The Economic Alliance Foundation Board

EconAlliance 2019 Officers


Joe Halsell -- President/CEO,Halsell Builders

Read About Joe
Joseph (Joe) R. Halsell is the President/ CEO and co-owner of three Santa Maria-based construction companies: Halsell Builders, Inc., a custom home building and remodeling company; Re+New Restoration, Inc., a fire, flood, and emergency services repair company; and Energy Upgrade Central Coast, the energy retrofit division of Halsell Builders, Inc.

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VP Finance:

Mike Sell -- Vice President, Pacific Western Bank

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Mr. Michael Sell has been a Banker on the Central Coast for over 25 years. Born in Wisconsin and raised in Iowa, Midwestern values and work ethic have been the cornerstone for his success in life. His career in banking began in processing and bookkeeping for a bank in Iowa.

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VP Governance & Operations:

Sam Cohen -- Gov’t & Legal Affairs Representative, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

Read About Sam
Sam Cohen is the Government Affairs Officer and Legal Officer for the Santa Ynez Band of
Chumash Indians, a position he has held since

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VP Fund Development:

Philip Adam -- Production Supervisor, Innovative Produce

Read About Philip
Philip Adam is a sixth generation produce farmer in the Santa Maria Valley. As part of the family ownership of Innovative Produce, Inc., Philip has worked in every aspect of the business from moving sprinkler pipe to research and development.

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Rick Rust -- Public Affairs Project Manager, Aera Energy LLC

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Rick Rust is responsible for public affairs in Santa Barbara County.

Before joining public affairs, Rick spent 17 years on the operations side of the business. His rich field experience brings a strong understanding of the industry and Aera’s operations.

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Frankie Lindley -- Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Coastal Vineyard Care Associates

Read About Frankie
Full Bio Coming Soon

Immediate Past President:

Stephen Pepe -- Co-Founder, Clos Pepe Vineyards

Read About Stephen
Steve Pepe grew up in a family with a tradition of home wine-making, became the founder of Clos Pepe, and created the 9th vineyard in what has become the Santa Rita Valley viticulture area. Clos Pepe is now a vineyard known for its
very fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines and Steve has become a leader in the California Wine community.

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Board Member:

Ed Braxton -- Chief Human Resources Officer, Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Read About Ed
Ed Braxton has lived and worked in Northern Santa Barbara County for ten years. He has served as Chief Human Resources Officer for Lompoc Valley Medical Center (LVMC) since 2009. LVMC is the first operating district hospital in California, continuously operating since 1946, when it was created by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
Currently, LVMC employs approximately 750 people within the City of Lompoc and has most
recently completed integration of a major clinic location in Lompoc.
Born and raised in Philadelpia, Pennysylvania, Braxton received his Bachelor’s Degree from Temple University and his Master’s Degree from St. Joseph’s University. His career in the field of human resources management has included positions in financial services, transportation
management, and manufacturing. For the better part of two decades, his HR focus has been in the healthcare sector.
Braxton has three adult children with his wife Patricia. Currently, Ed is president of the Rotary
Club of Lompoc, and has been involved in governance for the Lompoc Family YMCA, the
Lompoc Valley Chamber & Visitor’s Bureau, and he is a past member of the Economic Development Committee and a current member of the City of Lompoc’s Public Safety Committee.

EconAlliance 2019 Directors

Maribel Aguilera -- Attorney, Kirk & Simas

Read About Maribel
Maribel was born in San Luis Obispo, California. Her family moved to Santa Maria at an early age to follow the agriculture industry. She attended Santa Maria High School and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from La Sierra University in Riverside, CA.

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Megan Cullen -- Owner, YV Consulting & Marketing

Read About Megan
Megan Cullen is a 30-year resident of Santa Ynez Valley and an expert in international trade.Megan was appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce to serve on the District Export Council of Southern California and has served since 2010. She is currently Secretary and Vice-Chair, Central Coast.

She graduated from Portland State University with a degree in Spanish, with minors in French, German and Dutch and a strong emphasis on the sciences.

Megan has her own consulting firm, SYV Consulting and Marketing.

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Mike Kirkwood -- Banking Profesional, The Mortgage House

Read About Mike
Mike Kirkwood has over 40 years of banking experience, having been a banker on the Central Coast since 1989. His wide range of banking experience includes management of
large retail banking offices to management of centralized lending functions for small business and retail consumer business. He is a seasoned commercial lender and business service specialist. His most recent position was as Business Services Manager of Coast Hills Credit Union. Before that, Mike Kirkwood served as Vice President of Commercial Loans for a Community West Bank, a prominent Central Coast regional bank.

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Suzanne Singh -- Economic Development Director, Santa Maria Valley Chamber

Read About Suzanne
Suzanne Singh has provided leadership for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber’s Economic Development Commission since January 2017. She previously served as President for Rancho Santa Margarita Chamber where she successfully re-built and created a thriving organization by concentrating on business attraction and retention, and support for the community and the businesses within the region.

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Consultant/Initiatives Director:

Victoria Conner -- Principal, Strategic Vitality LLC

Read About Vicki
The principal of Strategic Vitality LLC, a strategic planning and “creative consensus-building” firm. She is also a co-founder of EconAlliance and has served the organization for several years as consultant and Initiatives Director, coordinating various industry and support initiatives.

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