Cindy was born and raised in Gilroy and raised her family in town as well. She has had a 30-plus-year career in dentistry.
Her involvement with the Garlic Festival started in 1984 when she started making pepper steak sandwiches with the Gilroy Elks Lodge. Since her children were involved in school sports at Gilroy High School, she helped out in Gourmet Alley and helped run the Garlic Festival Programs Booth for the school’s cheerleading team. As her daughters got older and went to college, Cindy got involved with the Gilroy Garlic Association Queen Pageant, then was recruited for the festival entertainment committee, which led to working with the festival’s advisory group.
After being involved with the advisory committee for two years, she served a one-year board position representing the advisory committee. In 2019, she became the liaison for the festival’s largest sponsors.
“I joined this organization because my uncle asked me to help with pepper steak sandwiches for Gilroy Elks — he said it would be fun!” says Cindy. “I saw the camaraderie and it was nothing like I’ve ever imagined. It was magical. Families, friends, and strangers all worked together to celebrate the love of garlic in a community and I was hooked. The best part was the amount of money that was given back to nonprofits just for volunteering. It was completely in line with my philosophy of how a community gives back.”
Cindy is excited for the upcoming year serving as Board President.
“I am looking forward to being part of the board of directors as President this year,” she says. “The festival-like activities we have this year are going to be incredible, and fun and I can’t wait to bring the sparkle of Gilroy Garlic Festival back to the community.”
Please help us welcome Cindy as our new leader for a fun and exciting 2024!
Trevor was the 2013 president on the festival’s Board of Directors, his connection with the festival goes back to 2008, a year after he and his young family moved to Gilroy from the Santa Cruz area.
He started working at Gourmet Alley in 2008, working in various positions before becoming co-chair in 2016, then chair in 2018. It’s become a family affair with his wife Cynthia and his four children all volunteering in one way or another.
Originally from Ripon, California, Trevor attended Fresno State University on a vocal scholarship but got his bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies. He worked for more than a dozen years at the Mount Hermon Christian Camps in the Santa Cruz Mountains before moving to Gilroy with Cynthia in 2007. He later went on to earn his Master of Divinity from Western Seminary in 2010.
Trevor was the youth pastor at Gilroy Presbyterian Church from 2007 to 2012, worked for an accounting office, Santa Clara County Social Services, and as an Interim Pastor in San Jose from 2012-2017, then returned to become Senior Pastor at Gilroy Presbyterian Church in 2017, a position he now holds.
Along with their four kids, Trevor and Cynthia became involved in the Garlic Festival by volunteering for their local swim team, the Gilroy Gators who would canvas the festival grounds at night, picking up trash to help make the festival grounds ready for the next day’s crowds.
Trevor said, “The festival is fun and a great way to connect to the community.” “As a volunteer, it doesn’t matter who you are, you could be a custodian working next to a CEO, or a welder working shoulder to shoulder with a banker — we’re all part of the community.”
In addition to his work with the festival, Trevor is a member of the Rotary, is the Class Instructor for Leadership Gilroy, and serves on many other committees in the community, so while he doesn’t have a lot of leisure time, when he does happen to have a spare minute, he likes working with his hands fixing things.
Gilroy Garlic Festival Association 2022 Board of Directors Paul is serving his second term on the board and is in the role of vice president-elect. He served on the board in 2022 as the last presidential appointee. Prior to this, Paul served in the trenches of Transportation for 4 years, shuttling festival goers to and from their cars. Paul’s family have been festival goers on and off since its inception, occasionally serving as sandwich makers or trash toters, but always garlic lovers.
After obtaining a BS in Business at the University of San Francisco, Paul moved his family to Gilroy in 1999. He has worked in logistics and IT in Silicon Valley but gave up the luxurious commute for more locally focused endeavors. In 2010, Paul co-founded Gilroy Prep School, Hollister Prep School, and ultimately Navigator Schools, a local charter management organization. Since then, Paul has been working as the Director of Facilities at Gilroy Unified School District. He recently completed the complete modernization of Brownell Middle School and is in the middle of another complete modernization of South Valley Middle School.
When not working on capital projects for the School District, Paul acts as the Uber Driver, and DoorDash Delivery guy for his two kids. Both of Paul’s boys have volunteered at the Festival for years and look forward to being able to serve again in the future.
Alex Misa, a Material Damage Claims Specialist at Zenith Agribusiness Insurance Company in Roseville, has been involved with the Gilroy Garlic Festival for the past 15 years. He first joined to help out at El Roble School’s corn booth, then the following year moved to Gourmet Alley, working with fundraising for the Knights of Columbus, and has been there ever since. He says he became involved with the festival “for the love of garlic and the awesome community spirit!”
“My passion for the festival goes beyond the great garlic bulb and fanfare we provide every year,” he says. “The camaraderie and family atmosphere the festival provided, the hundreds of memories the festival made, and the leadership skills being a volunteer provided, all added to my passion for this festival.”
Kelly Ramirez moved to Gilroy the night before her freshman year at Gilroy High School started, and other than her time away at college and a brief stint in Hollister when she was first married, Gilroy has been her home. Ramirez’s husband has lived in Gilroy since he was 2 years old, and they have raised three children in Gilroy.
“Gilroy is home to us because of the incredible people that make up this community. It is where friendships have been rooted,” she says. “We have found that the community of Gilroy consists of people who give of their time, talent, and passion. We are proud to call Gilroy home.”Ramirez feels that the Gilroy Garlic Festival has always been a reflection of the people of Gilroy, who open their hearts, give their time and talents, welcome strangers, and celebrate big. It’s the reason why, throughout the festival, she has been involved in various capacities while supporting the schools and programs her children have been involved in. She has had the privilege of being the Festival’s Retail Chairperson in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and the board Treasurer from 2022 to the present.
“I want to participate in any collective effort that keeps the Garlic Festival viable and part of the Gilroy community – whatever form that looks like,” she says. “The Garlic Festival has been the epitome of community. For over four decades, the festival has served as the anchor of building community in Gilroy. Lifelong Gilroy residents work alongside newcomers to the city to host the best festival ever.”
Ramirez has 17 years of teaching experience, both at the elementary level and community college level. Teaching has provided her with opportunities to be flexible, think on her feet, work with diverse populations, and deal with challenges at a moment’s notice.
Her 15 years in nonprofit management provide her with the background and insight as the Festival works to once again become a profitable event, allowing her to give back to the community in an impactful way. While she was the Retail Chairperson, she was vocal about excess spending and worked to minimize expenses while maximizing revenue.
During her tenure as the Chief Development Officer at the YWCA Silicon Valley and Executive Director at the Mt. Madonna YMCA, she was on the executive team that merged two nonprofits. Ramirez also has extensive experience collaborating with several community organizations, including managing a $5 million nonprofit budget and working with various volunteer committees that have supported the nonprofits she worked for, raising millions of dollars.
Her other volunteer experience has been as a member of Gilroy Rotary, having served on the board of directors for the past six years. And, more than 20 years ago, she brought the first American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life to Gilroy, serving as chairperson for the first three years.
Now that she is retired, she has the opportunity to be more fully engaged in the community. Her professional and volunteer experience will add value to the team as the Festival explores new opportunities to once again become the premier festival it has been known for.
Born and raised in Gilroy, Mark owns and operates Poki Bowl in Gilroy, which he opened in July 2022. Mark has been involved with the garlic festival since 1999, starting as assistant chair of the beer concessions then as chair. His father was also beer committee chair and his mother has been involved in the hospitality area.
In 2022, Mark was involved with helping at the Gilroy Rodeo, setting up and working the event and helping with the food for Gourmet Alley.
He joined the board because he wants to be able to help support the GGFA in any way that he can by volunteering his time to be able to help the board and association give back to the community groups and nonprofits that rely on the donations and grants provided.
“I have a passion for the festival because, for many years i would take the week off and help set up the beer concessions for the event,” he says. “I would look forward to this week every year as it became very special to me, no matter what group or committee you were working for everyone came together to get the job done, made a lot of good friends from the festival, and had many good memories with lots of community leaders.”
Kirsten Carr serves as the Director of Engagement & Partnerships for Navigator Schools, focusing on ensuring all students have access to high-quality education, regardless of their circumstances.
Her primary volunteer passion for the past 25+ years has been the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, where, as a past president, she still serves as an active volunteer. From Entertainment to Advisory to Sponsor relations, she loved making the weekend special for all involved. Giving back to the community while also spending time with her best friends and family is truly a dream come true. And, while the Festival events may look different these days, the impact on the community is still one of the big reasons she loves being on the board.
She has also volunteered on the board for the Gilroy/MH chapter of NJB basketball, the Charter School of Morgan Hill, Sobrato High School, the City of Santa Clara Super Celebration, Gilroy Rotary, and other kid- or sports-related programs.
As a graduate of Virginia Tech, she is a proud Hokie and an even prouder mom of her son, a lifelong Festival volunteer and current co-chair of the Signs Committee, and daughter, currently a junior in college, and a big fan of Festival Association foods!
Nalani was raised in Morgan Hill and moved to Gilroy with her husband and two daughters in 2009. She is a Sodexo Consultant for Gilroy Unified School District’s Child Nutrition Dept., which she has been with for 16 years and 20 years total as a consultant.
Nalani’s first involvement with the festival was volunteering with her daughter's field hockey team in 2017, which she continued to do until the last festival. She also volunteered at Gourmet Alley in 2019. And of course, being from Morgan Hill and living in Gilroy, she and her family have attended the festival many times.
Her oldest daughter graduated from Gilroy High in 2022 and her youngest daughter is a junior at GHS, and both have volunteered for the festival whenever they could and still do so when possible. Her youngest last volunteered at the drive-in event at the Presbyterian Church.
Now that her daughters are older, Nalani is interested in branching beyond school functions and becoming more involved in community activities.
“I have many friends who have been a part of the Garlic Festival and I hear about it all the time,” she says about joining the board and getting more involved with the festival. “Although I am fairly new to joining the festival and, of course, the Board, I am excited at the opportunity to be part of a group that not only is a big part of the community but also gives back to the people within it.”
Mike Wanzong is serving his second stint on the Gilroy Garlic Festival Board of Directors. He served a two-year term on the board in 2012-2013. This time, as a president’s appointee, it’s a one-year term that expires in October 2021.
Mike’s commitment to the festival started, as many volunteers over the years can attest, when he was a student at Gilroy High. And like most volunteers his age, he did the usual starting-out tasks, selling sodas and taking care of the trash.
But he soon found himself the assistant chairman of the Utilities Committee in 2009, then chairman, from 2010-2011. He also served as chair of Gourmet Alley from 2014 to 2017.
Born in Salinas, his family moved to Wisconsin for a time, then moved to Gilroy when he was in sixth grade, ironically, in 1979, the first year of the festival. He attended his first festival in 1980 and started volunteering when he was in high school and has been ever since.
Mike not only attended as a student but worked at Gavilan College as a contractor in the IT Department. He went on to get an AA degree in math and computer science and is currently a delivery director for a company that writes software for insurance companies, which he has been doing for two dozen years.
Married to Jennifer, who ran the children’s area a few years ago, as well as running the Gourmet Alley Demonstration Stage, Mike likes to hike with his dog, follow SpaceX and other space ventures, plays a geo-location-based game called Munzee, and, if he can get his tools set up again, do some woodworking.
As a board member in the first year of a reimagined and relocated festival, Mike is excited about the new challenges — and opportunities — the festival presents.
“It’s nerve-wracking and challenging, but to me, there’s a silver lining in the whole concept of going back to our roots, which is very cool,” he says. “Having to be more creative, getting back to being smaller and intimate, that’s part of the fun. We’ll figure it out and make the best of it.”