David Armstrong, PRESIDENT
Mark Hartley, SECRETARY
Greg Smith, TREASURER
Doug Wood, VICE PRESIDENT
I was born and raised in Ventura. Since a young age, I have spent most my time in Downtown Ventura. Throughout the years, I have seen so much positive change in downtown Ventura and I would like to be actively involved in collaborating with the DVO to push for even more. I enjoy this part of town and believe it is Ventura’s greatest asset. With all its character and people, it really has its own culture. When I started my work here, it was for a small boutique called Luxemporium. Since then I have been socializing, working and living downtown.
I have had two years of middle management experience at American Apparel; I deal with financial reports, store administrative duties, employees and customers on a daily basis. I have direct line with upper management and have been instrumental in developing market strategies for the Ventura store. My emphasis as a store manager has been developing strong customer relations. In doing so, I have been able to make positive same store sales and attract repeat customers. Our staff here works off of positive energy and is a key ingredient to our success. I am familiar with almost every aspect downtown and would like to work with the DVO to improve its attraction to tourists and residents. With all the businesses working together we can surely accomplish this.
Jerry Breiner has been involved with downtown’s renaissance since he and his wife Holly opened Mermaids, a beachwear and swimwear shop, in early 2000. Breiner served on the Downtown Ventura Community Council in various capacities, ending his tenure there as the DVCC closed its books and turned over its assets and concerns to the Downtown Ventura Organization in late summer 2005. Jerry and Holly created Ventura’s first “city” magazine, Ventura Magazine, in 2002 and published until late 2005. Jerry also served as a member of the DOT (Downtown Operations Team) since its inception in 2002, and has brought DOT’s purpose and vision to the DVO’s Main Street approach. Jerry works at REMAX Gold Coast Realtors as a buyer’s and seller’s agent, and is involved in development properties, commercial real estate as well as residential. Jerry also is a professional musician and performs with his band Big Adventure in venues throughout Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties on a regular basis.
Cheryl Heitmann has been the Executive Director of the Ventura Music Festival for the past 2 years. Prior to that she co-owned the DC Group, a political and fundraising group. She is a licensed clinical social worker and had a private practice in Oak Park for 18 years. Ms. Heitmann is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ventura County Community College District, elected to her second term in 2006 and has served 2 terms as President of the Board. In addition she is a board member of United Way, Ventura County, the Ventura County Regional Energy Alliance, and the Conejo Schools Foundation. She was recently selected as one of the top 50 business women leaders in the Tri Counties by the Pacific Coast Business Times.
The 22-year city resident is a former teacher, division manager at a publishing company and free-lance editor/writer. She was first elected to the City Council in 2003. She’s married to Tim Weir and they have two children and three grandchildren. A longtime community volunteer, Weir first made local news in 2003 as the leader of a non-profit group which raised money to purchase the historic Father Serra Cross after the city was forced to sell it because of separation of church and state issues.
She’s also a founding board member of the Downtown Ventura Organization, a member of the Midtown Community Council, City Council liaison to the Fair Board, Ventura Music Festival and Visitors Bureau, liaison to the Ventura Unified School District, sits on the city’s committee on homelessness and was the co-chair of the city’s Cultural Plan Task Force. In her leisure time, Weir enjoys sea kayaking, playing guitar and piano, bicycling, sculpting, painting and traveling. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies, with a Concentration in Art, from Cal State University Channel Islands.
Clarey Rudd, owner of Bank of Books, Abednego Book Shoppe and Books for Cooks. Bank of Books voted the #1 Independent Books Store in Ventura County last 6 years. A member of the California Literary Arts Society, and organizer for the formation of Ventura, an International Book City, which City Council approved in 2007.
A founding member of the DVO. Served the first two years of the DVO as Chairman of the Board, Third year as Vice-Chairman, currently a Board member. For 20 years he has served on the International Board of Mission Without Boarders, in addition serving on a number of the individual country boards, which includes: Albania, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Norway, USA, Holland and Switzerland. Married to Debby, and having 3 daughters. Graduate of California State University, Fresno with a Degree in Management and Marketing.
Jason Collis is the owner of Jonathan’s. His Mediterranean influenced restaurant, Jonathan’s at Peirano’s, is listed as a destination spot in state and national magazines such as Gourmet, Westways and The San Diego Tribune and rated one of the top in Zagat 2008.
Collis apprenticed under world-renowned chef, Wolfgang Puck prior to taking ownership of Jonathan’s. He worked at Spago and assisted Puck with special events, cooking more than 1,200 fine dining plates for the famous Governor’s Ball following the Academy Awards, as well as catering large charity events and high-profile weddings. Jason donates his time, food, restaurant and staff for quarterly charity events, including the Special Olympics, Easter Seals and a Hurricane Katrina Benefit where he and other Ventura area chefs raised more than $20,000. Collis earned his culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, Calif., one of only 12 facilities world-wide.
David is publisher of the VCReporter newspaper, Ventana Monthly magazine and V.P. of Southland Publishing, Inc., a Southern California based media group. Raised in Manhattan, David has 25 years experience consulting in marketing, advertising and promotions, and has worked throughout the California. He moved to Ventura in 1998 because of the outstanding quality of life.
“Small independent businesses are what make a city unique and are vital to a certain quality and sophistication in a community. Ventura has many such retail shops, restaurants, etc… I want to help these merchants not just survive but thrive as they make our downtown a great experience. The DVO is an important force in helping downtown grow to it’s full potential.”
In the past year, I opened Pure Life and Home, a home furnishings and life-style boutique in the 500 block of Main Street. I’m proud to contribute to such a vibrant and friendly atmosphere in the Downtown area. Through the years, I have actively participated in fund-raising and volunteering in the community and schools. I was on the original committee that raised community support and funds for the WAV project on the corner of Ventura Avenue and Thompson Boulevard.
I am currently on the advisory committee for the Ventura Botanical Gardens and along with Rick Stewart of Palermo, am doing the Boutique at the up-coming Garden Tour. I have also been active in National Charity League for the past four years and have held a board position for three of those years.
Lucas Johnston is a Ventura County native who has worked in banking for the past nine years. He began his career as a training team leader for Countrywide Financial and subsequently transitioned to the former Affinity Bank, where he developed the bank’s first training and employee development program.
Johnston was quickly promoted to manage both the Camarillo and Ventura branches, and was later named regional manager. Lucas is currently the Vice President and Relationship Manager for Pacific Western Bank’s Ventura County Region.
In addition to his activities with the Bank, Johnston is also involved in various organizations throughout the county, including service on the boards of the Downtown Ventura Organization, Long Term Care Services of Ventura County, Ventura County Medical Resource Foundation, Museum of Ventura County and the Ventura County Brain Injury Center. Johnston is a graduate of California Lutheran University as well as America’s Community Banker’s National School of Banking. Lucas was also named one of Pacific Coast Business Times 40 Under 40 for 2010.
I was born in Killarney, County Kerry in the Southwest coast of Ireland. I left Ireland in
the early seventies to study under Vidal Sassoon and with the Stanhope Theatre Company
in London. I became a member of the prestigious Vidal Sassoon European Artistic Team.
I immigrated to the U.S. in 1985 to Santa Fe, NM. and moved to Santa Barbara in 1990,
where I joined Nexxus as International Director of Education. I toured the United States
and Europe until 1998 producing and performing in hair shows and seminars.
I was an early admirer of downtown Ventura and opened one of the first new businesses,
Celtic Carma Salon, in the Livery. We were honored in 2000 with the Ventura Chamber
of Commerce “Jewel Key Award”. Celtic Carma Aveda Salon has now relocated to the
center of Downtown Main Street. Over the years, Celtic Carma has been the host to many
cultural events, such as Camerata Pacifica and the Bach Coffee House Chamber Music
Michele Olsen is a payroll consultant for Paychex, INC, serving Ventura. As a Westside resident and working in the downtown market, Michele began volunteering for the DVO in 2006. Currently, Michele serves on the DVO Board of Directors and the Organization Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors for The Turning Point Foundation, the Advisory Board for Womans Economic Ventures, and she volunteers with the Ventura Botanical Gardens.
“I have been a Westside resident for 15 years, and when people ask me where my husband Randy I will retire, I say – Ventura of course!!”
Downtown Ventura is much more to me than a collection of shops, restaurants, and watering holes. It is where I have grown up. I followed my grandmother around as she worked at Dexters much of her life, my dad drove me Downtown almost every Saturday to watch the waves after grabbing some Top Hat, and Sundays were always at the Sportsman.
When I had the opportunity to move my business into a larger office space I set my sights on Downtown Ventura immediately. I was very fortunate that a suite on the second floor of the Erle Stanley Gardner Building was available, just above where I had spent so much time of my young life. It has been too perfect. I worked in the music and real estate industries before making the decision to go into business for myself as a marketing consultant. Over the past six years I have worked with many Downtown and Ventura County based businesses to assist them with reaching their target customers using the internet. This work has included branding, website design, search engine marketing, social media, video production and mobile marketing campaigns. It is my passion for this ever evolving landscape of digital marketing that I hope to bring to this board position. I have had the opportunity to share already as a member of the DVO Promotions Committee for several months, including a special mobile initiative in which I will be assisting the DVO to create a specialized mobile website and campaign to leverage the budding mobile market for locals and tourists alike.
Seana-Marie Sesma came to Ventura in 2003 because she fell in love with the small town, eclectic style of the downtown area. Sesma worked in sales and marketing for 15 years when she began Ace-ana Promotions in 1998, with the goal to promote local businesses. Ace-ana Promotions specializes in promotional giveaways, advertising specialties, custom embroidery, screen-printing, marketing consulting and corporate gifts. Sesma uses unique ideas, eco-products, innovative technology and copious expertise to help her clients reap their ultimate profits. In 2005, Sesma was looking for a new business challenge. Her love of wine and passion for customer service convinced her to open The Wine Rack, a tasting room, wine bar, wine shop and gift store. Located in historic Downtown Ventura, The Wine Rack features unique wines from all over the world, and maintains an ethnic/eclectic ambiance.
Sesma serves on the Ambassadors of the chamber, board member for the Downtown Ventura Organization and Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau. She volunteers on fundraising committees for Casa Pacifica, Foodshare Golfest and Women’s Economic Ventures. Though her two businesses keep her very busy, she finds time for family, friends and community.
I am very proud to say I am a Ventura Native. Like my Grandfather, Grandmother and Mom I was born and raised in Ventura (Montalvo). I played on the CIF Buena High school Champion basketball team and played on Ventura College basketball team.( I was one of lucky girls to be coached by coach Tuttle on his last year of coaching)I have coached many youth sport teams. I also volunteered with Easter Seals in my high school years. I have been a participant and coordinator of The Pier Under The Stars for over 12 years.
My passion is the restaurant business and I’ve been working happily in hospitality since 1977.My experience includes but not limited to: Santino’s, Hungry Hunter 10 years, Eric Ericsson’s 17 years and became a partner in Aloha Steakhouse in 2003. It has always been my heart calling to support my community and with Aloha Steakhouse I have the opportunity to donate time and food to many charities. I feel very privileged to live in BEAUTIFUL Ventura with my husband, children and grandkids.
I am currently managing partner of Smith – Hobson and have enjoyed working in Downtown Ventura since 1982. I live in mid-town with my wife and children. Smith & Hobson manages family owned agricultural, commercial and industrial properties in several counties in California including four retail parcels in Downtown Ventura. Both my parents’ families have been in Ventura County for five generations. The Hobsons have been headquartered in Downtown since 1859 and my grandfather Charles Petit served as mayor of Ventura for 16 years. I served on the 1985 Downtown Specific Plan Committee and the Downtown Cultural Arts District formation committee. I am currently Co-Chair of the Capital Campaign for the Museum of Ventura County’s downtown expansion and also serve on the board of Community Memorial Healthcare System and Ivy Lawn Memorial Park.
Doug Wood is General Manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. With over a decade of management experience in high-end hotels in Northern California, Doug was recruited by Providence Hospitality Partners (PHP) to complete the conversion of the Crowne Plaza from a Holiday Inn. Wood served most recently as general manager for the Crowne Plaza Hotel San Jose. Previous to this position, he was regional food & beverage director for a nine-hotel group of hotels managed by Interstate Hotels & Resorts that included this Crowne Plaza, as well as two Marriott’s, a Wyndham, a Sheraton, an Embassy Suites and three Hilton Hotels. All together, Wood has more than eighteen years of experience in the food and beverage aspects of the hospitality industry. As an integral aspect of his philosophy of hotel management, he feels that a good hotel creates a mutually supportive relationship with the community of which it is a part. Wood has served on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club in Monterey and board of directors for Team San Jose, a group that over saw the CVB and the business improvement district (BID) in San Jose.