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Columbia College West Coast

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Columbia College West Coast

James Stone CC’90, Trailblazer Awardee, and Dean Josef Sorett pose at the 2023 West Coast Honors celebration.

James Stone CC’90, Trailblazer Awardee, and Dean Josef Sorett at the 2023 West Coast Honors celebration.

Tamara Leigh Photography

West Coast Honors

In March 2023, the Columbia College Alumni Association and Dean Josef Sorett kicked off the inaugural celebration and recognition with the West Coast Honors in Los Angeles and San Francisco. This new annual tradition saw more than 150 alumni and guests gather to recognize four outstanding Columbia College West Coast (CCWC) alumni for their professional accomplishments and for embodying the spirit of the west coast as well as pioneering service to Columbia College.

Each year, members of the CCWC community will receive the Spirit of Creativity and Innovation Award for exceptional professional achievement, and the Trailblazer Award for pioneering and distinguished service or volunteerism to the College. Understanding that many west coast alumni are unable to travel east to stay connected to Columbia College, CCWC will celebrate the thriving west coast community in the community.

Check back soon for more information on this year's celebration, which will take place in early June 2024.

Award Criteria and Nominations

The nomination form to honor West Coast alumni for the Trailblazer Award or the Spirit of Innovation & Creativity Award has closed.

Trailblazer Award

This award was established to honor an individual or group of individuals who have demonstrated exceptional service to the College on the West Coast. This recipient or group by their action and support, has enhanced the community, well-being or engagement of the College. Nominees will be considered on the basis of:

  • A track record of exceptional service to Columbia College and broader public
  • Engagement with Columbia’s West Coast community, which may include a committee, fund, class, alumni organization, or other activity substantially benefiting the alumni community

Spirit of Innovation & Creativity Award

This award was established to honor an individual who has brought distinction to themselves and the College through their professional achievements. Specifically, this individual has made significant achievements in and creative/innovative contributions to their field on the West Coast. Nominees will be considered on the basis of:

  • Distinguished professional achievements, which may include formal recognition and/or demonstrated leadership
  • Innovative contributions to their field on the West Coast, including, but not limited to, tech, finance, media, education, or activism.

Past Honorees

2023 Trailblazer Award Honorees

  • Vijay Mohan Headshot
    Vijay Mohan CC’01, Co-Founder and Partner, Sixth Street

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    Vijay Mohan is Co-Founder and Partner of Sixth Street, a global investment firm. Mr. Mohan oversees Sixth Street’s Strategic Capital Group, which is the firm’s versatile unit for investing globally and across sectors. He also has responsibility for several of Sixth Street’s sector-focused teams, including the Healthcare and Life Sciences group.

    Prior to co-founding Sixth Street in 2009, Mr. Mohan was a Managing Principal with Bardin Hill (the then Halcyon Asset Management). Prior to joining Bardin Hill, he worked in the largest proprietary investment group at Goldman Sachs alongside many of Sixth Street’s co-founding partners. Mr. Mohan began his career with Goldman Sachs in the Technology, Media and Telecom Group of the Investment Banking Division.

    He received a B.A. in economics, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Columbia College and has been an active alumni member. He currently sits on the Board of Visitors and is Vice Co-Chair of the Fund Development Council West. He previously served on the Core to Commencement Steering Committee and on the Board of the Young Leaders Council.

    Mr. Mohan was born and raised in New York and has been living in San Francisco since 2009 with his family, including his identical twin boys. He currently serves on the Board of Playgroup Preschool, Town School for Boys, and is the former Chair and a current Board Member of the Bay Area Discovery Museum, whose mission is to transform research into early learning experiences that inspire creative problem solving.

  • James Stone headshot
    James Stone CC’90, Head of West Coast Investment, PennantPark

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    James Stone is Co Vice Chairman of the Fund Development Council and focuses on FDC West. He is also on the Board of the Columbia Alumni Association of Southern California. James graduated Columbia College in 1990 with an AB in History and earned an MBA from Columbia Business School in 1996. He has made his career in finance and investment working in New Yok at DLJ, Bankers Trust, Imperial Capital, Macquarie Capital and Cowen and Company. James is currently a Partner at Pennantpark Investment Advisers. He joined PennantPark in 2015 as Head of West Coast Investment and moved in that year with his family from New York back home to his native Los Angeles.

    James has been married to Regine Stone for more than 27 years and they have two daughters. Amelia is a Sophomore at Columbia College and a member of the Class of 2025 and Isabel is a high school senior.

2023 Spirit of Innovation & Creativity Award Honorees

  • Courtney Lilly
    Courtney Lilly CC’97, Executive Producer/Showrunner, grown-ish, black-ish, and mixed-ish (ABC)

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    Courtney Lilly, who this year renewed his overall deal with ABC Signature, has been with the Studio, part of Disney Television Studios, for seven years. He recently wrapped showrunning the eighth and final season of black-ish, as well as co-showrunning grown-ish, which is now in its fifth season.

    Lilly started his career as a writer on Arrested Development and has written for shows such as My Boys, The Cleveland Show and Undateable. He won a Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship in 2000. Before that, he was a reporter for the Providence Journal-Bulletin.

    Black-ish has been nominated for four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy as has won four NAACP Image Awards for Best Comedy Series. The show also won the prestigious Peabody Award in 2015.

  • Marco Zappacosta
    Marco Zappacosta CC’07, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Thumbtack

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    Marco Zappacosta is the co-founder and CEO of Thumbtack. Recognized on Forbes’ 2015 30 under 30 list, Marco and Thumbtack have been featured in media outlets
    including The New York Times, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal and CNBC and were recently acknowledged as one of GlassDoor's Best Places to Work and Highest Rated CEOs lists. Marco co-founded Thumbtack after graduating from Columbia University, where he majored in Political Science. He and his family live in San Francisco. His favorite personal Thumbtack project was hosting a Halloween party that included a Thumbtack bartender, magician, and photographer.

A Special Thank-You to the West Coast Honors Engagement Committee:

Armond Adams CC'06, Co-Chair
Emily Miles Terry CC'89, Co-Chair
Lauren Accordino CC’09
Sarah Aibel CC’92
Katie Benevenuto CC’05
Maxwell Johnson CC22
Irene Heejin Koo CC’20
Courtney Lilly CC’92
Vijay Mohan CC’01
Kenyatta Monroe-Sinkler CC’91
Jenn Ryan CC’89
James Stone CC’90
John Vincenti CC’90
Courtney Wilkins CC’07
Marco Zappacosta CC’07
Kevin Zhang CC’14