Sonoma State University School of Extended and International Education – a Partnership with Santa Rosa Junior College

Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College are excited to announce the international pathway program for international students between Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College!

Sonoma State University School of Extended and International Education is dedicated to supporting international students seeking a degree from SSU!

Check it out!

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging and Other Bay Area Labs Explore Causes Behind Age-Related Illnesses and How to Stop Them

As the Baby Boom generation swells the ranks of the elderly, the Bay Area’s scientific community is turning its attention to the causes of age-related illness.

The Buck Institute in Novato has become a major player in an effort to find out why the body ages–and how to stop it.

There is an air of excitement in Dr. Judy Campisi’s laboratory. She and her young research team are studying the effects of aging on tiny worms in a process called “senescence.”

Normally, cells will either continue dividing to rejuvenate tissue, or they die. However, senescent cells stop dividing, but they don’t die. Instead, they begin secreting toxic enzymes that cause inflammation.

“The tissues begin to show low levels of chronic inflammation and if that goes on for a long period of time, eventually it will destroy the tissue,” Campisi explained.

At about age 65, human bodies begin to develop degenerative illnesses. Dr. Campisi has been granted $27 million to study if senescence may be behind it.

“Senescent cells can contribute to virtually all of the diseases that we see go up with age, which is 99 percent of the diseases you see in the clinic,” she said.

Things like cancer, Alzheimers, diabetes, osteoporosis, even diminishing eyesight all may be affected by this process.

“And the hope is that by understanding what’s underneath the aging process, the molecular mechanism, we can identify the major risk factor for all these diseases,” said Buck Institute President and CEO Dr. Eric Verdin. “Instead of treating them individually as they occur, you actually are getting to the root core of the problem.”

Dr. Verdin says the Institute’s ultimate goal is to extend the average human lifespan to about 100 years, while limiting chronic illnesses to about the last five years of life.

“Our goal is to transform everyone into a centenarian, so that everyone could live to 90-95 in good health,” said Verdin.

And the institute is getting a lot of help. Using mice as subjects, The Buck Institute is joining the Berkeley-based Astera Institute in a $70 million effort called the “Rejuvenome Project” to understand and possibly halt the aging process.

Dr. Verdin says there are even hints that it may be possible to reverse the effects of aging, allowing humans to actually wind back the clock on their bodies.

“There’s a lot of hope and a lot of excitement that we’re on the verge of really changing the way we will age and the perception of how we will age,” he said.

The Rejuvenome Project is scheduled to last seven years. During that time, scientists at the Buck Institute will be responsible for all hands-on lab work and experimentation.

There are ethical questions. How would it affect the world and its resources if everyone lived to be 100? It’s a question humanity will have to wrestle with. But for now, science is just trying to find out if it may be possible.

Sonoma Raceway Accelerates Growth Plan with Corporate, Group Events

As more than a hub for NASCAR events, Sonoma Raceway is gearing up for a banner 2022 with a new mission aimed at attracting companies and other users wanting to experience the thrills of its motor sports venue.

The wheels of progress are underway for the Raceway, which began its journey in 1968. Now it is embarking upon a new initiative called Sonoma Reimagined, anchored by a new VIP-style hospitality center designed for company events.

The marquee corporate facility provides the best front-and-center view of races. At 19,000 square feet, the hospitality structure will overlook the track’s hairpin Turn 11. Groundbreaking for the Turn 11 Club building came in June 2020, and it is due for completion next April. Sonoma Raceway, one of eight privately held venues owned by Speedway Motorsports LLC in Concord, North Carolina, declined to provide construction costs and other financial details.

Beyond sponsorships, the Sonoma Reimagined program focuses on developing ways for companies, agencies, auto clubs, educational centers and event coordinators of all sorts to use the 2.52-mile, 12-turn course and its adjoining facilities on the 1,600-acre grounds for team-building corporate outings. The Turn 11 hospitality center, which may accommodate groups of up to 1,500 people, is the hallmark addition to that mission.

“Our goal is to create a welcoming and high-end focal point for our facility that represents Sonoma Valley well,” Sonoma Raceway General Manager Jill Gregory said, adding the center will be formally unveiled during the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 9.

Gregory said the Raceway goes into next year with larger expectations for her 80 full time employees than one in which pandemic resulted in its operating at a third of its capacity.

“2022 will be a whole different animal. The most striking difference and the most lucrative will be an expansion from the 33% capacity, given the (social distancing) restrictions,” Gregory told the Business Journal. “It’s not that 2021 was a lost year. It’s just that 2022 will feel like a full calendar year. We expect to triple our events.”

Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Bodenhamer noted that much of the Raceway’s charm lies in how understated it is.

“Most people assume there are three to four events that happen every year, but actually they have hundreds of events,” Bodenhamer said.

For Bodenhamer, the Sonoma Reimagined initiative helps the Raceway expand the venue’s potential for generating revenue, one that goes way beyond lodging and restaurants a few times a year. He listed under-the-radar businesses such as gas stations and grocery stores as also benefitting. The chamber chief estimated the revenue-generating economic impact from the Raceway, which is also a chamber member, at more than $10 million a year.

“There aren’t many singular entities in the Valley that have that kind of impact,” he said.

The spillover benefits to neighboring businesses are obvious.

“I think the Raceway is great for the Valley’s local businesses, especially with corporate conventions and group travel a huge component to our local economy,” Bodenhamer said. “When it went away in 2020, we saw a huge impact from it.”

Bodenhamer noted the Raceway holds the double distinction of bringing people to the area and providing entertainment for residents. The corporate focus in Sonoma Reimagined represents a growth business with promise, he added.

“I think this is something that’s going to be really popular. When word gets out, they’ll have a lot of interested companies,” he said.

“You had me at ‘hello,’” Exchange Bank President and CEO Troy Sanderson said, while on a recent tour of the grounds to check out new ventures and ongoing mainstays. Sanderson essentially grew up “on a dealership,” launching his zero-to-60 enthusiasm for hot cars.

“The team-building piece of this would be very helpful — especially since we’ve been working remotely,” Sanderson added. “This will bring people back together again. Our teams are tired. Rejuvenation and reconnection are our focus right now.”

Sonoma Raceway is widely-known as a NASCAR venue. The Raceway has announced NASCAR’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 return to the Wine Country June 12 on its 36-race schedule. Up to 47,000 seated fans or spectators in 27 luxury suites may see the 90-lap spectacle and get a glimpse of a venue undergoing a facelift.

“We’re ‘hot’ 330 days of the year,” Vice President of Sales Pete Rogers said of normal operating circumstances.

Sonoma Raceway is ramping up efforts to attract companies, car clubs and other organizations wanting their employees or members to experience the Raceway in a variety of ways.

LightSpeed Ventures, as it’s referred to, may host 150 hot rods in various car clubs on the track. Tenants may rent garage space for their four-wheeled “babies.” California Highway Patrol units may use a designated area for distracted driving demonstrations. Auto manufacturers have showcased their latest models on the track. Film shoots have also utilized the grounds. A Tough Mudder competition, which is a severe obstacle-course challenge, has also been staged there.

Wednesday nights light up the Sonoma County landscape with Sonoma Drags & Drift, a sanctioned “sideshow” program that serves to take the activity off the streets. The program has been around since 2009 but has gained in popularity recently. Its biggest event is Winter Jam set in December, which brings out the best of the best for the rubber squealing sport.

Another program allows groups to pilot “race car-type” rentals around the track to either experience a teasing thrill or floor it at Mach 4 with their hair on fire.

“Karting,” which is intended for the novice, features 70 mph karts in hot, low-to-the-ground four-wheelers that resemble go-karts on steroids.

One other added option is a sports car driving experience. The Audi turbo-charged “track” cars aren’t street legal, but at 300 horsepower and 1,700 pounds may give a driver a hair-raising experience. A half-day program provides a class on the fundamentals of speed racing.

“You’d be impressed with how well people can drive these once they have instruction, even though we don’t expect they’d be Jeff Gordon,” said Chelsea Lazzari, raceway special events and community relations manager, said of the stock car legend, who NASCAR named to its 50 Greatest Drivers list.

The corporate events usually span about four hours and bring out between eight to 40 people, but the Raceway may accommodate up to 100 in corporate events. Traditionally, participants take “hot laps” around the track, receive instruction and set up a picnic.

Sonoma Raceway’s inroads into attracting visitors from the local feeder market of the greater San Francisco Bay Area as well as long-term vacationers across state lines has turned the facility into a magnet for tourists and economic opportunity for Wine Country stakeholders.

In 2017, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board commissioned a study that indicated spending among drivers and spectators amounted to $1.27 million in value-added sales receipts. Further, a weekend long event has been predicted to generate $1.9 million in economic activity throughout Sonoma County.

The purpose of the study involved estimating the economic impact on the Sonoma Raceway hosting the Classic Sports Racing Group David Love Memorial Vintage Car Road Races (a CSRG event). It examined the effect on retail, lodging and transportation industries, to name a few.

Along with the Raceway’s contribution to the local economy, North Bay Leadership Council President and CEO Cynthia Murray notes the organization as a community partner.

“While the Raceway is unique in bringing in tourism and entertainment dollars, they are more unique in how much they give back to the community,” Murray said, listing assistance to nonprofits, first responders, children’s charities as some of the recipients. “If you look at the safety net of the North Bay, you will always find Sonoma Raceway as one of the strongest threads.”

Becoming Independent Has Broken Ground!

We have officially broken ground on our Program Headquarters! On Friday, October 22nd, investors, community leaders, and families joined our Board of Directors, staff, and BI participants as we celebrated and honored this historic moment for Becoming Independent. Equipped with golden shovels and DesCor hard hats, BI participants gathered around to “break ground” on what will be the redeveloped campus for program services and the most significant advancement for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the history of the North Bay.

While agencies across the nation have looked to BI as a pillar of innovative curriculum, the dichotomy between our physical space and services has never been more evident as we looked to reimagine and transform our commitment to services. With programs focused on supported living and housing, educational goals, and employment opportunities, we will now have a campus that matches the caliber of services and program curriculum BI has been known for and will continue to be known for decades to come.

Embracing opportunities to think big and pursue our vision for people with IDD is not just bold, it’s attainable. We set our sights on fundraising the remaining $2M needed to transform our Program Headquarters and we are inches away from the halfway mark by securing over $900K in the past 7 months. We fully anticipate hitting the $1M milestone by the end of the year, kicking off our next phase of fundraising to hit our $2M fundraising goal.

As we continue on this journey, we look forward to sharing our progress with you. For those who are looking to make an impact and become an investor in BI’s future, we welcome you to join us. For those who have already made a personally significant gift, we thank you.


Luana Vaetoe

Chief Executive Officer

Redwood Credit Union’s International Credit Union Day Celebration Raises More than $40,000 to Support Child and Youth Development

Redwood Credit Union (RCU) joined over 56,000 credit unions around the world in celebrating International Credit Union (ICU) Day, a time when credit unions reflect on their history and commitment to their members and communities.

One of the ways RCU honored the day was by donating 25 cents to local nonprofit organizations that support child and youth development in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Lake, Mendocino, and San Francisco counties each time members used their RCU Visa® debit or credit card on October 21. In total, $40,613 was donated to local nonprofit partners 10,000 Degrees and North Bay Children’s Center.

“This year’s ICU Day theme, ‘Building financial health for a brighter tomorrow,’ is at the heart of what we do,” says RCU President and CEO, Brett Martinez. “For more than 70 years, we’ve been giving our members the tools they need to make informed decisions to achieve their financial goals and dreams—whatever they may be. We’re honored to be part of an industry that supports its communities.”

Credit unions were built on the principle of “people helping people.” RCU accomplishes this through educational programs that encourage community members to take control of their finances and a commitment to employee volunteerism and support for local nonprofit organizations that offer meaningful assistance to improve their communities.

About Redwood Credit Union
Founded in 1950, Redwood Credit Union is a full-service financial institution providing personal and business banking to consumers and businesses in the North Bay and San Francisco. RCU offers complete financial services including checking and savings accounts, auto and home loans, credit cards, online and mobile banking, business services, commercial and SBA lending, and more. Wealth management and investment services are available through CUSO Financial Services L.P., and insurance and auto-purchasing services are also offered through RCU Services Group (RCU’s wholly owned subsidiary). RCU has more than $7 billion in assets and serves more than 390,000 members with full-service branches from San Francisco to Ukiah. For more information, call 1 (800) 479-7928, visit, or follow RCU on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn for news and updates.

Sonoma State University Named One of the 2021 Equity Champions for Excellence in Transfer for Latinx Students by College Opportunity

We are proud to announce that the following California Community Colleges and California State University campuses will be honored as 2021 Champions of Higher Education and Equity Champions for Excellence in Transfer on November 16th during our annual Champions of Higher Education for Excellence in Transfer awards ceremony. These colleges and universities are leading the state in conferring the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT), enrolling ADT earners on guaranteed pathways to a bachelor’s degree, and intentionally working to support Latinx and Black students on their path to a degree.

2021 Equity Champions for Excellence in Transfer for Latinx Students

Colleges and universities leading the state and working with intentionality to support Latinx students through the Associate Degree for Transfer

Bakersfield College

Berkeley City College

Cerritos College

Chabot College

Chaffey College

Citrus College

Clovis Community College

College of San Mateo

College of the Canyons

College of the Desert

College of the Sequoias

Crafton Hills College

Cuesta College

Cypress College

East Los Angeles College

El Camino College

Evergreen Valley College

Folsom Lake College

Foothill College

Fresno City College

Fullerton College

Glendale Community College

Grossmont College

Hartnell College

Lake Tahoe Community College

Las Positas College

Long Beach City College

Los Angeles City College

Los Angeles Mission College

Los Angeles Pierce College

Los Angeles Valley College

Los Medanos College

Merced College

Mission College College

Modesto Junior College

Norco College

Orange Coast College

Oxnard College

Reedley College

Rio Hondo College

Saddleback College

San Diego Miramar College

Skyline College

West Los Angeles College

California State University, Bakersfield

California State University, Channel Islands

California State University, Chico

California State University, Dominguez Hills

California State University, Fullerton

Humboldt State University

California State University, Long Beach

California State University, Los Angeles

California State University, Monterey Bay

California State University, Northridge

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

California State University, Sacramento

California State University, Stanislaus

San Diego State University

San Francisco State University

Sonoma State University

Join us in celebrating these campus leaders and hear from students, policymakers, and our awardees about the importance of continuing to strengthen and scale the Associate Degree for Transfer via faithful implementation of landmark legislation, AB 928 (Berman).

2021 Champions of Higher Education

for Excellence in Transfer

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

10:00 AM

Sonoma County Tourism Cares Donation Drive for Personal Hygiene Products

Sonoma County Tourism Cares is pleased to partner with the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, Petaluma Visitors Program, Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce, and Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center on a personal hygiene products donation drive.
Sonoma County is home to thousands of unhoused residents. For many, access to personal hygiene products is a continuous struggle, with procurement coming at the expense of other essential needs. From our discussions with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, we’ve learned that pads, tampons, panty liners, and individually wrapped wipes are items of particular need. That said, we welcome the donation of any type of hygiene product.
Throughout the month of November, we are encouraging our hospitality partners to donate new, unopened, hygiene products at a participating drop-off location during normal business hours. At the end of the month, the products will be donated to Catholic Charities for distribution to those in need.
Any assistance you can provide, from donating items, to helping promote this effort, is very much appreciated.
Questions can be directed to Devin McConnell at
Drop off locations:
Please call ahead to confirm office hours!
Sonoma County Tourism
Address: 400 Aviation Blvd, STE 500, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Phone Number: 1-707-522-5800
Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce
Address: 126 N Cloverdale Blvd, Cloverdale, CA 95425
Phone Number: 1-707-894-4470
Petaluma Visitors Program
Address: 210 Lakeville St (enter from E. Washington), Petaluma, CA 94952
Phone Number: 1-707-769-0429
Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce
Address: 101 Golf Course Dr, C-7, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Phone Number: 1-707-584-1415
Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center
Address: 265 S. Main St, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone Number: 1-707-823-3032
About Sonoma County Tourism Cares: Sonoma County Tourism Cares was developed by Sonoma County Tourism in May of 2017 as a way for the local tourism and hospitality industry to give back. Sonoma County Tourism Cares has partnered with environmental and charitable organizations to coordinate over 25 events with hundreds of volunteers to make a positive impact in our community. You can learn more by visiting:
About Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa: Inspired by the love and teachings of Christ, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa serves and advocates for vulnerable people of all cultures and beliefs, prioritizing those experiencing poverty. Serving Northern California, Catholic Charities provides lasting tools that help participants find and keep housing, achieve financial stability, or move their immigration journey forward. You can learn more by visiting:

BPM Named Best CPA Firm for Women in 2021 Accounting MOVE Project

BPM LLP, one of the 50 largest public accounting and advisory firms in the country, has been recognized as one of the Best CPA Firms for Women in the 2021 Accounting MOVE Project by the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA) and Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc. (WTA).

An annual survey of leading financial and accounting firms, the Accounting MOVE Project this year named just 10 firms in the “Best CPA Firms for Women” category. BPM’s selection was attributed in part to its successful women’s initiative, which has expanded into an intersectional effort designed to ensure colleagues of all races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, genders and sexual orientations, as well as colleagues with disabilities, feel supported and included. The firm was also praised for its business development strategies that draw upon its colleagues’ diverse experiences and communities to drive unique opportunities.

“We’re thrilled to be recognized for the seventh straight year,” said Jessica Hekmatjah, Chief Marketing Officer for BPM and Executive Sponsor of its long-standing Women’s Initiative Now! (WIN!), which is part of the firm’s broader Inclusion Now! (IN!) program. “At BPM, we continue to look for innovative ways to advance our female colleagues through senior-level sponsorship and high employee engagement.”

A full 61% of BPM’s workforce and 35% of its firm-wide Management Committee are women.

In addition to recognition by MOVE, BPM was recently named a finalist by The Registry in its ELEVATE Firm Leadership awards, and BPM’s Karla LunaHelena Song and Tara Wilson were recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal as influential women leaders in accounting. BPM also continues to be a thought leader on diversity and inclusion-related topics, with Hekmatjah joining a recent panel by the Association for Accounting Marketing on getting DEI initiatives off the ground and BPM CEO Jim Wallace serving on a DEI panel at ENGAGE, the premier annual accounting conference organized by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

“In this year’s survey data, we saw an increase in the percentage of women at the partnership level over last year, and that continued growth can be attributed to firms like BPM, which places profound emphasis on fostering and uplifting the next generation of female leaders,” said Joanne Cleaver, President of Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc., the content strategy firm that manages the Accounting MOVE Project.

A full summary of the 2021 Accounting MOVE Project is available on the AFWA website. To view open positions at BPM, visit our Careers page.

About BPM 

BPM LLP is one of the 50 largest public accounting and advisory firms in the country. With more than 800 team members across the U.S. — as well as an office in Bengaluru, India — we help clients succeed around the world. We offer a cross-functional approach that gives clients direct access to the best and most qualified resources.

Santa Rosa Junior College Finally Breaks Ground on Student Residence Hall

Late Friday afternoon, state Sen. Mike McGuire looked out at a crowd of Santa Rosa Junior College leaders, students and a host of local elected officials.

“This is one of the best days on campus in years,” said McGuire, D-Healdsburg, standing in front of a construction site at the corner of Elliot Avenue and Armory Drive.

Beside him, several golden shovels stuck upright in sand finally signaled the start of building the largest student housing development in the college’s 103-year history.

The five-story, 352-bed residence hall costing over $60 million is more than three years in the making, said Pedro Avila, vice president of student services. After delaying the construction timeline due to pandemic-related effects on financing, it should be ready for students in fall 2023.

College officials began to discuss developing student housing in 2017, Avila said, then started pursuing the project in earnest a year later. Students struggled to find places to live they could afford, in the wake of the October 2017 North Bay firestorm. The blazes destroyed 5,300 homes across the county, including 5% of housing in Santa Rosa. Subsequent fires have wiped out more homes.

Provision of affordable housing is seen as a way to curtail flagging enrollment, which has trended downward since 2009.

“We’re breaking ground to build housing of equity,” said Delashay Carmona Benson, president of the student body and member of the student workforce housing group, which has met every month for the past few years to help shepherd the project.

Carmona Benson said one of the things she pushed for was extra security measures at the residence hall. Now, she is urging the college to offer a meal plan for student residents.

Avila said students who are experiencing homelessness and those in foster care or lower income households will get priority for placement in the student housing.

The cost of the project has sharply increased since December 2020, when SRJC leaders pegged it at $46.5 million. The current estimate for costs including construction, financing and permits has reached $64 million.

The student housing project is funded by a public-private partnership, in which the builder pays for development and construction costs and then collects rents for the next 40 years to recoup its costs and make a profit. The college is still actively seeking other donors to support the project.

Texas-based firm Servitas, which specializes in student housing development, is managing the project. Weitz, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is the contractor.

Students will be able to choose from a few room options among the 258 units. Those in single or double rooms will share bathrooms with the rest of the floor, while those in the single semi-suite with two single bedrooms or the four-bedroom apartments will have private bathrooms.

Rent will include use of common laundry machines and utilities. Each room will be furnished with a bed, desk and chair, a chest of drawers and a closet.

Avila said the workforce housing group has kept housing affordability for students at the heart of the project.

“If you ever had to sleep in the street, in a shelter, in your car or if you had to bounce around from home to home, because there was no place to call home, this project is dedicated to you,” he said.