Board of Directors
Dr. Hoby Wedler, Board Chair
Dr. Hoby Wedler has been completely blind since birth. Hoby is a scientist, food & beverage expert and a passionate explorer and innovator of sensory experiences and sensory-driven design thinking. Hoby is unusually tuned into his surroundings and has frequently chosen to walk the unbeaten paths in life over known territories. In 2017, Hoby earned his PhD from UC Davis in computational organic chemistry, a subject that relies heavily on visual clues to understand complex organic connections. His fearlessness is infectious, and he has actively paved the way for others to join him in his quest to follow passions both because and despite of challenges. Over the years, Hoby has become a motivational speaker, a mentor and educator to those who see and those who see differently alike. In his work, you will find a unique trilogy between sensory awareness, scientific knowledge, and a love for sharing his insights, helping individuals and corporations to access and optimize their sensory experiences.
Bill Nordskog, Treasurer
Bill grew up in Iowa and happily headed west to attend college. After graduating from Stanford, he joined Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, and except 2 years as a US Army draftee, he spent 35 years in a variety of manufacturing management positions before retiring in 2004. Bill and wife Linda met at HP, lived in Los Altos for several years, and transferred to HP Santa Rosa in 1986. As with most HP employees, he has been an active volunteer in the Sonoma County community, serving on boards for Junior Achievement, United Way, the Workforce Development Board, the Sonoma County Youth Council, the Santa Rosa Violence Prevention Network/Gang Prevention Task Force, the Sierra Youth Center, the Santa Rosa Measure O Oversight Committee, and the Sonoma County Innovation Council. He has been particularly involved in youth development activities, has served as a CASA mentor for foster youth, and is participating in Roseland University Prep’s Thru-College Mentorship Program.
Tim Webster, Secretary
Tim Webster is a longtime resident of Sebastopol and has been happily married for 36 years. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University and a gemologist, he was involved in the gemstone trade as an importer and gem cutter for 35 years. After suffering a sudden vision loss in 2005, he came to the Earle Baum Center for assistance. “The wonderful folks at the EBC saved me emotionally and taught me the skills I needed to carry on with my life,” he says. “I consider them my second family and I am honored to be able to contribute my services in return as a member of the Board of Directors.” After his forced retirement, Tim purchased a small farm in Costa Rica and spends three delightful months each year in his tropical paradise.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Linda Burille has been a resident of Sonoma County since 1979. She’s a certified trust and financial advisor and accredited estate planner whose professional career has included 42 years of trust administration and investment experience. Since 2002, Linda has served as Vice President and Trust Officer for Exchange Bank Wealth Management. And prior to that, she was AVP/Senior Trust Officer at Wells Fargo Bank, Private Client Services, and AVP/Senior Trust Officer at the Bank of America, Personal Trust Division. In addition to serving on the Earle Baum Center Board, Linda has been a member and Past President of Redwood Empire Estate Planning Council, a member and Past President of Soroptimist International of Santa Rosa, a member of the Professional Advisory Group, Sutter VNA/Hospice, and she’s an elder and choir member/rehearsal director at the Presbyterian Church. Linda received her undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University and she’s a graduate of Leadership Santa Rosa, Class 24. Linda is married to Carlton Burille, and has one son Paul.
Roberta Holleman, CPA has been a resident of Sonoma County since 1973. She has lived with her husband, Terry, and family in Sonoma and Cotati, working in various small businesses and not for profits for many years until she joined Bollinger, Glenn, Guattery, Gunn & McAravy, LLP CPAs in 1997.Since 2010 she has been growing her own QuickBooks consulting and bookkeeping business, Symba Services. She specializes in helping small businesses with their accounting needs. Roberta and Terry enjoy the Americana music scene in Sonoma County. She was an avid fan of Earlefest which supported the Earle Baum Center of the Blind. Terry is an artist and an avid supporter of the Arts in Sonoma County.
Barry Bialkoski is the District Governor of Lions Clubs International District 4-C2 and President of Redwood Lions Memorial Foundation serving Marin and Sonoma counties in California. Barry helped set up the Lions Vision Center which now serves about 4000 patients a year. He attended San Francisco State University majoring in Business. The best part of that, he met his wife, Roxanne, and after nearly fifty years has two great daughters and four grandchildren.
After a career of nearly 37 years in the field of Vocational Rehabilitation, Carol Gallego recently retired from the California State Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). At the time of her retirement, and after 30 years in DOR, Carol had devoted 16 years to the Blind Field Services division. As Blind Field Services division team manager, her unit of rehabilitation counselors worked closely with staff from the EBC. Prior to joining the Blind Field Services division of DOR, Carol held a position as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, specializing in a mental health caseload. Later, changing caseloads, she specialized in working with Regional Center clients who were interested in employment. Carol also worked as a DOR Habilitation Specialist, providing funding to local, non-profit, community work service programs. In this capacity, she provided the oversight in identifying barriers to meaningful employment for non-profit clients, as well as follow up to their employment success. Carol monitored these programs for Regional Center clients in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Carol was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and raised in the Sacramento and graduated from Cal State Sacramento, where she majored in Social Work. She has been a reader for the blind and has lived in Sonoma County in 1989 and makes her home in Santa Rosa with her husband, three dogs and a parrot.
Michael Hingson is a national ambassador for the Braille Literacy Campaign. He is a miraculous survivor of 9/11. After 9/11 Mike Hingson began receiving requests to speak to audiences about his experience on that day as well as to discuss his thoughts on Life and dealing with change. He has become a recognized internationally acclaimed public speaker who captivates audiences with his personal and compelling story. He also teaches his listeners new ways of looking at life and their worlds by helping them to visualize from his viewpoint how to live, function and thrive. Mike also works for Aira Tech Corp, the manufacturer of the world’s first full visual interpreter for people who are blind or with low vision. Mike lives with his wife, Karen, in the San Francisco Bay Area with two guide dogs, Africa and Fantasia, and one cat, Stitch.
Born in Evanston Illinois and raised in Pleasant Hill Ca, Mike has been a resident of Sonoma county since 2009. Mike attended Sacramento State University and has spent most of his professional career in banking and finance. Since 2012 Mike has been with Umpqua Bank and currently serves as the Manger of Umpqua Bank in Sebastopol. Mike has lived with his wife Kelli and step-son Riley in Windsor for the last 5 years. He enjoys biking and hiking in the foothills, working out at the local gym, and playing golf as much as possible. Like most people who play golf, he wishes he was much, much better at it.
Neal Mckenzie was born and raised in Sonoma County. Neal found a real passion for the field of working with Blind and Visually Impaired persons when he took a break from the trades during the recession and jumped into a substitute paraprofessional position for an academic Blind 8th grader. This sparked a true passion which caused a major shift and eventually led to Neal becoming an Assistive Technology Specialist for the Sonoma County Office of Education. Neal works with many BVI students and other populations within the large Special Education program at Sonoma County Office of Education. Neal is passionate about equal access in education and life in general, helping as many reach their full potential especially through high and low access tech solutions to help make their worlds that much bigger. He has also been designing and sharing open-source 3D tactile prints that are used for teaching and accessing content for BVI students along with many other special education populations around the world who can benefit from a more tactile and inclusive approach to learning. On his down time, you can find Neal on a Tennis court, a stage, or in a garage with the amps up to 11. [ Above on RH side is a photo is Neal on the right with his friend Eli Sanchez on the left.]
In 2004, after a 32-year career, Geoff Perel retired from employment with the State of California. For 26 years he worked for the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), most recently for 18 years as Senior Rehabilitation Counselor for the Blind in the Santa Rosa office of DOR. Prior to DOR Geoff was a California State Parole Agent. In 2004 Geoff earned a Masters Degree in Special Education from San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) Program in Vision Impairment with an emphasis in Orientation and Mobility (O&M). Geoff previously earned a Master’s Degree in Criminology from UC Berkeley and also holds a BA Degree in Sociology from UCLA. Geoff has served on a variety of college disability resources advisory boards at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University, and was Vice Chair of the DOR Assistive Technology Advisory Committee. He recently completed 15 years of service with the Northern California Chapter of AERBVI (Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired) including service as Chapter President. Geoff is currently a member of the California Association of Orientation and Mobility Specialists (CAOMS) and serves on the SFSU O&M Graduate Program Advisory Board. Since 2004 Geoff has enjoyed his “second career” as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) contractor with the San Francisco VA Medical Center’s Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST). He also served for over 15 years as the Job Accommodation Consultant for the California State Auto Association (CSAA), and has provided legal consultation related to vision loss and related benefits. Geoff and his wife Deborah have resided in downtown Sebastopol for over 41 years. He enjoys woodworking, vegetable gardening, and hiking, kayaking, and cycling in beautiful Sonoma County.
Etta Allen is the owner of Sunny Slope Vineyard in Sonoma Valley. In 1972, she became the second woman in the state of California to become a licensed contractor in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and sheet metal, and in 1974 she became President and CEO of Allen Heating and Sheet Metal, a position she held until her recent retirement. Under her leadership the company became recognized throughout California. She was the first woman president of Marin Builders Exchange and during her time on its Executive Committee she also served as a trustee and later as chairman of their successful insurance trust. She was the first woman contractor on the Executive Committee of the California Association of Builders Exchanges. Etta was a director of Westamerica Bank from 1988-2021. She is one of the pioneers for women in non-traditional careers. As an entrepreneur, businesswoman and an involved community leader, she brings independence, operations management, and executive experience to the Board.
Aerial Gilbert grew up in Marin County and has been a resident of Sonoma County since 1994. She was a pediatric RNuntil she lost her sight abruptly in 1988. Aerial credits her adjustment to vision loss to the services she received through the State Department of Rehabilitation and to receiving a Guide Dog. Aerial lives with her husband Larry, her Guide Dog Amour and three hives of bees. She is a passionate rower who has represented the US at five World Rowing Championships and continues to row regularly. She enjoys beekeeping, gardening, and cooking. Aerial worked at Guide Dogs for the Blind for 23 years, first as Manager of Campus Volunteer Programs and then as the Outreach Manager for the US and Canada. Aerial was a member of the first board of directors for Earle Baum Center at its inception in 1996 and served for more than 10 years. In retirement, Aerial is thrilled to return to serving with the board of Earle Baum