2021 Valley 200 Winners

Valley 200 Winners

Every year the award-winning San Fernando Valley Business Journal releases The Valley 200, a separate book for paid subscribers that profiles the 200 most influential people making remarkable impacts for and in the Valley area. Each recipient was reviewed and hand-selected by Charles Crumpley, the editor and publisher of the Business Journal. The book is impressively comprehensive and highlights the incredible Valley community leaders who consistently influence and inspire. Below are just a few of the honorees and a peek into their stories:

Madelyn Alfano

Madelyn’s mother, Maria, grew up (in Hoboken, New Jersey) learning the fundamentals of real Italian cooking from her mother. When she moved to Los Angeles in 1968 with her five young children, she tested her knowledge by opening a tiny grocery store in Brentwood called the “Village Mart”. Seven years later, in the store’s converted garage, the first Maria’s Italian Kitchen was born. And oh was it a success! Ten years later Maria’s daughter, Madelyn, opened the first table-service Maria’s Italian Kitchen in Sherman Oaks and has since expanded the franchise to nine locations. To this day she supervises the kitchens and oversees all the restaurants to ensure the Alfano traditions are upheld. While this would be enough, overwhelming even, for most of us, Madelyn doesn’t stop there! She chairs several organizations and is part of the small business council for CNBC. It is no wonder this UCLA alumni has been selected by the SFVBJ for this prestigious honor. Congratulations Madelyn!

In 2007 Dr. Julius Sokenu joined Moorpark College as a dean and has been increasing his leadership role there ever since. In 2019 he became the interim president and focused on supporting institutional priorities related to equity and diversity, specifically for underserved populations. Unsurprisingly, in April of this year Dr. Sokenu was officially named president! Now he continues to build pathways to prosperity through his commitment “to student excellence, equity, achievement and racial and social justice.” Moorpark’s Chair of the Board, Joshua Chancer, said, “His expertise in strategic planning and organizational leadership is a benefit to the college and District.” Our community is honored to have you as a leader and friend, Dr. Sokenu. Congratulations!

Julius Sokenu

Kathleen Sterling

Business owner, board member, community supporter, award winner, mother, and friend. These are just a few of the titles that Kathleen has collected while owning and operating the Valley News Group newspapers which include the Encino Enterprise (est. 2019), Warner Center News (est. 1982), Las Virgenes Enterprise (est. 1963), and Valley Vantage (est. 1948). Being a local news provider is an essential civic service for small business advertising and community awareness yet it can sometimes be difficult or frightening. Kathleen handles this pressure with grace and professionalism while still getting the job done. Every Friday the Valley News Group team releases a new issue of each paper which can be found online and at various locations around the valley. Kathleen, Congratulations and thank you for all you do to keep the SFV informed and safe!

The Tierra del Sol Foundation, celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, is dedicated to providing pathways to employment, education, and the arts for people with developmental disabilities. Their CEO, Rebecca, has been with them for 31 years and continues to advocate daily for their community. Tierra was started by a group of parents unwilling to abandon their sons and daughters to the State and, over the years, has changed from a place to a dynamic organization that empowers its clients to achieve excellence through Workforce Development, College to Career, and Careers in the Arts. Their work has helped shape the lives of thousands of people from college students and career artists to business professionals and volunteers. Rebecca, thank you for being an exceptional community leader and example for generations to come!

Rebecca Lienhard

Miri Rossitto

We are privileged and thrilled to highlight our very own founder and CEO, Miri Rossitto, as one of the Valley 200 honorees. Having been born and raised (and now raising her children) in the Los Angeles area, this community could not be more important to Miri. From Beverly Hills to Canoga Park, you can find all kinds of evidence of her influence. She is known across the Valley as “The Fixer” and has not yet found a business problem she cannot solve. Helping businesses grow and reach their full potential through game-changing strategy, development, and is lucky enough to experience her brilliance on a daily basis and it still amazes us every time. Miri is a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime business partner, boss, and friend. Congratulations, Miri, on this well-deserved honor!!