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Napa County Farm Bureau honored the staff of the University of California Cooperative Extension for 100 years of support for Napa County’s farmers and ranchers with science-based information to solve economic, agricultural, natural resource, youth development and nutrition issues. Receiving Friend of Farm Bureau awards were David Lewis, extension director; Monica Cooper, Ph.D., viticultural adviser; Morgan Doran, livestock adviser; John Roncoroni, weed adviser; Mike Anderson, viticultural researcher; Julia Van Soelen Kim, local food adviser; Jim O’Neil, 4-H representative; Yvonne Rasmussen, master gardener coordinator; Priscilla Rodriquez, office manager; and Susan Meader, office assistant. The awards were presented at the organization’s annual dinner meeting at Hall Winery.
Debbie Weatherly, Santa Rosa Junior College account specialist and two-term SRJC Classified Senate president, was recently named president-elect of the California Community Colleges Classified Senate, or 4CS, by voting members. She also is a board member of the Community College League of California, a 4CS affiliate, and will represent community college classified employees from across the state. As president-elect, her four-year commitment will also involve co-chairing the Classified Leadership Institute conference in June.
Russian Riverkeeper, an organization devoted to protecting the Russian River for more than 20 years, appointed four staff and board members. Bob Legge was hired as policy and outreach coordinator. He joins Riverkeeper after more than six years at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, where he worked in sections such as regulation to planning to water-quality monitoring. He has been a frequent volunteer was inspired to shift his focus at Sonoma State University from energy to water by the late Friend of the Russian River and long-time SSU professor Steve Norwick. Mr. Legge will be taking on a large part of Russian Riverkeeper’s advocacy program and using help it re-focus on collecting water-quality data to answer key questions facing the watershed. Felicia Herron has been hired as restoration and education manager. She is a graduate of Sonoma State University and received a bachelor’s degree in environmental conservation and restoration with a minor in biology. She is a certified permaculture design consultant and is completing the Ecological Landscape Immersion program through the Permaculture Skill Center in Sebastopol. She gained field experience at SSU’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve, where she was trained to identify native flora and fauna, became a certified naturalist teaching environmental education and participated in grassland mapping and native coastal prairie restoration. Dennis Byrne was appointed to the board of directors. He has lived and practiced law in Sonoma County since 1982 and is a sole proprietor in Santa Rosa with a general civil practice. He was on the board of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa from 2000–2010 and served as board president from 2006–2009. He has also been a member and officer of the Santa Rosa Lions Club and Sebastopol World Friends as well as a youth soccer coach for 16 years. Ed Burdett was appointed to the board of directors. Mr. Burdett worked in investment banking for 39 years raising money for state and local projects. He specialized in utility financing and worked for a number of city, county and irrigation district issuers on a variety of clean water, wastewater, water storage and water conveyance projects. He recently retired as a managing director from Bank of America. He has been a Russian River watershed landowner since 1989 and there permanently last year.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness California name Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane the 2014 Recovery Practitioner of the Year. The award recognizes “consistent initiation, promotion and reinforcement of recovery principles in the clinician’s practice, county and sphere of influence” and will be presented at the annual conference in Newport Beach. Supervisor Zane said, “This award is particularly meaningful to me, especially against the backdrop of having lost my husband to mental illness three and a half years ago.” She also serves on the board for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation in Washington, D.C., and on the Health Steering Committee for the National Association of Counties, focusings on implementation of health care reform, long-term care goals, mental health parity. She worked with the Sonoma County sheriff, Santa Rosa chief of police and county Health Services Department to create a mobile support team to assist law enforcement on emergency mental health and substance-abuse calls. The program has received state and national awards and is being replicated statewide.
Santa Rosa’s Dillwood Burkel & Millar, LLP, welcomed Christina Hollingsworth, CPA, and Bruce Moeller, J.D., CPA. She is an audit partner with 14 years of public accounting experience. She will take an active role in developing the firm’s assurance services and will continue to work closely with her clients. He is a tax partner with 32 years of experience. He will be helping the firm’s expansion into fraud and forensic accounting services and providing the firm’s growing client base with personalized tax planning and consulting services.
The Napa County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honored Donna Zapata, business development officer for Redwood Credit Union, as Woman of the Year at the group’s fourth annual award and recognition gala “Blend of Cultures.” She joined the credit union in 2013 to focus on development of partnerships and promotion of financial literacy in the Hispanic community. She previously served as executive director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Sonoma County for four years. She was also appointed vice president of the Napa County Hispanic Chamber’s board of directors at the gala and one of eight local entrepreneurs and community leaders honored for working for the betterment of the Napa Latino community.
Helen Keplinger was named family-owned Grace Family Vineyards’ new winemaker. Named Winemaker of the Year by Food & Wine in 2012, she is widely considered one of California’s rising stars and recognized as one of the few American winemakers who have also worked extensively in Europe. Known for making classically structured wines in unassuming regions, she spent three years in the Priorat region of Spain at Cellers Melis, returning to California to launch her own label, Keplinger Wines. In the Napa Valley her experience includes work for Bryant Family Vineyard, Kenzo Estate, Arrow & Branch, Sarocka and Scully. She holds an M.S. in enology from the University of California, Davis, and a B.S. in biology from Smith College. She will direct the production of three wines, Grace Family Vineyards cabernet sauvignon from the estate vineyard surrounding the St. Helena winery, Blank cabernet sauvignon from the Grace Family clone grown by Blank family in Rutherford and Lynn and Kirk Grace’s project, Wise Acre Vineyard, now in its fourth vintage at Grace Family Vineyards. Ms. Keplinger also will collaborate with vineyard manager Kirk Grace in the ongoing organic viticultural protocols for the three acres of estate vineyard that are planted entirely to the Bosché cabernet sauvignon clone.
Napa Valley winery Pine Ridge Vineyards named Michael Conversano assistant winemaker. He will assist winemaker and General Manager Michael Beaulac with vineyard and winery operations and help redefine the winery’s Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon program. Mr. Conversano comes from being assistant winemaker Yountville’s Bell Wine Cellars, where he was responsible for winemaking. He takes over for Jason Ledbetter, who earlier this year was promoted to winemaker at Double Canyon, a sister winery in the Crimson Wine Group portfolio, based in the Horse Heaven Hills region of Washington. Mr. Conversano began his career as a professional chef before pursuing his passion for wine. He worked his first harvest at Domaine Carneros in 1996 then went on to receive a master’s degree in viticulture and enology from the University of California, Davis. After graduating in 2008, he and his family moved to Napa Valley, where he held positions at Cakebread and William Hill before being hired as an enologist at V. Sattui.
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