Jamison Watts, Executive Director
Jamison is thrilled to be with the team at Santa Lucia Conservancy and working with the entire community to advance The Preserve’s model of environmentally compatible development. He brings over 20 years of experience providing vision, leadership, and technical expertise in the protection and stewardship of land and other natural and agricultural resources.
Most recently, Jamison served for seven years as Executive Director of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT). Much of Jamison’s work at MALT involved interacting with stakeholders and landowners in Marin County. He worked closely with a community of more than 80 farming and ranching families, directed and oversaw a 20% increase in West Marin’s protected farmland, and led a capital campaign to protect the region’s working lands, helping raise over $28 million in private donations.
Prior to that, he led the Northern California Regional Land Trust, based in Chico, for six years. Earlier, Jamison served as a climbing ranger with the U.S. Forest Service on Mount Shasta and a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Jamison has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Biology with an emphasis in Conservation Biology from UC Davis and a Master of Science degree from CSU, Chico in Biological Sciences. He lives with his wife and daughter in Carmel Valley, where he enjoys exploring the Santa Lucia’s with the family dog, Honor, and playing in the ocean.
Susan Giles, Director of Business Operations
With over 20 years of business and marketing experience in the environmental field, Susan brings a huge skill set to the Conservancy to keep it running as healthy and well-balanced as The Preserve ecosystem. Susan started her career as an Art Director for Foote, Cone and Belding in New York City. Moving on with her life and career, Susan worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Education Department on her Master’s thesis after she spent several years in the Caribbean as a scuba instructor. In 2007, Susan started a consulting business with her husband working with commercial existing buildings to help make them more resilient, efficient and sustainable. During this time, she also raised her son Oliver. Susan came to the Conservancy in 2019 and fell in love with the people and the land. She and her family live in North Monterey County where they self-built their own resilient and sustainable home. In her spare time, Susan enjoys swimming and spending time in the kitchen canning the fruits of the season!
Rodrigo Sierra Corona, PhD., Director of Ecological Management
Dr. Sierra Corona is a conservation scientist with over 15 years experience researching and implementing conservation practices on endangered landscapes and biodiversity. He is a native of Queretaro, Mexico and completed his Ecosystem Management doctorate in 2016 at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, working in the Chihuahuan Desert native grasslands. There he took part in the designation of the Janos Biosphere Reserve, protecting one million acres of grasslands and forest in Northern Mexico. His PhD project describes the ecological interaction of black tailed prairie dogs and domestic cattle, challenging the longstanding view of prairie dogs as an undesirable species. Rorigo has worked on the recovery of Black Footed Ferrets, American bison, prairie dogs and jaguars and is currently involved in the understanding of the US-Mexico border wall effects on wildlife. He brings both an academic and in-practice perspective to the Conservancy’s Ecological Management Program, which safeguards the ecological integrity and resilience of the Santa Lucia Preserve through the development and implementation of science-based adaptive management strategies. Designed around climate change adaptation and resilience with special attention to wildfire patterns, drought scenarios, ecosystem connectivity, and biodiversity, Rodrigo is responsible for overseeing our biological monitoring and research, restoration, and conservation grazing programs.
Brian Woodward, PhD., Conservation Ecologist
Dr. Woodward has conducted ecological monitoring and research across the western United States, from subalpine environments of the Rocky Mountains to fire-affected coast redwood forest communities of the California Central Coast. A passionate teacher, Brian previously served as an advisor for the NASA DEVELOP Program, where he mentored dozens of students and young scientists in ecology and landscape-scale monitoring. Brian received his B.A. in Environmental Studies from Sonoma State University and studied landscape ecology and remote sensing for his M.S. in Forest Sciences. For his PhD., Brian was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship in Ecology at Colorado State University, where he studied the response of California forest communities to environmental change. In his role as the Conservation Ecologist at Santa Lucia Conservancy, Brian develops and leads biodiversity monitoring protocols and environmental research, manages and develops institutional partnerships, engages in outreach, and advances the mission of the Conservancy through the implementation of sound science. When not in the field, Brian enjoys camping, hiking, cooking, and being in and around the ocean.
Sabine Cudney Valenzuela, PhD., Conservation Science Technician
Dr. Cudney Valenzuela is an ecologist and conservationist passionate about sustainable management. Having grown up at a deforestation front in one of the last cloud-forest remnants of Mexico, she was moved to understand the complex effects of habitat loss and to find solutions where humans and nature can coexist. She received her B.Sc. in Biology and her Ph.D. in Landscape Ecology at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. For her doctoral dissertation, she studied the direct and indirect effects of habitat loss on tropical arboreal mammals at the Lacandona rainforest, Mexico. She has taken part in multiple ecological conservation projects in Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico and, most recently, California. As a Conservation Science Technician at the Conservancy, Sabine is responsible for assessing the distribution of the endangered Smith’s blue butterfly across The Preserve and setting the foundations to develop future restoration strategies.
Shane Stillinger, Bookkeeper
Born and raised in Pacific Grove, Shane has developed a passion for the unique splendor of California’s Central Coast region. Shane studied horticulture, propagation, and landscape design at Monterey Peninsula College and developed his skills in business administration and statistics at California State University in East Bay. As the Bookkeeper at Santa Lucia Conservancy, Shane is able to combine his passion for numbers, supporting his community, and environmentalism. When Shane is not crunching numbers, he enjoys gardening, listening to his record collection and making his famous chicken parmesan for his wife.
Jenna Allred, Senior Manager, Climate Change Adaptation
Jenna received her BS in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity from University of California, Davis and has over 10 years experience in ecological conservation and land management. With a leadership role on the Ecological Management Team, Jenna is responsible for researching, developing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies across our programs and projects. Jenna also oversees restoration efforts on The Preserve’s grasslands and forests and development of Openlands Management Plans (OMPs), which restore and enhance habitat on easement-encumbered properties. When she isn’t helping foster a system in which native plants and wildlife can thrive in the face of climate change, she can be found making delicious sourdough baked goods, crushing bunny hops on her mountain bike, or adoring her cat, Kuzon.
Jackson Brooke, Restoration Manager
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Jackson attended the University of Minnesota where he received a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Following graduation, he monitored bats for an environmental consulting company and then worked to restore the Walker Lake watershed in rural western Nevada by removing invasive plants and reintroducing native grasses and shrubs. Responsible for the development and implementation of grassland and forest restoration efforts, Jackson manages the treatment of invasive species, prescribed fire, post-fire recovery efforts, and supervises several seasonal restoration technicians. When he isn’t tackling invasive species, Jackson spends much of his time hiking and playing or watching sports.
Claudio Núñez, Conservation Grazing Manager
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from The University of Michigan, Claudio began working in bars and restaurants across the US. It was while working as a cheesemonger in San Francisco that he discovered the earth-shaping potential of conservation on working lands. For over 6 years, Claudio has worked on farms, ranches and wineries across the country and in Europe. As the Conservation Grazing Manager, Claudio leads program development, planning, and implementation of the day-to-day operations that facilitate the use of cattle for land management. Claudio works with program associates to help move cattle through the undulating grassland landscape and collects vegetation and soil data in support of the Program’s goals and objectives. In his spare time, Claudio enjoys hiking, overeating, and making crafts.
Andrew Evans, Conservation Grazing Associate
With a BS in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from UCLA, Andrew is passionate about promoting coexistence between people and the environment through conservation, restoration, and sustainable practices. He grew up in Hawaii, worked on a trail crew in Denali National Park, participated in a field study program in Iceland, researched marmot behavior in the Rocky Mountains, studied the morphology of dog skulls in Los Angeles, and interned at an organic farm in Tennessee. Andrew practices what he preaches by incorporating sustainability into every day life: eating a kelp, shellfish, and plant-based diet, avoiding plastic at all costs, and engaging with indigenous ecological knowledge.
Andrew Nguyen, Stewardship Manager
Originally from Fairfax County, Virginia, Andrew received a B.S. in Biology concentrated on Ecology and Environmental Biology from James Madison University. Afterwards, he attended UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management where he conducted research on how beaver dam-building could support water resource management in New Mexico, earning him a Master of Environmental Science and Management degree. Since then, he has served as an AmeriCorps member to protect Vermont’s watersheds and most recently worked to connect artists with the natural beauty of the Santa Cruz mountains. He is excited to join the Santa Lucia Conservancy team and looks forward to how he can continue finding solutions for people and the natural world to help each other thrive.
Izaac Tompkins, Stewardship Associate
Born in Kansas City and raised amongst the splendor of the Ozark Mountains and Lake of the Ozarks, Izaac developed a life-long love for conservation. He earned his B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he formed a bond with the unique ecosystems and endemic plants of California’s Central Coast. Before joining the Conservancy, he worked as an Environmental Assistant with the County of San Luis Obispo Public Works to conduct the research, monitoring, and mitigation of roads and bridge projects throughout the County. He is incredibly excited to move further up the Central Coast and protect such rich biodiversity. In his free time he enjoys hiking the coast, roller-skating, and trying new food trucks.
Alix Soliman, Communications & Outreach Coordinator
Originally from Illinois, Alix earned her B.A. in environmental studies concentrated in international law and policy from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. She comes to us with over 6 years of experience in writing for, editing, and designing various newspapers, law school magazines, and nonprofit websites. In her previous role at a steelhead conservation nonprofit in the Pacific Northwest, Alix developed a multi-tiered approach to provide more organizational clarity and engagement through digital and in-person communications. Passionate about land conservation and community building, Alix is thrilled to support the Conservancy’s mission by elevating its transparency and status in The Preserve community and beyond. Her work at the Conservancy involves developing digital and print resources, hosting events, building partnerships, and managing the website, newsletter and social media platforms. After hours, Alix can be found rock climbing, skiing, longboarding, hiking, and reading.
Ellie Stoermer, Seasonal Restoration Crew Lead
Ellie grew up and went to school in the Pacific Northwest. She received a B.S. in Terrestrial Ecology and a minor in GIS from Western Washington University. Between then and now, they’ve worked all over. They have interned with Audubon Dakota, serving coast to coast in two AmeriCorps terms doing fuels reduction in the west and river monitoring in the east, and most recently worked as a volunteer Biology Technician on Midway Atoll in the Pacific doing wildlife monitoring and habitat restoration. Ellie loves getting to know new places through their landscapes and plant communities and then taking what she learns with her. This season she’ll be leading the restoration crew in the field as they work to manage invasives on The Preserve.
Evany Wang, Seasonal Restoration Crew Member
Born and raised in sunny California, Evany developed a deep appreciation for all things natural, from the mountain tops to the ocean floor. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but has felt that her talents and passion lie more in conservation and engaging others to enjoy the natural environment with her. After graduating, Evany became a certified dog groomer before completing two AmeriCorps terms along the West Coast. There, she learned restoration methods and plant identification, as well as community engagement and environmental education. Now, Evany is back in California to start the field season with the Santa Lucia Conservancy’s restoration crew! Her hobbies include tabletop games, scuba diving, and camping.
Jane Weichert, Seasonal Restoration Crew Member
While earning a BS in Ecology and Evolution and a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Jane worked in a coastal prairie soil lab studying how droughts affected invasive species survival. Now that she has joined the Santa Lucia Conservancy Restoration Crew, Jane is excited to help remove and manage invasive species on the Preserve. In her free time she enjoys backpacking, reading, and exploring.
Sophie Heny, Seasonal Restoration Crew Member
Born and raised on a small farm in Charlottesville, Virginia, Sophie has been deeply invested in conservation from an early age. She has carried this passion far and wide: from Vermont, where she received a BS in Environmental Science with a concentration in Conservation Biology and worked with invasive pests in an Agroecology and Evolution lab, to Mongolia, where she studied and published work on Daurian Pika rangeland interactions. Now in California, she is excited to dive headlong into the field season. In her free time, Sophie enjoys hiking for months and months, reading, and writing poetry.