Small Business Success Stories

CalOSBA’s network of small business support centers support entrepreneurs across California to start, manage, and grow their businesses by guiding owners to training and grant opportunities, helping them identify and obtain financing, and pointing them to new market opportunities. Check out some of the owners who have taken advantage of these no-cost/low-cost services to deliver positive impact for their businesses. Ready to follow their lead? Find a small business support center near you.

Shoppe Serendipity

Shoppe Serendipity

Kristina Taylor, Karuk Tribe Member and Owner of Shoppe Serendipity, runs a delightful gallery gift shop in the historic downtown of the far northeast city of Yreka. Yreka, the county seat of Siskiyou County, is a beautiful mountainous town located off the I-5 near the Oregon border. Whether you’re a local, or…

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Tomfoolery

Tomfoolery

Mary Hartley and Celeste Cramer bought the store Tomfoolery in 2023, which has been women-owned for 40yrs, since first opening its doors in 1983. They plan to bring in new lines and a fresh look to this long-term Chico business. “You can find all sorts of gifts and gadgets in the store that are playful, foolish, and silly!…

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California Office of the Small Business Advocate
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Lenny Mendonca

Lenny Mendonca

Chair
Lenny Mendonca is the former chief economic and business advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom. He is also a senior partner emeritus of McKinsey & Company, a lecturer on inequality at the Stanford Business School, and chair and primary owner of the Coastside News Group.

He founded McKinsey's US state and local public sector consulting practice and led the firm's knowledge development efforts, overseeing the McKinsey Global Institute and the firm's communicationsΓÇöincluding the McKinsey Quarterly. He served for a decade on the McKinsey Shareholder Council.

Over the course of his career, he has helped dozens of government, corporate, and nonprofit clients meet their most difficult management challenges. He was formerly the chair of New America and Children Now, co-chair of California Forward, and chair of Fuse Corps. He is chair emeritus of the Bay Area Council and their Economic Institute.

He also previously served as the vice chair of Common Cause, the vice chair of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council, and a trustee at the Committee for Economic Development. He served on the boards of Fidelity Charitable, Western Governors University, UC Merced, the Educational Results Partnership, the College Futures Foundation, California Competes, the Opportunity Institute, Commonwealth Club, the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, and theguardian.org.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the board of trustees for Junior Statesmen of America, and the advisory boards of Y Analytics, QB3 and the Haas Center at Stanford University.

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Maria S Salinas

Maria S. Salinas

Vice Chair
Maria S. Salinas is the President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in Los Angeles County representing member companies and serving the interests of more than 235,000 businesses across the Los Angeles region. Ms. Salinas took the helm of the organization in August of 2018 and became the first woman and Latina to lead the Chamber in its 132-year history. An accomplished business woman, entrepreneur and a determined community leader, Ms. Salinas' business acumen and financial expertise provides her with the right experience to lead the L.A. Area Chamber.

Ms. Salinas, a steward of the Chamber's new vision, A Thriving Region for All,has reimagined the role of the Chamber. The Chamber looks to the future with a vision to build an inclusive economy and lead in three pillar areas of focus: advocacy work, global engagement and through community collaboration for economic growth and mobility.

The Los Angeles region, which is the 14th largest economy in the world, and the Chamber membership represents a broad spectrum of industries, small businesses, corporations, academic institutions and nonprofits, all are examples that the Los Angeles economy is diverse, dynamic and that business is a force for good.

Ms. Salinas is an appointee to Governor Gavin Newsom's Commission on the Future of Work and named to his Business and Jobs Recovery Task Force. She was appointed to the US Chamber of Commerce's Committee of 100, a distinction reserved for the top 100 Chambers across the country.

Salinas represents the Los Angeles business community in state- wide policy initiatives with the Coalition of Regional Economic Association Leaders (R.E.A.L.), she is a member of the Board of Directors of Mobility 21, a regional transportation effort, and an appointee of Mayor Eric Garcetti to the MEXLA Commission, a foreign policy initiative between Mexico and Los Angeles. Salinas serves on the Board of Directors of The Music Center, Pacific Council, UnidosUS and Southern California Leadership Network among others.

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Gurinder S Ahluwalia

Gurinder S. Ahluwalia

Vice Chair
Gurinder S Ahluwalia is an executive advisor to Thomas H. Lee Partners. Ahluwalia brings over twenty-five years of operating and financial services experience with a proven track record of building, fixing and growing businesses, most recently in wealth management. Ahluwalia has provided strong leadership in a number of different roles including Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, and Chief Risk Officer. Mr. Ahluwalia is currently a director of Hightower Advisors and was a co-founder of 280 CapMarkets, a fintech capital markets company.

Prior to joining Thomas H. Lee Partners, Gurinder S Ahluwalia was an advisor and COO at Ovo Cosmico, Inc., a VC-backed start-up with a mission of making credit affordable and accessible everywhere. He was also president and CEO of AssetMark, Inc., where he focused the company's strategy on growth through advisor engagement, improved execution, and product and service innovations.

As President and CEO of GE Private Asset Management and Genworth Wealth Management, Ahluwalia transformed the unit from a boutique business to one with industry-leading profitability. He previously served as a Senior Vice President at GE Insurance and Chief Risk Officer at GE Edison Life Insurance.

Gurinder S Ahluwalia holds an M.S. cum laude from New Jersey Institute of Technology in Electrical Engineering, a B.S. of Computer Science from New York University College of Arts and Sciences, and a B.E. of Electrical Engineering from Cooper Union.

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Allison Kelly

Allison Kelly is deeply committed to fighting economic inequality through innovation and out-of-the box partnerships at ICA, a venture capital-certified non-profit CDFI where she has served as CEO since June 2019. Under Kelly’s leadership, ICA has nearly tripled its net assets, quadrupled its number of investments, grown the number of companies served through our programs and more than tripled the organization's revenues.

In 2018, Kelly started an initiative called The Wisdom Fund, conceived to create a new debt product around the needs and characteristics of women of color entrepreneurs. In 2019, CNote took leadership of the initiative; The Wisdom Fund now is a fixed income vehicle for investors that increases capital access and lending for women-owned businesses.

In 2022, Kelly led the launch of the ICA Impact Note, an innovative investment structure that helps entrepreneurs prioritize social impacts–like good jobs, workforce diversity, and employee wealth creation–as they grow their businesses. As companies meet these impact milestones, the investor returns equity ownership percentages back to the company. Through this structure, the investor and the company are able to work in long-term partnership to create social returns for the community by growing local businesses.

For more than 15 years, Ms. Kelly has been working within the CDFI industry supporting underrepresented small businesses. Before joining ICA, Kelly was head of strategy and innovation at CDC Small Business Finance where she led the effort to bring on more than $40 million in new impact investments for non-SBA small business loan products. Prior to CDC, Allison spent seven years in various leadership positions at Pacific Community Ventures, a nonprofit social enterprise focused on helping small businesses thrive through affordable capital and free business coaching.

Ms. Kelly serves on the Board of Goal 5, a women’s apparel company dedicated to gender equity in sport, the CDFI Coalition. Mal Warwick Donor Digital and the Advisory Board of CNote.

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Brett Melone 

Brett Melone is the Chief Business Strategies Officer at California FarmLink, a statewide nonprofit Certified Community Development Financial Institution with a mission to invest in the prosperity of farmers and ranchers through lending, education, and access to land. FarmLink also serves fishers throughout the state.

In his role, Melone oversees FarmLink’s education and lending activities serving hundreds of agricultural and fisheries businesses annually. He became a board member in 2004, served as a member of its Loan Committee, and eventually joined the staff as a loan officer in 2013.

Prior to that, Melone held numerous leadership positions at nonprofits serving farmers and rural communities in Latin America and California, with a particular focus on ensuring equitable access to resources, and supporting their business success and natural resource management.

Melone currently serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including Sustainable Agriculture Education, MEarth, and Feed the Hunger Fund, and is an adjunct instructor of sustainable agriculture policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He has a BA in International Relations, Business and Spanish from the University of San Diego and a MA in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Brett Melone grew up in a rural community in South Florida, where his parents worked in agriculture. That experience has shaped his professional pursuits and his personal commitment to ensuring rural communities, and farmers and ranchers in particular, have access to economic opportunity and the tools they need to steward natural resources.

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Carolina Martinez

Carolina Martinez is the CEO of CAMEO - the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity-, a statewide association representing more than 300 lenders, training programs, chambers of commerce, job creators, agencies and individuals dedicated to furthering Microbusiness development in the state. CAMEO advocates for its members and builds their capacity to support the more than 84,000 very small businesses they serve.

Martinez has more than 15 years of experience working in economic development and business consulting. Her vision has been defined by the variety of experiences she’s had with nonprofits and universities in South and North America. She has developed bilingual, culturally appropriate entrepreneurial training programs; trained and coached pre-venture and startups; developed international networks promoting partnerships among private corporations that boost industries; provided consulting services to vulnerable communities to explore entrepreneurship as a way to generate wealth; and owned her own business consulting firm.

Martinez served on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs as well as on the boards of the Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce and the Kutztown University Foundation. She serves on the Advisory Boards of two CDFI microlenders: Mission Economic Development Agency Adelante Fund in San Francisco and Accion Opportunity Fund, the largest national microlender. Carolina serves on the Community Advisory Boards of Comerica Bank and Cathay Bank and is a board member of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) and Pacific Community Ventures (PCV). She served on California Governor’s COVID-19 Small Business and Innovative Startup Recovery Subcommittee and is a Member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Policy Committee of the California Coalition for Community Investment (CCCI) a statewide coalition of CDFIs. She has an MBA and BA in Industrial Engineering.

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Danetta Jackson
Statewide Supplier Diversity Program Manager

As Statewide Supplier Diversity Program Manager within the California Department of General Services (DGS) Procurement Division (PD), Danetta Jackson is a member of the PD executive team focused on developing and implementing statewide strategic objectives, supported by data to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in state contracting. In Jackson’s previous role as the state’s Business Outreach Program Manager for 13 years, she oversaw outreach engagement strategies, external partnerships, communications, state contracting goal compliance, as well as the department’s Small Business Advisory Council. Ms. Jackson has over 30 years of public service.

Jackson is a passionate leader committed to breaking down barriers in state contracting for California’s diverse small business sector and finding ways to create more opportunities for underrepresented, marginalized micro businesses. She has formed strategic collaborations with diverse business organizations throughout the state at the private, local, state, and federal levels and has led other government entities in the development of their respective supplier diversity programs. In September 2021, Jackson was influential in the University of California’s (UC) adoption of their 25 percent diverse business contracting goal and development of their Small Business First Program and certification reciprocity partnership with DGS.

Since Jackson has assumed her leadership role in supplier diversity, she is co-leading the development and implementation of a comprehensive technical assistance and training program to help diverse small and disabled veteran businesses navigate the state’s contracting process specific to procurement and bidding requirements that will launch in the Fall of 2023. In April 2022, she led the implementation of a voluntary supplier diversity data collection in the state’s Cal eProcure system aimed to capture the demographics of state bidders and suppliers that will help inform where outreach and support is needed among various communities.

Jackson serves on various collaborative workgroups, such as the UC Supplier Diversity Advisory Council, Governor’s Minority Small Business Procurement Task Force, California Statewide Coalition on Diversity Initiatives, and the Health in all Policies Task Force. Jackson’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from CSU, Sacramento and certificate in their Management and Executive Leadership Programs. Jackson currently serves as a subject matter expert panelist on the Source Diverse Source Local Initiative administered by California Office of the Small Business Advocate.

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David Fazio

David Fazio is the Founder, and President, of Helix Opportunity LLC, a social enterprise that specializes in the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce, as well as the consumer marketplace, through organizational development and inclusive design consulting, training, and staffing. He is also an Invited Expert to the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative, where he develops global digital accessibility standards alongside multiple Working Groups.

Mr. Fazio is a person with cognitive, and mobility, disabilities, having survived a softball-size hemorrhagic stroke, at the age of 13, that left him completely paralyzed on the entire left half of his body, along with severe brain damage.

Through Helix Opportunity David has worked with major global corporations to “Unlock the Power of Human Inclusion” by achieving what he calls “Harmony at Work”, that perfect intersection between accessible and meaningful experience. It is his belief that all human beings are unique, each of us with differing functional, and sensory, strengths and weaknesses. Yet, there are ways in which all people are alike. The essential aspects of the human experience, such as birth, death, love, struggle, and emotion, unite us all.

Products, environments, services, and economies, can connect all people through their shared human experience by engaging each person's strongest combination of senses and abilities. This is the essence of what it means to achieve Harmony at Work. It is the core of who David is and what he does. All of Mr. Fazio’s work, from organizational development to product design, is driven by this vision.

To that end, Mr. Fazio has worked with major global corporations to staff and support qualified STEM candidates with disabilities around the world, design inclusive products, environments and services, and develop inclusive corporate cultures. He has also provided strategic advising, and product innovation mentoring to start-ups and entrepreneurs with disabilities. You can follow David’s work, on LinkedIn, here. and keep up to date with Helix Opportunity, on LinkedIn, here.

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Debra Gore-Mann

Debra Gore-Mann is the President & CEO of The Greenlining Institute. Debra has over 25+ years of leadership experience in nonprofit and private research universities and over twelve years of private sector business development expertise having worked in investment banking, international infrastructure development and engineering. She serves on multiple nonprofit and foundation boards that work to serve communities whose works include criminal justice, nonviolence, youth educational opportunities, supporting young adults in sports and economic opportunity. Debra received her B.S. in Management Sciences and MBA from Stanford University.

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Drew Simpson

Drew began his professional career in the United States Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton and serving in the Artillery unit Alpha 1/11. Drew’s experience with the Marines took him to Africa, Kuwait and the Philippines. Deployed as a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Drew led a 10-man crew and participated in additional training missions with Allied Forces.

Following the Marines, Drew entered the construction industry serving as an operator, foreman, estimator, and manager before founding Amerivet Contracting.

Amerivet Contracting is one of the fastest growing DVBE/DBE/SBE/MBE companies in California.  The Company self-performs a unique combination of diverse services and owns an array of specialized equipment.  The company’s construction division specializes in PSA & PLA projects, with a distinctive capability to fill scope gaps.  The company’s disaster relief division is a market leading provider of emergency mobile support equipment and services.  The company also provides procurement services for government entities.  Amerivet recently received a 2022 Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year award from the SBA.

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Eric Hiatt

As an accomplished founder, investor and real estate developer, Eric Hiatt builds the foundations for communities to thrive.

Born and raised in Redding CA with a burning passion for Far Northern California, Eric has taken his self-made success and invested it back into the economic development of his region. He has established and guided his own companies from idea to exit, he invests in local founders, while also overseeing prominent real estate developments that revitalize cities.

He co-founded Security One Lending, building it into the country’s largest reverse mortgage originator before it was acquired by Walter Investment Management Corporation in 2012. Eric then co-founded Synergy One Lending, which was acquired by Mutual Of Omaha Bank in 2018.

In the midst of playing in the lending game, Eric also founded Reverse Focus, which he continues to oversee as CEO, a company providing software solutions for the reverse mortgage banking market with over 4000 active monthly users and 200 banks and broker firms on its books.

The financial rewards of Eric’s journey have given him a rare opportunity to extend his impact through his role as Founder/Executive Director and investor with the angel investment group, Shasta Angels. Eric led the group through its first investment, Limelight Health, which sold for $75 million.

Eric’s commitment to building environments that facilitate success takes on a literal form, too. As the co-founder of Downtown Collection, Eric has a list of property developments across commercial, retail, industrial and housing markets, playing a major role in the revival of downtown Redding.

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Erin Kilmer-Neel

As Executive Director and Chief Impact Officer, Erin oversees strategy and operations of Beneficial State Foundation and facilitates the development of social and environmental impact standards for Beneficial State Bank and for banking systems change. She is thrilled to be working to address social and environmental injustices in the banking system. She has a Master of City Planning from MIT, teaches Social Impact Measurement at Mills College, and serves of the boards of the CDFI Coalition and the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, where she chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She loves smart comedy, biking, paddling, and anything that involves playing in lakes, rivers, mountains, and beaches with her fabulous husband, Beau and her feisty Australian Shepherd, Scout.

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Geri Yang-Johnson

Geri Yang-Johnson is the Director of Green Jobs and Entrepreneurship for Dream.org - Green For All. Geri’s decades of experience improving communities through advocacy, philanthropy, and community development are integral to the work within Green For All. Geri leads the Green For All Business Council, a council composed of Black and Brown cutting-edge CEOs in the clean energy and green sector while working alongside Climate Pledge companies to ensure they make more equitable pledges and commitments.

Previously, Geri served as the Vice President and Social Impact and Sustainability Sr. Specialist at Wells Fargo, where she implemented the company’s community and economic development programs. In this role, she maintained the company’s social impact and sustainability initiatives that support underserved populations and represented the company in all aspects of community relations.

Geri is a 2017 Bankers Without Borders Global Fellow and a 2014 Funders Network PLACES Fellow. She currently serves on the board of The California Wellness Foundation and the James B. McClatchy Foundation where she oversees efforts implementing solutions to California’s most pressing social and economic issues. Geri also served as an Executive Committee Member for Fresno DRIVE, the boards of The Women’s Foundation of California, Access Plus Capital (Fresno CDFI) and Reinvent Stockton Foundation.

In 2021, Geri was recognized with the Fresno State Top Dog Alumni Award for her “contributions to her profession, the University, and the community.” In 2019, Geri was recognized with the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) Margaret Ashida Leadership Award for demonstrating leadership in her work. In 2015, the City of Fresno honored Geri with the Women Leading the Way Award. In 2018, Geri founded the Mala Scholarship Fund with Central California Asian Pacific Women to support first-generation AAPI students in their pursuit of higher education.

Geri is a first-generation Hmong American who was raised by a refugee, farmworker family in the Central Valley. Geri has profound interest in rural and agricultural-based economies worldwide. She has traveled to India to work with Navdanya, a network of seed keepers, and organic producers. Geri earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Women Studies from California State University, Fresno.

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Gurbax Sahota
President & Chief Executive Officer,
California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) 

Gurbax Sahota has led the California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) – California’s largest economic development association – for the last ten years and believes in the importance and need to collaborate and create meaningful partnerships in order to accomplish the goal of creating healthy, wealthy communities. She turns this belief into action by bringing together and leading multiple organizations aligned with the goal of helping businesses thrive in order to create economic opportunity for California’s residents. Gurbax holds senior positions with CALED, the California Academy for Economic Development, and the California Enterprise Development Authority. She uses her commitment to thoughtful leadership and organizational knowledge, as well as collaboration with her 800 economic development member peers throughout California, to support the start, growth and sustainability of private enterprise in California.

Having worked her way up through CALED, Gurbax has either worked on, created, or had a significant role in most of the organization’s successes over the past two decades including the creation of key tools to support economic development in California. Most notably, she:

  • Originated and implemented the creation of meaningful publications with practitioner-based best practices to support economic development in California, including:
    • The Economic Development Recovery and Resiliency Guide
    • Growing Thriving Rural Economic Development Corporations
    • Primer on California’s New Tax Increment Financing Tools
    • California Rural Infrastructure Financing Guide
  • Led the development & launch of a California-specific Economic Development Certification – the Accredited California Economic Developer Certification (ACE), which includes a focus on entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy.
  • Fostered the growth of the California Enterprise Development Authority (CEDA) by building and maintaining relationships with strategic business partners to support financing for growing California manufacturers and nonprofits.
  • Created a strategic and effective approach that has led to multiple legislative successes to support the work local economic developers do to grow the economy.

As CALED’s President & CEO, she is focused on helping communities as they adapt their economic development strategies to stay ahead of the a changing economy as well as on building strategic partnerships to promote the value of economic development. Gurbax believes by creating a stronger voice for economic developers at the state and local level, she can share and champion practical solutions that grow the economy in a way that creates opportunity for all.

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Jason Paguio

Jason Paguio is the President and CEO of the Asian Business Association San Diego and the Asian Business Association Foundation. Jason was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs and by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria to the City of San Diego Small Business Advisory Board and the Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Group. As a recognized leader, Jason brings vision and expertise across a multiplicity of sectors, including development of minority-owned business; establishment and coordination of high-impact multi-agency collaborative efforts; advocacy for the state’s many diverse communities; and first-hand experience as a first-generation Filipino-American.

Since leading the Asian Business Association organizations, Jason has grown them to their largest in more than 30 years, expanding their collective impact through community-based outreach and partnerships while more than tripling its office size to provide a free cultural co-working hub for local Asian and Pacific Islander nonprofits. In 2021, Jason helped to formally designate the Convoy District in Kearny Mesa as the “Pan Asian Cultural and Business Innovation District” in the City of San Diego.

In an historic effort, Jason partnered to establish the Strategic Alliance, comprised of San Diego’s three largest ethnic chambers of commerce: the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce and Asian Business Association. As the Strategic Alliance, this trio of agencies operate as the Alliance Small Business Development Center (SBDC), focusing on delivering a comprehensive array of services to minority-owned small businesses. Focusing on economic equity for the region’s underserved communities, Jason led his organization through the recent pandemic by assisting thousands of minority-owned small businesses, helping them receive no-cost technical assistance and tens-of-millions of dollars in COVID-19 disaster relief capital.

Jason’s additional civic commitments include the Board of Directors, NTC Foundation (Arts District Liberty Station), LEAD San Diego, San Diego Community Housing Corporation, and serving as a volunteer member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. He is a resident of Coronado and serves on the City of Coronado Mobility Commission.

Jason was twice named “CEO of the Year" by the San Diego Business Journal and the youngest person recognized as one of "San Diego's 500 Most Influential People''.

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Jay King

President/CEOJay King, is a Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, record label executive, radio personality, and small business advocate. Appointed as President and CEO of the CBCC in June 2019, Jay’s visionary leadership and tireless work ethic sets the tone for the CBCC. A champion for African American Small and Microbusiness owners, Jay serves as the Chair for Caltrans’ Statewide Small Business Counsel (SBC), African American Ad-Hoc Committee. He is also a member of the CA Department of General Services, and CA High Speed Rail Small Business Counsels, as well as the founder and Chairman of the North Sacramento Leadership Council, and the Founder and Interim President of the Greater Sacramento Financial Literacy Group. Jay is also a Board Member for the Neighborhood Wellness Project, and the United College Action Network, Inc. Jay is determined to put an indelible mark on the Small Business community throughout the State of California.

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Jesus Martinez

Jesus Martinez is Executive Director of the Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC), a Fresno-County based nonprofit organization created in 2014 to empower immigrant families and immigrant serving organizations in the region. As a coordinator of regional efforts, CVIIC and its partner organizations serve immigrants in the region extending from Kern County in the south and San Joaquin County in the north. Before heading CVIIC, he was Coordinator of the Central Valley DACA Project for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (2012-2015) and, previously, worked as a consultant (2008-2013) in a variety of projects commissioned by nonprofit and federal government agencies. Martinez served in the Michoacán (Mexico) State Congress from 2005-2007 before being appointed Director General at the Institute for Michoacanos Abroad, the state immigration affairs agency. In the academic world he taught Political Science at Santa Clara University (1991-1998), completed a postdoctoral stay at the Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José María Luis Mora in Mexico City (1999-2000) and taught Latin American and Chicano Studies at CSU Fresno (2000-2004). He obtained a B.S. in Political Science at Santa Clara University, as well as an M.A. in Latin American Studies and a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkley. His areas of expertise include international migration, U.S.-Mexican relations and public policy.

As Executive Director of CVIIC, he has developed projects dealing with immigration legal services and community education, health access, the 2020 census, immigrant entrepreneurship, among others. An objective of CVIIC has been to promote regional coordination and collaboration in immigration and related topics.

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Jill Osur
Founder and CEO, Teneral Cellars

A former UC Berkeley softball player, Jill Osur still draws on her athletic background to hone her leadership style and overcome obstacles. Deeply moved to elevate women and inspire meaningful change, her values have guided her career—first as a savvy political fundraiser, then in marketing with Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada, and now, as an entrepreneur. Jill has helped launch numerous consumer product companies and ventures focused on “doing well by doing good.” Previously the co-founder and director of California-based winery group GL Enterprises, Jill founded a digital winery, Teneral Cellars, in 2020. Teneral Cellars is driven by Jill’s belief that wine can be a conduit for change; a force for gender equity and social justice within the wine industry and our culture at large.

Jill is a captivating public speaker who helps female executives and entrepreneurs learn how to strengthen their leadership by tapping into the “head, heart, and gut.” As said by one attendee, Jill “puts a firecracker in the room” with her energizing, moving presence. A champion of female power, Jill coaches audiences and clients to embrace their brilliance, leverage full capacity thinking, and show up in alignment with their authentic selves.

Jill is a member of Women Presidents’ Organization, C-Sweet, was a founding board member of the John F. Kennedy University Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and is a current advisory board member for Enterprising Women, Women Business Collaborative, and board member of Hilinski’s Hope Foundation, which provides integrative mental wellness programs for student athletes.

Awards:

  • 2022 Winner, Leadership California’s Legacy of Leadership - Corporate Leader Award
  • 2021 Winner, Women Presidents’ Organization: Adrienne Hall Award for Breaking Down Barriers
  • 2012 Recipient, Bronze Stevie Award: Female Executive of the Year in Consumer Products for up to 2500 Employees
  • 2009 Finalist, Stevie Awards: Best Entrepreneur
  • 2003 Honoree, San Jose Business Journal: Top Women in Business
  • 2002 Honoree, East Bay Business Times: 40 Under 40 and Women of Distinction

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