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  • April 17, 2017 7:36 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    The Leadership Napa Valley board of directors announced today the appointment of Holly Krassner Dawson as executive director for the organization, effective April 17, 2017. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Leadership Napa Valley (LNV) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to involve, inspire and inform leaders to strengthen the Napa community.

    The executive director position is a new one. Napa Mayor Jill Techel will remain in her longtime role as program coordinator, responsible for organizing the monthly sessions where class participants learn about topics related to leadership in the Napa Valley.

    In announcing the choice, Sandy Re Sims, vice president at the Bank of Napa and board president of Leadership Napa Valley, noted that “we were overwhelmed by the response to our executive director position. All the candidates were wonderful advocates for LNV, but Holly’s experience, skills and reputation in our community and her longstanding, active relationship with LNV, both as a graduate and a board member, stood out. We are confident that the addition of Holly to our team will have an immediate impact on our program and help us bring LNV to the place we all know it should be. We look forward to working with her in shaping LNV for the future.”

    “I am very excited to work with the board of directors and Jill Techel at an organization that has had such a positive and influential impact on me and so many others in our community,” Dawson said. “I credit LNV for providing me with many of the tools, the connections and the confidence to launch my own marketing and communications business, Connecting the Dots, in 2009. I am excited to take on this new role in support of future leaders in the valley.”

    As executive director, Dawson will work closely with the board of directors to oversee and implement efforts to increase alumni engagement, recruitment and fundraising to strategically enhance LNV’s mission and support the organization’s efforts to identify, train and motivate current and future local leaders for many years to come.

    Dawson is a 2004 LNV graduate (Class 17) and a former member of the LNV board of directors (2004-2006 and 2009-2011). Her LNV practicum group spearheaded the development and implementation of the 2005 Napa County Visitor Profile Study and Economic Impact Study, which was subsequently updated by Visit Napa Valley. She has maintained her engagement with LNV, and last year worked with an LNV Class 29 practicum group to launch her website, NapaValleyKid.com, the go-to guide for families in Napa Valley.

    For the last eight years, Dawson has worked as an independent contractor with a focus on marketing, communications, strategic partnerships, content development, and project management. The LNV position is a part-time contract position; she will continue to work with her current clients, which include First 5 Napa County, Oxbow Public Market, Queen of the Valley Foundation, Sustainable Napa County, and The V Foundation Wine Celebration.

    Dawson first moved to Napa in 2000 as the opening marketing director for Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts. Prior to moving to Napa, she worked in marketing and communications for KQED television and radio and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and in San Francisco politics. She currently serves on the Napa County Local Food Advisory Council, the steering committee for 100 Women Who Care About Napa County and the Napa Chamber of Commerce Legislative Action Committee.

    About Leadership Napa Valley

    Now in its 30th year, Leadership Napa Valley (LNV) began in 1987. The program annually selects class members from a diverse cross-section of Napa Valley applicants. During the nine-month program, class members develop leadership skills and learn teamwork and experience the many different pieces, from government to nonprofits that make Napa County such a special place to live. In the practicum portion of the program, they work in teams to develop meaningful projects intended to have a lasting positive impact on the community. Today, LNV is recognized as one of the best leadership training experiences in the country. To date, more than 700 people have graduated from the program with a deeper commitment to making Napa Valley a better place to live, work and grow.

  • March 14, 2017 7:41 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    On LNV Education Day, we started our day in an elementary school and matriculated through high school, getting a taste of the variety of educational offerings and challenges in the Napa Valley Unified School District and the Napa County Office of Education Systems. Our day was lead by Dr. Barbara Nemko, Superintendent for the Napa County Office of Education and Dr. Patrick Sweeney, Superintendent for the Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) with PG&E as our sponsors.

    Dr. Nemko introduced us to a long list of statistics that painted a picture of the differences in the 5 county school districts. Some of the topics included: special state-funded programs for early childhood, flexibility in regulations for charter schools, the variety of magnet schools (MAST, STEM, STEAM, Arts, Dual Immersion and International Baccalaureate) and our diverse, yet comprehensive high schools. Other supportive programs included: College & Career Ready-Career Tech Education, PACE (before/after/summer) programs, digital literacy to close the achievement gap.

    Napa County has also taken an innovative approach to getting extra funding and service to include contribution from the community. Some of those programs are: Adopt-a-School, Napa County Reads, Science Fair, Parent programs, Tip4All (anti-bully notification program,) as well as some prevention, health and welfare programs like Mariposa and Girls on the Run.

    Dr. Sweeney asked us to keep three questions in mind as we visited school sites and learned about their educational programs:

    1. How do we inspire lifelong learning?
    2. How do we instill 21st century skills?
    3.  How do we transform lives?

    Our first school was introduced to us by Principal Helen Rocca. Pueblo Vista Magnet School is focused on Dual Immersion language and environmental sciences. Utilizing innovative curriculum, diverse student population and community/family partnerships, the school is committed to following the 6 C’s (seen on bulletin boards everywhere) Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Citizenship, Critical Thinking and Character. The class visited a few classrooms and was able to ask questions of the students and teachers.

    The next stop on our tour was Harvest Magnet Middle School, an International Baccalaureate World School/ Dual Immersion. Principal Monica Ready and a few of the administration staff presented the IB concept of learning skills in 8 content areas. After a quick Learning Walk (a program that is practiced by peer teachers to observe and identify effective teaching and learning) we debriefed with faculty and a few well-spoken students.

    Before a quick break for a delicious school lunch, we toured a few classrooms at New Tech High School. Escorted by some vivacious students, we visited an economics class that was working on their senior project and a digital class that was building and programing robots. Principal Riley Johnson presented the New Tech school concept and one that is celebrating a 20-year anniversary. Our afternoon presenter, Elena Toscano, Assistant Superintendent, NVUSD, spoke on PBL Project Based Learning that included concepts like Student Voice & Choice, real-world project/applications, multiple pathways and destinations and fun challenges like their “Shark School/Tank” project where students compete with their innovative ideas for prize money. New Tech also encourages their teachers to take time for a Passion Project to encourage life-long learning.

    Any good day in school wouldn’t be complete without a test of our knowledge, and so we were introduced to the world of CAASPP California State Standards Common Core. We each got a laptop to try our hand (brain) at a practice math test (I think most of us were a little rusty with our higher skills).

    The last speakers of our day were Caroline Wilson, Director, of the Court and Community Schools and Lucy Edward, Director of Continuous Improvement. They presented their education programming which is collaborating with organizations like Nimbus Arts to expose students to the arts and related skills. Lastly, they presented their work in developing a concept and seeking funding to build a new facility aka “cool little school” at Camille Creek.

    The world of education is one we all benefit from and yet it faces the challenges of meeting individual needs, funding deficits, buildings in need of repair, maintaining support needed for a thriving teacher base. It is filled with complexities, but from our day of education exploration, it is also apparent that it is filled with smart and innovative individuals who have accepted the challenge and are working every day for “continuous improvement.”

    “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
-Nelson Mandela

    Submitted by Veronika Martinez, Jay Lang and Sarah Marshall, members of Class 30.

  • March 09, 2017 7:56 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    The day started by learning government services and fun facts about the Napa County, followed by a detailed report of county and city finances. We also learned about material diversion and recycling services.

    We took a tour of the Napa Sanitation District Wastewater Treatment Plant while learning about the process used to deliver clean water to each residents home. We learned the importance of water conservation, and about the hardworking and dedicated public works employees behind this effort.

    We visited Yountville’s Fire Department and got to perform hands-on CPR and rescue. We even got to experience car crash rescue with the use of heavy equipment! One of the most exciting activities of the day was meeting up for a lunch with elected officials, city managers and departmental staff from the cities of Napa, American Canyon, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga and having the opportunity to speak with each of them. Our group had the pleasure of sitting at a table with American Canyon city officials, Mayor Leon Garcia, Jason Holley, Public Works Director and Creighton Wright, Parks and Recreation Director. They shared stories about serving within their community, upcoming city projects, as well as their personal journey to becoming involved in local government.

    During a visit to the Napa Valley Transportation Authority, we were provided a report of transportation and land use within Napa. We also learned about the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency (NCTPA), who is responsible for providing countywide transportation planning, including congestion management, design and construction of specific highway, pedestrian, and bicycle improvement projects, as well as promotion of transit oriented development throughout Napa County.

    As our final adventure, we headed downtown to City Hall on the trolley. Once we arrived, we participated in one of the most fun activities of the day – attending a regular Town of LNV City Council meeting. We experienced a public hearing and witnessed democracy at its best.

    The day was filled with interesting information that made me better realize the importance of local government.

    Submitted by members of Class 30.

  • December 20, 2016 7:44 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”  
    - Albert Einstein

    Celebrating a birthday of someone special (Mayor Jill Techel) was the perfect way to do LNV Arts Day!! Our day began at the Oxbow school, which was fabulous to so many of us who had never seen what happens there. What an incredible place to foster art education in our community. Olivia Dodd, CEO and President of the Arts Council Napa Valley, was a spectacular leader for the day. She challenged us to this question: “What would the world look like without art?” As a class we were inspired to see just exactly how art is working in our community, in many different ways. Miki Hsu Leavey, from di Rosa, lead us in an activity that truly opened our minds to the world of art. Taking a quick look at a few art pieces, we explored the multitude of meanings behind each piece. We shared our thoughts and learned that there is no one interpretation of art. It was fun and exhilarating!!

    Our next adventure was off to Salvador Elementary School where we met Pam Perkins. There are some exciting things happening at that school and art plays a huge role in that. I’m pretty sure a highlight for all of us was visiting two classrooms at Salvador. It was impressive to see how these young people incorporate the arts into their everyday learning processes. The enthusiasm of each child to learn was quite evident! For lunch we enjoyed some fabulous food from Food Shed and heard from our sponsors at NORBAR. The performances from Napa High’s Theater Group and River’s World Percussion Class were both so enlightening! How amazing it is to have these opportunities for our young people.

    After Salvador, we were off to Nimbus Arts in St. Helena. The work of Jamie Graff at Nimbus was eye opening! We had no idea what was already being done in our community through our arts! The Mariposa Project with the mosaic butterflies was powerful. Then the presentation by Phil Lofaro about the influence that art is having on the students in Napa’s Juvenile Court Schools was something else. It truly seemed life changing. What a gift this program is to so many. After participating in our own art activity, we left feeling empowered and definitely seeing arts in a whole new light!

    “The arts change people and people change the world!”

    Submitted by Betsy Cipriano, Chris DeNatale, and Megan Dominici, members of Class 30.

  • December 13, 2016 7:47 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    First of all, we would like to thank Leadership Napa Valley, its volunteers, and Mayor Jill Techel for arranging health and human services day (HHS).  We were really surprised by the numbers of employees who took on the task of mentoring each and every one of us for the day.

    These mentors occupy a much needed but much underappreciated role in our community.  One of our mentors, Gianna Thompson, is a certified MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist).  Her daily routine includes visiting individuals in public housing who are suffering from various mental disorders, including alcoholism and depression.  She was nice enough to take one of us along with her while she paid visits to her clients. They were happy to see her; on most days, she is likely their only social contact.

    Aside from being able to see clients, we visited the new senior daytime activity center on Jefferson Street, by Imola Street.  We were surprised by the number of senior citizens who spent their afternoons there.  Many of them could not afford full time senior care and therefore spent their time at the center, under professional supervision with various planned activities to help pass the time.

    Ironically, after seeing so many good deeds, we felt saddened by what we saw.  Perhaps because happiness and sadness are relative.  What we saw and deemed depressing others find comforting or enjoyable.  It reminded us that without these programs and living arrangements, which appeared to us seemed dreary, these individuals would be living under much poorer circumstances, or maybe not living at all.

    In terms of leadership, we learned that one does not have to be an elected official, a powerful person, or even well-known to make a difference in someone’s life and to inspire others to action.  We consider the mentors and others at HHS to be notable leaders in our community, despite their relative anonymity.  Their decision to work for the public instead of going into private practice is the purest example of dedication and sacrifice for the benefit of others.  All leaders should put others first, just like our friends and fellows at HHS.

    All in all, the day was a very humbling experience for both of us.

    Submitted by members of Class 30.

  • November 14, 2016 7:49 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    “Creating, Inspiring & Implementing a Vision” was the theme for Business Day held on the October 7th session of Leadership Napa Valley Class 30.  We had an amazing tour of the historic Borreo building, soon to be Stone Brewery, as well as the Wet-Dry By-Pass which was envisioned and completed through the dedication of our Mayor Jill Techel, as well as other local leaders. Our tour continued through projects still in planning and others completed courtesy of Michael Holcomb, George Nielson and Barry McComic. Listening to how these projects have been and will be achieved was eye-opening. The vision of these community leaders is inspiring.

    After a delicious lunch prepared by Chef Ken Frank and his team, we listened to Don Shindle, General Manager of the Westin Verasa. Perseverance, team building and inspiration were the key take-aways from his experience in balancing guests, employees, clean up and perceptions after the 2014 earthquake.

    Facilitators Pamela Gleeson and Brian Kelly led us through a spirited business simulation in the afternoon before leading us to the new Kitchen Collective. There we heard of the experiences of four Napa business leaders, through the trials and tribulations of continuing with their businesses after a natural disaster, PR challenges and working in a family business.

    This was an enlightening and inspirational day. The main theme running through the course of the day was to not give up. Don’t give up on your vision, speak with passion and move forward.

    Submitted by Julie Baldia, Carlos Barragan, and Lisa Augustine, members of Class 30.

  • October 31, 2016 7:50 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    Finding Direction to Collaborate with our Fellow Leaders (Leadership Seminar Day)

    The day started with a brief overview by Mayor Jill Techel and an introduction to Ann Navarro former mayor of St. Helena and LNV Alum.  Ann shared her LNV experience and professional background and provided tips on how to approach our LNV Practicum groups.  Both Jill and Ann introduced our class to our presenter for the day, John Glaser.

    The stage was set to learn more about “Leading through Collaboration,” with John Glaser, former NVUSD Superintendent. John and his wife Carol provide instrumental personal and organizational development, team building education, and conflict resolution through their company, Glaser and Associates.

    Following a class discussion about our LPI results, relating to one another, and strengths, biases and norms, our class was divided into groups where we were given a conflict and resolution case study.  We referred to our booklet to guide us through the process from the beginning to understand both sides of the problem, all the way through the final stages of conflict resolution.  This was great preparation for forming and collaborating on our practicum projects.

    We were assigned to our practicum groups and spent some time getting better acquainted.  Each team established one Lead who will provide future progress updates, then we formulated a method to communicate, set-up our first bonding activity, and briefly brainstormed our shared interests.  We also gathered information to help integrate our missing team-mates.  Before our day concluded, Brian Kelly shared what to expect at our next LNV class – Business Day.  The class will pick up where we left off, to help inspire, create, and implement a shared vision.

    We appreciated the time and resources that John Glaser provided to help guide us into our Practicum projects.  It was helpful to have the opportunity to apply some of the techniques on a simulated conflict within our teams.  Our minds are swirling with ideas as we find ourselves heading into our next steps as a team – filled with excitement, unknowns, and thoughtful consideration – to be open to possibilities that are ahead of us.

    Submitted by Keri Akemi-Bezayiff and Ely Aguayo, Gratitude Ambassadors and members of Class 30.

  • May 31, 2016 7:52 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    How often do we get an insider look into planning and the community development process? Fortunately for us, we got an entire day of it. We listened to developers and the various issues that come up on a given project in a community. We were also able to look at the tools and policies used to guide decisions and how to get involved and influence the planning decisions that shape our community.

    After a morning session filled with great information from Rick Tooker, Community Development Director, for the City of Napa, we were tasked with creating project proposals for a piece of property. After getting into small groups we physically went to the site and assessed how we could best utilize the space for our local community. After some time to review and come up with a strategy, we presented to our Mike Basayne – County of Napa Planning Commissioner, Gordan Huether – City of Napa Planning Commissioner and Beth Painter – City of Napa Planning Commissioner.

    What a great day of learning the importance of getting involved, how to be a part of these vital community boards and commissions, and how it makes a difference in the community in which we live.

    Submitted by the Doug Wilson/Chardonneighbors Practicum Group, members of Class 30.

  • April 11, 2016 7:54 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    What a great day to get back to the land! From down-to-earth ranchers with lambs bleating nearby to the unfiltered reality of farmworker life upvalley to vegetables starting to peek out in the spring sunshine, we saw the true lifeblood of agriculture in Napa County.

    Every time I step foot in a garden or farm, I am always amazed at how much life pulses through the land. When Paul Tarap mentioned that school children sometimes say that milk comes from a carton and food comes from a store, it is easy to see how they have become so disconnected from the realities of food production. Modern life encapsulates society away from the gritty reality that is agriculture. The importance of farmers markets, the food-to-table movement and Agriculture Day is to remind us to take it slow, breathe in the aromas of rosemary and oregano, and remember that without farmers tilling the soil, none of us would be possible.

    Submitted by members of Class 31.

  • January 07, 2016 7:58 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    What would the world look like without art? This is the question that our class was asked at the start of the day. My first thought was, “I’m going to need another cup of coffee.” Then I really had to think about it – much like most of our class did. How important is art really? It didn’t take long to realize that art is of paramount importance bringing an increased quality of life to all, whether we want to acknowledge its presence or not. It is all around us – both in organized form as well as raw and in nature. As a class, we then discovered that right under our noses there were people working every day to enrich our community with art – at Arts Council Napa Valley.

    The day went on to educate and help us reflect upon different ways art is expressed in our community. From the fine art galleries at di Rosa to the public art scene in Napa County with its politics, and from the Community Arts Center “Cinderella” story to the long-established Lincoln Theater in Yountville – it seems the goal of the arts in Napa County is to engage the community and enrich their lives. The arts community, as represented by our presenters, has done that in a big way.

    A highlight of the morning was when Miki, our di Rosa docent, led us in a group conversation about a painting. Simple at first glance, the story of the painting and its painter took on a complex range of possibilities through the guided conversation. Three questions were asked: what’s going on in this, what do you see that makes you say that, and what more do you see. Answers came, were confirmed to the group and became fuel to the conversation’s fire. By the end of our group discussion, I felt like a cultured critic of fine art – a description I have never used for myself.

    A highlight of the midday was getting to know the differences between the Community Arts Center and a more established venue like Lincoln Theater. The stories of their beginnings and the shows that they put on are quite different, while their missions seem aligned. Both venues bring the community together to celebrate and showcase performing arts, all while supporting their fellow nonprofits when they can in their search for event venues. The last highlight of the day was getting into groups at Lincoln Theater and working through community issues focusing on the arts for an “out of the box” solution. It was eye opening experience being in the driver seat for that type of planning.

    I doubt any of us will look at art ever again without thinking about our LNV Arts Day experience.

    “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” 
    – Thomas Merton

    Miki @ di Rosa:

    Lucky Penny:

    Public Art Talk:

    Our arts leaders @ Lincoln Theater: https://goo.gl/photos/9K1ckTSLhgzZU7rh8

    Submitted by members of Class 30.


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