As Chief Executive Officer of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce (FMBCC) and Chamber Foundation (FMBCF), Tara Lynn Gray is engaging, educating, and empowering small businesses in California’s Central Valley. As the leader of a 19-year-old Community Based Organization, she is a visionary breaking new ground in non-traditional spaces. She has been instrumental in the design and development of one of the most groundbreaking mobility programs in the country. She has leveraged the green economy to advance equity, develop a youth employment & training program that provides on-the-job training in green jobs for young adults 18-24 years old, and manages a network of organizations working to advance electric vehicle awareness in Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. Ms. Gray, a business owner for over 15 years seeks to transform environmental and transportation barriers into opportunity for local entrepreneurship and the growth of small businesses that benefit from expanded economic mobility.
Gray has been an Advisor for Solano and Alameda County Small Business Development Centers, served as a non-profit Program Manager and Director of Operations as well as run her own consulting business. She sits on several non-profit boards including Child Haven, Inc, CA Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation, The Central Valley New Market Tax Credit Fund, Sickle Cell Network, and Abundant Life Worship Center. Her advocacy and community involvement also includes work with the Caltrans Small Business Council, State of CA Employment Development Department Small Business Employer Advisory Committee (EDD SBEAC) and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). Gray is a member of US Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Gray is Senate District 3 appointed Delegate (2019-2021) and was an ADEM for Assembly District 11 (2015-2017).
Gray’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from St. Mary’s College, Moraga, CA; a Master of Arts in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, AZ; a Management Development for Entrepreneurs Certificate, UCLA Anderson School of Business; and various Information Technology certifications.
Fresno Unified Board of Education President Keshia Thomas is the proud mother of two sons and a daughter as well as a grandmother of two grandsons. She was elected by the voters in the Edison High Region 1, to serve on the Fresno Unified School District Trustee Board.
President Thomas’s resume includes a Master’s degree in education, BS in education, teaching and administrative credential and a State License in Cosmetology. Her work history lists family construction business, cosmetologist, journeyman cashier, elementary, middle school and high school teacher and administrator, and businesswoman. She is currently the Executive Director for Saints Rests EDC and Program Director at Fresno Career Development Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization.
President Thomas has dedicated her attention to be of service to her community with a focus on education. Her objective as a trustee on the school board is to do what she can to raise Fresno Unified School District to become a premier school district on the national stage. Her emphasis is ensuring that children of color and special education students are lifted to equal standing with all students, and that their parents are brought in to participate in their education.
Prior to her election to the Fresno Unified School District Trustee Board, President Thomas found time to give back to her community through working in her church, Fellowship Baptist Church, as Assistant Director of the Homeless Ministry and Assistant Director of the Children’s Church.
President Thomas also serves as a member of the following organizations:
Delegate for California School Board Association, Daly Charter School Board of Directors, Center for Advanced Research and Technology(CART) Board Member, Women’s Democratic Club, National Women’s Political Caucus, West Fresno Democratic Club, and Delegate and Chair of the Youth and Young Adults committee of Black Women Organized for Political Action(BOWAPA).
Esperanza Vielma is a dedicated advocate for the equitable economic development of the San Joaquin Valley. In 2014, Ms. Vielma founded Cafe Coop, the first nonprofit cooperative for startup companies, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and artists in San Joaquin County. She is an active voice for the environmental justice community in the San Joaquin Valley and currently serves as the Environmental Justice Director for Restore the Delta, an advocacy group that works in the areas of public education and outreach for the conservation of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta. In addition, Ms. Vielma, serves as chair of the Environmental Justice Advisory Group for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and as Board Vice President for the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water. In 2016, Ms. Vielma was nominated and selected to be part of the Delta Leadership Program’s inaugural Class of 2016 by the State of California’s Delta Protection Commission. Esperanza also serves as the representative for San Joaquin County on the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee and represents entrepreneurs on the board of the State-approved iHub San Joaquin. A graduate of the University of California, Ms. Vielma serves on the California Alumni Association Board of Directors and is Vice President of the UC Berkeley Chicano Latino Alumni Association and Scholarship Chair for the Cal Club of San Joaquin County.
On November 8, 2016, Tubbs was elected to serve as mayor of the City of Stockton. Upon taking his office in January 2017, Michael is Stockton’s youngest mayor and the city’s first African-American mayor. Michael Tubbs is also the youngest mayor in the nation representing a city with over 100,000 residents. Michael Tubbs has served as Stockton, California’s, District 6 City Councilmember since 2013. Elected at age 22, he became one of the youngest City Councilmembers in the nation. He overcame adversity to rise to this position, having been born to an incarcerated father and teenage mother in Stockton, once designated one of America’s most dangerous cities. As a youth, Michael excelled in school and obtained a full scholarship to Stanford University, where he graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree with honors. He is also a Fellow at the Stanford Institute of Design. As a Councilmember and Mayor, Michael has focused on poverty reduction, community engagement and organizing. Through collective impact strategies he is working to deepen his impact as mayor.
Mr. Valle serves as Kings County Supervisor for District 2, which includes the towns of Kettleman City, Avenal and Corcoran. The overall poverty rate in his district is over 30%. Mr. Valle is a long-time resident of Kings County, born in Corcoran and graduating from Corcoran High School in 1988. In 1990, Mr. Valle enrolled in the United States Marine Corps, serving proudly for 6 years. After being honorably discharged, he returned to Corcoran and became an audit inspector at Santa Rosa Rancheria. Returning to school, he completed his degree in Human Resource Management and in 2003 was hired and served as a Field Representative for Assemblywoman Nicole Parra. His passion for public service led him to pursue a seat on the Kings County Board of Supervisors. In November 2008, the citizens of his county honored him by electing him as Supervisor for District 2. In 2012, due to his hard work and effectiveness in representing his constituents, he was overwhelmingly re-elected to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Kahn currently serves as Secretary/Treasury of the California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation. CCVEDC’s mission is job creation within an 8-county region that makes up California’s Central Valley – a region whose unemployment rates range from 1.44 – 1.65 times the State’s average. Mr. Kahn also serves as the Executive Director of the Madera County Economic Development Commission (MCEDC), a joint powers agency comprised of the County of Madera, the City of Madera and the City of Chowchilla that serves to improve the economic conditions and lives of the people within Madera County. The efforts of MCEDC are greatly needed. In February 2017, the unemployment rate in Madera County was 10.0% compared to a national average of 4.7%. The poverty rate for individuals is 21%. Over 30% of children within the County live below the poverty line. In his capacity as Executive Director, the MCEDC develops the comprehensive economic development and jobs growth plan and strategies for the County of Madera and its Cities. Mr. Kahn has also served as: Chairman, Central California Valley Economic Development Corp., Founding Member, Madera Compact; Member, Past Board Member, Madera Private Industry Council; Past President, Madera Chamber of Commerce; Past Chairman, Madera City Planning Commission; Past President, Madera Community Hospital Foundation.
Melinda Brown has been Director of Business Development at Kern Economic Development Corporation, Bakersfield, California since October 2004. Her primary focus is the development and promotion of Healthcare Services and Business Services, Advanced Manufacturing and Value Added Agriculture, industries. In her capacity as Director of Business Development she has attracted numerous companies, including several Fortune 1000 organizations, to locate or expand their operations in Kern County, Successful clients have generated approximately $250 million in capital investment and nearly 5,000 family-wage jobs. Melinda has also been a leader in the business retention and expansion program within the organization. Last year alone, the team visited over 200 businesses to offer services to assist in business enhancement needs with a focus on workforce placement. Melinda is actively involved with the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, (CSCMP), Bakersfield West Rotary Club, Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), and the California Central Valley Economic Development. Prior to joining Kern EDC, Melinda spent 14 years as an executive with the Kaiser Permanente.
Oliver Baines is a 25-year resident of Fresno with an extensive record of community service. His professional career began in law enforcement as a police officer for the Fresno Police Department. During his 11 years as a Fresno Police officer, he was a highly decorated officer, receiving two Life Saving Medals, 2008 Officer of The Year recognition, Chief’s Commendations, and multiple Peer Commendations. Mr. Baines’ experience in community policing caused him to run and become a Councilmember for the City of Fresno, representing District 3 from 2011 to 2019. During this time as Councilmember, he was active in many programs addressing the economic, social, and environmental problems afflicting Fresno including Workforce Investment Board, the Fresno Works, the San Joaquin Valley Air Board District, the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Fresno, along with numerous community-based programs. Mr. Baines also became involved in workforce development programs and was Founder of the Valley Apprenticeship Connections (VAC), a workforce development program that focuses preparing young men and women from the hardest neighborhoods to serve populations in the Fresno Region for a career in the Construction Trades. Since 2016 the VAC has had 339 students enrolled, 250 completed (73%), with 196 gaining employment (78%) with wages averaging over $20/hour, and 185 students (94%) keeping employment. Mr. Baines was a Board Member of CVNMTC for nine years and recently he transitioned to the roll of President and CEO of CVNMTC. During his time on the Board, he was actively involved in sourcing deals from the Fresno area and was involved in the Board approval process for CVNMTC’s investments of $95M of Allocation with $140M in project costs. Currently oversees CVNMTC’s last investment of $25M into project that will greatly revitalize an impoverished area of Fresno.
Ricardo Arredondo is serving his second term on the Madera Unified School District. A resident of a LIC, he was first elected in 2009 and is the Board’s current president. Mr. Arredondo serves the District’s Area 6, which comprises areas in the central, east and southeast parts of the district, which are all extremely economically distressed neighborhoods. Mr. Arredondo is the Board liaison to Chavez Elementary, Martin Luther King Middle School, Millview Elementary and Madera South High career school (School of Business and Human Services). In his capacity as a Board Trustee, Mr. Arredondo also serves on the following committees: Alternative Governance Board, Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, Construction Review Advisory Committee, District English Language Learner Advisory Committee, School to Career Advisory Committee, Site Selection Committee, California Association of Suburban School Districts, County Coalition Executive Committee, and Inter-Agency Committee. Mr. Arredondo also serves on the Oversight Board for the Successor Agency to the former Madera Redevelopment Agency. In this capacity, Mr. Arredondo provides guidance and direction to the local agencies that would benefit from property tax distributions and investments from the Successor Agency to former redevelopment project areas.