Lavin Center Board of Advisors

Growing an Entrepreneurial Culture

The Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University is an entrepreneurial leader in a thriving and diverse San Diego community. In order to build and maintain a world-class center we need the strategic and financial support of experienced and committed Advisory Board Members. We are always seeking individuals who can help us achieve our strategic objectives and support us in the community.

The Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Mission

The Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University (SDSU) is a hub on the SDSU campus uniting students, faculty, and the San Diego community in entrepreneurial activity. For students, the Lavin Center offers a wide variety of programs and experiential learning opportunities to supplement their academic experience, as well as individual counseling, various types of business competitions, internship programs, mentors, networking opportunities, workshops, and other entrepreneurship resources.

It is our mission to help students understand broad sweeping trends and see opportunities from an international and social change perspective. The acquisition of these skills and perspectives will provide a strong business foundation and prepare students to excel in an emerging global economy.

If you want to join our advisory board and make a difference, please contact Alex DeNoble at [email protected] 

Michelle Hon Donovan

Michelle Hon Donovan
Duane Morris LLP


Michelle Hon Donovan has diverse national practices in the areas of intellectual property law, cyber law, litigation and licensing. Ms. Donovan's clients represent a wide range of industries, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology, high-end consumer electronics, software, music, cosmetics and personal care products, real estate development, education, staffing, food and beverage, and social networking. Ms. Donovan also handles a variety of cyber law matters. She has handled security and data breaches and also counsels clients on privacy laws, cyber security laws, and social media issues. Ms. Donovan's litigation practice includes cases involving commercial, patent, copyright, trademark and domain name disputes, as well as a wide range of matters involving contracts, torts, privacy, defamation, franchise termination, unfair competition and false advertising. 

Ms. Donovan is a 2004 cum laude graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law, where she was Student Comment Editor of the San Diego International Law Journal and elected to the Order of the Coif. Ms. Donovan externed with Magistrate Judge Ruben B. Brooks in the United States District Court, Southern District of California. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (B.S., Genetics and Cell Biology). 

Sanford Ehrlich

Sanford Ehrlich, Ph.D.
Hall & Ehrlich, LLC

Sanford Ehrlich is the Vice President, Strategic Development for TVPage, a corporation that has developed an online video marketing platform to increase conversion to sales across all web properties. Previously, he served as the QUALCOMM Executive Director of San Diego State University's Entrepreneurial Management Center from 1997 to 2011 and is an Emeritus Professor of Management in the College of Business Administration. His research in leadership, technology commercialization, and entrepreneurship has appeared in journals such as the Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of High Technology Management Research, Leadership Quarterly, and IEEE Transaction on Engineering Management. Sanford serves on the Board of Directors of Nichols Corporation, Haws Corporation, and Deep Sky Software. In addition to his involvement with startup ventures, he serves on the Board of Directors and executive committee of CONNECT, a regional nonprofit organization that accelerates the creation of technology and life science startups in San Diego County by linking entrepreneurs with the resources needed for success. For his work in supporting and mentoring entrepreneurs, he is a recipient of the 2000 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the 2001 Edwin M. and Gloria W. Appel Award from the Price-Babson Foundation.


Steve Hoffman

Stephen Hoffman
Modern Postcard

Stephen Hoffman started The Iris Group in 1976 when he discovered a niche in the real estate industry - providing high quality photography of properties on the market. Steve soon moved on to developing brochures for his clients, and within six months of starting his brochure venture, moved his growing business from his apartment into a 1,200 square foot building in San Diego. Steve launched a line of postcard products that offered small runs of high quality cards at an affordable price. The success of this niche product led to a repositioning of the company and a new name - Modern Postcard. Through the years, Modern Postcard has helped over 250,000 clients grow their businesses, making us the industry leader in postcard products and solutions. 

Zeynep Ilgaz

Zeynep Ilgaz
Founder & President
Confirm BioSciences

Zeynep Ilgaz is the co-founder and President of Confirm BioSciences Inc, a leading provider of drug and alcohol testing and employee screening products and services. Under her leadership, the Company has been recognized as Best Places to work for and Fastest Growing Company list in San Diego. 

Ilgaz also currently serves as a lecturer for International Entrepreneurship at San Diego State University. She is also an advisor to the National Institute of Health, Commercialization Assistance Program. As part of her efforts to give back to the community, Ilgaz started a “We Care, People over Profit” Corporate Program within Confirm Biosciences- where a percentage of sales has been contributed to giving back to local organizations. The Year, the company has formed a partnership with Interfaith Community Services, where proceeds of sales as well as food and health supplies are provided to serve to over 19,000 individuals that Interfaith Community Services serve; to include homeless, veterans and kids at risk Ilgaz received her MBA from San Diego State University in 2000. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance from Bosporus University, Istanbul, Turkey. 

Mark Monahan

Mark Monahan
Inversiones Seguras LLC

Lavin Entrepreneurship Center’s Board of Advisors

Mark Monahan is a financial technology executive and the new Chairman of the Lavin Center’s Board of Advisors. He has run many electronic brokerage firms in various asset classes - including CEO of MTS Markets International, CEO of Ballista Securities, CEO of IEB Asia and Global Head of Sales and Service for EBS. He has played a lead role in four acquisitions in this industry. 

He is currently a board member of several institutions and was a founding board member of the Securities Industry Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) in Asia. Mark has extensive international experience having lived and worked throughout Europe and Asia, but has recently returned to his native San Diego where he previously earned an MBA from SDSU. 


 Carmen Bianchi

Carmen Bianchi
Founder and Director
EMC Business Forum

Carmen Bianchi has been a Family Business Consultant since 1991. She was the founder and director of the EMC Business Forum at San Diego State University, servicing the growth needs of family and closely held businesses. She was the founder of the University of Texas at El Paso Family Business Forum and was the executive director of the Forum. Ms. Bianchi has relocated to the San Diego area and is the founder and a principal of Carmen Bianchi & Associates, a consulting firm in Family Business. She currently teaches in the College of Business at SDSU to graduating seniors, a class on Family Business Management. As a family business consultant, Ms. Bianchi has served as a facilitator for family business retreats, facilitator for conflict resolution and an advisor on a variety of strategic business issues. Ms. Bianchi is also an expert in family systems and the relationship between family, business ownership and the professional roles within a family firm. Ms. Bianchi received national recognition and was elected to be the President 2007-2009 of the Family Firm Institute, the premier organization in the U.S. for professionals specializing in family business and wealth management. The Family Firm Institute in recognition of her outstanding achievements and contributions to the field of family business advising awarded her fellowship status. She was the Conference Chair for the FFI Global Summit 2013 held in San Diego. Carmen is the recipient of the Barbara Hollander Award, which exemplifies Barbara Hollander's love of education and learning, life-long commitment to social causes, dedication to civic responsibility, belief in the human capacity to change for the better, and belief in giving to others generously.

Dr. Gail Naughton

Dr. Gail Naughton
Histogen, Inc.

Dr. Gail Naughton founded Histogen, Inc, a regenerative medicine company, in 2007, and serves as its CEO and Chairman of the Board. She was the founder of Advanced Tissue Sciences and has spent more than 25 years extensively researching the tissue engineering process, holds more than 95 U.S. and foreign patents, and has been extensively published in the field. She served as the Dean for the College of Business Administration from 2002-2011. In 2000, Dr. Naughton received the National Inventor of the Year award by the Intellectual Property Owners Association in honor of her pioneering work in tissue engineering.

Steven Osinski

Steven Osinski
3 Hour Learning

In addition to being the former Chairman of the Lavin Center’s Board of Advisors, Osinski currently teaches marketing courses at SDSU in Direct Marketing and Sales. 

Osinski is a true entrepreneur. Prior to teaching, he was the founder and CEO of the SMART Group; a national advertising agency that specialized in serving the direct marketing needs of some of the nation’s largest Mobile / Wireless carriers. He started the company with just $3,000 and built it into over $15 Million in annual revenues before being acquired by TMP WORLDWIDE / MONSTER.COM in 1998. He then served as the Vice President of Marketing for their Directional Marketing division overseeing a half billion dollars in ad revenues for two years. 

He is highly committed towards enhanced education. He is an active member of the College of Business’ Board of Directors and has financially contributed towards the establishment of SDSU’s PSSM (Professional Sales & Sales Management) program that launched in 2013. He is also the founder and CEO of 3 Hour Learning ( An online digital educational program targeted towards teaching entrepreneurs and business professionals the fundamentals of success in sales. 

Osinski attended the University of Miami where he earned a BA in Mass Communications and an MBA in Marketing.


Bruce Knowlton

Bruce Knowlton

Professional Experience Bruce provides tax services to a variety of privately held companies in the manufacturing, distribution, and real estate industries. He specializes in tax consulting with an emphasis on closely held businesses entities (partnerships, C corporations, S corporations, and LLCs). He also provides income and estate planning for individuals and business owners. Bruce leads the firm’s Private Client Services Practice for the San Diego office. He has practiced public accounting for more than 25 years, and in addition to serving as the tax partner on numerous client engagements, he continues to be a mentor for tax senior managers and managers at the firm. 

Selected Publications
“Making the Most of the New Tax Savings Opportunities” (San Diego Business Journal, March 2018) 
“Now’s the Time to Reduce Your 2014 Tax Liability,” (San Diego Business Journal, Feb 2014)
“Are You Paying the IRS Too Much? Navigating the New 2013 Tax Laws,” (San Diego Business Journal, June 2013)

Selected Speaking Engagements
What is the Best Succession Planning Strategy for Your Family Business Client? Family Firm Institute (October 2013) 

Professional Affiliations
Member and Operations Roundtable planning committee member, SME CONNECT
Member, California Society of Certified Public Accountants
Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Robert Bello

Robert Bello
Sheppard Mullin

Robert Bello is an associate in the Real Estate, Land Use and Environmental Practice Group's Chicago office.

Bello's practice focuses on commercial and residential real estate transactions related to the leasing, acquisition, development, disposition and financing of real estate assets. He is experienced in transactional real estate matters that include drafting, negotiating and analyzing leases; purchase and sale agreements; SNDAs; estoppel certificates; development agreements; easements; and CC&Rs.

Bello is an alumni of SDSU, receiving his MBA in Management while simultaneously attending Thomas Jefferson School of Law. During law school, Robert was a member of Law Review and was a judicial extern for Justice Judith Haller at the California Court of Appeal and for Judge Leo Papas (Ret.) at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Bello holds dual citizenship with the United States and Italy, speaking both Italian and English. He also holds real estate brokerage licenses in California, Illinois, Georgia and Utah (inactive).