SMC Foundation Welcomes Five New Members

SMC Foundation

September 7, 2017

Nonprofit Also Announces Over $100,000 in Annual Faculty Grants

SANTA MONICA, CA—The Santa Monica College Foundation (SMCF) is pleased to announce the recent addition of five new members to its Board of Directors: Dr. Tiffany Grunwald, Sebastian Krys, Tami Halton Pardee, Margaret Moore Sohagi, and Mark Verge. The nonprofit—which supports the educational endeavors of Santa Monica College (SMC) students through scholarships, support of academic programs, as well as innovative faculty projects—also announced over $100,000 in annual faculty grants.

“The SMC Foundation is thrilled to welcome these five individuals to our Board—the breadth of professional experience and achievement they represent is truly impressive,” said SMC Foundation Board Chair Deanna Hansen. “We look forward to the ways in which deserving students at Santa Monica College will have even better opportunities to fulfill their potential thanks to the advocacy of our new members, and the entire Board.”

Brief profiles of each new SMCF Board member follow:

  • A board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon and Division Chief at Providence St. John’s Hospital, Dr. Tiffany Grunwald is regarded worldwide as a specialist in both cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery. She earned her M.D. from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, and while working as a clinical instructor, she also earned a Master of Education from the USC Rossier School of Education. Dr. Grunwald earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an SMC alum.

  • Sebastian Krys is a twelve-time Latin Grammy Award nominee, and a five-time Grammy winning producer and engineer (two of his wins were Latin Grammy Producer of the Year in 2007 and 2015). Krys’ work ranges across genres from alternative to pop and includes artists like Lori Meyers, J.Lo, Shakira, Marc Anthony, and Enrique Iglesias; singer-songwriters like Gianmarco, Obie Bermudez, and Tommy Torres, as well as trailblazing artists such as Carlos Vives and La Santa Cecilia. Krys recently launched Rebeleon Entertainment Inc., a music entertainment company. He was the A&R behind the global smash hit “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi. Krys currently manages producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andres Torres (Morat, Luis Fonsi, Sebastian Yatra, Alejandro Fernadez, Cali & El Dandee); Andres Saavedra (Tommy Torres, Paty Cantu, Black Guayaba); and songwriter Ximena Muñoz (Juanes, David Bisbal, Marlango).

  • Tami Halton Pardee is owner and principal broker of Halton Pardee + Partners (formerly Pardee Properties). Since 2005, Pardee has been ranked the number one broker in Los Angeles and her company has sold over $2 billion worth of residential and commercial properties. Pardee was recently recognized by Good Housekeeping with their 2016 Awesome Women Award and was nominated by the Los Angeles Business Journal for Philanthropist of the Year. Pardee holds an MBA from Loyola Marymount University. She created the Life-Changer Program in Venice, California; the program has donated over $970,000 to local charities including Teen Project, Harvest Home, Homeless Task Force, Venice Community Housing Corporation, and more.

  • Margaret Moore Sohagi’s legal practice for the past 25 years has concentrated on assisting cities, counties, and other public agencies throughout California navigate the complexities of land use law, as well as with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance. As outside counsel, Sohagi has successfully assisted cities, counties, and other public agencies by providing skilled legal services, and she has served as lead attorney for CEQA reviews conducted for Los Angeles, Tulare, Monterey, and Marin counties. As a longstanding CEQA instructor for California’s Continuing Judicial Studies Program, Ms. Sohagi also instructs Orange County Superior Court judges, as well as Fourth District and Supreme Court justices. Sohagi has taught at UCLA and USC.

  • Entrepreneur and investor Mark Verge founded Westside Rentals in 1996, and his diverse portfolio includes 31 businesses including restaurant and bars, hotels, environmental companies, real estate acquisitions, and fashion companies. Along with Cedd Moses, Verge co-owns “213,” a nightlife development and management company.  Mark also founded Perfect Business, a resource center and network of entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts, which provides start up tools gratis, potential funding opportunity, and a vast video library of interviews and advice from market leaders. Verge is married to his high school sweetheart Lani and they have two children. His father, Dr. Art Verge, was a history professor at Santa Monica College and helped establish SMC’s international studies and study abroad program. Verge is a graduate of St. Monica’s High School and UCLA (he is also an SMC alum). Additionally, he is a founding member of and a Hall of Fame inductee to the Venice Historical Society and is also a Hall of Fame honoree of St. Monica’s High School.

In addition to SMCF Board Chair Deanna Hansen, who is Vice President/Southern California Director of Community Development, Environmental Science Associates, Dr. Grunwald, Krys, Pardee, Sohagi, and Verge join a board whose members come from a wide range of professional backgrounds: Spring Aspers, Head of Film Music, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Samuel R. Biggs, Partner, SLBiggs; Don Girard, SMC Senior Director of Government and Institutional Communications; Mark Ivener, Ivener & Fullmer, LLP; Fred Kipperman, Chief Operating Officer, healthpiper; William Lippman; Dr. Ava T. Shamban; and SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery.

Dr. Jeffery welcomed the five new members. “Santa Monica College is thankful for the commitment of the SMC Foundation, which enthusiastically supports the success and educational efforts of SMC students through its generous family of donors,” she said. “These five highly-accomplished individuals have joined a very stellar and dedicated Foundation Board—all of them true advocates for a better world and its transformation through education.”

Annual Faculty Grants Announced

“The winners of these awards offer a glimpse at the innovation and excellence that drives Santa Monica College professors, who are among the best in their fields. And, needless to say, we are deeply grateful to the donors who make it possible for the SMC Foundation to support faculty innovation and student success,” said Lizzy Moore, who was recently appointed SMC Dean of Institutional Advancement (Moore had been serving in an interim capacity since 2014).

The Sam Francis & Martin Sosin Chair of Excellence in Fine Arts—a three-year $15,000 grant—was awarded to SMC Art History Professor Walter Meyer. The grant will go towards developing a digital database using Omeka software within the humanities. SMC students will identify a work of art or architecture in their community that relates to coursework and learn to discuss those relationships. The goal is to document at least forty sites on and around SMC’s main campus, to build digital exhibitions that several instructional departments can use.

The John F. Drescher Chair of Excellence in Earth Science—also a three-year $15,000 grant—was awarded to SMC Geology Professor Lisa Collins. Her award will be used to fund air quality monitoring devices to track how much particulate pollution is being produced at SMC, The USC Wrigley Institute for Environment Studies on Catalina Island, and at the UC Santa Barbara Field Station on Santa Cruz Island. SMC students will make field trips to these sites, to collect and analyze data for two geology courses.

Additionally, the SMC Foundation’s 27 Margin of Excellence grant awards totaled over $70,000 dollars in varying amounts. The winners—from SMC’s Art, Business, Counseling, Dance, Design Technology, Earth Science, ESL, Life Sciences, Math, Photography and Fashion, Physical Science and Theatre Arts departments—will use their grants for such projects as purchasing a new kiln for the college’s ceramics program, new 3D printers and spectrometer equipment for students to gain hands-on experience in the application of laser spectroscopy, and T1-84 graphing calculators for statistics and pre-statistics students.

For more information on faculty grants and opportunities to support the SMC Foundation—as well as to obtain more information on its mission and leadership—please visit

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