JOIN US FOR: Director Of The Year | Directors Summit

Six San Diego Executives Honored as “Director of the Year” for Exemplary Board Leadership

26th Annual Awards Recognize Top Board Directors for Driving Transformation,
Championing Inclusivity, and Igniting Innovation


SAN DIEGO – JUNE 29, 2023  Corporate Directors Forum (CDF) proudly announces the distinguished recipients of the “Director of the Year Award,” to be presented at its 26th annual awards ceremony on September 7, 2023.

Nominated by their peers, the six distinguished honorees embody the transformational, forward-thinking leadership required to address the global challenges facing organizations today.

“The board directors we are honoring this year are not only leaders to the organizations they serve but also inspiring role models for leaders worldwide,” said Jessica N. Grounds, CEO of CDF. “In the 26th year of this prestigious award, and during a time when thoughtful, inventive leadership is needed more than ever, we are proud to honor this remarkable group for their visionary work guiding organizations into the future.”

The Director of the Year Award was established to recognize outstanding board directors who live in the San Diego region or serve San Diego-based organizations. Five awards—in the categories of Corporate Governance, Enhancement of Culture & Inclusion, Companies in Transition, Emerging Board Leader, and Not-for-Profit Board Leader—recognize recent achievements, while the Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a director who has demonstrated superior leadership spanning decades.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1688053744741{padding-bottom: 20px !important;}”]

The 2023 Director of the Year Award honorees are:

Director of the Year, Corporate Governance:
Cynthia “CJ” Warner

CJ Warner serves as the Lead Independent Director for Sempra (NYSE: SRE), a leading North American energy infrastructure company. Warner’s nomination recognizes her instrumental role in advancing Sempra’s sustainable business strategy with a commitment to strong and prudent governance practices. Through her leadership at Sempra, CJ has helped streamline board protocols, championed continuing board education, and fostered a culture of engagement and inclusivity. Warner also serves as a director of Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) and Bloom Energy (NYSE: BE).

Director of the Year, Enhancement of Culture & Inclusion:
Terri Funk Graham

Terri Funk Graham serves as a Board Director and Chair of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of both Sprouts Farmers Market (Nasdaq: SFM) and LL Flooring Holdings (NYSE: LL). Graham has overseen critical ESG (environmental, social, governance) efforts and led multiple board and CEO searches with a dedication to enhancing gender, racial, and ethnic diversity. She also serves as a director coach for 50/50 Women on Boards, a global education and advocacy campaign with a mission of improving gender balance and diversity on corporate boards.

Director of the Year, Companies in Transition:
Helen Adams

Helen Adams, an accomplished certified public accountant, has served on multiple public and nonprofit company boards, including her current appointment as Chair of the Audit Committee for Prometheus Biosciences. Adams’ nomination commends her strategic guidance in navigating Prometheus through significant transitions, including a successful $126 million IPO (March 2021), a subsequent $250 million follow-on offering (December 2022), and the recent $10.8 billion sale to Merck, marking the largest M&A valuation in San Diego biotech history.

Director of the Year, Emerging Board Leader:
Michael Naylor

Michael Naylor is Chief Executive Officer and Board President and Secretary at PKL Services, Inc., a global aerospace company specializing in military aircraft maintenance and operations. Under Naylor’s leadership, PKL has achieved remarkable growth, expanding from 200 to 700 employees, bolstering its board with new independent directors, and doubling its stock value over the past two years. Naylor, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, also serves on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carlsbad.

Director of the Year, Not-for-Profit Board:
Anne Marbarger

Anne Marbarger is the CEO and a Board Director of Curebound, which raises and invests strategic funding in translational cancer research projects, including those that address cancer disparities among underserved populations. In this role, she has prioritized building a diverse board and staff as well as launching a Scientific Advisory Board that brings together global perspectives and unique approaches to accelerating cures for cancer. Under her leadership, Curebound has awarded $26 million to fund 95 innovative cancer research grants, bringing the best minds from San Diego’s top institutions together to accelerate cures for cancer.

Director of the Year, Lifetime Achievement:
Daniel Bradbury
Dan Bradbury has more than 35 years of experience leading global life sciences companies. Currently, he is the Executive Chairman of Equillium (Nasdaq: EQ), Chairman of the Board of Castle Biosciences (Nasdaq: CSTL), and a Member of the Board of Directors of Intercept Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ICPT). He also serves on the Keck Graduate Institute’s Board of Trustees and the University of California San Diego Rady School of Management Dean’s Advisory Council, as well as on the boards of several other private companies. “Dan’s contributions to California’s biotech and life sciences industry are unparalleled,” said Grounds. “He brings both deep experience and visionary thinking to some of the world’s preeminent companies and epitomizes the type of board leadership that we celebrate at CDF. We are proud to recognize him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.”[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]About Corporate Directors Forum (CDF)

CDF fosters modern leaders at the top of organizations by curating cutting-edge education and connections for a dynamic network of board members, company decision-makers, and experts. Based in San Diego, California with a national reach, CDF members include public and private companies, business leaders, board members, board experts, and educational institutions. Learn more at 

About the Director of the Year Award

Founded in 1998, the Director of the Year Award recognizes board directors for outstanding performance leading their organizations. Nominees must be a resident of the San Diego area or serve on a board of a company headquartered in San Diego. The awards ceremony will be held September 7, 2023 at 5pm at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla. Learn more at[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]