Founded in 1990 by downtown professionals Eve Hager and Felicia Bell who realized the importance of sharing information and ideas with other downtown San Diego community members. Monthly luncheons were designed as the forum to share information, and in 2000 Friends of Downtown was designated as a non-profit 501 (c)(3). The membership is comprised of professionals and residents who work or live in the downtown community.

Friends of Downtown has grown in scope to include the following programs:

  • Monthly Lunch Meeting - Educational lunch programs, open to members and guests, are held at different downtown San Diego restaurants to provide members and guests a unique dining experience. Each month features a prominent community leader sharing information on downtown projects, community partnerships, and much more.
    Member rate $30, Guest rate $40. Sign up for our next meeting!
  • Annual Scholarship Fundraiser – Through the generosity of members, guests, and corporate sponsors, Friends of Downtown has awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships since 2000 to students of San Diego City College. The scholarship recipients are evaluated on their academic performance and interview with the group’s scholarship panel. If you are interested in becoming a scholarship sponsor, please contact Christine Baker at friendsofdowntownsd@gmail.com.
  • Holiday Gift Bags for Senior Shut-ins – Friends of Downtown prepares 100 holiday gift bags by collecting non-perishable food items, books, blankets and other necessities. During the first week of December, members of the group prepare all 100 Senior Gift Bags at the Mary and Gary West Senior Center, which then distributes them via its home meal delivery program. If you are interested in supporting this program, please contact Lisa Coleman at friendsofdowntownsd@gmail.com.

Founding Members

Eve Hudgins
Felicia Bell

2017 Board of Directors

Chris Baker
Christine Baker

Chris Baker, a 30 year resident of San Diego, is a Realtor with Willis Allen Real Estate specializing in the Downtown and coastal properties. After 20 years in the insurance industry Chris transitioned into real estate in 2008. As a downtown resident, it’s important for Chris to be informed, active and involved in her local community. As President of Friends of Downtown, she works closely with the Board Members to bring relevant programs to members and grow the organization through membership and exposure. Reaching out to business and corporate associates for support in raising awareness and funds for the City College Scholarship program is an area of continued focus.
Lori Vialpondo
Lori Vialpondo
Membership Chair

Lori has been working in the Real Estate Industry for 6 years. Her career started in LA after which she transferred to San Diego. She does business development for imortgage/Loan Depot. This entails connecting loan officers with potential clients as well as planning events for their clients. Her job is to support loan officers with building relationships with agents and strategic partners to grow their business. She is involved with many industry groups such as SDAR, NAHREP, AREAA, various business networking and community groups, and she finds being a connector in our industry is so rewarding.
Lori lives in Little Italy and loves it!!!!
Marla Hovland
Marla Hovland
Vice President

As a 4th generation San Diegan, Marla chose the real estate profession as a result of her love for the city. Nearly a decade later her passion for the industry is unwavering. She considers herself a purveyor of the American Dream and believes with a little planning and a lot of perseverance home ownership is still the right of any hard working individual. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing with CityMark Realty, Marla has over 1000 homes in many of Downtown San Diego’s most iconic buildings. She was the first recipient of the Building Industry of America’s Greatest Award for Urban Leadership, an honor for which she was nominated by her peers. In addition to sitting on the board for Friends of Downtown, Marla is also the Vice President of PEO, Chapter XI.
Sharla Dabney
Scholarship Chair Person

Sharla Dabney is one of The Heritage Escrow Companies sales executives for the Balboa Park location. She is a dedicated professional with a service first attitude. As a former San Diego City College student, she has a passion for FOD Scholarship recipient.  Sharla’s greatest strength is her ability to connect with people and she thrives on challenges.  In her free time, Sharla enjoys staying active by hiking, snowboarding, playing volleyball and spending quality time with family and friends!
Nancy Anderson
Nancy Anderson-Martin

Nancy has been in banking/mortgage banking for 29 years. Currently Nancy works for EverBank as a Senior Loan Officer. Meeting and assisting clients in the home buying process, or the refinance process is very rewarding and fulfilling work. She has thoroughly enjoyed living and working in San Diego area since 1986. Originally from Minnesota, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Economics. Working with the public has made the Friends of Downtown organization a natural fit. The opportunity to reach out and help students and the elderly is very gratifying, and a great way to give back to the city and local downtown community.
Lisa Coleman
Lisa Coleman
Community Service Chairperson

Lisa has been involved in Downtown San Diego Real Estate lending since 1999 and has been in the Mortgage industry for 25 years. She feels privilege being to be part of the tremendous growth the city has experienced in the last decade and considers San Diego a truly great place to live and work. She enjoys all that downtown has to offer and has been a residence in East Village since 2005.
Linze Cole
Linze Cole
Communications Chairperson

Linze’s passion for real estate began with her love for San Diego at a very young age. Graduating from San Diego State University with a degree in Real Estate has given her the knowledge and experience to know how important education is. Linze too received scholarships through her journey of college, which is one big reason that the Friends of Downtown organization appealed to her. Linze served as the Programs Director of the Real Estate Society at San Diego State and the Fundraising Chair for Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity. She was able to showcase her leadership and organizational skills by planning professional events campus wide and is now a member of the Real Estate Society Alumni organization. Linze enjoys working for CityMark Realty downtown and assisting clients reach the dream of being a homeowner. Linze is motivated by the reward of helping others and is honored to have the opportunity to help Friends of Downtown as the Communications Chair.