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 general membership meeting is held once per year.
2020 SBALT officers:
Dan Dungy, president
Emily Renzel, vice president
Sara Steiner, secretary
Ron Ross, treasurer
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, 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.
Ron Ross has been involved in agriculture since his graduation from the University of Florida. Starting in production agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, Ron worked in agricultural lending and served as Agricultural Commissioner for San Benito County from 2010-2015. Recognizing the importance of protecting working lands and open space as part of the local economy and quality of life for his community, Ron has served the Land Trust since 2004.
Sara Steiner is a long-time resident of Hollister’s Cienega Valley, with over 30 years of experience in wine production. Sara is currently winemaker for Gabilan Wine Company. As proprietor of San Benito Tea Company, she grew and packaged herbal teas for local markets. Sara acquired her rural roots while earning her B.S. degree at the University of California at Davis, and she greatly values the agriculture and open space that has supported her career.
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:
Dave Brigantino, San Benito Realty
Michael Brigantino, San Benito Realty
Sallie Calhoun, The Paicines Ranch
Christine Breen, Breen Law Firm
Mark Gibson, Gibson Farms
Kerry Tobias, C.P.A.
SBALT STAFF AND CONSULTANTS
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 consultants on our team:
Lynn Overtree 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 and serves on the board of the San Benito Firesafe Council.
Karminder Aulakh Brown is an agricultural conservation consultant and has coordinated the San Benito Working Landscapes Group for the past six years. She has worked for more than 20 years at the intersection of agriculture and conservation in California and southern Nevada, including positions with Resource Conservation Districts on California’s Central Coast, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. An avid gardener, she has lived in Hollister with her husband and two sons for the past 14 years.
Dan Dungy has called San Benito County home since 1993 and has served the Land Trust for 10 years as a volunteer and Director. Dan is retired from a career with California State Parks Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area. He deeply appreciates the land stewardship provided by San Benito farmers and ranchers for both economic and landscape values. Dan lives in Hollister with his wife Nancy, a teacher at Cienega School. Together they have three grown children.
Emily Renzel has resided in the Casa de Anza Adobe in San Juan Bautista for 11 years 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 currently serves on the Board of the San Juan Bautista Historical Society.
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.
Cathy Summa-Wolfe, MBA, has worked for California Community Colleges and nonprofit organizations for over 30 years. She served for 17 years as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Cabrillo College in Aptos, followed by 10 years as the Executive Director of Advancement, Community Relations, and Communications at College of Marin. She now works as a higher education consultant at College of Alameda. Cathy’s graphic design and communications campaigns have received numerous national and regional awards. She is an avid traveler and wildlife photographer, whose photos have been published by National Geographic and Audubon. Cathy lives in San Juan Bautista with her husband Michael, two horses, a few chickens, and two cats.
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.