Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute and Vinexpo New York Partner to Expand Education Program

Wine Business Institute and Vinexpo New York Partner to Expand Education Program

New Wine Business Video Series Augments Wine Business Institute’s Digital Education

Rohnert Park, CA – The Wine Business Institute (WBI) in the School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Sonoma State University (SSU) today announced a new partnership with Vinexpo New York to develop cutting-edge digital content in the form of a two-part exhibitor education program for the Vinexpo New York show, which took place March 4-5, 2019. The first part of the project is a six-video series entitled Legalities and Realities of the US Wine Market that was released to registered exhibitors over a two-month period leading up to Vinexpo New York. The videos feature industry experts from California, New York, Georgia, Texas, Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, representing segments from across the wine value chain. Topics covered in the series include the state of the US wine industry, beverage alcohol sales figures, consumption trends and demographic patterns, compliance and legal implications for producers of all sizes, navigating US wine laws and the import and distribution landscape, and options for routes to market in the U.S. The online educational series will be accessible to Sonoma State University faculty and students this spring.

Part two of the education program is an onsite seminar on “Opportunities, Obstacles, and Options in the US Beverage Alcohol Market” that was delivered by Wine Business Institute faculty member and founder of Italian Wine Central, Geralyn Brostrom, who spearheaded the two-part project, and Wine Business Institute Executive Director Ray Johnson at Vinexpo New York on Sunday, March 3. Funding for the seminar and video series was provided by Vinexpo New York, jointly organized by Vinexpo and Diversified Communications, to partner in exhibitor success in this complex market.

The U.S. wine market is the largest globally, and yet penetrating this market can prove to be a challenge because of steep competition. This video series aims to help global wine professionals stay on top of changing trends and find viable solutions to the industry’s most pressing challenges,” said Ray Johnson.

“We were seeking to provide innovative content for wine professionals exhibiting at Vinexpo New York. Tom Matthews at Wine Spectator referred us to the Wine Business Institute as a trusted partner because of its track record for being a leader in wine business education and research, and its vast network of outstanding faculty and industry experts,” said Beckie Kier, event director of Vinexpo New York at Diversified Communications.

 Experts featured in the Legalities and Realities of the US Wine Market video series include Scott Ades, president at Dalla Terra Winery Direct (New York and Napa); Gabe Barkley, CEO, and John Beaudette, president at MHW Limited (New York); Danny Brager, senior vice president of Beverage Alcohol Practice at The Nielsen Company (California and Georgia); Serena Campbell, operations director at USA Wine West (San Francisco); Alfonso Cevola, wine writer at On the Wine Trail in Italy and former import director at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (Texas); Caroline Hermann, Master of Wine and beverage alcohol attorney (Washington, D.C.); John Hinman and Rebecca Stamey-White, attorneys and partners at Hinman & Carmichael LLP (San Francisco); Rebecca Hopkins, communications strategist at Folio Fine Wine Partners and founder and CEO at A Balanced Glass (Napa and San Francisco); Robert Kennedy, owner at RWK Imports LLC (D.C., Virginia, and Maryland); and Jay Youmans, Master of Wine and owner of Capital Wine School and Rock Creek Wine Merchants (D.C. and Maryland).

These six films expand the WBI’s digital wine business education library, which includes the recently released Business of Wine Video Series, 13 leadership interview films featuring wine icons and pioneers in California, Washington, and Oregon. The Business of Wine Video Series is available to the public here:

For more information about the partnership or our degrees and certificate programs, please visit, or contact us at (707) 664-3347 or

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About Wine Business Institute

The Wine Business Institute, the global leader in wine business research and education, is the first U.S. institute of higher learning to offer undergraduate, MBA, and Executive MBA degrees specializing in the business of wine. In 2018, the WBI opened the doors to its new home, the Wine Spectator Learning Center, a 15,000-square-foot education complex dedicated to training the next generation of leaders for a changing global wine industry. For more information, visit

About Vinexpo

Since its establishment in Bordeaux in 1981, on the initiative of Bordeaux Gironde’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vinexpo has been a leading organizer of events for the wine and spirits industry. In 38 years, Vinexpo has developed a unique understanding of the market and an extensive network of key distributors around the world. The brand currently runs exhibitions in five set locations (Bordeaux, Hong Kong, New York, and soon Shanghai and Paris), and the touring event Vinexpo Explorer. For more information, visit

About Diversified Communications

Diversified Communications is a leading international media company with a portfolio of face-to-face exhibitions and conferences, online communities and digital and print publications. As producers of these market-leading products, Diversified Communications connects, educates and strengthens business communities in over 14 industries, including: food and beverage, healthcare, natural and organic, business management and technology. For more information, visit:

Nelson CEO Joe Madigan Honored on Staffing Industry 100 List for 2019

Nelson, one of the largest independent staffing firms in the U.S., announces that its CEO, Joe Madigan, has been recognized on the Staffing Industry Analysts 2019 Staffing 100 List.

This annual list acknowledges and celebrates leaders who are driving growth and innovation in the staffing industry. The list includes CEOs, like Madigan, as well as entrepreneurs, technologists, workforce specialists, legal advisors, data scientists and more, from a range of different kinds of companies and niches–from traditional staffing to human cloud platforms to MSP/VMS to RPO.

“The 2019 Staffing 100 North America stand out as leaders, executives and visionaries and for their significant commitment to empowering people. From job-seekers and internal talent to partners and stakeholders across the ecosystem, the Staffing 100 honorees understand that people helping people is both a competitive advantage and a way to advance the world of work for all,” said Subadhra Sriram, Editor & Publisher, Media Products, SIA. “Congratulations to those individuals named to this year’s list for their achievements and contributions and for making it, ultimately, about people.”

Madigan became the CEO of Nelson in January of 2018. He joined the company fourteen years ago as a Branch Manager and worked his way up to the top leadership position. Under his leadership, the company has grown, with 16% temp sales growth and 21% net income growth year-over-year respectively.

In addition, Madigan created the Nelson beCAUSE philanthropy program, which allows Nelson employees to support charitable causes in their communities. In 2018, the beCAUSE committee granted over $75,000 to local charities. Nelson was recognized as one of the top philanthropic companies in the Bay Area, ranking 18 out of 100 overall and fourth for most giving per employee.

“I am honored to be a part of the SIA Staffing 100 list for 2019 – helping this company grow, first as an individual contributor, and now as a leader, has been such a rewarding part of my career,” said Madigan. “In addition, this role has given me the opportunity to create rewarding careers for workers all over California and the U.S., including for those employed directly by Nelson. I look forward to continuing to make Nelson an integral part of the business communities across our state and the country.”

Nelson, which is based in Sonoma, California, has provided staffing, recruiting, and payrolling solutions to organizations of all sizes and across industries for nearly fifty years. For more information about Nelson, visit

Catholic Charities Receives $1 Million From St. Joseph Health of Sonoma County for Caritas Village

Catholic Charities shares a very similar mission and history with St. Joseph Health, and we are thrilled to take our partnership to a new level with Caritas Village.

Thanks to a $1 million leadership gift from the hospital, we’ll be able to meet the medical needs of people experiencing homelessness with an onsite medical clinic operated by Santa Rosa Community Health and an expanded recuperation shelter for patients leaving the hospital.

SolarCraft Completes Solar Power System at Hospice by the Bay in Marin

Novato and Sonoma based SolarCraft, a leading North Bay solar installer for over 35 years, recently completed the installation of a 158 kW DC solar system at Hospice by the Bay in Larkspur, CA.   The solar panels were installed as a way to save energy and protect the environment; reducing HBTB’s operating costs by thousands every month and lowering their carbon footprint.

The solar power system is roof mounted for maximum southern sun exposure and consists of 433 high-efficiency solar panels, producing 217,015 kWh annually.  Excess power generated during the day is banked by PG&E for credit towards future use, also reducing the strain on the local power grid.

SolarCraft presents very favorable financing options, which allow non-profits to benefit from federal incentives.  With a lease or PPA, the provider is able to monetize federal incentives and passes the benefits through to non-profits via lower lease payments, or as in a PPA, lower contracted utility rates. Additionally, leases and PPAs are designed to minimize or eliminate initial up-front costs, making solar immediately affordable for non-profits that want to be green.

During the life of the system, nearly 7.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide generated by Hospice by the Bay’s operations will be eliminated.  This impact is equivalent to removing air pollution produced by over 9 million miles of driving over 25 years or the pollutants removed by 176 acres of trees in one year.

About Hospice by the Bay
To help you face the end of life with dignity and comfort, Hospice by the Bay will care for you wherever you call home – a family residence, assisted living, a nursing facility or the hospital.  Found in 1975 as Hospice of Marin, they are pioneers in their field – the first hospice in California and the second in the United States.  Their Care Team approach set the standard for hospice care across the country.  To enhance their hospice, palliative and pediatric care, they offer community grief support services, free advance health care planning workshops and estate planning seminars.

SolarCraft is 100% Employee-Owned and one of the largest green-tech employers based in the North Bay for over
35 years.  SolarCraft delivers Clean Energy Solutions for homes and businesses including Solar Electric, Solar Pool Heating and Battery / Energy Storage.  With over 7,000 customers, our team of dedicated employee-partners is proud to have installed more solar energy systems than any other company in the North Bay.

Read more press releases

Kaiser Permanente Grants $1 Million to PEP Housing

As part of the post-wildfire healing and recovery of the Santa Rosa community, Kaiser Permanente awarded a $1 million grant to PEP Housing, a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing limited-income seniors access to affordable, quality housing with supportive services and advocacy. The grant will help fund a highly-needed new development in Santa Rosa with affordable senior housing for those affected by the fires.

“In October 2017, one of our employees lost her mother to the fires. It was devastating. We knew we needed to do something. We decided to do what we do best – housing,” said Executive Director Mary Stompe of PEP Housing. “In honor of Linda Tunis, we started planning an affordable housing option for seniors displaced by the fires with access to support and resources for healthy living.”

More than 83,000 residents of Sonoma County are over 65, and nearly 7 percent of them have incomes below the poverty level. This project will fill a gap in housing by providing an all-senior housing project that will serve fire victims and other chronically homeless seniors. It will function as a transition while residents seek larger units with kitchens or living arrangements with a higher level of care.

“Thanks to the tremendous support from Kaiser Permanente, we’re coming together as a community to create new housing opportunities for seniors who lost their homes in the fires and restoring their dignity and resilience in the process,” Mary added.

Located in a beautiful setting near St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, the project will provide 22 units. Each unit includes a private bedroom, restroom, and basic cooking essentials. The facility will have a common kitchen and dining area where residents can enjoy community meals and activities, a dog run, and a garden area all to promote a healthy lifestyle. In addition, residents will have access to a resident service coordinator who can help them navigate the complex network of services, so they can access benefits such as healthcare and nourishing food supplements. This project is more than just a development; it is a community.

“We are very proud supporters of PEP Housing’s Linda Tunis project as it closely aligns with our mission to help the most vulnerable populations affected by the fires,” said Alena Wall, Community Benefit manager at Kaiser Permanente. “The project will provide subsidized housing within 10 months after project approval. This is significantly faster than a new construction build that can take 5 years to complete and will cost approximately one-third of a new build.”

There is a sense of urgency to this development mostly because of a limitation of federal support for temporary mobile housing units for 18 months after natural disasters. For 18 months after the fires, federal aid houses seniors who lost their homes in the fires in mobile homes. After that, they will be on their own. We know that some of these seniors have nowhere to go and this is the population PEP Housing is planning to support.

Arrow Benefits Group Launches BenefitsTV

Two young thought leaders from a family-run brokerage outside San Francisco kicked off 2019 by creating and posting content for a new YouTube and Instagram channel featuring short videos related to employee benefit plans.

BenefitsTV is the brainchild of Andrew McNeil, an adviser with Arrow Benefits Group and 2017 EBA Rising Star in Advising, and Rosario Avila, who heads up ABG’s Alianza division catering to clients with Spanish-speaking employee populations and was named to the 2018 EBA Top Women in Benefit Advising list.

“As audio or video platforms become an easier way to obtain information, building a library of short informational videos makes perfect sense,” McNeil says, noticing the need for branded content amid scores of clips posted by a nearly endless stream of sources.

To a large degree, social media content is a scattered frontier in arbitrary order. In some cases, subscriber buttons appear just to the right of content on YouTube searches. One such example is The Benefits Channel with just two subscribers, but no information about where and by whom it was launched is available, while in South Africa there’s a channel called EBnet – The Employee Benefits Network that has been posting content since 2012 to nine subscribers.

“From a marketing strategy standpoint, video is the king of all media,” according to Bart Camarata, a freelance videographer whose Benefit Advisor TV has helped employee benefit advisers produce video content since 2003. As a whole, he argues that video outperforms every other common marketing medium as a marketing tool, though there are always exceptions. He also believes it’s the quickest way to reach audiences on a grand scale.

Camarata cites various sources to support his case. For example, Hubspot reports a 200% to 300% increase in click-through rates when video is used in an email, while SmallBizTrends notes that social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined. In addition, Digital Information World found that 59% of senior executives agree that if both text and video are available on the same topic on the same page, they prefer to watch video.

Whatever the source of content being posted, brevity is a key theme for BenefitsTV. As a millennial, McNeil thinks it’s much easier to watch or hear a minute-long video with basic information that can always be researched further as people become busier and there’s more technology.

He admits to growing bored just 30 seconds into five-minute video clips. Of course, not everyone shares that assessment. McNeil believes older generations prefer to consume longer videos with professional production values.

Many of the younger employee populations that ABG serves are more comfortable searching for answers to benefits-related questions on social media, according to Avila. Some may be fresh off their parents’ health insurance plan without any knowledge of how their benefits actually work. Others might want to know more about their 401(k) or other benefits.

Given the nature of social media, McNeil says it’s critical to refresh the digital content so that it’s not seen as stale and viewers “know they’re going to get something new and fresh every day. And it gives them a trusted name over the long term.”

Since it’s a minimal time commitment, McNeil says it’s well worth the effort. “Once you shoot and edit a video and put it on your computer, it takes like five minutes to load, so it’s an easy way to get out good content,” he adds.

Most BenefitsTV videos are geared toward employers, though some target employees or individuals. They explain a myriad of topics, such as what an annual group medical deductible is, payment options at the pharmacy, health savings account contributions, workplace culture, etc. ABG’s team also has fielded a few questions on the Instagram version of its channel whose answers McNeil says other viewers could benefit from if they were thinking about asking the same thing. So far only one video has been done in Spanish, but more are expected.

McNeil has noticed more benefit brokers producing video content, which always could be used as a marketing tool, but he’s balking at that idea. His mission for BenefitsTV is that it be used as an informational platform, not a commercial. “There’s a fine line that I don’t want to cross with it, but we’ll definitely be sharing it with our clients and prospects,” he reports, “and over the long term, I think it will help build our recognition, not just as a company, but as individuals.”

Adds Avila: “We don’t have a tangible product that we’re selling, but we’re selling ourselves. We’re selling how we connect with clients and employees, and how we view things.”

Comcast’s 2018 Highlights

Supporting California Communities in Need: We were deeply impacted by the wildfire devastation that struck our region last year. To help rebuild our community, we opened thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots, free internet and video services at evacuation centers, and made a $1.1 million contribution to relief efforts. It was the least we could do for the community we all love, and we were proud to provide even a small sense of relief for our friends and neighbors who have been impacted.

Expanding Access to Affordable In-Home Internet Access: Our Internet Essentials program, which helps connect over six million low-income Americans to affordable Internet, is now available for low-income veterans. We also established a partnership with the Natomas Unified School District in Sacramento to bring low-cost home WiFi access to over 1,000 families.

Remaining at The Forefront of Innovation: Our team at Comcast Business in California continued to keep us at the forefront of technology and innovation. Customers such as Tangle Creations in San Francisco and rural communities like Tesoro Viejo, in Madera County relied on Comcast Business to provide innovative broadband, Ethernet and WiFi technologies for homes, business and public spaces.

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion Year-Round: In 2018, Comcast contributed $100,000 to Latinas in Tech to support programs for the advancement of Latinas in the technology industry. We also supported initiatives such as Hella Asian and San Francisco Pride. Through initiatives like FreePass Latino and the expansion of our International channels, we provided expanded access to content that our diverse audiences enjoy.

Expanded Entertainment and a Remote That Speaks Spanish: Comcast is now the largest provider of gigabit broadband speeds throughout the country and within our California service area. We’ve also expanded our content offerings, integrating Netflix, Sling and, most recently, Amazon Prime on our X1 platform. We know our customers want an easy way to watch all their favorite shows and movies and our amazing, bilingual voice remote makes that incredibly fast and simple.

For more information check out the Comcast blog

Sonoma Raceway Makes NBC’s NASCAR Top 5!

The 2019 NASCAR season is one of significant change.

From a multitude of drivers and crew chiefs switching teams to a brand new rules package in the Cup Series, the NASCAR we’ll see in action in February will be a far cry from what we saw in November.

Which changes have us the most eager to get the season underway in 31 days?

Same Team, Different Car

How long will it take before Chad Knaus accidentally visits the wrong hauler during a race weekend?

It seems like a plausible scenario given that NASCAR’s most successful crew chief of the 21st Century is working on a car not driven by Jimmie Johnson for the first time since 2001.

And Knaus himself said it could happen.

“Look, I had 18 years working on that 48 car, so I guarantee I’m going to walk into the wrong transporter,” Knaus said Friday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.” “At some point, I’m probably going to key the radio and start to say ‘Jimmie,’ by accident. I may look at the 48 as it rolls down the front straightaway and get confused, but hell, I’m getting old, so I get confused anyhow. So, that’s just part of life.”

2019 sees Knaus instead shepherding the sophomore effort of fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron in the No. 24 Chevrolet.

Meanwhile, Johnson and the No. 48 team will head to Speedweeks in Daytona with Kevin Meendering as its crew chief. After three years working with Elliott Sadler in Xfinity, Meendering gets his first shot in Cup with a seven-time champion near the end of his career.

It truly is a brave new world.

Old School Sonoma

A Cup Series road course will see a major change to its circuit this year.

No, Watkins Glen is not going to run “the Boot.” But Sonoma Raceway is bringing back “the Carousel.”

Almost lost in the hoopla of the inaugural race weekend on the Charlotte Roval last year was a press conference announcing the course alteration for Sonoma’s June 21-23 Cup race weekend.

The move, made to commemorate the track’s 50th anniversary, returns the track to its original 12-turn, 2.52-mile layout.

Cup races used “the Carousel” until 1998, but that was on a 1.99-mile layout. IndyCar also raced on “the Carousel.”

Kaiser Permanente Grants $250K to Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative

Furthering its commitment to support the post-wildfire healing and recovery of the Santa Rosa community, Kaiser Permanente awarded a $250K grant to the Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative. The multi-year program will train 300 local facilitators to lead evidence-based, mind-body resilience groups that will reach over 8,000 people across Sonoma County.

The program is a partnership with the Center for Mind Body Medicine (CMBM), which has worked with communities around the world following natural disaster or trauma.

Their model leverages our inner capacity for healing and the power of personal communities with notable results. Participants in a New Orleans program had a 17% decrease in PTSD scores and health care professionals in the group experienced a significant decrease in compassion fatigue three months following the training. Santa Rosa Community Health is spearheading the Sonoma County effort in partnership with over a dozen community organizations and leaders.

“Our vision is to develop our local capacity for long-term healing and resilience, which helps prevent trauma from progressing into more serious physical, behavioral, or social problems. Empowering lay people with proven tools and training, we create pathways for people to get support where they live, work, play, and congregate,” says Naomi Fuchs, CEO of Santa Rosa Community Health. “Our partnership with community health leaders such as Kaiser Permanente, gives us the support necessary to breathe life into this high-impact program.”

One hundred and fifteen people from health care, human services, education, and government participated in the first cohort that launched in late October and ended on January 12. Two Kaiser Permanente employees completed the eight-day training. “We are honored to partner with the Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative to maximize resources and support for individuals in our communities, especially our most vulnerable populations,” said Judy Coffey, Sr. VP/Area Manager, Marin-Sonoma Service Area of Kaiser Permanente. Strengthening cross-community bonds and engaging people and communities most at risk for experiencing the negative effects of trauma are central to the program’s mission.

“It was great to be a part of such a wonderfully diverse group of people dedicated to the healing of our community,” says Raymond Dougherty, the Director of Spiritual Care Services for Kaiser Permanente and a participant in the first cohort. “The thing I appreciate the most about this training is the focus on experiential learning. Our first sessions were based on addressing issues of stress and trauma in our own lives, with a focus on developing healthy mind/body practices for ourselves. Then, out of our own experiences of healing and recovery, we are better equipped to bring these resiliency practices to the broader community.”

Exemplifying the Center for Mind Body Medicine’s motto ‘Teaching thousands to heal millions,’ Dougherty adds, “I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with KP staff and members as well as the surrounding community!”

An executive breakfast and community engagement workshop are scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 27. If you’d like to be notified about details or learn more about the program, visit