SORIN NEAGU - Teacher, Independence High School Automotive Transportation

I have been working in the Automotive field since 1981.

I started as an automotive mechanic and continued as an automotive technician,service manager, service consultant, state smog referee and as an automotive technology teacher.

Out of all of the above, I love teaching the best. I have been working as a teacher since 2010 at Independence High School in San Jose.

We have about 210 students enrolled in our Automotive Transportation program, and growing. We teach our students from basic vehicle services and maintenance to Welding, Forklift operation, Hybrid technology and Electric Vehicles. We have many industry partners like Lexus of Stevens Creek, VTA, Napa Auto Parts, San Jose State University Engineering, The Car Guy Channel and many more.

We educate, motivate, mentor and support our students to become successful.

LAURA WINTER - My husband and I have been residents of downtown San Jose for over 30 years, attending San Jose State University and raising our family here. My Italian ancestors came to the Santa Clara Valley in the 1800s and owned many fruit orchards, now preserved for eternity under asphalt and housing developments!

I recently retired from a long career as a design professional as the sole proprietor of my own firm serving both commercial and residential clients and have volunteered for 30 years for several organizations and city boards and committees. I served 2 terms as President of the Shasta Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association and co-authored a mitigations report for SAP Center which both improved the Traffic and Parking Management Plan and protected the surrounding neighborhoods from impacts of the facility and served on the Arena Oversight Committee during its construction. I was chair of the San Jose Appeals Hearing Board, co-chair of the San Jose Greater Downtown Strategic Task Force, contributor to the San Jose Midtown Specific Plan and The Alameda Urban Village Plan and am currently on the San Jose Station Area Advisory Group, navigating the proposed Google expansion into Downtown San Jose.

Helping improve both the quality of life for San Jose’s downtown residents and enhancing the business climate on The Alameda has been my passion and pleasure, as is my new business, Umunhum Brewing, California’s first and only cooperative brewery!

Best of the Bay Awards are sponsored by BAY 101 CASINO.

BETTY SLATER - I came to San Jose in 1952 to attend San Jose State.  I graduated  with a BA, a teaching credential, and got married in 1954.  We raised a family of four then I taught in San Jose Unified and Campbell School Districts.  I received an MA from  S.J.S.U. in 1978  and worked for 20 years.  I retired from school in 1989 and as a representative from Westminster Presbyterian Church joined the Alameda Business Association.  Helped the ABA produce a Farmers market for 3 years on The Alameda then with Larry Clark started the Rose White and Blue Parade and worked various parade jobs to the present.  I have been the Liaison between the ABA as board member and the church as an elder and deacon which included producing the Community Tree Lighting Program in December.  I retired from that after 20 years.  Now I just cater  the ABA meetings and work with the church to give away 1,000 hot dog lunches after the parade.  Currently I am the Festival manager for the parade. It has been a joy and pleasure to be involved with these great endeavors.

11th Annual Hot San Jose Nights

DAVE CORTESE - Dave Cortese has held many positions in our community.  His efforts to improve our community are tirelessly pursued.

  • ESUHSD Board Member 1992-2000
  • San Jose City Council Member 2000-2006
  • Vice Mayor 2006-2008
  • Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors 2008-present
  • Board President 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017

Airport Day & S.T.E.A.M.!

Best of the Bay Honorees

Meet our Honorees!

TIM RITCHIE - President & CEO of The Tech Museum of Innovation.  Ritchie's commitment to fostering both community and technological innovation makes him the perfect honoree for the 2018 Best of the Bay. During the past seven years of Ritchie's leadership, The Tech has transformed its exhibits and programs to become more relevant to schools, families and the community, invigorating its mission of "inspiring the innovator in everyone." 

WILLIAM STEGEMAN - is entering his fourth year teaching English at Independence High School and sixth year working in education. After graduating from San Diego State University in 2009, he ran into difficulty pursuing the pre-recession business career for which he had prepared.

Instead, he decided to hit the reset button and book a nine month trip around the world (South America, South Africa, SE Asia, and Europe) with a friend from Germany. He quickly re-discovered his passion for exploration and adventure, leading him to extend the journey to a full two years. During a particularly impactful six weeks doing typhoon relief in the Philippines, he had his passion for service and mentorship reignited after working with children in the provinces.

Upon returning to his native South Bay Area, he began working as a substitute teacher while searching for a career to pursue as he transitioned from full time vagabond to ordinary citizen. A few months in, a colleague had to go on medical leave and Will was asked to fill in despite no formal teacher training. He took to the position quickly, leading co-workers to encourage him to obtain his teaching credential. 

Despite being thoroughly debt-averse, Will soon realized that he would be foolish to ignore the opportunity in front of him and was accepted to Santa Clara University's credential program, which he completed in 2016.

Despite the rigors of teaching, Will realizes he couldn't be happier with his career and the opportunities for mentorship it provides. He is passionate about career readiness and designed a career portfolio and mock interview training program for his seniors. This program culminates with professionals from the fields in which his students have interest visiting campus and conducting a day of mock interviews. He hopes to continue equipping his students with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the ever-evolving 21st century. 

For more information on the career readiness program and Mock Interview Extravaganza, please follow the link below:


CHARLES (BOB) SLATER - Born in Oakland in 1930. Joined the Air Force at 18 and retired after 41 years in the Active Reserves as a full Colonel.  Taught woodworking full time at Del Mar High School for 32 years and retired in 1989 and then I was free to travel and help others in foreign countries. 

My wife Betty worked with the Alameda Bussiness Association when they started the Rose White and Blue Parade.  For several years I would caravan with my good friend Larry Clark to San Francisco in my Jeep to pick up an empty float.  Dave Thomas had set aside a float for us to decorate for Westminster Presbyterian Cjurch for the 4th of July parade.  I drove a float each year in the parade and made the trip back to San Francisco to drop it off.  It was a privilege to work with so many dedicated people for so many years.

Family friendly classic car show & static airplane show: Saturday, September 8, 2018 10am - 4 at Reid-Hillview Airport 2500 Cunningham Ave., San Jose, CA 95148

PAM FOLEY - For over 30 years,  I have dedicated my time and talent to working with organizations that serve our youth and offer a helping hand to those in need. In the early 90's these included a program called WATCH (Women and Their Children's Housing,) dedicated to providing transitional housing for victims of domestic violence and their children. Through WATCH we worked to break the cycle of violence by providing women with the skills and support they needed to survive and thrive in a life away from their abuser.  

After my involvement with WATCH, I turned my attention to serving our children. First as a parent volunteer in my daughter's elementary classroom. Then as a school board member for San Jose Unified School District where I have served as an elected trustee for 14 years.  During my tenure as a board member, emphasis was placed on providing our students with opportunities to obtain a well rounded education including Science Technology Engineering and Math. Importantly, an "A" was added to include the Arts. Encouraging children to use their creativity  to draw, paint, photograph or perform helps to expand their mind.

I am honored to receive acknowledgement as one of the  "Best of the Bay Honorees"
as it is a recognition for my efforts in advancing the importance of an arts education. is also running for San Jose City Council and we wish her success!)

at Reid-Hillview Airport, 2500 Cunningham Ave., San Jose, CA 95148