Who’s Who in Sonoma: Going Red and White With Laura Zimmerman

In a flurry of party planning, the Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation takes time to chat

Nearly 18 years ago, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation formed as an ally for local schools, channeling almost $3,600,000 into Sonoma Valley Unified School District, for educational programs and teacher grants, and other local non-profits.

For 20-years Laura Zimmerman worked as a television news reporter and anchor, squeezing in a variety of volunteer work as she raised her three children. Today, at the helm of SVEF, Zimmerman is gearing up for this weekend’s huge party: the is right around the corner.

On August 20 from 6-11 pm, the school fundraiser will rock the Plaza for a cause and enhance Sonoma’s educational offerings in the long run.

It’s not to late to grab tickets, which you can purchase online in three separate tiers ($150, $75, $25).

Zimmerman sat down for a quick check-in, amidst the busiest time of year.


Sonoma Patch: Are you originally from Sonoma?

Laura:  I grew up in Lafayette, California. Back then it was pretty rural, like Sonoma.

SP: What inspires you about Sonoma?

Laura: Sonoma is a little beehive of interesting and fun people.

SP:  How long have you been with SVEF?

Laura: About a year in this role. I was on the Board before.

SP: What achievements are you most proud of?

Laura: The Exploratorium Science Program will be ramping up at all our elementary schools this year. Kids will do some amazing science programs.

SP: What are your immediate goals?

Laura: Our most important immediate and crucial goal is to connect with and energize school parents to support the Foundation. We hope they see that we have a real impact on the lives of their children.

SP: What inspires you about education in Sonoma?

Laura: I know so many fantastic teachers who go above and way beyond the call of duty. After all – it’s people who inspire us and can help a child develop that love of learning spark.

SP: Tell me about the “garden project.”

Laura: School gardens are now thriving at every school site in the valley and we have a “garden team” of volunteers and staff. This year we hope that each school site will be able to serve food from the school garden in the cafeteria. It takes some planning, but I think the depth of learning about science, nutrition, math, and even art that happens in the garden is fantastic.

SP: What do you do in your spare time?

Laura: We have three kids: Cali, Jack and Chris. I love to hike, especially with my women buddies. Our family has gone on some huge trips. My husband, Jeff, might claim I read too much. We love every aspect of growing grapes and making wine.

SP: How has the economy challenged you?

Laura: Amazingly, in Sonoma, even when money is tight, our local businesses and community members still support us as well as other crucial non-profits in the valley.

SP: You’ve been creative with your fundraising events. How much of it has been trial and error?

Laura: Every single bit of it!

SP: Which events do you view as most successful?

Laura: Can I answer that question Monday, after the Red and White Ball?  


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