founder bio

Founder John Gartman

John Gartman lives in Del Mar. He is married and Dad to three boys – 30, 26, and 12. He is mostly retired, but he’s a lifelong learner and today spends his time pursuing his interests and passions with the same intensity he brought to his career. Beyond spending time with family and friends, his interests include coaching, mountain biking, team sports, the great outdoors, and a whole world of other stuff.

Gartman moved to San Diego in 1998 from the Bay Area – Silicon Valley. After arriving, he hopped from Mission Hills to La Jolla to Solana Beach, and finally to Del Mar which feels like home. He lives with his wife and 12-year-old son among the Torrey Pine trees near the ocean. The pine trees remind him of the mountains, which he loves.

Over much of the last 15 years, Gartman has served as Chair or a board member of the Foundation Board of Diego Zoo Global and as a board member of the Del Mar based nonprofit Nature & Culture International that has saved more than 20 million acres of the world’s most important and bio-diverse ecosystems in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico and other areas in Latin America. Jane Goodall, E.O. Wilson (father of biodiversity), and a small group of prominent and highly-committed philanthropists served with him on the Nature & Culture board. Conservation philanthropy has been a big part of Gartman’s life.

Gartman’s family lives about 10 blocks from the Heights’ school in the City of Del Mar. Before that, they rented on Boquita Drive about 100 yards away from the school for two years while deciding on their forever Del Mar home and remodeling it. The family regularly enjoys Park City, UT – for hiking, snowboarding, and mountain biking.

Gartman’s 12-year-old son attended the Heights’ school for four of the last five years and the two of them still go to the fields there to play around. Gartman sometimes takes his superb youth fútsal team there to train, including 1v1s and 2v2s on the gaga court – which they call “cage wars.” Gartman often runs from his home near the coast up the hills to the trailhead on Mira Montana with the stunning view of the school fields, the nature reserve and the ocean – which sadly will forever be replaced with the backside of buildings once the new Heights’ school is built.

Although it was not his formal career, Gartman’s life passion has been teaching, learning, and the study of how people learn and invent (especially kids), including the foundational physiology, neurology, and cognitive psychology. He invented Zero to Zone™, a comprehensive learning strategy that leverages the latest science and psychology into practical advanced learning techniques. Gartman believes Zero to Zone optimizes fast learning of anything, whether 5th grade math, a sports skill, or improved relationships. Gartman lectures kids on how people learn, and encourages kids to let their inner passions choose their life path – without regard to what others (including their parents) might think. Some of Gartman’s student lectures have appeared on University of California TV as part of the STEAM Leadership Series.

Gartman’s profession was intellectual property trial lawyer. He was uniformly considered one of the nation’s very best – receiving many national and international rewards and recognitions. In 2009, Gartman was named California Lawyer of the Year in intellectual property for his successful representation of his longstanding client Microsoft in a series of billion dollar cases and verdicts over a seven year period that affirmed the public’s right to use fundamental digital audio and video technologies on every modern computer and smartphone. He has three National Law Journal Top 10 defense wins, including a successful 1998 verdict for Adobe that saved Adobe Photoshop and allowed U.S. industry to continue to use and develop digital painting, cutting and pasting and compositing of images, and other now-pervasive computer technologies. Before private practice, Gartman served as law clerk for a prominent judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

Gartman attended the University of Texas at Austin where he received degrees in law and electrical engineering. As a college senior, Gartman was awarded the College of Engineering Outstanding Scholar-Leadership Award in a graduating class of over 5,000 engineering students across all engineering fields.

Gartman grew up in a sub-6,000 person town in the hills of Central Texas. He followed an unpredictable and winding path to Del Mar. There are days he doesn’t know how he got here.

Gartman’s wife Jill also grew up in Texas and has lived in San Diego for over 22 years. She currently serves on a couple advisory committees for the City of Del Mar and is active in environmental and conservation issues as well as other philanthropic causes. He is very proud of what she does.

The Gartmans have formed two philanthropic foundations, both now defunct – the Invention Foundation (to inspire and teach kids to innovate) and the John & Jill Gartman Foundation. The Gartmans have traveled much of the world and family trips usually focus on spending time in nature away from crowds.