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  • December 21, 2017 11:14 AM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    Everyone from Leadership Napa Valley Class 31 who attended Health and Human Services Day heard stories: stories of loss and stories of help; stories of fear and stories of hope; stories of regret and stories of redemption. Each class member was assigned to a mentor or mentors, who spent the morning providing us with glimpses into their daily work. We met many people who care greatly about helping everyone in Napa County live healthy. Whether they are involved in Mental Health, Public Health, Child Welfare, Services for Older Adults, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, or Self-Sufficiency, they all work to bring security and help to those in need.

    One of the most enthusiastic staffers we saw at the South Napa Shelter was Beta, a therapy dog who works with Reverend Linda Powers at Abode Services. Beta does a great job of bringing comfort and joy to all those that meet her.

    Abode is built on the principle of Housing First. They work with the homeless to not only find housing, but also to provide services to help them sustain that home. Assistance may include anything from connecting a person with mental health services to educating them on PG&E programs to help them with their utility bills.

    One of the most impressive things to witness is how groups are working together. The Hope Center is a drop-in facility that provides showers, restrooms, mail, phones, and laundry for homeless adults throughout the day. When we walked in with three workers from the Mental Health Division, it was obvious that the HHS staffers are well known because several people came over to say hello. The HHS staffers come to them, providing a “one-stop” place to receive help. Dr. Jennifer from Ole Health visits once a week to address medical and mental health issues. Being able to deliver immediate response and continuous coaching when someone is ready to make a change in their life is valuable to these individuals and to the health and development of Napa County.

    During the presentation by Dr. Karen Relucio and the panel, it was clear that we all need to work together to build community capacity and resilience. All of the pieces of the puzzle have to come together so that individuals can be successful and healthy, which helps the entire community. We can all help in ways big and small. Everyone has a story and everyone has value.

    Some of us were surprised to learn the scope of the homeless and food insecurity issues facing Napa County.  Some wondered how people in the community even learn about the services available to them.  We all left feeling much better informed about the invaluable role that Health and Human Services and the many area nonprofits with which they partner provide to our most vulnerable citizens.  We were humbled by their efforts.

    Thank you very much to all of the mentors, the speakers, the facilitators, the Health and Human Services Agency, and the day’s sponsor, Napa Valley Vintners. As always, thank you to Jill and Holly for their leadership of the program through which we learn so much.

    Submitted by participants in LNV Class 31.

  • November 15, 2017 6:14 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    Arts Day had a packed agenda and so many great highlights from meeting some key art entrepreneurs to taking a backstage tour of the production Shrek at Napa Valley College. We even got to see Shrek himself. Learning the importance of the Arts through leaders in the Arts community really showed how art truly changes people which in turn helps grow our community.

    The second half of the day was just as impactful as the first half. Visiting Vine Village and learning about how their program is helping those with disabilities either live independently or enjoy a day of arts and activities was very touching. That lead to us experiencing learning through music with Marie Butler. We then became our own Arts leaders and had to present an idea to the Arts Council. Finally the day ended with a creative way of approaching a problem – by creating a persona and addressing the problem as this persona.

    Eight hours flew by on Friday, Nov. 3, and we were all truly grateful for the subject matter given it was our first time coming together as a group after the fires. This is an amazing group of people and we’re proud to be part of Leadership Napa Valley.

    Here is a slideshow of our day: http://bit.ly/2j537XY

    Submitted by members of Class 31.

  • October 25, 2017 6:16 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    Allowable land use, zoning, development standards, design guidelines, transportation, circulation, parking, housing, economic development – just a few of things that are considered for every project presented to the Planning Commission. It’s a challenge being tasked with keeping all of those things in balance.

    Our experience as Planners for a Day gave us a glimpse into those challenges and new respect for commissioners, City and County staff who keep development moving forward. When tackling the Cinedome project we naturally gravitated to the problem or concern that was most relevant and important to us – traffic, parking, more retail, less retail, housing – but, as we discovered, Planners have to juggle those needs and more while thinking about the present as well as the future (an interesting combination of multi-tasking and multiple personalities). All of which means that each decision about each project is unique. The decision to move forward or not DEPENDS on:

    D – the Developer. Is the project financially viable. We all agreed that underground parking at the Cinedome site would be a great solution for downtown parking woes but is that really an option given the cost (as Gordon so eloquently pointed out to us).

    E – Everyone. Buy-in is key. All stakeholders should have input. On-going conversations will provide everyone the opportunity to see how the project fits into the future vision and plans for the community

    P – the Plans. What is the purpose of the project. Who will benefit from the project. Is the goal to provide affordable housing, a sports complex, shopping, parking.

    E – the Environment. How does it fit into the existing environment. Does the design complement the existing architecture.

    N – the Need. Does the project fulfill a desired need in the community.

    D – the Design. Is the project designed with an eye to the future, will it stand the test of time.

    S – Sustainability. Is the project financially and environmentally sustainable and does it provide a lasting benefit to the community.

    Submitted by members of Class 31.

  • October 04, 2017 6:23 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    September 22 was the Leadership Seminar for Leadership Napa Valley Class 31. In the morning, John Glaser presented on “Leading Through Collaboration.” This was a great introduction to negotiations and how to use collaborative negotiation strategies to reach an outcome that helps everyone. John advocates focusing on interests, not positions, so that you can get to the heart of what people want and avoid counterproductive posturing. This approach tends to create better outcomes for all parties and helps preserve relationships. John also shared a few “war stories” from his time as Superintendent of the Napa Valley Unified School District, which gave a real world feel to the negotiation theory he was teaching.

    The class particularly enjoyed the mock negotiation that John led. In the negotiation, half the students played the role of university administrators and the other half were members of the student government. We had to work together to figure out how to address the dire financial situation of the university’s book store. In the end, there were a number of ideas and it’s safe to say the book store will keep running for years to come! It was great to see the different solutions people discovered when presented with the same problem, and our class definitely found some creative ways to make the bookstore prosper.

    What impressed us most about John’s presentation was that he managed to impart so much knowledge, while still keeping things light and entertaining. He had a great feel for when to sprinkle in a cartoon or a clip from Golden Balls. (For those of you who have not seen “Golden Balls,” the British game show/short course in game theory, we highly recommend you watch here.)

    After a delicious lunch from Foodshed, Jill introduced us to the practicum program and most of the afternoon was spent learning about the practicum program and getting to know our practicum groups. It was inspiring to see all of the great projects of past classes and Class 31 is ready and willing to carry on this legacy!

    Submitted by members of Class 31: Lorna Barker & Quinn Arntsen, Gratitude Ambassadors.

  • September 11, 2017 6:29 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    Leadership Napa Valley (LNV) announces members of Class 31, which began this month. Those selected include: 

    Jarret Anderson, Napa Fire Department Battalion Chief; Quinn Arntsen, Farella Braun + Martel Senior Associate; Lorna Barker, Director of Infinite Possibilities, Let the Magic Unfold; David Busby, Director, The Table; Elizabeth Cabell, Finance Manager, City of Napa; Roland Cavanagh, President, Roland R. Cavanagh, PE Inc.; Miryam Chae, Director – Direct Marketing, Constellation Brands; Jerry Curiel, General Manager, La Morenita Market; Michele Dahlberg, President, Friends of Scientopia; Linda Fine, Nonprofit Development and Communications Consultant; Jennifer Goodrich,  Director of Sales & Account Management, Wineshipping;  Marcia Hadeler, Realtor, Coldwell Banker; Allison Haley, Napa County District Attorney; Shannon Halikas, Promotions Manager, Treasury Wine Estates; Gary Hercules, Outreach Marketing Manager, Autodesk Inc.; Choolwe Kalulu, Director of Media, Napa Valley College; Peg Maddocks, Executive Director, NapaLearns; Liz Marks, Development Director, Mentis; Paul Martinez-Everett, Real Estate Agent, Windemere Napa Valley; Marie Matz, Farmworker Foundation Program, Napa Valley Grapegrowers; Christine McMillan, Owner, CM Destinations & Consulting; Becky Merry-Barrango, Senior Sales Manager, Leisure Sales, Visit Napa Valley; Katarina Mezeiova, Director of Finance, The Westin Verasa Napa; Courtney Murray, Director of Business Operations, Stony Hill Vineyard; Margaret Niland, Retired, Medtronic PLC; Scott Owens, Executive Assistant to the President & CEO, California Health Care Foundation; Molly Rattigan, Napa County Deputy County Executive Officer; Wes Salter, Mortgage Loan Originator/Loan Officer, Mortgage Solutions Incorporated; Shawn Smith, Staff Services Analyst – ITS, Napa County; and Corinne Weaver, Supervising Psychiatric Social Worker I, Napa State Hospital. 

    LNV is a nine-month program to identify, train and motivate current and future leaders. Participants come from many backgrounds including business, government, the professions, the arts, and the academic world. Participants strengthen their leadership and teamwork skills, learn ways to get involved in community life, and get a behind the scenes look at business and industry, government, education, social services, criminal justice, the arts, and hospitality.

  • August 16, 2017 6:27 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    The executive committee includes President Steve Rogers, Town of Yountville; Vice President Desiree Brun, City of Napa; Past President Sandy Re Sims, Retired, Bank of Napa; Secretary Catherine Heywood, Visit Napa Valley; and Treasurer Brian Teaff, Foley Family Wines. 

    The other members of the board include Melinda Adams, State Farm Insurance; David Avina, self-employed; Mike Basayne, Platypus Tours; Kristi Blasky, Napa County; Charlie Bogue, Coldwell Banker; Brian Dodd, The Doctors Company; Lissa Gibbs, Strategic Communications and Nonprofit Consultant; Tiffany Kenny, Hyde Wines; Steve Potter, City of Napa Police Chief; Betsy Van Dyne, Schramsberg Vineyards; and Kristine Youngberg, Bently Enterprises. 

    Holly Krassner Dawson is the executive director. Mayor Jill Techel serves as program coordinator.

    LNV is a nine-month program that identifies, trains, and motivates current and future leaders. Participants come from many backgrounds including business, government, the professions, the arts, and the academic world.

    Participants strengthen their leadership and teamwork skills, learn ways to get involved in community life, and get a behind-the-scenes look at business and industry, government, education, social services, criminal justice, the arts, and hospitality. 

  • June 20, 2017 6:34 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    Our group met at the fantastic Connolly Ranch. Here, Jennifer Fotherby showed us a brief video about how the Ranch was started, the history of the property and what it has come to represent. This gave us a history about Connolly Ranch. With a mission to “Connect children and families to nature through farm based education,” the awesome staff do their very best to help kids and adults alike, learn about various ways in which they can farm and create sustaining gardens.  Connolly Ranch has 10,000 adults and children that visit per year and many activities available for Napa and its surrounding communities.  Jennifer’s passion for reaching out to young children and teaching them about the animals and farming was clearly evident in her talk. We would like to encourage everyone to check out their website for fun and interesting activities as well as to learn how you can help. We were all introduced to the animals and enjoyed this experience.

    Next, we were off to Ag 4 Youth, where we met with Paul Tarap.  This is a program that focuses on providing a positive outlet for disadvantaged and at-risk youth.  Those accepted to the program are set up with an investment to purchase an animal. They are responsible for the care of the animal and for selling it at the Napa County fair. We got a first hand look at the amount of work these kids put into caring for their animals and were surprised to learn that the money earned from the sale of their animal goes into a private account for the student to put towards their education. This is a worthwhile program for youth who need and want this type of help in our community.

    After a look at the cute Pygmy goats, we went inside the Horsemen Association building for lunch and listened to the history of the Napa Valley Horsemen Association.

    What a great day, despite the rain, to learn about our different community agriculture programs for children. We strongly recommend checking out both of these fantastic places and lending your support in whatever way you can. Let’s help maintain good agricultural practices and programs for our sustainable farming communities.

    Submitted by Stacy Preiser and Thwani Satten, members of Class 30.

  • May 10, 2017 6:32 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson

    We met on Friday, May 4 for a bittersweet day, as it was our last official Program Element Day. We met for Planning and Development Day with our leader for the day, Jeri Gill. Jeri is the CEO for Sustainable Napa County and serves on the Planning Commission as well. Jeri started off the day with a quick catch up on the plans for the day and then we were broken up into groups to hear about planning from those in various agencies and businesses throughout the county who are responsible for planning and development functions.

    The groups met with Kate Miller, Executive Director of NVTA, Robin Klingbeil, Senior Development Project Coordinator from the City of Napa, Phil Miller, Napa County Deputy Director of Public Works for Flood Control and Water, Hugh Linn with RSA+, Howard Siegel, Former Director Napa County Housing and Government Affairs, Andrew Mazotti, Acquisitions Director, Zapolski Real Estate, Mike Basayne, Napa County Planning Commissioner and Brian Bordona, Supervising Planner, County of Napa. All were able to share development, planning and policy from their own perspective and experience. It was a great opportunity to view the challenging land use issues from local professionals.

    The highlight of the day was our own chance to view a site (the old Cinedome property) and bring a development plan before the planning commissioners as a body. To help guide us and give us a foundation for that task, we had Rick Tooker the Community Development Director for the City of Napa. Rick gave us some very helpful materials and guidance in the development and planning process. In the end, though there were five different groups presenting, each group brought forward a mix of housing, parking, and retail for that beautiful site on the river.

    This was the culmination of many months of similar tasks with similar deadlines that helped us prepare for the final delivery. We all felt well prepared and enjoyed our final Element Day with Leadership Napa Valley Class 30 (Best Class Ever)! A big thanks to all of those who volunteered their time to lead us on our last day !

    Submitted by members of Class 30.

  • May 02, 2017 6:39 PM | Holly Krassner Dawson


    I think it is safe to say that our entire class was impressed with the City of Napa Barwick Jamieson Canyon Water Treatment Plant, a place perhaps more riveting than it sounds and the location where we kicked off Government Day, March 3, 2017, with our hosts for the day, Deputy Public Works Director Phil Brun and Steve Rogers, the Town Manager of Yountville. We were greeted by these two, along with three others: Desiree, Joy, and Tracy. All 5 of these folks who serve government in various capacities are Leadership Napa Valley graduates.

    Before our tour of the water treatment property, we were given some fun facts and figures of various local government services, including the interesting detail from Desiree Brun, Assistant to the City Manager, that the value of city services per person is $45.48 per month. We learned more about our county and city finances from Tracy Schulze, our County Auditor Controller who gambled on leaving her home and similar position in corn growing Wisconsin to land an elected position in Napa. She had us participate in fun game of our city’s finances. Joy Eldredge, General Manager of our Water Division told us more than I ever knew about our water and it was also very reassuring to learn that we are doing very well in our supply and quality. The water division is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the water system that serves more than 85,000 people each day. Joy’s passion for the quality of our water was further illustrated by her disdain of bottled water; I feel assured that our water is all we need when it comes to drinking water. We left the meeting room to have a tour of the impressive plant, visiting the lab and the high tech control room; I had no idea there was one small room where eyes are on the various water towers around the County at all times.

    After our morning with the water treatment plant, we then left to head to downtown at the firehouse, where 6 tables were set up to represent American Canyon, City of Napa, County of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. Awaiting our arrival along with a tasty lunch catered by Heritage Eats, were representatives from each of these city and county jurisdictions, giving us the unique opportunity to mingle with an elected official, a top level manager, and a department head staff. I was assigned to American Canyon, which had piqued my interest, as I knew nothing of American Canyon despite being a long time local, other than it’s location. The first to arrive, I immediately introduced myself to the welcoming gentleman at my table who happened to be the Mayor, Mr. Leon Garcia. An amiable and interesting man who grew up in Southern California, he shared information about his city and his enthusiasm for American Canyon was spread to my fellow LNV class members. American Canyon is a young city, incorporated in 1992, and Leon moved there in 2000 from Napa and began serving on the City Council Board in 2002, becoming Mayor in 2006. His vision for his city’s future stems from his passion and his leadership skills for inspiring his vision was palpable when Public Works Director Jason Holley and Parks and Recreation Director Creighton Wright added to the conversation. Exciting things, especially in the field of Parks and Recreation, are coming to American Canyon and to enjoy lunch with these three was indeed an eye opening experience to seeing what is possible in a new city when leaders come together in innovation.

    What followed lunch were activities packed with enough action to make any kid on a field trip to the firehouse fiery with envy, as they don’t let the kids do what we adults of LNV got to do. If any of us had unfulfilled fantasies from our youthful visits to the firehouse, we were surely quenched today. We wore the gear the firefighters wear when they do their stuff, played with their heavy equipment, learned CPR on their dummies and performed mock rescues, climbed the fire truck ladders that were launched high above Seminary Street, (causing lots of curious stares from the passing public), and fought a faux fire.

    One would think it would be hard to top the all the exciting educational recreation we had at the firehouse, but Jill and the LNV team had prepared an all-engaging mock City Council meeting for us. In the days prior to Government Day, the class was asked to “elect” five fellow classmates to the City Council. Class member Stefan Jezycki was our elected Mayor and was accompanied by Council Members Sarah Marshall, Jay Lang, Beth Nelsen, and Megan Dominici. Our captivating agenda called for Parks and Recreation Director, Julia Baldia, to present her department’s work to us and to receive the Proclamation from the Mayor of March as “Parks and Recreation Month.” Additionally, there were two items as part of the Public Hearing: 1) to discuss the appeal of the Town Manager Steve Brassfield’s decision to deny an exception to the keeping of chickens at 123 Country Lane, and 2) the appeal of the Planning Commission’s denial of medical marijuana. Both items gave our class plenty of opportunity to participate in democracy, providing us a taste of the structure and emotions that come into play in an actual town meeting where the tension of personal attachments to desire, moral ethics and ego can run high. Perhaps the most notable act of participation, garnering the most enjoyment from the crowd was Angela Jackson’s portrayal of Hennie the Chicken who did not want her daughters raised amongst other chickens. Hennie came dressed in a full yellow chicken costume and wore it for the rest of the day, into the post class gathering at Tarla.

    On a personal note, this day stood out from the rest as the flow was perfect and the opportunities for learning seemed endless. The addition of having us participate in a City Council Meeting was an excellent choice. Government Day is a day that will stand out in my memory when I look back on my days with Leadership Napa Valley.  

    Submitted by Beth Nelsen, Molly Moran, and Sonya Milton, members of Class 30.

  • 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.


P.O. Box 636   Napa, CA 94559

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