Working Board and Advisory Board

The Collaborative will be governed by two Boards who have different roles in the pursuit of the mission and work of the Collaborative: the Advisory Board and the Working Board.  All serve as volunteers to the Collaborative, except that revenues from contributions, grants, and contracts may be used to reimburse the core staff, Program Leaders, Project Coordinators, and others as consultants on funded projects.

The Advisory Board members represent Collaborative Partners and community interests, and their primary role is to advocate for public awareness and community support for enhanced children and nature experiences. Members are:

  • Chris Zirkle, Deputy Director, and Sue Pelley, Senior Ranger, Open Space Division, City of San Diego (shared)
  • Ellen Kaye Gehrke, Ph.D., Professor, School of Health and Human Services, National University
  • John Mead, President, Adventure 16
  • Leslie Ryan, Landscape Architect Program Director, New School of Architecture
  • Meredith Houle Vaughn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Science Education, SDSU
  • Nan Kaufman, M.D., Retired Pediatrician
  • Nancy Taylor, Science Education Director, SD County Office of Education
  • Ron Swaisgood, Ph.D., Applied Animal Ecology Director, and James Danoff-Burg, Ph.D., Conservation Education Director, Institute for Conservation Research, SD Zoological Society (shared)
  • Slader Buck, Deputy Refuge Manager, San Diego Wildlife Refuge Complex, US Fish and Wildlife Service

The Working Board roles are to periodically review and revise long-term goals and strategies, develop and implement annual program of work and projects, seek funds and other resources to implement approved projects and sustain the Collaborative, and provide internal communications, networking, and administration of the Collaborative.  Working Board members are:

  • Anne Fege, Chair
  • Lilian Cooper, Secretary
  • Ellen Kaye Gehrke, Treasurer
  • Brian Moehl, Youth Program Leader
  • Ilisa Goldman, Nature Places and Spaces Program Leader
  • Janice Swaisgood, Families Program Leader
  • Jennifer Douglas, Communications Leader and Health Program Leader
  • Leta Bender, Education Program Leader
  • Cindy Moore, Member-at-large
  • Crystal De Soto, Member-at-large
  • Leanne Teiper Jacobson, Member-at-large

Bio-Sketches of Board members

Anne Fege, Ph.D., M.B.AChair fege at
Anne's thirty years of accomplishments in natural resources management encompass biodiversity and habitat conservation, nature education, urban forestry, wildland fire ecology and education, wilderness management, research, and technology transfer.  Anne is Adjunct Professor at San Diego State University, retired Forest Supervisor of the Cleveland National Forest, and an active Girl Scout volunteer.

Lilian Cooper, Secretary
Lilian serves as a Trail Guide in Mission Trails Regional Park and teaches a writing program for her Saturday Nature Club hikes for ages 8 - 12 there.  She is a retired teacher and has a highly Qualified Elementary and Secondary Teaching Credential, under the No Child Left Behind program.

Ellen Kaye Gehrke, Ph.D., Treasurer
Ellen is professor of Community Health in the School of Health and Human Services at National University. She has over 25 years experience working as an organizational consultant, trainer, and advisor for numerous companies. Her work with people and human systems spans the private and public sector, universities and international organizations in the USA and several European countries.  Ellen first trained as a wildlife biologist, now raises horses, and brings students to her ranch to work in partnership with the horses. 

Leta Bender, M.A. Education Leader
benders2 at
Leta has almost 40 years of experience in developing curriculum, teaching environmental studies K-12 in both public and charter schools, organizing enrichment programs and field trips, and advising after-school clubs. She has California lifetime secondary and elementary credentials and has taught in grades K-12 as a science specialist.  Leta now volunteers as a coordinator of the Master Gardener School Garden Program and is a steward for the National Wildlife Foundation.  [or co-chair]

Janice Swaisgood.  Families Leader 
janice at
Janice is a teacher and the founder of Family Adventures in Nature.  She provides leadership and support to establish and maintain San Diego County families’ engagement in nature, and is working to recruit and foster the development of community-based groups, organize and publicize regular outings in nearby nature, maintain a calendar of events, and recruit families for outings through both casual contact and formal presentations about families and nature.  Her committee provides informational resources on how and where to connect families to nature, and work with other groups that organize family-based activities.  

Jennifer Douglas.  Health Leader 
jennifercdouglas at
Jennifer has over 25 years experiences in news media production, marketing communications, and project management, relating primarily to health and policy in San Diego, New York, and Washington, D.C. She has worked for organizations such as CNN, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and MedImpact.  She is the founder of the San Diego Sierra Club family meet-up group and is a trail guide at Mission Trails Regional Park. 

Ilisa Goldman, L.A. Nature Places and Spaces Leader
Ilisa is a California-registered Landscape Architect, practicing in San Diego for nearly 10 years. She currently teaches at the New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego. Since studying under and working with Robin Moore at the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina Sate University, Ilisa has combined her passion for design, environmental education, permaculture, and ecology by specializing in the design of children’s outdoor play and learning environments. Ilisa is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Ilan Lael Foundation, California Native Plant Society and is a steward for the National Wildlife Foundation.

Brian Moehl.  Youth Programs Leader 
moehl at
Brian is Education Coordinator of the San Diego Audubon Society.  He has experience in environmental studies, natural history, education, event management, film and video production, and small business management.  He has worked with students from kindergarten through the twelfth grade, presented educational programs to adults, coordinated events, provided educational programs to increase knowledge and restoration of the region’s canyons and creeks, and has worked with adults and children as a consultant in health, physical fitness, and nutrition.  Brian is a certified Trail Guide/Naturalist at Mission Trails Regional Park and is Vice President of Programs for the Trail Guides. 

Cindy Moore.  At-large Member
Cindy worked as professional staff and camp director and is now an outdoor trainer and long-time volunteer for the Girl Scouts of San Diego-Imperial Council.  She is an avid song leader, outdoor skills expert, and organizer of work days at Girl Scout Camps Winacka and Whispering Oaks near Julian.  Cindy leads camp accreditation teams for the American Camp Association, and serves as a trainer for camp directors and accreditation teams.

Crystal De Soto, M.A.  At-large Member
As the founder of Local Point of View Nature Tours, Crystal is pursuing her passion to connect children to nature through recreation, academics, and community service. Crystal manages a small core of naturalist guides that share her passion for connecting children to nature. Through Local Point of View Nature Tours, Crystal has also found a niche to apply her 15 years of boots-on-the-ground experience in experiential informal science education to provide interpretive guide trainings that specialize in working with youth outdoors as well as providing nature based program management and consultation.

Leanne Jacobson Teiper, M.A.  At-large Member
Leanne has managed applied research studies for over 15 years, and has seven years of experience working with at-risk populations including abused children, juvenile delinquents, homeless youth, impoverished families, schools and communities, and mentally ill adults. Leanne uses her doctoral training in developmental psychology to optimize programs through evaluation methods as well as provide research practices consultation and applied research management.