Paul Garza, Jr., Board Chair
Paul retired to Mendocino County in 2013 after a career of 40 years in economic and community development to be near his family, especially his grandchildren. His broad-based experience included substantial work in small business development – specifically a Small Business Development Center, three business incubators, an International Trade Center, entrepreneurial training, and access to capital issues including micro-lending, non-traditional finance and venture capital. He has worked for government agencies, community colleges, non-profits, corporations and his own consulting firm. His professional career included work in El Salvador, Mexico, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.
His previous non-profit experience includes board leadership for Centro Latino Literacy, United Way’s Somos Familia, Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County, California Community Colleges Contract Education Committee, and has been a member of Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Smiles, TELACU Community Capital, CSU Fullerton School of Education Advancement Board, Santa Ana Empowerment Zone and Orange County Innovation.
Paul is also a published poet, has authored several editorial and op-ed pieces, is an ordained minister and currently pursues writing, teaching and spiritual studies.
Kevin Michel, Treasurer
Kevin has lived on the Mendocino Coast since 2010. Prior to calling Mendocino County home, he frequently vacationed in and around Fort Bragg, camping, hiking and biking. Kevin is a board member and Treasurer for the West Company. He also serves on the Westport Municipal Advisory Council as a Director – this council advises the County Board of Supervisors on local land use and public safety matters. Kevin retired from the Secretary – Treasurer position of the Noyo Harbor District. Previously he had a long career at UNFI (a national natural food distributor) where he was a founding board member, CFO and Western Region President. Kevin started his business career in the Los Angeles garment industry working in the financial and production realms. Kevin also briefly owned and operated a Grass Valley restaurant and served as general manager of the Nevada City Winery.
Heather Gurewitz (WBC Advisory Board)
Heather has lived on the Mendocino Coast since 2009 when she moved here to take a position at West Company, where she served as the Women’s Business Director until 2014. Heather currently is the Mendocino County Field Representative for Jared Huffman, US Congressman for California’s 2nd District. Heather first began working with entrepreneurs as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. Having joined the Peace Corps because of a desire to support community development, Gurewitz quickly came to the realization that strong local businesses are essential for any community to grow and strengthen. Drawing on knowledge gained working in her father’s business and her experiences as an employee and freelancer, Gurewitz began assisting community members to start micro-enterprises. She continued working with rural entrepreneurs during her AmeriCorps Service as part of the “Connecting Oregon for Rural Entrepreneurship” project with the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District and as a graduate student at the University of Oregon. She received a Master of Community and Regional Planning degree.
Ginny Feth-Michel, Secretary
Ginny has lived on the Mendocino Coast since 2010. Prior to calling Mendocino County home, she frequently vacationed in and around Fort Bragg, camping, hiking and biking. Ginny is a Certified Public Accountant. During her career she has worked at large public accounting firms, as a sole practitioner working with small businesses and held the position of Vice President of Finance and Human Resources with a national natural foods distributor. Prior to retiring, Ginny worked with the City of Fort Bragg, most recently as the Assistant City Manager. Ginny currently serves on the County of Mendocino Civil Service Commission and as a Board member for the Noyo Center for Marine Science, a not-for-profit focused on marine science education and research.
David moved to Ukiah in 2014 to take the Professor in Computer Science position at Mendocino College. Before joining Mendocino College, David earned a Doctorate in Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2006 and taught Information Technology and Computer Science courses within the University of Hawaii System at both Honolulu Community College and the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. David’s experience includes 15 years in research and development in the aerospace industry primarily exploring new derivative product opportunities. He has joined the board of the West Company because he believes developing small businesses is key to the County’s economic success. He has earned degrees in Mechanical Engineering (Bachelors), Business Administration (Masters) and Communication and Information Sciences (Doctorate).
Jason currently serves as Chief Executive Officer for Adventist Health Howard Memorial in Willits, CA. In this role, Wells provides executive oversight for the operations of the hospital and the outpatient clinic. Howard Memorial is the largest employer in Willits and the organization continues to grow with a new $65 m campus which opened in 2015.
Wells accepted the CEO position at Howard in March of 2017, after being recruited from his role as Chief Operating Officer of the Physician Enterprise and Vice President at Park Ridge Heath, a 103-bed hospital near Asheville, North Carolina. In this capacity, he oversaw clinic patient experience and the operations of 38 medical practices business, marketing and communications, business development and strategy. Previously, Wells worked at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida, the flagship hospital of Adventist Health System, as director of the Experience Network, overseeing patient and employee engagement strategies using media productions and websites. Wells served as the liaison with the Disney I.D.E.A.S. consulting team helping the hospital approach the challenge of providing exceptional care from a new, revolutionary perspective.