Dedicated. Inspired. Those are two words you could use to describe our team of community-change rock stars. From the smile that greets you at the reception desk, to the number crunchers in the finance department, to the visionaries on our redevelopment team, to our advocates for arts, culture, and education, we all work together toward one goal – making the Diamond Neighborhoods a better place to live, work, play, learn, and thrive.
Board of Directors
President & CEO
Valerie Jacobs Hapke
Valerie is the chairman of the board for the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and Jacobs Family Foundation.
Valerie is also the founder of Valerie Jacobs Consulting, dedicated to providing direct consultation support to individual philanthropists and family foundations. In addition, Valerie is a nationally-known speaker and has created a series of workshops for women of wealth and wealthy families dealing with both philanthropy and family dynamics. She has been a licensed psychotherapist since 1979, specializing in the effects of wealth on relationships and personal well-being, and has worked in the field of philanthropy since 1994.
Valerie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Education from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. Valerie is married to Norm Hapke, and they have two children.
Laila Aziz is the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation board’s vice chair. Laila also serves as the program director at Pillars of the Community, a community group that is committed to embracing and celebrating the historic, rich, and diverse culture of Southeast San Diego. Laila has worked in the nonprofit sector for almost 20 years, serving in various capacities and raising over $5 million dollars in grant funding. Committed to violence intervention and prevention, Laila uses her workforce, federal regulations and youth offender expertise to advocate for policy changes on legislation that disproportionally impacts youth and communities of color.
Laila was born in Long Island, New York, but grew up in Southeastern San Diego, attending Valencia Park Elementary School, O’Farrell Charter (formerly known as the School of Performing Arts), Morse High School and Serra High School.
In addition to serving on Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s board, Laila is also a board member at Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March and Moms of Black Boys United.
Norman “Norm” F. Hapke, Jr.
Norm is the board secretary of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and Jacobs Family Foundation. Norm spent nine years as a U.S. Marine Corps Officer, first serving as an infantry officer in Vietnam and then as a naval aviator flying worldwide transport and refueling missions. After leaving the Marine Corps, Norm entered commercial aviation and served as a captain with America West Airlines until his retirement in 2005.
Norm has a strong interest in public policy issues and is an advocate of self-help community change strategies and school reform. His priority is helping the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the Jacobs Family Foundation develop the expertise and experience to find and nurture the best programs that provide financial independence and success within the community.
Norm holds a Bachelor of Science degree in naval science from the U.S. Naval Academy. Norm is married to Valerie Jacobs Hapke, and they have two children.
Grandson of the founders, Joe and Vi Jacobs, and son of Valerie and Norm Hapke, Andrew Hapke was the first in the third generation to hold the seat of board chair of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and Jacobs Family Foundation. He currently serves as the board’s treasurer.
Andrew’s work has focused on identifying innovations in the private and social sectors and translating them into practical solutions to deep-rooted problems. After graduating from college, he spent a year in an AmeriCorps volunteer role with ACCION San Diego, a nonprofit organization that assists underserved entrepreneurs through micro-lending. Andrew also worked in India with a social enterprise that connects rural villages with mainstream markets. Specifically, he helped conceptualize, pilot and launch an innovative micro-finance program that supports budding entrepreneurs in villages across Northern India. After completing a master’s in business administration at the Yale School of Management, Andrew founded a crowdfunding technology start up in New York City.
A third generation Jacobs family member, Claire grew up watching the work of her grandparents and parents in what would become The Village at Market Creek. Her passion for learning about new cultures and appreciation for what residents have done together have led her to join the board of the family’s foundation and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. Claire received her doctorate in marriage and family therapy and is currently practicing in New York City.
Juan Carlos Hernandez
Juan Carlos Hernandez has over 30 years of experience in banking, including consumer, business, and commercial real estate lending. Since May 2018, he’s the Chief Credit Officer/Senior Vice President at California Southern Small Business Development Corporation. Prior to joining Cal-Southern, Hernandez was Chief Credit Officer of ACCION San Diego, and was responsible for lending staff supervision and training, program development, underwriting, loan portfolio quality and management, loss mitigation and recovery; and participating in the development of bank and community partner relations. Juan Carlos received a B.A. in Sociology, with an emphasis in Work Force Studies from University of Illinois at Chicago.
Juan Carlos is the immediate Past President of the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the current Treasurer of MANA de San Diego. He has also served on the board of San Diego Youth Services and Borderview YMCA.
Paul Robinson is the founder of Ensunet Technology Group, a San Diego based company specializing in Mergers and Acquisitions post-merger integration and IT enterprise architecture solutions, which was featured on Inc Magazine’s 2018 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America.
Having grown up in the Southeastern San Diego community, Paul has seen what happens when lack of economic opportunity, education, resources, community engagement, community mentorship, and crime all meet at the same intersection.
Leveraging a career spanning two decades in information technology, entrepreneurship, and bringing a community resident perspective, Paul is part of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation board to support the organization’s education to careers and local economy initiatives. Both programs focus on creating local and systems-level partnerships that offer accessible pathways for individuals seeking education and employment. These programs also focus on creating mentorship networks that support early-stage community entrepreneurs and accelerate existing neighborhood businesses.
Overseeing the organization’s mission and goals since 2012, Reginald Jones is president and chief executive officer of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the Jacobs Family Foundation.
Through the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, Jones leads efforts to develop enduring partnerships that create equitable, community-driven change in Southeastern San Diego, focusing on physical development and economic opportunity. He works with culturally diverse residents, organizations, political leaders and private entities to foster understanding of the organization’s intent, seek input and build collaboration for ambitious neighborhood revitalization efforts. Current projects include CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center, the region’s first low to moderate income and diversity-focused business accelerator program. A partnership between the City of San Diego, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and CONNECT w/ San Diego Venture Group, the program guides startups that want to grow rapidly with the support they need to be successful.
Prior to his work in San Diego, Jones served as president of the Chicago-based Steans Family Foundation, a philanthropy committed to revitalizing North Lawndale, a disinvested community on Chicago’s west side.
Jones’ leadership in philanthropy extends to serving as a board member for the Museum of Photographic Arts, advisory board member for Mainly Mozart and trustee with the Steans Family Foundation. He has served on the board of the Council on Foundations — for which he chaired the Family Philanthropy committee, Grassroots Grantmakers — as co-chairman, and the Lake County (Illinois) Community Foundation.
Jones is a frequent presenter on topics of philanthropy and placed-based driven approaches for community change. In 2019, Jones was honored with the San Diego METRO Magazine’s Men of Influence Award for his leadership in supporting innovative, practical strategies for community change in Southeastern San Diego. He is currently an Aspen Institute-Neighborhood Funders Group Philanthropy Forward Fellow.
Joseph “Joe” J. Jacobs, Ph.D.
The late Dr. Joe, who passed away on October 23, 2004, was the founder and director emeritus of the Jacobs Family Foundation and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
He was chairman of the board of Jacobs Engineering Group, an international engineering and construction firm with approximately 35,000 employees. He developed the firm from a one-man consultancy in 1947 to its present status as a public company with revenues close to $11 billion.
Inducted into the National Academy of Engineers, Joe had a distinguished career both in engineering and in humanitarian achievements, including winning the United Nations World Citizen Award in 1996.
He served on many boards of directors and worked actively toward peace in the Middle East. Joe was author of The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur: Family, Culture and Ethics and The Compassionate Conservative: Seeking Responsibility and Human Dignity.
Joe held a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Polytechnic University.
Violet “Vi” Jabara Jacobs
Vi was a founder and board member emeritus of the Jacobs Family Foundation and Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. She passed away on January 12, 2015.
She began her career in advertising. Vi was an active partner in launching the Jacobs Engineering Group, working alongside her husband, Joe, in the company’s start-up years.
During her daughters’ school years, she became involved in the PTA and actively raised money to strengthen education. She has served as a volunteer for the American Friends Service Committee, the Huntington Hospital, and Meals on Wheels, and as secretary for the Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Vi was a worldwide traveler and an advocate for economic and educational development in her parents’ homeland of Lebanon.
Vi held a bachelor of arts degree in French from Wellesley College.
Margaret “Meg” E. Jacobs
The late Meg Jacobs, who passed away on February 8, 2012, was the eldest daughter of Joe and Vi Jacobs. Meg spent many years in the field of social work, with a diverse health and human services background that included work with youth, families, and victims of domestic violence. Fluent in Spanish, she was a strong advocate for the expansion of community-based social services for Spanish-speaking clients. She provided home-based services to at-risk families in a child abuse and delinquency prevention program, and assisted in the writing of a new parent education curriculum for California’s schools.
Meg served as the Jacobs Family Foundation’s first director, spearheading the foundation’s support of micro-enterprise development as a strategy for assisting families in gaining self-sufficiency. She continued to be an active participant in the foundation’s neighborhood strengthening efforts as a member of the grants team. She also assisted in hosting site visits for foundations and organizations studying Market Creek Plaza as an example of hometown philanthropy.
Meg held a bachelor of arts degree in American civilization from Brown University, and a master’s degree in social work from San Diego State University.