Rotary Meeting, November 1, 2022
Rocking Rotarians arrived to the pulsing beat of Barracuda by Heart.
Rotarians were met by the sparkling smiles of FORREST JUNOD (Retired, MD), STEVE JOHANSON (Johanson & Associates), and DEE JOHNSON (Retired, State of California)
The meeting festivities were photographically captured by the semi-professional Rotarian photographer (and tennis ace) VIRGINIA WADE (Retired, Safe Credit Union.)
Our cheerful greeters directed our rockin’ Rotarians to the wine bar.
Our wines were provided by our club sommeliers, PAST PRESIDENT BEVERLY BRAUTIGAM (Brautigam Financial Services) and PAST PRESIDENT HAL BARTHOLOMEW (Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP.) BEVERLY and HAL brought their professional winemaker, CHRIS MORA (Christopher Cellars.) Shouldn’t our club provide us all with a personal winemaker?
The wines serviced were critically acclaimed and highly sought after vintages from CHRISTOPHER CELLARS, which is located at 9654 Bradshaw Road in Elk Grove, and is a wonderful location for events (as this reporter can confirm) and tasting. For more information, see
Our THOUGHT FOR THE DAY was provided by CHRISTIE HOLDEREGGER (Volunteers of America) who reminded us that November is Native American Heritage Month–an annual month-long celebration when we all come together to honor and celebrate the culture, traditions, history, and contributions of American Indians and Alaskan natives.
Though native Americans make up about 2.5% of the total U.S. population, their history and contributions are of critical importance to the nation’s history. Unfortunately, much of this history was forgotten or overlooked.
As a result, misconceptions and ignorance surrounding Native peoples and Native culture can lead to the perpetuation of harmful, misinformed “celebrations” – especially surrounding heritage month and Thanksgiving holidays. November is an opportunity to grow our understanding of Native culture, and traditions, and how historical traumas like colonization and genocide have impacted Native peoples throughout history- and still do today.
This month, she said, it’s important for each of us to remember the entirety of our nation’s history- including and especially the history of Native Americans, and the systemic issues they still face today, and take supportive, uplifting action to right historic injustices.
CHRISTIE wanted to share a few pieces of history and facts.
  • Native American Heritage Month got its start as a one-day “American Indian Day” celebration in New York in May 1916, after a member of the Blackfeet Nation, RED FOX JAMES, literally rode on horseback from state to state to ask for a day to honor Native Americans.
  • In 1975, President Gerald Ford turned it into a week-long Native American Awareness Week in October.
  • While the dates shifted from year to year, in 1990 Congress officially passed a joint resolution, which was signed into law by PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH, declaring the entire month of November National Native American Indian Heritage Month.
  • The 1990 resolution officially recognized Native citizens both as the country’s original inhabitants and for their essential contributions, specifically to farming and harvesting. Despite its Eurocentric perspective, the resolution was also intended to recognize the Native peoples for the ways they helped the first European visitors.
  • Congress chose November to celebrate Native American Heritage month for its cultural significance as the month when Native Americans conclude their traditional harvest season.
  • As of 2021, there are 574 federally recognized Tribes in the U.S. and while many Native Americans reside on reservations, about 71 percent do not.
In particular, CHRISTIE noted that Sacramento is the ancestral homeland of the NISENAN, MAIDU, MIWOK and ME-WUK peoples, who are the Indigenous Peoples of this land and have lived here since time immemorial.
So in celebration, CHRISTIE encouraged all Rotarians to learn something new about the native people of our area.
PRESIDENT LINDA GEERY welcomed the following guests and thanked their sponsors.
  • SHUKA PARK (Cal Rotaract), guest of JAMIE FURLONG (Legacy Investment Real Estate)
  • ROGER BILSTAD, guest of THOM GILBERT (Retired, Gilbert & Associates)
  • CHRISTINE WHITENEY LUTY (Golden Pacific Bank), guest of VIRGINIA VARELA (Golden Pacific Bank, a division of SoFi Bank, N.A.
  • LATIF YUSUFI (Golden Pacific Bank), guest of VIRGINIA VARELA (Golden Pacific Bank, a division of SoFi Bank, N.A.
  • CHRIS MORA (Christopher Cellars), guest of PAST PRESIDENT BEVERLY BRAUTIGAM (Brautigam Financial Services)
  • PHILLIP TODD (Westlake Realty), guest of JOHN M. GORALKA (Goralka Law Firm)
  • TELLY TASAKOS (Insperity), guest of JAMIE FURLONG (Legacy Investment Real Estate)
  • and PAT BUNKAETHER, guests of MAGGIE HOPKINS (Capital Premier Lending & Premier Realty)
  • STEPHEN HOPKINS, guest of MAGGIE HOPKINS (Capital Premier Lending & Premier Realty)
  • J.R. ALWARD, visiting Rotarian (Sonoma Valley)
We all began our Rotary adventure as the guest of a current Rotarian. Please consider bringing a guest to introduce others to the best Rotary Club in Sacramento or California.
Our meeting sponsor was PAST PRESIDENT KEVIN SMITH FAGAN (Fairytale Town.) KEVIN announced the construction and opening of the new Story Center in Fairytale Town. Click here for the Story Center Full PowerPoint Presentation. The new Story Center is located on the Crooked Mile. The Crooked Mile is evidence of your Rotarian contributions in action.
Our own TODD KOOLAKIAN (Sacramento Children’s Home) announced our newest Rotarian, DOUG STEPHENSON of Banner Bank. DOUG was sponsored by TODD and PAST PRESIDENT DIANE WOODRUFF. BANNER BANK was also the Elite Sponsor of the Sacramento Century. DOUG has been a resident of the greater Sacramento area since June of 2019 when he was transferred by Banner Bank into the role of Divisions Director of Commercial Banking for the greater NorCal market. DOUG and his wife of 33 years are now residents of Roseville but his offices are near Sac State/ University Village.
He was first introduced to Rotary when in middle-school he spent a few summer weeks with his grandfather on his cattle ranch in Olathe, KS, and every week around 10:30 would come in from the fields, get clean and dressed up, and head into Olathe for the weekly lunch meeting of the Rotary Club. Years later, now married with 3 children and living on Bainbridge Island, WA, he connected with the local Rotary club as a volunteer at its annual fundraiser, a 14-acre rummage sale and auction. It was a true family volunteer effort, and for two weeks he spent most of his waking, non-work hours at the school accepting donated “treasure” and preparing for the 5 hour-sale. This event has been put on by the local Rotary club for the last 60-years and this summer’s sale (2022) generated over $700,000 in sales that, in turn, is used to fund a variety of community projects.
His “volunteer’ status at this annual event soon turned into prospect, and subsequently, membership to the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club. DOUG was a member of that club until 2010 when job demands and the banking crisis dictated he step back for many volunteer board civic roles.
On a personal level, DOUG has been married to ALYSON for over 33 years and they have 3 adult children(2 sons and 1 daughter- all now married) and two beautiful granddaughters, ages five and two. He enjoys cycling, paddle boarding, hikes and spending time with friends and family. They are active in their church and strong supporters of the men and women in military service, as both sons have served and one continues to serve in the Air Force.
PAST PRESIDENT DIANE WOODRUFF (Retired Chancellor of California Community Colleges) conducted extensive research into our membership and identified these four Rotarians for special recognition.
DR. FORREST JUNOD, Birthday November 10th
“Professionally, DR. JUNOD worked as a cardiac surgeon, When first asked what he did professionally, he said very humbly ‘I was just a
“glorified plumber,” because all I did was work on “pumps and pipes.”
“Since he is so modest, I’d like to brag about FORREST a little. He performed over 4,000 cardiac surgeries at the old Sutter Memorial Hospital. He came to Sacramento in 1974 to join a prestigious team that developed and performed safe cardiac surgery.  The group founder, DR. ED SMELOFF, developed one of the first successful heart valve replacements in the world.
“FORREST became interested in valve surgery. In 1985 mitral heart valves were more difficult to replace and gave poorer results; therefore, he was very happy to travel to Paris to study new techniques for repairing mitral valves. Now, approximately 90% of mitral valves are repairable.
“Since he was an expert in heart valves, I asked him if he had ever put in a pig valve. He said that yes, he had put in several pig valves. He was very proud to tell me that not one of his patients made oinking sounds after he operated on them.
“He talked about many great advances have been made in terms of heart surgery, including now being able see heart images in three dimensions, compared to only two when he was practicing.  He said that Sutter Medical Center is now an accredited heart transplant center and the largest support center for failing hearts on the West Coast. These are very difficult designations to obtain and something for Sacramento to know with pride.
“In terms of hobbies, he loves to travel, hike in the wilderness and play golf.  He has also been a “groupie” for his wife’s choral group since 1975 and traveled all over the world with her.
“A fun fact about FORREST is that he has gotten 6 holes-in-one, and he even got two in one weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday!”



MAGGIE HOPKINS, Birthday November 2nd, 4 years in Rotary
“After graduating from college in 2000, MAGGIE worked in the mortgage industry. In 2004, she had an opportunity to work for a mortgage company in Rancho Cordova. Growing up in the Midwest, MAGGIE had always wanted to see more of the West Coast. Open to an adventure, she eagerly accepted the job, packed her bags, and told her parents that she wanted to try California, ‘just for a year.’
“18 years later, MAGGIE calls Sacramento home. She got her Real Estate License in 2006, which opened the opportunity to combine finding homes for home buyers with mortgage lending to make the dream of home ownership much easier for clients.
“She has two reliable assistants who support her so that she can provide this unique service. One is a loan processor. The other is a research assistant whose job it is to find someone’s perfect home and act as a real estate transaction coordinator. Both of these keep all the necessary details done correctly and timely, so that MAGGIE can spend her time focusing on her clients and their individual needs.
“In 2021, she closed over $5.7 million real estate sales, qualifying for the Masters Club with the Sacramento Association of Realtors. She also closed over 75 loans personally in just this past year.
“Fun Fact: MAGGIE Is in the most recent edition of SacTown Magazine. She is giving copies away. There are a few copies on each table. Please feel free to take one!”
THOM GILBERT, CPA, Birthday November 3rd, 34 Years in Rotary
“THOM has been a member for 34 years and was President of our club in 2014, when it celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. One of THOM’s favorite jobs in our club has been serving as a counselor at Rotary Youth Leadership Awareness, known as RYLA, five times in the last six years. THOM has vowed to keep returning as a RYLA counselor as long as he can climb the tower on the ropes course, which he did in 2022.
“THOM is the Founder of Gilbert CPAs, which is still the largest community-based CPA firm in Sacramento. He retired in 2017, after 45 years in public accounting. It is an incredible legacy to be the founder of a CPA firm and have it continue so strongly after you, the founder, has retired.   He thanks and credits people like LINDA GEERY and BOBBIE HALES and 60+ other members of the firm.
“Maybe THOM was so successful running a CPA firm because he is one of eight siblings, the oldest boy, and he had five sisters. Or, maybe it’s because he has always been a hard worker.  THOM was an altar boy, a paper boy, and a lawn/yard maintenance boy for the Burbank, CA community he grew up in.
“THOM has been active in the community and is past board president of Junior Achievement of Sacramento, the Boy Scouts Golden Empire Council, the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, and Reclamation District 1000, which provides flood protection for the Natomas Basin.
“Fun Fact – THOM met his wife LINDA in 1985, when they went on a double date, but not with each other. She was his best friend’s date. But the two of them had the spark and they were married one year later.
“THOM should also be thanked for his courageous and selfless service on all our behalf in Vietnam!”
MEGAN LAURIE, New Rotary Member
“MEGAN LAURIE is our next spotlight. She is one of our newest members and one of our outstanding Young Professionals.  She has been in our club less than a year, so it is great to be able to spotlight her so you can all get to know her.
“She is currently working as the Director of Development and Marketing for United Cerebral Palsy.
“She has received a number of awards in her life including the Sacramento Business Journal’s 40 under 40 outstanding young professional award. She was also selected as an Ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce as an advisor to the San Juan Superintendent of schools.
“All you baseball fans will be interested to know that MEGAN and her husband have a goal of visiting all the ballparks in America. So far they have only seen two, but they are determined to get to all of them.
“MEGAN has done a number of daring things in her life including jumping out of a plane and completing an Olympic distance triathlon.
However, a fun fact about MEGAN is that she said three things in her life that were even more terrifying to her than jumping out of a plane:
  1. Driving a 99-year-old WAYNE THIEBAUD over the Yolo causeway to UC Davis during rush hour,
  3. Being flashed by ROSEANNE BARR on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
“So if you ever wondered what to talk to MEGAN about when you next see her, she said she would be happy to tell you the rest of all of these stories.”
SARAH HODGE (ACWA) reported on LENA NIEMEYER, our student abroad in Goslar, Germany. LENA is adjusting to living in a small village of 200 homes. Her host family speaks to her only in German to immerse her in their language. She also participated in a grow language event with the other Rotarian students living abroad. She looks forward to this adventure and to creating new lifelong friends. Lena is now attending a Rotary Club while in Germany.
BOB ROSENBERG (Inve$tnet Inc.) noted that our International Service Committeep has developed unique skills for running water projects. We all take the access to clean water for granted, but in many countries, woman in particular cannot work or go to school because they must carry water for miles for their family’s home and use.
Our International Service Committee now needs more Rotarians to help with these critical services. Rotarians can travel, see the world, and learn the best practices for water sustainability. Get your passports ready and contact BOB ROSENBERG (Inve$tnet Inc.) or CLAYTON LEE (C.K.L. Trust) for more information on how you can help.
  • DIANE WOODRUFF – for KERRY WOOD, who is now the CEO of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. Congratulations KERRY. They are lucky to have you!
  • KERRY WOOD – thanked DIANE WOODRUFF (Retired, Chancellor California Community Colleges) for being her head cheerleader and coach.
  • MAGGIE HOPKINS (Capital Premier Lending & Premier Realty)- in honor of her mom and dad, who traveled from Illinois to attend (and possibly visit MAGGIE).
  • NORM MARSHALL (Headwaters Construction Inc.) – for Habitat for Humanity. NORM is the Board Chair and helped raise over $46,000 for that good cause.
  • VIRGINIA VARELA (Golden Pacific Bank, a division of SoFi Bank, N.A.) – for Golden Pacific Bank. Sponsor your own Sacramento Century Ride.
  • BOBBY REED (Capitol Tech Solutions) – for Halloween and his son collecting over 15 lbs of candy. Contact BOBBY if you have a chocolate craving.
  • BRIAN VAN CAMP (Van Camp ADR)in honor of our speaker MIKE TESTA. BRIAN went to grade school with MIKE’s dad.
  • DR. FOREST JUNOD (Retired, MD) – for SAC Century volunteers and the excellent job done.
  • KEVIN SMITH FAGAN (Fairytale Town) – For Fairytale Town’s new Reading Center and “just because.”
JARRETT OSBORNE-REVIS (Buchalter law Firm) introduced the speaker, MIKE TESTA, the President and CEO of Visit Sacramento, who leads a talented team that’s dedicated to promoting Sacramento as an attractive travel destination, while enhancing Sacramento’s image as a dynamic place to live and work.
Through MIKE’s vision, community collaboration and consistent innovation, Sacramento’s identity has evolved from a sleepy Gold Rush town to a relevant food destination, recognized nationally as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. MIKE’s ability to see Sacramento’s heritage and re-imagine its identity as a food and agriculture leader has brought millions of dollars in both revenue to local businesses and earned media exposure for the City and County. He also partners with music festival promoters to bring a diverse list of large-scale festivals to Sacramento- including Aftershock and the Golden Sky- to further develop the region as a leisure destination. Through the IronMan and other events, he also has helped increase overnight visitors to the Sacramento area. MIKE regularly serves as a tourism expert for industry panels and media outlets across the country.
Visit Sacramento focuses on bringing visitors to come, spend and go home! Visit Sacramento encourages:
  • Conventions
  • Sports Commission
  • Farm-to-Fork (Bridge Dinner)
  • Music Festivals
  • Leisure Travel
  • Funding
Tourism in the Sacramento Regions is a $4 billion industry. More than 15 million visitors annually. Tourism is tough during a pandemic. Our homeless population increasing along with crime. Even Law Enforcement Agencies were reluctant to have conventions here due to safety issues.
  • Visit Sacramento’s funding comes primarily through hotels
  • Pre-pandemic Occupancy: 83%
  • In the middle: 2%
  • Today 67%
The Pivot: Leisure Travel & Outdoor Events. To mitigate the fears regarding indoor events during the pandemic, Visit Sacramento shifted to large outdoor events with great success.
  • World’s Strongest Man
  • Ironman
  • Tower Bridge Dinner
  • Farm to Fork Street Festival
  • Legends of Wine
  • California International Marathon
  • World Butchers Challenge (postponed three times)
Music Festivals
  • Dance Gavin Dance
  • AFTERSHOCK – a world wide Rock Festival here in Sacramento.
  • 160,000 people over 4 days
  • Attendees from 20 countries around the world
  • More than 500 tickets sold in Canada
  • Attendees from all 50 states and Washington D.C.
  • $27 million in estimated economic impact
  • Placer County Hotels feel the impact
  • Over 7,000 jobs supported
  • Ends at 11pm to encourage more commerce
  • GOLDEN SKY- County Music Festival destined for greatness.
  • Inaugural event held October 15-16th
  • 50,000 attendees
  • Leave the infrastructure up
MIKE noted a recent reference to a Facebook picture and comment regarding Golden Sky: “This is what the final performance morning looks like after 4 festivals in 6 weeks. Not to mention, ending it off with what will become the biggest Country Music Festival in America….mark my words.”
Let’s talk about conventions:
  • Still the largest driver of tourism for the region
  • New SCU CC
  • Stacking
  • And we don’t guess on the economics of it:
If Visit Sacramento places a group at SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, the revenue at our local hotels goes up by an average +11% above its baseline levels. That’s hotel revenue, sales tax revenues, and City and County hotel tax collections revenue
March 2023
  • 17 Groups
  • 19 days with more than 350 rooms booked per night
  • $30M in El
  • Only March 17 is open that month
Our largest conventions:
  • Unified Wine and Grape Symposium Annual Symposium
  • Almond Board of California Annual Conference
  • California Future Farmers of America
Our Challenges for any events!
  • Homelessness and public safety are the biggest
  • Gun Violence
  • CA State Workers: 287k, 36% of them are in Sac
  • Visit Sacramento is creating diversity for more interesting activities, choices, and residents to create a stronger economy and community.
  • Our farm-to-fork promotion has already had great benefits in the “foodie” or restaurant community. We now have greater recognition in the international Michelin Guide for restaurants.
Sports Commission and sporting events bringing visitors to Sacramento:
  • Ironman
  • NCAA and USA Track & Field
  • Senior Softball
  • Northern California Volleyball Association
  • NCVA Memorial Weekend Festival
  • NCAA Women’s Final Four Bid
Thank you MIKE and Visit Sacramento for your excellent work!!
11/8/22 – No Meeting
11/15/22 – Foundation Day
11/22/22 – No Meeting   
11/29/22 – Speaker ED GOLDMAN/ Columnist – ED always shares unique and interesting stories!
12/6/22 – Speaker Jack Gallagher/ Stand up Guy – Did JACK actually begin his career as a tax attorney?