Meet your Board of directors
Chair of the Board
Gabe is an expert in cloud services and IT service development, currently working for UC San Diego I.T. as the Cloud Product Manager, and was previously the I.T. Campus Software Manager at UC Merced. Locally, he works for his wife’s business - Amber Edwards Photography – and occasionally pretends to be a handyman at The Alley and Brick Wall Boutique. Gabe sits on several corporate and non-profit advisory boards including the Sierra Foothill Charter School, and has been involved in the development of numerous projects that have revolutionized services where deployed. He has a passion for volunteering and is driven to make the world a better place. He focuses on non-profits and education, bringing his knowledge in process improvement, project management, and business planning to enable creative solutions. When he isn’t spending time with his wife and son, he can usually be found working on home improvement projects with friends, or supporting local businesses with his patronage.
John provides great insight to the Board’s past and decisions that have been previously made. When not spending time with his family and beautiful grandchildren, he also serves as a member of the Car Show committee and is truly dedicated to making our county the best it can be!
Edwin Garcia Board Member
Pure Training Studio
Edwin brings a diverse personal and professional history to the Board. A loving husband and father of two, Edwin is a lifelong "Highway 49er", having been born and raised in San Andreas and living in Mariposa over the last 10 years. He and his wife, Alexandra Schneider, own Pure Training Studio in Mariposa. Edwin is currently a middle school Math and Science teacher in addition to being a small business owner.
Edwin's professional background includes being a college football coach, outside sales manager for a brewery, construction laborer, restaurant manager, and the aforementioned Math and Science teacher at both the high school and middle school levels.
His professional associations include:
American Football Coaches Association - Member
Cal Aggie Alumni Association - Member
Chowchilla Elementary Teacher's Association - Negotiations Chair, Treasurer, Site Rep
Edwin has a deep desire to help society at large, predominantly by strengthening our local community. He believes that helping Mariposa to have a thriving business community will, in turn, help the rest of our mountain community thrive. This will happen through cultural events, support of non-profits, and fellowship building through shared experience.
David W. Ness Board Member
President/CEO of MERCO Credit Union
Dave is the President/CEO of MERCO Credit Union. Dave joined MERCO Credit Union in 1999 as CFO and has been CEO since 2018. Dave has been married to Pearl for 30 years. They met while training to be CPAs at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in Silicon Valley. They left the big city to raise a family. They have two daughters. Katherine is in the teacher credential program at Sonoma State and Laura is studying computer science at UCLA.
MERCO Credit Union has been serving the community of Mariposa, Merced and nearby communities since 1954. MERCO Credit Union is a non-profit, member-owned, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Our mission is to help all members of the community enter the economic mainstream by providing affordable financial products. MERCO Credit Union is very committed to Mariposa and surrounding community. Unlike the big banks, all our employees and their families live, work, worship and go to school in this community. We care about the community because it is our community too.
Shona Medinas Board Member
Mariposa Fry Bread Company
She was born and raised in our beautiful town of Mariposa. Before starting
her new business, Mariposa Fry Bread Company in 2021- she
worked in dentistry for 18 years as a Registered Dental Assistant as
well as Front office Manager. She loves working with people and helping
them. Through the years she has been involved in many volunteer
committees through out our community such as PTA, FFA, Pow Wow, Bears
youth football. Served on the American Indian Council Board as Secretary
and is a proud member of the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation. She's also
currently an active member of the Mariposa Lions club.
On her down time she loves spending it with her family and friends at the
River or hiking in Yosemite and around town.
She really enjoys serving her community and making it a beautiful place for
our future generations.
Karen has the elite status of Director Emeritus! In 2004, she started a home-based embroidery business. After moving to Mariposa in 2005, she expanded the business in 2009 to include garment printing. Today, Karen and her sister, Kim, are co-owners of Ladybug Embroidery and Garment Printing in Mariposa.
Karen has been very involved, currently and in the past, with local organizations. Her involvement includes:
Mariposa Businesswoman of the Year 2012
Charter Member, Made in Mariposa
Secretary, Mariposa County Business Association
Council Officer and Leader, Mariposa County 4-H
Member, Mariposa Lions Club
Volunteer, Mariposa History Museum
Member, Veterans Memorial Committee
Member, Friends of Veterans Association
Karen’s goals are to encourage local businesses to participate in programs and services offered by the Mariposa Chamber of Commerce, encourage local residents to purchase goods from Chamber of Commerce members when possible, and to continually promote local businesses. She is a strong advocate for shopping local.
Steve Aitchison Chair-Elect
Cygnus Creative, Inc.
Steve is owner and lead creative talent at Cygnus Creative, Inc. He has specialized in graphic design, marketing/advertising, IT, and much more for businesses in the Health Care, Entertainment, Biotech, Sports, and Financial industries since 1997.
From 2012 to 2020, Steve was also the owner/manager of Epic Alpacas, where he was dedicated to breeding superior alpacas, fleece, and fleece products. Steve built the largest and most successful alpaca ranch in California with 325 alpacas, eventually expanding by opening a retail store in downtown Mariposa and developing a thriving agri-tourism business with ranch tours, an immersive animal experience, and vacation rental.
During his time in the alpaca industry, he co-founded the Alpaca Coalition of America, where he worked with some of the top experts in the business to help ensure alpaca growers not only have a future, but a prosperous one. Additionally, he served multiple years on the Board of Directors for both the California alpaca organization and the national alpaca owners association.
He brings a wide range of experience to the board and hopes to continue helping other County businesses to thrive and local business owners to recognize success in our community.
Sarah Philips Board Secretary
Motherlode Job Training
Sarah Radanovich Philips was born and raised in Mariposa and is a part of a long lineage of a Mariposa County family. Sarah is also raising her family in Mariposa and is currently Center Manager for Mother Lode Job Training Agency and serving as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce. Sarah has a passion for helping others in the community and for taking care of the family she loves dearly.
Travis has worked in Healthcare Finance for 26 plus years. 19 years were spent with a Healthcare Consulting company based in Dallas where he ran the collection services as well as traveled extensively working hospital contracts across the continental US plus St. Thomas V.I., Cayman Islands & Hawaii. After leaving the collections/consulting world, he joined a hospital system in Montana for 2.5 years where he was also recruited as a Chamber Board member for the Wolf Point, MT. Chamber of Commerce. Travis moved to Mariposa 5 1/2 years ago with his family Melissa and Westley, where he was the Director of Patient Financial Services for John C. Fremont Healthcare District. Most recently Travis and Melissa have put down roots and are opening The Little Shop of Ramen and The Local Grape as well as a winery in 2020.
Julia Nish Wignall Board Member
I met my husband Paul while working in Yosemite in their early 20’s and have been coming back to the area ever since. As a 7th generation Californian, born and raised in Modesto I have grown up loving the history of our great state. We camped every summer in different locations with my family exploring and learning about our diverse geography but the Sierra was always my favorite. After moving to Yosemite and spending 2 years working as a lifeguard at the Curry pool and meeting people from all over the world who came to work in Yosemite, I decided to travel outside California. I worked in Zion Utah, all over Alaska, Oregon and then back to California a few years later when I studied different forms of art. The mountains kept calling and I worked as a snowboard instructor on the weekends and blew glass during the week. For as much fun as I was having, I decided to take all my art lessons to LA and work in the art departments in the film industry. While living and working in LA I reconnected with Paul who had a clothing company with his brother called Mattblack. We started collaborating on designs together and dating. Since I had been working on photoshoots in the art department sewing and styling, fashion design was always something I had interest in and did for myself. The more involved I became with Matteblack the more I wanted to know how to make my own patterns so I enrolled in school at FIDM and received my bachelor degree in fashion design emphasizing in knitwear. I worked in the fashion industry while Paul was learning skydiving and found myself working on skydive gear and jumpsuits for sport jumpers. We both became uninterested in living in the city so we moved to SLO then Ohio so Paul could work as a tandem instructor. I continued designing for myself and started Alpaca coterie designing scarves and accessories while packing parachutes and jumping out of airplanes. I took a course and received my rigging license working on military contracts and doing repacks for skydivers. As one thing leads to another Paul and I have followed similar paths and goals. After 7 years working in the sport we decided to follow a long dream of opening Skydive Yosemite in 2018. My job is to do all the rigging for our Drop Zone and I am also in charge of our merchandising. I continue to make my Alpaca Coterie designs on the side and I am busy raising our two kids. Getting to live and work in a small community outside our favorite place, being Yosemite is a dream for us both. I hope to contribute to our unique and growing community.
John Cahalin Board Member
Co Founder Happy Goat
John is passionate about education reform, and has spent the last 10 years dedicated to it through Real World Scholars and now The Happy Goat. He enjoys building things, and is happiest outdoors. To relax, he races cars and plays tennis. He first came to Mariposa in 2019, and will live here full time once his home is completed.
Dean Maples Board Member
President, SDM Technology
SDM Technology began building composite presses and compsite aerospace panels in 1982 for McDonnell Douglas. The owner, Dean Maples, became directly involved in composite processing in 1967 at Zero Bonded Structures manufacturing panels for the portable hospitals used in Viet Nam conflict. He was promoted to Materials and Process Manager and was responsible for all panel and autoclave processing.
In 1997 SDM delivered the first Laminator Series presses. This equipment was the most advanced composite press available. In 2016 SDM delivered the first Laminator with MaxRamp II platens. This Laminator is the fastest cycling most advanced composite press in the World. Every major composite panel manufacture uses SDM's Laminator's series of composite presses. They are the dominate composite press available today. These panels are used throughout the Boeing and the AirBus aircraft fleets.