Our Board of Directors
We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of Jim Grossi II, HCR Board Member since 2020, and Board President from June 2022 – November 2022. While Jim’s tenure as President may have been short, his impact on our community and the relationships he facilitated in support of our mission will be far-reaching and never forgotten.
Josefina “Josie” Plaister, President. Josie is commercial legal counsel at Salesforce in San Francisco. She earned her JD from University of California College of the Law and a BA from Stanford University. She has worked with many not-for-profit organizations throughout her career, including the National Center for Youth Law and the Center for Young Women’s Development. Josie became involved with Halleck Creek after her husband, Malcolm, began volunteering at the ranch in 2016. They both feel awed by the Halleck Creek Ranch community, including the amazing riders, the sweet horses and the incredibly passionate and dedicated staff and volunteers. Josie has made West Marin her full-time home since 2012. Josie joined the Board in June of 2018, and became President in November 2022.
William “Bill” Manheim, Vice President. Bill is Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, at Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). He joined the Board in March, 2021, after being introduced to Halleck Creek by Josie Plaister. Bill and his wife Tracy, a retired teacher, live in Marshall with multiple dogs, cats, a parrot, foster kittens from Berkeley Humane and occasional scurries of squirrels and passels of opossums on rehab or bottle feeding from Wildcare in San Rafael. Bill and Tracy have two daughters, Emily and Ashley. Bill holds a bachelor’s degree from American University, School of International Service and a law degree from University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
Jean-Denis Ncho-Oguie, Treasurer. Jean-Denis (or “John”) grew up in Novato, CA, attended San Marin High School and University of California, Santa Barbara, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Business Economics with an emphasis in Accounting. He is a licensed CPA and currently works for Deloitte & Touche LLP in San Francisco. Jean-Denis lives with his wife Alicia and their three young daughters, Elena, Emma, and Eve in Novato. At the age of 2, Elena was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, and in early 2016, the Ncho family found Halleck Creek Ranch. Elena now receives equine therapy every Saturday afternoon. The Ncho family has felt so blessed to find an organization as prestigious and inclusive as Halleck Creek Ranch. As such, in an effort to show their appreciation and to further contribute to the great organization that is Halleck Creek, Jean-Denis became an active Board Member in October of 2016.
Selina Wajnowski, Secretary. Selina and her husband Greg moved back to California after living and working for 12 years in Asia when their son Zachary was diagnosed with autism. They soon heard about Halleck Creek from Zack’s occupational therapist, and Zack has enjoyed riding at the Ranch since 2001. “We are deeply appreciative of the program at Halleck Creek, the beautiful surroundings of the Ranch, and most of all the wonderfully inclusive and diverse community that defines and distinguishes Halleck Creek Ranch”. Selina is a volunteer on the facilities team, sidewalks Zack during his Saturday rides, and joined the Board in February of 2010.
David Lambert. David first heard about Halleck Creek from one of his daughter Jennifer’s physical therapists. “We have been coming to the ranch since 1998, enjoying the great camaraderie and beautiful scenery that makes Halleck Creek so special to all who come and experience the facility. Both Jennifer and I have watched the ranch grow and become an outstanding facility for anyone with a disability to enjoy being outdoors and around horses and other animals. We look forward to continuing to be a part of this unique organization for many years to come”. Dave joined the Board in 2005.
Bob Reyff. Bob began volunteering with his daughter Libby at Halleck Creek Ranch in the summer of 2006. Bob’s wife Sydney is a retired teacher from Saint Raphael Elementary School and a Halleck Creek Ranch volunteer as well. Their daughter is now a pre-school teacher in Mill Valley. Bob graduated from St. Ignatius High School, earned his B. S. degree in Business from the University of San Francisco, and received his J. D. degree from Western State College of Law. Bob retired in 2022 as a Deputy Attorney General in California’s Department of Justice. He has been an attorney in San Francisco and Marin Counties for 45 years, including, Assistant District Attorney for San Francisco, private practice, and staff counsel for the State Compensation Insurance Fund. Bob is a member of the Environmental Forum of Marin, enjoys the outdoors with hikes with his daughter, skiing, and walks with their dog Addie. Bob continues to volunteer at Halleck Creek Ranch and participates in many of its community events. He joined the Board in December of 2008.
Dan Steadman, Dan first became involved with Halleck Creek Ranch when he was asked to be a judge at the annual Halleck Creek Horse Show in 2011. He is a 4th generation California horseman raised on a ranch in Northern California, where he learned his horsemanship skills under the guidance of his grandfather. Dan has been a local business executive in Marin County since 1985 and currently serves as an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors of Hennessy Advisors in Novato, CA.He joined the Board in June of 2012, and served as President from 2014 until 2022.
A. J. Hennessy. A.J. began his philanthropic work by volunteering his time in local classrooms and at several charity events. He was introduced to Halleck Creek in 2013 after Dan Steadman asked him to judge their Annual Horse Show. He serves as a committee member for the Novato Community Hospital Golf Tournament, which raises money for the Novato Unified School District Partnership Program. A.J. has become an accomplished horseman and is a member of the Sonoma County Trailblazers, an organization based on horsemanship and cowboy camaraderie. A.J. holds a B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Chico and is currently a Vice President at Hennessy Funds, in Novato, CA. He resides in Petaluma, CA. A.J. joined the Board in October of 2016.
Shannon Manzoni. Giving back to her community was always a desire, and she found the right fit when she was introduced to Halleck Creek Ranch by Dan Steadman. Being part of a non-profit that provides special families with therapeutic horseback riding could not have been more perfect. Shannon has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Wine Business Management from Sonoma State University. She currently works in Novato as a logistics director for Renkert Oil, LLC and resides in Novato with her husband Kyle and twin boys Mason and Matthew. Shannon joined the Board in September of 2017.
Chris Nilsen. Chris was born and raised in Novato, CA where he attended San Marin High School and later graduated from Chico State with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. After his time at Chico, he moved into his family’s barn in Novato, and works as the Assistant Media Buyer for Kiosk. Chris’ parents taught him the importance of volunteer work at a young age, and he has been volunteering with MarinLink since he was 8 years old. He currently serves as Treasurer on the Okizu Young Professionals Council. On weekends, you can find Chris on the golf course or hiking with his dogs, Chester and Abe. He was introduced to Halleck Creek by Dan Steadman and A.J. Hennessy and joined the Board in 2023
Vincent (Vinnie) Etcheber. Vinnie was born and raised in San Francisco. He became a San Francisco police officer in 1995 and moved to Novato in 2003 to start and raise his family. He was introduced to horses by his late wife who passed away in 2017. She was quite a horse enthusiast and competed in the Western pleasure event at the Grand National Rodeo in 2004. They both became members of the Novato Horsemen’s Association where they enjoyed team penning on Friday nights. In his last year with the SFPD he was assigned to their Mounted Unit. For him, it was the best and most fulfilling assignment of his 26 year career. He learned the therapeutic value of being around horses and truly enjoyed his time there. He joined the Board in May of 2023.
Claudia Johnson, Director Emeritus. Claudia has been involved as a rider since 1979 after the Halleck Creek riding program started and has been instrumental in helping Halleck Creek maintain a historical perspective of Halleck Creek. She provides critical input as a former rider in the program and as Secretary until May of 2016 was responsible for getting meeting minutes and other notices out to the Board. She joined the board in 1995.
Bill Barboni, DVM, Hicks Valley, CA
Dino Ielmorini, Petaluma, CA
Patrick McNeil, Esq., San Rafael, CA
Dennis O’Connell, San Rafael, CA
M. Hunter Spencer, Nicasio, CA