Our people are our greatest asset.
At the Mission Bay Conference Center, we believe our people are our most valuable resource and the key to our success. It's our policy and our mission to recruit and hire people at all levels of our organization that have the highest levels of integrity, talent and motivation. We know these qualities are essential in every aspect of our business. Whether it's providing exceptional customer service, protecting and preserving the environment, or ensuring a safe experience for our guests and employees, it all comes down to our team.
Let our expert staff help plan your next event. Contact us today.
Mark Wallace - General Manager
In the hospitality field for over thirty years, Mark is responsible for guiding the Mission Bay Conference Center team towards their mission of being a "world class meeting facility in the heart of Mission Bay."
Mark started in the meetings industry with Marriott Hotels in Palm Springs, CA and Portland, OR. After ten years in the hotel industry, he went to work as the Regional Director of Sales for the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OR. This was followed by a four-year stint as Director of Sales and Marketing at The Anaheim Convention Center where he was recruited to be the Assistant General Manager in charge of planning and opening the new Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, AZ.
A graduate of Oregon State University, Mark also studied at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Madrid, Spain. He has been a volunteer with the American Diabetes Association for over twenty-three years, serving on the local Northern California Leadership Board as well as the National Income Development committee.
James Long - Director of Catering Sales
James Long has built his hospitality career at some of the countries most iconic hotels including the Plaza Hotel in New York, the Helmsley-Harley Hotel, the New York Marriot Marquis, the San Francisco Marriot, the Los Angeles Omni Hotel and most recently the LA Hotel Downtown. His industry experience includes restaurant management, banquet and catering operations, catering sales and conference services.
At Mission Bay, James is focused on building high performing teams, developing outstanding customer relations and delivering best in class, state of the art events at the beautiful, high tech Mission Bay Conference Center. In his role of Director of Sales and Marketing at the Mission Bay Conference Center, James oversees catering sales and conference planning.
Crystal Bocanegra - Sales Manager
Crystal Bocanegra, a thought leader in the event industry for the past 7 years and University of Texas graduate. Crystal wants to create a world filled with memorable event experiences that provide the highest value and impact for attendees.
Crystal has invested the past 7 years of her professional career building a robust portfolio consisting of live entertainment events, university events, large conventions and trade shows, sporting events, fundraisers, hotel sales, catering sales and event sponsorship sales. Crystal joins us from University of Southern California special events and catering department, the Los Angeles Convention Center event services sales, Valley Music Travel and CID Entertainment as well as previously owning her own business where she worked on numerous charity events and festivals as a freelance event producer and manager. She has been nominated for and received numerous awards for her hard work, dedication and commitment to the industry. With her entrepreneurial spirit and past experience in producing and managing events, she is aware of the event cycle and enjoys playing a key role in the process of assisting clients in making the best decision in securing their venue here at Mission Bay Conference Center. She has recently become a member of MPI Northern California Chapter and looks forward to taking on an active role in the organization, while working towards her CMP certificate.
When she’s not creating world-class event experiences, she enjoys the outdoors, spending time with her family and has recently taken up the hobby of landscape photography. Crystal is tenacious, personable and dedicated to her trade. She looks forward to serving you and providing you with the highest quality event experience, which she has proudly developed a reputation for.
Melissa Liwanag - Sales Coordinator
Prior to joining the Mission Bay Conference Center team, Melissa started her career in sales with experience working with three brands of GAP Inc. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Tourism & Event Management at San Jose State University. With experience both in the hotel, special events and event rental industry Melissa takes on the role as the Sales Coordinator for the office assisting and supporting the team with various tasks. She is very dedicated and motivated to grow with the team and is excited to learn more about the field.
On her spare time when she is not working she enjoys spending time her daughter and planning weekend outings for her family.
Holly Szeto brings more than 14 years of professional experience to this role, having most recently worked as the Senior Convention Services Manager at the InterContinental San Francisco Hotel, and as the Catering and the Convention Services Manager at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Holly’s hotel career has taken her to properties on both coasts of the US and her leisure travel has taken her to six of the seven continents.
As Senior Conference Planning Manager at Mission Bay Conference Center, Holly will be working with guests to plan corporate, University, and social events at the Conference Center.
Kelin Shaw - Conference Planning Manager
Kelin Shaw joins Mission Bay Conference Center with over 8 years of hospitality management experience in both operations as well as conference planning. Kelin most recently worked for Hyatt Hotels in the San Francisco bay area, as both a Food and Beverage and Banquet Manager at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, and then as an Event Planning Manager at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf. Both properties brought unique and challenging experiences to her evolution in the industry, from managing event space of over 54,000 square feet at the Hyatt in Burlingame, to handling smaller more intimate board meetings and events at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf.
Kelin moved to the bay area straight out of college from Colorado, and has been in the hospitality industry here ever since. She graduated from Colorado State University with a Degree in Liberal Arts and a double minor in Spanish and Sociology. Kelin is driven to help make Mission Bay Conference Center a top tier location for meetings and events in San Francisco.
Jason Lavinsky - Executive Chef
Born and raised in Southern California, Chef Jason's love of cooking began with his grandmother, Joy. His early memories were abundant with culinary adventures he and his grandmother shared, from thanksgiving dinner for a family of 40+, to a recipe still very much a favorite of his, "Summer Sausage." Having grown up in both Los Angeles and Orange County, Chef Jason attributes much of his ability to maintain a passion for cooking to the thriving multicultural communities there, and the unique styles and insight they each offer to the culinary field.
Though the many paths Chef Jason has taken have not always been in a culinary discipline, he has always maintained a strong passion for cooking. While working as a kitchen manager in a small Los Angeles-based craft services company, Chef Jason felt a need to make a career change and seek an opportunity that would expand his culinary knowledge. He began his Hyatt career in November of 2005 as the Sous Chef of the Hyatt Regency Irvine's off-site restaurant, the Oak Creek Cafe, located on the beautiful grounds of the Oak Creek Golf Club. His dedication and passion for culinary excellence quickly gained the attention of the hotel’s executive staff.
As a result of his hard work at the cafe, Chef Jason was invited to work on-site at the hotel as the Banquets Sous Chef; over the next five years he would prove to be a valuable asset to the Hyatt brand, resulting in a coveted opportunity at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach as the Executive Sous Chef. Only eight months after his promotion to the Long Beach property, Chef Jason received an opportunity as Executive Chef of San Francisco’s Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf. Diving into his role, he established many partnerships within the bay area, becoming the first hotel, and one of the first 10 restaurants in San Francisco to join the seafood watch alliance, committing to serve only sustainable seafood.
August Olson - Executive Sous Chef
With over twenty years of experience in all facets of the food service industry, August has been the Mission Bay Conference Center's Executive Sous-Chef for the past six years.
Prior to joining MBCC, August was the Vice President and Executive Chef for one of the top catering companies in the Bay Area.
Murata Buranasiri - Director of Operations
Murata Buranasiri comes to the Mission Bay Conference Center with more than24 years of hospitality experience; ten of which he spent as a Senior Food and Beverage. Murata began his career in the United State at the San Francisco Tennis Club, later transitioning to the hospitality industry as an Assistant Banquet Manager at the Renaissance Park 55. After 6 months, he was promoted to Banquet Manager where he provided full banquet services for up to 800 guests and assisted in developing a wine list that was awarded the Wine Spectator Award for 3 consecutive years. He later joined the Grand Hyatt San Francisco as a Banquet Manager where he was awarded Manger of the Quarter as well as Manager of the Year. While at Grand Hyatt, Murata also improved and developed beverage programs for the restaurant, the lounge, and banquets.
Murata later joined Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport as a Banquets and Convention Services Director where he oversaw banquets and convention services of up to 2,000 guests in a 60,000 square foot facility. Shortly after Murata transitioned into the role of Assistant Food and Beverage Director where he oversaw the restaurants, in-room dining, a sports bar, a coffee shop, a lounge, banquets and convention services, and stewarding (which included 2 department directors, and 8 managers in a 789 guestroom Four-Diamond Hotel). While at this location he also supervised a team of 115 full-time employees for a division with nearly $18 million in revenue annually.
Murata then joined Aloft Silicon Valley as their Food and Beverage Director where he supervised a food and beverage division that was budgeted for $1.2 million in revenue for 2014, while maintaining a guest satisfaction rate of 8.65 (above the 8.45 company average) which garnered his team a rank of 14th in the company.
David Rutkin - Food & Beverage Manager, Catering
David Rutkin brings more than a decade of conference, event and entertainment experience to Aramark. Following a three year stint as Assistant General Manager for two Napa restaurants, he followed his passion for event management to Mission Bay Conference Center.
He started his career as Operations Manager of a high end catering company in Seattle, serving the city’s elite and their international guests. Armed with that experience he moved into conference center and sports arena foodservice management serving as Catering Manager for Centerplate and Levy Restaurants. This experience has ingrained the “customer first” precept into David’s service style.
David has coordinated events for groups as small as 10, with their security detail, and as large as 7,000 in Washington, D.C. honoring an international dignitary. He has arranged a myriad of events ranging from private family gatherings, sit down off-site events held at outdoor venues, Green Room service for celebrities, corporate meetings filling sports arenas and pre-game VIP experiences.
During the summer David returns to Seattle to serve as Operations Director for the four-day Auction of Washington Wine, which raises close to $2 million annually for uncompensated care at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.
Phan Khamphouvong - Food & Beverage Manager, The Pub
Phan comes to the Mission Bay Conference Center with 13 years of experience in the hospitality industry. As a graduate of San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management, Phan has spent the past 8 years in management positions with companies such as Specialty’s Café and Bakery, and Panera Bread.
Phan’s most valuable moments were with Specialty’s Café and Bakery, where she was the café’s general manager. She led the way in setting financial goals, policies, and timeline for the day to day operation in the cafe, while keeping in mind state and federal health codes and laws. She established a respectable reputation amongst her team and her customers by acting as a positive role model and creating an enjoyable work environment.
As the Food and Beverage Manager focusing on The Pub, Phan hopes to continue to build a strong customer connection based café to ensure each customer is a returning customer.
Marina Stamas - Operations Associate Manager
A recent graduate of Florida State University’s Dedman School of Hospitality, Marina Stamas brings fresh perspective and a diverse portfolio to Mission Bay Conference Center. Marina has 5 years of experience in the sales industry and began her hospitality career in operations at the Forbes top rated Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park. She has since used this experience working large scale events at Florida State’s Donald L. Tucker Civic Center and now at Mission Bay Conference Center. Eager to begin her post-grad career, Marina hopes to learn more about the event industry from the high caliber Mission Bay team.
Larry Tse - Controller
Larry Tse brings over 8 years of hospitality management experience to the Mission Bay Conference Center team. He began his career as a Staff Accountant at a Public Accounting firm in San Francisco but transitioned his career focus to pursue his passion for the food service industry. A Certified Dietary Manager (CDM) in 2013 he has experience in managing multiple & diverse food service operations including hospitals, catering and refreshment services. In addition, he is knowledgeable and responsible for managing all aspects of financial statements, forecasting, budgets, cost management and accounting & control practices.
Prior to joining MBCC he was the Assistant Finance Manager in the fastest growing ARAMARK location in the Refreshment division where he lead a team of Customer Service Associates, Financial Clerks and Inventory Analyst to manage over $50 million in annual revenue.
Larry Tse holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Business Management with an emphasis in Accounting from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Tony Dee - Accounting Assistant
Tony brings over five years of accounting systems and financial experience to his role as Accounting Assistant for the Mission Bay Conference Center where he is responsible for payroll, check processing, and collections.
Prior to joining MBCC, Tony was in customer service at the Holiday Inn, Fisherman's Wharf, handling guest check-in/check-out, daily reporting, and billings.
Tony holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Catherine Alesna - Accounts Payable
Catherine Alesna works as the Accounts Payable Clerk- Vault person for the Mission Bay Conference Center Accounting Department. She has been part of the Finance and Accounting Department since June 10, 2010. Catherine Alesna received the Encore Award during first quarter of the year 2014. The Accounts Payable Clerk- Vault takes care of all accounts payable, sets up change for vault, sets up deposits, reconciles receipts, weekly meals report, reconciles credit card transactions, purchase orders, reviews vendors statement, counts bank and month end inventory review. Education and Certificate Bachelor of Science in Biology from Southwestern University, Philippines, Medical Billing Coding and Health Claims Examining, Los Angeles, California.
Catherine Alesna upholds company missions statement: "Deliver Experience that Enrich and Nourish Lives."