The non-profit, all-volunteer Foundation provides the tools for art education.
Since 2002, the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation has contributed more than $1,600,000 dollars to support youth art education in Sonoma.
The Sonoma Plein Air Foundation facilitates artists, arts organizations, public schools and the community to create, appreciate, and understand the importance of visual arts. We seek to inspire and engage youth through art education, foster artistic excellence, nurture a vibrant local arts community, and bring people together for experiences that inspire a creative exchange of ideas.
Judy Vadasz Co-Founder and Director Emeritus Soon after arriving in Sonoma in 1998, Judy met local artist Keith Wicks who had an idea to bring fine artists to Sonoma to paint, sell their work to the public for the benefit of art education in the 4th and 5th grades, while providing much needed funds to help art education in public schools. Through the Vadasz Family Foundation, Judy provided financial support to help create the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation and has served on the SPAF Board since its inception in 2002 through 2015. A project oriented person, Judy has volunteered for KQED, Interplast, and various other groups. She spent many years working with at-risk freshmen in the counseling department at Mountain View High School, and helped form a parent-teacher preschool in Sunnyvale when her sons were small. Judy came to California from her home in Nebraska via Boston where she met her husband Les. Currently living in Sonoma, Judy and Les have been on the Peninsula since 1962.
Keith Wicks Co-Founder and Board Member As founding member of the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation, Keith donates his time and paintings to various causes including the Ronnie Lott Foundation’s “All Stars Helping Kids” and the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, where his works are auctioned for charity. With over thirty years experience, Keith devotes considerable time to teaching art at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and to various charities that promote art education in public schools. Keith began painting at the age of 11 and won his first city-sponsored art award in the sixth grade. A graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena Ca, Keith is a signature member of the California Art Club, and exhibits his work around the country. Keith and his wife Terri live in Sonoma.
Volunteer Board of Directors
Cathy Good Co-President A native Californian, Cathy has been involved with SPAF since 2007. Prior to moving from Oregon to Sonoma in 2004, Cathy’s long-time volunteer activities include active involvement at her kids’ schools, Christ Episcopal Church, and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR. A graduate of Mills College with a BA in English, Cathy fondly remembers her grade school art teacher whom she credits with her enduring appreciation for art. Cathy and her husband David live in Sonoma where David’s family’s roots trace back to the early 1970s.
Cheryl Shimek Co-President Cheryl spent most of her career in the healthcare industry initially working as a critical care nurse and then moving into the medical device marketplace in marketing & communications roles. For over 10 years while living in Oakland, Cheryl was involved with Girls Incorporated of Alameda County as Chairperson or Committee Leader for their annual fundraising event, ‘Women of Taste’. She has had a lifelong interest in the arts stemming from educational experiences and friendships with artists. In addition to involvement with Sonoma Plein Air, she is also a mentor with the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance and a member of Impact100 Sonoma. Cheryl lives in Sonoma.
Barbara Wells Treasurer Barbara moved to Sonoma in 2008 and began her local career working for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley. Since then she has been involved with many nonprofits including La Luz Center, Sonoma Valley Rotary Foundation, Sonoma Valley Fund, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, and Sonoma Valley Catalyst Fund. Barbara graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Global Studies.
Pat Meier-Johnson Secretary A native Californian and happy Sonoman since 2011, Pat is an honors graduate from San Francisco State University and began her career as a graphic artist for KQED Newsroom and on-and off-air for Bay Area radio stations. Her first job in public relations was to explain how Ella Fitzgerald broke the wine glass in the famed Memorex commercials. With a knack for tech, she hosted a TV show featuring tech leaders and founded one of the first woman-owned tech PR agencies serving clients around the world for more than 20 years. Pat married writer/photographer/filmmaker Russ Johnson in 1998 and they collaborate on communications projects supporting tourism, technology, and Sonoma Valley non-profits. Pat has a passion for art. Her paintings, primarily California landscapes, are in collections and exhibited in the US and Asia. Her still life was the 2015 award-winning image for the Sonoma Olive Festival.
Gerry Brinton Gerry has served on numerous non-profits with a focus on education and health care. She was a member of the Finance Committee for the Sonoma Valley Hospital and previously served as board chair and chair on several committees for San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) and Sutter Health. She is currently on the board of the Mentoring Alliance and Jack London State Park. With a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Duke University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Gerry’s professional career experience includes accounting and tax work, management consulting, real estate development, property management, and business start-up and development. Gerry and her husband Bill live in the Sonoma area.
Irene Cook Irene began her career with American Airlines. With a passion for travel, history and art, she visited museums and art galleries throughout the United States and abroad. After retiring from the airlines, Irene began volunteering with Guide Dogs for the Blind (San Rafael) raising Guide Dog breeders. Raised in San Francisco and Marin County, Irene and has been at home and active in the Sonoma community since 1972. Irene began volunteering with SPAF in 2013 and enjoys the role of artist liaison.
Gretchen Gardner Raised in the country north of Pittsburgh, PA, Gretchen Gardner is the daughter of an eclectic artist, and went on to study art in high school and at Denison University, where she majored in literature and writing. She went on to combine her writing and art talents with a career in advertising, and found her way to San Francisco where she and her husband Bob owned a major local advertising agency and raised two daughters. After 30 years they disbanded the company, moved to Sonoma, and built their dream house where they are living happily ever after.
Judy Hallden Judy has spent her career following two passions: travel and art. Living in NYC in the 1980s, taking classes at the Art Students League, she learned to appreciate the arts realized she wasn’t a painter or a sculptor but found her talents in interior design. After moving west, she attended San Francisco State focusing on Interior Design. She ran a San Francisco interior design business and an import-export business focusing on Asian antiquities. Judy believes that art is an instrumental part of education, and found her cause with Sonoma Plein Air. Starting as a volunteer doing the flowers for the gala event, to co-chair of the Quick Draw event, she joined the board in 2017.
Ellen Hoover Ellen comes to the SPAF board with stellar credentials. After earning a BA in Art History at Dominican College, Ellen was a painting specialist at Butterfield & Butterfield Auctioneers in San Francisco. She was the founding partner of Montgomery Gallery, an internationally recognized gallery that specializes in late 19th and early 20th century American and European art. Ellen and her husband, local architect Sid Hoover live in Sonoma.
Nancy Evers Kirwan Nancy Evers Kirwan grew up in San Francisco coming to Sonoma for her summers since the 1950's. She now resides in her family's renovated summer home after living for 35 years in Los Angeles with her husband, Kyle. Nancy attended UC Santa Cruz followed by UC Hastings College of Law. After practicing law in San Francisco for 10 years she moved to Los Angeles and attended UCLA earning a landscape architecture degree. While there, she actively supported her children's schools, Children's Hospital LA and the at-risk youth of Neighborhood Youth Association, while working with her landscape design clients. After returning to Sonoma full time in 2016 she has joined the board of Sonoma Plein Air, Sonoma Mountain Preservation, worked with the Sonoma Ecology Center on post fire watershed protection, and pitched in with various other environmental and community non-profits.
Nikki Parr Nikki Parr graduated from the University of the Pacific and has always loved art in all its forms. She spent many years as a certified ASID interior designer and owned an interiors shop in Palo Alto. She specialized in importing antique carpets, furniture and art from around the world. Nikki was a featured designer on 7 showcase homes in the Palo Alto area and on several HGTV episodes in addition to having her design work published in "Sunset" and "San Francisco" magazines. Nikki has lived in Sonoma for 17 years and been an active volunteer with SPAF for 7 years focusing on the production of the annual Sonoma Plein Air Festival GALA event. She spent 11 years as a staff member of the Sonoma Visitors Bureau and has volunteered for Sonoma Hospice.
Nancy Pollock Nancy Legge Pollock spent her career in the travel industry working for an airline, various cruise lines, and an Internet travel startup company. After moving to Sonoma in 2000 Nancy quickly became involved with such wide-ranging organizations and activities as the Sonoma Valley Visitors’ Bureau, Master Gardeners, La Luz, the Red & White Ball, and others. She is a founding board member of Sonoma Impact 100. Nancy lives in Sonoma with her husband Bill.
Linda Rosso Linda began her career in magazine publishing and went on to serve as marketing and communications strategist for some of the nation’s best-known companies. Before relocating from Marin County in 2015, she served as a board member of the Volunteer Center of Marin, Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce and The Outdoor Art Club. She served for six years as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation in Mill Valley and led a non-profit corporation to raise funds for high school music programs. She currently works part time as a marketing and development consultant for the Sonoma County Parks Foundation and several small businesses. Linda and her husband Michael live in the Sonoma Valley.
Dana Simpson-Stokes Dana and her husband Ken moved to Sonoma in 2012, returning to California after a three decade “world tour” living in three other states and three European countries. Beginning her career in retail buying, Dana also worked in interior design before “retiring” to raise two children and become very adept at moving! She has volunteered for multiple school and community organizations, often with a focus on children and art. Dana is active with Impact 100, Newcomers, and as a docent with the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. She holds a BA in Studio Art from Scripps College and has recently returned to making art as a printmaker and mixed-media artist.
OUR MAILING ADDRESS: Sonoma Plein Air Foundation 19201 Sonoma Highway, Suite 321, Sonoma CA 95476