Who We Are

The Sequoia Awards provides scholarships to high school seniors who are outstanding community volunteers.

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Meet Our Team

The Sequoia Awards
Board of Directors

Our all-volunteer board of directors is comprised of local leaders from business, government, and the community who manage The Sequoia Awards organization and our annual dinner. We have no paid staff, allowing 100% of sponsorships and donations to fund the scholarships, awards celebration, and related expenses.

 

Executive Officers

Since 1995, Ellen has served as a partner in the law firm of Haas & Associates, LLP in Redwood City, focusing her practice on estate and tax planning, estate administration, and probate. Ellen models the spirit of volunteerism that is at the heart of The Sequoia Awards. In addition to serving as the current chair of The Sequoia Awards board of directors, she also serves on the board of Kainos Home & Training Center and is the current president of the board of directors for Casa de Redwood.

Albert Lee

Albert Lee

Vice Chair

Albert Lee

Albert Lee

Vice Chair

Albert is an associate director at the Cumming Corp., a construction and project management consulting firm. He has been passionate about community service ever since his high school volunteer days at St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco. Albert first learned about The Sequoia Awards through volunteering with DPR Construction, and joined the board in 2017 to further its mission to recognize outstanding community service. He graduated from University of California, Berkeley and has resided in Redwood City since 2009 with his wife and dog.

Dennis P. McBride

Treasurer

Dennis P. McBride

Treasurer

Dennis is a CPA and has served as the treasurer of The Sequoia Awards since 2005. Dennis hails from Pittsburgh, PA, and has lived in Redwood City since 1979.  He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University. Dennis joined The Sequoia Awards board because he wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives. “A significant portion of our students would not be able to attend college if we did not provide these scholarships,” Dennis says. “We are helping to set students up for a very successful life.”

Ed Everett

Secretary

Ed Everett

Secretary

Ed is the retired city manager of Redwood City, serving from 1992-2007. A 37-year veteran of local government, Ed was instrumental in the development of Redwood City’s active downtown, and created programs that increased civic engagement and focused the city on building community. In 2007, Ed received The International City/County Management Association’s most prestigious annual award, the Award for Career Excellence. Ed grew up in Sacramento and earned a degree in economics from the University of California, Davis, and a graduate degree in urban affairs from Princeton University. He also volunteered for Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA).

Jim Lianides

Past Chair

Jim Lianides

Past Chair

Jim is a retired educator. Over the course of his 39-year career, he served as a teacher, principal, chief business official, and superintendent. He most recently served as superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District from 2010 to 2017. Jim is a lifelong Redwood City resident and attended local schools including Woodside High School. He earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees at the University of California, Berkeley. Jim says being on the board of The Sequoia Awards over the last seven years has given him the ability to serve students of our community by being part of a special organization that makes opportunity possible for our next generation.

Board of Directors

Pat is a retired technology marketing and government affairs executive. She was born in Southern California and lived in Redwood City for 30 years prior to retiring to Marin County. She graduated from the University of California, Riverside, with a BA in Political Science and received her MBA from Pepperdine University. She served as an aide to U.S. Senator John Tunney, D-CA; as director of Communications & Marketing Support at Tandem Computers; and as vice president, Corporate & Government Affairs at Electronic Arts. Pat says being a Sequoia Awards Board member for more than 20 years has been the most rewarding and inspiring experience of her volunteer work. “Meeting these young leaders of tomorrow gives me renewed hope for our country’s future,” she said.

Janet is a member of the Redwood City Council and lives in Redwood City. She graduated from Ravenswood High School in East Palo Alto, went to beauty school, and owned and operated the Beauty Wheel Salon in Redwood City for 46 years. She now runs a salon in Palo Alto.  Janet is an active and compassionate community volunteer. She started a free wig bank for women going through chemotherapy, and as a councilmember she has been active in the Bayfront Canal project, Caltrain modernization, the RWC/YMCA Partnership, rail transportation, and the Redwood City Sesquicentennial Committee. She was named the American Cancer Society Notable Person of the Year and the American Legion Citizen of the Year, and received the Gentry Magazine Star Award. She is also a past recipient of The Sequoia Awards Outstanding Individual award, and is a past board chair.

Joel is vice president of pre-construction at W.L. Butler Construction, Inc. and a 20-year veteran of the construction industry. While Joel was technically born and raised in the construction business, he chose to expand his knowledge and experience by obtaining a BS in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo after graduating from Woodside High School.  He is a strong believer in strengthening the community through direct volunteer work.

Jack is a retired insurance broker. He was born in San Francisco and moved to Redwood City in 1949. Jack and his wife Raegene have been involved in Redwood City boards, commissions, and charities since 1960. He has held the office of president at organizations that include the Jaycees, Nativity Church, the Redwood City/San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce, and the Easter Cross Association. Jack also served as chairman and director of the Redwood City Fourth of July Parade and oversaw the City’s annual fireworks display as well as serving on the board of directors of the Peninsula Celebration Association. He has spent 5 years on the Redwood City Parks & Recreation board, 10 years on the Redwood City Planning Commission, and 20 years on the Port Commission. Jack and his wife, Raegene, are past co-chairs as well as founding board members of The Sequoia Awards and they are proud to help recognize individuals, businesses, and students for their volunteerism.

Jeri is a realtor and partner at Sequoia Realty Services in Redwood City. She is a fourth- generation Redwood City native. She graduated from Woodside High School in 2000 and the University of San Diego in 2004, which is when she joined The Sequoia Awards board. Jeri believes that the volunteering you do today will help shape the community into what you want it to be in the future. Her grandfather, Will Richardson, also was a long-time member of the board.

Carlos is a senior employee services manager for Oracle HQ Region in Redwood City. He’s been with Oracle since 2013 and is very proud to work for such a great company. He spent a few years of his childhood in the Azores islands of Portugal. He’s lived in the Bay Area for more than 30 years, and currently resides in San Jose. Carlos joined The Sequoia Awards board because of his passion to work with youth and be involved with the community.

Deanna is the owner of Dooley Insurance Services.  She has been in the insurance business and has lived in Redwood City area since 1967. Deanna grew up in England and obtained her Doctorate in Law from the University of London. She has served on The Sequoia Awards board for more than 20 years, and is a past chair of the board of directors. Since 2002, she has chaired the committee that produces our annual awards dinner. Deanna is also a member of the Rotary Club of Redwood City, past chair of the Sequoia Hospital Foundation, and served as state president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

Tara is the vice president and resident director at Merrill Lynch in San Mateo. She has served on The Sequoia Awards board of directors since 2008 and is the former board chair and board secretary and serves on the Scholarship Interview Committee. Tara says it is a privilege to serve and an honor to meet so many bright, caring, driven young people. “With a bit of support, they will go on to make our world a better place,” she says.

Since 1997, Andy has served as the executive director of the Kainos Home & Training Center in Redwood City. Kainos enables adults with developmental disabilities to maximize their potential while becoming active, contributing members of the community. Andy graduated from Stanford with a degree in Psychology and Feminist Studies. He is a founding member of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo, The Sequoia Awards, the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities, and the Redwood City Human Service Agency Collaborative. He also serves on the board of directors of Casa De Redwood and Redwood City International.

Dena works for Facebook, where she is the manager of Community Outreach and Events, Bay Area. Born and raised in Redwood City, Dena is a third-generation Redwood City resident and is now raising her children to be the fourth generation. She attended St. Pius Elementary School, St. Francis High School, and graduated with a BS degree from San Diego State University. She believes in supporting our youth and loves to see students paying it forward through volunteerism. She has a passion for organizing and supporting events that bring our community closer together.

Debra is a marketing, branding, and strategic planning consultant. Prior to starting her consulting business, she served as director of marketing, promotion, and branding for The San Francisco Chronicle, and as deputy director of the San Jose Sports Authority, the sports marketing arm of the City of San Jose. Debra grew up in Redwood City, and is a proud alumna of St. Pius Elementary School, Sequoia High School, and Stanford University, where she earned degrees in Communication and Political Science. Private scholarships like The Sequoia Awards made her college experience possible. Debra says she is honored to serve on the board and have the opportunity to help other Redwood City students access higher education.

Diane currently serves as the mayor of Redwood City, her second time serving in that position. She has a long track record of representing the community’s interests in various city leadership roles. Diane served on the city council from 1994-2009, and was re-elected in November 2013. She served as vice mayor (2017), mayor (1997-1999), and vice mayor (1995-1997, 2007-2009). An active community volunteer, Diane has received numerous recognitions and awards for her service, including The Sequoia Awards Outstanding Individual Award, the Silicon Valley Volunteer Recognition Award for Service to the Sequoia YMCA, and the YMCA Mid-Peninsula Red Triangle for Volunteerism Award. Diane grew up in Long Island, NY. She graduated from the Lewis Wilson School of Nursing in Lindenhurst, NY and is a retired orthopedic nurse.

Suzanne is the vice president of Marketing and Community relations at San Mateo Credit Union. She has more than 20 years of experience in marketing leadership at companies such as Redwood Credit Union, Lowepro, Blurb Inc., and O’Reilly Media. Her background includes marketing strategy, digital marketing, advertising, public relations, project management, corporate communications, and developing projects with organizations from across the globe. Suzanne holds a BA in Business Administration from California State University, Sacramento and was part of the 2018 graduating class of Western CUNA Management School, a program that develops and prepares credit union leaders to meet the challenges of the future. Always active in the community, Suzanne has served on many nonprofit boards. She lives in Sebastopol with her husband, two young sons, and their dog, Rosie.

Steve is the CEO of DES Architects + Engineers. His primary role is the leadership and management of DES. By maintaining an easy-going culture that embraces learning and creativity, Steve has cultivated an environment that allows talented professionals to contribute their best work. His leadership has been instrumental in DES becoming the leading architecture firm in Silicon Valley. He is a lifelong member of the Redwood City community. He spent his early years in the Kennedy Middle School neighborhood, graduated from Woodside High School, and has worked for 40 years in downtown Redwood City. He is a past chair of The Sequoia Awards board of directors.

Ashley is a public policy manager at Facebook, focusing on community engagement efforts. She is active in her community through her involvement with the Redwood City Library Foundation Board and the Spark Advisory Board, and was recently appointed the Chairperson of the Redwood City Arts Commission. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Diplomacy & World Affairs from Occidental College. A Redwood City native, Ashley says, “The City of Redwood City  has provided a lot in my life and I’m looking forward to giving back to the youth of our community.”

Barbara spent 30 years in the title and escrow industry in Redwood City. She has been an active community volunteer in San Mateo County for more than 35 years. She is a founding member of The Sequoia Awards and past president of the board of directors. Barbara was born, raised, and educated in Baltimore, MD. She is now retired and lives in Foster City. Barbara says, “I believe in our mission to honor all our recipients for their uncompensated volunteerism and help high school seniors realize their dreams to attend college through our scholarship program.”

Ernie is the general manager of Fox Theatre Properties. He was born in San Francisco and has lived in Redwood City since 2001. He was raised in both Mexico City and Mountain View, attended Los Altos High School, and received his AA degree in Administration of Justice from De Anza College. An active community volunteer, Ernie serves as the vice chair of the Redwood City Planning Commission, the chair of his neighborhood association, and a board member and co-founder of the Latino Community Council of Redwood City. Ernie says, “One of the greatest joys I get in my life is being an active member of my community and finding ways to make a difference in our young adults’ lives. The Sequoia Awards not only provides me that joy but allows me to work alongside friends who share that same passion.”

Michael A. Smith serves as a councilmember on the Redwood City Council, representing District 4. He previously served as a Redwood City planning commissioner and co-chair of the Redwood City Palm Park Neighborhood Association. Michael is also the founder and CEO of E&I Advisors, a boutique management consulting firm focused on delivering operating and go-to-market strategy for small- and medium-sized technology companies. Prior to founding of E&I Advisors, Michael was a director of strategy and business planning at American Express based in New York. Michael also lived and worked in Seoul, South Korea as a global strategist for the Samsung organization. Michael holds an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business, and a BA in Political Economy from Yale University.

Mark Simon is a veteran journalist with more than 45 years of experience as a daily newspaper columnist, political writer, and news reporter. He currently writes a weekly column on local news and issues for the San Mateo Daily Journal. He also worked for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Peninsula Times-Tribune. For 15 years, he held a variety of executive positions with SamTrans and Caltrain. A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Mark has lived in Redwood City for more than 40 years. He joined The Sequoia Awards board of directors in 2015.

Jenny is a management analyst at the Redwood City Police Department. She was born and raised in Redwood City and is a current resident of North Fair Oaks. She graduated from Castilleja School and attended Notre Dame de Namur University. Jenny is a past Sequoia Awards scholarship winner. She was honored as the Outstanding Student of the Year in 1995. As a former recipient, she enjoys serving on the board and is grateful that she has the opportunity to give back and support the impressive young volunteers in her community.

Paula is the co-founder of The Sequoia Awards and for more than 50 years she has been one of Redwood City’s most active, involved residents. She was born and raised in San Jose and moved to the Peninsula to attend the College of San Mateo to study business. Until 2012, Paula and her late husband, Pete, ran Pete’s Harbor, a 280-slip marina and restaurant on Redwood City’s waterfront and one of the Peninsula’s most popular gathering spots. Paula served as the assistant harbor master and director of public relations. The Uccellis were dedicated to improving the life of others in the community. In addition to their service on numerous boards and commissions, they established the Uccelli Foundation, which awarded scholarships to high school graduates in San Mateo County. The success of their foundation prompted them to start The Sequoia Awards in 1990.

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