Executive Council and Advisory Board

Executive Council and Advisory Board members are the leading advocates for the UC Irvine Diabetes Center’s mission and vision.  It supports the philanthropic activities of the Center and acts as representatives to the various communities it serves.


Susan Bowman
Executive Council Membership Chair
Susan H. Bowman is an industrial/organizational psychologist working in the areas of strategy, organizational change and leadership development. She was formerly the senior vice president of human resources at Emulex, now part of Avago Technologies, based in Costa Mesa, California. In this role, Ms. Bowman was responsible for all aspects of Human Resources including talent management, total rewards, leadership and employee development, and organization effectiveness. Susan was previously senior vice president of human resources at 3Com Corporation, now part of HP and executive vice president of Human Resources for Genuity, Inc., which was an Internet infrastructure and service provider (ISP) company. Susan also held a number of executive positions in Human Resources at GTE/Verizon. Her primary areas of expertise are leading change in organizations, international human resources, executive compensation, developing executive teams, and talent management. Susan holds a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

David Brownstein
Audit Manager
Haskell & White LLP

David Brownstein, CPA, a manager in the Audit and Business Advisory Services department, manages the delivery of our audit services and is responsible for planning activities and the effective and timely execution of audit tests. With more than six years of experience in public accounting, David has significant experience with both public and private businesses in various industries including manufacturing, health sciences, real estate, not-for-profits, financial services, and insurance. David most recently worked on an IPO for one of our health sciences clients. David maintains a proactive approach throughout his projects and is skilled at explaining technical topics in a simple, easy-to-understand manner. David joined H&W as a senior associate in 2012 and earned his promotion to manager in 2014. Prior to joining H&W, David worked three years at a Big Four firm. David graduated Summa Cum Laude from Tulane University with a Bachelor’s degree in finance and a Master’s degree in accounting.

Anson Cain
Associate Attorney
Albrecht & Barney

Anson focuses his practice on estate and gift tax law and estate planning. He is a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University and Pepperdine University School of Law. He received his LL.M. in Estate Planning from the University of Miami School of Law. Anson was an NAIA All-American Scholar Athlete while in college. During law school, he served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of The National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary.

Dick Chatham
Managing Director, Group Head
Union Bank’s Real Estate Industries (REI)

Dick began his career at Union Bank in 1982. In 2013, he became Group Head of Union Bank’s Real Estate Industries. This Group works with a wide range of Real Estate investors from the smaller private to the largest publicly traded companies in the US. Dick graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in business and finance from Arizona State University. He and his family reside in Newport Beach. He is also involved in the Urban Land Institute, NAIOP, and the Building Industry Association.

David Chavez                                                                                                Executive Council Marketing Chair
Private Wealth Advisor
MUFG Union Bank

David works with a team of specialists in wealth planning, investments, risk management, trust and estate services, and banking. The team builds consultative client relationships by providing wealth management advice centered on the client’s unique goals and dreams. David has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of New Mexico and an MBA from Western International University. He is also a graduate of Union Bank’s Commercial Credit Training Program, which holds a prestigious distinction in the banking industry. David holds Series 7 and 66 securities licenses and California Life and Health Insurance licenses as well.

Rajer Choobak
Wealth Manager
Royal Alliance Associates

Rajer provides financial planning, investment management, asset protection/preservation, and insurance services for his clients. Rajer focuses on value investing and research methods of great investors such as Warren Buffett.  He received his BS in accounting from the University of Southern California, is fluent in several languages, and has extensive knowledge on emerging global markets.  He is one of the founding members of the Ernst & Young Orange County Alumni Association where he has been a board member since 1996. Rajer resides in South Orange County with his wife, Dawn, and their children, Will, Ava, and Connor.

Doug McCombs
Partner, Audit Services
Grant Thornton

Doug has more than 28 years of experience leading audits and advising businesses and serves clients in technology (semiconductors, software and hardware), manufacturing, and consumer and industrial products. He has served venture-backed startups to multinational public and private companies. His experience includes initial public offerings and other registration statements, debt offerings and related registration statements, and acting as an independent or SEC review partner. Previously, he was an audit partner with Ernst & Young, where he led the Orange County office’s technology industry team for 10 years. Doug graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a bachelor in Accounting. He is also involved with Children’s Hospital of Orange County, United Way and Laguna Beach School Power Endowment.

Brian Novak, PhD
Senior Associate 
K&L Gates LLP

Dr. Brian Novak is a senior associate in K&L Gates LLP’s Orange County office where he provides council on intellectual property acquisition, maintenance, and strategy. As a UC Irvine graduate student in analytical chemistry, Brian worked under Nobel Laureate F. Sherwood Rowland and Donald Blake. Brian developed assays to detect diabetes markers in exhaled human breath; his research was published in, among others, the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007. He presented at the American Diabetes Association’s Annual Scientific Sessions in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and was awarded the Peterson Student Research Bronze Medal in 2006 by the Diabetes Technology Society for his doctoral research. Brian has since earned his law degree from Whittier Law School with summa cum laude honors. Brian works with many large pharmaceutical clients including MannKind for its Afrezza inhaled insulin.

Adrienne Thomas
Executive Council Events Chair
Adrienne has an extensive fundraising background. She co-chaired several galas and chaired several of the first walks for JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) before coming to the UC Irvine Diabetes Center. Adrienne’s son, Scott, has been one of Dr. Ping Wang’s patients for the past eight years, so she strongly supports the mission of the Diabetes Center. She has also played an active role as the Event Committee chair, starting and developing the model for the Center’s annual fundraising event. Adrienne is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. and lives in Laguna Beach with her husband, Richard.

Jerry von Talge, PhD
Jerry and his wife, Jean Hobart, were part of the original volunteer group established to support and promote the UC Irvine Diabetes Center. He writes grants and promotional material for the Diabetes Center. Jerry, retired, has a PhD in clinical psychology. He was a professional writer in forensic psychology and psychiatry, a mental health court expert, and a trial consultant. He and Jean also volunteer for Orange County SPCA fundraising and participate in their therapy dog program. Jerry also volunteers at the Irvine Animal Care Center, photographing new dogs for their website.

Dean Yoost
Executive Council Chair
Dean is a retired partner of Pricewaterhouse Coopers. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Pacific Life Insurance Company, Emulex Corporation (NYSE), and MUFG Union Bank.  He is also one of three members of the advisory board of the American Honda Finance Corporation. He founded and serves as the chairman of the Audit Committee Roundtable of Orange County.  Dean also is a Board Member of the National Association of Corporate Directors in Southern California.  Additionally, he is a Trustee of the University of California Irvine’s Foundation and the Chairman of its Audit Committee. Dean has an MBA, a master’s degree in Business Taxation, and a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Ping H. Wang, MD
Director, UC Irvine Diabetes Center
Prof. of Medicine, Physiology & Biophysics, & Experimental Pathology
Chief, Division of Endocrinology, UCI Medical Center
Co-Director, UCI Stem Cell Training Program

Dr. Ping Wang is a Harvard-trained endocrinologist and received his diabetes training at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Dr. Wang joined UC Irvine’s School of Medicine faculty as a Professor of Medicine and also serves as Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at UC Irvine Medical Center. As the Director of the UC Irvine Diabetes Center, he is responsible for the overall development of the diabetes research and patient care programs at UC Irvine Health. Ping is also an active researcher in the area of diabetes complications and heart disease.  In his laboratory, located in the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, Dr. Wang aims to define the molecular mechanisms of diabetic heart complications.  In addition to his administrative, clinical, and research duties, Ping also participates in national clinical and research programs.  For example, he has served as grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, UK Wellcome Trust, American Heart Association, etc.  He has sat on the review panel for American College of Physicians on diabetes standards of care.  He and his colleagues have published numerous research papers and commentary articles in leading journals.


Brian Backstrom
Real Estate Professional
Teles Properties
One of the areas leaders in luxury real estate sales, and also a Shady Canyon Resident for more than 12 years, Brian has a flair for outstanding client service, which has propelled him into his current position as one of the regions most respected and successful real estate professionals. Brian decided to switch from a very successful career in the telecom industry into residential home sales over a decade ago. His clients have benefited from the broad scope of knowledge and tireless work ethic. Brian, his wife Sarah, and their three children are members of the Shady Canyon Country Club and attend many social and golf events. Brian is an avid golfer and entertains many clients while on the golf course.

Brian Backstrom
Real Estate Professional
Teles Properties
One of the areas leaders in luxury real estate sales, and also a Shady Canyon Resident for more than 12 years, Brian has a flair for outstanding client service, which has propelled him into his current position as one of the regions most respected and successful real estate professionals. Brian decided to switch from a very successful career in the telecom industry into residential home sales over a decade ago. His clients have benefited from the broad scope of knowledge and tireless work ethic. Brian, his wife Sarah, and their three children are members of the Shady Canyon Country Club and attend many social and golf events. Brian is an avid golfer and entertains many clients while on the golf course.

Robert Follman                                                                                                              President                                                                                                                      RA Industries

Roger Grad
Snell & Wilmer, LLP

Roger’s practice is concentrated in complex tax and estate planning for high net-worth individuals and business clients. His practice also includes business and finance law, particularly in the formation of limited partnerships, limited liability companies, general partnerships, corporate mergers, corporate dissolutions, and public offerings. Roger counsels individuals and business clients in tax and estate planning issues involving complex claims in state, federal civil trial, and appellate courts, as well as tax, probate, and bankruptcy courts, and alternative dispute resolution forums. Additionally, he practices entertainment law representing clients in regard to entertainment-related agreements and transactions.

Rick Keller                                                                                                          Chairman                                                                                                                    First Foundation

Eric Kramer
Structure PMG

Eric is founder and president of Structure PMG. His position puts him at the forefront of property management issues as well as market conditions. Eric founded Structure Property Management Group, Inc. (Structure PMG) in February 2009. He received his BS in regional development from University of Arizona (1991), a certificate in Construction Management from UCLA (2002), and an MBA from University of Redlands (2004). Eric is a licensed California Real Estate Broker and a Certified Property Manager (CPM®) from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). Through Eric’s twenty-plus years of real estate experience, a significant part of which has been at the institutional level, he has developed the necessary skills to successfully plan and execute a value added real estate investment and operate the investment as a true fiduciary of the Investors.

Susan Parks
Co-Founder and CEO
iCount Wellness

Sue is a corporate wellness expert, the founder and chief executive officer of iCount Wellness, co-author of “iCount, 10 Simple Steps to a Healthy Life,” and a resident of Laguna Niguel. Sue and her co-author, Patricia Bonavia, offer realistic advice on how to maintain a healthy life while meeting the demands of corporate responsibilities. Sue’s company, WalkStyles, Inc., has developed the iCount™ Wellness program for corporate clients to help companies nurture a healthier, more productive and vibrant workforce. Sue has forged content relationships with other health care professionals as well.

Dan Pennington                                                                                                            Financial Associate                                                                                                     

Robert Pfeif
President  & Broker
4 Walls Residential

Robert heads the 4 Walls Residential in Newport Beach and has earned a reputation as one of the most highly respected, knowledgeable and admired professionals in his field. A second generation Broker, he grew up in the business and is committed to providing not only his clients but all parties involved the highest caliber of service and expertise throughout each transaction. Over the past twelve years, Robert has successfully completed over $225 million in sales. Specializing in the marketing and sale of residential and investment properties, he has represented buyers and sellers in some of the most affluent neighborhoods in Orange County. A California Native, Robert worked in commercial banking after graduating from the University of Southern California. Robert is also a member of the Council of Residential Specialists, a trade group comprising the top 4% of real estate agents nationwide. Robert is a longtime resident of Newport Beach where he lives with his wife, also a USC graduate, and their four children.

For more information about becoming an Executive Council member, email diabetes@uci.edu.