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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Congrats for a leadership job done well

Uploaded: Mar 7, 2019
Here’s saluting Susan Houghton as she steps down as president and founder of Sunflower Hill.

In just seven years, the organization has two communities for individuals with special needs approved and one ready for construction: Sunflower Hill Livermore and Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch in Pleasanton. That’s a monumental achievement and one that has parents of adults with special needs breathing much more comfortably.

What Susan discovered when her son, Robby, turned 22 is that the support system from public agencies that had served him well just went away and everything was centralized at regional centers. And those did not address a parent’s key concern: when I’m gone, where will they live.

The two Sunflower Hill facilities are custom designed to meet that need.

Susan will remain as an advisor as the board transitions from a hands-on working board to a governing board now that Edie Nehls is in place as executive director.

As one who has known Susan for many years, I admired her ability to pull together parents with similar goals and then surround them with community leaders to build public support as well as support among elected officials for the organizations and the projects.

The organization, which also runs a farm for its ranchers as well as a Saturday breakfast kitchen, has become a integral part of the valley in just seven years.

For the second year in a row, Pleasanton’s two comprehensive high schools stand atop the California competitive civics competition.

Amador Valley and Foothill finished 1-2 at the statewide competition last month and earned a trip back to the national finals in April. That’s a remarkable achievement, continuing a tradition established by the legendary coach and teacher Skip Mohatt and built upon by Brian Ladd. Our daughter was a member of Ladd’s team in 2006 that finished second nationally so we are familiar with the excellence of the class and the program. Teacher Stacey Sklar has led the team in recent years.

Congrats to the teams at both schools. If you want to check out what they will be doing and help with the fundraising, parents have pulled together a joint fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. March 17 in the Amador multi-purpose room. It features dinner, a demonstration by the teams and Q&A with local Congressman Eric Swalwell, who has yet to formally declare whether he will toss his hat into the ring for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination.

Tickets are $50. There also will be a raffle and the opportunity to donate that evening.


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