Busenbark retires, will be named
Emeritus Trustee on Thursday
For a farm girl raised on 300 acres in western Oregon, Joann Busenbark has made quite a positive impact on Napa since she moved here in 1967.
She had picked pears, peaches, prunes and walnuts in Oregon, earning money for college, and knew plenty about agriculture, if not grapes, when she arrived.
She quickly developed "a strong respect for the Napa Valley agriculture crop of grapes and the reality of all that is involved in the harvest and processing of grapes," she recalled in 2012.
She served nine years on the City of Napa Planning Commission and another nine of the Napa City Council before she lost a bid for re-election in 2003.
During her city service, she advocated for economic development, defended the city's general plan and Rural Limit Line, and encouraged the construction of workforce housing.
With a "record of public service second to none," according to a Napa Valley Register article from 2003, she retired that year from her job at the college and began searching, at age 65, for a new opportunity to serve Napa.
A longtime supporter of lifelong learning, Busenbark worked at Napa Valley College for more than 30 years, developing many of the programs and classes for seniors at the Upper Valley Campus and the Veterans Home.
She was elected to the Napa Valley College board of Trustee in 2004 and re-elected four years later. She decided to not seek re-election to a third term.
Board Chair Michael Baldini praised Busenbark for her commitment to the college.
"JoAnn's accomplishments have served the Board in so many ways – as a leader in the selection of our college Superintendent/President, as an advocate for new facilities and programs, and as a resounding voice for 'students first.' Her reputation as a knowledgeable and engaged Trustee helped the college achieve its leadership position as the top Community College in the state. Her dedication and love for NVC is returned by all who have worked so closely with her throughout her career to help NVC succeed," Baldini said.
During her tenure on the NVC board, Busenbark was an advocate of workforce development to provide short-term training and transfer classes. She has also been a longtime advocate for developing new sources of income for the college beyond government.
"Our own industries, food, wine and hospitality need our support and we need to build strong business relationships that lead to good jobs for our local citizens," she wrote.
An optimist, Busenbark advocated embracing "the vision of new beginnings" for students in cutting-edge careers in green technology, robotics, health services and winery technology.
She is also encouraged the Napa Valley College Foundation, which formed an alumni association to connect alums with the college and the community.
Busenbark will be honored before and during Thursday's board of trustees meeting, starting with a cake ceremony to honor her contributions, presentations by college officials, a resolution and an opportunity for speakers to comment on her service.
The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the board room of the McPherson Administration Building, 1500.