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Posts tagged ‘Leadership Santa Rosa’

A Thankful Meal at the SAY Tamayo House

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve noticed I talk about Leadership Santa Rosa a lot. I love being involved (as you can probably tell) and even though this entry mentions LSR, it’s about much more. See the Flickr Photo Album.

Jill, Cat, J, Julie & Sean - coordinators

J Mullineaux, Julie Montgomery, Jill Sanford and myself got together to brainstorm ways to stay connected with the rest of our classmates. J had a great idea to have a dinner party for Social Advocates for Youth’s (SAY). I can’t express clearly enough how amazing they are! SAY is a youth advocacy organization that provides: shelter for homeless teens, a foster transition home, meals for the hungry, counseling, crisis intervention, youth employment, helping encourage graduation, mentoring, low cost tattoo removal for ex-gang members, and a sense of support and belonging.

We chose to make a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at the Mary and Jose Tamayo House. Tamayo House is transitional housing for teens that have aged out of the foster care system yet still need guidance in the form of shelter, safety, job training, life training, and provides them with a sense of family. With 50 kids aging out of foster care every year, the 25 beds at Tamayo house are desperately needed. Otherwise these kids hit the street. In the recession, they’ve seen that the kids are staying longer (they are eligible 18-24).

I can’t imagine not having a family. I don’t know what it’s like to have no one to turn to when you want to learn how to cook, open a checking account, get a job, find a place to live, apply for college, or need a place to stay. These kids pretty much have nothing the minute they turn 18 and are out of foster care. I do know what it’s like to need crisis intervention and have a safe place to go. I was 16 when my family and I called SAY for help. The Dr. James E. Coffee Emergency Teen Shelter had a different name and location when I stayed there but the focus is the same.

We knew that these kids may not get a Thanksgiving meal so we brought it to them. 14 out of our 28 classmates divided up the menu and got to cooking all the traditional fixings. The tables were set for a harvest celebration and the sparkling cider flowed. Several turkeys, mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, green salad, green beans, bread, pumpkin pie, apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake (I have an awesome recipe, just ask me in the comments). These kids lined up with their plates and demolished the meal, some came back again and again. There were plenty of leftovers.

The Thank You

We didn’t know each other and they didn’t have to come out of their rooms to eat with us but it felt like a family dinner nonetheless. It was such a happy night and we laughed, joked, and ate with each other as if we’d done it every year. Not so secretly, I’d like to do it again and again.

In the theme of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for:

  • SAY and the lifesaving work they perform
  • Mary & Jose Tamayo for helping SAY to keep kids warm, safe, and off the streets
  • my own family that keeps me warm
  • my awesome LSR classmates, for we are all of the same heart, striving to help others and make a difference
  • Jill, J, Julie, Vicky, Steve (for putting in so much time) and all the rest that made such amazing food
  • the dishwashers!
  • the kids that sat with us, trusted us, and let us in
  • Cat Cvengros and Matt Martin, just two of the amazing angels at SAY
  • and that pumpkin cheesecake recipe!

May your Thanksgiving be full of warmth, love, and lots of wonderful food to eat.


Hospitality and Tourism Day: A Demonstration of Sonoma County’s Awesomeness

Tom Schmidt, Josh Silvers, Duskie Estes, John Franchetti, Sheana Davis

Sonoma County is truly an amazing place. I think it’s a “body double for heaven”. Not only do we have exceptional cuisine, wonderful vistas, an abundance of art and entertainment but the people are pretty awesome too! Leadership Santa Rosa is the longest running Chamber of Commerce leadership program in the U.S. at 28 years. I’m president of the alumni association so you can bet I believe in the program and the knowledge it provides the participants.

We added a new day this year, Hospitality & Tourism Day. I wanted to thank Jeremy Little of Carle Mackie Power & Ross LLP as well as Adam Peacocke of City Life Fellowship for being co-chairs on what is sure to be a day that goes down in history as a top notch LSR day! It wouldn’t have happened without you (and the committee).

See Flickr photo album of the day.

The mission of this day was to capture “A day in the life of a Sonoma County tourist” (see the Hospitality and Tourism Day Agenda). Normally LSR days are about Santa Rosa (hence the name) but because this location is so rich with treasures, we extended it out geographically.

The day started at Relish Culinary Adventures with breakfast sponsored by Relish, Costeaux Bakery, and Carle Mackie Power & Ross LLP. I got there as the first panel was just getting started. We were honored to have Karl Bruno of the Kenwood Inn & Spa, Brad Calkins of Santa Rosa Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and Tim Zahner of Sonoma County Tourism Bureau to talk about the micro to macro view of tourism in Sonoma County. The Kenwood Inn is known far and wide as one of the most amazing spa locations on the planet. No exaggeration. If you have the chance, go! It happens to be directly across Highway 12 in the Valley of the Moon from my favorite place in the world, no joke, see my video of my favorite view. Brad and his team work very hard to help tourists and residents get the most out of Santa Rosa and they do a fine job. Tim Zahner has to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and he will charm your face off.

Then we heard from some business owners/managers; Douglas Keane of Cyrus, Shimo, and Healdsburg Bar & Grill; Will Seppi of Costeaux Bakery; and Percy Brandon of Vintner’s Inn and John Ash & Co. We learned a lot about the challenges and joys of owning a business here. Doug was honest and shared with us lessons learned with the new Shimo, adjustments he had to make, as well as how passionate he is about his businesses and how they are run. Will talked about updating a business with a long life to meet the needs and tastes of the customers. Percy is a tremendous long-time supporter of LSR and it was enlightening to hear how you keep a location with such a famous name fresh to the locals. (Happy Hour at the Front Room at John Ash is wicked awesome, go!)

The next panel is where things got really fun. We were thoroughly pleased to have: Sheana Davis, Chef/Cheese Maker/Owner of Epicurean Connection Shop; Duskie Estes, Chef/Owner of Bovolo, Zazu, and Black Pig Meat Co. also of Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef; John Franchetti, Chef/Owner of Rosso’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar;  Tom Schmidt, Executive Chef at John Ash & Co.; and Josh Silvers, Chef/Owner of Petite Syrah and Jackson’s Bar and Oven. Whew! We learned a lot about the Farm to Table movement, keeping your sources for ingredients local, knowing the farmer and the land where the food comes from and what makes Sonoma County so special when it comes to cuisine. The energy in the air was electric and when the chefs went into the kitchen to put the final touches on the food they brought with them, the attendees were practically clapping with excitement. It’s not every day that you get a line up like this to bring you food from their own kitchens! (Video of the chefs in the kitchen) After we served ourselves, everyone sat down at a table with a chef so we could eat and talk. The food was absolutely amazing and you shoulda been there!

Anyone that’s ever sat through an all day seminar knows how important it is to get up and stretch after lunch so we sent them on a walking tour and treasure hunt in Healdsburg’s downtown. Then it was to Vintner’s Inn.

I moderated the Vine to Market: Wine and the Business Side panel featuring: Beth Costa, Wine Road; Gerry Forth of Forth Vineyards and board member of Sonoma County Vintners; and Hardy Wallace of The NPA and the winner of Murphy Goode’s “A Really Goode Job” (Ranked #5 of the World’s Best Jobs by Oddee). What I thought was going to be about wine, business, and tourism ended up being more about how social media has changed the way they market their product and reach their customers. Since I am a social media consultant, I was excited to hear how heavily it effected them (though I kept trying to steer them to other subjects) and I was stoked to finally meet Hardy after he’d become an ambassador for wine and social media marketing. We’d “run into” each other a lot digitally but we finally got the chance to shake hands.

And there’s more!!! The next panel was Sonoma County Happenings: Greg Fisher of Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo, Bike Monkey, and Cycle City; Ty Jones of Regatta Arts/Handcar Regatta; Steve Page of Infineon Raceway; and Jennifer Sloan of ARTrails. They talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of having a great idea or service, the challenges of delivering and the unexpected occurrences they encounter. Again and again, I was blown away by the sheer volume of quality events we enjoy here in Sonoma County on a daily basis.

We got some tastings of lovely vintages by the Vintner’s Inn’s sommelier and relaxed and enjoyed ourselves in the Front Room for happy hour.

This day was full of unbelievable people, information, ideas, conversation, food, wine and camaraderie. I personally want to thank everyone that spent time with us, shared with us, and left a little piece of themselves with those listening. I wouldn’t trade the experience of this day for anything. Leadership Santa Rosa, here’s to another 28 years!

Agriculture Day for Leadership Santa Rosa Class 27

I’m involved in this great program called Leadership Santa Rosa run by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. All chambers have leadership programs but we are going into our 28th year, which I understand is the longest running of it’s kind in the U.S. I was in Class 26 and am the incoming President for the Alumni Association. There are many theme days: government, business, green issues, health & human services, media & marketing, justice, education, hospitality & tourism (watch for a blog on that one), and the most popular is agriculture. I was on the committee to produce Class 27’s Agriculture Day on 5/19/11. See my blog from last year’s Ag Day.

We visited the Rancho Laguna Dairy and heard from Art Lafranchi about the dairy business. What is amazing about this day is that it starts so early in the morning yet we are halfway through their workday by the time we arrive at the dairy. Last year when I went through the program compared to today were very different experiences. Since earlier this year, I have been flitting between being a vegan and a vegetarian. Those cows looked a lot different, let me tell you.

Flickr Photo Album

Tierra Vegetables is this wonderful CSA farm in Santa Rosa. Community supported agriculture, or CSA, is basically a membership to a farm. You pay a monthly cost to get a set amount of veggies either delivered for you or available for pickup. Evie & Wayne James gave us a lovely tour and the thing I noticed the most, next to the beautiful vegetation, was the fact that Wayne walked his land barefoot. I was blown away at the thought that he knew how his land felt through his entire body. Sounds silly but it’s a grounding concept. If you know of anyone that is stealing their produce, they’d greatly like it to stop.

There is a secret in Sonoma County. The Gourmet Mushroom Farm is this enclave of amazing foodstuffs in the form of fungi. The GMF doesn’t open their doors for anyone really. That’s the beauty of LSR. We get to go places no one else could get close to. Bob Engel gives us a tour every year and the idea that mushrooms can grow on wood always blows people away.

Most of the people traveling on that day were by bus, I drove my car because I had to leave early. This day is even more special because of the bonding that occurs on the bus.

On to Shone Farm, the botanical educational laboratory for the JC agriculture, viticulture, and culinary courses. Leonard Diggs is a farmer through and through. The beauty here is striking. The students that get to learn about animals, farming, vineyard work, winemaking, the culinary arts, as well as having a location for large events within the horse arena in the Dutton Pavilion. Last year we were there during tomato season and got to taste some 🙂

We had a great panel of speakers to speak on Emerging Trends & Challenges of Agriculture. They were: Lex McCorvey, Sonoma County Farm Bureau; Dave Whitmer, Napa County Agriculture Commission & Interim Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner; Joe Pozzi, Pozzi Ranch Lamb; and Clark Wolf, Clark Wolf Company.

The day ended at DeLoach Vineyards with a panel on the Sonoma County Wine Industry with Brian Maloney of DeLoach Vineyards; Rhonda Smith of UC Cooperative Extension; and Nick Frey of Sonoma Winegrape Commission. There was a tasting but I’m sad to have missed that part of the day. The gardens, bees, vineyards, guesthouse, and pool were phenomenal.

Thanks to all the great hosts, speakers, and locations that are made available to this amazing program. We couldn’t do it without all of you!

Speed Demon

Tuesday 3/16/10 4pm
Driven Raceway, Rohnert Park
Leadership Santa Rosa Pretour

I don’t know about you but I’m quite competitive. Usually I only want to best myself but in this case, I wanted to whoop on others. Notably, I did not want to be last. Unfortunately, this is where I ended up. 😦

I went on a tour of Driven Raceway with my Leadership Santa Rosa Class as part of our Business & Economy Day. Our goal was to learn more about local businesses and how they conducted themselves. I’ll say out of all the pretours we’ve done, this was the one with the most adrenaline. I had been very excited to visit this facility ever since it opened last summer.

Here’s the jist:
indoor kart racing with high speed electric karts (up to 45mph)
corporate team building
birthday parties
fundraising events
dark light mini golf
mini bowling
arcade center
snack bar

Dark Light Racer

The one thing that kept me from going before was the price of racing (14 laps-$20 for members, $25 non-members). But when I visited, I learned that they also had all the other play stuff. I think I was more excited about the golf, bowling, and arcade than I was about the racing at the end of the tour. It’s totally affordable, I can bring my child that’s too small to race (must be 48″ tall+), and I can add it to my repertoire of fun family events that are owned by local businesses. Ride on!

Speed Demons

Buy Local Eat Local

I am part of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce Leadership Santa Rosa program and there is so much information I’ve learned already that I’m simply going to have to share.

Agriculture Day was last week and we visited La Tortilla Factory (sadly we won’t get a tour of that location until later), La Franchi Dairy, Gourmet Mushroom Farm, Gabriel Farm, Shone Farm (JC farm), and Kendall Jackson Winery. Airport Express shuttled us from location to location and we learned a lot but only got to scratch the surface.

Lex McCorvey is the Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and he opened up our day for us. Seriously, I could have listened to him all day. I am a farm bureau member simply for the savings it gets me on my health insurance. I honestly don’t think after my insurance went from one carrier to another that I even need the membership anymore but after listening to what a wonderfully necessary organization this is, I will keep it simply to support them. With a Masters in Ag from Cal Poly and a vocational agriculture JC teacher, he spoke with such a mastery of the subject matter, I would’ve listened as long as he kept talking.

Art LaFranchi, owner of Rancho Laguna Dairy Corporation, was kind enough to show us his dairy farm, LaFranchi Dairy, a Clover Stornetta dairy. I came in a little urbanized and left with a high level of appreciation for the skill and yes, humaneness, that these dairy workers have for the animals that give them so much.

Happy Baby Cow
Happy Baby Cow

The Gourmet Mushroom Inc. farm was fascinating. As Bob Engel said, “We grow food from sawdust!” They’ve been doing it on the DL since 1977 and they have it DOWN. From alba clamshells ™ to trumpet royale ™, forest nameko ™ to maiteake frondosa ™, I’d never put much thought into gourmet mushrooms but now I want to taste them all. I wish there was a way to get them prepared by a chef and taste them all in their appropriate culinary environments.

Mushroom Caps
Mushroom Caps

Gabriel Farm is a classic hometown farm. Local, friendly, and a beautiful daytrip. They grown 9 varieties of Asian pears, have jam, juice, and other yummies from their bounty. I look forward to going back to their farm to pick my own apples and blackberries in the future.

I got a Buy Fresh Buy Local book printed by CAFF-Community Alliance with Family Farms-that really goes into detail about farmers’ markets, food seasons, CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture, and restaurants that support local agriculture. Please visit and for more information.

The Gabriel Farm "Art Man"
The Gabriel Farm “Art Man”

We had lunch at the beautiful Shone Farm where we got a tour of the facility in addition to learning about challenges in agriculture, namely water and exotic pests. I was thoroughly impressed with the sheer variety of agricultural lessons contained at that farm via the Santa Rosa JC. Vineyard growth, winemaking, equine, livestock, crops, greenhouses, culinary, it goes on an on.

Shone Farm Garden
Shone Farm Garden

Last but not least, we visited Kendall Jackson and learned from a variety of people in the wine business the challenges and issues they face. We tasted several vintages and it ended the day nicely.

As you can see, there was so much I learned, I simply had to share!

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