New Oak Valley Community Bank investments representative

Greg Hoekman

Oak Valley Community Bank announced that Gregory Hoekman, has joined the Oak Valley Investments Team as an Investment Representative. He will be based out of the Modesto-Dale Road office.

Hoekman has 10 years of banking experience. As a financial advisor for Oak Valley Investments, Hoekman will specialize in the Oak Valley Investments product suite, assisting clients in setting up and maintaining mutual funds, insurance, stocks, college funding and savings plans, bonds, and fixed and variable annuities.

“We are happy to have Greg join the Oak Valley Investments team,” stated Renee Lovitt, Vice President, Investment Representative. “Greg’s financial planning knowledge and experience will help deepen relationships and be a great asset to the bank and our clients.”

HoekmanHe is currently a member of the Estate Planning Council of Stanislaus County. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Azusa Pacific University and a Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning from College for Financial Planning. In his free time, he enjoys golf, music, and outdoor activities with his family. He currently resides in Ripon with his wife Kathryn and four kids.

Westamerica Bank announces new board member

Westamerica Bancorporation announced the appointment of Dr. Melanie Martella Chiesa to its Board of Directors.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Chiesa to our Board of Directors,” says David L. Payne, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westamerica Bancorporation. “Melanie’s professional experience and extensive agricultural background will be instrumental as we grow and serve our customers in California’s Central Valley. Dr. Chiesa adds diversity to our Board’s leadership, ensuring a broad range of skills, experience and perspectives which will guide us in the future.”

A lifelong resident of Hughson, California, Dr. Chiesa is a partner in her family’s walnut and almond farming operations, Martella Farms, in Stanislaus County. Additionally, Dr. Chiesa is an optometrist in private practice at Monte Vista Optometry.

Dr. Chiesa pursued her undergraduate degree at CSU Fresno, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Functional Biology and Food Science. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and is a lifetime member of Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Sigma Kappa. She continued her graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry where she received an additional B.S. degree in Visual Science and her Doctor of Optometry degree. She received the prestigious Gold Retinoscope Award, which goes to the most outstanding graduate student. She was also selected for the Bausch & Lomb “Excellence in Academic Achievement Contact Lens Award”.

Dr. Chiesa volunteers a significant amount of time to various local philanthropic organizations. She currently sits on the board of the Stanislaus Community Foundation and is a trustee for the Gallo Center for the Arts.

Doctors Hospital of Manteca names new Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Murali Naidu

Doctors Hospital of Manteca has appointed Murali Naidu as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Effective Feb. 24, 2020, Dr. Naidu will assume responsibility for all hospital operations, executive planning and directing medical services.

“Dr. Naidu brings with him a fresh perspective and new energy to enhancing and expanding our healthcare delivery,” said Warren Kirk, CEO of Tenet’s Northern California Group. “We value his strong commitment to providing the highest level of quality care to our patients in the Manteca community and surrounding areas.”

Dr. Naidu joins Doctors Hospital of Manteca from Managed Care Systems out of Bakersfield, Calif., where he serves as the chief physician executive. He played a pivotal role in supporting the on-boarding of 140,000 members and 750 physicians.

Dr. Naidu previously served as System Chief Clinical Officer at Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, Va., and as Vice President of Perioperative Care for Dignity Health’s 39 hospitals.

Dr. Naidu earned his A.B. in Molecular & Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. He is a laparoscopic surgeon who practiced for more than ten years prior to his full-time leadership roles.

He has served on the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics Advisory Board in Los Angeles, and the Roundtable on Quality Care for People with Serious Illness at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, D.C. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Blue Skies for Children, a nonprofit childcare education center in Oakland that is committed to providing high-quality support to children and their families.

Family Resource & Referral Center appoints second Chief Operations Officer

Tiffany Phovixay

Family Resource & Referral Center announced that Tiffany Phovixay has been appointed to serve as the agency’s second Chief Operations Officer effective immediately. Phovixay recently held the position of Program Manager, overseeing the agency’s Subsidized Child Care Division and 2-1-1 San Joaquin Program.

“I am delighted to welcome Tiffany to this new role,” said Kay Ruhstaller, FRRC’s CEO. “Given the size and complexity of the organization’s program services, and positive growth that FRRC has experienced in the past couple of years, there was need for change to the organization’s structure. Tiffany has made invaluable contributions to the agency; she has excelled in the implementation of 2-1-1 SJ, and the Bridge Program, while managing several existing programs. Tiffany will continue to accelerate our vision and build on our current programs and services to serve our community.”

Phovixay joins Leslie Reece, who has served as COO since 2016. Prior to joining FRRC in 2005, Phovixay managed a large Subsidized Child Care department at Child Care Links in the East Bay. Phovixay has served as the agency’s Compliance Analyst and was promoted to the Quality Control Data Manager in 2008. In 2016, she became the Subsidized Child Care/211 Program Manager.

Phovixay is committed to professional leadership and serves on the Board of Directors for San Joaquin County Data Co-Op, and is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives. Phovixay is alumna of Leadership Stockton (class of 2018), and is an active member of the Leadership Stockton Alumni Association, working toward solutions for the advancement of the greater Stockton community.

New CEO for Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has selected Sara Cribari Hill to serve as the new Chief Executive Officer.

Hill comes from the consulting firm CoreHR Team, where she was the Director of Talent and Strategy. Prior to that she was with Old Navy in their headquarters.

Hill moved to Merced in 2016 and started the promotion and branding business The Greatest Valley.

Modesto resident leads transportation commission

Paul Van Konyenburg

The California Transportation Commission elected Paul Van Konynenburg of Modesto as its Chair for 2020.

Van Konynenburg was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. in August of 2017 and elected Vice Chair in January of 2019. While on the Commission, he has provided a strong voice for addressing the needs of California’s most rural and disadvantaged areas with equitable transportation investments that promote inclusive economic development.

He came to the Commission with nearly 20 years of experience leading regional public-private inclusive economic development and workforce training collaborations, including Opportunity Stanislaus, Stanislaus County Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, and the Stanislaus County Economic Development Corporation.

He also has over two decades of experience chairing and advising non-partisan political campaigns and initiatives at the local and regional level. Most recently, he advised the Stanislaus County Council of Governments in 2015 and 2016 on the formation of the Local Roads First Transportation Expenditure Plan that harmonized the diverse interests of 10 local governments, business leaders, labor unions, environmental advocates and senior citizen groups. He also chaired the 2016 passage of Measure L in Stanislaus County, which formed the largest political coalition in the history of the county and succeeding in passing the measure with over 70 percent in favor. This was the largest win for a transportation sales tax measure in the 2016 election cycle, as well as the largest percentage win of any first-time county measure since 1989.

Van Konynenburg currently is the managing partner of Britton Konynenburg Partners, a Global G.A.P.-certified sustainable producer of peaches, apples, cherries, almonds, and apricots. He holds a bachelor’s degree in managerial economics from the University of California, Davis.

Community Hospice announces new board member

Fatima Seward

Community Hospice, the oldest and largest nonprofit hospice provider serving the Central Valley since 1979, is pleased to announce a new board member.

Joining the Community Hospice Board of Directors is Ms. Fatima Seward. “I am pleased to welcome Fatima to our Community Hospice Board and family,” said C. DeSha McLeod, Community Hospice President/CEO. “Fatima brings to Community Hospice years of community relations and leadership experience. We look forward to working together to proactively provide compassionate and quality care, education and support to our community.”

Fatima Seward is the Senior Relationship Manager for BAC Community Bank. She has more than 25 years of experience in the banking industry with extensive background in all aspects of service and operations.

The Community Hospice Board of Directors is comprised of community volunteers who provide strategic oversight and governance to the organization’s mission to provide compassionate care, education and support to terminally ill patients and their families, regardless of ability to pay.

TSMC C.A.R.E.S. Foundation partners with Camp Taylor

The Save Mart Companies C.A.R.E.S. Foundation announced a $50,000 grant to local Central Valley non-profit Camp Taylor. The donation will go towards bringing back Camp Taylor’s Kitchen Program this new year. The Kitchen Program is designed to help educate children about heart healthy snacks with nutritional value and how to prepare them.

“A healthy lifestyle begins with heart healthy snacks,” expressed Stacia Levenfeld, C.A.R.E.S. Foundation board member. “It is important that children learn that healthy snacks can also be delicious. We are beyond excited to once again partner with Camp Taylor and help bring back their Kitchen Program!”

Camp Taylor is the first ever medically supervised residential camp facility designed and dedicated for children fighting heart diseases and will rename the program to “Camp Taylor’s Save Mart Kitchen Program”.

Since 2002, Camp Taylor has been dedicated to creating positive, self-affirming experiences that bring joy to children living with heart defects while deepening their understanding of the disease, inspiring and empowering them to lead fulfilling lives. Camp Taylor expands the resources available to this traditionally underserved community and has become the leading provider of uplifting programs benefiting pediatric cardiac patients and their families.

“We are grateful to the C.A.R.E.S. Foundation for using their power to help create an environment where kids fighting a life-threatening disease are happy,” said Kimberlie Gamino, Camp Taylor’s Founder and Executive Director. “The Camp Taylor’s Save Mart Kitchen Program aims to educate children about heart healthy snacks with nutritional value and will teach the children how to prepare snacks and meals that will help their heart. A fun and hands-on learning approach will educate the children to develop healthier eating that we hope becomes a habit for them. The world needs more companies like Save Mart because they really CARE about our community and children.”

The Save Mart Companies’ C.A.R.E.S. Foundation donated over $450,000 in 2019 to over five dozen local organizations throughout California and Northern Nevada. C.A.R.E.S. stands for Community, Arts, Recreation, Education and Sports and focuses on improving lives under these categories. For more information, please visit, under the Community tab.

Katie Otto joins California Farmland Trust team

The California Farmland Trust announced Katie Otto as their new Development and Operations Director. She joins the CFT team after 12 years with the California FFA Foundation and brings her deep roots and experience with agriculture, fundraising and finance management to the organization. 

A native of Galt, Otto spent her early years growing up on her family’s vineyard and thus began her love of the farming way of life and the values it instilled in her. Her agricultural career started after graduating with an Ag Business Degree from Fresno State University. Otto gained momentum in the ag industry after working with organizations like The Great Valley Center and the California Cattlemen’s Association. 

When asked about her career highlight, Otto referenced the success of the Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign because of the immediate impact it had on FFA Students. 

“The FFA jacket is symbolic for the organization and I wanted each chapter to be represented at our 2017 Gala, our signature event. However, these jackets are a financial burden for many students,” said Otto. “To ensure each student had a jacket, we raised the funds necessary to provide jackets for all students from each chapter at the event.”

This, along with having Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” serve as the Foundation’s gala keynote speaker made an impressive impact on their Giving Tuesday campaign. Coupling these achievements with developing a relationship with Blue Diamond Growers to expand the campaign in recent years, has aided in ensuring that every FFA member could have a blue corduroy jacket of their own. 

“Katie has a passion for agriculture and the meaningful work of non-profits in the industry,” said Charlotte Mitchell, executive director. “She has a keen understanding of the challenges that face agriculture including the protection of farmland.  Katie will be an important part of the California Farmland Trust team to continue our mission of protecting these important working landscapes.” 

Otto envisions a future for CFT that brings together a wide array of the public, landowners, and partners who make farmland conservation a priority.

“I did not set out to be a fundraiser, but I have realized the general obligation I feel to either give back to or volunteer for the efforts that make this world better and it’s an opportunity I can offer others,” Otto said. This effort is about sharing and storytelling and building relationships – these come easy to me because I am passionate about this work and it’s part of who I am.” 

“We are excited and honored to have Katie onboard to direct our fund development efforts and assist in guiding the organization,” said Mitchell.