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Dennis Donohue was born in San Fernando, California, in 1954. His family moved to Salinas in 1957 when his father Jim became the City's Parks & Recreation Director, a post he held for nearly thirty years.
Dennis attended Mission Park School. He was in the Class of 1972 at Palma High School, played varsity basketball and was a varsity first baseman. He went on to earn a B.A. in History from the University of San Francisco (1977), where he was the Valedictorian. He then received an M. A. in Religious Education from Gannon University (Erie, PA) in 1980.
Dennis began his business career in Silicon Valley with Atari, then the fastest growing company in the world. He also worked in sales for Microsoft and Verbatim before returning to Salinas in the late Eighties.
In agribusiness since 1988, Dennis worked for River Ranch, Fresh Express and Fresh Western before joining European Vegetable Specialties in 1996. He became president of the company two years later. EVS, a privately held company, is the largest producer of radicchio in the world, with growing operations and customers in North and South American, Europe and the Pacific Rim.
Dennis started a one-year term as Chairman of the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce in January 2006. He has been active in the Chamber for over 20 years and a member of the Chamber's Board since 2004. He served as Marketing and Membership Director in 2005. Dennis was named the Chamber's Member of the Year in 2003. During his tenure as Chair, the Chamber upgraded the Salute to Ag program, implemented a Business Roundtable, and worked alongside the City of Salinas to participate in the Tourist Information District. He also serves on the board of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California.
Dennis became a familiar face in Salinas last year as co-chair of the campaign committee for Measure V, a half-cent sales tax that rescued the City from a fiscal emergency. He was also on the Steering Committee of Rally Salinas!, a coalition formed to raise interim funds for Salinas' threatened libraries. His work was recognized by the California Library Association, the State's premier library organization, when it awarded him its President's Award in 2005, and was appointed to the American for Libraries Council Board of Directors.
Dennis most recently served on the Salinas Planning Commission (Mayor's appointment 2005). He has previously served on other City commissions:
- Salinas Affirmative Action Commission
- Salinas Police Activity Commission
- Salinas Citizens' Review Committee for the General Plan (Mayor's Appointment)
He also served on the Steering Committees of the "No On Measure O" campaign (2002), which successfully prevented the loss of important City revenue from the utility tax, and Measure C (2004), an increase in outdated business fees, which brought over a million much-needed dollars to City coffers.
Dennis has been a director on the board of Second Chance Youth Program, a gang-prevention nonprofit, since 1992. He also serves on a number of other boards for youth, seniors, and education:
- Palma High School Board of Directors
- Salinas Senior Center Board of Directors
- LIFE After School Board of Directors (a nonprofit neighborhood after-school program serving grade-schoolers in East Salinas)
Dennis has also volunteered since 2001 with I-Help of St. Joseph's Church, a nonprofit organization that provides homeless men with interim shelter and food in local churches. He has served on the Parish Finance Councils of Madonna Del Sasso and Sacred Heart Churches. Currently he serves as the Moderator of the Edmund Rice Society at Palma High School, a faith-based service group that provides tutors for local students, Christmas gifts for needy children, and sponsors an annual trip to Mexico to build houses.
Dennis is married to the former Paula Johnson, who grew up on the old Williams Ranch in the Alisal. Paula, an alumna of Notre Dame High School, teaches physical education at Harden Middle School. Their daughter Emily, 24, works in agriculture, and their son Allan, 21, is a sophomore at Pitzer College.