» Board of Directors | Executive Committee

photo of Connie Benson '93

Connie Benson '93

President (2018-2020)
During her time at Chapman, Connie served as president of Delta Gamma Sorority and Commissioner of Justice, was a member of the Chapman Dance Ensemble and danced in multiple American Celebration productions. She graduated magna cum laude and was named Outstanding Senior Woman.
Connie earned a juris doctorate from California Western School of Law. She works as a senior attorney at Williamson Law Group in Santa Ana and has participated in mentoring programs with the Fowler School of Law.
In addition to her professional endeavors, Connie volunteers her time with the Miss America Organization, serving as the executive director for the Miss City of Orange Scholarship Pageant, which is held annually at Chapman. Connie has enjoyed mentoring many Chapman women through this program. She also serves as a deputy field director with the Miss California Organization.
Connie lives in Tustin Ranch and is an avid runner, having completed numerous full and half marathons.
photo of Aaron Flewellen '04

Aaron Flewellen '04

President Elect
At Chapman, Aaron was a Founding Father of and held many positions in the Chapman chapter of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and was selected to serve as one of ten members of Delta Tau Delta's Undergraduate Council. Aaron was also a Resident Advisor, an Orientation Assistant, Associated Student Senator and Chapman Ambassador.
In 2009, after starting an agency that focused on employee benefits, Aaron was recruited by Orange County-based EBA&M to launch and manage a new program that helps small and medium sized companies self-fund their health insurance.
Aaron currently lives in Old Town Orange with his wife Kelsey (Smith) Flewellen '05. In addition to his work with the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Aaron is an adviser to the Chapman chapter of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He joined the Alumni Association Board of Directors to help build a strong and beneficial network of alumni in Southern California and beyond.
photo of Akin Ceylan '90

Akin Ceylan '90

Chair, Past President's Advisory Council
-Trustee Board Member, Chapman University 2014-Present
-Board of Counselors Chapman University Argyros School of Business and Economics 2014-Present
-President of the Alumni Association 2016-2018
-Chapman University Distinguished Alumni Honoree - Chapman Experience Award 2018
-Chapman Celebrates Gala Chair 2018
After graduating from Chapman in 1990, Akin Ceylan received a Certificate in Contract Management from the University of California Irvine in 1995. He is also a Licensed California Real Estate Broker since 2008 and is the owner of PARC PLACE REALTY.
Akin is currently the COO of Home Entertainment and Global Content Distribution for Lionsgate. He joined Lionsgate Entertainment in October 2005 and is responsible for the vision, strategy, execution and financial soundness of all operational aspects associated with the production and distribution of media content to digital and storefront retailers globally. Akin also served as SVP Domestic Operations at MGM Studios and was responsible for overseeing the Home Entertainment Group’s operational activities for North America.
Akin lives in Thousand Oaks with his wife Cyndi Ceylan. He and Cyndi have a daughter, Paige, who earned her undergraduate B.A. degree at Chapman University in 2017, and a son, Rob, who earned his undergraduate B.S. degree from Northern Arizona University in 2014 and an MBA from Chapman University in 2018.
Akin enjoys hot yoga, spinning, biking, golfing, stand-up paddle boarding, traveling, and hanging out and boating with family at Lake Arrowhead.
photo of Adam Coughran '04 (M.A. '10)

Adam Coughran '04 (M.A. '10)

Vice President, Strategy and Operations
Adam Coughran is a police officer turned educator and entrepreneur. Throughout his law enforcement career in Southern California, Adam worked in various capacities, including street patrol, field training, counter-terrorism, and tourism-oriented policing. Adam utilized his expertise to found Standards Training Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses deter crime and mitigate violence.
Adam soon began training personnel in various industries, including hotels and schools. It was during a school training session that Adam discovered the need for violence prevention training for students from kindergarten through high school. Subsequently, Adam co-founded his second company, Safe Kids Inc., and developed the H.E.R.O. Program. An acronym for Hide, Escape, Run, and Overcome, the H.E.R.O. Program is designed to instill safe-thinking skills that enable children to survive violent incidents. The H.E.R.O. Program consists of age appropriate curriculum, engaging activities, professional development for educators, and a series of drills and scenarios.
Adam currently serves as president of both companies, in addition to being an active member and holding leadership positions in several nonprofit organizations and professional associations. He has trained, consulted and presented from local to international stages on a variety of topics. Adam’s clients broadly incorporate tourism, hospitality, retail outlets, higher education, private and public-school districts, utility companies, health care, government, professional associations and security agencies.
photo of Ariana Burris (JD '09)

Ariana Burris (JD '09)

Vice President, Career
As a student at Chapman University Fowler School of Law, Ariana was active in student government, serving all three years as a representative to the Student Bar Association. As a third year student, Ariana was Chapman's liaison to the American Bar Association. She was also involved with the Mock Trial team, and competed across the country in numerous competitions.
In her professional life, Ariana worked for many years in a large law firm practicing Social Security litigation all over the country in federal court. In 2016, she joined her husband Jason Burris '02 (JD '08) as a principal of Burris Law, a boutique law firm in Santa Ana serving a wide range of clients in matters dealing with real estate, business law, and trusts and estates. Ariana currently specializes in estate planning, trust administration, probate, and associated litigation.
Ariana and Jason live in Cowan Heights with their daughter Cameron and dog Max. Ariana enjoys distance running, traveling, eating, and spending time with her family.
photo of Megan Demshki '12 (JD '15)

Megan Demshki '12 (JD '15)

Vice President, Engagement
Born and raised in Riverside, CA, Megan enrolled as an undergraduate at Chapman University in Fall 2009. While an undergrad, Megan served on Associated Students as a Senator and Vice President of Senate, participated in Greek life as a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and Order of Omega, and enjoyed the University Honors Program. Megan also served as Chapman University’s Student Government Association President from 2011-2012. Megan graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and Peace Studies in 2012, as well as completing the University Honors Program. Upon graduation, Megan received the Gloria and Julian Peterson Award, awarded to one graduating senior for his or her outstanding and distinguished leadership in enriching university life.
Megan went on to obtain her Juris Doctor from Chapman University Fowler School of Law in 2015, where she received CALI Excellence for the Future awards for the highest grades in the Alona Cortese Elder Law Clinic, Legal Analysis Workshop and Business Planning.
Since graduating from law school and passing the California Bar Exam, Megan is now an Associate Attorney with the law firm of Aitken Aitken Cohn and was recognized as a “Top Lawyer in the I.E.” by Inland Empire Magazine in 2016-2018. Recently, Megan was designated a Finalist with her mentor and Chapman Board of Trustees Chairman, Wylie Aitken, for the Consumer Attorneys of California 2019 Consumer Attorney of the Year award.
Megan was married to her Chapman Sweetheart, Brenton Burke ’14, in June 2016 by Chapman University President Emeritus Jim Doti. Megan’s siblings, Johnny Demshki ’16, Tyler Demshki ’18 (M.S. ’19) and Kyley Demshki ’22, and sister-in-law, Ashley Kaplan Demshki ’15, share her Panther Pride.
photo of Ralphie Giron (EMBA '14)

Ralphie Giron (EMBA '14)

Vice President, Marketing
Ralphie Giron completed his EMBA, from Chapman University in 2014. He holds undergraduate degrees in Communications (Long Beach State) and Education (UCLA).
While at Chapman, Ralphie continued his predecessors’ work on the MBA Student Association. Serving as President, he kept current students involved in networking events and connected them with alumni and community leaders.
Ralphie has spent a majority of his career at The Walt Disney Company in Communications. He has worked on global initiatives for the Parks and Resorts segment, including a partnership with ESPN in re-branding a sports complex at Walt Disney World, launching marketing campaigns, and franchise/alliance management. He currently works in Corporate Administration, aligning communication change strategy for and supporting senior leaders in the organization.
Ralphie sits on the Komen OC Board of Directors and volunteers with Operation Jump Start, an organization that prepares high school students for college.
Ralphie lives with his family in Long Beach, CA. In his free time, he enjoys traveling the world with his best friend, a killer workout that pushes him to the limit, and ramen dates with the BAEs. Ralphie is thrilled to bring his event planning and communication skills to the Chapman Alumni Board as the Vice President of Marketing.
photo of Michelle Philo '03

Michelle Philo '03

Vice President, Engagement
Michelle A. Philo is the principal at Philo Law Firm, P.C., where she provides concierge General Counsel services to small businesses and startups, especially those in the technology fields. With her broad knowledge, Michelle provides small businesses with the convenience of working with one key lawyer to manage all of their outside counsel and provide immediate assistance with contracts, compliance, employments matters, and protecting intellectual property. She also provides estate planning, trust administration, and probate services to individuals and families. Prior to launching her own firm, Michelle served as General Counsel at Adtile Technologies Inc., a technology company focused on motion engagement and virtual reality for mobile devices. Michelle started her legal career at a mid-size firm doing both business litigation and transactional work and estate planning.
Michelle has been active in the legal community since becoming a lawyer and currently serves as the President of Orange County Women Lawyers Association, President of the Whittier Law School Alumni Association, and a board member for Chapman University Alumni Association. Michelle is also active in the American Bar Association as a California State Bar Delegate to the House of Delegates. She previously served as the Chair of Orange County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division.
Outside of her day to day work, Michelle has been committed to issues surrounding gender in the profession. She has chaired California Women Lawyers’ Gender Equity Task Force developing a speakers’ bureau and awards database for female attorneys. She has served as a member of the ABA’s Gender Equity Task Force Social Media Working Group where she regularly posted content on the ABA’s gender equity social media platforms. She has been involved with the San Diego Lawyers Club and ACC San Diego’s Joint Task Force on Gender Equity, a committee bringing the conversation of gender equity to law firm decision makers and general counsel in the San Diego region. For additional information regarding Michelle and her service to the profession, please see her LinkedIn link below.
Publications/Presentations: • The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Equal Pay Negotiations: A Lookback One Year Later, Opening Equal Pay Day Presentation, Orange County Women Lawyers, April 2018 • Closing the Newsroom Gender Pay and Leadership Gaps, Panelist, Excellence in Journalism, September 2017 • Overcoming Implicit Bias: Interrupting Bias in the Legal Profession, Orange County Harbor Bar Association, May 2017 • Overcoming Implicit Bias: Interrupting Bias in the Legal Profession, Provisors, May 2017 • Gender Equality, Panelist, California Women Lawyers, April 2017 • Overcoming Implicit Bias: Why “Lean-In” to Something that Doesn’t Work?, Orange County Women Lawyers, Nov. 2016 • Implicit Bias: Putting the Conversation Into Practice, ACC San Diego & Lawyers Club of San Diego, Sept. 2016 • #OCBAYLDGives, Orange County Lawyer Magazine, July 2016
Awards: • Dean’s Alumni Award, Whittier Law School Alumni Association, 2017 • Rising Stars, Super Lawyers, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 • On the Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers, ABA Young Lawyers Division, 2016 • President’s Award, Orange County Wine Society, 2014 • Everyday Hero Award, Orange County Women Lawyers Association, 2013 • Dean’s Citation Award, Whittier Law School, 2012