Board of Directors

Jonathan Farrington – President (Hwy 140)

Jonathan has had a 40-year career in hospitality, serving as a general manager in renowned luxury hotels and in various corporate leadership roles. He has overseen lodging operations, restaurants, and multi-unit sales and marketing efforts. A native of rural Monterey County, Jonathan has maintained a home in Madera and Mariposa County since 1997. After finishing college and spending four years with the National Park Service, he moved into a career in hospitality, including formative years overseeing special events at Pebble Beach while in his early 20s. Ultimately, his career led to destination resort management. In 1997, he worked at Tenaya Lodge, where he became the director of sales and marketing and was eventually promoted to general manager. He later went on to become general manager at the Inverness Hotel in Denver, The Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park, and the world-renowned Ventana Inn and Spa in Big Sur. In 2008, Jonathan returned to the Yosemite region as Delaware North’s corporate regional director of sales and marketing for California, overseeing ten hotels, including the Yosemite hotels, Tenaya Lodge, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Asilomar Conference Center, and the Queen Mary. After spending two years as Harris Ranch’s vice president of hospitality, Jonathan now serves as executive director of the Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau.

Jonathan was involved with the Yosemite Gateway Partners as a Board Director and first vice president between 2013 through 2015 and was a natural fit when he rejoined the board in 2018. In addition to Yosemite Gateway Partners, Jonathan volunteers on four other boards and committees, including Mariposa EDC and YARTS AAC.

See Jonathan’s full profile at LinkedIn

Jeff Gabriel – Vice-President (Hwy 120 E)

Jeff Gabriel is the executive director of the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA). In his current position, he is responsible for all aspects of ESIA’s operations from long-range planning, budgeting, daily operation, supervision of personnel, marketing and public speaking to statistical reporting and evaluations. He is also responsible with fulfilling ESIA’s Participating Agreement with the Inyo National Forest, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Tahoe National Forest. Besides the U.S. Forest Service Participating Agreement, ESIA has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management Bishop office and Vendor Agreement with Death Valley National Park.

Gabriel worked previously as the executive director of Kansas STARBASE, in Topeka, Kansas. He was responsible for the entire administration and operation of the program which goal was to ignite the interest of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to 4th-6th grade students. Before Kansas STARBASE, Gabriel was the vice president of member services for the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) in St. Louis, Missouri. He was responsible for all educational and training programs, membership recruitment and retention efforts, affinity programs and other related member services offered by ARA. Prior to ARA, Gabriel was the director of environmental services for the National Pork Producers Council, directing all environmental programs, including policy, education, communication, research, and legal. Before joining NPPC, he worked for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc in Des Moines, Iowa as government affairs manager. He also served as confidential assistant to the assistant secretary of natural resources and environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gabriel had two years experience on Capitol Hill working for Congressman Dave Camp as his legislative director and former Congressman Bill Schuette as his agricultural legislative assistant.

Gabriel was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas and has a bachelor of science degree in wildlife biology and political science from Kansas State University. He also has a master’s degree in public administration with a specialization in agricultural policy from Kansas State University.

He is a Board member of the Yosemite Gateway Partners, member of the Public Lands Alliance (PLA) Government Affairs Committee and 2018 PLA Conference Program Committee, Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, Bishop Sunrise Rotary Youth Counselor and member, past president Topeka South Rotary, former elected public official of the Shawnee County Extension Council, Leadership Greater Topeka Class of 2002, Leadership Kansas Class of 2006 and member of The Nature Conservancy. He and his wife Jane have four children: David, Rachael, Kellie and Abbey.

See Jeff’s full profile at LinkedIn

Dave Urquhart (Hwy 120 W)

Dave Urquhart is retired from his role in education in Tuolumne County. He most recently retired as the superintendent in the Big Oak Flat/Groveland USD after 6 years.  Prior to that, he was the principal of Summerville High School in Tuolumne for many years.  His education career spanned 41 years.  He received his education from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and USF.  Dave’s  interest in Yosemite Gateway Partners stems from his desire to work with the excellent staff of Yosemite National Park and see Yosemite and the gateway communities thrive economically, environmentally and culturally. He has enjoyed visiting and hiking in Yosemite for many years.

Candy O’Donel-Browne – Board Member Emeritus  

When Candy O’Donel-Browne was six years old, she saw her first real live deer in Yosemite. She was entranced. That magic childhood memory was the magnet that attracted her back to the area. Now she keeps track of them from her windows.

She moved from the East Coast when her family had the opportunity to purchase the KOA Campground in Midpines, California. They operated it for over a decade. After she sold it, she spent a year as the Executive Director of the Mariposa Economic Development Corporation (EDC) before retiring.

Candy helped organize the first gateway partner meetings at Mammoth Mountain in 2003, and has actively supported the organization ever since. She recalls operating a business that was dependent on the Park when there was very little effort made at communication between Yosemite and the surrounding gateways. She is delighted with the opportunity to promote the flow of useful information throughout the area.

She has used her retirement to become immersed in a broad spectrum of community affairs. She currently serves on several boards and committees including  the John C. Fremont Healthcare District,  the new Housing Programs Advisory Committee, the YARTS Advisory Council, the Midpines Community Planning Advisory Committee, and was a founding director of the Alliance for Community Transformations and its sister organization ACT Holding, Inc., the umbrellas that operate six social service programs in Mariposa and Merced Counties.

In the past, she has been involved with the Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce and the EDC of Mariposa County, the Mariposa Arts Council, the Mariposa Firesafe Council, the Sierra Business Council, the Mother Lode Workforce Investment Board, the Yosemite/Sequoia RC&D, and the KOA Owners Association of California and Nevada.

Les Marsden – Board Member Emeritus 

Les Marsden was a precocious musical prodigy (i.e.: brat) trained as a conductor, composer and on numerous instruments from age four.  Recognizing theatre as a far more absurd profession, he created his one-man show A Night at Harpo’s in college at age 22 with the full support of Harpo Marx’s widow, Susan. Booked directly from CSUFresno to international venues ranging from Las Vegas to Scotland, his show initiated his successful career as a New York/London-based actor, playwright, director and producer. He was honored to personally know Harpo’s brother Groucho and performed as that brother to acclaim. In 1985 Groucho’s son Arthur Marx wrote the unique dual role of Harpo AND Chico Marx in Groucho: A Life in Revue specifically for Marsden, who portrayed both brothers and stunned audiences by also performing lengthy virtuosic piano and harp solos in each brother’s distinctive style. That show’s successful New York run transferred to London’s West End where Marsden was nominated for the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award. He received the London Critics Award and many others in a career consisting of over 3,000 performances of dramas, comedies and musicals from Shakespeare to Neil Simon, Chekhov to Cole Porter, with countless appearances on film, TV and commercials. He worked with Robert Redford, Charles Nelson Reilly, Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeremy Irons and Burt Reynolds to name a few.

Marsden was disabled in an onstage accident in Washington DC in 1999. He retired at age 42; with wife Diane and young son Maxfield moved back home near their beloved Yosemite in 2001. In 2002 as a director of the Mariposa County Arts Council Inc (MCACI,) he created the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra and serves as its Music Director and Conductor. The 60+ member Yosemite-region-wide MSO draws musicians from five counties as well as an international audience. The MSO performs in Mariposa’s Fiester Auditorium and has enjoyed a decade of concerts in the Great Lounge of Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel, the only symphony orchestra ever afforded that honor. The MSO belongs to the League of American Symphony Orchestras, BMI and ASCAP and distinguishes Mariposa as the smallest town in all America with its own symphony orchestra. A composer for 50 years, Les Marsden’s large-scale symphonic cycle Our Nation’s Nature was written to commemorate four 2014-2016 American anniversary celebrations relevant to Yosemite. The MSO was awarded a generous California Arts Council grant which allowed the orchestra to present a seven-concert, five-county tour in April-August 2016 of that cycle in commemoration of the National Park Service Centennial; those performances were presented in Mariposa, Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel, Merced, Oakhurst, Sonora, Mammoth Lakes and a special unprecedented performance back in Yosemite at 7,200-foot Glacier Point: Yosemite’s official Centennial event.

In June 2018, Marsden cross-pollinated a bit of Yosemite within the Rocky Mountains when he conducted the Health and Wellness Symphony Orchestra of Fort Collins, CO in a performance of his Wilderness—Our Necessary Refuge. For MCACI, Marsden created his “Young Master Composers Celebration,” “Welcome to Classical Music!” and “Acting in Mariposa (AIM)” programs; as a Master Acting Teacher, his (rare) acting classes in Mariposa fill beyond capacity. He has also taught at UCMerced. In 2017, he wrote, produced and directed the theatre-piece entitled The Story – Mariposa’s multi-media history play, which performed to sold-out audiences in October and November of that year. An active Yosemite Gateway Partners participant since 2004, his fourth year as a Board Director and second year as President began in July, 2018. He has served on the Mariposa County Arts Council Board of Directors for 17 years – with five consecutive terms as President. A long-time board director and past multiple-term President of the Mariposa County Economic Development Corporation, he was honored to be named a National Park Service Centennial Ambassador. Les Marsden is a member of Actors Equity Association, AFTRA-SAG, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the Conductors Guild and is an American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) Artist.

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