Our leadership

Throughout its impressive history VRF has been graced with the presence of leaders from the scientific, political, business and financial worlds. Each of them has been drawn to our Mission by the simple, logical premise that better nutrition reduces violent behavior. We are grateful for their thoughtful guidance, financial support and friendship.


  • Everett L. “Red” HodgesChairman Emeritus, Co-Founder Violence Research Foundation; Oil and Gas Development and Production (Retired)
  • Frances M. Crinella, PhD,  President; Director of the Neuropsychology Laboratory, University of California, Irvine, Child Development Center
  • Dr. Sabrina SchuckVice President; Assistant Clinical Professor, Pediatrics & Executive Director, UCI Child Development School
  • Jennifer Steward, Secretary
  • Maurice J. DeWaldTreasurer; Managing Partner, KPMG (Retired)

Executive Director:

  • Ronald E. Steward 


  • Dr. Frances M. Crinella  Director of the Neuropsychology Laboratory, University of California, Irvine, Child Development Center
  • Maurice J. DeWald, CPA   Managing Partner, KPMG (Retired)
  • Alan Drobka, President, Drobka Insurance Services, Newport Beach, C
  • James P. O’Halloran, Ph.D.   President, Neurocomp Systems, Inc., Santa Ana, CA
  • Senator Robert Presley  California State Senator (Retired); Sheriff, Riverside County (Retired); California Youth and Adult  Correctional Agency (Retired)
  • Bryce Rhodes  Vice President, Whittier Energy Company, Puget Sound, WA
  • Dr. Sabrina SchuckVice President; Assistant Clinical Professor, Pediatrics & Executive Director, UCI Child Development School
  • Massimo Navaretta, owner and head master chef at Onotria Wine Country Cuisine in Costa Mesa, California

Professional Advisory Board:

  • Dr. Frank Crinella Director of the Neuropsychology Laboratory, University of California, Irvine, Child Development Center
  • Dr. Bernard Gesch, Professor, Oxford University, Oxford, England
  • Dr. Mari Golub, Professor, University of California,  Davis
  • Dr. Cynthia H. Kern, Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology,  University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Dr. Bo Lönnerdal, Professor, Nutrition and Internal Medicine, University of California,  Davis
  • Dr. Don Smith, Professor, Department of Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology, University of California Santa Cruz
  • Dr. B. J. Snell, RN, CNM, PhD., Owner, Beach Cities Midwifery and Women’s Health Care
  • Dr William Walsh, President, Walsh Research Institute,  Naperville, IL
Francis M. Crinella, Ph.D.
Developmental Neuropsychologist
University of California, Irvine

Dr. Frank Crinella grew up on the 72-acre Sonoma County ranch that his immigrant Italian parents acquired in 1944. In 1988 he and his sister inherited the farmland and before long, started planting grapevines. They started with Sauvignon Blanc vines (their father Marino Crinella’s favorite varietal), followed by Pinot Noir. Also acquired from his parents, who owned an Italian restaurant, wash is love of cooking.

Dr. Crinella is a founding director of VRF and for the past several years has served as its President.  He is a Professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry & Human Behavior, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of California, Irvine He is widely respected in the scientific community and has led the research effort on many of VRF’s key projects.  Dr. Crinella has published 4 books and over 60 scientific articles, primarily reporting on investigations of brain mechanisms involved in attention, memory and problem solving.

Upon receiving his Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology from Louisiana State University in 1969, Dr. Crinella became a Research Psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, Brain-Behavior Research Institute (1969-77).  Other positions he has held include:

  • Director, Fairview State Hospital, Costa Mesa, California (1977-1985)
  • Director, California State Research Institutes (1985-1996)
  • Director, Neuropsychology Laboratory, University of California, Irvine, Child Development Center (1996–present)

In 1995, he was given the Annual Award for Career Research Achievement by the American Association for Mental Retardation.  In addition to his active professional life, Dr. Crinella is a proud father and grandfather, an avid golfer, an accomplished vintner and exceptional cook.  The winery, Crinella Winery, that was his family home, was sold in 2014 and please enjoy the article below from the Orange County Register from 2009. Dr. Crinella and his wife, Terri, live in Costa Mesa, California.

Follow the link or read article below:


Wine and food partners simplified

For wine and food lovers, a great meal is a well thought out orchestration, a partnership between wines and dishes that enhance and complement one another. At a recent three-course wine dinner at Tradition by Pascal in Newport Beach, chef-owner Pascal Olhats paired irresistible dishes with award-winning Crinella wines.

The Crinella Winery is located in Sonoma, but co-owner Dr. Frank Crinella has lived in Orange County for more than 30 years. Crinella is a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at UC Irvine. He moved from Sonoma County to Orange County in 1977, when Gov. Jerry Brown assigned him to direct Fairview State Hospital. At that time he accepted an appointment to the faculty at UCI’s College of Medicine, where he has been involved in clinical and research activities focusing on children with neuro-developmental disorders.

Frank and his sister, Ramona Crinella (the winery’s co-owner and CEO), grew up on the 72-acre Sonoma County ranch that their immigrant Italian parents acquired in 1944. In 1988 they inherited the farmland and before long, started planting grapevines. They started with Sauvignon Blanc vines (their father Marino Crinella’s favorite varietal), followed by Pinot Noir.

The 2003 Sauvignon Blanc, the first vintage from the Marino Vineyard, won several prestigious awards, as did the 2005. But the 2006 vintage Crinella Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley, Marino Estate Vineyard, $22) has garnered greater acclaim: a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair, a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco Wine Competition, and 91 points from the Wine Enthusiast magazine (where it was named the Editor’s Choice, noting that it was “a real sommelier’s wine”).

Before dinner, Pascal demonstrated the fine art of cooking duck breasts, a technique that pan sears then roasts the bird, building flavor and creating a caramelized crust while maintaining mouth-watering juiciness. (Later, I asked him to come to my house and film a video with me to demonstrate close-up each step of duck breast cookery – see it at ocregister.com/food).

“Never cook without tasting the wine first,” Olhats said, explaining that it was a key element in cooking dishes that complement the chosen wines.

The dinner’s first course was Alaskan salmon in a chervil-scented Nage, accompanied with the now-famous 2006 Crinella Sauvignon Blanc. Along with the perfectly cooked fish, the Nage (a light, aromatic broth) was adorned with a colorful assortment of tender-crisp seasonal vegetables. Beautiful fresh green peas. Bright orange baby carrots. Tightly coiled fiddlehead ferns.

The wine’s lovely acidity, minerality and dryness – with hints of lemon-like citrus and spicy figs – made an appealing partner with the delicate, subtle flavors in the salmon dish.

“Our theory is to interfere as little as possible; we want our Sauvignon Blanc to be a clear reflection of the grape,” Ramona Crinella said.

Next, sliced duck breast, rosy-pink on the inside and crisp on the outside, was served with a Grape Burgundy Sauce and a mound of scrumptious smoked cabbage augmented with duck leg confit (a savory French dish made by salt curing meat – generally duck or goose legs – then slow-poaching them in their fat).

I asked Olhats how he made the cabbage dish, and he said that he quartered Napa cabbage and smoked them on top of the stove in a perforated pan over smoldering hickory chips. Once smoked, the cabbage was cut into thin slices and sautéed in duck fat, then augmented with garlic, shallots, salt, pepper and that lip-smacking slivers of confit. Anyone who thinks they don’t like cabbage ought to taste this concoction.

And it was delectable with the Pinot. Yes, the light-bodied, gentle black cherry-blackberry tones in the 2006 Crinella Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, Family Estate Vineyard, $40) were incredible. The food friendly finish offered hints of ground cinnamon.

“A Pinot should have a wonderful nose, not the lumbered up style,” Frank Crinella said, giving his glass a good sniff. “The nose in this is like the fruit on a beautiful, big-old pomegranate tree – the pomegranates are bursting open, beautifully ripe. And it is wonderful with duck.”

“My brother and I aren’t interested in making good wine, we want to make the best wine,” she said, explaining that their vines are pruned to remove as much as two-thirds, cutting off the top and bottom clusters.

As for the final course, it showed off four made-in-California raw milk cheeses: dry Monterey Jack from Vella Cheese Company, Humboldt Fog, La Panza Gold and Minuet. A mélange of poached seasonal fruits accompanied the cheeses.

The 2005 Glissando, Crinella’s late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc ($44), offered appealing honey, citrus and fig flavors. And as Ramona and I polished off the cheese, fruit and sweet, botrytis-kissed wine, I asked her what it is like being in business with a brother.

“He is a wonderful brother, it’s like we are still teenagers,” she said, a big smile erupting between bites and laughter. “You couldn’t find a better friend. I never have a bad time while my brother was around.”

I suspect she never has a bad meal or a bad wine with him, either.

Have a look at their online cookbook that features family recipes with Italian roots at www.crinellawinery.com.

Pascal Ohlats says that he loves this recipe for duck breasts. He says that it is easier to make at home than the version he made at the Crinella Wine Dinner because you don’t need demi-glace.

“The Pinot is subtle, with nice complexity,” Olhats said. “But there is some earthiness there, and I tried to find a dish that would make the fruit come up, because it is very nice fruit. I wanted to contrast it rather than matching.”

Ramona Crinella said their Pinot vines are a winemaker’s dream, each clone selected for a specific part of the vineyard.

“We’ve sold our Pinot grapes to the very best wineries: Merry Edwards, Dumol and Silver Oak,” she said. “As for our own Pinot, this is our second vintage.