North Bay professionals news from Ghilotti Construction, Hotel E, Wright Contracting 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

Tom Smith will be promoted, effective Aug. 15, from estimating manager to vice president of estimating at Santa Rosa-based Ghilotti Construction Company. In his newly appointed position, Smith will continue to be responsible for all aspects of pre-construction services, leading the estimating and contract administration team from original estimate production through final contract acquisition. Smith, who has worked for the company for 15 years, has more than 28 years of construction experience in all aspects of estimating, the company stated.

Vern Lakusta has been appointed general manager of Hotel E, a new hotel project in Santa Rosa on the site of the historic Empire Building in Old Courthouse Square. Lakusta has more than 20 years of leadership experience at luxury properties throughout California, including the Fairmont Miramar, W Hotel Los Angeles, and Langham Huntington Pasadena. Lakusta, a level 1 sommelier, holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in hospitality management from Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Debra Dobley has been named director of sales at Hotel E. Dobley has more than 25 years of experience in the hotel, meetings and conventions industry. Prior to joining Hotel E, Dobley worked as a meeting consultant and independent contractor for Wine Country Meeting Services. She previously worked as director of sales and marketing at Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, and director of sales at Oxford Suites in Rohnert Park. Dobley received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and public relations from California State University, Fullerton.

Santa Rosa-based commercial general contractor Wright Contracting has announced new hires.

Colton Davis, superintendent, is working on the Seismic Brewing Tap Room in Sebastopol. Davis previously worked as a framing carpenter after completion of the four-year carpentry apprenticeship program.

Craig Gamble, superintendent, brings 36 years of experience and is currently working on the Elliot Avenue buildings at Santa Rosa Junior College. Gamble recently moved from Oregon, where he worked as a superintendent on several large projects throughout the state.

Jim Shrier, superintendent, started a residential framing business in 1991 that served the Peninsula area for 23 years until his move to Napa County, where he worked as a superintendent for a general contractor before joining Wright. He is currently working on the rebuild project for Paradise Ridge Winery.

Matt O’Brien, superintendent, grew up in Novato and studied project management at Sonoma State University. Prior to joining Wright, he ran several projects with million-dollar budgets that were primarily focused on structural concrete, highway slide repair and marine construction. He is currently working on Bacchus Landing Cellars in Healdsburg.

Josh Neditch, accounting and internal systems, serves as in-house tech support. Prior to joining Wright, he worked in the video industry as a quality assurance tester.


Shibani Nag has been hired as director of employee experience and culture by the city of San Rafael. Nag has 12 years of experience in private, public and nonprofit organizations.

Erin Lail, a Napa Valley luxury property specialist, has affiliated the St. Helena office of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley.

She is a fifth-generation vintner who began Lail Vineyards with her mother and sister in 1995, according to the brokerage.

Redwood Credit Union recently reelected to its board of directors three volunteer officials for three-year terms, from 2019–2022: incumbents Rod Dole and Lisa Wittke Schaffner, and associate board member Judy Herrerias-James. To the credit union’s supervisory committee, two incumbents were elected for a three-year term: Martin Grove and Steve Sharpe.

Dole is the retired auditor/controller/treasurer/tax collector for Sonoma County. Wittke Schaffner is executive director of the John Jordan Foundation, a nonprofit that supports disadvantaged youth. Herrerias-James has been serving as an associate board member with RCU since 2013, attending all board meetings, but not as a voting member of the board until now, the credit union stated.

Grove has been a volunteer official with RCU since 2003 and is retired from the California State Compensation Insurance Fund. Sharpe has served on RCU’s supervisory committee since 1992.

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

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