[caption id="attachment_10902" align="alignleft" width="214" caption="Gabriella Ambrosi"][/caption]

Gabriella Ambrosi

President and CEO

Sequoia Senior Solutions

191 Lynch Creek Way, Ste. 102

Petaluma 94954



PETALUMA, NORTH BAY - As president and chief executive officer of the largest company of its kind in the North Bay, Sequoia Senior Solutions' Gabriella Ambrosi could boast about her career's greatest triumph, notably, the acquisition of her principal competitor in 2007. But recalling her profession's most gratifying moment, the Italian-born mother of three gave a sincere depiction of a client's tender farewell.

"I was a nurse caregiver at a senior health care facility in Italy when I was 14 to 17, and on my last day of work all of the seniors gathered and made a party to say goodbye. They made me little gifts, many I still have today. I was so touched by their emotion," she said.

"I love this work because it allows me to help people that are in pain or suffering, to make their lives better."

Since launching her own in-home care company in 2003 with her husband, Stanton Lawson, Sequoia has grown from a small, two-person show run out of the couple's home, to a 200-person work force with a reach spanning the entire North Bay.

The pair climbed a huge rung in the local senior care ladder in 2007 when they acquired Santa Rosa-based Home Care Options, which was at the time triple Sequoia's size.

"At the beginning, I just wanted to create a job for myself. I had a phone, a fax and a computer, that was all I needed, but I never thought it would become something so big. Growth at the beginning was hard," she said.

Before the 2007 purchase, "we had looked into acquisition before, and we had already been approached by another company. But we thought 'no, this one is not for us.' Then when Home Care Options approached us, it was a like a fantasy comes true."

Ms. Ambrosi has spent her whole career in positions related to health care and seniors. From her work as a teenager, she went on to graduate from the University Hospital Nursing School in Padua followed by an eight-year stint as a registered nurse in an emergency room and intensive care unit. She moved to the United States in the '80s and earned her bachelor's in biological sciences from Rutgers University.

When her husband was transferred back to Italy, Gabriella returned to her native country where she found a job in marketing for an international health care corporation.

"Doing the marketing work allowed me to further my education into other aspects of health care and definitely helped me prepare for starting my own business," she said.

In the '90s, Ms. Ambrosi and her husband, whom she met in Europe and married in her early 20s, returned to the United States, where she earned her master's in marketing from Golden Gate University. The couple at the same time offered care for foster children in transition, welcoming six youths into their home, including the boys they later adopted.

Later, when it looked as though the security of her husband's job was drying up in the dot-com bust, she made the decision that she would have to enter the work force again after several years as a stay-at-home mom.

"It started, in a way, as necessity. We had three small children so I could not devote 100 percent of my time to my profession. I needed something that I could do on my own, and that's when I thought about starting my own business," she said.

Today, Ms. Ambrosi said she would like to keep growing but is keeping her eye on retirement, hopefully spending a few months a year in Italy. She said it is possible the business could be passed down to one of her children, but she also wants them to have the freedom to choose their future.

"Growing up in Italy, there are a lot of family traditions. The children are expected to carry on the business of their parents, but I want to give my children the chance to choose what they want to do," she said.