Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership’s 3rd Annual Heart of Sonoma County Awards™ is Pleased to Announce Recipients

SONOMA COUNTY, CA, June 20, 2023 – Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 3rd Annual Heart of Sonoma County™ Awards. Nearly 300 community leaders, volunteers, elected officials, and business members attended the event held Thursday, June 15, 2023, from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM at Friedman Event Center in Santa Rosa, CA. 

Heart of Sonoma County, produced by Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership with presenting sponsor Comerica Bank, recognizes, honors, and awards Sonoma County’s nonprofit volunteers, leaders, and organizations for their outstanding contributions and impact to Sonoma County’s communities.

88 nominees were recognized across eight award categories, and recipients were announced for each award. $35,000 in award funds were distributed. Each of the award recipients received $5,000 for their organization (exception Corporate Community Service) and the five Youth Volunteer of the Year recipients received $1,000 each in scholarship funds.

Comerica Bank was the Presenting Sponsor. Mike Silva, Market President – Northern California, 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, and we are pleased to support this tradition of recognizing the nonprofit superstars here in Sonoma County.”


CVNL is pleased to introduce the 2022 Heart of Sonoma County Award Recipients. Recipient’s full bios and photos are available online of Sonoma County:

The Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Northern California, recognizes an individual, other than a board member, who has provided exemplary volunteer service to a Sonoma County Nonprofit. The 2022 Heart of Sonoma County Award for the Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Stella Agudelo, Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa. Stella is a Citizenship Class Volunteer Instructor for Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa’s Immigration Legal Services. Her weekly classes, taught in Spanish, prepare students for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration exam and interview.

The Excellence in Board Leadership Award, sponsored by PG&E, recognizes an exceptional volunteer member of a Sonoma County nonprofit Board of Directors. The 2022 Heart of Sonoma County Award for Excellence in Board Leadership was awarded to Rodney DeMartini, Food For Thought. Food For Thought is a nonprofit organization committed to the principle that nutritious food provides fundamental healing support to people with medical conditions. Rodney has played a critical role in shaping the strategic direction and ensuring that programs and services align with the organization’s business goals.  

Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa received the Corporate Community Service Award, sponsored by CVNL, for their work providing health care, grants, sponsorships, in-kind donations, and volunteerism. A recent example of volunteerism was their response to the crisis at Montgomery High School, where a student was killed. They activated Mental Health and Wellness clinicians and Spiritual Care teams to support the school community. Kaiser is committed to reducing racial and ethnic health disparities providing more than $1.4 million in 2022 to the Santa Rosa area to support community health priorities, access to care, mental health, housing and homelessness and academic achievement. Staff serve on boards, commissions and committees in the community.

The Excellence in Innovation Award, sponsored by Comerica Bank, is presented to an individual, organization, or partnership that has developed new, creative, and effective strategies for advancing solutions to critical issues in our community. The 2022 Heart of Sonoma County Award for Excellence in Innovation was awarded to Side by Side’s Raices Unidas program.  Raíces Unidas (United Roots), the Sonoma initiative receiving this award, serves Latinx immigrant youth and their families who struggle with family and personal trauma and the financial, social, and emotional challenges of immigration. Raíces Unidas elevates services for Latinx youth and families by joining often siloed mental health, educational, and social services.

The Youth Volunteer of the Year award, sponsored by Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund, recognizes five full-time middle or high school students serving in a Sonoma County nonprofit, education, or faith environment. The five Youth Volunteer of the Year Award recipients included: Sofia Fonseca, Goatlandia Farm Animal Sanctuary, for her service supporting the education of youth visitors and volunteers. ; Jonathan Ling, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, , for his service as a Visitor Center Attendant, assisting visitors and the public and helping to maintain the public areas of the park; Memphis Roetter, Redwood Empire Food Bank where he has been volunteering since he was five years old raising over $112,000 and 225,000 pounds of food; Faline Howard, Sonoma Ecology Center, where she started an initiative to develop habitat for the endangered monarch butterflies throughout Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa, and Rohnert Park; Grace Hiserote,  Petaluma Health Center, and Ceres Community Project. Grace is passionate about environmental science and ways to create sustainable agriculture to produce healthy food for our communities and our earth. Congratulations to each of the five Youth Volunteer of the Year Recipients.

The Excellence in Leadership Award, sponsored by CVNL, is presented to a CEO who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and whose vision has inspired meaningful and lasting change benefiting the organization and community. The 2022 Excellence in Leadership Award was presented to Duskie Estes, Farm to Pantry. Farm to Pantry provides fresh, healthy produce to our neighbors who lack access to it by cultivating a community of growers and volunteers to end food injustice and reverse global warming by rescuing and sharing locally grown food. With Duskie’s leadership and community building, Farm to Pantry’s services have significantly expanded, amplifying their impact and reach throughout Sonoma County. She has doubled the volunteer pool, tripled the number of partners and properties, and quadrupled the amount of food gleaned to over 1 million pounds per year on average. 

The Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence Award, sponsored by the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, is presented to an organization that has demonstrated exemplary service to its constituents. The 2022 Heart of Sonoma County Award for Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence went to LifeWorks of Sonoma County. LifeWorks is a mental health agency serving individuals and families in Sonoma County. Their services are free to 97% of their clients, 75% of whom live in low-income households. They work with youth, families, and individuals – in schools, homes, and offices – to reduce family violence and kids acting out and reduce referrals to psychiatric hospitals, juvenile justice, or foster care.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Redwood Credit Union, is presented to an individual who has made a positive and notable difference during their career by significantly contributing to addressing a cause, issue, or discipline. The 2022 Heart of Sonoma County Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to Richard Coshnear. Richard has dedicated his life to advancing immigrant and refugee rights. Rooted in the belief that there should be no second class of people, he has worked to address systemic and institutionalized discrimination against immigrants through legal, political, and community advocacy. In collaboration with others, Richard opened Vital Immigrant Defense Advocacy and Services (VIDAS), a nonprofit providing competent and compassionate low and pro bono immigration advocacy in Sonoma County.

All recipients were presented with certificates of recognition from Senator Bill Dodd, Senator Mike McGuire, Congressman Jared Huffman, Congressman Mike Thompson, Assemblymember Damon Connolly, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Assemblymember Jim Wood, and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. 

“In the 30 years CVNL has produced these events, we’ve been able to award hundreds of thousands of dollars to local 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 Counties. We stand united with our nonprofit stakeholders, ready to support them in 2023 and beyond.”

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About CVNL: Since 1964, 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 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 Learning & Leadership programs and trainings, executive search, customized consulting solutions, volunteer matching, 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 County Human Race, Secret Santa, Court Referral Program, and Paratransit. We provide disaster preparedness training and serve as an Emergency Volunteer Center (EVC), overseeing spontaneous volunteers and donations for Napa, Marin, Sonoma and Solano Counties in the aftermath of a disaster. We believe that with confident and prepared leaders, our nonprofits will be better equipped to create healthy, happy and more equitable communities.

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