Gilroy Foundation Board of Directors
Karen La Corte, PresidentMarx Towing, Inc. – V.P.
Karen grew up in Gilroy and has served in various Leadership positions including St. Mary School, the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Leadership Gilroy and the Arts & Culture Commission. A past Woman of the Year for the Chamber of Commerce, Karen was a Hearts of Gilroy award recipient and the Silicon Valley Philanthropy Volunteer award recipient. She is a former Gilroy Foundation ambassador, chairing the Foundations "Day in the Country" event. Karen has also served the Foundation as a grant reader and was a founding board advisor to the Youth Board. She has been married to Frank (a former Major League Baseball player) for 43 years and has two married children and four grandchildren. Karen also teaches etiquette and manners and writes a column on the subject for the Gilroy/Morgan Hill Today magazine.
VITO MERCADO, Vice PresidentBorn in Gilroy, Vito has lived in Gilroy for most of his life. Vito and his family lived in Guadalajara, Mexico ten years and attended school there. They returned to Gilroy in 1979 and Vito graduated from Gilroy High School in 1980. He began working for Nob Hill Foods in 1979 as a courtesy clerk.
Vito has been married to Debra for 37 years and they have two daughters, Marisa and Monica, and one granddaughter Antonia.
He has recently retired from a long career in the grocery industry working for Nob Hill Foods where he served as Store Team Leader.
Vito has volunteered at the Gilroy Garlic Festival for many years and served as President in 2014. He currently serves on the Sister Cities Board of directors and Gilroy Foundation.
In his spare time, Vito likes to read, walk, travel and spend time with his family, especially with granddaughter Antonia.
JOEL GOLDSMITH, PAST PRESIDENTJoel retired President/CEO of Goldsmith Seeds, Inc., now Syngenta Flowers. He grew up in Gilroy and graduated from Gilroy High School. After a brief career as a cucumber farmer and then co-owner of the local Yamaha motorcycle shop, he attended UC Davis before starting his career in the flower seed business. Joel joined Goldsmith Seeds in 1978, holding a number of positions before becoming President in 1991. He was also very active in the horticultural industry, serving on a number of Boards, including time as President of two major flower seed organizations, All America Selections and Fleuroselect. Joel is also very involved in the community and currently serves on the boards of Leadership Gilroy and Community Solutions. He is a past president of Gilroy Rotary and a past Chair of the Board of Directors at Gilroy Gardens.
Lee Blaettler, SecretaryLee, a native of Gilroy, is proud to be raising their daughter as a 3rd generation resident. Lee graduated from San Diego State University in 1983 with a degree in Business Administration. She enjoyed a 23-year career in the Financial Services industry. Lee worked in New York on Wall Street, Los Angeles, London, and Dallas as a VP at Standard & Poor’s and as a Stockbroker in Carmel with Prudential Securities and First Union Bank. She also spent four years as an Event Coordinator at the Gilroy Foundation. Lee is a Lifetime Member of the Gilroy Foundation, Past President and active member of the Gilroy Assistance League, Graduate of Leadership Gilroy Class 2010, Past President of Professional Women’s Network of Monterey Peninsula and Volunteer of the Year in 2000 for YWCA Monterey.
Jennifer Speno, TreasurerHeadstart Nursery
Jennifer grew up in Gilroy and attended local schools. Jennifer is active in many community organizations including Leadership Gilroy, Gilroy Assistance League, Gilroy Rotary Club, and the Gilroy Garlic Festival where she was President in 2005. Jennifer graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. Jennifer currently works as the Accounting Manager for Headstart Nursery in GIlroy. Together with her husband Jeff, they have two grown children, Lindsay and Brad.
JAY BAKSA,Jay joined the City of Gilroy, as the City Manager in 1983 and retired in 2008. He continues to be involved as a City Managers Senior Advisor/Range Rider for Santa Clara County. He has been a member of Gilroy Rotary Club since 1984 and was a founding member of Leadership Gilroy. Jay loves all sports, running, reading and Youth Sports coaching. Jay currently coaches 6th and 7th grade basketball at South Valley Middle School and has coached over 1250 games. Jay was selected into the Gilroy High School Athletic Hall of Fame for coaching basketball and volleyball in 2018.
Ericka DavisEricka grew up in Southern California, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Southern California. She met her husband Scot at USC and they settled in Gilroy over 20 years ago. They have three children, Kaitlyn (CHS Grad ‘17), Cole (CHS Grad ‘20) and Trevor (CHS Class of ‘23). Ericka operated a home bookkeeping business while raising their three children and currently works in the Finance Department at the City of Morgan Hill. She has served on the board of Navigator Schools, is an Honorary Member of the Gilroy Assistance League, serves as a Gilroy Foundation Youth Board Mentor and was the original Director of the Upward Sports League in Gilroy.
Don DeLorenzoDon grew up in Gilroy and attended various local schools. Upon graduating from Gilroy High School, Don went on to San Jose State University and played on their nationally ranked golf team. Don turned professional in 1981 and became a member of the PGA of America in 1983. He currently is the PGA General Manager at both Gilroy Municipal Golf Course and Gavilan College Golf Course. Don is a former Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year and an active board member of Visit Gilroy, The First Tee of Silicon Valley and the Gilroy Sportsman Chefs. Don has been married 36 years and has three children and three grandchildren. In his spare time he loves to cook for his family and travel.
Yesenia GonzalezYesenia was born and raised in Gilroy. She was first introduced to the Gilroy Foundation in 2008 as one of the Julio Mata Scholarship Recipients. She moved to San Francisco in 2011 to attend SFSU where she graduated with her bachelor's degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. In 2016 she moved back to Gilroy where she worked as an Event Coordinator for the Gilroy Foundation. Now she’s approaching her 4 years as a Lifestyle Manager in the Bay Area tech world. When she's not working, she’s traveling and exploring the world.
Carlos PinedaKneaded Bakery
Carlos Pineda is the Program Manager and Chef at the Culinary Academy and Kneaded Bakery at Rebekah Children’s Services. Born and raised in Gilroy, after high school he graduated with Honors from the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell in 2007. After his experience interning at the Inn at Spanish Bay with the Pebble Beach Company, he went on to worked as Chef in Monterey, Los Angeles, Morgan Hill and Gilroy.