Management Team

Margaret Wong – Founder of California Center

  • Founder and President – California Center/Golden California, Inc.
  • President – McWong Environmental and Energy Group
  • President – McWong International, Inc.
  • Board Member – California Chamber of Commerce
  • Board Member – California Asian Chamber of Commerce
  • Board Member – Themed Entertainment Association (Asia Pacific Division)
  • Dean’s Advisor – Peking University’s School of Environment and Energy

Margaret Wong, President and CEO of California Center, has been doing business with US and China for almost three decades. Margaret has been known as the “Business Empress” based on her success in linking multi-million dollar businesses between California and China, and at the same time serving as “unofficial ambassador” to China in her quest to promote better business cultural understanding between US and China. In 2012 Margaret was awarded the U.S. Presidential “E” Award for Excellence in Exporting, and in 2011 she received the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) “Exporter of the Year” for both US Western Region and Sacramento District, the same year as one of the fastest growing Asian companies in California. She is currently a Board Member of California Chamber of Commerce, California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Board Advisor for the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Advisor to the Dean of Peking University’s School of Environment and Energy, and advisor to many other U.S. and China organizations.

McWong Environmental and Energy Group (MEEG) is one of the most successful U.S. firms doing environmental and energy engineering and construction projects in China for the past 18 years. MEEG’s headquarters is in California with offices and equipment manufacturing facilities throughout China to better serve its clients there. MEEG provides turnkey services for supply water treatment, wastewater treatment, sludge treatment, water recycling and other environmental projects. MEEG has successfully completed over 100 environmental and energy projects that span across steel, petro-chemical, coal-chemical, municipal, pharmaceutical, food & beverage, and various other industries in China.

For almost 30 years, McWong International, Inc. (McWong) has grown to become a leader in the design and manufacture of advanced lighting products such as high-efficiency ballasts, power supply systems, LED drivers, electronic lighting control systems, sensors and other related electrical and electronic components with a market focus in both the U.S. and China. McWong’s “Smart Lighting” systems aim and work to achieve the goals of energy efficiency, cost savings and green environment.

In 2012, Margaret founded the “California Center” to expand business opportunities between California and China. The California Center has quickly emerged as a premier platform and vehicle for California businesses to introduce their products, goods, and services to China’s consumers. Margaret has been widely recognized in the industry for her strong business and government connections in China and inside knowledge of the “ways and means” of doing business in China, which serves as a great benefit to the California Center’s members.

Margaret Wong with Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)

Affiliations:

  • Board Member of California Chamber of Commerce
  • Board Member of California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce
  • Member of California Chamber of Commerce International Committee
  • Past Board of Community Advisors Member of California State University Sacramento
  • Past Advisory Member of Ecolinx Foundation
  • Dean Advisor, School of Environment and Energy, Peking University, China
  • Past President of the US-China Trade & Business Coalition
  • Past Board Member of Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Former Board Member of the YMCA
  • Past President and Board Member of Jinan Sacramento Sister Cities Corporation
  • Co-Chair of 150th Anniversary Celebration of Chinese Contribution to U.S. Railroad
  • John and Margaret Wong Foundation to support various U.S./China relationship projects

Nominations & Awards:

  • 2012 Presidential “E” Award for Excellence in Exporting
  • SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) – 2011 Small Business Exporter of the Year for Western Region and Sacramento District
  • US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation – 50 Fastest Asian American Business Award
  • Coopers & Lybrand – Vanguard Award for International Trade
  • Magazine-Entrepreneur of the Year Award
  • Sacramento Business Journal – Sacramento’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies
  • YMCA – Outstanding Woman of the Year Award for International Business
  • Sacramento Business Journal – 1998 Women Who Mean Business Award

Margaret Wong with California Governor Jerry Brown

Gordon Hinkle

Vice President – California Center /Golden California Inc.

Gordon Hinkle is the Vice President of Global Operations for Golden California Inc. and heads up all operations and membership recruitment efforts for the California Center, as well as oversight on membership services.

In recent years, Gordon has helped to lead trade missions in his role as International Trade Director for the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce to China and also recently joined Governor Jerry Brown in April of 2013 in China, for a historic Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony in the city of Nanjing, with China’s Secretary Luo Zhijun, solidifying plans to engage in business and cultural exchanges with the Jiangsu Province and to announce the development of a California Center in China, which will have its Grand Opening in May of 2014.

Gordon is also a Past Chair of the Roseville Planning Commission for the City of Roseville, CA; previously served as Press Secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as Governor Schwarzenegger’s Appointee from 2007-2010 and is a Presidential Appointee to the U.S. Selective Service Board in California Region III (Appointed by President George W. Bush and re-appointed by President Barack Obama).

Gordon also has served as a senior staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives; California State Senate; the California State Assembly; the California State Board of Equalization; is an Active Major in the United States Air Force, Civil Air Patrol. Gordon also has owned a web design and database consulting business called Hinkletec, since 1997 now managed by his wife, Dianne Hinkle, providing web design and database services to multiple campaigns for local and statewide office. Gordon also worked many years in the private sector as a Senior Logistics Process Analyst at Hewlett Packard in Roseville, Lincoln and Rocklin, California.

In his spare time, Gordon enjoys serving his community as an Advisory Board Member of the Roseville Recreation Arts and Creativity Center, playing saxophone at his church, Harvest Community in Roseville and volunteering in youth sport organizations with his children and family.

Lei E

Programs Director – California Center /Golden California Inc.

Lei E is Program Director at California Center/Golden California Inc. He is responsible for developing members and suppliers in the U.S. and providing services on market entry, branding, promotion, online and offline sales, supply chain, and other cross-border activities.

Lei also serves as an adviser for the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research (CIFAR, www.cifar.ucdavis.edu) at University of California at Davis (UC Davis). He represents CIFAR in China to grow a global network on food and agricultural research and industry.

With a background on Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Lei has worked at Chic Group in China from 2013 to 2014 as its International Project Manager and Operation Director of Chic AgriTech Company (Shanghai). From 2008 to 2012, Lei was a Crop Breeder at Cal/West Seeds, Woodland, California. Before moving to California, Lei was a researcher on alfalfa and cotton breeding and molecular biology for 8 years at New Mexico State University.

Lei was invited to lecture and speak at UC Davis; California State University, Fresno; and Merced College on crop research and production. He also has given speeches at the Silicon Valley AgriTech Conference and the Silicon Valley International Trade Expo.

Lei obtained his Bachelor of Science on Biophysics from Fudan University in Shanghai, China (1998) and Master of Science on Agronomy from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, USA (2003). Growing up in China and having been in the U.S. for 17 years, has provided Lei a deep understanding on agriculture and food businesses in both countries.

Wayne Batwin – Senor Advisor

Wayne Batwin is the senior advisor of California Center. He is also President of PRIME Market Access International in Napa, CA, a management consulting firm, and has more than 34 years of experience in international food and agriculture research and policy, marketing and market development. Mr. Batwin has directed over 160 international studies, primarily for private companies and trade associations, on the trade and investment opportunities and strategies for successful market entry in 46 foreign markets in Asia, Latin America, Europe, North America and Africa. Among other projects, he currently is working with CA wine companies and the Napa Valley Vintners exploring the China market and just completed work with U.C. Davis on an agribusiness executive training program in Shanghai.

He recently retired from the Foreign Agriculture Service of USDA, where from 2006 to 2010 he was the Director of the Agricultural Trade Office at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, China. While there, U.S. agricultural exports to China increased from $7.7 billion to $19.4 billion. He managed the market development, market access and trade capacity building work of the office, which covered the East China region. The ATO is focused on assisting U.S. exporters involved in the food, wine, fisheries, feed and forest products industries. Before arriving in Shanghai in 2006, Mr. Batwin was team leader of the International Strategic Marketing Group and manager of processed foods analysis for the Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington, DC.

Previously, Mr. Batwin was a Senior Associate at Abt Associates specializing in international agriculture trade and investment. He directed over 25 projects for U.S. and foreign corporations or governments seeking to enter or expand export markets. While there, Mr. Batwin managed the agreement of a $75 million international joint venture between a Mexican client and a major U.S. food company to produce and distribute poultry and poultry products. In Asia, he worked on several projects in marketing and distribution, including developing a business plan for grain storage in the Philippines and advising a Fortune 500 company on customer satisfaction in north and south Asia. For export trade associations, Mr. Batwin also directed several studies that evaluated export promotion programs in foreign markets and identified market opportunities for their members.

Prior to joining Abt Associates, Mr. Batwin was a senior associate at IPAC, Inc. of Arlington, Va., which was formerly part of Sears World Trade. He directed numerous research projects or marketing plans for private companies in international trade and investment. He also directed the agribusiness component of an USAID export promotion and development project in Honduras which included market assessment, marketing, and product development of fresh and processed foods. Mr. Batwin represented a European seafood marketing board in the U.S. for three years and managed all its market development activities. He also actively managed other marketing and investment projects.

Before joining IPAC, Mr. Batwin was President of Far Away Foods, Inc., a Washington, D.C. firm. In that capacity, he directed the company’s efforts in international food and agribusiness trading. When representing clients, his work involved marketing and sales coordination, regulatory concerns, joint ventures and international financing. He represented producers of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as packaged goods

Prior to starting his company, Mr. Batwin was a Senior Policy Analyst with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C.

Mark Linder – Senor Advisor

Mark is the senior advisor of California Center. He has dedicated over 35 years to serving California and American Agriculture. He joined Agralogics as a consultant in the Fall of 2013 and was appointed VP, Business Development in December 2013. Mark is the co-founder and first President/CEO of the Agriculture in the Classroom program which he helped to establish, first in California, then throughout the United States and across the globe during his 23 years with the California Farm Bureau. Mark is a co- founder and served as President/CEO of Food, Land & People, an educational organization representing diverse sectors of society with the common interest of positive dialogue focused on the interdependence of food production, environmental quality and the sustainability of human cultures. Mark was instrumental in generating financial support for the award winning America’s Heartland public television show, which is aired weekly on more than 240 television stations across the U. S. Now in its eleventh season, America’s Heartland has been watched by millions of Americans. Raised on a 5th generation family farm in Iowa, Mark is a graduate of Iowa State University, a fellow of the California Agricultural Leadership Program and an Agricultural Fellow of the John J. McCloy Fellows Program to Germany.

Recognized for his visionary leadership in building bridges of understanding between diverse sectors of society, Mark has assisted numerous businesses, non-profit organizations and educational institutions as a business development and strategic alliances consultant based in California’s Napa Valley. Mark has worked throughout the United States and internationally in the creation and implementation of programs designed to enhance marketing and publicity activities, increase volunteer leadership participation, expand fundraising endeavors, and strengthen organizational/business effectiveness through coalition building and partnerships. He is currently the U.S. Agriculture Liaison for The Culinary Institute of America and has served as a consultant to CreAgri, Inc., Agricen, University of California Davis Graduate School of Management, Harvest Travel International, Vande Rose Farms, Valley Vision and A Million Cooks.

Mark has been a long-serving member on the California State Fair’s Agricultural Advisory Council and actively serves on the boards of the Center for Land-Based Learning, California Institute of Food & Agricultural Research, UC Davis Olive Center, Rural Development Partners and the American Farmland Trust’s California Stewardship Council. Mark is recognized for his leadership in creating strategic partnerships and has focused his career on the promotion of rural/urban connections. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and is the recipient of state and national awards for his visionary leadership in the field of agricultural literacy education and for his service to colleges and universities along with numerous community, school and church groups and various agricultural and education organizations.

Mark and his wife, Mary, have two daughters, Katherine, Ph.D., at The Boston Foundation and Elizabeth at Facebook based in London.