Trevor is serving his first term as president on the festival’s Board of Directors, but 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,
Cindy is on her second stint with the Board of Directors, but she’s been a volunteer since 1986 when she worked with the Gilroy Elks in Gourmet Alley in the pepper steak booth.
And over the years of her involvement in the festival, she’s held many chairs and co-chair positions, including co-chair and chair of the Queen Pageant from 2006-2009; part of the Advisory Team from 2010-2011; co-chair of Entertainment from 2012-2013; chair of the Advisory Committee for a year and team member for two years; four years as chair of the Entertainment Committee from 2014-2015; another stint on the Advisory Committee as co-chair in 2016 and chair in 2017, the first time she was voted onto the board; and a year in 2019 working with sponsors on Garlic Avenue.
Her two grown daughters, Brittney and Ashley, back when they were cheerleaders at Gilroy High and she helped out the cheerleading booster club, volunteered for the festival, and still do as adults. Both are in the health care field, as is Cindy, in the dental field.
“My whole family has always been involved in the festival,” she says. “We work with the festival as a family and it has always been a huge part of us giving back to our community.”
Cindy was born and raised in Gilroy, attended Gilroy High School and Gavilan College. Her husband of 37 years, Tim, is also a Gilroy native and supports and helps her work with the festival.
“The festival is a coming together as a community, that’s the draw,” she says. “Every year it’s a party and we host it. There’s a feeling of joy and everyone comes together.”
As for this year’s festival, Cindy is excited about the new format and location.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to it being smaller and getting back to what it used to be,” she says about the early days of the festival. “I think we needed a change, a refocusing and making it smaller and more accommodating. It’s still all about food and fun.”
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.
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.”
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 stranger’s 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 recently had the privilege of being the Festival’s Retail Chairperson.
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 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.
Tony Loaiza is a Silicon Valley executive and U.S. Army veteran with a 22-year track record of building emerging technology solutions in highly competitive environments. After earning his J.D. at the University of Texas School of Law and working as an M&A attorney in Russia, Tony transitioned to international business, in industry verticals such as manufacturing, telecom, logistics, and pharma.
Tri-lingual in English, Russian, and Spanish, Tony’s leadership draws from C-Level management positions at industry-leading companies, including AT&T, Oracle, and Covad, as well as from a range of mid-sized software companies. Tony currently serves as the General Manager of Winjit Americas, a leader in emerging technology solutions for the U.S. and LATAM markets.
Originally from Texas and a proud Longhorn, Tony enjoys foreign languages/foods, martial arts, good wine, motorcycles, and most importantly, spending precious family time with his three amazing children.
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, where, as a past president she still serves as an active volunteer. Being able to give back to the community while also spending time with her best friends and family is truly a dream come true. She has also volunteered on the board for the Gilroy/MH chapter of NJB basketball, for the Charter School of Morgan Hill, for Sobrato High School, the City of Santa Clara Super Celebration, 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.
What started as a summer rite of passage — meeting with his friends and eating too much — became a personal mission for Jeff Speno.
From a 14-year-old on hand at the second Garlic Festival in 1980, Speno became a serial volunteer and eventually a Gilroy Garlic Festival Association board member.“I enjoyed hanging around with my friends, of course, but soon the real meaning of the festival became clear,” said Speno, who remembers being “amazed at how many people can work together to give back to others.”
By day, the Gilroy resident and father of two is president of Mission Valley Ford in San Jose. In his off-hours, he’s intricately involved in moving the festival forward.
“It’s a great time to reinvent ourselves,” he said. “I’d like to see the festival smaller, more intimate, and offering more to our guests.”
Speno would like every visitor to learn more about garlic, what it means around the world, understand how it fits into the city’s culture and history, and where the money goes in the tight-knit community. Speno’s wife Jennifer also is actively involved with the association. The former Gilroy Garlic Queen served as president in 2005. “We share this passion together, and that’s a great thing,” he said.
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