Monica Stevens, Co-Founder
David Stevens, Co-Founder

Vanessa Conlin

Board President


Vanessa Conlin is thrilled and honored to be on the board of JARR, having been a passionate supporter of the organization from its inception. Vanessa has served as the auction chair for WineaPAWlooza for two years and as co-chair for an additional two years. She is proud to be the Mom to the namesake of Ella’s Cat House & Catnip Bar, her beloved cat who passed away in 2016. Vanessa and her husband Curt are currently the parents to five kitties – Frankie, Gracie, Ava, Snowball, and Vivian.

Vanessa Conlin is a native of Texas, the daughter of professional classical musicians. She moved to New York City to attend college at the Manhattan School of Music earning a Bachelor’s degree in music and then a Master’s degree in music at Boston University. After graduating she performed professionally as a classical musician in Europe and the United States including a stint on Broadway.

Upon having achieved her goals as a musician at a still young age, she decided to pursue wine  - another topic that fascinates her. Vanessa studied at the International Wine Center, earning her WSET Diploma, and worked in many facets of the wine industry while in New York City, ultimately becoming the wine director for wine bar and two wine retailers on the Upper West Side.

In 2010, Vanessa and her husband Curt, a classical pianist, moved to Napa so Vanessa could pursue her interest in being closer to the historic vineyards and wineries of the region. She worked in sales and marketing for Arietta Wines, Dana Estates, and Realm Cellars, and is currently Vice President of Wine for Wine Access, a national online wine retailer. She is enrolled in the Institute of Masters of Wine program as a stage-two candidate having passed the Theory portion of the exam. Vanessa loves teaching and is a frequent educator for the Napa Valley Wine Academy.

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Ashley Kassis


Ashley learned the value of prowess from a young age: at 12, she marched up to Kelly Brothers, a specialist in asset management and a well-respected business reporter for several news stations, and convinced him to be an emcee for her mothers’ latest fundraising event. That dexterity has continued through her life in both personal and professional aspects.

Although she completed her first degree in Business Administration at the liberal arts college, St. Mary’s College of California, she attributes her current path in hospitality to the two years studying in Barcelona obtaining her degree in PR and Communications. While completing her thesis, she took an opportunity to build an event management company alongside a business broker with strong ties in the Barcelona hospitality world and her pathway was formed.  

After her return to California and a two year stint developing the marketing initiatives for a mental health care facility, she was drawn back to the hospitality world and ran the events department for one of the most recognizable wine brands in the United States. There, she thrived, learning about winemaking, terroir, gastronomy, and the luxury world of Napa Valley.  

With over 7 years’ experience in marketing and events, including 5+ years in the Napa Valley hospitality industry, Ashley flourishes in her fast paced little town of Napa and finds enjoyment in searching out the next special experience for her guests.  Ashley also spends her days fostering animals through Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, surviving off of smoothies and yoga, while trying to provide a little more sparkle to life through her valued friendships and family.  

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Susan Fickinger

A newcomer to both California and Napa Valley, Susan first attended WineaPAWlooza [as a guest of Realm Cellar’s Juan Mercado,] in 2017 and immediately knew she had to be a part of JARR.

Susan brings with her a combined passion for animal rights, environmentalism and social activism, along with a successful track record in marketing and advertising. Nearly a decade ago, she opened a yoga and wellness studio in northern New Jersey, and furthered her commitment to living a life of “non-harming” and ethical vegetarianism, and promoting the many benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

A graduate of Penn State’s College of Communications, she began her career in the late 80’s in advertising, learning the importance of research-based marketing and brand positioning for both corporate clients as well as advocacy interests. “Stretching” marketing dollars for the biggest impact was Susan’s “strong suit,” and led to innovative “outside the box” campaigns and promotions. Later, as a “philanthropist mom,” she utilized these same marketing strategies to help raise both community awareness and the need for funding for local charities, including two regional children’s hospitals as part of their capital campaign drives.

Besides her forever husband Tom, and three children, the loves of her life are Bella, a feral kitty she and her daughter rescued from a kill-shelter in New Jersey, and Brodie, a rambunctious mini husky with a very large ego. 

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Lars E. Johansson


Lars Johansson is a corporate partner in the firm’s Palo Alto and San Francisco offices. He represents U.S.-based and international public and private companies, as well as investors, in connection with corporate transactions, including domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, venture capital financings, joint ventures, and international business transactions. He works with clients in a wide range of industries, including financial services, fintech, telecom, data analytics, information technology, software, medical device, nanotechnology, clean technology, and viniculture.

Mr. Johansson actively counsels boards of directors, special committees, and management executives with respect to corporate governance, fiduciary duties, strategic issues, privacy issues, securities laws, and general corporate and business matters.

In the corporate finance and securities areas, Mr. Johansson’s experience includes public and private equity and debt financings, representing both U.S. and foreign issuers and investors, ranging from simple debt and equity offerings to more complex financings coupled with recapitalizations and rights offerings.

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Ingebort Eggert (Inge)


Inge was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She received her Bachelor of science from Michigan State University and her DVM from Michigan State University 1968. Inge has practiced veterinary medicine in Michigan, Hawaii and New Jersey eventually moving to  Arizona in 1976 where she practiced small animal medicine until 2008. Inge and her husband along with their menagerie of animals moved to Napa in 2012 and now reside on a small vineyard with her husband and sister and a large fur family consisting of llamas, dogs, cats, emus, donkeys, chicken, geese and a goat. When she is not taking care of her animals, Inge loves to tend her vegetable garden, cook vegetarian dishes, keep fit with Pilates, and enjoys crafting.

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Dr. Vanessa G.B. Rood


Dr. Vanessa G.B. Rood (formerly Dr. Vanessa Gant Bradley) is a U.C. Davis Veterinary School graduate where she emphasized in large animal medicine with a focus equine health and welfare.  Vanessa grew up in Marin County riding in the hills, however she took her first-ever gallop on the back of horse in the hidden vineyards of St. Helena.  It has felt deeply fortuitous that her journey in large animal medicine drew her back to the Napa Valley.  She has relished the opportunity to travel and work at equine hospitals across the country and globe, including Gissen Germany, Copenhagen Denmark, and Lexington Kentucky.  After graduating in 2010, Vanessa did a clincal internship and subsequent fellowship year with an emphasis in equine emergency and sport horse medicine at Peninsula Equine Medical Center in Woodside, CA.  Vanessa was then drawn back to the San Francisco North Bay, joining the team at Napa Valley Equine in 2013.  Vanessa has a special interest in equine critical care, geriatric wellness, and the support the equine athlete with balanced approach to care including a focus on nutrition, holistic medicine, and acupuncture.  It is with great joy that Vanessa has been able to aid many local animal welfare organizations in in the valley with veterinary care and consultation.  A driving and most rewarding force behind Vanessa’s daily practice is nurturing the human-animal bond through client education.  Vanessa competed in three-day eventing before she found riding in the vet truck even more thrilling, however she is looking forward to getting back into the saddle soon.  Vanessa enjoys her days hiking or road-tripping with her daughter Vivienne and her husband Nicholas or when at home, laughing at their comical three cats Paul, Minnie and Biscuit whom she refers to as the “Three’s Company” of cats.  It is a tremendous honor for Vanessa to join the JARR Board of Directors and to have an avenue to blend animal welfare with our local community development. 

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