The North Bay Business Journal is looking for news of promotions, new hires and awards for possible publication in the People section. Email your press releases to people@busjrnl.com.

Marc Hauser has joined the Napa office of the law firm of Gaw Van Male LLP as a partner in the wine and business departments.

Prior to joining Gaw Van Male, Hauser spent 15 years as in-house counsel to Equity Group Investments in Chicago, the private investment firm and family office of billionaire investor Sam Zell. Included in his years of experience advising Zell and EGI’s team of investors was the $8.2 billion acquisition of the Tribune Company.

Hauser earned a J.D., cum laude, from Northwestern University School of Law, and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University College of Arts and Sciences. He is not yet admitted to practice in California. Hauser is admitted to practice in Illinois

Sarah Sweitzer, Ph.D., will join the Touro University California family in Solano County as provost and chief academic officer, beginning Jan. 29.

Dr. Sweitzer, a Vallejo native, brings more than 13 years of higher education experience to the Mare Island campus, the university stated. She began her academic career at the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine and quickly became a National Institute of Health funded biomedical researcher where she collaborated with colleagues at Johns Hopkins, Albany Medical School, the University of California Davis Medical School, and biotechnology companies in the Bay Area.

Most recently Dr. Sweitzer was the dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Concordia University.

Grant Davis will return to the Sonoma County Water Agency as its general manager. Davis returns to the Water Agency after being appointed nearly five-months ago by Governor Brown to serve as Director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Davis first joined the Water Agency in 2007 as the assistant general manager and became its general manager in 2010.

Robert Hughes, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley since 2015, announced on Jan. 5 his plans to retire at the end of the month.

Hughes and his family lost their Santa Rosa home in the October wildfires and he cites the need to rebuild as one reason for his retirement.

“While we are fortunate to find ourselves safe, there is much work ahead as we rebuild our home and our lives,” he said. H


Patricia Shults, CEO of the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce since November 2015, plans to step down at the end of the month to take the leadership role at Art Alliance Austin.

The chamber board has designated a transition committee to search for a replacement, and is in the process of hiring an interim CEO in the meantime, it stated. Shults’ last day with the chamber is Jan. 26.


Caitlin Childs has joined the Community Foundation Sonoma County as director of communications. Before joining the Community Foundation, Childs served as communications manager for Social Advocates for Youth for eight years, where she named the SAY Dream Center, and helped raise nearly $10 million for housing for homeless youth. Childs has also served on the Board of Community Services for the City of Santa Rosa, is a co-founder and board member of a nonprofit community radio station, and is a winner of the North Bay Business Journal Forty Under 40 Award for outstanding young professionals.

The North Bay Business Journal is looking for news of promotions, new hires and awards for possible publication in the People section. Email your press releases to people@busjrnl.com.

Shane Miller has been promoted to senior vice president Information Systems by CrossCheck in Petaluma. Miller also directs information systems for CrossCheck’s subsidiary, Optio Solutions, LLC.


Patrick Baker has been hired as vice president of sales for Agrothermal Systems. The hire was announced by Mitroff Consulting & Associates. Previously, Baker was the general manager, North America, at Vintrace. He is also an instructor of Wine Business Management at Sonoma State University. He earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Washington.

Mark Merrion joins Delicato Family Vineyards as executive vice president of sales based in its Napa offices. Merrion will oversee Delicato’s sales team, with the critical responsibility for driving national, international, and private label sales activity, to execute market and distribution strategies and to reach the company’s sales goals.

Reporting to Chris Indelicato, president and CEO, Merrion will oversee Delicato’s sales team, with the critical responsibility for driving national, international, and private label sales activity, to execute market and distribution strategies and to reach the company’s sales goals.

Merrion joins Delicato with more than 25 years of industry experience on the supplier and distributor side. Most recently, he held the position of senior vice president - US sales & trade marketing for Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), accountable for delivering annual sales revenue and gross profit growth. Prior to TWE, Merrion held senior sales roles at Wilson Daniels, a fine wine importer and marketer in St. Helena, and Diageo Chateau & Estates in Napa. Merrion has also worked with Young’s Market Company, The Boston Beer Company, Heublein Wines, and E.&J. Gallo Winery.


Mitch Bakich has been promoted to director of sales and marketing for Donati Family Vineyard in Templeton on the central coast.

After a career in the restaurant and hospitality business, Bakich was hired by Donati Family Vineyards in early 2007 to assist in the opening of the Donati tasting room. He was promoted to the direct to consumer manager position in 2011 helping to grow Donati’s two wine clubs, Paesano Wine Club and the newest one, the Family Reserve Wine Club.


Fran Leach has joined the Rutherford Ranch Winery team in the role of hospitality manager responsible for the winery’s tasting room experience and events.

Leach comes to the role after previously managing direct-to-consumer sales for Ca’Momi Napa Valley and a 20-year career in marketing.

Leach leads a hospitality team at Rutherford Ranch Winery and reports directly to Rutherford Wine Company’s General Manager Morgan Zaninovich.

David Pearson, chief executive officer of Opus One in the Napa Valley, is the new chairman of Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) for 2018.

Robin Baggett, owner and managing partner of Alpha Omega was elected vice-chair and Delia Viader, owner and founding winemaker for Viader Vineyards & Winery, was named secretary/treasurer.

Other members of the 2018 NVV Board of Directors include Jack Bittner, managing partner, Ovid Napa Valley; David R. Duncan, president and chief executive officer, Silver Oak & Twomey; Andy Erickson, vintner, Favia Erickson Winegrowers; Darioush Khaledi, proprietor, Darioush; Paul Leary, president, Blackbird Vineyards; Peter McCrea, proprietor, Stony Hill Vineyard; Pat Stotesbery, proprietor, Ladera Vineyards; and Emma Swain, chief executive officer, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery. The NVV Board of Directors also serves as the Auction Napa Valley Board of Directors, along with community members David Butler, John Hamilton and Carol Kingery Ritter.

The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its 540 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. Learn more at napavintners.com.


Dan Aguilar, Napa-based senior vice president and North Bay regional manager for commercial banking at Mechanics Bank (OTCBB: MCHB), has been elected to the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance board of directors.

In December, the Petaluma Gap received a formal designation from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), recognizing its distinctive growing characteristics derived from topography and climate. The AVA extends from northern Marin County to southern Sonoma County.

Aguilar joined Mechanics Bank in 2016, and previously served as managing director of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division. He was a member of the board of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers for nine years.

Mechanics Bank, established in 1905 reports more than $5.6 billion in assets. It has 35 branch offices throughout Northern and Southern California. It recently committed to invest a quarter of a billion dollars in loans for the Napa Valley and Sonoma County rebuilding effort following the devastating fires in the fall.


The Lake County Winery Association elected board of directors. Newly elected directors for 2018 are Christian Ahlmann of Six Sigma Ranch; Jessie Zielsdorf of Langtry Estate (Foley Family Wines), and Randi Sedrick of Wildhurst Vineyards.

Returning directors include Gregory Graham of Gregory Graham Wines: Cindi Olof of Olof Cellars; Matt Hughes and Amanda Bolla of Brassfield Estate Winery: Raven Sprague of Steele Wines; Richard “Kaz” Kasmier of Kaz Winery: and Nick Buttitta of Rosa d’Oro Vineyards.

Lisa Lambertus has been hired as national sales manager east, while Diana Schweiger joins Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery as national sales manager west. The winery announcement stated both positions are newly created.

Prior to joining Fort Ross, Lambertus was western division manager for five years at Hahn Family Wines, responsible for portfolio sales and managerial oversight in a 15-state region covering Alaska to Louisiana. Previously, she was the owner of Performance Marketing, a Colorado-based beverage brokerage specializing in the wines of California, South America and Spain, which she ran for some 21 years. Lambertus is a Certified Specialist of Wine and is based in Colorado.

Schweiger was previously vice president of sales for Schweiger Vineyards & Winery from 2003 to 2015. Earlier in her career, she held sales management positions for Southcorp, Paterno Imports and Heublein (Diageo). Schweiger is based in the Napa Valley and is responsible for California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New Mexico, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery is located near Jenner on the far western Sonoma Coast.

Carmi Woods has joined George Petersen Insurance Agency’s Santa Rosa office as an account executive in the Employee Benefits Department.

Prior to joining George Petersen, Woods began her career in insurance at Vantreo Insurance Brokerage, where she worked for ten years, advancing to an account executive position. In 2013 she transitioned to Advanced Benefits Group in Santa Rosa, where she worked as an account executive, handling group benefits accounts.

Woods pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in business administration at the University of Oregon.

Katie Kerns Davis has been appointed chief of staff to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. CEO Geisha Williams. She previously worked as senior manager of public affairs for PG&E’s Bay Area and North Coast regions.

As chief of staff, Davis will report directly to Williams and provide support to both the CEO and the senior leadership team.

Davis has worked nine years for PG&E and taken part in companywide initiatives on corporate strategy and the strategic response to last fall’s Northern California wildfires. She serves on the boards of such groups as the Sonoma County Alliance and North Bay Leadership Council.

“I have been able to do so many amazing things including being a past president of the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce, immediate past president of the Sonoma County Alliance and a board member of the North Bay Leadership Council among many other organizations I’ve served on through the years. I’ve had the great honor of receiving the North Bay Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award and the Spirit of Sonoma Award. Through all these experiences I’ve gained valuable leadership skills and have learned from strong local leaders. I look forward to continuing my growth in this new position. “

Angela Smith has been hired as regional sales director for the Southern United States for Jordan Vineyard & Winery.

The winery stated that Smith brings more than 13 years of distributor management, luxury hotel and restaurant experience to the position. Smith grew up in St. Simons Island, Ga., and attended the University of Georgia in Athens. She graduated with a degree in public relations in 2007. She resides in Charleston, South Carolina.

Healdsburg-based Jordan was founded in 1972.