Speakers & Panelists

The Very Last Drop: Managing Water & Food Production

victor davis hanson

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; his focus is classics and military history. Hanson was a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992–93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991–92), the annual Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Visiting Fellow in History at Hillsdale College (2004–), the Visiting Shifron Professor of Military History at the US Naval Academy (2002–3), and the William Simon Visiting Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University (2010).

Marvin Meyers

Marvin Meyers

Marvin Meyers has owned and operated Meyers Farming I-IV, Oxford Farms, Inc., and Meyers Farm Family Trust since 1982. Previously he owned Meyers Agricultural Chemical Company for 16 years. He is a member of the Western Growers Association, the Farm Bureau Safe Harbor Committee, and the Drought Advisory Panel. Marvin established an innovative water banking project that draws an array of wildlife and has become an educational resource for student and teacher education on wildlife habitat and water conservation. Meyers earned a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Fresno.

Sandra Schubert

Sandra Schubert

Undersecretary Sandra Schubert was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in May of 2011. She has spent two decades as a legal and political strategist for government and non-profits on a variety of agricultural, public health, environmental and resource issues, and has nearly 15 years’ experience working in Washington, DC. On behalf of the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and a Ranking Committee member, she developed and successfully carried out campaigns on major energy, environmental quality and agricultural issues. Undersecretary Schubert has advised Presidential, Congressional and local campaigns on a range of issues. Undersecretary Schubert has lectured nationally on numerous issues and taught at the Georgetown University School of Law.

Remarks and Moderators

Dorene D’Adamo

Dorene D’Adamo was appointed to the board by Governor Brown in 2013. She previously served on the California Air Resources Board from 1999-2013 under the Brown, Schwarzenegger and Davis Administrations, where she was instrumental in the board’s air quality and climate change programs and regulations. Ms. D’Adamo served in various capacities for Members of Congress from the San Joaquin Valley over a 20 year period, working primarily on environmental, water and agricultural legislative policy. She was a representative on the Davis Administration’s CALFED team and the Governor’s “Red Team” for UC Merced. She currently serves on the Valley Coalition for UC Merced’s Medical School and on the board of the Governor’s Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley.

Daniel M. Dooley

Daniel M. Dooley (Dan) was appointed University of California Senior Vice President, External Relations, in March 2009. Dooley leads the Division’s efforts in working with colleagues across the UC system to build public understanding and support for the University’s mission of teaching, research, and public service. The Division is focused on establishing strong relationships with external constituencies and building broad understanding of the many ways in which UC contributes to the lives of all Californians. Dooley’s External Relations responsibilities include directing the University offices of State and Federal Government Relations; Alumni and Constituent Affairs; Institutional Advancement; Issues Management, Policy Analysis and Coordination; and Communications.

Frank Gornick

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 the 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. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from CSU, Sacramento and a Ph.D. in Curriculum from St. Louis University.

Jim Mayer

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.

Mark Nechodom

Dr. Mark Nechodom serves as California Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Director. He has been a leader in conservation science and policy for decades. Mark has dedicated his professional life to integrating conservation, regulation and development right where it matters the most; on the land, on the farm, and in the forest. Prior to his service as DOC Director, Dr. Nechodom was a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture. He has also served as Director of the Office of Environmental Markets at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Dr. Nechodom earned his doctorate in political science and environmental policy from the UC, Santa Cruz, where he taught for several years.

Robert J. Gore

Robert J. Gore enjoys serving clients of the The Gualco Group, Inc. with a deep knowledge of California policy, politics, and public affairs. He applies a wide range of insights and knowledge from 35 years as a senior executive for two governors, a UC chancellor, the international engineering firm CH2M Hill, a large business insurance underwriter, the California Hospital Association, and the Association of California Insurance Companies. His career began as a Los Angeles Times urban affairs writer. As a senior advisor to the Firm, Mr. Gore collaborates with our advocacy team to deliver targeted issues management and representation in natural resources (land use, water, energy and agriculture), environmental protection, risk and asset management, healthcare, and criminal justice.

Panel One: Applied Water Innovation-To The Last Drop!

Sarge Green

Sarge Green is currently employed at the California Water Institute at CSU, Fresno. He is a water management specialist whose main current role is to support integrated regional water management planning in the San Joaquin Valley. He recently prepared a number of technical reports on water management for special districts in the Valley including subsurface drainage water management and recycled water use. He facilitated technical work that impacted adjacent landowners as part of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and a groundwater management policy in Stanislaus County. Sarge served 18 years as General Manager of Tranquillity Irrigation District in western Fresno County. He worked 13 years at the California Regional Water Quality Control Board – Central Valley Region. He currently manages the Westside Resource Conservation District, a one million acre district that covers all of western Fresno County.

Joe MacIlvaine

Joe MacIlvaine  has held the position of President of Paramount Farming Company since May 1987. He is responsible for general management of the company’s operations, including the management of 140,000 acres of agricultural properties. Paramount’s is the largest grower in the country of its primary crops almonds, pistachios and pomegranates. Joe was formerly th General Manager of Tejon Farming Company. He is President of two water districts, and has been Chairman of the Almond Board of California and its Production Research and International Committees, Treasurer and Director of Western Growers Association and Vice Chair of the California Pistachio Commission. His education includes a Bachelor’s degree from the UC, Berkeley, a Ph.D. from the MIT, and a MBA from UCLA

Deborah Miller

Deborah Miller is the founder, president and owner of Deerpoint Group, Inc., a chemical company specializing in ag irrigation water treatment and fertigation programs since 1993. Deborah has worked in water treatment and the chemical industry for 41 years, including 20 years for Fortune 100 chemical companies. She has a B.A. in Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She holds numerous patents in the technologies of soil amendments, adjuvants, water treatment, irrigation, and fertigation. Deborah holds a QAL, CCA and PCO business license, has professional affiliations in a number of ag groups, is considered an expert in her field, and is invited to speak frequently to growers and professional groups on the topic of agricultural water quality.

Michael P. Jackson

Mr. Michael P. Jackson joined the Bureau of Reclamation following his graduation from the University of the Pacific with a BS degree in Civil Engineering in 1982, and he is also a registered Professional Engineer. Mr. Jackson has held a number of positions within Reclamation during his career, including Hydraulic Engineer; Chief, San Joaquin Planning Branch; Bay Delta Projects Officer; Mid-Pacific Regional Liaison; Reclamation Liaison to the Assistant Secretary for Water & Science, and Deputy Area Manager prior to his selection in August 2006 as Area Manager for the South-Central California Area Office. His Office is responsible for Reclamation interests within an area encompassing the San Francisco Bay-Delta region, San Joaquin Valley, and the south coastal areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

David L. Orth

David L. Orth became KRCD’s general manager in February 2002. Orth also served for two years as Vice President of Resource Management for Woolf Enterprises, a diversified San Joaquin Valley farming operation and from 1995-2000 as General Manager of Westland’s Water District. He served as the district’s director of finance for nine years and was responsible for the district’s financial management and the $40-$50 million annual operating budget. Orth has served on the California Water Commission since 2013. He is involved in the development of sustainable policies for local groundwater management and water quality protection. He serves on the board of directors of the Association of California Water Agencies as the Region 6 chair. Orth is actively engaged in integrated regional water management planning serving as Secretary/Treasurer to the Kings Basin Water Authority’s Board and as Chair to the Water Authority’s Advisory Committee.

Jason Peltier

Jason Peltier serves as a Deputy General Manager of Westlands Water District. Raised on a diversified farm in Kern County, Peltier began his work in the field of water management in 1966 as an irrigator’s assistant. Prior to his service with Westlands, Peltier served for six years as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C. where he was a part of the management team responsible for the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey. For 12 years he served as the Manager of the Central Valley Project Water Association, an organization representing the interests of the eighty water districts serving three million acres of irrigated farm land and four million households. Prior to that he farmed and worked for an agricultural trade association. Peltier holds a degree in Agriculture Business from Chico State and is a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

Panel Two: Agriculture Technology Job Creation - From the Future to the Valley

Glenda Humiston

Dr. Glenda Humiston was appointed by President Obama in 2009 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 on Access to Capital.

Cornelius Gallagher

Cornelius (Corny) Gallagher is the national Food, Ag and Wine Executive for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He is a member of the national team that manages the Bank’s $29 billion portfolio of food, agricultural production and processing, packaged foods and wine industry client relationships. Corny works with global food system leaders on critical issues and trends. He provides industry expertise to Global Commercial Banking Market Executives to deepen existing relationships and obtain new business. He is a member of the Food Foresight global strategic trends panel and the Farm Foundation Board of Trustees and Roundtable. He serves on the California Roundtable for Agriculture and the Environment and the California Roundtable for Water and Food Supply. He was appointed by Governor Brown to the California Exposition and State Fair Board of Directors.

Erik Balling

Erik Balling A resident of Coalinga since 1978, Erik received his Bachelor’s Degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Business Management. Currently he is President of California Water Services and Green Leaf Ag. California Water Services, started by Tito and Linda Balling in 1988, provides operational services to public and private water and wastewater facilities. Green Leaf Ag was created in 2009 as a spin off from California Water Services to service agricultural businesses. Green Leaf Ag is focused on irrigation water efficiency through chemical line treatments to prevent mineral and organic plugging. They also have a host of soil structure products and reverse osmosis technology. Erik serves on the California Water Alliance Board and the Curriculum Advisory Committee for West Hills Agriculture.

Anthony T. Oliveria

Anthony T. Oliveria   His objectives are to use his practical experiences and academic qualifications to assist private and public entities with economic, business and policy decisions to help create a more efficient organization and/or solve current organizational challenges. His experiences as an entrepreneur combined with expertise in risk management and governance strengthens his capabilities as an individual or team member to resolve organizational goals and challenges

Panel Three: Immediate Actions & Alliances to create San Joaquin Valley Water Jobs

Debbie Davis

Debbie Davis is the Community and Rural Affairs Advisor in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Debbie works on a range of issues including environmental justice, water, water and energy, and rural community issues. Prior to joining OPR, Debbie served as the Policy Director at the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water. Debbie has a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Davis and a Master’s Degree in Social Ecology from UC Irvine.

Richard R. Engel

Richard R. Engel currently serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations and Executive Director of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association. He previously held the dual positions of Director of Relations and Director of Student Services and Outreach for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the UC Davis. Richard was an agricultural instructor at Woodland High School and Project Coordinator for the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.  He obtained a BS degree and Teaching Credential from UC Davis, both in Agricultural Education.  He also holds a MA degree in Education from CSU, Sacramento. Rich is a graduate of Class XXVIII of the California Agricultural Leadership Program and past recipient of an Award of Distinction by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Doug Verboon 

Doug Verboon  A lifelong resident of Hanford, he is dedicated to serving the needs of Kings County. He is a 16 year trustee of Pioneer Elementary School District, where he was instrumental in the transition to the first charter school district in California. Since 2005, he has owned and managed the only fully occupied commercial property in California. Verboon has served as the Kings County District 3 Supervisor for the past four years. He is dedicated to representing the county’s residents at the local, state and federal level. During his tenure on the Board of Supervisors, he has been active in the fight against high speed rail and engaged in protecting the rights to water for all valley residents. In 2013, he was named Agriculturalist of the Year by the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce in recognition of his contribution to the agricultural community. As a 4th generation farmer, he understands the unique needs of Kings County.