a member of CBC’s Executive Management Committee. He joined CBC in August 2007. Before joining CBC, Mr. Tessler spent three years as Manager of Business Development and Marketing for Diablo Valley Bank. As a member of the management team, he spearheaded sales and marketing while helping the bank grow to nearly $250,000,000 in assets in just over three years. Mr. Tessler has also worked for City National Bank, CivicBank of Commerce and Wells Fargo Bank. In addition, he has ten years of public accounting experience with a focus on serving the diverse needs of small to mid-market companies.

Gene Russell

President and CEO of Manex

Gene Russell is President and CEO of Manex and has over 30 years of senior executive strategic planning, operational management, and consulting experience in the manufacturing and technology sector. With his extensive knowledge of manufacturing operations, he has developed and implemented key strategic initiatives for companies, allowing them to improve performance and achieve profitable growth. He has a strong background in sales and business development and a keen understanding of manufacturing strategies in the global environment. Prior to joining Manex, Mr. Russell served as CEO of Pilgrim Home and Hearth, where he restructured operations in the U.S. and China, diversified and revamped product lines, expanded distribution channels domestically and internationally, and developed a management team to produce record results. Mr. Russell’s previous experience also consists of key leadership roles with a variety of manufacturing and technology firms, including Oregon Scientific, Haier America, SOS Wireless Communications, SDI Technologies and AT&T. Mr. Russell holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Juliana Choy Sommer

President and Founder of Priority Architectural Graphics

Juliana Choy Sommer is the President of Priority Architectural Graphics in San Francisco.  The company designs, manufactures, and installs custom quality architectural signage for the transportation, multi-family housing, government infrastructure and corporate interior sectors.  Ms. Sommer founded the company in 1995 as a nameplate manufacturer. Prior to joining the board of Manex, she has served as Board Chair of the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA and the Chair of the Asian American Contractors Association, both of San Francisco.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in Political Science.

Bassam EL-Fahmawi, Ph.D.

CEO & CTO of Mawi DNA Technologies

Bassam EL-Fahmawi, Ph.D. is the founder and CTO of Mawi DNA Technologies, a growth-stage medical device company working at the front lines of the COVID-19 battle and developing unique solutions and technologies for biological sample collection. A scientist and entrepreneur, Dr. El-Fahmawi has more than 25 years of experience in the genomics sample preparation market and is best known for inventing Mawi’s core iSWAB technology for non-invasive, room temperature-stable sample collection and stabilization. He also developed HemaSure-OMICs for whole blood, enabling multi-OMIC analysis from a single sample. Early on in his career, Dr. El-Fahmawi led the commercialization of nucleic acid purification technologies at both Beckman Coulter Genomics (formerly Agencourt) and Corning, and he has published several patents for simplifying nucleic acid purification and sample collection.

Dr. EL-Fahmawi currently serves as an advisor for Boutique Venture Partners, Alphaworks, MenaDNA and a mentor in the Canadian entrepreneurs in life science – San Francisco chapter. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Alberta, and was recently awarded the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his accomplishments.

Hale Foote

President and Owner of Scandic Springs

Hale Foote is the President and Owner of Scandic Springs in San Leandro, the largest stamping and spring company in Northern California. Scandic was founded in 1969 and has a worldwide customer base of industry leaders in the electronics, medical, and automotive industries.  Mr. Foote joined Scandic in 1991, after a career practicing law in Washington, DC.  In addition to the Manex board, he serves on the national board of the Precision Metalforming Association and the board of The Bishop’s Ranch in the Episcopal Diocese of California.  He received an A.B. degree in Literature and a law degree, both from Georgetown University, and was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar.

Kathleen Gonzales

President and CFO, Vintage 99 Label Mfg., Inc.

Kathleen Gonzales is president and CFO of Vintage 99 Label Mfg., Inc., a wine label manufacturing company with locations in the East Bay and Sonoma County. Kathleen has over 30 years of experience in the corporate world. She has held management positions for large corporations such as Safeway, Charles Schwab and Ross Stores. She developed corporate policies and procedures, including accounting/finance, customer credit, and customer service and plant operation policies. Additionally, Ms. Gonzales has a broad background in system implementation and integration, accounting, human resource management and compliance. She brings her expertise to the manufacturing sector by leading Vintage 99 towards sustained growth for over 20 years in a competitive industry.

Bruce Kern

Executive Director of the Economic Development Alliance for Business

Bruce Kern has over 40 years in economic and business development serving in executive positions at both the local and state governmental levels. He was the founding Director of the East Bay’s Economic Development Alliance and for the last 20 years has been a leader in promoting job growth and investment in both Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Mr. Kern is the incoming Chairman of the state-wide California Association for Local Economic Development representing over 800 members, including many California cities, counties and community development corporations. He is also the vice chairman of Northern California’s Manex Board providing technical support and resources for manufacturers, and is a member of the United Way of the Bay Area’s Community Investment Committee. In 1998 he was the recipient of the “Golden Bear Award” for his outstanding contributions to the economic development profession in California.

George Lotti

Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary of Heat and Control, Inc.

George Lotti is the Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary for Heat and Control, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of food processing and packaging equipment systems. He brings over 17 years of financial leadership and expertise in Manufacturing and Consulting, driving financial performance and prudent business practices. Prior to joining Heat and Control, Inc., Mr. Lotti worked with Hood & Strong LLP in their audit and tax department. Mr. Lotti is also on the Board of Trustees for CMTA boilermaker Employee Trust Board of Directors and is on the Board of Directors for Unconditional Love Animal Rescue and Placement. He holds a BS in Accounting from Santa Clara University.

Mark Martin, Ph.D.

Regional Director, Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development at Laney College 

Mark Martin, Ph.D. has over 25 years experience in manufacturing and engineering, including product development, manufacturing and design research, teaching, and workforce development – at the high school, community college, university, and professional development levels. His product design and manufacturing expertise focused on methods for designing and developing new products. Dr. Martin has worked in the medical device field developing electro-mechanical products, as well as founding and running an educational and consulting company focused on product development and manufacturing. His specialties include engineering program management – balancing technical, schedule, and budget constraints in the design of products; project forecasting, scheduling, and management of milestones from initial concept through production; product development process;  manufacturing processes; and cross-functional experience (working in research, marketing, sales, engineering, manufacturing, quality, regulatory, finance).

PJ Quesada

Vice President and Treasurer of Ramar Foods

PJ Quesada is Vice President and Treasurer of Ramar Foods, a 3rd generation family owned and operated specialty food manufacturer. Mr. Quesada oversees all operations including manufacturing, logistics, compliance, and expansion. He is the Co-founder and Chairman of the Filipino Food Movement, a non-profit focused on promoting Filipino cuisine. He enjoys cooking cuisines from around the world and has a natural love for Southeast Asian cuisine, most notably Filipino.  Mr. Quesada received a bachelor of science degree in Strategic Business Management from John F. Kennedy School of Management and graduated with honors. In 2013 and 2014, he served as the President of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Kevin Thorne

VP of Global Operations and Service for Mizuho OSI

Kevin Thorne joined Mizuho OSI in 2015 with responsibility for manufacturing operations, materials management, logistics and facilities. Mr. Thorne began his career in healthcare as director of materials at ADAC Laboratories where he negotiated national service agreements for diagnostic imaging equipment. He continued to lead teams in the medical device business as Vice President of Customer Care at Carl Zeiss Meditec. In seven years, he expanded his responsibilities from all processes after product delivery to global service strategy development and deployment to 25 affiliate countries as Vice President of Global Customer Support functions for the company.  A submarine officer for seven years, Mr. Thorne has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Ships Propulsion from the United States Naval Academy.

Alec Tulkoff

Vice President of Operations for Tulkoff Food Products West

Alec Tulkoff is Vice President of Operations for Tulkoff Food Products West, a premier private label manufacturer of specialty condiments and sauces in the foodservice industry. Tulkoff Food Products West has been family owned and operated for eight decades and four generations. Its corporate headquarters are in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1997, a distribution and manufacturing facility was opened in Pittsburg, California. Mr. Tulkoff has led operations on the west coast since 2006 and successfully guided the company through changes to safety requirements in the food industry. Under his leadership the company has attained Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) compliance under BRC Global Standards and Safe Quality Food (SQF) standards.

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