2023 Board of Directors
Jaron Brandon is a Tuolumne County native who grew up in his family’s music store where he saw, first hand, the challenges that face small businesses. Jaron attended the University of California, Merced. He was elected president of the Associated Students, overseeing a $1.3 million budget. He also did volunteer work and served internships in the California State Assembly, State Senate, and U.S. Congress. Jaron graduated with a BA in Government and Political Science. After returning to the county, he again worked at the family business. He was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2020 as the representative of District 5, which includes Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Jaron is an advocate of smart growth and building on the area’s historic heritage. He lives in Columbia, CA, where he is renovating a historic home.
Martin E. Hansen is a practicing trial attorney. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Southern Oregon University in 1975 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Puget Sound in 1978. Martin serves as general counsel to three heritage railroad groups and one short line in the State of Oregon. He has been involved in steam locomotive operations and restorations for the past 50 years, providing physical labor and doing contracts and documentation. Martin is also a respected appraiser of steam locomotives. He was born and raised in San Francisco and spent a lot of time visiting and photographing the Sierra Railroad. His railroad photograph negative collection exceeds 500,000 images, many of which are from the Sierra Railroad. In recent years he has served as co-author and editor of railroad books. Martin resides in Bend, OR, with his wife Marie.
Chris Hart attended UC Davis for his BA and has a Masters in Public Administration from USC. He spent the first decade of his career in economic development and redevelopment. In 1999 he joined the Sierra Railroad Company where he now serves as Vice President of Business Development. During his career he launched the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train and Sacramento RiverTrain, reopened the Skunk Train, and is now starting a new railroad in Ventura County, CA. He has served on numerous boards including several visitors bureaus and the California Office of Tourism’s Marketing Advisory Committee. Chris and his wife, Shelle, live in Fort Bragg, CA.
Larry Jensen has filled his life with adventure and trains. While attending Columbia College in the 1970s, he worked for Great Western Tours as a manager on the Sierra Railroad Supper Special at Rail Town 1897. During the 1980s Larry wrote books and scripts, helped organize many Great Western Tours mainline and short line railroad trips, and worked for Short Line Enterprises at its Newhall Ranch Movie Train film location. He later managed the Fillmore & Western and Georgetown Loop tourist railroads, served as the Tuolumne County Film Commissioner, and was a newspaper office manager. He now writes and publishes railroad books. Larry and his wife, April, live in Sonora, CA.
Patrick Michael Karnahan graduated from Stanislaus State University with a BA in Public Administration in 1983. He has worked many occupations during his lifetime, including as a U.S. Forest Service Wildland Firefighter for 22 seasons, and as the Special Events Coordinator for the Sierra Railroad for 10 years. Patrick is best known as an American artist, with California railroads as his subject matter. He is credited with creating the concepts of the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum and the annual Celtic Faire, and founding the Black Irish Band. Patrick lives in Shelter Cove, CA, while still managing his Gold Wall Ranch, Railroad & Vineyard near Jamestown, CA.
Nanci Sikes is a fifth-generation native of Tuolumne County. Her family immigrated from Cornwall, England, during the 1850s. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Business Administration/Marketing and worked for several major corporations before returning “home.” Nanci was with the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau & Film Commission from 1988 to 2015. She became its Executive Director in 1990. In 2016 she founded Tourism Tactics Consulting. Nanci served a term on the California State Railroad Museum Foundation’s Board of Directors. She has also served on the Railtown Citizen Advisory Committee and co-chaired the Save Railtown Committee, a group that opposed closing the park as a way of saving money during a state budget crisis. Nanci lives in Sonora, CA, with her life partner, Jerry Nielsen.
Glenn Sutherland graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Accounting in 1971 and a Masters in Accounting and Finance in 1973. He served as a CPA with an international accounting firm for eight years. One of his clients was the Sierra Railroad. From 1981 to 2005 Glenn served as Sr. VP, Chief Financial Officer, and Corporate Secretary of Yosemite Bank. From 2005 to 2015 he was a consultant to banks throughout northern California. For many years Glenn served as an officer and director of the non-profit association which supports the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, a unit of California State Parks. He and his wife, Kathy, live in Midpines, CA.
Kyle Wyatt is the retired Curator of History & Technology from the California State Railroad Museum (1999-2018). As such, he has deep knowledge and experience related to both CSRM and to Railtown 1897 SHP. Previously he was the Curator of History at the Nevada State Railroad Museum (1990-1999). He served on the national boards of the Heritage Rail Alliance, and both of the predecessor boards; the Association of Railway Museums and the Tourist Railroad Association. Academically he has post-graduate degrees in California and Western American History, and the History of Technology from both the University of the Pacific in Stockton, and UC Davis. He has a deep and long-standing love and interest in the Sierra Railway, and more broadly in Tuolumne County railroads. Kyle and his wife, Deborah, live in Sacramento, CA.
John Zach graduated from UC Berkeley in December 1971 with a BS in Business Administration, with a focus on Finance. For 20 years he was a branch manager at four banks. From 1991 to 2019 he owned the Sonora H&R Block Franchise. John has been a volunteer at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park since 1991. He currently serves on the California State Railroad Museum Foundation’s Board of Directors, representing Tuolumne County. John and his wife, Linda, live in Twain Harte, CA.