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Board of Directors

The California Exposition & State Fair is an independent state agency established by law in Food and Agriculture Code.

Governed by an appointed Board of Directors, daily operations are managed by the Chief Executive Officer and permanent staff of approximately 55. Each year more than 2,000 temporary employees are hired by Cal Expo or key business partners to operate the annual 17-day State Fair. Cal Expo is a self–sufficient State agency that receives no government general or special fund support.

The governing body of the California Exposition & State Fair is an 11–member Board of Directors, that must all be residents of California. Nine (9) directors are appointed by the Governor, one director by the Speaker of the Assembly and one director by Senate Rules Committee.

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Mark Nelson (Chair) of Wilton, is a partner in Five Star Land Company, Inc. an agricultural real estate marketing/management firm founded in 2013 by Nelson and his son, Ryan Nelson. Nelson is a cattle rancher raising purebred Angus Cattle, American Quarter Horses and wine grapes. Nelson was a member of a real estate development partnership that developed the Elk Grove Auto Mall, most of the office buildings on Exposition Blvd. and manufactured over 3,000 single-family lots in and around Sacramento. Nelson is also a member of the California Cattlemen’s Association, California Rangeland Trust, American Angus Association and the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association.

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Rima Barkett (Vice-Chair) of Stockton, has been president and founder of A Tavola Together, an organization that teaches life skills through cooking, since 2007. She was an international relations officer at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates from 2006 to 2007and owner of Café Luna Spaghetteria from 2002 to 2006. Barkett was an instructor of Italian language at the University of the Pacific from 1996 to 2002. She is founder and president of the Architects of Peace Foundation and a member of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin County. Barkett attended Le Cordon Bleu and Gambero Rosso culinary schools and is co-author of Cooking Dinner, Simple Italian Family Recipes Everyone Can Cook.

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Sonney Chong (Member) of Sacramento has been a practicing dentist in Sacramento for the past 30 years. He was previously on the Cal Expo & State Fair Board of Directors from 2001 to 2005 and then appointed again to the Board of Directors in 2011 to 2014 by Senate Pro Temp Darrell Steinberg. He then was reappointed by Senate Pro Temp Kevin De Leon for 2015-2018. Sonney is Chair of CAPITAL (Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership) and on CSUS University Foundation, Chair of Board of Director for Asian Resources Inc, Chair of the SOCAB (Sheriff Outreach Community Advisory Board) for Sheriff Scott Jones, Fellow member of American Leadership Forum (Class II), member of the Sacramento FBI Citizen’s Academy Alumni Association and lifetime member of CACS (Chinese American Council of Sacramento) and SCCF (Sacramento Chinese Cultural Foundation).

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Rina V. DiMare (Member)
of Clarksburg, has been a proprietor at Elevation Ten Winery since 2011. She held several positions at Government Strategies Inc. from 2009 to 2014, including president and senior partner. DiMare is vice president of the Clarksburg Wine Grape Growers and Vintners Association.

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Jess Durfee (Member) of San Diego, is a volunteer community organizer focusing on LGBT issues and political engagement. Durfee had an early career as a high school horticulture/agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. Durfee currently serves on the Qualcomm Stadium Advisory Board and is a past member of the San Diego Community Forest Advisory Board.

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Cornelius Gallagher (Member) of Fair Oaks, is a senior vice president and global food, agriculture and wine executive for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  Gallagher has worked for Bank of America since 1969, previously holding the position of senior vice president and regional market executive as well as other vice president and managerial positions.  Gallagher represents the Bank of America on several agricultural leadership boards and committees, including Commissioner on the UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources. Gallagher is a member of the Food Foresight, a strategic food trends panel and the Farm Foundation Roundtable.

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Rex S. Hime (Member) of Loomis, is president and chief executive officer of the California Business Properties Association. Hime is a past president of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, served as a UC Regent, is a past chair of the Greater Sacramento Valley Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and currently serves on the board of directors of The Governor’s Mansion Foundation.

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Tony Ortiz (Member) of Camarillo, has been operations manager at Joseph and Sons since 2008. He served as a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force from 2002 to 2007. Ortiz is a member of the California Cut Flower Commission Governmental Relations Committee.

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David Mallel (Member) of Calabasas, has been president of LCC Investments since 1996. He was regional manager at Moore Maintenance and Property Management from 1994 to 1996.

In addition to appointed members, the Board of Directors includes five Ex-Officio Members:
Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Senator Dr. Richard Pan
Senator Anthony Cannella
Assemblymember Kevin McCarty
Assemblymember Susan Eggman

All California Exposition & State Fair board, sub-committee, and advisory board meetings are open to the public and are subject to a 10 day notice period. Agendas and pertinent materials are available at the Public Meeting Notice Area on the Cal Expo website.