About Us

President

Robby AvillaRobby Avilla lives in Stevinson. Her children are the fourth generation of the Avilla family to have been raised in Stevinson. Her home sits on thirty acres of land which is currently used as rangeland to support a local rancher. For over thirty years she owned and operated an office supply and gift store and is now retired. She serves as an elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Turlock. Robby is a founding member of the Stevinson Citizen's Group and has worked towards saving farmland within Merced County for the last seven years.


Vice President

Charlie MagnesonCharlie Magneson has been a Dairy Farmer in Ballico/Cressey for 54 years. A graduate of UC-Davis and a World War II Veteran, he spent 10 years as an elected official on the Ballico Cressey School Board. He has been President of the Boards of Modesto Milling and Cal-Dari, and currently serves on the Board of the Merced Farmland Open Space Trust. In 2006 he established a Conservation Easement on his farm.


Secretary

Jean Okuye Jean Okuye has been an almond farmer with 73-acres near Livingston in Merced County since 1980. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor's in Organizational Behavior. A community leader for many years, Okuye has sat on the boards of the Community Alliance for Family Farmers, the Merced County Academic Decathlon, and has been an officer of the Livingston Farmer's Association, a Farm Cooperative with 125 members. She currently sits on the Boards of the Stanislaus Memorial Society, the Livingston Medical Group, the Livingston Citizen Advisory Committee, the Merced County Farm and Open Space Trust, Yamato Enterprises Senior Services, and the Merced County Farm Bureau. She is a widow with two adult children and two grandchildren. She is the piano player at Livingston United Methodist Church.


Treasurer

Rochelle KochRochelle Koch owns and operates Nicholas Calf Ranch, Koch Feeds and Amsterdam Organics with her husband Peter Koch. They have three young and active children. She graduated from Point Loma College in San Diego in 1984, after which she spent many years traveling in Europe, South America, Alaska, and Canada where she gained an appreciation of other ways of life. Rochelle has served on the Board of the Community Alliance for Family Farmers, California Women for Agriculture, and Soroptimist International of Merced.


Board Member

Sarah MagnesonSarah Magneson is currently teaching in Merced County. She graduated from California State University, Stanislaus with a Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Studies. She is the granddaughter of Charlie and Sally Magneson.


Board Member/ Newsletter Writer

Nicole Alvernaz, EditorNicole Alvernaz is the new editor of the VLA newsletter. She graduated from Cal Poly with a Bachelors of Science in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Agricultural Communications. She is the granddaughter of Sweet Potato Joe of Livingston.


Advisors

Glenn AndersonGlenn Anderson grew up in Hilmar on his family's dairy and, following two years in the Army, assumed management of it. In 1967 he returned to school getting a BS in Tropical Agriculture from the University of Hawaii. After a stint as a development officer with the Department of Agriculture, he returned to Hilmar, where he has farmed organic almonds since 1980. He has been a Director of the East Merced Resource Conservation District, Board Member of California Certified Organic Farmers, Board member of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and a member of California State University Stanislaus Agriculture Studies advisory committee. He lives in Hilmar with his companion and wife of 36 years, and has three daughters, one son, and four grandchildren.


Rudy PlatzekRudy Platzek received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley in landscape architecture and a master's degree in regional planning from the University of Michigan. He practiced as an urban and environmental planner for 40 years until his retirement in 1995. Among his professional accomplishments are 11 general plans for cities and counties, more than 100 environmental impact reports and numerous other local planning projects. He has assisted in the preparation of proposed State of California legislation titled "The Central Valley Farmlands Secrurity Act of 2006" to establish mandated regional planning and regional growth management throughout the Central Valley. This proposed State legislation has been submitted to State legislative counsel and is currently under consideration for submission to State legislature.


Therese Tuttle, AttorneyTherese Tuttle is a farmer advocate and a founding partner of the law firm of Tuttle & Van Konynenburg, LLP, together with Frank A. Van Konynenburg. The firm is based in Modesto, California with offices in Calistoga and San Francisco. She was a founding member and leader of the Great Valley Slow Food Convivium in 2000, and is a board advisor to the Tuolumne River Trust. She specializes in estate planning and agricultural cooperative law and is currently working to enforce the rights of former Diamond Walnut Cooperative members to a fair price for walnuts delivered to the former cooperative in 2005, 2006 and 2007. She met her husband, Iain A. Macdonald, while defending the members of Tri-Valley Growers cooperative in its bankruptcy in 2000, and has a two year old son, Edward Iain Macdonald.


Ross Avilla, Web MasterRoss Avilla is a fourth generation resident of Stevinson, CA, and son of Robby Avilla.


Support Us

Help us make a difference in our Valley. Become a member today.

Annual Donation

$15 Student, $25 Individual, $50 Family, $100 includes a gift copy of the book Our Valley, Our Choice


Valley Land Alliance is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN:61-1496419. Donations are tex deductable to the fullest extent of the law.