The Profile

Matthew Buckman

General Director

Fresno Grand Opera

What we do: Fresno Grand Opera is a professional opera company that produces and presents world class performing arts for the residents of Fresno and California’s entire Central Valley region. It provides educational as well as career development opportunities for young artists and serves as a catalyst and resource for the cultural growth of Central California.

Education: Bachelor of Music from CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, CA

Age: 33

Family: Single, no children.

Robert H. McKellar

Screen Shot 2015 01 16 at 4.11.01 PMChief Executive Officer

McKellar Agricultural Group

What we do:
When asked, my favorite answer is “we raise citrus and people.” We do raise oranges and mandarins (Cuties) and we are involved in several forms of agritourism.

I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, with a double major in animal husbandry and ag journalism. My degree is in animal husbandry.


My wife Ann Shidler Mehrten McKellar, daughters Shawn Hodges, Kerin McKellar Terri Jeske and sons Mark and Craig McKellar.

Zachary D. Darrah

Screen Shot 2015 01 09 at 2.08.24 PMExecutive Director

Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries (FIRM)

What we do:  FIRM serves the refugee population in Fresno through working towards our mission of “Sharing Christ’s love to build communities of hope with new Americans.” This includes such things as mental health services, community gardens, youth programs, early childhood education programs, workforce development, health care access work, advocacy and much more! We seek to meet the needs of the refugee community both on a physical and spiritual level.

Biz owners readying for health mandate

Local small businesses are gearing up to meet a slew of new employer mandates this year, including the new health care law that took effect on Jan. 1.
Originally scheduled to go into effect last year, the mandate — requiring employers with more than 100 full-time employees to provide health insurance to a majority of workers — was postponed after the failed debut of the health care marketplace’s 2013 open enrollment period. Since the delay, many local chambers of commerce have been keeping an eye on what the new law means for their member businesses.

Stephen Varvis

Screen Shot 2014 12 31 at 1.55.40 PMProvost/Senior Vice President, Professor of History

Fresno Pacific University

What we do: As a Regional Master’s Level University, Fresno Pacific University transforms people, families and communities through higher education that stresses solid academic preparation and a strong ethical foundation. The face of our student body is the face of the Valley—we are a Hispanic Serving Institution and are committed to offering opportunities to first-generation students. And we are successful! FPU has the highest four-year graduation rate of any Central Valley college or university, is one of the top 10 HSIs nationally in graduating Hispanic students and is ranked in the top tier of our category by U.S. News & World Report. We are also accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). For us, being the region’s only comprehensive Christian university is all about living out our tagline: “Empowering leaders. Transforming lives.”
Education: Ph.D. History, Claremont Graduate University
B.A. History and English, California State University, Fresno
Age: 57

Family: Teri (wife) who teaches in Clovis Unified, Nathan (son) a student.

Caren Myers

Screen Shot 2014 12 31 at 1.48.34 PMGeneral Manager

Fresno Lexus

What we do:  Lexus Sales and Service

Education:  Attended Nebraska Wesleyan University

Age:  69

Family:  Husband Bill, 6 Children, 12 Grandchildren and a Golden Retriever Gigit Myers.

How did you come to your position as General Manager at Fresno Lexus?
I had recently sold my Saturn dealership and was doing automotive consulting on an interim basis. RJ Romero, owner of Oremor Automotive Group, contacted me to interview for the Lexus general manager position in Fresno. This family-owned auto group based in Ontario, California is one of the most respected and successful in the automotive business. He owns several auto dealerships in Southern California and although each store operates independently, the standards are set at the very top level for professionalism, productivity, community involvement, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. It was the right opportunity at the right time for me and an honor to be selected to be part of this team.     

Gail Zurek


Visalia Chamber of Commerce

What we do: We help create a strong local economy, promote the community, provide networking opportunities and represent the interests of business with government.

California Lutheran University


My Husband Michael, Associate Pastor at Christ Lutheran Church and our amazing sons Sam (10) and Joe (5) and our English Bulldog Tank

How did you come to position with the Visalia Chamber of Commerce?
I had the opportunity to work with Glenn Morris, the former CEO, on a number of projects and initiatives prior to his departure. He encouraged me to apply. I am certainly glad I did.   

John W. Shore

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 3.23.34 PMExecutive Director

Community Housing Council of Fresno

What we do: HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency helping families achieve homeownership through education.

Education: B.A. degree, music education, Calvin College

Age: 65

Family: Married to Jacquelyn Shore; raised 3 boys and enjoy 2 granddaughters!

Kelly Vucovich

Kelly VucovichPrinciple

SubDirect, LLC

What we do:  

We work with print and digital publishers to develop marketing programs to grow circulation, engage audiences and build brands.

Sandra Kaye

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 2.17.10 PMFounder

St. Francis Homeless Project

What’s the story behind St. Francis Homeless Project, Inc.?