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50 People to Watch in 2003


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alberto cortesAlberto Cortes
The new executive director of Mama’s Kitchen has his work cut out for him. The nonprofit organization prepares and delivers more than 1,000 meals a day to some 400 men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS.

In the wake of 9/11, Cortes concedes meeting a $1.5 million annual budget isn’t easy. “Our greatest challenge is a sense of complacency that translates to diminished contributions,” he says. Cortes, 47, plans to boost Mama’s Kitchen’s visibility this year, through meetings with potential donors and through public events like a tree-lighting ceremony on World AIDS Day. “We need to continue to make the community aware of the relevance of our services,” he says, “but more from an educational perspective than simply soliciting.”

peter cowheyPeter Cowhey
As the new dean of UCSD’s graduate School of International Relations & Pacific Studies, Cowhey wants to maintain and enhance the school’s role as a breeding ground for future Pacific Rim leaders. “That’s important, because the Pacific will be the driving force behind the global economy, world security and environmental affairs in the 21st century,” he says.

This year, Cowhey, who has worked as a strategic planner for AT&T and a regulator with the FCC, wants to create three campus research centers to generate ideas, train future leaders and provide networking opportunities for educators and the business community. He’ll also continue as board chairman of Digital Partners, a global nonprofit working to end the digital divide between rich and poor countries.

bonnie dumanisBonnie Dumanis
She got into the race at the first rumblings from the ranks in the district attorney’s office. More than a year ago, when Judge Dumanis was being urged to challenge D.A. Paul Pfingst, the odds were longer than a San Diego dry spell. Pfingst, whose office claimed the highest conviction rate in California, was just about everybody’s favorite for a third term.

But as his fortunes began to sink, Dumanis’ campaign began to click. In the end, she eked out the narrowest of victories—and found no time for a honeymoon. Days after the votes were finally counted, The San Diego Union-Tribune—a solid Pfingst supporter—published a strident editorial attacking Dumanis for a mailing snafu that sent fund-raiser invitations to her deputies. With the backlash, she may have to work harder than she expected to keep her promise to heal the wounds in the D.A.’s office.

Mark FabianiMark Fabiani
The point man in the Chargers’ rocky relationship with the city, Fabiani is the ex–Bill Clinton apologist hired last year as Dean Spanos’ special counsel. He pushed for talks to consider the team’s offer to dump the unpopular ticket guarantee in return for letting the Chargers out of their lease, which expires in 2020. Fabiani freely admits he’s looking for a bargaining chip in the team’s attempts to get a new stadium.

His biggest challenge in 2003, he says, is “convincing the San Diego community that a smart redesign of the huge, now-underutilized Qualcomm site can create parkland and a beautified river, new tax revenue for the city and a state-of-the-art stadium that will keep the Super Bowl and the Chargers in San Diego for decades to come.”

Haley and Riley-CotaMy Haley & Patricia Riley-Cota

The widow and uncredited collaborator of Roots author Alex Haley, My Haley has teamed with Vista-based producer/performer Riley-Cota to speak to an oft-forgotten audience: the deaf and hearing-impaired.

Haley, whose mother was deaf, has written Be Opened, a production that marries dance, mime, signing and music to bridge the divide between the hearing and non-hearing worlds. Riley-Cota is known regionally as an accomplished mime and the inspiration behind Nugget the Clown, a doll whose hands are shaped for signing. Be Opened is set to open in early spring at Spreckels Theater, followed by a national tour. The play’s name is derived from a passage in the book of Mark that describes Jesus healing a deaf man.
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