Blackhawk Country Club
Distinguished Club Elite

Management Team

Meet The Minds Behind Distinguished Clubs

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Meet The Team Behind Distinguished Clubs

The team page of Distinguished Clubs showcases a dedicated group of professionals with a deep passion for the private club industry. Their collective expertise and leadership aim to elevate member experiences across distinguished clubs worldwide, highlighting their commitment to excellence and innovation in the private club sector.

John Fornaro

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John G. Fornaro is President & CEO of The Association of Private Clubs and Directors and the Publisher & Owner of Boardroom magazine LLC, which publishes BoardRoom magazine, a bi-monthly publication founded 17 years ago and aimed at educating and informing boards of directors in the private club industry. He is also CEO of Distinguished Clubs, LLC, and CEO & President of Boardroom Institute LLC, where the latter provides online training and orientation programs for private club boards of directors with the objective to help clubs operate efficiently by optimizing the relationship between the volunteers and the paid executives through collaborative governance. John is also co-founder of Professional Club Marketing Association, an organization aimed at furthering the interests of private club membership marketing directors. John has visited over 1,000 private clubs during his 20 years in the private club industry, and is a part owner of Bella Collina Towne and Golf club in San Clemente and a speaker, writer, and consultant for the private club industry. John lives in Laguna Beach, California.

Keith Jarrett

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Born in Orange County, CA, Keith Jarrett was always drawn to the private club industry. In 1990, Jarrett graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelors degree in Business, and in 1993, Jarrett joined his first country club at the age of 25. That is when and where he first met John Fornaro. Their passion for the private club industry and love for business resulted in their co-founding of Professional Club Marketing Association (PCMA), BoardRoom magazine,, eClubBuy, and several other successful businesses related to the private club industry. Jarrett then founded the AmberWatch Foundation in 2004, a 501c3 national charity dedicated to protecting kids from sexual predators. Jarrett has seen the growth of many programs throughout AmberWatch Foundation including the “Be Safe!” education program, the AmberWatch Alert system and AmberWatch TV. With 20 years of experience in the private club industry, Jarrett has visited over 250 clubs across the US and has worked on or consulted on over 750 clubs. When he is not actively working with , Jarrett enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends.

Frank Gore

Chief Analyst
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Frank Gore is the at the epicenter of the Distinguished Clubs, LLC award program, for not only are many of the core conceptual underpinnings of the entire award program based on his original vision, including especially the awarding criteria concepts based on Member Experience “Qualities,” but on an ongoing basis, Gore is responsible for the content of every Club Evaluation Report that is provided to awarded clubs. With over 47 years experience in the club industry, Frank Gore is nothing less than a private-club business guru, and it is with great honor that has him on its team. His rich career includes being a GM at a public course, GM at a semi-private 36-hole club, GM at 3 private country clubs, PGA head professional at 3 clubs, Chief Marketing Officer of Eagle Golf, Publisher of Private Clubs magazine for 17 years, Chairman of Associate Clubs International for 18 years, and finally, Chief Marketing Officer for Club Corporation for 30 years, where he was the chief architect of Club Corp’s “Signature Gold” reciprocal club product. During this illustrious career in the club business, Gore was a CMAA member and a member of the PGA of America for 35 years. In this time, Gore was part of a team that hosted and marketed 2 US Opens, a US Amateur, and a US Senior open at Pinehurst, 2 tour championships and 7 WGC events at Firestone, 14 PGA tour events, 12 LPGA events, and 14 Nabisco Championships at Mission Hills, including 11 Nationwide events and 7 Senior Tour events, as well as 2 National Croquet Championships. Gore attended the Culinary Institute of America and was a member of the James Beard Foundation and the Chaine des Rotisseurs USA. In addition to his work at , Gore is currently overseeing clubhouse preparations for the hosting of the 2014 US Open and 2014 US Women’s Open at Pinehurst. Gore has been a member of 12 Private Country Clubs and 2 private city Clubs, has visited over 4,000 clubs across the globe, and has worked with or consulted for over 1,400 clubs during his amazing career.

Jeff Briggs

Chief Information Officer
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Jeff Briggs is in charge of all public-facing branding and communications — from the design of logos, letterhead, and all informational collateral, to the design and ongoing construction of all Club Evaluation Reports. In his technologist role, Briggs has not only developed all of the behind-the-scenes technology that supports internal business operations, but also the database-centric software that runs the complex awarding processes of scoring, charting, and reporting, as well as serves as the survey-data repository and main data warehouse for all gathered private club industry intelligence. More recently, Briggs has been lead UI/UX designer and architect of our ClubIQ web-based Member-Experience optimization software utility. Briggs graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from UC Santa Barbara, and presently resides in Corona del Mar, California.

Ron Banaszak

VP Business Development
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Ronald Banaszak, CCM, CCE is a 25 year veteran of the private club industry, as a General Manager/Chief Operating Officer. Ron has had the honor and pleasure of serving as the GM/COO of both private country club and yacht club properties that earned the Distinguished Club recognition during his tenure, including the St. Francis Yacht Club and The Fountaingrove Club. Ron possesses a passionate desire to help clubs operate with a very high level of Member Experience and in the most efficient manner possible. He brings with him decades of experience on how a truly private club should operate and be successful. As the Executive Vice President of International Business Development, his focus is for deserving clubs throughout the world to be recognized as a Distinguished Club and for all other clubs to learn from the International Distinguished Clubs, in order for the entire private club industry to benefit.

Bill Thomas

Executive Vice President 
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Bill Thomas brings more than 25 years of senior management experience to the Association of Private Club Directors and BoardRoom Institute. His corporate experience includes responsibility for revenues in excess of $100 million annually for a NYSE listed company. His entrepreneurial experience includes founding several successful companies including BioScientific, Inc., the leading supplier of organic products for agriculture and golf course care. Mr. Thomas continues to serve on various boards and is responsible for member education at the APCD. He holds a B.S. degree from Arizona State University and completed his graduate studies at UCLA.

Heather Arias de Cordoba

Creative Director
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Heather Arias de Cordoba is a recognized and accomplished designer and artist, with more than 17 years of club industry experience in marketing, branding, art direction and design. She has won many awards for both print and animation work, including a share of an Emmy for the cartoon “Where on Earth is Carmen San Diego?” Ms. Arias de Cordoba has taught classes on communications and lifestyle marketing in the private club industry. She is educated in Fine Arts from the University of Calgary and public relations from Mount Royal College in Calgary.

Dave White

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An accomplished journalist, Mr. White has extensive experience in print (magazines and newspapers), radio and television as a researcher, writer, editor, publisher, performer and producer. He was a university teacher and adult educator, teaching classes on the media, news and magazine writing and editing, and personal development. He received his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Alberta.

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Since we began the Distinguished Clubs award program, we have conducted over 500 in-person onsite survey visits and,
along the way, have personally interviewed several thousand general managers and leadership staff.

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