Current term expires:
Director of Water Utilities - 43 years Drinking Water utility experience.
Master of Public Administration
Water Treatment, Water Distribution, Laboratory Analyst, Water Conservation
Friends of Alhambra Creek
Current term expires:
Bethallyn Black has been a director for the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District for over 20 years. Currently, she is the head of Diablo Valley College's horticulture program. Prior work has included starting the organic farming program at College of Marin, managing and teaching the Master Gardener program for UCCE in Contra Costa and owning a Design/Build landscape contracting company. Bethallyn's graduate degrees are in Agroecology and Andragogy. Her life's work has focused on regenerative landscaping and inspiring others to plant with joy.
Current term expires:
November 30, 2024
Igor Skaredoff was born in the French Concession of Shanghai the same year that Pearl Harbor was bombed and the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District was formed (1941).
As a small unruly boy in an occupied city, he found escape from reality in stories his mother Ariadna told him about Roussalkas, mythological female sprites who lived in rivers and tricked and enchanted unwary humans. With Oleg, his father, he gathered twigs fallen from a tree in front of their tenement and they would build exquisite little campfires, like small teepees, lit with a single match, and would occasionally fry an egg. During these times Oleg would talk about birds and animals of the Russian Steppe (prairie) and the Taiga (north woods). Even in the midst of a major city, in a world at war, awareness and a love of nature was nurtured and grew this boy’s heart.
World War 2 came to an end, the Marines landed in Shanghai, and one Sergeant took Igor for a ride in his jeep, taught him how to chew gum and his first words of English: “OK Joe!”
WW2 was over, but the Chinese Civil War raged on: the Nationalists were fighting the Communists and they were retreating. Igor’s family, having fled Russia to escape the Communists now fled China to escape the Communists, aboard the ocean liner SS Grover Cleaveland - converted to carry troops and renamed the General Meiggs - all the way to San Francisco. Igor’s first view of America was of the Bay Bridge high overhead with the tiny Key System trains on its lower deck.
The Russians in San Francisco were mostly from Shanghai. They pooled their resources and converted house into churches and schools, and also acquired a rundown resort on Austin Creek in Sonoma County. Here they would escape the City and live the Dacha life. During the week, Ariadna would stay in one of the shacks she and Oleg rehabbed, with Igor, brother Svetik and various stray kids who needed a place to stay. There was a constant stream of “DP’s” - displaced persons - who came through Cazadero. On weekends Oleg would take the bus from Richmond to Monte Rio and then walk to the Cazadero “dacha”. Word got around and sometimes the local folks would give Oleg a ride. We would wake up on Saturday morning and there would be Papa!
Those were the Golden Times: swimming in the Creek, catching Trout and cooking them over a small fire on a gravel bar, hiking up to the old-growth redwood “cathedral”, helping Mrs Bailey feed the chickens, milk Bessie and make butter. Learning how to split firewood. Staying up late with Mamma as she made bread in the wood-burning stove, using our firewood. (It was too hot during the day). We were wild little kids - running around everywhere barefoot and always admonished to watch out for rattlesnakes.
With such a childhood, how can one not love Nature, Creeks, Forests, Trout and Grasshoppers and King Snakes and Manzanita? Path leads inexorably to the RCD.
This is the foundation - the rest of the story is for another time.
Current term expires:
November 30, 2024
Lorena is a Bay Area Native and a tree hugger at heart. She has been working in the environmental field for over 12 years with experience in the nonprofit and federal sectors. Lorena has worked with disadvantaged youth on various projects including planting native gardens, painting community murals, and organizing events. Lorena has a passion for cultivating meaningful experiences to youth that don’t regularly access outdoors spaces. She helped create a series of programs that exposed youth to local parks and led outdoor adventures to Point Reyes and Yosemite. Currently she is the Co-Executive Director of Groundwork Richmond where she works alongside the City of Richmond to plant trees and help revitalize historically disadvantaged communities of color.
Current term expires:
November 30, 2024
Renée Fernandez-Lipp is a sustainability professional with over 25 years of experience promoting the efficient use and generation of energy, water conservation and waste diversion. She has experience in both the public and private sectors. Renée currently leads power generation public safety and emergency response programs at Pacific Gas & Electric.
Renee has served on a number of non-profit boards and local government commissions. In her free time, she enjoys travelling and working with animals. She works closely with several bay area animal rescues and helped launch a non-profit that provides grant funding for animals in medical need.
Renée earned her M.B.A. at Golden Gate University and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at CSU, Long Beach. She holds a certificate in Green Building and Renewable Energy from UC Davis and is a USGBC LEED Accredited Professional.
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: Info to come
Fun Fact: Info to come
Alejandro is passionate about using fire to steward forested landscapes and communities. He grew up in New York City before moving to Portland, Oregon where he attended Reed College, majoring in Biology. At Reed, Alejandro developed his interest in forestry and for his senior thesis chose to write about the impacts climate change will have on the forest communities of the Pacific Northwest. As a Forest Resource Assistant at UC Berkeley’s Blodgett Forest Research Station he participated in his first prescribed burn and has been interested in reintroducing beneficial forms of fire to management systems and communities ever since. He started at CCRCD in February 2023 and will be working to develop a Wildfire Conservation Program in Contra Costa County. He believes that shifting collective understandings of fire is a critical step in reorienting dominant culture’s relationship with the abundance the earth provides.
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: 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: Conservation tillage, integrated pest management, grant writing, project management, partnership building.
Fun Fact: Loves beekeeping and had a goat growing up by the name of Lady Ashley.
Emma grew up in Albemarle County, Virginia next to the Rivanna River on Monacan land. She received her Bachelor’s in International Business Administration and her Master’s in Global Business & Sustainability from Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
After spending several years in the renewable energy industry, Emma worked as the interim farm manager of a 15 acre regenerative flower farm on Maui. There, she learned invaluable lessons in ‘āina and environment from Indigenous and local leaders via Hawai’i Farmers Union United’s ‘Farm Apprentice Mentoring Program’.
Emma has experience conducting invasive species removal and designing and implementing field work plans. Additionally, she has managed an orchid nursery, a Moringa grove, and apiary. She served as a grant writer for a successful climate-smart agriculture program and enjoys working to unite stakeholders in the pursuit of shared goals.
At CCRCD Emma supports community-led watershed and agricultural conservation efforts in the interest of a sustainable and equitable future for people and planet.
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: Camera trapping, California wildlife and plant identification, data management, conservation education.
Fun Fact: Loves birding, rock climbing, fashion, hiking, and cooking Filipino food.
I grew up spending a lot of time exploring nature in my hometown, San Diego, and while camping throughout the western United States.
My passion for conservation led me to pursue an education at UC Davis, where I graduated in 2022 with a B.S. in Environmental Science & Management, and a minor in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology. Prior to joining CCRCD, I've performed field monitoring in the Delta and Bay area. At CSTARS, I collected GPS points of native and invasive plant species in the Delta in order to develop aerial vegetation identification tools. As a field researcher with the UC Davis Road Ecology Center, I collected camera-trap data and analyzed the impacts of Interstate 580 on East Bay wildlife communities.
I'm driven by a passion for urban ecology, environmental justice, and the restorative power of nature to communities and people. I am excited to bring my skills and passion to my work with CCRCD.
Skills: Horticulture, CA native plants, invasive plant management, pollinators, environmental education, project management, grant writing.
Fun Fact: Enjoys birding, photography, knitting, flower arranging, and traveling.
Lisa serves as the Watershed Conservation Manager for the Walnut Creek Watershed, she facilitates the Contra Costa Watershed Forum, and she leads the CCRCD’s Monarch Conservation Program. She joined the CCRCD’s staff in January 2019 and has worked on a range of projects to conserve Contra Costa County’s watersheds and biodiversity. These projects include native plant and pollinator habitat establishment, invasive plant management, creek restoration, and environmental education programming.
Lisa is from Los Angeles and has a BA with Honors in English from the University of California at Berkeley. She earned a Professional Sequence in Editing certificate from UC Berkeley Extension and worked in publishing for 10 years, primarily editing educational materials including science textbooks and curricula. She returned to school to study horticulture at Diablo Valley College where she earned a Nursery Technician certificate.
In 2023, she completed the UC Berkeley Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program with a certificate in Sustainable Environmental Management. Through her work in the environmental field, Lisa aims to cultivate healthy and sustainable relationships between people, plants, wildlife, and the land.
Skills: Coming soon
Fun Fact: Coming soon
Bio coming soon
Skills: Environmental education, community engagement, research processes, insect identification, report writing.
Fun Fact: Victoria competes in triathlons and will hike or bike up any hill/mountain she can get her feet or wheels on. She summited Haleakalā in Maui, HI on bike in the summer of 2021. Her next challenge is pending. Victoria also loves to cook and create random dishes from available seasonal produce.
Victoria (she/her) is from Orange County, CA. She graduated in 2021 from University of California, Davis with a BS in Environmental Science and Management with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management and a minor in Insect Biology. She participated in a research lab at UC Davis exploring the impacts of human development on insect/plant relationships over time. Following this, she worked as an environmental consultant to identify and resolve soil and/or groundwater contamination to protect water resources throughout the Bay Area.
Victoria grew up helping her dad weed and tend to his extensive vegetable and fruit tree garden and spent many family vacations camping in various national parks. Victoria considers herself very lucky to have grown up with access and connections to the outdoors and wildlife. She understands the importance of access to healthy, natural places for individual and community wellbeing. Victoria is excited to work with CCRCD and partners to help achieve more safe, accessible, sustainable, and functional natural areas regardless of community wealth, race, or composition.