Board of Advisors

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Established in 2018, the UCSB Economics Department Board of Advisors is a group of ​dedicated alumni and ​long-term supporters who care deeply about the future trajectory of the department. The Economics Department seeks the counsel and advice of this leadership group on strategic planning and issues that impact the vitality of our Department. 

Board Chair


Keith Lupton ‘90

Keith Lupton is a partner of Ernst & Young LLP in their assurance practice. For over 20 years, he has provided audit, accounting and other business advisory services to companies operating in the financial services, real estate and cleantech industries. In addition to client-based responsibilities, Keith has served as part of the firm's Professional Practice Group as an area resource on technical accounting and auditing matters. Prior to joining EY, he served as Senior Manager with Arthur Andersen for over ten years.  Keith, his wife Dana and their two daughters Paige (7 years) and Lauren (4 years) live in Manhattan Beach, California.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1990, Mr. Lupton holds a B.A. in Business Economics.

Board Members


Marc A. Ackerman ‘94

Mr. Ackerman is Senior Financial Advisor of Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. For over 18 years, he has been advising company founders, entrepreneurs, executives, corporations, foundations, and multi-generational high net worth families. He is part of Wells Fargo Advisors Retirement Plan Advisor Program which is reserved specifically for advisors who have demonstrated extensive experience in helping businesses design, build, administer, and review corporate retirement plans. He is also a member of the Investments & Wealth Institute. Mr. Ackerman previously served as Senior Vice President and Senior Investment Management Consultant at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney for five years.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1994, Mr. Ackerman holds a B.A. in Communication Studies.

Mr. Ackerman is the Chairman of the Board of Hope Heals and he serves on the Board of Directors for both The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation and Chrysalis. He volunteers as a mentor to foster youth and is a former executive board member of the mentoring organization, Impacting Hearts. Mr. Ackerman regularly speaks about financial planning and stewardship at churches, conferences, and the USC Cecil Murray Center Faith Leaders Institute.


Michael J. Byron ‘87

Mr. Byron currently serves as Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer of NVIDIA, a position he has held since 2011. From 2002 to 2010, Mr. Byron served as NVIDIA’s Corporate Controller and Director of Finance, and then later as Vice President and Corporate Controller. From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Byron served as the Corporate Controller for Vicinity Corporation and, from 1998 to 2000, as Financial Reporting Manager for Informix Corporation. Mr. Byron also worked eight years as an audit manager with Deloitte LLP, a global public accounting firm, serving in its Silicon Valley – and Spain – based practices.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1987, Mr. Byron holds a B.A. in Business Economics and is a Certified Public Accountant, licensed in California.


Rafael R. Costas, Jr. ‘86

Mr. Costas is a Senior Vice President of Franklin Templeton Investments and Co-Director of Franklin Templeton's Municipal Bond Department. He has been with Franklin Templeton in various roles his entire career, starting in 1986.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1986, Mr. Costas holds a B.A. in Economics. He then earned and M.A. in Economics from Golden Gate University in 1993.

Mr. Costas is a serious amateur musician in the San Francisco Bay Area and is also a member of the National Federation of Municipal Analysts and the Society of Municipal Analysts.


Steven V. Macko ‘93

Steven Macko leads the Industries Group at Wells Fargo Capital Finance (“WFCF”), which includes three specialized lending groups: Technology Finance, Healthcare Finance and Lender Finance.

Steve joined Wells Fargo Capital Finance in 1998 and helped to establish its San Francisco office in 1999. Prior to his current role, he served as Western Region Head of Originations for WFCF, overseeing new loan originations for the western half of the United States.  Steve also currently serves as the Executive Co-Sponsor of the WFCF Diversity & Inclusion Council. 

In addition, being based in the Bay Area for over 17 years, Steve has worked with many leading San Francisco-based private equity firms to provide buyout & growth financing for their acquisitions of software and technology companies.

Prior to joining Wells Fargo Capital Finance, Steve spent several years at Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Strome Investment Management, an alternative investment strategy hedge fund.

He holds a bachelor's degree in business economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Additionally, he is on the board of governors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, and is a former board member of both the Northern California Commercial Finance Association and the Turnaround Management Association.

Steve is married with three children and enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and exploring the outdoors.



Mrunal Patel

Mr. Patel is a Partner with Moss Adams, with a focus in Business Tax Services. Mr. Patel has practiced public accounting since 2000. He has experience in providing tax services to both public and private companies in the consumer products, apparel, food, agriculture, manufacturing, and distribution industries. He specializes in assisting consumer products clients with tax planning, ASC 740, mergers and acquisitions, IRS examination representation, and accounting period and methods.

A graduate of California State Northridge in 1999, Mr. Patel holds a B.A. in Accounting.

Mr. Patel is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


Robert R. Reed ‘93

Mr. Reed currently serves as the CFO of AEG, a position he was promoted to in 2013. Prior to this position, he was the COO and CFO for AEG Facilities, a division of the company. Mr. Reed served as Chief Financial Officer of AEG Facilities from the time the division was formed in 2008 and added the role of Chief Operating Officer of the AEG affiliate that operates or consults with more than 100 of the industry’s preeminent venues worldwide, across five continents in 2011. Mr. Reed started at AEG in 1999 at the Great Western Forum and STAPLES Center as the director of finance. He was also the vice president of finance for STAPLES Center from 2003 to 2006. Prior to joining AEG, Mr. Reed was controller in the Lakers organization for three years, and started his career at Coopers & Lybrand LLP.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1993, Mr. Reed holds a B.A. in Business Economics with an Accounting emphasis.

Mr. Reed is based in Los Angeles and was presented with a prestigious 2011 Forty Under 40 award from Sports Business Journal; an annual award from one of the industry’s leading trade publications, honoring the most promising sports executives age 40 or younger. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.


Bryan S. Rosenberg ‘87

Mr. Rosenberg has been President and CEO of Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods (COSFF) since he established the Company in 2006 in partnership with Thai Union, one of the world’s largest integrated seafood companies. Under Mr. Rosenberg’s leadership, COSFF has become the largest importer of shrimp, lobster, and crab meat in the US, selling into all channels of trade. Today, COSFF has over 120 employees and is approaching $1B in annual sales. Mr. Rosenberg also serves on the National Fisheries Institute Board of Directors, a non-profit dedicated to seafood sustainability, safety and nutrition education.

A Magna Cum Laude graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1987, Mr. Rosenberg holds a B.A. in Business Economics.


Michael P. Stewart ‘91

Mr. Stewart is currently a Managing Director at Credit Suisse in New York, where he is responsible for Global Equities and sits on the Global Markets Management team. Previously, Mr. Stewart was a group managing director at UBS in Zurich, Switzerland where he ran Global Investment Products and Services and sat on the wealth management executive committee. From 2011-2014, Mr. Stewart was global head of Equities for the UBS Investment Bank, based in New York.

Mr. Stewart began his career in financial services in 1992 at Barclays Global Investors in San Francisco, where he worked in various capacities, ultimately heading the equity trading division. He relocated to New York in 2002 to work for Merrill Lynch, and subsequently Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he served in a variety of roles, including: global head of cash equities, global head of electronic execution, and global head of portfolio and automated trading. From 2008-2011, Mr. Stewart was in London as co-head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Global Equities Division, co-head of European Markets, and a member of the investment bank management committee.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1991, Mr. Stewart holds a B.A. in both Business Economics and English.

Mr. Stewart has served on a variety of boards in the securities exchange and financial technology spaces. He also serves on the advisory board of UCSB’s Center for Research in Financial Mathematics and Statistics. Mr. Stewart was elected a trustee of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation in 2014.


Cathleen M. Taff ‘91

Ms. Taff is the Senior Vice President of Integrated Planning and Franchise Management for The Walt Disney Studios. She drives collaborative efforts to maximize the value of the studio brands and creative properties across all company divisions. Ms. Taff began her career as a Senior Financial Analyst and earned several promotions, becoming the Vice President of Finance for the Disney Music Group. During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in transforming the struggling segment into a $100 million business and was then promoted to Senior Vice President in 2001 and controller of The Walt Disney Studios in 2003.

In 2008, Ms. Taff became the head of Strategic Operational Initiatives, a role created specifically with her in mind. She built and developed a new team whose goal was to collaborate across all lines of business to identify and implement sustainable efficiencies and cost savings. She later rejoined the Disney Music Group as Senior Vice President and General Manager and became the principle architect of a reorganization, transitioning the group to a more streamlined model.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1991, Ms. Taff holds a B.A. in Business Economics with an Accounting emphasis and is a certified public accountant in California. Prior to joining the Disney organization, she worked at Deloitte & Touche.

As executive sponsor of Women@Disney, which supports and develops female leaders, Ms. Taff helped grow the group to more than 1,000 members. She also participates in the Young Storytellers Program, where employees mentor elementary students, guiding them in writing their own screenplays.


Michael J. Trovato ‘95

Mr. Trovato is the Director of the Western Region at Wellington Management, a Boston-based global investment management firm. Mike leads Wellington’s San Francisco office, and leads institutional client relationships on the West Coast. Prior to joining Wellington, Mike spent 15 years with PIMCO, an investment management firm, where he was an executive vice president and worked in the company’s London and Newport Beach offices.  

While in London, Mike was able to remain connected to the UCSB community as a co-founder of the UC Santa Barbara UK EAP Fund. The fund provided support to UCSB students through scholarship opportunities for study abroad in the United Kingdom.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1995, Mr. Trovato holds a B.A. in Business Economics. He then went on to earn an M.B.A. from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.  He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst and has over 20 years of investment experience. Mike is a native Californian, a devout SF Giants and 49ers fan, and is an avid golfer.


Philip H. White ‘84

Mr. White is the president of the Pacific View Foundation, a family foundation based in California which provides funding support to nonprofit organizations in the San Diego region. Mr. White has also worked in higher education, recently serving as an executive director at the London Business School. Prior to serving in these nonprofit roles, Mr. White worked in executive management for a number of high technology startup firms in San Diego, most notably working 15 years for Qualcomm, a Fortune 500 telecommunications firm, where his last role was Group President and Corporate Officer.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1984, Mr. White holds a B.A. in both Business Economics and History.

Mr. White, along with his wife, Ann, is active in the community, having served on the board and committees of a multitude of charities both in San Diego and in London. Mr. White has also been active with the Council on Foundations, a Washington D.C. based organization that supports the efforts of charitable foundations around the world. The Whites are life members of the UCSB Alumni Association and are members of the Lancaster Society. They have been very active and supportive of a number of initiatives and activities at UC Santa Barbara, including EAP programs, graduate students in the Economics department, the Technology Management Program, and the Institute for Energy Efficiency.

He resides in San Diego and with his wife and 14-year-old twins, while their older adult daughter is living in San Francisco. Mr. White was elected a trustee of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation in 2002.


Sue Wilcox, ’70, ’72, ‘75

Dr. Wilcox is active in investing and has assisted in several start-up biotechnology companies. She plays a leadership role in various charity and volunteer organizations, while maintaining a single digit golf handicap. She previously served as an adjunct Professor of Economics at Pepperdine University and worked for Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) from 1974 to 1983.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara in 1970, Dr. Wilcox holds a B.A. in Mathematics. She continued on at UC Santa Barbara to earn her M.A. in Economics in 1972 and a Ph.D. in Economics in 1975.

Dr. Wilcox has served on the U C Santa Barbara Alumni Association Board working to create a new venture incubator in the Mosher Alumni House.