Board Members

There are many ways to get involved with The Solace Tree by volunteering your time and talents.

Board of Directors

The board supports the established policies of The Solace Tree, and serves as a fiduciary partner to further the mission. The Solace Tree is governed by the elected board of directors and led by an elected executive committee.

Board of Directors

David Wertzberger, CHAIRMAN

CEO, Sierra Professional Insurance

Dave Wertzberger has over 30 year’s sales, product marketing and CEO start-up experience in the hi-tech field in Silicon Valley. In 2001, he joined Mike Menath Insurance in Reno focusing on commercial insurance sales. In 2004, he founded Sierra Professional Insurance with Mike Menath to focus on commercial insurance services for Assisted Living facilities in NV, Utah, CA and Idaho. Dave has also served on the Board of Directors for Loras College in Dubuque, IA and Mitty High School in Cupertino, CA. He is a Graduate of the University of Iowa with a BBA in Marketing with post graduate studies in management systems at the University of Minnesota.

Mark Wimbush, TREASURER

Chief Financial Officer, Ebarra International

Mark Wimbush is Chief Financial Officer of EBARA INTERNATIONAL Sparks, Nevada a manufacturing company with HQ for international operations in Sparks. Mark has over 25 years of financial management and operations experience at the corporate controller, VP or CFO level. He has in-depth experience in managing and best practices for budgeting, profitability analysis, tax matters, and financial operations. In addition, he supports his wife’s business, Right At Home which is an in-home care and assistance agency, providing personal services to seniors and disabled persons.

Mark is also an officer/founder of the St. Rose of Lima Knights of Columbus and chairs the Knights Golf Tournament that has contributed over $3,500 to The Solace Tree.

Jim Holmes, Board Member

Mr. Holmes has been involved in Lifeline Biotechnologies, Inc. since 1994. Since that time he has assisted in providing financing of over $10 million for the Company. These funds have been primarily utilized for the development and patient testing of the First Warning System™. He was acting as CFO until mid 2000. In 2001, Dr. Reeves, then CEO of Lifeline experienced a significant health challenge. During the ensuing years his day-to-day involvement became less and less until his doctor advised that he retire. At that time Mr. Holmes became acting CEO. The focus at that time was to complete the Argentina patient study. Shortly thereafter, the Lifeline headquarters was moved from Florida to Nevada. Here, the focus became the completion of revisions in the interpretive technology (software) as it related to patient testing. The goal is preparation and submission to the FDA for 510(k) marketing clearance.

Mr. Holmes’ background includes financing and managing of numerous companies, public and private, in a variety of industries. He is a CPA, formerly with PricewaterhouseCoopers. His education includes a BS in Business, MBA Studies, emphasis in accounting and the Advanced Management College, Stanford University.

Becky Papa, Board Member

Becky Papa is the Employee Development Manager at Reno Orthopaedic Clinic, where she strives to promote a culture of education and quality of life through programs and events. She got involved with the Solace Tree board during Robby Schlesinger’s Swim for Solace fundraiser last summer. She lost her husband in 2007 to cancer, and was left wondering how to cope – and how to best help her teenage daughter through the grieving process. Volunteering with the Solace Tree has helped her with this.

Austin Sweet, Board Member

Austin Sweet is an attorney with Gunderson Law Firm, who has represented a wide variety of clients from across Nevada, California and the nation. Austin’s mother died in a car accident when he was 15. While he received a lot of support from friends and family members, he didn’t feel like he was able to talk to people who could truly relate to what he was going through. After establishing his career in Reno, he began searching for a way to give back. When he found the Solace Tree, he knew it as the kind of organization that would have helped him when his mom died, so he decided to donate his time to helping other families.

Emilio Parga, M.A., Founder/Executive Director

The Solace Tree for Grieving Children, Teens and Families

In 2002, Emilio Parga discovered that he had cancer. At the time, he was also assisting students who had lost parents to suicide, accidental death and cancer. In his attempt to provide these children with emotional support, he realized that many kids and teenagers in Northern Nevada had lost a parent, sibling or caregiver throughout the year, and that there were no grief support programs for them. That’s when Emilio created the Solace Tree in 2004.

The mission of the Solace Tree is that all children, teens and their family members have the freedom to express their feelings associated with death in a safe and loving environment. The peer support programs and educational opportunities at the Solace Tree help children, teens and their family members to freely express their feelings associated with death in a safe and loving environment. The programs also help them learn to cope and adjust to the changes in their lives.


Advisory Board of Directors

Member List

Chris Askin, CFWNV

Jo Shaw, Reno Photo Booth

Ryan & Kristie Sheltra, Bonanza Casino

Karen Wertzberger

Ski Pisarski, Northern Sierra Endurance Training

Lisa Cook, SWAG Promotions

Marie Baxter, Reno Rodeo Foundation

Dave Santina, KNPB-TV

Tammy Dermody, Walton’s Funeral & Cremations

Richard & Pat Flocchini, Sierra Meats

Dr. Colleen Capurro

Debbie Wilmoth, Heritage Bank

Kerry Garcia, Microsoft Licensing

Kellie George, United Federal Credit Union

Kate Patay, Creative Coverings