40 Under 40
Meet the East Bay’s most remarkable young professionals.
Some wanted to be fighter pilots. Others dreamed of writing children’s books. They all grew up to be stars in our East Bay community—and they haven’t even hit the big 4-0 yet. With laser-focused dedication and serious savvy, these entrepreneurs, style-setters, and visionaries with off-the-charts careers are showing how business can be done better and smarter each and every day.
01. Alexander Mehran Jr.
President and COO, Sunset Development Co., San Ramon
What if you could live and work in the same community, never getting stuck in morning commute traffic again? That’s what Alexander Mehran, Jr., the scion of the family that owns Bishop Ranch Business Park, considers as he revives plans for San Ramon's City Center. Mehran might have taken his Ivy League education and spent his days sailing on the San Francisco Bay, one of his many passions. But that would not be enough for the visionary behind City Center. With architect Renzo Piano (of S.F.’s California Academy of Sciences), Mehran envisions the center as a retail and residential community that will include a hotel, movie theaters, shops, and restaurants, plus hundreds of homes.
As a kid, I wanted to be: A Navy pilot (after watching too much Top Gun).
02. Jane Chen
Cofounder, Embrace, Oakland
“The Baby Warmer,” a portable, reusable, low-cost infant incubator, was designed by Chen and fellow Stanford MBA students as a class challenge in 2008. It has since saved the lives of an estimated 87,000 infants worldwide. Chen was invited to the Maker Faire at the White House, and pop star Beyoncé plans to donate $125,000 to purchase the infant warmers for countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
03. Kristin Farr
Artist/creator, #FarrOut, Richmond
As if her cool #FarrOut app wasn’t enough, Kristin Farr has released a new line of clothing and gear in her trademark “happy rainbow, geometric magic, good-vibe designs.” She has exhibited at Walnut Creek’s Bedford Gallery and the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco.
04. Kellee Bachour
Owner, Good Boy Friday, Lafayette
After she had son Gideon, now five, fashion-forward Kellee Bachour couldn’t find any interesting children’s clothes. So she designed some, and Good Boy Friday was born. Now, Hillary Duff, Rachel Zoe, and other famous faces are dressing their tots in these attention-grabbing threads, from patterned ikat prints to neon splatter tanks. In recent months, Good Boy Friday has added clothes for little girls, as well as accessories and anything else you might need to properly clothe a stylish demi-diva.
My first job: An entrepreneur, at age 12.
Way to de-stress: Watching the Kardashians.
05. Beau Eckstein
Managing director, SFR Ventures, Walnut Creek
As the real estate expert on HGTV’s Flip It to Win It, Beau Eckstein shows viewers how to renovate and sell real estate while turning a profit. HGTV found Eckstein because he is an avid social media user who “constantly” posts videos of himself, he says. He’s now working on a new reality show called Hard Money: Think Flip This House meets Shark Tank.
06. Kristin Connelly
President/ceo, East Bay Leadership Council and Executive director, Contra Costa Economic Partnership
The East Bay Leadership Council’s Kristin Connelly coordinates the mutual might of 254 member companies, using task forces and collaborative decision-making to tackle the East Bay’s biggest issues, from infrastructural issues to environmental protection.
07. Florian Radke
Cofounder, Cinnaholic, Berkeley
08. Shannon Michelle Radke
Cofounder/CEO, Cinnaholic, Berkeley
This stylish husband-and-wife team appeared on Shark Tank, touting their vegan cinnamon roll shop in Berkeley, Cinnaholic. Now, they’ve launched a franchise business, with five locations slated to open by the end of 2014 and plans for 100 more within five years.
09. Kristina Lawson
Mayor of Walnut Creek and partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
Her term ends in December, but Walnut Creek mayor Kristina Lawson has not ruled out a future bid for public office. Lawson was the single most recommended individual on our 40 Under 40 list, and she’s proud of her achievements, from marshalling the renovation of Broadway Plaza to preventing PG&E from cutting down thousands of trees in Contra Costa and Alameda counties. California law reviews, including The Daily Journal and The Recorder, repeatedly list Lawson as one of the state’s top attorneys.
Way to de-stress: Walking Shell Ridge Open Space.
Guilty pleasure: A glass of great wine.
10. Karl Wente
Winemaker, Wente Vineyards, Livermore
As a fifth-generation Wente vintner, the eclectic Karl Wente has successfully merged his legacy with a free-spirited love of yoga and folk music. As the winemaker for Livermore’s best-known winery, Wente travels around the globe as a brand ambassador. Equally exciting is the partnership he forged with The Food Network for the production of Entwine, a line of easy-drinking wines to be paired with (what else?) great food.
First job: Pulling weeds in the vineyards.
Inspired by: Watching a hawk fly this morning.
Guilty pleasure: Going to 8 a.m. yoga class, when I should be at work.
11. Lisa Curtis
CEO, Kuli Kuli, Oakland
When she was a Peace Corps volunteer, Lisa Curtis learned that the African moringa tree produces high-protein seedpods. When she returned to the U.S., she launched Kuli Kuli, a company that makes vegan fruit and nut bars with moringa. Sales now average $20,000 a month.
12. Susan Stonebraker
Deputy director, Energy Sciences Network, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
While working with the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, Susan Stonebraker managed a $25 million annual budget for the Human Genome Project. She now directs the Energy Sciences Network at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
13. Kedar G. Shah
Principal Investigator, Biomedical Microsystems, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
In the Neural Technologies group, Shah is revolutionizing microfabrication technologies to miniaturize implantable medical devices. His aim? To treat neuropsychiatric diseases and restore memory loss associated with traumatic brain injury.
14. Lindsay Gottlieb
Head coach, Women’s basketball, UC Berkeley
Lindsay Gottlieb has led her team to the NCAA Tournament for three years running, including a Pac-12 cochampionship and Final Four appearance in the 2012–2013 season. Acting as a role model, Gottlieb has helped her students find the right balance between success on the court and in life.
15. Eric Swalwell
U.S. Congressman, 15th district
After serving as an Alameda County deputy district attorney, a Dublin planning commissioner, and a Dublin city councilman, Eric Swalwell turned to national politics, successfully unseating 40-year incumbent Pete Stark in the 15th district.
This moderate freshman Democrat, who was recently named one of The Hill newspaper’s 50 most beautiful people, has distinguished himself by reaching across the aisle on issues such as funding for education, defense, and renewable energy. But he may have received the most attention for his social media use.
In July 2013, Swalwell put forth a congressional resolution called MOBILE (Members Operating to Be Innovative and Link Everyone), which would allow absent members of Congress to participate in committee hearings via videoconferencing technologies and vote remotely.
His high-tech tactics have sometimes been controversial. He once recorded a video of a congressional vote on his mobile phone and uploaded it to Vine.
Although his posting violated House rules that say “no device may be used for still photography or for audio or video recording,” Swalwell defended the action, saying, “We operate under rules that were created in the 18th century, and I think it’s time that the Congress start to act more like regular Americans do.”
As a kid, I wanted to be: A fighter pilot.
I am inspired by: Sunday night family dinners.
Way to de-stress: Running the Iron Horse trail.
16. Chris Wondolowski
Forward, San Jose Earthquakes
The hero and role model of every soccer-loving kid in the Bay Area (who could care less about that missed World Cup goal in Brazil), Chris Wondolowski grew up in Danville and plays for the San Jose Earthquakes. But his real love is coaching soccer, something he does with local kids.
17. Blaine Landberg
Founder, Calicraft Brewing Company, Walnut Creek
With so many awesome breweries in our area, what makes Calicraft stand out? Maybe it’s Blaine Landberg’s collaboration with prominent foodies. All proceeds from Calicraft’s Chez Panisse beer series go to Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard project. Calicraft’s Buzzerkeley, Oaktown Brown, The City Dynamic, and Cali Coast brands are available at Costco, Safeway, Whole Foods, and independent retailers. Look for Calicraft’s public taproom to open at its brewing facilities in Shadelands by the end of the year.
18. Debbie Sterling
CEO, GoldieBlox, Oakland
As an engineering student at Stanford, Sterling learned that a dismal percentage of United States engineers are women. So she decided to do something about it and created GoldieBlox, a pastel-colored engineering toy for girls. The kits were so popular that they sold out last holiday season.
19. Solomon Hsiang
Assistant professor of public policy, UC Berkeley
This Cal professor has done groundbreaking research in climate change, working with mathematical models to show how society and the environment affect one another. (No wonder he was featured on Forbes' 30 Under 30 list in the law and policy category.)
As a kid, I wanted to be: A paleontologist.
Word that best describes me: Happy.
20. James Syhabout
James Syhabout grew up in his family’s Thai restaurant in Concord, after immigrating here as a Southeast Asian refugee at age two. He went to culinary school and landed jobs in the kitchens of lauded restaurants, including Michelin-starred Manresa and San Francisco’s PlumpJack Cafe. Then, Syhabout opened his own little place on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue called Commis. Within four months, the impeccable restaurant earned a Michelin star, an unprecedented accomplishment for an Oakland-based chef. Five years later, Syhabout owns an East Bay restaurant dynasty with Commis, Hawker Fare, Box and Bells, and his latest hit, The Dock at Linden Street.
As a kid, I wanted to be: A chef.
Way to de-stress: Unplugging.
Guilty pleasure: Soft-serve ice cream.
21. Brenden Scanlan
Co-Owner, Sauced BBQ and Spirits, Livermore
22. Barrett Gomes
Co-Owner, Sauced BBQ and Spirits, Livermore
Since Sauced BBQ and Spirits opened in 2012, it has become nothing less than a landmark, changing the face of downtown Livermore by creating nightlife with a cool hipster vibe. Artistic T-shirts and a regular live-music lineup have helped, as has teaming up with local Working Man Brewery to craft Sauced’s own beers to pair with unbelievable barbecue.
23. Matthew Myrick
Cybersecurity architect, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Spam. It’s a problem faced by every computer user. But when it comes to national security, it’s more than just an annoyance: It’s a job for the spam doctor. Lawrence Livermore Lab receives anywhere from 3.5 to 7 million spam or malicious e-mails each month. Matthew Myrick defends the lab’s computer networks.
24. Kelly Hansen
Restaurant and beverage marketing strategist, Concord
After cutting her teeth at Pyramid Breweries and Wente Vineyards, Kelly Hansen works with hospitality industry big shots from The Venetian in Vegas to the iconic Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Hotels.
25. Ali Krebs
CEO, Posh Mommy, Pleasanton
Jewelry designer Ali Krebs has gone international with a Stuller licensing deal and 15,000 likes on her Posh Mommy Facebook page.
26. Jennifer Cooper
Interaction designer, GE software, bishop ranch, San Ramon
With the Taleris project, a joint venture between Accenture and GE, Jennifer Cooper works toward advances in the aviation industry that result in fewer flight delays and cancellations. She’s also working on a project aimed at improving flight safety.
27. Andre Krichikov
Senior software development manager, GE software, Bishop Ranch, San Ramon
Andre Krichikov has been instrumental in establishing the GE WattStation, a line of electric-vehicle charging stations with an integrated software program that lets owners remotely manage charging stations, and helps drivers locate them with a smartphone.
28. Matt Marinelli
Owner, The Bend, Walnut Creek
The Bend, a food truck destination at the corner of North Main Street and North California Boulevard, has become a hot spot in Walnut Creek. After months of paperwork, Matt Marinelli revitalized the site that was once home to Le Virage restaurant, which was opened by his grandparents in 1971. (Le Virage means “the bend” in French.) Now, Marinelli's changing the face of the Walnut Creek lunch scene, one food truck at a time.
29. Dr. Marisa Medina
Associate scientist, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute
Marisa Medina works on combatting one of modern society’s greatest problems: high cholesterol. From statins to genetics, Medina looks at all factors, including the “potential value of cellular phenotyping for augmenting pharmacogenetic information.” Can’t say we understand it, but we do know her work aims to uncover the complex relationship between cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol.
30. Jane Lee
Reporter, Oakland A’s, MLB.com, Oakland
Jane Lee is Major League Baseball’s beat reporter for the Oakland Athletics, filing stories on mlb.com. Her popular Q&A column, Inbox, receives dozens—sometimes hundreds—of fan comments. But Lee’s real soapbox is Twitter, where she is nothing less than prolific. Since 2010, she’s tweeted more than 17,000 times, corralling nearly 30,000 Twitter followers.
31. Marissa Lange
President, LangeTwins Family Winery, Acampo
As a member of a fifth-generation farming family, Marissa Lange has strengthened the high-quality, estate-grown, and sustainably certified vineyard programs of the LangeTwins Estate and Caricature wine brands.
32. Danielle Walker
Author/blogger, Against All Grain
In 2007, when Danielle Walker was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, she began cooking and eating—and writing—about gluten-free living on her blog, Against All Grain. She quickly won thousands of followers and a few years later—feeling much, much better—published her recipes in a New York Times best-selling cookbook with the same title. This month, she releases a second cookbook, Meals Made Simple, featuring more than 100 gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo recipes.
As a kid, I wanted to be: A mother.
First job: Noah’s Bagels in Blackhawk.
Way to de-stress: Journaling.
33. Amy Chen
Editor, LinkedIn, San Francisco
When LinkedIn launched a new content-driven platform, Amy Chen, a former magazine editor, jumped at the chance to use her editorial skills in a new way. Now, she works with Influencers—including HP CEO Meg Whitman, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Bill Gates—who write about various subjects, often related to business and networking, on LinkedIn channels. Chen finds story angles, crafts headlines, and guides discussions that receive thousands of views.
As a kid, I wanted to be: A children’s book author.
First job: Shelving books at El Cerrito Library.
Guilty pleasure: Reading magazines.
34. Weiwei Pan
Assistant Professor, Saint Mary’s College, Moraga
As a project manager and developer on a five-member student team, Weiwei Pan created LWM Encounters, an iPhone app for Walnut Creek’s Lindsay Wildlife Museum. The app includes field guides and allows nature lovers to share photos and experiences on social media.
35. Robert Morris
CEO/Founder, TerrAvion, Livermore
A former military officer, Robert Morris’ TerrAvion takes aerial photos for vineyards in Livermore and Napa, using infrared, visible light, and thermal lenses. The goal? To help vintners understand the health of their crops by answering questions, including, Where is their water going? and, Which pockets of land experience the greatest heat?
36. Dr. Coleen Sabatini
Clinician, Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes, Walnut Creek
One of the youngest division chiefs at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, Coleen Sabatini is on a mission to combat the rising occurrence of youth sports–related injuries. She does groundbreaking work at the Sports Medicine Center on the
37. Justin Kinder
CEO, Kinder’s BBQ, Concord
38. Joe Rainero
CEO, P.K. Kinder’s, Walnut Creek
A De La Salle grad, Joe Rainero was just a punk kid when he started going to Kinder’s for its rock-your-world barbecue sandwiches. Then, he met another punk kid—Justin Kinder, who worked in the shop and whose grandfather started the Kinder’s barbecue business. Now,
Justin directs the seven family-owned restaurants and seven franchises while Rainero leads manufacturing and nationwide distribution of Kinder’s barbecue sauces and other products. The two businesses have combined revenues upwards of $50 million.
39. Raina León
Assistant professor, Saint Mary’s College, Moraga
A fearless poet, Raina León studies the use of poetry as a tool to enhance diversity understanding in youth and adults. Her recent collection, Boogeyman Dawn (2013), was a finalist for the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. She was also included in the Poetry Society of America’s 2013 list of U.S. Latina Voices in Poetry.
40. Theresa Sherry
CEO, Sherry Sports and Tenacity 10, Emeryville
Working with girls’ lacrosse clubs and players across the East Bay, Theresa Sherry, a Princeton grad, has launched a program to teach life skills through lacrosse while helping girls gain admission to some of the country’s best colleges.