Dr. Maria Garcia-Sheets

New executive director for zoo society
The Board of Directors of Micke Grove Zoological Society has appointed Dr. Maria Garcia-Sheets to Executive Director. In her new role, Garcia-Sheets will lead the 42-year-old Society to ensure a high level of organizational management and strategic planning with the goal of supporting the Micke Grove Zoo. Garcia-Sheets will continue to build community awareness of the Society, as well as lead the financial and volunteer efforts for the projects and community education programs that support Micke Grove Zoo.
“It is my pleasure and honor to use my advocacy, development, and communication skills to build programs and develop community engagement for Micke Grove Zoological Society. As Executive Director, I look forward to providing vision that will help make our zoo a place that all community members will not only enjoy, but also be an example of what collaborative leadership can shape and build,” said Garcia-Sheets.
A native Californian and lifelong resident of San Joaquin County, she has been highly involved in the community. Most recently she served as Director of the MESA Program on the University of the Pacific campus where she provided vision, direction, leadership and coordination to advance student success, inclusion and academic attainment. Through her programs, initiatives and services, 18,000, 6th through 12th grade students throughout San Joaquin County were positively affected.
“The Society has raised in excess of $2 million dollars to improve and upgrade Micke Grove Zoo,” states Linda Jimenez, Board President of the MGZS. “We are excited to have Dr. Garcia-Sheets in this newly created position to help us as we continue to lead the efforts to support this San Joaquin County treasure, the Micke Grove Zoo.”
Garcia-Sheets will occupy the new offices located at 1150 W. Robinhood, Suite 11A, Stockton California, 95207. To reach the Executive Director or find out about donor or volunteer opportunities with the Micke Grove Zoological Society, please visit mgzs@mgzs.org or 209-623-4921.


James Leonard head shot

Veteran Valley communicator joins Merced College
Merced College has hired James Leonard as Director of Communications and External Relations. 
Leonard is a veteran of higher education and communications, with more than a decade of experience that includes eight years helping to build the reputation of the University of California, Merced, at the local, state and national level. He’s also a Valley native who has spent nearly his entire career in journalism and public relations in Merced and Stanislaus counties.
“James brings a wealth of knowledge, perspective and leadership to this critical position,” President Chris Vitelli said. “He is a skilled communicator, but just as importantly, he will provide a steady hand and a calming presence that will benefit Merced College as we enter this uncertain and exciting time in our history.”  
A Modesto native and CSU Stanislaus graduate, Leonard spent seven years in journalism before joining UC Merced in 2010, when the campus was just five years old. After two years at CSU Stanislaus, Leonard returned to UC Merced in 2014. In recent years, he has helped the university build a national reputation for social mobility, while the campus has doubled in size through the Merced 2020 Project and risen rapidly in national rankings.  
In his new role, reporting to Associate Vice President of External Relations Jill Cunningham , Leonard will oversee the college’s digital communications programs and brand management, including news writing, media relations, multimedia, print and web communications, and social media. 
“Merced College is a dynamic place with a clear sense of its identity as an institution and its role in the community and the region,” Leonard said. “There is a great opportunity here to redefine what it means to be a community college, and our job is to communicate that vision with clarity and authenticity to all of our audiences.” 

Oak Valley Community Bank announces executive vice president promotion
Oak Valley Bancorp, the bank holding company for Oak Valley Community Bank and their Eastern Sierra Community Bank division, recently announced the promotions of Julie DeHart to Executive Vice President, Retail Banking Group, and Cathy Ghan to Executive Vice President, Commercial Real Estate Group.

Julie DeHart

DeHart originally joined Oak Valley in 2005, at a time when the bank was gearing up for expansion. During her tenure, she has established herself as an invaluable resource for peers and management, which led to numerous promotions over the years. Prior to this promotion, she held a variety of management level roles at multiple branches, served as VP/Training & Development, and most recently has been SVP, Retail Banking Manager. DeHart is an active member of the community. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Parent Resource Center, assists in the organization of the bank’s annual fundraiser for United Way, and is a longtime volunteer for the American Cancer Society. DeHart is a 2019 graduate from Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. She resides in Modesto with her daughter, Reese, and their three dogs.
“Julie’s devotion to our bank, our community, and our employees exemplifies Oak Valley’s mission,” stated Rick McCarty, Senior Executive Vice President and COO. “This promotion reflects the expertise and the strong, consistent leadership she provides. We know she will continue to do great things for our organization, and we are honored to have her join our Executive team.”

Cathy Ghan

Ghan joined Oak Valley in 2007 to develop the Commercial Real Estate department, with a focus on developing new business relationships, and the centralization of large commercial real estate clients, construction loan management, real estate appraisal and environmental support. Given her sphere of influence in the region and the bank’s interest in expanding its footprint, Ghan was the perfect fit. In her time with the bank, the CRE team has successfully financed projects from Fresno to Redding, the Bay Area, and other parts of California.
Ghan has been a leader in the real estate lending industry for 35 years. She is active in the community and presently serves as a Lifetime Director of the board of the Building Industry Association of the Greater Valley and as a board member of The Children’s Home of Stockton. Her extensive volunteer commitments include mentoring youth leadership programs, fundraising for various non-profit organizations, and sharing her expertise with a variety of audiences. Ghan holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco. A lifetime Stocktonian, she and her husband Gary have two daughters. She enjoys golfing, hot yoga, expanding her culinary talents, and spending time with her family.
“As the leader of our commercial real estate team since she joined the bank, Cathy has been instrumental in Oak Valley’s growth. She is passionate and dedicated. Through her strategic focus, real estate and finance expertise, and commitment to finding the very best real estate financing solutions for our clients, she has made significant contributions to the bank and we are proud to have her as an integral member of the Executive team,” stated Chris Courtney, President and CEO.

Local court reporter earns national certification
The National Court Reporters Association, the country’s leading organization representing stenographic court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers, has announced that Whitney Adair has earned the nationally recognized Registered Skilled Reporter certification, having demonstrated her ability to produce a high-quality verbatim record. 
The RSR certification was launched in January 2020 by NCRA. It is designed to serve as a steppingstone for aspiring court reporters or those returning to the profession who have not yet gotten their speeds up enough to earn the Registered Professional Reporter certification.
For those who earn it, the RSR certification offers the prestige of an NCRA certification, demonstrates their ability to hold a verified level of skill to current and potential clients, current and potential employers, and fellow reporters, and offers them a foothold on the path to growing their skills by earning additional certifications in the future.
Adair, from Modesto, is a member of NCRA and a graduate of Humphreys University in Stockton. She plans to work as a freelance court reporter.
“I am proud to have earned the RSR certification. It reminds me that giving up on my dreams is not an option and that perseverance is the key to success,” Adair said.

West Side Community Healthcare District announces board members
The West Side Community Healthcare District has appointed two board members to help oversee operations in the community.
Previous board member George Schmidt returns after a break from serving to represent Zone 2 and new board member Ken Helms was appointed to represent Zone 3.
Both men are Newman residents. and were appointed after being the only individuals to file candidacy papers for the open seats.

Lynn Reeves Dickerson

New director appointed for Oak Valley Community Bank
On Dec. 15, 2020, Lynn Reeves Dickerson accepted the appointment to the Board of Directors of Oak Valley Bancorp, effective Jan. 5, 2021. 
Since 2009, Dickerson has been the CEO of the Gallo Center for the Arts. Her decade-long tenure was marked with operational excellence and tremendous community support. Prior to joining the Gallo Center, Dickerson had a successful 29-year career in the newspaper industry; serving as Publisher & President of The Modesto Bee from 2000-2006 and subsequently as Vice President of Operations for The McClatchy Company, the parent  company  of  The  Modesto Bee. As  a corporate officer at McClatchy, she oversaw 11 of their 30 newspapers throughout the country.
Dickerson is extremely active in the community, serving on many boards over the past 20 years. She currently serves on the board of the Stanislaus Community Foundation and Opportunity Stanislaus. She also represents Arts, Entertainment, and Sports on the Stanislaus County CEO’s Focus on Prevention Task Force. She was recently named  a  Board member  Emeritus  for  the  Stanislaus  Education Foundation.
“Lynn has been incredibly successful collaborating with community resources and supporters to drive the economic viability of the Gallo Center and enrich the quality of life in our region. We couldn’t  be more  pleased to  have her join our Boards  of  Directors,” said Chris Courtney, President and CEO.
Dickerson and her husband Ron, of 40 plus years, are proud Stanislaus County residents. She is a native Texan and a graduate of Texas A&M University where she earned a degree in Marketing. In 2010, she was awarded the Toastmaster International Communication and Leadership Award for the  33rd District. She has  been  recognized  by  numerous organizations  with prestigious accolades with honors ranging from Citizen and Woman of the Year to Lifetime Achievement. 
Upon accepting the new Board position, Dickerson commented, “I have always respected Oak Valley Community  Bank’s  commitment to investing  in  the  communities  they  serve. I  am delighted to join their Board of Directors and leverage my experience to provide perspective and help provide guidance and governance to ensure the Company’s continued growth and success.”