Kate McLean, Chair
Kate McLean provides consulting services to nonprofit organizations and foundations in areas of executive coaching, feasibility studies, strategic planning, community assessment, board development and program design. Kate has a deep history in starting and growing nonprofit programs and organizations. She has developed innovative programs that became models around the country. She helped create Interface Children, Family Services where she served as Executive Director for 18 years and she was the President of the Ventura County Community Foundation where she increased assets from $300,000 to more than $70 million in current and future planned gifts.
She has been on the inaugural boards of the Ventura County AIDS Partnership; the League of California Community Foundations; Ventura County Leadership Academy, KCLU-Ventura County’s National Public Radio station; California Child, Youth, Family Coalition, the Social Justice Fund for Ventura County and many others.
She served on the Boards for California Lutheran University, The Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Foundation, the Ventura County Civic Alliance and Interface. She currently is on the Board of a national women’s health organization and she chairs the Board for the Center for Nonprofit Leadership. Kate has her bachelors in sociology, masters in business administration and an honorary Doctor of Laws.
William Kearney, Co-Chair
A native Californian, William Kearney graduated from UCLA in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Following a four-year managerial position with a paper recycling plant, he joined Merrill Lynch in 1975. During his career with Merrill Lynch, Bill has coordinated private placements for the West Coast, functioned as the Sales Director for offices from Encino to San Luis Obispo and served on the National Advisory to Merrill Lynch Management. In 2004, Bill was honored with the Merrill Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to serving on many non-profit boards, Bill has served as the president of six different Ventura County charitable organizations: Casa Pacifica, Ventura County Taxpayers Association, Rubicon Theatre Company, Ventura Rotary Club, the CSU Channel Islands Foundation Board and the Foundation Board for the Community Memorial Health System. Over the years, Bill has received several service honors: the Milton M. Teague Award from the United Way, the Guardian Angel Award from Casa Pacifica, the Larry and Barbara Meister Community Service Award, the Robert J. Lagomarsino Award for higher education, and the Dr. Cephas Bard Community Leadership Award from the Community Memorial Health System. In 2011, Bill and his wife, Elise, were named Ventura County Philanthropists of the year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Most recently, during the graduation ceremony in May 2015, Bill was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from California State University at Channel Islands for his service to the University.
Al Lowe, Secretary
Al Lowe has lived, worked, and thrived in Camarillo for over 40 years. His physician father and his mother were extremely philanthropic. They raised him with a deep faith, a loving heart, a strong work ethic, and a desire to give to others!
Al received his BA in Civil Engineering and later earned his Professional Engineering Certification. He has been a General Contractor for over 38 years and is Founder/President of Al Lowe Construction.
Al is passionate about community service and has served on the Board of Directors for Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, Food Share and the Alliance for the Arts Board of Directors. He currently serves on the Camarillo Health Care District Advisory Panel and the Camarillo Hospice Advisory Panel. Al is a member and past President of the Camarillo Rotary Club. He founded and Co-Chaired the Care for Kids Golf Classic, raising over 1.4 million dollars to benefit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families. Al is dearly loved and supported by his wife, Petra, his five grown children, and his amazing seven grandchildren. He loves to travel and is an avid sports enthusiast. He is grateful everyday to live in this beautiful community, filled with treasured family, friends, and endless opportunities!
Mike Sedell, Treasurer
Mike Sedell retired in 2012 from the position of City Manager with the City of Simi Valley, California, a position he had held with the unanimous support of his City Councils for 17 years. Prior to that Mike had served as Simi Valley’s Assistant City Manager, Deputy City Manager, and various other City administrative positions for a total of 37 years with the City. In addition, Mike had left the City and served as Chief of Staff to Congressman (and former Simi Valley Mayor) Elton Gallegly in Washington D.C. and in California from 1986-1990.
Mike holds a Bachelor Degree in Political Science and Urban Studies from Cal State Northridge, and received his Masters Degree in Public Administration from USC in 1975. For many years, Mike also taught a seminar in Intergovernmental Relations with Cal State Northridge’s Master of Public Administration program.
In 2013, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Mike to a Trustee position on the County’s Retirement Association Board, a nine Member Board which is responsible for the oversight and investment of over $4.2 billion of retirement funds on behalf of the County and its employees. He also currently serves as Past Chair of the Ventura County Health Clinic Oversight Board and has been a long-term Board Member and Past Chair of the Board of Interface Children/Family Services.
Born and raised in West Los Angeles, Mike came to Simi Valley in 1972 and currently resides there. His wife of 37 years passed away in 2015 and he has a son who is an attorney and lives in Seattle.
Jessica received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Pitzer College. Formerly an associate at Wasserman, Comden, Casselman and Esenten, LLP, Jessica has now been an Assistant General Counsel at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board since 2012. Jessica is also formerly a board member of MICOP (the Mixteco Indigenous Community Organizing Project).
Yissel Barajas is the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for Reiter Affiliated Companies (RAC), the world’s largest fresh multi-berry producer. Yissel leads RAC’s Talent, Culture, and Leadership strategies, ensuring the Human Resources strategy is aligned with business objectives.
As part of her commitment to her community, she has volunteered on the Board of various community organizations including, the California Coalition for Rural Housing, the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition and the American Red Cross of Ventura County. She also served on the steering committee of the Ventura County Farm Worker Housing Task Force and the Ventura County Agricultural Museum. She recently joined the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety External Advisory Board.
Yissel lives with her husband, Jaime, and their two children in Camarillo where they enjoy hikes, bike trails, and participating in community events. She stays balanced by running, and continuously learning by traveling and reading
Born into a pioneer Santa Paula ranching family, Betsy Blanchard Chess grew up with a desire to understand and preserve Ventura County agriculture. She has a keen awareness and respect for the contributions of the past as they enrich the future. She continues her family’s deep commitment to community involvement and support.
She has written extensively on Ventura County agricultural and business history and in 1988 became editor and publisher of The Broadcaster Magazine for the Farm Bureau of Ventura County. In 2004, the magazine was expanded to include Santa Barbara County and renamed Central Coast Farm & Ranch. She retired from the magazine in 2013. Betsy has had a concurrent career as an arts manager and volunteer. She has been Executive Director of New West Symphony, interim ED for the Rubicon Theatre and Director of Development for MVC. As a volunteer she most was most recently president of the Ventura Music Festival. In 2017 Betsy joined the board of the Limoneira Company, only the third woman on the board in the company’s 123-year history.
In 2014, Chess was named Ventura County Volunteer of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties and was one of the recipients of the Ventura County Star’s 25 over 50 award.
David Fukutomi, a prominent government and private sector consultant specializing in security and emergency management, has recently been appointed as a member of Community Memorial Health System’s Board of Trustees. Fukutomi has held several consulting positions in a career spanning over 20 years. His government service has included stints with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He has served as a consultant to various government agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S Department of Veterans Affairs and State of California.
A Camarillo resident, Fukutomi also has served in management positions with national firms and is adjunct staff at the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, where he leads the Center’s Pacific Executive Leaders Program.
Fukutomi also serves as board president of Pier into the Future, the Ventura Pier’s nonprofit organization.
Leslie is Vice President of Finance and Operations for her family’s farming company, Leavens Ranches LLC, growers of lemons and avocados in Ventura and Monterey Counties, and wine grapes in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County. She serves on a number of ag industry-related boards, including Saticoy Lemon Association, House Farm Workers!, Farmers Irrigation and Alta Mutual Water Company. She is a past president of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, a graduate of the California Ag Leadership Program and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Leslie’s interest and commitment to the Museum of Ventura County began several decades ago. She was a member of the Museum’s Fine Arts Committee from 1988 – 2010 and served on the Board of Directors from 1997 to 2003. She is currently a member of the Ag Museum Advisory Council.
Tom is the co-owner and operator of Pecht Ranch, a family business that grows avocados and citrus. He is part of a multi-generational County family. Tom is involved with numerous other regional non-profits. He serves on the board of directors for Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association and the Leadership Advisory Council for Interface. Tom attended USC and is a proud Trojan fan!
Richard R. Rush became president of California State University Channel Islands in June 2001.Before arriving at CI, President Rush spent nine years as president of Minnesota State University (MSU), Mankato, where he created ties between MSU and regional industry, the local community, and civic leaders. Prior to that, Mr. Rush played a key role in the founding of CSU San Marcos while serving as Vice President in Charge and, subsequently, as Executive Vice President.
Mr. Rush serves or has served on the boards of the Economic Development Cooperative – Ventura County, Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, Community Memorial Hospital, Casa Pacifica, California Campus Compact, and American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Council of State Representatives, among others. In addition, he serves as Chair of the P-20 Regional Council for the Improvement of College Attendance and Success which focuses on improving the college-going rates of students, particularly from communities with historically low participation. He lives in Camarillo with his wife, Jane. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in English Renaissance Literature and Master of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Jim Scanlon is currently the Area President for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Gallagher operates in over 120 countries and has revenues exceeding $5 billion dollars and is recognized as one of the leading Insurance and Risk Management organizations in the world. For the sixth consecutive year, Gallagher has been the only Insurance and Risk Management firm named to the Ethisphere Institute’s Most Ethical Companies. Jim is tasked with providing leadership and operational oversight to two profit centers, mergers and acquisitions and talent recruitment. Prior to that, Jim was the Chairman and CEO of SGB-NIA Insurance Brokers for the past 31 years culminating in the sale of the firm to Gallagher in 2014.
Scanlon earned his degree in History from Loyola Marymount University. Upon graduation, he joined his father’s insurance business where he began small and learned as he went along, all while his father began dealing with the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis.
Jim has served on many boards including the Board of Governors of Legatus, Board of Regents of Thomas Aquinas College & at Holy Cross College. He is currently a board member of the St. John’s Hospital Foundation Board. Jim was also a Vistage member for many years and a member of the local Legatus Chapter. He is the former chairperson and a Member of the Board of the Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County and was a board member of the California Lutheran University Center for Economic Research and Forecasting.
Jim resides in Camarillo with his wife Maureen and is actively involved in the raising of their 11 children and 4 grandchildren.
Peter T. Zierhut
Peter Zierhut is a senior-level manager at Haas Automation, Inc, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial machine tools. Mr. Zierhut is responsible for oversight of Haas Automation’s HTEC-branded education program comprising more than 2000 institutions around the world that utilize Haas machine tools for educational purposes. Additional responsibilities include government relations, working with Local, State, and Federal lawmakers as well as industry associations.
Mr. Zierhut’s career at Haas spans more than 33 years, with experience including management positions in manufacturing, sales, marketing, and IT. Mr. Zierhut is currently a member of the management committee at Windshear, Inc., a high-technology automotive wind tunnel owned by Haas Automation, and located in Concord, North Carolina. He spent 2 years during the start-up of Windshear (2008-09) assembling the management team and establishing the business processes in place today.
Current volunteer roles include Board Member and Manager of the Gene Haas Foundation, Board Member of the Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County, member of the Workforce Development Board of Ventura County, and Board Member of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills in Fairfax, Virginia. Mr. Zierhut currently resides in Camarillo, California. He is married, with four children and one grandchild.