Thirteen of San Diego County’s top IT leaders received special recognition on May 10 during the 11th annual “Top Tech Exec Awards.”

The event, held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, remains the largest technology recognition awards event in the region.

San Diego’s leaders in business, education, community and elsewhere, were joined by 800 attendees to celebrate the 13 honorees being recognized for the forward-thinking and innovative approaches and programs they bring to their respective organizations.

Eleven nominees were selected as the Top Tech Exec in their category. Two IT leaders, Casey Cotton, chief technology officer for Madison Avenue Securities and Asset Marketing Systems, and Johnson Lai, chief information officer for NuVasive, received special awards, according to a press release.

Cotton earned the event’s Lifetime Achievement Award. As a 2013 Top Tech Exec Award honoree, Cotton is known as an expert in the design and delivery of cost-effective, high-performance technology solutions, and building strategic communication plans. A former U.S. Marine who received the Navy Unit Commendation and the Meritorious Unit Commendation medals for superior work performance and ethics, Cotton has served on the Operations/Technology Council and Cyber Security Taskforce for the Financial Services Institute, a nationally-recognized industry organization, the release said.

Lai received the Cox Business Exemplary Award for restructuring processes and capabilities, increasing the IT department’s business responsiveness, and addressing long-standing security and business continuity risks. Under Lai’s leadership, the IT department at NuVasive helped deploy a new digital manufacturing execution system. Lai is responsible for setting enterprise digital strategy and delivering strategic initiatives along with creating new IT capabilities. With more than 20 years of IT leadership experience, Lai has extensive global management expertise at Fortune 500 companies Hewlett Packard, AT&T, Abbott, and Thermo Fisher Scientific, and has also worked for startups, according to the release.

The 2018 Top Tech Exec Award Honorees:

Education: Terry Loftus, Chief Technology Officer, Oceanside Unified School District

Government: Jonathan Behnke, Chief Information Officer, City of San Diego

Nonprofit Small: Angela Moran, Chief Information Officer, California Coast Credit Union

Nonprofit Large: Alicia Rodriguez, Chief Information Officer, San Ysidro Health

Private Micro: Ryan Rusnak, Chief Technology Officer, Airspace Technologies Inc.

Private Small: Ryan Fay, Global Chief Information Officer, ACI Specialty Benefits

Private Medium: Jerome Fodor, Chief Technology Officer, AbacusNext

Private Large: Brad Williams, Director of Information Technology, Petco

Private Mega: Michael Hawman, Vice President/Chief Information Officer, General Atomics

Public Small: Hudson Airom, Director of Global Cloud Operations, Mitek Systems Inc.

Public Large: Troy Seelye, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Teradata

Presenting sponsor Cox Business, which founded the technology recognition event, and media sponsor San Diego Business Journal were joined by additional sponsors EdgeConneX, ScaleMatrix, GreenRope, The Vine, Via Technical, Association of IT Professionals San Diego, Better Business Bureau, San Diego Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Startup San Diego, Tech San Diego, and Maserati of San Diego.