Leadership

LAURIE RICH bio image

LAURIE RICH
Executive Director

With a background of over 20 years in the private, corporate, and nonprofit sectors, Laurie brings a wealth of experience and depth of knowledge to directing the Brower Center. A Brower Center stalwart since 2010, Laurie has overseen the conference center, facility management and served on its executive leadership team. After a wide-ranging career, from managing gaming conferences at the Moscone Center to planning gala parties for a SOMA nightclub, she sought a return to the change-making nonprofit sector. Since joining the Brower Center team, Laurie has found it to be the perfect combination of her love of building community and leading a organization dedicated to inspiring change. The Hazel Wolf Gallery also has a great floor for her other love—tap dancing.

Staff

DEIRDRE ASHBY bio image

DEIRDRE ASHBY
Administrative Manager

Originally from Huntington Beach, California, Deirdre moved to the Bay Area in the mid 90’s by way of New York City, where she earned her B.A. in Dramatic Literature, Theater History & the Cinema from New York University. After spending ten years in elementary education, Deirdre transitioned to the non-profit sector, first as Chapter Coordinator of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter, and then as an Administrator with ODC Dance. Having studied dance, voice and acting from a young age, Deirdre is passionate about the performing arts and is active as a performer and choreographer. In her free time, Deirdre can be found either hiking with her dog Iris, attending the theater or at the ballpark rooting for the SF Giants!

ROLANDO CHAN bio image

ROLANDO CHAN
Facility Assistant

Rolando has been a dedicated member of the Brower Center team since the day it opened in 2009. Prior to that, he worked at BMW as an assistant mechanic. Rolando grew up in Mexico and now lives in San Francisco with his wife and young son.

DIANA DOMINGUEZ bio image

DIANA DOMINGUEZ
Events Director

Originally from Minneapolis, Diana landed in the Bay Area in 2010, and the Brower Center in 2011. She has been shaking things up in various roles within our conference center ever since. Diana’s background has been focused in performing and visual arts production and programming, primarily working with organizations who use the arts as a tool for social change and community dialogue. This made the transition to environmental work and events management with the Brower Center a natural fit. When not at work, you can find her growing the world’s hottest chili peppers and dreaming up the next award-winning internet cat video with her partner Aaron at their home in East Oakland, where they happily reside with their two cats, Nacho and Taco.

KEITH EVANS bio image

KEITH EVANS
Preparator

Keith is an artist and activist who has been working and performing in the Bay Area for 25 years. A jack-of-all-trades, he makes a living as an art presentation technician, preparator, exhibition designer, massage therapist, and audio-visual technician. Co-creation has been a core element of his own artistic practice, having founded the experimental cinematic trio silt in 1989 and participated in many artist collaboratives, most recently with Thingamajigs performance group. His work has been presented in galleries, museums, and cinemas all over the world, including MOMA, LACMA, SFMOMA, and the Whitney Biennial in 2002. As a volunteer, he has had the honor of taking Oakland youth on backpacking excursions into the Sierra Nevada wilderness. He lives in Bolinas with his wife and son.

RICARDO HERNANDEZ bio image

RICARDO HERNANDEZ
Chief Building Engineer

Ricardo Hernandez brings over 30 years of experience in all facets of building engineering, and a passion for environmental conservation, to the Brower Center. Ricardo is skilled in property management, construction, fire/life safety, building code compliance, and a multitude of other useful skills for a complex building like the Brower Center. As our Chief Building Engineer, he is dedicated to enhancing our building for visitors and resident organizations every day. Ricardo is a San Francisco native who enjoys classic cars and taking his wife cruising around the Bay Area in his 1965 red Buick Skylark convertible – ask him to show you a picture!

JACKIE HURLEY bio image

JACKIE HURLEY
Events Coordinator

Jackie is a born and bred Californian who has been poking around outdoors since she was in diapers. This led to a love of ecology and environmentalism she’s very excited to bring to the Brower Center. While at school at UC Berkeley, she earned her BA in Integrative Biology with a minor in Gender and Sexuality in Performance. When not elbow deep in event work, Jackie can be found burrowing through local thrift stores, hiking through every redwood grove she can find, and investigating East Bay breweries.

NADYA LATEEF bio image

NADYA LATEEF
Events Coordinator

A Berkeley native, Nadya’s passion and participation in the performing and creative arts world has been the cornerstone for her work in event planning, coordination and production. With an immense love of languages, diverse cultures, and travel, Nadya earned her B.A. in Italian studies with a dance minor from CSULB. Upon her return to the Bay Area, Nadya dove deep into the world of events and community, gaining experience in live music, corporate and non-profit events, and co- Founding Breaking Ground Productions, a boutique event production company focused on connecting community through arts, music and cultural events. When not at the Brower Center, Nadya can be found planning her next international adventure, and stretching it out at her favorite yoga spot.

DAN LAWRENCE bio image

DAN LAWRENCE
Audio Visual Coordinator

A native to the Bay Area, Dan has been involved with audio production for over 15 years. He enjoys working with creative people and is always excited about starting new projects. Besides working with sounds, he enjoys wrenching on his motorcycle.

JENNY SMREKAR bio image

JENNY SMREKAR
Communications & Development Manager

Jenny is a native Oregonian and proud resident of the Bay Area. After receiving her MA in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University, she moved to San Francisco and began her career in nonprofit fundraising at the San Francisco Art Institute. Since then, Jenny has worked for numerous arts and education institutions around the country, including The Girls’ School of Austin (TX) and her alma mater, Oregon State University (Go Beavs!). Working for the Brower Center, with its focus on art, education, and the environment, is a perfect combination of her professional and personal interests.

SHUSHAN TESFUZIGTA bio image

SHUSHAN TESFUZIGTA
Community Engagement Coordinator

Shushan Tesfuzigta is a Bay Area native currently residing in Oakland. She has spent the last five years working in arts and education as a teaching artist, academic advisor, and administrative assistant. She is dedicated to closing education gaps and bringing quality arts programming to her many communities. Shushan is an alum of California College of the Arts where she began exploring work at the intersection of craft, urbanism, and sustainability. She has featured work and participated in galleries, residencies, and fellowships at Root Division, Alter Space, YBCA and Recology SF. She is happy to have found another home at the David Brower Center, expanding her community of people working towards a more equitable and green world.
ELLEN WHITTOM bio image

ELLEN WHITTOM
Senior Advisor

Ellen is delighted to rejoin the amazing and dedicated Brower Center team as a Senior Advisor after spending several years as the Center’s first Director of Finance and Operations. Ellen came to the nonprofit sector following 20-year career in municipal government management. She served as the Assistant City Manager in Emeryville, managing the City’s financial and administrative functions, and also held positions in several other East Bay cities, including Oakland, Albany, Dublin and San Leandro. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Ellen has lived in the Bay Area since 1983. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.

Events Team

KERRY FIERO bio image

KERRY FIERO
House Manager

Kerry has worked in the music and production business for over 20 years. She has managed signed and independent music artists, worked on many recording projects, toured the US and internationally, managed venues, and booked and promoted countless events.  After leaving artist management in 2009, Kerry started Fiero Flair, a company that produces events to educate and inspire musicians and aspiring music business professionals. Kerry is a passionate supporter of 51Oakland, an organization working to get music and art into the curriculum of Oakland public schools, and is also an Adjunct Professor at San Francisco State University in the Music/Recording Industry Program and the Event Planning Program.

TATIANA GELFAND bio image

TATIANA GELFAND
House Manager

Tatiana brings over 10 years of experience managing events, stage managing, and assisting in the production of film festivals, performance showcases, ballets and more. She has worked in numerous off-off & off-Broadway productions in NYC. As a co-producer & event manager for Red Productions NYC, she helped put together various theater, music, and art events. In the Bay Area, she has supported film festivals, theater & electronic music productions, and founded the Soma Salon, a performing arts salon in San Francisco. When she’s not at the Brower Center, Tatiana can be found teaching Pilates, creating theater, filming a web series, or hiking the boundless nature of California.

ALEX KEERD bio image

ALEX KEERD
Audio Visual Technician

Alex is a Bay Area native with an immense passion for music. He earned a certificate in Sound Design and Electronic Music Production from Berklee College of Music. Since then, he has connected with a group of equally passionate musicians who together throw events around the city. Alex spends most of his free time in the studio writing music or assisting in planning events and releasing music. With a background in AV, Alex’s positive attitude and professionalism help keep Brower Center events running smoothly.

DARSHAN KHALSA bio image

DARSHAN KHALSA
House Manager

Darshan Khalsa is a professional life coach and management consultant – and she loves getting to work with people and organizations to transform their lives and accomplish their purpose! She holds nearly 20 years experience in management, organizational development, operations, and event planning and has held leadership roles at several racial and social justice nonprofit organizations. Currently, Darshan is the Chair of the Board of Directors at Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), an amazing organization that works with young people to discover their own power and transform it into social and political action. Darshan grew up in Vacaville, lived in Washington, DC for 11 years, and has called the East Bay home since 2014. She enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, and wandering with her feet and her mind.

GARRETT LORIA bio image

GARRETT LORIA
Audio Visual Technician

Garrett grew up in Orange County but has called the East Bay home since 2010 when he relocated to attend UC Berkeley. When not involved with behind-the-scenes event production, Garrett is on stage as a club, corporate, and special event DJ. His biggest passion, music, began at age five with piano lessons. He eventually launched an electronic music career after falling in love with underground dance DJing, music production, and studio recording. Garrett’s expertise behind the soundboard and upbeat personality keep his events running smoothly, and his love for progressive art keeps Berkeley his favorite place to be.

APRIL C. TAYLOR bio image

APRIL C. TAYLOR
House Manager

April C. Taylor is an event and theatrical professional who has worked throughout the Bay Area for over twenty years. April is passionate about environmental awareness and considers it an integral part of her identity. She is thankful to work at the Brower Center, a place that unites these two passions: event production and environmental education/justice. April is also a devoted dance and theatre teaching artist who leads classes for families, young children, and K-12 students. She is a faculty member at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center and Yoga Alameda. April loves meeting new people and “hosting” events of all sizes: intimate dinner parties to multi-day weddings, parties or conferences. You can learn more about April at her website.

Board of Directors

PETER K. BUCKLEY
Founder, President

PETER K. BUCKLEY initiated the David Brower Center, and has led as President since its inception. He co-founded the Center for Ecoliteracy in 1995 after a career as CEO of Esprit-Europe and Esprit-International, and an earlier career as an attorney in San Francisco. He is co-founder of Greenwood School, a K-8 school with an environmental emphasis, in Mill Valley, California. He also serves on the boards of Conservation Land Trust and Conservacion Patagonica.

ZENOBIA BARLOW

ZENOBIA BARLOW is the executive director and cofounder of the Center for Ecoliteracy. She has led the Center’s grant making, educational, and publishing programs since its inception. A pioneer in creating models of education for sustainable living, she leads the Rethinking School Lunch, California Food for California Kids, and Smart by Nature initiatives. Barlow is coauthor of Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence (Jossey-Bass, 2012). She coedited Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World (Sierra Club Books, 2005) and Ecoliteracy: Mapping the Terrain (Learning in the Real World, 2000). She serves on the board of directors of the David Brower Center and is a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute. She also served on an international team of experts that advised the Bhutan government on integrating Gross National Happiness principles into education.

ADAM BERMAN

ADAM BERMAN is the Executive Director of Urban Adamah, a community farm and environmental education center in West Berkeley. Prior to founding Urban Adamah, Adam served as the Executive Director of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center (2002-2008), a progressive Jewish retreat center and community in the Connecticut Berkshires. For three years (1996 – 1999), Adam served as the Director of the Teva Learning Center, the leading Jewish environmental education program in the United States. He holds an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A in Environmental Studies from Brown University. He currently lives in Berkeley with his wife Deena and daughter Shira.

KENNETH DAVID BROWER

KENNETH DAVID BROWER is the oldest son of David Brower. His earliest memories are of following his father down various trails in the wild country of the American West. He is a free-lance writer specializing in environmental issues and the outdoors. He is a regular contributor to the Atlantic Monthly, Audubon, Smithsonian, various National Geographic publications, and other journals. He is the co-author of a half-dozen books and the author of 13 more, among them The Starship and the Canoe, Wake of the Whale, A Song for Satawal, Freeing Keiko: The Journey of a Killer Whale from ‘Free Willy’ to the Wild and most recently The Wildness Within: Remembering David Brower.

JOHN FLORES
Treasurer

JOHN FLORES has 30 years of administrative and managerial experience in municipal government. As City Manager of the city of Emeryville for 19 years, he was prominent in the long- and short-term planning of the city’s future and instrumental in the redevelopment and cleanup of numerous toxic sites in that city. He was previously with the city of Oakland for 11 years, serving in increasingly responsible administrative roles leading to the position of Deputy City Manager. John has a masters degree in public administration from Golden Gate University and an undergraduate degree in social science from San Jose State University. In his retirement, he is active on several nonprofit boards in his favorite fields of education, environment, and the arts. A longtime Oakland resident, in 2015, John temporarily came out of retirement to serve as Interim City Administrator under new mayor Libby Schaaf.

JOHN A. KNOX
Secretary

JOHN A. KNOX is Executive Director Emeritus of Earth Island Institute. He began with Earth Island as a volunteer in 1984, and began serving as Executive Director in 1985. Having begun his environmental work at Friends of the Earth in the early ’80s, John has had a key role in consolidating and expanding Earth Island’s unique organizational model for growing environmental leadership, integrating public education and membership building with project development/sponsorship and youth leadership support. John received his B.A. in psychology from Antioch College in Ohio.

DAVID W. ORR

DAVID W. ORR is professor and chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College. At Oberlin, he directed a collaboration of students, staff members and some of the most innovative designers and architects in the world. Together they designed and built the Environmental Studies Center, a building selected as one of 30 “milestone buildings in the 20th century” by the U.S. Department of Energy. He is a contributing editor to Conservation Biology, the author of The Last Refuge: Patriotism, Politics, and the Environment in an Age of Terror, The Nature of Design, Earth in Mind, and Ecological Literacy, and coeditor of The Global Predicament and The Campus and Environmental Responsibility.

DAVID PHILLIPS

DAVID PHILLIPS is Executive Director of the Earth Island Institute. He has served in that capacity since 1985. David specializes in international marine wildlife conservation, directing the Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project, with staff in the US, Thailand, Mexico, Philippines, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ivory Coast and Italy. In 1995, David founded the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, successfully overseeing an ambitious international campaign to attempt the first rescue, rehabilitation and release of an orca whale to its native habitat in Iceland. Mr. Phillips was a cum laude graduate in biology from Colorado College.

NANCY SKINNER

NANCY SKINNER represents California’s 9th Senate District, which includes the cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Oakland, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, Rodeo, San Leandro and San Pablo. A social justice advocate, energy and climate change trailblazer, and accomplished legislator, Skinner completed three terms in the State Assembly. Senator Skinner began her public service in 1984 as the first and only student to be elected to the Berkeley City Council. On Council Skinner introduced the nation’s first Styrofoam ban and co-founded an international association of cities, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. After her term on the City Council, Skinner served as Executive Director of ICLEI’s US office and International Director of ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection program which engaged cities worldwide to take action to stop climate change. Skinner is a past member of the East Bay Regional Park District Board, a former small business owner and an advocate to increase women in elected office. She served on the Board of the East Bay Women’s Political Caucus and launched the statewide Women in Power Pac (WIP Pac) to support Democratic women.