MBEP 8th Annual
State of the Region
Monterey Bay Economic Partnership’s (MBEP) 8th Annual State of the Region, on Friday, Oct. 14, brought together a cross-sector gathering of public, private and civic leaders to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing the region, from broadband infrastructure and the digital divide to affordable housing and inclusive economic recovery and development. After two years of virtual events, it was exhilarating to engage — live and in person — with nearly 300 leaders from across the tri-county region at the beautiful California State University, Monterey Bay campus.
We’re grateful to our event sponsors, our keynote speakers, panelists, and moderators, and to all of our participants for contributing to the success of our 8th Annual State of the Region. And at a moment in time where a more equitable economy is at the center of so many of our conversations, we’re particularly awed by the depth and diversity that exists across our region and within our organization, as evidenced by the representation at our State of the Region event.
Our own MBEP board members have a huge footprint across the region, and their presence — as community, educational and business leaders and voices of influence and change — was a powerful component of the conversations both on and off stage on Friday.
Check out this short video recap of MBEP’s 8th Annual State of the Region, then scroll below to view individual panel discussions and each of our guest speakers. A press release for the event can be found here.
All photos and video courtesy of Lucid Sound and Picture.
Cynthia K. Larive
Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz
President & CEO, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership
California State Senate Legislative Updates
Senator John Laird
Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz
Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC)
Housing, Homelessness, and 6th Cycle RHNA
Exploring challenges and solutions to increasing
housing production across income levels and unit types
Alyssa Kroeger (Moderator)
Director of Strategic Initiatives – Housing & Broadband, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership
Wendy Root Askew
Supervisor, Monterey County, District 4
Supervisor, San Benito County, District 1
A 20-year resident of San Benito County, Supervisor Dirks has a strong desire to see the county thrive through smart growth that will provide a place to inspire her children to raise their families there. As the current Supervisor for District 1, she continues to be committed to cultivating the aspects that make the county unique, while working to support families by increasing affordable housing, providing services to women, children and the elderly. As a working mother, former teacher and community volunteer, she brings a unique perspective and her experience as an educator, a member of the Civil Grand Jury for San Benito County, and as a volunteer with local nonprofit groups has prepared her to be a voice for families.
Executive Director, Coalition of Homeless Services Providers
Living with the Pandemic, Lessons Learned
Cynthia K. Larive (Moderator)
Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz
President and CEO, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
Rosa Vivian Fernández
President and CEO, San Benito Health Foundation
Executive Director, Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley
Federal Legislative Update
Congressman Jimmy Panetta
Congressman Jimmy Panetta proudly serves California’s 20th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. His district includes Monterey and San Benito Counties, and parts of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties.
During his time in Congress, he has fought for immigration reform, the continued protection of our pristine coastline and environment, affordable housing, accessible health care, our agriculture industry and its farmers and farmworkers, the reduction of gun violence, our military installations that are an integral part in our community and our country’s security, and the deserved and promised benefits to our veterans. Through policy implementation in Congress and service to constituents, he remains committed to being that bridge for the people of the Central Coast to the federal government and its resources.
Bay of Life: Monterey Bay
This project showcases the region’s natural richness in the context of human occupation and environmental impacts, from Native Americans to Spanish colonizers and American Settlers – and up to the present day. In Bay of Life, Lanting and Eckstrom show that the region’s natural abundance is a result of a unique mix of physical features and microclimates. The project features iconic wildlife from mountain lions and peregrine falcons to salmon, whales, and elephant seals. All surviving in a region where endangered endemic species mix with cosmopolitan migrants within a complex matrix of human activities.
Frans Lanting has been hailed as one of the great photographers of our time. His influential work appears in books, magazines, and exhibitions around the world. Lanting’s work has been commissioned frequently by National Geographic where he served as a Photographer-in-Residence.
“Frans Lanting has set the standards for a whole generation of wildlife photographers,” according the the BBC. “As a chronicler of natural history today, Frans Lanting is a singular extraordinary talent,” says Thomas Kennedy, former Director of Photography at National Geographic. “He has the mind of a scientist, the heart of a hunter, and the eyes of a poet.”
Read Lanting’s full bio here.
Read Eckstrom’s full bio here.
California Assembly Legislative Update
Assemblymember Robert Rivas
Assemblymember Robert Rivas has represented California’s 30th Assembly District since 2018. While still in his first term, in the Fall of 2020, he was appointed as Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and elected as Vice-Chair of the influential Latino Legislative Caucus. A lifelong resident of the district, Rivas served two terms on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors prior to becoming an Assemblymember.
As an Assemblymember, Rivas’ first-term legislative achievements include securing enactment of the first-in-the-nation COVID-19 Farmworker Relief Package, which included critical efforts related to agricultural workplace safety, access to PPE and testing, temporary housing, and access to healthcare and the courts. He also championed the Farmworker Housing Act, which streamlines the process to build quality housing for farmworkers and their families. He knows that safe and decent housing is essential for every Californian, and he continues to lead efforts to address the state’s housing crisis.
Building Infrastructure to Reduce the Digital Divide & Advance Economic Growth
Alexia Garcia (Moderator)
Broadband & Farmworker Housing Policy Manager, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership
Director, Business Operations & Development, Cruzio Internet
Supervisor, Monterey County, District 3
Supervisor Lopez was born and raised in Southern Monterey County. He was elected to serve on the Board of Supervisors in June of 2018 and took his Oath of Office in January of 2019. Supervisor Lopez is passionate about early childhood education, agriculture, safe roads, fair, equitable and accessible housing, and economic development, as well as equitable models of government. He currently serves on the following commissions amongst others, Natividad Medical Center Board of Trustees, LAFCO, Monterey County Cannabis Committee, the Alternative Energy and Environment Committee, Equal Opportunity Committee, Water Resources Agency Joint Boards Leadership Committee, and Urban County Standing Committee. He is also President of the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority, board member to Hartnell Foundation, Chair of the First 5 Monterey County, and Second Vice Chair of RCRC.
Legislative Advocate, Rural County Representatives of California
Founder & CEO, OKU Solutions
Regional Economic Security for All
Teresa Alvarado (Moderator)
Regional Vice President South Bay/Central Coast, PG&E
President & CEO, Bay Federal Credit Union
Carrie Birkhofer serves as President and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union since 1995. Carrie’s passion is to help the community thrive and expand economic opportunity by providing access to locally owned financial products and services. Under Carrie’s leadership, the Credit Union has grown from $70 million to over $1.6 billion in assets. She partners with the Senior Leadership Team and the volunteer Board of Directors to set and drive the vision and mission for the Credit Union and to ensure strategy is executed, all while keeping the member and employee experience forefront in the Credit Union’s actions. Since 2015, Bay Federal’s award-winning culture and service has consistently been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work and the Best Places to Bank.
Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Pacific Valley Bank
President & CEO, Santa Cruz County Bank
Regional Collaboratives Underway
Uplift Central Coast, CERF, RRT, NSF, RCC, MBHT + HTSV
President & CEO, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership
Centering Equity in Programming, Policies, and Jobs
Katy Castagna (Moderator)
President & CEO, United Way Monterey County
President & CEO, Community Foundation for San Benito County
Over the past 30 years he has worked in nonprofit development and management. Working and volunteering in education, social services and local and state wide nonprofits.
A native of Dublin, Ireland, 30+ years living on the central coast. Fortunate to have an amazing wife with two children and three grandchildren.
Senior Vice President Philanthropic Services, Community Foundation Monterey County
Chairman, Amah Mutsun Land Trust
Executive Director, First 5 Monterey County
Executive Director, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County
Regional Family Sustaining Jobs in Aviation, Ag, & Aeronautics
Executive Director & Co-Founder, Monterey Bay DART Initiative
Advancing PK-16 Educational Collaboratives
A Fireside Chat with University Presidents & Community Colleges
Matt Wetstein (Moderator)
President, Cabrillo College
President, California State University, Monterey Bay
Vanya Quiñones assumed the position of CSU Monterey Bay’s 4th President on August 15, 2022. A neurobiologist, biopsychologist and noted researcher, Quiñones has published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles. Over the course of a 20-plus-year career at the City University of New York (CUNY) – Hunter College, Quiñones served as an assistant, associate, and full professor in the Department of Psychology before being appointed to serve as the chair of the department. She was later promoted to the role of associate provost. In 2018, she was appointed to the position of provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Pace University where she also held the rank of full professor in the Department of Psychology.
Dr. Pedro Avila
Superintendent/President, Gavilan College
Superintendent/President, Hartnell College