Central Coast Climate Action Summit Recap

Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, Greenpower, CSU Monterey Bay, The Central Coast Climate Collaborative, and CA Green Business Network presented this business session as part of their Climate Summit Series.

This business track featured state policy leaders who provided an update on climate-related legislation, its implications on businesses and the overall economy, and the solutions needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

We heard directly from business leaders on how they are adapting to current health, economic and environmental challenges, reshaping their systems, and operationalizing sustainability and social equity while meeting their bottom line and state and company climate goals. Five of some of the region’s largest industries were represented on the panel: healthcare, construction, housing, education, and agriculture/manufacturing. 

Resources that were shared in ‘chat’:

Academic Session Executive Summary

Living Community Challenge

CSUMB Inclusive Sustainability Plan 

Santa Cruz’s Innovative Sea Level Rise Planning Engagement

Grid Alternatives

Build it Green

U.S. Green Building Council

Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program 

Green Business Recognition and Mixer


Speaker Bios


 Robert Rivas                                                                                                                                                                     Assemblymember

Assemblymember Robert Rivas has represented California’s 30th Assembly District since 2018. A lifelong resident of the district, Rivas served two terms on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors prior to becoming an Assemblymember. In his first term, in September 2020, Rivas was appointed Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

Kate Gordon                                                                                                                                                        Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and Senior Advisor to the Governor on Climate

Kate Gordon has spent the past two decades working at the intersection of climate change, energy policy, and economic development. Gordon was appointed Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and Senior Advisor to the Governor on Climate by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 7, 2019. Trained as a community organizer, and later in law and regional economic development, her focus has long been on bringing diverse groups together to work toward a more sustainable, inclusive economy. Prior to being appointed OPR Director, Gordon was the founding director of the Risky Business Project, which focused on quantifying the economic impacts of climate change on U.S. energy demand, crop yields, and coastal infrastructure as well as on human health and mortality. As part of this work, Gordon consulted numerous investors and corporations on strategies to reduce climate risks across investments and assets, and also served as a co-author on the Fourth National Climate Assessment’s chapter on “Reducing Risks Through Adaptation Actions.”


 Rosa Vivian Fernández, MPH, FACHE, CEC                                                                                         President & Chief Executive Officer, San Benito Health Foundation, MBEP Board Member

Rosa Vivian Fernández is the President and Chief Executive Officer of San Benito Health Foundation (SBHF), a non-profit community health care organization serving the San Benito County for over 40 years. She has been the President and CEO for thirteen years. Under her direction, SBHF serves more than 10,000 individuals annually at the main clinic in Hollister and the new satellite mobile unit, providing preventative and comprehensive medical, dental, vision, mental health, and health education services. In addition, Ms. Fernandez oversees a WIC program serving 2,100 women and children.

Jon Erskine                                                                                                                                                    Director of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Granite Rock

Jon Erskine is Graniterock’s Director of Geological and Environmental Sciences.  He has a master’s degree in Earth Science from UCSC and has been at Graniterock since 2008.  He is part of its Granitegreen Team developing green concrete mixes using locally-sourced aggregate and cement replacement alternatives to significantly reduce greenhouse gas impacts.  He is responsible for Graniterock’s Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) which provide an environmental “nutrition label” of sorts listing each product’s environmental impacts for key metrics including greenhouse gases.  He was also responsible for implementing key green energy projects at several Graniterock branches including a 1MW solar array at its AR Wilson Quarry in Aromas, as well as a (near) net-zero energy efficiency building upgrade using smart HVAC technologies, window films and rooftop solar array installation at its Corporate Office in Watsonville.  Several other projects are in the works!

Alfred Diaz-Infante, President & CEO of CHISPA, MBEP Board Member

Alfred Diaz-Infante is the President & CEO of Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc., (CHISPA) and CHISPA Housing Management, Inc. (CHMI). He serves on the board of Housing California and the California Coalition for Rural Housing. He also serves as a trustee of several local nonprofit and educational institution boards, including Big Sur Land Trust, Hartnell College Foundation, York School, and Salinas Regional Sports Authority. Mr. Diaz-Infante served on the Monterey County Planning Commission from 1993-1998. He is the recipient of the 2003 Distinguished Fellow Award from California State University Monterey Bay for his work in Community and Public Service, 2015 Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award, and 2018 Hartnell College Foundation Leadership Award. Mr. Diaz-Infante received an MBA degree from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley and BS degree in Finance from California State University, Sacramento.

Ellen Vaughan, Water & Climate Action Manager, UC Santa Cruz Sustainability Office

Ellen Vaughan studied business and forestry at Virginia Tech before receiving her Masters in Environmental Policy at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry. She has worked as a Global Warming Field Organizer for Greenpeace in Washington, DC, the Director of Sustainability for the Syracuse Center for Excellence, and on water and energy nexus issues for the Public Counsel of the Rockies in Aspen, CO. Ellen found her true calling in higher education in beautiful Flagstaff, AZ where she worked as Northern Arizona University’s Sustainability Manager for five years. Currently, when she’s not at the dog beach, she’s working as the Water & Climate Action Manager for UCSC’s Sustainability Office.

Gun Ruder, President and CEO, S. Martinelli & Company 

Gun is President and CEO at S. Martinelli & Company and is driving its business growth for the future. He brings a wealth of knowledge and diverse business background to the position. Gun holds an MBA from Stanford University and is a cum laude graduate of Georgetown University.