- Purposeful Kindness. We believe kindness can be served in many ways. For us, it’s unconsciously real and unmistakable.
- Selfless Growth. We cultivate an environment that ignites a passion for learning, a commitment to dealing with the uncomfortable, and a mindset that failures and faults can only make us better.
- Courageous Integrity. You have to be wired to do the right thing and brave enough to see it through, because it doesn’t always come easy.
- Endless Evolution. We tenaciously pursue transformative results that impact happiness and business.
- Gritty Collaboration. Our DNA is built on perseverance, teamwork, and fun — and if you’re not having fun, what’s the point? We believe creating clarity, alignment, and accountability without bruising your ego is a must in order to get sh*t done.
Having worked together for almost five years, it became clear that our work chemistry was super productive and really rare. We shared a passion for making an impact, for collaborating with clients, and for creating a positive company culture. The idea of working for a large corporation no longer felt appealing and, while we each had thoughts about working for ourselves, we couldn’t imagine not working together. From that point forward, we were dead set on making it happen—together.
We started with the “why” and quickly progressed to the “how”—which is when we created our partnership vows. Having polar opposite personality traits, we knew that our skills would complement each other, not compete. Together, we leverage each other’s strengths, help each other through our weaknesses, and work collaboratively to identify opportunities and create impactful results. We not only want to do this for each other, but we want to do this for our clients, too.
How we develop our organizational culture is projected externally. To that end, we lead by example. We value community; we treat our employees, partners, and clients with respect and care; we are committed to a growth mindset; we are authentic and approachable; and we are responsive and adaptable.
Kristi Pastore Founding Partner
A dedicated, decisive, and energetic leadership development professional, Kristi Pastore has more than 20 years of experience positively impacting organizational culture and growth.
Prior to being a founding partner of Equal Parts, Kristi spent nearly a decade as both a business partner and an area manager for a national business solutions and management consulting firm.
As area manager for a top-tier location, Kristi led a team of 30 through consecutive years of growth, drove channel development, and managed a P/L with more than $300m in revenue. Kristi also played a crucial role in the company’s national Organizational Development Task Force—leading internal initiatives to drive change management and structural alignment. Prior to this role, Kristi was the operations and human resources manager for Master Management Group, an outsourced consulting firm specializing in finance, human resources, and operations management.
Kristi’s areas of expertise and passion are deeply interconnected. Her drive to understand what makes an organization’s culture tick is a direct reflection of an insatiable curiosity, tireless focus on people and processes, and innate ability to coach and lead. Kristi combines executive-level aptitude and a commonsense approach.
Kristi holds a Master of Science in human resources with an emphasis in organizational leadership and development from Chapman University, a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University San Marcos, and a PHR® certification. Kristi is also an emotional intelligence certified trainer through TalentSmart.
Over the years, Kristi has devoted time and energy to several nonprofits servicing at-risk youth and the aging population of California. Kristi resides in Carlsbad with her husband Scott, their son Preston, and their dogs Popper and Dixie.
Michael Valenzano Founding Partner
A creative, concise, and thoughtful communicator, Michael Valenzano has spent the last 15 years refining a unique and fresh approach toward helping organizations solve cultural and operational pain points.
Prior to being a founding partner of Equal Parts, Michael spent four years as both a human resources consultant and a business partner for a publicly traded business solutions and management consulting firm.
During Michael’s tenure, his primary objective was to collaborate and partner with small businesses to positively influence client-company profitability. His ability to build sustainable and trusting relationships with multiple stakeholders led him to become a role subject matter expert and relied upon by the broader organization for peer mentoring and development. Michael also worked for Costco for more than a decade and held a variety of positions ranging from human resources manager to an analyst focusing on financial forecasting and process efficiency.
Michael is driven by a never-ending pursuit for clarity. He’s most at home when nurturing strategy from concept to creation, developing a means to distill essentialness, and communicating net results to an audience with deliberate intent.
Michael holds a Master of Professional Studies in human resources and employment relations with an emphasis in employment and labor law from Pennsylvania State University. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of North Florida and he is PHR® certified.
A native Floridian, Michael spent years entrenched in the North Florida artistic community as a working artist and believer in the power of local economy. Michael also donated time and energy to several nonprofits servicing the homeless population. Michael resides in Carlsbad with his wife Emily, their daughter Winter, and their dog Maurice.
Jim McGowan Partner and VP of Everything Else
A witty, well-rounded, and consummate business professional, James McGowan’s career has been defined by helping businesses of all shapes and sizes launch, stabilize, and scale.
Prior to joining Equal Parts as Vice President of Operations, he advocated for small business owners as both a Business Development Manager and Business Partner at a national business management consulting firm. Previously, Jim served as Director for Client Engagement at Intersection, Inc. the latest start-up design firm founded by the world-renowned designer Chuck Pelly. Additionally, Jim has held various senior leadership positions for Videx/CyberLock, BridgeWave Communications, a Silicon Valley based pioneer in high performance wireless technologies and LightPointe Communications, a San Diego based early developer in Free Space Optics.
Jim’s expertise includes launching new companies and divisions, marketing, operations, and corporate development. Jim began his career in high-tech after a two-year stint teaching English in Japan when he joined Panasonic as the head of vendor localization programs in the Maquiladora free trade zone on the California/Mexico border.
Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from St. Edward's University, and a Master of Arts in international relations from the U.S. International University in San Diego, California.
A passion for helping the world have fun is evident in all that he does. A family man at heart, Jim’s two children Zoë and Keegan are the centerpiece of his life with his wife Amy. Peter and Willy, the family dogs and spiritual leaders, are a close second.
Claudia Parker Culture Operations Specialist, Sr. HR Business Partner
A collaborative, driven and results oriented professional, Claudia Parker has over 20 impactful years in business relationship management, operations, business consulting, human resources, and helping launch start-ups.
Her versatile experience helping business leaders be successful stems from her innate curiosity, getting things done work ethic, and passion for developing and executing internal and external client-centric strategies that tie back to company goals. Claudia is passionate about keeping a pulse on a company’s strategic direction, having an awareness of how every decision impacts the business downstream and removing barriers that get in the way.
Claudia spent the last 13 years with a publicly traded business management consulting firm in various capacities including human resources, business partner, operations and business relationship management. Prior to this role, Claudia was Director of Human Resources and Risk Management for The Westwind Group, a multi-state Burger King Franchise operator managing up to 130 restaurants at a time.
Claudia holds a BBA in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and Advertising from the University of San Diego, a SPHR® certification, and various Workers Compensation and Risk Management certifications.
On weekends and holidays, Claudia enjoys spending with family and friends, and hosting dinners. Claudia and her husband George live in Torrey Highlands and enjoy taking trips abroad that combine cycling, cooking classes and photography.
Kimberly Clay Culture Operations Specialist, HR Business Partner
An enthusiastic, positive, and solution oriented human resources professional, Kimberly Clay has been developing her HR career over the past 10 years in San Diego working in the life sciences and workers’ compensation insurance industries.
She has worked with clients ranging in size from 100 to 1,000 employees. Her career started in recruiting and evolved into a Generalist/Business Partner role. Kimberly’s strengths and passions in HR are talent development, training, employee relations, employee engagement, performance management, and recruitment.
Kimberly would describe her human resources style as collaborative, supportive and solution oriented. She believes that every situation is different and takes the time to listen to all related parties in order to provide a balanced and effective solution. She enjoys partnering with organizations to improve both the talent landscape and culture of the organization.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California Lutheran University. During her degree program, she had the opportunity to study abroad at Richmond University in London, England. Kimberley also holds a PHR certification and received her master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. While working on her Master’s degree she completed an applied research project focused on 360 degree feedback. Most recently she has become certified in the TotalSDI and StrengthsFinder assessment tools and enjoys using these tools for team and leadership development.
On her down time she likes to spend time with her local family and friends. A former Charger fan, she has recently joined her husband’s love for the Chicago Bears. Kimberly enjoys going on new adventures, improving her culinary skills, going to the beach, hiking, and appreciating a nice glass of wine.
Ashley Nguyen Culture Operations Specialis, HR Business Partner
A determined, empathetic, and resourceful HR professional, Ashley has spent over 20 years in HR. She has had the opportunity to perform virtually every role under the HR umbrella from the bottom up.
This experience pays off every day by giving her the knowledge to understand the complete picture of HR operations and the ability to craft strategies that meet the demanding logistical, personnel, and compliance requirements that occur.
Prior to joining Equal Parts, Ashley served as the Director of HR for Queens Health Center in Los Angeles. Previously, she was on her own providing HR and Business Consulting services to a variety of clients. Additionally, Ashley spent over 10 years with a publicly traded business management consulting firm where she provided HR guidance to 100s of clients throughout Southern California.
Ashley is a people person at heart, with an impressive ability to make solid connections, provide meaningful coaching and mentoring, and serve as an effective facilitator and advisor.
Her HR focus has been on using her ability to build strong client relationships that help align human capital and company culture with business goals that achieve operational efficiency. A driving force in Ashley’s HR approach is to keep (or bring back) the ‘human’ aspect of human resources. Ashley has a knack for mediating difficult situations by bringing a calming presence into chaotic situations.
Ashley holds a BS in psychology from Texas Woman’s University, an MBA from the University of Redlands, a SPHR® certification, a Leadership Development certification from the Dale Carnegie Institute, and is a certified PI Practitioner. Raised in Texas, Ashley relocated to Southern California in the early 2000s. In her spare time, she loves to read and travel. While she enjoys a variety of crafts, she has a particular affinity for crocheting and making jewelry. Her greatest joy of all though, without question, is spending time with her life partner and her family which brings her back to her Texas roots at various times throughout the year.
Jennifer Horner Culture Operations Specialist, HR Generalist
A competent, curious, and results-oriented human resources professional, Jennifer Horner has spent her career working collaboratively with small business owners to proactively implement solutions designed to optimize employee productivity and engagement.
Jennifer spent 11-years working for an outsourced business solutions firm as a human resources consultant and payroll specialist. Additionally, Jennifer worked for a national healthcare workforce solutions company as a corporate trainer responsible for the professional development of all payroll processors.
Jennifer’s area of expertise center around identifying opportunities for engagement, refining human resource best-practices, and developing a clear and easy path for implementation. She’s partnered with companies on training and development, on-boarding strategies, employee relations, policy development, and the construction and management of employee benefits.
In addition to over a decade of highly focused and relevant work experience, Jennifer is PHR® certified through the HR Certification Institute and SHRM-CP® certified through the Society for Human Resource Management.
When not engaged with clients, Jennifer participates as a volunteer for local and community-centered youth sports leagues and loves to spend all her free time her son, Brody.
Tricia McDonald Culture Operations Specialist, HR Generalist
A committed, efficient, and goal-oriented HR professional, Tricia McDonald has spent the last 8 years in San Diego fulfilling her passion for helping clients manage human capital through recruitment and retention, staff development, HR policy development, legal compliance, 401k administration, leave management, benefits and compensation, and HRIS implementation.
Prior to starting her HR career, Tricia spent time in the financial sector working early on with brokers and helping individual customers with their investment information. Subsequently she spent time serving as a Tax Specialist providing small business owners and individual clients with advice, guidance, and support around completing their annual tax returns. In 2006, Tricia joined a start-up and helped them grow into a global gaming hardware manufacturing company. There, she not only served as their Human Resources Generalist, but she was instrumental in helping them with several System Integration projects.
In addition to helping fuse culture into companies through impactful HR policies, Tricia is a master of compliance around labor laws, payroll laws, and benefits. Tricia is also instrumental in utilizing her compliance expertise as our first string helping clients through merger and acquisition activities.
Tricia holds a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition from San Diego State University and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from National University. Most recently, she was awarded her SHRM-CP certificate in February of 2018.
In her free time, Tricia enjoys early morning yoga classes and playing arena soccer on the weekends. She is also an avid fan of uncovering the world’s hidden treasures in the form of Atlas Obscura adventures which she balances out by sipping fine wine with family and friends.
Erica Miller Culture Operations Specialist, HR Generalist
A dedicated, thorough, and diplomatic HR professional, Erica has spent the last 5 years in San Diego fulfilling her passion for helping clients manage human capital with the likes of Guild Mortgage Company, Ace Parking, AutoGenomics, and People’s Care.
Spending many years as a social worker, Erica’s work was focused on administration, case management and HR. It was then that Erica found her true passion and calling for HR. She decided to return back to school and became certified in Human Resource Management.
Erica has a special knack for onboarding and enjoys the opportunity to set a positive and energetic tone when bringing on new employees.
In addition to helping fuse culture into companies through impactful HR policies, Erica is very involved in the community. She volunteers for an organization that feeds the homeless, as well volunteering for many fundraisers that also provide assistance to not only the homeless community, but also provide help to individuals with intellectual disabilities and those with Parkinson’s.
Erica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development with an emphasis on Counseling Services and a Certificate in Human Resource Management from California State University San Marcos.
As a native Southern Californian, Erica is grateful to have most of her extended family close by. She is a proud aunt to two beautiful nephews. To stay grounded, Erica practices yoga, and on the flip side, she enjoys rock climbing. Erica is also an avid traveler and tries to visit as many countries as she can each year. One of her most recent trips has become one of her favorites- a hiking excursion to Machu Picchu in Peru.