Bitsy Hall is a Benicia native and local elementary school teacher. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a major in Peace and Conflict Studies and Human Rights, and is currently finishing her masters of education at Touro University. Before becoming a teacher, she spent time living and working in France and traveling throughout Europe. This time spent in the culinary capital of the world sparked her love of cooking and baking. She especially enjoys adapting classic recipes to make them plant based and healthy. When she’s not busy making vegan nacho cheese, she loves walking her golden lab, Bongo, around town. When she’s feeling extra nice, she takes him out for a swim at the dog beach at the end of First Street. Bitsy is a contributing writer for Benicia Magazine and also manages their social media pages.
Christina Strawbridge knows there is nothing more gratifying than to have someone acknowledge your writing.
She started her monthly column shortly after Benicia Magazine was born. She has explored fashion, travel, the famous and not so, family, friends and her health. For the last 15 years the column has unlocked her own point of view and she hopes it has entertained the reader.
Because she covers trends, the subject needs to be timely. In other words, she never knows where it will go, creating an adventure for her pen and paper and you, the reader.
I grew up in Vallejo and now call Benicia my home, I understand the magic of the 94510. I have a love for all things sparkly, and beautiful Benicia fits the bill. I have worked for UCSF for the past five years and have also worked for Stop AIDS Project and the San Francisco AIDS foundation. I hold the belief that in every conversation, there are three thing we all want to know: Do you hear me, do you see me, and does what I say matter to you?
I have been doing HIV prevention work for the past 15 years and have loved every minute of it. …As such, it has been my goal to help people of the LGBTQ+ community live meaningful and fulfilled lives by allowing them to feel heard, be seen, and know that their stories matter.
I also love being creative, and that’s why it’s my pleasure to bring you the monthly serial, Picket Fences; a column that embodies all the things that make up me. A little glamour, a touch of drama, a bit over the top and a lot of fun. Growing up, while other kids watched cartoons, I would turn on TV36 and watch all the old primetime soaps. Even then, I was an old soul. I’m a person that tries to find the good in life, so if you see me on First Street, come say hi! I’ll take whatever gossip you have to dish… XOXO, Darrell
A Benicia native, Genevieve grew up dancing at Stage One Dance Center, where she gained an appreciation of the performing arts at an early age. She earned a dual bachelor’s degree in dance and anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is currently pursuing her MBA through Colorado State University. She has worked at various arts organizations over the years in both creative and managerial capacities. Currently, she works as a video editor and project manager for Rapt Productions, where she has been able to work with major performing arts organizations across the Bay Area. She also fills a variety of roles for Benicia Magazine, including, among other things, being a contributing writer and proofer, as well as managing the magazine’s website. Genevieve is a certified Pilates instructor and enjoys helping people gain confidence in their bodies, whether through injury recovery, awareness training, or simply getting stronger. Genevieve has appreciated being able to connect with her hometown community through her various ventures and looks forward to continuing to do so.
Jeannine Mendoza, Ed.D.
A sixth-generation Californian, Jeannine Mendoza was born in Santa Monica, and raised in Venice. She attended local parochial schools, and earned a B.A. and M.A. in Reading Improvement at CSUN, a teaching credential at LMU, an M.Ed in Administration at UCLA, and a Doctorate in Curriculum at UCLA. Jeannine taught public school for 35 years. Although not a Benicia resident currently, Jeannine has worked in the East Bay area off and on for thirty years. She has traveled extensively in the U.S and abroad. Jeannine has two grown sons, their partners and is thoroughly enjoying two preschool age grandsons.
Karina Escalante is a Benicia native who currently works as an environmental scientist at a local Benicia business. With a degree in Biology from San Diego State University, she has a love for the outdoors and all the critters that come along with it. In her spare time, she can usually be found reading a good book or out walking the local neighborhoods and trails with her husband, Kenny, and their golden retriever puppy, Archie.
Kathryn T. Graham
Kathryn T. Grahamhas spent her professional life working as a Production Director for dance companies and festivals both local and international. Cooking is one of her deep passions. She has catered art openings for Anna Dal Pino and John Lefan, has been on a team that held New Year’s Day open houses for up to 70 guests, and … has organized dinner parties either cooking the whole meal or assigning recipes to everyone to create a cohesive potluck. As much as she loves cooking at home, trying different recipes, and creating delicious meals, she finds true joy in sharing all of it with others. Other passions include building and walking labyrinths based on the Chartres medieval design, knitting, reading, and journaling.
Lisa has been photographing for over 15 years as a professional photographer. Her passion is for wedding photography and fine art. She is truly a professional and takes her job to heart. She believes her priority as a photographer is foremost to capture moments that truly matter. Those raw fleeting moments that are once in a lifetime. “Its not just about the pictures, it’s about the feelings.”
Napa living, Benicia Native. Maura’s inspiration stems from her career in the wine business. Her 6+ years’ experience has taken her to the famous Napa Valley and as far as New Zealand. With her travels she has discovered new and unexpected flavors while keeping the classics in mind. Before she discovered vino, she was also involved with home-brewing. She still holds a special place in her heart for the classic northern California IPA and enjoys a classic pilsner on a hot summer day. She currently spends most of her days working for a wine importer, exploring more of the valley and spending time with her dog Winnie. Maura is always finding herself visiting Benicia for family, baked goods and friends. Spending most of her younger years residing in Benicia, she always manages to find her way back to our town. Maura says, when she thinks about moving, she always describes where she wants to live. “Small town, walking trails, close to the ocean, warm summer nights and a bar that makes a solid whiskey sour.” Benicia is always in the back of her mind.
Grateful and delighted would describe Patty’s response for the opportunity to write for Benicia Magazine. Recently retired, she has a newly found interest in writing, for the magazine, and other journalistic type endeavors. A graduate of UC Davis, most of Patty’s work life has been in education, as a 6th grade teacher and an art teacher in Catholic Schools. She has always been drawn to the arts, particularly, the visual and performing arts. She enjoys theater and the ballet, concerts, museums, loves to dance and sing, and occasionally tries her hand at painting. During her tenure on the City of Benicia’s Arts and Culture Commission, Patty was the driving force behind the commissioning of seven local artists to create “Wind, Water, Land”, the recycled, repurposed, glass and metal public art piece at the Community Center. In addition, she was instrumental in the acquisition of the Hatofsky paintings at the Library that hang in the main reading room.
Patty is an active member of Soroptimist International of Benicia, whose mission is to empower women and girls through access to education. She is thankful for the opportunity to participate in the good works of this exemplary organization and the impact it makes on our community.
Patty and husband Tom have two married daughters, two granddaughters, and a grandson on the way. She’ll tell you that her greatest achievement is her family, for which she is everlastingly grateful.
Rebecca Gulick, a tech writer and project manager by day, loves writing about the arts for Benicia Magazine. A proud BHS Panther Band parent to two teenage musicians, Rebecca is also a singer and choral-music fanatic. Among her recent pursuits are editing virtual-choir videos and learning to play the cello.
Solofo, also known to many as Slu, is a University of Tennessee graduate with a Business Analyst degree focusing on International Business and a minor in Linguistics with mastery in French and proficiency in Japanese. With a thirst for knowledge and a perpetually multitasked agenda, Solofo has contributed to Benicia Magazine as business advisor, administrative assistant and writer.
Slu works in management at a local Benicia business while pursuing his MALM, an ever evolving form of MBA that focuses on executive level management processes, international marketplace perspectives and key software proficiency development, at Arizona State University.