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Directors of the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce 

Michael Amabile

Michael Amabile graduated with a BA from Fresno State University and served as the 20th Mayor of Los Banos from 1994-2006. He was Chairman of the City/County Relations Mayor's Board, founder and chairman of the Mayor’s commission, commissioner and chairman of the Local Agency Formation Commission and was a Director and twice Chairman of the Merced County Association of Governments.

Michael has served as President of the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce, as Airport Commissioner and as Director of the California Restaurant Association. Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Michael to the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley in 2006. The Partnership was formed to promote economic development and improve the quality life for the 9 counties that make up the Central Valley.

In 2012 Governor Brown appointed Michael to The Designated Local Authority for Merced County. The DLA is a successor agency that was created to liquidate the assets of the Redevelopment agencies in the state. Michael is chairman of Merced County DLA and is responsible for liquidating over 191 million dollars.

Michael is also the President of the Westside Community Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to improve the quality of lives for the residents of Merced County’s Westside.

Michael has received numerous awards including: Most Honest Public Official and the most Effective Public Official as well as American Hometown Leadership Award from the National Center for Small communities in Washington, DC. He was named Alumnus of the Year for Merced College and he was nominated for Citizen of the Year.

Michael is the current owner and operator of Espana’s Southwest Bar and Grill in Los Banos. Michael’s Restaurant has received over 75 awards including Business of the Year, Best Restaurant and Volunteer Business of the Year.

Michael and his wife Michelle have two children, Ryan and Alyssa.

You can contact Michael by email michaelamabile@comcast.net.

Kathy Ballard

Kathy and her husband Walt have been co-owners of Baskin-Robbins since moving to Los Banos in 1994. They opened a new Togo's in 2014. She is very involved in our community. Kathy joined the Chamber of Commerce in 2001 and has served on various committees to promote our business community. Kathy and Walt have two sons, Casey and Tyler. Casey has graduated College and now works as an engineer based in Brighton, Colorado. Tyler is currently managing the Togo's restaurant.

Kathy is currently on our Tomato Festival Committee and is also an active member of the Chamber’s Marketing Committee and the Economic Development. She is also a member of the City’s Economic Development Council as representative of the business community and the Chamber of Commerce.

Regarding her community service, Kathy says “As you can see we all work together to better both the private and business community"


Geneva Brett

Understanding every private person has a public responsibility Geneva began volunteering in her freshman year of high school, continued through her children’s school year to today. Geneva is a Native Daughter of the Golden West, Golden State Gunslinger, member of the Merced County Medical Reserve Corp (disaster preparedness), Golden Agers, and volunteers with Water Skiers with DisAbilities. She became a Director of the Chamber in 2006, served as President 2008-2010 and participates in a variety of committees. Among her greatest honors are serving on the organizing committee for the Memorial Day Program at nearby San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery, the organizing committee for the 22nd DisAbled Water Ski National Championships and testifying at a Congressional Sub- Committee Hearing in support of Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act. She and her husband have 5 children and 3 grandchildren.

Geneva Brett, REALTOR®, Broker- Associate  (CDPE, E-Pro, Womens Council of Realtors) DRE # 01223541, CETURY 21 M&M and Associates, 1155 E. Pacheco Blvd.

Phone (209) 587-0573, E-fax (209) 829-7983, genevabrett@gmail.com, www.gbrett.c21mm.com.

Molly Cassidy

Molly Cassidy is the Director of Human Resources at Kagome Inc. She manages all Human Resources, Environmental Compliance, Safety, and Security responsibilities for Kagome’s USA facilities. Molly is also a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Business Education Alliance of Merced County (BEAM).  Molly became a member of the Community in 1994 and has raised her two children, Chris and Katie, in Los Banos.  She has worked at Kagome Inc. since 1999 and was a teacher prior to her career at Kagome. Molly is a Director for the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce and is the Chairperson of the largest Chamber event, the Los Banos Tomato Festival which takes place in October at the fairgrounds.

Molly Cassidy, SPHR, Director of Human Resources, Kagome Inc. 333 Johnson Rd., 209.826.8850 ext104, 209.675.0661 mobile, www.KagomeUSA.com


My family and I have been residents of Los Banos since 1989.
I am married with two adult daughters. My wife has been a teacher in Los Banos School District since 1990.
My daughters were born and raised in Los Banos and graduated from Los Banos High School.

I have been a member of Los Banos Chamber of Commerce since 2004. For the last four years I have been on the board of directors.
I have been co-chair of the May Day Beer booth for the last two years and was a volunteer for the booth for the three years leading up to becoming co-chair.
I coordinate the entertainment for the Chamber Street Fairs and provide music and announcements for the event.
I have been announcing at the Christmas parade for the last three years and provided MC & music duties for the 4th of July fireworks show as well as the first Father's Day in the Park event in 2014.

I donate my time and sound system to many community events as the need is identified, including the Veterans parade.
I have been a Planning Commissioner for the city of Los Banos since 2014.
I am also a member of the Los Banos Rotary Club.
I am past president of the Los Banos Wildcats' youth football team (1999-2001) & previous to that I announced all of their home games.

I love Los Banos and the small community vibe it still has.


Ludwig (Jerry) Knoester

Ludwig (Jerry) Knoester is a retired Human Resources Personnel Officer from the Department of Defense United States Air Force – Federal Civil Service. His twenty eight years in human resources provided him with the knowledge, skills and experiences in the following HR disciplines:

Job Classification, Resource Management, Staffing and Affirmative Employment, Labor Management Relations, Employee Management Relations and Employee Development

Current Status: Jerry has lived in Los Banos since 1990. He founded the Commuter Alliance from 1990 to 2002, to band and unite long distance commuters and paired them up with carpooling. He was also responsible for having established the emergency call boxes along Hwy 152 and I-5 corridor in Merced County. The Commuter Alliance also planted the seed for a fly-over at the Hwy 156/152 junction which became a reality a couple of years later. Jerry’s community activism and the desire for a better Los Banos made him the ideal candidate for being a Chamber Board member. He has been a Chamber Board member since 2008. Jerry continues to serve the public’s need as a Mobile Notary Public.

You can contact Jerry by email knoestlg@comcast.net or by phone 209-769-6965

Tom Kaljian

With the exception of four years spent obtaining a Bachelor or Science Degree at the University of California and one year at California State University Sacramento taking graduate courses, Tom Kaljian has lived in Los Banos. His office is the building he was born in.  

Before becoming a real estate broker in 1976 he was a partner in an automobile dealership.  Tom has been a full time real estate broker specializing in commercial, investment properties and land. A percentage of his time is spent overseeing investment property and farms belonging to his family.

Tom is currently a Director of the Chamber,  and is a past Executive Committee member and member of the Board of Directors of the Merced County Economic Development Corporation.  He is a past Co-chairman of the Steering Committee for the Merced County Development Corporation and a  Director and past Chair of the Investment Committee of a  Corporation with real estate assets exceeding $200,000,000.

Tom has a good working relationship with City Planning staff, Planning Commissioners and City Council Members.

He and his family personally own several commercial properties and farm land in and about Los Banos; including a retail building with eight tenants and a 16,000 square foot office building with nine tenants.  Both are fully rented and help keep Tom current on lease rates.  His sales range from a 30,000 square foot “Class A” office building in Santa Barbara to small commercial lots in Los Banos, and two farm sales over 10 million dollars.

Tom’s Coldwell Banker Franchise is a top performing residential office in Los Banos and has been since its inception.  His firms have excellent reputations in this community as high integrity concerns that really care about serving clients.

Thomas E. Kaljian #00528796 ~ T. Kaljian Real Estate, 645 Pacheco Blvd. Direct: 209-826-8864 ext 224, Efax: 866-706-4383, tom@losbanosrealestate.com


Jeanette M. King

Jeanette King has been a member of the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce since 1999, and has served as a director on the chamber board of directors for the past three years.  Los Banos has been King’s home for the last twelve years. She is a full time REALTOR® and one of the top agents at Century 21 M&M.

King emigrated from Jamaica just before her sixteenth birthday.  Arriving in the United States, she went to live with family in New York while her parents went to California to find jobs and a home.  Just in from Jamaica and marveling at the many things there were to see and do in the city, her cousins were all too willing to show her around and transform that geeky catholic school kid into a city girl. Despite the influence, Jeanette is still a small town girl at heart and that is why she feels right at home in Los Banos.

In November of 2012 Jeanette and husband Peter will celebrate thirty years of marriage. They have two children; their eldest is twenty eight year old daughter Candice, their son Kenny is twenty four. Husband, Peter is an Engineer and 15 year veteran at Cisco Systems. Peter is also very involved in giving back to the community.

Jeanette enjoys community activities, amateur writing, and helping her clients with their real estate needs.

Jeanette M. King, SFR, CDPE, REALTOR® (License # 01766034), Century 21 M & M and Associates (Lic: 01183865), 1155 E. Pacheco Blvd.  


Web Site: www.JeanetteKing.com, Email: Jeanette@JeanetteKing.com, Cell: (209) 829-9056, Office: (209) 829-7604, Fax: (209) 828-2586

Sandy Lemas

Sandy Lemas has been an active member of the Los Banos Chamber since 1986. She has served as a volunteer, various committee member, board of director for many years, vice president in 1989 and president in 1990 and 1991. She worked for Merced County for 35 years in the human resources and employment & training fields. Since her retirement in 12/2011 from the Los Banos Worknet of Merced County office, she now can devote more time to her community service projects and organizations. These include Habitat for Humanity-Westside, Soroptimist International of Los Banos, San Luis High School “S” club, United Way of Merced County, Salvation Army, American Cancer Relay for Life, and others.  She plans on assisting other non-profit groups in writing grants to improve the Westside community.  She will be the volunteer director for the Salvation Army HOPE (Helping Others Prepare for Employment) Center that will open in October 2012. She has been happily married since 1974 to Jim Lemas. Their son, Jamison, has been born and raised in Los Banos.  She enjoys living in Los Banos and getting involved in community events.

Gene Lieb

Gene Lieb , Publisher of the Los Banos Enterprise, began his newspaper career at the age of 10, in 1973 as a Modesto Bee newspaper carrier. He grew up in Oakdale, attending Oakdale High School and working in the mailroom and taking high school football photos for the Oakdale Leader newspaper. He graduated from San Jose State University in 1986 with a B.A. in journalism. He was the summer photo intern at The Bee in 1985. During college he worked as an editorial clerk at The Bee from 1982 through 1986.

He worked for the Oroville Mercury-Register as a photojournalist from September 1986 to September 1987. He started at the Turlock Journal in September 1987 as a photojournalist and moved up to chief photographer and then to production manager and then on to managing editor. He left the Journal and moved with his wife and two children, Jennifer and Gene Jr. to Los Banos when he was named publisher of the Los Banos Enterprise September 24, 2001.

He is a past president of the Los Banos Rotary Club and the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce. He is also on the board of directors for the California Newspaper Publishers Association and is the Foundation Chair.

Gene Lieb, Publisher, Los Banos Enterprise ~ (209) 826-3831 ext. 6551 office, (209) 704-3831 cell, (209) 826-8888 fax, Email: publisher@losbanosenterprise.com

Erik Limon

 I have been in the transportation  industry since 1999 and in the trash industry (Republic Services) for the last 10 years. I absolutely enjoy giving back to our community by providing Education/Outreach to our residents of Los Banos. I enjoy spending time with my 5 kids, playing golf and enjoying the simple things in life, like mowing my lawn lol. I am a people pleaser and would do anything for anyone. 

Rhonda Lowe

Rhonda Lowe is the Manager and Outside Sales Rep for The Office City, offering office supplies, furniture, printing and janitorial supplies.

Rhonda has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce since 1981 when she opened her first business in Los Banos. She has served on the Board of Directors for several years, including two terms as president. She formed the initial Tourism committee in 2008, which launched the annual Tomato Festival and the Los Banos Visitors Guide, both designed to increase tourism dollars in our community.

You can contact Rhonda at rhondal@theofficecity.com or 209-826-2326 or 209-704-4384.


I  lived in Los Banos up to moving away to attend College.  My degree/major was in Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship.

After graduating Fresno State, I began working for Morning Star and have been employed  there since.   With a few role changes I am currently responsible for our Forwarding Warehouses and Logistics. 

Morning Star is a self-managed enterprise with no titles which gives each colleague the freedom to create and develop their roles as we would in our daily lives. 

I have been a Director for the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce for over a year.  Joining the board has been my introduction to learn and be involved in the community.   My interest as a director is to show support from Morning Star Packing and my hope is to increase my participation to seek local economic growth.

I hope one day to open my own business and add growth to our great city of Los Banos.


Ernie Roque

Ernie Roque is the Principal of EFR Insurance Agency; responsible for sales and administration. EFR is a full service company providing insurance services for personal, residential, commercial, health, life and auto.  Ernie created EFR is 2009, growing it from the ground level while maintaining excellence in customer service.

Ernie has been in the insurance industry since 1977. He has worked as both Sales Representative and Sales Manager, earning numerous awards and recognition along the way. As Sales Manager he recruited and trained sales staff, managed sales representatives and increased overall production. His education includes Estate, Financial, Business and Advanced Business Planning.

He is a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, the Chamber of Commerce and volunteers for Special Olympics.

Ernie has served as a Chamber Director since 2009; he moved to Los Banos in 2005.  He came through Los Banos by chance in 2004; he’d driven past, but never through.  Ernie drove down 6th Street and saw the Rexall Drug which reminded him of his hometown.   He walked in the store saw the soda fountain, the models, and all the other things that reminded him of his neighborhood drug store. Ernie moved to Los Banos the following year!

Ernie is famous for saying  ….“That ain’t no bull!”

Ernest Roque – EFR Insurance Agency, 1125 5th Street, (209) 826-9500, efrinsuranceagency@comcast.net.

Robert C. Sherwood

Robert C. Sherwood is called Corky by his friends.  He started in the grain and seed business working full time for his father in 1964.  He interrupted his on the job training for two years while he served our county in the U.S. Marines.

Corky's father also had a dozen trucks; Corky also learned the trucking business and to appreciate trucks, and drivers of all kinds. Corky jokes that he even got to know most of the CHPs and the Judges in the area!

Corky and his wife started their own company, R.C. Sherwood Grain Company in 1977.  R.C. Sherwood is an agribusiness firm selling planting seed and buying grain crops from farmers in the area.  Corky considers it an honor and privilege to be part of California agriculture the past 48 years and to live in Los Banos. He has been a Director of the Chamber since 2011.

Corky can be reached at R.C. Sherwood Grain, (209) 826-6006.


LeAne Santos-Sousa was born and raised here in Los Banos. Growing up she worked under the wing of her father Marion G. Santos III from the ground up at many of his businesses learning the ropes. She is currently the Office Manager at Toscano RV Center. While working many hours at the RV Center with her dad, she still has time to be with family and volunteer her time.  LeAne is highly involved in our community, she is on the board of several clubs, including Soroptimist International of Los Banos, Merced County Spring Fair Board, Relay for Life Los Banos, Co-Chair for Miss May Day Pageant and the director for the Tiny Princess Pageant.  LeAne and her husband Jeff love to help and be involved in the community of Los Banos anyway they can from volunteering their time, to coaching for their son’s city’s sports teams.  If there is an event going on in Los Banos you will be sure to see LeAne, Jeff and son Max there by working it, supporting it, or just hanging out with the towns people!


Tony Whitehurst

Tony Whitehurst is co-owner and Vice President of Whitehurst Chapels, Inc. in Los Banos, Dos Palos and Firebaugh. Family owned and operated by brothers Joel (Mgr.), Tony and Alfred, the business celebrates its 90th anniversary in Los Banos in 2013.

Certified in Land Use and Environmental Planning at UC Davis (1993), Tony also owns and operates A.R. Whitehurst Consulting Services. He assists a wide variety of projects with advance planning, permit and entitlement applications, environmental impact mitigation and property evaluations.

Tony has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce since 1974. Since that time he has served continuously on the Board of Directors, numerous committees and offices, including the presidency, first in 1979. He has also served the community in elected office on the Merced County Board of Supervisors and provided local and staff assistance to legislators at all levels. He has been a member of the Merced County Airport Land Use Commission since 1987, and has served as Chairman for over five years.

Since he joined the Chamber of Commerce, Tony’s interest has been local Economic Development. He currently serves as Chairman of our Economic Development Committee. That committee is working closely with the Chamber’s Marketing Committee and the City of Los Banos to enhance our economy. Their goal is to make Los Banos a more business-friendly town, and a more attractive and profitable place to grow or relocate new business and jobs.

You can reach Tony by phone (209) 587-0202, or by email  arwhitehurst@sbcglobal.net.

Reader's Choice Award 4th of July Fireworks Los Banos Tomato Festival Safety Fair Christmas Evening Downtown
Fall Street Faire Chamber Mixer Wine Stroll Spring Street Faire Christmas Parade