Staff

President & CEO

Melissa James

A community leader with a proven track record of building highly effective teams and coalitions, Melissa brings a deep background in economic development, public policy, strategic communications and public relations. A Cal Poly graduate, Melissa worked as a capitol director in the state legislature before returning to the Central Coast, where she’s been instrumental in shaping policy and advocacy for several leading organizations. She’s been named to the Pacific Coast Business Times’ Top 50 Women in Business and Top 40 Under 40 as well as the San Luis Obispo Tribune’s Top 20 Under 40.

Melissa James, REACH president/ceo
Director of Strategic Initiatives

Julie Sinton Pruniski

Julie brings more than 20 years of public- and private-sector project management and consulting experience, the last 12 advising philanthropic organizations on strategic planning, organizational development and structural assessments, and implementing multi-year learning collaboratives. She helped launch a women’s fertility preservation start-up that received national press, led development of web and print publications for Fortune 500 clients and worked in human capital consulting at Arthur Andersen. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Julie Sinton Pruniski, director of strategic initiatives
Director of SLO County Programs

Maria Kelly

Maria has applied her collaboration and networking skills to all aspects of education, corporate branding, government affairs and community relations. She has been responsible for building capacity through community engagement, promoting sustainability and strengthening strategic relationships for both public and private organizations. Building community and solving problems are core to her approach. Maria holds an MS in management and leadership from Pepperdine University, a certification in paralegal studies from Cal Poly SLO and a BS from Oregon State University.

Maria Kelly, director of SLO County programs
Director of Investor Relations

Heather Muran

Heather brings a rich background in marketing, communications and public relations to her role, including membership director for the SLO Chamber and heading national marketing efforts for Lindamood-Bell Learning Centers. For more than a decade, Heather has been a promoter and advocate for the local wine industry as both a historian for the Wine History Project and executive director for SLO Coast Wine Collective, where she led the charge in strategic marketing efforts and rebranding campaigns and laid the framework for the future SLO Coast AVA. She holds a BA from San Diego State.

Heather Muran, director of investor relations
Communications Director

Sally Buffalo

Sally brings sharp communication skills honed over many years as a newsroom leader and journalist on the East and West Coasts. Since leaving the newsroom behind, she’s led the SLO Chamber’s highly popular Good Morning SLO program, devised content strategy for enterprise-level clients, ghostwritten for publications including Forbes and written about beer and wine on the Central Coast. She’s also an adjunct lecturer in journalism and public relations at Cal Poly and occasional freelance writer. She holds a master’s in journalism from Columbia University.

Sally Buffalo, director of communications
Communications Coordinator

Haley Cahill

Haley brings her strong marketing and communications skills to the REACH team. Having previously worked at Visit SLO CAL, Haley has a rich understanding of the communities that make up the Central Coast.  Her work at an area creative agency has also allowed her to develop the skills needed to assist REACH in their social and digital communication outlets. She is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.