Alumni Featured in Whittier Community Magazine's "20 Under 40"

April 3, 2023

This year’s edition of the Whittier Community Magazine asked the people of Whittier to submit nominations of outstanding local business owners and employees who both shine in their field and demonstrate exemplary dedication to serving the city of Whittier for the “20 under 40 Young Professionals” portion.

Whittier College graduates Gina Depierno '13, Julie Mauk '16, and Fernando Lopez '15 were among the nominees.

Gina DePierno-Lopez ’13

DePierno-Lopez is the director of the Center of Engagement with Communities (CEC) at Whittier College, and works to promote lifelong learning and civic engagement. In partnership with local school districts, nonprofits, community partners, as well as Whittier College faculty, staff and students, the CEC identifies and addresses the needs of the greater Whittier area through programs that enhance academic learning, encourage a culture of civic engagement, and promote healthier communities. The CEC works with 350 Whittier College students and over 25 community partners annually. Additionally, Gina taught for five years as an adjunct professor in the Whittier College Kinesiology department.

Gina currently serves as a volunteer on the Board of Directors for the Whittier Chamber of Commerce, Whittier Area First Day, LEARN, and the advisory board for SPIRITT Family Services.

“There are no words to express how grateful and humbled I am to be recognized as a Whittier 20 under 40 Young Professional. There are so many talented, hard-working, and selfless individuals in Whittier whom I admire and learn from every day, so to be thought of in the same regard as them is the greatest honor," Gina says.

Julie Mauk ’16

Mauk is a Whittier College graduate who is now co-owner and artistic designer of Uptown School of Dance. Twenty-eight years ago, Emmarie Soto and Julie Mauk met in a toddler ballet and tap combo class at a local dance studio in Whittier. A shared love for dance and each other has kept these two and their little sisters, Jack and Alanna, connected and celebrating life accomplishments every step of the way. In an interview with VoyageLA, Mauk said, “My interests are simple—doing what makes me happy. As far as I can remember, that has been dancing.”

Fernando Lopez ’15

Lopez is a Whittier College graduate, first-generation military service member, and two-time recipient of the Ahmanson Research Fellowship. He is the creator and owner of Zen's Tea House. When he started the business, he wanted to build a philanthropic community business that earned profits and paid its expenses. At the end of the first year, the business generated $100,000 in sales and a million by its fifth year. He's also the author of Holistic Business Handbook: Revolutionary Answers for the Holistic Health Care Movement in America which aims to help others understand the Holistic Health Industry. In the 20 under 40 article, he states, "I am honored to be nominated and to represent the young professionals of Whittier. For me, this means I have a responsibility to live up to the title and I pray I do so well."