CannaCraft Creating A Successful Female-Focused Cannabis Brand: What Goes Into The Process?

Famed cannabis brand CannaCraft recently launched a new product line. Dubbed Gem + Jane, 

this sparkling botanical beverage line was developed by an all-women team and delivers a light, manageable dose of cannabinoids, appealing to cannabis-curious consumers who want to stay in control, or anyone looking for a social substitute to alcohol.

The initial Gem + Jane line features a maximum dose of 4mg of THCv, a rare cannabinoid, or Delta-8 THC, and is available at dispensaries throughout California.

Interested in learning more about what went into the development of this line, Benzinga caught up with CannaCraft’s chief marketing officer Angela Pih, who explained that Gem+Jane is a celebration of women’s multi-faceted nature.

“Jane” is an obvious nod to cannabis. “Gem” reflects “their richness and the ways that women can show up, their uniqueness, shining and brilliant from the inside out, like a gem.”

In fact, the cans were designed in bright gem colors to play off this brand concept.

Creating A Gem

As a marketer, Pih always starts the creative process with three simple questions:

  • Who are we designing this for?
  • What are these consumers’ habits?
  • How can our brand be relevant and differentiated?

“Being data-driven [at CannaCraft], we definitely noticed women are driving the growth in cannabis beverages. They outspend and outpace all other demographic segments. Yet there are very few brands created specifically for women. We created a delicious line of beverages that would appeal to them,” Pih told Benzinga.

“With women heavily interested in microdose beverages — and Gen Z and young Millennials, in particular, looking at non-alcohol lifestyles and alternatives — it was clear we needed to create an outstanding brand for women.”

In this sense, graphic design took a central role.

As Pih explained, the cannabis consumer is increasingly more sophisticated and the beverage category ever more competitive. This is why shelf appeal and design are so important.

Beyond Design

While the look and feel of Gem + Jane were central to its creation, the CannaCraft team did not

lose sight of what is really important: what’s in the can.

“We looked at how the canna-curious want to feel, taking into account a softer high and mild enough to be sessionable. We honed in on cannabis-derived Delta-8 THC for these reasons. We also love the way THCv might make you feel: low psychoactivity with a burst of focus,” Pih explained, adding THCv often helps consumers avoid the munchies thanks to its appetite-suppressing properties.

Elderflower Pear, Lemon Blueberry Lavender and Strawberry Hibiscus varieties contain a blend of 4mg Delta-8 THC and 2mg of CBD, for more mellow moments, like relaxing with friends.

The 0-calories Simply Seltzer and Yuzu Rose Raspberry flavors each contain 4mg of THCv and under 2mg of THC, intended to complement an active lifestyle.

From automotive to beauty and caviar to cannabis, it’s all about the A,B,Cs of who you design for and how you develop a relationship with your consumers,” Pih added.

A Bumpy Road

Despite a successful launch, not everything was roses for Gem + Jane.

Regulations posed a major challenge. And so did scale.

Regulation is a moving target that keeps us on our toes. It also forces us to be creative while being compliant. We do not have all the conventional funnels and channels of marketing,” said Pih.

“As an executive in the cannabis industry, the pressure to scale and grow is considerable. The industry grew around 41% last year. However, only 1 in 3 dollars in the state of California is spent in a licensed store. Staying competitive, developing innovative products and edutaining consumers requires discipline as we all grow.”

Finally, she addressed the cultural issue.

“Cannabis culture is unique and rapidly evolving. We stand on the shoulders of trailblazers and those who have fought for cannabis legalization. We also have to balance the needs of those new to cannabis who are starting to see cannabis in a destigmatized way and are curious to learn or consume,” Pih concluded.

PG&E Vows to Bury 10,000 Miles of California Power Lines, as the Dixie Fire Explodes

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executives committed Wednesday to move 10,000 miles of the utility’s power lines underground, a daunting and expensive task for the embattled utility that’s just emerging from bankruptcy after it was held responsible for some of California’s most destructive wildfires in recent years.

The announcement came at a press conference in Butte County, where a plume of smoke from the Dixie Fire could be seen in the distance. Just three days ago, PG&E told the Public Utilities Commission that its equipment might have sparked the fire.

At the press conference, PG&E CEO Patricia Poppe told reporters a utility employee called in the fire after he found it burning near where a 70-foot tree fell on a utility power line along the border with Butte and Plumas counties, though she didn’t directly acknowledge that the tree sparked the fire.

“We were going to make this announcement in a couple of months when we had a little more meat on the bones,” Poppe told reporters. “But we couldn’t wait, particularly given the proximity to the Dixie Fire and the emotional toll that it has on all of us.“

Poppe and other PG&E officials declined to say how much the plan is expected to cost ratepayers or offer a timeline on how long it would take to complete the massive undertaking, saying the plan would still need regulatory approvals.

Utility experts have said in the past that planting power lines underground is one of the most expensive measures that can be taken to improve wildfire safety. In 2019 PG&E was scolded by a Public Utilities Commission consultant for failing to spend $120 million in ratepayer money that was earmarked for underground projects.

PG&E officials noted that they’ve already buried some 65 miles lines in Butte County, especially in Paradise, the site of the infamous 2018 Camp Fire.

But Poppe said more lines need to go underground to keep communities safe.

“We start today. We know that this is an extraordinary condition and an extraordinary time. It requires extraordinary solutions and extraordinary thinking and extraordinary people,” she said. “Where else but in California would we tackle something such as this and expect it to be achieved?”

PG&E was found criminally responsible for the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California’s recorded history, which killed 85 people in Butte County. The Camp Fire, which destroyed much of Paradise, was the latest in a string of mega-fires that landed PG&E in bankruptcy in early 2019. The company exited bankruptcy last year after pledging to pay $13.5 billion to compensate fire victims for losses not covered by their insurance.

Since leaving bankruptcy, PG&E has been linked to other fires. It paid $43 million to local governments to cover the costs of the 2019 Kincade Fire in Sonoma County and last year’s fatal Zogg Fire in Shasta County. It is probably facing another $600 million in damage payments to homeowners and others. Meanwhile, the utility is facing prosecution in Sonoma and a criminal investigation in Shasta.


The Public Utilities Commission in April placed the company in the first tier of its “enhanced oversight and enforcement” protocol after determining that PG&E did a poor job last year of clearing tree limbs and other vegetation away from its riskiest power lines. The company could theoretically be taken over by the state if it reaches the sixth and final tier of the PUC’s enhanced oversight program.

The company has vowed to do better and is spending $4.9 billion on wildfire safety this year, which the utility and firefighters say is shaping up to be one of the most dangerous fire seasons in modern history due to unprecedented dry conditions.

While she didn’t directly say PG&E’s line started the Dixie Fire on July 13, Poppe described how an employee known as a troubleman responding to a report of a “fault” in a power line spotted the fire burning near where a 70-foot green and an otherwise healthy-looking tree had fallen onto the line.

“He took the action to attempt to put out that fire and after calling for help, he by himself in the wilderness, made multiple trips,” Poppe said.

“Fortunately, he was quickly joined by Cal Fire and they went to work. They did their best to contain the fire but given the treacherous terrain, the inaccessibility of the terrain, and the incredible drought that we’re all experiencing, they were unable to contain what is now known as the Dixie Fire.”

She said that section of lines had been inspected for trees growing too close to the lines in recent years, but the tree in question was deemed healthy and far enough away from the lines so it didn’t get cut down.

The Dixie Fire has since grown to 85,000 acres, and is only 15 percent contained.

On Wednesday, the fire exploded to the point Plumas County officials issued evacuation orders for the west shore of Lake Almanor and an evacuation warning for the Chester area.

In an interview Wednesday, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said his office directed Cal Fire to treat the area where the fire started as a crime scene, and a criminal investigation is underway.

Ramsey said investigators also are trying to determine who was flying a drone that grounded Cal Fire aircraft when the fire was small enough to be extinguished from the air, something that Cal Fire officials have told him could have been accomplished had the drone not been flying.

“They could have had that fire dead out,” he said.

AT&T’s Disaster Recovery

AT&T is committed to keeping customers connected even in the wake of unpredictable, catastrophic events. AT&T’s Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) program rapidly restores communications to areas affected by disasters. Learn more.

Barn 5400 Wknd Fest – Curated Artisan Market

An indoor & outdoor Sonoma County pop-up retail market featuring your favorite local artisans and makers. Enjoy the summer weather outside with local food trucks, live music, and activities for your little ones. Event is free for all to attend.

DATE: Saturday July 31, 2021

TIME: 11:00am – 3:00pm

LOCATION: Outdoor & Indoor at BARN5400

ACCESS: Free Admission. Kid + pet friendly.


Side by Side’s TAY Space Drop-In Center Re-opens!

The TAY Space drop-in center reopening in late May signaled good news for Marin youth who find a haven there.

Closed due to the pandemic, TAY Space has always served as a refuge for vulnerable young people – a place where any youth can charge a cell phone, use the bathroom, access a computer, or sit for a bit and connect socially with others. Emergency services such as connecting youth to shelters, food, and mental health options were offered by appointment, but the social hub and touchpoint for youth has been on hiatus until now.

Alyssa Martinez knows first-hand the crucial role the drop-in center plays and has spearheaded the re-opening. She frequented TAY Space with her children, long before becoming a Peer Advocate for the program. Her lived experience and unique perspective has been invaluable in creating a dynamic and varied calendar of social and wellness activities. Some activities include Mindfulness Meditation and Career Dream Boards, in addition to a monthly free Shop ‘til You Drop clothing distribution event.

Martinez is also placing an emphasis on the positive impact that art and music can have on helping people learn how to express themselves and reveal their feelings and needs. She recently asked youth to participate in a Roots of Life activity, first walking through a local park and then drawing a tree that they had observed. Then youth added affirming, positive messages within the image of their tree.

Since a fair number of the youth who come to the center are homeless, keeping food on hand is essential. Community connections with local nonprofits and restaurants are vital to the drop-in center’s ability to supply healthy snacks and celebrate special events. Martinez has been delighted with the outpouring of generosity from our community neighbors (see below).

At first, some youth were hesitant to return to the Center, even though all safety protocols were being followed. “We were all a bit nervous at first,” Martinez says, “but once we all got to know each other, we instantly made a connection.” One returning youth recently commented, “Just being here gives me life. I feel safe.”

A number of youth said that they like the drop-in center because they enjoy the interactions with people while engaging in social activities. Social anxiety can be a big trigger for youth. Others indicated that they feel they can share their thoughts without being looked down upon for their mental health struggles. Most importantly, they feel empowered in a safe place.

The Center is open from 1 to 5 PM, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. To learn more, contact TAY Space at 415-870-9298 or

Strata Clean Energy Battery Storage Site at Former Petaluma Golf Course to Begin Permitting Process

Touting the results of a newly released economic impact report predicting millions in new revenue, officials with Strata Clean Energy are preparing to file a formal permit application for a battery storage facility on Petaluma’s southeastern edge.

The planned 100 megawatt installation, likely utilizing Tesla technology, would be the first of its kind in the North Bay, and could breathe new life into the shuttered Adobe Creek Golf Course, which closed in 2017 amid mounting debt.

Long-linked to a proposed 9-hole golf course and dozens of new homes near Frates and Old Adobe roads, the battery installation project will for now move forward on its own, carving off a 5-acre slice of the property adjacent to PG&E’s largest North Bay substation.

The $116 million battery storage project, seen by many as the latest salvo in the state’s fight against climate change, is touted as a boon to the local economy as well as a key protection for residents who must regularly brace for power shutoffs.

It has already earned a thumbs-up from the majority of neighbors, and local officials have also expressed support for the installation, which must still secure approval from Sonoma County planners – a step company officials expect to begin in the coming months.

“Being right next to the substation is the ideal location in the North Bay, so it makes sense,” said Petaluma City Council member Mike Healy. “It allows our entire region to successfully deploy more solar without causing problems with the system…and it probably puts us in a better position for certain types of power outages.”

The 145 Tesla Megapacks planned for the site are each 23 feet by 5 feet, and will combine to store enough energy to power 80,000 homes for four hours, said Will Mitchell, vice president of business development for Strata Clean Energy’s west coast operations.

The construction and ongoing operation of the facility is also expected to bolster the county’s tax base and add a cash infusion to the region’s economy, according to a study by Sonoma County economist Robert Eyler.

The Strata Clean Energy-sponsored study, released in June, projects $61 million in business revenue, $6 million in state and local tax revenues and $14 million in property tax revenue during the project’s first two decades, as well as 90 jobs during initial construction.

Along with county permitting requirements, the facility must reach agreements with PG&E to ensure access to the grid. Mitchell said Strata Clean Energy officials hope to begin construction in 2023 and begin operations in the summer of 2024.

Richard Coombs, the managing member of Adobe Investments, which owns the former golf course site, has long puzzled over next steps since shutting down Adobe Creek Golf Course in 2017, as annual losses spiraled to $200,000. Despite a $12,000 annual vegetation mitigation budget, Coombs has come up for criticism from neighbors who have called the former course an overgrown eyesore and fire hazard.

But with movement on the property in sight, Coombs said in a statement that he’s excited for coming developments.

“We are excited to be working with Strata Clean Energy on their battery storage project,” Coombs said. “We are also actively working with our adjacent Adobe Creek neighborhood association and the City of Petaluma on the balance of the closed golf course with the goal of reopening a 9-hole golf course completely irrigated with reclaimed wastewater.”

Although the majority of the 320 homeowners in the area have voted to approve two of Coombs’ plans since the course’s closure, not all residents are on board with the battery storage site.

Former Old Adobe Home Owners Association President Sally Hanson said the battery installation amounts to turning her and her neighbors into guinea pigs for the new technology, which she worries could be unsafe. And she expressed concerns about neighbors having little say on what goes in the area, which is situated on county land within the city’s urban growth boundary.

“I have big concerns, and I’m not happy about it,” said Hanson, who has lived at her home on the ninth fairway for 23 years.

Company officials say the technology is safe, with surveillance and infared cameras in place to monitor the site, and automatic shut-offs built in to keep fire risk to a minimum.

When Strata Clean Energy presented plans to neighbors last fall, the North Carolina-based company had not yet completed an installation. But an identical project came online about a month ago in Ventura, Mitchell said in a phone interview Friday.

The installation planned for Petaluma would be a quarter-mile from its nearest neighbors, concealed behind a berm and adjacent to PG&E’s largest North Bay substation, meaning residents will hardly notice it, Mitchell said.

“This is absolutely the wave of the future,” Mitchell told the Argus-Courier last year. “It’s going to be done in a safe and reliable way.”

The massive battery installations, which are being built throughout the state by the handfuls, are touted as an alternative to natural gas power plants, particularly those used to bolster energy stores during peak demand times.

Sixty-five of California’s 80 natural gas power plants are “peaker plants,” designed to throttle up and down quickly to ensure stable energy during peak demand.

With the potential for the facility to ease reliance on fossil fuel while adding protections in case of power shutoffs, the project has drawn praise from county officials, Mitchell said.

“In Sonoma, there is a need and a desire to see projects like this – for reliability, clean energy and public safety power shutoff needs,” said Mitchell, pointing to support from Sonoma Clean Power, the county’s lead clean energy solutions agency.

Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Park Medical Offices Grand Opening, July 27


San Rafael Park Medical Offices Grand Opening

On behalf of Tarek Salaway, SVP/Area Manager, Naveen Kumar, MD, Physician in Chief, and Pat Kendall, Medical Group Administrator, you are cordially invited to join us as we celebrate the Grand Opening of our San Rafael Park Medical Offices.  Learn about our integrated primary and specialty care and get an exclusive preview of our technologically advanced exam rooms, innovative care experience, sustainable design elements and more.

Tuesday, July 27, 10:00 to 11:45 a.m.*

San Rafael Park Medical Offices

1650 Los Gamos Drive

San Rafael, CA 94903


We are very proud of our care teams and excited to provide the same trusted high-quality care in a new spacious, modern, and healing environment!

Kindly reply by July 21.

Learn more at

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging Finds First Actionable Clock That Predicts Immunological Health and Chronic Diseases of Aging

Researchers from the Buck Institute and Stanford University have created an inflammatory clock of aging (iAge) which measures inflammatory load and predicts multi-morbidity, frailty, immune health, cardiovascular aging and is also associated with exceptional longevity in centenarians. Utilizing deep learning, a form of AI, in studies of the blood immunome of 1001 people, researchers also identified a modifiable chemokine associated with cardiac aging which can be used for early detection of age-related pathology and provides a target for interventions. Results are published in Nature Aging.

“Standard immune metrics which can be used to identify individuals most at risk for developing single or even multiple chronic diseases of aging have been sorely lacking,” said David Furman, PhD, Buck Institute Associate Professor,  Director of the 1001 Immunomes Project at Stanford University School of Medicine and senior author of the study.  “Bringing biology to our completely unbiased approach allowed us to identify a number of metrics, including a small immune protein which is involved in age-related systemic chronic inflammation and cardiac aging. We now have means of detecting dysfunction and a pathway to intervention before full-blown pathology occurs.”

According to first author Nazish Sayed, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Vascular Surgery at Stanford Medicine, the study identified the soluble chemokine CXCL9 as the strongest contributor to iAge. Furman described it as a small immune protein that is usually called into action to attract lymphocytes to the site of an infection. “But in this case we showed that CXCL9 upregulates multiple genes implicated in inflammation and is involved in cellular senescence, vascular aging and adverse cardiac remodeling” adding that silencing CXCL9 reversed loss of function in aging endothelial cells in both humans and mice.  

Larger implications for iAge

Results from the initial analysis (which also included information from comprehensive clinical health assessments of 902 individuals) were validated in an independent cohort of centenarians and all-cause mortality in the Framingham Heart Study.  Furman says when it comes to health and longevity, the “age” of one’s immune system most certainly trumps the chronological information that can be derived from a driver’s license.  “On average, centenarians have an immune age that is 40 years younger than what is considered ‘normal’ and we have one outlier, a super-healthy 105 year-old man (who lives in Italy) who has the immune system of a 25 year old,” he said.

Study results involving cardiac health were also validated in a separate group of 97 extremely healthy adults (age 25 – 90 years of age) recruited from Palo Alto, California. Furman says researchers found a correlation between CXCL9 and results from pulse wave velocity testing, a measure of vascular stiffness. “These people are all healthy according to all available lab tests and clinical assessments, but by using iAge we were able to predict who is likely to suffer from left ventricular hypertrophy (an enlargement and thickening of the walls of the heart’s main pumping chamber) and vascular dysfunction.”

Furman says the tool can be used to track someone’s risk of developing multiple chronic diseases by assessing the cumulative physiological damage to their immune system. For example, age-related frailty can be predicted by comparing biological immune metrics with information about how long it takes someone to stand up from a chair and walk a certain distance as well as their degree of autonomy and independence. “Using iAge it’s possible to predict seven years in advance who is going to become frail,” he said. “That leaves us lots of room for interventions.”

Highlighting the connection between immune health and aging

In 2013 a group of researchers studying aging identified nine “hallmarks” of the aging process. Age-related immune system dysfunction was not part of the mix. “It’s becoming clear that we have to pay more attention to the immune system with age, given that almost every age-related malady has inflammation as part of its etiology,” said Furman. “If you’re chronically inflamed, you will have genomic instability as well as mitochondrial dysfunction and issues with protein stability. Systemic chronic inflammation triggers telomere attrition, as well as epigenetic alterations. It’s clear that all of these nine hallmarks are, by and large, triggered by having systemic chronic inflammation in your body. I think of inflammation as the 10th hallmark”

Catholic Charities – Santa Rosa Wins Achievement in Non-Profit Excellence Award

Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 1st Annual Heart of Sonoma County™ Awards. 472 community leaders, volunteers, elected officials, and business members logged into the virtual event on Thursday, June 24th, 2021, from 11:00am to 1:00pm. 126 nominees were recognized in eight award categories, and recipients announced for each award. A total of $35,000 was given back to support the critical work of local nonprofits and volunteers.

“The community came together in a virtual space to show appreciation and gratitude for all the nominees and recipients,” said Linda Jacobs, CEO at CVNL. “With contributions of their time, talent, and treasure, the individuals and organizations nominated for the Heart of Sonoma County Awards demonstrate that Sonoma County is a community of great leaders that do the right thing.”

Comerica Bank was the inaugural event’s Presenting Sponsor. Mike Silva, Market President, North Bay and San Francisco Regions, had this to say: “Comerica Bank is extremely pleased to have a role in recognizing so many nonprofit community partners and the many wonderful people who give their all to serve others. CVNL has been doing this for many years in Marin and Napa counties: today we started a long tradition of recognizing the nonprofit super stars of Sonoma County.”

American AgCredit received the Corporate Community Service Award for their Local Community Impact Program, where employees each volunteered 16 hours and were given $500 to donate to local nonprofits; Next Gen Ag Program, which provided funding and scholarships to youth involved in animal projects or pursuing careers in agricultural; and Food For People Program, which supported nonprofits working to improve food and nutrition security.

The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Gene Girimonte of Alzheimer’s Association of the North Bay. As a Community Educator, Gene, was able to lead three programs designed for caregivers, presenting at 20 activities to 475 constituents. His passion stems from his own personal experience: he lost his husband of 35 years to Alzheimer’s in 2018.

The Excellence in Board Leadership Award was given to Mary Henderson, Chop’s Teen Club. Mary led the board through the transition to become an independent public charity in 2020 and was instrumental in negotiating a funding plan that resulted in a contribution of $4.5 million dollars. She worked alongside Chop’s Executive Director during the pandemic to keep delivering programs and services, while encouraging other board members and supporting staff.

The Excellence in Innovation Award went to the Humane Society of Sonoma County’s Community Veterinary Clinic (CVC). CVC began as a free clinic to serve the urgent needs during the 2017 fires. A national model, CVC prevents avoidable euthanasia and keeps pets in their homes by providing low to no cost urgent and emergency veterinary care to low-income, marginalized, and at-risk pet companions.

Youth Volunteer of the Year Award recipients included: Tanna CurtisCounty of Sonoma Public Law Library and Ceres Community Project, for assisting patrons in utilizing the law library, helping them find resources, and supporting them with legal issues. At Ceres Community Project she helped deliver nutritious food to those in need and wrote encouragement cards; Benjamin Eisley, Boy Scouts of America Troop 135, for helping his troop “go virtual,” planning and coordinating construction of an outdoor classroom at Northwest Prep, planning socially distanced hikes, and raising funds to support troop activities; June Scafani, McDonald Ranch, for her work as camp counselor, supporting the equestrian trainer, and playing a significant role in the Educational Support Program to serve a cohort of 14 children; Cassidy Dorr, Ceres Community Project, who, despite being displaced in October as a result of the fires, became a teen leader in the kitchen and garden preparing meals for 200+ people and harvesting and planting crops; and Flor Castañeda, The Pad Project, for helping to end menstrual stigma and empowering women by organizing a fundraising event with the support of local businesses. Funds raised went towards installation of low cost “pad machines” that are easy to operate, use locally sourced natural resources, and require minimal electricity.

Alan Silow, President and CEO of Santa Rosa Symphony, was awarded the Excellence in Leadership Award for rejuvenating a capital fundraising campaign that raised 145 million dollars, diversifying programming, increasing their endowment from $1.5M to $16.5M, expanding educational outreach to 30,000 enabling inclusion for underserved students, providing access to in-school music programs, overseeing the Youth Orchestra’s first-ever international concert tours, and launching an innovative virtual concert series during the pandemic.

The Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence Award was presented to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa for providing direct services helping people find housing, achieve financial stability, and become citizens. Last year they placed 864 people in permanent housing; renewed the DACA status of 620 Dreamers; helped 454 people become naturalized citizens; enabled 186 seniors to maintain their independence at home; helped 1,789 people grow their income; and served 415,000 meals. They are driving force behind Caritas Village, a comprehensive housing development in downtown Santa Rosa, responded to twice as many calls for food and rental assistance, and distributed over $1M in client assistance.

William “Willie” Tamayo received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Willie has contributed his time and leadership skills serving on over ten boards, and his philanthropic contributions include multiple nonprofits. He has leveraged his background, knowledge, skills, relationships, and resources to support initiatives and organizations that promote learning, skill building, and confidence to disadvantaged youth and the Latinx community such as Social Advocates for Youth and Guy Fieri’s Cooking for Kids Foundation. He helped create the Elsie Allen High School Foundation, building strong relationships between the school and the community. Since 2014, the Foundation has awarded $430,000 in scholarships to students attending vocational schools and colleges. Willie spearheaded the Compact for Success Program, creating partnerships between Elsie Allen, its “feeder school,” Lawrence Cook Middle, and Sonoma State. This program increases access to higher education for low-income students by getting them on the college track starting in middle school. By increasing access and reducing barriers to education and career opportunities, Willie has helped countless youth over the decades realize their dreams of higher education, good jobs, and fulfilling careers.

All recipients were presented with certificates of recognition from Senator Bill Dodd, Senator Mike McGuire, Congressman Jared Huffman, Congressman Mike Thompson, Assemblymember Marc Levine, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar Curry, Assemblymember Jim Wood, and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Additionally, winners (except Corporate Community Service) received an award of $5,000 for their nonprofits. The five Youth Volunteers of the Year received $1,000 each.

The Awards were sponsored and presented by CVNL (Corporate Community Service); Exchange Bank (Volunteer of the Year); CVNL (Excellence in Board Leadership); Kaiser Permanente, Marin Sonoma (Excellence in Innovation); Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund (Youth Volunteer of the Year); Medtronic (Excellence in Leadership); Community Foundation Sonoma County (Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence); and Redwood Credit Union (Lifetime Achievement).

“In the 28 years CVNL has produced these events, we’ve been able to award hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of nonprofits,” said Jacobs. “CVNL is a resource, connection, and voice for the nonprofit community and the challenges we face, and has offices in Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma County. We stand united with our nonprofit stakeholders ready to support them into 2021 and beyond.”


About CVNL: For over 50 years, CVNL has advanced nonprofits and volunteerism by strengthening leadership, encouraging innovation, and empowering individuals in their communities. Passion alone isn’t enough when it comes to creating strong nonprofits. That’s why we work with aspiring and established leaders and volunteers every day to help them build the skills and connections that can take their impact to the next level. Together we offer comprehensive programs that support nonprofits and volunteers including training, executive search, customized consulting solutions, volunteer services, and corporate engagement. Heart of Marin™, Heart of Napa™, and Heart of Sonoma County™ events support nonprofits of every size and mission through recognition and cash awards. Other programs and services include the Sonoma Human Race, Secret Santa, Court Referral Program, and Volunteer Wheels. We provide disaster preparedness training and serve as an Emergency Volunteer Center (EVC), overseeing spontaneous volunteers and donations for Napa, Marin, Solano, and Sonoma Counties in the aftermath of a disaster. We believe that with confident and prepared leaders and volunteers, our nonprofits will be better equipped to create healthy, happy communities. Visit to discover more.

Sonoma County Tourism Nominated by United Airlines and USA Today

United Airlines Hemispheres Readers’ Choice Awards

Sonoma County has been nominated for Best American Wine Region in Hemispheres magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards. We hope you will help spread the word and encourage voting, which remains open through July 10. Voting is limited to one ballot per person, and the results will be announced in the magazine’s September issue.

Sonoma County was runner up in last year’s poll (losing the top spot to our eastern neighbor), so let’s gather the troops and try to take the crown as the Best American Wine Region! Vote here.

USA Today’s 2021 10Best Reader’s Choice Travel Awards

USA Today asked a panel of wine industry experts to pick their favorite North American wine regions, and we’re happy to report both the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley made the nomination list. Vote for your favorite out of this pool of 20 nominees once per day until voting ends on Monday, August 2 at 9 a.m. You can read the official Readers’ Choice rules here, and vote here.