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Willie Tamayo of La Tortilla Factory wins Latino Business Leadership Award

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Willie Tamayo

President, board of Directors for ELsie allen high School Foundation

Co-Founder of La Tortilla Factory

La Tortilla Factory office 707-586-4000 ext. 114

WWW.EAHSFOUNDATION.ORG

www.latortillafactory.com La Tortilla Factory- latortillafactory.com

Age: 64

Residence: Santa Rosa, ca.

Professional background: sales and marketing

Education: Cal Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Tell us your story and that of your organization:

I am one of the co-founders of La Tortilla Factory, a family owned specialty baker. Over the past several years, I have a more flexible work schedule allowing me to spend time in the community working with few non-profits. In regards to EAHSF, I first visited EAHS in fall of 2011 and met with Ms. Mary Gail Stablein, school principal and Brien Farrell, school teacher and longtime personal friend. After touring the school, meeting students, staff and teachers, hearing the stories of perseverance and commitment to succeeding in school, I could relate to many of the student’s stories. You see I too came from humble background, my parents did not finish high school, but they understood the value of education and were very supportive of their five son’s dreams of going to college and becoming successful in our personal and professional careers. I could see myself in many of the students who come from social-economic challenges, and could use a helping hand. Ms. Stablein spoke of her vision to help raise funds for scholarships, ACT/SAT testing fees, college tours expenses etc. But most importantly Ms. Stablein had a vision to create partnerships with community leaders to provide mentoring, job shadowing, internships, and job placements, not just for the college bound students but for all students. I was able to share this vision with several community leaders, many who were first in their families to attend college, many with similar social-economic challenges, who believed that as a foundation we could bring hope and opportunity to those students in South West Santa Rosa. We started with a handful of committed members raising $5,000 our first year to support the school. Over the past three years we transitioned from informal leadership team to a 501(C)(3), with over twenty regular board members and community supporters sitting on the foundation. As a 501(C)(3) foundation we can apply for foundation grants requiring IRS non-profit status.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

In March, 2016 our foundation raised over $200,000 from our first evening fun-raiser, FIESTA, with funds used to support our foundation’s mission/vision. In addition to the fundraiser, the EAHSF was awarded a $250,000 grant in June 2016 from the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation. The grant will provide initial funding for an endowment fund, for EAHS students in Compact for Success (CFS) program. The CFS program currently has fifty seniors qualified for guaranteed admissions to Sonoma State University, based on their successful completion of a six year academic program, which starts at Cook Middle School and continues at EAHS.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

Bringing together some very talented community leaders to establish the EAHS Foundation. Our foundation members which includes school staff and community members, willing to share some of their time, talents and treasure to make a positive difference in education for the students of Southwest Santa Rosa. Our members believe in our foundation’s mission/vision and articulate their support with their colleagues, family and friends, bringing more community leaders to offer hope and opportunity to students at the school.

What is your biggest challenge today?

In regards to the EAHSF, we are too big to be small, and will be looking for someone to help keep our supporters connected and engaged with the mission of our foundation. Our goal is to raise funds to help fund an Executive Director position in the next twelve months.

Willie Tamayo

President, board of Directors for ELsie allen high School Foundation

Co-Founder of La Tortilla Factory

La Tortilla Factory office 707-586-4000 ext. 114

WWW.EAHSFOUNDATION.ORG

www.latortillafactory.com La Tortilla Factory- latortillafactory.com

Age: 64

Residence: Santa Rosa, ca.

Professional background: sales and marketing

Education: Cal Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Words that best describe you: I am a Taurus, the Bull. Enough said. People tell me that I don’t often hear “no” to my requests. Must be my smile?

As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?:

“I have a couple of simple mantra I utilize when faced with biggest obstacles “failure is not an option” “hire/recruit the best person & get out of their way, allow them to do the job”.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

“There will always be a need to raise philanthropic funds for many worthy causes, our EAHSF must have a clear vision, communicate it clearly & simply, support the cause with our own time, talents and treasure before we ask others.

Who was your most important mentor?

“I was blessed with several important mentors, especially during my time as a student at U.C. Berkeley. Dean Edwin Epstein, U.C. Berkeley, Hass Business School believed in me, even if my grades were not at required level. Dean Epstein believed that I would be a future leader and pay it forward. Dr. Octavio Romano, Dean of Cal school of Public Health, offered me my first accounting job at his publishing company and exposed me to the many talented Latino writers of the 60’s & 70’s. My brother, Carlos Tamayo, was very instrumental in allowing me to take ownership and develop the sales and marketing strategy of our company during the first 30 years of the business.

Tell us about your community involvement: over the past eight years, our Tamayo family have been supporters of S.A.Y; Sutter Santa Rosa Foundation, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Elsie Allen High School, to name just a few.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

Always smile when you meet people, listen very well (people often like to talk about themselves); if you want a friend…be a friend; when you make a mistake, own up to it right away, and tell people you are sorry.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Mr. Greg Biagi, co-owner of Biagi Bros Trucking. Greg is a self-made successful business person, who did not attend college. He is a very smart, intelligent & ethical business leader and strong community supporter.

Greg and his brother Fred, grew up in South West Santa Rosa and have not forgotten where they come from, they have been great supporters of the EAHSF. Greg is a great golf partner, he can drive a golf ball over 300 yards, I always want him on my team.

Current reading: Hamilton, by Ron Chernow; The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney and Sean Covey

Stress relievers: golf and entertaining friends with my wife, Darlene.

Favorite hobbies: golf and enjoying the world class foods and wines of Sonoma County

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