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July 2, 2022

Leaders selected for 2020 Focus Agriculture class

WATSONVILLE—A group of 21 community leaders have been selected for Class 31 of the Focus Agriculture program.  

The “first-in-the-nation” program, created by Watsonville’ Agri-Culture organization, is designed to teach community leaders about agriculture in Santa Cruz County and the Pajaro Valley. 

After receiving a number of applications, the Board of Directors selects 21 participants.

Focus Agriculture program received a national award for its innovated approach to bringing the public and the agricultural community together. 

The program consists of monthly daylong seminars, held over a period of 9 months starting on March 13th. Speakers ranging from farmers to elected officials to representatives from environmental groups will address the class. 

The sessions will cover such topics as ethnic groups in agriculture, new technology and diversity of commodities locally grown. In addition, there are many farm tours and hands on experiences.

“Community leaders will find this program beneficial and, in turn, growers who present information to the class will learn the public’s current perspective of local agriculture,” said Agri-Culture President Steve Bontadelli. “The program is designed to be a two-way learning process.”

Class 31 members: 

Anita Aguirre, Chief Compliance Officer & Deputy Director, Salud Para La Gente

John Bargetto, Vice President, Bargetto Winery

Belinda Barr, Business Services Manager, Economic Development Coordinator, Workforce Board Development (County of Santa Cruz)

Evan Benevento, Senior Accountant, Wheeler Accountants, LLP

Chris Bley, Entrepreneur, Insight Up Solutions

Raymon Cancino, Chief Executive Officer Community Bridges

Edan Cassidy, Managing Member, Cassidy Insurance Agency, LLC.

Stephanie Connor Kent, Chief Nurse Executive, Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center/Sutter Health

Manu Koenig, Platform Partnership Lead, Paystand

Mary Maselli, Self Employed/Semi-Retired, Financial Advisor & Financial Planner

Michelle Montalvo, Legal Manager, Driscoll’s, Inc.

Khalil Moutawakkil, Founder & CEO, KindPeoples 

Michelle Navarro, Business Development Officer, Santa Cruz County Bank

Peter Nell, Government Affairs Manager, CCOF

Sergio Parra, Attorney, Head of Labor & Employment Department, JRG Attorneys at Law

Gilda Rall, Parliamentarian & Member of Governing Board of Directors, Pajaro Dunes North Association

Joe Serrano, Executive Officer, LAFCO of Santa Cruz County

Jerry Souza, Director Cardiovascular Services, Dignity Health Dominican 

Tiffany Turner, Director of Operations, Dientes Community Dental

Jessica Vaughan, Director of Operations & Grower Consulting, LumiGrow, Inc. 

Danielle Wong, Healthy Food for Seniors Program, Grey Bears


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