BOARD OF TRUSTEES
A native of the Sacramento valley, Elise recently returned to the area after completing college and graduate school in Washington, as well as practicing law for several years in Seattle. Her love of natural spaces emerged during childhood from frequent backpacking, skiing, and hiking expeditions throughout the Sierra Nevada. Her passion for environmental work grew while working on equity issues surrounding the environmental movement and volunteering with the Nature Conservancy as a docent at the Port Susan Bay Preserve on the Puget Sound. Elise currently serves in various capacities performing policy research and advocacy on environmental legislation in California. She views land preservation as a key ingredient for healthy and thriving communities and a crucial tool in combating the urgent threat of climate change. In her free time, you can find Elise cycling along the American River, gardening, and spending time with her husband and young son.
Jenn Phillips is a Senior Policy Advisor with the U.S. Climate Alliance, where she leads the Alliance’s natural and working lands and resilience work. Prior to this role, Jenn worked in the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) as a Senior Scientist on Climate. In this role, she worked on OPR’s climate resilience program, supported the advancement of key science and data initiatives to support the state’s climate goals, and worked at the interagency level to strengthen California’s natural and working lands goals. Prior to OPR she worked at the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and led OPC’s work on climate impacts on the ocean and coast, including on sea level rise and ocean acidification. Before OPC, Jenn worked in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator’s Office in Washington, D.C. as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow and as key staff to the Administrator. Jenn has a masters from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University. Jenn grew up in upstate New York and as a long-time ocean lover and new surfer, she is lately enjoying her time in the Sierra and foothills skiing, trail-running, and biking.
KATHERINE J. HART
Kate Hart is an attorney at Richland Investments. Ms. Hart’s primary area of practice is land use law. She represents as Land Use Counsel, and has extensive experience with the Subdivision Map Act, Mitigation Fee Act, and the California Environmental Quality Act. She has worked for both local agencies and private developers processing subdivision maps, conditional use permits, rezoning and general plan amendments, and variances, as well as negotiated development agreements and various types of easements for residential, commercial and industrial properties. Ms. Hart is a member of the State Bar of California and the Real Property and Environmental Law Sections of the Sacramento County Bar Association. She also previously served as Chair of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. She earned a B.S. degree at Santa Clara University and a J.D. at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.
Amanda Bohl is a conservation professional with experience in the non-profit, philanthropic, and government sectors and who has developed and implemented land protection plans, community relations initiatives, and collaborative, community-based efforts. Amanda currently serves as the Special Assistant for Planning and Science for the Delta Stewardship Council, the State’s lead agency in achieving the co-equal goals of water reliability and habitat restoration. Prior to joining the Council, Amanda served as the Economic Development Lead for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, Program Director for the American Land Conservancy’s Central Valley and Foothills Program, and as the Executive Director of the Mother Lode Land Trust. Amanda has a B.A. in International Studies from Southern Oregon University and an M.S. in Community Development from U.C. Davis. Amanda lives in Sacramento with her two children and enjoys traveling, running, swimming, and spending as much time outside as possible.
Rob Donlan is a partner with the Law Firm of Ellison, Schneider & Harris L.L.P. His practice focuses on groundwater and surface water rights, as well as counseling on matters involving state and federal Endangered Species Acts, the California Environmental Quality Act, and other state and federal statutory and regulatory requirements affecting water users and water managers. Rob represents public agencies and private parties before the California courts, the State Water Resources Control Board, and other administrative agencies, and advocates on behalf of water users on policy issues involving water rights and water management.
Curtis Fossum retired in 2012 as the Executive Officer of the California State Lands Commission. In that position he served on a number of boards including the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, California Coastal Commission, Delta Protection Commission and San Joaquin River Conservancy. The State Lands Commission manages over 4.5 million acres of land including the state owned rivers, lakes and the lands within 3 miles of the coast in the Pacific Ocean. Curtis worked on issues involving projects in virtually all California’s 58 counties focusing on land issues including: title, boundary, land use, leasing, exchanges and public access. Mr. Fossum is an attorney and served in a number of legal positions during his 35 years at the Commission including as it’s Chief Counsel. He currently serves as a board member on the American River Parkway Volunteer Equestrian Trail Patrol.
Cassie Gilson is a registered lobbyist and lawyer with considerable political and legal experience, having served as an attorney and political advisor to a variety of clients on issues throughout California. Before helping launch Axiom Advisors, Cassie was a lobbyist at Sacramento’s largest lobbying and public affairs firm, where she represented energy, alternative transportation, land development, consumer products, insurance, healthcare and other business interests. Cassie’s government experience includes serving as Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Gray Davis and on the legal staff of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in The White House. Before she began lobbying full time, Cassie was an attorney at the law firms of Landels Ripley & Diamond and Farella Braun & Martel where she advised clients on air, water, hazardous waste and materials, and land use laws and regulations. Prior to that, Cassie was policy and program director for the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance. Cassie holds a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a law degree from Stanford Law School. She is an active member of the State Bar of California.
Karen Kayfetz is the Product Stewardship Branch Chief at CalRecycle, where she leads a dedicated team of environmental scientists in the pursuit of a more sustainable circular economy for California. Her work focuses on implementing public policies that hold businesses accountable for the end-of-life management of their products and packaging. Throughout her career in environmental stewardship, she has dedicated herself to fostering transparency and inclusiveness in government processes, distilling complex scientific concepts for diverse audiences, and developing science-based policies to further environmental conservation and protection. Karen holds an MSc in Marine Biology from San Francisco State University and a BSc in Ecology and Environmental Biology from Brown University.
Leo Winternitz has more than 40 years experience working with California water issues including water resource management, collaborative processes and environmental aquatic restoration. He previously worked for GEI Consultants Inc. as a senior project manager and currently serves as a board member and vice-chair for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy and as an environmental caucus member to the Sacramento Water Forum. Prior to joining GEI, Leo held several positions in the California water resources arena, most recently as Delta Program Director and Senior Advisor for The Nature Conservancy. Prior to this, Leo served as Deputy Director for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, which focused on water and environmental management activities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin region. He also served as the Executive Director for the Sacramento Water Forum, a diverse group of 40 stakeholder organizations representing business, agriculture, citizens’ groups, environmentalists, and water managers who have collaboratively negotiated a regional water supply and environmental protection agreement for the American River watershed to the year 2030. Leo has also served in public office as a director and past-president of the Arcade Water District and served as a board member and past-president of the American River Parkway Foundation. Leo lives in Carmichael with his wife Brenda and in his free time enjoys visits with his three daughters and five grandchildren, bird watching, kayaking, hiking and camping.
Jay Ziegler is the Director of External Affairs and Policy for The Nature Conservancy, California. Previously, Jay was principal of a Sacramento-based public affairs consulting firm, Ziegler Associates. The firm was founded in 2003 and specializes in land use issues, regulatory concerns and political communications. After graduating from UC Davis in 1984, Jay worked in the California State Legislature and later served as Deputy Controller for the State of California from 1989-1992. Jay also served in the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt for intergovernmental affairs (1993-1996) and served as Assistant Trade Representative for Public Affairs (1996-1999). At the Department of the Interior Jay’s portfolio included coordination of strategies to advance collaborative conservation efforts between public and private concerns. In this capacity, he addressed a series of volatile and complex regional natural resource issues including as endangered species and habitat conservation, expansion of natural parks and monuments. Prior to starting his own consulting firm, Jay was the California state director for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign (2000) and then managing director, California Public Affairs Practice, for Burson-Marsteller, an international public affairs firm. Jay resides in Davis, California with his wife Carri and two children.
EMERITUS BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Russell Austin is a partner with the business law firm of Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP. He has more than 30 years of experience in private practice, specializing in commercial real estate and business law. His work has included a number of large, complex conservation transactions for non-profit conversation organizations including the American Land Conservancy. He has served as an Adjunct and Visiting Professor at McGeorge School of Law and as a Lecturer at UC Davis School of Law. He holds a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara and a J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley.
Cydney G. Bender-Reents, MAI is principle in charge of the firm of Bender Rosenthal, Inc., (BRI) a Sacramento based real estate appraisal, right of way (ROW) acquisition, and relocation firm specializing in appraisal services, right of way management, and right of way planning for small and large government and private infrastructure projects. Ms. Bender Reents’ professional experience in real estate appraisal began in 1991 and encompasses a broad range of land uses and property types. As a member of the Appraisal Institute, she earned the (MAI) designation, and is a Certified General Real Estate Appraiser, in the State of California. Prior to her career in real estate, Ms. Bender attended California Polytechnical State University in San Luis Obispo, majoring in Agricultural Business Management. Upon graduation, she entered the commercial construction field as a Project Manager for a Sacramento based general contractor. Her unique real estate background enables Ms. Bender Reents to grasp complicated construction issues as they relate to right of way projects and valuation matters.
Lynn Sadler is currently the Director of Government Affairs for the California Public Utility Commission. Previously, she was Executive Director of Science and Collaboration for Connected Wildlands, formerly known as South Coast Wildlands, and the Mountain Lion Foundation, a national wildlife protection organization. Other professional experience includes Natural Resources Director for the Planning and Conservation League, Assistant Director for Information and Policy Coordination at the California State Department of Personnel Administration, and Legislative Consultant for the California State Senate Joint Committee of Science and Technology. A twenty-five year veteran of advocacy campaigns across the nation, Lynn ran her own public affairs consulting firm, working for diverse efforts ranging from the President of the United States to city council candidates, and the Olympics to local charities. Lynn co-founded and performs with the Sacramento Choral Society and serves on several local, regional and statewide Boards of Directors. Lynn graduated University of Missouri and Pennsylvania State University with degrees in political science and journalism.
ROBERT J SLOBE
Bob Slobe is the President of the North Sacramento Land Company. He is active in the community and has served as president of the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the B Street Theatre board and remains active with many other nonprofits in the community as well. Bob graduated from Stanford University, and has a Master’s degree from The American Graduate School of International Management. Bob’s love of the outdoors is reflected in his hobbies of tennis, running, skiing, hunting and travel and spending time restoring habitat on the family ranch in Colusa County.
Dick Troy is former Deputy Director for Operations for California State Parks. He was responsible for overseeing the management and operation of more than 265 state parks, reserves, historic sites and recreation areas. Dick has a BA in Geography/Biology from San Diego State University. Dick also serves on the Board of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, the Anza Borrego Foundation and is the President of the California Recreational Trail Conference Foundation.
Chris Unkel currently works for American Rivers as Director of Conservation, Central Valley River Restoration on floodplain expansion and other issues. He was formerly Director of Public Policy for the Western Region of Ducks Unlimited and a Senior Field Representative for The Nature Conservancy, Cosumnes River/Delta Project. And, prior to that he directed the California Wildlands Program for the California Department of Fish & Game (a start up interpretive program for the state’s major public wildlife areas). He also served as a consultant for the Assembly Resources, Land Use and Energy, and Water Parks and Wildlife Committees. He holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University and a B.S. from the University of Montana.
SACRAMENTO VALLEY CONSERVANCY STAFF
Kelly is a Northern California native who grew up camping, backpacking and sailing with her family in the Sierra Nevada range. She began working for the Conservancy in 2008, and has served as Executive Director since 2018. Kelly serves on the American River Parkway Advisory Committee, Water Forum II – Public Caucus, Rancho Murieta Fire Safe Council, and CSUS RPTA Advisory Committee. Hopkins earned a B.S. in Organizational Communication Studies from California State University Sacramento. When she’s not working, Kelly’s favorite outdoor activities include cycling, trail running, stand up paddle boarding and keeping up with her free-spirited children.
Sue was born in the Bay Area and raised in Auburn. She has more than 25 years in Business Management in the medical, real estate and accounting fields. She has earned an AA from Sierra College, a California Real Estate License, and is a registered CTEC with the IRS. Sue enjoys multiple outdoor activities including running, cycling and kayaking. As an avid distance runner, she spends at least 5 days a week along the American River Parkway. Sue volunteers several times a year to the parkway clean up as a way to give back to the community. She cares about the environment, protecting open spaces and is excited to be a part of the SVC team.
Eric grew up in Ventura County, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Hydrological Science and Policy from the University of California Santa Barbara. While earning his degree, Eric worked as an intern with the Santa Barbara Channelkeepers coordinating a volunteer-based water quality monitoring program for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. His passion for the outdoors has taken him on many backpacking, snowboarding and climbing adventures around the world, including a 7-year residency in the mountains of Summit County, Colorado. Eric has been back in California since 2017 where he enjoys mountain biking, backcountry snowboarding, fishing, hiking and paddleboarding with his wife and dog Tino. He served as SVC’s Stewardship Specialist before his promotion to Stewardship Director and is dedicated to SVC’s mission to maintain the beauty and biodiversity of the Sacramento valley.
AIMEE B. RUTLEDGE
Aimee Rutledge was the Executive Director of the Sacramento Valley Conservancy from 1996 to 2017, and now focuses on acquisitions. Previously, Ms. Rutledge helped found the Friends of the Sacramento River Greenway, worked with the American Institute of Architects, California Council as Director of Governmental Relations, and ran her own consulting firm, ABR Services, serving as legislative advocate for the California Bicycle Coalition and performing outreach and advocacy services for various other clients. She holds a BA in History from Pomona College and is a graduate of Sacramento High School. Ms. Rutledge is also a Commissioner Emeritus on the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Vice President and Senior Lands Specialist of The Wilderness Land Trust, and Acquisitions staff at the California Tahoe Conservancy.
COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING DIRECTOR
Amy was raised in the Bay Area and moved to Sacramento in 2007 after graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Zoology and minor in Geological Sciences. She served a year in AmeriCorps through the Sierra Nevada Alliance and focused on helping rural communities coexist with wild predators. Amy has a graduate certificate in Environmental Policy and Law, and also worked for the Mountain Lion Foundation and Sacramento Zoo. In 2015, as part of National Geographic’s series Mygrations, she became one of the first Americans to walk across the Serengeti, and completed the treacherous trek with no weapons or modern gear, and on less than 400 calories per day! Amy has always had a passion for protecting wildlife and wild places, and is proud to be a part of the SVC family.
Steve Schweigerdt has been working in conservation in Northern California for 20 years and has a diverse background including PG&E watershed land conservation with the Stewardship Council, urban parks for San Francisco Parks Alliance, trails and greenways with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, restoration with Sacramento Tree Foundation, and acquisition and development work with private infill developer LJ Urban. He is excited to help preserve land around Sacramento with SVC and is leading an effort to make Sacramento a National Park City. Steve likes juggling many projects and shepherding them along to completion.
Steve grew up camping and hiking in the Sierra Nevada and loves to explore off the beaten path in the less popular wilderness areas. He earned a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is certified as a Project Management Professional. Outside of work Steve loves to mountain bike, ski, kayak, play tennis, and try new things!
Lucie joined SVC in November 2011. Lucie is a biologist whose love of plants and the outdoors resulted in a degree in environmental studies and biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She moved on to a career as a field biologist and botanist for various government agencies and environmental consulting firms. Lucie also works for the Sacramento Splash program where she shares her love of vernal pool ecosystems with children and their families. Lucie enjoys spending her free time traveling to new places to hike, bike and enjoy the outdoors.
CAMP POLLOCK MANAGER & STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
Tim graduated from California State University, Sonoma with a B.A. degree in Environmental Studies, as well as minors in Biology and Geography. Tim has experience as a veterinary technician’s assistant and raising Guide Dogs for the Blind. Tim has done volunteer work with the Sonoma Land Trust and Leave no Trace and is very excited to be a part of the Sacramento Valley Conservancy team. In his spare time Tim enjoys backpacking, sailing and being in the great outdoors.
Carly grew up the daughter of an avid fly fisherman in the suburbs of Los Angeles County. Outdoor recreation like rock climbing, surfing, camping and fishing were always considered special and necessary activities in her life. After receiving an AA Degree from Fullerton College, she transferred to Sacramento State University to study Recreation Administration with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation. During college Carly worked at Peak Adventures, the outdoor education program at CSUS, providing program support. Before graduating she completed an internship with the Bend Parks and Recreation District in Bend, Oregon. Since receiving her Bachelor of Science Degree Carly has worked in the field of aging planning programs. While living on a 6-acre property near the Cosumnes River she began to develop a new appreciation for land conservation and the importance of protecting wild space. As a member of the SVC team she is grateful to be doing work that will leave a legacy for future generations.
Travis has a wide range of work experiences that have afforded him the luxury of narrowing in on his passion for nature and the outdoors. He joined the military after graduating high school and has since worked in various industries including landscaping, towing, plant care and tree care. After earning his Associates in Natural Science from Sierra College, he is currently majoring in Plant Sciences at UC Davis. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, fishing, backpacking, camping, and trying out new hobbies. Growing up in the Sacramento valley, Travis spent his childhood playing with friends in the field behind his neighborhood. That open space allowed him to build friendships, explore new games and hobbies, and ultimately, to grow and develop. Understanding the importance of nature on his own development, he has joined the Sacramento Valley Conservancy in their mission to protect natural landscapes for future generations.
ADMINISTRATIVE & ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT
Applications will be reviewed as received. The position is available 6/6/2023 and is open until filled.
Contact: Kelly Hopkins, Executive Director Sacramento Valley Conservancy