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Board Updates

Reality Changers is excited to announce that our Board of Directors has had some recent updates. Please join us in welcoming our newest Board Members and congratulating our new Board Officers.

Our new Board Members are:

  • Ana Cardenas
  • Andrew Harmatys

Our new Board Officers are:

  • Pamela Gabriel, Board Chair
  • Steve Ortiz, Vice Chair
  • Morgan Appel, Secretary
  • Veronica Villaseñor, Treasurer

Read on to learn more about our board officers…

Pamela Gabriel – Chair

I wholeheartedly believe in Reality Changers’ mission. Looking back on my youth, I wish I had a mentor to help me through my educational journey. This is why I have been a mentor for over 20+ years and why Reality Changers is important to me.”

Pamela Gabriel is the Senior Vice President; San Diego Market Executive for Bank of America. In her role, she delivers the bank’s environmental, social and governance commitments for the San Diego market by identifying, building, and growing community partnerships. She creates and executes the local strategy for Bank of America which includes foundation support to nonprofits addressing economic mobility in communities of need in San Diego. 

Pamela brings with her 22 years of career expertise in finance with experience in Consumer, Global Commercial Banking, Enterprise Client Coverage and Credit Lending. From being in the top 2% of managers in Consumer to receiving top performer awards in Global Commercial Banking, she continues to go above and beyond for her team. Previously, she has held her series 7 and 66 licenses and has been through the formal Bank of America Credit Training Program.

Here in San Diego, Pamela oversees Bank of America’s diversity & inclusion efforts for the market which includes employee networks. During her time with the bank, she has been instrumental in forming the second Inter-Generational Employee Network Chapter in the US. IGEN’s presence has grown and they continue to deliver financial literacy throughout IGEN’s US chapters. 

In addition to serving as the Reality Changers Board Chair,, Pamela currently serves on the board for the San Diego Museum of Art, Downtown San Diego Partnership and the San Diego City-County Reinvestment Task Force. 

Born and raised in California, Pamela graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration concentrating her studies in Marketing. She currently resides in San Diego, CA.

Steve Ortiz – Vice Chair

Tomorrow is all about today’s youth. It’s important to help our children get to college. College Changes everything.”

Steve Ortiz has over 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He started his career at Bennigan’s, where from 1982 to 1996, he served in various executive positions, including General Manager, Area Director, Divisional Vice President and Regional Vice President.

In 1996, after 14 years of climbing the corporate ladder, he made a decision to become a Franchise Developer for an unknown brand at that time; Texas Roadhouse. As a Market Partner, he built, opened, operated, and managed 21 restaurants before becoming the Chief Operating Officer when the company went public in 2004. Texas Roadhouse’s annual revenues grew to $1.5 billion during Steve’s tenure. In January 2015, he retired from the position of Chief Operating Officer of Texas Roadhouse and founded Project Passion. Steve continues to believe in the principles that made Texas Roadhouse so successful in the industry. By founding Project Passion, he returns to his roots as a highly successful franchise developer and will put his expertise to use in San Diego and the State of California. Project Passion has opened seven restaurants in the last six years and has numerous more in the pipeline.

Steve also owns and manages a large real estate portfolio that consists of six commercial properties, one mixed use property, five residential properties, and two multi-unit Developments. 

Steve has been a member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization) since 1998. He held a board position for five years.

Steve’s biggest accomplishment is his Family. He has been married to Victoria for 41 years. He has four successful children and 8 grandchildren.

Veronica Villaseñor, MPP, CTP – Treasurer

As a first-generation college graduate myself, I am passionate about education and equitable access to it. I am proud to have earned a B.A. from Princeton University and a M.A. from Harvard University and could not have done this without the support of some key mentors and networks in my life.”

Veronica Villaseñor is proud of her 20+ year career in finance and is a Vice President in JPMorgan’s Healthcare, Higher Education & Nonprofit Industries team within the commercial bank. She is a Certified Treasury Professional (CTP), Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow, and a graduate of LEAD San Diego. 

Committed to giving back to her community and professional colleagues, Veronica serves as President of the San Diego chapter of the Association for Financial Professionals.

Veronica resides in Vista with her husband Paul, her daughter Olive and her fur babies, Sadie and Milo. She is a voracious reader and enjoys running, travel and event planning. She looks forward to continuing to serve the Reality Changers community and making an impact wherever she can.

Morgan Appel – Secretary

“I have been affiliated with Reality Changers in a variety of ways for over a decade through my role at UC San Diego. Serving on the board affords a unique opportunity to gain insight into not only how to best support families but into the ways that postsecondary institutions must change to better serve the next generation of students. College changes everything—but we know that Reality Changers changes college. And that is a good thing.”

Morgan Appel is Assistant Dean for Education and Community Outreach (ECO) at the Division of Extended Studies at UC San Diego, overseeing a diverse array of programming for PK-post retirement, including opportunities for students, practitioners, administrators, parents, and community stakeholders across the globe.

He previously served as Director of Education Programs at UC Irvine’s Division of Continuing Education (DCE) following a research appointment at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine.

With expertise in education transformation and policy, Appel has worked with several school districts, universities, and research institutes to explore the impacts of legislated and organically generated change agentry across segments of education.

Professional specialties include gifted and talented education; the neuroscience of teaching and learning; arts integration; and organizational behavior in educational institutions. 

Beyond his current administrative appointment, Appel teaches a variety of courses at both UC San Diego and UC Irvine.


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