Sonoma County Alliance Names 2020 Officers, Focuses on Public Advocacy Role, Census Support
Sonoma County Alliance named Douglas Hilberman as its new president for 2020 at the organization’s January 8 general membership meeting. He is president of Santa Rosa-based AXIA Architects, a long- time member of the Alliance and an involved community leader. Over the years he has served as Chair of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Rosa Design Board, The Construction Coalition, and the Government Advocacy Council, as well as former president of the Redwood Empire Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Hilberman leads a new team of Alliance officers including Vice President Judy James, who is director of public affairs for Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Region; Secretary/Treasurer Karissa Kruse, CEO of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, and Eric Goldschlag, Chair of the SCA Political Action Committee (SCAPAC). Goldschlag is immediate past president of the Alliance and mortgage advisor of Opes Advisors and owner of NextHome Wine County Premier, a progressive real estate franchise.
According to Hilberman,his two key focus areas in 2020 will be on advocacy and the new SCA strategic plan. With an election year at hand, Hilberman noted, “It is important to our community that we elect leadership who promote a healthy economy, maintain our County resources, and sustain the beauty that is synonymous with our region.” The Alliance will also be actively engaged in regulatory policy to support these values.
Kicking off 2020’s January General Membership Meeting, the SCA drew attention to the United Way of the Wine Country’s efforts to have every resident counted in the 2020 Census so our region can obtain more federal, state and local funding based on population figures.
In 2010, Sonoma County was undercounted by as much as 25%. Since grants are determined by updated census data, for every person missed an average of $1,000 in funding per person, per year, over 10 years can be lost. The Alliance wants to ensure that Sonoma County receives the funding it needs, which is only possible through a complete and accurate count.
2020 will also see a new five-year strategic plan developed by the Alliance focusing on ways to improve its operations and effectiveness for achieving meaningful progress and positive outcomes for county residents and the business community.
“The Alliance is celebrating its 45th anniversary as a diverse networking organization with more than 360 members from all walks of Sonoma County life who come together to network, share information about current events and local issues that can affect their lives, organizations and businesses,” said Brian Ling, SCA CEO.
Through the Alliance’s standing committees, members are empowered to advocate for more housing, improved transportation (roads, rail and air services), an infrastructure with clean and adequate water, better educational enrichment and gap-filling opportunities (especially for underprivileged Title 1 students), and ways to enhance community business and economic development by supporting like-minded candidates for elective office.
Ling said strengthening multi-media communications to members and the public is a key focal point this year. The Alliance website is regularly updated with monthly reports from the leadership and committee chairs. Also posted are recaps and streaming video of guest speaker presentations at general membership meetings held the first Wednesday of each month at the Santa Rosa Golf Club.
“Alliance participation is not just about business, it’s about building relationships. We sponsor an annual fall social, a spring legislative reception, plus annual SCAPAC golf tournament and Bocce-for-Books competitions where members can mix socially and enjoy getting together to share good times,” Ling added.
SCA’s track record of success since its founding in 1975 includes serving as a catalyst by leading a coalition of local organizations advocating for the building of Warm Springs Dam and Lake Sonoma. It has also been instrumental in supporting the SMART passenger rail system, Measures Q & M leading to improvements to local roads and a variety of other initiatives that have improved the quality of life in Sonoma County.