Meet the Mentoring Alliance team
A resident of Sonoma for over 20 years, Susie Gallo joined the Mentoring Alliance in May of 2020, just as the pandemic was gaining momentum. Originally from Duxbury, Massachusetts, Gallo graduated from Hamilton College and the Radcliffe College Publishing Program. She has a decade of experience in sales and marketing for Harvard University Press and the University of California Press. Most recently, she served as Director of Operations at NapaLearns, where she worked closely with donors and superintendents to bring innovation to classrooms throughout Napa County. She and her husband Geoff have two children, Daniel and Mary, both recent graduates of Sonoma Valley High School.
Director of Operations
El Verano Elementary School Mentor Center
Altimira Middle School Mentor Center
Brooke Finley has a degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Sociology, along with a teaching credential from Sonoma State University. In addition to teaching in the Sonoma County School District, she enjoys spending time participating in community outreach, traveling, gardening and hiking with her rescue dog.
Sonoma Valley High School Mentor Center
Flowery Elementary School Mentor Center
Brooke Cheeseman received her Business degree from California Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo. With that she made a career managing events benefiting non-profit organizations and worked for the Boys and Girl’s club in San Francisco as their event manager. Now a mother of two boys who attend Flowery Elementary school as well as having a mentee at flowery, she is able to further her career in the non-profit world benefitting her favorite cause, children.
Adele Harrison Middle School Mentor Center
Katy attended Sonoma State University where she majored in General Biology and worked temporarily for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fish and Game. She began studying the Adlerian / Dreikurs approach to Positive Discipline Parenting Techniques through the non profit Family Education Centers. She began teaching weekly parenting classes at Sonoma Valley Unified School District schools and throughout Sonoma County. She was the lead instructor of Counseling Strategies and Parent Education Training through the SSU Extended Education Department. She became the Mentoring Facilitator upon the opening of Adele Harrison Middle School in 2001. Now 18 years later she still enjoys this particular age with all it quirks and beauty. Katy has two grown boys of her own, and her Mentee’s in the program have since graduated from High School.
Dunbar Elementary School mentor center
Mary Jane received her BA in Cultural Anthropology, a minor in Music, and her Lifetime Elementary Teaching Credential from UC Santa Barbara. She taught elementary school in Fontana and Los Alamitos for 10 years before moving to Sonoma with her family. She has been very involved with the SVUSD over the years volunteering, serving on different school and district committees, and working for several of the district’s principals before transitioning to the Mentoring Alliance in 2004. MJ is the proud grandmother of 9 grandkids and proud mother of 3 adult daughters.
Sassarini Elementary School Mentor Center
PRESTWOOD Elementary School mentor center
Board of Directors
Susan was in the financial services industry for most of her career. She was most recently a Managing Director at the Cowen Group, working primarily with the real estate investment arm, RCG Longview, where she was responsible for capital raising and investor relations. Prior to joining the Cowen Group, Ms. Levine held several marketing and investment positions at a number of different private investment firms, including one that she co-founded. Ms. Levine started her career in finance at Lehman Brothers, which she joined in 1984, and left in 1993 to join the Clinton Administration. From 1993-1995, Ms. Levine was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Development, Debt and Environmental Policy at the U.S. Treasury Department, and from 1995-1996 she was senior vice president at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Ms. Levine received a B.A. in political science with distinction from Swarthmore College and an M.B.A. in finance from Columbia University. Ms. Levine has held and continues to hold board positions in several different nonprofit organizations. She is vice president of the board of the Mentoring Alliance and is vice chair of the board of Reconstructing Judaism. Ms. Levine was appointed by President Clinton as a commissioner of the White House Fellows Program. She has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations throughout her professional career. She is an active participant in the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which supports the participation in sport of people with physical challenges. She has been a Mentor in our program for 4 years.
Marie was raised in San Anselmo but has been a resident of Sonoma Valley for the past 20+ years, where she raised her two sons. She is a licensed real estate agent with Sotheby’s in addition to being the Director of Operations for Daniel Casabonne, Sonoma’s most prolific real estate agent over the past 20 years. Prior to her real estate career, she was the business manager of a Montessori school in Marin and helped launch Crescent Montessori’s Elementary School in Sonoma. Marie became a mentor in 2018, joined the SVMA Board of Directors in 2018 and was recognized by the Sonoma Valley Fund as a Star Volunteer in 2021. In her free time, Marie loves to travel, bake and spend time with her husband (Erich), her two sons (Sean and Chance) and her pets.
Kate was born and raised in New York and moved to San Francisco in 1981. Since then she and her family have lived overseas twice and have now happily settled in Sonoma. In her professional life, she returned to school in 1994 to pursue a degree in Psychology and Art Therapy. She worked as an intern for the San Mateo County Mental Health, seeing school aged children, then as a classroom therapist at The Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, seeing adolescents and their families. In 2000 she opened a private practice in San Mateo where she continued to see adolescents as well as adults and a number of younger children who had been adopted from the foster care system. She was also fortunate to volunteer at The Homeless Prenatal Program, where she ran an art therapy group with mothers who had been homeless, and with staff who had previously been clients of the program. She is now retired, having moved to Sonoma in September of 2018. She loves living here and looks forward to becoming more involved in this vibrant and caring community. She has three adult daughters, a son in law and a happy, beautiful grandson, all of whom love to visit her and her husband in Sonoma.
Jordan founded Free Flow Wines in 2009 and has been leading the growing wine on tap movement in the US. Jordan was trained as an engineer at Tufts University, where he is currently a Board member of the Entrepreneurship Studies program, before moving on to management consulting for over two years. In 2006, Jordan began his career in the wine industry as production manager for The Donum Estate. Since then he has made wine in four countries, founded his own brand, Kivelstadt Cellars, manages his family’s organic 10-acre Sonoma County, California vineyard and continues to innovate in the industry he loves. His latest project is Kivelstadt Wine Garden located in the old Schellville Grill location.
Richard De León
Rayne moved from San Francisco and knew immediately she had chosen the right place! After years in management at Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, and Four Season Hotels, Rayne had established The Hospitality Group, providing temporary staffing for San Francisco’s hotels and private clubs. Eventually transitioning from her career, she became involved with the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and Impact100. Rayne familiarized herself with Sonoma’s school-age population by substitute teaching in elementary schools, by becoming a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), and by mentoring with the Mentoring Alliance. She remains active with youth, cooking with teens at Sonoma Teen Services and The Ceres Project. Also, Rayne proudly serves on the Board of La Luz Center. In addition to Sonoma’s non-profit community, Rayne is active with her gourmet groups, book club, and Free Spirits Choir. She and her partner, Mike, enjoy their friends and family – and vacationing at far-reaching destinations.
Mara Kahn was raised to know that if you do good you will do well. Mara was a 2018 recipient of a Spirit of Sonoma Award and the National Recipient of the Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Community Involvement Award. Mara is a Mentor with the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, co-mentoring a lively group of four freshmen girls at Sonoma Valley High School. A Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Wine Country Group, Mara has always felt contributing her time and resources to non-profits is her second job. Mara and Fenway Bark, her Chocolate Labrador Retriever are a Canine Assisted Therapy Team that reads with 3rd-grade classrooms at Sonoma Valley elementary schools each week. Currently the President-elect of Sonoma Valley Rotary, she was instrumental in the fire recovery response. Mara is a founding member of Impact 100, and a member of Congregation Shir Shalom. A native New Yorker, Mara & her husband Phil have lived in Sonoma for 15 years. She is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Consumer Economics, where she was the first woman to be the university’s Rhode Island Ram Mascot.
Cindi is a retired corporate attorney who relocated from Mill Valley to Sonoma with her husband. They have two adult daughters. Cindi received her J.D. from UC Davis and her M.B.A from the University of Nevada. She practiced law at Cooley, Godward, Huddleson & Tatum, a San Francisco firm specializing in venture capital financing and software licensing. She moved to working in-house and consulting for businesses and eventually for non-profit organizations, primarily in the public media area at KPIX-TV, and eventually co-owned CycleBar. She has served many non-profit boards beginning with arts organizations in San Francisco such as the Intersection for the Arts, and on the Tim High Foundation in Marin County. Her chief avocation is classical music and she has been singing in classical choral groups in San Francisco for many years and currently serves on the board of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. Cindi is a mentor to a fifth-grader at Sassarini Elementary School.
A resident of Sonoma, David is a Strategic Consultant working with companies and non-profits throughout Northern California, focusing on a wide variety of management issues and growth opportunities. Currently a Master Chair of Vistage International; Graduated with a BA in Business Administration from University of Pacific; President/CEO of Bell Electrical Supply Inc. from 1970-1985; Co-founder of an educational foundation promoting global interdependence and conflict resolution; past member of the Board of Directors of the Valley of the Moon Teen Center in Sonoma. David chairs the Mentor Outreach Team as his passion for our mission.
Lew is an attorney and is Of Counsel with the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP in Milwaukee. He has been recognized in the area of trusts and estates since 2006 in The Best Lawyers in America published by Woodward/White, Inc. and distinguished as a “Wisconsin Super Lawyer” in the area of estate planning and probate by Super Lawyer Magazine. He is a former Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and has co-authored several publications in his field of practice. Lew is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison where he received a BBA degree from its Business School and a JD degree (cum laude) from its School of Law. Lew’s community involvement includes being past President of Milwaukee Jewish Family Services and Congregation Sinai in Fox Point, Wisconsin. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation, Milwaukee Jewish Community Foundation and the Milwaukee Jewish Home Foundation. He is a Board member of the Sonoma Valley Fund, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Sonoma County. Lew is a member of the Public Issues Committee of the San Francisco Jewish Family and Children’s Service – Marin – Sonoma County Region. Lew has been a Mentor for the past 7 years.
Newcomers to Sonoma in 2021, Sherry and her husband, Rich, relocated from New Jersey to be close to family. They became active community members of Sonoma Valley. Sherry is on the board of Impact100 and the Ed Foundation, as well as on the advisory board at La Luz. Sherry’s career has been focused on education. At LEGO Education, she led an international teacher professional development program. At KIPP Foundation, she was Chief Teaching and Learning Officer. At Pearson, she published and edited ESL textbooks which were sold globally. Sherry is a part-time consultant to Tufts University on a grant from the LEGO Foundation to develop and scale play-based engineering learning programs. Sherry and Rich have a son and daughter -in-law in Brooklyn, and a daughter, daughter-in-law and grandson in SF. She loves reading, listening to podcasts, walking, playing pickleball and most of all, playing the piano. Sherry began mentoring in January 2022.
Vince Quilici is a Managing Director of Code and Theory, which is one of the leading digital design firms in the nation. He spends his days working with clients at the intersection of creativity and technology, helping to drive digital experiences in publishing, e-commerce, healthcare, wine, and communications. As you might gather from his hairline, Vince began his career before the internet, securing a prize entry-level job at J. Walter Thompson. Vince has always been drawn to creative organizations where diverse people collaborate to generate ideas that have an impact on business. Vince grew up in Sacramento and attended college at Santa Clara University, where he also played football and rugby. His wife Caroline is Director of Events at Jack London State Park and their children, Isabella and Jack, attend Sonoma Valley high school. Vince has coached Sonoma Little League baseball and St. Francis CYO basketball. The Quilicis have lived in Sonoma for 17 years but their roots go back to the late 1800’s when Augustino Pinelli, Vince’s great great grandfather, immigrated to Sonoma from Italy.
Emmanuel Saavedra Bazan
Emmanuel Saavedra Bazan or Manny, as many people know him by, was born in Mexico City and moved to Sonoma Valley with his family when he was 6 years old in 1995. He sits on the board of directors for the Sonoma Young Professional’s as Vice President, is a Sonoma Valley High, Santa Rosa JC, and Sonoma State Alumni. In addition, serves Sonoma County by helping local residents and business owners create, build and preserve wealth through his financial services. He started his career in financial services with New York life in January 2019 after graduating from Sonoma State University in 2018 where he majored in financial management. During his time off he enjoys giving back to the community he grew up in by volunteering with local non-profit organizations and spend quality time with family, friends, and most of all his longtime girlfriend Yadira. As a young professional in the community, he seeks to make a positive impact by teaching others how to financially prepare for the future and hopes to inspire other young professionals to become leaders in the community.
Jeff was born in Midland, Michigan, to a librarian and a fisherman/chemist/mad inventor. After growing up in a town owned by Dow Chemical and attending school where the students proudly refer to themselves as “The Chemics” (whatever that is), Jeff attended Hope College and studied biology and chemistry. He then took the obvious step of enrolling in a master’s program in Opera at Northwestern University. He sang professionally for several years before returning to Research and Development at Baxter Laboratories, then earned an MBA at Northwestern before going to work in the investment business with O’Connor & Associates and later for RCM Capital Management where he became a partner. Some time later, Jeff attended Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he was issued his third master’s degree, in Writing, in 2009. In whatever time is left now after writing, investing, and gentleman farmerhood, Jeff attends to the service of a number of public and private boards.
Amelia Zimmermann Wolff
Amelia Zimmermann Wolff grew up in Sonoma Valley. She attended Dunbar Elementary School and Altimira Middle School, and graduated from Sonoma Valley High School. Amelia earned a BA in Mathematics from Azusa Pacific University and an MA in Education from Stanford University. She also holds a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics and earned National Board Certification. She spent nearly a decade teaching high school math in Southern California before moving to San Francisco. Since then she has focused her time on nonprofit agencies, co-founding and continuing to help operate the Excelsior Community Food Pantry in San Francisco, as well as advising and fundraising for several organizations, including Friends Like Me, a program of The Arc San Francisco. Amelia has mentored youth in the past, and values and appreciates the positive outcomes for both mentor and mentee that evolve through the mentoring relationship. Amelia resides in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. When she is not busy with work at home and in the community, Amelia enjoys reading, traveling, and visiting her family in Southern California and Sonoma.