Our small and dynamic team is dedicated to conservation of the Santa Lucia Preserve. Meet the staff:
Christy Wyckoff, PhD., Deputy Director/Interim Executive Director
Christy has been with the Conservancy, leading our science program since March of 2014. In her current position as the Deputy Director, she continues to directly conduct and manage the science and research elements of our programs, she also supervises our stewardship program and easement monitoring program. We track, evaluate and adapt our programs through extensive monitoring of wildlife populations, botanical diversity, soil health, stream flows and the overall health of ecological processes. Christy received her BS in biology from Stanford University, chased feral pigs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville for her MS and delved into the molecular world of chronic wasting disease in elk at Colorado State University for her PhD. She jumped at the opportunity to move back to her home state of California in 2014 and immerse herself in the applied side of conservation ecology with the Conservancy.
Since early April, 2020, Christy has also been serving as the Interim ED while a nation-wide search for our next ED is underway. Her focus is to keep the day to day of our organization on track, support the entire team and continue to advance our objectives of maximizing and supporting biodiversity across the Preserve and engaging and advancing partnerships with the Preserve landowners, Clubs and Community Services District for the continued vitality of the Preserve landscape.
When not romping though grasslands for research Christy is outdoors hiking, climbing, mountain biking or skiing.
Rodrigo Sierra Corona, PhD., Director of Stewardship
Ecologist by training, conservationist by heart and cattle rancher by accident, Rodrigo’s mission within the Preserve is to bridge the gap between cattle grazing, grassland management and science. Rodrigo works with the Grazing Technicians to help move our restoration cows through the undulating grassland landscape; at the same time, he monitors the program collecting vegetation and soil data. Rodrigo has worked in rangeland and wildlife conservation for 14 years studying and addressing the integration of livestock grazing and conservation in endangered landscapes. During his bachelor’s degree at Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro he studied black bears and had his first biologist position following jaguars in Northern Mexico. He then joined the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Ecology Institute’s Arid Grasslands Conservation Program in Janos, Chihuahua. There he took part in the designation of the Janos Biosphere Reserve; half a million hectares of federally protected lands in Northern Mexico. His PhD project on the Janos Reserve describes the ecological interaction of black tailed prairie dogs and domestic cattle, challenging the longstanding view of prairie dogs as an undesirable species. He stays connected to Chihuahua through his assistance to the grazing cooperative he helped establish and running his own cattle. He is excited to bring both his academic and his in-practice perspectives on grasslands, livestock and conservation ecology to the Conservancy’s Conservation Grazing Program.
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!
Jenna Allred, Natural Lands Manager
Jenna received her BS in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity from University of California, Davis. Her work has never taken her far away from the protection and restoration of native species of California wildlife. From identifying and preventing the spread of invasive species impacting butterfly habitats in Antioch, to maintaining the natural beauty of Catalina Island with weed-management programs, to mapping and treating invasive wildlife along the Colorado River, Jenna has a broad history of ecological conservation and land management. As the Conservancy’s weed guru, Jenna is on a mission, sniffing out opportunistic non-native plants before they expand their occupancy on The Preserve. When she isn’t helping foster a system in which native plants and wildlife can thrive, she can be found making delicious sourdough baked goods.
Lindsay Cope, Conservation Program Manager
Lindsay is enthusiastic about her work at the Conservancy and proud to be part of a team dedicated to this unique geography. Lindsay’s role with the Conservancy is dynamic – her scope includes Openlands easement and construction monitoring, communications, GIS, and liaising with landowners, contractors, and partners. She also manages the Preserve Fuel Management Standards, a biodiversity sensitive approach to defensible space.
Originally from Maine, Lindsay came to Monterey to pursue her Master of Arts in International Environmental Policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. As a Master’s candidate, she completed a two-year practicum in the Philippines as a Peace Corps Volunteer, where she worked closely with rural coastal communities to enhance local capacity for marine protected area management. Her field work focused on improving livelihoods, food security, and coastal resilience, and implementing coastal ecosystem restoration projects for coral reefs and mangroves.
Lindsay brings insight from her community-based conservation and protected area management experience around the world to The Preserve. In addition to her conservation expertise, Lindsay is a linguist and speaks Mandarin Chinese, Tagalog, and Spanish.
Leslie Dorrance, Senior Conservation Grazing Adviser
Leslie was raised in Carmel Valley. After working on her husband’s family ranch for 32 years growing grass for the ranch’s cow herd, she is deeply interested in conservation grazing. The Dorrance family has a conservation easement on their family ranch. They are committed to practicing good grazing management to provide grass for their cattle and diversity in their rangelands. Leslie is thrilled to be a part of the Conservancy’s grazing project. She believes that cattle and grazing are a good tool for restoring health to land that has been rested for long periods. Along with her dogs, Leslie brings her love and knowledge of the land and livestock with her to work every day.
Dayna Cormany, Conservation Grazing Technician
Dayna is a recent graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno where she received her bachelors degree in agricultural science with a minor in rangeland ecology. Over the course of her college career, Dayna grew deeply interested in rangeland and livestock interactions and knew she wanted to pursue a career in it. Although she spent the last few years in Nevada, she is a Northern California native. She grew up in the Sierra Valley on her family’s ranch, where she developed her passion for working with livestock and being out on the land. She is excited to utilize her education and hands on experience to help grow the conservation grazing program, while continuing to learn along the way!
Phoebe Hering, Conservation Grazing Technician
Phoebe is a recent graduate from an Erasmus Mundus Master’s in cultural studies and modern languages. Her focus was romance languages and the cultural resilience of communities practicing small-scale organic agriculture, and she is excited to leave the stacks and be back in the field! A Pennsylvania native with a B.A. from Cornell University, Phoebe is looking forward to enriching her understanding of the complex place that is California. Phoebe has also worked as a hiking, bike-touring and horseback guide and spent the better part of a year working on a cattle ranch where the Rockies meet the plains in New Mexico. While she is looking forward to bringing her social science background to the grazing team, Phoebe is most excited about learning from her teammates and the one-of-kind setting that they call their office.
Jackson Brooke, Restoration Technician
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 caught bats for an environmental consulting company then made his way to southern Nevada where he spent time doing ecological restoration work. Prior to joining the Santa Lucia Conservancy in early 2020, he was working in rural western Nevada where he planted and irrigated native grasses and shrubs and controlled invasive weeds as part of the efforts to rehabilitate and restore the Walker Lake watershed. He is excited to take on the challenges that come with learning how to best combat invasive plants in a new ecosystem and is looking forward to leading the seasonal field crew as they work to reduce weeds around the Preserve. When he isn’t working, Jackson spends much of his time hiking or playing and watching sports.
Natalie Shuman, Wildlife Technician
Natalie began working with the Conservancy as an intern, assisting with any project that needed extra hands. She checked owl and kestrel nest boxes, helped with pond sampling, and tried her hand at bird banding. She is currently employed with the Conservancy as our Wildlife Technician, assisting the science program with wildlife surveys, data collection, management and analysis and community outreach.
Christy Fischer, former Executive Director
It is hard to overstate the Conservancy’s accomplishments with Christy at the helm. When she arrived in 2011, the Conservancy had just four staff members with limited program capacity. Through Christy’s leadership, the Conservancy staff has grown to a vibrant team of 14 conservation, education and science professionals. Read more about Christy’s accomplishments here.