Emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic with a refined vision for the organization and its role supporting the county’s $2 Billion hospitality and tourism industry, the Sonoma County Hospitality Association (SCHA) announces a new executive director and board members who will support them in reaching their goals.
The trade organization’s new focus will shift its priorities to increase the activity level of its Government Relations and Advocacy Committee (GRAC) in order to promote its mission and interests through engagement in the public policy development process on behalf of its membership, which supports an estimated 20,000 jobs in Sonoma County. The SCHA GRAC committee will set legislative priorities, review policy issues, and recommend positions on legislation relevant to its mission. “The focus of our advocacy and government relations work will be on county-wide issues impacting the visitor-facing side of hospitality and tourism,” Liza Graves, SCHA Board President and owner, Beautiful Places. explained. “We will be developing a legislative platform in coming months, as well as monitoring emerging issues that affect our members.”
Hospitality and tourism veteran Brad Calkins is the organization’s newly appointed executive director. Brad brings over thirty years of experience in tourism, destination management, and government relations to the role, and has worked in Sonoma County for the past twenty years. “With his vast experience and connections within the industry and local, county, and state government, we are deeply gratified that Brad has joined SCHA,” said SCHA vice president Joe Bartolomei, co-owner of the Farmhouse Inn. “Brad’s skills will be invaluable as we work to elevate our work in advocacy and government relations and build our membership.”
To represent the diversity of Sonoma County’s tourism and hospitality businesses, the board has been expanded to include representatives from wine and restaurant sectors. New board members are:
• Bryce Skolfield, Managing Partner, Mine + Farm
• Mark Mathewson, Vice President of Hospitality, Jackson Family Wines
• Rene Byck, Owner, Paradise Ridge Winery
• Terri Stark, Owner, Stark Reality Restaurants
• Dustin Valette, Chef/Owner, The Matheson, Valette Restaurant and Valette Wines
We are delighted to build and diversify our board representation to include the entire industry, both in terms of sectors and geographic location across Sonoma County,” said Liza Graves, SCHA Board President and owner, Beautiful Places. “Along with running outstanding businesses, these board members share a deep passion for advocating the importance and value of our industry in Sonoma County.”
These board members join current SCHA board members:
• President: Liza Graves, President, Beautiful Places
• Vice President: Joe Bartolomei, Co-Founder, Farmhouse Inn
• Secretary: Aphrodite Caserta, Director of Marketing, Safari West
• Treasurer: Kirkman Lok, CEO, Lok Group of Companies
• Larry Willis, Owner/Innkeeper, The Gables Bed & Breakfast
• Jennifer Buffo, COO, Pure Luxury Transportation
• Eric Markson, Chair Emeritus
• Kelly Bass Siebel, Ex Officio, Vice President Community Engagement, Sonoma County Tourism
Along with creating a unified voice for hospitality industry concerns with the community and elected officials, the group will continue to provide education, networking, and other benefits to members and the community.
The mission of the Sonoma County Hospitality Association (SCHA) is to represent the interests of the hospitality and tourism industries through advocacy and government relations, education and partnerships within the community. The SCHA focuses on initiatives that make it easier to thrive in the hospitality industry and initiate a vibrant exchange of ideas to ensure tourism’s positive impact within Sonoma County.