Ashley Boren, Executive Director
Ashley has directed the strategy, growth and operations of Sustainable Conservation since 1997. Ashley received a 2007 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for her unwavering commitment to innovative, balanced problem-solving to address a variety of critical environmental problems facing California.
Prior to Sustainable Conservation, Ashley spent eight years at Smith & Hawken, a mail order and retail gardening company, where she worked in finance, new business development, inventory planning and retail merchandising. She began her career at The Nature Conservancy in program development and fundraising. In addition to her work at Sustainable Conservation, Ashley serves on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, on UC California's President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Reosurces, and on the Executive Committee of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute's External Advisory Board at UC Davis. Ashley served on the Board of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation from 2002 to 2011, the last two years as Chair, and on Stanford Business School's Alumni Consulting Team Board from 1995 to 2002, the last three years as Chair.
Ashley is a graduate of the Marlborough School in Los Angeles, which awarded her their 2008 Woman of the Year Award, and has a BA in human biology, an MA in applied economics and an MBA from Stanford University.
Ladi Asgill, Senior Project Manager
Ladi is Senior Project Manager with Sustainable Conservation. Over the past seven years, Ladi has managed a variety of projects within the Sustainable Agriculture group focused on improving air, water quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation, Ladi managed business operations at biogas and hydro generation facilities in California and Washington. Also prior to his consulting work, Ladi had six years of experience as a product manager with Harris Moran Seed Company where he coordinated breeding and marketing of vegetable seed varieties for commercial growers.
Ladi is a certified crop advisor and received a BS in tropical agriculture from the University of Sierra Leone, an MS in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Santa Clara University.
Susanna Aulbach, Grants and Contracts Administrator
Susanna manages the administration of government-funded awards and contracts. Prior to her moving to San Francisco, Susanna worked in Washington, DC and abroad with non-profit and for-profit organizations in international development. Her professional background is in grants administration, budgeting and analysis, monitoring and evaluation, donor reporting and subcontractor management.
She holds a BA in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from George Mason University.
John Cardoza, Project Manager
Working out of Sustainable Conservation's Modesto office and partnering with Central Valley farmers, John helps oversee the organization's Best Management Practices Challenge. The program helps farmers simultaneously promote clean air and reduce costs— all the while maintaining optimal crop yields.
John's deep understanding of farming is attributed to growing up on a family farm near Modesto, CA and his experience working with diverse agricultural sectors. While with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, John served as a County Program Technician working closely with producers in all facets of agriculture, as well as with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Resource Conservation and Development in San Luis Obispo County. At Farm Credit West, John gained an understanding of the financial side of farming on California's Central Coast, working with vineyard operations, wineries and vegetable growers from Paso Robles to Santa Barbra.
Time spent on his family's farm, Cardoza Farms, gave John firsthand experience farming alfalfa, silage corn, sweet corn, pumpkins and other crops. During this time, he also helped run a custom harvesting business and worked closely with dairies in the Modesto area.
John earned his BS in Agribusiness from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Robyn Carliss, Creative Specialist— Development and Communications
Robyn furthers Sustainable Conservation's fundraising and marketing goals, in collaboration with the Development and Communications team and program staff, through the creation of compelling written and visual materials for donors and partners. On the design side, she develops the visual components of internal and external presentation collateral, from PowerPoints and print ads to conference displays and electronic newsletters. Regarding written communications, she crafts copy for print and email project updates, fund appeals, and various special bulletins. Working in partnership with the Director of Development and Communications, Robyn also manages the organization's annual giving program, special events, and stewardship activities.
Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation and making California her home, Robyn served as a vital member of the development department at Bard College's Office of Alumni/ae Affairs in New York. An avid photographer, Robyn's images have been published in Capital Press, West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy and University of California's California Agriculture. Robyn received her B.A. in fiction and poetry writing from Bard College.
Joseph Choperena, Senior Project Manager
Joe coordinates Sustainable Conservation's dairy water quality project, a state-funded effort to improve manure management infrastructure on dairies and evaluate environmental benefits of innovative manure management practices. Joe is also involved with the organization's efforts to develop a biofuels industry and encourage renewable fuel use in California.
Growing up on a farm in California's San Joaquin Valley, Joe is deeply rooted in agriculture. The majority of his work experience has involved agricultural production and processing - throughout the state and overseas. He worked for a winery in the Arroyo Grande Valley on the Central Coast of California, and most recently he spent five years with the US Department of Agriculture as California Renewable Energy Coordinator for Rural Development. In his position, he managed the agency's renewable energy and energy efficiency grant, and guaranteed loan program. He represented the agency in the San Joaquin Valley Dairy Manure Collaborative, partnering with dairy producers, government agencies, milk processors and non-profit organizations. Joe has also worked on various international development projects both in Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Joe holds an MS in International Agricultural Development with a specialization in Sustainable Forestry from University of California, Davis and a BS in Agribusiness from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Patricia Clark, Grants Manager
Patricia creates and conducts a comprehensive foundation and corporate giving program for Sustainable Conservation. Patricia has over 15 years experience in fundraising.
Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation, Patricia served as the Development Director at the Latino Community Foundation where she provided leadership to all development efforts. She's served as the Associate Director for St. Jude Children's Hospital and gained proficiency in and executed core fundraising programs. Patricia spent five years as the Regional Development Director for the American Lung Association of California where she achieved extraordinary increases in revenue and staff capacity. She also served as the Associate Director of Development at East Bay Agency for Children for six years, where she effectively increased revenue.
Patricia has a BA in Communication and Sociology from Rutgers University and has been a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) for 10 years.
Christopher Crawford, Project Associate
Chris works on two teams at Sustainable Conservation, lending his services to the PlantRight and Ecosystems Services programs. For PlantRight, Chris leads the annual Spring Nursery Survey for horticultural invasive plants, while lending general support to PlantRight's other efforts. Chris helps the Ecosystem Services program in a myriad of ways, from organizing meetings and events, to conducting research and helping articulate a business case for investment in Ecosystem Services.
Before landing in San Francisco, Chris worked with environmental issues in a wide variety of places. Some of his favorite experiences came while studying rural agriculture and conservation in Zambia, animal behavior and communication in northern Michigan, and invasive species, large-scale restoration projects and environmental policy in New Zealand. Chris received his B.S. at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Physics.
Amanda Dyson, Donor Relations and Events Coordinator
Amanda assists with donor relations and coordinates cultivation events at Sustainable Conservation. She supports the Development and Communications Department in all its work, providing critical support for Sustainable Conservation's annual and initiative fundraising efforts.
Amanda holds a BA in Studio Art and English Literature and an MA in Cultural Policy and Arts Management from University College Dublin, Ireland. Following graduate school, she completed internships with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York and SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico. She also taught English in Seoul, South Korea and supported the Development team at Austin Children's Shelter in Austin, Texas before relocating to San Francisco.
Ryan Flaherty, Director of Business Partnerships
Working out of our Modesto office, Ryan will lead the organization’s efforts to promote strategies for San Joaquin Valley dairies for managing animal waste in ways that benefit clean air and water. Ryan comes to us from Business for Social Responsibility, a non-profit that works with business to ensure a just and sustainable world, where he was a manager of advisory services working with the food, beverage and agricultural industries. Ryan has more than 10 years of experience in business strategy, supply chain management, sustainable agriculture, water stewardship and stakeholder engagement. He has an MBA from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelors of Arts from Tulane University.
Katie Haldeman, Regulatory Research Analyst
Katie is responsible for finding ways to accelerate the implementation of habitat restoration projects on working lands. Her goal is to work collaboratively with stakeholders to create win-win opportunities that incentivize and promote environmental restoration and resource conservation.
Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation, Katie was shared staff between the Ventura and Cachuma Resource Conservation Districts, where she managed a Prop84 Ag Water Quality Program, provided ranch water quality services for the Santa Barbara County Cattlemen's Association, organized a community stakeholder group to address new water quality regulations, and authored numerous successful grant proposals.
With the County of Santa Barbara, Katie helped facilitate a public outreach process to create unique planning tools for resource conservation through the Gaviota Coast Plan. While at an environmental consulting firm, she managed an industrial storm water program for Amtrak and prepared sections of NEPA and CEQA documents for projects such as a large waterfront redevelopment in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the City of Santa Barbara's General Plan update. While in Environmental Affairs at a Toyota auto-manufacturing plant, she implemented the facility's first composting program and conducted environmental compliance audits while also leading the plant's "Ekiden" running team at competitions in North America and Japan.
Katie has a BA in Integrative Biology from U.C. Berkeley and completed her graduate work in Marine Microbial Ecology with the Zehr Lab at U.C. Santa Cruz.
Christa Harader, Grant Writer
Christa works closely with the development team to craft grant proposals for foundation funding. Though new to the development and fundraising field, Christa brings over eight years of experience in project management, editing and content writing to this position.
Prior to joining the Sustainable Conservation team, Christa worked in various fields, from managing an architectural design office to editing several small press publications on the East Coast. Christa received her BA in English Literature from the University of Rhode Island and her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in Vermont. In her free time she writes poetry and fiction, and her creative work can be found in several print and online publications.
Martha Henderson, Director of Development
Martha Henderson brings more than 20 years experience in fundraising to Sustainable Conservation, including successful capital campaigns and annual campaigns, major and planned giving programs, direct mail programs, foundation grants, corporate sponsorships and major fundraising events.
Martha’s love of California’s parks and natural resources led her to work for the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF), where she was until joining Sustainable Conservation. Most recently, Martha was the Director of Major and Planned Gifts, in which capacity she expanded the major gifts program and initiated new marketing for legacy gifts.
Martha has helped advance human rights, education, international development and human services by expanding resources for a variety of organizations, including the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, Park Day School, an independent school, which was Oakland’s first school to be certified as a green business. Martha helped Joan Baez advance the cause of human rights through her organization, Humanitas International. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, and is a sailing instructor certified by the American Sailing Association.
Alex Karolyi, Marketing & Communications Director
Alex directs the organization's marketing, communications and public relations activities, including the development of a range of media and public outreach materials. Alex has more than 20 years' experience in research, writing and communications - having served as News Producer for WashingtonPost.com and Newsweek.com, and received the California Press Association Award and Pacemaker Award for excellence in journalism. He earned an MA in language studies from Georgetown University and BA in English Literature from California State University, Chico.
Leah Katz Ahmadi, Donor Relations Manager
Leah furthers the organization's annual and Campaign fundraising goals by building bridges between individuals' environmental passions and Sustainable Conservation's work addressing the most pressing challenges facing California's land, air, and water. Prior to her current role of donor stewardship and solicitation, Leah led the institutional giving program at Sustainable Conservation, which focuses on foundation and corporate partnerships.
Prior to joining the Development team in 2008, Leah was a Senior Associate at a leading Bay Area environmental consulting firm, where she worked with local, state and federal agencies to address natural resource conflicts, identify land management priorities, and conduct environmental reviews of watershed-scale plans. She has also worked in the public, academic and non-governmental sectors to resolve environmental conflicts through stakeholder working groups. Leah earned her MS in Natural Resource Management from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and BA in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California, San Diego.
Eric Lee, Science Research Analyst
Based in Sustainable Conservation's Modesto office, Eric works to further the organization's nutrient management and conservation tillage initiatives. He helps promote field days to facilitate conversations between farmers about sustainable practices and is working with the UC Cooperative Extension to track adoption of conservation tillage in California, traveling throughout the Central Valley to interview individual farmers, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisers and Natural Resource Conservation Service conservationists.
Before Sustainable Conservation, Eric spent a few years conducting horticultural research at UC Davis. After receiving his BS in Cell Biology from UC Davis, Eric redirected his focus from basic research to finding solutions to water scarcity in the green industry. Eric designed an experiment to understand the limitations of slow sand water filters, a system already in use for on-site water treatment in nurseries and greenhouses worldwide. This experiment led to a MS in Horticulture and Agronomy from UC Davis and, between working to promote conservation tillage and nutrient management solutions, Eric continues to work with his graduate adviser to bring this research to the public.
Jane Lew, Staff AccountantJane is responsible for the daily accounting of Sustainable Conservation and supports the Controller with the overall finances.Jane has a passion for working with non-profits. It started when she worked at Edgewood Center for Children and Families. It was rewarding to work for an organization that provided services to people to help them in improving their future lives. Now, at Sustainable Conservation the reward is seeing the work that is helping California thrive. Jane has a BS in Accounting from San Francisco State University.
Erika Lovejoy, Associate Director of Restoration on Private Lands
Erika is responsible for expanding the Partners in Restoration Program by working to acquire statewide programmatic permits to help promote widespread implementation of restoration projects across California.
She has more than 15 years of experience working collaboratively with government agencies, the private sector and public interest groups on resolving environmental problems through both voluntary and policy solutions. Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation, Erika gained substantial field and policy experience in aquatic habitat restoration and water quality protection programs while working as an Environmental Scientist/Planner for California's Water Boards, Coastal Commission, and Department of Water Resources, and San Francisco County. Erika has also managed a major watershed planning effort for the South San Francisco Bay, leading environmental programs, mediating stakeholder conflicts, managing grants, and developing policy.
Erika acquired her BS in environmental policy analysis and planning from UC Davis.
Kelli McCune, Senior Project Manager
Kelli McCune focuses on engaging companies in our regional collaborations with farmers, government, irrigation districts and water management agencies to develop solutions that help balance our water supplies. She also contributes to the team effort to make it easier for landowners to restore streams, rebuild habitat and reduce soil erosion, which result in improved wildlife habitat and water quality.
Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation, Kelli worked for the Bureau of Land Management in California and southeast Arizona, assisting with the management of a variety of species conservation and habitat restoration projects. Kelli received her master's degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara, and she holds a BA in environmental science and Spanish from Northern Michigan University (magna cum laude). Kelli is also a Kinship Fellow and participated in the month-long Kinship Conservation Fellows Program in 2014.
Jan Merryweather, Senior Project Manager
Jan joined Sustainable Conservation in 2013 to further the development, promotion and implementation of initiatives that solve environmental problems in ways that make economic sense.
Jan brings 25-years of sales and marketing experience, at several early-stage companies, spanning consumer product, e-commerce, green building and nonprofit sectors. Her unique breadth of leadership experience - in sales and sales systems, product development and helping organizations drive positive behavior change - is well suited to advance our (and our partners') missions.
A natural collaborator, Jan focuses on earning trust, building confidence and identifying shared goals. Most recently, Jan worked at California's venerable land trust, Sempervirens Fund, conducting community outreach, implementing a speaker series, and managing a social media pilot.
Having held senior sales and business development roles at Aerobie, Koosh (now a Hasbro brand), EcoRebates and Positive Coaching Alliance, Jan brings a proven track record in partnering with some of the nation's most-recognized names in the corporate and non-profit industries. In 1996 she founded ThinkingOfU, an online retailer, which she later sold to a venture-funded competitor.
Jan attended Amherst College (where she was captain of the tennis team, and ran track), before transferring to Stanford University and graduating with a B.A. in Communications.
Mana Mostatabi, Digital Marketing & Communications Strategist
Mana assists with Sustainable Conservation’s marketing activities, including supporting network growth and increasing organizational visibility through the use of digital media platforms.
Previous to joining Sustainable Conservation, she led advocacy, monitoring and documentation, marketing and communications, and fundraising efforts for various human rights-focused non-profits working on issues related the burgeoning social and political movement around the world. Over the past five years, she has also consulted and coordinated campaigns in conjunction with several prominent NGOs, including Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Front Line Defenders, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, PEN International, ARTICLE 19, Physicians for Human Rights and more.
Mana received her B.A. in World Literature and Professional Editing/Writing from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2008.
Dr. Daniel Mountjoy, Director of Resource Stewardship
Daniel joins Sustainable Conservation as Director of Restoration on Private Lands and is responsible for leadership of three program areas: statewide expansion of the Partners in Restoration Program, Ecosystem Services, and Water Management. In support of these program areas, he is also working on strategies to strengthen the capacity of Resource Conservation Districts to assume a greater role in implementing small scale restoration projects.
Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation, Daniel was Assistant State Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service serving the California Central Coast and San Francisco Bay-Delta regions. During his 17-year career with NRCS he fostered partnerships with Resource Conservation Districts, technical advisors, researchers and the agricultural community to promote water quality and habitat protection practices, and led efforts to integrate food safety with conservation practices. He collaborated with Sustainable Conservation for more than a decade to pioneer and expand permit coordination programs for restoration projects.
Daniel earned a PhD in human ecology from UC Davis for his research on strategies to improve cross-cultural communication for resource management with Hispanic farmers. He also holds a BA in agroecology from UC Santa Cruz and an MA in Latin American studies from Stanford University. Daniel has practical on-the-ground experience as a farm and land manager on rural properties in northern California in the 1970s and as a landscape contractor in Santa Cruz in the 1980s.
Cristina Reis de Araujo, Controller
Cristina plays a key role in overseeing Sustainable Conservation's finances, having worked in the finance area for many years. For the past 12 years, she dedicated her professional career to the non-profit sector, where she feels she can contribute to social and environmental change. She served as Director of Finance and Administration for San Francisco Women Against Rape, Inc. and Youth Together, Inc.
Cristina holds a BA in Tourism from the Catholic University of Petropolis, Brazil, and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC, Santa Cruz and Accounting from City College of San Francisco.
Erik Schmidt, Senior Conservation Strategist
Erik focuses on broad federal and State regulatory processes and other initiatives to accelerate habitat restoration efforts throughout California, benefiting a variety of habitats and imperiled species as well as water quality.
Previously, he worked to develop watershed- and countywide restoration programs as part of our innovative Partners in Restoration permit coordination program, and then helped lead an assessment of 12 Partners in Restoration programs around the state. Erik came to Sustainable Conservation in 2007 with extensive regulatory and technical experience, having spent the previous four years with NOAA Fisheries, where he worked on Endangered Species Act consultations for listed salmonids and their habitat.
Erik earned an MA in environmental policy from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a BA in cultural anthropology from the University of California, San Diego. Following his graduate studies, Erik was awarded a Knauss National Sea Grant Fellowship from NOAA in Washington, DC.
Pamela Sergio, Director of HR and Administration
Pamela began her work with Sustainable Conservation as a consultant in November of 2006. Inspired by our mission and commitment to finding solutions through partnership and collaboration, Pamela joined the organization as Director of Human Resources and Administration a few months later. She brings over 18 years of senior management experience to the position, having spent most of her career in the legal field, where she faced significant change management issues, including two back-to-back mergers.
Today, Pamela focuses on developing Sustainable Conservation's human resource initiatives and best practices, building a strong infrastructure to support a talented staff, and cultivating a healthy culture at work. She particularly enjoys helping us "walk the talk" of partnership and collaboration internally. Drawing upon tools and resources she has both used and taught in outside trainings, Pamela looks for opportunities to coach others in effective communication and conflict resolution.
Pamela is certified as a Senior Professional of Human Resources (SPHR) from the Society of Human Resources Management. She received her B.A. in Spanish at the University of Oregon, which she put to good use in Madrid, Spain, where she lived and taught for two years. Pamela stays in touch with her Spanish through a steady diet of dancing salsa, Argentine tango, and, most recently, flamenco.
Susan Sheeran, Development & Communications Associate
Susan provides support for the Development and Communications department at Sustainable Conservation. She assists the team on all fundraising projects including event coordination, donor database management, social media efforts and general departmental support.
Prior to relocating to San Francisco and joining Sustainable Conservation, Susan held the dual role of Office Manager and Development Assistant with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of NYC for almost two years. She also worked for several years as a Photo Editor producing photo shoots at a variety of women’s magazines including Redbook Magazine, Lucky Magazine and SELF Magazine.
Susan received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
J. Stacey Sullivan, Policy Director
Stacey Sullivan has been Sustainable Conservation’s Policy Director since 2009, during which time he has led successful legislative campaigns to enact state statutes to improve water quality (SB 346) and expedite riparian habitat restoration (AB 2193), and guided the organization’s policy initiatives in water supply and management, greenhouse gas reduction, and air and water quality. Prior to joining Sustainable Conservation, Sullivan spent 12 years as a committee consultant to the California State Assembly, including eight years as Chief Consultant to the Local Government Committee. His work while with the Assembly included in-depth involvement in significant legislation and policy initiatives concerning the California Environmental Quality Act, water policy, sustainable agriculture, housing, and land use planning.
Stacey is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the Steering Committee of the Central Coast Rangeland Coalition, and is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the Sustainable Economies Law Center. He was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz, University of Oxford, and King Hall School of Law at the University of California, Davis, from which he received his J.D. in 1995.
Bill Taylor, Office Coordinator
Bill supports the daily needs of the office with front desk and project support. He likes the constant challenges and the opportunities to be of service. His daily tasks include everything from logging donations, writing acknowledgement letters, filing, IT support to office maintenance.
After receiving a BA in History from the University of California at Davis, Bill attended the California Culinary Academy where he received an AOS degree in classical French cuisine. Bill is also a guitarist and a singer/songwriter and has performed in groups since the age of 13.