Meet the Center’s Founders
Ellyn Elson, president
Ellyn is a veteran of start-ups and is a leadership and management consultant and past CEO of six companies over 45 years. An award-winning author and food service executive, she is a nationally recognized public speaker in the area of employee motivation, leadership, communication, and management.
Ellyn has devoted her career to opening doors for other professionals, and to inspire her colleagues to take risks and find new and different approaches to solving organizational and business challenges.
Currently serving as President of Congregation Beth Shalom, Ellyn possesses valuable experience having worked with over a dozen non-profit organizations. When not volunteering she loves to spend time in her garden, cooking, golfing and spending time with her family.
Beth Painter, vice president and treasurer
Working in Land Use and Planning since 1984, Beth is the owner and principal of Balanced Planning, a firm that provides project management for businesses and landowners during the land use entitlement process.
Beth served on the Napa County General Plan Steering Committee and President of the Board of Leadership Napa Valley. She is currently a Director for the Napa Resource Conservation District, a Planning Commissioner for the City of Napa and Vice President of Congregation Beth Shalom.
Beth has lived in Napa since 1995 with her husband Brooks Painter. In her spare time she loves to garden, cook, golf, and travel as much as possible!
Suzanne Mason, secretary
Suzanne has over 33 years of professional experience working with cities and counties in California as a local government administrator and human resources professional focusing on business process improvement, change management, and improved human resource practices.
She previously worked with the City of Long Beach, Napa County, the City of Palo Alto and the City and County of San Francisco, serving as Deputy City Manager, Assistant City Manager, Director of Human Resources, and Director of Employee Relations, in addition to various departmental assignments.
Suzanne retired in 2017 to pursue the things that bring joy into her life, including spending time with her two daughters, Elizabeth and Allison, hiking, traveling, and enriching her life with cultural and learning opportunities. She also serves as a Civil Service Commissioner for the City of Napa and mentors and coaches people in finding their passion as they grow in their careers and life.
Mara Adelman, member at large
Mara is a former professor of communication at Seattle University, specializing in cross-cultural communication, social support networks, and solitude (solitudecourse.com).
In addition to being a Fulbright Specialist (Ethiopia, China); Mara spent over 17 years traveling, teaching, and volunteering abroad. In an effort to promote passionate inquiry, she has designed over 300 salon programs — small gatherings to discuss contemporary issues — at Seattle University. She is the author of three books: Beyond Language: Cross-cultural Communication for ESL; Communicating Social Support; and, The Fragile Community: Living Together with AIDS.
Today Mara pursues art and works on issues close to her heart, including community activism and the refugee crises, raising funds for refugees through her project, Earrings for Peace (earringsforpeace.com).
Tucker Catlin, member at large
After marriage to an Israeli-trained nurse and four years working mixed crops, Tucker chose to focus his love of farming on making wine and growing wine grapes. He has had a long career as a wine industry executive, having previously was Vice President of Sterling Vineyards and Mumm Napa Valley, Exec VP Schramsberg Associates International, President of Caves Transmontanas and Vertice in Portugal, and President Juliana Vineyards in Napa.
Today Tucker supports start-up wineries in the search, acquisition, design, engineering, permitting and construction of top tier estate owned vineyards, specializing in high end Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
Tucker currently serves of the boards of Congregation Beth Shalom, Schramsberg and Benovia wineries, is emeritus director of the Winegrowers of Napa County, and is a past director for the American Vineyard Foundation, the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, and the Napa Wine Auction.
Larry Kamer, member at large
Larry is CEO of Kamer Consulting Group, a communications firm that specializes in issues and crisis management. He is an adjunct professor at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of San Francisco.
Larry serves on the boards of the Napa County Mental Health Commission and Congregation Beth Shalom. He is past president of Jewish Vocational Service in San Francisco and a former board member of the American Red Cross Bay Area and the Bay Area Council.
He has been named a “PR All-Star” (Holmes Report), and as one of “America’s Top 10 Crisis Busters” (PR Week). He and his wife, Devereaux Smith, have two adult children.
Robert Solomon, member at large
Most advertising people like to claim they “wrote the book” on account management, but only one person actually did write that book. It’s called, The Art of Client Service, and its author, Robert Solomon, is one of America’s most knowledgeable and respected client service experts, recognized for his skill in agency strategy, new business, account management, and competitive assessment.
Robert previously was President and CEO of Rapp Collins New York, President of Direct and Interactive Marketing at Ammirati Puris Lintas, General Manager of FCB Direct West, and Senior Vice President and Associate Partner of Bronner Slosberg Associates (now Digitas).
In addition to consulting, coaching, and workshop leading, Robert blogs regularly on client service issues at adventuresinclientservice.com. He lives in Napa with his wife Roberta and the world’s two best dogs, Alvin and Sophie.
Rabbi Niles Goldstein, honorary member
An experienced and dynamic Reform rabbi and educator, and an award-winning author or editor of ten books, including God at the Edge and Gonzo Judaism, Niles serves as the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom. He speaks nationally on matters of spirituality and faith, and his essays have appeared in Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and may other publications.
Niles was the founding rabbi of The New Shul, an innovative and independent synagogue in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, which he led for over a decade. Prior to his arrival at CBS Napa, Niles worked in a variety of congregational, interfaith and academic settings while based in his native Chicago.
An avid traveler and outdoor adventurer, Niles has mushed dogs in Alaska, ridden horses in Mongolia, and done humanitarian work with communities in Central Asia and the Caucasus. He is a longtime practitioner of the martial arts, and he holds black belts in both karate and tae kwon do. Those skills have been useful to him, as he sees it, as he has fought his way through the challenges of being human.
Evy Warshawski, programming consultant
Evy Warshawski has worked in the nonprofit presenting field for more than 25 years, having brought thousands of performing artists to stages from 100 to 4,000-seat venues on a variety of campus and community stages. She was the Executive/Artistic Director of the Napa Valley Opera House from 2004-11.
In 2015, together with her husband, Morrie, Warshawski co-founded E & M Presents (eandmpresents.org), a nonprofit dedicated to bringing live, touring performances geared to kids and families to Napa venues.
Warshawski currently serves on the City of Napa Public Arts Steering Committee and served on the boards of Leadership Napa Valley and the Napa County Library Foundation. She writes a bi-monthly column, “The Arts Landscape,” for the Napa Valley Register.
“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”