Marcelo Defreitas, Board President
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.
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.
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".
Arleen Curry grew up on the east coast and moved to San Francisco from New York City in 1986. After getting her degree in accounting & economics, she worked as an auditor, consultant and investment banker. With partners she started a management consulting firm; and for 20 years specialized in reorganizations, managing growth and assessing resources. During that time she served in many functional management positions including tenures as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer as well as Board positions.
Arleen with her spouse, Ann Weeks, retired and came to Sonoma in 1992 to grow grapes. Since that time Arleen has served on several Boards including: Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers; Sonoma Ecology Center and The George Ranch Community Association. In addition she was a founding member and treasurer of Impact100 Sonoma for five years.
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.
Tim is currently a Career Development Director for the 5th largest Independent Real Estate Brokerage in the U.S.; largest independent Brokerage in California. He is a coach and mentor to both Seasoned and New Agents. His previous experience includes Investment Banking, where he was a principal in a boutique San Francisco-based firm, Accounting and Finance Professional with several Multi-national Companies and began his Finance career with Deloitte's San Francisco Practice where he was the lead auditor of the Firm's largest billing client.
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 was born and raised in San Francisco, in a bilingual and bicultural home. Her father was a Basque immigrant from Spain and her mother an American from the Mid-West. She attended Lowell High School, San Francisco City College, University of California Berkeley, Sonoma State, and she is currently working on a Doctorate at University of California, Davis and studying the role of a principal in promoting literacy.
Maite is principal of El Verano Elementary School. She is particularly proud to have created a parent leadership group that fosters home-school communication. She has worked to provide Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) and The Exploratorium Science Project. She started the first preschool in Sonoma Valley Unified and the first Community School in collaboration with La Luz, Boys in Girls Club and Sonoma Valley health Center.
Maite has served on the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF), Todd Trust Team (TTT) and Coordinating Council for Youth Development in Sonoma (CCYDS). She currently serves on the Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force (CALLE) for Sonoma County.
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 6 years and a front desk volunteer. Bob currently is a sales associate at Sotheby’s Homes.
Heather McCulloch was born in Albany, New York, and grew up in Montreal, Quebec. She came to California for high school and then college at U.C. Berkeley. After graduate school in London – and a decade living in Washington D.C. and New York City – she made her way back to the Bay Area.
For the past two decades, she’s been working in the field of community economic development, with a focus on advancing policies and strategies that build the financial security of low-income households and households of color. For decades, she’s worked in partnership with residents, funders and community leaders to develop new strategies to build the financial security of low-income residents. She’s written extensively about financial security strategies and policies; and she frequently presents on the topic to funders and policymakers. (for details, see www.assetbuildingstrategies.com). She moved to Sonoma in 2008 with her son and husband.
Nevins has over 25 years’ experience in sales management and strategy development. She had key roles at Levi Strauss & Co. in Sales and Marketing Management, Adidas, where she was General Manager for the Western region, and ultimately as Vice President at the Walt Disney Company, Consumer Products Division.
“I have a passion for using creativity when building a business or leading a team—it’s the best way to inspire and bring people together towards one goal,” says Nevins. “I am excited to bring these skills to La Luz.”
Lisa and her husband Bert moved to Sonoma three years ago when she retired and began an online home décor business featuring her own hand made products. She is an avid athlete, loves to travel and is a Mentor for the Sonoma Mentoring Alliance.
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. 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.
Marcie, A native Californian, Marcie grew up in Orinda and attended San Diego State University where she received her BS in Recreation Administration and a MA in Art Therapy. For the past twenty-five years Marcie has been immersed in non-profit work – both paid and volunteer - in Petaluma and Sonoma. Recent involvement includes Board positions at Vintage House, Sonoma Community Center, Willmar Center and Kiwanis. She is experienced with event planning, program management, strategic planning and community outreach. She also facilitates support groups. Marcie was chosen as the 2015 Sonoma Alcaldesa (honorary mayor). As such, she created a program to increase organ donor registration in Sonoma and beyond. Marcie’s lifesaving kidney transplant 18 years ago motivated her more than ever to spend time helping others in appreciation for the gift of life she received. Many of Marcie’s interests are creative and artistic. She started a jewelry co-op in the Dominican Republic enabling marginalized women to make a living. She teaches jewelry classes for teens and has an online jewelry business. Marcie lives in Sonoma with husband Dave, a recently retired landscape architect, and two beautiful cats.
Ligia Booker, 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! “