Frank Gornick is Chancellor of the Wests Hills Community College District, where he has been the Chief Executive Officer since 1994. The District is comprised of WHC Coalinga and WHC Lemoore, as well as the North District Center, Firebaugh. Dr. Gornick has served as past Chair of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium and as the Governor’s appointee for higher education on the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley. In 2009 he was appointed as a public representative for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Dr. Gornick grew up in Chicago. He earned an A.A. degree at West Hills College Coalinga and came back 28 years later as CEO.
William Bourdeau has been the Executive Vice President of Harris Farms, Inc. since January 2012. He also serves on the board of director of the Westlands Water District, the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority, the California Water Alliance, the Jack Harris Memorial Scholarship Foundation and the West Hills College Foundation.
Karen Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 12, 2011, by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Secretary Ross has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California. Prior to joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Prior to that appointment, she served as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996- 2009, and as Vice-President of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996. Before moving to California, Secretary Ross served as Director of Government Relations for the Nebraska Rural Electric Association and as Field Representative for U.S. Senator Edward Zorinsky.
Alex Avalos is a current West Hills College student. On December of 2015, he won the hackathon at UC Davis, creating along with a couple UC Davis students an app called “Ag For Hire”. By winning that hackathon, he was able to compete in Switzerland at “Thought for food Challenge”. After coming back, he’s been working on the project which offices reside at Woodland, Ca. This past July, he won second place at the Sacramento state’s fair hackathon, creating another app called “Sense and Protect”. Avalos continues to study at West Hills College, and plans to transfer to UC Davis to major in computer science and work on precision agriculture.
Joshua Brown is the cofounder and CEO of Ag for Hire, a two-sided marketplace that connects farmers with their seasonal and specialty workforce. Joshua has previously studied at UC Davis and conducted research for the UC Davis Bioinstrumentation and BioMEMs laboratory, where he helped devise novel hardware sensors for the early detection of plant and mammalian viruses. Joshua and his team at Ag for Hire were awarded winners of UC Davis Big Bang Business Competition agriculture prize and were named one of the 10 top student startups in the world by the Thought for Food Global Challenge.
Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture
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Executive Vice President of Harris Farms, Inc
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Mark Linder joined Agralogics as a consultant in the Fall of 2013 and was appointed VP, Business Development in December 2013. Mark is the co-founder and first President/CEO of the Agriculture in the Classroom program which he helped to establish, first in California, then throughout the United States and across the globe during his 23 years with the California Farm Bureau. Mark is a co-founder and served as President/CEO of Food, Land & People, an educational organization representing diverse sectors of society with the common interests. Mark is a graduate of Iowa State University, a fellow of the California Agricultural Leadership Program and an Agricultural Fellow of the John J. McCloy Fellows Program to Germany.
Greg Estep is Managing Director & CEO Spices and Vegetable Ingredients for Olam. He is based in Fresno, CA the headquarters for the global SVI business. Estep joined Olam in July of 2010 with the acquisition of Gilroy Foods. He worked previously for ConAgra Foods in Omaha, NE where he most recently was President & General Manager of Gilroy Foods & Flavors, a leading spice, vegetable, seasonings, and flavor company. He held the position of Chairman of the Board of AgroTech Foods Ltd, an Indian packaged foods company. He earned his Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Economics from Virginia Tech and a Masters of Business Administration from the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. He is on the Executive Committee for the California League of Food Processors and a member of the Foundation Board of Trustees for University of California Merced and the Business Advisory Council for California State University Fresno.
Edwin Lewis is Associate Dean for Agricultural Sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis. He was appointed to this post in October 2014. He is also a professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, where he has conducted research and taught since 2004. Before joining UC Davis, he was a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech. Lewis’ research program focuses on the interactions between agricultural practices and the development of sustainable pest management practices.
Dr. Glenda Humiston was approved in July 2015 by the UC Board of Regents on the recommendation of UC President Janet Napolitano as the next leader of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In 2009, President Obama tapped Humiston to serve as California State Director for USDA Rural Development – administering $6+ billion portfolio and 47 programs. Her career has focused on public policy development and program implementation supporting sustainability; prior experience includes Peace Corps in Tunisia, nonprofit Executive advocating farmland preservation and value-added agriculture development, and several years as a consultant on environmental and agricultural issues throughout the western states. She served President Clinton 1998 – 2001 as Deputy under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at USDA and managed the Sustainable Development Institute at the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in South Africa and the 2006 World Water Forum in Mexico. Humiston’s Ph.D. from UC Berkeley looked at sustainability and farm policy; she has a Master’s from UC Davis in International Agricultural Development and Bachelors from Colorado State in Animal Science. Recently she produced a widely acclaimed guidebook entitled Access to Capital.
Don Cameron is the general manager and vice president of Terranova Ranch Inc. He is a member of the National Cotton Council Board of Directors, western regional director of the American Cotton Producers of the National Cotton Council, chairman of the California Cotton Alliance and chairman of the Environmental Farming Act Science Panel. He is a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Advisory Committee on Universal Cotton Standards, the California Tomato Growers Association Board and the Supima Board of Directors, where he served as chair from 2011 to 2013
Brian R. Leahy was appointed director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) on Feb. 2, 2012, by Governor Brown. Prior to joining DPR, Mr. Leahy served as assistant director for the Division of Land Resource Protection in the California Department of Conservation for five years. Mr. Leahy served as executive director for the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts from 2004 to 2006 and executive director for the California Certified Organic Farmers from 2000 to 2004. A native Californian, Mr. Leahy grew up in Ontario. He earned a Juris Doctorate degree and has worked as a Legal Aid attorney.
Darrin Polhemus is a Deputy Director for the State Water Board and in charge of the Division of Financial Assistance. The Division of Financial Assistance administers the Water Board’s local assistance funding programs, such as the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan programs, Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund, Clean Beaches Initiative Grant Program, Water Recycling Funding Program, to name just a few. The Division’s programs provide funding for a wide array of projects types, including infrastructure funding for wastewater, recycled water, and drinking water systems; nonpoint source solution projects addressing storm water and beach water quality; and groundwater cleanup and remediation projects.
Professor Tom Tomich is founding director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute and inaugural holder of the WK Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at UC Davis, where he teaches in the new Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major. He directs the UC statewide Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP). His research spans agriculture and farming systems, economic development, food policy, and natural resource management, including publications on Transforming Agrarian Economies: Opportunities Seized, Opportunities Missed (1995); Environmental Services and Land Use Change: Bridging the Gap between Policy and Research in Southeast Asia (2004); and Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing: A Manual for Assessment Practitioners (2010). His latest co-authored book, Is Nitrogen the Next Carbon?: Insights from the California Nitrogen Assessment, is forthcoming in early 2016.
Leader of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. California State Director for USDA Rural Development
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Stuart Van Horn is the Interim President of West Hills College Coalinga and Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development for West Hills Community College District. In his 32nd year of community college service, his present duties include leading the implementation of strategies and direction of efforts for the following WHCCD departments: Educational Services, Workforce Development, Curriculum, Child Development Centers, Categorical funding and Grants, State and Federal programs, Information Technology, MIS reporting, and Westside Institute of Technology. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from University of Great Falls, MT. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2008, his Master’s in Educational Administration in 1991 and has regularly authored reports and conducted studies of career and technical education, the business of sport, educational leadership, and economic impact. His doctoral study explored how California community colleges assess cultural competency in hiring processes for sport head coaches.
Chris Chaney joined West Hills College Coalinga full time as the Agriculture Industrial Technologies Instructor, teaching welding, industrial maintenance technology and heavy equipment. After teaching welding as part of the Pathways out of Poverty and C6 for 3 1/2 years for WHCC, Chris worked as a Field Operations Representative for Neil Jones Food Company. While working for Neil Jones for the past 15 months, Chris worked with tomato growers in the Valley to ensure quality and market timeliness for the processor. He attended West Hills College Coalinga where he earned his Associates of Science in Crop Science. He then transferred to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Systems Management.
Andrew Finster is an Agronomist for S&W Seed Company. S&W Seed Company supplies a range of forages and specialty crop products to their customers. Andrew joined the S&W Seed Company team in 2013. He is responsible for acquiring seed contracts with growers and accommodating their needs every step of the way. He provides agronomic support to S&W Seed customers and growers that produce seed locally and globally. He also helps with growers’ seed certification and manages S&W research facilities in the Central Valley. Andrew holds an AS Degree from West Hills College Coalinga in Crop Science and Technology and a certificate in Precision Agriculture, he also completed course work toward Pest Control Advisor certification. Growing up and working on the family cattle ranch and farm in Coalinga, CA, Andrew knew from an early age he wanted a career in agriculture. He is a proud Alumni of West Hills College as are his father, mother and older brother.
Brent McKinsey is a Ranch Manager for Mission Ranches based out of Kings City, California. Managing 1000 acres of operation in Hollister and Gilroy. Mr. McKinsey specializes in growing vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spring mix, spinach, green beans, brussel sprouts, and head lettuce. Working with various subsidiaries, he’s played an active role in harvesting, labor, chemical application, and transportation. In 2007, Mr. McKinsey transferred to Fresno State to study Mechanized Agriculture, after graduating from the West Hills Precision Ag Program. Also, in 2007 he was the National FFA Emerging Agriculture Technology Proficiency winner. Most recently Mr. McKinsey has become an active Board Member for Santa Clara County Farm Bureau.
Kerri Birdwell is a District Sales Manager for Rivulis Irrigation. She is responsible for managing ag irrigation dealerships along the central coast of California. Rivulis Irrigation is an industry leading manufacturer of drip/micro irrigation products. Prior to joining the Rivulis team in 2015 Kerri worked as the West Coast Territory Manager for Ag Leader Technology, a manufacturer of precision agriculture products and equipment. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cal Poly, SLO in Agriculture Systems Management. Kerri also attended West Hills College Coalinga where she studied Precision Agriculture. Kerri’s family raises beef cattle in Coalinga, CA which is where her passion for at began.
Robert Tse creates and implements innovative strategies to benefit California’s regional and rural economies. He integrates policies, resources and initiatives through federal, state, local government and public-private partnerships. He is the USDA lead for the Strong Cities – Strong Communities (SC2) White House pilot initiative in Fresno. He is driving strategies for urban-rural broadband infrastructure and development of regional agriculture technology economic clusters in areas such as Fresno and Sacramento. His broad strategic reach also includes goods movement, international trade, health-food-agriculture systems, veterans and farming, water, and energy
Lance Donny Founder & CEO, OnFarm is the Founder and CEO of OnFarm, a market leader in cloud based farm management software. OnFarm enables plug-n-play adoption of hardware and data solutions from a broad spectrum of industry leading companies that enables better farm management. Lance is the former CFO and VP of Business Development at PureSense and a 20+ year software executive. Lance and OnFarm have won numerous awards including IBM’s NA Entrepreneur of the Year, Connected World’s Best M2M Technology in Agriculture, TiE’s 50 Best Global Startups, and SARTA’s Ag-Tech Innovator of the Year. He grew up on his family’s vineyard in Fresno and graduated from Fresno State.
Terry Brase is an Ag Science Instructor at West Hills College focusing on teaching and developing precision ag courses. He is also Educational Consultant and Managing Owner of BrASE LLC, which provides expertise to ag businesses in developing precision agriculture educational programs. Brase taught at two Iowa community colleges for 30 years; teaching ag geospatial technologies for the last 23 years. He developed the first in the nation two-year degree in Precision Agriculture in 1995 with assistance from the National Science Foundation. In 2001 he was the originator and Principal Investigator of AgrowKnowledge, the National Center for Science and Technology in Agriculture. He has been instrumental in two ESRI Special Achievement in GIS awards and the recipient of the 2012 Educator Award of Excellence at the International Precision Ag Conference.
Dr. David Zoldoske serves as the director of the Center for Irrigation Technology and was recently named as the Executive Director of Water Initiatives at California State University Fresno, where he has been actively working on “water use efficiency” issues for over 30 years. He was recently named “person of the year” by the California Irrigation Institute, and received a similar award from the Irrigation Association in 2013, he is a Senior Fellow with the California Council on Science and Technology, and an Honorary Member of the American Society of Irrigation Consultants. He is a member of the “SMART” Water Application Executive Committee, founding Executive Director for the Water Resources and Policy Initiative for the California State University system (2008-2013).
Gabriel (Gabe) Youtsey serves as the Chief Information Officer for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. He provides leadership to UC ANR’s information technology unit to support programmatic, educational, administrative and marketing-oriented projects. Collaborating with colleagues across disciplines and UC locations he implements technology to provide innovative enhancements to support UC ANR’s mission and administration. Prior to joining UC ANR, he served as the Assistant CIO at UC Davis, where he gained extensive experience working with UC Davis faculty, students and staff. He was instrumental in assessing and introducing new technologies, including cloud-based, mobile-friendly and modern tools and services.
Chancellor of the Wests Hills Community College District
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Jackson R. Gualco is the President/CEO of The Gualco Group, Inc., a government relations and public affairs consulting firm based in Sacramento, California. His firm represents a wide array of clients from agriculture, business, and the public sector. He served as Special Assistant to Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr. He received a master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University and an MBA in management from Golden Gate University. He has a certificate in management from the UC Davis. His undergraduate degrees are from the UC Davis and Sacramento City College. He participated in executive level programs sponsored by the University of California, Harvard University, and Boston University. He is a member of the Deans’ Advisory Council of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science and is a trustee emeritus of the UCD Foundation. He is the immediate past president of the Institute of Governmental Advocates, the association of state-level lobbyists. He sits on the Advisory Council of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. He is continues to serve on various search and advisory committees at UCD. His firm received the Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture award from the California Association of Pest Control Advisers.
Chancellor of the Wests Hills Community College District
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Karri Hammerstrom serves on the faculty for the State Center Community College District and is the Regional Chair of the Central/Mother Lode Regional Consortium (CRC) where she works with the 14 California community colleges within the CRC region and their Career Technical Education (CTE) deans and CTE programs on behalf of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) to help propose, plan, develop, organize, implement and coordinate projects and grants associated with the CCCCO Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy Campaign designed to engage community colleges in advancing the region’s prosperity by facilitating development and growth of CTE programs to meet the needs of regional businesses and industries.
Jim Mayer is President and CEO of California Forward, a bipartisan public interest effort to bolster democracy and improve the performance of government in California. Jim was part of the team that developed and launched California Forward in 2008. Jim was the executive director of the Little Hoover Commission, an independent and bipartisan state panel that reviews state programs and policies for efficiency and effectiveness. Jim joined the Commission’s staff in 1994 as a project manager and served as deputy executive director prior to being appointed executive director in January 1999.
Blake Konczal has been the Executive Director of the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board (FRWDB) since May 2002. A Joint Powers Authority between the City and County of Fresno, FRWDB provides business and training services to Fresno County employers and residents. FRWDB is the fiscal agent on multiple grants, including two noteworthy regional grants: Pre-Apprentice, Multi-Craft Training Program and the Sling Shot Program. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from UCLA, a Master of Arts in Political Science from Cal State Fullerton, and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Blake serves on the Board of Directors for both the Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County and Fresno Works.
President and CEO of California Forward
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John T. Miller serves Macpherson Energy Corporation as Senior Vice President, Human Resources & Government Relations. He has also been a member of Macpherson’s Board of Directors since 2006 and is Chair of the Compensation Committee. Miller represented Macpherson on the Kern, Inyo, Mono Workforce Investment Board from 2012 to 2014. Miller served as president of two startup independent power companies. Thermo Ecotek, owner of 200 mw of biomass power in the state of California and independent power plants in the US and Europe. Miller served for 10 years in several roles concluding President & CEO for Pacific Generation, owner of several California energy facilities. Miller earned a BS Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University, an MBA at the University of Portland and attended Harvard University’s Executive Education Program.
David M. Lanier is the Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. appointed Lanier in November of 2013 to serve as his cabinet advisor on labor issues and employment programs for workers and businesses throughout California. Secretary Lanier oversees the state departments and boards that enforce labor and occupational safety laws, provide state disability and unemployment insurance benefits, fund workforce training and apprenticeship programs, protect injured workers, and arbitrate public sector contract disputes. Upon his appointment, Lanier led the efforts to resolve the state’s unemployment insurance system failure. As a result, vulnerable out of work Californians had their phone calls answered and received their unemployment insurance payments on time.
Catherine J.K. Sandoval was appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission on January 25, 2011, by Governor Jerry Brown. She has worked as an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law since 2004. She previously served as undersecretary and senior policy advisor for housing with the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 2001 to 2004. She was vice president and general counsel with Z-Spanish Media Corporation from 1999 to 2001 and was the director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities for the Federal Communications Commission from 1994 to 1999. Commissioner Sandoval was an associate with Munger, Tolles & Olson from 1991 to 1994. She earned a J.D. from Stanford Law School, a Master of Letters in political science from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and a B.A. from Yale.
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Kristin Clark has been an administrator in higher education for over 22 years. She is President of West Hills College Lemoore and held positions as the Vice President of Student Services, Dean of Enrollment Services, and Director of Admissions, Records, & Enrollment Technology at Orange Coast College. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, a Master’s of Arts in Educational Technology, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research documented the various challenges California community colleges face during an economic downturn, and identified how the fiscal crisis is changing the role of the California community college president.
Regional Chair of the Central/Mother Lode Regional Consortium (CRC)
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Rob Murray is the Lead Project Manager for J.M. King Consulting, Inc. He has over fifteen years of experience working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), conducting spatial and demographic analysis in a large variety of professional applications and settings. His experience includes demographic and facility planning for K-12 public school districts, federally funded flood risk assessment projects and habitat preservation analysis. The common thread of his professional career is utilizing geographic information to analyze and explain complex problems from a spatial perspective.
Lead Project Manager for J.M. King Consulting, Inc
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Interim President of West Hills College Coalinga and Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development for West Hills Community College District
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Dr. Scott Campbell is the Vice President for Higher Education at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). His particular focus is on working with higher education institutions to help them become more responsive to the unique and changing needs of adult learners. He and his team are responsible for the implementation of prior learning assessment (PLA) and competency based education (CBE) projects at individual colleges and institutions as well as statewide systems and associations in order to meet the goals of increased enrollment, persistence and graduation for adult students nationwide. Campbell completed his B.A. at the University of Oklahoma in 1991. He received his MA in Higher Education Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1996. In 2005, he completed his PhD in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership at the University of Northern Colorado.
Micheal A. McIntyre is President and COO of AcademyOne, a software and services company serving the higher education sector. Mike began his career in university administration, with a focus in admissions, alumni/development and academic records. Moving to private industry, Mike held several key management positions where he was responsible for the on-site management of student information systems and client relationships at SCT (now Ellucian) and ABT. Mike later started two of his own companies, providing global delivery of instructor-led technical training and on-line courses to the corporate market place. This experience spawned his interest in competency based-education and academic credit for prior learning.
West Hills Community College District (WHCCD), in partnership with numerous agencies, continues its Essential Elements for the Future of the San Joaquin Valley, a premier public affairs series that gathers California’s public policy and private sector leaders to confront the crises and challenges in the Valley.
The intent of the series is to organize hands-on partnerships and create action steps for the future of the San Joaquin Valley while coping with climate change. Essential Elements will be held at Harris Ranch Inn and Conference Center. Each session will include guest speakers and panel discussions.