Meet Our Ambassadors
Gary has been in the financial and insurance services business for over 41 years in the Bay Area. He focuses on comprehensive financial planning, investment management services, retirement strategies, tax strategies, insurance, estate and divorce planning. He has dedicated his years in the industry providing sound advice and solutions to individuals and businesses. With his expertise, tools and techniques, his clients feel more confident in reaching their goals for the future.
Gary holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of CA Davis. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Specialist (CDFA), member of the MDRT and NAIFA. He sits on the Board of Directors for The Police and Fire Fallen Heroes. On a personal note, he has obtained the rank of Eagle Scout, God and Country and Order of the Arrow and is a member of the National Eagle Scout Association.
Chantal Rees began her career in insurance 11 years ago in Lake Tahoe as a customer service representative. Throughout that time, Chantal focused on the client experience and gained industry proficiency. Chantal is now the President of her own insurance agency, Rees & Rees Insurance Services Inc. She focuses on the client experience and puts the client’s best interest first. Chantal practices insurance using a set of core values that are integral to her business: accountability, professionalism and integrity. Her goal is to ensure that each client feels fully satisfied with the services she provides. Chantal aims to build long-lasting relationships using an honest, forthright approach. Being an independent broker, Chantal has access to a vast pool of A rated companies which allows her to offer superior coverage at affordable pricing. She is licensed to do business in California, Nevada and Arizona. Chantal specializes in general liability, worker’s compensation, commercial auto, professional liability, commercial property, bonds, group medical, life insurance and more. Originally from Tahoe City, Chantal now lives in Concord with her husband, Jamie, and their 2 cats. They enjoy cooking, reading, wine tasting, traveling and being outdoors.
Vanessa Sisemore is the owner of a local Farmers Insurance Agency in Walnut Creek as well as a long time resident of Walnut Creek. She has grown up in our town since the age of 5 years old and because she has witnessed first hand the incredible growth of the town she holds so dear, becoming a proud member of the Chamber was a must when she opened her agency. Shortly after becoming a Chamber member, she joined the Ambassador Committee as a way to meet all the fantastic people among the business community. Since becoming an Ambassador, Vanessa extended her commitment even further as the Co-Chair of the Ambassador Committee to grow a stronger relationship with our Chamber Members and the community as a whole. To learn more about Vanessa and her business, click here
to view her Chamber Business Profile.
Wanda Wallis brings over 35-plus years of successful outside and inside sales experience. Wanda has worked for several fortune 500 companies over the span of her career. In 2004 she decided to do what she had put off for years, become a Realtor! She enjoys, and is very successful in, helping both buyers and sellers. However after just 2 years in the business she found a niche–seniors. Her patience, understanding, and love for seniors led her to acquire the NAR designation of SRES. Currently this designation makes up just a few of the licensed realtors in the U.S. Wanda is a member of National Association of Realtors®, Contra Costa Association of Realtors, and the Bay East Association of Realtors. She provides outstanding real estate and related services in Contra Costa, Alameda and Solano Counties. Wanda also serves on two nonprofit boards connected with seniors, one being Alzheimer’s of the East Bay, which she has served for 9 years. Remax Accord has honored her as one of their top producers every year since 2008. In 2016 she was inducted into the REMAX INTERNATIONAL Hall of Fame. She is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Ca. with a Communication and Business BA degree. Wanda has been very active in the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce for the last 14 years. She is the former Ambassador Chairperson, the position she held over 8 years. She also volunteers on other committees when needed. Wanda is married to Larry Willies, and they have one son. Wanda and her husband, Larry, enjoy golfing, traveling, and simply spending quality time together.
Marcia Gerg has been in the banking industry for over 37 years and for the past 5 years has worked at Summit Bank as a commercial banker. She is a Board Member of the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek as their Treasurer. Marcia raised two children and was involved with them in Girl Scouts, the National Charity League, and as a board member of the High School Band Boosters Club. She enjoys volunteering, reading, and walking her dog, Rusty.
Julie Chroust is a licensed Senior Loan Officer, with over 18 years of experience as a mortgage professional. She has developed a deep understanding of the real estate and mortgage industries and represents her clients’ money like it would be her own. She invests 100% of her time delivering 1st class service to her clients, and as a result, her valued customers, suppliers, and friends refer their family members, co-workers, neighbors and other people they know to her for advice when getting a home loan. She is interested in building strong, life-long relationships one person at a time. She has ranked top in sales volume year after year and it highly respected by her colleagues. Not only does Julie help clients fulfill their dreams of buying a home, she is also a part of many committees and groups in the Bay Area. Julie is the Founder and current Vice President of a BNI Chapter ‘We Inspire’, where she held the President’s position last term. She is also the Co-Founder of ‘Women Helping Women’, which is a group of professional women that meet monthly to collaborate and share best business practices in their respective businesses which generates trust, likability and camaraderie. Julie is also the co-founder of ‘The Next Generation Senior Legacy Group’, which is a group where she is 1 of 5 featured speakers that holds on-going Education Forums for the older adults in the community to increase awareness to quality services and professionals. Julie is an inspired and long-time philanthropist involved in several charitable organizations, foundations and hospitals. Her passion to give back and pay it forward, these traits are seen easily by the way she conducts herself day to day, the way she interacts with those in her personal and professional life, and the volunteer work she donates her time to.Her roots are deep within the communities of the Bay Area and is well known for her transparency, honesty, knowledge, and true kindness. Julie is married to her wonderful husband, Mark, and together they have 3 beautiful children, a cat, and a dog. Julie enjoys hobbies such as gardening, cooking, water sports, and entertaining friends and family.
Anina (Ann) Dalsin is an experienced business lawyer providing legal advice and services to companies in varying stages of development. Anina’s practice ranges from advice and counsel to employers on hiring, training, discipline and termination matters; drafting and reviewing commercial contracts; preparing buy/sell agreements for businesses; and commercial real estate leasing and acquisitions.
For more than thirteen years, Ron has owned and operated a Walnut Creek/Northern California, retail, travel outlet for Cruise Holidays, a member of the Travel Leaders Group. We are America's largest travel agency company with more than 7,000 company-owned, franchised and affiliated travel agencies throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. During most of this time, he served as a member of the Franchise Advisory Board, providing business counsel and advice to senior management. In the Bay Area, Ron has been an Elder at Lafayette/Orinda Presbyterian Church, a Trustee at Grace Cathedral (SF), a member and President of the Episcopal Diocese of California Standing Committee, and a member of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He is married with two daughters and three grandchildren and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
After over 30 years of being an institutional securities trader and a member of the board of the San Francisco Securities Traders Association, Eileen has joined an environmentally conscious company that analyses corporate energy usage and issues either reports to the provider of electricity or offers an alternative. Eileen is a mother of two women, a grandparent of two grandsons who are French/American and a firm believer that Walnut Creek is the NYC of the East Bay.
Nita Howard's professional background is diverse: from Oakland police officer to fashion model to event planner. She has been passionate about style, homes, and bringing happiness into people’s lives for as long as she can remember. She is just hitting her stride and made the leap from managing commercial real estate to selling and is very proud to be on Climb's 1605 Riviera Sales Team here in Walnut Creek. Personally, she loves celebrating life with her friends and enjoys fine wine, dining, music, staying fit, laughing, and fashion (in no particular order). However, she still feel that her most important accomplishment is raising two incredible sons, Hunter and Colton. She thinks working in Walnut Creek and participating in the Chamber of Commerce is an opportunity of a lifetime, and nothing excites her more than helping her clients realize their dreams in this great community.
Sallie Severns has been the owner of a State Farm Agency in Walnut Creek since 2015. Sallie is a UC Berkeley Alumni and has a technology background. After starting her career in Silicon Valley, managing multi-million dollar marketing budgets and having successfully started another tech company, she transitioned to being a business owner in Insurance and Financial services in order to protect individuals, entrepreneurs and companies. Motivated by her startup background, Sallie assists small, medium and growth companies in all facets of protecting their business. Her State Farm office offers Small Business Insurance, Workers Comp, Commercial Autos including Commercial Fleets, Employers Professional Liability Insurance and also provides complimentary risk assessment for small business owners in the Walnut Creek and surrounding areas. Sallie is an alumni of the Walnut Creek Chamber's Leadership Contra Costa and has served on the East Bay Women’s Conference committee, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley and currently serves on the Ambassador Committees in Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill.
Candyce Pirtle-Smalls is a nurse, educator, life coach and author of the new book, "Mindful Meal Prep: Clean, Delicious Recipes for Weight Loss." Known as “Coach Candy,” she is passionate about helping women become the best version of themselves—mind, body and spirit. Candy successfully transformed herself from the inside out when she shed 50 lbs off her petite frame with clean-eating, weekly meal prep and exercise. Today, Candy uses her experience to coach others along their transformation journey via her 90-day, one-on-one coaching program.
Founder and CEO of Fit in Her Kitchen Meal Prep Candy’s Kitchen, LLC, Candy is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Behavior Change Specialist. Candy serves on the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce, she facilitates a 30-week weight-management class on behalf of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center and she serves as a nursing professor at Unitek College.
Committed to turning her life’s pain into passion, Candy is an advocate for domestic violence awareness and prevention. She serves on the board of the “Girl Talk” which helps build self-esteem in tween/teen girls and she sponsors workshops for young men within the juvenile justice system.
Whether it’s in the kitchen, virtually by phone or in one of her weight management classes, Candy inspires, educates and motivates individuals to lasting change. Candy is the mother of one adult son and lives with her husband in the San Francisco, Bay Area of California.
Brenda Orcutt is one of the top Account Executives with Spartan Promotional Group, and brings 15+ years of experience working in the Promotional Products industry. She works with all types of companies and organizations, big and small, and in all industries with creative marketing ideas using tangible promotional products to help her customers promote their business and events. She works with any type of product that you would want to put your logo on. From embroidered apparel items such as shirts, jackets and hats to silkscreened t-shirts in any brand and color you are looking for. Besides the apparel, she can find you that perfect item for a tradeshow giveaway, that important meeting, or a ‘thank you for your business’ gift. Whatever price point you have or even quick in hands date, Brenda can get your information put on the most creative ideas to show off your logo within your budget and timeframe. Brenda is involved with the Walnut Creek Chamber Ambassador program, the Chamber's Business Links group, and PWRG, a professional women's referral group. She is also a member of the Clayton Valley Garden Club and a local ladies PEO Philanthropic Organization. She is married with two children, and she enjoys being active outside hiking, playing golf & tennis, and gardening, as well as cooking, entertaining, and wine tasting.
In 2008, Randi began her career with Edward Jones as a branch office administrator in Gulf Breeze, Florida, before moving back to California in 2010. She became a limited partner with Edward Jones in 2014 and qualified for the Edward Jones Managing Partner's Conference in 2016, an honor reserved for the top client service branches in the firm.
Randi believes everyone deserves personalized guidance and advice, no matter what their financial situation is, and she prides herself on working with many different individuals in very different circumstances. Nothing gives her more joy than seeing people she works with achieve their financial goals and dreams and knowing she was a part of it.
Originally from Mt. Shasta, California, Randi moved to the Bay Area in 2011. She attended California State University Sacramento and graduated in 2007 with two bachelors' degrees in business marketing and sociology. Randi earned an MBA in finance from Walden University in 2009.
Randi enjoys hiking the many great trails around the Bay Area, spending time with her family and two-year-old nephew, and recently completed her first half-marathon. If she's not working, you'll typically find her at an Oakland Athletics game.
Carry Warner is the VP Branch Manager at F & M Bank in Walnut Creek. Carry has been in branch banking for 23 years & currently leads a team of professional, experienced bankers who provide exceptional service. Carry’s passion is working with non-profits and strengthening the community through support of small business.
Allasia Hyett is a commercial insurance broker with Rees & Rees Insurance Services Inc., licensed in Property Casualty and Life & Health. Although there are many services offered within her realm of practice, she specializes in helping businesses with Workers Comp, General Liability, Bonds, Professional Liability / E & O and Commercial Auto. As a native to the San Francisco Bay Area, she really appreciates all of the coastal hikes and cultural food the Bay has to offer. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, long walks with her dog, camping, attending sporting events, and getting down and dirty in the kitchen!
Vito LoGrasso is a lifelong resident of Contra Costa County and has lived in Moraga, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, and Oakley. He is an alumnus from Saint Mary’s College of Moraga with a B.S. in Business Admininstration.
Growing up in the family business, “Johnny’s Market in Antioch” grocery store, gave him a strong foundation in customer service. In 2009 he obtained his license in real estate while helping sellers and buyers protect themselves with home warranties. “My goal is to reduce the fear and concerns in order to make their home sale or purchase less painful and even fun!”
He gives back to the community by serving as an Ambassador to the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, a volunteer sr. van driver for the City of Pleasant Hill, and a member of the Contra Costa Board of Realtors Grievances committee. His greatest joy is having a loving wife and their two sons, who are in active duty serving our country—Go Navy!
Drawing from a career of customer service, Kim Ryle works with a team of experienced social media marketing strategists to help businesses gain greater exposure, enhance their reputation, and increase profitability. Kim enjoys working with a diverse spectrum of people and helping businesses that are challenged to keep up with the latest digital advertising trends. Using leading-edge technology, he helps drive traffic to websites and storefronts, to allow owners and managers more time to do what they do best. When not doing marketing, Kim devotes time to help young people gain experience, knowledge, and income in the field of sustainability, and enjoys numerous outdoor activities with his wife and son.
Nicole is the Executive Director for Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa and Solano Counties and is responsible for ensuring that the 13,000 residents of long-term care in her community have access to the highest level of care, respect and above all are able to live free of abuse and neglect. Prior to her role with OSCCS Nicole worked for nearly five years as the Director of Operations for Ombudsman Services of San Mateo County where she became a fierce advocate for senior and dependent adults and immersed herself in culture change initiatives and person centered care philosophies. Ms. Howell has worked in the non-profit community for a decade and attended the University of Nevada, Reno. When she is not at work she can be found at the Oakland Coliseum cheering on the Oakland A’s and hoping for a World Series Championship.
Teresa is a lifelong resident of the East Bay and is a seasoned realtor with Dudum Real Estate Group. She leads Zocchi & Associates, a team of seven professionals to success. She has worked every aspect of the industry representing buyers, sellers, and investors and comes from a long lineage of commercial and residential developers. Her in-depth knowledge of the community is a hallmark to her success as she knows first-hand that buying or selling a home is one of life’s most important decisions. Teresa primarily sells Real Estate in the East Bay. Her clients appreciate and respect her outstanding business acumen and expertise. She loves real estate and the life long relationships she forms with her clients.
Teresa attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga and has raised her four children in the area. She is very much involved In numerous philanthropic endeavors and sits on the Board for the Boys & Girl’s Club of Contra Costa. Teresa is a strong supporter of many local organizations and schools throughout the East Bay. She has served as President of the Contra Costa Network Women’s Council of Realtors, she is a member of the Contra Costa Realtors in Motion, California Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Realtors. Teresa is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Concord, Alamo, Pleasant Hill, and Martinez.