Biocom Institute Team
The San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering is produced by the Biocom Institute team. The Festival planning and execution is a true team effort, only made successful through the contributions of all the Biocom Institute team members. The key decision makers are Sara Pagano, Manager Director and Heather Zimkin, EXPO Day Manager.
Liisa is responsible for ensuring members have a strong regional pipeline of talent by working on development and training initiatives to support current and transitioning employees, as well as college and K-12 students and educators. Liisa received an accounting degree from Michigan State University and, after earning her CPA, held controller and human resource positions at automotive, medical device, and biotech companies before joining Biocom. Her current focus is on life science workforce development and STEM initiatives. Her personal interests include: family time, neighborhood futsal and book club.
Sara DW Pagano
Sara is responsible for the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering and K-12 STEM outreach initiatives with the goal of empowering the next generation of innovators and future talent of San Diego. Sara has over a decade of non-profit and event experience, including executive leadership positions with USO San Diego and Discover Pacific Beach – Business Improvement District. She graduated from Westfield State College with a Bachelor of Science in Education and also holds a certificate from University of San Diego’s Event Management Program. Her personal interests include: chasing her toddler around, her best furry friend Miles and getting outdoors.
Senior Manager of Philanthropy and Corporate Giving
Silvana is responsible for the development and sustainability of the Biocom Institute through engaged philanthropy and corporate giving. She brings to Biocom a background in nonprofit development and community relations and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of San Diego. Her personal interest include: running, traveling and playing at the beach.
Heather has been the Festival’s Events Director since 2012, bringing in more than 15 years of professional experience in the areas of corporate sponsorship, event planning, broadcasting and community relations. During her 10-year tenure with the San Diego Padres, as Director of Corporate Partnerships and Broadcasting, she was instrumental in developing the club’s major sponsorships, including programs with PETCO, Cox Communications, Qualcomm, Sycuan Resort & Casino, and Wells Fargo. Her personal interests include: being a personal Uber driver for her kids, relaxing at the beach and traveling.
Education and Industry Outreach Manager
Karen joins the Biocom Institute team with a wealth of skills and experience within the San Diego non-profit arena. Most recently with the San Diego Workforce Partnership; her career has included positions in community outreach, HR management and operations management for various local non-profit organizations. She has a love for educational programs and in particular is very passionate about employer outreach and connecting students to internships. Her personal interests include: watching her daughter play water polo, volunteering and riding her quad in the desert.
Grant Writer and Development Specialist
Brandon is responsible for grant writing, research and development for the Biocom Institute’s programs and outreach initiatives. His background is in corporate and foundation grant writing, fundraising and development. He obtained a degree in English Literature from The Ohio State University. His personal interests include: the work of David Simon, David Halberstam and Larry David.
Marketing and Special Projects Associate
Leandra is responsible for planning, developing, and implementing all marketing and communication channels for Biocom Institute. She also assists in the management of the Institute’s events and programs. Before moving to San Diego, Leandra obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from the University of Minnesota. She joins the team from Alexandria Blizzard Hockey, a minor league team in Minnesota, where she handled their marketing and special events. Her personal interests include: outdoor activities, travel and hockey.