California 9/11 Memorial Board announces new Board of Directors members

March 3, 2023 – Clovis, CA – The California 9/11 Memorial strengthens the Board of Directors by welcoming three new powerhouse members.

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Sergeant Shawn Wills, Fresno – Ret. California Highway Patrol Central Division Air Ops

Retired Sergeant Shawn Wills has a long-standing relationship with the California 9/11 Memorial.

His passion for supporting the annual Memorial Ceremony precedes the Board of Directors official inception.

Shawn has assisted with leading the California Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit and Central Division Air Ops Unit involvement for the past 20 years.

Shawn was a Hanford High School football and baseball standout. He moved on to play both sports at UCLA, where he met his wife Tara.

They moved back to the Valley to raise their children and became active in several community organizations. Shawn and Tara now run their own company, Wills Family Real Estate.

“We’re honored that Ret. Sgt Wills has accepted our invitation to officially join the Board.” says Ret. Clovis Fire Captain and California 9/11 Memorial Founding Member, Jim Stemler. “Sgt Wills has been with us since the beginning and he’s one of the originals who made the air ops fly-over happen every year. We’re going to do big things with him onboard.”

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McKenzie Dern, Camps and Recreation Manager at Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation

McKenzie Dern joins the Board as; a California State University, Fresno alumni, a Central Valley native, the Burn Chair representative for Safe Kids Central Valley and as the Camps and Recreation Manager for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation.

As the daughter of burn survivor, Fresno Fire Captain- Pete Dern, McKenzie believes that a burn survivor is a symbol of strength and perseverance.

It is her passion to ensure that no survivor or their family feels alone through their healing journey.

California 9/11 Memorial Vice Chair, Julie DeBenedetto, “McKenzie represents everything the California 9/11 organization stands for. Perseverance. Strength. Resilience. She will bring a highly valued perspective to the Board and its mission as we continue to grow our program.”



Nick Audino, Senior Vice President at Newmark Pearson

Nick Audino joins the California 9/11 Memorial Board of Directors with a wealth of experience serving community organizations.

Currently Audino sits on the Board of Directors for Cen-Cal Small Business Finance, Pearson Realty, and is Chairman of the Board of the Fresno Economic Development Department.

In past community oriented activities Nick was a Member of the City of Clovis Economic Development Strategy Advisory Committee, former member of the City of Fresno Mayor’s Council on Industrial Development and a former member of the Economic Development Department’s task force on High-Speed Rail Relocations.

“Nick knows this community inside and out. He sees the value in what we’re doing and we’re very excited that he’ll be bringing all his expertise to our Board of Directors.

As we’ve become an official 501c3, Nick is going to be instrumental in helping us expand in all areas – from the Memorial grounds, to community awareness, across all events and programs we implement.” – Terra Brusseau, California 9/11 Memorial Executive Director.

The public is encouraged to visit the Memorial at 3485 Never Forget Lane in Clovis, CA and to pay respect to our First Responders. Visit for more information.


The California 9-11 Memorial was organized to honor the firefighters, peace officers and military personnel, along with all first responders who died in the line of duty while attempting to save lives during the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001. We also continue to honor all first responders in the Central Valley who die in the line of duty.


To teach appreciation and educate our students and community about the sacrifice, bravery and courage shown by those that were lost in service to others on September 11th and continue to be lost. By learning about the story of each person whose life was lost, it impacts the realization of sacrifice the families and friends continue to live through.