The Committee for Green Foothills Advisory Board is a close circle of expert advisers to the organization. It is a select group of former board members, longtime donors, and community thought leaders. Our Advisory Board leverages the experience and network of people who love Committee for Green Foothills in order to raise our profile, increase our effectiveness, and expand our reach to different fields and communities.
A native Texan, Lauren came to the Bay Area in 2010 with a family that's passionate about engaging with and protecting the natural world. She has been an active member of the Silicon Valley progressive community for the past 8 years. After receiving a BS in Psychology and Social Action, Lauren began working with regional nonprofits on a variety of social justice issues. She brings more than a decade of marketing and community experience to her work at Palo Alto Housing, a local affordable housing nonprofit where she manages the City of Palo Alto Below-Market-Rate (BMR) rental and ownership programs, Mountain View Employee Homebuyer Loan Program and most recently, the City of Mountain View’s BMR rental and purchase programs. A recent graduate of CGF's Community Advocates Leadership Academy, Lauren is delighted to be part of the advisory board and lend any help she can in the endeavor to use land well.
Chuck Cantrell has been a resident of the Bay Area for several years (with a brief stint living outside of the US in Bath, UK). He first moved to Mountain View from St. Louis, MO, where he grew up in 2007. He and his wife Claudia now live in San Jose where they have found a pleasant balance of urban areas and open spaces. Chuck works as a Director of Commerce Strategy Consulting and has spent more than 25 years working with retailers and consumer product companies helping them find market based solutions that optimize their businesses. Chuck counts himself as lucky to live in such a beautiful area that he can share with his wife and dog Luci. The father of 3 adult children, he hopes to one day have grandchildren to enjoy time with in some of the open spaces CGF works tirelessly to protect.
Los Altos Hills
Kit was born and raised in Illinois and learned about the fragility of groundwater basins from her grandfather, an Agricultural Engineer. She moved to the Bay Area in 1983, excited to apply my Chemical Engineering education to the booming semiconductor industry. Motivated to contribute more to the industry, Kit earned a MS in Electrical Engineering and an MBA. As the first employee at QuickLogic, she had the opportunity to develop new technologies and was awarded several patents on amorphous silicon antifuse devices. Along the way, she met and married Tony Alvarez and turned her attention to their home in Los Altos Hills. The birth of their daughter, Isabel, inspired Kit to start an organic skincare company to protect her against the dangerous realities of drugstore products. The beauty of the hills and bounty of wildlife guided Kit to learn about native plants, water conservation, and stewardship of our watershed. She is honored to serve on the board of Grassroots Ecology and volunteers with a variety of organizations including Committee for Green Foothills to protect and restore our watersheds. Kit is especially interested in Lehigh Quarry activities and the restoration of Permanente Creek. When not exploring a creek or a native landscape, you’ll find her practicing flamenco guitar.
Since 1985 Press Agent Lee Houskeeper’s News Services/San Francisco Stories has been recognized as one of the most effective public relations companies in Northern California. His clients include Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy and civil rights attorney John Burris. Lee Houuskeeper specializes in producing well-attended Press Conferences for his clients. In the past year alone Lee Houskeeper’s News Services has drawn every major local & national television, radio & newspaper to over 30 successful Press Conferences including Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy’s environmental case of the of city of Oroville lawsuit against the state of California for the failure of the Oroville Dam, the Paradise, and Wine Country Wildfires and also spearheaded the media effort for the Surfrider Foundation v. Martins Beach case, that after a successful five-year battle, finally opened Martins Beach to the public.
East Palo Alto
A Bay Area native, Melissa's childhood in Marin County was a pastoral joy. Feeling a deep connection to the natural world has been at the center of her life and has guided her career. Melissa has extensive community organizing experience, enjoys mentoring, and loves a challenge. Since 2003 she has been leading efforts throughout the Bay Area to protect parks and open spaces through ballot measure campaigns, policy advocacy, and community building. Locally, Melissa has served as the Chapter Director for the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Conservation Program Director for Greenbelt Alliance; currently she is the Strategic Partnership Manager for Santa Clara County Parks. She also is a board member of the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters. Melissa has enjoyed being a partner of Committee for Green Foothills on many campaigns and knows that we can save Coyote Valley (and much more)!
Since 1977 Margaret has lived on 80 beautiful acres in San Mateo County where she raised her three sons in their alternative energy house – solar electricity and no TV! Together with her husband, Margaret has owned and managed Buck’s Restaurant in Woodside since 1991. She was on the board of Committee for Green Foothills from 2005 to 2013, and has continued volunteering as chair of the Development Committee.
Chris was born and raised in San Jose, where he regularly hiked and explored the surrounding foothills and parks. In addition to working for years in the local grocery industry, he’s been a Summer Camp Counselor at Hidden Villa in the Los Altos Hills and volunteered as an Educational Docent at History San José. As a student of history and the environment, Chris deeply appreciates the hard work that people and organizations like Committee for Green Foothills undertake to preserve and protect natural spaces for posterity. Currently, he works in the tech industry on intellectual property issues, and spends his free time learning about and enjoying the Bay Area.
Laurie Jones Neighbors
Laurie Jones Neighbors moved from the wide-open plains of West Texas to the awe-inspiring coast of the Bay Area thirty years ago, and she remains as passionate about protecting farmlands as she is about conserving wild spaces. She brings a special dedication to transforming structural barriers impacting low-income communities and communities of color to her work, and has a professional and educational background in environmental justice.
Laurie served as the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Bay Area regional environmental justice organization Urban Habitat, where she was the architect of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI). Prior to her work at Urban Habitat, Laurie taught in and directed a number of academic programs for under-represented students. As part of her commitment to the environment, she serves as a member of the board for TransForm, a California policy and advocacy organization that promotes walkable communities with excellent transportation choices in order to connect people of all incomes to opportunity and help solve our climate crisis.
Laurie's favorite activity is getting out of the city with her watercolors and easel and recording her own impressions of our gorgeous California landscapes.
Smita was born in India and grew up in San José, California. In 2002, she and her cousins in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya launched the Mountain Children's Foundation, which works to empower young people in mountain regions to transform their own communities. She also volunteers as a mentor for foster youth and is involved with a number of other nonprofit organizations working here and abroad. She is humbled by the natural beauty around us and passionate about protecting our wilderness and its inhabitants — especially the South Bay's unique and beautiful Coyote Valley.
She is deeply grateful for the work Committee for Green Foothills has done to protect our open space and for its Community Leadership Academy (CALA), which opened up a treasure trove of new ideas, skills and experiences. She is excited to help Committee for Green Foothills with these and its other initiatives.
Dan grew up in San Jose and has a PhD in Physics from Stanford. He has lived in Portola Valley since 1977, and has long enjoyed hiking and camping in the Bay Area and the Sierras with family and friends. As his career progressed from academic high-energy physics, through Decision Analysis, to financial engineering and risk management, he maintained his interest in the environment; retired, he now has more time to focus on the legacy we will leave future generations.
Dan has served on the boards of Hidden Villa and Acterra, as a guide with Hidden Villa’s Environmental Education Program, and as a Jasper Ridge docent. He has supported Green Foothills for years. An avid photographer, he contributes his nature photographs to several conservation organizations. His photographs are at CaptureTheLight.Zenfolio.com.
Dan is awed by the legacy of Green Foothills and wants to help advance its mission in the future.
Robert grew up in Sunnyvale during those years when orchards and farmland formed a contiguous greenbelt to the adjacent Cities, Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains. His father was a Civil Engineer specializing in land development and worked on marking the Bay to Sea Trail up Stevens Creek with Semiperverins. During Robert’s involvement with the De Anza College California History Center, he wrote chapter 1 of The Cupertino Chronicles on the history of the wineries on Montebello Ridge.
Robert graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in the Political Economy of Natural Resources. During his last quarter, he did a work study on Coyote Valley with Greenbelt Alliance. That was 40 years ago. He realized his dream of being involved in land use planning when he was appointed to the Sunnyvale Planning Commission and then elected to the Sunnyvale City Council. He also previously served on the Board of the Committee for Green Foothills.
As a real estate appraiser, his professional activities have included work in eminent domain, arbitration, flowage easements as well as being jointly retained by local government agencies and land owners to help the parties agree to a sale price for open space land through mediation and without the necessity of eminent domain. He has had the opportunity to serve on the Santa Clara County and City and County of San Francisco Assessment Appeals Board, quasi-judicial bodies which adjudicate real and personal property assessment disputes between property owners and the Counties.
He currently serves as the Chair of the Land Use Committee of the San Jose City Council Evergreen District 8 Community Round Table, a non-profit community group. He found myself in the thick of the San Jose No on Measure/Yes on Measure C campaign which resulted in meeting the enormously wonderful and effective Megan. The campaign was an unexpected, intense and incredible experience which has resulted in me once again getting involved with Committee for Green Foothills.
Katie and her partner, Barbara, have lived gratefully on the Coastside since 1990, enjoying the wide open spaces, ocean and beaches, trails and trees, and opportunities for cycling, hiking, sailing and boogie-boarding and simple contemplation. Finding an ally in Green Foothills – and, originally, Lennie Roberts – they have spoken up against inappropriate developments and embraced efforts to preserve open space and supported the organization’s development efforts. Katie and Barbara have also volunteered as Peninsula Open Space Trust easement monitors for a large ranch on the Coastside for more than a decade. In addition to her work as editorial director for an investment research firm, Katie also serves as the chair of the board of trustees of Mills College in Oakland and on the board of the Istituto Italiano Scuola in San Francisco.
Charlie Tomberg grew up in the green, wooded suburbs of New England where he learned an appreciation for the natural world and spent many happy hours hiking the trails near his house. He has lived in the greater San Francisco Bay Area for almost thirty years and has experienced many of the parks and natural wonders the area has to offer. After a successful career in the computer industry, he transitioned to working in the philanthropic sector, earned a Masters degree in Philanthropic Studies and started the Tomberg Family Philanthropies, his family’s charitable foundation.
Charlie brought his lifetime passion for the outdoors and the environment to this work by establishing support for environmental projects as one of the Philanthropies’ top funding areas. He has also served on the Foster City Parks and Recreation Committee, completed an internship at a local land trust, and volunteered for several other nonprofits. Charlie loves to travel and to be exposed to different places and cultures. This has strengthened his passion for preserving the natural beauty of the Bay Area.
Watt leads initiatives focused on climate-resilient solutions for the biggest challenges of our time: urban sprawl, natural and working lands conservation, and growth of healthy, thriving communities for all. She works with local and state leadership to bring transformative approaches to such pressing challenges as the October 2017 Wine Country Firestorms, where partnerships have formed to accelerate production of a range of housing choices, not just in the fire zones, but in infill areas where housing production has been lagging. Durable and significant results of her work include the permanent protection of over 243,000 acres (90 percent) of the Tejon Ranch through agreements between environmental organizations and the Tejon Ranch Company, combined urban growth boundaries and transfer of development credits to grow the City of Livermore up and conserve high value natural and wine producing lands beyond, and a sales tax measure generating hundreds of millions for conservation in Orange County. She was instrumental in forming the Council of Infill Builders and is an active Board member on two major California Conservancies, Santa Lucia and Tejon Ranch. Professional memberships include Lambda Alpha International, the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Planners. In her spare time, Terry’s passions extend to hiking, swimming, sailing and gardening.Being a part of Committee for Green Foothills' mission advances her personal mission to conserve California’s open spaces, farmlands and natural resources while building up better neighborhoods and communities for all.
Bill and his young family moved to the Bay Area from Michigan on his daughters first birthday in 1972 as he pursued his career in high tech manufacturing management. They moved to Palo Alto in 1978 following the birth of their second child.
Walking and enjoying open spaces has been an important part of family life for the Whitmers. This was especially important while their children were young as they tried to pass appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and understanding our place in it on to the next generation. It’s a joy for them to see these values being passed to their grandchildren.
Following retirement in 1997, Bill took the opportunity to volunteer for a variety of non-profits with emphasis on environmental and service organizations. He was a board member and Treasurer for several years at Committee for Green Foothills and Committee for Green Foothills Action. He is currently a trustee at Hidden Villa. Jan and Bill enjoy traveling to the worlds natural places where they enjoy walking, scuba and learning about other cultures. Other interests include theater, modern art and jazz music.
As a member of the advisory board, Bill hopes to share his experience in financial management and strategic planning with Committee for Green Foothills. He believes that preserving and defending the open areas of the Bay Area is very important in these days of increased pressure on environmental protection. “We live in a very special place. Preserving it for the appreciation and education of future generations is a very important part of our duty as citizens”.