Leadership Team – Impact 100 Redwood Circle

Dr. Jan Gilman is a clinical psychologist specializing in children and families in Santa Rosa over the past 30 years. In addition to private practice, she has taught at graduate schools throughout the Bay Area, worked in the family court system, and authored books for both adults and children. Retired in 2014, she currently is a volunteer for CASA and Bouverie Preserve as well as serving on several Boards of Directors.

She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and the Wright Institute where she received her Ph.D. Jan enjoys hiking, golfing, reading, time with her family and as friends will report, she has an insatiable desire for traveling.

After retiring as a Financial Controller from HP/Agilent/Keysight, Suzy put her business and finance expertise “back to work” through volunteerism, with a focus on health and human services. She currently serves on the boards of the Santa Rosa Community Health Centers and the Redwood Empire Food Bank. With her husband, Mike, she also worked with Chop’s Teen Club to develop an engaging job/career exploration website for teens, www.JobsMadeReal.com (check it out!).

Suzy has a BA in Renaissance and Reformation studies from Scripps College and earned her CPA through studies at Sacramento State University. She loves to cook, and also pursues various forms of exercise, from yoga to weight training, to help offset. Reading good fiction also places high on her list.

Sharon spent most of her career as a marketing executive for Columbia House Music in New York City. Upon retirement, she threw herself into volunteering for various non-profits including Canine Companions for Independence. She continued her involvement with Canine Companions after moving to Sonoma County in 2003.

Now she facilitates workshops on nonviolence in California prisons, is a speaker for the Japanese American Citizens League, which makes presentations to schools as a cautionary tale of how racial profiling can threaten our democracy. She also volunteers as a kitchen mentor for the Ceres Community Project, which provides healthful meals to seriously ill people. In 2018, Sharon served as secretary of Impact 100 RC.

Carol Lynn Woods is a founding member of the Impact 100 Redwood Circle and a member of the Sonoma County Forum.

She was born in NY and moved to CA after getting married. She has lived in Santa Rosa for 19 years. Carol has worked in cancer research her entire professional career, specializing in clinical trial management.

She is currently a Trustee on the Board of Education at the Rincon Valley Union School District serving her second term of office. Carol has a BS from Fordham University in NY and an MBA from St. John’s University.

Carol is a docent at the Bouverie Preserve and currently serving on the Board of Directors for Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR). She also co-chairs a program for foster youth with the Sonoma County Medical Alliance Foundation.

Carol has three children, enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and traveling with her family.

Carol Lynn Wood, VP Governance

After Laurie received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan, she immediately began pursuing her life’s work of helping older adults, specifically those with memory loss. Her work as a dementia specialist in both Michigan and California spans 30 + years both in the non-profit and profit sectors including Director of Alzheimer’s Association Chapters, an adjunct professor in Eastern Michigan’s social work department, and as a consultant with many assisted living companies on program and staff development. She has co-authored 4 guidebooks for family members caring for a relative with dementia.

“Mostly retired”, Laurie continues to be a consultant to families, and to health care professionals through her private practice Dementia Care Consulting, based in Santa Rosa.

When not working, Laurie enjoys traveling, being with family and friends, cooking, and gardening.

Laurie White, Secretary

Jenny Downing has been a member of the Redwood Circle Impact 100 group and served on the Finance Committee since its inception. Jenny’s reason for joining was three-fold . . . to learn more about her community’s needs, to enable her to direct her dollars and efforts to make a difference locally, and to meet like-minded and active women.

Jenny’s late husband and she have had a presence in Sonoma County since 1985, first in Bodega Bay, and then moved permanently to Santa Rosa in 1998. They both worked for Chevron Corporation in the Bay area. Jenny began her career at the Exxon Richmond Refinery Accounting Department and ultimately worked for Exxon for 30 years in Finance/Budgeting positions. She graduated from Oregon State University with a BA and minor in Business and earned an MBA from Golden Gate University while working at Chevron.

After retiring she and her husband both became Ranch Guides at the Audubon Canyon Ranch in Bolinas. She also worked as an income tax preparer, one year for H&R Block, and the next year as a volunteer at AARP. Jenny’s favorite volunteer activity was an eight-year stint at the Sonoma County Vintners Association. She currently volunteers with the Southeast Greenway campaign.

Jenny says “Not all is work!” She enjoys traveling, hiking and walking, reading, and other activities related to food, wine, and music

Jenny Downing, Treasurer

Kristin Nelson is a do-gooder who believes in the power of the community. Whether the community as neighbors, colleagues, or strangers with shared interests and challenges, Kristin trusts that together, the community can influence positive change. To this avail, she is a Senior Philanthropic Advisor at Community Foundation Sonoma County.  Her 20-year nonprofit career also includes organizations such as The James Irvine Foundation, Catholic Charities, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, WestEd, and COTS where she has done everything from fundraising to public relations, direct program management, and administrative support and strategy.

A double graduate of the University of San Francisco, she holds a Master’s of Science in Organization Development and an undergraduate Communications degree. Kristin is active as a volunteer leader within the Bay Area nonprofit community and served as the Vice-Chair of the board of directors at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.

She is a member of Leadership Petaluma’s class of 2014 and a TedTalk speaker.

Carol Newman has lived in Sonoma County since 1950. She was raised on a Sebastopol chicken farm. A graduate of Analy High School, she received her BA from UC Berkeley, her teaching credential from SSU, and her MA in mathematics education from SFSU. She loved the creativity and collaborative nature of working with other educators.

As an employee of the Rincon Valley School system for 37 years having taught grades 4 – 6, she also served as the District Math Consulting Teacher for 12 of those years.  She was a member of several California State Math Assessment review panels, as well as provided staff development math workshops throughout the region and state.

Although Carol retired from full-time work in 2011, she continued to work part-time for the Sonoma County Office of Education’s Teacher Induction Program. She currently volunteers with the Odyssey of the Mind program, serving as Problem Captain for one of the five creative problem-solving challenges. She is married to Barry Sovel, a retired high school teacher, and administrator.

She enjoys her family, friends, walking, reading, and tinkering with technology.

Chris Chang Weeks has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years in fund development and marketing communications. Although she had worked in the for-profit world early in her career, she prefers the passion and sense of purpose found in nonprofit organizations. Chris enjoys helping donors find ways to make contributions that bring meaningful change.

She holds a BS in Psychology from UC Davis and a Masters in Agricultural Economics from Texas A & M University. A recent retiree, she volunteers as a mentor at Roseland University Prep and at a food bank.

Chris enjoys hiking with her lab in Sonoma County, cooking and eating ethnic foods, traveling to different parts of the world. To her, food is the perfect reason to get together with family and friends.

A founding member of the Southeast Greenway Campaign, Thea has been CoChair of the organization for the past 10 years.  She is a 2011 Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy, was a Board member of the Sonoma County Forum, works on the grant committee for Impact-100, and has resided in a cohousing community for the past 13 years.

Before retiring, Thea had a long career in sales with the Wrangler Jeans Company, taught school for five years, and was an employment recruiter in the biotech industry. She has a BS from the State University of New York, Oneonta, a Masters in Education from NYU, and an HR certificate from SRJC.  She enjoys traveling with her adult daughter who teaches in the Bay Area, hiking, music, swimming, and sharing all things food, wine, and the arts with friends.

Thea comments, “It brings me great joy to work with dedicated people to improve the quality of life for Santa Rosa residents.”

Laurie Parish has lived in Santa Rosa for over 40 years and is a founding member of Impact 100 Redwood Circle.

For many years she was the youngest woman real estate broker in California and the only one to receive that designation with an MBA degree. Laurie worked in San Mateo and San Francisco Counties including a stint at a startup aiming to create a computerized real estate exchange system. She says this project was way before its time, but a fun challenge.

After the move to Santa Rosa, Laurie continued to operate a small real estate investment management business while being a stay at home mom for her two daughters. Laurie has always been an active volunteer and after her first retirement, she began volunteering for the Volunteer Center. She then found an “encore” career as a program manager for a federal grant. Following her second retirement, she continued to volunteer for various organizations.

Laurie says, “Being a founding member of Impact 100 Redwood Circle and serving with this outstanding organization has been a gratifying experience.”

Jennifer is a hometown girl who was raised in the Montgomery Village area and attended local schools, including Montgomery High and Santa Rosa JC where she received an AA and an art certificate in ceramics. She has two grown daughters and ten grandchildren. She says that volunteering is in her DNA since her mom was a long time volunteer. She has volunteered for a number of non-profits, most notably the Welfare League where her 22-year membership has had her serving many positions on the board, including president in 2009. Jennifer was also instrumental in conceptualizing the Redwood Empire Food Banks Empty Bowls event and serving as chair for 8 years. Her current position with Impact 100 is as the Event Co-Chair for 2020.

She and her late husband Rick loved to travel, especially to remote, tropical locales. Besides travel Jennifer likes to read, garden, exercise, do yoga, and volunteer.

Maria Nersesian is a happy east coast transplant after living for more than 40 years in PA and NJ, followed by a brief stint in CO. She moved with her husband and children to Santa Rosa in 2005 and currently lives with her husband, Ron, in Windsor.

Her educational background includes a BS in Politics/Economics from Cedar Crest College and a JD from Rutgers Law School

Maria’s professional career has been in Operations roles, followed by some years as an attorney in a civil litigation group. Interests include travel, meditation, reading, writing, and spending time with family.

Throughout the years, she has been an active volunteer in her children’s schools, as well as her church communities and many non-profits, primarily in the health and human services sector. She is a former board member of the YWCA Sonoma County. Maria has been a member of Impact 100 RC since 2015 and “loves being part of this amazing group of women giving collectively to better our communities in meaningful and significant ways.”

Vicki Groninga is a founding member of Impact 100 Redwood Circle and has served on the Grant committee since its inception.

She grew up in New Hampshire and moved to California to complete her BA and MA. She worked at Santa Rosa Junior College as Director of the Reentry Counseling Program and then at Hewlett Packard and Agilent for 29 years in a variety of positions in the Human Resources department. Vicki retired as the Global Director of Compensation.

Vicki is married and has two grown stepdaughters and five wonderful grandchildren. Her hobbies are reading, cooking, and traveling. She also volunteers with Schools of Hope and the Redwood Empire Food Bank.

Susan Milstein bio and photo coming soon.

Cindy Schmidt bio coming soon

Loretta Zweig grew up in New York, where she lived in three of the five boroughs of New York City. She attended College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx and as well as Cornell Medical School in Manhattan.

In 1981 she married Richard, who was a rheumatology fellow at UCSF and moved to California. While in California, she did an internship at Kaiser Hospital San Francisco and a Family Practice residency at Community Hospital in Santa Rosa. Most recently, she worked part-time at Kaiser Santa Rosa and then began volunteering and being involved in the community. She started volunteering at her son’s schools. Loretta became a docent at the Bouverie Audubon Preserve, which she has done for 29 years. She also sings in the Quercus Quire, which performs nature songs in elementary schools. She also volunteers with the St Vincent de Paul Society at Holy Spirit Church. Loretta is a member of the Social Action Committee at Congregation Shomrei Torah.

Loretta has a busy life with her three sons, three grandchildren, and a new cockapoo puppy.  She also enjoys spending time at Sea Ranch, bird watching, and hiking. I also enjoy reading, painting, and watching movies.

“I have been very impressed with the work we do at Impact 100 and have been on the Liaison Committee for three years. It is inspirational to work with these wonderful nonprofits and see their fabulous accomplishments.”

Ann Marie McGee relocated to Sonoma County from the East Bay in Fall 2017. Recently retired, she worked for several technology startups in Silicon Valley including GRiD Systems where she was the Marketing Manager for the market’s first tablet computer, Poqet Computer later acquired by Fujitsu Personal Systems with responsibility for International Marketing and DG Systems/DG Fast Channel, a digital network for distributing advertising content for radio and TV stations.

Her time in corporate life was followed by her own marketing consulting firm, specializing in working with start-up technology companies. Prior to her “tech career” she taught music at Arkansas State University, Hendrix College, and Interlochen Center for the Arts and was a member of the Arkansas Symphony. Ann Marie holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in flute performance from the University of Idaho and the University of Illinois and now enjoys playing her flute and the piano as a “hobby”.

She is deeply committed to volunteering and making the world a better place. During the past 10 years, she has served as a board member for Brighter Beginnings and Northern Light School, both in Oakland and the Contra Costa Crisis Center in Walnut Creek. She has also served on several advisory/advancement committees and task forces for the University of Idaho. In addition to Impact 100 Redwood Circle, she also volunteers for Artstart. Ann Marie is a National Volunteer for Delta Delta Delta fraternity and currently serves on the Ritual Committee and as Honor Initiate Chair in addition to being a member of a collegiate advisory team. Ann Marie enjoys her family, friends, cooking, gardening, watercolor painting, and playing tennis and golf.

Mindi Lewis brings broad experience and solid background with her roots in education, vision care, and opticianry.

She has more than three decades of corporate business experience in national account sales, marketing, training, quality management, and customer service.

Mindi has an AS degree in Optometric Technology and a BS degree in Allied Health Education from Ferris State University. Later in her career, she completed an MA degree in Psychology, Organization Development, from Sonoma State University.

She is semi-retired; however, she still gives educational seminars and other various projects she finds engaging in the vision care field. Most recently, she was an Instructor at the University of California, Berkeley in the School of Optometry. Prior to that, she was the Managing Editor of 2020 Opticians Online Handbook. She held a variety of positions at SOLA Optical, Carl Zeiss Vision and Essilor.

Mindi was on the Board of Directors at Mentor Me in Petaluma and has enjoyed being a Mentor to a Hispanic boy for the past seven years.

Mindi lives in Petaluma, California, with her husband Craig and dog Max. She enjoys Pilates, learning new things, traveling, entertaining, and cooking with her husband. She belongs to three wine tasting and food pairing groups and has studied winemaking and judging. She is always looking for the next creative project.

Mindi Lewis, Marketing Co-Chair

Charlene Staples grew up as an Air Force ‘brat’ and has lived in Okinawa, England, and too many US states to mention. Santa Rosa has been her hometown since 1979.

Charlene attended Florida State University, the University of Maine, and the University of Vermont. She taught second grade, was the DATE (Drug Alcohol and Tobacco Education) coordinator for Santa Rosa City Schools, and worked in her husband’s medical office.

She has devoted countless volunteer hours in service to our community. Charlene is co-founder of the Parent Network, Project Graduation, and First Night Santa Rosa. She has also served as President of the Sonoma County Medical Association Alliance and chaired its esteemed Garden Tour twice.

Embracing Impact 100 RC and its mission has been a natural extension of her interest in working with others on meaningful projects. She is a member of two book clubs, one investment club and she likes short hikes and movies.

Bev Curry grew up in Gilroy, California, Garlic Capitol of the World. She attended UC Davis and UCSF Medical Center graduating with a BS in Nursing.

Bev lived outside of Chicago, where her husband served as a lieutenant in the US Army at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, while she worked as a hospital nurse. After moving back to the Bay Area, her nursing career continued in clinics, home health, and hospice nursing.

She lived for over 30 years in Los Altos, Santa Rosa, and Saratoga areas while raising her son and daughter and working at various nursing jobs. Bev enjoyed participating in many family, friends, and community activities.

In 2000, retirement allowed Bev and her husband to move back to Santa Rosa and reunite with many old friends and a wonderfully warm and familiar community. Her volunteer activities throughout many years have included working in her children’s and grandchildren’s schools and classrooms, working in Senior Citizen centers, serving as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for over 25 years, and being a hospice respite caregiver for 20 years. Bev also enjoys her book club, gourmet dinner groups, golf, travel, walking with friends, and spending lots of time with her friends, children, four grandsons, and husband of 51 years, Dave.

Bev shares that “joining and becoming active in the philanthropy of Impact 100 RC has become a meaningful and rewarding part of my life in the last few years.”

Karen’s wholehearted enthusiasm for design and technology, coupled with an affinity for teamwork and operational efficiency, led to a career in digital marketing and technology. In 2003, Karen founded a strategic design and development agency offering creative services, development, software/vendor selection, eCommerce integration, CRM and business process implementation, analytics, and search engine optimization. Early in Karen’s career, she produced websites for wonderful San Francisco non-profit organizations such as the San Francisco Symphony and KQED, then moved into the private sector where she served numerous winery clients. Now, Karen is eager to return to the non-profit realm and put her skills and experience to work for organizations effecting positive change.

She has a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley and has continually enrolled in coursework to feed her knowledge base and appetite for learning. Karen enjoys gardening, cooking, wine, hiking, travel, reading, and spending time with friends and her husband Scot.