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Governing Board

The California Exposition & State Fair is an independent state agency established by law and governed primarily by the California Department of Food and Agriculture codes.

The California Exposition & State Fair mission is to create a State Fair experience reflecting California including its industries, agriculture, diversity of its people, traditions and trends shaping its future supported by year-round events.

Governed by an appointed Board of Directors, daily operations are managed by the Chief Executive Officer and permanent staff of approximately 55. More than 2,000 temporary employees are hired or brought on grounds to operate the annual 17-day State Fair. Cal Expo is a self–sufficient operation that receives no government funding and has an estimated economic impact of more than $200 million.

The governing body of the California Exposition & State Fair is an 11–member board of directors, that must all be residents of California. Nine (9) directors are appointed by the Governor and one director is appointed by each the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Rules Committee. Ex–Officio Members are Senator Darrell Steinberg and Assemblymember Roger Dickinson. Current members of the board and their place of residence are listed below.

Meet the Board

Sonney Chong (Chair), of Stockton, is a practicing dentist in Sacramento for the past 30 years and was previously on the Cal Expo & State Fair Board of Director from 2001 to 2005. Sonney is the Chair of CAPITAL (Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy & Leadership ), and on the CSUS University Foundation, Asian Resources Inc. Board of Directors, CAPITAL Foundation Board of Directors, American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow Mountain Valley Chapter, FBI Citizen’s Academy Alumni Assoc., Wells Fargo Bank Community Advisory Board and UC Med Center Leadership Council. He also serves on the Sacramento Police Advisory Committee to Chief Rick Braziel and Sacramento Sheriff Outreach Committee Advisory Board to Sheriff Scott Jones. He participates in activities of other organizations in CAPITAL such as OCA (Organization of Chinese Americans), SCCF (Sacramento Chinese Cultural Foundation) CACS (Chinese American Council of Sacramento).


David Mallel (Vice Chair), of Calabasas, has been president of LCC Investments since 1996. He was Regional Manager at Moore Maintenance and Property Management from 1994 to 1996.

Rima Barkett

Rima Barkett (Member), of Stockton, has been president and founder of A Tavola Together since 2007. She was an international relations officer at the World Summit of Noble Peace Laureates from 2006 to 2007and owner of Café Luna Spaghetteria from 2002 to 2006. Barkett was an instructor of Italian language at the University of the Pacific from 1996 to 2002. She is founder and president of the Architects of Peace Foundation and a member of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin County. Barkett attended Le Cordon Bleu and Gambero Rosso culinary schools and is co-author of Cooking Dinner, Simple Italian Family Recipes Everyone Can Cook.

Cornelius Gallagher (Member), of Fair Oaks, has been senior vice president and agribusiness executive for Bank of America since 1987.  Gallagher has worked for Bank of America since 1969, previously holding the position of senior vice president and regional market executive as well as other vice president and managerial positions.  Additionally, he represents the Bank of America on several agricultural leadership boards and committees, including chair of the California Bankers Association Agricultural Lending Committee and Commissioner on the UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Rex S. Hime (Member), of Loomis, is president and chief executive officer of the California Business Properties Association. Hime serves as a member as the chair of the Greater Sacramento Valley Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and is a past president of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association.

Hallie Muller (Member), of Brooks, has been director of outreach and education at Full Belly Farm since 2009.  She is secretary of the Ecological Farming Association and a member of the Agriculture and Food Alliance.

K. Mark Nelson

K. Mark Nelson (Member), of Wilton, has been a broker at Hesseltine Realty since 2011. He was owner of Sacramento Land and Farming from 1971 to 2011. Nelson is a member of the California Rangeland Trust, California Cattlemen’s Association, California Farm Bureau and the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association.


Patrick O’Brien (Member), of Pleasanton, has been chief financial officer of Leisure Sports Inc. since 1994.  He was general manager at the Hacienda Owner’s Association from 1992 to 1994, and was principal and project manager at Tracy Hills from 1988 to 1992.  Mr. O’Brien was a partner at Callahan Pentz Properties from 1983 to 1988 and was founder and chairman of the board at Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan from 1972 to 1981.  He was a principal at the Patrick J. O’Brien Accountancy Corporation from 1970 to 1983 and a senior level accountant for Touche Ross and Co. from 1966 to 1970.

Willie Pelote, Sr. (Member), of Sacramento, has served as California Political and Legislative Director for the 1.4 million members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) since 1995.  Pelote served as consultant to former California Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr. from 1987 to 1995.  During that time, he was the Speaker’s liaison to labor, community, business and other interest groups. Pelote also served as Sergeant-At-Arms for the California Legislature from 1980 to 1987.

All California Exposition & State Fair board, sum-committee, and advisory board meetings are open to the public and are subject to a 10 day notice period. Agendas and pertinent materials are available online at: