Dennis TootelianDennis Tootelian – Tootelian & Associates

Presentation: “Pistachios Make an Impact: The Economic Impact of American Pistachios” 

Dr. Dennis Tootelian is the founder of Tootelian & Associates, a Sacramento, California-based marketing and management consulting company. He also is an Emeritus Professor of Marketing at California State University, Sacramento. Dennis received his Ph.D. in Marketing from Arizona State University, with minor fields in Accounting and Management. Dennis has published approximately one hundred articles dealing with all facets of business and has co-authored six texts on marketing and small business management. His research has appeared in The Congressional Record, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Kiplinger Report, USA Today, ABC National News website, and even The National Enquirer. Dennis has worked in a consulting capacity with businesses such as Merck, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Target Stores, E & J Gallo Winery, Chicago 2016 Olympics Committee, Centers for Disease Control, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. He has extensive experience with agricultural issues and Marketing Orders and has published several studies in peer-reviewed journals on topics important to the agricultural sector. Dennis specializes in strategic planning, helping design business and marketing plans, and conducting economic impact analyses.

Linda Thomas Portrait - Linda ThomasDr. Linda Thomas – Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development at West Hills Community College District

Presentation: “Bridging the Communications Gap Between Generations”

In her 18th year of service to higher education, her present duties include planning and implementing strategies that provide leadership and direction of efforts for district Educational Services, Workforce Development, Categorical Funding and Grants, State and Federal Programs, Distance Education, Workplace Learning, Contract Training, Westside Institute of Technology, and Child Development Centers. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from UC Riverside in Political Science in 1986. She received her Master’s Degree in Theology from the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley in 1990 and her Doctorate in Educational Administration and Leadership from the University of the Pacific in 2008. In addition to her position at West Hills, Linda does consulting work helping businesses and organizations with Board development, leadership training, communication strategies, ethics in the workplace, strategic planning, and conflict resolution.


Dr. Jerry MeralDr. Gerald Meral – Director of California Water Program. Natural Heritage Institute

Presentation: “The 420 Water Bond & What You Need to Know”

From 2011 to 2013 Dr. Meral served as Deputy Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, in charge of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Previously, he served as Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League, a California statewide conservation group, from 1983-2003. He developed a variety of statewide conservation and health measures which produced more than $20 billion in new statewide programs and directed the League’s program of conservation legislation. Prior to that, Dr. Meral served as Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources from 1975-1983, where he directed the statewide water planning and energy programs. He also served as Director of Western Water Programs for the Environmental Defense Fund from 1971 to 1975. He holds a Ph.D. in Zoology from UC Berkeley.

Jason Phillips - Friant Water AuthorityJason Phillips – Chief Executive Officer, Friant Water Authority 

Presentation: “The 420 Water Bond & What You Need to Know”

Jason joined Friant Water Authority as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2016. FWA is a joint-powers authority formed in 2004 by a majority of the water agencies receiving water from the Friant Division of the Central Valley Project. Its primary purposes are to operate and maintain the Friant-Kern Canal and to serve the information and representation needs of its member agencies. Prior to Friant Water Authority, Jason worked for 15 years for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region. His experience at Reclamation included Deputy Regional Director, Area Manager of the Reclamation’s Klamath Falls, Oregon, and manager of several complex programs in the Region including the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, Upper San Joaquin River Basin Storage Investigation (the federal Temperance Flat study), and the San Luis Drainage Feature Re-evaluation. Before this, he was a project planner for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento district, on flood control and ecosystem restoration projects. Jason, his wife Melisa, and their three children live in Fresno. Jason received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at Portland State University.

Andy Anderson WUSATAAndrew G. Anderson – Executive Director, Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA)

Presentation: “Let’s Talk Trade”

WUSATA is a non-profit organization that promotes the export of food and agricultural products from the Western region of the United States. In conjunction with its 13 Member States, WUSATA provides a wide range of exporting services to facilitate trade between local food agribusinesses and importers around the world. During Mr. Anderson’s more than 40 years of experience, he has held multiple leadership positions in both the governmental and agricultural sectors. He has served on/as:
• Executive Vice President for the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation
• President of The Associated Tax Payers of Idaho
• Executive Vice President for the Idaho Petroleum Council
• Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs for the Idaho Farm Bureau.
• Grain Warehouse Task Force
• Board of Directors of the Agricultural Cooperative Council of Oregon,
• Oregon Agra-Business Council
• State Citizens Advisory Board for the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho
Mr. Anderson holds a graduate degree in Public Administration from Boise State University.

Dave CrinklawDave Crinklaw – GUSS, Founder 

Presentation: “The Future of Farming: GUSS’s Story”

GUSS’s roots can be traced all the way back to 1982 when its innovative founder Dave Crinklaw and father Bob started an agriculture spray business called Crinklaw Farm Services. Beginning with just two tractors, driven by Dave and Bob, they sprayed an average of 40 acres a day. Through hard work and exceptional service, they gradually acquired more customers and acreage.

Bob’s eventual retirement passed the torch solely to Dave who had big dreams of turning his company into an industry leader. Through key team member acquisitions: Orlando Mora, Richard Vaccari, and Ryan Johnson, Crinklaw Farm Services began to excel. This also allowed Dave’s inventive mind to get to work, developing the industry’s first 3 and 4-row vineyard sprayers, mechanical vineyard pruners, and the Tree-See orchard sprayer. These innovative technologies increased efficiency tremendously and lowered costs for producers. Crinklaw Farm Services, eventually renamed CFS LP, now sprays an average of 5,000 acres a day during peak season.

Terry Brase West Hills CollegeTerry Brase – Ag Science Instructor at West Hills College Coalinga

Presentation: “The Future of Farming: Precision Ag”

Terry has BS and MS degrees in Ag Education from Iowa State University. He taught at two Iowa community colleges for 30 years; teaching ag geospatial technologies for the last 23 years. He developed the first in the nation two-year degree in Precision Agriculture in 1995 with funding from the National Science Foundation. In 2001 he was the originator and Principal Investigator of AgrowKnowledge, the National Center for Science and Technology in Agriculture. He has been instrumental in two ESRI Special Achievement in GIS awards and the recipient of the 2012 Educator Award of Excellence at the International Precision Ag Conference. He is also Managing Owner of BrASE LLC and writes freelance articles on agricultural technology education.