Director Cathleen Benko, former vice chairman and managing principal at Deloitte LLP, is known as a strategist, innovative thinker, and market cultivator with a pattern of being tapped for roles where breakthrough progress is needed. These strengths are evidenced throughout her career traversing senior operational appointments within Deloitte, a Fortune 100-equivalent professional services organization and market-facing client service roles for global companies and digital giants alike. Appointed Deloitte's first global e-business leader, Benko positioned the firm's services and capability development for the post-internet marketplace. She then took on the role of technology sector leader. Both practices grew at double-digit compound growth rates during her tenure. As Deloitte's first chief talent officer, leading a 2,500-person organization with nearly a half-billion-dollar budget, Benko oversaw the restructuring and offshoring of talent-related delivery models and integration of Bearing Point, the firm's largest acquisition. And as leader of the firm's award-winning Women's Initiative, she led vanguard efforts that spurred innovations in diversity and inclusion, ultimately eliminating the gender turnover gap and improving engagement. During this time, Deloitte became renowned for being among the first to design and implement a systemic response to the changing world of work. Her signature corporate lattice framework is internationally recognized as a model for building careers, getting work done, and fostering collaboration in the digital economy. These efforts positioned the enterprise as an employer of choice with recognitions including Fortune's Best Places to Work and BusinessWeek's Best Place to Launch a Career and Best Place to Intern, induction into Working Women magazine's Hall of Fame, and recipient of the revered Catalyst award. Benko then went on to lead brand, reputation, digital, and citizenship functions, where she helped lay the groundwork for the profession-leading market position Deloitte enjoys today. Most recently she served as senior partner for several "digital giant" clients overseeing multifaceted account relationships, while also serving as CMO of the emerging Products and Solutions group leading the positioning of an asset-based products category within a well-established services brand. Benko serves as a member of the board of NIKE Inc. and the advisory councils of early-stage companies BetterUp, Fourteen33, Frontive, SwarmVision, ReBoot , and Bersin Academy, and she has an exemplary record of nonprofit board service. Recognizing her son's conviction to serve in the U.S. military, she is engaged with veterans' causes and sits on the Board of American Corporate Partners. Benko has an exemplary record of nonprofit board service, serving as chair of Harvard Business School's (HBS) Advisory Council and member of its regional alumni board. She is senior advisor to the Federal Institute for Inclusion. Her previous nonprofit board positions include the Global HBS Alumni Board and Deloitte Foundation. Benko is a U.S. patent-holder and best-selling author of three books and numerous articles published in top-tier publications. She has been frequently acknowledged for her professional achievements including Consulting Magazine's Frontline Leader, 25 Most Influential Consultants, and the publication's inaugural Leadership Achievement Award for Women Leaders. She was also inducted into the San Francisco Business Times Forever Influential Honor Roll. Benko earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS from Ramapo College of New Jersey where she was awarded the President's Award of Merit, the School's highest distinction.
Director Kim Box is an independent board director serving on the Board of McGrath Rentcorp (Nasdaq: MGRC), a diversified business-to-business rental company where she is a member of the Nomination/Governance Committee and the Compensation Committee. She is also on the Board of Directors of American River Bank (Nasdaq: AMRB), a community business bank, where she is chair of the Finance & Capital Committee, a member of the Audit Committee, and former chair of the Directors Loan Committee; the board of Applied Science Inc., a medtech company; the NACD Northern California Chapter Board, where she serves as chair; and the Advisory Board of the Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at California State University, Sacramento. Box is the former president and CEO at Gatekeeper Innovation Inc., a medical device company that provides innovative solutions for securing prescription medications, where she grew the revenue over 500% in four years and brought new products to market. She is also a former vice president at HP where she led a $1 billion global IT services organization. Box is an international speaker and author of Woven Leadership: The Power of Diversity to Transform your Organization to Success.
Director An experienced public and private company executive, CEO, and board member, Christa Steele has led $500 million—$1 billion organizations with proven success in improving business results of underperforming teams. She brings the ability to develop long-term strategies as well as focus on tactical execution and extensive experience managing complex organizations and situations. Industry experience includes technology, financial services, equipment leasing and transportation, food and agriculture, commercial and residential real estate, and resource recovery and waste management. A trusted financial and governance expert, Steele has served twice as CEO and on nine public and private company boards, serving as board chair and chair of the audit and compensation committees. Steele is well versed in environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) strategies that address the reporting needs of organizations. She is a nationally recognized speaker and thought leader in digital transformation competencies (metaverse, Web3, blockchain), keeping pace with the latest technological advancements and threats, identifying transformation needs, and creating a roadmap to ensure ongoing progress. She completed her certificate in cybersecurity oversight from the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Steele offers 25 years of experience in recurring revenue model, general management, operations, and risk oversight with a collaborative management style that enables cross-functional teamwork and business results. Steele has been twice named by the San Francisco Business Times, in 2022 and 2015, as one of “The Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” and as a “North America Top 50 Private Directors to Watch” in 2019 by Private Company Director magazine. In 2020, Steele joined Balco Holdings Inc. as an independent board director and served on the finance and compensation committees. Balco was the holding company for Bay Alarm, Bay Alarm Medical, and Balco Properties companies, with revenues of more than $290 million and more than 1,200 employees. In early 2022, Steele was selected by the board to be interim CEO, a role she held until the completion of the division and dissolution of holding company assets at year-end 2022. Prior to Balco, Steele was president and CEO of Mechanics Bank (OTC: MCHB), a $3.5 billion asset bank based in the San Francisco Bay Area, from 2013 to 2015, where she led the improvement of core earnings by 43% in a single calendar year, doubled the bank’s stock price in less than two years, and successfully led its sale for a premium in 2015. Current board roles include serving as compensation committee chair and on the audit committee of Tanimura & Antle, a large private, family-owned California agricultural food grower based in Salinas, and as board vice chair and board leadership fellow for the NACD Northern California Chapter. She served as a paid consultant to small and mid-cap companies for digital transformation, governance, and ESG strategies. Prior board experience includes Balco Holdings Inc; Recology, an employee stock ownership company and integrated resource/waste management company, headquartered in San Francisco; Brainchip Holdings (ASX: BRN), the world’s first producer of neuromorphic intellectual property that coined the next semiconductor disruptor for edge artificial intelligence, headquartered in Australia with operations in California; OFG Bancorp (NYSE: OFG), a $10 billion retail and commercial bank with operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands; Sasser Family Holdings, an international rail company based in Chicago; FIG Partners, an Atlanta-based boutique investment bank that was sold to Janney Montgomery Scott in 2019; and as inside director for Mechanics Bank. Steele holds a master of business administration from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and an undergraduate degree from California State University, Sacramento. She and her husband live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and have two young adult children. Steele is an avid golfer and athlete and a strong believer in servant leadership.
Director Colonel (Ret.) Richard Horan is the director of the Sacramento Capital Region Chapter of the COO Forum, a peer exchange and thought leadership group of second-in-command executives (i.e., COOs, general managers, divisional presidents, operating CFOs/CIOs). In addition to facilitating peer learning, he provides Forum members a diverse perspective and leadership expertise gained over a 28-year Air Force career. An active Angel Investor, Horan supports local entrepreneurs as a mentor and advisor, helping them refine and execute their strategy. An independent director of a private, family-owned company, he has also served as a not-for-profit director. He serves his local community as vice chair of the Yolo County Financial Oversight Committee (FOC). Chartered by the County's Board of Supervisors, the FOC provides independent leadership, oversight, and audit of the county's treasury operations and business activities. While on active duty, Horan served in a variety of international assignments and held numerous leadership positons within the F-15E fighter and intelligence communities. His responsibilities ranged from the daily oversight of hundreds of personnel flying billions of dollars in assets to strategy development, policy, resource allocation, and the governance of a global workforce while assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He has a BA in Photography from Brooks Institute, an MS in Administration from Central Michigan University, and an MBA from Washington University in St Louis. A NACD Governance Fellow, Horan has also attended the Stanford Directors College.
Claudia Fan Munce
Chair Claudia Fan Munce is a recognized leader in innovation ecosystems across the globe. As the head of the IBM Ventures capital group , she served on the board of the National Venture Capital Association, the advisory board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the board of the Latin American Venture Capital Association, the board of the Women in Leadership in Private Equity in China, and many others global investment organizations, including serving as the founding chair of the Global Corporate Venturing that represents over 1600 global corporations that invest in venture portfolios. Munce is frequently cited as a pioneer and a leader in the corporate venture community and contributed to many articles and books. Worth Magazine named her one of the 20 most powerful players in Silicon Valley and Inc. magazine named her one of the most important venture investors to know. After her retirement from IBM in 2016, she joined New Enterprise Associates, one of the largest and most active venture capital firms on Sand Hill Road with over $30 billion under management, as a venture advisor across its technology portfolio companies. She is an independent board member of the BMO Financial Corp., the Best Buy Corp., and the Arteris Semiconductor Co. Munce is also a certified cybersecurity oversight director and an appointed faculty at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business where she teaches entrepreneurship and venture capital. Munce is Chinese and grew up in Brazil. She holds a master of science in computer science engineering from Santa Clara University and a master of science in management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Director... Alison Davis is chair and managing partner of Blockchain Coinvestors Acquisition Corp. 1 (“SPAC”), the leading blockchain venture fund of funds with investments in 400+ blockchain companies and projects and approximately 50 percent of all blockchain unicorns. She is an experienced corporate executive, public company board director, and active investor in growth companies. Davis is also currently a nonexecutive director of Silicon Valley Bank (“SIVB”), Fiserv (“FISV”), Janus Henderson Group (“JHG”), Collibra, and Pacaso. She is the chair of the advisory board for Blockchain Capital, and an advisor to Bitwise. Davis is a former director of the Royal Bank of Scotland (“RBS”), City National Bank (“CYC”), Diamond Foods (“DMND”), First Data Corp. (“FDC”), Ooma (“OOMA”), Unisys (“UIS”), Xoom (“XOOM”), and many private companies and was the chair of LECG Corp. (“XPRT”) until its sale in 2011. She was previously the managing partner of Belvedere Capital, a regulated bank holding company and private equity firm focused on investing in US banks and financial services firms, where she worked closely with the Federal Reserve, the Options Clearing Corp. (OCC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), and various state banking regulators. Prior to this, Davis was the chief financial officer of Barclays Global Investors (now BlackRock), the world’s largest institutional investment firm with more than $1.5 trillion of assets under management. Earlier in her career, Davis spent 14 years as a strategy consultant and advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs, boards, and executive teams with McKinsey & Co., and as a practice leader with A.T. Kearney where she built and led the global financial services practice. Davis is a frequent speaker on corporate governance and is a bestselling author on the topics of technology and innovation. Her titles, which she has cowritten with her husband, Matthew C. Le Merle, include The Intelligent Investor: Silicon Valley, Blockchain Competitive Advantage, Corporate Innovation in the Fifth Era, and Build your Fortune in the Fifth Era. Davis is active in the community, supporting nonprofits and social enterprises as a board director, fundraiser and volunteer. She has been frequently named a “Most Influential Women in Business” by the San Francisco Business Times. She received a BA with Honors and a master’s in economics from Cambridge University in England, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business after completing the first year at Harvard. She was born in Sheffield, England, is now a dual US/UK citizen, and has lived for the last 25 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where she raised her family with Le Merle.
Director... Ira Ehrenpreis is founder and managing partner of DBL Partners, a leading impact investing venture capital firm currently managing more than $1 billion of capital. DBL invests in companies that can deliver top-tier financial returns while simultaneously driving social or environmental change. Ehrenpreis is a recognized leader in the venture capital industry, having served on the board, executive committee, and as annual meeting chair of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). He currently serves as the chair of the VCNetwork, the largest and most active California venture capital organization, and the president of the Western Association of Venture Capitalists, the oldest venture capital organization in California. Ehrenpreis was awarded the NACD Directorship 100 for being “one of the most influential leaders in the boardroom and corporate governance community.” In 2007, he was named one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Men Under 45” and in 2014 was inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame. The NVCA awards one venture capitalist each year with the industry’s “Outstanding Service Award” and in 2018 Ehrenpreis received that honor. Ehrenpreis serves on the board of Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) and currently supports DBL’s investments in several companies including Airspace, Apeel, The Boring Co., Mapbox, Menlo Micro, Planet Labs PBC (NYSE: PL), R-Zero, and SpaceX. Ehrenpreis served for several years as the chair of the Silicon Valley Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum. He is the founder and chair of one of the most prominent annual energy innovation industry events, the World Energy Innovation Forum, which convenes the who’s-who in the industry to discuss the important energy issues and opportunities of our time. Ehrenpreis also served for many years on the advisory board of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs. Ehrenpreis is also an active leader at Stanford University, where he has served on the board of visitors of Stanford Law School and is currently an advisory board member of the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy advisory council and the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford. Ehrenpreis has also been a frequent guest lecturer, including helping to teach a course on venture capital. Ehrenpreis received his master of business administration and law degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford Law School, where he was an associate editor of the Stanford Law Review. He holds a bachelor of arts from the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude.
Finance Chair Gary Strong is the CEO of the American Red Cross California Gold Country region, responsible for leading, engaging, and recognizing staff and thousands of volunteers in execution of the mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies. As an audit manager in the Los Angeles office of Ernst & Young, he developed expertise in defense contracting and media companies. Strong was director of Auditing for the Times Mirror Company and controller of the Los Angeles Times, where he led the financial integration of acquisitions; enterprise financials systems implementations; and adoption of Sarbanes/Oxley controls. As SVP Finance of the Sacramento Bee newspaper, he was responsible for all financial operations and held interim assignments for leading marketing, interactive publishing, and printing operations. Strong was a Red Cross board chair, where he led the integration of several independent chapter boards during a series of geographical consolidations. He was board chair for the American Leadership Forum - Mountain Valley Chapter and has served as finance chair and audit chair for both KVIE Public Television and The Sacramento Region Community Foundation. He is the founding board treasurer for the recently launched McClatchy Journalism Institute and has served as a board member for several other not-for-profits. Strong holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics from UC Santa Barbara. In addition to his CPA designation, he has earned qualifications as a certified fraud examiner and certified information systems auditor.
Melinda Yee Franklin
Director Melinda Yee Franklin is a thought leader and business strategist with a sustained track record of successfully enhancing corporate reputation to generate sales revenue and drive business development. She has cultivated a global network of high-level corporate, government, nonprofit, and civic leaders, which enable her to execute on business initiatives. Through her various leadership roles, she has demonstrated strong expertise in environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues; risk and crisis management; public policy; strategic development; and international affairs. She is currently a founding partner at The MAP Collective, a business and strategic development consulting firm. From 2006 to 2020, she served as the managing director of corporate and government affairs for the western region for United Airlines. She was the company’s lead advocate on corporate and policy issues in the region. She led legislative strategy on privacy, tax, and other critical business issues that impacted the aviation industry. She followed United with a two-year engagement at JPMorgan Chase & Co. as the executive director of community engagement in the west region. Prior to United, she held executive positions at the Siena Group and Meet World Trade , where she advised organizations on strategic investment, marketing, human resources, and business development initiatives. She was also a White House presidential appointee in the Clinton administration and served as a senior international trade official with the city and county of San Francisco. In 2019 and 2021, she was named one of the most influential women in Bay Area business by the San Francisco Business Times. She is a past board chair of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Travel Association. She is currently on the boards of directors of the San Francisco Opera, the NACD Northern California Chapter, and the California Asian Chamber of Commerce.
Director John Hotta is a board director with more than 25 years of technology experience. He received his master’s and MBA degrees with honors from Harvard University and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated with mortar-board honors from the University of California, Los Angeles. The Financial Times named him as one of the Agenda Directors 50. Hotta has more than 25 years of technology experience. He began his career at the RAND Corp. as an AI researcher. He speaks to board directors and companies about AI, ML, MI, cybersecurity, social media, privacy, cloud, big data, enterprise architecture, software-as-a-service, mobile, innovation, and disruption. He is a Qualified Technology Expert. Hotta has more than 30 years in business leadership roles. He had P&L responsibility for more than $1 billion. During his tenure, he and his team increased revenue, increased market share, raised prices, and increased profits. During his career, he built a reputation for innovative strategic thinking, a deep and passion commitment to customers, operational excellence, and working with the highest level of integrity. He has a proven tracking record of managing teams across continents. Hotta has more than 10 years of experience in board governance, continually improving the value contributed by boards. He has served as vice chair of a multibillion-dollar organization (Swedish Healthcare). He is a member of the board's Audit Committee (Seattle Foundation, a billion-dollar nonprofit) with ERM responsibilities. He has served on the Nominating and Governance Committee (at FIRST Washington Robotics) working to add new board members. He recruits new board directors with technology and business experience from his professional networks at the NACD, Ascend Pinnacle, and the Digital Directors Network. Today, Hotta is writing a book, The Art of Board Director Excellence, with practical information on how board members can add value to their companies. The book will be published by De Gruyter academic publishing in 2021.
Director Jack Lazar has over 30 years of experience in Silicon Valley with a focus on finance and operations. He has served in executive leadership roles at GoPro, Qualcomm, Atheros, NetRatings, Apptitude, and Electronics for Imaging. He was part of teams that took four of these companies public and chief financial officer for three of the initial public offerings (IPOs). In his operating and board of director roles, Jack has been part of over $30 billion in mergers and acquisitions, divestiture, equity, and spin and debt transactions and has completed five additional IPOs as a board member and been part of a successful activist defense. Jack is currently on the boards of Box (BOX), GlobalFoundries (GFS), Resideo (REZI), and thredUP (TDUP). He also consults with a variety of private companies, including Tonal where he is chair of the board. While serving on the boards of Casper Sleep, GlobalFoundries, Quantenna Communications, thredUP, and TubeMogul, each successfully completed its IPO. He was previously on the boards of several companies who were acquired including TubeMogul (sold to Adobe in 2016), Eero (sold to Amazon in March 2019), Quantenna (sold to ON Semiconductor in 2019), Mellanox (sold to NVIDIA in 2020), Casper Sleep (sold to Durational Capital Management in 2022), and Tile (sold to Life360 in 2021). He served for nine years on the board of Silicon Labs (SLAB) during which the directors split the company and sold its infrastructure and automotive business to Skyworks for $2.75 billion and its market capitalization increased over 400 percent. In 2021, Jack was part of Box’s successful activism defense against Starboard Value. He was an advisor to Silver Peak Systems (sold to HPE) and Luxtera (sold to Cisco in 2019). Jack also serves as an advisor to Boston Consulting Group, Druva, and Form Energy in addition to being on the advisory boards for the Accounting and Finance Departments at Santa Clara University. He earned a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in accounting from Santa Clara University (1987) and has been certified as a public accountant. He was named an NACD Top 100 Director in 2022 and CFO of the Year by the Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2008.
Nom-Gov Chair Laurie Yoler is an investor and general partner at Playground Global, an early-stage deep-tech venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. An ambitious problem-solver and prolific connector by nature, Laurie has decades of experience operating, scaling, and advising companies from seed startups to multinational corporations. Yoler has served on the boards of public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Most notably, she served as a founding board member of Tesla, serving on the board of directors from the earliest days, and on the board of advisors through taking the company public. She was also president of Qualcomm Labs, board member at autonomous-vehicle company Zoox (now part of Amazon), founding managing director at GrowthPoint Technology Partners, founder of Sun Microsystems Ventures, and original product manager for the Visa Debit Card. She currently sits on several noteworthy boards including Bose, Church and Dwight, Saltbox, Leaf Logistics, Lacuna, and the Computer History Museum.
Executive Director Lisa Spivey is the executive director of the NACD Northern California Chapter. She is a seasoned, cross-culturally aware, visionary leader and branding strategist with vast experience managing business initiatives and special events. She is an effective diplomatic and customer-driven relationship builder. Through her director positions with Global Brand Integrity Management, DAE Media, and Aperian Global, Spivey has interfaced with and coached senior-level business leaders at Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies. Reflecting her strong ties to Silicon Valley, her work emphasizes early adoption of technology in emerging markets. Spivey’s skills in business development, strategic communications, and event planning extend to the nonprofit sector as well. For more than 20 years, she has guided such Asia-oriented organizations as ChinaSF, Committee of 100, and the San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee. For the latter, she served as executive director of San Francisco Week at the Shanghai World Expo. Spivey has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is also a graduate of the Beijing Language Institute. She holds a Society for International Educational Training and Research certificate in cross-cultural training from Georgetown University. She serves on the boards of Root Division and Arts United Movement.
Director of Partnerships & Marketing Kate Azima is an experienced marketing and communications executive focused on accelerating innovation and growth via partnerships, digital marketing, and events. Azima graduated from University College London with a bachelor of science in economics and has since worked across a variety of industries, including health care, hospitality, technology, and transportation. Azima’s major strengths include building long-term strategic partnerships, curating and organizing events, and developing and executing creative campaigns.