Santa Maria Valley Executive Believes in Finding a Way to Say ‘Yes,’ Compromising

President and CEO of the Santa Maria Valley (CA) Chamber
2020 Chairman of the Board of W.A.C.E.


Personal: I am originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. I lived and worked in Utah and Northern Virginia before moving to California in 2001. I’ve been married to my wife, Shana, for 31 years. We have four children and three grandchildren.

Education: I hold a bachelor’s in human resource management and a master’s in information systems, both from Utah State University.

Chamber Experience: I have worked for two chambers, Visalia and Santa Maria Valley, for a total of 11 years. I also have an additional five years in economic development and tourism marketing prior to joining the Visalia Chamber.

Business Philosophy

Guiding Principles: Over the years, I’ve collected a series of axioms that I try to use as guides to living life. They include:

• Find the “Yes.” It may not be the yes that was originally sought out, but find a way to say yes.

• “And” is often better than “Or.” Cooperation, partnership and compromise are skills that seem to be out of favor now, but I still believe in them.

• Can I make a difference? Is this something we should lead, support or cheer on?

• As Tim McGraw said, “Always stay humble and kind.”

Yardstick of Success: I recently came across this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt again that I think gets pretty close to defining success: “Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: a feeling you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.”

Advice to Others: Hire well and let your people shine. Be bold with your board.

Judgment Calls

Best Business Decision: Bundling dues and sponsorships into a total investment model. It allows us to talk to members about their needs and solutions, rather than constantly asking for money. Personally, attending W.A.C.E.’s Academy as a new chamber CEO was a game changer. The training was great, but the relationships I started with peers and industry leaders continue to be invaluable.

Worst Business Decision: Trying to “make it work” with the wrong team member for too long.

True Confessions

Like Best About Current Job: The opportunity it gives me to work with good people and make a difference in the community we have chosen.

Pet Peeve: Too many to list, but if I had to choose one, it would be either inconsistency or lack of respect for people’s time.

Your No. 1 Strength: The ability to listen and understand the core of an issue quickly.

Area of Improvement: Again, that list could be long. At the moment, in addition to trying to get and stay healthy, I’m working on getting better at setting priorities and focusing on “first things first.”

First Choice for a New Career: I have always thought it would be fun to run an old-fashioned general store. More realistically, I expect it would be with some other version of a community-serving organization. I like to solve problems.


Favorite Book: Every couple of years, I go back and re-read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It reminds me of the power of personal incentive and the importance of supporting the risk takers and investors in our communities.

Favorite Quote: At the moment: “To create real change in this world, you have to have a vision, and you have to have enormous perseverance. It’s the same principle that applies in any entrepreneurial venture: You’ve got to be too stupid to quit.” — Marguerite W. Sallee, chairwoman and CEO of Frontline Group.

Favorite Way to Spend Free Time: Anything that lets me spend time with friends and family—or a good book.