Board of Directors
Board of Director Biographies 2018
GARY J. SCHOENNAUER, FAICP
Chairman of the Board
Principal, The Schoennauer Company
As the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement, Gary Schoennauer has been called the most influential planning official in the City of San Jose in 25 years. In addition to contributing advice and guidance on a regular basis to the Mayor and City Council on matters pertaining to planning and building, community and economic development, growth management, capital improvements, and neighborhood revitalization strategies, Mr. Schoennauer was an instructor and lecturer at San Jose State University. There, he shared his expertise on Urban and Regional Planning, equipping future planners with workable knowledge born from practical experience. First Community Housing is indeed honored to have Gary Schoennauer serving on our board.
Former President and CEO of Heritage Bank East Bay
As a banking executive in Silicon Valley for over twenty years, Dick Conniff’s position in the financial services industry provides a broad perspective on housing issues and the crucial role that they play in the welfare of Silicon Valley. His broad dedication to his community is made obvious by his affiliations and commitments. In addition to serving on the board of First Community Housing, Mr. Conniff currently serves on the Endowment Committee of Via Rehabilitation Industries, Inc. and is a member of the Rotary Club of San Jose. He has also served as president of the San Jose Cleveland Ballet, as a trustee of Villa Montalvo, as a board member of Lenders for Community Development, as president of the San Jose State University College of Business Alumni Association in addition to numerous other civic and professional groups.
Josh Cross, CPA
Principal, Audit & Accounting and Nonprofit Group, Abbott, Stringham & Lynch
Josh has over thirteen years of public accounting and audit experience serving privately held companies and nonprofit organizations. His is the current co-chair of the ASL Nonprofit Group and is also involved in the Construction Group. Josh serves privately held companies consisting of engineering services firms, construction contractors, and manufacturing and distribution companies.
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Since 2001, he has worked for nonprofits and specializes in community organization. Jamie is a very active volunteer – his service includes: 13th Street SNI NAC, (present Board Member), San Jose North Rotary Club, (past President); PAC San Jose, (past Board Member); and presently represents District 3 in the San Jose Neighborhood Commission.
DUNIA NOEL, AICP
Assistant Executive Officer, LAFCO of Santa Clara County
Ms. Noel has been involved in Santa Clara County planning for over a decade. She serves as an analyst for the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) of Santa Clara County, which regulates the boundaries of cities and special districts. She brings an extensive knowledge of the area’s housing needs and growth issues to our Board.
As a member of the University Neighborhoods Coalition and SNI NAC, Mrs. Soellner brings a wider community input to the FCH Board. Now retired, Mrs. Soellner has served as Executive Director of the Nevada State March of Dimes, as well as Executive Director for the Santa Clara, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey County March of Dimes. She has served on the Santa Clara County Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and enjoyed a career in the insurance industry (State Farm).
President, Ruth and Going, Inc
Although Gerry is now the President of the planning and civil engineering firm Ruth and Going, Inc (est. 1952), Gerry has been with the company since 1973 shortly after graduating from the University of Santa Clara. He represents clients in the development industry with particular emphasis in the processing of land use entitlements. Gerry has served on a wide range of community and non-profit organizations and has assumed leadership positions on the boards of O’Connor Hospital, the Silicon Valley Organization, CreaTV, and the Lincoln High School Foundation. He also participated as a board member of the West Valley Open Doors, an organization committed to finding opportunities for affordable housing in the Los Gatos and Campbell areas of Silicon Valley.
Attorney, Hopkins & Carley
Matthew James is an associate in Hopkins & Carley’s San Jose office and is a member of the firm’s Real Estate Practice. A licensed real estate broker since 2006, Matt has extensive experience in all phases of construction and real estate matters, including contract negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, and trial. Matt’s clients include commercial and residential property owners, prime contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, architects, engineers, and bonding companies. He also lectures on new developments in construction and real estate law best practices.
Resident, Craig Gardens Senior Apartments
Richard was born in England and immigrated to the US at the age of 15. He attended Kent School in Connecticut, Princeton University, and Roosevelt University (Chicago), before going on to teach math at Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts, Vail Mountain School in Colorado (where he also served a term on the Avon Town Council), and Hillbrook School Los Gatos CA. On top of volunteering with the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory in their Avian Disease Prevention Program, Richard spends his retirement enjoying photography, reading, travel, cooking and walking.
Resident, Japantown Senior Apartments
Kermit was born in Decatur, Illinois. He attended Millikin University and the University of Illinois. He worked at Illinois Bell Telephone and transferred to Pacific Bell San Francisco (Pacific Telesis) and worked as a contractor on special projects Later he worked as a paid manager of the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church meals program. At Stanford Health Care, Kermit worked on two projects funded by the CDC and Office of Aids: Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) | Surveillance Systems and Partnership for Health - Safer Sex - Effective Interventions – Peer Educator. Currently Kermit works with the Santa Clara HIV Commission and the Office of AIDS as well. In his retirement he enjoys working with architecture, computers, photography, smart transportation and buildings.
ROBERT C. SHERRARD
VP, Argus Financial
Robert has had a 30-year career as a construction and commercial real estate lender for various Silicon Valley banks. He played an instrumental role in establishing the commercial real estate lending presence at Technology Credit Union, which now boasts a portfolio of over $200 million in commitments. Bob is active in the community and serves as chair of the City of East Palo Alto’s Planning Commission. He is an original founding board member of the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley and Vice Chair of the board of Project WeHope, an East Palo Alto-based non-profit providing services to the homeless and is president of the board of trustees of Koinonia Conference Grounds, a non-denominational Christian camp. He is a past member of Opportunity Fund’s Real Estate Loan Committee, the Housing and Land Use Committee of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Sobrato Affordable Housing Fund.
Former Senior Advisor to San Jose Mayors Chuck Reed and Sam Liccardo
Ru Weerakoon, former Senior Policy Advisor for Land Use and Economic Development, guided economic development and land use policy in the City of San Jose for twelve years under Mayors Chuck Reed and Sam Liccardo. Ru was born and raised in Sri Lanka and moved to San José in 1983. She joined the San José Redevelopment Agency in 1989, where she rose to the position of Director of Industrial Development, managing economic development programs and redevelopment projects in five technology parks that house over 2,500 multinational companies employing 80,000 people and a $100-million capital improvement program, as well as the City’s incubator program. Ru received both her B.S. and Master’s degrees in Economics from San José State University. Ru and her husband live in New Almaden in South San José, where they are raising their son.
Vice President, Division Manager, General Manager, Swinerton Management and Consulting
Mr. Gee is a licensed architect and public servant with 35+ years experience leading and directing design, construction, and development projects in the public sector. His 13-year tenure at UC Berkeley oversaw the management and implementation of more than $1.5 billion of capital projects, including extensive work on seismic retrofitting and facility renovation and construction. As Vice President & General Manager with Swinterton, Jeff’s experience expands to k-12 and community college campuses, where the company has completed over 100 projects in excess of $2 billion. Mr. Gee is passionate about streamlining and improving design/build processes, and was the principal author on the development of the Design-Build Guidelines for California Community Colleges. On top of his senior management role at Swinterton, Jeff has served as Mayor, City Councilmember and Planning Commissioner for Redwood City.