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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
Rick Carpenedo, Treasurer                 

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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. 

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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 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. 

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Rick Carpenedo was born and raised in San Jose when it still had many orchards and farms. When he moved to Tres Pinos in 2015, he was concerned with the increasing development in the county. He was excited to discover the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust and began supporting its efforts to preserve our disappearing agricultural land. Rick earned his Bachelor’s degree and has been in the pipeline industry for over twenty years. He enjoys spending time with family and is learning to train horses. He and his wife, Julie, own Shetland ponies and throw pony parties for friends on their 10-acre property.  They have one son, Nicholas, who graduated from San Benito High School. 

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Jessica French Brem was born and raised in San Benito County where she is a fifth-generation cattle rancher along with her parents and brother. She is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she majored in Agriculture Science and minored in Agriculture Business. Shortly after graduation she worked for the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce as their President/CEO. Since then she has worked full-time in the hunting and cattle operations of her family’s ranch, M&J French Ranch, LLC, as well as San Benito Cattle Company and Henrietta East Range, LLC.  Jessica loves spending time with her husband Eric and two daughters, Millie and Gwen.

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Sara Steiner, fourth generation San Franciscan, spent her childhood in the wild lands of the Presidio and riding the Marin headlands.  She graduated from the University of California Davis in the ‘70’s with a B.S. degree in Zoological Illustration and fortunately enough chemistry to ride the Sonoma County winemaking wave all the way to San Benito County in the early ‘90’s. She has called the Cienega Valley home for over 30 years and considers her conservation work with SBALT giving back to agriculture and open spaces in which she thrived.

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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.” 



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

  • Bob Connolly

  • 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.

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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:

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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.

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Laura Kirschmann 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.

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Karminder Aulakh Brown 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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