Board Candidates​

2022 CalChamber Board Candidates

*First Election for Three-Year Term

Charles D. Ahlem
Founding Co-Owner
Hilmar Cheese Company
(global processor and supplier)
B.S. in dairy science, California State University Fresno. U.S. Army Reserve, 1968–1974, honorable discharge with rank of staff sergeant. Owner/operator of family farm, Charles Ahlem Ranch, since 1975. Founding co-owner Hilmar Cheese and business division, Hilmar Ingredients, in 1984. Active in dairy industry leadership groups. Former undersecretary, state Department of Food and Agriculture. CalChamber director since January 2017.

Charles S. Birenbaum
Chair, Northern California
Greenberg Traurig
(law firm)
B.A. with honors in government, Oberlin College; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center. Labor and employment attorney with experience litigating in state and federal courts, as well as administrative agencies, concentrating on traditional labor law, class actions, counseling and training, unfair competition. Author and lecturer on labor and employment issues. CalChamber director since January 2017.

*Marc Blakeman
AT&T California (telecommunications)
B.A. in political science, Northwestern University; certification, corporate community relations, John Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College. Effective October 1, 2022, named to lead AT&T legislative, philanthropic and social engagement activities across California, and assist with new technology deployment and infrastructure investment. A 25-year veteran of AT&T and its predecessor companies. Recently served as AT&T’s president for mid-Atlantic states in external and legislative affairs. Began career in 1997 with AT&T, then Ameritech, in Chicago, Illinois. Went on to become regional vice president of external affairs in Illinois before joining AT&T California as vice president of external affairs in 2011. CalChamber director since October 2022.

Maryam S. Brown
Southern California Gas Company
(energy utility)
B.S., mechanical engineering, and J.D. (Order of the Coif), Louisiana State University. Named president of Southern California Gas at the start of 2019. Joined Sempra Energy in 2016 as vice president of federal government affairs. Previously served as senior energy and environment counsel for the Office of the Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives, and energy chief counsel for the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Began career in 1996 as maintenance engineer for Amoco Oil Company, then served as a corporate attorney in San Francisco office of international law firm Pillsbury Winthrop; manager of public policy/strategic planning for ConocoPhillips; and policy counsel to the U.S. Senate Republic Policy Committee. CalChamber third vice chair and member of Executive Committee. CalChamber director since March 2019.

Michael Cahill
President, Rolling Stock
Siemens Mobility, Inc.
Nearly three decades with Siemens began as a commissioning engineer working in Germany, United States, Italy and South Korea. Before being named to current position in March 2011, held director positions in project management in transportation systems, integrated services, mobility division and rolling stock. CalChamber director since November 2011.

Grace Evans Cherashore
Executive Chairwoman
Evans Hotels
Graduate, University of Colorado; M.B.A., Amos Tuck School, Dartmouth College. Began career in real estate industries group at Wells Fargo Bank before joining Evans Hotels in 1984 as chief financial officer. Named president and chief executive officer in March 2012. Now serves as executive chairwoman. 2019 CalChamber chair and member of Executive Committee. CalChamber director since March 2012.

Thomas Conley
Senior Vice President
State Farm Insurance Companies
Graduate, Loyola Marymount University. Joined State Farm as an agent in Arcadia, California, in 1987, holding positions of increasing responsibility in California. Stints at corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois, and Orlando, Florida, preceded return to California in 2005 in current role. CalChamber director since February 2011.

Susan Corrales-Diaz
President and Chief Executive Officer

Systems Integrated (systems automation services)
B.A. in business communications, California State University, Long Beach. More than 35 years with Systems Integrated. 2017 CalChamber chair. CalChamber director since January 1995.

*Kevin Curry
President, Southern California Division
Albertsons Companies
(food and drug retailer)
Bachelor’s degree in accounting, California State University, Los Angeles; Graduate, USC Food Industry Management Program; M.B.A., University of Southern California. Named president of Southern California Division of Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions in 2020. Began grocery career in 1978 as a courtesy clerk with Alpha Beta Stores in Southern California. Started working as a staff accountant after graduating from Cal State Los Angeles, moving on to operations, sales and marketing. Then held various roles with Alpha Beta and Lucky Stores in Southern California, Northern California and Salt Lake City. Joined Raley’s in 2000 as vice president, nonperishable sales and marketing and senior vice president, sales and marketing. Joined Safeway in 2005, holding vice president roles on marketing teams for both the NorCal Division and the Corporate Office. Rejoined Raley’s in 2012 as senior vice president of sales, merchandising, distribution before returning to Albertsons Companies as grocery sales manager with the NorCal Division. Moved back to Southern California in July 2018 as vice president and general manager of the Pavilions banner stores. CalChamber director since September 2021.

Lloyd Greif
President and Chief Executive Officer
Greif & Co.
(investment banking)
B.A. in economics, University of California, Los Angeles; M.B.A., University of Southern California; J.D., Loyola Law School. Member of California Bar. Management consultant with Touche Ross & Co. (now Deloitte Consulting LLP) and head of investment banking for Sutro & Co. Incorporated before 1992 founding of Greif & Co., purveyor of merger/acquisition and corporate finance advisory services. CalChamber director since May 2011.

*Ryan Harnden
Chief Operating Officer
Rio Tinto Borates
(mining and metals)
More than 23 years in the mining industry, starting in surveying, short-term planning and mine engineering; moving to senior leadership roles in mine production, refinery and powerplant operations; and current role in system integration and optimization. Has worked in tantalum, lithium, iron ore, copper, coal and gold — across Western Australia, Queensland, and Utah in the USA. CalChamber director since February 2022.

Garrett Herbert
Vice Chair, West Region Marketplace Leader
Deloitte LLP
(professional services)
B.A., economics/accounting, College of the Holy Cross. C.P.A., states of New York and California. Also managing partner for Deloitte’s Silicon Valley practice and adjunct member of Deloitte’s Center for Board Effectiveness. Nearly 30 years experience includes more than 25 years in mergers and acquisitions at Deloitte and senior roles with a private equity group, private electronics manufacturer and a publicly traded internet services company. CalChamber director since April 2021.

Robert E. Hertzka, M.D.
Anesthesia Service Medical Group
(medical services)
A.B., biology, University of California, Los Angeles. M.D., University of California, San Diego. Attending anesthesiologist posts and educational positions in field since 1985. Former California Medical Association president. Also active with regional and national medical associations. CalChamber director since September 2003.

Christopher D. Howard
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sharp HealthCare
(health care services)
B.A., M.A., University of Oklahoma, Norman; M.S., health care administration, University of Oklahoma College of Public Health. More than 30 years working with integrated delivery systems, hospitals, medical groups and health plans. Before joining Sharp HealthCare served as chief operations officer for SSM Health, preceded by stints as president of SSM Health’s St. Louis and Oklahoma markets. CalChamber director since January 2020.

Kevin P. Kelly
President and Chief Executive Officer
West Valley Construction Company, Inc.
(underground utility contractor)
B.S., business management, California State University, Chico. More than 30 years in underground construction industry. Joined West Valley in 1978, serving as project manager, division manager, vice president of operations and senior vice president before becoming president and CEO. CalChamber director since May 2015.

*Travis Kiyota
Senior Vice President, Head of Global Corporate Affairs
East West Bank
(financial services)
Also serves as president of East West Bank Foundation and treasurer or East West Bancorp Inc. Political Action Committee. More than 25 years of experience in public affairs, strategic communications, corporate philanthropy, and crisis and risk management. Before joining East West Bank, spent 17 years at Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), most recently serving as vice president, California external affairs and executive director of the PG&E Foundation. Former program officer for U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C., working with state, local and community-based leaders to implement federal public safety programs. Earlier in career served as a senior policy adviser to former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown Jr. and as a community liaison for the Mayor of Los Angeles. CalChamber director since February 2022.

Michael Lizárraga
President and Chief Executive Officer
(community development)
B.S. in business administration, University of Southern California. Joined TELACU in January 1990, managing the company’s commercial and residential real estate portfolio. Appointed president of TELACU Industries in 1995 and named president of parent company TELACU in 2007. Also serves as president of TELACU Education Foundation. CalChamber director since July 2013.

Gregory H. McWilliams
Chief Policy Officer
Five Point Communities
(designer/developer of master-planned communities)
Has led community planning development projects since the 1980s throughout the state, including serving as president of Five Point Communities, president of Newhall Land and Farming Company, president of Lennar Communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, and division president of KB Home. Also has served in the public sector as executive officer of the San Mateo County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO), executive officer of the California Association of LAFCOs, and city manager of Palmdale. CalChamber director 2006–2009 and July 2013–present.

*Warren Meyer
Vista Recreation
(concession operator and renovator, public recreation lands)
Mechanical engineering degree, Princeton University; M.B.A., Harvard Business School. Since 2003 in current role with Vista Recreation (formerly Recreation Resource Management). Before Vista, held senior marketing and planning roles at AlliedSignal, Honeywell, and Emerson Electric. Earlier was a senior engagement manager for McKinsey & Company and a project engineer for Exxon. CalChamber director since February 2022.

Derrick Miller
Pom Wonderful at The Wonderful Company
(growers/distributors/real estate)
B.S., organizational leadership, Purdue University (Fort Wayne). M.B.A., University of Southern California. Joined The Wonderful Company in August 2016 as director of strategy; served two years as general manager, then named to current position in October 2020. Over 18 preceding years at Nestle USA – Nestle Dreyer’s Ice Cream, held positions of increasing responsibility starting as forklift driver and ice cream maker, then moving on to supervisor, manager and leader posts, and finally to division champion for strategic planning and business optimization. CalChamber director since March 2019.

Sima Patel
Chief Executive Officer
Ridgemont Hospitality
(hotel and lodging)
Moved to United States from India in 1979. Current owner and operator of several branded and boutique hotels in San Francisco Bay Area with husband, Pravin. The two developed first lodging property in 1985. Award recipient for activities in lodging/tourism associations and Indian American community. Former chair of Visit California Board of Directors. CalChamber director since January 2019.

*Kate Renwick-Espinosa
VSP Vision Care
(nonprofit vision benefits and services)
Bachelor’s, economics, University of California, Davis. M.B.A., California State University, Sacramento. More than 28 years at VSP includes serving as VSP Global’s first chief marketing officer. Led strategy to deliver products and services to diverse client base, from Fortune 500 companies to the federal government and small businesses. CalChamber director since April 2021.

*Mark A. Riley
President, Bank of America Central Valley
Bank of America
(financial services)
B.S., M.B.A. Craig School of Business at California State University, Fresno. University of Washington, Pacific Coast Banking School. More than three decades in banking industry, starting as a customer service representative at Bank of America, Fresno and culminating with current position in December 2013. Career includes roles as loan officer, financial analyst, credit administrator, commercial loan officer and senior executive positions responsible for commercial, digital and investment banking services with Bank of America and other Fresno area financial institutions. CalChamber director since May 2021.

Anthony (Tony) P. Sciarrino
Managing Director, Pacific Segment Head
JPMorgan Chase
(financial services)
B.B.A., finance, University of San Diego. Came to JP Morgan Chase in October 2018 to lead California commercial banking team. Role expanded to encompass West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington) plus Hawaii and Alaska in June 2020. Also heads the firm’s national business development team. More than 29 years of experience in financial services. Previously at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he was a global client acquisition executive across the United States and Canada. CalChamber director since January 2019.

Eric W. Thornburg
President and Chief Executive Officer
SJW Group and San Jose Water
(investor-owned water and wastewater utility)
B.A., Cornell University. M.B.A., Indiana Wesleyan University. Before taking current position in November 2017, served as president and CEO of Connecticut Water Service (since 2006) and chairman of the board of the water service (since 2007). Also previously served as president of Missouri-American Water, a subsidiary of American Water Works Corporation, and Central Region vice president-external affairs for American Water Works Corporation. CalChamber director since April 2018.

Thomas M. Troy
President and Chief Executive Officer

CSAA Insurance Group (personal property and casualty insurance)
Bachelor’s, University of Washington; M.B.A., Seattle University. More than 30 years of insurance experience before joining CSAA in 2019, including executive vice president at Allstate Business Insurance and Allstate Brand Operations; executive vice president and chief operating officer with Liberty Mutual; and senior leadership positions with Safeco Corporation. Also was commercial underwriter with Kemper National Insurance Companies. CalChamber director since January 2020.

Stuart Patrick Woolf
President and Chief Executive Officer
Woolf Farming & Processing
(agricultural production/processing)
Bachelor’s in liberal arts, University of California, Berkeley; M.B.A., Boston College. Also managing partner for two related entities of family-owned operation—Harris Woolf California Almonds and Los Gatos Tomato Products. Former chairman of California League of Food Processors and the Almond Board of California. CalChamber director since January 2017.

Jessica Word
Chief Executive Officer>
Word & Brown General Agency
(developer/distributor of health benefit/insurance plans)
B.B.A., California State University, Fullerton; Registered Health Underwriter (RHU). Stepped up to current position in December 2021 after serving as president since April 2013. Previously was executive vice president of operations for General Agency. Began career as a renewal specialist with CaliforniaChoice, then worked in sales and claims and benefits administration, then broker services, earning several promotions before moving to the company’s operations and management unit. CalChamber director since January 2020.