Skip to page contents

Skip to Navigation

Current Leadership

CalRTA’s State Board of Directors includes five officers and directors from each of the 12 areas. All members are volunteers elected by the CalRTA membership. CalRTA leaders generally begin with volunteer positions at the division level.

Ken Hewitt


Prior to being elected as CalRTA’s President Elect, Ken Hewitt served as chair of the State Legislative Committee, helped launch the Leadership Development Program and helped lead the CalRTA Advocacy Days. He is a member of the Speakers Bureau and has served as State Treasurer and treasurer for his local division. Ken retired in 1998 from the Ukiah USD. He taught mathematics at the 8th grade, high school and junior college levels. He also served as pastor of the Redwood Valley Community Church. He is married to his lovely wife Beryl and currently lives in Northern California. Ken’s personal goal for CalRTA is that the organization be the leading advocate for retired educators in the state and that every division have a solid group of leaders eager to help the organization move forward.

Irene Wetzel

President Elect

Prior to being elected President Elect Irene Wetzel was a dedicated local and state volunteer. She held numerous position at the local level including Division President. She served on the Government Relations Committee for 14 years including as Chair. As Irene said in her election statement, “I enjoy and take pride in being a communicator and team builder . . . with proven coordination and follow-through skills.  I will be singularly motivated and committed to CalRTA as my number one priority.  I will provide the leadership support for each member, Division, Area, committee, state governing board, and staff . . . the heartbeat of CalRTA . . . to thrive and excel. YOU CAN COUNT ON ME!”

Peter Paolino


Peter Paolino held numerous CalRTA volunteer positions prior to being elected State Treasurer including co-director of Area I, division co-president, treasurer and scholarship foundation chair, and a member of the State Nominations and Elections Committee. Prior to retiring in 2001 Peter taught business, Spanish, English, and worked 37 years as a high school counselor. He is a native Californian and has 41 cousins! Peter’s personal goal for CalRTA is for the organization to become a larger, more influential organization on behalf of retired educators.

 Jessie Perry

Jesse Perry


Jesse Perry retired in 1991 after teaching high school English and serving as a District Administrator. He was also president of the National Council of Teachers of English. His volunteer duties for CalRTA have included serving as Division Publicity Chair and Division President. He is married and three wonderful children!  Jesse’s goal for CalRTA is to contribute his skills as State Secretary to the best of his ability for the effective working of the Board.

Bill Kipp

Immediate Past President 

Prior to being elected state President, Bill Kipp served as Area II Director, Chair of the State Communications Committee and President of Division 16. He also represented CalRTA at the National Educator Support Network Conference and the NRTA Leadership Conference. Prior to retiring in 1995, Bill served as a teacher at the elementary, junior high and high school levels, and worked as a principal, personnel director, assistant superintendent of instruction and superintendent. He was named Superintendent of the Year by ACSA in 1994. Bill and his wife of 54 years, Dene, have four children and three grandchildren. In addition to CalRTA, Bill’s volunteer efforts include serving as the AARP Regional Volunteer Leader for Northern California, and as a HICAP and long-term care counselor. Bill’s goals for CalRTA include “strengthening the partnerships with NRTA, AARP, ACSA and other educator special interest groups and improving the communication and involvement in CalRTA.”

Betty Silva

Area I Director

Betty Silva’s professional career includes working as a government research librarian/reference librarian for Fresno County Library, a library media teacher for 31 years (20 of which were at Fairfield High School) and an independent training contractor with Follett Software Company. She retired in 2004. She and husband Ray have one dog, a blue merle Australian Shepherd named Pepper. Betty’s favorite quote is “I choose what kind of a day I will have.” Her personal goal for CalRTA is to make CalRTA an active, viable, first choice of organizations that retiring teachers will want to join!


Georgianna Light

Area II Director

Georgianna Light earned both her teaching credential and Master’s Degree in School Administration from California State University, Chico. She began teaching in Hayfork, where she taught most grade levels through the eighth grade. In the early 70s she accepted a position leading a Title III Federal Grant, which involved 20+ schools in Northern California and 40 teachers. She taught in Golden Feather Union School District from 1977 until she retired in June 2010. Altogether she taught 50 years. She and husband Rick live in Chico and are both active in CalRTA as well as with ACSA Retired. They have a son and daughter and three wonderful grandsons. Georgianna’s goal is to assist CalRTA in providing strategies to develop leadership at all levels, thus strengthening the organization.

Chuck Denonn

Area III Co-Director

In June 2011, Chuck Denonn completed a 20-year career as a teacher in the Grant and Twin Rivers Unified School District. Raised in New York, he first came to Sacramento in 1968 as a Second Lieutenant to work at McClellan Air Force Base. He finished his military career at Beale AFB and retired to Roseville. In 1989 he began a new career as a teacher. For nearly two decades Chuck has been a local, state and national leader in the fight for teacher rights. He belongs to many civic and community organizations including the American Legion, Veteran’s of Foreign Wars, the American Mensa Society, and the Sacramento Area Math Educators Association. In addition to serving as Area III Co-Director, Chuck also serves as President of Division 67.


Marcie Launey

Area III Co-Director

Marcie’s professional career includes 36 years in the Sacramento City Unified School District (16 years as elementary special education teacher and 20 years as school psychologist), as well as being an Adjunct instructor at CSU Sacramento, and President, Sacramento City Teachers Association. She retired in 2008. Marcie is a native of Sacramento where she lives with her husband. Their three children and give grandsons live nearby. She says that during her professional career she was dedicated to supporting teachers and the teaching profession. CalRTA provides the opportunity to continue those efforts in retirement.


Pat Seaman

Area IV Director

Prior to being elected Area IV Director, Pat Seaman served as Area IV Co-chair of Membership and Division 52 President, Membership Chair and Directory Editor. She has also been very active with the Social Security Fairness group and represented them in Washington, DC. Before retirement, she taught art, special education and computers. Most of her experience was at the high school level with the Contra Costa County Office of Education. She was Outstanding Business Teacher in California and Teacher of the Year for Contra Costa County. Since retirement she has taught at Brandman Division of Chapman University. Pat and her husband, Rod, care for his mother who is over 100. Pat also serves on the boards for the American Sewing Guild and the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society. Pat is especially looking forward to using technology to increase CalRTA membership.

Richard Benitez

Area V Director

Richard Benitez first taught in the Pomona Unified School District in grades 7-9. Through the years he worked in South Whittier, Coachella Valley, and Paso Robles. He joined CalRTA and became Co-President and then President of Division 86. Richard has held leadership positions with the Children’s Services Network of San Luis Obispo County, Kiwanis Club, the Food Bank of San Luis Obispo County, and he was the founder of a scholarship program for Latino students.  Richard and his late wife raised 5 wonderful children, always stressing the importance of education.

Carol Luhring

Area VI Co-Director

Prior to her current position as Area VI Director, Carol Luhring served as Division 34 Treasurer and on several Division committees including Scholarship, Games Day and Newsletter. Before she retired in 1997, Carol taught for 25 years, plus 10 years as vice principal, for the Merced River School District. She has three children and six wonderful grandchildren. Carol’s favorite quote is “Don’t run faster than your guardian angel can fly.” As for personal goals for CalRTA, Carol says “We all appreciate the need for increased membership but my personal goal for the next year is to find ways to increase participation in Area VI’s division meetings and activities.”


Jim Mahoney

Area VI Co-Director

Prior to being elected to the Board of Directors, Jim was very active in Division 8, including most recently serving as its President. Jim retired in May 2010 from the Kern County School District. From 1974 until when he retired he worked in the Special Education Division serving as a teacher for multi-handicapped students, Infant Specialist and Educational Diagnostician in the Infant Development Program, Principal for the Schools for Severely Handicapped, and Kern County Supt. of Schools for the Special Education Division. He enjoys golf and singing in a Barbershop Quartet. Jim’s goals for CalRTA are to ignite enthusiasm within new and old retirees about the organization; to ensure the process works for all retirees; and to be an active spokesman for the organization.


Area VII


Barbara Gera

Area VIII Director

Barabara Gera currently serves as Area VIII Director. Before joining the State Board of Directors she served as Vice President of Programs for Division 71. Barbara retired in 2003 from the El Monte City School District where she taught grades K to 5th including working as a Miller-Unruh Reading Specialist, a Title 1 Teacher, Assistant Principal and Director of Instructional Services. Barbara and her husband John like to line dance and even teach it periodically. Her personal goal for CalRTA is “to fully implement the ‘Membership Marketing Initiative’ and then help accomplish all the other goals.”


Ron Breyer

Area IX Director

In addition to serving as Area IX Director, Ron Breyer is also President of Division 33. Prior to retiring in 2005, Ron taught high school Social Studies, coached football and track, and served as Student Council advisor. He and wife of more than 30 years, Sue, have four accomplished children (policeman, fireman, teacher and prospective lawyer). Ron shares the story that his father trucked oranges out of orange groves and told him to go to college so that he wouldn’t have to work as hard. Ron was the only one to graduate from college in his family. His personal goal for CalRTA is to correct the inequities in educators’ pensions because of the unfairness of the WEP/GPO laws; educate legislators about our issues; and help current educators.

Judy Smith

Area X Director

Prior to being elected as Director for Area X Judy Smith volunteered many hours for her local Division 42 serving as President and Legislative Chair and serving as Area X Legislative Chair. Her teaching career spanned 38 years in three states including West Virginia, Maryland and California. She retired in 2000. When not donating her time to CalRTA Judy loves to garden and sing in a local chorale group.  Judy’s personal goal for CalRTA is to include members’ feelings when making decisions at the state level; to increase membership; and to continue to make CalRTA known to legislators on both the state and federal level.

Kathy O’Leary

Area XI Director

Kathy O’Leary is serving a partial term as Area XI Director. Prior to this position, Kathy has been very active in Division 45 serving as Secretary, Program Chair, President Elect and President. Prior to retiring in 2003 she taught elementary school in Oceanside including 11 years in Special Education. Kathy has been active in Delta Kappa Gamma since 1984 and has served on the State Executive Committee for six years. Her favorite quotes are from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; in fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” And Winnie the Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Her personal goal for CalRTA is to maintain the energy Barbara Bethel built within Area XI and to work with Divisions to help CalRTA grow and prosper.

Marianne Wurnitsch

Area XII Director