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.

Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates in Santa Rosa recently announced a number of promotions and new hires.

Paige Braddock has been named chief creative officer. She originally was hired by Charles Schulz in 1999 as creative director.

Becci Pell-Lopez has been promoted to vice president and director of brand integrity. She has worked at the studio for more than 14 years.

Alena Carnes has been promoted to brand integrity and approvals coordinator. She previously served as an executive assistant.

Donna Almendrala has been named the studio’s new art director. She obtained her master’s degree in cartooning from the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont.

Hannah White has joined the business as a staff artist. She recently moved from Savannah, Georgia, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sequential art from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Robert Armstrong has been promoted to executive vice president of the Luther Burbank Corporation, the holding company for Luther Burbank Savings.

The bank stated that Armstrong joined the organization as director of Business and Online Banking in January 2016. Prior to that he served as senior vice president of Business Banking at BofI Federal Bank. Armstrong’s background also includes positions as CEO/president of San Diego Private Bank, market president at US Bank and managing director at Bank of America. He holds a bachelor’s in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

In addition, the bank announced that Scott Frazee has been promoted to the position of senior vice president, director of operations.

Frazee joined the bank in 2014 after having served as senior vice president of Commercial Real Estate Underwriting/Commercial Loan Fulfillment at Opus Bank, as senior vice president of Commercial Real Estate Origination/Portfolio Management at OneWest Bank, as a National Lending Operations Manager at Washington Mutual/Chase Bank, N.A., and as senior vice president of Risk Management at Southern Pacific Bank. Previous to that he was a commissioned FDIC examiner. Frazee served four years in the U.S. Army and holds a bachelor’s in business administration from San Diego State University.

Armstrong will be responsible for deposit gathering and will also be the Bank’s representative to investors for all deposit gathering activities. Frazee will be responsible for loan operations, deposit operations, information technology and project management.


Michelle Straub has been hired as a senior designer for Sebastopol’s Leff Construction. She previously worked more than six years as a lead designer for Oakmont Senior Living.

Straub has an Associate of Arts degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM).

Heather Ruiz has been hired as Vallejo’s human resources director. The city stated Ruiz brings more than 18 years of experience in the public sector and the area of human resources.

Ruiz currently serves as the director of Human Resources for Napa County, a position she has held for nearly three years. She has worked for Napa County for almost eight years, serving previously as the deputy and assistant director of Human Resources.

Previously, Ruiz served as the deputy director of human resources with the city of San Jose. For more than seven years she held the position of human resources analyst and human resources manager in San Mateo County.

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.

Courtney Geissinger has joined the Sonoma office of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley. Since 2008, she’s worked in the field of medical imaging, most recently at a large university hospital.

Philippe Melaka is the new head consulting winemaker for Westwood Estate Wines in Sonoma County.

Westwood is known for its handcrafted Rhone and Burgundian varietals from its Biodynamic Annadel Gap vineyard. It partners selectively with grower vineyards in Sonoma, to create small-production wines, including single-clone Pinot Noir, Syrah, and the Westwood Legend Red Blend.

Daisy Pistey-Lyhne has been hired as executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action. Pistey-Lyhne comes to the organization from the Alliance for Climate Education and the environmental science research institute, PSE Healthy Energy. She has bachelor’s and master's degrees in Earth systems from Stanford University.

Elizabeth Van Benschoten has joined Union Bank’s Real Estate Industries group as managing director and market manager for Community Development Finance in Northern California.

Van Benschoten previously served as president of Bridge Impact Capital, the community development financial institution affiliate of Bridge Housing Corporation, an affordable housing real estate developer. Prior to that, she held several positions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, including senior vice president, senior client manager for the Healthcare, Education and Institutions Group and manager of the National Debt Products development team for the Community Development Banking Group.

Most recently, she was an independent consultant serving multiple clients, including the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation where she was the acting director.

Van Benschoten is based in Walnut Creek and reports to Jonathan Klein, managing director and head of originations for Community Development Finance.