Board Members and Staff

The Contra Costa Resource Conservation District has a governing body of one Board President and four Board Directors. The primary responsibilities of the Board are to set the vision and goals for the district; adopt policies that give the district direction to set priorities and achieve its goals; and adopt and oversee the annual budget.

Board Members

Walter Pease

BOARD PRESIDENT
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Walter Pease

DIRECTOR

Term started:

June 2017

Current term expires:

November 2026

Certificate of Ethics Training Completion

Walter Pease

Retired:
Director of Water Utilities  - 43 years Drinking Water utility experience.

Education:
Master of Public Administration
B.S. Biology

Certification in:
Water Treatment, Water Distribution, Laboratory Analyst, Water Conservation

Member of:
Friends of Alhambra Creek

Bethallyn Black

DIRECTOR
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Bethallyn Black

DIRECTOR

Term started:

March 2009

Current term expires:

November 2026

Certificate of Ethics Training Completion

Bethallyn Black

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.

Igor Skaredoff

DIRECTOR
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Igor Skaredoff

BOARD PRESIDENT

Term started:

October 2006

Current term expires:

November 30, 2024

Certificate of Ethics Training Completion

Igor Skaredoff

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.

Lorena Castillo

DIRECTOR
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Lorena Castillo

DIRECTOR

Term started:

August 2019

Current term expires:

November 30, 2024

Certificate of Ethics Training Completion

Lorena Castillo

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.

Renee Fernandez-Lipp

DIRECTOR
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Renee Fernandez-Lipp

DIRECTOR

Term started:

June 2019

Current term expires:

November 30, 2024

Certificate of Ethics Training Completion

Renee Fernandez-Lipp

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.

Associate Board Members

Bob Peoples
Ryan Sherring
John Cain

Join Our Team:  Associate Board Members Wanted!

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Staff

Christopher Lim

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

925-269-9190

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Christopher Lim

Skills: Grant writing, leadership, relationship building, “putting out fires.”

Fun Fact: Likes cooking, sneakers, hi fi sound, and trying new food and restaurants.

Christopher Lim

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.

Ben Weise

AGRICULTURE program director

925-690-4145

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Ben Weise

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 Weise

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.

Devanie White

WATERSHED CONSERVATION COORDINATOR

916-572-4367

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Devanie White

Skills: Writing, Research, Education, Outreach.

Fun Fact: Devanie loves photography, travelling, movies, going on walks, being outside and learning. She wants to take on a big challenge like biking from Alaska to Argentina or going on a long back country hike for a few weeks.

Devanie White

Devanie, originally from Sacramento, California, developed a strong passion for the natural environment from a young age. She spent a significant amount of her youth engrossed in shows, movies, and even games that revolved around and emphasized the importance of nature. This passion led her to pursue a degree in Biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she delved into a wide range of courses related to human health, plant physiology, and general ecology.

Upon completing her undergraduate studies, Devanie explored various professional opportunities in education and environmental administration. However, she ultimately decided to focus her efforts on the environmental sector, aiming to make a meaningful impact in any way possible. To further her goal, she pursued a master's degree in marine science and management from the University of Sydney, equipping herself with the necessary knowledge and skills to continue making a difference.

Devanie is thrilled about the prospect of working and collaborating with the CCRCD staff. She is eager to contribute to their mission of conservation and natural resource management. Additionally, she hopes to learn and grow within the organization, pushing herself to new limits and embracing new challenges along the way.

Elena Rich

EcoStewards Conservation Technician
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Elena Rich

Skills: California wildlife and plant identification, wildlife camera trapping, heavy equipment and power tool operation, community engagement and education, data management.

Fun Fact: Loves birding, gardening, hiking, tidepooling, and game nights with friends and family.

Elena Rich

Elena grew up in the East Bay and spent much of her childhood hiking and exploring the local oak woodland open space, where her love of nature developed.

Pursuing her passion for restoration and land stewardship, she studied at UC Davis and received a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management in 2024. While in college, she worked at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden for three years, first as a propagation apprentice at the nursery and later as a waterway stewardship apprentice at the Arboretum Waterway. She gained experience in plant care, restoration, and habitat management in a human-dominated landscape. In addition, she analyzed wildlife camera trap data from camera traps around the Arboretum and Putah Creek Riparian Reserve as part of a study comparing species richness between the two sites.

Elena is fascinated by the challenge of stewarding and conserving habitat in novel ecosystems. She is excited to return to places she explored as a child with a new perspective from her education and restoration experience.

Eric Akeson

DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
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Eric Akeson

Skills: Graphic design and production for print, websites, video editing.

Fun Fact: Drives vintage BMW motorcycle, loves cooking, mountain biking.

Eric Akeson

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.

Heidi Petty

WATERSHED PROGRAM MANAGER
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Heidi Petty

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

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.

Ishai Cohen

Agriculture Conservation Coordinator

510-851-0260

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Ishai Cohen

Skills: Water conservation, Irrigation Audits, Data interpretation/analysis, Soil conservation.

Fun Fact: As a toddler Ishai lived on a cut flower farm. His first word was tractor. While working as a gardener, Ishai learned to backcountry ski, because being in the snow is much better than being in the rain.

Ishai Cohen

Ishai has over 20 years’ experience in the landscape field, with 8 of those as an irrigation specialist. He is also a licensed landscape contractor. In 2016, Ishai returned to school as a returning adult student, first earning a Certificate of Achievement in Nursery Management at Diablo Valley College, and then transferring and graduating from UC Berkeley in 2022 with a BS in Conservation and Resource Studies, earning the departmental citation.

After graduating from Cal, Ishai worked as a Scientific Aid in the Groundwater Permitting Unit at the Regional Water Quality Control Board, reviewing groundwater discharge monitoring and reporting data.

Ishai has a deep interest in all things grass, soil and irrigation and has focused his studies on those fields.  

Jules Mackey

Lead EcoStewards Conservation Technician
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Jules Mackey

Skills: Camera trapping, California wildlife and plant identification, data management, conservation education.

Fun Fact: Loves birding, rock climbing, fashion, hiking, and cooking Filipino food.

Jules Mackey

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.

Lisa Damerel

Watershed Conservation Manager

925-690-4150

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Lisa Damerel

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 Damerel

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.

Nicole Garcia

AmeriCorps - Community Outreach and Education
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Nicole Garcia

Skills: Environmental Education, Program Coordination, Habitat Restoration, Community Engagement, Partnership Building

Fun Fact: I bring a touch of nature into my home with three adorable rabbits. Beyond nature, I love photography, ceramics, board games, and traveling.

Patty Pell, CPA

Nicole is an enthusiastic and dedicated professional hoping to make a meaningful impact while serving her community. With a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Management from UC Davis, she specialized in Ecology, Biodiversity, and Conservation with a focus in Water Science and Community Ecology. She started off her educational journey at Los Medanos College, where she found a passion for Biology, promoting environmental awareness, and fostering community connections. Nicole values balance, compassion, growth and transparency.

Patty Pell

ACCOUNTANT OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR
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Patty Pell

Skills: Anything analytical from spreadsheets, financial reports to trading.

Fun Fact: A former snow and water skier hoping to dust off the snow skis and master the stand-up-paddle board this year.  Looking to travel and hike more frequently.

Patty Pell

Patty grew up in the Pacific Northwest unaware of places where it didn’t rain daily.  Following a visit to the San Francisco East Bay Area, Patty decided to stay and finish her bachelor’s degree while enjoying some sunshine.  After obtaining her CA residency, Patty attended Cal State University, East Bay and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

Patty started her career in Sales and later switched to Marketing Research where she first used her analytical skills to make product and usage recommendations for the newly developing technology at that time--the internet.  Patty later decided to change direction and enrolled in the CAPP program at Santa Clara University.  Following the completion of the CAPP program, Patty worked for a local full-service CPA firm and received her CPA license shortly thereafter.  

Patty has been with the RCD since 2017.  Her experience with government and nonprofit audits helps to ensure the RCD stays in compliance with government and local requirements and keeps the RCD running smoothly.

These days, you may see Patty hiking the many, local open spaces with her dog, Bailey. She enjoys gardening and has been nicknamed “Produce Patty” by many of her friends.  Patty is grateful to have adopted the Bay Area has her community and is excited to be working with others dedicated to conserving the many natural resources we enjoy here in Contra Costa County.  

Victoria Woolfolk

WATERSHED CONSERVATION COORDINATOR
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Victoria Woolfolk

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 Woolfolk

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.