Many working parts fuse to preserve, improve and prosper our community. From staple businesses and meritable charities, to nationally ranked institutions and award winning entrepreneurs, San Joaquin has become a place where greatness is nurtured. Behind any great success are those who have dedicated themselves to its mission. As we look to the pillars of our area, the women behind these driving forces tell a story all their own. Join us as we reflect and celebrate milestone moments of local leaders and innovators making lasting contributions in San Joaquin
Jennifer Torres Siders
University of the Pacific
Community Relations Director
Jennifer found passion in writing, literature and community impact at a young age, connecting with the personal aspect each possessed. Growing up in Southern California with a close-knit family, Jennifer holds fond memories instrumental to her successes today. As a girl, she found great joy in her grandmothers’ stories, intrigued by life in earlier times; and inspiration in the example her father set, one of community involvement and action. As Jennifer looked to higher education, she prepared college application essays; passing along to a family friend, employed at the LA Times, for review. To her surprise Jennifer’s essay was printed on the front page of the LA Time’s feature section. “It felt so good to see someone believe in me, and know that this career dream could be a reality,” she says.
Jennifer continued to pursue her dream and traveled overseas to earn a Masters in Journalism from the University of Westminster in London. “It was an amazing eye-opener to the way other people approach not just journalism, but community and life,” she explains. The Record, a San Joaquin daily and Sunday newspaper, brought Jennifer and her husband David to the Central Valley. Her dreams became reality as she reported on education and social issues. “The Record was a great place to start my career because San Joaquin is very newsworthy,” she says, “You can write about everything from agriculture to social science.”
Jennifer reflects upon her father’s influence in regards to reporting, stating, “You can document and explain why it matters, but you can’t take that extra step and do something about it.” Opportunity came to take that extra step in 2011, when University of the Pacific approached Jennifer to head their Beyond Our Gates initiative. Beyond Our Gates works closely with the community to ensure a successful future for young students, “helping children learn today, so that they can be strong and engaged citizens tomorrow.” The initiative specifically focuses on students’ ability to read proficiently by the third grade. As Jennifer explains, “Studies show if children aren’t strong readers by 3rd grade, they are at a higher drop-out risk once entering high school.” And in San Joaquin County only about 34 percent of 3rd graders are reading at grade level. “It’s a big problem, but it’s a solvable problem,” she confidently states. “What is so exciting about this work is it promises to have long-term benefits for the community!”
Jennifer and Beyond our Gates work with elected officials, non-profit groups and schools, through what she calls a collective impact- an effort that brings people from all different fields together for a cause. “We knew the university couldn’t fix it on our own, a problem this big needs many hands on deck.” With so many involved, Jennifer is able to maintain relationships she built as a reporter, “except now instead of covering the issue, I am able to do something about the challenges we face,” she says.
Today, Jennifer has additional, personal inspiration that drives the success of this project. Now, as a mother of two, she explains, “I want to raise my daughters, Alice and Soledad, in a community of readers. When David and I first moved here, Stockton adopted us, and welcomed us with open arms. I want to help our community.” As for future plans, Jennifer looks forward to the release of her children’s book, Finding the Music, finishing her EdD at UOP, and nurturing Beyond Our Gates to grow as a community wide movement.
Supervising Civil Judge
Barbara Kronlund has been a voice for victims since grade school. As a child, she stood up against bullies and before her teens, knew she wanted to be a Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s office. Growing up a tomboy in the Sacramento suburb of Fair Oaks, the value of hard work and integrity was demonstrated early on by two of her biggest inspirations, her parents. Barbara’s father, of East Indian descent, immigrated to the United States and put himself through college by picking fruit. He earned his PhD in Microbiology, ran a hospital laboratory and taught college science classes. Her mother, a civilian Electronics Engineer for McClellan Air Force Base, gave Barbara her religious foundation and nurtured their family’s strong patriotic roots. “From my grandfather’s service to my father’s U.S. citizenship, our family felt a deep love for America,” she remembers, “We stood at attention in our living room any time the National Anthem played on television.”
Drive and dedication led Barbara to Pepperdine University, where she graduated Cum Laude; ultimately attending University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, where she met her “law school sweetheart” and husband, Mike Kronlund.
Barbara began her career at the Sacramento District Attorney’s office as a legal intern, later relocating to San Joaquin County as a Deputy District Attorney I. From 1990 to 1995 Barbara worked in the San Joaquin District Attorney’s office, ultimately becoming unit supervisor of the Child Abuse & Sexual Assault Unit. “It was a very difficult assignment at first,” she says, “due to the emotional impact of dealing with children who’ve suffered very heinous crimes.” But over time, Kronlund says the experience allowed her to developed a thicker skin and become a tough prosecutor, in the children’s honor.
Barbara moved up the ranks and was appointed Superior Court Commissioner of Tracy, where she handled criminal and civil cases, among others, until becoming Superior Court Judge in 2005. “I was then assigned to Juvenile Delinquency for almost five years, and later moved to Stockton Courthouse to handle felony criminal trials,” she explains. From there, she became Supervising Civil Judge, a title she holds today.
Along the way, Judge Kronlund’s work was honored through a host of awards and grants, including Peacemaker of the Year and the Susan B. Anthony Women of Achievement Award. All the while, experiencing her mother’s influence, even after her passing. “I can hear her sage advice so often that I feel she’s right here,” she says.
Today, the steadfast character developed during childhood shines bright as Barbara serves on the Judicial Ethics Committee for the California Judges Association. Here, she upholds ethics throughout the state. Her dedication to children, beginning nearly 20 years ago during her stint in the Child Abuse & Sexual Assault Unit, remains as she dedicates her lunch breaks to teach fifth graders Civics.
Into the future, Barbara holds high hopes for San Joaquin’s very first Veteran Court, a project she helped head, with hopes to assist San Joaquin Veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other significant issues in the justice system. In addition, Barbara stresses her belief that those who much has been given, much is expected. “I have truly been blessed with a wonderful husband, children, friends and trusted colleagues,” she says. “I have possibly the greatest job in the world. So, much is expected of me in return, and I hope I am able to continue my efforts to improve the judicial system in whatever ways I can.”
Dell’Osso Farms & River Islands Project Director
Susan grew up in Orange County as the youngest (and only female) of five, born to her Dutch immigrant parents. The self-described “tom-boy” dreamed that one day, she would have a big executive office in San Francisco, toting briefcase in hand.At 14, Susan lost her father in what she describes as one of her most influential experiences. “It changed my entire outlook,” she explains, “My dad was so gregarious… people say I’m like him in the way that I’ve never met a stranger.”
Susan pursued her executive dreams, and in only five years, paid her way through college and earned a Masters in Economics from University of California, Santa Barbara. “I believe that economics is so universal to business success,” she explains, “It drives human behavior.”Arthur Anderson quickly recruited Susan upon graduation, where she worked in computer consulting on the 33rd floor of their San Francisco office. “I had my briefcase job,” she smiles. The position called for constant travel, and Susan spent months at a time in New York City, integrating computer systems for large companies in the late 80s
In 1987, Susan discovered her true love, joining the Cambay Group Inc., where she has been for 28 years. A few years later, Susan met Ron, a third generation farmer. Together, they worked on plans to start a small corn maze on his property, and instead, “We fell in love and started the agritourism business that is Dell’Osso Farms,” she says. Originally, the duo considered the family farm a hobby but, “once we knew people really liked it, we decided to buckle down,” Susan explains. She credits her husband as the one who got the ball rolling, with his constant, creative ventures and ideas. “He’s one of the most brilliant people I know,” she says. “Family farming, financially, is tough. But, it has turned into something truly special.”
While nurturing the expansion of Dell’Osso Farms, Susan stayed active in her role at Cambay Group, specializing in land planning, development and entitlement of many large-scale projects. In 1999 Susan was named Project Director of the groups mixed-use master plan community, River Islands. The land, originally planned for a series of hotels and theme parks, is within walking distance of the farm, and her home- an aspect Susan says truly unifies her many working parts. “Just this morning my niece and I walked over to my mom’s house in River Islands, from our home on the farm, had coffee and walked my grandson to school. It is just so great!”
Susan describes River Islands as one of the most environmentally sensitive and community oriented destinations, “And after 25 years, we are building exactly what we planned and dreamed of, so it’s very exciting.”
Today, Susan looks to the future success of her many projects. River Islands is currently home to 45 families, and every day she welcomes more. Such a large-scale project requires much balancing, as Susan manages the property’s many amenities like River Islands Academy, an independent charter school under authorization of the Banta Elementary School District; and growth of the Bay Area, through the community’s business campus.
As for San Joaquin’s beloved Dell’Osso Farms, Susan and Ron plan to grow farm operation, expanding events and hours throughout the year, beginning summer 2015. “I don’t see retiring any time soon,” she smiles, “I live in the community I work in, and on two incredibly interesting projects! Lathrop has been so good to us,” she continues, “The people and county have truly welcomed my family and projects. The area holds so much promise- we need to keep building and doing the right things.”
Tori Verber Salazar
San Joaquin County District Attorney
At an early age, Stockton native Tori Verber Salazar, learned that hard work is the only way out of poverty. Growing up, Tori respected the value of a dollar, starting her first job at 13, “and I’ve been working ever since,” she smiles. Just as deeply rooted as her worth ethic, is her compassion for others, nurtured by the example of her mother and grandmother. “I had a great, inspirational childhood,” she says, as she describes days spent volunteering at St. Mary’s Dining Hall and McKinley’s Park.
Tori discovered her love for law while attending St. Mary’s College and working as an intern at the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office. “I just knew it was the right place for me.” At 21 years old, she began with what she describes as the toughest cases- child abuse and sexual assault. Inspired and determined, Salazar attended law school, at night, while working full time until passing the California Bar Exam.
Following the birth of her children, Tori became Deputy District Attorney in 2001, and Preliminary Hearing Attorney in 2003, later joining the Gang-Homicide Unit in 2006. “You almost have to become part of the criminal culture,” she says, in response to her stint in the unit. And that she did, as one of the lead prosecutors in San Joaquin’s largest sweep of Asian gang members, lessening the amount of narcotics, guns and violence in our community.
Throughout her career, Tori has felt most connected to the many victims and their families, working tirelessly to defend and protect them in a system she describes as “not always pro-victim.” “They are suffering terrible loss, yet they are the most gracious and brave people, returning to court again and again with dignity and grace,” she explains. At moments of frustration or exhaustion, Tori looks to the victims for strength, explaining that the loss of someone’s loved one or child through senseless violence is quite a motivator. “It pushes me to do more,” she says, “so that less people come through my door.”
Elected San Joaquin’s District Attorney in 2014, Tori entered the role with high hopes of improving care for victims, witnesses and their families, while implementing preventive outlets and tools. Today, her efforts are focused on plans for a Family Justice Center, enhanced mental health support and child safety. The cases Tori worked on in the child abuse and sexual assault unit nearly 30 years ago continue to keep her up at night. And to that, she says, “If you think you can be in our community and mistreat a child, you are in for an awakening!” In addition, Tori notes, many people enter the system struggling with mental health issues, “and our system is not the right system for them.” Through prevention and education, Salazar works to reach families of those struggling with mental health, providing and empowering them with tools and resources. “We want to get to them before it escalates; to be more strategic, determining the right time and resources to be used.”
At the end of the day, “People come to me because someone has been hurt, or to report violence …and we just try to make it better through ethical and professional prosecution.” The support, dedication and hard work of the men and women of San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office aid in Tori’s mission, and “they fight till the end,” she says. To combat the weight of her crime-filled days, Tori finds comfort in the community, saying, “you will get 10 times what you give, and along the way you will meet the most wonderful, kind and loving people to remind you of all that is good in the world.”
Bank of Stockton Vice President/ Director of Marketing
Angela Brusa began her relationship with the Bank of Stockton as a University of the Pacific student, working after school in the Bankcard Department of the old Main Street building. Brusa remembers spotting Bob Eberhardt and his entourage of bankers on their way to the Yosemite Club for lunch, thinking, “wow, they look very important!” In just a few short months, Angela would find herself in front of Eberhardt, inquiring about a project for her marketing class. Eberhardt kindly invited Angela to conduct her project in the Marketing Department at Headquarters, an experience leading to a job offer upon graduation from the President himself. “And the rest is history…” she says with a smile.
A lifelong Lodi resident, Angela grew up in a farming family, cultivating many sweet memories that continue to influence her compassionate nature. Her parents, Dan and Elisa Parises, were very active in the community. “My father was a county supervisor and on Delta College’s Board of Trustees for 34 years,” she explains, “He was the area’s longest public servant. I learned from a very young age to be at ease with people, to be poised in conversation and involved in my community.”
Though Angela’s mother wasn’t a working professional, she stood by her husbands’ side and participated in many community causes throughout her life; instilling in Angela characteristics she describes as ahead of the times. “My mom always encouraged me to work toward an excellent education and to reach for the stars,” remembers Angela, “She wanted me to be self- sufficient.”
Brusa honored her mother’s advice, and as a proud alumni of University of the Pacific holds many memories of the beautiful campus, educational excellence and Tiger football games. Perhaps her most noteworthy experience, she says, is recieving her diploma from Bob Eberhardt at graduation. “By then, I had been an intern working for him for a few years, so it was a great moment!”
Today, Angela has devoted 34 years to the Bank of Stockton. “It has been a labor of love, in an ever-changing and challenging industry; and a blessing working with the Eberhardt Family,” she says. At the age of 31, Brusa’s passion and dedication paid off as she was promoted to Assistant Vice President and Director of Marketing. Less than a decade later, she was promoted to Vice President – an honorable title and longtime goal. “I always felt motivated to reach for the highest goal here, because Bob believed in me from such a young age,” she continues, “Sometimes people say to me, ‘My god you’ve worked at the same place for so long!’ But in an era of “mega banks,” I am blessed to work for a community bank. The Eberhardts care about their bank, customers, employees and this community.”
Aside from her role as Vice President, where Angela juggles many tasks like brand management, strategic marketing, advertising, communications and corporate giving; Brusa honors her upbringing through a continuation of her parents’ works within their hometown. She serves on the Haggin Museum Board of Trustees as the Development and Marketing Committee Chairperson, is part of the Lodi Regional Hospice Committee and the St. Mary’s High School Empowering Young Women Scholarship Committee, “whose mission is to increase confidence and self- esteem in our young women of today,” she explains.
Also a proud mother, Angela’s face lights up with the mention of her children. “They are my number one passion,” she says, as she speaks of her daughter, Gianna; a gifted painter studying at SFAI in San Francisco, and her son, Giovanni, a talented baseball player for the Tigers, and a UOP communications major.
As for future plans, Angela says they revolve around her family, “growing old with my husband, Jim, and watching our kids achieve their hopes and dreams.” Angela also works with her mom and brother, continuing a retirement dream of her father’s, who passed away in 2012: St. Sophia Zinfandel, their family’s custom-crush gold award winning 100% Varietal Old Vine Zinfandel. Professionally, Brusa looks forward to assisting the Eberhardt Family as they take the Bank of Stockton into its next chapter of banking history. “I love my life and all aspects of it. I try to appreciate each day and recognize the blessings, small and big,” she says, “And I will always be volunteering in our community. There is no better exercise for the heart than helping others and doing good where it is needed.”
There’s a reason why Angela says Stockton will forever be her home. From downtown’s Oak Street to Glenview Road off of Highway 26, Rosenquist spent her childhood honing her baking skills, picking pecans and getting lost in the almond trees while singing along with her grandfather.
As she grew, Angela dedicated time to sports, participating in University of the Pacific’s (UOP) volleyball camps. Little did she know, she would later attend the university on a volleyball scholarship. “At five-feet-three-inches!” she smiles. Described as “not exactly a recruitable volleyball height,” she worked to play at the highest level. Unsure of what life had in store, Angela planned to play volleyball in junior college, save money, and attend pre-law school. While at Delta College, her dedication was honored by an invitation to play Division I volleyball, in the most appropriate place, her hometown of Stockton. To that she says, “How could I ever be thankful enough for that support and opportunity? Even my 90-year old grandmother could attend my home games – amazing!”
Support continued to inspire Angela as members of San Joaquin County nurtured her drive. She found motivation in those dedicated to being their best selves. “Anyone who applied that type of devotion, I studied and absorbed,” she says. Her parents and little brother, she describes as “like no other,” stood by her as she embarked on a path of discovery, finding her own best self. Her mother inspired by example, with her “corporate mom with a kitchen soul,” attitude; while her father brought adventure to routine, embarking with her on a Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee laden, two-week, 2,400-mile, 16 day, 15 ballpark tour of the Northeast. Her little brother, and now with a family of his own – was and still is the nucleus of her happiness, laughter, and motivation.
Angela’s path proved to be one of devotion, leading the young entrepreneur to an abundance of community involvement over the years. She gracefully accepted an Athena Award in 2012, served as President of the Pacific Tiger Athletic Association twice, Chair of the Pacific Annual Fund and as a board member for the United Way General Fund, Financial Center Credit Union and Saint Mary’s Dining Hall… to name a few. Upon her UOP graduation, she worked as the Coordinator of Alumni and Donor Relations for the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, while earning an MBA in the evenings.
Professor Cynthia Weick suggested Angela interview for a company – Boboli International, LLC., an opportunity that embraced Angela’s entrepreneurial spirit, as she became “part of the family, part-owner and vice president for twelve years.” As she explains, “I fell in love with food and product innovation and development, and continue to this day, pursuing my passion as Vice President of Retail Sales for Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods.” Angela feeds her passion further, as an investor in Mezzo Enoteca, a Stockton restaurant offering eclectic Mediterranean cuisine. “Buddy is a fantastic chef and the atmosphere has achieved what we aspired from the start!”
Today, Angela continues to find outlets in which to give, donate, enjoy and experience. A characteristic she believes was nurtured at UOP, “Pacific has a reputation of building not only good students but good servants of the community,” she continues, “I admire so many others in Stockton, such as Andy Prokop, Michael Duffy, Edward Figueroa, and President Eibeck, and business owners and new entrepreneurs who continue to guide Stockton in the right direction.”
As Angela looks to future endeavors, including completion of her Doctorate in Business Administration, Entrepreneurship and Leadership at California Southern University, she tips her hat to serendipity. “Some speak of it lightly, but at times you have to step aside because you are the only thing standing in your own way,” she continues, “I believe you can work in a straight path at 100 miles an hour, only to be hit from the side by an opportunity. How did they see you when they weren’t directly in front of you? They were standing along your path watching you run!”
one.TLC Foundation Executive Director
Professor Emerita CSU-Stanislaus
Sara grew up in small town America, part of a tight-knit family deeply rooted in volunteer work. “It was part of our family culture,” she explains, “to volunteer and give back.”
Garfield attended University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, first focusing on English Literature until changing her major to Social Work. While completing an internship, she realized she wanted to be a teacher. “I didn’t really pick a career, it kind of picked me,” she smiles. In 1973, Sara began teaching in Maryland. The school was in the poorest part of town and seriously lacked resources. “I worked with the kids everyone had given up on,” she explains, “Most of them were illiterate, and at that time I don’t think people fully understood how severely poverty and learning disabilities influenced students.” Teaching all of her students to read that year inspired Sara to return to school to complete a credential and future graduate degrees in education.
Sara relocated to San Joaquin County in the late 70s and by the mid 80s was teaching at CSU-Stanislaus. She began volunteering and serving meals to the homeless with her young daughters, Jen and Jamie, honoring her own upbringing. “I wanted to instill in my children the values my parents taught me,” she explains, “and out of that experience, the school was born.”
While volunteering, Sara met David Brewer. “He truly was an inspiration and mentor,” she says. “We saw a lot of children at the dining room that weren’t in school…And one night I was driving home from CSU-S and the concept popped into my head- we need to start a school for homeless children.” Sara took the idea to David and received his full support. With the assistance of Helen Crane, and the San Joaquin County Office Of Education (SJCOE), “we had the project up and running in about nine months, opening the doors of one.TLC School in 1992.” Since then, the school and foundation continues to support homeless children, grades kindergarten to sixth, providing them a safe, positive and nurturing environment. “We provide strong, individualized academic programs, while meeting all their basic needs,” says Sara.
In 2009, the school was in jeopardy of closing and relocated to a Stockton Unified Campus, after forming the one.TLC Foundation. A passionate board of directors was established, and has nurtured the mission since. “The board members and school staff are amazing and so dedicated” says Sara, “And we are so grateful for the support we receive from SJCOE, and this caring and generous community.”
As Sara explains, “In an ideal world, there would be no homeless children and we wouldn’t be needed.” But, reality keeps one.TLC Foundation and its supporters focused on helping children reach their potential, and ending generational poverty in San Joaquin. “We often have former students return to visit, and we love seeing them and hearing of their accomplishments!” Sara says as she reflects on students who inspire her, even one who traveled across a dangerous part of town to return to the school after his mother left the shelter. “He showed up at our door and said, ‘I want to be here, I want to be in school,”’ she remembers.
Sara retired from CSU-S in June 2010, after teaching for 26 years. She continues to serve in a volunteer capacity as the Executive Director of the one.TLC Foundation. “My post retirement passion is grand-mothering my 3-year-old grandson, Dillon. It’s the best job in the world,” she continues, “I am blessed with wonderful family and friends, enjoyed a most rewarding career in education and live in a community I love. My mom continued volunteering until she passed away at 95, so I look forward to what the future brings.”