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Send People items to the North Bay Business Journal, Attn: Business Register, 427 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401; fax 707-521-5292; or e-mail news@busjrnl.com.

Business Organizations

Katja Loeffelholz was elected president of the Yountville Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Loeffelholz is an intellectual property attorney with Napa law firm Gaw Van Male.


Chet Laws joined North Bay Wells Fargo Insurance Services in Petaluma as vice president of business development.  Mr. Laws was previously with Magnolia LTC in Santa Rosa.

Tom Byrne joined Wells Fargo Insurance Services in Petaluma as property and casualty producer. Mr. Byrne was previously with Costello & Sons Insurance Brokers in San Rafael.


Wyman Smith and Nicholas Donovan, directors with Napa-based law firm Gaw Van Male, were part of the faculty for the “Fifth Annual Best Practices for Owning & Operating a Winery” seminar held in Sonoma County.

Nonprofit Organizations

Cloverdale Police Chief Mark Tuma and Santa Rosa businessman David Buse joined the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County. Other directors include Elise Bulger of Healdsburg; Parke Hafner, winemaker at Hafner Vineyards; Stephanie Meyer- Merrifield of Fidelity National Title; Neil Foster, CEO of M.A. Silva Corks USA; Superior Court Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite; and Debra Mathy, owner of Dutcher Crossing Winery.

BC Capps was named climate adaptation coordinator of the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative, a collaborative partnership of organizations throughout Sonoma County working together to address the impacts of climate change.  Prior to joining NBCAI, Mr. Capps worked for the Bay Area Open Space Council and provided website development and social media services to local nonprofit organizations.

Real Estate

Eugene Burger Management Corp. of Rohnert Park named Karen Fitzgerald was named director of California homeowners association and commercial accounting. Ms. Fitzgerald was most recently accounting manager for the North Bay Homeowners Association Department.


Petaluma-based Calix appointed Michael Ashby executive vice president and chief financial officer. Mr. Ashby is returning to the same position he had held for five years before retiring in 2008.


Bryant Family Vineyard in Napa Valley named Helen Keplinger winemaker. She previously worked with Cellers Melis in Spain and in Napa County at Kenzo Estate, Arrow & Branch and Sarocka Spring Mountain.

Benicia-based Cork Supply USA appointed Torey Arvik, Ph.D. technical services and operations director. Dr. Arvik has worked in the Northern California wine industry for nearly ten years.

The Hess Collection in Napa named Bill Shenas director, national accounts and exports. Tamara Kolbert was selected to lead the wine clubs and direct-to-consumer efforts. Cindy Bock is the new Southern California district manager.

Foppiano Vineyards in the Russian River Valley named wine columnist and educator Taylor Eason vice president of marketing and Dennis Luz assistant winemaker. Ms. Eason previously was director of marketing and product development at Creative Loafing Newspapers. Mr. Luz spent seven years at J Vineyards & Winery.

Lake County Winery Association's 2011 board members are Clay Shannon of Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery and Vigilance Winery & Vineyard, chairman; Gregory Graham of Gregory Graham Wines, re-elected vice-chairman; Bonnie Sears of Snows Lake Vineyard, treasurer; Eric Stine of Langtry Estate & Vineyards, secretary; Kaj Ahlmann of Six Sigma Ranch, Vineyards & Winery; Nick Buttitta of Rosa d'Oro Vineyards; Valerie Ramirez of Wildhurst Vineyards; Adawn Wood of Shed Horn Cellars; and Steve Tylicki of Steele Wines.

The Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission appointed Megan Metz director of marketing and communications and Patrick Rodgers interim director of constituent relations.

Robin Matteri joined the sales team at Napa-based Portocork, a supplier of natural cork stoppers to the wine industry.  Ms. Matteri was previously with MA Silva Corks in Santa Rosa.

Rodney Strong Wine Estates near Healdsburg hired Kristen Newsom as online engagement marketing coordinator. Ms. Newsom was previously self-employed in web design, art direction, social media and email marketing.

Laura Orozco was named associate winemaker at V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena. She has been with the winery for eight years as enologist and assistant winemaker.

Former Napa planning commissioner Michelle Benvenuto was named executive director of Winegrowers of Napa County. Ms. Benvenuto was most recently West region managing director of design and construction project management firm Alliance Project Advisors.

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