Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Claudia Mendoza-Carruth is a seasoned multicultural communications professional with more than 20 years of experience encompassing TV anchoring, cultural and communications liaison to foreign executives and dignitaries at Intercontinental Hotels, Dow Chemical, Bechtel and UNICEF. When she came to California in 1991 she worked at Sacramento’s Small Business Exchange newspaper, and at PG&E where she created the diversity media relations program. In 2006 Claudia and her husband moved to Sonoma, where she established MC(2), a business providing translation, interpretation and community outreach services to clients in the wine industry, public policy, medical and government fields. She works with the Sonoma International Film Festival developing a Spanish language cinema program, and has served on the boards of the Hispanic Charity Ball in San José, the San Francisco Latino Film Festival, and New America Media.
Ken and his wife, Karen, bought a home above Glen Ellen in 1999. They moved there full-time in 2007. Ken first became involved in La Luz when Karen became a member of the Noche committee; she served as the co-chair of the committee in 2011. Ken is a lawyer at Cooley LLP in San Francisco. He specializes in business litigation and in the past served as firm-wide chair of the Litigation Department and as Partner In Charge of the San Francisco office. He has represented BRIDGE Housing, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing, and for several years he was a member of the board of directors of Children's Garden (now Sunny Hills Services), which operates treatment homes and provides services for abused and neglected children. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1966 and from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1969. Ken enjoys spending time with his two children, his grandchildren and working in the garden.
Kimberly has been resident of Sonoma since 1982. Kimberly was raised in Oregon and came to California to attend Stanford University where she received a B.A. in Political Science and was the captain of the women’s varsity swimming team. She received an M.A. and elementary and secondary teaching credentials from UC Davis and taught high school from 1976-1990. She was the chair of the English Department at Sonoma Valley High School from 1988-90. She has served on the boards of Presidio Hill School, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, SFMOMA Docent Council, League of Women Voters of Sonoma County, and Enterprise for High School Students. She currently serves on the city’s Community Services and Environment Commission and the board of The Sonoma Valley Fund. As a La Luz board member, Kimberly has served as Board President and now serves on the Nominating/Governance, Development and Noche de Luna committees. She is one of the founding members of Impact 100, an organization of women committed to making a significant impact in our community.
Betzy is the bilingual counselor for Sonoma Valley High School. She has been working with bilingual education and advising for many years, and her work has included outreach for Upward Bound and counseling for migrant students. She has also worked for Sonoma State University to create a webpage in Spanish as a resource for parents. Given her past efforts to fully include the Spanish-speaking community in the Sonoma Valley, her place on the Board of La Luz is just an extension of her ongoing commitment to the Latino community.
Salvador Picazo Chavez
Salvador Picazo Chavez moved to Sonoma at age 8, and considers himself a locally raised man. Salvador works at his family restaurant, Picazo Cafe & Deli, as he pursues other business ventures in the community.
After graduating from Sonoma Valley High School in 2004 Salvador went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Sonoma State University. In 2011, when he was 26 years old, he was appointed to the Sonoma Valley Unified School District Board where he states, he “is sincerely invested, due to my education coming from schools that are all governed by SVUSD and to my desire to influence students’ futures in a positive way".
His work in the community includes keynote speaking for Kiwanis Club, Altimira Middle School Career Day, Adele Harrison Middle School Career Day, and Oji Life Lab. On Mondays from 7-8pm you can hear Salvador on the local KSVY 91.3 radio station discussing topics pertinent to the community and schools. On Mondays from 7-8pm you are welcome to listen to Salvador on the local KSVY 91.3 radio station discussing topics pertinent to the community and schools.
Sal is married to Kina Chavez who works at Sonoma Valley High School in the HIM Department.
Being on the La Luz board, Salvador says, is "an opportunity to find synergy between the schools and all the willing and able organizations of the community".
Marcelo was born in Brazil. He grew up on a cattle ranch in the Southern part of Brazil called Rio Grande Do Sul. He started college in Public Relations at a local university and began work doing public relations at the largest publishing company in South America. In 1984, he moved to San Francisco to finish his degree and to learn English. Marcelo is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. He finished his studies at the University of San Francisco and got a bachelors in fine art from The Academy of Art. In 1988, he joined Primo Angeli Inc., the noted packaging design company, as a junior designer. He stayed at Primo Angeli until 1999 having been promoted to art director. There, he worked for several prominent clients including Nestle, Intel, Safeway, Sutter Home, as well as European and Latin American clients. He was a teacher at the Academy of Art University on the graphic design department. In 1999 he moved to Sonoma. He has always loved La Luz and its philosophy and he is very excited to start the journey as a board member.
Rayne Dessayer has served La Luz on its Advisory Board and NOCHE Committee for several years. Rayne moved to Sonoma from San Francisco, where her career was in the hospitality industry, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Hyatt Regency (Monterey), and Four Seasons Hotel. Rayne established and continues to operate The Hospitality Group, a staffing service for San Francisco’s hotels and private clubs. In Sonoma, she substitute teaches and, in addition to La Luz, is actively involved with Sonoma's Mentoring Alliance and Impact100.
Kathleen Hawing Kathleen Hawing and her husband, Camerino Hawing, moved to Sonoma with their three young children in 1997, when Kathleen began teaching at Flowery Elementary School. She also later served as the Two-Way Immersion Program Coordinator for five years at that site. In 2003, she transferred to Sonoma Valley High School working as a Spanish teacher, as the College & Career Center Coordinator, as Vice-Principal and now currently as Principal at SVHS. She enjoys working helping students to prepare for continued education after high school and sees her primary roles as supporting staff so that all students will be “college and career” when they leave SVHS. Kathleen is also active on the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church Missions Committee and in her free time, she enjoys traveling, the out-of-doors and swimming. Kathleen’s husband, Camerino, is an architect in Santa Rosa and served as a SVUSD Trustee for 7 years. Kathleen looks forward to serving on the La Luz Board and hopes that she can provide both an educational and a high school perspective when looking at programs and services that are offered at La Luz Center.
Pat Henderson has more than two decades of experience in winemaking, is skilled in winery business management in large and small wineries, has coauthored a textbook “About Wine,” taught college courses for 16 years and has written numerous winemaking articles for professionals and home winemakers. He received his B.S. in Fermentation Science at UC Davis, started working in wineries as a student, was Enologist at Kenwood Vineyards, Winemaker/General Manager at Valley of the Moon Winery, and presently is Senior Winemaker for the multiple wineries of Heck Estates in Kenwood. Pat was born in Northern California, grew up all over the US with his military family, and now lives near Glen Ellen with his wife Stephanie who teaches biology at Napa Valley College.
Kathleen is currently Food & Wine Editor of the Sonoma Index-Tribune and serves as Sonoma Valley Unified School District's School Garden Project Coordinator. Kathleen has worked for the Peace Corps, the United Nations and in the White House. She has written more than 30 books, most in collaboration with her husband, Gerald N. Hill.
Kathe recently retired from her position as Director of Exhibitions at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (de Young Museum and Legion of Honor). She was a curator at the museum for several years and also taught art history at San Francisco State University and City College. Since retiring she and her husband spend much of their time in Glen Ellen and she has served on the board of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art for 8 years and was president in 2005-2006. As a La Luz board member, Kathe has served on the publicity and nominating committees as well as the Noche de Luna committee.
Maite Iturri is principal of El Verano Elementary School. She was raised in a bilingual and bicultural home in San Francisco, attending Lowell High School, San Francisco City College, UC Berkeley, and Sonoma State University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate at UC Davis. Her research interests have included parent participation in the Latino community in Sonoma, the role of a principal in program improvement, and the importance of community organizations and non-profits supporting local schools. She has also created a parent leadership group at El Verano School. Maite serves on the Board of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) and Coordinating Council for Youth Development in Sonoma (CCYDS).
Robert P. Kowal
Robert has been a resident of Sonoma since 1999. Bob moved here following a 35 year career in Hospital Management as CEO of some of the largest health systems in the country. Bob and his partner Mark Sipes initially owned and operated The Inn at Cedar Mansion, a Sonoma Bed and Breakfast. In 2004 Bob took on the position as CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital where he became intricately involved with the workings of La Luz Center. He has been a member of the La Luz Board for 3 years and currently is a sales associate at Sotheby’s Homes.
Anna is a bilingual teacher and community educator. She was one of the founders of the dual immersion program at Flowery School, where she taught first grade. Since 2007, as Director of Educational Programs for CommonBond Foundation, she organizes—and sometimes teaches in—Spanish and English classes and summer programs for children and adults in Sonoma Valley. She led the Sonoma Nonprofit Collaborative’s youth advocacy forums and served as their representative to the committee on youth resources. She is a past advisor and member of the Board of Directors of Nuestra Voz.
Martha was born and raised in the Chicago area and received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin. From there she moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she raised two children and became involved with Planned Parenthood. While serving on several committees for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she also served as its president for 3 years. This is where she met her husband, who followed her as president in the organization. After moving to Sonoma in 1989, the Rosenblatts became involved in the founding of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, and Martha served as one of its early presidents. She is pleased to have served as La Luz’s Board President during the exciting year of its merger with Vineyard Workers Services. Martha has been a docent at the Bouverie Preserve and is one of the founding members of Impact100, a new organization of women committed to making a significant impact in our community.
Vicki Stollmeyer was born in Iowa. She went to Spain as a high school exchange student, and fell in love with the Spanish language. She received a B.A. from the University of Iowa, studied for a year in Madrid, and received her M.A. in Spanish Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She taught Spanish in universities and high schools, and tutored for many years at the Canal Community Alliance in Marin. She worked as a translator at the World’s Fair in Montreal (where she met her husband) and for the Canadian government. She has organized and translated for medical mission trips to Ecuador, Haiti, and Guatemala. She served on the boards of the Marin Foundation and the Tiburon Peninsula Club, and did publicity for school district fundraising and the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce. She is a founding member of Impact 100 Sonoma. She serves on La Luz’s PR Team and its Noche de Luna Committee. Vicki loves Sonoma because of its Latino community.
Dave is a native of Montreal and received his BA in International Relations from McGill University in 1967. For nineteen years, Dave worked in the cargo shipping and cruise line industries, with March Shipping, Costa Cruises. In 1980, he created and became President of American Hawaii Cruises and World Explorer Cruises. In 1985, Dave left the cruise line industry to enter another 24 hour service industry – electronic security – growing a small alarm company into one of the largest independent alarm companies in Northern California.
Dave has served on the boards of the Sonoma Ecology Center, Bread and Roses, The Nelson Family of Companies, Hospice of Marin, and the Sonoma Valley Fund. He has joined La Luz’s board as Co-Chair of the Finance/Development Committee.
Horacio Paco Villaseñor
Paco, a native of Tepatitlan Jalisco Mexico, moved to Sonoma at the age of 7. He attended the local elementary schools and Santa Rosa Junior College. He has been on the board of La Luz since 2003. His career in banking began in 1989, and he is presently employed at Westamerica Bank, where he is Vice President Financial Sales Officer. Paco is very proud of his heritage and is commited to the well being of his community.
Board Member Emeritus
Born in Colombia to a large philanthropic family of strong faith, Ligia came to the US first at age 17. After her mother passed away she returned home to care for 10 siblings, only to fall in love there with Don Booker, an American helicopter bush pilot, who after several job stops brought her to Sonoma. Ligia saw Sonoma through the eyes of an immigrant. In the beginning, she met with those in need at local Churches and at her home. Once the official La Luz center opened, she says, “ We were overwhelmed by the needs of the community”.
Thirty-plus years later, Ligia feels La Luz continues to be faithful to its original mission, and she sees the organization developing into a multi-cultural center that addresses the needs of all.
When asked why she is so passionate about La Luz and the other community efforts she is a part of she said; “it’s about sharing, giving, and serving. Sharing what I have because I have been so blessed!”
Among Ligia’s many honors for her contributions to our community are: the “For Those Who Care” award from KRON TV in 1989; Alcaldesa of Sonoma in 1992; “Woman of the Year” by the State of California in 1995: Woman of Color Humanitarian Award in 1998; honoree at the Red and White Ball, and the Sonoma Amistad Award both in 2010. She shares La Luz’s great pride in receiving the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2013.
Ligia and Don Booker have 7 children and 16 grandchildren.
And she says, her front door is “still open to everybody. Most of those calls usually end up at La Luz or FISH, but those whose needs are more sensitive, hopeless or immediate, become my personal task-- first with prayer, then with action! “