Corporate Leaders Breakfast Series

2010-2011 Speakers

Bill Buratto

Bill Buratto joined Ventura County Economic Development Association (VCEDA) as President and Chief Executive Officer in November 2001. He also owns a consulting firm that works with nonprofit organizations in the areas of strategic planning, board development and fundraising. With more than 32 years experience in nonprofit management, he has held executive positions in healthcare, higher education and social services.

Buratto currently serves on the Community Commission of Ventura County, the Business and Technology Partnership at California State University Channel Islands, and the Ventura County Civic Alliance. He also serves as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Work/LIFE Project and on the First 5 Commission. He is a former Executive Director of the BRAC 2005 Ventura County Task Force that worked to keep Naval Base Ventura County off the 2005 list of base closures and to keep jobs from leaving the region.

In his capacity as Executive Director of TRIAD, a VCEDA initiative to strengthen the economic viability of Naval Base Ventura County, Buratto serves on the State Office of Emergency Service’s Emergency Partnership Advisory Workgroup and the Governor’s Office of Small Business Advocate Disaster Preparedness Committee.

He is a member of the Green Coast Innovation Zone, working to transform the tri-county region into a more sustainable economy and environment through targeted economic and workforce development opportunities. He has also served on the Ventura County Emergency Planning Council, and frequently speaks to civic and community groups on the activities of VCEDA and the economic climate in Ventura County.

Bill Camarillo

Bill Camarillo is CEO of Agromin Premium Soil Products, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products for farmers, landscapers and consumers. Also one the largest organics recyclers in California and the United States, Agromin is known for practicing fiscally and environmentally sound methods.

Camarillo plays a key role in the company that formulates more than 200 eco-friendly organic soil products for the landscaping, horticultural, agricultural and nursery industries. Each month, Agromin receives thousands of tons of organic material. The company then uses a safe, natural and scientific system to recycle this organic material into its soil products. The result is more vigorous and healthier plants and gardens, and on the conservation side, allows for more room in landfills and less greenhouse gas emissions. The company recycles more than 350,000 tons of green waste from more than 90 cities and jurisdictions on an annual basis.

A vocal advocate for protecting the environment, Camarillo sits on the Board of Directors of the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce and is Vice Chair of the Ventura Parks & Recreation Commission. He serves as strategic advisor for CBM Investment Group in Westlake Village.

Born in Pensacola, Fla., and raised in Ventura County, Camarillo served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1983 to 1992. After 17 years with Agromin, he remains passionate about the recycling industry and works diligently to find new markets for growing communities that produce organic waste.

Steve Gill

Steve Gill is a partner with Gills Onions, the world’s first onion processing company, which he co-founded with his brother, David. After founding the company in 1983, the brothers developed proprietary equipment and processes to peel, slice, dice and deliver the first fresh-cut onions in the food processing industry.

One of Gill’s passions has been to explore new technologies and methods to maximize resource conservation and efficiency in all areas of the business. Under his direction, Gills Onions now operates one of the largest, most innovative and sustainable fresh-cut onion processing plants in the world – while delivering the highest quality, most flavorful fresh onion products in the market. At the Gills Onions 14-acre processing facility in Oxnard, more than 90,000 tons of yellow and red onions are peeled and processed annually for industrial, foodservice, retail and consumer markets.

Gill grew up in the farming community of King City, Calif., where he was active in agricultural youth groups. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he earned a degree in crop science from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo in 1975. Following graduation, he went to work for Bud Antle, a giant in the vegetable growing and shipping industry.

In 1979 Steve and David started their own farming business, Rio Farms. The business steadily grew into a diversified vegetable farming operation encompassing 15,000 acres in King City, Oxnard and Imperial Valley. Today, Rio Farms raises onions, celery, several types of lettuce, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, cauliflower, spinach, cilantro and cabbage.

Gill is a past Chairman of the International Fresh-Cut Produce Association and past President and board member of the California Tomato Growers Association and the Ventura County Agricultural Association.

Henry Dubroff

Henry Dubroff is Chairman and Editor of Pacific Coast Business Times, the weekly business journal for Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. Founded by Dubroff in 1999, the Business Times has won national, regional and local awards for its journalistic content and civic contributions.

Dubroff is co-author of Battling Big Box: How Nimble Niche Companies Can Outmaneuver Giant Competitors and co-founder of the Green Coast Innovation Zone, a three-county economic development group that focuses on clean technology.

Since fall 2009, Dubroff and co-author John J. Huggins have contributed opinion pieces on the economy to the Sunday Perspective section of The Denver Post. Business editor at The Post from 1988 to 1995, Dubroff was part of a management team that rescued the newspaper from near-bankruptcy. From 1995-1999 he was editor at The Denver Business Journal.

Dubroff has been a columnist for Arizona State University’s Reynolds Center for Financial Journalism and was a 2008 media fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He has lectured at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California State University Channel Islands, University of Colorado at Denver and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He has been named Small Business Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles District of the U.S. Small Business Administration. He is a commentator on KCLU, the NPR station for the Central Coast, and serves on the boards of Ventura County Economic Development Association, UCSB Economic Forecast Project and United Way. He also serves on advisory boards at the Martin V. Smith School of Business at CSU-CI and California Lutheran University. He has moderated political debates in Santa Paula, Oxnard, San Luis Obispo and Goleta.

John Shields

John Shields served as Chairman and CEO of Trader Joe’s from 1988 to 2001. He was voted Master Entrepreneur of the Los Angeles Area in 1993 and has been honored for his business leadership by Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young and Merrill Lynch.

Shields graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in 1954 and an MBA in 1956. After serving in the military for two years, he joined Macy's California Executive Training program, rising to the position of Vice President of Operations. In 1979, he left Macy’s to join Mervyn’s Department Stores to help in their national expansion program. During his nine-year tenure, Mervyn's expanded from 36 to 175 stores.

His 1987 retirement from Mervyn's lasted five weeks before Shields was approached by an old friend from Stanford who had founded the Trader Joe's grocery stores, Joe Coulombe. What started out as a consulting assignment led to Shields’ becoming CEO a year later when Coulombe decided to retire. Under Shields’ leadership, Trader Joe’s grew from 27 to 174 stores, and from $132 million to $2 billion in sales. He retired from Trader Joe's in 2001.

Shields lectures at Pepperdine University's Graziadio Graduate School of Business and speaks regularly at school and business conferences.

Jane Wells

Jane Wells is currently a CNBC business news reporter based in Los Angeles where she covers retail, agriculture and defense as well as California’s economy, West Coast real estate and Las Vegas. She also writes the blog “Funny Business” for covering a variety of unusual items. Wells came from CNBC's Upfront Tonight where she was senior correspondent.

Wells joined CNBC in 1996, providing special coverage of the O.J. Simpson civil case for Rivera Live. Prior to joining CNBC, she was a correspondent for the Fox News Channel and Los Angeles reporter for NBC's flagship television station, WNBC, New York. Her television news career includes reporting for KTTV, Los Angeles; WTVJ, Miami; and KOB, Albuquerque. She has also contributed international reports for CNN.

Wells has received numerous honors for her work including a 1992 Peabody Award and DuPont Award for her role in the live coverage of the Rodney King trial. That same year, she earned a Los Angeles Emmy Award for her investigative reporting. She has also received UPI, Press Club and Emmy awards for feature reporting, three Florida Emmy awards for news reporting, and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for team reporting.

Marla Vasquez

Marla Vasquez is Senior Vice President and Regional President for Wells Fargo’s Community Bank for the San Fernando Valley. She oversees 920 team members and 38 banking stores with more than $5 billion in deposits.

A 15-year veteran of the company, Vasquez previously was Community Bank Regional President for the Pacific Coast market, serving Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Prior to being named Pacific Coast regional president, she was Community Banking President for the North Valley region and later the Glendale/Burbank market in the San Fernando Valley.

In 2009, the San Fernando Valley Business Journal named Vasquez among the top businesswomen in the region with its “Executive Newcomer Award.” The Pacific Coast Business Times named her one of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties’ “Top 50 Women in Business” for three consecutive years – 2007, 2008 and 2009. She also was named one of the “Top 40 Under 40” for her business and community leadership by the Pacific Coast Business Times in 2007 and earned the same distinction from the San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2004. Consistently recognized for her leadership and sales performance, Vasquez is a five-time winner of Wells Fargo’s annual Sales and Service award for top performing regional bankers.

Vasquez has been active throughout her career in numerous nonprofit organizations. She currently serves on the boards of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, Valley Economic Alliance, and the Boys and Girls Club of West Valley.

Carolyn Casavan

Prior to her work with Casavan Consulting, Casavan was CEO and Senior Principle Engineer of West Coast Environmental and Engineering, a consulting firm with a strong reputation for providing leading edge technical analysis and practical solutions.  Since founding the company in 1987, Casavan has developed technical and regulatory expertise in a number of environmental areas including sustainability, energy efficiency, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, water resources and CEQA/NEPA analysis.  She was instrumental in working with corporate management in preparing environmental management systems, developing compliance strategies, and providing expert support in legal cases.

Casavan believes that implementing green building practices and sustainable operating practices now is a sound business decision that will have far-reaching benefits for years to come. Energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions reduction and “going green” are important challenges that affect every development and facility, and West Coast Environmental and Engineering is at the forefront of providing services to meet these challenges.

In addition to her technical work, Casavan is Co-Chair of the San Fernando Valley Green Team, sits on the Board of Governors of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and is a member of the Advisory Board for the California State University at Channel Islands Environmental Science and Resource Management Program. She is a registered Chemical Engineer and a California Air Resources Board Accredited Lead Verifier.  

Craig Perkins

Craig Perkins is President and Executive Director of The Energy Coalition, a nonprofit that has been developing energy efficiency partnerships with local governments, their communities and their serving utilities for almost 30 years. The fundamental mission of The Energy Coalition is to create and implement the most comprehensive, integrated and innovative approaches for reducing energy demand, increasing clean energy generation and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Prior to joining The Energy Coalition, Perkins held various positions with the City of Santa Monica for more than 25 years including Director of Environmental and Public Works Management where he directed operations, programs, policies and initiatives for the city’s water, wastewater and stormwater systems; managed the design, engineering and construction of all city projects; managed environmental protection, resource efficiency, alternative fuels and renewable energy programs; directed solid waste recycling and street maintenance operations; and oversaw implementation of the Santa Monica Sustainable City Plan.

Current Energy Coalition programs include the Community Energy Partnership comprised of seven Southern California cities; PEAK Student Energy Actions, an energy education effort that reaches more than 50,000 California students; the Palm Desert Partnership that has as its goal a 30 percent reduction in Palm Desert’s citywide energy use over a five-year period, and the Los Angeles County Energy Program, a comprehensive energy retrofit project that will result in 30,000 “whole house” residential retrofits within L.A. County by the beginning of 2013.

Perkins is a member of the Heal the Bay Board and sits on the Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee for the City of Los Angeles Proposition O Stormwater Bond.

James Rondeau

Jim Rondeau anchors Morning Edition on KCLU and hosts the station’s award-winning public affairs program Crosstalk. A native of Seattle, his broadcasting career has included key positions at stations in the Northwest, San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as producing nationally syndicated programming for Premiere Radio Networks.

Rondeau’s work has been honored by major journalistic organizations, such as the Radio and Television News Association, the Associated Press Radio and Television Association and the Los Angeles Press Club. He has been recognized for outstanding coverage of major stories, including wildfires, immigration and same-sex marriage. Recently, the KCLU news team received an Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage of Santa Barbara County’s Tea Fire.

Under his guidance as Director of Programming, KCLU’s audience has increased substantially, and the station has emerged as the leader in news and public affairs programming in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

John Krist

John Krist is the Chief Executive Officer of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, the region’s oldest and largest agricultural association. As CEO, he is responsible for managing the nonprofit organization’s staff, daily operations and finances. He recommends policy to the organization’s Board of Directors, implements board directives, and represents the interests of the membership at legislative and regulatory hearings. He also serves as the organization’s liaison with the news media, as well as with numerous community organizations and groups.

Before joining the Farm Bureau in February 2008, Krist worked as a reporter, editor and Opinion-page columnist at the Ventura County Star for more than 24 years. During that time, his commentaries on land-use policy, natural resources and environmental issues were distributed by Scripps Howard News Service and published in newspapers throughout the United States. His work has also appeared in California Planning & Development Report, a statewide newsletter for land-use and public-policy experts, and Planning, the magazine of the American Planning Association.

The winner of numerous writing awards and journalism fellowships, Krist is the author of three books about California’s parks and wilderness areas, as well as Voyage of Rediscovery, based on his experiences retracing the Lewis and Clark trail. He also has contributed to books on urban renewal and wildfire policy. His most recent book is Living Legacy: The Story of Ventura County Agriculture.

He is a member of the Ventura County Civic Alliance Steering Committee, the Ventura County Economic Development Association Board of Directors, the Hansen Trust Advisory Board and the Ventura College Agriculture Advisory Committee.