Skills: Grant writing, leadership, relationship building, “putting out fires.”
Fun Fact: Likes cooking, sneakers, hi fi sound, and trying new food and restaurants.
Chris is a conservationist that does this work not only for the planet, but for people. He has been in the restoration field for over 20 years and has worked in all three sectors: private, public, and nonprofit. Chris has worked with communities to restore native species and habitats from the top to the bottom of watersheds. He built one of the first community-based native oyster reefs in San Francisco Bay and relishes the opportunity to interweave restoration projects with environmental education. As a Contra Costa County native, he finds his current work of increasing resilience in his local watersheds deeply meaningful and rewarding. Chris graduated with an undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley with an emphasis in Marine Biology and Oceanography, plus a minor in Geography. He also earned a Masters of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Skills: Permitting, conservation on agricultural land, illegal dumping prevention
Fun Fact: Eagle Scout, former member of the University of California Marching Band, aspiring birder, and a Contra Costa native raised in Southern California.
Ben started working with Contra Costa RCD in January 2017 after receiving two Masters degrees from Indiana University in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Policy following undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley. Ben manages the Voluntary Local Program, the EcoStewards Program, and other conservation programs focused on agricultural lands.
Skills: Knowledge of various invasive plant removal techniques, knowledge of plant monitoring techniques, experienced in water quality monitoring, community outreach and environmental education.
Fun Fact: Fluent in Spanish, used to live in New Jersey, completed two AmeriCorps service terms and I like to hike and explore new nature areas.
Daniel grew up in New Jersey and just recently moved to California to work for the CCRCD as an EcoSteward Conservation Technician. He graduated from Stockton University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Since graduating from college, Dan has been involved with numerous environmental restoration projects, environmental education, and community outreach. His previous working experiences includes interning at a USFW National Wildlife Refuge through an internship program with a non-profit organization called Hispanic Access Foundation. He has completed two Americorps term services: one as a New Jersey Watershed Ambassador in New Jersey and one as a Lead Wetland Restoration Technician with Truckee Meadows Park Foundation in Nevada. Dan's other areas of interest include water quality and stormwater management.
Skills: Regenerative land management and community engagement
Fun Fact: Student of life that nerds out on eco-cultural restoration, hangs out on hilltops, at home cruising in the Subaru, swimmer looking for water.
Actively pursuing opportunities for collaboration, Derek engages land managers, urban and rural farmers to identify strategies that balance immediate social needs with the long-term vitality of our ecological systems.
Raised in the East Bay, Derek’s professional experience includes non-profit work in urban forestry, environmental education, permaculture design, and community development through Peace Corps Nepal.
Graduating in 2010 with a BA in Environmental Studies: Sustainable Food Systems from UCSC, Derek holds an MA in Geography from CSULB 2020. His thesis research focused on the social drivers of riparian restoration on the working lands of the upper Tule River watershed of Tulare County, CA.
His current interests include identifying and showcasing farms demonstrating regenerative practices such as soil carbon sequestration, storm water infiltration, hedgerows, biodiversity enhancements, rematriation, and management for ecological flow regimes.
Derek’s vision of scaling up regenerative land management, agroecological resilience, and food justice includes embracing diversity with a holistic perspective on collective wellbeing.
Skills: Graphic design and production for print, websites, video editing.
Fun Fact: Drives vintage BMW motorcycle, loves cooking, mountain biking.
While attending Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, CA, Eric naturally gravitated to the creative courses, and pursued all graphics courses that were offered. In the mid 80"s, a brand new curriculum was being started, "Desktop Publishing". Signing up for this unchartered territory, Eric was part of the very first small group of students that with their professor, and for the next many years, developed the very first computer graphics courses available in Northern California.
Years later, and after owning a graphic design business for 28 years, Eric was open to other opportunities. The first was Art Director for a product manufacturer, followed by the fortunate introduction to the CCRCD.
Eric now enjoys the opportunities and challenges brought by the CCRCD to stretch his creative legs while creating print graphics, website projects, photography, video production, and varied field work.
Skills: Plant identification, scientific plant monitoring, invasive plant removal, and writing.
Fun Fact: Keeps over 200 potted plants and 125+ species of plants in the relatively small garden of my rental house. It's packed!
Evan is an avid birder, botanist, and hiker. Before joining the CCRCD, he worked as the foreman of a permaculture landscaping company, as an ecological consultant for public works projects in the East Bay, and as a Conservation and Land Management intern with the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska. Evan majored in Organismal Biology and Ecology at Colorado College. Working with the Chicago Botanic Gardens, he wrote an extensive thesis based on his research on the floral preferences of native bees in Arizona. Evan wrote a research paper on how west African mangroves act as fish nurseries, and this paper was published in the scientific journal Regional Studies in Marine Science.
In the afternoons and on the weekends, Evan pursues his artistic interests of stained glass, ceramics, and the saxophone. Whenever possible, Evan chooses to ride his bike around town. After traveling a combined 10,000 miles from Maine to Seattle, across Alaska, and through much of Mexico on his bicycle, he has decided that two wheels are the most exciting way to travel.
Skills: Regional planning, facilitation, JEDI training, conference & event planning, and GIS.
Fun Fact: Loves the north coast, enthusiastic hiker, beach bum.
Lifegoals: Building a personal library, visiting every national park, writing a travel guide to northern California.
Elissa grew up exploring the natural spaces in the Bay Area. She grew up in Pittsburg, but roams widely and considers herself a regional expert from Walnut Creek to Discovery Bay. She has experience in a number of fields, including time in the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. She obtained a B.S. in Natural Resource Planning & Interpretation Humboldt State University in 2010, with extensive coursework in critical race, gender and sexuality studies.
Elissa has spent the past 9 years working in the watersheds of Contra Costa County; she was with the Contra Costa County Flood Control District for 4 years prior to joining the CCRCD staff in 2016. She coordinates regional watershed groups including the Contra Costa Watershed Forum, Walnut Creek Watershed Council, and Friends of Marsh Creek, and conducted a water needs assessment for disadvantaged communities in eastern Contra Costa County. In her free time, Elissa serves on the East Bay Regional Park District Advisory Committee, as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Pittsburg, reads, and explores our regional, State, and National parks.
Skills: GIS, knowledge of fire ecology, forest sampling and measurements.
Fun Fact: Retired logging sports enthusiast, loves swimming.
Hannah (she / her) is passionate about equitable and collaborative fire and forest management. Her work with the CCRCD aims to support collaborative fire mitigation planning efforts in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, expand the CCRCD’s fire outreach and education efforts, and support the Diablo Fire Safe Council’s “Partners in Wildfire Prevention” program.
Prior to joining the CCRCD team, she has worked with the Informatics and GIS program of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the California Fire Science Consortium, and as a forestry technician in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Hannah has a degree in both GIS and Ecosystem Management & Forestry from UC Berkeley.
Skills: Watershed management and coordination, grant writing, fundraising, events.
Fun Fact: Owns a marina, small urban farm, and a Scottish Highlander cattle ranch in the Delta. Loves music and silly hats!
Heidi Petty has been with the CCRCD since 2007. Her current position is Watershed Program Manager and Fundraising Coordinator, focusing on the Contra Costa side of the Carquinez Strait shoreline. In 1999, Heidi started a small bonsai and custom saltwater reef tank business named ‘Through the Looking Glass: A Living Art Studio’ in Crockett, CA, where she got an in-depth understanding of saltwater filtration and hydrology. Heidi has held numerous community leadership positions in the Crockett, Port Costa, and Rodeo area, including President of the local Chamber of Commerce and Board Member on the Crockett Community Services District. Her entrepreneurialism and government service background makes her a valuable asset to the RCD as a special government district.
She now lives on the river in Oakley, CA, and owns a marina and small urban farm as well as a 28-acre Highlander Cattle Ranch in the SF Delta. She is excited to expand her work by partnering with the technology industry to create innovative ways to help the environment through long-term partnerships and connecting tech to her restoration work.
Skills: Outreach, education, hydrology, monitoring, and data analysis.
Fun Fact: As the volunteer membership coordinator for Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, Lisa has sincerely thanked MDIA supporters almost 2,400 times since 2013.
Lisa moved to Contra Costa County in 1999 and has had the opportunity to work with the CCRCD-supported community groups in Marsh Creek, Kirker Creek, Mt Diablo Creek, Walnut Creek, Alhambra Creek and Pinole Creek Watersheds. She enjoys collaborations with students and interns, especially water quality monitoring projects, and has taught environmental education programs for The Lindsay Wildlife Experience and Contra Costa Water District.
Lisa also provides data analysis for Hydrocomp, Inc.’s streamflow forecasting model which helps agencies in California and the Pacific Northwest improve reservoir operations.
Lisa holds a B.S. in Geology and an M.S. in Water Resources Engineering from Stanford University.
Skills: Horticulture, invasive plant removal, CA native plants & animals, grant writing
Fun Fact: Lisa was a Girl Scout throughout elementary and middle school. Lisa climbed to the summit of Huayna Picchu and visited the Peruvian rainforest in 2016.
Lisa is from Los Angeles, CA. She has a BA with Honors in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Professional Sequence in Editing certificate from UC Berkeley Extension. She worked in publishing for 10 years, primarily editing educational materials including science textbooks and curricula. Her passion for nature led her back to school to study horticulture at Diablo Valley College where she earned a Nursery Technician certificate. She joined the CCRCD’s staff in January 2019. She likes hiking with friends and family, eating chocolate, creating beautiful things, and rooting for the Oakland A’s.