Our Team


About our mission

The San Diego French-American Chamber of Commerce team is dedicated to support French entrepreneurs and French companies in process to do business in the U.S. Our goal is to help them set up their business in Southern California  and/or export their products in the U.S. We also support local San Diego businesses who want to explore opportunities in France or with French entities. We are committed to offering a high level of quality services to all companies who reach out to us.

Also, we are continuously building a network of members, made up of local businesses and entrepreneurs, that everyone can benefit from. We aim to have a network of local professionals who can promote their businesses and provide their services to French entrepreneurs and companies coming in San Diego.

The San Diego French-American Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization, does not receive financial support from any government and is self-sponsored by business services and membership.

The new board of directors and executive team are committed to growing this organization and bringing exposure to our beautiful city of San Diego as an appealing option for those entrepreneurs and companies who have a business project in mind.

EXECUTIVE TEAM

Gilles Bonkoski
Gilles Bonkoski
Executive Director
Axelle D’Epenoux
Axelle D’Epenoux
Corporate Services Manager
France-Alia Bardeau
France-Alia Bardeau
Account Manager
Aleksandra Vukovic
Aleksandra Vukovic
Communication & Event Coordinator

BOARD MEMBERS

Frederique Picard
Frederique Picard
Director - Board of Directors

Prior to founding SMAC CONSEILS agency in 2004 , Frederique was VP Marketing Director at Heinz Company and Marketing Manager at Paribas and Heineken. As a professional marketer and communication adviser, she joined the French American Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to share her experience, and to support French entrepreneurs build and successfully implement their new or existing brand.

Christophe Dufour
Christophe Dufour
Director - Board of Directors
Christophe is thrilled to join the SDFACC to share his professional experience and help the entrepreneurs who wants to set up a business in San Diego by answering practical questions
Eric Vigouroux
Eric Vigouroux
Director - Board of Directors
Eric Vigouroux is eager to support the San Diego French-American Chamber of Commerce in its endeavor to support French entrepreneurs and companies to set up a business in San Diego.
Rayana Thomas
Rayana Thomas
Director - Board of Directors
Rayana Thomas is an attorney who has been practicing in California for 6 years and have been in the law industry for about 10 years now.
Ed Benito
Ed Benito
Secretary - Board of Directors
I have achieved excellent results in matters before the state trial court, courts of appeal, and Supreme Court. San Diego Magazine has repeatedly recognized me as one of the Top Lawyers for business litigation.
Charles Speidel
Charles Speidel
Director - Board of Directors
Passionate about business and leadership, Charles Speidel is the Chief Operating Officer of Instaply Inc. Prior to this, Charles was a former Sony senior executive with more than 18 years’ experience in various sales and marketing functions within Sony.
Claude Benchimol
Claude Benchimol
Director - Board of Directors
Claude D. Benchimol, Ph.D, is the President of Damol Innovation LLC, a consulting practice he founded in 2012, focused on technology-based innovation in healthcare (medical devices, pharma & biotech, healthcare IT).
Charles Oreve
Charles Oreve
Director - Board of Directors
Charles is successful at building strong relationships with the business stakeholders as well as the strategic, tactical and execution teams. He specializes in utilizing marketing, communications and project management processes to develop new lead generation pipelines while consolidating and retaining current partnerships.
Felicity Di Pisa
Felicity Di Pisa
Board of Directors
Felicity Di Pisa is a financial advisor with over 10 years’ experience in capital markets, foreign exchange and financial operations. Felicity works with local, national and international business owners and entrepreneurs and has an in-depth understanding of business needs.
Christophe Fremont
Christophe Fremont
President - Board of Directors
He has full knowledge of mergers and acquisition process. Sold a mid-size company at high-level EBITDA multiple. He will bring the skills and experience for the Chamber's growth and advise the entrepreneurs who request support from the Chamber of Commerce.

Christophe Fremont

Mr. Christophe Fremont was President and Chief Operating Officer of Solar Gard in San Diego, an independent division of Bekaert that he sold to Saint-Gobain in 2011. He oversaw globally all aspects of the Company’s strategic vision, business, sales initiatives and financial operations. Fremont brought the company from a US centric company status to a company recognized globally as a strong player in the energy saving industry, selling products in more than 90 countries, with 6 plants all over the world and more than 15 offices internationally. He has full knowledge of mergers and acquisition process. Sold a mid-size company at high-level EBITDA multiple. He has joined the team and will bring the skills and experience for the Chamber’s growth and advise the entrepreneurs who request support from the Chamber of Commerce.

Eric Vigouroux

Eric Vigouroux is an entrepreneur and a former top athlete. In 1991, at the young age of 26, Vigouroux created Pro-System which is a service company that specializes in the management of refrigerated display cabinet fleets. Fifteen years later, Pro-System Group organized into three subsidiaries with an employment of 200 people, and developed internationally while continuing to strengthen its leading position. Eric Vigouroux’s athletic career took place from 1995 to 2014. He led a race team in the rally-raid discipline where he was a professional driver and team manager. He participated in 15 editions of the Dakar Rally and numerous FIA world up events. In 2012 he became World Champion in his class and he won the international Rally of Morocco a few months later. Vigouroux is currently working on a project to build an all-terrain 100% electric vehicle. Eric Vigouroux is eager to support the San Diego French-American Chamber of Commerce’s team in its endeavor to support French entrepreneurs and companies to set up a business in San Diego.

Claude D. Benchimol

Claude D. Benchimol, Ph.D, is the President of Damol Innovation LLC, a consulting practice he founded in 2012, focused on technology-based innovation in healthcare (medical devices, pharma & biotech, healthcare IT). Clients span companies from small start-ups to large public Companies ($2B-$28B). Passionate about innovation, he has a 34 year success history of building, leading and inspiring vibrant global organizations, responsible for the introduction of high impact, complex technology products within GE Healthcare and Life Technologies. He is also a member of the French Academy of Technology, serves as a member of the Council of Advisors of the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering, as well as in several other profit and non-profit boards. Claude already served two years as a Board Advisor of the French-American Chamber of Commerce and is enthusiastic to continue as a member of the Board of Director. He will share his large network and advise the Chamber of Commerce’s team to expand their activities.

Felicity Di Pisa

Felicity Di Pisa is a financial advisor with over 10 years’ experience in capital markets, foreign exchange and financial operations. She worked in London and Paris for Fitch Ratings, a credit rating agency specialized in risk management and related advisory services, and then moved to San Diego 3 years ago to become a financial advisor. Felicity works with local, national and international business owners and entrepreneurs and has an in-depth understanding of business needs. Felicity graduated from the London School of Economics and the Sorbonne University. Felicity graduated from the London School of Economics and the Sorbonne University. She can help the team by bringing her financial operations expertise and in advising local and international entrepreneurs settle in San Diego.

Christophe Dufour

Christophe Dufour is the owner and CEO of Pictor Inc. a company dedicated to the sales and marketing of Airport Ground Support Equipment. Christophe has over 20 years’ experience in the manufacturing of special purpose vehicles. Thanks to his many travels around the world, he developed a very large international network. It also gave him the opportunity to enjoy the diversity of foreign cultures. Christophe is thrilled to join the SDFACC to share his professional experience and help the entrepreneurs who wants to set up a business in San Diego by answering practical questions

Charles Speidel

Passionate about business and leadership, Charles Speidel is the Chief Operating Officer of Instaply Inc. Prior to this, Charles was a former Sony senior executive with more than 18 years’ experience in various sales and marketing functions within Sony. He has managed multimillion dollars businesses for Sony across the globe. Most recently as Vice President of the Research and Innovation Centre for Sony Electronics, Inc. headquarters in San Diego, California, he was responsible for the company’s strategic marketing initiatives and innovation programs, developing innovative solutions for Sales & Marketing and product development activities. When asked why he is in business, Charles responds with, “People! It’s about having fun and making profit.” Charles already served as a Board Advisors of the Chamber for the past 2 years and is committed to participate at the development of the San Diego French-American Chamber of Commerce in the Board of Directors.

Rayana Thomas

Rayana Thomas is an attorney who has been practicing in California for 6 years and have been in the law industry for about 10 years now. Rayana Thomas focus mostly on immigration and also has a law degree from France. Thomas believes that her skills can help the French-American Chamber of Commerce by providing legal advices when needed. In addition, she can assist the Chamber by guiding French companies and/or individuals who are in the process of moving to the US. As an immigrant from France herself, she understand first-hand the difficulties companies/entrepreneurs might be facing. There are often legal and technical issues that need to be resolved prior to and while in the process of moving to the United States.

Charles Oreve

With over fifteen years of Marketing communications and Business consulting experience in the United States, Charles has most recently been employed with companies in growth state assisting them to develop their online presence. He’s successful at building strong relationships with the business stakeholders as well as the strategic, tactical and execution teams. He specializes in utilizing marketing, communications and project management processes to develop new lead generation pipelines while consolidating and retaining current partnerships. His involvement with the board of directors will be an asset when it comes to expanding the in person and digital reach of the San Diego French Chamber of Commerce.

Edward Benito

As to the skills that could benefit the Chamber in its endeavor to help French entrepreneurs and businesses in San Diego: “Given that the creation and protection of real-and-personal property rights forms the backbone of business, I believe the Chamber would benefit from my extensive experience representing clients of all sizes in not only corporate, contract, and other transactional matters, but also in all aspects of business, commercial, intellectual property, construction and real estate litigation. My business and real estate legal practice involves both creating contracts with the aim of avoiding potential disputes and finding solutions for clients actually involved in disputes over business contracts, intellectual property, construction or real property. I have achieved excellent results in matters before the state trial court, courts of appeal, and Supreme Court. San Diego Magazine has repeatedly recognized me as one of the Top Lawyers for business litigation. And Martindale-Hubbell rates me as AV Preeminent, which is a rating reflecting the highest level of professional excellence.”

 Frederique Picard

Frederique’s expertise is around brands and making them grow- including creating the right value proposition, preparing a brand for future growth through extensions, and positioning them in ever-changing market environments. Driven by curiosity, Frederique is fascinated by consumer decision-making and finding the best solutions to elaborate the best go-to-market strategy and in-market activation. She strongly believes in finding what is true and unique in an organization, and using it to inspire employees and customers- the key to achieve a brand’s success. Most of her career has been driven by her passion for brands, problem solving, and relationship building, in a tremendous variety of company cultures. Prior to founding SMAC CONSEILS agency in 2004 , Frederique was VP Marketing Director at Heinz Company and Marketing Manager at Paribas and Heineken. As a professional marketer and communication adviser, she joined the French American Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to share her experience, and to support French entrepreneurs build and successfully implement their new or existing brand. As an executive coach she can also provide support and help develop talent.