The Institute’s Advisory Board consists of business professionals from the private, nonprofit, and government sectors within the region whose role is to provide counsel, and to promote, endorse, and support the Institute as we explore new and innovative opportunities locally and globally to raise the reputation of PLNU and provide expert consulting services for new and existing clients, community leaders, and government officials.


Aimee Brandt

Aimee Brandt graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a B.A. in Business Administration in 2008.  As a Sales & Marketing Operations Manager with Welk Resorts, Aimee acts as a Liaison with Corporate departments to oversee the operational functionality and effectiveness of all designated Sales and Marketing programs within the Welk Corporation.  She is tasked with assisting with the deployment of new strategic initiatives while ensuring the ethics and integrity of the business platform are supported throughout all aspects of regional operations.  Prior to Welk Resorts, she spent 7 years in Commercial Lending, most recently with First Republic Bank and Torrey Pines Bank.  Aimee’s primary responsibilities included originating and underwriting commercial real estate and business loans and fostering business banking relationships in the San Diego region.  While at Torrey Pines Bank, she developed a Credit Analyst Internship program and successfully hired several PLNU students post-graduation after completion of the internship program. As a native San Diegan, Aimee’s hobbies include coaching CrossFit, running, hiking, backpacking, traveling, snowboarding and most outdoor activities.


Mike Broyles

Mike Broyles is currently in his fourth year working in business development for Pacific Rim Mechanical; a Southern California based commercial mechanical contractor.  He has worked in the commercial real estate services industry for the past seven years and served on both IFMA (International Facilities Management Association) and SDBEA San Diego Building Engineer Association Advisory Boards in his industry.  He is honored to be serving in his fifth term on the Advisory Board for the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute at his alma mater, Point Loma Nazarene University.  Mike is passionate about mentorship and actively meets with PLNU business students to support and encourage their personal and career aspirations.

Thomas Fitzpatrick

Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick is a 2001 graduate of PLNU.  He went on to receive his Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from Loma Linda University.  After graduating from dental school in 2006, Dr. Fitzpatrick joined two established dental practices in the San Diego area.  He continually strives to provide the highest quality of dentistry in a caring environment.  Dr. Fitzpatrick dedicates numerous hours to his community and in service around the world and sits on the Board of Directors for multiple organizations.  Dr. Fitzpatrick has a passion to provide dental care for less fortunate in Sri Lanka and in Mexico and developing a self-sustainable model for providing care in Nicaragua in smaller, remote communities that don’t have regular access to care.


Greg Gibson

Greg Gibson is a creative professional dedicated to building community and making the world more awesome. As a Partner + Creative Director at Grizzly, an independent creative agency he co-founded in 2013, he has delivered creative solutions and led brand/digital strategy on projects for innovative startups, action sports leaders, and impactful non-profit organizations. As a Co-Organizer of CreativeMornings San Diego and Vice Chair of the San Diego Creative Foundation, Greg is devoted to building a strong and vibrant creative community in San Diego. A graduate in 2006 of the music program at San Diego State University, he spent many years in the San Diego music community before starting starting his career as a freelance designer and eventually as a founding partner of Grizzly in 2013. Greg is a native San Diegan and lives with his wife and son in Hillcrest. In his free time he enjoys cycling, rock climbing, camping, and enjoying San Diego's outdoor lifestyle and craft beer scene. 


Nate Heckman

Nate Heckman is a skilled marketing and business research expert based in San Diego, who is also an adjunct professor at the Fermanian School of Business. Heckman is the Principal of Stitch Marketing+Research, a private agency he started in 2006 and prior to this, he led the marketing research at TaylorMade-adidas Golf in Carlsbad, Calif. and at Fila USA's Manhattan office. His work over the years has included strategic planning/projection for Disney Consumer Products, product attribute mix prioritization for Union Bank, consumer/user in-depth interviewing  for  CO-OP Financial Services, brand equity & extension, naming  for Waxie Sanitary Supply, and much more. Heckman and his family live in Point Loma, and he is an alumnus of Point Loma Nazarene University.


Dana Irby

Dana started her career in the hotel business in 1984 with Travelodge Corporation while attending San Diego Mesa College’s Hotel/Motel Management Program. In 1985 Dana joined the Bay Club Hotel and Marina and quickly moved into the Director of Sales position at both the Bay Club and Inn by the Sea in La Jolla. In 1992, Dana joined Bartell Hotels as Director of Sales at Humphreys Half Moon Inn and Suites. Dana earned her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 1998 and has served on many national and local boards. In 2005, Dana was promoted to corporate Director of Sales for Bartell Hotels and currently oversees the international and domestic wholesale, receptive and tour operator market, major airline partners and corporate accounts. 


Andy Kotner

Adrienne ("Andy") Kotner is the West Coast Marketing and Business Development Manager for Sughrue Mion, PLLC, one of the largest and oldest intellectual property law firms in the U.S. -- headquartered in Washington, D.C. with offices in Tokyo and San Diego.  Prior to Sughrue Mion, Ms. Kotner, was the Vice President of Business Development for the World Trade Center, San Diego (2008 - 2012).  Ms. Kotner's background is credited to her undergraduate studies at Fontbonne College and Washington University. She has extensive experience from running a highly successful medical practice for over 17 years to holding the position of President of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) from 1998-2006.  In addition to being the recipient of many achievement awards, Ms. Kotner is married with two children and is an active, FAA certified, licensed pilot.


Mike Ladd

L. Michael Ladd, CFA, CAIA, CMT, CFP, is an adjunct professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, teaching investments to undergraduate students.  He is also the President & Chief Investment Officer of Financial Guidance Group, Inc., a registered investment advisor with offices in Florida and California.  Michael has been an analyst and investment manager for more than two decades and has covered a host of the world’s stock, bond and currency markets over that time. Originally from Oklahoma, he received his M.B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and, before moving to the San Diego area in 2008, was a Senior Portfolio Manager at JPMorgan and an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University.  He is married, with one child, and enjoys playing golf in his spare time.


Jim Schmid

Jim is President & CEO of Chelsea Investment Corporation. He is also an attorney with an advanced degree in tax law and has extensive experience in all areas of development and management of commercial and residential properties. During his career, his responsibilities have included project acquisition, financing, design, construction, marketing and property management of office, commercial, industrial and residential projects. He founded Chelsea Investment Corporation in 1984 and later specialized in financing and developing affordable housing. The company has developed over 7,800 units at a cost of over $1.5 billion. Its core competencies include finance, development, construction and property management services. It is also active in economic development activities utilizing New Markets Tax Credits. As CEO, Jim is responsible for management of CIC and all of its affiliated companies.


Ken Slaght

RADM Kenneth D. Slaght, USN (ret.) is the Co-Chair and President of the San Diego Cyber Center Of Excellence (CCOE) which is a public-private partnership established to coordinate and enhance the effectiveness and synergy of the regional cyber initiative, capitalizing on our unique strengths to accelerate the regional economy by creating opportunities for business, attracting and nurturing talent.

Previously RADM Slaght served as the Vice President and General Manager, Navy/Marine Corps Services Sector, General Dynamics Information Technology, responsible for providing IT services to the Navy and Marine Corps.  Prior to that he was the Commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.  He was responsible for providing information technology and space systems for naval and joint services.  Additionally, he was the chief engineer for developing, delivering and maintaining effective, capable and integrated command, control, communications, computer and intelligence systems (C4I).  He was also responsible for engineering and assessing FORCEnet, the foundation of the Seapower 21 vision.

During his naval career, RADM Slaght served as Commander of the ammunition ship USS FLINT (AE 32).  Other sea duty included tours as Executive Officer aboard the guided missile cruiser USS GRIDLEY (CG 21), Engineer Officer aboard the amphibious ship USS TULARE (LKA 112), Operations Officer aboard the frigate USS EDWARD MCDONNELL (FF 1043), and Combat Information Center Officer aboard the frigate USS GARCIA (FF 1040).

RADM Slaght received his commission in 1970 upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy.  RADM Slaght attended the Defense Systems Management College, the Naval Post Graduate School, where he received a Masters Degree in Computer Systems Management, and the Naval Destroyer School.  He currently serves on the Boards of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC), the San Diego State University Industry Advisory Board, and the Point Loma Nazarene Business School Advisory Board.


Nate Spees

Nate is an strategist, innovator, and entrepreneur dedicated to the growth and development of San Diego's creative community. Nate has spent nearly a decade delivering creative ideas and strategic application to leading start-ups, Fortune 500′s, and incredible non-profits. He currently serves as the Director of Strategy at Grizzly, as the Host & Organizer of CreativeMornings San Diego, and is the Chairman of The San Diego Creative Foundation. Nate holds an undergraduate degree in Marketing from Vanguard University and graduate degrees in Business and Public Administration. Nate is a Colorado transplant but considers San Diego home. He lives in North Park with his wife and two dogs. In his free time he enjoys frequenting local coffee shops and eateries, and exploring the beautiful outdoors. 


Leah Swearingen

Leah Swearingen, APR, is very proud to support the FBEI’s philosophy of “More than the bottom line. Business education to change the world.” Leah is a 30-year-plus marketing, public relations, and communications strategist. She has been at the helm of Swearingen Communications since 1987.  She develops targeted marketing communication strategies for founders and leaders of professional service companies spanning law, finance, wealth management, accounting, real estate, executive coaching, and more.  Leah has trained and presented before many business and trade groups, as well as for PLNU/FBEI, SDSU, and USD.  

A native Texan, Leah has lived in San Diego since 1982.  She is a life-long volunteer and has served on numerous charitable boards and civic endeavors.  Leah is a graduate of the 1987 class of LEAD San Diego. She holds a Bachelor’s degree with high honors in Communications from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1997 Leah earned APR accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America. Leah attended SDSU in 2010 where she completed its full, year-long curriculum in digital and social media studies.