Chief Executive Officer
Gina Champion-Cain is making her mark in the San Diego real estate, hospitality and retail industries. As founder and CEO of American National Investments, Inc. (ANI), she is consistently recognized as an innovative and groundbreaking leader who is routinely raising the bar.
ANI is a multifaceted business established in 1997 with a focus on redeveloping neighborhoods through four verticals: real estate development and investment, retail, food and beverage, as well as corporate hospitality.
As a division of the real estate vertical, LuvSurf was established in 2011 with vacation homes located San Diego’s Mission Beach and the California coast line in Carmel by the Sea, epitomizing the California lifestyle. LuvSurf has since evolved with the addition of retail featuring merchandise and apparel. Complementary retail brands include The Surf Life and Mission Beach Surf Company.
Ms. Champion-Cain has revitalized the San Diego food and beverage scene with The Patio Group which is comprised of full service, fast casual, and wholesale restaurant concepts. Brands include The Patio on Lamont, The Patio on Goldfinch, Fireside by The Patio, Saska’s Steakhouse, Harvest by The Patio, Bao Beach, Surf Rider Pizza, Swell Coffee Co., The Patio Express, Andrea’s Truffles and Foundation Bakery.
Ms. Champion-Cain is expanding the restaurant vertical outside San Diego. Additional concepts in Northern California include Chicken Pharm, a rustic eatery serving comfort food; and Harvest, specializing in local, healthy and sustainable dishes, as well Keller Street CoWork, a co-op office space concept.
The motto at The Patio Group restaurants – Relax. Enjoy. Share. – highlights the brand’s commitment to celebrating life with great food and company. The restaurants are pet-friendly too, which is no surprise. A pet lover, Ms. Champion-Cain has three English cream retrievers and recognizes pets are an important part of the family.
The success of The Patio Group, combined with experience from developing real estate, has led to the expansion of the corporate hospitality vertical. The focus is on strategizing and developing food and beverage experiences within partnered companies’ locations.
As an integrated part of the executive team, Ms. Champion-Cain manages administrative functions of all regional offices of ANI, trains and supervises senior management, and is responsible for community relations and public outreach.
Ms. Champion-Cain’s responsibilities include providing strategic direction to ANI and overseeing all real estate services, such as development and acquisition endeavors, as well as commercial and residential leasing and asset management. This entails interfacing with all ANI partners, clients, project investors and tenants, as well as developing and implementing the strategic direction approved by the ANI Board of Directors.
With construction management experience, Ms. Champion-Cain oversees new business development activities and due diligence of all new acquisitions and development projects. Accomplishments include the redevelopment and repositioning of over 10 million square feet of commercial space (retail, office, and hospitality) as well as over 5,000 residential units.
A tough, yet compassionate businesswoman, Ms. Champion-Cain is nurturing the business community too. She recently helped launch a new community bank, Endeavor Bank, headquartered in San Diego, a project for which she help secure the $27 million startup costs. In the past decade, only a handful of banking entrepreneurs have attempted to start a bank from the ground up.
Endeavor Bank, which embraces the entrepreneurial spirit, has local founders, owners and board members. Ms. Champion-Cain is a founding member and sits on the Board of Directors, as well as the loan committee.
The Endeavor Bank is committed to helping local clients, including small and medium sized businesses. Based on her own experience, Ms. Champion-Cain knows how tough it can be for small to medium sized businesses to get the time and attention of banks for financing projects.
Her philanthropy work includes Beautiful Mission Beach, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving the community and beaches of Mission Beach; and prospect nonprofits, like Friends of Presidio Golf Course. Through her efforts, Ms. Champion-Cain is committed to creating positive change in San Diego.
Previously, she served as Senior Vice President of Koll, where she was responsible for the overall project management of three specific types of Next Generation Retail/Entertainment centers within Japan: Urban MegaMalls, Urban Entertainment Centers, Beyond Big Box Centers. She excelled at design oversight and budgets, marketing and leasing, and financial planning and strategies, as well as property management.
Ms. Champion-Cain received a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Political Science from The University of Michigan, where she was a Regents-Alumni Scholar in 1983. She attended California Western School of Law and received her Master’s Degree in Business Administration, with concentrations in International Business and Real Estate Finance from the University of San Diego where she completed two graduate teaching fellowships in Marketing and Computer Science.
Ms. Champion-Cain holds a California Real Estate Broker’s License and is a Certified Property Manager (CPM®), a designation awarded by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). She has been active in professional organizations such as the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), Building Owners and Managers Association, Inc. (BOMA), San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR), and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). She has been a past Board Director for the YMCA and American Lung Association; a former Trustee of the San Diego Repertory Theatre, where she served as Vice President of the Board and Chair of the Development Committee; served on the City of San Diego’s Redevelopment Agency, Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) Board of Directors, appointed by the City Council in June 2005; served as an officer on the Executive Committee for the Downtown San Diego Partnership for over ten years and was the Chair of the Board in 2002. For eight years she chaired the Housing Advisory and Appeals Board, appointed by Mayor Dick Murphy in 2001. In September 2008, Mayor Sanders appointed her to serve on the Southeast Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Board of Directors where she was elected to serve as Vice Chairman of the Board. Currently, she sits on the University of San Diego’s Executive Board for the Burnham-Moores Institute of Real Estate. Her specialties include: urban infill/mixed-use development, land entitlement, redevelopment law, historical preservation, retail makeovers, contract negotiations, hospitality, retail, customer service, and marketing.
Ms. Champion-Cain is a recipient of many awards and honors, some including the San Diego Business Journal’s 2001 Women Who Mean Business Award; San Diego Metropolitan’s 2001 40 Under Forty Award; San Diego Magazine’s 50 People to Watch for 2002; YWCA’s 2002 Tribute to Women and Industry Award and was nominated by the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Women Business Owner of the Year Award in 2002. She was also the 2003 recipient of the Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award, accorded by the School of Business Administration at the University of San Diego. Lambda Alpha International, the San Diego Chapter, awarded her an honorary membership for years of leadership and contributions to San Diego’s educational, political and professional communities; and the economic revitalization and redevelopment of San Diego. The former Mayor of San Diego awarded Ms. Champion-Cain for her civic leadership by naming June 28, 2008 as “Gina Champion-Cain Day.”