San Diego Convention Center Bayside
Announcement

San Diego Convention Center Announces 2021 Board Officers; Elvin Lai to Serve as Chair

The San Diego Convention Center Corporation announces the 2021 officers of its Board of Directors. Hospitality executive and entrepreneur Elvin Lai will serve as Board Chair.

"My top priority as the incoming Chair is to build and execute a strategic recovery plan,” Lai said. “Knowing the vital role the San Diego Convention Center plays in our region’s economy, I am dedicated to ensuring the sustainability and success of this organization for our community's benefit.”

Lai assumes his leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic, with SDCC continuing to serve as an emergency shelter in support of Operation Shelter to Home to assist individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition to serving as a shelter since April 1, 2020, SDCC has supported other essential activities, including hosting a super polling location for the 2020 Presidential General Election. With the distribution of vaccines now underway, industry professionals expect convention activity to resume this year.

“2021 will be a critical year as we prepare to safely reopen. We are encouraged by the interest we continue to hear from meeting planners and attendees about returning to in-person gatherings, and we are prepared to evolve aspects of our operations to meet new guidelines and expectations,” said Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe, SDCC’s President and CEO.

“With our capable and innovative team of staff, board members, and partners, I believe in our ability to rise to challenges and return to our primary role as an economic engine for San Diego.”

SDCC's Board is composed of seven volunteer business and community leaders who are responsible for establishing the policies by which SDCC conducts its day-to-day operations, under the guidance of the President and CEO. Board members choose the officers.

"My top priority as the incoming Chair is to build and execute a strategic recovery plan,” Lai said. “Knowing the vital role the San Diego Convention Center plays in our region’s economy, I am dedicated to ensuring the sustainability and success of this organization for our community's benefit.”

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2021 Officers

Elvin Lai (Chair) is a fourth-generation owner-operator of the Ocean Park Inn hotel in Pacific Beach, which is currently being reimagined for a spring 2021 debut. He is the immediate Past President of the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association and played a leading role in establishing the Pacific Beach Clean and Safe program. Recognized by the Asian Business Association as Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year, Lai is a serial entrepreneur, with four businesses in three different sectors. A graduate of the University of San Diego, Lai’s greatest passions are building relationships, supporting the growth of San Diego’s tourism industry and working to better our community for future generations.

Carol Kim (Vice Chair) serves as Political Director for the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council (SDBCTC) and Director of Community Engagement for the SDBCTC Family Housing Corporation. Kim has had a varied professional career, beginning as an inner-city school teacher in Los Angeles. In recent years, her focus has been advocating for working families and underserved communities.

Allan Farwell (Treasurer) has over 40 years of hospitality experience. He served as General Manager at several Hyatt properties from 1990 to 2018, including Maui, Chicago, Washington, Orange County, Indian Wells and most recently, La Jolla, where he retired. He is a past board member of the San Diego Hotel-Motel Association and the San Diego Tourism Authority, and a past Chairman of the California Hotel and Lodging Association.

Carlos Cota (Secretary) is an International Representative and Trustee for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) with over 25 years of experience in the entertainment and convention industries. He began his career in San Diego, but his work has taken him around the country with many of the industry's top conventions. Following his time working in the field, Cota served 13 years as a Business Agent for IATSE Local 122.

Additional members of SDCC’s Board include Jaymie Bradford, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Gattas, Assistant Chancellor and Chief of Staff, University of California San Diego; and Xema Jacobson, a native San Diegan who recently retired as President of Trilogy PR Group. Bradford served as Board Chair in 2020.

Media Contact:
Maren Dougherty, San Diego Convention Center
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 619.782.4390