MARK WATKINS, President, a registered California Civil Engineer, received his undergraduate Civil Engineering degree from California State University Chico and a Masters in Public Administration from California State University Northridge. He has enjoyed a long career of public service working for the County of Kern, as the Public Works Director for the City of Thousand Oaks and most recently as City Manager for the City of Ventura. Mark retired from the City of Ventura in 2017. Mark has been an active hiker and backpacker since his youth and is also a sailor, diver, kayaker, and surfer. He and his wife Amy have lived in Ventura for more than 30 years and his three daughters were born and raised there.
SYLVIA SCHNOPP, Vice President, joined VLT’s Board of Trustees in summer of 2019. An Oxnard native who traces her Ventura County heritage back to the early 20th century, Schnopp brings a breadth and depth of experience gained over a business and community service career spanning more than two decades. She owns Schnopp Consulting Group providing consulting services to an array of businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, and is currently working on publishing a historical fiction. During Sylvia's three-term tenure on the Port Hueneme City Council as councilmember and mayor, she set the stage for the city’s 70th anniversary celebration, helped the council and city keep focused in spite of contentions, and has been pivotal in working with city and state officials to ensure shoreline protection of Hueneme Beach. Sylvia, who has an MBA from California Lutheran University and B.S. in Business Administration from Cal State Northridge, is currently a longtime adjunct business and accounting professor at Oxnard College. She has served on many nonprofit boards and currently serves as a member of the Port Hueneme Water Agency, Ventura County Council of Government (VCOG), and CA Joint Powers Insurance Authority.
DOUG TRAPP, Secretary, grew up in the West San Fernando Valley, where he often explored local hills that had no official public access. That experience continues to fuel his desire to support responsible public access to open spaces. Doug has a BA degree in Speech Communication from Humboldt State University and has been a volunteer and paid host for public radio. He began his full-time career in construction in Seattle in 1990, where he raised his daughter Jessie. In 2013, he married his long-time friend and schoolmate Mary, moved to Ventura, and gained two great bonus children, Kate and Kyle. As General Superintendent for a Ventura-based general contractor, Doug has become further connected in the community. Joining the VLT Stewardship committee in 2019, he helped with the development of the parking and maintenance areas, and trails at Harmon Canyon. When not working or volunteering, you will find Doug tinkering on the house or boat, picking on a mandolin, spending time with family and friends on the beach and on the water, or exploring the Sierras or local hills.
DON WOOD, Treasurer, joined the Board of Trustees in July, 2017. Born in Western Pennsylvania, Don spent his “wonder years” hiking and biking the hills, waterways and countryside of Ventura County. A graduate of Occidental College, Don recently completed a 34-year career in the telecommunications industry. He and his wife, Stacy, have lived in Ventura for 28+ years, where they raised their daughter, Paige. Don has been actively engaged in the community throughout that time, as a member and past President of the Ventura Education Partnership (VEP), a candidate for Ventura Unified School District Board of Education, long-time emcee of VEP’s Festival of Talent and the “Voice of Relay” for dozens of American Cancer Society Relay For Life events throughout West Ventura County. In addition, Don has lent his voice and emcee talents to dozens of other events and worthwhile causes. Don believes our quality of life is inextricably tied to the environment – our hillsides, waterways and countryside - and is proud to lead the Ventura Land Trust Board.
RUSSELL GALIPEAU worked for the National Park Service from 1978 until 2018, when he retired from the position of Superintendent, Channel Islands National Park. His career brought him to work in seven of our nation’s national parks from the tip of Florida (Everglades National Park) to the largest park (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve) to one on the most iconic parks (Yosemite National Park). He has been honored for his work in conservation as a recipient of the Stephen Tyng Mather Award by the National Parks and Conservation Association (2016) and as a recipient of the National Park Service Director’s Award for Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resources Management (2011). Galipeau was recognized as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Recovery Champion in 2015; and for excellence in leading an interdisciplinary team of resource professionals, planners, and consultants to develop the Yosemite Valley Plan and EIS by the Yosemite National Park Department of Interior Honor Award (2001). Galipeau received the George Wright Society Outstanding Natural Resources Management Award in 1997.
He currently serves on the Expert Assessment Group for the Green List (EAGL), an appointment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Russell also serves as a part-time professor at California State University, Channel Islands and as a members of the Executive Council for the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resources Conservation (wildlife ecology) from the University of Florida in 1982 and he has since returned to earn his Masters of Science in Natural Resources Policy and Administration.
JOHN KRIST retired in 2022 after 14 years as chief executive officer of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, the region’s oldest and largest agricultural association. Before joining the Farm Bureau, John worked for 25 years as a reporter, editor and Opinion-page columnist at the Ventura County Star. During that time, his commentaries on land-use policy, natural resources and environmental issues were distributed by Scripps Howard News Service and published in newspapers throughout the United States. The winner of numerous writing awards and journalism fellowships, he is the author of three books about California’s parks and wilderness areas, as well as Voyage of Rediscovery, based on his experiences retracing the Lewis and Clark Expedition trail, and Living Legacy: The Story of Ventura County Agriculture. In retirement, he continues to work on consulting projects for clients as a writer, editor, researcher and photographer. A lifelong outdoorsman, he also travels frequently throughout the West with his partner, Leslie Leavens, and publishes a travel journal online at johnkrist.substack.com. He serves on the board of House Farm Workers!, a nonprofit advocacy organization, and is a member of the Ventura Land Trust’s Land Committee. When not on the road, he and Leslie split their time between Ojai and Ventura.
DENNIS KULZER was born in Southern California and grew up participating in Boy Scouts, camping and visiting national parks with his family. He has had varied professional and volunteer careers that have taken him across the Pacific Northwest and around the world. During the 1970’s – 1990’s, he worked for the City of Los Angeles as a mechanic/supervisor, served as a volunteer Orange County firefighter and, in 1990, with his wife, Jayne, joined the Peace Corps and served in the Kingdom of Tonga as an Industrial Arts teacher and vocational training program developer. In 1993, Dennis and Jayne moved back to the U.S, where he worked as a mechanic/fleet services supervisor for the University of Washington and later, City of Bellevue, Washington. It was here that his two daughters were born. In 1995, Dennis took a leave and spent 14 months working in the Rwandan Refugee Camps in Western Tanzania. He began his service with the International Rescue Committee as Head Mechanic/Logistian and eventually ended up coordinating all programs in support of 400K refugees in the region. Dennis moved to Ventura in 2003, and for 13 years served as Fleet Services Supervisor for City of Ventura. Recently retired from the City, Dennis currently keeps busy volunteering with Channel Islands Restoration, local homeless programs, Channel Islands National Park and, of course, Ventura Land Trust! Dennis and his wife Jayne, who is a program manager of HIV Intervention and Research programs in Western Kenya, for UC San Francisco, enjoy hiking, bicycling, paddle boarding, sailing, running, camping and backpacking and their two young adult daughters.
KATE LARRAMENDY is a proud San Francisco native with a long history in the outdoor industry. While an undergrad at UC Berkeley, she skied, backpacked and climbed while working with the iconic outdoor shop, The Ski Hut, and found her calling sourcing and designing clothing from around the world that would ultimately help define the current outdoor lifestyle. During this time, she was also introduced to the urgent need to protect intact wilderness. She moved to Ventura in 1982 to begin her sixteen-year tenure as Design and R&D Director at Patagonia. She consulted with several outdoor companies before joining Santa Barbara-based Toad&Co as Director of Design & Sustainability. For years she served as their ambassador to The Conservation Alliance, engaging colleagues in conservation and advocacy and joining annual lobbying trips to Washington, DC. She currently serves on The Conservation Alliance board, whose mission is to harness the collective power of business to fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s wild places. (VLT has been a recipient of 2 TCA grants!)
As a founding member of the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, now Ventura Land Trust, Kate helped produce the Ventura Hillsides Music Festival for a decade. Kate’s husband, Roger, a lifelong Ventura native, deeply value the extraordinary quality of life we have here. When not advocating, Kate enjoys the good life – outdoors, good food, dogs, travel, natural beauty, and the surf outside her front door.
JANE MONTAGUE, a Ventura native, grew up spending time in Ventura’s hills as well as in the Sierras, Channel Islands, National Forests, and bodysurfing at the local beach breaks. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Civil Engineering, Jane is a registered California Professional Engineer and a Certified Floodplain Manager who specializes in land, earth and water. She is the 30-year owner of Lewis Engineering, the first engineering consulting firm to receive the City of Ventura’s Green Business Certification. Jane’s work allows her to advocate for the outdoors as well as support a variety of local nonprofits. In addition to serving on the Ventura Land Trust board, she volunteers with Surfrider Ventura, the Ventura Botanical Gardens, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and the Sierra Club where she has participated in and helps coordinate the Wilderness Basics Course program. Jane lives in Ventura with her husband Curt and two adult children, Sarah Jane and Jason, She has instilled in her children a great love and respect for our planet and the way we interact with it. Jane loves traveling, gardening and being outdoors and is proud to advocate for Ventura County’s natural areas that need human protection.
Andrew Powers, a native of North Carolina, has over 20 years in local government in cities spanning the East and West coasts. He currently serves as City Manager for the City of Thousand Oaks, California, an agency he joined in 2007 and held the positions of Assistant City Manager and Chief of Staff / Public Information Officer. As City Manager, Andrew is responsible for overseeing municipal operations serving approximately 130,000 residents with 381 employees and two-year Operating and Capital Improvement Budgets in excess of $214 million and $221 million, respectively. Prior to his work in Thousand Oaks, Andrew managed communications & media relations, web development, and community partnerships for the City of Ventura’s Civic Engagement Division. Andrew holds a BS degree from North Carolina State University and a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from California Lutheran University and is an adjunct professor in their MPPA program. Andrew and his wife, Ashley spend much of their free time with their five-year-old daughter and enjoy surfing, hiking, and exploring the globe.
OSMANY 'OZZIE' RIOS, a native of Southern California and has resided in Ventura for the last 10 years. Ozzie is passionate about helping his community. He volunteers with various local organizations and often finds himself teaching financing literacy classes, participating in community clean up days, and rolling up his sleeves while helping us maintain our natural resources pristine. Ozzie has served as a board member for the Westside Community Development Corporation since 2018 and is proud to have recently joined the Ventura Land Trust Board. Ozzie is a 15 year veteran in the banking and finance field and is currently working for Mechanics Bank. Ozzie obtained his BA in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004. When he is away from the office, you can find him seeking adventure in hiking our local trails, at the beach, or out an off roading adventure. Ozzie also considers himself as a lifelong student and is always seeking to quench his thirst for knowledge. If not outdoors, he can be found at your local museum or TED Talk.
JILL SHAFFER A nonprofit leader and development professional for the past 30 years, Jill has served a variety of Ventura County community organizations. She currently is the Fund Development Director at the Ventura County Community Development Corporation and previously was the Executive Director of the Ventura County Leadership Academy as well as having worked for Habitat for Humanity and several Ventura County YMCAs. Having developed an early appreciation of our natural world while hiking, biking and bird watching with her father, Jill believes wholeheartedly in the critical need for everyone to infuse nature into their lives. A mother and grandmother and accomplished multi-sport athlete, Jill is excited use her fundraising skills and community connections to elevate the work of the Ventura Land Trust and preserve our open space for future generations to enjoy.
MERIDITH THOMPSON, joined the VLT Board in March 2023. Originally from North Carolina, Meridith spent much of her youth in the outdoors climbing trees and jumping in creeks. After obtaining both her B.S. and M.S. in Accounting from North Carolina State University, Meridith began her Finance career as an auditor with Ernst & Young, and currently works in Accounting at The Trade Desk. She is also a graduate of the Ventura County Leadership Academy. Meridith lives in Ventura with her husband, Ryan, and their two children, Joanna and Arthur. In her free time, you can find Meridith out for a run, hanging out at the beach, taking a hike at Harmon Canyon or volunteering with her children’s extracurricular activities. Meridith cherishes the outdoor experiences she had as a child, and is dedicated to keeping nature open and accessible to the Ventura community.