About
Our Town St. Helena

Our Town St. Helena

Our Town St. Helena is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. A group of St. Helena residents began working together in 2010 to find ways to provide affordable housing for our community, and over time evolved from an advocacy group to facilitator and developer of new and preserved housing.

St. Helena was no longer affordable for families.

As a group of longtime residents, we recognized that St. Helena was no longer affordable for families, for those who worked in our vineyards and retail sector, for first responders, teachers and healthcare workers. The results were measurable—declining school enrollments, retail shops closing, memberships in civic organizations were dwindling. The character and structure of our town were changing.

It became our goal to initiate activity to provide rental units, home ownership and nontraditional housing opportunities for the unskilled, skilled and professional workforces that are vital to the character, safety and wellbeing of our community.

OTSH Board of Directors

our town st helena jordan bentley, BODJordan Bentley is a St. Helena native and a partner at Wine Country Consultants, real estate firm focused on legacy vineyards and wineries, where she joins her mother and brother. Jordan has a BA from Colorado College and an MFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Besides OTSH, Jordan is on the Board and is President of the St. Helena Cooperative Nursery School. Jordan and her family are committed to helping St. Helena thrive—retaining the small-town character of the town where she and her husband are now raising their two sons.

Michael Caldarola and his wife moved from San Francisco to St. Helena in 1995.  He retired in 2013, having worked for 30 years as a research attorney at the Sixth District State Court of Appeal in San Jose, where he drafted judicial opinions in all areas of California law.  For six years, he served on the Board of the UpValley Family Centers, where he continues as a volunteer in their low-income tax preparation program.  Currently, he is on the Board of the White Barn helping produce events and further arts education.

After graduating from college, Mike Chisek spent six years in the diplomatic service, serving largely in Arica. He left the State Department to attend business school at Harvard. Mike started his business career at McKinsey consulting firm. He then moved on to finance, forming an investment firm with a b-school colleague. While nearly all of Mike’s professional life was spent on the east coast, he made enough trips to California to know that this was where he wanted to retire. Mike and his wife, Polly, moved to St. Helena in 2014 and have come to love it here. One thing that struck Mike was how many people he deals with who are forced to live a great distance away due to the lack of affordable housing. Mike is a strong believer in the mission of OTSH, and is looking for an opportunity to help alleviate the problem. Mike also has served on the Active Transportation Committee and makes wine with the Rianda House wine group.

Dan Hale and his wife Christine brought their family to St. Helena in 2001. His career projects range from the design and creation of furniture, sculpture and lighting, to interior and architectural design. His approach begins with observation and a deep understanding and reverence for the history and capacity of built environments to sustain and uplift the people and societies who undertake to build them. Dan’s four-year service as a St. Helena Planning Commissioner recently ended and he is ready to serve on our board.

our town st helena joe McGrath is on the OTSH BoardJoe McGrath was born and raised in St. Helena, has a BA from UC Berkeley and an MS from Stanford. He spent the early part of his career in residential design and construction, and the next 20 years as a leader in product development, manufacturing, operations, and global supply chain management in Silicon Valley. For the last decade, Joe has focused on residential real estate investment and development of multifamily apartments. He is a licensed general contractor and owns several properties in St. Helena and the North Bay. Joe understands the challenges of building affordable housing and is leveraging his experience to pursue creative ways to drive down the costs of building while ensuring a quality product. He brings invaluable insights to OTSH.

Walter Nirenberg and his wife Dory Culver, the now-retired KCBS managing editor,  have been St. Helena residents since 2012. Walter has worked for over 40 years in the banking and payments industry, focusing on identifying and solving problems through a shared vision and collaborative approach. Walter joins the OTSH board with ample non-profit experience, including his work with UpValley Family Centers and the St. Helena Fire Department organizing large-scale holiday events; his current service as board director for The LINK Fund, which works toward ending extreme poverty and mitigating the effects of climate change; and his previous term as a board member for Learning Through Art (A Program of the Gail May Engelberg Center for Arts Education), an artist-in-residency program at the Guggenheim. Walter served on the City of St Helena’s Water and Waste Water Rates ad hoc committee and is now serving on the City committee that is evaluating a proposed real estate transfer tax measure for the November 2024 ballot. Walter is committed to our local community and believes that all St. Helenians are equally blessed to live in our diverse city. 

Polly Ogden has lived in Napa Valley for over 40 years, and St Helena since 1998. She is a California licensed general contractor and worked for three years as a construction project manager with a local St Helena General Contracting firm before starting Polly Ogden Associates in 1982, her own design and building firm. Polly has vast experience with residential design, construction, budgeting, and project entitlements. She grew up in Mexico City and is fluent in Spanish.

Barry J. Shotts brings his 34 years of land use development, real estate and environmental law experience to OTSH. Barry is a founding principal of The Shotts Company, LLC, which specializes in urban redevelopment and the development of supportive, affordable housing for veterans. Before moving to St. Helena in 2011, Barry was a member of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee, where he served as a representative on the SF Housing Action Coalition, and was deeply involved in the replanning of several neighborhoods in San Francisco, including the Eastern Neighborhoods Plans and Market and Octavia Area Plan. He brings many years of experience as a board member for various non-profits and is affiliated with numerous local organizations including the Napa Housing Coalition, the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce, and the Napa County Land Trust. Barry would like to help ensure that St. Helena remains a real, organic community with housing for those who work here, and not just a destination for second and vacation homes.

Justin Sterling, a member of the OTSH BODJustin Sterling is the General Manager of the Wine Country Inn and Cottages in St. Helena. He has spent 16 years in the hospitality industry and is passionate about helping those around him grow in their professional journeys. He has managed more than 200 associates during his career at nine different properties throughout the Napa Valley. Working with a diverse workforce throughout his career, Justin is acutely aware of the struggle to find affordable housing. As an employer whose workforce faces housing challenges, Justin will bring a unique perspective to the OTSH Board. 

our town st helena steve goldfarbAfter a successful career as an attorney specializing in Land Use, Redevelopment and Affordable Housing, Steve Goldfarb moved to St. Helena and started another successful career as a vintner as the proprietor of Anomaly Vineyards. Steve’s legal work includes serving as General Counsel to the Oakland Redevelopment Agency and also teaching Negotiation and Land Use as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley. In addition to his service as an OTSH board member, he is a founding member of Appellation St. Helena.

our town st helena John SalesJohn Sales spent four decades in management with Dillingham Construction before he retired and reapplied his skills and experience to local service and nonprofit organizations.  He served as Co-chair of the City of St. Helena General Plan Update Steering Committee and has also served on the City’s Infrastructure, Water and Sewer Committee and the Housing committees. He was an officer in the St. Helena Rotary Foundation and has participated in four Rotary Rotaplast Missions to Guatemala. As owner’s project manager of Grace Episcopal Church’s seismic retrofit and expansion project, he served as the supervisor of a $10M construction budget.  Besides his board position on Our Town St. Helena, John also serves on the boards of the St. Helena Historical Society and the St. Helena Cemetery Association.

our town st helena mary stephenson, president of OTSHMary Stephenson was a marketing consultant with her own business for over thirty years. She has worked with a diverse group of companies like Wells Fargo Bank, Starbucks, AAA and Kaiser Permanente helping them develop communication strategies and analyzing internal and external marketing resources. She is also a skilled meeting facilitator and has helped many local nonprofits gain consensus on focus and direction. She is a founding board member of the St. Helena Family Center and of Our Town St Helena.

Jennifer La Liberte’s public sector career has spanned 30 years. She has worked in economic development and redevelopment for the Sacramento Housing & Redevelopment Agency (1987-1997) and the City of Napa (1997-2017). She managed the Napa Community Redevelopment Agency, which funded infrastructure improvements and stimulated economic activity in the downtown area and affordable housing citywide. Jennifer retired in 2017 and began consulting, focusing on economic development and community and government relations. She works with nonprofits and public and private sector organizations. Jennifer began working with OTSH in December 2020 to further its mission. Read more.

Maria Criscione Stel has lived in St. Helena for nearly 25 years, dedicating her time to many local non-profits. She was Director of Development at Ole Health for over 16 years, then Executive Director of the St. Helena Public Library Foundation for seven years. She is an active volunteer in the community, working at the Food Pantry weekly and tutoring individuals who are preparing to take their citizenship exams. Maria is an avid supporter of Our Town St. Helena’s work and is honored to be part of the team.

Dagmar Kuta is a Bay Area marketing consultant specializing in digital marketing, content creation, and management. She has worked with a diverse group of local organizations including Napa Valley College, Solano College Theatre, the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council (NCCRC), and Mare Island Brewing Co. Dagmar studied journalism, photography, and marketing during college, and ultimately earned a BA in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, making her a multi-faceted addition to the OTSH team. 

Contact:

Mail:
PO Box 94
St. Helena, CA 94574

Office:
1250 Church Street
St. Helena, CA 94574
Meetings by appointment only

Phone: (707) 302-5111

Email: info@ourtownsthelena.org