Advisory Board

The advisory board is a high-level group of nationally and internationally prominent individuals who provide advice, assistance, and support to Birch Aquarium and its director.

Paul F. Brooks

Paul Brooks has been a supporter and advocate for the Collections since 2003, and he and his wife are the sponsors of the Benthic Invertebrates Collection. Paul grew up around the ocean, his father was a lighthouse keeper, and studied general sciences in school.  Paul was President of the San Diego Dive Club for five years. Paul and his wife have been major supporters of the Zoo for many years, are members of two donor groups, and have supported various projects there and at the Safari Park. Paul is a member of a Steering Committee at the San Diego Zoo that provides grants to various departments.

Julia R. Brown
julia brown

Julia Brown is a parent of a UC San Diego graduate, and a passionate advocate for UC San Diego.

She believes in the power of higher education as an engine of innovation, talent development and economic impact. She believes in investing in bright minds and future generation leaders. 

Julia demonstrates her passion for the University through service and contributions. As a trustee of the UC San Diego Foundation, she is immediate past chair, past vice chair, and past chair of the board's stewardship committee. She serves on advisory boards across campus including the Undergraduate Scholarship Council, Dean's Leadership Council for Biology, Director's Cabinet for Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Founder's Circle for The Preuss School, University Librarian's Advisory Board, the Rady School Dean's Advisory Council and UCSD Health System Advisory Board and advisory board for the Center for Brain Activity Mapping.

A successful executive, Julia has had a long career in the biomedical field. She currently serves on the boards of CONNECT, CleanTECH San Diego, Corporate Directors' Forum and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. She is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In 2012, Julia received UC San Diego's "Chancellor's Medal" for distinguished service to the University. In 2010, CONNECT honored her for "Distinguished Contribution to the Life Science Innovation." Brown was named one of San Diego's  "Women Who Mean Business" by the San Diego Business Journal, and was one of Girl Scouts San Diego's  "10 Cool Women 2005" honorees. She was honored twice in San Diego's "Tribute to Women in Industry."

John Eyler
John Eyler

John Eyler of Del Mar, California served as Chairman and CEO of Toys R Us from 2000 to 2005 before his retirement. Previously, he was President and CEO of FAO Schwartz in New York and was the CEO of several retail divisions of The May Company, Hartmarx Retail Stores, and Federated Department Stores during his 37-year career. He has served on a number of Boards of Directors including the Donna Karan Corporation, Transactis, a leader in electronic payment technology, and USAOpoly, a preeminent game company. John was one of the founders of the University of Washington College of the Environment and served on its Advisory Board for twelve years. He is currently Co-Chair of the Advisory Board for the Birch Aquarium and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography with his wife Gail and supports her work with the World Wildlife Fund on a pro bono basis. John and Gail relocated to California six years ago after 25 years in New York. They have three sons and seven grandchildren.

Gail Eyler
gail evans

Gail Evans Eyler of Del Mar, California, is a former Senior Executive of Polo Ralph Lauren. She spent her career developing, sourcing, and manufacturing apparel products worldwide.

In addition, her focus was streamlining processes, increasing efficiency, and profitability.

Prior she was Vice President of Merchandising for Ann Taylor Stores and merchandised and sourced for the Dockers Brand at Levi Strauss and Company. She received a Bachelors degree in Retailing and Business from the University of Illinois. Currently, she serves on numerous environmental and animal welfare Boards including Vice-Chairing the National Council Board at the World Wildlife Fund and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the San Diego Humane Society. Gail has been a Co-Chair of the Advisory Board for Birch Aquarium since 2019 and is a founding donor of Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins. She and her husband, John, relocated from New York to California 6 years ago, have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.

Cindy Glancy
Cindy Glancy

Cindy Glancy received her B.A. from UC San Diego with a major in Economics. She obtained her JD at USD Law School before practicing law in San Diego for fifteen years as a civil litigator concentrating in business, real estate, construction defect and insurance litigation and appellate practice. During that time she acted as an arbitrator and as a Pro Tem Special Settlement Conference Judge for San Diego Superior Court, was a member of the Construction Law Panel of Arbitrators for the American Arbitration Association and acted as an arbitrator for the Arbitration Committee of the San Diego County Bar Association. She was formerly on the Board at Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA and on the Board of Directors for the USD Law School Alumni Association.

Cindy enjoys underwater photography and has become passionate about our oceans and all the creatures in them since “becoming a mermaid” after retiring. She became a member of Ellen’s Circle in 2006, has been a member of Friends of Birch Aquarium since 2014, is on the Birch Advisory Board and the Director’s Council for Scripps Institution of Oceanography, led the recent campaign to acquire the R/V Bob and Betty Beyster for Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is on the International Council for The Coral Reef Alliance.

V. Wayne Kennedy

V. Wayne Kennedy joined the University of California's Office of the President as Senior Vice President for Business and Finance in July, 1993 and served in that capacity until retiring on September 1, 2000.

A nationally recognized expert in issues related to the financing of research universities and medical education, Mr. Kennedy previously was Vice Chancellor for Administration at UC San Diego for eight years. Mr. Kennedy's professional activities included past and present membership on numerous boards and committees dealing with technology transfer, government relations, grant and contract policies, private fund raising, and medical education administration. He is also the author and co-author of numerous papers and statements delivered before governmental bodies and agencies and professional and academic organizations. Mr. Kennedy serves on the boards of several not for profit and for profit entities.

Miranda Ko Cui
Miranda Ko

Miranda Ko Cui is the Department Head of Sustainment Engineering at Roche, a leading global biotech company. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Arts Movement and the Advisory Council for the San Diego Foundation. Miranda was honored as Green Goddess by Women’s Health for her work on the Climate Reality Project, and was a National Science Foundation grant recipient to address water challenges in San Diego. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of California, San Diego and holds a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. She has been an active volunteer and supporter of Birch Aquarium since 2009.  

Theresa Kumar
Theresa Kumar

Theresa Kumar is a private wealth advisor in San Diego. Theresa is  responsible for working with high-net worth clients to assist them  in effectively manage their wealth, first by identifying each client’s  unique goals then coordinating a team of specialists to implement  
custom, comprehensive wealth plans to help accomplish those  goals.

Theresa has been in the financial service industry since 2003. Prior  to joining Wells Fargo Bank, Theresa worked at US Bank Private  Wealth Management as a Private Wealth Advisor. In addition to  Wealth Management, Theresa has also spent several years focusing  on consumer and business banking/lending. Theresa’s professional  background includes extensive experience in business development  and relationship management while striving to provide an  exceptional client experience and advocacy.

Theresa enjoys participating in groups tied to arts, education,  environment, housing, and anything that impacts her community.  Theresa serves on Birch Aquarium’s advisory board and involved  with her local Employee Impact Team at Wells Fargo Bank. Theresa  serves as the San Diego Chair for Women Connection and serves as  a mentor in the Pride Connection at Wells Fargo.  
Theresa earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from  University of Illinois Chicago, her hometown. Theresa resides in  San Diego with her husband and daughter. When she is not at  work, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and loves to  host social gatherings. Theresa is a Padres season ticket holder and  enjoys attending sporting events. She also appreciates physical  fitness, traveling and reading.

Scott R. Lewallen

Scott Lewallen aka the artist Sküt @inkedbyskut is a Los Angeles native, entrepreneur, activist and featured muralist. He has exhibited at Mondrian Los Angeles, Aquarium of the Pacific, Artlounge 

Collective, TAG Gallery, The Other Art Fair, and V Wine Room Weho. You know Scott as the original designer and Co-Founder of Grindr (the world's largest social network for gay, bi, trans and queer people) and advocate for LGBTQ and environmental causes. He teaches paint & sketch art classes at Southern California venues like Or Bar West Hollywood and The Studio Lounge in The Artist Tree, often featuring subjects like Earth Day to champion conservation and preservation of our planet. Scott brings a unique perspective to the Birch Aquarium Advisory Board, offering insight into experiential design and fusing art with technology to achieve a harmonious vision in new and existing developments at the aquarium.

Michael Mance
Michael Mance

Michael Mance is the owner of Mance Creative, Inc. a minority-owned and operated, visual branding and graphic design 

agency, specializing in all forms of print and electronic media. As a first-generation Filipino-American with a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and over 23 years of design experience, Michael brings a powerfully unique perspective to his work.  An active member of the San Diego Equality Business Association, Michael also served for 8 years on the Board of the Rob Benzon Dan Ferbal Foundation and has worked in both a professional and volunteer capacity with other San Diego non-profit organizations, including Home Start, Serving Seniors, the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, and the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation.  In his spare time, Michael enjoys live theatre and maintaining his growing number of fresh-water, home aquariums with his husband, Tony. 

Christopher G. Patek

Christopher “Chris” Patek is Vice President of the Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation. The foundation provides funding in support of other nonprofit institution, communities, and organizations that are or that have been instrumental in strengthening and heightening both culturally and educationally, the impact of research, medical, health, educational, sports, social service, and artistic programs in communities across the nation, from coast to coast.

Chris and his wife Kimberly have two grown children. They live in Chula Vista and are active in competitive bass fishing.

Karen A. Quiñones

Karen has lived in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego for over 30 years. She moved here after graduating from Hastings Law School in 1991.  Karen has been an advocate in the areas of civil and landlord tenant law, and currently manages and leases residential property in San Diego. 

Karen is an active community volunteer and arts enthusiast. She has served on the Boards at La Jolla Playhouse, ion Theatre, and San Diego Junior Theatre.  She has also volunteered on the San Diego Arts and Culture Panel in past years.  Karen also supports theatre projects in the San Diego community and on Broadway.

Karen has two adult children, Carmen and Roberto. Karen’s family has enjoyed an active life of ocean activities over the years, and she and her family are thrilled that she has joined the Birch Aquarium Advisory Board at Scripps. 

Jonathan L. Scripps

Jonathan L. Scripps, a 5th generation descendant of E.W. Scripps, was born in Austin, Texas, later settling in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he spent the majority of his youth. He has spent the last decade serving on the Scripps Family Council - an entity that serves as an intermediary between the E.W. Scripps Company and Scripps family shareholders. Following in the footsteps of his great-great-aunt, Ellen Browning Scripps, Jonathan has a passion for philanthropy and currently serves on multiple philanthropic boards. In 2020, Jonathan and his brother, Eli Scripps, teamed up with Elon University, University of North Texas, and the Scripps Howard Foundation to initiate programs aimed at supporting and encouraging high school students from underserved communities to pursue journalism career paths. Of his many passions, his most favorite include spending time with his wife and three daughters, exploring nature, and listening to audio books and podcasts about geopolitics, history, anthropology and health.

Some of his favorite readings include “I Protest: Selected Disquisitions of E.W. Scripps” by Oliver Knight, “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, and “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” by Richard Wrangham.

Jeanne Bear Sleeper
jeanne sleeper

Jeanne Bear Sleeper is the CEO of JBS Business Development Inc. The company provided professional services to institutions and associations from 1981 through 2022. The company’s association management services included marketing, membership, strategic planning, production of major public events and conferences, publishing newsletters and books to full service administration. Jeanne served as Executive Director of the client associations. She completed her service to the National Association of Bankruptcy Judges as Executive Director in December 2022.

A thread through Jeanne’s life is the ocean. She became a NAUI instructor in 1971 and achieved many firsts for women in the sport. She enjoyed seven years as an associate editor of Skin Diver Magazine, 22 years as a volunteer diver at Aquarium of the Pacific and multiple terms as AOP’s Co-Chair of Trustees of the Pacific. She was inducted in the Women Divers Hall of Fame in the first round in 2000. 

Jeanne’s retirement focus is more time for underwater photography, travel, and to provide service to ocean-related non-profits and institutions that have been her philanthropic focus.

Andy Thomas
Andy Thomas

Andy Thomas is Senior Vice President, Business Development, for Evans Hotels. Mr. Thomas joined the company in 1994 and currently oversees all distribution systems, business development and revenue strategy for the organization.

Mr. Thomas is currently a board member for San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation, a member of the Board of Trustees for the La Jolla Playhouse, a member of the Agilysys Customer Advisory Board, a board member and Director of Marketing for the Rob Benzon Foundation, a member of CA Travel, as well as a member of The Greater San Diego Business Association. He is also a Commission Advisory Panelist for the Commission for Arts and Culture for San Diego.

Previously, he has held advisory rolls for,, San Diego Tourism Authority Marketing Committee, and San Diego Business Association Tourism Development Group. Mr. Thomas is a past recipient of the Gold Key Award for “Sales Person of the Year" and is an alumni of the University of Denver for Hotel Management as well as Regis College.