Thank you to everyone who attended our 18th annual Nature’s Inspiration, which was held virtually on Sunday, October 3rd from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. This annual celebration brings our community together to recognize the achievements of those who have dedicated their lives to protecting the natural environment and connecting people to the outdoors.
Our Nature’s Inspiration honorees this year were two individuals who have dedicated their lives to public service, community, and the environment: Blanca Alvarado and Rod Diridon, Sr. For more than half a century, these two former Santa Clara County Supervisors have dared to blaze trails that have profoundly shaped the county’s landscape, leaving an enduring legacy of environmental protection and stewardship. Read our honorees blog that shares their impacts over the years.
The power of our community and the local natural landscapes, farmlands, and parks we protect together are reasons to celebrate—even more so after the past year. We’ll also enjoy a pre-recorded message and musical performance from Grammy award-winning Indigo Girls. Every sponsorship and $150 ticket purchase includes a voucher to pick up a delicious pie from San Jose’s The Giving Pies or Beckmann Bakery available at various farmer’s market locations in the Bay Area. We’ve crafted our sponsor benefits to help you enjoy the event from home.
Nature’s Inspiration is one way in which Green Foothills highlights and supports tribes and community-based organizations. 5% of proceeds generated from the event will be shared as community grants to: the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, Rotary Club of San Jose Climate Action Committee, ¡Sí Se Puede! Collective in East San Jose, and Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (ALAS) on the San Mateo Coast. Learn more about our community grantees.
Our 2021 Honorees
A coal miner’s daughter born in Cokedale, Colorado, Blanca’s family moved to California with the hope of a better life. As a young adult, she co-hosted the first Spanish-English bilingual radio program in Northern California where she emphasized the need for the Latinx community to get involved in civic affairs and brought attention to the plight of Valley laborers.
In 1980 – after raising five children and working for the County Department of Social Services and the Center for Employment Training – Blanca entered the world of public service. A lifelong trailblazer breaking the glass ceiling for women and Latinx leaders, Blanca Alvarado was the first Latina elected to the San Jose City Council in 1980 representing East San Jose in the city’s first district election. During her 14 years on the Council, she served two terms as the city’s first Latina vice mayor and worked to address the disproportionate investment in other parts of the city. From 1995 through 2008, she served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and was the first Latina to serve as the Board’s chairperson.
Blanca is a passionate champion of the arts and spearheaded the founding of the Mexican Heritage Plaza. She worked to reduce disproportionate representation in the juvenile detention system and partnered with Cesar Chavez to create the Community Services Organization. She later championed changing the name of San Jose’s Plaza Park to Plaza de Cesar E. Chavez and creating a County holiday in Chavez’s honor. She served on many regional bodies, including Chairing the Valley Transportation Authority.
Blanca has been a lifelong conservationist and environmentalist and has used her voice and influence to secure funding for the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority. She chaired multiple campaigns in support of the County Parks Charter Fund, secured funding for trails and open space in East San Jose and throughout the County, protected Santa Clara County’s greenbelt; supported the Habitat Conservation Plan; served for 14-years on LAFCO and was a reliable board member vote to promote compact, efficient urban development while preserving the unincorporated lands for prime agriculture and open space; and served as chair of the Riparian Values Education Roundtable.
Celebrating her 90th birthday this year, she has not slowed down. She is a vocal advocate for protecting Juristac, sacred lands for the Amah Mutsun Tribe and a critical wildlife corridor southwest of Gilroy. And in 2018 she launched the environmental justice campaign to close Reid Hillview, a small airport in East San Jose that has impacted residents and students for decades with airborne lead poisoning, pollution, and noise. Her vision, and that of much of the community, is for this 180-acre site to become much-needed affordable housing, social and educational services and include wildlife habitat and a nature park.
She has received many honors and recognitions. In 2005, she was awarded the Ohtli Award by the government of Mexico and was also recognized in the United States House of Representatives for her achievements.
Green Foothills is pleased to honor Blanca Alvarado, La Madrina of East San Jose.
Rod Diridon, Sr.
After a BS and MSBA at SJSU and two Vietnam combat tours as a naval officer, Rod Diridon Sr. began his political career in 1971 when elected the youngest-ever Saratoga City Councilmember. From 1975 to 1995, he served five terms, six times as chair of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Transit Board.
A lifelong environmental champion, in 1978 Rod led three other Supervisors abruptly halting the Valley’s rampant sprawl by freezing subdivisions outside city urban service areas. He and Supervisors McCorquodale and Steinberg faced a vicious, developer-led recall and won with environmental support. He co-chaired the early 1970s County Parks Charter Fund and championed the purchase of an open space buffer around the urban areas. He is most proud of increasing the County parks from 800 to over 43,000 acres. He helped negotiate legislation authorizing and campaigned for the Valley’s Open Space Authority. In 1979, he presided over the development of the Nation’s first Integrated Environmental Management Plan and Regional Transportation Master Plan as President of the Association of Bay Area Governments.
Rod has focused his leadership on countless issues including climate, the environment, arts and culture, higher education, community organizations, and philanthropy. Perhaps of most note is his leadership for public transportation, chairing over 100 transportation and sustainability programs at the international to the local level. Upon his retirement from public office, the San Jose Diridon Station was dedicated in his honor.
Rod chaired the County’s League of Conservation Voters for almost 20 years, building the organization into a major political force that educates and endorses candidates for local office. He is a Life and Muir Society member of the Sierra Club, chairs the Silicon Valley Ethics Roundtable, and the regional Rotary Climate Action Council. He is a vocal advocate for climate action internationally and actively supports the local campaigns to protect Juristac, save Coyote Valley, and close the Reid-Hillview Airport.
Rod is proud of his daughter, counselor and composer/performer Mary “Diri” Diridon, and her children Allie and Aaron; and his son Rod Jr., an Apple Senior Manager, and daughter-in-law Sabra Diridon, a San Jose State University Senior Development Director, and their twins Avery and Roddy. Rod and his wife Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO at the Commonwealth Club, are ridiculously happy in their Santa Clara home with 32 fruit trees, a home garden, 34 solar panels, and 2 electric cars. Along with their grandchildren, the family strives diligently to sustain a wonderful future for the Earth.
Green Foothills is pleased to honor Rod Diridon, Sr., the “godfather” of transit in Silicon Valley.
O'Brien Family Charitable Fund Facebook, Inc.
Ranae DeSantisBen HammettBarbara and Seth Spalding Laura WellsLaw Offices of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthyMyrtle L. Atkinson Foundation
Anonymous (2)Peter and Sue LaTourrette Dianne and Regis McKenna Nancy and Greg Serrurier ALTAGRACIA FundBrandenburg Family Foundation Insperity KPMG Zanker Recycling
Anonymous Stephen Abbors Tamara Alvarado Barbara Bessey Linda Brownrigg Martha Cohn Lenoir Kieve Linda and Sidney Liebes Jr. Peter and Beverly Lipman Margaret and Jamis MacNiven Jeff Segall and Helen He Maxine Terner Don Weden Amah Mutsun Land Trust Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Peninsula Open Space Trust SRT Consultants
Anonymous (2) Jessica Rose Agramonte and James Principato Alfonso Banuelos Marilyn and William Bauriedel Steve Beck and Jane Baxter Stephen Boles Craig Britton and Carleen Bruins Phyllis Browning Matthew Burrows Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Supervisor, and Mike Potter, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Director Diridon Family Kaia Eakin and Bryan Beck Anna Eshoo, United States Congresswoman Mark and Lisa Fischer-Colbrie Megan Fluke and Jeff Prentice Larry and Penny Hassett Jerry Hearn and Rebecca Reynolds Gary and Patricia Hedden Cayce Hill and Joe Zullo Alice Kaufman and Scot Griffin Theresa Lyngso and Joseph McClintock Andrew Meyer Elizabeth Morgenthaler Leslie Airola Murveit and Hy Murveit Paul and Antje Newhagen Raul Peralez, San Jose Councilmember William Reller Nancy Reyering and Marty Walker Lennie and Mike Roberts Ricardo and Paloma Samaniego Katie Sanborn and Barbara Wright Roberta Saxon and Mike Sasnett Brian Schmidt and Karen Coppock Peter and Diane Siemens Joseph Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor, and Mary Hughes Carolyn Tognetti Kristen Tsukushi Terrell J. Watt and Mark Karwowski Barlow and Nancy Westcott Ciddy Wordell Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Valley Water
Katherine and Kim Aitken-Young Blanca Alvarado Lawrence Ames Garnetta Annable Ian Bain Josh Becker, California Senator Phil and Mary Bobel Greg Boro Norma Camacho and Kevin Smith Helen and Dan Chapman Patricia Cherry Terry Christensen and Ray Allen Kristina Cunningham Mike Danzenbaker and Lee Hung Paul Davis and Jade Thuma Michelle Domocol Paul and Maureen Draper Linda and Jerome Elkind Susan Ellenberg, Santa Clara County Supervisor Sandy Emerson Ronald Erskine Sarvenaz Fahimi Nancy Federspiel Jan and Bob Fenwick Teri Fernandes Pam Foley, San Jose Councilmember Linda Gass and Rob Steiner Herbert and Norma Grench Julie and Tracy Hutcheson Sudhanshu and Lori Jain Kristine Karnos Arthur Keller Zoe Kersteen-Tucker, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director, Ward 7 Virginia Chang-Kiraly, San Mateo County Harbor District Commissioner William and Katherine Korbholz Susan Kay Lang and Robert Levenson Roger and Jody Lawler Andrea Mackenzie and Jenni Martin Christopher Manning and Laura Salcido Hyma Menath Ray Mueller, Menlo Park Councilmember Kevin Mullin, California State Assemblymember Jack Nadeau Monica Nañez David Oppenheimer and Elaine Sulzberger Laura Parmer-Lohan, San Carlos Mayor Smita Patel Mary Patterson, Morgan Hill Unified School District Trustee Daniel and Helen Quinn James Reber and Debbie Webster Diane Reddy Rob Rennie, Los Gatos Vice Mayor Emily Renzel and Enid Pearson Curt Riffle and Karen Scussel Ana Lucrecia Rivera and Ricardo Neri Melissa Ropp-Lane and James Lane Kathy Schmidt Ben and Annette Segall Lubab Sheet-Davis and Jonathan Davis Joan Sherlock David Simon and Lynn Gordon Sharon and Clinton Snyder Jo-Ann and Rod Sockolov Jackie Speier, United States Congresswoman Carolyn Straub and Steve McHenry Hartono Sutanto and Tom Myers Tad and Dianne Taube Don and Cheryl Weiden Mariquita West Michelle and Will Wyman African American Community Service Agency Wisdom Revealed
Valentin has served as Chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band since 2003, and the President of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust since its inception. Chairman Lopez is a Native American Advisor to the University of California, Office of the President on issues related to repatriation. He is also a Native American Advisor to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Chairman Lopez has dedicated himself to restoring tribal indigenous knowledge and ensuring Amah Mutsun history is accurately told. Since 2017, we have worked in solidarity with Val and the Amah Mutsun tribe to protect Juristac, a sacred site and major wildlife corridor in Santa Clara County, from a sand and gravel mine.
Joseph W. Cotchett
Joe has been a champion for justice during his 50+ year legal career and a passionate supporter of the environment and specifically the Bay and San Mateo Coast. As founder and senior partner of Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy LLP, he has built his legal career representing the underdog against powerful interests as well as providing generous pro bono work. Named one of the 100 most influential attorneys in the United States for almost two decades, Joe is an honoree and member of the national Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame in Philadelphia and the State Bar of California’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.
Rue is the CEO and Founder of Outdoor Afro. Rue has passionately led Outdoor Afro, a national nonprofit organization, since it began as a blog in 2009. With more than 70 leaders in 30 states and 20,000 people in the network, Outdoor Afro supports African American community leadership in open space issues and addresses the need for greater diversity in the outdoors. Rue’s many accolades include being invited to the White House to participate in the “2010 America’s Great Outdoors Conference”, and subsequently taking part in a think tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. In 2012 and 2016, she was listed in “The Root 100” as one of the most influential African Americans in the country. Rue has served as a California State Parks Commissioner since 2014.
Steve is the retired Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District General Manager. Before his recent retirement, Steve Abbors spent a decade leading Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen)’s extraordinary work to promote open space preservation and public restoration. Founded in 1972, Midpen has permanently protected more than 63,000 acres of public land and manages 26 open space preserves in our region. Career highlights include completing a 30-year Vision Plan with extensive public support resulting in $300 million for land acquisition, restoration and public access through Measure AA. He’s most proud of reconnecting the Amah Mutsun Tribal band to their ancestral lands on Mount Umunhum through a permanent conservation easement, and opening Mount Umunhum to the public.
Joan is a musical force of nature, American folk singer, songwriter, musician and activist who has displayed a lifelong commitment to environmental and social justice activism. Joan has performed her music for over 55 years with over 30 albums in six languages. She began her career in 1960 with immediate success. Her first three albums, Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Vol. 2, and Joan Baez in Concert all achieved gold record status and stayed on the Billboard and other record album charts for two years. Songs of acclaim include ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ and ‘Diamonds and Rust.’ Other noteworthy accolades include introducing the world to Bob Dylan in her early tours, marching on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement with Martin Luther King, Jr., striking for fair wages in the fields with Cesar Chavez, singing on the first Amnesty International tour, and bringing the Free Speech Movement into the spotlight at Berkeley. On Earth Day 1999, Joan and Bonnie Raitt honored environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill with Raitt’s Arthur M. Sohcot Award on her 180-ft high redwood treetop platform where Hill camped to protect ancient redwoods in the Headwaters Forest from logging. Lennie Roberts and Committee for Green Foothills worked alongside Joan and dozens of her neighbors in 2001 to defeat a massive development proposal on the 92-acre Lawler Ranch property in Woodside. Once again Joan joined Lennie and Committee for Green Foothills worked on a collaboration with The Horse Park at Woodside to restore eroding hillsides and adopt land restoration and wildlife-friendly management techniques. In 2007, Joan received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In the end of 2016, she joined Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, where at least 200 tribes gathered to oppose the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Most recently, Joan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 7, 2017.
Margaret Abe-Koga, Mountain View Councilmember
Ruben Abrica, East Palo Alto Vice Mayor
Alicia C. Aguirre, Redwood City Councilmember
Emily Beach, Burlingame Councilmember
Josh Becker, California State Senator
Marc Berman, California State Assemblymember
Rick Bonilla, San Mateo Deputy Mayor
Virginia Chang Kiraly, San Mateo County Harbor District President
Helen Chapman, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Director
Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Supervisor
Drew Combs, Menlo Park Mayor
Rich Constantine, Morgan Hill Mayor
Dave Cortese, State of California, State Senator
Jed Cyr, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director
Devora “Dev” Davis, San Jose Councilmember
Susan Ellenberg, Santa Clara County Supervisor
Anna Eshoo, United States Congresswoman
Maya Esparza, San Jose Councilmember
Giselle Hale, Redwood City Vice Mayor
Larry Hassett, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director
Zach Hilton,Gilroy Councilmember
Sam Hindi, Foster City Councilmember
Karen Holman, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director
Sergio Jimenez, San Jose Councilmember
Ellen Kamei, Mountain View Mayor
Barbara Keegan, Valley Water Director
Zoe Kersteen-Tucker, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director
Yoriko Kishimoto, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director
Lydia Kou, Palo Alto Councilmember
John Laird, State of California, State Senator
Otto Lee, Santa Clara County Supervisor
Sam Liccardo, San Jose Mayor
Antonio López, East Palo Alto Councilmember
Matt Mahan, San Jose Councilmember
Yvonne Martinez Beltran, Morgan Hill Councilmember
Lisa Matichak, Mountain View Councilmember
Tom Mattusch, San Mateo County Harbor District Commissioner
John K. McKay, Morgan Hill Councilmember
Dorsey Moore, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Director
Ray Mueller, Menlo Park Councilmember
Kevin Mullin, California State Assemblymember
Betsy Nash, Menlo Park Vice Mayor
Laura Parmer-Lohan, San Carlos Mayor
Raul Peralez, San Jose Councilmember
Mike Potter, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Director
Lucas Ramirez, Mountain View Vice Mayor
Diana Reddy, Redwood City Councilmember
Rob Rennie, Los Gatos Vice Mayor
Nancy Reyering, Vice President, San Mateo County Harbor District
Curt Riffle, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director
Carlos Romero, East Palo Alto Mayor
Marico Sayoc, Los Gatos Mayor
Brian Schmidt, President, Midpeninsula Water District Board of Directors
Pat Showalter, Mountain View Councilmember
Pete Siemens, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director
Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor
Jackie Speier, United States Congresswoman
Rene Spring, Morgan Hill Councilmember
Greer Stone, Palo Alto Council Member
Charles Stone, Belmont Mayor
Linda G. Swan, Los Altos Hills Councilmember
Kavita Tanka, Los Altos Hills Mayor
Bill Widmer, Atherton Councilmember
Bob Wieckowski, California State Senator
Check Out The 2020 Nature’s Inspiration Recording
On Sunday, September 27 at our 18th annual Nature’s Inspiration, we honored the incredible Valentin Lopez, the highly respected Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band for his exemplary leadership of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. We enjoyed musical performances from famed musicians Raul Pacheco and Ozomatli, Neil Young, and indigenous vocalist Calina Lawrence. Prominent local leaders joined us including Muwekma Ohlone Tribes of the San Francisco Bay Area Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh and Vice Chairwoman Monica Arellano, and our Master of Ceremonies County Supervisor Joe Simitian. A portion of the event proceeds were donated to the Amah Mutsun Land Trust.