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Board members whose term expires December 2024

John Friel, Board Chair 

John Friel brings more than 50 years of experience in healthcare as a provider and an executive. After practicing as a nurse in Massachusetts and the U.S Air Force during the Vietnam War, John received his master’s in public health from UCLA and went on to serve as CEO at several acute care and critical access hospitals throughout California. As former CEO of Watsonville Community Hospital, he oversaw the building of the hospital in its current location and helped improve its financials through public ownership in the 1980s and ‘90s. Under John’s leadership as CEO of Bear Valley Community Healthcare District, he has been credited with providing the district with financial stability, and the hospital was named Best Overall Performance Critical Access Hospital in 2019. John has been active in many healthcare boards throughout his career and recently retired with his wife Connie in Aptos.

 Dr. Katherine (Katie) Gabriel-Cox

Dr. Gabriel-Cox is the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Watsonville Community Hospital and Salud Para La Gente. She was born and raised in California, and earned her Doctor of Medicine from UC Davis and her Master of Public Health from UC Berkeley.  She has provided OB/GYN care to residents of the Bay Area and Central Coast – along with a year of practice in New Zealand — for two decades. Dr. Gabriel-Cox is committed to supporting the health of her community through both direct patient care and through efforts addressing social determinants of health.  She also serves on the boards of Hospice of Santa Cruz County and the Center for Farmworker Families.   

Jose (Tony) Nuñez 

Tony Nuñez is the Marketing and Communications Manager for Community Bridges, delivering fundamental resources to the people of Santa Cruz County and North Monterey County. Prior to that, Tony spent more than 10 years telling the stories of the Pajaro Valley in a variety of journalism positions, including Managing Editor at The Pajaronian and News Editor at Good Times, where the paper was thrice named top weekly publication in the California Journalism Awards. An alumnus of San Jose State University, Cabrillo College, and Watsonville High School, he is a lifelong resident of Watsonville. As a journalist, Tony has a deep curiosity to understand the needs of his community and is passionate about finding ways to meet those needs.


Board members whose term expires December 2026

 Dr. Joe Gallagher 

Dr. Gallagher is a longtime Watsonville resident and provided care to our community for more than 30 years before retiring in 2019. He received his undergraduate degree from UC San Diego and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Alabama. Dr. Gallagher served in several leadership roles on the Medical Staff at Watsonville Community Hospital, including Chief of Staff for six years and Board Member for eight. During his tenure, he worked during the earthquake, construction of the new hospital, and through the change brought by multiple owners. He has practiced alongside both clinical and non-clinical staff, and brings an understanding of the perspectives of patients, doctors, and employees.

Marcus Pimentel 

Marcus Pimentel brings nearly 3 decades of local financial leadership as the County Budget Manager, responsible for the County’s $1 billion budget and fiscal sustainability. He has served on state boards and committees, including as the 2021 President of the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers. Born at Watsonville Community Hospital and raised in our community, he volunteers to create equal access to healthcare, including serving previously as Board Chair and Member of Salud Para La Gente. Marcus received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Santa Clara University and enjoys spending his time with his wife and two daughters.