Mission & Vision

The North Valley Community Foundation provides visionary community leadership by identifying emerging challenges in our region. NVCF brings together diverse groups of problem-solvers, mobilizes resources, and equips community leaders. We build and energize a community of engaged citizens and philanthropists who strengthen the common good.

Community Visionaries

NVCF identifies emerging challenges in our region and addresses them by bringing together diverse groups of problem-solvers, mobilizing resources, and equipping community leaders.

Community-benefit projects sometimes need a place to incubate their ideas without having to become independent nonprofit organizations. We support, champion, and provide services to unincorporated nonprofit projects that benefit the community.

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Our Team

The North Valley Community Foundation is made up of a dynamic team that shares a common belief that each person has an opportunity to make their impact on the world around them. It delights us to serve our community to make it a better place for everyone.

Alexa Benson-Valavanis

President and CEO

Alexa has served as president and CEO since July 2005. She was recruited to play basketball at Chico State University and graduated with a degree in journalism, then worked in business development in Shanghai, China, before starting an organization supporting nonprofit development in Guatemala. Alexa was hired to rebuild NVCF in 2005, and engineered a new business model mobilizing social entrepreneurs and philanthropists locally and around the globe. She has overseen tremendous growth of the foundation in clients, services and revenues of more than $130 million during her tenure. She sits on the grant committee for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s 2018 California Wildfire Recovery Fund. Alexa adheres to two overriding principles as a business operator: that humans are inherently good, and love wins. She is most proud of her role on this planet as a mother and wife.

Chris Hayashida-Knight
Vice President, Administration and Finance

Chris brings 20 years of experience in nonprofits and academia to his position overseeing operations at NVCF. He works to keep NVCF running smoothly so the program staff can do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Chris enjoys using technical and accounting skills in support of NVCF’s work helping its donors make the world a more just and happy place.

Bill Hubbard
Director of Gift Planning and General Counsel

Bill brings decades of experience with the foundation to his current work on our team. His background in accounting, nonprofit law and real estate offers our team the knowledge and expertise of a true professional, while understanding the heart and history of our community foundation.

Jovanni Tricerri
Vice President, Regional Recovery and Partnerships

Jovanni coordinates the emergency response and recovery strategy for Camp Fire relief and development. By collaborating with community leaders, agencies and organizations, NVCF is committed to long-term recovery.

Logan Todd
Director of Grants

Logan joined NVCF after a decade working in print journalism to work on the communications team. After completion of a master’s degree in nonprofit management, he took over the day-to-day operations of the grant department, including managing the various grant programs operated by NVCF as well as designing new programs.

David Little
Executive Vice President, Programs and Communications

David has 40 years of experience as a journalist, including nearly 20 as editor of the Chico Enterprise-Record. He is a Chico native and Chico State University graduate. He plays an instrumental role in the foundation’s relief and recovery strategy and also relays stories about the foundation’s work and grants.

Kim DuFour
Program Officer

Kim DuFour has more than 35 years of experience in administration within the California State University system. A local resident since 1977, she has deep ties to the community. She joins North Valley Community Foundation as a senior program officer working with individuals and organizations supporting the Camp Fire Relief Fund efforts.

Carolyn Engstrom
Client Care Manager

Carolyn is the primary contact with clients who use our financial services. She landed in Chico in 1984 to earn her accounting degree, and at NVCF in 2015 to “help the helpers.” She provides support and guidance to our incoming and ongoing clients, intending for them all to feel “well-tended” to.

Patrice Berry
Communications Assistant

Patrice, a journalism and musical theatre major at CSU, Chico, joined the team summer 2019 and is responsible for NVCF’s website maintenance and development. Her public relations option sparked her interest in web and graphic design, as well as photography. Patrice strives to ensure NVCF’s online presence reflects their goals and values.

Katie Hubbard
Operations Assistant

Katie came to NVCF after the Camp Fire to help with the influx of inquiries and support that came in. With years of child care work and customer service experience, Katie now works within the finance department. She handles finance questions and concerns, and some of the daily tasks to help keep things running smoothly.

Megan Smith
Program Coordinator

With a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Chico State University, Megan comes to us with a passion for understanding and serving humanity. Megan is coordinating “complete count” census outreach efforts in Butte County. Her heart for customer service shines on all of those who walk through our door. Her attention to detail and positive, joy-filled spirit are true assets to our team.

Helen Worley
Program Assistant

Helen Worley joins NVCF to provide project support and organization in the recovery period following the Camp Fire. She is a Chico State graduate with a degree in sociology and a strong background in customer service. She works to enable smooth communication within the team as well as with clients.

Chris Copeland
Program Officer

Chris Copeland brings 14 years of property management experience working with nonprofit property owners associations. A local resident since 1998 and second-generation Chico State University graduate, he loves hiking and the wonderful community Chico provides. He joins the North Valley Community Foundation as a program officer, working with organizations supporting the Camp Fire Relief Fund and Butte Strong Fund efforts.

Sharon Nichols
Heart Officer and Senior Advisor

Sharon’s experience as a communication coach and consultant, her doctorate in organization development and her interest in the influence of environment on performance, creativity and communication come together in her role at NVCF. Sharon nurtures the well-being and culture of our team and curates the NVCF space, fostering experiences and environment to help the NVCF team and community stakeholders dream, create and do good work in the world. Her family has lived in the local area for 50 years.

Tria Nicoara
Administrative Assistant

Tria joined NVCF to welcome clients and be the first point of contact for inquiries. She is passionate about her community and supporting positive change. Born and raised in this area, she brings with her a background in nonprofit coordination and customer service.

Debbie Blue-Hamre
Executive Assistant

Debbie has worked for the foundation intermittently for more than seven years in various roles. She returned after the Camp Fire to serve as the assistant to the CEO. Debbie served for years as an executive assistant in human resources at University of Texas.

Carly Gordon
Director of Philanthropic Initiatives

Carly’s mission is to build heart-centered relationships and outreach programs with our funders, clients, foundations and friends around the world. She joined NVCF in December 2019, returning to her roots of hometown Chico, where she discovered her passion for the nonprofit world at Enloe Foundation, and also worked at Chico State as a fundraising development specialist. She is driven by a desire to help, serve and creatively solve problems to build on the dreams of a better tomorrow, fulfilled with purpose of lending a hand and a heart to the village that raised her.

Karsen Bradley

Karsen joined NVCF in December 2019. She brings 15-plus years of accounting and finance experience including stints in internal and external audit, staff accounting and controller roles in a variety of industries. She is a licensed CPA in the state of Colorado and is in the process of obtaining her California license. She is honored to be a part of the NVCF team and believes wholeheartedly in the NVCF mission and its role in the community.

Monica Wigman
Executive Assistant

Monica has an extensive background as a professional in the legal field and office management. She brings her compassionate nature to her co-workers, clients and within her volunteer work.

Board of Directors

Farshad Azad

9th Degree Black Belt V.P. World Hapkido Association

Earl Jessee
Vice Chair

Senior Consultant, Matson & Isom Technology Consulting

Deborah Rossi

Co-Chair NVCF Development Committee
VP Investments, Stifel Nicolaus

Sherry Holbrook

Owner, Holbrook Furniture
Founder and President, Orphan Care International

Diane Ruby

CFO, Sheraton Real Estate Management

Janet Wietbrock

Caring Communities, The Hignell Companies

Manoah Mohanraj

Director of Physical Rehabilitation at Meredian Management services.

Alexa Benson-Valavanis
President & CEO of North Valley Community Foundation

Program Sponsorships

The North Valley Community Foundation helps new community charitable programs without nonprofit status get off the ground by providing fiscal and administrative support as well as insurance coverage.

Social Venture Incubator

NVCF helps identify and launch the next generation of high impact social ventures. We invest in bold ideas, providing changemakers with a comprehensive set of innovative resources to profit the world.


One of our greatest contributions to the community is our ability to bring people together to engage in public discussions and problem-solving.


Community leadership requires collaboration and we partner with other foundations, corporations, nonprofits, donors and government agencies on cross-sector solutions that multiply our reach and impact.

Reading Pals

Reading Pals is a local literacy campaign started by community members who recognize the importance of reading and the implications that illiteracy will have on our community if the problem is not addressed. 

We are committed to providing every child an opportunity for an excellent education through one-on-one reading help for students who currently do not read at grade level with a focus on 3rd grade.

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Clean & Safe Chico

Clean & Safe Chico is an action group comprised of diverse organizations that have come together to address growing concerns about cleanliness and safety issues in Chico through collaborative problem-solving, resource-sharing, research, and advocacy. All participants vet the projects presented under the Clean & Safe Chico umbrella, but endorsement for particular programs, policies, and issues must be given by each individual organization to show support.

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