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. Melissa serves on the workforce development board for SLO County and the Board of Directors for San Luis Coastal Education Foundation. 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.

Executive Vice President

Russ Levanway

Russ has years of business leadership in the Central Coast region. He founded IT Firm TekTegrity in 2005, growing it into a company twice recognized on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies list. He oversaw the sale of TekTegrity to CIO Solutions in 2018, staying on as President and successfully integrating the companies before making a big move to work at REACH a little over a year ago.
Russ has served as board chair at the SLO Chamber of Commerce and the Central Coast Software and Technology Association, and currently serves on the board of the Housing Trust Fund of SLO. He is the Chair of the Board for InnovativeIT, a company specializing in large scale WiFi & security projects. Russ has been named in the Pacific Coast Business Times’ Who’s Who in Business Leadership, Top 40 under 40 and the San Luis Obispo Tribune’s Top 20 under 40.

Vice President 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.

Vice President of Policy + Economic Development

Joshua Boswell

Joshua has worked at the nexus of government of business for more than a decade, mostly recently as director at C&M International, a global government relations, public affairs, and public policy consulting firm in Washington, D.C. There, he advised the world’s top companies on investment, workforce, supply chain and partnership decisions and on navigating the complexities of government policy, global markets and multi-stakeholder initiatives. Co-author of How Washington Actually Works for Dummies, Boswell is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

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.

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.

Director of Economic Development + Community Affairs

Michael Foote

Michael comes to the team with a background in management and stakeholder engagement serving for over a decade as a branch manager at SESLOC and most recently as a Community Engagement Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. He is a recent graduate of Cal Poly’s Masters in Public Policy Program and has dove deep into policy related to community planning in the areas of housing and homelessness.

Project Manager

Julianne Berns

Julianne is a United States Air Force retired Master Sergeant, bringing with her 20 years of military experience ranging from healthcare administration to military recruiting and retention. In her five years stationed at Vandenberg SFB, she was responsible for recruiting and retaining members of the highly specialized 148SOPS and 216SPCS space units for the California Air National Guard. She holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from Aliant International University in Los Angeles and a master’s in psychology from Capella University.

Headshot of Julianne Berns
Brand + Marketing Manager

Haley Lanham

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.

Operations Coordinator

Kaley Laughlin

Kaley comes to REACH with a variety of administrative experience, most recently in healthcare management. She has worked closely on uplifting the team members of organizations, including transforming organizational culture and increasing employee engagement. She holds her master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Liberty University and her BA from Biola University.

Uplift Central Coast

Project Director

Quinn Brady

Quinn has extensive community organizing experience, including as co-chair of a successful $349 million school bond effort, founding board member of SLO County UndocuSupport, and work with the SLO Climate Coalition, RACE Matters and other community groups. Quinn has a passion for uplifting disinvested communities and fostering belonging.

Project Manager

Lady Freire

Lady has a background in supporting women who want to develop and grow through starting small businesses or joining the workforce, starting in her native Chile and most recently for Visión y Compromiso, and is passionate about working with the community to contribute to the construction of a more just and equitable society.

Lady Freire headshot
Administrative Coordinator

Jordan Walshaw

Jordan brings strong organizational skills and a people-first approach that has been developed over the years as a small business owner here on the Central Coast. She is passionate about contributing to building a community that is inclusive, sustainable and filled with opportunity for future generations.

Jordan Rice headshot