Katie Fonsen Young Named Executive Director of the John Jordan Foundation
HEALDSBURG, Calif. (August 24, 2021)—John Jordan has selected Katie Fonsen Young as the incoming Executive Director of the John Jordan Foundation (JJF). Fonsen Young will assume the role in September, overseeing giving programs and supporting community-based initiatives on behalf of the private foundation.
Founded in 2012 by John Jordan, the owner of Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Alexander Valley, JJF works to create opportunities for underserved communities and improve quality of life through education and wellness. Lisa Wittke Schaffner, who has served as executive director since the foundation’s inception, will be stepping into a new role as the chief executive officer of North Coast Builders Exchange in October. Wittke Schaffner and Fonsen Young have collaborated over the years in support of nonprofit events and youth-based education programs in Sonoma County.
“I am so excited about Katie leading the foundation and know she will take it to the next level. I have loved building the John Jordan Foundation and collaborating with all of our partners to address some of our biggest challenges,” Wittke Schaffner said. “It was a difficult decision to move on to a new adventure, but I will always be an advocate and supporter of the nonprofit community. I am so grateful to John Jordan for the opportunity. Katie is the perfect choice to lead the John JordanFoundation into the future with her brilliant mind and big heart.”
Since 2017, Fonsen Young has served as the chief executive officer at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair, a nonprofit serving the Northern Sonoma County region. The fairgrounds is home to one of the oldest and most community-supported fairs of the year—The Citrus Fair—which celebrates its 130th year in 2022. In her role, Fonsen Young also oversaw the largest competition of North American wines, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, receiving more than 7,000 entries annually, as well as hundreds of concerts, drive-in movies, fundraisers and private celebrations.
Fonsen Young is most proud, however, of her work to support Cloverdale and the surrounding communities in times of need. Young is a founding member in Resilient Cloverdale, a cross-sector, community-driven disaster resilience initiative that is building a stronger, more connected and healthier community. The Citrus Fair proudly serves as an important care and shelter site, as well as operations center for Northern Sonoma County in the event of evacuations due to wildfire or other natural disaster. Young has worked collaboratively with the county, city and non-profit organizations to ready the Citrus Fair and recruit volunteers to respond in times of distress.
“I know first-hand how challenging it has been for nonprofits navigating the pandemic, wildfires and drought, among many other hurdles,” said Fonsen Young. “The impact that John and Lisa have made these past nine years is truly remarkable. I am proud to be representing the John JordanFoundation in cooperation with many amazing organizations to do great work in our communities. I look forward to preserving those partnerships with investments that support our future leaders and also identifying new opportunities for collaboration.”
Though she looks forward to bringing her strategic, entrepreneurial approach to the John JordanFoundation, Fonsen Young believes her connection to the fair will remain. “I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work with the Cloverdale community for the past four years. It’s a truly special place, and the Citrus Fair will remain near and dear to me. I will always be an avid supporter for the fair industry. Fairgrounds serve their communities in times of celebration and in times of need. They are an important gathering place, providing business opportunities, economic impact, supporting youth, providing educational opportunities and most importantly creating lasting memories.”
Fonsen Young was formerly the deputy fair manager and interim manager for the Sonoma County Event Center in Santa Rosa, which hosts the annual Sonoma County Fair and the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, among many other events and celebrations. In 2015, Fonsen Young was named as one of the North Bay Business Journal’s ‘Forty Under 40’ for being “an extraordinary executive that has advanced quickly in the fair and agriculture industries.” She currently holds leadership roles within the fair industry, serving on the Western Fairs Association Board of Directors and the California Fairs Alliance.
When she’s not brainstorming strategic partnerships or planning impactful investments with local nonprofits, you’ll find Fonsen Young in jeans and cowboy boots taking care of cattle, horses and hay fields on a 40-acre ranch she shares with her husband, Brent, and daughter, Lucy. She and her family raise and train champion quarter horses on the family ranch and compete throughout the Western United States. An accomplished equestrian, she has earned more than $370,000 in lifetime earnings with the National Cutting Horse Association.
About The John Jordan Foundation
Founded in 2012 by John Jordan, the owner of Jordan Vineyard & Winery, the John JordanFoundation supports programs that improve quality of life for our most vulnerable fellow citizens, placing special emphasis on providing disadvantaged youth with the tools needed to succeed educationally and professionally, from cradle to career. Current focuses include: identifying and closing the gaps in the educational system starting with early childcare and preschool; improving career and college exposure and readiness, decreasing negative health impacts associated with poverty, especially pediatric dental and mental health; and creating opportunities for the most under-resourced populations to improve their quality of life and career opportunities. During the pandemic, the foundation has expanded support to include economic relief programs for families and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Learn more at www.johnjordanfoundation.org.