Staff and Board
Maria Schell Hassid
Maria is proud and honored to serve as the Executive Director of the David Brower Center. Prior to joining the Center, Maria ran operations and talent for Magical Bridge Foundation, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit that builds highly inclusive playgrounds around the world. For nearly a decade, she served as the program director for Alternative Ventures for At-Risk Youth, a Marin-based nonprofit dedicated to children with parents in prison. She has a BA in Psychology from Smith College and was the valedictorian of her MBA class at UC Davis. Maria loves hiking in the Oakland Hills and trips to Yosemite Valley with her family, where she enjoys watercolor painting.
Communications and Exhibitions Coordinator
Cristina holds BA degrees in Art Practice and Political Economy from UC Berkeley, where they began a rigorous investigation of diverse visual arts modes including painting, drawing, digital projection, and installation. Cristina was a UC Berkeley Art Practice Honors Studio Awardee and has participated in various exhibitions at the Worth Ryder Art Gallery. As the Communications and Exhibitions Coordinator, they bring their knowledge of art and commitment to social and environmental justice to the Brower Center’s gallery programs. Cristina spends their spare time practicing Muay Thai and tending houseplants.
Christopher has an undeniable passion for both the musical arts and entertainment. He earned his Bachelor of Science at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco. He is a freelance music producer, artist, and live entertainment consultant located in Berkeley. Chris grew up in Dallas, Texas where he began his journey in media arts before moving to the Bay Area in 2014. He started his career in 2006 as a live sound engineer and lighting designer, and has years of experience in both live television broadcast and event production.
Topher hails from the Kern River Valley, California, but found his place in the Bay Area while attaining his BA in English with a concentration on Creative Writing at CSU East Bay. Topher greets everyone he meets with a friendly smile and a desire to be of service. His passions lie in finding common ground with the world around him through kindness and community. When he’s not at the Brower Center serving the tenants and guests of the building, Topher spends his spare time writing queer narratives, playing video games, and volunteering in the East Bay writing community.
Jackie is a lifelong Northern Californian who cut her professional teeth in the performing arts world while pursuing a degree in both environmental sustainability and gender/sexuality studies at UC Berkeley. Her diverse event production roster includes everything from symphonies to rock concerts to academic conferences. At the Brower Center, her work borrows from her entire background in order to support the events program with an eye towards equity for staff members and clients alike. Off the clock, Jackie spends her time dabbling in playwriting, dissecting horror films through a queer feminist lens, and keeping her cat Laurel from knocking things off of every available surface.
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.
Building Systems Coordinator
Sam is a Bay Area native, raised in Berkeley, California. He has always appreciated and respected the environment and nature. It was that appreciation that drew him to his first film camera to document and share our planet’s beauty. He continued to follow his lens and his heart to a degree in multimedia arts and production. His passion for the environment and love for film, photography, and production entwine seamlessly with the mission of the David Brower Center. When Sam isn’t keeping the Center’s AV systems at full strength, he spends his time hiking, playing basketball, and filming anytime a new idea takes hold.
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 BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Audio Visual Technician
Michael Thomas Boyle, also known as Benet, is a talented audio engineer and sound designer with a passion for creating immersive auditory experiences. With his sights set on working at Pixar, he aspires to lend his expertise to the magical world of animation. Beyond his technical expertise, Mike is a versatile artist who channels his creativity into directing and shooting music videos and films. He finds joy in sharing his musical talents as a DJ at the Oakland Museum of California.
Audio Visual Technician
Preston Davis, a 2023 graduate of San Francisco State University’s business administration program, is a dynamic individual with a passion for entrepreneurship. A true enthusiast for physical and mental well-being, Preston’s current activity of choice is boxing. For Preston, a perfect day involves working out outdoors with friends and embodying the balance of business and a vibrant lifestyle as he steps into the next exciting chapter of his journey.
Kerry has worked in the music and production business for over 20 years. After receiving a BA at Cal State University, Northridge, Kerry landed in the Music Business where she managed signed and independent music artists, worked on many recording projects, toured in the US and internationally, managed venues, and booked and promoted countless events. In 2009, Kerry began focusing more on Event Planning and has since produced a range of events (conferences, galas, festivals, etc.) around the Bay Area. Kerry is an Adjunct Professor at San Francisco State University in the Music/Recording Industry Program and the Event Planning Program. When not producing events or teaching, Kerry is the PTA President at her son’s school and loves traveling with her son and husband.
Hannah came to the West Coast from Atlanta in 2019 and has worn many hats in the entertainment industry. She graduated from Auburn University in Visual Media and Communications while working in sustainability leadership and joined a Bay Area music and art collective which jumpstarted her freelance videography career. She bounces between festivals, shooting on media teams and for touring artists all across the country. Outside of her own projects, she’s handling props and set decor for commercial films, whipping up a trendy recipe, throwing underground music events in the wilderness with her friends… or curled up on the office couch.
House Manager (In Memoriam)
In memoriam: Darshan Khalsa, a valued member of the Brower Center events team. We’ll keep her memory alive and forever miss her vibrant presence and warm yet no-nonsense acumen.
Audio Visual Technician
Pilar Mata, a seasoned sound engineer hailing from the Bay Area, brings a diverse skill set to her craft, encompassing live concert production, stagehand expertise, and a lifelong passion for music. Pilar is a proud alumna of UC Berkeley with a degree in music. Outside her career, she unwinds by playing guitar, attending concerts, and sharing moments with her feline companion, Diego.
Tim has been a reporter, travel writer, advertising copywriter, and publicist. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and lived in the Washington DC area before moving to California in 2000. When Tim and his wife aren’t entertaining three grandchildren, he loves live music of all kinds. He has been the volunteer coordinator at the local music venue Freight & Salvage for ten years. Tim says it’s a privilege to be working for two great organizations and the communities attached to them.
Audio Visual Technician
Christiana brings years of experience in the audio visual industry from Verducci Event Productions where she also led teams in managing and maintaining audio equipment for live events. She also brings wide-ranging skills in customer service, sales, beverage & hospitality, non-profits, lighting and event production. As the artist known as “Versoul” (aka Babii Cris), Christiana is also a multi-genre music artist, producer and audio engineer with 3 released albums. For over 11 years, she’s recorded and mastered music, performed in various Bay Area venues, and began freestyling and rapping at a young age. She studied Electronic Music at College of San Mateo, and hold an Associates of Science in Applied Audio from SAE Institute in Emeryville, California.
APRIL C. TAYLOR
April 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.
Melissa has been working as an art preparator since moving on from many years as an artist assistant for many years. She is also a practicing artist and mother who loves gardening and camping in her free time.
Margaretta has a BFA in fine arts and moved to the Bay Area to work at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2005. While there for over a decade, she honed the skills that led to a design and carpentry position for an art and music festival company. Margaretta continues to take on carpentry and upholstery projects in addition to installating exhibitions at the Brower Center. Although time is limited with the care of her young daughter, Margaretta enjoys her true passion in creating one of a kind pieces in the fiber arts.
Genevieve has a MFA from San Francisco State University where she studied Spatial Arts and New Practices. She is Director of the Art Ark Gallery in San Jose and loves adding educational and new media components to each exhibition. Her personal practice in art focuses on engagement, sound, and designing immersive environments. She loves hiking and paddle boarding with her son
Virginia earned her BA in Art History with a focus on contemporary art from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where she minored in fine art with a concentration in sculpture under the direction of Linda Armstrong. While a student at Emory, Virginia exhibited her mixed media installations throughout Atlanta and in Germany. After graduating, her work was featured in the exhibition, “Here Kitty Kitty” at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (formerly Nexus) alongside renowned artists Carolee Schneemann and William Wegman.
Since 1999, she has worked as a fine art consultant for companies in Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay Area placing artwork for hospitality, corporate and health care clients throughout the United States and abroad. She brings her passion for and extensive knowledge of contemporary art to creative art sourcing, curation, and site-specific commissions, while applying her expertise to all aspects of project management.
She served as Managing Director for Chandra Cerrito Contemporary through 2018 and currently leads as Senior Art Advisor for Chandra Cerrito / Art Advisors. Virginia is Certified to teach yoga in the lineage of B.K.S Iyengar, and is also a Certified California Naturalist.
Board of Directors
PETER K. BUCKLEY
Peter 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.
Adam is an organizational consultant who focuses on strategy, marketing and fundraising primarily for Jewish and environmental organizations. He is the Founder and former 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 daughters Shira and Maya.
KENNETH DAVID BROWER
Ken 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 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
John 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 is Executive Director Emeritus of the Earth Island Institute. He has served as Executive Director of EII since its founding in 1982. 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.