The COTS Board of Directors are committed to COTS’ vision of ending homelessness in Sonoma County. The Board provides leadership to assist our community’s families and individuals to resolve their experience of homelessness with the support of COTS’ housing programs and services.

Bill Gabbert, President

Century 21 Bundesen

Bill is currently a Realtor with Century 21 Bundesen. He has volunteered as a mentor for the COTS Rent Right program and volunteers as a Table Captain for the COTS annual breakfast every year. He is also a very active board member with the Petaluma Sunrise Rotary Club. He was the owner of The Bicycle Factory with 4 stores in Sonoma and Marin counties before he sold them in 2001.  He is a past board member of the Petaluma Downtown Association and was a founding board member for the Polly Klaas Foundation. He has served as president of various merchant groups in Petaluma and Novato. He is a graduate of Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State.

Ben Leroi, Vice President

Special Population Programs Director

Ben joined the COTS Board in 2017 and has worked for Bay Area nonprofit organizations in the health and human services field for more than 20 years. He currently serves as the Special Population Programs Director at Santa Rosa Community Health, the largest Community Health Center and Health Care for the Homeless organization serving Sonoma County. He has experience in nonprofit program operations, fund development, database administration, grants management and program evaluation. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration from San Francisco State University and is an advocate for further integration of healthcare and housing systems and services. Ben lives in Petaluma with his wife and young son and is grateful for the opportunity to help further COTS’ mission.

John Baxter, Treasurer

President, Baxter Financial Services

John has been a fan of the organization since reviewing its impressive performance as Chair of the Strengthening Families Impact Committee for the local United Way. Since 2002, he has helped individuals and couples plan their financial futures, including their satisfying and secure retirement. Earlier he held increasingly responsible roles with health care organizations in Northern California and New England, including eleven years as head of Health Plan of the Redwoods. He has served on the boards of local hospitals, the Northern California Center of Well-Being, United Way, and a homeowners association and been treasurer for three local political campaigns. John earned BA and MBA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Karen Nelson, Secretary

Retired, University of California -- San Francisco

Karen has over thirty years of higher education administration experience at three UC campuses and is currently an academic planning consultant to the UC Institute of Global Health. She previously served as the UCSF Education Manager for Global Health Sciences and Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies. She has extensive experience in the areas of student services, program operations, educational policy, grants management, and the development of new training and degree programs. Karen’s volunteer work includes participating as a mentor for the COTS Rent Right Program, serving as a high school student mentor for the 10,000 Degrees Program, and previously working as an elementary school volunteer. Karen received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kent State University in Ohio.

Chris Ranney

Ranney Coaching & Consulting

Chris has been a long-time volunteer and supporter of COTS. He began his career in financial services in 1986, working primarily in the retirement plan market. Chris co-founded an investment planning firm and served as President/CEO from 2007 to 2010. He recently sold the financial planning business he jointly owned with his wife, Shari. Today, Chris is the Principal of Ranney Coaching & Consulting. He specializes in working with C-Level Executives, Executive Directors, Senior Management Teams and Financial Advisors. Chris’ early career as a school psychologist and MFCC, coupled with his extensive business background, gives him a solid foundation for his volunteer and board work at COTS. He is a member of The Rotary Club of Petaluma, the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce and the National Ski Patrol. Chris graduated with a B.A. and a M.A. in Psychology from California State University, Chico.

Erin Hawkins

Co-Director, the Hanna Institute

A nearly life-long Californian, Erin Hawkins resides in Santa Rosa with her husband, two sons and menagerie of pets. Erin is the Co-Director of the Hanna Institute, where she works to help communities and organizations build resilience and hope in the face of trauma and adversity. Prior to joining Hanna, she served as the Director of Community Health at the Petaluma Health Care District, overseeing all their non-clinical population health programs. Erin received a B.A. in International Development from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.S. in Community Development from the University of California, Davis.

Andrea Pfeiffer

Chocolate Horse Farms

Andrea joined the COTS Board in 2012 and is a longstanding Sunday morning volunteer at the Petaluma Kitchen. Andrea creates delicious food that gives diners at COTS the comaraderie of family and friends that she had growing up. In her professional life, Andrea has over 30 years of experience training horses and riders. She and her husband own Chocolate Horse Farm, devoted to performance horses and equestrians. Andrea is a graduate of the British Horse Society, and has made a significant contribution in the eventing and dressage world as both rider and trainer. Chocolate Horse Farm represented the USA at a world cup competition in Strezegom, Poland in 2010. Andrea has served on the Board of Enrich and Educate and was president of her children’s elementary school PTA for several years.

Marie McCusker

Executive Director, Petaluma Downtown Association

Marie is Executive Director of the Petaluma Downtown Association and Visitors Center for the past 17 years.  She is committed the supporting our local businesses along with the hospitality and lodging industry and stresses the importance their economic impact. Working closely with the city leadership and staff on programs that support and enhance our local businesses and community.

Born and raised in the UK, her background in non-profit and corporate business management as well as public relations and marketing has taken her around the world to settle here in Petaluma for the past 21 years. Marie founded and managed an advocacy organization in the UK that sought to represent the rights, housing, care, and independence of individuals with disabilities through the courts, their families, and human services for eleven years. Without support many people fall through the slots and end up either on the streets, in bad living situations or worse experiencing abuse.

Marie believes that homelessness can have a tremendous impact on children – their education, health, sense of safety and overall development and that everyone deserves a home, a livelihood, and a chance to build a better future. Breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations with our youth is fundamental as is having appropriate mental health services available to those in need within our community. COTS offers people a chance to take a step back into claiming their lives with support and dignity. Marie has volunteered in some capacity with COTS since she moved to Petaluma and is heartened at the level of compassion and volunteerism that exits in our community.

Marie was instrumental in bringing the Downtown Streets Team into our community, working with the city and available funding streams to make it a reality, the DST works alongside and compliments the work  COTS.

Marie’s work also includes working with and training a network of over 200 volunteers in producing major city, and community events, which is challenging but also incredibly rewarding.

Quote: “I love Petaluma for many reasons, mostly because it has a lot of soul, its engaged and committed community.”

Curt Peters

Finance Director, Enphase Energy

As a Sonoma County local, he understands the incredible service COTS provides to the community and was a supporter prior to joining the board.  Curt’s connection to Enphase Energy provided him the opportunity to assist in the Mary Isaak Center solar installation donated by many, including Enphase.  As a graduate of Marquette University, a Jesuit institution, service and faith are important to Curt.  Marquette’s credo of “Be the Difference” aligns perfectly with the mission of COTS.

Wendi Thomas

Director of Nursing, Petaluma Valley Hospital

Wendi Thomas is a Registered Nurse who is currently the Director of Nursing for Petaluma Valley Hospital. Wendi has an Associate Degree in Science, bachelor’s Degree in nursing and a master’s degree in nursing leadership. Wendi, originally from Marin County, moved to Petaluma over 20 years ago where she along with her husband, Matt, have raised their now two grown daughters. Wendi describes herself as a “servant leader”.  Wendi had led a fundraising campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, she traveled to El Salvador on a cultural transformation mission, she serves as a youth minister at St James Catholic Church and she served many years on the board of directors for the Petaluma Health Center. Wendi started her career as an Emergency Department Nurse which has influenced her to share in the vision and mission of COTS.

Chaplain Raymond Dougherty

Director of Spiritual Care Services, Kaiser Permanente of Marin-Sonoma

Raymond was introduced to COTS’s impressive work through the annual COTS Hour fundraising breakfast and began serving on the board in June 2019.  Raymond is the Director of Spiritual Care Services for Kaiser Permanente’s Marin/Sonoma service area and has been a healthcare Chaplain for over 20 years.  He earned a Master of Arts in Theology at the University of San Francisco and is a Board Certified Chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.  Raymond is a member of the Interfaith Council of Sonoma County and is a trained Legal Observer with the North Bay Rapid Response Network.  He also serves on the board of the northern California chapter of Illuman, a global nonprofit supporting men seeking to deepen their spiritual lives.  Raymond is a member of St Philip’s  Church in Occidental, CA where lives with his wife Nancy and their little rescue dog Carmelita.

Troy Sanderson

President and CEO of Exchange Bank, Exchange Bank

Troy Sanderson is the Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer at Exchange Bank. He is responsible for contributing to the strategic planning and direction of the bank, overseeing customer relationship growth, and insuring compliance with operating policies and regulatory requirements. He leads and supports Exchange Bank’s team of professionals including Retail Banking, Information Technology, Risk Management, and Strategic Initiatives/Marketing.

During his banking career, Mr. Sanderson has had the opportunity to work in loan production, credit administration, regional sales management, branch management, risk management and training. Most recently he served as the President and Chief Credit Officer of Bank of Rio Vista. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento with a degree in Business Administration, Sanderson completed the Pacific Coast Banking School, graduating with honors. He spent 10 years on the Petaluma City School Board of Education, five years as president of Petaluma National Little League, and recently served as a director in the Solano County Farm Bureau.

Mike Resch

Executive Vice President of Administration & General Counsel for Amy's Kitchen

After graduating from college in two years, Mike began law school at the age of 19 and had his first jury trial with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia at the age of 22.  Shortly thereafter, he began his law career at the Los Angeles office of a large firm and was successful in bringing in revenue, winning matters for clients, and consulting on business-related matters.  More than those accomplishments, however, he is proud of his contributions to the company through mentoring junior associates and staff, as well as his pro bono work in the community.

Over the 15 or so years before moving to Amy’s Kitchen, Mike’s practice began to focus on consulting with and representing companies in the food and beverage industry.  He joined Amy’s in January 2015 for two primary reasons: (1) the principles and culture of the company, and (2) the opportunity to lead business functions, as well as building a legal department.

In his position at Amy’s, he sits on the Leadership Team reporting to the President and currently oversees Human Resources, Quality & Food Safety, Regulatory and Legal.  Previously, he was a partner at the firm Mayer Brown, and his practice focused on consulting with legal, HR, marketing & quality departments and on matters such as false advertising (including consumer class actions and competitor claims), employment class actions, complex civil litigation, trade secret misrepresentation, accountant liability, and white collar criminal defense, with an emphasis on cases involving accounting and financial issues.

Mike’s work at Amy’s has been very diverse always with an emphasis on the people side and driving engagement as a leader of four fantastic teams in the business.

Samantha Yee

Retail Service Manager, Exchange Bank

Samantha has been on the COTS Board of Directors since July 2020. She is a life-long Sonoma County resident and currently resides in Petaluma, with her 12 year old son.  She has been an enthusiastic supporter and volunteer for COTS since 2013. Samantha and her son Evan are former residents of COTS Family Shelter, from the years 2013-2015. She has first-hand knowledge and understanding of homelessness, which has brought her to have a strong passion and drive to help people find permanent housing. She has spoken at two COTS Hour Events and volunteers with COTS Annual Holiday Store. Samantha has worked at Exchange Bank since successfully launching from COTS in 2015, and is now Retail Service Manager at the Stony Point Branch. During her time at Exchange Bank, she has seen all sides of the world of finances, from Personal Banking to Loan agent- Call Center Representative to Branch Banking, she is a dedicated employee and continues to strive to learn all aspects of banking. She has recently joined the Development Committee and plans to focus on fundraising events and social media to help further in the success of COTS.

Mark Krug

Special Projects Manager, Burbank Housing

Mark is the Business Development Manager for Burbank Housing, a Santa Rosa-based non-profit affordable housing developer. Before joining Burbank in 2015, Mark held senior staff positions with the County of Sonoma and the City of Santa Rosa with management responsibilities for affordable housing and homeless services programs. He has nearly 29 years experience in these fields starting with his tenure as Executive Director of Community Support Network in the early 1990’s. Mark has served as chair and vice chair of the county Continuum of Care governing board and currently at Burbank, involved day-to-day with the development of homeless-dedicated housing in Sonoma County.

Mark holds a B.S. in Non-Profit Administration and a Masters of Public Administration and resides in Santa Rosa.

Safi Ahmed, MD, MPH

Family Physician and Psychiatrist, Petaluma Health Center

Dr. Ahmed received his Masters in Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  He completed his medical training at the Combined Residency in Family Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego Medical Center. He subsequently completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine for the Underserved at the Sutter Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency.

Dr. Ahmed believes in patient-centered, whole-being care to address the mind, body and spirit. He tries to meet patients where they are on their journey to health and well-being. He believes in a patient’s expertise in their own health and well-being, and works with patients to meet their goals. He is interested in combining conventional primary care with psychiatric care, in addition to holistic approaches to health, including lifestyle changes, sleep improvement, and stress management. He hopes to help patients identify their strengths and assets, their support systems and where they find purpose and meaning.

Dr. Ahmed grew up in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. Prior to his medical career, he worked in public health and volunteered abroad in India and South Africa. He currently lives in Santa Rosa with his two cats. In his spare time, he enjoys time with friends and family, yoga, wellness retreats, learning how to cook, exploring spirituality, international travel and hiking.