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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. 

Alexa Benson-Valavanis

President & CEO

Karsen Bradley

Chief Financial Officer

Debbie Blue

Executive Assistant

Patrice Berry

Digital Content Creator

Michele Thorpe

Youth Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Coordinator

David Little

Executive Vice President

Carolyn Engstrom

Client Care Manager

Rich Lougee

Staff Accountant

Kim DuFour

Director of Strategic Grantmaking

Morgan Warnock

Operations Coordinator

Logan Todd

Vice President, Operations/COO

Bill Hubbard

General Counsel/Director of Gift Planning

Megan Smith

Digital Content Creator

Erin Morrissey

Program Manager


Alexa Benson-Valavanis

President & CEO

Todd Lewis, Treasurer

President and CFO, Northern California National Bank

Manoah Mohanraj

President, Hope House International

Earl Jessee, Chair

Senior Consultant, Matson & Isom Technology Consulting

Angela Quail, Secretary

Principal Consultant, Table Group

Vanessa Sundin

Partner, Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica LLP

Elizabeth Goldblatt, Vice Chair

Founder and Co-owner, Six Degrees Coffee

Farshad Azad

Owner of Azad's Martial Arts Center; CEO of Azad's International Inc.



Abe Baily

Dr. Bill Wesley Brown

Jack Coots

Laura Cootsona

Thomas Dwyer

Harry Edelstein

Fred Ehrensvard

Bill Fishkin

Linda Furr

Sherry Holbrook

Mark Johnson

Aveed Khaki

Joe King

Sophie Konuwa

Lee Laney

Brent Largent

Richard Matson

Bill Nathan

Carolyn Nava

Marc Nemanic

Sandora Nishio

Lori Paris

Diane Ruby

Deborah Rossi

Howard Slater

Joan Stoner

Vanessa Sundin

Brian Sweeney

Terry Taylor-Vodden

Roger Williams

Janet Wietbrock

Joe Wilson

In remembrance of Diane Ruby

Diane Ruby served on our board of directors for nearly 10 years, handpicked by our CEO and president because she is precisely the type of loving individual who can identify with and guide the heart-centered work we do at the foundation. Diane was the co-owner of Sheraton Real Estate Management. Diane died on May 24, 2020. She was 63.


The North Valley Community Foundation traces its history to 1989.

It started as the Chico Community Foundation and was formed by the Chico Chamber of Commerce as a way to make tax-deductible donations to benefit the community. Early examples of programs included a graffiti eradication program and Volunteers In Police Service, or VIPS.

The foundation became independent from the Chico Chamber of Commerce in 1996. The foundation decided to expand its geographic scope and changed its name to North Valley Community Foundation, with the objective of doing work in all of Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties. It later added Colusa County.

The foundation was run by volunteers for years until Bill Hubbard, who had been with the foundation since the beginning, became the first paid executive director in 1997. Hubbard left his position at the end of 2000.

Volunteer board members, especially Joan Stoner and Richard Matson, held the foundation together in the ensuing years until the board hired Alexa Benson-Valavanis to lead the organization in 2005. Benson-Valavanis was the only employee and had an initial annual budget of $35,000. She quickly began the rebuilding effort.

During her time as president and CEO, Benson-Valavanis engineered a new business model focused on engaging and partnering with anyone with a dream to make the world better regardless of wealth, influence or resources. The foundation immediately started opening charitable project funds serving the North Valley and around the globe. We opened funds with zero dollars, and with no start-up costs or minimums so money wasn’t a barrier to entry. Social entrepreneurs from 8 years old to 98 years old poured in with ideas to change the world. 

NVCF went from serving a dozen clients to hundreds of clients within the first few years of the rebuild. Assets grew from a little over $1 million to more than $60 million and grants awarded increased from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars to our communities. 


One of the most significant programs during the rebuilding years was called the Annie B’s grant program. NVCF launched the first of its kind community-wide grant program that united hundreds of local nonprofits and thousands of donors. The 10-year program resulted in more than $15 million being raised for the local service providers.  

By the time the Camp Fire struck the region, NVCF was a mighty team of six people, all but one of whom was a part-time employee. We had the trust, faith and track record necessary to transform overnight into the lead philanthropic disaster response organization after the fire. NVCF raised more than $70 million in donations from across the country after the Camp Fire devastated Butte County on Nov. 8, 2018. 


Since then, NVCF has activated grant programs for the Bear/North Complex Fire, the Dixie Fire and others. In addition, NVCF distributed more than $3 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and more than $1 million for drought response in Glenn County.

In 2020 we launched Thrive, an initiative focused on the mental health and well-being of North Valley residents, including suicide prevention among young people.

The longtime core of our organization remains the same and growing — the nearly 500 funds started by community members and organizations who want to act on their ideas for social good anywhere in the world. 

If you ask Benson-Valavanis the reason NVCF has been able to raise more than $177 million during her time to address the most dire needs in our region and world, she will point to her team and say: “We trust one another, we respect one another and we love one another. When you build an organization around the people in it and not the other way around, anything — anything — is possible, even changing the world.” 

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