Businesswoman and pioneer Gail Stoorza-Gill: “The Passage of an Era”

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Gail Stoorza-Gill, who founded a small business in San Diego in the 1970s that quickly became the largest independent public relations and advertising agency in California, died on May 16 at the age of 77 of the aftermath. hospitalization complicated by surgery and chronic fibromyalgia. .

Starting her business at a time when women-owned businesses were not only scarce but barred from joining some civic organizations, Stoorza-Gill’s colleagues and proteges are remembered as a trailblazer and mentor.

“Women just got drawn to her because we learned so much,” said Nadine corrigan, who accepted a job with Stoorza-Gill in 1980 at the age of 24, when the agency had fewer than 10 employees, almost all of them women. “She guided us, inspired us and she just attracted and recruited some really good talent.”

Stoorza-Gill founded his eponymous company in 1974, which would later become Stoorza, Ziegaus and Metzger. Considered the largest female-owned company of its kind, the company had more than 100 employees and offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Riverside.

Growing like San Diego over the years, the company attracted a list of clients including the Port of San Diego, La Costa Resort, McDonald’s, the Economic Development Corporation, and companies from what was then a nascent biotech industry.

Together with the Padres, Stoorza-Gill and his company worked to help push through the proposal that resulted in the construction of Petco Park.

Stoorza-Gill was known for her big smile and energetic personality. Friends and contemporaries also discerned a sharp wit and a knack for connecting people who appeared to inhabit different business and political spheres but who turned out to have common goals.

“She could see how a Republican interest intersected with a Democratic interest; how a nonprofit interest and a profit interest intersected, ”said Mary Walshok, a 45-year-old friend. “She could find the common interest, the common concern, that connected people.”

Stoorza-Gill was the first woman to chair the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce and has served on numerous city councils.

“She had the energy to do all of these things and to keep a very successful business,” said Ron Roberts, who interacted often with Stoorza-Gill during his time on San Diego City Council, on the Planning Commission and on the Board. county supervisory board. “She seemed to get along with everyone.”

Biotechnology entrepreneur David Hale hired Stoorza-Gill’s firm to provide public relations and policy advice to two of its startups.

“Gail and her team played a big role in helping us maneuver and ultimately get government officials to really understand what the biotech industry could mean in San Diego, and today is the time. ‘one of the three or four largest groups of biotech companies in the United States,’ Hale said.

“Without the work of a number of people in the industry, working with people like Gail and her team, this might not have happened. It certainly wouldn’t have happened as quickly as it did.

In a commentary on women workers published by the Union-Tribune in 2013, Stoorza-Gill spoke of “the need for successful women to be active in the community, not only in organizations that bring together different professional interests, but also in those which help the business world as a whole.

Thinking back to his time working for Stoorza-Gill, Corrigan vividly remembers a sign in his boss’s office.

“It just said, ‘Decided are always calm,’ Corrigan said. ‘When she made a decision about something, she felt confident and good about it and she would point her finger at it and say,’ I am. right there. I’m calm. ‘

In 1981 Stoorza-Gill married property developer Ian Gill, who had left England for San Diego three years earlier.

“I could talk for hours about Gail,” said Gill. “During the first two decades of our marriage, I felt like I was hanging on to Gail’s petticoats because she was the talk of the town. She and her company have been involved in just about every major political campaign, every initiative that has moved San Diego forward. ”

Stoorza-Gill is survived by her husband; her daughter Alexandra and her partner Ted Esser; and two grandsons, James and Charles. The couple celebrated their 40th birthday on April 24 – 22 days before Stoorza-Gill passed away – and on the same day, Alexandra gave birth to Charles.

“She was able to meet him and hold him,” said Gill.

The friendship between Stoorza-Gill and Walshok, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs at UC San Diego, deepened as the two shared the challenges women face in balancing their professional and professional responsibilities.

“There’s a whole group of women who graduated from high school in the late 1950s, early 1960s and navigated a world where they were not welcome for 20 years, then doors suddenly opened for them as they reached their 30s and 40s, so I feel the loss of a friend, but also the passing of an era, ”said Walshok.

“I think it’s a better world for women today and I just hope women in their 30s and 50s recognize what women like Gail Stoorza have accomplished so they can be where they are. they are today … So there is a nostalgia as well as a feeling of mourning that I feel with his passing.

A celebration of life is in preparation for July. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations from the National Fibromyalgia Association, 3857 Birch St., Suite 312, Newport Beach, CA, 92660.

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