Help Us Reach Our Goal!

Let's be part of a story we can be proud of...

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Fresno’s Playland opened its gates 60 years ago and entertained over 250,000 visitors in its debut year of 1955. Seven years later, Storyland welcomed children into a storybook wonderland full of “Three Little Pigs”, a castle, queens, cottages, a pirate ship and more. For generations, Storyland has inspired a love of learning and make-believe. Through a partnership with the City of Fresno, the parks provided all of its profits right back into the community – helping create even more local assets and opportunities.

Unfortunately, over the years, circumstances have changed. Because Storyland/Playland had so generously given to the community, but kept little to make its own necessary repairs and improvements, the parks recently had to close its gates. And for the first time in 60 years, there was a real fear the parks would never reopen.

Now, with a brand new steering board, a renewed commitment by the City and overwhelming outpouring of community support, we’re taking big strides towards re-opening the parks for good. Most importantly, we’re taking steps to ensure the future sustainability of Storyland/Playland for generations to come. But we need your help to restore this community treasure, and bring back those smiles to the next generation of children’s faces as they fall in love with storybooks brought to life.

Donations

Through the guidance of the new board, Storyland/Playland has received a $200,000 matching gift donation that carries with it a challenge for the community to raise an additional $200,000 to help reopen the parks. This matching fund-drive marks the second major effort to save Storyland/Playland. The first being a donation from The Valley Yellow Pages, that recently donated the cover of its newest edition to encourage recipients to give by including a preaddressed return envelope to the parks. Since then, Storyland/Playland has received nearly $40,000 in donations from individual community members and families

Events

The new Storyland/Playland board currently consists of community leaders and volunteers that have decades of professional experience in park development, business, marketing, sustainability projects, “green” initiatives, education, law, public office and more. The expertise gleaned from these new board members, some of whom have already led the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to be the world-class attraction that it is today, is perhaps the best resource for paving the path to reopening Storyland/Playland.

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo has generously designated and appointed the new board, while providing strategic guidance for fundraising events and operational efforts. Our goal is to create synergy between Storyland/Playland and the zoo. For example, the board is exploring strategic partnerships such as offering park “hopper” passes that would allow guests to experience and enjoy the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Storyland and Playland in one day, or through annual memberships.

Ideas like these, and others, are part of the board’s five-year sustainable business plan. Every aspect of the plan is being viewed through the lens of creating a positive fun-learning experience for our children with opportunities to invest back into the parks year after year.

BOARD MEMBERS

  • Susan Anderson

    Board Member

    Susan B. Anderson has served a total of 22 years in public office as the first woman elected county-wide before retiring from the Fresno County Board of Supervisors in January 2013. Prior to being elected, Susan practiced law in private practice and as a deputy district attorney. And she worked as the membership and marketing director for the Central Valley YMCA for 11 years prior to attending law school.

    During her 12 years on the Board of Supervisors, Susan represented the county on numerous boards and commissions, including: LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission); Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board; Mental Health Board; Children and Families Commission (First Five Fresno County); Foster Care Oversight; San Joaquin River Conservancy; Audit Committee; Facilities Planning Committee; Airport Land Use; Law Library Board of Trustees; and the Interagency Council for Children and Families.

    Susan has also invested much time and effort into community benefit organizations’ boards in the Central Valley, such as: Big Brothers/Big Sisters; CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates); Central Valley YMCA; Focus Forward; University High School; and the Rotary Club of Fresno. In addition, she’s led efforts to build a new juvenile hall, the largest capital project in the history of Fresno.

    Susan resides in Fresno with her husband Rod, and their daughter. She’s always served the better interests of Fresno County, and now seeks to turn some of that attention to the prosperity of Storyland/Playland.

    Susan currently serves on the California Apprenticeship Council - appointed by the Governor, and is involved with numerous boards, including the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall, Focus Forward and University High School.

  • Scott Barton

    Board Member

    Scott Barton is the CEO of our world-class Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

    Scott is a Fresno native, where he attended Fresno State and began his zoo career at the (then) Roeding Park Zoo. Since then, he’s worked in a number of zoos around the country, including: Reid Park Zoo (Tucson, AZ); Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle, WA); Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Orlando, FL); Tracy Aviary (Salt Lake City, UT) and as associate director of the Brevard Zoo (Melbourne, FL).

    His vision for the Fresno Chaffee Zoo brought Scott back “home” as the zoo’s CEO in 2009. Since then, Scott continues to direct all aspects of the zoo’s operation. From its management and exhibit design, to its animal care and guest service, Scott’s expertise is what has helped make Fresno Chaffee Zoo one of the best zoos in the country.

    Scott is active with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), serving on the Ethics Committee, the Science and Technology Committee and teaching at the AZA Professional Schools. His passion for conservation has led to work on conservation projects across the globe in South America, the Caribbean and Africa. He is honored by having a species named after him, Dennyus bartoni. However, it’s a dubious honor since it’s one of the thousands of species of bird louse.

    Scott’s management experience will be instrumental as we work to find opportunities for synergy between the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and Storyland/Playland.

  • Bruce Batti

    Vice-Chairman

    Bruce Batti is president of Jeffrey Scott Agency (JSA), a leading advertising, marketing and public relations firm in the Central Valley. He has a strong track record when it comes to commitment to the community – donating countless hours to fundraising strategies and marketing services.

    Bruce was elected chairman of the board in 2011 for the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, and has served as chairman of the board for Valley Crime Stoppers and Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central California. Most recently, Bruce became a founding board member for both the Children’s Movement of Fresno and Central Valley Honor Flight – giving hundreds of local WWII veterans the opportunity to visit their memorial in Washington D.C.

    Bruce received national recognition for advertising and community service as the Advertising Federation Silver Medal Award recipient in 2003 and was inducted into the Advertising Federation Hall of Fame in 2007. As a long-time supporter of Fresno State, Bruce was honored to receive the Jim Tucker Award for Outstanding Personal Achievement from its Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, as well as the department’s Alumni Fellow Award in 2012.

    Preserving a piece of Fresno’s history, while working to provide a more viable future for Fresno, is one of the many reasons why Bruce agreed to serve as vice chair of Storyland/Playland.

  • Shirley A. Bruegman

    Board Member

    Shirley Bruegman is retired vice chancellor of the State Center Community College District, a position she filled after twenty years serving as vice president of Instruction.

    She currently is president of the Rotary Club of Fresno; a member of the Dean’s Council for Arts and Humanities at Fresno State; and involved with the Fresno Art Museum. She has also been a member of Leadership Fresno’s Steering Committee and chair of Valley Business Conference.

    Shirley is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society; has been recognized as Woman of the Year for both Marjorie Mason and California Community College; and received Leadership Fresno’s Alumnus of the Year accolade.

    She has many fond memories of spending time at Storyland/Parkland with her children and grandchildren. Her involvement on the board is to assist in the reopening Storyland/Played in fall, 2015, and develop a plan to sustain them for years to come.

  • Jose Elgorriaga

    Board Member

    Jose A. Elgorriaga is vice president of Local Ad Sales for Univision Communications, Inc. in Fresno.

    With over 19 years of progressive experience in local and national media advertising sales (TV, radio, digital), Jose is known for being a highly ethical leader and for building strong client relationships. His areas of expertise include automotive, promotions, sports marketing and new business development.

    Demonstrating leadership in the community is a priority for Jose. He makes a concerted effort to volunteer his time to local community benefit organizations. He is a member of the Advertising Federation of Fresno, a board member of the Foundation at the Fresno County Office of Education and works closely with Valley Children’s Hospital.

    Jose was born and raised in Fresno. He graduated from California State University, Fresno with a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing. Jose played two collegiate sports for the university, tennis and soccer. His passion for athletics continued as he later became an assistant for his father, the late Dr. Jose Elgorriaga, Sr., and helped coach the Fresno State Men’s Soccer Team.

  • Scott Miller

    Chairman

    Scott Miller is the CEO of Gazebo Gardens, Inc. Established in 1922, Gazebo Gardens is the Valley's oldest continuously-operating plant nursery and provider of commercial property maintenance services.

    Scott has been very active with the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, serving as Chairman of the Board in 2012. He’s also served as a board member of the Chamber's San Joaquin Political Academy, chair of the Political Action Committee and member of the Governmental Affairs Council. Scott was also a founding director of the Small Business University and Chamber Junior Board programs. As a result of his volunteerism, Scott was awarded the California Chamber of Commerce "Small Business Advocate of the Year" award in 2014.

    Additionally, he has proudly served as a member of the Irvine Foundation's New Leadership Network, the Fresno County Workforce Investment Board, and on the boards of Tree Fresno and Valley Crimestoppers.

    Scott, like so many others, has enjoyed Storyland and Playland both as a child and a parent. He's excited about the opportunity to help bring them back for the families of Central California.

  • Wayne Thomas

    Secretary

    For nearly 40 years, Wayne Thomas has practiced law in Fresno, with an emphasis in business, real estate and estate planning. He’s an avid community partner, devoted husband and author, having penned the book, Bail Reform in America, published in 1976.

    Community is of great value to Wayne. He chose to serve Storyland/Playland over the past 18 years as both board member and past president. Wayne is also a member of the Fresno County Bar Association, the Fresno Estate Planning Council and the Fresno Sunrise Rotary Club.

    In 1971, he was accepted into the California Bar Association and prior to settling down in Fresno, he worked at the Center on the Administration of Criminal Justice, National Center of State Courts and U.C. Davis School of Law.

    Fresno’s become home for Wayne, a place where he raised three successful children with his wonderful wife, Meta, who have all in turn gone on to give them six beautiful grandchildren.

  • Brian Whelan

    Board Member

    Brian Whelan is a partner of the Whelan Law Group, co-founder of the Toca Madera Winery as well as co-founder and vice president of Rush Hour Marketing.

    Brian has long been an advocate for the disadvantaged – frequently accepting legal cases as pro bono for those who need legal assistance, but can’t afford it. His passion for helping people and the law has undoubtedly led Brian to receive awards for advocacy in the courtroom, including being named “Street Fighter of the Year” and “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine.

    When Brian has the time, he enjoys traveling and playing basketball – having even played semi-professionally in Santiago, Chile. He’s married to Tali Whelan and is the father of two beautiful girls, Alessandra and Luisa.

    Raised in Fresno County, Brian recognizes the strong roots Storyland/Playland has in the Valley and is committed to being its advocate for preservation and progress.

  • Henry Oum

    Treasurer

    Henry Oum is an Audit and Attestation manager at Price Paige & Company, a local mid-size accounting firm in Clovis. Henry began his public accounting career in 1998 and received his Certified Public Accountant’s license in 2007. Henry primarily focus has been with non-profit organizations, including non-public and commercial enterprises.

    During his public accounting years, Henry has developed a strong knowledge related to financial reporting and attestation in the non-profit and private sectors. He is experienced in development of annual budgets and financial forecasting, budget variance analysis and review, financial statement analysis, fund accounting, general ledger maintenance and reconciliations, including analysis of financial information to historical and industry benchmarks.

    Henry has served as an advisor for the Fresno Regional Occupations Program for his local high school, mentoring students transitioning from education to vocation. He also currently serves as a Board Member for the California Society of CPAs, Fresno Chapter, and is the current chair of the Accounting Principles and Auditing Standards Committee, Fresno Chapter. Henry was recipient of the “2009 Most Inspirational Professional” award of the Fresno Chapter of the California CPA Society honoring young and emerging professionals.

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OUTREACH

COMMUNITY OUTREACH CAMPAIGN

Messaging will announce the $200,000 matching gift as an opportunity and challenge the community to raise the additional $200,000 needed for Storyland/Playland to receive the full $400,000.

As part of a $200,000 matching gift, the Storyland/Playland board launched a community-wide fund-drive on May 13, 2015 to help match the $200,000 donation. This money, coupled with the additional dollars raised to-date, will ensure the board has over half of the $850,000 needed to not only bring Storyland/Playland back to life, but create a sustainable future for the parks that the community can be proud of.

MEDIA SUPPORT

The following partners have already signed-on to help reach our fundraising goals: KSEE 24; CBS 47; FOX 26; Univision 21; iHeart Radio; Univision Radio and The Fresno Bee. And to keep the lines of communication open with the community, the Storyland/Playland Facebook page will serve as a resource for updates and announcements.

ONGOING SUPPORT

The outpouring of support and love for Storyland/Playland is undeniable. As donations come in, the personal stories that drive them are equally as valuable. It truly is one of Fresno’s most treasured parks that still holds so much promise for the future. We ask that you consider joining us in our efforts to continue turning the pages in what could be one of the Central Valley’s finest Cinderella stories.

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