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Our Team

North Valley Community Foundation team shares a common belief in the inherent good of humanity, and the incredible power of each person to make a positive and unique contribution to a better world. 

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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. Under Alexa's leadership the foundation has grown from serving a dozen clients to more than 500 clients, engaging tens of thousands of donors, generating revenue of more than $175 million, while reinvesting more than $100 million to causes in Northern California, the United States and throughout the world.  On Nov. 8, 2018, Alexa transformed NVCF into the lead philanthropic organization in the Camp Fire relief and recovery effort and has since built a COVID-19 response arm in efforts to help slow the pandemic and provide relief to at-risk populations. To date, NVCF has granted more than $36 million for wildfire recovery and has mobilized more than $1.2 million for COVID-19 response.

 

Alexa is most proud of her role on this planet as a mother and wife. She has published two books. The first is a memoir called “Sipping Tea with Buddha and Christ,” set throughout the globe as she traveled, worked and reconciled her faith and sexuality. Her most recent book is a children’s story, “More Than Anything & Everything,” about unconditional love. She sits on numerous advisory committees and boards and welcomes any chance to talk about the inherent good in humanity.

Administration & Finance

CHRIS HAYASHIDA-KNIGHT

CHRIS HAYASHIDA-KNIGHT

Vice President, Operations

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

BILL HUBBARD

General Counsel/Director of Gift Planning

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.

CAROLYN ENGSTROM

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.

KARSEN BRADLEY

KARSEN BRADLEY

Chief Financial Officer

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.

DEBBIE BLUE

DEBBIE BLUE

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.

RICH LOUGEE

RICH LOUGEE

Staff Accountant

Rich's experience and expertise, along with his commitment to the community, make him a valuable member of our finance team. Rich has more than 30 years of accounting experience, including serving as a CFO and controller in the restaurant and publishing industries. He is a longtime resident of Chico and graduated from Chico State University with a business degree.

TRIA NICOARA

TRIA NICOARA

Operations Coordinator

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.

Programs & Communications

DAVID LITTLE

DAVID LITTLE

Executive Vice President, 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.

LOGAN TODD

LOGAN TODD

Vice President, Grant Programs and Client Services

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.

MEGAN SMITH

MEGAN SMITH

Digital Content Creator

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.

PATRICE BERRY

PATRICE BERRY

Digital Content Creator

Patrice 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.

Recovery & Partnerships

JOVANNI TRICERRI

JOVANNI TRICERRI

Vice President, Regional Recovery & 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.

DANELLE CAMPBELL

DANELLE CAMPBELL

Program Director

Danelle joined the NVCF team to further serve and support healing initiatives in our community. She brings 30 years of experience in community development, youth and family prevention/early intervention services, and innovative program design and implementation.

CHRIS COPELAND

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.

KIM DUFOUR

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.

ERIN MORRISSEY

ERIN MORRISSEY

Program Manager

Erin serves as the program manager for our Health and Wellness Initiative. Erin was born in Paradise and has lived most of her life in Butte County. She also lived in Australia for several years, where she was the founding executive director for a nonprofit that delivered programs for youths in schools, juvenile detention facilities and youth centers in Sydney and remote indigenous communities. Erin has extensive project management experience, including with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., MC2 Design, the Downtown Chico Business Association and the Enloe Foundation.

MONICA WIGMAN

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.

TESS SLATON

TESS SLATON

Program Assistant

Tess provides assistance to both our Butte Strong Fund and Health and Wellness Initiative. She has an extensive local work history, including at Blue Oak Charter School and the Butte County Office of Education. Tess also served on a business advisory panel at Butte College and her volunteer work includes a children’s service program at Oroville Church of the Nazarene.

Board of Directors

Farshad Azad

Chair

9th Degree Black Belt; V.P.

World Hapkido

Association

Earl Jessee

Vice Chair

Senior Consultant,

Matson & Isom

Technology Consulting

Deborah Rossi

Treasurer

VP Investments,

Stifel Nicolaus

Elizabeth Goldblatt

Secretary

Founder & Co-owner,

Six Degrees Coffee

Alexa Benson-Valavanis

President & CEO of North Valley Community Foundation

Janet Wietbrock

Caring Communities,

The Hignell Companies

Sherry Holbrook

Owner, Holbrook Furniture; Founder and President, Orphan Care International

Manoah Mohanraj

Director of Physical Rehabilitation at Meridian Management Services.

In loving memory of

Diane Ruby

Co-owner, Sheraton Real Estate Management