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John Nersesian

SDMAC past president raises organization's visibility

John Nersesian took office in 2009 as president of the San Diego Military Advisory Council with four clear goals for the group.

He wanted to grow membership, thereby increasing the budget; he wanted to have more members involved in issue groups; he vowed to make improved communications a priority; and he promised never to cut short a guest speaker.

His term now over, he looks back knowing he accomplished his goals and leaves the organization in good shape for incoming president Tony Nufer.

"I tell new members, if you want to meet someone, let me know and I'll see if I can arrange an introduction," Nersesian said after taking over the chapter in early 2009.

Even with an at-capacity crowd at the more popular breakfast meetings, he could be spotted shaking hands and making those introductions.

Under Nersesian's leadership, the group brought many high-profile guest speakers to discuss timely issues and provide unique insight.

Among the guests were the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, Secretary of the Navy, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Commandant of the Coast Guard and the program director for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense in the Missile Defense Agency.

The group has reached a point where military officials ask to be guests, Nersesian said, and all key players in the defense and military worlds have an open invitation.

Part of his plan was to introduce a regular newsletter with updates on current issues and actions taken by the council. He wanted members and guests to know the group was more than a breakfast club and ensure everyone who wanted to be involved had that opportunity.

An active legislative session in 2009 kept SDMAC busy. The group focused on key state legislation including adopting the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children (AB 343), defeating a measure to impose taxation on Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society thrift stores (SB 765) and opposing the tidelands legislation (AB 694).

In 2008, the group released its first economic impact study of the military's impact on San Diego.

The final touches are in the works for the 2009 report. And Nersesian said the numbers look "very, very good."

Some raised questions about the numbers and methods in the 2008 report. The new report reviewed the process in addition to updating figures for 2009.

"We went back and validated that process to get the numbers," he said. "When we say that over one in four jobs are related to military and defense, we validated that process. Some say that's way too high, but it's actually a conservative number at about 375,000 jobs out of 1.3 million."

In early 2010, SDMAC will release another report evaluating the economic impact of military construction spending in San Diego. The report includes only non-stimulus dollars. Nersesian said there is a lot of money in that arena, pointing to the billions of dollars in construction underway at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Nersesian, who spent his career in the world of banking, said that with his term as president now over, he would focus on the economic studies the group commissions.

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