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SBALT BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The San Benito Agricultural Land Trust is governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. The Board is composed of community leaders who have extensive experience with agriculture, public and private lands management, and related industries.  The Board meets monthly and a public annual meeting is held in December yearly.

SBALT Officers:                    
Michael Reeves, President    
Paul Hain, Vice President
Emily Renzel, Secretary
Tina Jollyschmidt, Treasurer      

Michael Reeves

Michael Reeves was born in Stockton and spent his later youth in Los Altos, spending summers at the family ranch on Fremont Peak.  He holds an associate’s degree in diesel mechanics and a B.S. in Plant and Soil Sciences from Chico State University.  Since 1990, Michael has divided his time working as a mechanic and sharing management of the family’s cattle with his cousin. The 11,000-acre Gabilan Ranch has been owned and operated by Michael’s family since 1929 and was placed in a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy in 2006.  Michael and his wife Cindy live in San Juan Bautista, and have two grown children, Anna and Patrick. 

Paul Hain with horse

Paul F. Hain, past president and 5th generation California farmer/rancher in the Tres Pinos area of California is the owner/operator of John Hain & Sons and Hain Ranch Organics. He received his B.S. in Pomology from Cal Poly, SLO before returning to the ranch to work with his father and uncle.  He is active in the Central Coast Ag Water Quality Coalition, San Benito Resource Conservation District, and a past director the Community Alliance With Family Farmers. Paul  is a fellow of the California Ag Leadership Program.  This Land Trust founding father is a recent honoree of the Community Foundation for San Benito County Philanthropy Night.

Emily Renzel

Emily Renzel has resided in the Casa de Anza Adobe in San Juan Bautista since 2007 and operates Old Adobe Antiques.  A fourth generation Californian, Emily has a passion for protecting the State’s farms, ranches, open space, and natural heritage.   Emily served 12 years on the Palo Alto City Council and worked hard to protect the Palo Alto Baylands.   The City named a 155-acre wetland park after her in 1992.  Emily also serves on the Board of the San Juan Bautista Historical Society. 

Tina Jolly Schmidt

Tina Jollyschmidt’s family moved to Hollister when she was 11 years old. She attended local schools then got her degree in nursing from San Jose State University. In her 36 years as a nurse, Tina has worked in oncology at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz and the bone marrow transplant unit at Stanford Hospital. After retirement, she moved back to San Benito County and currently resides near Paicines. She has been a partner in the family business, Peterson Land & Cattle Co., for over three decades. The company raises cattle on property they own next to the Pinnacles National Park and has been involved in a number of conservation projects to improve grazing and enhance wildlife on their properties. The Schmidt family has been ranching in south San Benito County since the 1880’s. Tina is passionate about fiber arts and is an avid spinner and weaver.

Nik Dholakia Photo

Nikhilesh (“Nik”) Dholakia is Professor Emeritus from the University of Rhode Island in the field of Marketing. In 2020, he and his wife Ruby, also professor emerita from URI, made a full-time, life-changing transition, moving 3000 miles to Hollister, CA. Soon after his arrival in San Benito County, Nik engaged with SBALT as a donor and volunteer on the Public Relations Committee. He quickly recognized the need to find a balance between agriculture and open space, and the very real, economic demands of a growing community. Says Nik, “The forces for urbanization in San Benito County are so strong. I would like to see a strengthening of the planning efforts to protect the agricultural lands which can never be replaced once they are lost.” 

Bob Connolly

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Robert Connolly is a retired fire officer from Santa Clara County Fire Protection District since2012. His duties in the Fire Service included Firefighter Engineer/Paramedic, Fire Company Officer, CA State Fire Training Officer, Special Operations Task Force Officer, and EMS instructor. He was also recognized as a Subject Matter Expert advisor for hiring new employees for Santa Clara County Fire and various other departments in the Bay Area.  Bob attended UMass Boston and Boston State College, majoring in History andAnthropology. Bob receives tremendous joy in being a grandparent to his three grandchildren, a loving husband to his wife, Darby, and a proud parent to his adult children, Ryan and Caitlin. 

Dave portrait.JPG

Dave Brigantino is a lifelong resident of San Benito County. He grew up raising apricots, walnuts, and cattle. He attended Palma High School and Hartnell College. He started farming in 1976 with his brother, Chris, and became a real estate agent with his father, Ralph, in 1984. He currently operates a sizeable cattle operation and owns several farming ranches. Dave was a member of SBALT’s Board of Directors in 2016-2017 and has served on the Lands Committee. 

Advisors/Consultants



SBALT ADVISORS IN THE FIELD

The Land Trust is fortunate to have the support, expertise, and guidance of community  leaders who are dedicated to preserving our rural heritage. 
Our advisory support includes:

  • Christine Breen, Breen Law Firm

  • Dave Brigantino, San Benito Realty

  • Michael Brigantino, San Benito Realty

  • Sallie Calhoun, The Paicines Ranch

  • Zooey Diggory

  • Dan Dungy

  • Katherine Foster

  • Mark Gibson, Gibson Farms

  • Jeremy Lackey

  • Julie Morris, Morris Grassfed

  • Ron Ross

  • Cathy Summa-Wolfe

  • Kerry Tobias, C.P.A.

  • Rick Carpenedo

  • Jessica French Brem

  • Sara Steiner

Brandenburg
Cook
Soap Lake

SBALT STAFF

To insure a vibrant organization that can grow to keep pace with the increasing pressures of urban development, we are pleased to have these valued team members:

Lynn Overtree

Lynn Overtree, Executive Director, has more than 30 years of experience working for land trusts in California. She brings to SBALT her breadth of knowledge about managing land - including grazing, timber, recreation, and wildlands – as well as skills in planning, acquisitions, fundraising, and administration. She recently worked on the successful national accreditation of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County.  Lynn is a resident of San Juan Bautista.

Michael P Profile Photo.jpg

Michael Panitchpakdi, Projects Assistant, was born in Fremont and raised in Palo Alto, California. Holding a B.S. in Environmental Earth and Soil Sciences from Cal Poly SLO, he is working for SBALT as a Projects Assistant. In his free time, he enjoys playing baseball, going to the gym, and trying new foods.

Laura Kirschmann

Laura Kirschmann, Administrative and Communications Assistant, was born and raised in San Martin, California, and moved to Hollister in 1993. Having worked in the legal and medical fields for 30+ years, she is excited to start a new adventure with SBALT as the Administrative and Communications Assistant. Laura has been married for 32 years to her husband Mike and they have two adult daughters and two dogs. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, hiking, and playing tennis.

Karminder Brown

Karminder Aulakh Brown, Landowner Relations Consultant, has worked at the intersection of agriculture and conservation in California and southern Nevada for more than 25 years. Since 2012 she has coordinated the San Benito Working Landscapes Group, a voluntary network of landowners, agencies and conservation organizations, which aims to preserve San Benito County rangelands. She provides consulting support to SBALT in the areas of communications and landowner relations. An avid gardener, Karminder has lived in Hollister with her husband and two sons since 2005.

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