Board of Directors
Captain Justin Diez
Captain Justin Diez is a 19 year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He was promoted to the rank of Captain and assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in March of 2020. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station is located 26 miles north of Los Angeles and provides law enforcement services to approximately 290,000 residents. The City of Santa Clarita is the third largest city in Los Angeles County, with a population of approximately 220,000 residents. An additional approximately 70,000 residents live in the un-incorporated area of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Captain Diez entered the Sheriff’s Training Academy in December of 2001. Upon graduating from Academy Class #327, he was assigned to the Pitchess Detention Center - North County Correctional Facility. He also served as a deputy at various assignments including; Transit Services Bureau, Community Oriented Policing Services Bureau, and Operation Safe Streets Bureau. Upon his promotion to sergeant in 2010, Captain Diez was assigned to Lancaster Station, Community Oriented Policing Services Bureau, and Internal Affairs Bureau. After being promoted to lieutenant in 2015, Diez was assigned to Lancaster Station, Internal Affairs Bureau, Santa Clarita Valley Station, Lost Hills Station, and the Hall of Justice.
Captain Diez holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology/Criminology from California State University Northridge and a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati Ohio.
Captain Diez has been a resident of Santa Clarita Valley for over 16 years and lives with his wife and two children.
Gloria Mercado-Fortine is CEO/President of Global Education Solutions, Inc., an educational leadership consultancy. GES works with school organizations undertaking leadership and cultural transformations. Gloria has extensive experience as an educational leader. During her 30-year career in education she has served as teacher, counselor, principal, Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent/President and, at one time, was responsible for 125 schools and had a personal budget of over $225 million dollars.
Gloria served four terms (16 years) as a publicly elected official on the Governing Board of the William S. Hart High School District. Prior to serving on the Hart District Board she served on the Castaic Union Elementary School District Governing Board.
Gloria was raised in the Santa Clarita Valley and has demonstrated a life-time commitment to public service and volunteerism. She was honored as the 2018 SCV Woman of the Year and was named SCV Top 51 Most Influential by the Signal Newspaper for 10 consecutive years. In addition to her volunteer work with the Sheriff’s Foundation Board, Gloria also devotes her personal time serving on various other boards including the SCV Boys & Girls Club, Samuel Dixon Family Health Center, Child & Family Center, Providence Health & Services Clinical Services and the SCV Veteran’s Collaborative, to name a few.
Gloria holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University, Northridge; Master of Science, School Administration and Management, Pepperdine University and a Master of Science, La Verne University, Educational Psychology. She also holds a Master’s in Governance from the California School Boards Association.
Jim is the Special Agent in Charge for the Department of Justice – Bureau of Investigation. He is in command of the Los Angeles Regional Office and Riverside Regional Office with a footprint stretching from San Luis Obispo County to the international border. With over 25 years of law enforcement experience, Jim brings real world experience to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Foundation. In 2007, Jim was awarded the Attorney General’s Medal for Meritorious Service after his efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the City of New Orleans. In 2003, Jim was awarded the Attorney General’s Peace Officer of the Year Award for his dedication and efforts specific to interstate and international criminal investigations.
He has also received the following significant government awards during his career: California State Assembly Resolution; California State Senate Resolution; City of Los Angeles Citation & Commendation; Mexico Federal Attorney General Commendation; State of Baja California, Mexico Attorney General’s Commendation; Croatia Federal Attorney General’s Citation & Commendation; & United States Department of Justice Commendation.
Jim attended California Lutheran University, where he earned an MPA degree. He has been a resident of the Santa Clarita Valley since 1998 and lives in Valencia with his wife and two children. Jim currently serves as the Vice President of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Foundation.
Steve Leach is the President of Numatic Engineering founded in 1955, a California distributor of industrial automation products, and robotics. The company’s primary business is helping USA-based manufacturing companies implement automation technology to save jobs and remain competitive. Numatic Engineering is located in Los Angeles.
Steve was born in Southern California and has resided in Santa Clarita since 1984. He has been married to his wife, Debbie, for 29 years. They have three kids, ages 20, 23, and 25. His daughter, Kelsie, was Miss Santa Clarita Valley in 2013.
Mr. Leach has been involved with the community through his many years of support by coaching Hart Baseball/Softball and AYSO Soccer teams. With his personal outdoor interests, Steve has financially supported the Sheriff’s Department Search & Rescue Team through their annual fundraising golf tournament for many years. With Steve’s business and leadership experience, he is looking forward to directly supporting the Sheriff's Foundation in their efforts to help provide the critical finances and resources for the Sheriff’s Department and community of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Neil Fischer is the Director of Finance and Administration for Hadassah Southern California, a 100-year old 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. Mr. Fischer has an MBA and has over 33-years of experience in the business world working in not-for-profit organizations, mortgage banking, health care, public relations and communications.
Mr. Fischer has been a volunteer at the Santa Clarita station since 1999 as a Volunteer on Patrol, present chairperson of the Community Advisory Committee, Certified Emergency Response Team (CERT) instructor, Disaster Communications Service and is a member of one of the specialized units for the LASD Emergency Operations Bureau. He was recently named as the chairperson for the Foundation’s Advisory Committee.
Mr. Fischer is active in numerous charities and a member of the Love Ride Foundation Board of Directors; Board member of Downed Officers Support Foundation as well as the University of Louisville Alumni Club of Southern California, He is also a member of Olive Crest Board of Trustees.
Mr. Fischer is a recent recipient of the University of Phoenix Southern California Alumni Community Service Award.
He has resided in Santa Clarita since 1991 and has a 27-year old daughter.
Cookie Schwartz Diaz
As the Owner and CEO of Tri-Valley Investigations, a full-service investigation agency headquartered in Santa Clarita, California, Cookie Schwartz Diaz oversees a staff of employees and sub-contractors who conduct a variety of corporate, insurance, background, financial and other types of investigations. Cookie is also a Certified Fraud Specialist.
She has been actively involved with the SCV Sheriff’s Foundation since June 2005, where she has served as a Director, Vice President and is currently the Secretary of the Board of Directors.
Cookie has served on several other non-profit Boards and organizations over the years, including 20 years with the SCV Boys and Girls Club, SCV Senior Center and various other local charities.
She has resided in the Santa Clarita Valley since 1970, where she raised her three sons and is the proud grandmother of her two grandsons.
Moe Hafizi has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley since 1984. He has been married to Linda for 34 years and has a 22-year-old son named Alex. The Hafizi family work together in their publishing company where they publish two local magazines. The Magazine of Santa Clarita celebrated 20 years in 2010 and élite Magazine is now 8 years old.
He attended Manchester Polytechnic in England and completed a BSc Degree in Mathematics, Statistics and Computing. Prior to his move to the United States in 1984, he worked with major organizations throughout the UK and published magazines and newspapers on their behalf.
Over the past 20 years Moe has been involved with many non-profit organizations both on a personal and business level. As co-publisher of The Magazine of Santa Clarita and élite, he has supported many SCV charitable organizations with donations to help promote their events. Moe and his wife Linda have personally financially supported Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, The Child and Family Center, The SCV Senior Center and the SCV Youth Project, they have also donated auction items for events. Through the magazines, other non-profits he has been able to support are the American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Club, Single Mothers Outreach, Domestic Violence, Assistance League, Circle of Hope, Zonta, Soroptimist Greater SCV, Michael Hoefflin and many more.
Todd A. Stevens was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer and a Director of California Resources Corporation in July of 2014. Prior to CRC, Mr. Stevens worked for 20 years in various management positions at Occidental Petroleum Corporation and most recently served as Vice President, Corporate Development from August 2012 to July 2014. Prior to that post, Mr. Stevens was Vice President, California Operations, of Occidental Oil and Gas from April 2008 to September 2012 and Vice President, Acquisitions and Corporate Finance, of Occidental Petroleum Corporation from October 2004 to August 2012. During his career with Occidental, he led most of Occidental’s growth initiatives and his responsibilities included mergers and acquisitions, evaluating and developing finance-related strategic and business opportunities, restructuring alternatives and asset dispositions, land management activities and worldwide exploration activities. He earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California after graduating from the United States Military Academy, West Point, with a Bachelor of Science degree.
Mr. Stevens serves as a Director on the following boards: Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission Advisory Board, Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Foundation, Val Pac (San Fernando Valley Business Political Action Committee), Southern California Leadership Council, USC Marshall School of Business Corporate Advisory Board, USC Viterbi School of Engineering Advisory Board, and the Board of Counselors, Master of Business for Veterans Programs at USC.
Brandan Stein, CEO/President of Exclusive Sedan Service, is credited for establishing the company as one of the industry’s top leaders in ground and air transportation.
Ron Stein, Brandan’s father and Chair/Founder, founded Exclusive Sedan Service in 1980, the same year that Brandan was born. Sharing his father’s passion, Brandan eagerly entered the family business in 1999 and immersed himself in every aspect of operations. By 2005, he had succeeded in tripling their gross sales and vehicles.
Under Brandan’s influence, Exclusive Sedan Service has received numerous awards including LCT Magazine’s “Operator of the Year” and “Best Website in the Industry” and Limousine Digest’s “Midsize Operator of the Year”. Brandan has been a member of the Limousine Benchmarking Group and is currently a member of the Vistage Group.
Hobbies: Time spent with his kids, surfing, working out at the gym, sports, traveling, bicycling and riding his Harley.
As both a Santa Clarita mother, whose children have graduated from both local school districts as well as COC, as well as a nonprofit leader for a number of local organizations, Bjorkman has been advocating for the welfare of Santa Clarita’s children for the last two decades.
Since 2000 – when she first volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club located across the street from her alma mater, Hart High School – Bjorkman has worked to bring in “tens of thousands of dollars” for the local BBC chapter, which “has helped thousands of young adults in the SCV,” Bjorkman said.
A resident of Santa Clarita since 1973, Bjorkman stated that a lifetime spent working with local students has shown her that higher education is a critical factor to a young person’s success – a factor whose importance is not often stressed or made clear to those residents who are less privileged.
Currently – the president of the Governing Board of Directors for the Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club, she serves on multiple nonprofit committees from a charity that supports women and girls to a local Christian school.
Co-Owner, HomeSmart Real Estate
Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley (20 years) - Chairman of Annual Auction, Board president, Executive committee for Festival of Trees
Legacy Christian Academy (8 years) - Organizer of Auction Gala
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Golf Tournament - Organizer of Gala Dinner and Auction
Other: Domestic Violence Center of SCV, Circle of Hope, Old Town Newhall Association,
HandsOn Santa Clarita, Michael Hoefflin, Single Mothers Outreach 2020 Mom,
Chamber of Commerce Ambassador
Masis Hagobian is the Intergovernmental Relations Analyst for the City of Santa Clarita. He began working for the City as an Administrative Analyst in the City Manager’s Office in July 2016. In his current capacity, Masis is responsible for the City’s intergovernmental relations and legislative affairs, including assisting the City Council, City Manager, and the Assistant City Manager in establishing positive relations with other regulatory bodies and government agencies, monitoring and advocating for various pieces of legislation, and conducting special projects related to administrative issues. Prior to joining the City of Santa Clarita, Masis worked in the Governor’s Office of Planning Research as a Government Affairs Specialist.
Masis was selected as a Santa Clarita Valley 40 Under Forty honoree in 2018 for his work with the City of Santa Clarita and Santa Clarita Valley community. Masis is a member of the Municipal Management Association of Southern California and joined the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Foundation in June 2019.
Masis earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, Northridge, and a Master’s of Public Policy from Pepperdine University. Masis enjoys an active lifestyle and frequently uses the trails and paseos in the City to hike, bike, and run.
Biography coming soon.
Biography coming soon.
Jerry Cain is the CEO and founder of Merchants Bancard Network. His reputation for success spans everything from athletics to business, and even as an innovator. Jerry is a California State Champion in team roping and a professional rider at just 15. In 1993 Jerry won the IJSBA World Championships in the jet ski in his first and only year competing as the oldest competitor at 37 years of age. His home-made jet ski enhancements were revolutionary at the time and have been incorporated by Sea-Doo and are still used 20 years later.
Jerry’s drive has lead him to continuous success in business as well. He founded his first credit card processing company in 1988 and within 10 years had grown the company to more than 15,000 merchants and processing more than $900 million dollars in transactions per year. Jerry sold that company in 1998 for record residuals. The amount received in the sale represented one of the highest multiples on residual income ever paid in the industry.
At the present time, iMAX which is doing business as Merchant Bancard Network is rapidly growing its merchant base and processing card transactions for over 14,000 merchants with annual credit card volume of over $600 million. MBN’s targeted processing volume for 2017 is over $1B.
Lt. Eric Lasko
Dep. Kabrina Borbon
Dep. Natalie Arriaga.
David & Teresa Ciardi
Carl & Terry Kanowsky
Philip & Lalaine Solomon
Joan & Joey Aschoff
Paul & Barbara Bleiler
Chris & Candy Meyer
Greg & Chell Amsler
Salt Creek Grille