40 North Bay business leaders under the age of 40 in 2011


The winners of the Business Journal’s fifth-annual Forty under 40 awards were selected from more than 100 nominees and represent new honorees not previously chosen in 2007, 2008 or 2009 and 2010.

The winners were selected by the Journal editorial staff on the basis of their leadership in companies and organizations across the North Bay.

Business leaders tell us frequently that supporting outstanding young people is critical not just to the health of our companies, but to our economy and community.Ones to watch

These 2011 Forty under 40 nominees, though not winners this year, have proven to be successful young professionals worth keeping an eye on.William Boriolo, PE, BKF/CarlenzoliAdam Cantor, Cantor Chiropractic CenterAlicia Cerruti, Pinsenti & Brinker LLPVanessa DeGier, St. Joseph Health SystemJason Glazier, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLCMichael Gossman, MBA, Sonoma County Water AgencyGabe Kearney, Kaiser PermanenteBrian Keegan, Keegan & Coopin Company, Inc.Jamie Koop, Exchange BankDeja Lightner, Nelson & AssociatesMichael Lusby, Robert Half InternationalMinnette Nugent, Alkar Human ResourcesAlfredo Pedroza, Redwood Credit UnionShane Rogers, Rogers & Young Insurance ServicesDavid Scott, Scott Technology GroupAaron Tompkins, Moss Adams, LLP

Once again, for the fifth consecutive year, the winners of these Forty under 40 awards reflect an inspiring and substantial pool of young talent across the North Bay. It is our privilege to honor them and shine a light on them for the whole community to see. 

When the Business Journal launched this project five years ago, many told us we would never find 40 business leaders under the age of 40. We thought otherwise. Indeed, we have found 200. Their achievements represent both the current dynamism of the North Bay and the promise of the economy in the future.

Contained in the brief biographies that follow are incredible achievements, good humor, inspiring stories and much sage advice from people so young. Congratulations to this year’s winners and those that preceded them.

The 2011 Forty Under 40 winners were honored Thursday, April 21, at a reception hosted by the Business Journal. ---Brad Bollinger, Associate Publisher, Editor in Chief

Listed alphabetically by last name. To view the photo gallery of winners, click here. 

For photo gallery, go to bottom of page 9Dustin Ballard, M.D., 38

Associate Physician, Emergency Department, and Local Research Chair/Medical Director, of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Rafael

Dr. Dustin Ballard oversees all research activities and projects at Kaiser San Rafael as Chair of the CREST (Clinical Research in Emergency Services and Treatments) clinician-based educational network.

The CREST network has ongoing investigations into stroke care, sepsis initiatives, cardiac care and EMS policies and procedures.

Dr. Ballard also provides medical directorship for the Novato Fire Department and serves as a part-time newspaper columnist (“Medically Clear”) for the Marin IJ.

Last vacation: Hiking 100 miles of the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Hobbies: Basketball, surfing, backpacking, child wrangling and (very occasionally) home plumbing.

Favorite After-Work Drink: Pliny the Elder.Andrea Ballus, 33

Owner, Sift Cupcake & Dessert Bar, Santa Rosa

Discovering how to run a multi-unit operation and creating continuity across all stores was the greatest challenge for Andrea Ballus.

With 26 employees and three locations in Santa Rosa, Cotati and Napa, Andrea’s next goal is to open a couple of additional stores in the Bay Area.

One of the most important events in her professional life was being featured on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars – and winning.

She also finds time to volunteer for local school fundraising projects and participates in the Share Our Strength Foundation and the Wish Upon a Wedding program.

Favorite book: “I Love You Stinky Face” (she has a one-and-a-half-year old child).

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A reporter.

First job: Assistant at a TV advertising agency.Robert Bradley, 37

President, Bradley Real Estate, San Rafael

When not managing all operational aspects of Bradley Real Estate’s nine offices and more than 370 employees and licensed real estate agents, Robert Bradley is busy ensuring the success of the firm’s commercial division.

Two professional accomplishments stand out among the rest – having his firm voted as being among the best places to work in the North Bay and the San Francisco Bay Area, and the fact that his company gives back to the local community with financial and in-kind donations to many organizations.

His best advice: “Those people who take advantage of the real estate market now will be rewarded for their investment down the road.”

First job: Delivering real estate flyers at age 9.

Favorite Movie: “Braveheart.”

Last Vacation: Cactus League spring training.Emily Buller, 27

Regional Development Officer, American Red Cross of Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties, Santa Rosa

Overseeing and coordinating all fundraising efforts for the Red Cross in the three-county region is all in a day’s work for Emily Buller.

Her job also involves ensuring funding for the continued delivery of life-saving Red Cross services when and where they are needed in the local Santa Rosa chapter as well as in three other chapters in seven counties.

Placing Red Cross fundraising on a stronger footing and with more corporate sponsorships than ever before has been her greatest professional accomplishment, along with applying for and receiving the first large federal grant enabling six Red Cross Chapters to start Nurse Assistant training programs.

First job: I had a babysitting empire at a very young age. I was CPR and First Aid certified and brought babysitting kits full of toys and coloring books to the homes of my customers.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: An astronaut, or the first woman U.S. president.Gregory Cho, 32

Financial Advisor and Financial Planning Specialist, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Santa Rosa

As the client relationship manager of The Vick/Cho Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Gregory Cho’s primary focus is to implement advanced planning strategies for high net worth families and privately held companies.

His greatest challenge is staying ahead of the curve when it comes to navigating clients through difficult financial capital markets to help them make informed, non-emotional decisions.

“The most important event in my life in the last 12 months was helping a client transition to another profession after a layoff. I introduced this client to several business leaders and he accepted a position.”

Most admired businessperson: Michael Chobotov for his leadership of the TriVascular team by restarting the company after Boston Scientific shut their doors – a testimony to his belief in his life changing technology.

Hobbies: Training for marathons, triathlons, golfing with friends or snow skiing.

Favorite movie: “Top Gun.”Angela Colombo, 30

Field Representative, for Assemblyman Jared Huffman, Petaluma

Being responsible for handing constituent communication and community involvement in Southern Sonoma County on behalf of Assemblyman Huffman is a key role for Angela Colombo.

Her job includes assisting constituents with all issues pertaining to state agencies as well as discussing state legislative issues with concerned citizens to close possible disconnects felt between government and individuals as well as organizations and businesses.

Next professional goal: To build momentum for Sunny Hills Services as co-chair of a new charity event: “Wine, Women and Shoes.”

Best advice received: In our business and private lives, relationships matter the most. Take time to ask people about themselves, they’ll always find it more interesting.Michael Cook, 32

Vice President, Firma Design Group, Petaluma.

When you are a principal of a full service land planning company, you are in charge of planning, civil engineering as well as landscape architecture.

For Michael Cook, the hats he wears also involve handling business development and marketing along with client and employee relationships, construction supervision, water conservation plans, irrigation efficiency audits and preparing storm water circulation plans.

The most important events during the past year were merging his firm (Michael A. Cook, Landscape Architect), with an existing corporate civil engineering company to develop a new kind of AEC business in the North Bay – the Firma Design Group -- and being appointed to the Santa Rosa Design Review Board in February.

He also volunteers a lot of his time in the community with the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County and with the Cal Poly Alumni Association.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: Recently, a golf course architect. As a child, I wanted to drive a freight truck across the U.S.

Favorite movie: “Caddyshack.”Chris Denny, 28

President and Co-founder, The Engine is Red, Santa Rosa

Launching a new company in the midst of a down economy – and building it into a nationally recognized advertising agency within three years – is Chris Denny’s greatest achievement.

He quit a comfortable job at the peak of the recession to create a company that was able to support his employees and their families without external investments.

Today he focuses on casting a vision for continued growth as he heads both the development and creative teams at The Engine is Red.

“In 2010, some of my favorite highlights have been moving into our downtown studio, expanding the team and exceeding year-end goals.”

Best advice received: Never stop learning.  When you are dumb, you have to be tough.

Next professional goal: Focusing on growing a healthy and talented team, continuing to expand our amazing client base, and – mostly -- working myself out of a job.

Favorite movie: Un Prophete.Jim Dickey, 33

President, Cinquini & Passarino, Santa Rosa

As the person responsible for design surveys used in the development of parks, buildings and roads, one of Jim Dickey’s biggest challenges is ensuring that there is enough work in the pipeline for all employees. He is also the lead surveyor for the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) project.

“We continue to work on diversifying the company so we can expand our service offerings and enter new markets as the economy strengthens. I continue to network and build relationships needed to build up our workload for the future.”

Next professional goal: To become a licensed surveyor in surrounding states.

Hobbies: I like to go backpacking, camping and four-wheeling -- basically anything outdoors.Nick Donovan, 35

Partner and Attorney, Gaw Van Male, Napa

Becoming a partner in the business department and chairman of the Succession Planning Group Practice Areas for a major law firm, has involved expertise in the following areas: mergers and acquisitions, general corporate law, succession planning and wine law. Nick has also been asked to give seminars to other lawyers in these specialized practice areas.

Gaining the complete trust and confidence of all the partners in his firm was his greatest professional accomplishment.

For Nick Donovan, success also means gaining the trust of his clients as they face the most significant legal transactions of their career – mergers or sale of their company, or the acquisition of another firm.

Best advice received: Your clients will trust that you know the law. It’s more important to know your clients.

Most admired person: My Aunt Stasia Kelly, who was named of the 50 most powerful female lawyers in the United States.Brian Foster, 34

Vice President, Cassidy Turley BT Commercial and Terranomics, San Rafael

When not assisting owners and tenants with leasing, sales and related consulting real estate services, as they search for office and industrial properties in Marin and Sonoma Counties, Brian Foster has also been helping businesses reduce expenses by finding ways to lower their rent or by securing favorable lease terms so they can better weather the new economic realities and thrive going forward.

“The best advice I ever received was from my friend Scot Lee, principal at SB Architects. He told me always be positive. No body wants or appreciates negativity at a meeting. Don’t be that guy.”

Most admired businessperson: That would be Paul Newman. He was a father, a successful businessperson and philanthropist. He raced cars, lived outside the Hollywood spotlight and raised five daughters with his wife of 50+ years – while giving millions away and helping those less fortunate.

Favorite movie: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”Matt Franklin, 37

Principal, Zepponi & Company, Santa Rosa

Working with two business partners, Matt Franklin is helping to create and build a market-leading merger and acquisition advisory firm focusing on the wine industry. In addition, he is responsible for business development, corporate strategic advisory projects and acts as CFO for the firm.

Prioritizing a range of business opportunities to ensure the firm’s resources are used efficiently and effectively is a professional challenge, but he meets it by following the best advice he ever received:  “Be prepared and work hard, because luck is where opportunity meets preparation.”

“My father taught me the importance of people in business dealings.  One of his favorite sayings was people don’t buy products or services, people buy people.”

Favorite book: “Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Last vacation: A trip to Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize.Erik Gammon, 33

Engineering Manager, LEMO USA Inc., Rohnert Park

Supervising the engineering staff as it meets objectives, completes technical projects and maintains the highest standards is only part of the job for Erik Gammon. Encouraging high employee morale is a basic ingredient in his philosophy of being a good manager.

“I see my job as protecting my employees, providing them with the resources required to do their jobs and then getting out of the way and letting them do the work and take the credit.”

During the past year the most important event in his professional life was in gaining acceptance of a project management database on a global level.

Hobbies: Fabricating radio control rock crawlers, mountain biking, Bonsai and digital photography.

First job: He was a car audio installer at age 16.Lisa Gammon, 33

Patient Care Manager, Sutter Medical Center, Santa Rosa

As manager of the Community Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Lisa Gammon supervises 40 Registered Nurses who provide the most advanced neonatal care in the community, while promoting a patient and family-centered care climate where families are encouraged to participate in their children’s care.

“I love my job, my colleagues and my supportive NICU team.  Since the NICU is a very exciting 24-hours-a-day business, it is often hard to go home, let go, relax and try not to think about work.

Best advice received: If you always keep the patient’s best interests at the center of your decision, then you’ve made the right choice.

Favorite after-work drink: Water, no ice. It’s the choice to nourish the growing baby inside of me.

Last vacation: In Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding with “Elvis” officiating.Johnna Gattinella, 35

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Revolution Moto Inc./Wine Country Vespa, Santa Rosa

Creating two local businesses that have helped change the lives of its customers, while contributing to an improved quality of life in the community, is what Johnna Gattinella is all about.

“Our business really addresses the economic and social impact of rising gas process and transportation costs.  I’m passionate about my work, having fun while solving our customer’s problems. Our customers have fun, too, while saving money and helping the environment.”

She is very active in several non-profits such as Big Brothers and Sisters, the Sutter Breast Care Center, Giant Steps, CARE, Worth Our Weight, Healdsburg School, St. John’s School and Russian River Slow Foods.

Most admired businessperson: My husband and business partner, Roy Gattinella, who also coordinates the marketing program at SRJC.Neal Gottlieb, 34

Founding Twin, Three Twins Ice Cream, Petaluma

Starting a company humbly in 2005 with no employees and less than an ideal location in a tucked away corner of Terra Linda, Neal Gottlieb is on a fast track to grow his firm to become a national brand with products available in hundreds of West Coast locations as well as in New York City.

Distribution was also added recently to the Rocky Mountains and Texas with increased East Coast distribution coming within the next few weeks.

“Raising the money to complete our Petaluma ice cream factory was by far the most difficult task I have faced. Our fundraising coincided with the economic downturn. Somehow we acquired the needed capital and opened the factory in February 2010. This enabled us to increase our capacity tenfold, while decreasing the cost per pint by over 60 percent. The factory gave us wings.”

Hobbies: Travel, plotting, scheming, and spending quality time with friends and co-conspirators.

Last vacation: Flying to Kenya and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.Cristi Hegranes, 30

Founder and Executive Director, Global Press Institute, Windsor

As the founder of GPI, Cristi Hegranes works with more than 100 brave and talented women in 23 developing countries as an international journalism trainer and employer.

“My greatest challenge is raising awareness about important global issues that do not make the mainstream news, such as social justice, gender, as well as health and development issues and climate change. In addition, we focus on good news like community development and a variety of entrepreneurial ventures.”

She was recently a recipient of the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. Over the last 12 months she launched new News Desks to train and employ 15 women in Uganda and Sri Lanka.

She also initiated an online social investment center allowing readers to take action and support specific stories.

Best advice received: Be courageous enough to build your own vision of a better world.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A foreign correspondent.Elaina Hunt, 27

Director of Marketing, Summit State Bank, Santa Rosa

When you are in charge of all company marketing, advertising, website maintenance, graphic design, events, community donations and sponsorships, it is often hard to find time for community involvement.

Elaina Hunt manages to cover these bases while also serving as a Goodwill Industries Development Board Member, and as an SSU Alumni Association Board Member. In addition, she is a member of the Luther Burbank Parade Advisory Committee and volunteers for Legal Aid, the Elsie Allen High School Drama Department and Rebuilding Together Petaluma.

“My greatest professional accomplishment is in knowing that I played a direct role in increasing brand equity and business growth for Summit State Bank as a result of my marketing strategy contributions.”

Best advice received: You can do anything with the right tool.

Favorite movie: “What Dreams May Come.”Marko Karakasevic, 37

Master Distiller and Director of Custom Spirits, Charbay Winery and Distillery, St. Helena

Earning the title Master Distiller and becoming the 13th generation in his family to have achieved this distinction in 2009 was Marko Karakasevic’s greatest professional accomplishment.

He has been the head of total production research and development at Charbay Distillery for six years. He first started working for the company at age 10 cleaning the Alambic still.

“Trying to focus and not keep thinking about creating new products is a challenge for me. The single most important new product for me right now is that I’m going to be a father.”

His father taught him everything he could about distilling and now his goal is to make sure his parents are secure for life. They are his most admired businesspersons.

Favorite movie: “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”Lindsay Kroll, 33

Founding Proprietress, Cake Plate, Napa

“I always wanted to own a fashion boutique catering specifically to a contemporary and stylish clientele, where ladies could pick out pieces for any occasion and receive superior personal care while they are in the shop,” said Lindsay Kroll.

Taking the boutique shopping experience to the next level with Cake Plate Boutique, Lindsay and her sister, Paige, recently expanded the store, rebranding a side space for a special “Pop-Up Shop” series, where guest fashion designers and labels set up shop inside the Cake Plate Boutique for eight to ten weeks.

“It’s a great way to expand the fashion scene of Napa Valley,” said Lindsay.  “Customers get to shop full collections from designers like Kirribilla and Leifsdottir, while still experiencing the full spread of what Cake Plate offers.”  Giving locals and travelers alike a new reason to come into the boutique, the Pop-Up Shops also helps build the buzz surrounding Cake Plate Boutique and Napa Valley’s shopping scene.

Favorite movie: “The Devil Wears Prada.” She loves Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway and has wardrobe envy every time she sees it.Matt Martin, 35

Executive Director, Social Advocates for Youth, Santa Rosa

Faith in the human spirit’s ability to overcome, and staying connected with what drives him, are the two primary motivators for Matt Martin, executive director at SAY. “I simply believe in people, especially youth, and want to see them succeed. It’s not just a job. It’s a way of life.”

He believes communication and keeping SAY professionals informed is vital to their mission and considers himself lucky to be surrounded by incredible people.

Next professional goal: To establish the county’s first emergency shelter specifically for homeless youth, 18-24 years old. Two-thirds of the 1,000 homeless young people or runaways are in this age bracket.

Favorite book: “Grapes of Wrath.” by John Steinbeck.

Greatest advice: Don’t worry about profits, worry about friendships.Shannon McConnell, 30

Senior Account Executive, Sonic.net, Inc., Santa Rosa

Averaging 174 percent of her sales quota in 2010 by generating over $1 million in new revenue (selling bonded T-l transmission lines and fiber optic connectivity) is Shannon McConnell’s passion. Her next professional goal is to beat her personal best by generating over $1.5 million in new revenue.

She maintains existing clients by developing relationships that are exceptionally strong leading to renewed term commitments.

In 2009, she ended the year with an average of 132 percent of quota.

“Our company is booming.  I set these goals and it was great to accomplish them, but my greatest challenge is learning how to be a successful businesswoman while maintaining a balanced relationship with my family and friends. My husband and I are expecting our first child in August.”

Best advice ever received: Smile when calling on customers or prospecting over the phone.

Favorite movie: “Flashdance.”

Hobbies: I’m in to physical fitness and staying healthy.Timothy McGaughey, 36

Partner, Baldwin McGaughey & Co., LLP CPAs, Petaluma

During tax season, working hard every day of the week to fit everything in is par for the course when you specialize in business and individual taxation and financial accounting.

As both a CPA and CMA, Timothy McGaughey helps his clients fulfill their accounting, tax preparation and planning needs.

“In the past 12 months we moved to a new office location and purchased another CPA practice. We’re excited and happy about the transition of the Henry Taylor CPA office into our firm.”

Best advice received: Work hard and play hard.  Growing up working in my parent’s restaurant (Mr. McGoo’s in Petaluma) taught me the value of having a good work ethic at a very early age.”

Favorite after-work drink: VO and water, but after a long day, a glass of Cabernet hits the spot.Mike McGuire, 31

Sonoma County Supervisor, 4th District

Mike McGuire is a third generation Sonoma County resident. His family farmed prunes and grapes in the Alexander Valley for nearly a half century.

Serving the public has always been a goal for Mr. McGuire.  He was first elected to the Healdsburg School Board when he was 19. As one of Northern California’s youngest school board presidents, he led the successful efforts to rebuild Healdsburg’s decaying schools.

Elected to the Healdsburg City Council in 2004, Mike was the City of Healdsburg’s youngest Mayor and was instrumental in creating one of the most successful local economies in our region.

He graduated with honors from Sonoma State University, and a Master’s Degree from the University of San Francisco. Mike enjoyed a career in the television and printing industries prior to being sworn in as the Fourth District Supervisor in January.

Mike is married to local high school teacher, Erika McGuire, and they live in Healdsburg.

Hobbies: Softball, gardening, reading every newspaper available and hanging out with family.

First job:  Radio DJ.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A farmer, since I grew up on our family’s ranch.Dave Peterson, 34

Partner, Keegan & Coppin Company, Inc., Santa Rosa

Being a commercial real estate sales and leasing agent in these times requires the ability to overcome current market trends and succeed.

According to Dave Peterson, “Marketing is our company’s strength, as well as longevity, integrity and agent knowledge. Every market provides opportunities. We strive to identify them and present them to our clients to build their wealth.”

His greatest professional achievement was representing the County of Sonoma in a 46,278-square-foot lease valued at over $15 million in the worst real estate market in recent history.

Most admired businessperson: My father-in-law, Jim Keegan.

Favorite book: Whatever my kids want me to read to them.

Favorite movie: “Office Space.”Alissia Pope, 34

Manager, Burr Pilger Mayer, Santa Rosa

Flexibility and adaptability are key characteristics Alissia Pope through her professional career, having gone through rapid growth and various mergers from 1994 to 2009. Going from a small local firm to the largest California-based CPA firm has provided her with perspectives on what distinguishes true, trusted advisory services in a comprehensive way.

She believes being part of a growing and innovative CPA and consulting firm with 365 employees companywide gives one ample opportunity for upward mobility and the ability to serve clients of all sizes.

“The most important event in my life last year was going back to school to obtain a master’s degree in tax. And I also continue being active in community activities – which is a BPM core value.”

She is past treasurer of Acorn Soupe and volunteers at Russian River Winegrower events and at the Redwood Empire Food Bank along with other BPM employees.

First job: File clerk and data entry person at a bookkeeping firm in Petaluma.

Favorite Book: “Who Moved My Cheese,” by Spencer Johnson, because it paralleled his professional career.Kerry Rego, 33

Owner/Consultant-Social Media Trainer, Kerry Rego Consulting, Santa Rosa

“Originally, my services were focused on organizational and efficiency consulting, so when the economy changed, I had to go back to the drawing board and view what I do from a whole new perspective.”

For Kerry Rego, this turning point was a blessing because it revitalized her business as a social media consultant with opportunities to speak to executive MBA students at Sonoma State University, with career counselors at the Sonoma County Office of Education and with principals at Santa Rosa City Schools.

Next professional goal: Not to follow but to lead in the field of technology, innovation and education. She sees her job as helping people save and change the world.

First job: McDonalds. Promoted to crew trainer at age 16 in record time, that job taught her how business is done.Michael Ricioli, 32

Office Tax Director, Moss Adams LLP,

Santa Rosa

“Control your destiny or someone else will,” is the best advice ever received by Michael Ricioli, one of the youngest tax directors in the firm’s history to lead the Santa Rosa practice.

“We have intense focus on the people in our organization. Maintaining a culture where people enjoy coming to work is a high priority.  I’m a firm believer that people are the glue behind our business.  If employees have great relationships with others in the firm, they are less likely to go elsewhere.”

Next professional goal: To become a tax partner in the Santa Rosa office.

First job: He grew up on a vineyard in Sonoma County, so the minute he was able to walk he was helping his dad in the fields.

Favorite book: When not reading the Internal Revenue Code, he enjoys good business and management books.Chris Robine, 37

President  & CEO, SPG Solar, Inc., Novato

Leading SPG and its employees to grow in the solar market, and working with partners to implement new technologies that will help customers adopt solar are Chris Robine’s key responsibilities – along with growing SPG into a national leader in the solar distributed generation market.

“My greatest accomplishment was partnering with a great leadership team to turnaround GE Energy’s Renewables business to become one of the most profitable segments in our company.”

He learned long ago that you’re only as good as the team around you. By listening to employee concerns and addressing them head-on, he helps his team make real-time decisions to avoid losing opportunities.

Favorite book: “Liars Poker,” by Michael Lewis.

Last Vacation: “With twin four-year-olds, a vacation is more of a lofty ideal than a real experience.”Lisa Rogelstad, 31

CEO/Owner, Star Staffing, Petaluma

Developing the vision and mission for a staffing firm is Lisa Rogelstad’s passion, who believes that if you take care of your company, it will take care of you.

“This statement reminds me of how much dedication I need to put into my company before I can play.”

The dramatic effect of the economic meltdown over the past couple of years was, by far, her biggest challenge as a business owner.

To sustain her company, she had to make smarter and more analyzed decisions about which clients and vendors to partner with, and also to make sure to give more praise.

Next professional goal: To open offices in the Central Valley and Central Coast regions of California.

Most admired businessperson: Her father, along with Fred Adair, prior owner of Star Staffing.Todd Salnas, 38

Chief Operating Officer, St. Joseph Health System-Sonoma County, Santa Rosa

Driving multifaceted change of a complex health care organization in the face of health care reform and other socio-economic factors tops the list of Todd Salnas' major professional challenges.

One of his greatest accomplishments while with a prior employer was leading the development of an integrated delivery system. He combined the hospital with a 90-doctor multi-specialty group, achieving $120 million in revenue and providing better quality care to the community.

During 2010, while with St. Joseph Health System, he formalized a strategy for regional collaboration with other local health care providers and provided leadership in designing the expansion and renovation of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital's Emergency Department.  He also instituted performance improvement models that involve stakeholders in redesigning their own work to improve outcomes and efficiencies.

Best advice received: Listen first, talk second.

Hobbies: Coaching and watching his kid’s sporting events.

Last vacation: A trip to Wisconsin to watch the Green Bay Packers play.Orhan Sarabi, 39

Owner, Fusion Fitness, Santa Rosa

“I wanted to own my own gym when I grew up.  I realized this dream as well as a second career by starting The Santa Rosa Marathon from scratch and growing it,” said Orhan Sarabi.

On an equal level, he views raising $100,000 for a local woman suffering from brain cancer as among his greatest accomplishments.

To sustain his organization and employee morale, he arranges trades.  Through the years he has traded memberships for everything from braces on teeth to finding a car for an employee who could not afford one.

Most admired businessperson: Bill Hubbell, manager at 24 Hour Fitness.

First job: Cleaning locker rooms at a local gym at age 14.Daniel Sartin, 27

Founding Partner and Director of Operations, The Engine is Red, Santa Rosa

Someone once told Daniel Sartin “never let what you don’t know limit what you can do.”

This has proven to be true as he built a thriving marketing and advertising agency from the ground up without funding and financing during the worst economic downturn in recent history.

He also supervises the creation of dynamic and memorable web experiences for local and national clients.

“Our most important recent event was landing one of our largest accounts with the Chevron Corporation after competing against a number of larger national agencies.”

Favorite book: “If I Ran the Zoo,” by Dr. Seuss.Tim Schram, 32

Project Engineer, LEED AP Associate Principal, Adobe Associates Inc., Santa Rosa

Currently managing 20-30 civil engineering projects a month, with carryovers from other months, Tim Scrham’s projects range from smaller grading plans for estate parcels to large medical office buildings, fire stations shopping centers, wineries, inns and spas.

“Each project type and client is different, which makes my job new and exciting every day. But being a younger engineer in our profession can be challenging.  You can easily be judged based on your age. Overcoming that obstacle as a young project manager was not easy.”

His greatest professional accomplishment was passing the California professional engineers exam. “I was the 67,890th person to pass, so my PE number is 67890.”

Favorite book: “What to Expect When You Are Expecting.” The Schram family had a baby girl in April, the first in their family in 82 years.

Favorite movie: “The Shawshank Redemption,” because, for Tim, it never seems to get old.Will Seppi, 36

General Manager, Costeaux French Bakery, Healdsburg

Growing the family business and receiving the Spirit of Sonoma Award are two of Will Seppi’s greatest achievements.

He believes that if you can deal with people, you can deal with anything. This belief reinforces his approach to sustaining his organization and improving employee morale through positive reinforcement of his staff, increased training and safety programs and by developing new products.

“I have a BS in accountancy from Villanova University but my greatest professional challenge was passing the CPA exam and filing an S-1 with the SEC that included eight amendments for an initial public offering (that failed).

His next professional goal: To grow a profitable business so he can create an additional five jobs by 2012.

Favorite book: “Three Cups of Tea” and “The House Advantage.”

Favorite after-hours drink: “I’ve been known to take a gin (Henricks and soda with a slice of cucumber).”Katrina Thurman, 35

Executive Director, West County Community Services, Guerneville

Being responsible for fiscal and operational oversight of a $2 million budget involving more than 45 county, state and federal contracts across six social service categories in diverse rural and urban areas of Sonoma County is just part of Katrina Thurman’s job.

She leads a team of six direct reports and 55 staff members who serve 10,000 youth, adults and seniors from over a dozen locations across Western Sonoma County.

“I am very proud of having dedicated my entire career to working in the social services sector and making a difference in the lives of individuals and communities. My focus is to implement strategies to preserve a 35-year history of service to at-risk, vulnerable rural residents and to sustain as many core social service programs as possible until the economy recovers.”

Favorite after-hours drink: Sipping Sonoma County Cabernet.

Favorite book: “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.”Joshua Townsend, 35

Public Affairs Manager, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Rafael

Tracking policy and working with local, state and federal liaisons in forming and implementing policy that benefit the company is all in a day’s work for Joshua Townsend.

While maintaining positive relationships with elected officials, Chambers of Commerce and business organizations, he also serves as the charitable giving lead for the region where he is charged with creating partnerships that benefit the community.

He considers facilitating a deal that provided a complete solar system (250K) for a non-profit partner as the single most important event over the past year.

Best advice received: You’ll never get a chance to do this again, so take advantage of every opportunity given to you.

Favorite movie: “Cassablanca.”

Last vacation: Disneyland.John Truchard, 38

President and CEO, John Anthony Vineyards, Napa

Growing the business 100 percent over the last two years in a tough economy is what John Truchard considers to be his greatest accomplishment.

“Looking back two years ago I thought to myself, what has changed and what are we going to have to do differently moving forward?”

He recently acquired 8,000 sf of prime real estate in downtown Napa, securing the location of the John Anthony Tasting Room while also providing for expansion and enabling the company to bring on a great chef and restaurant operator to compliment the firm’s guest exposure.

Best advice received: In business, your success equals good decisions minus the sum of your bad decisions. So choose wisely.

First job: Working with my father in the vineyards.

Favorite movie: “Cars”-- Because it does a great job of capturing the competing human desire to settle down with our drive to keep moving forward.Colin Turek, 28

Partner, Sonoma Homecare, Sonoma

With duties that range widely from client relations to human relations, to marketing and development, Colin Turek helps ensure that Sonoma Healthcare is providing top-notch service to its clients.

“When I am sitting down with an 85-year-old woman who is relying on me to understand her needs, fears, wants and boundaries, I have to make absolutely sure that the plans I help put in motion for her are the very best. There is nothing more satisfying than the look in the eyes of our clients when we succeed at making their lives better.”

His greatest professional challenge has been to prove himself as an impactful young professional in an industry directly geared toward older people.

Best advice received: Do not ever mistake being nice for being weak. Success involves being both kind and strong.

Most admired businesspersons: Donna Beels, Genevieve Ladha and Jody Thelander. They are his role models and each exemplifies the type of businessperson he strives to be.Amy Vaccari, 32

Chief Operating Officer, Metier, Ltd., Santa Rosa

Leading initiatives that align Metier’s strategic direction and focusing her attention on enterprise-wide process standardization is what Amy Vaccari does – along with ensuring employee growth and development, and enhancing service delivery to the company’s clients.

Getting a job at Metier was a great accomplishment. “I started at the company as a entry level Project Analyst and part of a team responsible for project schedules on a large government program.”

She worked her way up through the service delivery organization. “The only position I didn’t hold was software developer.”

Her greatest challenge was a large implementation involving a list of 274 client requirements that had to be done in three months under a specific budget. The team she led was successful in making the delivery.

Favorite book: “Eat, Pray, Love.”

Favorite after-work drink: “Anything my husband is serving (usually I’ll say red wine).”Gregory Walsh, 35

Director, Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty, Santa Rosa

As the head of DP&F’s labor and employment practice group, Gregory Walsh also oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm’s Santa Rosa office.

“Immediately after passing the California Bar exam, I was assigned to negotiate a school district’s first collective bargaining agreement. The trouble was, at that time I had never taken a labor and employment class in law school. So I negotiated during the day and studied labor law at night.”

He said DP&F’s 40-year history is a result of generating and sustaining goodwill, plus the ability to recruit top talent, maintain enduring client relationships and a high quality of practice, plus an ongoing commitment to community and family.

Hobbies: Playing with my kids, skiing, basketball, golf, reading and lots of home repair.

Last vacation: Hanalei, Kauai

Return to top

[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="4"]

Show Comment