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John Petersen Executive Director of Audubon Canyon Ranch since 2014, leads the strategic direction for the 57-year organization and oversees an operating budget of $3.5M. John works collaboratively with ACR staff, board of directors and community to find creative solutions to our environmental challenges, and further the mission of conservation in action. With a focus on increasing ACR’s impact in science and education, John has directed new and innovative programs that use the latest in research and technology.
As only the third leader in ACR’s history, John began his career with ACR in 1986 while on a graduate fellowship at Sonoma State University. From Resident Biologist to Associate Director, Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Director, John has participated in all aspects of the organization and applies over 30 years of nonprofit and science experience to his role as a leader in regional conservation. John holds a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from University of San Francisco and a master’s degree in biology from Sonoma State University.
John is also an accomplished artist, commissioned by the National Parks of Costa Rica to create fundraising posters, and honored by President Oscar Arias Sanchez with a showing at the National Museum in San Jose.
Julia Clothier, Chief Operating Officer, brings her strengths as a preserve manager, facilities director and problem solver — as well as her experience as master educator— to the day-to-day operational needs of the organization. Julia has worked in the conservation field for 25 years, from Southeastern Utah to the North Cascades, Mono Lake to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Before joining ACR, Julia served as director of the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center in Point Reyes National Seashore and, prior to that, as resident manager & education director of the Fairfield Osborn Preserve. She is the recipient of the Bay Nature Foundation's Local Hero for Environmental Education Award and received a Certificate of Special Recognition for Environmental Education from U.S. Representative Barbara Lee. Julia holds a bachelor's degree in botany and a master's degree in natural history for which she wrote, illustrated and published an ethnobotanical field guide to common plants of Sonoma Mountain. She is trained in conflict resolution, nonviolent communication, and organizational change management.
Jennifer Spangler, Administrative Assistant, brings her experience as field institute coordinator for Point Reyes National Seashore Association and administrative assistant at Marconi State Historic Park and Conference Center to ACR’s Bouverie and Martin Griffin Preserves. Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Sonoma State University.
Education, Conservation Science & Stewardship, by Preserve
Nancy Trbovich, Bouverie Preserve Manager, joined ACR in June 1995, previously working in property management and as a flight attendant for Pan American Airlines in London. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish with a minor in art from San Jose State University and spent her senior year at the University of Madrid. When she first came to ACR, Nancy was a part time Administrative Assistant which allowed her to focus on her role as a foster parent. Over the years, her job has changed substantially and now, as Preserve Manager, Nancy supervises land stewardship, resource ecology, and education program staff. In her free time Nancy enjoys doing animal portraits with soft pastels and crafting with repurposed materials.
Susie Allen, M.F.K. Fisher Last House Program Coordinator and Events Manager, joined ACR in May 2019, bringing her creative talents and organizational skills to spearhead the Last House program. Susie has a bachelor's degree in humanities and arts from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Before joining ACR, Susie supported the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s conservation and science program for 14 years, which provided her with an in-depth understanding of local and international environmental issues. For the last two years she served as Events Manager for the Sonoma International Film Festival. Susie has dedicated her career to working within the non-profit sector that align with her desire to support the community through events and philanthropy. Her passion for the environment and the outdoors, as well as a love of food and entertaining will serve ACR well as the team builds the Last House Program.
Jacqueline Levy, Education Program Manager at Bouverie Preserve, joined ACR in September 2018 and brings her strong conservation ethic, field experience and skills as an educator to ACR’s educational programs. Prior to joining ACR, Jacqueline spent nearly a dozen years teaching science at Sonoma Valley High School. She has held science positions at Sonoma Ecology Center and Bodega Marine Lab. Her fieldwork has included the ecology of many animals such as: birds, tortoises, insects, and monkeys, and she had led field studies for AmeriCorp's Adopt-A-Watershed program. Jacqueline holds a teaching credential from Sonoma State University, received her master's degree in ecology and systematic biology from San Francisco State University and a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College. Jacqueline is a member of the California Landscape Contractors Association.
Jennifer Potts, is a Resource Ecologist at the Bouverie Preserve and leads the preserve's habitat protection and restoration projects, including oak woodland restoration, vernal pool monitoring and wildlife camera trapping. Jennifer is also the field assistant for the ACR's Living With Lions. She has a background ranging from fire ecology to farm work, and earned her master's degree from UC Berkeley in environmental science, policy and management. Prior to joining ACR, Jennifer worked around the country with the Nature Conservancy, California State Parks and Arizona Department of Fish & Game.
CYPRESS GROVE RESEARCH CENTER | 415-663-8203
Nils Warnock, Ph.D., ACR's Director of Conservation Science, began his tenure in August 2018 and brings to ACR his 30+ years of experience pertaining to the ecology and conservation of Pacific Flyway birds, especially shorebirds. He has done extensive research in California (especially Marin County and San Francisco Bay) as well as throughout the Pacific and East Asian-Australasian flyways. From 2010-2018, Nils served as the executive director of Audubon Alaska and a vice president of the National Audubon Society. His career began in West Marin at Point Blue, where he was the co-director of the Wetlands Division from 2000-2008. Nils received his doctorate in ecology from the University of California at Davis and San Diego State University and is a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society.
Emiko Condeso, Ecologist/GIS Specialist, holds a master's degree in biology/landscape ecology from Sonoma State University and a dual bachelor's degree in biology and environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz. Emiko's research interests include understanding how spatial patterns, particularly in human-altered landscapes, influence biological communities. Her graduate work focused on sudden oak death and examined the role of the spatial pattern of host woodland on disease dynamics. At the Cypress Grove Research Center, Emiko manages ACR's long-term biological monitoring projects and collaborates with staff and partners in conservation research. She is an active member of the local conservation GIS community.
Scott Jennings, Avian Ecologist at Cypress Grove Research Center, joined ACR in January 2016 to focus on regional heron and egret populations including field studies, data analysis, technical reporting and conservation planning. After undergraduate studies in vertebrate ecology, restoration ecology, and conservation biology at UC Santa Cruz, Scott worked for many years as a field biologist and Avian Ecologist at PRBO (now Point Blue Conservation Science) where he contributed to a range of projects on songbirds and northern spotted owls. Scott’s graduate research for his master's degree at Oregon State University addressed the relationships between growth and survival of Adélie penguin chicks relative to the type and amount of food provisioned by their parents. Over the last 11 years, Scott has conducted several field studies in the coastal lagoons and hills of Marin County.
Jim Jensen, Land Steward at Cypress Grove Research Center, joined ACR in January of 2021, bringing his local expertise and familiarity with the area from growing up on a 6th generation family ranch near Tomales. Jim manages the physical operations and land stewardship at CGRC and Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Tomales Bay properties. Most recently, Jim was the Stewardship Manager for the Marin Agricultural Land Trust where he spent 8 years supporting conservation and stewardship on working farms and ranches. Jim also played an active role in establishing strategic partnerships to incentivize stream and habitat restoration and carbon farm plans throughout West Marin. Prior to MALT, Jim worked with the National Park Service in Wildland Fire Management for 9 seasons where he led a fuels crew, worked on an engine, hotshot crew, and helped implement prescribed fire in National Parks across the western US. He holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry and natural resources with a minor in rangeland resources management from California Polytechnic State University. He is an Associate Rangeland Manager with the Cal-Pac Society for Range Management. When Jim is not at the office or in the field, he can be found spending time with his wife and young son working on the family ranch.
David Lumpkin, Avian Ecologist at Cypress Grove Research Center, joined ACR in March 2017 as a lead scientist on the Heron and Egret Telemetry Project. David earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Oberlin College. While there he conducted research on the role of plumage and bill coloration in goldfinches as a signal of physiological health. After graduating, David worked as a field technician for a variety of organizations conducting research on wild birds, banding migrants, and aiding conservation and recovery efforts. Focal species David has worked with include Golden-Cheeked Warblers, Yellow-Billed Cuckoos, Golden Eagles, and San Clemente Island Loggerhead Shrikes.
Barbara Wechsberg, Preserve Manager, Cypress Grove Research Center, joined ACR in 2006 as the bookstore and facilities assistant at Martin Griffin Preserve before joining the Cypress Grove Preserve team in 2014. Barbara has had a varied career over the years, earning a bachelor of arts in theater from Lewis & Clark College, running her own retail business for 10 years, and becoming a veterinary technician and clinic manager for over 20 years. Barbara’s passionate love of nature and animals has always held a place of major importance in her life. Wearing the many hats of preserve manager, be it administrative duties, engaging in field work, or interacting with ACR’s wonderful volunteers, has provided Barbara with the rewarding opportunity to help care for the world around her and the animals who inhabit it.
MARTIN GRIFFIN PRESERVE | 415-868-9244
Gwen Heistand Martin Griffin Preserve Resident Biologist and Manager, has lived and worked on the same thousand acres since 2002. She teaches classes in all aspects of natural history – from parasites and slime molds to bird song and mammal tracks. Her love of marine biology, especially wee things that live in water, propelled her out of the business world and back to graduate school. Gwen’s heart has expanded to embrace our terrestrial neighbors as well … including a severe crush on spiders (the subject of most of her childhood nightmares). Gwen has a master’s degree in environmental science & management / applied ecology from UC Santa Barbara. Her graduate work focused on cumulative impact assessment in coastal wetland watersheds. Gwen is the recipient of the 2017 Terwilliger Environmental Award.
Catie Clune, Education Program Manager at Martin Griffin Preserve, joined ACR in October of 2020 and brings experience as a naturalist and science educator, as well as a passion for building more inclusive outdoor spaces. She has spent many years managing education and outreach programs in West Marin on topics including endangered salmon, redwoods and climate change, and marine conservation. Catie has taught the UC California Naturalist Certification course and led professional development workshops for science teachers to align immersive outdoor experiences with the newly adopted NGSS standards. In her role as a consultant, Catie supports the development of more diverse leadership in the field of conservation education. Catie holds a master's degree in science education from the University of Washington and a bachelor's degree in community studies, with a focus on environmental justice, from UC Santa Cruz.
Henry Inman, Resource Ecologist at Martin Griffin Preserve, joined ACR in January 2019. Henry earned their bachelor's degree in physical geography from UC Santa Barbara. They began their journey as a habitat restorationist and botanist in Hawai'i with the University of Hawai'i in Hilo and Kure Atoll Wildlife Sanctuary. They returned to the Bay Area, where they were raised in foggy Pacifica, to work with the National Park Service in Golden Gate National Recreational Area and Point Reyes National Seashore, gaining expertise in locally invasive plants as a technician with the Invasive Species Early Detection and Rapid Response program.
Steve Trivelpiece, Land Steward at Martin Griffin Preserve, joined ACR in 2011, bringing with him over 20 years of experience in the building trades. He studied music at Sonoma State University. Before joining our team Steve was most recently the production manager at Hog Island Oyster Company where he oversaw all aspects of planting, harvesting and maintenance at the farm on Tomales Bay. Partly raised in Bolinas by his father, an ornithologist at Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Steve has a deep and abiding love of the natural landscape of Martin Griffin Preserve and its surrounding communities. He has raised two sons in Bolinas and when he’s not at the Preserve you might find him shucking oysters at his wife’s restaurant or playing music at a local dive bar.
MODINI PRESERVE | 707-431-8184
Michelle Cooper, Modini Preserve Resident Biologist & Manager joined ACR in 2018 and oversees facilities along with the conservation science, education, and stewardship programs. Prior to working for ACR, Michelle managed the stewardship program for Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), and represented MALT in local and regional organizations, activities and projects related to land stewardship and conservation planning. Michelle previously served as land steward at the University of California-Bodega Marine Reserve. She completed a bachelor's degree in botany from the University of Washington and a master's degree in biology from Sonoma State University (SSU). The focus of Michelle's work at SSU was on the role hikers and bikers play as dispersal mechanisms of phytophthora ramorum, the organism that causes Sudden Oak Death.
Julianne Bradbury, Resource Ecologist at Modini Mayacamas Preserves, joined ACR in May 2017. She has a bachelor's degree in biology from Sonoma State University, where she studied the impacts of management decisions on a variety of wildlife species in oak woodland, vernal pool, and coastal prairie habitats. In partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Parks Service, and Mountains Restoration Trust, she contributed independent research and restoration support to the Cloud Forest Restoration Project on Santa Rosa Island in the summer of 2016. Julianne has been an active research, stewardship, and environmental education volunteer with local conservation organizations, including Pepperwood Preserve and Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, since 2012. Julianne was a key contributor to the creation of the Hatchery Education Program during her four years with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Kyle Doron, Modini Preserve Land Steward, has lived in Sonoma County most of his life and joined ACR’s Modini Preserve in 2019. His primary focus is on stewarding Preserve lands and maintaining facilities. Kyle has over 25 years of experience conducting land management, stewardship, and general maintenance tasks in the area. He comes to ACR after working as the Resident Land Steward for Ocean Song Farm and Wilderness Center in Bodega Bay for 10 years and as an independent contractor for the surrounding community.
Tomas Ruiz, Modini Preserve Land Steward, has been taking care of Modini Preserve since 2011, when Jim and Shirley Modini still lived on the land. His primary focus is maintaining Modini Preserve facilities and stewarding the property. Tomas’s personal experience with Jim and Shirley and his many years on the land make him an invaluable addition to ACR. He came to the Modini property after years of experience conducting land management and maintenance tasks in Sonoma County. Outside of work, Tomas enjoys gardening and spending time with his family.
REACH US BY PHONE: 707-938-4554 ext. 313
Sasha Berleman, Ph.D., Director of ACR's Fire Forward program, is working to lead a change in the way we live with fire in the Bay Area. With her team, Sasha plans and organizes cooperative controlled burns and leads community efforts around fire management. Sasha served as an invited cadre member for the development and validation of the CA State Certified Burn Boss curriculum. She earned her doctorate in wildland fire science from University of California at Berkeley focusing on prescribed fire use for restoration of ecosystem health. Sasha is a Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) coach and leader and a wildland firefighter with Fire Effects Monitoring, Squad Boss, Crew Boss, Firing Boss, and Incident Commander qualifications. She was a member of the 2017 and 2018 Redding Interagency Hotshot Crew and still details with them every summer. Sasha is a board member of American Wildfire Experience, Bay Area Prescribed Fire Council, and Central Coast Prescribed Fire Council.
Garrett Gradillas, Prescribed Fire Project Coordinator, earned his bachelor's degree in forestry with an emphasis in wildland fire management from Humboldt State University where he obtained knowledge in forest management, fire ecology, and fire behavior. He went on to work for the U.S. Forest Service as a primary wildland firefighter. While there he earned several certifications and qualifications and gained in-depth experience in fire suppression, chainsaw operations, and prescribed fire. Since then, Garrett has worked in the North San Francisco Bay Area from Jenner Headlands to northern Napa County. During this time he has led crews in completing environmental restoration projects including shaded fuel breaks, invasive species management, and toxic runoff containment after wildfire. He has also worked closely with the Sonoma Biochar Initiative to host presentations about and demonstrations of biochar production.
Brian Peterson, Consulting Fire Ecologist for ACR’s Fire Forward, received a master’s degree from San Francisco State University in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology in 2015. His graduate research investigated the relationship between seed caching rodents and manzanita recruitment after fire. Getting his start in 1997 doing oak woodland restoration and fuels reduction work in Southern Oregon, Brian has gone on to work as a botanist and vegetation ecologist all across the California floristic providence, including on research projects at the Farallon Islands, Yosemite’s Illoette Valley, Sierra Foothills, Mount Diablo State Park, Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, Sugarloaf State Parks and Pepperwood Preserve. Most recently, he has been working with Nomad Ecology where he has focused on botanical studies in post-fire chaparral. Brian has completed two Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges (TREX) and is trained as a wilderness first responder.
Living with Lions
REACH US BY PHONE: 707-938-4554 ext. 308
Quinton Martins, Ph.D., is Principal Investigator and Director of Living with Lions, ACR's community conservation project centered around the North Bay's mountain lion population. Dr. Martins is the former founder and CEO of the Cape Leopard Trust, a successful predator conservation NGO based in South Africa. He has over 20 years of field experience having worked in wilderness areas throughout much of Africa, Saudi Arabia and the USA. From specialist safari guiding, leading a scorpion collecting expedition for the Smithsonian Institution in the desert of Namibia, to mist-netting birds in central African rainforests, Quinton turned to studying predators in 2003. He completed his doctorate “The Ecology of leopards in the Cederberg Mountains, South Africa” through the University of Bristol, U.K. in 2010 and is considered the world’s leading expert on Cape mountain leopards and a skilled predator trapper. Quinton is a research associate and fellow at Bristol and Stellenbosch Universities.
Liz Martins, Living with Lions Education Coordinator, brings her passion for connecting children to wildlife to Living with Lions' education program, which teaches children about our wild neighbors and the valuable role mountain lions play in the ecosystem. Liz draws on her experience as an environmental educator in South Africa, where she set up and ran the Cape Leopard Trust's Education Project. Liz was previously a Waldorf teacher and has a degree in Anthropology and Archaeology. She has been a docent at ACR's Bouverie Preserve since 2016 and recently completed a children's book for her daughter, Oh no, not the Grandmother Tree!, based on California wildlife.
Kate Remsen, Trail Camera Project Coordinator for the Living with Lions project, is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA with a degree in Film and Television Production. Her passion lies in wildlife filmmaking and docu-series, combining her love of nature and film. Partnered with UC Davis’ Wildlife Health Center, Kate produced California Mountain Lions, a 9-episode web-series on mountain lions in California. The series is being used for educational purposes by organizations such as the Mountain Lion Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, and many more, helping to shed light on the conflicts mountain lions face in California.
Philanthropy and Communications
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Naomi Sultana Young, Director of Philanthropy, has led the fund development and communications team at ACR since 2017. She brings 17 years of experience in philanthropy, most recently at The Story of Stuff Project, an international environmental NGO working to combat plastic waste. Naomi has held her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation since 2012 and holds a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University’s School of Communication. A born and raised San Franciscan (high school nickname: “Nature Girl”), Naomi is an enthusiastic outdoorswoman and nature lover who has backpacked the entire 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. Naomi is passionate about making sure the glory of nature is truly accessible and welcoming to all, and is always thrilled to connect donors to the amazing work of Audubon Canyon Ranch.
Wendy Coy, Communications Manager, leads our effort to connect community to our work in ways that are meaningful and inspire action. Wendy's extensive experience in brand strategy, content creation, web development, and social media includes many years helping to launch and support award-winning luxury wine and lifestyle brands throughout Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino, as well as 10 years of non-profit leadership experience focused on education reform, serving as founding executive director of the Oak Grove Education Partners in West Sonoma County and communications lead for New Technology Foundation (a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focus project), a network of 41 high schools throughout the U.S. utilizing project-based learning as the focus of education learning. Wendy earned a bachelor of arts in graphic design and packaging from the Art Center College of Design.
Marie Fox, Grants Manager, joined ACR in 2017 and brings decades of development leadership to her grant writing work at ACR. Marie has led major fundraising initiatives at both UCLA and Stanford University schools of medicine and, as Vice President for Development for Interplast (now ReSurge International), she helped expand the capacity of developing nations to provide reconstructive surgical care for their citizens. As Executive Director of the Foothill-De Anza Community Colleges Foundation, Marie significantly advanced and managed private support for one of the nation’s leading community college districts and served on the board of the Network of California Community College Foundations. A lifelong horsewoman, Marie shares her love of nature with her four-legged equine companions on the trails of Sonoma County. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Francisco State University and pursued graduate social work studies at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.
Jennifer Newman, Associate Director of Philanthropy, helps connect the community to ACR through their financial support. Jen has spent her entire career in the nonprofit sector, managing volunteers at a therapeutic horseback riding center in Colorado, visitor centers for the (Golden Gate National) Parks Conservancy and as development director for Slide Ranch, before joining the ACR development team in 2006. Jen is inspired every day by the generosity that flows from ACR members to the organization’s mission through their philanthropy. Jen holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and German from the University of Maryland College Park. A childhood East Coaster and California transplant, Jen spends as much time as she can getting her hands dirty in her garden or feet sandy at the coast with her family.
Erika Obedzinski, Development & Communications Associate and Board Liaison grew up exploring the wilds of West Marin including a school field trip to Martin Griffin Preserve to watch nesting egrets. The Eastern Sierra was home for many years while she worked for the Mono Lake Committee as office director organizing staff, volunteers, and interns, coordinating the membership program, and leading natural history tours. Erika is glad to be back in West Marin at Audubon Canyon Ranch and raising her family in her home stomping grounds. She received her bachelor’s degree in Humanities from New College of California with an emphasis in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community.
Volunteers also are essential to all of Audubon Canyon Ranch's programs. ACR relies on the knowledge, commitment and experience of a large cadre of trained volunteers who we consider the heart and soul of this organization. Learn how to become an ACR volunteer.