Board of Directors

Saint John’s Program for Real Change is governed by a 19-member Board of Directors. Board members share their extensive experience running businesses and organizations in varying sectors of the economy to help Saint John’s run efficiently and effectively while keeping the best interests of our clients top of mind.

Meet the Board


Mark Wiese

Mark A. Weise

Board Chair

Committee: Executive, Finance, Governance

Mark A. Wiese is the President of Pacific Housing, Inc., a California non-profit public benefit corporation dedicated to the mission of developing quality affordable housing and affordable housing resident service programs. Pacific Housing plays an integral role in over 110 affordable housing communities throughout California that total approximately 17,000 apartment homes. Mark has been involved in real estate development, financing and management for 35 years.

He has considerable real estate development experience as well experience in Redevelopment Agency Participation, Municipal Finance Placement, Tax Credit Financing, and HOME and HUD Financing Programs. Mark has a Bachelor’s degree in Real Estate from San Diego State University. He resides in Sacramento with his wife, Molly, and their three children.

Julie Hirota

Julie Hirota

CEO Saint John’s Program for Real Change

Julie Hirota is an accomplished business executive and CEO for Saint John’s Program for Real Change. She has more than 25 years of extensive leadership and operational experience in private, public and non-profit sectors driving meaningful outcomes. Hirota’s extensive career experience includes: advocacy, fundraising, finance, community relations, and managing multi-million dollar operations.

Before joining Saint John’s Program for Real Change, Hirota served as the Chief Operations Officer for UC Davis Biomedical Engineering, advancing educational and research objectives.

In her early years, Julie held a successful engineering career in the tech sector with Fortune 100 companies followed by creating a retail business and starting her family. Her family and efforts led her to mission-driven work in the non-profit sector as both an executive and board member.

Her passion for helping communities has driven Julie to volunteer and serve on boards for causes relating to life-skills development, independent living and education. She serves as a board member on the Sacramento region’s Continuum of Care and the City of Sacramento Homeless Assistance Task Force. She also serves as an elected board of education trustee for the Roseville Joint Union High School District and pursues legislative change related to protecting children.

Julie holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from University of CA at Davis. She is married with two children, two dogs, and loves to trail run.

Board Members

Michele Wong

Committee: Executive, Fund Development, Finance 

A graduate of the University of California, Davis, with a B.S. degree in mathematics and computer science, Michele was with Synergex International Corporation from 1982 until retiring from Synergex in 2017. She began as a systems programmer, and then rapidly progressed through the positions of project leader and vice president of software development. She was promoted to executive vice president in late 1984, achieved the position of president in November 1990, and was named CEO in December 1996. Under Michele’s leadership, Synergex grew from a 20-employee, one-product firm into an internationally recognized software manufacturer with a wide range of products installed in all 50 states and more than 80 nations. Michele continues to be involved with Synergex as a director and shareholder. 

Michele has been named one of the “Best and Brightest in Sacramento” by Sacramento Magazine, Sacramento’s 2006 Businesswoman of the Year by the Sacramento Metro Chamber, and one of the “Women Who Mean Business” by Sacramento Magazine in 2007. She was honored by Jr. Achievement of Sacramento in the 2008 Sacramento Business Hall of Fame, and was chosen Woman Innovator of the Year by Northstate Innovate in 2013. 

Michele is deeply immersed in the Sacramento community and has served in leadership positions on boards that include American Leadership Forum, the Sacramento Metro Chamber, KVIE Channel 6, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her current pet project is the Museum of Science and Curiosity (MOSAC) – the future home of the Powerhouse Science Center. Michele is currently the Executive Director. She has served on the board of directors since 2006 and co-chaired the capital campaign for the new $84 million MOSAC campus.

Michele’s support for the region drove Synergex to create the wholly-owned Synergex Ventures, which in 2011 made a strategic investment in clean-tech startup CleanWorld. As CleanWorld’s president and CEO, Michele has led CleanWorld’s commercialization of a High Solids Anaerobic Digestion technology that was developed at UC Davis to convert organic waste to renewable energy. CleanWorld has since built 3 commercial BioDigester facilities, including a facility on the UC Davis campus which processes up to 20,000 tons per year of campus food and agricultural waste, as well as waste from the surrounding community, to create electricity for the campus grid. 

Michele lives in Fair Oaks with her husband Tony. They have three adult children and 2 grandchildren.

Erin Cabelera

Erin Cabelera, Pharm.D. is the Area Pharmacy Director in the South Sacramento service area of Kaiser Permanente. Erin holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from University of the Pacific and a Master’s in Public Administration from Arkansas State University.

She resides in Carmichael with her partner Liesel and two adorable dogs (Nelson and Hazy) that moved in when their kids (Aidan and Lize-Lee) left for college. Erin enjoys working out, traveling, and even doing absolutely nothing – as long as it’s with Liesel.

Dave Cloninger

Committee: Fund Development

Dave Cloninger is a Vice President and Financial Advisor in Merrill Lynch’s Sacramento office and is a Principal in The Cloninger Group, one of Merrill Lynch’s premier Private Wealth Advisory Teams in the Central Valley, specializing in advising affluent families and solving their complex financial issues. He has been with Merrill Lynch since 2006.

Dave is also an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Downtown Sacramento. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. His major was in International Relations with a minor in German. Dave also played three years on UOP’s varsity baseball team under athletic scholarship.

Dave is a 52-year resident of Sacramento and lives in the East Sacramento area with his three children. Dave is an avid soccer coach, assisting with his 11-year-old son’s soccer and baseball teams. He most enjoys spending time and traveling with his family, as well as golfing, hiking, or most any outdoor activity.

Ian B. Cornell

Committee: PR, Fund Development

Ian Cornell has led the CornellGroup since 1985. The company was formed as the in-house advertising and marketing communications agency for one of the region’s largest real estate conglomerates and became an independent company in 1992, continuing to create award-winning work, including campaigns that won the Best Overall Advertising Award at the Building Industry Association’s MAME Awards.  

Maintaining its specialized expertise in real estate, the company has served as the advertising and marketing communications agency for homebuilders, land developers, builder marketing groups, real estate brokerages, commercial construction companies, architects and engineers. In addition to real estate-oriented clients, the company has served retailers, restaurants, movie theater chains, political campaigns, the state treasurer’s office, racquet and fitness clubs, radio programs, governmental advocacy groups and the outdoor recreational industry. Mr. Cornell’s affiliate company, Surf & Turf, Inc., produces consumer trade shows and large-scale special events.

Mr. Cornell serves on the board of directors of the Saint John’s Program for Real Change, Twin Lakes Food Bank and the Folsom Historical Society. He serves on the City of Folsom’s Landscaping and Lighting Committee. He is a past member of the board of directors of HomeAid, the North State Building Industry Association’s charitable entity, and the Stinger Foundation at Sacramento State University. He has served on the community councils for the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. He served as the administrator and director of worship for the Roseville River of Life Fellowship, a Free Methodist congregation, and on the Board of Trustees of the Oak Avenue Church. He currently serves as a coordinator of Financial Peace University courses and on the production team at Lakeside Church in Folsom. He supports River Oak Center for Children, Folsom’s Hope and a variety of other community related causes.

In his spare time, Mr. Cornell enjoys running, cycling, swimming, yoga, motorcycling and playing guitar as part of an acoustic trio. He resides in Folsom and has two adult sons.

Laura Hewitt

Committee: Executive, Program Advisory, Public Policy

Laura Hewitt has over thirty years of professional and volunteer work in the philanthropic, public, and nonprofit sectors, focused on improving the lives of children and families in California and nationally. She has served as Executive Director of a partnership between public agencies, foundations and nonprofits to reduce youth violence in Oakland through systemic change, coordinated operations for a multi-site national welfare reform project, and served as the Planning and Special Projects Manager for the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Children, Youth and Families. Her volunteer work has included chairing the Board of the Napa Valley Education Foundation, as well as leadership positions on the boards of several nonprofits serving children and families in the Bay Area and Sacramento. She is also a member of the Sacramento Chapter of The Links, Inc and volunteers her time to support the strategic planning and resource development needs of the Simmons Community Center in South Sacramento.

Laura has a B.A. in American Studies and a M.A. in Education from Stanford University. She and her husband Chet have two teenage sons.

Kim Hiltachk

Kimberlie Hiltachk is the founder of Hiltachk Marketing Group, a full service advertising agency based in Sacramento. Kim’s expertise in brand and marketing strategy has been integral to the success of both large and small organizations including airports, trade associations, health systems and tourism destinations, among others. 

Kim received her B.A. in Communications from Sacramento State University and completed the 4A’s Agency Management Development Program. In addition to serving on the board of Saint John’s Program for Real Change, she is a member of the AAF Sacramento Advertising Club and Sacramento Metro Chamber, and a sustaining member of the Sacramento Junior League. She was also named to the Sacramento Business Journal’s 40 under 40 in 2013.

Kristine currently serves as the Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer for Five Star Bank. Kristine has over 25 years of human resources experience, and launched her own HR Consulting firm in October 2015. Kristine Hyde HR Consulting still operates with a team of HR professionals providing expertise to a wide range of customers focused on aligning business processes, practices and talent for a variety of industries. Kristine is also a co-owner of two Drybar franchise locations in Sacramento and Roseville. She is a certified Senior Professional of Human Resources, or SPHR, Senior Certified Professional with the Society of Human Resources Management, a California Certified SPHR-CA from the Human Resources Certification Institute, and she holds a Certificate of Human Resources Management from Sacramento State. Kristine graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Communications from University of Southern California, and she is a graduate of the Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Sacramento. She is a former Board President of St. Michael’s Episcopal Day School.

Edward P. Manning

Committee: PR Chair, Public Policy (chair)

Ed Manning is one of California’s leading lobbyists on energy, resource, tort liability and environmental issues. He has successfully led efforts to overhaul construction defect liability, Brownfields redevelopment laws, CEQA in the context of climate change and the effort to build new water conveyance. His clients include developers and homebuilders, energy companies, water and energy agencies, the wine industry and myriad other business interests. He is dedicated to successful client outcomes through the development of sound policy and political strategies.

He serves on the Board of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce as Vice Chair for Public Policy. He also is a member of the Sacramento Metro Chamber PAC and California Asian Chamber of Commerce.

Joaquin McPeek

Committee: Fund Development, Marketing/PR

Joaquin McPeek is a vice president at Edelman, the world’s largest global public relations consultancy firm. He previously served as a spokesperson to Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and led communications strategy on a $13 billion economic development portfolio, including the construction of Audi Field, home of D.C. United.

Joaquin also served as press secretary for former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, working on the successful campaign to keep the Sacramento Kings in the state’s capital. He has also worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, responsible for their climate and energy communications strategy in California.

Joaquin is a proud Sacramento resident and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from California State University, Sacramento.

Kevin Peterson

Committee: Fund Development Chair, Vocational Workforce Development

Kevin is a human resources executive with experience in global and national organizations. He works in employee engagement, large-scale change management and culture transformation.

His specialties include strategic HR leadership, change leadership, organizational effectiveness, learning solutions and talent management design.

  • Leadership development, talent management program design and oversight
  • Organizational development, competency model design, development and implementation
  • Lean and Six Sigma continuous improvement

He speaks Spanish fluently and holds a Certificate of Human Performance Improvement. Outside of his current role, he has experience in a range of industries, including healthcare, food and beverage, manufacturing, and professional services.

John Petrovich is a Principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, where he uses technology and business transformation to help state governments across the country better serve their citizens. He focuses primarily on Unemployment Insurance modernization and is on Deloitte’s national Labor and Workforce leadership team. He’s been providing consulting services to clients for over 35 years.

John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Purdue University. He’s the proud father of four adult children (who are scattered across the country) and lives in West Sacramento with his husband, Wilfren.

Kevin Ramos

Committee: Finance, Governance

Kevin is responsible for managing the investment decisions for a 25+ million square foot commercial real estate portfolio valued at more than $2.5 billion and oversees the development of approximately $75 to $100 million projects annually. The portfolio assets are primarily located in the Central Valley of Northern California, and El Paso, Texas. He is responsible for overseeing new investments and development projects, transaction execution, and portfolio asset management. Kevin has been an integral part of Buzz Oates since 1995.

Prior to joining Buzz Oates, he worked for eight years with the Capital Markets Group of CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) where he specialized in the placement of debt and equity capital investments with institutional investors. Kevin has over 30 years of experience and extensive relationships in the Northern California Commercial Real Estate industry. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Nevada, Reno, in Corporate Finance and Real Estate, and is a Licensed California Real Estate Broker. He also holds memberships with NAIOP, ULI, the Association of Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) and Lambda Alpha International. He is also on the Board of Directors for Power Inn Alliance, Five Star Bank and is a past Board Chairman of Jesuit High School.  

Kevin is a bilateral below-the-knee amputee; however he strives to be as active as possible. Outside the office, he enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling, and snow skiing. Additionally, he is a fan of the 49ers, Giants and Sacramento Kings. Kevin resides in the Gold River area of Sacramento County with his wife of over 30 years, Kathleen. They have four children Nicolaus, Frank, Carlin, and Kristen.

Minnie Santillan

Committee: Public Policy, Fund Development

For more than two decades, Minnie Santillan has been a top advisor to many of California’s most powerful lawmakers. In fact, Santillan’s counsel has helped steer her clients into positions of power, helping to create some of California’s most consequential laws, including closing a loophole that was denying justice for victims of rape and sexual assault, a water bond that helped secure a sustainable future for water, a law protecting low-income families’ access to electricity and a commonsense system promoting alternative energy. 

Santillan is currently chief of staff to Los Angeles Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, the chair of the influential and informal moderate caucus the New Democrats, a group of center-left, pro-job Democrats. Concurrently, Santillan owns her own political and policy consulting firms, Santillan Devlin, LLC, and Santillan Strategies, where she specializes in electing business-friendly Democrats in traditionally Republican districts to reshape local policies.  

Santillan has been recognized numerous times for both her professional and philanthropic work, including being listed on Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 List, a who’s who of California government. She helped transform the Fresno City Council by installing a Latino Democrat majority and is an active member of the Association of American Political Consultants (AAPC) and the USA Southwest Latino Leader for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  She has served on the Fresno Downtown Association and the Hispanic Commission, Fresno Women’s Network and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum and was recognized by H.O.P.E as a “H.O.P.E. Treasure” for her mentorship, advocacy and leadership.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology from California State University, Fresno and is pursuing a master’s in Legal Studies at Cornell Law School.

Brad Simmons

Committee: Vocational Workforce Development

Brad Simmons, M.H.A., F.A.C.H.E., is the Chief Administrator of UC Davis Medical Center and the Chief Operating Officer of UC Davis Health’s Hospital Division. Simmons is the senior most administrator for the UC Davis Medical Center, replacing the prior position of CEO of the hospital, which has been eliminated. His responsibilities include: all inpatient care for UC Davis Health which includes UC Davis Medical Center, UC Davis Children’s Hospital, and involves operational, logistical, and patient-support services, nursing and medical staff clinical operations, overseeing UC Davis Health’s level 1 trauma and emergency services, surgery and post-operative care services, facility operations, and supply chain management. The role reports to David Lubarsky, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Chief Executive Officer of UC Davis Health, and works closely with Mike Condrin, Chief Operating Officer, Ambulatory Care for UC Davis Health, who is responsible for all of UC Davis Health’s outpatient care.

Simmons joined UC Davis Medical Center in 2016 as the Chief Operating Officer, and in 2019 he was named Interim CEO of the medical center. Under his leadership, the medical center has become one of the top 50 U.S. hospitals for adults and children, one of the top hospitals in California, and the number one hospital in Sacramento, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Under his leadership, the hospital has also received Magnet recognition, which is the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence; Best Maternity from Newsweek; 4-stars for quality from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); and a Center of Excellence Award from the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology.

Prior to joining UC Davis Health, Simmons served as the chief operating officer of Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, a nationally recognized Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award recipient. He previously served as senior vice president of Medicine, Surgical & Emergency Trauma Services at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas.

Simmons is active in the community and involved in various Sacramento community organizations, including the boards of directors for PBS/KVIE and the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives Northern and Central California Regents Advisory Council, and a Senior Fellow in the American Leadership Forum – Sacramento.

Committee: Audit Chair, Vocational Workforce Development

Pete is a principal partner and co-founder of Rubicon Partners, Inc. Peter serves as President and provides oversight for the company’s operations, strategic decisions, and new business activity.

Prior to co-founding Rubicon Partners in 2001, Pete served as a Senior Vice President for the Sacramento region of Spieker Properties, where he was responsible for the development, acquisition and management of more than 4.0 million square feet of office and industrial space in the Sacramento metropolitan area.

Pete received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at San Diego and a MBA from Stanford University.