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Seven Leaders Join Valley Vision Board in 2021

I am thrilled to share the news that seven truly outstanding local leaders have joined our organization’s Board of Directors in recent months, each who uniquely compliments Valley Vision’s core focus areas of workforce, innovation, food systems, civic engagement, and healthy communities. These individuals join an already impressive slate of directors who are committed to helping build a better future for our region.

Valley Vision is a unique organization with a special purpose: to make our communities the most livable in the nation. That’s why our board is composed of a diverse set of dynamic leaders who rely on Valley Vision’s independent research to identify current and future opportunities and to help solve complicated issues affecting quality of life through regional action. Their priority is to place the region’s future first and I am pleased to introduce you to them.

Meet Valley Vision’s 2021 slate of board members:

Chelsea Minor is Corporate Director of Public Affairs for Raley’s, an innovative, regional, family-owned grocery chain with stores founded and headquartered in Sacramento that operates stores across Northern California and Nevada. Chelsea is Raley’s lead spokesperson and oversees the company’s public affairs and brand reputation strategies. Her breadth of knowledge and industry connections will be instrumental in guiding Valley Vision’s important work in the food system space.

Clay Nutting is the owner and operator of Canon, among only a small handful of local restaurants recognized last year in California’s Michelin Guide. Clay co-founded a grassroots effort called Family Meal at the onset of the pandemic, which involved over two-dozen local and independent restaurants that provided over 250,000 meals to vulnerable residents across Sacramento County. His efforts in the community centered on food insecurity are tightly aligned with Valley Vision’s food insecurity and food equity strategies.

Gina Lujan is a social entrepreneur with 28 years of experience focused on building community, business development, innovation, strategy, and economic development. She co-founded Sacramento’s Hacker Lab in 2012, one of the city’s first local maker and coworking spaces that supports innovation through community-driven education and maintains a commitment to tangible access for all. Gina’s energetic entrepreneurial spirit and passion for education, opportunity, and advancement within underserved communities gives Valley Vision’s board a means for broader conversations and planning for strategies that support vulnerable populations.

James Jordan is a seasoned public service leader with a career in the transportation industry that spans over 25 years. He currently serves in the Federal Railroad Administration as Railroad Administrator and is responsible for the safety and operational oversight for every commuter railway located west of the Mississippi River. As an integral leader in the FRA, James works with the US Department of Transportation to promote and enforce safety throughout the U.S., including the rehabilitation of rail passenger services, supporting research and development, and advancing transportation for passengers and the general public. James’ boundary-breaking leadership at the FRA as well as his long-term commitment to the Sacramento region will support Valley Vision’s mission of equity, prosperity, and sustainability.

Jeff Dorso is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the Sacramento Kings, overseeing all legal and real estate development-related matters for the Sacramento Kings and its related companies, including the LEED Platinum Golden 1 Center, all real estate and media holdings, Sacramento Kings Guard (the NBA 2K eSports team), the Sacramento Kings Foundation, and the Stockton Kings (the NBA G League team). Jeff’s leadership in shaping development in Sacramento as well as his action-oriented mindset will help push Valley Vision towards effective and responsive action that supports the prosperity of our region.

John Costa, Senior Manager of Government Relations & Local Public Affairs for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Company in Northern California, works with community leaders and organizations throughout California, supporting PG&E lines of business and overseeing the day-to-day operations of various projects and company initiatives. John’s long history of engagement with government agencies and community based organizations as well as his commitment to healthy and sustainable communities will help Valley Vision support clean and sustainable communities for our region.

Michael Lynch, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Improve Your Tomorrow, is a social entrepreneur and certified professional fundraiser. As Valley Vision continues to seek workforce development solutions that answer a growing inequity gap across our most vulnerable communities, Michael’s work to improve academic outcomes for “at-promise” young people and transform systems that have historically failed communities of color will be especially valuable.

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!


Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Chief Executive Officer.

Air Quality Data Now Monitored in Sacramento Frontline Neighborhoods

Over 20 air quality monitors being installed on rooftops by community groups in North Sacramento and Oak Park to collect needed data.

SACRAMENTO, CA – JUNE 29, 2021: Efforts to advance environmental justice for frontline Sacramento neighborhoods reached an important milestone with the launch today of a new public data portal that offers live readings from more than 20 rooftop solar-powered air quality monitors. The equipment is part of a larger grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), awarded in 2020 to the Sacramento Neighborhoods Activating on Air Quality coalition (SNAAQ).

“Sacramento suffers from serious air quality and public health challenges,” said Patrick Guild, Chief Operating Officer of Breathe California Sacramento Region. “But there are some neighborhoods like North Sacramento and Oak Park that have long been air monitoring ‘deserts’ and we have very little understanding of how poor the air quality may be for residents living in those communities.”

CARB’s Community Air Protection program is meant to help residents of high pollution-burden communities better understand air quality conditions at a block-by-block level and to address environmental injustices. The rooftop monitors measure particulate matter (PM 2.5) and NOx, two types of pollution that cause adverse health impacts that disproportionately fall on communities of color who generally live where pollution concentrations are highest. The new air monitoring equipment is now collecting and transferring data to a public portal, giving residents and advocates a much better understanding of the conditions in these neighborhoods. The data will be evaluated and ultimately will help residents determine future actions and needed investments.

“I think about the generations before and after me, from a researcher’s point of view, and I wonder how many have asthma, allergies, and other health conditions based on factors from their zip codes,” said Nykchasia S. Scott, MSSW, a North Sacramento resident and part of the all-resident committee who determined air monitor locations.

The SNAAQ coalition is comprised of area nonprofits Valley Vision, WALKSacramento, Breathe California Sacramento Region, and Green Tech Education, in partnership with neighborhood residents and clean air advocates who are working together to identify priorities for action that could likely include securing additional funding for clean air projects in our local communities and advocating for new statewide policies and regulations that reduce air pollution.

“This project is fundamentally about ensuring that all residents in our communities are afforded the basic rights to live, work, go to school, play, and pray in a safe, healthy, and clean environment,” said Kiara Reed, Executive Director of WALKSacramento. “We are providing the tools and information that these frontline communities need to adequately and proactively address air quality concerns in their own neighborhoods.”

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About Valley Vision: For more than 25 years Valley Vision has used research to help governments, businesses, foundations and community groups better understand the issues facing our region. We believe that knowing and understanding the facts is the best way to establish a common working foundation for collaborative problem-solving. That’s why Valley Vision conducts, produces and interprets research including scientific public opinion polls, focus groups, community needs assessments, best practice studies and other research tools to bring to light the information local leaders need to improve our communities.

About WALKSacramento: WALKSacramento is a nonprofit planning and advocacy organization that improves quality of life and health equity in the Sacramento Region through community-centered policy and systems change in land use, transportation, and community development. For the last 20 years, WALKSacramento has worked closely with residents and community partners in institutionally underserved communities to empower community voices and co-create healthier, more equitable, and sustainable neighborhoods for all. 

About Breathe California Sacramento Region: Breathe California Sacramento Region is an air quality and tobacco cessation-focused nonprofit that has served Sacramento for more than 100 years. Recognizing the significant impact that lung health has on the overall health of all communities in the Capital Region, Breathe has prioritized two significant areas of lung health in its mission: improving environmental air quality and eliminating commercial tobacco use through meaningful community engagement, enriching educational efforts, strategic partnerships, innovative programming, and effective advocacy.

About Green Tech Education: Established in 2008, Green Tech is committed to providing career technical education, job creation, job training, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the green economic sector. The program serves as a critical economic development resource for youth from underprivileged backgrounds. Green Tech is charged with simultaneously developing clean energy workforce skills and reversing the negative human impact on our environment.

New Study of Region’s Food System – and Prevailing Gaps – to Launch

SACRAMENTO, CA – MAY 19, 2021: The Sacramento Region Community Foundation (Foundation) and Valley Vision announced today a new research study being jointly launched on the region’s food economy and prevailing gaps in the greater Sacramento region’s food system. The research will inform recommendations for investment strategies to strengthen the region’s food system capacity and resiliency.

“The region’s food system is dynamic and complex,” said Linda Cutler, CEO of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. “While the overall food economy has advanced in recent years through dedicated efforts like new job creation, workforce programs, institutional procurement, and food literacy, disparities persist around food access, security, and system capabilities that have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The study will build upon earlier work highlighted in the Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan (FSAP), a seminal study conducted by the Foundation in partnership with Valley Vision in 2015. The FSAP laid the building blocks for a regional roadmap and identified an actionable role for the Foundation that it has worked to implement since.

Valley Vision conducts public opinion polls in partnership with the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State and will field this new poll in June to collect data on residents’ experiences, perceptions and needs related to accessing food. The Food System poll, in addition to other engagement and data inputs, will provide the Foundation with invaluable information that will be used to update the 2015 FSAP.

“The ultimate goal of this research is to ensure the viability of the food and ag economy at all scales,” said Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt. “This includes increasing the amount of locally grown food distributed within the regional food system, increasing access to fresh, affordable produce, especially in underserved communities, and increasing consumption of healthy foods through access to nutrition education.”

The research findings will support meaningful collaborations among food system partners and improve alignment of system activities and investments. Findings will also help identify compelling short- and longer- term priorities and establish a baseline for future progress.

“This is incredibly important work for our region,” said Kate Stille, Sacramento Region Community Foundation Board Chair and Chief Impact Officer for Nugget Markets, Inc. “We can point to real and tangible results born out of the 2015 FSAP, which has dramatically improved food security in underserved communities by strengthening the emergency food distribution network.” The 2015 FSAP inspired a partnership between the Foundation and Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services to form the Neighborhood Food Access Networks, which today serve hundreds of thousands of people by networking together more than 200 emergency food distributors across Sacramento neighborhoods.

The work to strengthen the food system is all-the-more critical given the COVID-19 pandemic, which greatly impacted health and economic disparities in the local community. High unemployment has increased the level of need for food. Local food banks, schools, restaurants, and many others have created new distribution mechanisms to respond to the crisis. The FSAP is a blueprint for action that will help shape these types of strategic initiatives, as well as to inform local leaders and the community on how to engage in meaningful solutions and catalyze investments in our vital food system.

“A systems approach centered on equity is needed,” said Schmidt. “Understanding food access and security issues is paramount to ensuring a health-promoting and accessible food system that can serve the needs of those who live in the region as well as those who benefit from our rich agricultural valley nationally and globally.”

The public opinion poll will go into the field in June and findings are expected to be published in September.

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About the Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan (FSAP): FSAP was a seminal study conducted by the Foundation in partnership with Valley Vision in 2015 and provided a common framework along with integrated goals, strategic priorities, and recommended actions to strengthen the food system for the region. Intended to serve as a roadmap for food system development, function, and investment, the FSAP identified several disconnects in the food system, including the gaps between great food abundance and a vibrant economic sector, high levels of food insecurity, poor food-related health outcomes, and missed opportunities for local food sourcing and markets.

About the Sacramento Region Community Foundation: For over 35 years, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation has been the capital area’s trusted steward of charitable assets and champion for impactful philanthropy. The Foundation’s mission is to transform the capital area through focused leadership and advocacy that inspire partnerships and expand giving.

About Valley Vision: For more than 25 years Valley Vision has used research to help governments, businesses, foundations and community groups better understand the issues facing our region. We believe that knowing and understanding the facts is the best way to establish a common working foundation for collaborative problem-solving. That’s why Valley Vision conducts, produces and interprets research including scientific public opinion polls, focus groups, community needs assessments, best practice studies and other research tools to bring to light the information local leaders need to improve our communities.

COVID-19 Imposed Inequitable Hardships on People of Color and Younger Adults, Latest Public Opinion Poll Reveals

Sacramento, CA – May 10, 2021:  Three public opinion polls fielded through a year of the COVID-19 pandemic from May 2020 to March 2021 revealed that the health crisis had a significant impact on the financial and emotional well-being for many. Communities of color, those earning less, and those who are younger, have been more severely impacted than others, experiencing greater income loss, more difficulty affording basic necessities, and deeper fears and concerns about financial security and mental health.

Valley Vision and CapRadio released today the third and final COVID-19 Resilience Poll, which was fielded by the Institute of Social Research (ISR) at Sacramento State between March 12-29, 2021. The research is demographically representative of the Capital region, encompassing Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties, with a margin of error of +/- three percent.

“The latest report highlights clear themes that emerged from polling over a year of the pandemic.” said Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt. “The impact is expected to be felt for years to come and will likely signify historic shifts in our social, political, and economic landscape. The findings point to the unique challenges our region now faces and where we most need to focus system change to build an equitable recovery.”

The research findings show the greatest hardships were felt by vulnerable communities. In the most recent poll, 41% of respondents overall reported a loss of income during the pandemic. For Black, Hispanic, and Asian/NHPI respondents, that number is much higher.

“The three surveys in the past year make it clear that vulnerable communities feel even more vulnerable because of the pandemic,” said Nick Miller, managing editor of news and information at CapRadio. “Our journalists will be looking deeply at these issues on CapRadio this week.”

These findings are consistent with what is taking place across the United States. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in April 2020 found that 26% of middle-income adults and 53% of lower income adults could not pay their bills in full that month. Only 23% of lower income adults and 48% of middle-income adults reported having “rainy day funds” that would cover expenses for three months in case of an emergency, compared to 75% of higher income adults.

“In addition to the toll taken on lives, overall well-being, and jobs, one constant throughout the pandemic has been the rapid-response system transformation,” Schmidt said. “Valley Vision and CapRadio publicize these findings to help local leaders shape future social, civic, and economic structures to help make all of our communities inclusive, supported, safe, and equitable.”

TOP COVID-19 RESILIENCE POLL LEAD FINDINGS:

Financial hardship: Communities of color, those earning less, and those who are younger experienced greater income loss, more difficulty affording basic necessities, and deeper fears and concerns about financial security.

  • 54 to 61%of those with significantly reduced income couldn’t afford an adequate food supply throughout the year.
  • 59 to 68% said they couldn’t afford rent or mortgage.
  • 39 to 47% of 18- to 39-year-olds said they couldn’t afford to pay down debt.

Workplace: The circumstances of the pandemic spurred a seemingly ten-year acceleration of new workplace trends toward remote work, automation, and e-commerce.

  • The percent of people who work from home either part or full time shot up from 38% prior to the pandemic to 70% during the pandemic.
  • 78% said they want to work at home at least one day a week; 28% said that they want to work at home full time.
  • By larger margins, 18- to 38-year-olds believe the pandemic has made them less employable due to concerns over availability of jobs, changes in their industry, and their skillset.

Mental and Emotional: The pandemic created significant increases in depression, anxiety and stress, concerns about substance use, and concerns about physical and emotional violence at home.

  • The likelihood of experiencing stress or anxiety, or depression or hopelessness decreased as income level increased.
  • 92% of Hispanic respondents reported feelings of stress or anxiety at least one day in the last seven days, followed by 85% of Asian/NHPI respondents, and 82% of Black respondents.
  • Respondents who are white were least likely to have experienced these feelings (52%).

Education: A year of educating from home has been difficult on parents, students and teachers, with more than two-thirds of parents reporting concerns about their children falling behind academically.

  • In May 2021, 79% of those with children said they were doing some kind of remote learning.
  • 54% of parents were more likely to have lost income, compared to 34% of non-parents.
  • 71% of parents reported being concerned about their ability to handle other responsibilities.
  • 69% of parents said having children in school partly or fully remotely was negatively affected their ability to do their job.

Beyond COVID-19: The last poll found that vaccination skepticism is likely to impact our region, with 39% of respondents stating that they would probably not or definitely not get a COVID-19 vaccination when it becomes available to them.

  • Black respondents were significantly more skeptical than other race/ethnicities, with 65% reporting they probably or definitely would not get a vaccine, compared to 44% of white, 29% of Hispanic, and 15% of Asian/NHPI respondents. 
  • 71% of respondents reported knowing someone who had COVID-19.

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About the Polling Series Valley Vision and CapRadio, in partnership with the Institute of Social Research (ISR) at Sacramento State, conduct research via scientifically administered surveys of area resident attitudes.  The survey data inform policy-makers and stakeholders on key regional issues by providing on-the-ground public engagement data. The approach used is highly effective and unique by establishing a scientifically valid and demographically representative panel of regional residents that reflects a microcosm of the region as a whole. The panel size is consistently about 2,000 people from six counties – Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Placer, Yuba, and Sutter. The panel is weighted to demographically represent the region and each survey achieves a statistical valid margin of error of not more than +/- 3%.

About Valley Vision For more than 25 years Valley Vision has used research to help governments, businesses, foundations and community groups better understand the issues facing our region. We believe that knowing and understanding the facts is the best way to establish a common working foundation for collaborative problem-solving. That’s why Valley Vision conducts, produces and interprets research including scientific public opinion polls, focus groups, community needs assessments, best practice studies and other research tools to bring to light the information local leaders need to improve our communities.  

About Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research ISR supports community partners in improving programs and policies in the region and throughout the state. Located at the university’s downtown location, the Institute offers a broad range of expertise conducting surveys and applied research. Since 1989, our collaborations with government agencies and nonprofit organizations have contributed to public accountability, program fidelity, and the strengthening of communities.

About CapRadio CapRadioserves California’s Capital Region, Central Valley and Sierra Nevada as the public-supported alternative to for-profit media. As the NPR-member station based in Sacramento, CapRadio connects with communities through seven broadcast stations, live streaming, podcasts, digital communities, live experiences and more. Known for its award-winning newsroom, CapRadio is recognized as a leader in community-engaged journalism and state government reporting, and CapRadio Music is the exclusive broadcast source of classical and jazz in the region. With more than 500,000 weekly listeners on-air and online, CapRadio provides a trusted and indispensable source of information, music and events.

Covid-19 Is Taking a Toll on the Capital Region, Recent Regional Poll Reveals

October 20, 2020 – Valley Vision has published the second COVID-19 Resilience Poll this week in partnership with Capital Public Radio. This polling report is focused on understanding experiences, impacts, and attitudes about COVID-19 from residents in our region, and was conducted by the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State. The COVID-19 Resilience Poll is a demographically representative survey of the eight-county region (Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Placer, Yuba, Sutter, Solano, and San Joaquin) and reported a margin of error of +/-3%. You can find the full COVID-19 Resilience Poll here.

“This survey is the second in our series of three COVID-19 polls. This poll, and the others in the series, tracks how the experiences, perceptions, concerns, and hopes of people in the Capital region are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted Evan Schmidt, CEO of Valley Vision. “Having this detailed, data-driven insight about COVID-19’s ongoing impacts on the people and communities we serve is vitally important to our public service mission,” said Jun Reina, executive vice president and general manager of CapRadio, of the partnership with Valley Vision.

The poll results reflect the hardship being felt across the region in the truly hard time we are going through — threats to physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being; income loss and job instability; division in our views about the state of things; and the uncertainties of the future. In most cases, data reported in the first poll, published in July, has continued or worsened in the months since then. For example, nearly half of respondents to this poll said they had lost income as a result of the virus; the same was true in July. 

As well, different communities continue to experience markedly different realities. People of color, younger adults, and those earning lower incomes are more likely to have lost income, to report mental health challenges, and to find it very difficult to have children schooling from home, among other impacts. “These disparities are consistent with the data from the first poll, as well as what’s being reported nationwide about what COVID-19 is causing, and the ways in which it’s worsening existing inequalities in our communities,” noted Shannon Williams, executive director of the Institute for Social Research. 

Political polarization within the region has increased compared with the first poll. Many respondents are dissatisfied with leadership at various levels, and for different reasons, and that dissatisfaction has grown, and is also more likely, now, to extend to the local level, including local governments, local media, and local businesses.

This poll also reveals evidence of fatigue, including decreases in emotional resilience, diminished trust in institutions, and also declines in some precautionary actions related to COVID. These results may point to people’s fatigue with isolating and also to the daily challenges of the added complexities of life during COVID.

The detailed poll results are accessible in several ways:

Additionally, Valley Vision’s polling partners have each issued their own press releases.

About Valley Vision: For 25 years Valley Vision has helped governments, businesses, foundations and community groups better understand our region and its people through high quality research. By uncovering common ground facts using scientific opinion polls, focus groups, community needs assessments, best practice reports and other research tools, Valley Vision is a trusted interpreter, commentator, forecaster and work partner for community inspired solutions.

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Regional COVID-19 Resilience Poll Reveals Local Community Stresses, Responses

July 15, 2020 – Valley Vision has published the COVID-19 Resilience Poll this week in partnership with Capital Public Radio. This polling report is focused on understanding experiences, impacts, and attitudes about COVID-19 from residents in our region. The COVID-19 Resilience Poll is a demographically representative survey of the eight-county region (Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Placer, Yuba,Sutter, Solano, and San Joaquin) and reported a margin of error of +/-3%. You can find the full COVID-19 Resilience Poll here.

“This survey, and the two more to come in this series, will help us understand and navigate the challenges ahead as we aim to not just recover from the setbacks of COVID-19, but also reimagine a more equitable, sustainable, and just future,” noted Evan Schmidt, CEO of Valley Vision. “Having an in-depth understanding of how the coronavirus impacts the people and communities we serve is vitally important to our public service mission,” said Jun Reina, newly appointed executive vice president and general manager of CapRadio, of the partnership with Valley Vision.

The poll results identify the severe impacts on people in our communities – including their mental, physical, and emotional health; their daily life and routines; and their economic security. For example, nearly half of respondents said they had lost income because of fallout from the virus, which since March has shuttered many businesses and forced most people to stay at home.

Further, different communities are experiencing markedly different realities, with deep disparities in the intensity of concern and impact across different racial and ethnic lines. “We’re all in this together but we are experiencing it differently,” said Shannon Williams, director of the Institute for Social Research, pointing out that many “essential” and front-line workers are people of color and workers with lower incomes who cannot perform their jobs virtually and have higher risks of virus exposure. “Often in this country, people of color don’t have the same opportunities and resources as others,” Williams continued. “This data shows how that is playing out with regard to the pandemic.”

There is also a significant element of political polarization within the region, with many respondents critical of leadership at various levels – whether it is because they think that leadership has failed to deliver an effective response or because they think the response is over blown and creating more harm.

The detailed poll results are accessible in several ways:

Additionally, Valley Vision’s polling partners have each issued their own press releases.

About Valley Vision: For 25 years Valley Vision has helped governments, businesses, foundations and community groups better understand our region and its people through high quality research. By uncovering common ground facts using scientific opinion polls, focus groups, community needs assessments, best practice reports and other research tools, Valley Vision is a trusted interpreter, commentator, forecaster and work partner for community inspired solutions.

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Valley Vision Names Evan Schmidt As CEO

Sacramento, CA – After conducting a nationwide search, Valley Vision’s Board of Directors announced today that Evan Schmidt, currently its Senior Director of Research and Strategy, will be hired as its CEO, effective July 1.

Evan joined Valley Vision in February 2014 as a project leader and was promoted three years later as Director of Research and Evaluation. Prior to Valley Vision, she worked for Smith & Lehmann Consulting as a senior research associate. She currently serves as the co-chair of Empower Yolo, a non-profit organization supporting families with emergency shelter and other basic needs, and was a member of the City of Davis’ Natural Resources Commission. Evan obtained two Masters Degrees from the University of California, Davis and earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Brian King, Chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District and Board Chair of Valley Vision Board, said, “Evan has been very influential in shaping Valley Vision’s growth and direction. With a strong record of success as a researcher, facilitator and collaborative problem-solver, Evan is the right person to advance Valley Vision’s mission and ensure it remains a stable and influential force in California.”

Evan said, “I have long held a passion for social equity, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. As the region continues to grow and change, I am excited to navigate the unique and important role that Valley Vision plays in the Sacramento region and other regions in the state where we work.”      

Evan becomes the fourth CEO in Valley Vision’s 26-year history, after long-time leader Bill Mueller stepped down in February, and her appointment will conclude current Interim CEO Meg Arnold’s tenure over the past four months. Meg noted, “I’m delighted with Evan’s hiring as CEO, confident in her well-proven abilities to lead the organization, and look forward to seeing what Valley Vision can accomplish in and for our communities under her leadership.”

Founded in 1994, Valley Vision brings communities together to ensure that our communities can become the most livable in the nation, by building common ground through trusted research and collaboration. Valley Vision plays a unique role in the region as an organization that focuses on the 21st century workforce, clean economy, food and agriculture, healthy communities, innovation and infrastructure, and leadership and civic engagement. Most recently, Valley Vision and three partner organizations developed and launched “Our Path Forward: The Prosperity Strategy,” as the region’s inclusive economic development strategy. Valley Vision is supported by a Board of Directors that includes 30 leaders of public, private and nonprofit entities and employs a staff of 12 people.

For further information: Isa Avancena, isa.avancena@valleyvision.org, 916-599-2137.

Valley Vision CEO Bill Mueller Announces He Is Handing Over the Reins January 31

Arnold to Serve as Interim CEO while National Search is Conducted

SACRAMENTO (September 27, 2019) – Bill Mueller, the long-standing CEO of the civic leadership group Valley Vision based in Sacramento, announced that he will be leaving Valley Vision after Jan. 31, 2020, following 15 years of service. A CEO search will be conducted starting in October. Consultant Meg Arnold will serve as interim CEO starting February 1 until a permanent replacement is found.

“Bill has been a great leader for Valley Vision.  He took a young organization and helped transform it into a relevant force throughout our region and beyond,” said Scott Shapiro, Chairman of the Board and Managing Partner of Downey Brand, a leading area law firm.  “He has led the organization to have a big impact on people’s lives and it is because of his thoughtful work and the work of many others over the years that our community is poised for great things.”

“I am really proud of the work we’ve done together making our region more prosperous, just, and sustainable,” said Mueller, echoing the triple-bottom-line goal of Valley Vision. “Our community-building work is always a work in progress, but I feel Valley Vision and our partners have demonstrated now for a couple decades that when we come together as one community, especially when the pressure is on, we can accomplish amazing things.”

Asked about what he will do next, Mueller said he is launching a consulting business and is in active talks with potential partners about teaming up.

Valley Vision plays a vital role in the region as a trusted convener, independent research organization, and leadership network designed to solve complex economic, social and environmental issues that no single leader or group can address alone.  The 25-year-old organization has a CEO-level board of directors, 17 staff and consultants, and works closely with government, business, foundations, nonprofits, and community groups to achieve its nonprofit mission of making the Sacramento Region the most livable in the nation.

The Board is launching the CEO search process in the coming days and plans to hire a permanent replacement in the first half of 2020. Meg Arnold will serve in the Interim CEO role effective February 1st until the permanent replacement is named.

“These are big shoes to fill, but this is a strong organization under great volunteer leadership,” Arnold said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to assist Valley Vision until the next CEO is named early next year.”

California to Host Tenth Americas Competitiveness Exchange

Senior Officials from Across the Western Hemisphere and other Nations to Visit Northern California’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hubs.

Valley Vision and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, along with other partners are hosting the 10th Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE 10) October 21 – 27. The selected ACE 10 participants will be visiting innovation ecosystem assets at several sites across the Northern California megaregion. The ACE 10 program will be coming through the Capital region on October 25th and 26th.  Sites the ACE 10 delegation will visit in the Capital region include the Golden 1 Center, the Urban Hive, and UC Davis.


October 12, 2018 – WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of State and the Organization of American States (OAS), announced that 50 high-level representatives from 24 countries will participate in the Tenth Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. ACE 10 will take place on October 21-27, 2018, in Northern California.

ACE brings together decision-makers from the Western Hemisphere and beyond to explore global and regional partnerships, and economic development opportunities to establish new global commercial relationships.

ACE 10 will showcase Northern California’s unique entrepreneurial and innovation assets. This year, the program will focus on the intersection of these assets across four global areas of opportunity: improving health, feeding the world, maximizing economic resources, and fostering resiliency.

The delegation will tour leading innovation clusters in San Francisco, Salinas, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Fresno, Davis and Sacramento built around industries such as information technology; food and agriculture; energy and clean technologies; life and environmental sciences, including marine technologies and manufacturing.

“ACE continues to succeed in its goal of advancing commerce and accelerating business opportunities throughout the Western Hemisphere,” said John Andersen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. “We’re excited to host the tenth iteration of this program in Northern California, where the delegation will have the unique opportunity to forge partnerships with California’s leaders in advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, aerospace, and agriculture technology.”

“ACE has been instrumental in showcasing the incredible innovation capacity of U.S. regions and has proven critical in establishing global commercial relationships that can support U.S. business objectives,” said Dennis Alvord, EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs. “Northern California is a world-renowned center of innovation and entrepreneurship activity and we look forward to showcasing the incredible work that the Department of Commerce and regional leaders are doing to advance the innovation economy.”

For more information about the ACE program please visit: http://riacevents.org/ace/. For more information on ACE 10, please visit: http://riacevents.org/ACE/california2018/.

International Trade Administration (www.trade.gov)
The International Trade Administration (ITA) is the premier resource for American companies competing in the global marketplace. ITA has more than 2,200 employees assisting U.S. exporters in more than 100 U.S. cities and 75 markets worldwide.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

Community to Embrace Farm-to-fork Pride

Sacramento, Calif. – Restaurants, auto shops, and hair salons. Software engineers, yoga instructors, and baristas. These are just a few of the people and places that the Farm-to-Fork Steering Committee includes in its new “We Are Farm-to-Fork” campaign, designed to encourage inclusivity and community pride around the region’s farm-to-fork identity.

In 2015, Visit Sacramento formed the Farm-to-Fork Steering Committee to provide expert guidance in shaping its America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital program. Now led by the non-profit Valley Vision, the committee is comprised of chefs, farmers, restaurateurs, suppliers and representatives from grocery, government, non-profits and more. Together, the group has established connections between many of the organizations in the greater Sacramento region that are working in the farm-to-fork space. The committee also continues to look for ways to expand the reach of farm-to-fork across the region and beyond Visit Sacramento’s special events and marketing efforts. The idea behind “We Are Farm-to-Fork” was born out of the growing enthusiasm around the farm-to-fork concept from people and organizations outside of related industries.

“The Sacramento region has been farm-to-fork since long before the America’s Farm to Fork Capital initiative,” said Valley Vision Chief Executive Bill Mueller. “This is the region’s heritage, and everyone here is a part of it, from farmers and farmworkers in our rural communities, to mechanics, bank tellers, small businesses, and workers in our urban core. We are Farm-to-Fork shows our pride in that heritage.”

“Over the last six years, we’ve seen interest in farm-to-fork go well beyond local restaurants,” said Visit Sacramento CEO Mike Testa. “From trade associations to accounting firms, people are looking to be a part of the farm-to-fork effort. But the truth is, they were always a part of what has been building here. This new campaign highlights the fact that if you’re a part of our community, you’re a part of farm-to-fork.”

Part of the “We Are Farm-to-Fork” campaign rollout includes a corresponding logo designed by The Honey Agency. The members have committed to utilizing the logo within their own organizations and are excited to share it with others throughout the region.

“As Sacramentans, we are all proud of our region’s strong agricultural heritage,” said Chelsea Minor, Raley’s Corporate Director, Consumer & Public Affairs. “We are Farm-to-Fork is intended to be a badge of honor for all businesses to embrace throughout our six-county region to show our commitment to being America’s Farm to Fork Capital.”

Partnering to Craft an Inclusive Economy

Today over 200 leaders gathered from 28 cities and counties at the Regional Futures Forum hosted by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to hear from a national expert about how our region’s economy has restructured since the global downturn nearly 10-years ago.

“The Sacramento region benefits from an educated workforce, world-class research institutions, and the presence of the state government, but our research shows that the region also faces significant challenges, including lagging growth of its export industries, stark educational and earnings disparities between white, black, and Hispanic residents, and investment needs in transportation and broadband infrastructure to connect residents to opportunity,” said Amy Liu, Vice President and Director of of the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

“In an age of rapid technological changes and an ongoing demographic transformation towards a majority-minority future, existing disparities will be exacerbated without deliberate action,” continued Liu.  “Now, leaders across the region must do the hard work of creating a shared vision for inclusive growth, mobilizing people in government, business, and the broader community to tackle these challenges and make the Sacramento region truly inclusive and prosperous in the years ahead.”

Earlier this year, Valley Vision, the Greater Sacramento Economic CouncilSacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments partnered to engage the nationally recognized Brookings Institution to conduct a market assessment of the six-county Sacramento region. The study examines the economic drivers of successful economies in regions and benchmarked Sacramento against national markets with similar characteristics.

The findings from the Brookings Institution informed the full-day Regional Futures Forum that included breakout sessions and group conversations to dive deep into topics and to develop priorities and actions to take the region to new levels of economic growth, prosperity and inclusion.

“This report shows just how important it is that we build an inclusive economy that provides opportunities for everyone in the Sacramento region,” said Jay Schenirer, Sacramento City Council Member and SACOG Board Chair. “Together, our region needs to provide — among other investments — more workforce development and job training opportunities for youth and young professionals. Investing in digital skills training and connecting young workers to in-demand occupations and industries will help our industries grow while creating access to jobs for more people.”

The full Brookings Institution Sacramento Region Market Assessment can be accessed at: https://brook.gs/2r4PbjI

International Delegation Will be Looking for Trade, Research, Partners

By Mark Anderson – Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal

An international delegation for entrepreneurship and innovation will tour Northern California this fall, ending with a week-long tour of Davis and Sacramento to study advanced food and agricultural business ecosystems.

The tour will also focus on innovation, science and research, said Trish Kelly, managing director of the local research and advocacy group Valley Vision. “This is food and ag in a big sense.”

This is the first time the Americas Competitiveness Exchange has visited Northern California. The 50 members of its tour group will include government ministers, academics and entrepreneurs looking to forge trade, business ties and research partnerships, she said.

“These events are very focused on outcomes. They want to make connections,” Kelly said.

The tour group will include members from Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, as well as Germany and Israel.

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, which is based in Davis, is a primary sponsor of the tour, along with Valley Vision.

Some of the highlights of the local tour will be the University of California Davis, the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Sciences and Golden 1 Center, as well as some local food companies, beverage purveyors and briefings on local food systems, Kelly said.

Read full article on the Sacramento Business Journal website.