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.
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.
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.
LEADERS ON LADDERS
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.
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.
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:
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.”
Submitted by Veronika Martinez, Jay Lang and Sarah Marshall, members of Class 30.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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