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About Us

We use proven business principles to position leaders, organizations and multiple stakeholders collaboratively to strengthen their market niche and financial resilience as they emerge, grow and change. With extensive experience within complex organizations, our customized client teams bring industry-specific knowledge, management expertise and data-driven analysis to produce strategic results and ROI.

Our Core Team

RJ Valentino, President and Co-Founder

RJ Valentino

RJ serves as a senior adviser to major colleges and universities to guide them toward strategies and programs that achieve and maintain excellence and strengthen their positioning in times of change. Experienced in both traditional and entrepreneurial settings, for more than 30 years, he has advised university and foundation presidents, corporate CEOS, boards and senior leadership. He also applies his expertise to a select group of businesses and non-profit organizations targeting growth, leadership development and improved partnerships with their boards.

His work for two decades with university presidents and senior leaders who are leading change in today’s evolving and competitive higher education market incorporates best practices and market-driven intelligence bridging for-profit and non-profit sectors to drive custom solutions and innovation. These practices directly engage organizational talent to shape and drive solutions and result in enhanced buy-in and ownership, stronger brand recognition, alignment of internal and external constituencies and innovative and timely solutions. His lectures focus on how rapidly changing models in higher education ultimately will benefit the economy, and society at large.

RJ’s counsel promoted alignment and integration at E*Trade during its unprecedented growth, supported rigor to repeatable management practices at ZANTAZ, Inc., as part of its transformation from start-up to industry leader and helped position the turnaround at AskJeeves during market uncertainty and emerging competition.

Prior to co-founding The Napa Group in 1985, RJ held management and leadership positions in financial services, corporate training, and human resources in Fortune 500 companies. He is certified in Mediation, is Professionally Credentialed in Organizational Learning from the Sloan School of Business at MIT, and is a member of the International Facilitators Association. RJ studied at the University of Texas, Austin, and received his B.S. in Marketing from San Jose State University.

Kathy Jones, Principal

Kathy Jones

Kathy Jones is a Principal of The Napa Group. She has over 20 years experience in the management of complex organizations. Her focus has been on the development of high performance agile organizations. She has served as a member of the senior management team of two prestigious universities.

As Senior Vice President and Secretary of Georgetown University, Kathy was responsible for facilitating the work of the Board of Trustees. She worked closely with the President and the senior administration on the development and implementation of strategies related to Georgetown's academic and research mission.

Previously, Kathy served as Vice Chancellor of University Relations at the University of California, Irvine. Her responsibilities there included overseeing UCI's fundraising and communications programs.Kathy has the ability to work at all levels of the organization to improve productivity, promote teamwork and produce results. She graduated from Stanford University.

Janis Johnson, Senior Partner

Janis Johnson

Janis Johnson is Senior Partner, Marketing & Communication, for The Napa Group. She brings a diversified career as a strategist and practitioner who has built and managed communications teams and initiatives in complex nonprofit organizations and as a journalist with major news media.

For nearly 20 years Janis has been a senior executive and consultant in higher education, health care, fundraising organizations, alumni associations and community nonprofits and as communications counsel to executives and business leaders. As a Napa Group consultant, she helps leaders and organizations develop the internal and external communications programs to build market position and constituent buy-in and engagement. She also conducts best practice research, communications audits, and strategic plan facilitation and project management.

As Assistant Vice President for Constituent Communications in Georgetown University's Office of Alumni and University Relations, Janis oversaw the award-winning materials for Georgetown University's $1 billion comprehensive campaign in the late 1990s. As Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles from 2001 to 2005, she was responsible for internal and external communications and a multi-year institution-wide rebranding initiative. Previously she was a staff reporter for The Washington Post and correspondent for USA Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, and the Boston Globe. She is a graduate of Duke University.

Sloane Valentino, Partner

Sloane Valentino

Sloane brings over 20 years of specialized expertise to The Napa Group’s public sector consulting, including broad leadership, management, strategic planning and analytics experience. His diversified skills and experience have translated into his ability to successfully plan, facilitate and implement innovative approaches to government and citizen services in complex and informed communities. These include both management and direct services on issues involving fluctuating federal and state support, balancing pricing, budgets and value-added service enhancements and strategic talent management in a dynamic era of economic changes and shifting public expectations. Sloane is a Paramedic Captain as well as an acting Battalion Chief with the Tiburon Fire Protection District in Tiburon, California. He also is a Fire Science instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College and a former construction business owner in Marin County. Sloane is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, and served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He earned a Leadership Certificate from the Dominican University of California Business School, and is currently matriculating through the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy.

Schan Duff, Partner Affiliate

Schan Duff

As a partner specializing in business intelligence and industry analysis, Schan Duff’s advisory practice focuses on strategic issues arising from the nexus of law, business and public policy. During his 20-year career, Schan has advised clients across all phases of the corporate life cycle, from early-stage start-ups to sector-leading multinationals. These include foreign and domestic financial institutions, public and private universities, international sports federations and companies in the technology, energy, mining, consumer product, health care, automotive, airline, entertainment and professional service sectors. In addition, Schan has represented senior executives and former government officials in connection with high-stakes adversarial matters, including testimony before U.S. congressional and bipartisan committees, and served as an advisor to Presidential campaigns.

A lawyer by training, Schan is an honors graduate of Williams College and the University of Chicago Law School, where he was an Olin Fellow in Law and Economics. He holds a PhD from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where his doctoral research focused on issues related to corporate strategy and financial regulation.

Patricia O'Brien, Ph.D., Consultant

Patricia O'Brien, Ph.D.

A university faculty member and administrator for 34 years, Patricia O'Brien is the former Professor and Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science, the largest unit on the UCLA campus, where she was chief academic officer and responsible for the College budget, strategic planning and active fundraising. When she retired after four years in 2008, the College was successfully raising over $50 million annually and exceeded its target for the UCLA campaign.

Previously she was Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at UC Riverside and worked to advance the visibility and rankings of the various departments by leveraging growth resources strategically. She was also involved in high-profile recruiting of candidates of excellence and diversity. At UC Irvine she held numerous positions, including Chair of the UC Humanities Initiative, Acting Vice Chancellor for Research, Chair of the History Department and Acting Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

O'Brien is a graduate of Regis College and earned her Master's and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University. She began her teaching career as an instructor and assistant professor at Yale University, and also held faculty positions at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UCLA. She has received numerous awards and grants and is widely published with academic books and articles.


Jeremy Nielsen, Associate

Jeremy Nielsen, Associate

Jeremy Nielsen is one of the newer members of The Napa Group team, responsible for a range of client and project support activities, including surveys, survey analysis, data collection and visual data design; project management; and design of project materials, presentations and templates. His Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certification brings additional capabilities to our work in organizational design, team building and leadership development.

Jeremy has nearly 10 years’ experience in business management, including as a general manager of two restaurants, construction project planning and management, warehouse management and golf course management. He was previously a member of the PGA program and is a golf enthusiast. He was educated in general studies, with an emphasis on business, at the University of Nevada, Reno