Names of Note: A key lender to farmers in the Modesto area has a new CEO

Tracy Sparks is the new president and chief executive officer at Yosemite Farm Credit, based in Turlock, CA, as of July 1, 2019.
Tracy Sparks is the new president and chief executive officer at Yosemite Farm Credit, based in Turlock, CA, as of July 1, 2019.

Tracy Sparks is the new president and chief executive officer at Yosemite Farm Credit, which lends to farmers and food processors in Stanislaus and four other counties.

She succeeds Leonard Van Elderen, who retired June 30 after a 38-year career that started with a summer internship at the Turlock-based lender.

Yosemite is part of the federal Farm Credit System, founded in 1916. It is a cooperative owned by the borrowers in its service area — Stanislaus, Merced, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties and a tiny part of Fresno County.

Sparks has been with Yosemite for 26 years, including stints as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. She grew up in Los Banos and graduated from Stanislaus State University and Pacific Coast Banking School. She is a certified public accountant.

Yosemite reports $3.1 billion in outstanding loans, mainly to dairy and almond producers, and a delinquency rate of just 0.8 percent. It employs 160 people at offices in Modesto, Turlock, Patterson, Oakdale, Merced and Los Banos.

“We stay focused on helping our members prosper,” said an announcement last month about the transition. “We know local agriculture, communities and local people.”

UC Merced honors two

Calvin Bright, founder of Bright Development in Modesto, received the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of California, Merced. It is the highest honor awarded to individuals by the campus.

Bright was a founding member of the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees. He has helped students with an engineering scholarship in his name and the Calvin E. Bright Success Center.

“With a vast majority of our students coming from underrepresented backgrounds and in need of this support, Calvin E. Bright’s contribution to the university has been immeasurable,” retiring Chancellor Dorothy Leland said in a news release.

The 2019 medal also went to retired orthopedic surgeon Art Kamangar of Merced, another founding member of the foundation board. He established one of the first endowed chairs at the university, the Kamangar Family Chair in Biological Sciences.

Bank promotes Beyer alum

Wells Fargo has promoted Eric Houser, a 1987 graduate of Beyer High School in Modesto, to vice president in charge of commercial banking in Northern California. He joined the bank in 1997 and has held several leadership posts, mainly in the Santa Clara Valley. He most recently led the technology, media and telecom group.

Houser’s promotion was part of a restructuring aimed at enhancing customer service, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

Dairy princess named

Siana Barrett of Dos Palos was named Dairy Princess for an 11-county region across the central state. She will help the California Milk Advisory Board promote the industry over the next year.

Alyce Silva of Turlock is the first alternate, and Paige Bringham of Atwater is the second alternate. The three were chosen at a June 13 gathering at Our Lady of Assumption Hall in Turlock.

And finally ...

Debi Campbell was named Soroptimist of the Year for Soroptimist International of Modesto. Her roles have included president, membership chair and for five years co-chair of the Christmas tree at Vintage Faire Mall that publicizes gifts sought for children in need.

Names of Note recognizes people and organizations for their contribution to their communities. Submit items to jholland@modbee.com.

John Holland covers breaking news and has been with The Modesto Bee since 2000. He has covered agriculture for the Bee and at newspapers in Sonora and Visalia. He was born and raised in San Francisco and has a journalism degree from UC Berkeley.