Board Members

David Bernard, President

David has served on the Board for nearly two terms and is in his second year as president. David is deeply involved in and passionate about the work of the Center and is engaged on every level. Last year when the Center’s office suffered from water intrusion during the terrible storms, David was on his back, in the water, helping us to safely remove items and furniture. The very next day David sat next to the leadership team at a high level donor meeting to ensure that we had financial resources to deliver on our mission. David spent his professional career building large scale business computer systems as a consultant and employee for major corporations. He ended his corporate career as an officer at Charles Schwab where he was in charge of Brokerage Accounting and Trading systems. David brings a high caliber skillset and a community minded approach to the Board. We are so grateful to him!

 

Liora Soladay, Vice President

Vice President, Liora Soladay: Liora is a long term Board member and has been a key part of our fund development work. With her husband Jay, they launched the Center’s Annual Golf Tournament to support the building of the Gym and now the ongoing maintenance and gym programming. Annually the Golf Tournament brings in about $20,000 and offers the community a super fun way to support us. Liora approaches her Board service with a sense of fun and community building. Liora and Jay own Jayli Clothing, which designs, manufactures and imports a bohemian clothing line.
Liora raised her two daughters Tai and Molly in the Valley and continues to give back in so many ways.

 

Alexander McQuilkin, Co-Vice President

Alexander has been on the Board for 13 years and brings a perspective of having grown up in the Valley and in Community Center pro- grams. Alexander has served on several committees during his time at the Center and is particularly supportive of our Arts and Events programs. His dad, Michael McQuilkin, created the Family Music Hour at the Center and Alexander has played an important role as a Board ambassador. Alexander also volunteers weekly at the Food Pantry.

 

Steve Granville, Advancement Chair

Steve and his family moved to the Valley in 2004 and has always marveled at the heartfelt mission of the Community Center and the work accomplished by its staff. Steve brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and through his work as a personal and professional coach has worked with major companies to shift culture, create connection and efficiency, and build stronger teams. Steve led the Center in seeding the Deepening Roots Endowment and now chairs our advancement committee to support the Center in achieving its development goals for long-term impact.

 

John Beckerley, Secretary

John has lived in the Valley since 1976 and with his wife Kathy, raised three sons here, each attending and graduating from our wonderful Lagunitas School District. John has been deeply involved in youth sports in the Valley and ran the CYO basketball program for 35 years. John retired from the San Francisco fire department after 30 years of service but his service to our community has just kept going. John is quick to jump in and can often be found behind the grill at any Center events.

David Lakes, Facilities Chair

David and his wife Stephanie moved to the Valley in 2009, soon after David retired from his career as a Physician at Kaiser Medical Center, San Rafael. Retirement however did not slow David down, in fact he is busier than ever: He is a passionate amateur cellist (now in two orchestras, a quartet and trio), a wood worker, and an active West Marin explorer. David joined the Board in 2012 and has been the fearless leader of our facilities committee for many years. David is responsible for many of the renovations at the Center and continues to work hard on projects that will contribute to our community.

Owen Clapp, Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair

Owen moved to the Valley in 1994 when he was just three years old. Owen received a BA in Ethnomusicology/Jazz Performance at University of California Los Angeles, and continues to work as a profes- sional musician. Owen returned to Woodacre in late 2016 and began getting involved in community projects. He worked for several years at the Lagunitas School District and the San Geronimo Valley Affordable Housing Association, and he leads the San Geronimo Valley Historical Society. In 2020 he began a Master’s in Library Science program at San Jose State and entered the University of Southern California’s School Business Management Certificate Program, both of which he completed in 2021. Owen is incredibly talented in many ways and now works for the Miller Creek School District as an accountant. He brings cutting edge knowledge to our finance committee as our treasurer.

 

Sarah Brewster

Sarah Brewster spent one day in San Geronimo Valley in 1960 and fell in love with the place! Good fortune, and a few good choices, enabled her to make her home in Woodacre 25 years later. She feels privileged to have lived in this special community now for 35 years.

Sarah came to California for college after growing up in Laramie, Wyoming. She got her BA in psychology from Whittier College and an MA in Clinical psychology from UCB. She lived in Berkeley, where her two children were born, for ten years. She then moved to Marin to begin her career as a professor in the Behavioral Science Department at the College of Marin where she was employed (as Sarah Cirese) for 32 years.

After her son and daughter finished high school at Redwood High, Sarah and her second husband, Al Brewster, moved to the Valley. Soon thereafter she went back to school to earn her Ph.D. in Marital and Family Therapy and, subsequently, maintained a part-time private psychotherapy practice in San Rafael and Corte Madera for 16 years. Upon retiring from her practice, she took Al’s last name (with his permission).

Leaving the world of work has given Sarah many opportunities. She has grown with her five grandchildren (Colton who now lives in Nevada, Dylan, who is in Idaho, Kali who is finishing up at Sonoma State, and brothers Luca, age 12, and Cosimo, age 9, who live in San Anselmo). She studies Italian, has traveled in several dozen countries, created and cares for a garden, taken up the games of bocce and mah jongg, volunteered as a Senior Peer Counselor and facilitator for the Valley’s “Growing Old Gracefully” senior’s group, and is a faithful member of Broom Service, a group dedicated to curbing the spread of this invasive plant. From time to time she works out at the WIC. Above all she appreciates the opportunity to connect with the vibrant and exceptional community in this Valley.

Bonny White, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Co-Chair (DEI)

Bonny moved to Marin County in the early 1970s, shortly after graduating from UCLA with a BA in Developmental Psychology.
Bonny discovered the Valley while searching for just the right school for her sons and she found the Open Classroom. It is also there that Bonny met her long time partner, Anita Collison. Bonny recently retired from the County of Marin as the Deputy Director of Marin County Free Libraries. During her time a the County Bonny participated in a year-long training cohort with other Marin County staff at the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). Wanting to share what she had learned, Bonny agreed to be a racial equity instructor for the County and co-led dozens of trainings for County employees. Now Bonny brings her knowledge and perspective home to her com- munity in new ways as a Board member and co-chair of our DEI committee.

 

Buddy Faure

Buddy Faure was born in San Francisco and moved to West Marin in 2010 when he was 8 years old. Having grown up in West Marin he has taken an interest in many community projects in the last two years such as working at the community center’s food bank as well as the next gen youth program at the community center. He has also worked with local environmental activist group West Marin Climate Action which hosts monthly webinars on local environmental issues for the community as well as connecting local environmental groups together.

One of Buddy’s other biggest passions outside of working with the local community is music making and performing. He has released two albums under the name Clock Watchers and enjoys making and performing songs about his personal life and the world around him. He is also very interested in local politics especially when it comes to themes of equality and social justice. Both of these themes also heavily influence his music. All of these matter to him because he has seen how much communities can do when working together and he is thankful to be a part of something that has positively impacted his life in so many ways.

Carolina Balazs

Inspired by her late father’s upbringing on a rural farm in Chile, when Carolina became a mother she and her husband felt a pull to move to the San Geronimo Valley where they could raise their family surrounded by chickens, towering sunflowers and giant pumpkins.  And so, in 2017, they moved from their Berkeley hometown to Woodacre with her kids.

As the proud daughter of South American immigrants (from Chile and Colombia) Carolina has always valued her mixed Latina heritage and growing up in a multi-religious household (Jewish/Catholic).  This identity has informed her life passions, which include her professional work, the raising of her three Spanish-speaking children and her commitment to community-based work.  For nearly twenty years she has worked with communities around California and Latin America to address and solve environmental burdens faced by communities of color and low income communities.  Her interdisciplinary skills include community outreach, participatory planning, data analysis, strategic planning and survey development

She currently works as Chief Operating Officer at Do Good CFO, a family-run business that supports social enterprises committed to a more just and healthy planet in strategic and financial planning. Previously, she led the California Environmental Protection Agency in launching the ground-breaking Human Right to Water tracking tool.  Carolina has a PhD from UC Berkeley, specializing in environmental health, water policy and environmental justice. She received her BS in Environmental Science from Brown University. She is a past National Science Foundation Research Fellow and Fulbright Scholar, a Switzer Environmental Leadership Fellow and currently serves on the Fellow Advisory Committee of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.

Carolina is thrilled to join the San Geronimo Community Center’s Board to help elevate and connect the diverse voices that live in the Valley (with a personal passion including the Spanish-speaking, Latinx community), honor and make space for the region’s broader ethnic/racial, cultural and religious diversity, continue to work on environmental and social justice issues locally, and generally support the heart-filled work of the Center and its amazing staff.

Jean Berensmeiser, Founder

Professor of Physical Education at the College of San Mateo (1956 – 1993) coached fencing and founded programs in modern dance, massage, physical fitness and womens weight training; Founding member of the San Geronimo Valley Community Center – Board member (1969 – present), Editor of Stone Soup; Founding member of the San Geronimo Valley Planning Group – Steering Committee member (1981-1996), Chairperson of Community Plan Update 1996, Chairperson of Community Plan Amendment Committee 2003 – present; Marin County Parks & Community Commission (1977 -1996), Trails & Bikeways Committee Chairperson 1977 – 1996; Marin Conversation League Board of Directors (1979 – 2003), President 1990 – 1992; Marconi Conference Center State Historical Park, Board Member 1990 – 2002, President 1992 – 1995 and 1998 – 2002; Co-founding member of Wilderness Way – President 2001 – present; Lagunitas homeowner since 1963.