Ventura County Leadership Academy announces 2020 honorees

Johanna Spinks with David Friedlander from The Face of Ventura portrait series.

The Journey to Leadership Awards Luncheon, hosted by Ventura County Leadership Academy (VCLA), recognizes outstanding community leaders for their contributions to Ventura County. On Thursday, April 16, 2020, from 11:30am – 1:30pm, at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Camarillo, the community will come together to honor these local leaders.

Educational Leader of the Year – Dr. Oscar Cobian, Vice President of Student Development, Oxnard College

Public Sector Leader of the Year – Jacqui Irwin, CA Assemblymember for District 44

Alumni of the Year – Andrew Salinas, Chief of Police, City of Port Hueneme

Business Leader of the Year – Greg Van Ness, Regional President, Tolman & Wiker Insurance Services, an AssuredPartners Agency

Non-Profit Leader of the Year – David Friedlander, Founder, Kids & Families Together

David, with his wife, Faith opened the doors to Kids & Families Together (K&FT) in 2000 in order to provide foster/resource, adoptive, and kinship families support and new techniques to create a cohesive family dynamic. They share a passion to help others build strong and healthy relationships.  Since its opening twenty years ago, David and Faith have never stopped searching for new ways to fill in gaps in the welfare system.

“The VCLA Board of Directors is very pleased to honor this year’s award recipients, as well as all of the great work being done by the many VCLA alumni, facilitators, and supporters in our community.” said Melissa Baffa, VCLA board president. “Our awardees exemplify the spirit of collective responsibility and cooperation the VCLA curriculum strives to instill in each graduate.”

Information on sponsorship opportunities, congratulatory ads, and tickets to attend the Journey to Leadership Luncheon can be found at or by contacting VCLA Director Pattie Braga at

The Ventura County Leadership Academy connects and cultivates a diverse network of passionate, capable leaders through an immersion in both critical issues shaping Ventura County and opportunities for personal and professional growth. VCLA’s comprehensive program ignites awareness and inspiration, helping cohort members discover their individual pathway toward impacting our region.

The curriculum includes focus sessions on public safety, education, economic development, water, transportation, health care, nonprofits and volunteerism, the environment, agriculture and land use, regional issues, and governance. The sessions are interactive with open dialogue between presenters and program participants. Participants also conduct site visits and field trips as part of background research on the various topics of discussion. It is a nine-month program that includes one full-day session each month from September through May and also includes a two-and-a-half day trip to Sacramento to study current legislative issues and an immersion activity.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email