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Class of 2024

Albert Madrid

Aera Energy

Process Specialist

Albert Madrid is the Process Specialist for Aera Energy in San Ardo, bringing 18 years of invaluable experience in the oil field industry. In his role, he oversee wells, facilities, contractors, and employees, ensuring smooth operations and adherence to safety protocols. Being the first generation oil field worker in his family, Albert takes pride in his roots. Born in King City and currently residing there, Albert is deeply connected to the community. A graduate of King City High School he actively contributes as an engaged member. Outside of work, he finds joy in spending time with family, engaging in sports activities, and exploring new destinations through travel. Passionate about both personal and professional growth, Albert is dedicated to making a positive impact in both work and community endeavors. 

Amy Ivey

Bay Federal Credit Union

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

Amy oversees the development, implementation, and execution of enterprise-wide marketing strategies that support growth and brand recognition. She is responsible for marketing strategy, public relations, corporate communications, events, employee education and development, financial education, and community development. Amy is a Certified Strategic Marketing Executive and a graduate of Western CUNA Management School. She holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Marketing from California Southern University and is pursuing her Masters in Business Administration. She is an Emeritus Trustee of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County, serves on the Board of Directors for the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, Monarch Services, Monterey County Business Council, and volunteers for the Cabrillo College Foundation Women's Educational Success program.. She is a past member of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Cathy Weidemann

Cambium Assessment

Program Manager 

Cathy is a Senior Program Manager at Cambium Assessment, an educational technology company providing student assessment in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and English language proficiency to K-12 students. She leads a cross-functional team of software development project managers, psychometricians, and scoring/reporting analysts to ensure online assessments are delivered cleanly to students, and that actionable data is delivered to educational partners accurately and on time. Originally from Thousand Oaks, Cathy has lived in Monterey County for 25 years. Prior to her career in assessment, Cathy studied winemaking at UC Davis, and earned an MBA at San Jose State University. When not working, Cathy enjoys running (she has completed the Big Sur Marathon 5 times) and volunteering as a ride leader for the Salinas High School Cowboys mountain bike racing team. She also enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and two teenage sons. 

Danae Thomas

United Way of Monterey County

VP of Finance 

Danae Thomas has recently relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lived all of her life. She has 17 years of experience in non-profit accounting, predominantly in the child development field. Danae is the VP of Finance for the United Way of Monterey County. This opportunity with United Way of Monterey County allows her to help serve a community that she has wanted to be part of for years now. Danae received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and MBA from the University of Phoenix.  She lives in beautiful Pacific Grove where she enjoys reading, cooking, riding her bike and coastal walks with her dogs; when she isn’t busy working towards her doctorate degree.

Danny Bernstein



Danny is the founder and CEO of HawkTower, an emerging venture capital firm focused on Central California. The firm is dedicated to establishing a thriving startup ecosystem and entrepreneurial network in the region, with Monterey County as a critical hub. A seasoned operator, investor, and advisor, Danny's career spans 20 years in high technology, including leading critical initiatives at Google and Microsoft as an executive. At Google, Danny led strategic partnerships, accelerator programs, and business development for Google Search, Google AI, the Chrome browser, and other flagship products. At Microsoft, Danny led product lines for Microsoft Teams. Danny is an alum of Stanford Graduate School of Business (Executive Program) and a graduate of the University of California, Davis. He lives in Carmel Valley with his family and puppy, River. 

Dina Nieto Uribe

Hartnell College Career & Transfer Hub

Career Coordinator

Dina Nieto Uribe has over 20 years of education experience and is deeply committed to empowering students to achieve their career aspirations. Her student-centered approach focuses on understanding each individual's unique interests, skills, and goals, providing personalized guidance and support to equip students for their career journey. Dina is enthusiastic about connecting students with valuable opportunities such as internships and networking events, collaborating with employers to prepare students for the workforce. Outside of work, Dina enjoys spending time with her family, finding joy in personal connections, and is passionate about making a positive impact in students' lives, eager to support them in realizing their full potential.

Dr. Gayle Pitman

Associate Vice President of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness, and Success

Hartnell College

Dr. Gayle Pitman  oversees strategic planning, student success and equity initiatives, institutional planning and research, and accreditation. She brings 25 years of higher education experience to Hartnell, as a student affairs professional in Counseling and Psychological Services at UC Santa Cruz and the University of San Francisco, a full-time faculty in Psychology and Women’s Studies at Sacramento City College, and as the Dean of Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness at SCC. She holds a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from Tufts University and master’s and doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology, and she is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Pitman moonlights as a children’s book author and has published eight books, most of which focus on LGBTQ+ identity and history, and have won major awards from the American Library Association and the International Reading Association. She has been an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community for more than 30 years. In her spare time, She loves living in the Central Coast region and enjoys riding her Icelandic horse and spending time with her family. 

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Gladys Rodriguez-Morales

Fenton & Keller


Gladys is an attorney at Fenton & Keller PC in Monterey.  Her practice focuses on employment litigation representing employers and employees in all areas of labor and employment matters including wage and hour issues and complex wage and hour class actions, harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation claims before state and federal courts and administrative agencies, including the California Labor Commissioner, the Civil Rights Department, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Her practice also includes advising employers on employment related matters, including workplace policies and procedures.  Gladys is also a workplace investigator, writes employment related articles for local publications, provides statutorily required sexual harassment prevention seminars, and is a presenter on various employment law topics, in both English and Spanish.

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Jessica Valero

Salinas Valley Health

Cancer Resource Center Manager

Jessica is the manager of the Susan Bacon Cancer Resource Center at Salinas Valley Health. Compassion, dedication, and perseverance motivates Jessica to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients. Jessica’s nursing career spans over twenty years, focusing on treatment, education, care coordination, providing resources and support, and improving access to healthcare. Jessica earned an A.S. in Nursing from Maurine Church Coburn School of Nursing and a B.S. in Nursing from Aspen University. In addition, she holds a certification in Oncology Nursing. Overseeing the Cancer Resource Center gives Jessica an opportunity to utilize her nursing experience and expertise to work with her team ensuring all cancer patients receive equitable care. Additionally, volunteering on the board of the Seaside High Athletics Booster Club, the Salinas Valley Health’s Relay for Life team and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society offers Jessica the chance to give back to a community she holds close to her heart. Born and raised in the Monterey Peninsula, Jessica enjoys spending time with her family, cheering her son’s baseball team on, outdoor activities, and traveling.

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Jose Luis Barajas

Salinas United Business Association

Program Analyst 

Jose Luis, originally from Michoacan, Mexico and a life-long resident of Salinas, is active in community events and organizations, having attended local schools and coming from a family with a 15-year business in East Salinas. As a Program Analyst at Salinas United Business Association, he drives business growth initiatives, including the South County Roundtable, the Black Business Expo, and El Sueño Americano con Su ITIN. He is a member of the Steering Committee for the City of Salinas General Plan Update, advocating for fair development, and serves as Chair on the Measure E Oversight Committee which oversees approximately $18 million in annual tax revenue for Salinas. In addition, Jose Luis serves as Chairman of the Housing Advisory Committee for Monterey County and as President of the Salinas Valley Young Professionals, where he leads efforts to empower young professionals in the Salinas Valley with the relationships, education and awareness needed to be a leader and make an impact. Jose Luis is also serves on the Salinas Valley Pride Celebrations Board of Directors where he helps advocate for LGBTQIA2S+ residents in the Salinas Valley. 

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Karina Gutierrez-Barboza

Community Foundation for Monterey County

Grants and Data Manager

Karina Gutierrez-Barboza is the Grants and Data Manager and brings over a decade of dedicated service to the Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC), where she leads the record-keeping for all grantmaking activities. In this role, she plays a pivotal part in developing and managing database systems in collaboration with the core CFMC team. Karina's expertise in data analysis and reporting is instrumental in guiding strategic decisions. Karina maintains key relationships with departmental heads, including the Directors of Finance, Grantmaking, and the Philanthropic Services team. Her leadership is crucial in streamlining interdepartmental grant payment processes, ensuring efficiency and accuracy in operations. Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and raised in Bakersfield, CA, Karina previously worked for an environmental engineering company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beyond her professional endeavors, she enjoys outdoor activities, and the company of her playful puppy, Loki.

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Kevin Wen


Manager, Market Research and Category Insights

Kevin Wen is Market Research and Category Insights Manager at Driscoll’s. Kevin and his team help Driscoll’s to earn greater consumer advocacy within the fresh fruit category through research of consumer trends and analysis of market data. He specializes in bringing direct consumer feedback to brand and product development decisions through focus groups and surveys. Prior to joining Driscoll’s, Kevin supported the accounting operations of his family’s dentistry. In his spare time Kevin enjoys movies, science fiction shows and books, and traveling. Since moving to Monterey County from Los Angeles, he has appreciated the close access to local marine life and also learned to scuba dive.

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Laura Pruneda

City of Marina

Interim Director of Finance 

Laura Pruneda, CPA is a seasoned professional who has assumed command in various industries and capacities, such as finance, operations, real estate sales and business development. She is known as a strategic thinker & thought leader with a structured approach to assessing situations, managing risk & solving problems. She currently serves as the interim Director of Finance for the City of Marina. Prior to that she braved the burgeoning, complex and ever evolving California cannabis industry as a trailblazing VP of Finance and then as a CFO Consultant for a few cannabis start-up operations. Pruneda has been a resident of Monterey County since grade school, only having left for a few years while earning a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering at Stanford University. She has served on local boards such as Partners for Peace and Monterey County Workforce Development, coached winning Pop Warner football teams and enjoyed participating in committees and co-chairing events in the Downtown Salinas Rotary International Club. Laura is a proud mother of two young adults who are the loves of her life and is grateful for her wonderful family and friends. She considers herself a citizen of the world and is passionate about international adventure travel (40 countries and counting) where she can experience new food, music, dance as well as gain exposure to different cultures, ideas and values. Her hobbies are jiujitsu, hiking, creating cherished memories, health and wellness and last but not least, random acts of kindness and volunteerism.

Linda Castillo

Comerica Bank

Vice President for Small Business Marketing

Linda Castillo has extensive experience developing, implementing, and managing marketing and community relations programs that reinforce branding, shape culture, and strengthen communities. She is currently the Vice President for Small Business Marketing and Chair of the California Hispanic Business Resource Group at Comerica Bank. In this role, she fosters relationships with local leaders, business groups, and community organizations to develop programs that help small businesses thrive. Previously, she worked at the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium, where she created events and managed communications to raise awareness about ocean conservation. In 2005, she founded Modern Latina, an online magazine designed to celebrate, inspire, and empower Latina women. She launched the Modern Latina Book Club, a robust online collective, to support Latinx authors. She is a fellow of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley Latino Board Leadership Academy and HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality) Leadership Institute. She serves as a board member for the San Jose State University Latino Alumni Network, secretary for Lincoln Elementary PTO, member of the Latina Coalition Silicon Valley, Girl Scouts Troop volunteer and a mentor to college students for SJSU and WELI (Women Education and Leadership Institute) at Hartnell College. Linda holds a B.S. in Marketing and an M.S. in Mass Communications from San Jose State University. She is a mother of two little girls, inspiring them to be successful Latina leaders. She is a lifelong learner and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and hiking.

Maribel Roque

Blue Zones Project Monterey County

Senior Organization Lead for Worksites

Maribel Roque is a proud Salinas native, born and raised in Monterey County. Holding strong roots in the Salinas Valley is why being a part of an initiative that is working towards helping transform the well-being of her community has a deeper meaning to her.   Her passion for her community has led her to serve on various boards, committees, and volunteer to many local organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Marketing from the University of Phoenix. She is a proud mother to her son and loving fur baby, Zeke. Maribel enjoys living minutes away from enjoying a walk on the beach or hiking at one our many beautiful trails. 

Marzette Henderson

Monterey-Salinas Transit

Transportation Manager

Marzette Henderson serves as Transportation Manager at Monterey-Salinas Transit District where he oversees service delivery by supporting the needs of his dedicated team. Marzette is also a member of the Transportation Agency of Monterey County’s Bike and Pedestrian Committee. His diverse background is shaped by an upbringing spent living around the United States and abroad as part of a military family before settling in Monterey in 2013. His professional experience includes military service in the Marine Corps, followed by years in photography and video production in the Bay Area. Outside work, he enjoys traveling with his wife and daughter, cycling, and immersing himself in history, arts, culture, urban planning, and personal finance. Marzette has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from Academy of Art and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Transportation Management at San Jose State University.

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Mi Ra Park


Senior Advisor

Mi Ra Park is a strategic leader with a deep background in human resources management, finance, operations, and sustainable public finance. Currently serving as the Senior Advisor at MTC, focusing on local government management consulting, she brings a wealth of experience from her previous roles. As the Chief Operating Officer at Kestrel 360 Inc., she provided strategic financial and HR leadership, enhancing efficiency and control. At Central Coast Community Energy (3CE), she served as the Director of Human Resources and Administrative Services, focusing on organizational planning and staff development. Her early career as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst at the California State Department of Fish and Wildlife helped her develop a keen appreciation for how technology is used in government for policy and natural resource management.  Mi Ra established her roots in Monterey in 1998 after relocating from Los Angeles to attend the then-newly minted California State University, Monterey Bay. She currently serves on the Advisory Board at Kestrel, 360, Inc, a sustainable finance technology start-up and dedicates her time to supporting a local women's shelter. 

Monica Lal

Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

President and CEO 

A Monterey Peninsula native, Monica was raised in Monterey and attended local schools. With parents from the Fiji Islands, and of South Asian descent and Mexico, respectively, she grew up amongst religious and cultural diversity. Following a degree in history from Reed College, Monica pursued a 25-year career as a professional chef, in hotels and free-standing restaurants working both nationally and internationally. Seeking to be involved further in the community, Monica joined the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce in 2019. She currently serves as the President/CEO in an area with hospitality as the foremost economic driver and industry. In this capacity she is honored to serve on a number of community boards and advisory councils. A lifelong volunteer, Monica currently serves as Board President of the Bojuka Ryu Parent-Student Association in Marina ( Judo Club), Loaves & Fishes at San Carlos Cathedral, co-leader of Girl Scout Troop 30610, and is actively involved in her children’s schools.

Nick Kite

Director of ReStores and Marketing

Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay

Nicholas Kite is the Director of ReStores and Marketing for Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay, bringing his passion for community engagement to the forefront since 2016. With his steadfast leadership, he has served as the Director of ReStores since 2019, spearheading initiatives that drive sustainable growth and support for the organization's mission. Nicholas holds a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Photography from the esteemed Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, enriching his perspective with a creative lens. A multifaceted leader, he has also served as a Recreation and Cultural Services Commissioner for the City of Marina, further demonstrating his commitment to enhancing the quality of life within his community. Nicholas is a committed advocate for the non-profit sector, currently lending his expertise as a member of the County of Monterey Economic Development Committee. As the president of the non-profit Marina Youth Arts and a board member of both the Monterey Stinging Jellies Disc Golf Club and the Monterey Moose Lodge, Nicholas exemplifies proactive engagement within his community. Born on Fort Ord, Nicholas's roots run deep in Monterey County, where he spends his free time with his family, volunteering, or mastering our local disc golf courses.

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Dr. Paige P. Viren

Executive Director

Sustainable Hospitality and Tourism Management Program

California State University Monterey Bay

Dr. Paige P. Viren is a dedicated advocate for travel experiences that foster cultural understanding and environmental sustainability. Boasting a robust academic background, she previously served as an Associate Professor at San Francisco State University before joining Cal State Monterey Bay. Specializing in adventure travel and sustainable community-based tourism research, Paige has made significant contributions to the field. With degrees from Bowling Green State University and Michigan State University, Paige spent over 13 years in the travel industry, specializing in adventure travel and earning certifications such as Certified Travel Consultant (CTC) and Certified Adventure Travel Specialist (ATS). In her leisure time, she indulges in kayaking, hiking, exploring California, and eagerly planning her next adventure, driven by a steadfast commitment to sustainable tourism and a continued passion for shaping the future of the travel industry.

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Patty Winters

Bay Federal Credit Union

Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer

Patty Winters is the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. Patty oversees the development, implementation and execution of enterprise-wide human resources strategies that support the credit union’s strategic plan including Recruitment, Talent Management, Talent Development, Employee Relations, Compensation, Benefits, and Organizational Development. Patty also oversees facilities, including all Bay Federal branch locations to ensure the security and safety of staff, members, and visitors on Credit Union premises. Patty joined the organization in 2012 and has been a leader in Human Resources for nearly three decades, focused on driving business results through the unique intersection of strategy, talent, and culture.  Patty earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Purdue University and is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR). She serves as the Chair for Women In Philanthropy and on the Board of Directors for United Way of Santa Cruz County.

Rachel Biby

Montage Health

Director of Business Development

Rachel, originally from Orange County, relocated to Monterey a little over two years ago to join Montage Health. Rachel is the Director of Business Development and oversees new business opportunities, partnerships, employer engagement, decision support and Destination Care. She has over 14 years of experience in healthcare and was previously working in academic medicine at UCI Health. She earned an MBA from University of California Irvine and holds a BS degree in Business Administration from Cal State Long Beach. Rachel enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and tri-pod dog Hank. She is often devouring the latest best-selling novel, in the outdoors on a trail or enjoying a glass of wine.

Rachel Gaudoin

Monterey One Water

Communication Services Administrator

Rachel Gaudoin is part of the government and community relations team at Monterey One Water, where the mission is to turn the area’s wastewater into safe, resilient water solutions for the community and the environment. She works closely with engineers and operators to “translate” technical information for greater community understanding of the Agency’s services. Rachel is also the Federal Advocacy Lead responsible for the development and execution of a successful federal legislative and government advocacy program. Prior to joining Monterey One Water in 2017, she served eight years in nonprofit communications with an emphasis in educational outreach. Her experience includes print and digital communications, graphic design, and strategic relationship building. Rachel has a B.S. in Management and Communications from Santa Clara University, a degree she uses professionally and when playing sea monster with her two-year-old.

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Reid Norris

Community Foundation for Monterey County

Leadership Development Specialist

Reid Norris is the Leadership Development Specialist at the Community Foundation for Monterey County, helping to inspire philanthropy and strengthen communities at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. Reid invests in the great people of the Central Coast through programs like LEAD Institute and grantmaking to help the nonprofit community grow stronger, more resilient, and equitable. Before coming to the Community Foundation, he was the Executive Director of Everyone’s Harvest, a nonprofit that operates farmers’ markets and nutrition access programs in Monterey County. Reid’s interests include visual art, music, hiking, tennis, and sustainable farming. He is a graduate of ALBA’s ten-month organic farmer training program, PEPA. For the last ten years, Reid and his wife Megan have grown olives and other fruit trees on a small, sustainable orchard in Carmel Valley. They have a three-year-old son, Charlie.

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Rob O'Keefe

See Monterey

President & CEO

Rob O'Keefe is a seasoned executive known for his innovative approach to business growth and organizational development. Currently serving as the President & CEO for SeeMonterey, the tourism company for Monterey County, Rob brings extensive experience in destination marketing and brand development to the table.Rob's career has taken him from the vibrant lights of Las Vegas to the serene beauty of Monterey and various locales in between. In Monterey, he spearheaded the company's recovery efforts from the challenges of COVID-19, leading to enhanced community engagement, a highly motivated team, and a budget increase of over 50% through strategic restructuring. During his tenure in Las Vegas, Rob played a pivotal role in developing the iconic "What Happens Here, Stays Here" destination brand campaign, solidifying the city's reputation as a premier tourist destination. Passionate about sustainable and responsible travel, Rob has actively contributed to the industry as the Chair of the first-ever Sustainability & Stewardship Committee for the California Travel Association. Additionally, he led the Branding Sub-committee for Visit California's Professional Meetings & Events (PME) initiative, marking the organization's first foray into attracting Meetings & Conventions.

Sonia M. De La Rosa

County of Monterey 

County Administrative Officer

Sonia M. De La Rosa stepped into the CAO position in January 2023 following a long-standing career with the County of Fresno, where her hard work brought forward many improvements to services which have enhanced the lives of the residents there. She has extensive experience working with challenging issues such as homelessness, supporting victims of crime and law enforcement. The first Latina County of Monterey CAO, De La Rosa was raised in Monterey County and has maintained her roots in the community. She is the product of parents who worked in the fields of the Salinas Valley who instilled in her a deep value of hard work and dedication. De La Rosa has a track record of strong leadership both inside and outside of government and brings her love of public service to her role. She received a dual Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminology and Chicano Latino Studies from the California State University Fresno in 1998.  

Tania Santos

Platinum Multiservices, Inc

Founder & CEO

Tania Santos immigrated from Oaxaca Mexico at the age of 14. After 24 years in this glorious country, she has embraced the language, culture, and entrepreneurship. Tania Santos is a tax professional with more than 18 years of experience and holds an IRS Enrolled Agent Credential. Tania serves the business community by empowering small business owners with tools and knowledge to that will help them grow and navigate the tax system. She currently serves as a board member for the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of commerce. Tania holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with emphasis in accounting from the University of Massachusetts. She enjoys singing, hike, travel and spend quality time with her children, family, and friends. 

Taylor Honrath

Elkhorn Slough Foundation

Associate Director 

Taylor first fell in love with the Monterey Bay area as a young man devouring everything written by John Steinbeck. An amateur naturalist, he enjoys backpacking, astronomy, birdwatching, and getting lost in the backcountry of Ventana/Big Sur. He serves as the associate director of Elkhorn Slough Foundation where he gets to couple his experience working in the nonprofit world with his passion for protecting the natural world.

Topher Mueller

Chartwell School

Director of Academic and Assistive Technologies

After starting his career in education and finishing graduate school, Topher moved from the Midwest to Monterey County in 2000 to join Darryl L Sink & Associates, a Monterey-based instructional design team. In 2008, he decided to return to K-12 education at Stevenson School and continued there for nine years as a teacher, coach, and director of technology and STEM-related enrichment programs. In 2017, Topher was invited to join the team at Chartwell School in Seaside to develop a strengths-based STEAM program to enrich the school’s literacy-focused programs. He continues there as part of Chartwell's leadership team, assisting especially in innovative methods to leverage the interests and strengths of Chartwell's neurodiverse students to help them achieve their academic goals and their pursuits beyond school. While doing so, he directs academic and assistive technologies throughout the organization and is a presenter with the Chartwell Teaching Institute. Topher has served on local boards with Rotary International, with Loaves, Fishes & Computers, and now with Plus Ultra Robotics; he lives in Monterey with his wife Elena, an alumna of Leadership Monterey, and three rescue dogs.

Pictures and Bios Coming Soon

Tara Christion

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