About Us

MISSION

Yosemite Gateway Partners is a partnership of government agencies, non-profit organizations, tribes, individuals and businesses that acknowledge the interdependence of Yosemite National Park and the surrounding communities, and collaborate on and address issues of regional importance to create sustainable cultural, natural and economic prosperity.


Yosemite Gateway Partners is a 501(c)(3).

Bylaws set the max limit of the Board at 11 positions. By policy, there are two (2) directors for each gateway, plus three (3) at-large directors. Three consecutive terms is the limit for a director. Each term is two (2) years.


The number of participants that actively attend quarterly meetings, marketing meetings and contribute to the quarterly newsletter is estimated at approximately 200 participants.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jonathan Farrington, 

President

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


Brett Archer, 

1st Vice President


I came to Yosemite in 1985, two days after graduating from high school in the Midwest, for what was  just supposed to be a summer job. I started selling burgers and frosty cones at the Village Hamburger Stand (now the Village Grill) and quickly graduated to Cook and Assistant Manager. I then decided I wanted to get into the hotel side of things and transferred to Curry Village as the Assistant Front Desk Manager, Front Office Manager and then Housekeeping Camp Manager until 1993. I knew that I enjoyed helping and taking care of people, but I can’t stand the sight of blood so being a doctor was out of the question and I didn’t want to spend four to six years in college to become a psychiatrist. I found hospitality to be my calling and began honing my skills at The Ahwahnee as the Rooms Manager for the next ten years; talk about going from one end of the spectrum to the other. Ready to take the next step and coming full circle, I returned to Curry Village and took the helm as General Manager in 2003. It was an excellent place to spread my GM wings and oversee Yosemite’s largest and most dynamic operation. The eight years I spent at Curry Village prepared me for my dream job: The Ahwahnee General Manager. To return to the crown jewel and carry on the rich tradition of hospitality there was an honor and a privilege. Fast Forward to 2018. With our children grown, my wife Ceci and I were both presented opportunities outside the Park at the same time. While I thought that we were Yosemite “lifers,” this seemed to be a sign, so we packed up and moved, literally and figuratively, down the road to Oakhurst when I joined the Tenaya at Yosemite leadership team. I did an 18-month stint at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and returned to Tenaya at Yosemite as GM in 2021. In my high school yearbook I wrote, “I want to travel the world.” How lucky am I that the world actually travels to see me.

On the personal side, I met my wife, Ceci, in the Yosemite. In fact, she had come to the Park a year or two before me. We have three children who got to grow up in the Park with Yosemite as their backyard; something they don’t take for granted. Two of the kids live in the area with our youngest residing in Santa Cruz. Ceci and I are now grandparents and fully enjoying the whole new level that brings.

Dave Uquhart,

2nd Vice President


I have lived in Sonora for 45 years, teaching and working as a school administrator. I most recently retired as the superintendent of Big Oak Flat/Groveland USD in 2018. I visit Yosemite often. I became involved in Yosemite Gateway Partners during my 6 year stay in my position in Groveland. I enjoy working with the YGP committee and the National Park people for the betterment of the experience of visiting Yosemite National Park. 

Kevin Shelton,

Treasurer

Kevin Shelton has been a resident of Mariposa County since 1994. He is currently the National Director of Tour and Travel for OTO Development who owns and/or manages 67 hotels across the US including 3 hotels in Oakhurst, CA. Prior to working with OTO, he worked 28 years for Yosemite Management Group ending his tenure as Vice President of Operation and Marketing for their hotels, vacation rentals, and campground in Mariposa County.

Kevin currently holds board of director positions on the following boards: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau, Yosemite Gateway Partners, Mariposa Fairgrounds, Mariposa Friends of the Fairgrounds, Mariposa FFA Boosters, and Mariposa County Sheriff Foundation. Kevin understands and appreciates the dynamics of rural mountain economies that depend on tourism as a major source of income.

Candy O'Donel-Browne, 

Secretary

Retired business owner and current community activist: Founding board member of YGP, served as second president and past secretary for several years. Board member John C. Fremont Healthcare District; board member Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau; board member Member YARTS Advisory Council; secretary, Alliance for Community Transformations (Mountain Crisis Services, Valley Crisis Center, Connections, Mariposa Heritage House, Ethos, Pathos and CASA); member Midpines Community Advisory Council; board member Mariposa Economic Development Corporation.


Brian Deninger

Brian Deninger is the Co-Owner and President of Incredible Adventures which he has operated since 2000.   In 2000 Incredible Adventures provide travel services for 500 clients to Yosemite National Park. Today Incredible Adventures continues to service Yosemite National Park and its gateway cities with departure from San Francisco, Mariposa, Groveland, and Oakhurst. Additionally, Incredible Adventures is recognized a leading US Destination Management Company operating white label departures throughout the United States including Hawaii and Alaska and focusing on national park itineraries.

Brian found a passion for exploring and preserving our natural areas in his early 20’s.  It was this passion that Incredible Adventures embarked on a journey to reduce carbon emissions in their fleet.  In 2002, Incredible Adventures transitioned to running 100% of its fleet on non-petroleum domestically produced fuel.  Since 2003 Incredible Adventures has been off setting about 60,000 barrels of oil in its fleet every three years. Becoming a market leader in Sustainable Travel.

In addition to now serving on the YGP Board Brian also sits on the SF Travel Tourism Board.

Les Marsden

LES MARSDEN founded the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra in 2002 and re-organized it in 2022 following that ensemble’s COVID hiatus as the Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra (MY Symphony Orchestra.) He’s served as the organization’s Music Director, Conductor and Executive Director since its founding.

He was a musically precocious child - the annoying type best sent to another room, preferably on another planet. Piano lessons began at age 4; he was a credentialed piano teacher by age 11. He added trumpet at age 9 and rapidly expanded to other brass, string and wind instruments – and concert grand (pedal) harp. As a pre-teen/teen he performed in recitals and with chamber ensembles as pianist and/or harpsichordist. He composed his first symphony at age 13 and for many years was the principal trumpet of ensembles including the California Honor Orchestra and the Fresno Junior Philharmonic.

His fascination with composing and conducting were nurtured by Maestro Guy Taylor of the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra. Under Taylor’s tutelage and encouragement, Marsden conducted the FJP in performances of his own works. As a teen he also acted in local theatre; upon entering college (CSUFresno) Marsden opted for a stage career over music simply because it appeared to be an even more absurd field in which one could possibly dare to make a living.

While still a college student he wrote, produced and starred in his own one-man show A Night at Harpo’s with the full assistance of Harpo Marx’s widow Susan, children and numerous Marx associates. Susan – who would introduce Marsden to friends as “Harpo’s and my fifth kid” was in the front row on opening night of A Night at Harpo’s in its sold-out run at CSUFresno. The show was booked in Las Vegas, and then internationally at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival – heady stuff for a young man in his early 20s. That show served as his entry into professional show business. As a teenager he had cajoled his way into the home and life of the elderly Groucho Marx, who gave Marsden his imprimatur. Marsden also performed as Groucho for many years to acclaim. Maxine Marx, daughter of the third primary Marx Brother – Chico – referred to herself as “Les’ East Coast Ma” – especially during the many years when Marsden, his wife and son lived in Manhattan and vicinity.

Groucho’s son Arthur Marx attended a performance of the Los Angeles production of his musical play Minnie’s Boys in which Marsden starred as his father back-to-back with a production of Marsden’s A Night at Harpo’s in which Marsden played his Uncle Harpo. Marx and his writing partner Bob Fisher consequently wrote the play Groucho: A Life in Revue and in it, created the DUAL role of Harpo and Chico Marx specifically for Marsden. In addition to playing both brothers in and out of their well-known film personae, he also stunned audiences by playing lengthy virtuosic piano and harp solos in each brother’s distinctive style. A huge hit in New York, that stage show then played London’s West End to even more acclaim, with Marsden nominated for London’s prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for “Comedy Performance of the Year,” an award considered to be the world’s greatest acting honor.

In a mainstream career of over 4,000 performances, he received the London Critics Award and many more while starring internationally in stage dramas, comedies and musicals ranging from Chekhov to Cole Porter and Neil Simon to Shakespeare. Marsden was also featured in countless appearances on film, TV and commercials. He was honored to work with Albert Finney (whom he also directed,) Robert Redford, Vanessa Redgrave, Burt Reynolds, the late Charles Nelson Reilly (one America’s finest stage directors) and Jeremy Irons to name only a few. While starring in a play in 1999 at Washington DC’s famed Arena Stage, Marsden had an onstage accident with a mis-set piece of stage scenery resulting in a permanent career-ending injury to his left leg.

Disabled and no longer able to perform his trademark highly physical roles, he retired at age 42. With no need to maintain homes on both sides of the Atlantic he, his wife Diane and young son Maxfield returned to their native California to live near their beloved Yosemite. Finding the ennui of retirement at age 42 impossible to take, he plunged into a life of volunteerism in Mariposa County. He created his MSO “Young Master Composers Celebration,” “Meet Classical Music!” and “Acting in Mariposa” (AIM) programs for the Mariposa County Arts Council; as a Master Acting Teacher (as designated by the late Charles Nelson Reilly of Manhattan’s HB Studios,) his fundraising adult acting classes in Mariposa filled beyond capacity. A 2017 California Arts Council Artists Activating Communities Grant awarded to the MCACI impelled him to write the book, songs, libretti and incidental music for, and to direct: the successful premiere of his “The Story” - the first installment in his proposed cycle of Mariposa history plays.

In June 2018, he was asked to conduct the Wilderness – Our Necessary Refuge movement of his concert-length symphonic cycle Our Nation’s Nature with Fort Collins, Colorado’s Health and Wellness Orchestra. Surprised to discover during his onstage introduction that THAT orchestra had been created following Marsden’s example in Mariposa, he spontaneously named it the “sister orchestra” of the MSO to its delighted audience and musicians.

He’s been honored with the Golden Apple Award from the Madera-Mariposa Charter of the Association of California School Administrators for his arts education volunteer work in Mariposa County’s schools. Marsden has been an Arts Lecturer at the University of California, Merced. He served as a Board Director for 21 years and was asked to serve as President following the devastating 2012 fire of the Mariposa County Arts Council. He’s spent nearly two decades on the Board of the Mariposa County Economic Development Corporation, including multiple terms as President. He was elected to the maximum allowed six years on the Board of the Yosemite Gateway Partners Organization, with half that time as President. Marsden was honored to be named a National Park Service Centennial Ambassador in 2014.

Les Marsden is a member of Actors Equity, SAG-AFTRA, the Conductors Guild, the National Association of Composers USA and is an American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) Artist. When not spending all his waking hours on this orchestra, he’s asleep. But never for more than 15 minutes.

Aspects of his former career (with undue emphasis on the Marx Brothers) may be found at:

https://tinyurl.com/LesCareer

Teri Marshall

Teri Marshall has been a part of the Yosemite landscape for decades, including four memorable years living and working in Yosemite Valley, carefully managing marketing and communications for the park’s concessionaire in good times and bad.

Teri has hiked extensively throughout Yosemite’s 1,200 square miles of wilderness, skied Badger Pass, white water rafted and floated the Merced River, toured on the Green Dragon, and participated in signature events at The Ahwahnee. Despite a fear of heights, she learned to rock climb on an amateur level at Swan Slab and has the scars to prove it!

As a native Californian, a natural love of people and the outdoors is part of her DNA. Teri believes in the power of nature, especially Yosemite, to change people’s lives for the better. Everyone deserves their Yosemite moment, and Teri helps make it happen in ways that are sustainable as well as socially and environmentally responsible.

In 2013 this love of Yosemite paved the way to a marketing role with Evergreen Lodge and sister property Rush Creek Lodge & Spa at Yosemite, both certified B Corporations that use business as a force for good, self-funding on-site Youth Programs and innovative environmental stewardship efforts.

Executive Director

Sheila Gow

Serving as the first Executive Director at Yosemite Gateway Partners, Sheila Gow, is an accomplished leader in the field of hospitality and event management. Sheila brings over two decades of expertise in fostering partnerships, optimizing operations, and orchestrating memorable events.

Sheila is currently the Senior Sales Manager at Yosemite Hospitality in Yosemite National Park, where strategic planning and team leadership allows Sheila and her team to direct high-profile events such as the Yosemite Conservancy Centennial Gala, Western Caucus Foundation Summer Field Tour and legacy events such as Vintners’ Holidays, Bracebridge, Chefs’ Holidays, and New Years Eve Dinner Dance at The Ahwahnee.

With a history of progressively responsible roles, has a proven track record in talent acquisition, event management, and hospitality management within organizations like Aramark and Delaware North.

Sheila began her Yosemite career in 2004, as a Front Office Clerk at Curry Village and was quickly promoted to Assistant Front Office Manager. Over the years, Sheila has also served as Manager of The Ahwahnee Dining Room, Human Resources Specialist, General Manager at Yosemite Valley Lodge, and Events Manager at The Ahwahnee.

Sheila holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, where she served as Vice Chairperson for the Cal Poly Rose Float program which Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly Pomona campuses create one float for annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

Known for their dedication to excellence, strategic thinking, and leadership skills, Sheila is poised to make significant contributions to the Yosemite Gateway Partners.

See Sheila’s full profile on LinkedIn.


Yosemite Gateway Partners Timeline


September 26, 2003
At the Sierra Business Council (SBC) Annual Conference at Mammoth Mountain, a breakfast meeting was held for all attendees from the four gateways to Yosemite. They returned for a second breakfast meeting the next morning.

October 29, 2003
The first regional Gateway Partnership meeting was held in the Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge.

October 18 – 20, 2004
Ed McMahon held a three-day Conference in Yosemite’s Curry Village.  Approximately 50 participants attended, evenly divided between Highways 140, 41, 120 East, 120 North, and Yosemite Park.

January 9, 2006
Approximately 39 participants attended a workshop facilitated by Linda McMillan in the Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge.

February 16, 2009
A workshop was held in Mariposa’s government center. The group stuck together for four hours of discussion and came up with a mission statement.

July 9, 2009
The formation meeting was held for the first corporate Board of Directors in the Garden Terrace at Yosemite Lodge.

August 17, 2009
Yosemite Gateway Partners, Inc., was incorporated as a nonprofit in the State of California.

April 30, 2010
Yosemite Gateway Partners, Inc., was issued a 501(c)(3) exemption letter by IRS.

Conflict of Interest Policy

Definition

A conflict of interest arises when a person in a position of authority over Yosemite Gateway Partners (YGP), such as a director, officer, or manager, may benefit personally from a decision he or she could make. This conflict of interest policy consists of a set of procedures to follow to avoid the possibility that those in positions of authority over an organization may receive an inappropriate benefit.

Financial Interest

A person has a financial interest if the person has, directly or indirectly, through business, investment, or family:

A financial interest is not necessarily a conflict of interest. A person who has a financial interest may have a conflict of interest only if the governing board or committee decides that a conflict of interest exists.

Compensation

Compensation includes direct and indirect remuneration as well as gifts or favors that are not insubstantial. All forms of income from working, including salary or wages; deferred compensation; retirement benefits, whether in the form of a qualified or non-qualified employee plan (for example: pensions or annuities); fringe benefits (for example: personal vehicle, meals, lodging, personal and family educational benefits, low interest loans, payment of personal travel, entertainment, or other expenses, athletic or country club membership, and personal use of your property); and bonuses.

Procedures