Senior Staff

Grounded in nearly 80 years of combined Cal Poly experience, corporation senior staff bring a diverse background of experiences, schooling, history and knowledge to the campus community, adding their talents to help create a world-class educational experience.

Cody VanDorn

Chief Executive Officer

As the CEO of the Cal Poly Corporation, Cody VanDorn is responsible for the day-to-day operation of its programs and services, and strategically working with the board of directors, university leadership, and student body to collectively enhance the Cal Poly experience.   

He holds a finance degree from Cal Poly and is a graduate from the Stanford Project Management program.

“Every day at the Corporation we have the opportunity to support projects, research, events and activities that impact the lives of Cal Poly students. And every day I get to lead a team that is motivated to keep improving, so we can do more, offer more, produce more and continue to be a supportive and influential partner with the university. And honestly, I couldn’t be more energized to do my part.”

Andrea Burns

Associate Executive Director

Andrea Burns brings a deep background in sales finance, strategy, business development, and process improvement to the role of associate executive director. In her role, Andrea oversees new business development support, Campus Dining, University Store, Cal Poly Downtown, and Conference and Event Planning.  Andrea is the Corporation’s liaison to ASI and is serving as co-advisor for Cal Poly Women In Business.  She co-leads the University Store advisory committee and serves on the Campus Dining advisory committee and the University landscape and safety committees. 

Her experience working across multiple lines of business, working with front-line employees and customers, project management, and productivity optimization is a great asset to the Corporation.

“Every day I have the opportunity to interact with students, faculty, and staff and improve their experience on campus.  I enjoy working cross functionally across campus to enhance our public spaces, indoor and out.  Our amazing climate, campus and students make this job fun and extremely rewarding.”

Dan Banfield

Chief Financial Officer

Dan Banfield joined the Corporation in 2015 as the controller and now serves as Chief Financial Officer. In this role, he oversees the day-to-day financial operations of the Corporation. He has spent a career in public accounting, working primarily in Southern California for a variety of organizations and industries, including the California State University system. A Central Coast native, Dan holds a master’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University and is a licensed CPA.

“I absolutely enjoy working here and seeing the energy that students bring each day to campus. At the Cal Poly Corporation, we do a lot of the work that happens behind the scenes and it’s rewarding to see the positive impact we can have on the campus community.”

Ellen Curtis

Director of Marketing & Communications

Ellen spent 20-plus years working on some of the world’s top brands as a copywriter, creative director, social media director and agency owner before joining the Corporation in 2015. She now leads the planning, development and implementation of all marketing and communications programs for university food services, stores and other corporation activities. Ellen has received more than 200 major awards for her work’s creativity and effectiveness.

She holds a bachelor’s in communication from Boston University and a master’s in strategic communication management from Concordia University-St. Paul.

“The Corporation supports so many important efforts at Cal Poly. I am excited to be part of this dynamic organization and share our programs and initiatives with the campus community and beyond.”

Umut Brown

Director, Conference & Event Planning

Since 2012 Umut has overseen more than 200 annual conferences, camps and events, and has managed the university’s summer housing accommodations. She spent more than 17 years in five-star hotel management, coordinating events in Istanbul, Turkey, at Europe’s largest convention center.

Named one of The Tribune’s Top 20 Under 40, Umut has a bachelor’s with dual focus in business administration/tourism and hotel management. A certified mediator, she is currently pursuing a Master of Legal Studies and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.

“Working with the Corporation gives me the opportunity to bring camps, events and workshops to Cal Poly to share my knowledge of the campus and, most importantly, introduce the university to future mustangs. I love that.”

Jennifer Wharton

Associate Executive Director, Human Resources

Jennifer brings more than 20 years of human resources experience to Cal Poly Corporation. She previously worked at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center as human resources manager for seven years and served as human resources manager for Stanislaus County. She joined the CPC team in January of 2019.

Jennifer is a Cambria local, and graduated from California State University, Stanislaus with a degree in business administration.

“The role of the Human Resources department in any organization is extremely important and even more so here at the Cal Poly Corporation. Everything we do touches the everyday lives of our students and enhances the campus community.  As a Central Coast native I am thrilled to work here and absolutely love everyone I work with.”

Jess Dozier

Director, Campus Dining

Jess joined Cal Poly Corporation as the director of Campus Dining in April 2020 with more than 20 years of higher education food management experience. In that time, he oversaw the operation of 11 campus dining programs including serving as the director of the Whitworth University and Gonzaga University culinary programs. Jess is responsible for leading the Campus Dining operations and strategic planning.

Food is a very personal part of everyone’s life. It is not only sustenance, it’s also community, relationships, health and so much more. Each day I have the opportunity to support my staff in creating culinary fare and experiences for all Cal Poly community members to savor. And I love that the Corporation offers me that opportunity.

Jodi Block

Director, Sponsored Programs

Jodi started at Cal Poly Corporation in December 1995 and joined Sponsored Programs in August 2013 as a grants analyst, operations manager. In October 2019 she became the Sponsored Programs director. In this role she is responsible for a variety of operational and managerial functions including post-award financial and compliance oversight for grants and contracts, centers and institutes and other related activities.

I am proud to be a part of the amazing research that is happening and supporting students who are getting the hands-on, real-world experience needed to make change in the world. Through the Corporation we are able to enrich the lives of students and support the Learn by Doing experience, and I love being a part of that.”