A note from Mark on EDC’s Annual Dinner

Honoring Life. Changing. San Diegans

Dear EDC investors and partners,

I hope this message finds you all well and enjoying springtime in San Diego. As we speed through April, our entire team is turning its attention to our upcoming Annual Dinner.

As many of you know, for more than 20 years, San Diego Regional EDC has presented an award at our Annual Dinner that focuses on community and economic service and leadership. Originally called “The Spirit of San Diego Award,” this recognition was later changed in 2010 to honor the memory of Herb Klein—a truly wonderful San Diego leader who was noted for bringing people together to work on many of San Diego’s most challenging political and economic issues. More than anything, both iterations of this award were structured to recognize an individual who goes ‘above and beyond’ their day job to help make San Diego a better place, whether through philanthropy, volunteerism, vision, action, etc.

About nine years ago, EDC added a second award in memory of Duane Roth, another beloved San Diego leader and a tireless promoter of San Diego’s innovation economy. By contrast, this award would recognize a business or institution (not an individual) that was ‘changing the world from San Diego’ through technology, science, or innovation (think Qualcomm, the Salk Institute, Illumina, etc.). Duane was passionate about San Diego’s smart and life-changing companies and ideas, and this was EDC’s way of honoring his leadership, service, and memory.

Over the last few years, we have made efforts to ensure that the criteria for these awards are not only reflective of the leaders who inspired them, but of the changes in EDC’s work—with continued alignment to our core values of integrity, accountability, collaboration, and inclusion. The awards have now become known as our “Life. Changing. Awards,” an ode to our region’s brand identity and reflective of the EDC that businesses and individuals are investing in today. And if there were ever two words that could encapsulate the impact of Herb Klein and Duane Roth, those would certainly be them.

Meet our 2024 awardees

This year, our individual award will be given to (retired) Vice Admiral Jim Zortman. Admiral Zortman is one of the most highly decorated Naval officers to call San Diego home. He is the former Commanding Officer for Naval Air Forces, San Diego and Naval Air Forces, Pacific Fleet. He is also the retired Senior and Sector Vice President for Global Logistics and Operations Support for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. While at Northrop Grumman, he led the effort to make San Diego the company’s ‘center for excellence’ for unmanned systems. Admiral Zortman also served on the Chairman’s Competitiveness Council—a group of senior business and university leaders who worked to carve out meaningful and independent directions and focus areas for EDC, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Connect. He served on EDC’s board of directors and executive committee for more than 10 years. From 2016-2018, Jim served as EDC’s board chair and made ‘economic inclusion’ his focus area and platform. Feeling he had been a part of meaningful and intentional efforts made by the U.S. military to strengthen and diversify its officer ranks, and by Northrop Grumman to increase the number of women and people of color within its engineering, technical, and executive workforce, Jim felt that EDC could be a powerful catalyst to establish inclusion as an economic imperative within the San Diego region. Since Jim’s time as chair, every new EDC board chair has continued to build off the foundation he established and has kept inclusion at the forefront of EDC’s goals and work, which now so many of you have committed to and engaged in with us.

We will be presenting this year’s business award to a legendary San Diego company—Solar Turbines. Solar Turbines designs and manufactures industrial gas turbines for onshore and offshore electrical power generation, for marine propulsion, and for producing, processing, and transporting natural gas and oil. Headquartered in San Diego for nearly a century, Solar Turbines has more than 8,000 employees in dozens of countries around the world, with the majority of them working in the San Diego region. For decades, the company has represented the best elements of our binational economy with substantial manufacturing operations in Tijuana/Northern Baja. Solar Turbines has been a constant partner and investor in workforce development and training programs throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties, and has one of the most dedicated and diverse workforces in our region. It is also important to note that the corporate leadership of Solar Turbines has chosen to remain in San Diego and California despite aggressive efforts by other states to lure them away.

As champions of our organizational core values, examples of what Duane Roth and Herb Klein stood for, and critical partners in building a stronger, more vibrant, and more inclusive region, we could not be prouder to recognize Admiral Jim Zortman and Solar Turbines with our 2024 Life. Changing. Awards. Hoping that you will all join us at Petco Park on June 18 to give them the celebration and thanks they deserve.

Learn more and buy your tickets at EDCannualdinner.com.

With continued thanks for your leadership and support—Mark

Mark Cafferty
Mark Cafferty

President & CEO

Read EDC’s Monthly Report

Special thanks to our award sponsors Boston Consulting Group, San Diego State University, and UC San Diego.