Categories: Meet the Team!


LEAH HANNAOUI is currently a sophomore undergraduate student at San Diego State University, where she is majoring in Marketing. She was born and raised an hour outside of San Francisco in Walnut Creek, California. At a young age, she was drawn to marketing due to the creative freedom it provided to selling products she was passionate about.

During her high school years, she ran an Etsy shop, selling handmade beaded accessories. She found this experience particularly fulfilling as it allowed her to brand and market her own creations while contributing to a cause she was passionate about: she donated 30% of her profits to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Later, she built on this experience as a Marketing Intern for FrenchSquirrel, a healthy snack brand, where she participated in face to face marketing strategies as well as creating social media content. 

After graduation, she hopes to work in product and brand marketing. Leah is especially excited about her work with Vanguard Culture and engaging with the San Diego art community – a subject that holds a special place in her heart, having grown up visiting art museums and spending her summers assisting with her mother’s preschool art camps.

JOSE LEON is a senior enrolled in the College of Business and Administration at Cal State San Marcos, concurrently advancing his career while diligently pursuing his academic endeavors. Following a distinguished four-year active duty service with the United States Marine Corps, Jose transitioned into the renewable energy industry. He assumed the role of a field technician, specializing in the setup of solar systems and the commissioning of solar monitoring equipment. Rapidly ascending the professional ranks, Jose earned a promotion to lead the newly formed Service department of his company, entrusted with the maintenance of their solar system fleet.

Recognizing the department’s untapped potential, Jose applied his entrepreneurial mindset to initiate extracurricular activities, strategically exploring avenues for revenue generation. Through collaborative efforts with administrative staff and field technicians, he successfully transformed the Service department from a perceived sunk cost into a profitable center. Seeking to further enhance his business acumen, Jose strategically aligned himself with Omnidian, a tech startup based in Seattle, Washington, where he assumed the role of a Sales Analyst. Within Omnidian, Jose played an instrumental role in a newly formed commercial channel sales group, actively contributing to the implementation of new technologies and securing client acquisitions.

A year later, he earned a well-deserved promotion to the position of Client Success Manager, overseeing a portfolio of 30 clients, each valued at approximately between 1-5 million dollars. Currently, Jose’s primary focus is on the culmination of his academic journey at CSUSM, where he pursues a degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. Post-graduation, he aspires to further advance his education by pursuing an MBA at one of the top business schools in California, solidifying his position as a dynamic and accomplished professional.

GRACE SCHMIDT is a dedicated junior at the University of San Diego, where she is pursuing a degree in Communication and Business. Driven by her passion for advocacy and social change, Grace Schmidt has been actively involved in initiatives promoting women’s rights and raising awareness about human trafficking. In both high school and college, she took the lead in founding and leading a women’s rights and human trafficking awareness club, demonstrating her commitment to making a positive impact in her community.

Beyond her advocacy work, Grace is a proactive member of her university’s campus. She contributes her talents to the school newspaper, where she engages in investigative reporting and storytelling. Additionally, she plays a vital role in fostering a sense of sisterhood as a member of the executive board for the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. 

With a strong foundation in communication and marketing, coupled with her unwavering dedication to advocacy and leadership, Grace is poised to continue making a meaningful difference here at Vanguard Culture.

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.