San Joaquin Board of Supervisors announces Port of Stockton Commissioner Appointments

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors has voted to appoint Mr. William R. Trezza to his first four-year term and Dr. Elizabeth Blanchard to an additional two-year term on the Stockton Port District Commission.

William Trezza

Mr. Trezza is a native of Orange, New Jersey and graduated from Villanova University in 1969 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration and Accounting. He worked for the Comptroller of the Currency (a federal bank regulatory agency) from 1969 – 1982. He served as a bank examiner, and held several administrative positions in New York City, Washington D.C., and San Francisco. 

He joined BAC Community Bank in 1982 as Chief Financial Officer and became CEO in 1984. He held that position until his retirement on January 1, 2019; he continues to serve as Director of the Bank.

During his tenure at BAC Community Bank Mr. Trezza worked on numerous boards and served as chairman of several, Including Hospice of San Joaquin, Dameron Hospital Foundation and El Concilio. Bill still serves as chairman of the Dameron Hospital Association and the San Joaquin County Aviation Advisory Committee. He was a founding director of the Mary Graham Childrens’ Foundation and serves on its Endowment Committee. He serves on several other boards in the community such as the Bishop’s Finance Council, St. Mary’s High School Foundation, Job Redi, Ready to Work and the Pacific Italian Alliance.

He has received local awards such as the Dameron Heart of Gold and Goodwill Industries’ Helping Hands. He’s also been elected to St. Mary’s High School Hall of Fame.

Bill resides in Stockton with his partner Debbie Hagen and they have five children aged 14 – 31 and two grandchildren.

Elizabeth Blanchard

Dr. Blanchard, who has been on the commission since 2008, holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of the Pacific, and is professor emeritus of San Joaquin Delta College Psychology Department and the University of the Pacific School of Education.  She previously served eight years on the Stockton City Planning Commission and two years on the San Joaquin County Planning Commission. Dr. Blanchard is the Past President of the Association of Pacific Ports.

The Port District Commission consists of seven members – four appointed by the City of Stockton and three by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.  The Commissioners are R. Jay Allen, Anthony Barkett, Gary Christopherson, Vice Chairman Michael Patrick Duffy and Chairman Stephen Griffen.

The Port of Stockton is an inland facility situated on a deep-water channel located in the extended San Francisco Bay Area. Operating since 1933, the Port of Stockton is the 4th largest port in California and handles dry bulk, breakbulk, liquid bulk, warehousing and project cargoes. Services include stevedoring, warehousing, inventory management and transloading.

Merced College’s Ruano chosen as Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honoree for 2020 Latina Women’s Luncheon

Merced College Area 4 Dean Sylvia Ruano has been chosen as one of several speakers who will be honored for their contributions to the community at the 2020 Latina Women’s. The acknowledgment and event are sponsored by the Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“When I heard about it, I was really surprised and honored,” Ruano said. “I’m humbled.”

Ruano grew up in the Pomona area and later moved to Redding where she attended Shasta College and earned an associate degree, before receiving a BA from Simpson University and an MS from the University of LaVerne. She was the first person in her family to attend and graduate from college.

“I’m fairly new to this area,” Ruano said. “But my grandparents were field workers in this area. To be honored in the same place where my grandparents lived and worked, that was humbling. I would have loved for them to see this.”

At Merced College, Ruano oversees Area 4 which encompasses Allied Health, Child Development, Public Safety and Kinesiology. Before moving over to Area 4 in 2019, Ruano had been acting dean of student services. Her first position at the College was running the EOPS, CARE and NextUP programs.

Under Ruano’s guidance, Allied Health is expanding their already robust high school Certified Nursing Assistant program into the Los Banos Unified School District and adding more courses for the rapidly expanding prison education program. In Child Development, Ruano and her team are working to make a child development degree available online.

Ruano, in addition to her work with the College, serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the Central Valley Opportunity Center. 

“I’m very thankful to [President] Chris [Vitelli] and [Vice President of Student Services] Mike McCandless for hiring me,” Ruano said. “Now I can look at the faculty and the students and myself as a team. It’s a great feeling. Whatever we are doing, we always think, ‘Students first.’”

Oak Valley Community Bank receives ‘Outstanding’ Community Reinvestment Rating

Oak Valley Community Bank announced that it received an “Outstanding” rating, the highest possible, for its community development and lending efforts in their recent Community Reinvestment Act Performance Evaluation from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The bank earned a “Satisfactory” rating on the evaluation’s Lending test and an “Outstanding” on the Community Development test. The performance demonstrated responsiveness to the community through the bank’s lending, investment, and service efforts.

The achievement makes Oak Valley Community Bank one of only 11 banks, regulated by the Federal Reserve Bank and headquartered in California, to receive an Overall Rating of Outstanding since 2010.

Performance Highlights:

  • OVCB originated over 60 community development loans totaling $114.2 million to support Community Reinvestment purposes.
  • OVCB invested $7.8 million in Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) that helped low‐ and moderate‐income borrowers obtain mortgage loans.
  • OVCB remains an active Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 lender in their assessment areas and was recognized in 2019 by their local CDC as their “Most Active SBA 504 Lending Partner.”
  • The bank contributed over 1,600 community development service hours to qualified non‐profits and organizations targeting low‐ and moderate‐income families and children.
  • OVCB invested $21.3 million inside its assessment areas, representing 20 percent of its Tier 1 Capital.

“Building the strength of the communities we serve is one of our fundamental core values at Oak Valley,” commented Chris Courtney, President and CEO. The bank and our employees are dedicated to supporting the non-profit community within in our service areas. Earning an Outstanding CRA rating in this latest evaluation is an immense credit to our employees’ hard work and commitment to the community,” Courtney concluded.

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.

Ceres Save Mart Store Manager named company’s 2019 Store Manager of the Year

Save Mart Store Manager Donna Lambert was honored with the 2019 Nicholas J. Tocco Outstanding Store Manager of the Year Award last weekend at The Save Mart Companies’ Annual Management Appreciation Gala. Lambert manages the Ceres Save Mart store located on Whitmore Ave. The Outstanding Manager of the Year award was created in honor of the late Nicholas J. Tocco, co-founder of The Save Mart Companies and celebrates customer service, community involvement and store performance.

“I am beyond thrilled and honored to be chosen as the 2019 Outstanding Store Manager of the Year,” said Lambert. “A store manager is only as strong as their employees. I owe this award to my amazing team members, who I also consider to be my family.” 

Lambert started her career with the company in 1980 as a part-time courtesy clerk at Lucky while attending college in the Bay Area. In the following 40 years, Lambert climbed the ranks within the company. Lambert takes pride in her store team and how they are able to work together in a professional, yet caring way to accomplish their goals. Lambert is always ready with a smile and kind words, celebrating the best in people and takes great pride in making her store a great place to work.

In addition to leading the store team, Lambert is deeply involved with the Ceres community. Lambert has served on the Board of Directors for the Ceres Chamber of Commerce where she has helped coordinate the Installation/Awards Dinner, participated in the Ceres Street Faire, assisted in organizing the annual Agribusiness Luncheon and Wine Stroll, and has helped clean up the on/off ramps in Ceres along Hwy 99.

“I enjoy the hard work but most of all the people I have met. It is very rewarding knowing that I am helping Ceres build a thriving community,” stated Lambert.

Stephen Woods from the Bakersfield Save Mart store and Tony Angoletta from the Oakdale Save Mart store were named first and second runners-up respectively.

Community Hospice Appoints New Chief Financial Officer

Lenny Verser

Community Hospice, the oldest and largest nonprofit hospice agency serving the Central Valley, announced the appointment of Lenny R. Verser, Jr., J.D, CPA, as the organization’s new Chief Financial Officer. Verser joined Community Hospice on February 10 in his new role.

Verser joins Community Hospice with more than 20 years’ professional experience in Finance and Accounting. Verser brings a wealth of specialist knowledge in corporate and nonprofit to the CFO role. He most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer for Therapeutic Solutions, in Chico. He has also held other senior positions in the past and has been instrumental in enhancing productivity levels, reducing costs, introducing process improvements, technology solutions and performance management.

“We are pleased that Verser has chosen to join our Community Hospice family,” said C. DeSha McLeod, President/CEO of Community Hospice. “We are confident that he will lead and execute strategies that continue to improve our financial performance, maintain our mission and help position Community Hospice for a bright future. We are proud to welcome him into this position and feel he is the right choice for our organization.”

Verser stated, “I look forward to joining the Community Hospice Leadership team and leading their financial operations to contribute to the success of the organization and the fulfillment of their mission.”

Verser attended Oklahoma State University where he received his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with an Accounting emphasis. He received his Juris Doctorate from Lincoln Law School of Sacramento. He is licensed a Certified Public Accountant and Member of the California State Bar.

Health Plan of San Joaquin appoints new Chief People Officer

Evert Hendrix

Health Plan of San Joaquin has announced that Evert Hendrix has joined the organization as chief people officer. CPO Hendrix has extensive senior human resources experience, as well as expertise in cross-functional process improvement. He deploys this expertise to integrate organizational change with business strategies, together with improvements and supports for employees.

HPSJ CEO Amy Shin said: “HPSJ has invested in our employee growth, to provide great local job opportunities, and being an employer of choice. Evert Hendrix has built a successful human resources career by understanding that the hiring of an employee is only the beginning. With leadership experiences focused in California health care organizations, he has deep, practical experience in melding professionals from across the spectrum of health and business-related fields into strong teams that, working together, achieve measurable results for our community’s well-being. I am very confident that Evert will further HPSJ’s mission-driven culture of serving our community’s healthcare needs.”

Several of Hendrix’s earliest senior HR positions were in major corporations. At United Parcel Service he was regional human resources manager, providing support to a multi-state service area and handling all staffing aspects for six business units. At Home Depot he was regional human resource director, supporting district stores in three western states with 4,500 employee associates in 42 stores with annual sales of $1.3 billion.

However, it was when he joined Rural Metro Corporation, with a healthcare workforce of emergency medical technicians, paramedics, fire fighters, nurses, and medical billing professionals, that he found the sector where he identified his personal, professional passion. Since 2006, he has devoted himself to the healthcare sector and likewise dedicated employees, first at Sutter Health/North Bay, as Executive Director of Human Resources; as Human Resources Leader, then Regional HR Director for Kaiser Permanente; and then as HR Vice President for California Dental Association. Prior to joining Health Plan of San Joaquin, he served as Chief Human Resource Officer and Vice President at Stanford Healthcare ValleyCare.

Hendrix holds a B.A. in business administration from Kaplan University, now part of the Purdue University System, and an M.B.A. from Evangel University (Springfield, Missouri). He and his wife, a local pediatric rheumatologist, live in Elk Grove with their three young children.

Modesto Chamber honors businesses, community leaders

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce held their 106th annual gala membership awards in February with honors bestowed on local businesses and community leaders.

The Vera Girolami Ambassador of the Year award was given to Madhu Singh and the Ted Shileds Welcome Team Member Winner was Ramon Mendez.

The Chamber named VIPS of Modesto as the Non-Profit of the Year and Intrinsic Elements as the Small Business of the Year.

Tony Jordan was named the Leadership Modesto Graduate oh the Year and Debra Hendricks was named the Excellence in Education.

The Distinguished Service Award Winner was Cecil Russell and the Chamber Member of the Year was Modesto on Ice. Citizen of the Year was named Chief Galen Carroll.