Ventura County Leadership Academy announces new board members and officers

The Ventura County Leadership Academy has elected new board officers. Serving for two year terms, the newly elected officers are:

President: Melissa Baffa (Cohort XVII) – Development Officer, Foundation & Corporate Relations, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Melissa is also an instructor with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University, Channel Islands and a Science Communication Fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust.

Vice President: Tom Cohen, Esq. – Partner, Cohen Begun & Deck, LLP.

Tom is a director for the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and serves on the advisory board of KidSTREAM Children’s Museum. His leadership also includes serving as the Past Chair of: the United Way Ventura County.

Secretary: Rudy Gonzales (Class 2 & Cohort XXIV) – Government Relations Manager, So Cal Edison.

Rudy holds the unique distinction of being the first VCLA graduate to go through the program a second time; he is a member of the current cohort (XXIV). Rudy is very active in the community, also serving as a director for the Ventura County Economic Development Association and the Conejo/Las Virgenes Future Foundation.

Treasurer: Sharon Cromartie (Cohort XIX) – VP of Administration, Kids & Families Together overseeing Human Resources and Operations. Sharon also serves as a Steering Committee Member for the Nonprofit Leadership Council and as a volunteer for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. She is a resident of Ventura.

In addition, VCLA welcomes three new board members, also serving for two years: Jennifer Caldwell (Cohort XXIII) –

Director of Marketing: FOOD Share A recent graduate of VCLA, Jennifer is the Chair of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Group and a director for the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, where she chairs the Young Professionals Group and co-chairs the Non-Profit Committee.

Board Members:

Pattie Mullins (Cohort XIX) – CEO, Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties

Prior to being hired as the CEO of Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties, Pattie was the CEO of the Museum of Ventura County and the Vice-President of Program and Volunteer Services for the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast.

Herb Gooch, Professor Emeritus – California Lutheran University

Herb retired from California Lutheran University in May of this year, but continues to hold an instructor position there and with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University,

The Ventura County Leadership Academy (VCLA), founded in 1994, delivers on its mission of connecting people and issues to strengthen our county by developing, educating and inspiring a diverse group of leaders who aspire to enhance the quality of life in Ventura County. The curriculum of the year-long Academy is delivered through ten full-day interactive sessions and exposes the cohort members to critical issues in the region as well as current leaders in their fields of expertise. VCLA infuses personal leadership development throughout the curriculum with the goal of ensuring that its graduates recognize that leadership is a relational process and that leading at any level within any organization is a choice one must intentionally make.

For more information about the Ventura County Leadership Academy please contact: Melissa Baffa 805- 665-3504 or email:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email