Kimberly Blattner
Board President - Teacher (Retired)

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 as the chair Development and member of the Nominating/Governance and Noche committees. She is one of the founding members of Impact 100, an organization of women committed to making a significant impact in our community.

Ligia Booker
Board Member Emeritus - Founder of La Luz Center

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!"

Jose Alvarez

Active Board Member

Jose Alvarez moved to Sonoma Valley in 1999 from Janamuato, Michoacan, Mexico. He attended Sonoma Valley High School and Santa Rosa Junior College. Shortly after graduating from high school, Jose started his banking career and has worked in financial services for 16 years. Jose is very passionate about financial literacy and has been partnering with local organizations over the last several years, sharing vital banking and money management information with the Sonoma Valley community. Jose has been recognized at the county level providing financial education. In 2018, Jose received the Forty Under 40 Award from the North Bay Business Journal, and in 2019 he was also recognized by the Business Journal with the Latino Leadership award for his work and dedication to improving financial literacy in our community. Jose is a former board member for the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center and he also serves as a board member and is part of the executive committee for the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Jennifer Gray Thompson
Development Committee - Business Executive

Jennifer is a life long resident of Sonoma Valley and resides in the Springs area with her family. She attended Santa Rosa Junior College and graduated from Dominican University in 2001 with degrees in English and History. After teaching for 10 years at Ursuline and Cardinal Newman High Schools, as well as Upward Bound at Napa Valley College, Jennifer went on to earn a masters degree in Public Administration from University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. Post-graduate school, Jennifer worked for District One from 2013 to 2017, covering the Sonoma Valley, for Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.  After the devastating fires of October 2017, she accepted her current position as Executive Director of Rebuild Northbay Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping our region rebuild better, greener, safer, and faster..

Yvonne Hall
Vice President - Development Committee
and Legacy Giving Committee Chair - Business Executive (Retired)

Born in New York State, Yvonne has been a resident of California for more than 50 years, the last 15 in Sonoma County.  She graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. degree in psychology.  Her 26-year professional career was spent with Levi Strauss & Co.  After starting with the company as a secretary, she went on to hold positions in Merchandising, Production and Product Development. Subsequently she served as President of Levi Strauss de Mexico SA de CV in Mexico City.  She was the first woman of any nationality to head a company in Mexico.  Her last position with Levi’s was V.P. of Merchandising and Product Development for the 14 segments of the Levi’s brand in the U.S.  Yvonne uses her skills and experience to support the non-profit community in Sonoma.  This has included board positions with La Luz Center, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and Pets Lifeline.   She rejoined the La Luz board in 2018 and currently serves on the Development and Strategic Planning committees. She currently resides in downtown Sonoma, reads voraciously, travels extensively and enjoys the great experience of living in the wine country.

Sydnie Kohara 
Development and PR Committees - Communications Consultant

Sydnie was born and raised in Louisiana, where her Japanese grandparents settled in 1928, one of the few Asian families in Central Louisiana at the time. An Emmy award-winning journalist, she received a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Louisiana State University and worked as an anchor and reporter for the next 30 years, covering news and newsmakers in the U.S., Asia and Europe with CNBC, CBS and ABC. She was part of the newsroom team awarded Peabody and Murrow Awards, two of the highest honors bestowed in U.S. broadcast journalism. Early in her career, she received a California Teachers Association John Swett award for her series on the struggle of immigrant children transitioning into the school system.

Sydnie began her lifelong interest in public service by working as a legislative aide while still in college. Governor George Deukmejian later appointed her to an executive communications position in a state department. Her non-profit experience includes volunteer work with Sonoma Valley’s Impact 100, Mentoring Alliance, Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley, Asia Society of Northern California, Commonwealth Club of California and the Junior League, where an after-school tutoring project resulted in a 30-year friendship with her former student.

As part of her current communications and consulting practice, Sydnie helps corporate leaders and legends tell their stories. She has developed and produced webinars, leadership and management programs, videos and special events for Fortune 500 companies and non-profits alike.


Sydnie and her husband, George, currently reside in the vibrant Agua Caliente neighborhood. She spends her free time fly fishing, enjoying her two grandchildren and running a retirement home for lazy chickens.

Robert P. Kowal 
Development Committee - Hospital Director (Retired)

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 serving on the Development, Finance and HR committees.  In addition Bob volunteers weekly  as a front desk receptionist at the Center. Bob currently is a sales associate at Sotheby’s Homes.

Nicholas Mendelson-Ontiveros
Finance Committee and 
Latino Leadership Committee Co-Chair - Financial Advisor

​Nicholas Mendelson-Ontiveros was born and raised in Sonoma Valley and is deeply rooted to his community and home town. Nick attended Flowery Elementary School, Adele Harrison Middle School, Sonoma Valley High School, Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University.  Nick graduated cum laude from Sonoma State with a business degree and a concentration in finance. Upon graduation, he started working at Morgan Stanley. His mother, Leticia Ontiveros, inspired Nick to give back to the community that raised him, take action on what he believes in and to put others first.  He is also a frequent speaker at clubs and organizations at Sonoma State University. Nick lives an active lifestyle and in his free time he enjoys being outdoors, working out, playing guitar, cooking and reading. 

Brian Nicholson
Microloan Committee - Private Equity Professional

Brian and his wife Brooke Geahan moved to Sonoma in 2018 after residing in Los Angeles and New York City for several years. The son of a Mexican immigrant, Brian quickly recognized the incredible value that La Luz was providing to the local community and reached out to get involved. He began his work with La Luz by volunteering with the organization’s microloan program and joined the Board in February of 2020. Brian is a Managing Director with Sonoma Brands, a private equity firm investing in emerging consumer brands across food & beverage, personal care and wellness. He previously spent several years at a New York based private equity firm and before that worked in investment banking in San Francisco. Brian received his B.A. from Brown University in 2004.

Bill Blosser

Acitve Board Member

Bill grew up in Oakland, California and moved to Sonoma in 2011 with his wife Dorinda.  In 1970 he co-founded Sokol Blosser Winery in the Dundee Hills of Oregon, building it to one of the largest wineries in the state. The winery is now operated by one of his sons and his daughter, leaving Bill time to continue his long history of public service. In Oregon, he successively served as chair of three state commissions and served on numerous industry and non-profit boards.  He also worked many years for an international engineering firm; his work took him to live and work throughout Latin America.  Prior to joining the Board, he served on the La Luz Latino Leadership Program committee. 


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La Luz Center is a 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit organization
​Tax ID #68-0228235


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