North Bay professionals news from Lambert Bridge Winery, Helen Turley, OLE Health, Union Bank and more

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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

Katie Fay has been promoted to director of marketing and hospitality for Lambert Bridge Winery in Healdsburg, while Nicole Penney is the new hospitality manager.

Fay began working for Lambert Bridge as the retail sales and hospitality manager in March 2018. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in wine business strategies from Sonoma State University. She previously worked at Kosta Browne Winery as a marketing intern and later at other wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties, including Chateau Montelena in Calistoga and Three Sticks Wines in Sonoma.

Penney began her hospitality career working at Mayacama Golf Club for eight years, and has also managed the hospitality programs both at Chalk Hill Winery in Healdsburg and, most recently, Wren Hop Vineyards in Windsor.

Sonoma County vintner Helen Turley is part of the latest class of inductees into the California Hall of Fame. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced the 10 new inductees on Nov. 13.

A graduate of Cornell University, Turley gained recognition working with well-known local producers such as Peter Michael, Bryant and Colgin. She was one of the few female winemakers in the region at the time.

With her husband, John Wetlaufer, the couple founded Marcassin Vineyard along the Sonoma Coast in the early 1990s and developed the planting of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes in the area, which are now recognized as the flagship varietals for the wine region.

Their Marcassin label has gained plaudits from wine critics through the years, with Robert Parker once writing: “In the autumn years of my career I have come to think this (Marcassin) may be the greatest chardonnay in the world.”


Teresa L. Shinder, D.O., FAAP, has been selected as chief medical officer for OLE Health in Napa.

Shinder is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in animal physiology and neuroscience. She pursued her medical degree at Touro University and completed her postdoctoral training in pediatrics at the University of Hawaii.

OLE Health provides medical and other services such as optometry, dental and behavioral health, to about 37,000 patients at seven locations throughout the Napa Valley and Solano County.

Sandy Walia has been named as regional president for Northern California and the Pacific Northwest branch banking division of MUGF Union Bank.

The bank stated that Walia will oversee a network of 111 branches and nearly 600 employees in the region. In addition, she will continue to serve as managing director and head of client services for PurePoint Financial, which is a division of MUFG Union Bank.

Walia, who joined PurePoint Financial in August 2018, has more than 20 years of experience in the consumer banking industry, Union Bank’s announcement stated. Prior to PurePoint, she served as consumer banking market manager for Bank of America, where she led multiple financial center locations. Her previous experience also includes serving as senior vice president and area president at Wells Fargo.

Virginia Mahacek has joined environmental consultants WRA Inc. in San Rafael as a senior geomorphologist to help study land forms and their processes.

Before joining WRA, Mahacek most recently worked with the Sonoma County Office of Recovery and Resiliency as the natural resources and watershed coordinator and co-lead for the local watershed task force, in conjunction with the cities of Santa Rosa and Sonoma.

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

Mahacek completed her academic studies at the University of California, Davis, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical geography and in forest hydrology and soils geomorphology, respectively. She has served local, state and federal agencies, special districts and tribal governments throughout California and the Pacific Northwest, the company stated.

Timo Rivetti has joined RE/MAX Gold’s office in Petaluma. The firm stated he brings more than 22 years of local real estate experience and specializes in both residential and commercial real estate.

Julia Gonzalez has been hired as communications and marketing manager for Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART). She will oversee communications, public outreach programs, marketing, and media for the commuter rail line.

Prior to joining SMART, Gonzalez has been communications coordinator for the City of Santa Rosa Transportation and Public Works Department.

Twenty-one women have been awarded educational scholarships by E. & J. Gallo Winery’s Women Behind the Wine Educational Fund, in collaboration with the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation.

The 21 scholarship winners include three who earned $10,000 grants for Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and university-level studies. The 18 Fuel Your Dreams Award winners received up to $3,000 to help provide education, resources and opportunities to thrive in wine, spirits, food and related industries.

The $10,000 Elizabeth Smyth Student Scholarship was earned by Yordanos Gebru, a master’s degree student in vineyard and winery management at Bordeaux Sciences Agro, France. The $10,000 Master Sommelier Scholarship was awarded to Mariya Kovacheva, MS, brand account manager Wine South U.S. at Pernod Ricard. Kovacheva earned her Master Sommelier certification in September 2019. The $10,000 Master of Wine Scholarship was earned by Sarah H. Bray, DipWSET, wine writer and brand consultant, SHB Communications.

Fuel Your Dreams Scholarship award winners include:

  • Julia Ammons, Arizona
  • Michelle Beathard, Florida
  • Cristin “Moxy” Castro, Texas
  • Bryanna Cooper, Washington, D.C.
  • Chasity Cooper, Illinois
  • Tracy Cryder, Arkansas
  • Rachel Ford, Georgia
  • Brenda Kowen, Texas
  • Madison Malott, New York
  • Omolola Olateju, New York
  • Jennifer Pyle, Montana
  • Keely Rosenthal, North Carolina
  • Kelli Silva, California
  • Cedar Stoltenow, Illinois
  • Meghan Vergara, California
  • Nicole Walsh, California
  • Chelsea Young, Georgia

Angel Minor has been named CEO of the Conservation Corps North Bay, a San Rafael-based nonprofit youth conservation corps. Minor joined the team as chief operating officer in 2017.

Previously, she was a financial and business consultant for The National Indian Justice Center Inc. in Santa Rosa. She also worked as senior director of accounting and later as assistant vice president of finance and operations for Fireman’s Fund Company. Minor has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and accounting from Sonoma State University.

Kristen Jacobson has joined San Rafael-based Youth in Arts as its executive director. Prior to joining Youth in Arts, Jacobson was managing director of education for Alonzo King LINES Ballet. She also served as the youth and community programs manager for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in musical theater and dance from Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts and a master’s degree in arts in youth and community development from Columbia College Chicago.

Dr. Sabina Correa has joined the Community Resources for Children on its board of directors. Correa is the owner of Napa Psychological Services. She has a master’s degree in forensic psychology and a master’s degree in business organizational behavior.


Lauren Ackerman and Olivia Hsu Decker have been elected to the board of directors of Festival Napa Valley.

Ackerman is proprietor of Ackerman Family Vineyards and Ackerman Heritage House. Decker is co-owner of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, and owner and publisher of Haute Living San Francisco magazine.

A former tech entrepreneur, Ackerman moved to Napa Valley in 1994 when she and her husband purchased the Stonehaven Vineyard property. They started making wine in 1995 for themselves and eventually began selling commercially. In 2010, she purchased a dilapidated Victorian in downtown Napa, restoring it meticulously and turning it into what is now the Ackerman Heritage House, a unique event space for weddings, corporate meetings, intimate food and wine experiences, afternoon tea and more.

Decker and her business partner, Bill Bullock, own Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, with 23 offices from Silicon Valley to Napa Valley and 15 cities in between, the festival’s announcement stated. In March 2018, Decker acquired Haute Living magazine San Francisco after serving as the magazine’s ambassador from 2008-2017.

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