San Pedro Advisory Council Member Bios

SPAC Member Arley Baker

Arley M. Baker is the Senior Director of Communications for the Port of Los Angeles. On a daily basis, his award-winning team facilitates Port events, communication and personal interaction with the Port’s business stakeholders, community members, news media, and social media networks. Over the past 20 years, whether working in-house or on the agency side, Baker has served a variety of clients, including EarthLink, Bank of America, United Airlines, American Suzuki Motor Corporation, Taco Bell, Con-Way Transportation Services and the Ministry of Tourism in British Columbia, Canada. Through his involvement with the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), he was recently appointed Vice President of the 2013 World Ports Conference in Los Angeles as well as Vice Chair of the Conference’s Communications Committee.

A native of Southern California, Baker earned his Bachelor’s degree in English (Professional Writing) and minored in Political Science at the University of Redlands. He is a 2008 Fellow of Leadership Southern California and a 2010-2011 Executive Fellow at the Coro Southern California Center for Civic Leadership. He is an active board member of several chambers of commerce in Los Angeles and in Long Beach, where he lives with his wife and children. Through the Volunteer Center of the South Bay, Harbor and Long Beach, he is also a founding Board member of Team 100, a group of men who started the “Food For Kids” weekend food donation program for families of the South Bay's most disadvantaged elementary school children.

SPAC Member Yvonne Bogdanovich

Yvonne Bogdanovich is a longtime active community member who provides her time and talents as President of the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club of the Los Angeles Harbor. In addition, she is a member of the San Pedro Cancer Guild, Town and Gown of USC, Mary Star of the Sea High School Steering Committee and Mary Star of the Sea Finance Committee.

Bogdanovich's extensive leadership experience has included serving as President of Holy Trinity Parents Club, Mary Star of the Sea High School Parent Club, San Pedro High School Lady Boosters, USC Inter-Sorority Mothers Club, Alpha Phi Sorority Mothers Club, and the San Pedro Peninsula Cancer Guild. She has been honored by the San Pedro Lions as Citizen of the Year (1997) and by the YMCA Harbor Area Golden Circle. She has also served as event chair for numerous organizations’ fundraising events.

Yvonne Bogdanovich was born in San Pedro to parents Nikola and Mary Vilicich. She attended Leland Street Elementary School, Dana Junior High and Marymount High School in Palos Verdes. She completed her college education at Marymount College.  

SPAC Member Mitch Harmatz

Mitch Harmatz

Mitch Harmatz is President of Plaza Automotive Center, Inc., in San Pedro. Plaza Automotive is an active community sponsor––servicing YWCA’s vans at no charge and providing scholarships to the Boys and Girls Club College Bound Program. Harmatz' Plaza Automotive was named the 2009 Business of the Year by the San Pedro Rotary Club. It was also lead sponsor to the 2010 and 2011 Edge of LA Wine Festival in San Pedro. In addition, Plaza Automotive was awarded the YWCA’s Golden Circle Award in 2010 and is a supporter of Beacon House and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

Harmatz is a member of both San Pedro and Palos Verdes Peninsula chambers of commerce, and of the L.A. Harbor Latin Association. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from UCLA and a Bachelor’s in Physical Education from California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Mitch also has a Master of Science in Education from California State University Dominguez Hills. 

SPAC Member Liz Schindler Johnson

Liz Schindler Johnson

Liz Schindler Johnson is the driving force behind Grand Vision Foundation, a community organization whose mission is to “preserve and promote the historic Warner Grand Theatre and foster artistic, cultural and educational activities in the Theatre and throughout the Harbor/South Bay area of Los Angeles." Johnson has served on Grand Vision's Board and has been the volunteer Executive Director since 2000.

Previous to her work in San Pedro, Johnson was an Economic Development Specialist in the Community Development Departments of West Hollywood and Long Beach. She came to San Pedro to manage a business assistance center for the Harbor area in the mid-1990s, where she trained and counseled aspiring entrepreneurs. She is also a Board member of the Crail-Johnson Foundation and The Beacon House Association of San Pedro. She serves on the City of L.A.’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) Pacific Corridor Community Advisory Committee, as well as on the board of the San Pedro Arts, Culture and Entertainment District. Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art from Yale University ('85) and an Master of Arts in Urban Planning from UCLA.

Marymount SPAC Member Gary Larson

Gary Larson is a commercial real estate broker and currently the President of Pacific Land Co., LLC. Previously, he was one of three managing members of Pacific Group, LLC, which was primarily involved in real estate, equity investing and venture capital partnerships. Clients included Ben & Jerry, California, Claim Jumper Restaurants and The Olson Company, an award-winning developer of urban residential projects.

Larson is a specialist in urban redevelopment, mixed-use rehabilitation and restoration projects with over 30 years of experience in investment real estate brokerage as an investor, contractor, and developer. His in-depth knowledge and involvement with the San Pedro business district has increased the sector's economic strength in the renovation and creative marketing of many key commercial buildings. Over the past few years his projects have totaled in excess of 1,000,000 sq. ft. and $75 million in value. In addition, Larson has worked with various companies including the Janss Corporation as a JV partner on urban retail projects.

Larson’s commitment to the community is extensive; he has served on numerous Boards including: San Pedro Chamber of Commerce (President), San Pedro Revitalization Corporation (President), San Pedro Bay Historical Society (Chair), San Pedro Peninsula Hospital Foundation (Director), Downtown San Pedro Business Association (Chair), Los Angeles Conservancy, San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District and San Pedro CRA Advisory Committee. He also is a founding member of Grand Vision Foundation, San Pedro Bay Company and San Pedro Art Alliance. Additionally, he is a recipient of the Los Angeles Conservancy's prestigious Preservation Award for the preservation and restoration of the Carresi Arcade Building. Gary is a graduate of USC’s Real Estate Broker Program. 

SPAC Member Deborah Lewis

Deborah B. Lewis is Executive Director of Angels Gate Cultural Center. Uniting art, community and culture, Angels Gate Cultural Center provides interactive classes, gallery exhibits of both local and international artists, professional artists’ studios, art education programs and cultural events. 

Lewis was the Executive Director of the Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation from 1997 to 2008, where she provided leadership to create networks in arts and disability, distributing 129 grants and 72 scholarships, and providing technical assistance in arts access to organizations across the country. 

Lewis was formerly the Executive Director of Special Audiences in Atlanta, where she led the effort to create the first Cultural Paralympiad during the 1996 Paralympics. She also provided technical assistance to the Cultural Olympiad of the 1996 Olympics, which provided arts experiences to over 100,000 underserved people in Georgia annually. Lewis is a founding member of the Audio Description Coalition and Leadership Exchanges in Arts and Disability through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She holds a Bachelor’s degree inTheatre from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio.

SPAC Member Anthony Pirozzi

Anthony Pirozzi is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce. He was born and raised in San Pedro, and has worked for the Boeing Company, building and launching communication satellites for 20 years. Pirozzi joined the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce in 2006 and was elected as Chairman of its Board in 2010. His goals are to bring knowledge-based jobs to San Pedro, to work with local businesses and property owners to improve local business districts, and to work with local schools to inspire students to graduate and attend college. Pirozzi graduated from San Pedro High School in 1983. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly Pomona and a Master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University.

Stephen A. Robbins is the Executive Director of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District (PBID). The PBID is home to Marymount California University's Waterfront Campus, and provides public safety, beautification, landscaping, business development, tourism promotion and other essential community services in downtown San Pedro.

Prior to his involvement with the PBID, Robbins spent over 30 years in the hospitality business, providing operational and asset management services to national firms including Starwood Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Goldman Sachs, Sunstone Hotels, the United States Navy, and the Walt Disney Company. He is a partner in VB Management, a hospitality management and consulting firm based in Torrance. He is currently a Board member of the California Hotel & Lodging Association and Chair of the Association’s Audit Committee.

A native of Beverly, Minnesota, Robbins has resided in the South Bay for more than 30 years with his wife, Carl, and two daughters. He attended the University of Denver where he majored in Hotel Administration; he also completed graduate work at UCLA. Robbins is an Environmental Quality & Energy Conservation Commissioner for the City of Torrance. He was also a member of the Torrance Parks & Recreation Commission for a ten-year period. 

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