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Paving the way: Women leaders in North County

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are wrapping up our month-long blog series by highlighting some of the women leaders making a difference in North County. Learn more about these inspiring executives and their organizations below, and check out our other blog features on the women behind Innovate78, resources for female entrepreneurs and women-led and owned businesses in North County.

Maria Stipp – CEO, Stone Brewing

In September 2020, Stone Brewing Co. welcomed its first female CEO Maria Stipp. Maria joined Stone’s team well-equipped to lead the North County-based craft beer giant, with previous roles at Lagunitas Brewing Company, Miller Brewing, ecoATM, and Activision. As Stone’s CEO, Maria will oversee all West and East Coast brewing production facilities, two Bistro & Gardens locations and seven Brewing Tap Room locations. Maria also oversees product distribution to all 50 states and more than 40 countries worldwide. When she’s not leading this brewing powerhouse, Maria enjoys spending time with her 14-year-old twins, watching them play their favorite sports, trail running and relaxing with a cold IPA—preferably Stone Delicious IPA!

Headquartered in Escondido, Stone has grown to become a household name—ranked among the top 10 largest craft brewers in the United States. Stone also plays a tremendous role in North County as a leading manufacturer and tourist destination, with operations in four of the five cities along the 78 Corridor. You won’t want to miss the new Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager: it is out of this world!

Laura Garrett – Senior Vice President of Human Resources, TaylorMade 

Laura Garrett grew up playing golf in the small community of Bedford, Ohio on Cleveland’s southeast side. Her love of the game eventually led her to a job in the industry. It wasn’t until her run-in with a cringe-worthy product that made her realize the lack of diversity in golf. The product was a golfing glove that featured removed fingertips to accommodate manicured nails and a slit on the left hand ring finger to frame a wedding ring stone. Her realization motivated her to be the change she wanted to see in the world. After working in various roles at TaylorMade, she was promoted to the executive team in 2015. 

As TaylorMade’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources (HR), Laura oversees 1,200 employees worldwide. She leads general HR functions such as recruitment, and works to foster a culture of innovation, creativity and inclusion through her leadership. Under Laura’s guidance, TaylorMade recently saw one of its most productive years in company history. When she’s not leading one of golf’s most iconic brands, Laura enjoys spending time with her two children and petting strangers’ dogs.

Dr. Ellen Neufeldt – President, CSUSM

Dr. Ellen Neufeldt grew up in Cookeville, Tennessee. Ellen’s parents both worked at the Tennessee Technological University, her father as a faculty member and her mother as an administrative assistant. Ellen’s early exposure to universities through her parents’ careers had a profound impact on Ellen’s passion for higher education and her devotion to first-generation and underserved students. That passion eventually led her to her current position—leading one of the largest and fastest-growing four year universities in the region.

Ellen began her tenure at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) in May of 2019 and is the second woman to lead the university. Before coming to CSUSM, Ellen served as the Vice President of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Ellen’s career is centered on student success, supporting social mobility and inclusive excellence. She is firmly committed to ensuring that the university provides any student who dreams of a college degree the opportunity to earn one.

Melinda Kimbro – Senior Vice President, People & Culture and Chief People Officer, Viasat

Carlsbad’s Viasat is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. Melinda Kimbro came to Viasat in 2001 as its manager of learning and development. After demonstrating her wide range of talents and dedication to organizational development within various roles, Melinda was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2017. Shortly after, in 2018, she was also named as Viasat’s Chief People Officer. 

Melinda holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Speech Communication from San Diego State University. Prior to joining Viasat, she held corporate training and organizational development positions at Sony Electronics and Qualcomm. As Viasat’s second youngest executive, Melinda oversees the company’s global people strategy, including diversity, equity and inclusion, people analytics, employer brand, employee communication, corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Melinda wears many hats around the local community and currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the San Diego Museum of Art.

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