Columnist Matt Villano

Gay’s employment plays major role in area’s philanthropy

Most Healdsburg residents know Replay Healdsburg as the company set to develop the Mill District — the 10-acre parcel southeast of the roundabout that formerly was the site of Nu Forest Products lumber mill.
Few of us, however, know Replay as an active participant in the local philanthropy scene.
In fact, the company has doled out more than $30,000 in the last two years to local charities, and has agreed (as part of the development agreement it has with the city) to give another $2.35 million over the next few years. Some of the forthcoming money will go to fight homelessness, to ease pedestrian and bicycle access downtown and to pay for a new fire truck with a 100-foot ladder.
One Healdsburg resident oversees all this charity: 44-year-old Josie Gay.
Technically, Gay is the marketing and outreach director for Replay Healdsburg. She helped set up the company’s giving program and will continue running it as Replay moves through the approval process and into development.
“Replay is committed to this community,” she said. “That doesn’t only mean building sensibly and with housing issues in mind; it also means making a concerted effort to give back.”
According to Gay, Replay has established four values at the center of its giving program: nature and outdoor recreation; heritage preservation; physical fitness; and community housing and nutrition. This explains the company’s support of the Healdsburg Museum and the Live Oak Preschool walk-a-thon, to name a few charities.
Moving forward, Gay adds the company will continue to support these charities, and will spread the wealth to others, too.
“We’re always looking at new nonprofits to support,” she said.
Gay is no stranger to north county. She’s lived in Healdsburg for more than 20 years, is an active participant in city politics, recently worked on outreach for the city and formerly ran a small winery marketing association in the Sonoma Valley.
She also helps manage the Fitch Mountain Fund, and produces the organization’s popular fundraisers every year. Philanthropy undoubtedly will be one of the issues discussed Monday, March 11, at the Healdsburg City Council meeting, during which councilmembers were expected to consider (and potentially approve) the Replay project. The planning commission has signed off on the plans and Replay hopes the council will do the same.
The problem: It’s not a slam dunk, especially considering general opposition to development in this town.
For Gay, the issue is simple: Her employer cares.
The fact that Replay has given to community organizations already is proof. The fact that the organization has vowed to continue giving to community groups indefinitely is a sign of commitment.
“I like my job but to be able to work for an organization who wants to give back the way they do — that’s like icing on the cake,” she said. “By being involved I’m able to participate in something bigger and help guide and direct that. It means so much to me to be able to serve this community in that way.”
Matt Villano is a writer and editor based in Healdsburg. His column spotlights good people in the community doing great things. Learn more about him at

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