COMMUNITY + Philanthropy in Napa Valley
Fifth Annual Philanthropy Issue
Honoring Napa’s Community Leaders
WRITTEN BY Chris Andrews


Published On: June 06, 2024
hand putting penny in jar of pennies with green plant in it that a child's hands are holding with greenery backgroun

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
–Winston Churchill

Each year, Napa Valley Life dedicates the summer issue to recognize the many people and organizations in Napa Valley who donate money, volunteer time, or advocate for a cause. Philanthropy, the act of giving back to the community, strengthens our social fabric and paves the way for a brighter future. Recognizing those who dedicate their time and resources to such causes serves a crucial purpose beyond simply expressing gratitude. It fuels the engine of philanthropy, maximizing its positive impact and hopefully inspiring others. We think it’s important to call attention to these philanthropists to help reinforce the value of their contributions—some of them significant undertakings. Doing so will motivate them to continue their work and hopefully inspire others to take the actions needed to make a difference in the community. By acknowledging their positive impacts, we hope to call attention to their vital work and perhaps play a small role in helping empower our local community to thrive.

Napa Valley Life is honored to present and show appreciation for our illustrious 2024 list of local philanthropists, their organizations, and their causes. Please join us in extending special thanks for all they do for the betterment of others.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our list of people and organizations featured in the Philanthropy feature evolves from nominations submitted to the Editors Desk. To nominate an individual or organization for consideration in the 2025 issue, please send an email with the subject line “Philanthropy Nomination 2025” to


Jane Baer

Senior VP Market Development & Signature Events, V Foundation

Jane Baer standing in doorway in navy lace dress, with arms outstretched to the sides

Jane Baer // Photo by Lowell Downey, Art + Clarity

The V Foundation was founded by North Carolina State University coach and ESPN commentator Jim Valvano. The Foundation has funded over $353 million in cancer research and cancer-related programs over the last 30 years, with 100% of the donations going directly to these programs. In distributing their grants, the Foundation uses a peer-review process, which is supervised by a scientific advisory committee. Napa Valley has been the lucky recipient of a generous amount of this money, funding the Wellness Center at the Queen of the Valley Medical Center, as well as the pathology lab there, the Atrium of Hope at St. Helena Hospital, and free cancer screenings for vineyard workers at Olé Health, among other projects. The Foundation funds 72 national cancer institutions representing the country’s top oncologists. “V Foundation is proud to fund the best of the best,” said Senior Vice President, Market Development & Signature Events, Jane Baer. “Our goal in funding top-notch cancer research is to work ourselves out of a job, to defeat cancer.”

After many years of producing high-end events and doing luxury travel and hotel management, Baer has devoted the last 23 years to creating compelling celebrations for the V Foundation, events that bring together top oncologists, vintners, donors, and sponsors, the goal of which is to fight cancer as a team. Her highly successful events have brought in millions for the cause.

In 2023 alone, the “V Foundation Wine Celebration” raised $21 million toward cancer therapeutic research. The Celebration included 600 guests, who, throughout the weekend, attended “Dinner With The Docs,” “Rock the V Party,” the “Answer for Cancer Symposium,” and the “Gala Dinner and Auction.” These star-studded events were hosted by Craig and Kathryn Hall, Spottswoode Family Wine Estate, and Nickel and Nickel Winery. Since 1999, these 3-day Wine Celebration events have taken place in Napa Valley, benefitting the region in many ways, with the money raised not only impacting the valley’s cancer programs but programs all over the country. // //


Sonya DeLuca

Executive Director & CEO, Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation

Sonya DeLuca in naby shirt with red flowers, smiling

Sonya DeLuca // Photo by Jessica Fix

The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation is one of the valley’s most valuable resources in supporting the workers who do the hard work that has made Napa Valley what it is today – one of the world’s top winegrowing regions. Through the Foundation’s connection to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, the work of the Foundation blends with and supports the wineries and vineyards that employ these workers.

The Foundation’s educational programs, for which it is renowned, include adult literacy, viticulture and safety, leadership and management, mentorship, and family programs. The viticulture program provides opportunities for workers to expand their skill set, allowing them to bring more advanced techniques to their place of employment and thus improving their chances for career advancement. With a similar goal of providing skills for professional growth are programs in leadership and management training and the mentorship program. The Fields of Opportunity program allows high school students to explore the full gamut of winery-related positions, from viticulture and irrigation to hospitality, wine production, and office and administrative work, encouraging the next generation to keep their talents in the valley and the local wine industry. Finally, the Foundation’s family programs are designed to help workers navigate educational opportunities in the U.S. to ensure a secure future for their children.

Sonya DeLuca, the Foundation’s Executive Director and CEO, said, “Education is the great equalizer. Our goal is to provide farmworkers with the skills they need to realize their full potential.” And she noted, “What is good for the workers is ultimately good for the wineries and everyone in our community.” Currently, the Foundation’s efforts impact over 3500 farmworkers and their families. The Foundation’s new goal is to expand its reach to 9000 workers, and it is seeking partners who can help make this dream a reality. //


Randy Dunn

Farmer, Winemaking Pioneer, Environmental Activist

Randy Dunn in green shirt wearing a brown hat with hand on a wheel

Randy Dunn // Photo by Chester Cooley Photography

Randy Dunn began his career in winemaking as the first enologist for Caymus Vineyards, acting as their winemaker from 1975 to 1985. Dunn would go on to establish his own winery, Dunn Vineyards, in 1978, with the purchase of a 14-acre property in Angwin. In 1983, Dunn, along with Bill Smith and several other winemakers and grape growers, was also instrumental in establishing Howell Mountain as an AVA. However, Dunn’s greatest contributions to Napa County have come about through his relentless environmental activism and his substantial financial and political contributions toward causes for preserving open spaces. Dunn noted, “When wealthy developers come into the valley and imagine they can do whatever they please, they find me stirring things up, and they start asking, ‘Who is this Dunn guy?’”

Dunn has accomplished more than stirring the pot when it comes to conservation – he has put his money where his mouth is, so to speak, starting with his and wife Lori’s gifting of the development rights for their 64 acres on Sentinel Hill to the Land Trust of Napa County. But most remarkable has been Dunn’s work in acquiring Wildlake, a pastoral 3000-acre property on Howell Mountain that helps protect Bell Canyon Creek. This creek is vitally important, as it provides the drinking water for St. Helena. Dunn personally donated $5 million to the cause and helped raise another $20 million to make this purchase possible. This property was subsequently donated to the Land Trust of Napa County, the largest contribution of its kind in the Trust’s history.

Dunn’s activism continues to this day and on many fronts, from his recent advocacy of Measure C in unison with other prominent vintners, namely Warren Winiarski and Andy Beckstoffer, to his taking on issues with CalFire to collaborations with the Center for Biological Diversity in tracking practices causing environmental harm. Dunn’s forward-thinking activism is good not just for the environment but also for the long-term future of Napa County. //


Blanca Huijon

Executive Director, Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center

Blanca Huijon in front of exterior window and greenery wearing a light pink blazer and black shirt, smiling

Blanca Huijon // Photo by Gavin Armendariz from Valley Media Marketing

Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center’s success has as much to do with Blanca Huijon’s passion for her work as it does with her compassion for those whose needs she serves. Huijon came to her calling as a community leader in 2007 when she served as a school advisor for Migrant Education at Silverado Middle School and Vintage High School. In 2010, Huijon went on to take a position with Puertas Abiertas as a case mentor, a position she proudly held for nine years. In 2019, the opportunity presented itself for Huijon to become the agency’s executive director, and both her work experience and education made her the ideal candidate.

Huijon points out that 34.7% of Napa County’s population is Latinx. She noted, “It is incumbent upon us to provide cultural access to this population so they can thrive. When they do well, it improves the quality of life for all in our community.” Puertas Abiertas’ goals are simple but important – to work toward building community, to help immigrants get residency and citizenship, and to connect those who need it with tools for achieving self-sufficiency. While Puertas Abiertas provides many services, its greatest strength comes through collaboration with community partners such as Redwood Credit Union, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, and the Napa Valley Community Foundation, to name but a few.

Puertas Abiertas’ support for the Latinx community and anyone else seeking assistance is tangible and transformative. They provide educational tools for self-sufficiency, skill evaluations for job placement, resources for healing from the trauma associated with the immigration process, and connections to those who can assist with housing, legal aid, disaster relief, and more. As Huijon emphasized, “Our current focus is on expanding programs that address mental health, trauma, and cultural healing. We hope for the support of compassionate donors who understand the urgency and importance of these initiatives.” //


Drene Johnson

Executive Director, Community Action of Napa Valley

Drena Johnson in front of table with floral arrangement in orange and yellow vase, wearing a dark blazer, white shirt, smiling

Drene Johnson

Of any organization in the region, Community Action of Napa Valley stands out in several ways, namely in the number of people whose lives are impacted each month – 14,000 – and because over 80% of their funding comes from the community, while only 20% of their budget is derived from grants and state money. This impressive show of force amongst the citizens and businesses of Napa County is an indicator of how caring the community is. In addition, there are over 250 neighbors who regularly do volunteer work in the way of picking up, organizing, and distributing food on behalf of CANV’s many food programs.

CANV’s work is vital to Napa Valley. It includes not only the food bank but also the free produce markets, the Silver Fox Senior Food Boxes, the USDA distribution program, Meals on Wheels, disaster preparedness services, and CANV’s high-quality, affordable childcare program. CANV singlehandedly ensures that no one in Napa County suffers from food insecurity.

CANV’s Executive Director, Drene Johnson, could not be more proud of her organization, her staff, and those who volunteer. She is also proud of the food partners who give so generously to CANV programs each week: Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Lucky, Safeway, Raley’s, and more. May 7, 2024, was the ribbon-cutting and open house for the new CANV Food Bank, which has moved into a well-appointed space at 938 Kaiser Rd. in Napa. Johnson had this to say about the new facility: “Even if you are not in need of our services at this time, we encourage you to come and see this beautiful new food bank. The new space provides those who would use our services with an enjoyable ‘shopping’ experience, and we have all of Napa Valley to thank for making this a reality. We truly value you!” //


Mark and Mona Leonardi

Co-Founders, Michael Leonardi Foundation

Mark and Mona Leonardi sitting on a park bench with a young boy hugging Marks' neck and young woman standing behind them holding a framed photograph

Mark and Mona Leonardi and family // Photo by Art & Clarity

On February 24, 2020, Mark and Mona Leonardi received the news no parent ever wants to hear: their 20-year-old son, Michael, had passed away. Michael had ingested what he thought to be Percocet but which was, in fact, Fentanyl. Michael readily found this pill for sale on Snapchat, where there is little or no monitoring of drug traffickers. So that other young people and those who love them might avoid experiencing such a tragic event, the Leonardis created the Michael Leonardi Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the growing problem of fake prescription pills and illicit Fentanyl.

The Leonardis work tirelessly to spread awareness of this growing problem. Illegal Fentanyl is inexpensive, readily available, and easy to “package” as a prescription drug. The Leonardis regularly put on events in Napa and Santa Barbara, where their son had been at college. They do presentations at schools, clubs, civic events, and fraternities. Some events feature music and their message, while others feature well-known speakers. The focus of the organization is to get the word out on the dangers of fake prescription pills and Fentanyl and to bring this message to young people between the ages of 13 and 24 and their parents. Mark Leonardi, emphasizing the extent of the crisis, noted, “There are no longer any real prescription drugs for sale on the street – all of them are fake. And of those, nearly 70% are laced with Fentanyl and potentially lethal.” Mona Leonardi added, “There is an urgent need to get our message out there. Nearly 79,000 people died of fentanyl poisoning in 2023 alone.” Another facet of the Leonardis’ work is normalizing the presence of Narcan in public places and making it readily available in Napa County.

The Leonardis’ work is highly impactful to the youth of Napa County, and they would like to keep up the pace of their many events and to be able to distribute Narcan freely. To this end, they are seeking partners to fund these endeavors and an administrator, which would enable them to expand their educational outreach. //


Ikimi Dubose-Woodson and Carlton McCoy, Jr.

CEO and Co-Founder, The Roots Fund | Board Member and Co-Founder, The Roots Fund

Headshot of Ikimi Dubose-Woodson seated with her hand under her chin andCarlton McCoy, Jr. holding a glass of red wine

Ikimi Dubose-Woodson and Carlton McCoy, Jr. of The Roots Fund // Left photo courtesy of the Root Fund, right photo by Alexander Rubin

Ikimi Debose-Woodson describes herself as a hospitality changemaker, in addition to her role as the chief executive of The Root Fund, a nonprofit organization committed to helping people of color gain access to the wine industry. As CEO, Debose-Woodson oversees the organization’s highly effective scholarship program. Growing up in Brooklyn, Debose-Woodson learned the value of scholarship programs as a recipient of a C-CAP scholarship, which landed her a first job at the prestigious World Trade Center Marriott. Debose-Woodson would go on to attend Johnson & Wales, the Marriott and Ritz Carlton Management Training Program, and later the Nonprofit Executive Leadership program at Georgetown University. Debose-Woodson noted, “I want the wine industry to thrive, and that is best done by creating an inclusive workforce and generally through inclusive business practices. The Root Fund is about making that happen.”

Carlton McCoy Jr., a Co-Founder of The Root Fund, is a force to be reckoned with. He is the CEO and Managing Partner at Lawrence Estates and made history in 2013 as the second African American to earn the prestigious title of Master Sommelier at age 28. His impressive career includes stints at renowned establishments such as Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit, Tom Colicchio’s Craft Steak in New York, The Little Nell in Aspen, and as President and CEO of Heitz Cellar.

The Root Fund’s impact is far-reaching, with nearly half of its $2.5M in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) scholarship dollars supporting programs in Napa Valley. The organization’s comprehensive programs provide scholarship funds for attendance at elite oenology and viticulture institutions, mentors to guide the scholars, and career placement services. The Root Fund’s ultimate goal is to ensure the success of individuals from the BIPOC community who aspire to make their mark in the wine industry, instilling a sense of hope and optimism in the industry’s future. //


Marita Musante

President of the Board, Moving Forward Toward Independence

Marita Musante in green "Moving Forward" tshirt standing in front of tree, smiling

Marita Musante

Marita Musante is passionate about her work with Moving Forward Toward Independence, partly because the young people whose needs it serves include someone close to her heart: her own son. Musante knows full well the challenges and tribulations faced by those in the neurodivergent community, and she is enthusiastic about her quest to help them achieve a high quality of life.

Moving Forward Towards Independence’s programs are designed to help neurodiverse adults live as independently as possible, and this includes anyone on the autism spectrum, those with Down Syndrome and Lennox Gastuat Syndrome, and those with an intellectual disability or any other number of learning differences. MFTI’s program assists residents and their families in finding living situations where there is a system in place that matches the needs of the neurodiverse client and supports them in their journey toward independence.

The organization’s goals include helping individuals achieve their highest potential, creating a safe but stimulating environment, and providing ongoing support. This is done through MFTI’s three-tier transitional living program, which fosters social, vocational, and independent living skills and sets up individualized living situations that participants can rely on for the duration of their lives.

Participants in the program are not just beneficiaries; they are integral members of the Napa Valley community. One can spot them around town, engaging in activities that contribute to the community’s well-being. They are making a difference from trash cleanup to working at local animal shelters and businesses like the Meritage Resort, Trader Joe’s, Eikos Sushi, and Kohl’s. Marita Musante emphasized, “Our needs in the way of community support are many and diverse, ranging from transportation to making connections with potential partners, and of course, financial support to enhance and expand our programs.” //


Wendi Moore

Napa Community Engagement Manager, Abode Services

Wendi Moore standing in front of a wooden fence and greenery, outside, wearing glasses, smiling

Wendi Moore

Abode Service’s mission is to bring dignity to those in need of a home. Since 2017, they have provided emergency shelter, housing support, and rental assistance, and they have created and managed affordable housing options for residents of Napa County. Abode assists low-income, unhoused individuals find stable housing that supports their needs.

Abode’s principles differ from those of many other agencies – it’s a “Housing First” method designed to resolve the causes of homelessness by providing a low-barrier approach – i.e., no drug testing, and residents are allowed to bring in pets and some possessions. Goal #1 is housing and stabilizing individuals and families, then connecting them to the resources needed to resolve the root causes of their homelessness permanently. Wendi Moore, Abode’s Community Engagement Coordinator, noted the importance of networking with other agencies in the quest to resolve homelessness, namely those that provide mental health and medical services and that help residents achieve self-sufficiency. Abode also networks with groups that offer pet support and that provide phones, among other services.

Moore noted that “Simply providing housing is not enough. Many have had multiple traumas in their lives, and the process of moving into housing can be overwhelming.” To this end, Abode works to provide residents with the basic supplies that will make them feel at home in their new space. There is always a need for volunteers and donors to provide and assemble the supplies in Abode’s “Welcome Home Move-In Kits.” In addition to welcome kits and contributing donation dollars directly to Abode, other meaningful contributions can come about in the way of gift cards for gas, groceries, and stores where work clothes and housewares can be purchased. Also helpful are contributions to the Housing Stabilization Fund, which defray the one-time costs inherent in moving into a new home and returning to work life: application fees, background checks, charges for a notary, green cards, replacement IDs, birth certificates, marriage licenses, and more. For those considering contributing to Abode Services, Moore encourages scheduling a visit to the facility to see all they do. //


Maury Robertson

Executive Director, Rianda House

Maury Robertson of Rianda House, standing outside, near tree, wearing navy vest over blue shirt, smiling

Maury Robertson of Rianda House

Rianda House is the realization of Gunilda Rianda’s dream: to provide a place for seniors to gather to find fulfillment and good health. “Jean,” in her will, stipulated that her home on Main Street in St. Helena be used to serve seniors. Jean had been a nurse for 25 years and a real estate agent for 20. She knew her community well and believed there was a need for a place for seniors in the upper valley to gather and take part in meaningful and healthful activities. Rianda House Senior Activity Center opened its doors in 2008 and has become that place. One only has to check out their monthly calendar of activities to appreciate their rich and varied offerings, which include writing classes, hikes, exercise classes, and other wellness-related activities, as well as dancing, card groups, social activities, and various support groups.

Executive Director Maury Robertson brings his many skills and decades of related experience to Rianda House, including his creative talents, which are evident in the center’s incredible lineup of activities. In previous incarnations, Robertson headed a thriving church in Yuba City, served the homeless in Seattle, and most recently had been working with the Vashon Island Growers Association. Amanda Cole, the Program Manager for Rianda House, brings to the center her experience working with the San Rafael YMCA, where she was their wellness coordinator. Robin McGuire, Program Coordinator, came out of retirement to be part of the Rianda team, bringing skills from her work with Frontier Airlines, the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce, the Food Pantry, and Adventist Health.

Robertson noted, “It is important for all who live in the valley to express gratitude to the seniors in our community – these are the people who built the valley, whose hard work has resulted in this wonderful place we live in. A good way to do that is by donating to programs that enrich their lives.” //


Dario Sattui


Dario Sattui standing with arms crossed in front of wooden gate, wearing olive green suite jacket, white pocket square, smiling

Dario Sattui // Photo courtesy of Castello di Amorosa

Dario Sattui is one of Napa Valley’s most recognizable personalities, with his two top-rated and successful wineries, V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amorosa. A descendant of Italian immigrants, Sattui was born in San Francisco and raised there and in Marin County. Sattui had always been fascinated by his great-grandfather’s winery in San Francisco and dreamt of reviving it when he grew up. In 1975, Sattui achieved this dream, opening V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, a unique property with the feel of an Italian village. Sattui would go on to build yet another winery with an even more intriguing design – a medieval castle, Castello di Amorosa. Both wineries have brought Sattui great success and profit, which he now generously shares with his community of Napa Valley and beyond.

Sattui is known for saying, “Tis better to give than receive,” and he is one for following his own advice. Most recently, Sattui gave $1 million to build a preschool in Calistoga, donated $2.5 million to the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco for heart disease research, and $200,000 to UCSF for the same. Sattui is especially proud of his $1.6 million donation toward building a new facility for the Boys and Girls Club of Calistoga and for other sizeable contributions toward improvements in his Calistoga community, including funding for the Calistoga Public Swimming Pool and Calistoga Park. Furthermore, Sattui has financially supported Napa Valley Hospice, Hands Across the Valley, the Napa Land Trust, Jameson Animal Rescue, Napa Wildlife Rescue, and Festival Napa Valley. And generously, Sattui has signed easements with the Napa County Land Trust stipulating that nearly 700 acres of his land never be developed.

Sattui wishes that others would follow his example and experience the joy of giving back to this wonderful community, Napa Valley. // //


Maria Manetti Shrem

Benefactor, Manetti Shrem Challenge for Festival Napa Valley

Maria Manetti Shrem headshot with white background, wearing black blazer, gold necklace, smiling

Maria Manetti Shrem // Photo by JHFair

Born in Florence, Maria Manetti Shrem moved to San Francisco in 1972. Ms. Manetti Shrem was key to bringing iconic fashion brands, such as Gucci and Fendi, to the international market under the umbrella brand of Menetti Farrow.

Ms. Manetti Shrem and her husband, Jan Shrem, have long contributed to educational institutions, fine arts and performing arts organizations, medical research, and nonprofit cultural organizations internationally. The Manetti Shrems currently support over 30 charities, including the Metropolitan Opera of New York, The San Francisco Opera and Symphony, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, KQED, and Festival Napa Valley, to name but a few.

Ms. Manetti Shrem has received numerous awards and recognition for her work as a cultural ambassador who has strengthened ties between the United States and Italy, California, and Tuscany, and the San Francisco Bay Area with Florence, Italy. In 2019, Sergio Mattarella, the President of Italy, bestowed upon Ms. Manetti Shrem the title of “Grand Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy.” Also of note, in 2022, she was awarded “The Keys to the City of Florence” by the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, for being an inspiring role model of patronage in the legacy of the Medicis. Also in 2022, Maria and Jan were the inaugural recipients of “The Angels of the Arts Award,” Festival Napa Valley’s highest honor. At the same event, Mayor London Breed of San Francisco proclaimed June 22, Manetti Shrem Day, in recognition of the couple’s dedication to philanthropy.

On November 9, 2023, Festival Napa Valley announced the Manetti Shrem Challenge, a $3 million matching gift from Ms. Manetti Shrem, intended to inspire new giving to the Festival and to act as a catalyst in growing the Festival’s year-round programming, educational initiatives, and its scholarship programs. //


Monica Stevens and David Stevens

Co-Founders, Jameson Humane (formerly Jameson Animal Rescue)

Monica and David Stevens seated on a porch with an orange and white dot

Monica and David Stevens // Photo by Sally Seymour

One would be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive program that promotes animal welfare than found at Jameson Humane. Jameson Humane, formerly Jameson Animal Rescue, is exceptional in every way, from the passion and hard work of husband-and-wife team and co-founders, the late David Stevens and Monica Stevens, to the breadth and quality of the programs they offer to their army of volunteers and the generous contributions the community has made in supporting their work. As Stevens has often said, “Napa Valley people take care of their own. For many of us, wine and animals – that is our lives, a bond we share.”

Jameson Humane does so much more than rescue animals. Their programs impact all people with animals in their lives, not only in Napa County but also in the five-collar counties. Jameson provides a myriad of services, from adoption and animal assistance programs to fostering animals and the Senior Citizen Pet Wellness program. Jameson offers disaster preparedness programs, low-cost spaying and neutering, and animal care for unhoused or low-income owners. Training and behavior classes are also available, as is grief support for those who have lost a pet to illness or old age.

To continue their critical work, Jameson Humane hosts an annual fundraiser, WineaPAWlooza, which raises millions each year. In looking to the future, the non-profit envisions a state-of-the-art sustainable sanctuary and a special communication and disaster response system. For those interested in supporting Jameson’s work, know that volunteering at the ranch and fostering animals is as important to their cause as financial contributions.

Sadly, David Stevens passed away on November 12, 2023. His great animal advocacy legacy will continue in all the excellent work done at Jameson Humane. And Stevens’ bass playing with his beloved band, WRISTROCKET, will be greatly missed at this year’s WineaPAWlooza. //


Jennifer Stewart

Executive Director, Napa Valley Education Foundation

Jennifer Stewart of Napa Valley Education Foundation seated on school desk with open book in brightly colored classroom, smiling

Jennifer Stewart of Napa Valley Education Foundation // Photo by Mario Piombo

Napa Valley Education Foundation seeks to support Napa County schools by funding programs that promote college and career readiness, youth wellness, innovative teaching, and opportunities in music.

Executive Director Jennifer Stewart is well-equipped to support the schools throughout Napa County and the community where she grew up. Steward is a graduate of the Napa schools and of the University of California Santa Barbara, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in public administration. Stewart is committed to building support systems for the NVUSD to help its students graduate with the tools needed to succeed in college and life.

NVEF provides funding for numerous programs, including the School Wellness Centers that are now on all Napa County public school campuses, the Crisis Response Project for times of disaster, mentor and internship programs through over 300 local businesses, and the Music Connection, which provides over 900 rental instruments to students in the county with rates adjusted to meet their ability to pay. Especially impressive is NapaLearns, a program that offers seed money for innovative teaching projects, plus tuition fellowships for 200+ Napa Valley educators as they work toward master’s degrees at Touro University.

NVEF programs impact 20,000 students and 1000 educators in the Napa Valley Unified School District, St. Helena Unified School District, Calistoga Joint Unified School District, Howell Mountain Elementary School District, Pope Valley Union Elementary School District, and Napa County Office of Education.

Those who wish to get involved in creating opportunities for the students of Napa Valley can participate in the Foundation’s engaging fundraising events or may contribute directly on its website. The Foundation is also looking for corporate and business partners who can contribute to career readiness programs, both with funding and opportunities. //


Elyse Walker

CEO, Stylist, Philanthropist

Elyse Walker standing in front of light blue wall, with hand on her hip, wearing glasses

Elyse Walker // Photo courtesy of elysewalker

Influential fashion retailer Elyse Walker opened her first store in Pacific Palisades in 1999 and has not looked back – subsequently opening elysewalker stores in Newport Beach, Calabasas, St. Helena, CA, and Tribeca, NY. Add to this the launch of in 2022, which brings a curated lineup of designers and styling services to the digital arena.

In 2019, Walker moved to Napa Valley with husband David. Prior to her arrival to the area, she had long been involved with fundraising and philanthropy, in part spurred by her mother’s passing from stage four ovarian cancer. Walker launched her first “Pink Party” events in 2004 and over 10 years, raised more than $11.7 million in support of the Cedars-Sinai Women’s Cancer Program. In 2021, Walker joined the board at the St. Helena Hospital Foundation. Through connections there, she launched her first Rockout/Knockout Cancer event in St. Helena in 2022, bringing in over $1.4 million. The next Rockout/Knockout event in 2023 was hosted by actress Jennifer Garner and brought in $1 million for a grand total of $2.4 million raised within two years.

Proceeds from these events are used to provide free Galleri early cancer detection testing to Napa County Firefighters and to fund an innovative pilot program that provides Galleri cancer tests to Napa County agricultural workers. The Galleri test can detect 50+ cancers and is especially valuable for those exposed to carcinogens in their professions. Walker also provides funding to the Martin-O’Neill Cancer Center at Adventist Health in St. Helena, ensuring top-notch cancer care is readily available in Napa Valley. Walker emphasized, “My goal is to provide education and free cancer testing for those who most need it and contribute significantly to our community.” //


Warren Winiarski

Winemaker, Preservationist, Philanthropist

Warren Winiarski wearing a light blue button down shirt and glasses, looking and holding up a glass of red wine

Warren Winiarski // Photo by Bob McClenahan

Warren Winiarski’s name indeed foretold the legend he would become, not only in Napa Valley but as an international celebrity in the wine world. “Winiarski,” in Polish, translates to “from wine” or “from a winemaker,” and that is the path he settled on in 1964 when he drove his family to Napa Valley to begin a new life, subsequently convincing Lee Stewart of Souverain Cellars to hire him as an apprentice at his winery. Winiarski would go on to work with Robert Mondavi as an assistant winemaker, and in 1970, with a group of partners, purchased a ranch that sat below the Stag’s Leap Palisades, a natural monument that would become the namesake for his label of renown, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Within just a few years, in 1976, international fame came to Winiarski in the way of a bottle of his 1973 Stag’s Leap Vineyard’s Cabernet Sauvignon taking first place in the 1976 Judgment of Paris. A bottle of this same vintage is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

 Both preservation and philanthropy have been high priorities for Winiarski and his family over the last 50 years. In the early days of this work, the Winiarskis were some of the most vocal advocates for the Agricultural Preserve, a movement designed to protect the Valley’s agricultural riches from urban sprawl. The family would go on to advocate for additional measures that protected Napa Valley’s rural ambiance, including their donation of 200 acres to the Land Trust of Napa County.

Much of Warren Winiarski’s philanthropy lies in preserving the intangible – the traditions and culture that have made wine a part of American heritage. His generous gift for the UC Davis Wine Writer Collections is a testament to this commitment. This program aims to build a definitive collection of wine writers’ works and papers, which are then housed at the Peter J. Shields Library at the University of California Davis. Through this endeavor, Winiarski has ensured that the rich history and knowledge of wine is not lost but continues to inspire and inform future generations.

Most recently, Winiarski and his late wife, Barbara, made a $4 million endowment to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to establish a permanent curator for food and wine history. This bequest came 25 years after the Winiarski’s initial funding to the museum for research and establishing a collection related to the history of American wines and winemaking. Additionally, only two weeks before Barbara Winiarski’s death, the Winiarski Family Foundation gifted $5.1 million to the Queen of the Valley Foundation to fund the Warren and Barbara Winiarski Stroke and Diagnostics Center. //

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