8:00 AM08:00

Weaving Social Responsibility, Philanthropy & Wellness for the benefit of your Company

In today’s age of consumer and employees’ conscious awareness, companies need to be creative about how they bring Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), philanthropy and wellness into the workplace.  Research shows that employees’ happiness leads to higher productivity, and therefore profits, for companies that take the right steps.  Even with small budgets, companies can make a positive global and local impact while increasing employees’ satisfaction and engagement.  The results of these efforts and successes can then be showcased to consumers. Tread Light Travels wants to inspire you and show how this can be done. 

Speaker BIO:

Daniella Baker’s passion for philanthropic work was born from her own life experience.  She traveled extensively throughout Latin America and South East Asia, where she worked and volunteered for a variety of non-profit organizations. In Bolivia, she designed an educational curriculum and helped start a school for local children. In Vietnam, she started a volunteer-based ESL program for local employees serving the tourist industry.  In India, she worked at Alice Project for Universal Education, a start-up educational program for local boys and girls.  Her travels brought her expanded horizons about other cultures, and diverse ways of living and seeing the world.  From these experiences was born Tread Light Travels and the desire to share it with others. She has a BA in Educational Studies from the University of Delaware, a MA in Public Administration from the University of Colorado – Denver, and a Waldorf Teaching Certification.  Daniella still volunteers whenever she can and loves to bring her family along.

Daniella Baker, Co-founder and Director of Travel Experiences, Tread Light Travels



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8:00 AM08:00

Weeding Through the Law: Marijuana in the Workplace

As HR professionals know, finding suitable employees in these competitive times is problematic enough without having to reject prospective applicants and enforce a zero tolerance policy on existing employees. But come 2018, with the legalization of recreational marijuana, California employers will be confronted with yet another obstacle to addressing the impact of “behavior-altering” substances in the workplace as a result of legal use.

This presentation is designed not to re”hash” the intricacies and dilemmas presented by the new marijuana law, but instead to identify the practicalities and pitfalls within the law, using existing legal requirements to give HR professionals and managers additional tools to create and implement a policy that they can live with.  Topics to be covered include: the components of a "greater than zero" tolerance policy; avoiding the pitfalls of flexible enforcement of drug testing and use policies; handling employees suspected of being under the influence while at work; issues that arise when there has been an accident because of substance use; and the interplay of a substance abuse policy with worker's compensation and disability accommodation. 


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7:30 AM07:30

Annual HR and Employment Law Conference

  • Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Sonoma Summit – HR in the Era of a New Administration

Labor and Employment Law Update

To kick off the morning, we will cover the hottest topics in labor and employment law for 2017. Helping you to identify potential risks within your organizations, we will be touching on various changes in the law and trends impacting employers. This session will address:

·       Overview of brand new California employment laws

·       Joint employer/independent contractor update

·       Impact of "new collar" jobs on the workplace

·       Sexism and political correctness – lessons learned from recent Uber and Google HR disputes

·       Emojis at work: the continuing challenges of e-communication

·       …and other recent and/or upcoming changes that should be of interest!


Stephen Hirschfeld is a founding partner and co-managing partner with the law firm of Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP, in San Francisco, California. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Employment Law Alliance (ELA), the world’s largest network of labor and employment lawyers. His practice involves labor, employment and higher education law on behalf of management in both the private and public sector. Steve advises clients throughout the country on day-to-day legal issues affecting the workplace, including employee discipline and terminations, union organizing, workforce reductions, discrimination claims, proprietary information and trade secrets disputes, substance abuse, workplace privacy, disability accommodations, executive employment contracts, overseeing and conducting internal investigations involving employee, student, and faculty misconduct, faculty tenure issues, and other human resources issues. He regularly defends employers in state and federal courts on disputes involving discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, trade secrets/unfair competition and wage and hour law. He successfully argued a seminal wage and hour issue before the California Supreme Court. Steve has vast experience working with unionized businesses on matters including collective bargaining, union contract disputes, and labor arbitrations. He has tried to verdict over 100 cases before courts, arbitrators, administrative law judges and government agencies with a 'win rate' of over 90 percent. Steve has conducted and overseen hundreds of investigations involving allegations of employee misconduct. He regularly assists multi-national clients by conducting worldwide employment law audits to ensure they are in full compliance with all applicable employment and labor laws. Steve has experience working with Boards of Directors to improve their effectiveness and communications. His clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small, privately-owned businesses. Steve represents over 100 colleges and universities throughout the United States. He takes a proactive approach when advising clients, emphasizing creative solutions to employee relations problems. He frequently represents employers in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies on a variety of litigation matters involving the employer-employee relationship. Steve routinely counsels management about ways to prevent costly and protracted litigation. He teaches clients’ executives, managers, and supervisors how to make sound human resource decisions, while at the same time minimizing wrongful termination, discrimination, and sexual harassment claims.

The Healthcare Landscape: Where We Are, Where We’re Going, What You Need to Know Now

The presentation will provide a summary of the current healthcare landscape, including (1) an overview of the efforts to repeal the ACA by the US House and Senate this year, (2) the status of healthcare reform penalties/assessments, and (3) benefits-related cash payments that affect FLSA overtime calculations."


Jennifer Chung, Esq. | Vice President, Senior Compliance Officer

As the company’s senior benefits compliance officer and lead ERISA counsel, Jen manages the benefits compliance team and drives the strategy and development of our benefits compliance policies, processes and training. She works closely with our account teams to help ensure that we have appropriate compliance resources to meet client needs when navigating through the complex benefits legislative terrain. Jen is an expert in matters related to health care reform (ACA), COBRA, HIPAA, Code §125 cafeteria plans, wellness programs, tax-qualified fringe benefits, etc.

Jen’s background includes advising small and large companies on complicated qualified retirement plan and health and welfare plan issues. She has considerable experience with corresponding to and defending clients against government agency inquiries, such as Department of Labor audits. Prior to joining Woodruff-Sawyer, Jen worked at TriNet as lead benefits corporate counsel, implementing and developing compliant processes and standard operating procedures for plans with tens to hundreds of thousands of participants. She helped strategize, design and implement ACA compliance support for clients, such as tracking measurement and stability periods, evaluating Applicable Large Employer status, analyzing potential impact of §4980H tax penalty assessments, and reporting requirements under §§6055-6056. Jen developed her benefits expertise as an ERISA attorney at Trucker Huss, a premier ERISA law firm in San Francisco, and further expanded her breadth of benefits experience at the global law firm of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe as a managing attorney.

The Future of Retirement Plans—Pitfalls and Possibilities for 2017 and Beyond

Companies that sponsor retirement plans, as well as their key executives, are fiduciaries. As a result, they have some critical responsibilities to their plan participants. In this presentation, Jonathan will highlight some of the pitfalls that plan sponsors regularly encounter, including potential audit triggers as well as legislative and judicial trends.

Of course, sponsoring a retirement plan presents a multitude of opportunities as well. In turn, Jonathan’s presentation will also detail some of the opportunities available for plan sponsors relating to cost and quality improvements, additional fiduciary protection, and enhanced employee engagement.


Jonathan Leidy has been a retirement plan expert for 18 years. As a founder of Portico Wealth Advisors, he is responsible for overseeing the firm's Retirement Plan Services division. This group provides fiduciary consulting and one-on-one participant advice services to over 30 retirement plan sponsors throughout the greater Bay Area and across a wide array of industries, including non-profits.

Previously, Mr. Leidy was responsible for the creation and oversight of the retirement plan services division of another Marin-based wealth management firm. He was instrumental in developing that organization’s fiduciary best practices as well as its participant engagement platform, both of which were specifically designed to meet the needs of small to mid-sized plan sponsors.

Mr. Leidy is a graduate of UC Davis with degrees in Managerial Economics and Mathematics. He is also one of less than 1,500 financial professionals worldwide to hold both the Chartered Financial Analyst® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designations. He is a regular blogger and an accomplished speaker, having presented on a bevy of retirement plan topics at the FPA, HR WEST, NCHRA Chapter Events, and Marin HR Forum.

Essential Leadership: Why You Are Doing Too Much (And How to Stop)

The path of a leader can be overwhelming and exhausting. Often involving endless details, demands, and politics, it is very easy to lose sight of what truly matters in an organization. Drawn from the presenter’s background in classical Asian philosophy along with current management theory, this presentation will explore how to keep in sight what is meaningful and essential when pulled in every direction.


Dr. Nicholas Egan, has a Ph.D. Asian Studies and is the is the Head of School for The Healdsburg School. He is a dedicated non-profit leader, interested in the intersection of mindfulness, entrepreneurship, and education, and has been honored with a lifetime fellowship from Johns Hopkins University for his achievement in working in education. Dr. Egan has been leading cultural tours to Asia since 2005, and has led groups to Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Mongolia, China, and Thailand.

HR Round Table – Guest Panel

  • Christina Cramer, Director of Human Resources; County of Sonoma
  • Ciera Pratt, Marketing Manager; Star Staffing
  • Sylvia Proctor, Vice President of Human Resources; Clover Sonoma
  • Dr. William S. Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics; Sonoma State University

The New Wave of Wages – Rules, Regulations, and Trends in the Wake of Change

As Human Resources professionals, we work within a myriad of employment laws that govern every aspect of the employment relationship, from hire-to-retire. With changes in salary history inquiries, overtime rules and regulations, and increasing trends in class-action litigation, wage and hour is an area of Human Resources that continues to increase in both sensitivity and risk. During the course of this session, we’ll demystify and reclarify all current trends with wage and hour.

This presentation helps HR professionals and managers to understand the most common areas of mis-steps as it relates to Federal, State and Municipal wage and hour compliance. It provides practical guidance that enables HR professionals and managers to recognize areas of risk, develop best practices from a legal compliance standpoint, and avoid the little mistakes that – if made – can result in big claims.


John Hyland practices exclusively in the area of employment law. Prior to forming Rukin Hyland, John held an Of Counsel position with Paul Hastings, LLP in the firm’s San Francisco office where he advised and represented companies in state and federal court actions covering all areas of employment law, including wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, disability law, employee privacy, employee leaves, and wage and hour issues. John has represented clients in jury trials and arbitrations and has argued cases before the California Court of Appeal. He continues to advise and represent clients in all areas of employment law.

John serves as an editor and contributing author for the CEB Publication, Employee Leave Laws: Compliance and Litigation (2015). John also serves as a contributing author to the Thompson Reuters Inside the Minds publications. John regularly conducts training seminars and presents on a wide array of employment law issues. He serves as an instructor for the Sonoma State University Human Resources Certification Program

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10:00 AM10:00

The Hunt for High-Performance Teams

Old Courthouse Square

As human resources professionals, we all know that work teams with poor communication pay a high price in terms of high turnover, plunging productivity, and overall employee disengagement. In this high-energy, interactive and experiential session, we’ll go on a treasure hunt to the heart of effective team communication.

Like the great quests of yore -- the hunt for the Holy Grail, the quest for the Golden Fleece, or the Goonies' pursuit for One-Eyed Willy's treasure - we'll work together in teams to solve a series of insidious and devilish puzzles & clues, sending us all across downtown Santa Rosa.

Takeaways –

  • The five keys to revitalizing communication on high-performance teams
  • Enhanced camaraderie, rapport and new friendship
  • An irreverent walking tour of the hidden treasures of downtown Santa Rosa

Grab your magnifying glass, your deerstalker hat, and your Indiana Jones whip; the hunt for high-performance teams is on!

With a special guest:

Founder and President of Dr. Clue Treasure Hunts, the world's largest team-building treasure hunt company, Dave Blum earned a B.A. in English from Pomona College in Claremont, California, a professional coaching certification from IPEC, and is the President of Santa Rosa Toastmasters Club 182.  After a three-year stint teaching English in Japan for the Mombusho English Fellows program, Dave worked in tourism and the non-profit sector before discovering his destiny as a treasure hunt master, team-building trainer, writer, speaker and entrepreneur.



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Annual Scholarship Auction & Social
4:30 PM16:30

Annual Scholarship Auction & Social

It's TIKI TIME! Break out your Hawaiian shirt and dust off your grass skirt. It's time for a fun Luau style party with Hawaiian Style BBQ, live music, and interactive games! 

 Some of our exciting auction prizes include Michael Kors purse and wallet, wine, tour and tastings at some of our local wineries, dance lessons technology items, family fun activities and more!


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8:00 AM08:00

The Claim Free Workers Compensation Strategy


Business owners, supervisors, managers and crew leaders all play a critical role in keeping workers compensation costs low. It is a role that requires specific training and ongoing coaching to be successful. Managers need to know how to create a work environment – a culture – where people want to be at work rather than at home lingering in the workers compensation system. This session outlines a proven formula to put the right behaviors, systems, and procedures in place before something happens.

Speaker: Lynne Wallace, President-Principal at VANTREO Insurance Brokerage

Lynne Wallace is president and principal of VANTREO Insurance Brokerage, a firm with over 60 employees located throughout California, Arizona, and Washington, with a majority of employees working from home and satellite offices. 

Lynne has more than 20-years leadership experience in providing strategic risk management, insurance, and corporate culture solutions for top tier, multi-location, and high growth companies. 

With particular expertise in coordinating complicated risk portfolios, Lynne creates organizational systems and tools that give clients a competitive edge in their industry. She is a dynamic speaker, and considered to be among the top one percent of insurance professionals nationally. 

Lynne is also the founder of CompZoneTM, a system to help organizations attain and sustain low workers compensation costs. She holds the designations of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), and Certified Workers Compensation Advisor (CWCA).


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8:00 AM08:00

Webinar – Negligent Hiring and Background Checks in California – Best Practices and Legal Compliance


Attendees will learn how just one bad hire can result in a legal and financial nightmare. Without taking appropriate steps, there is a near statistical certainty that an employer will hire someone with an unsuitable criminal record or a falsified background that can result in workplace violence, lawsuits for negligent hiring, and time wasted recruiting and hiring the wrong person.

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