Recipients Announced for the 7th Annual Heart of Napa™ Awards

Recipients Announced for the 7th Annual Heart of Napa™ Awards in Six Award Categories


March 18, 2022 

Media Contacts: 

Katelyn Willoughby-Bagley, Director of Marketing & Communications 

415.448.0330 (direct)


Linda Jacobs, CEO 

415.479.5710 x300 

NAPA, CA, March 18, 2022 – Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 7th Annual Heart of Napa™ Awards, held on Thursday, March 17, 2022, 11:00 am – 1:30 pm, at the Napa Valley Expo Center where 250 community leaders, volunteers, elected officials, and business members gathered for the first in-person Heart event since the pandemic.   

“I stand before you filled with joy and happy tears. Two years ago, a few days before Heart of Napa 2020, we were forced to postpone and host our first-ever virtual event.  Today we are hosting our first in person event since [the pandemic began],” said Linda Jacobs, CEO, CVNL. 

“We have come together to focus on the positive, our strength as a sector, the value of our collective work and to recognize and celebrate the leadership talent and what we love about our local nonprofits, who are bold, courageous, and innovative.” Jacobs continued. “The demand for basic needs that increased in 2020 has not let up. Despite that, each of you stepped up and continues to do so. You are all doing remarkable work to solve the difficulties facing our communities. To me you are all heroes and Heart of Napa Awards demonstrate repeatedly that Napa is a community of great leaders that do the right thing.”  

Tim Myers, President & CEO at Bank of Marin, the event’s Presenting Sponsor, had this to say: “The uncertain times we have been living in challenged us to increase our engagement, do our part and come together for the benefit of our communities. As the presenting sponsor of Heart of Napa, Bank of Marin is grateful that Linda and her team at CVNL continue to ensure that we honor some of the very special people who rose to the challenge and rallied support for our Napa County nonprofit community.” 

The 2021 CVNL Heart of Napa Award for Corporate Community Service was presented to Wine Down Media.  Wine Down Media, the parent company of KVYN 99.3 FM “The Vine” and KVON 1440 AM/96.9 FM “MegaMix” is committed to unifying people, platforms, and programming to create positive changes in Napa County. Wine Down Media inspires its employees to make a positive impact starting from its leaders. Station owners, Julissa and Will Marcencia, serve on several local nonprofit boards and committees and employees serve on local boards and are active in the community. Wine Down Media’s focus on volunteerism is to maximize the impact where employees live and play.

The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Powell Helems, Napa Valley Community Emergency Response Team. Napa Valley Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are made up of community members, like Powell, who are trained in how to respond to emergencies and assist first responders. During the 2020 wildfires Powell contributed 1300 hours to COVID tests and wildfire response and was instrumental in organizing and managing the large animal rescue. In 2021 Powell contributed over 650 hours supporting COVID vaccination clinics. He was helpful in keeping many of the Napa Valley CERT teams together and trained through the last two years. Powell’s dedication and professionalism is a model for everyone, and his actions are directly responsible for improving the safety of Napa communities. 

The Excellence in Board Leadership Award was given to Sandy Re Sims, Aldea Children and Family Services. Sandy Re Sims’ dedication and commitment to Aldea’s mission contributed to a highly successful and first ever virtual Change-A-Life Gala which raised $135,000 for Aldea services and programs. Sandy has been active in ensuring staff have felt supported during the pandemic; she meets with the CEO weekly and has successfully recruited and mentored board members to ensure Aldea’s continued success.  

The Youth Volunteer of the Year award recognizes five full-time middle or high school students serving in a Napa nonprofit, education, or faith environment. Through a devastating pandemic, all the youth leaders nominated remained committed to bettering their communities. We recognize the time and effort everyone has invested, and we are grateful for your civic engagement. 

The first Youth Volunteer of the Year was presented to Ximena Alvarez Parra, President of the Mentis’ Teen Council where she provides leadership and direction to councilmembers, promotes volunteer opportunities, and engages with peers. The second Youth Volunteer of the Year was presented to Emily Long. Emily played an integral role in American Canyon Parks & Foundation’s Park and Play recreation program which brought healthy activities to 1,100 kids. At American Canyon High School, Emily is the President of the Gay-Straight Alliance Club and was a guest presenter with the mental health production “This is My Brave.” The third Youth Volunteer of the Year was presented to Nicholas Dominici, co-founder of the Youth Leadership Academy of Napa whose goal is to empower students to see themselves as leaders and apply their strengths to their everyday lives. The fourth Youth Volunteer of the Year was presented to Kyle Hadeler, the Boys & Girls Club, where he has gone from someone who was unsure of their direction to someone who is using his passions to build a better community. The final Youth Volunteer of the Year was presented to Hassan Shafi, Vice President for Mentis’ Teen Council. Shafi has been instrumental in attracting other young men who are willing to be open and engaged in conversations about mental health. Hassan is also a board member of The Napa Youth Council and serves as a lawyer in Napa Peer Court.  

Rob Weiss of Mentis was awarded the Heart of Napa 2021 Excellence in Leadership Award. Mentis’ vision is to create a community of enduring strength by equipping children, youth, adults, and seniors with the tools they need to live emotionally healthy and stable lives. Rob was one of 5 employees when hired in 1996 and became Executive Director in 2011. As the agency has grown to a team of 45, Rob co-created a vision that allows Mentis to be proactive in responding to community mental health needs, increasing its focus on early intervention and prevention. In early 2020, after years of partnering to support middle and high schoolers who were struggling with anxiety and depression, Teens Connect merged with Mentis. Rob and Jeni Olsen, founder of Teens Connect have been sought after by other communities who want to design similar programs. 

The 2021 Heart of Napa Award for Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence was presented to OLE Health. OLE Health provides high-quality, comprehensive primary care services to everyone who walks through their doors, regardless of income, insurance, immigration status, or ability to pay. They understand that so much of what defines health happens outside of the clinic walls. They understand the importance of stable housing, reliable transportation, and access to nutritious food. OLE Health had 136,000 patient visits in 2021 and administered more than 45,000 doses of the vaccine to essential workers, senior citizens, and those at high risk. 

All recipients were presented with certificates of recognition from Congressman Mike Thompson, State Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, State Senator Bill Dodd, and the Napa County Board of Supervisors. Additionally, recipients (except Corporate Community Service) received awards of $2,500 and $5,000 for their nonprofit organizations. The five Youth Volunteers of the Year received $1,000 each. 

7th Annual Heart of Napa presenting sponsor was Bank of Marin. The Awards were sponsored and presented by Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (Corporate Community Service and Excellence in Board Leadership); Syar Foundation (Volunteer of the Year); Redwood Credit Union (Youth Volunteer of the Year); Comerica Bank (Excellence in Leadership); and Kaiser Permanente (Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence).  

“In the years CVNL has produced this event, we have been able to award 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 County. We stand united with our nonprofit colleagues and stakeholders. Today’s event serves as a reminder that we are, truly, stronger together.” 


About CVNL: For nearly 60 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 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 the new Heart of Sonoma™ 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, and Sonoma 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. Visit to discover more.