Our Team

Staff

Greg Pepping

Greg Pepping

Executive Director

Greg has brought stability and growth to CWC since 2009 by working with the board of directors, donors and partners to wisely implement organizational strategy and manage all programs and staff. Greg’s drive to make sustainable improvements to healthy watersheds stemmed from his work as a Peace Corps volunteer working on  water and sanitation in Uganda and carried into his graduate work in water chemistry at University of Wisconsin at Madison. Greg won a NEXTie award in 2014 for his leadership in the formation of the San Lorenzo River Alliance. He served on the City of Santa Cruz’s 2014-15 Water Supply Advisory Committee, currently serves on the City’s Planning Commission and is the chair of the County of Santa Cruz’s Commission on the Environment.

Mollie Behn

Mollie Behn

Education Coordinator

Mollie directs CWC’s Watershed Rangers education programs for Santa Cruz County schools focusing on watersheds, climate change, and sustainable practices in collaboration with city and county partners. She is passionate about connecting people to the natural world and inspiring protection of our natural and human community. Prior to joining CWC Mollie managed experiential learning programs in the Pacific Northwest and worked for the National Park Service for seven years including serving as an Interpretive Park Ranger, in research and development for National Park Service-wide education programs and as Special Assistant to the NPS Deputy Director. Mollie holds a Masters of Education in Environmental Education from Western Washington University and a B.A in Public Policy from University of California at San Diego.

Alev Bilginsoy

Alev Bilginsoy

River Scientist

Alev coordinates CWC’s water quality monitoring and river restoration programs in order to empower citizen scientists and to increase stewardship of the San Lorenzo River watershed. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Alev grew up exploring the mountains and deserts of Utah. It was her love of the Wasatch and the mighty Colorado and Green rivers that drew her to watershed management. Alev graduated from the University of Utah double majoring in Environmental Studies and City and Metropolitan Planning. Prior to joining CWC, she worked with the Utah Division of Water Quality performing headwater nutrient studies in the assessment of land use policy.

Laurie Egan

Laurie Egan

Outreach and Development Manager

Laurie leads CWC’s strategic communications, manages organizational fundraising and produces community events. Prior to joining CWC in 2013, Laurie worked on a statewide campaign to reduce toxic flame-retardant chemicals with Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles and the Center for Environmental Health. Laurie is co-chair of the Emerging Leaders Circle of Santa Cruz County and was recognized as 2016 Emerging Leader of the Year. She earned a B.S. in Environmental Analysis from Harvey Mudd College.

Armand Ruby

Armand Ruby

Technical Director

As CWC’s Technical Director, Armand provides guidance and oversight for CWC’s monitoring programs and other science-based activities. Since 1992, Armand has provided water quality consulting services as a contractor to public agencies and non-profit organizations throughout California. He also served on the AB 982 PAG (which developed the state’s 303(d) Listing Policy, the TMDL Policy, and SWAMP) and as Chair of the CASQA Monitoring and Science Subcommittee, and currently sits as the municipal stormwater agency representative on the CA Water Quality Monitoring Council. Together with staff of the CA Water Boards and others, he’s also working on developing a statewide pesticides and toxicity monitoring framework under “STORMS”, the new statewide stormwater strategy. Armand has worked with CWC for over 10 years as a board member, interim director and today as an independent contractor to the organization.

Tucker Hirsch

Tucker Hirsch

Environmental Educator

Tucker helps bring CWC’s Watershed Ranger program to Santa Cruz County schools. She has been teaching environmental programs for over ten years on both coasts. Her educational roles have brought her on sailboats, to beaches and into classrooms. Tucker lived in Germany and China where she explored and communicated the environmental challenges and successes the regions face. When she’s not at CWC, Tucker develops science curriculum through her own business, Thinc Green. She enjoys teaching and writing about the environment to inspire others to understand the world around them. Tucker believes that it is through this understanding that students of all ages will come to love and look after their habitat.

Board of Directors

Greg Larson
Greg Larson
Chair

Bio coming soon.

Stuart White
Stuart White
Treasurer

Stuart White is Sr. Director of Tax, Treasury & Trade at Plantronics, a pioneer in intelligent headset technology. Santa Cruz County has been home to Plantronics for over five decades, and we consider the coastline and surrounding waters our neighbors. As members of this coastal community, the company is deeply committed to promoting environmental health, reducing its environmental footprint, and being a socially responsible corporate citizen and community partner. As a member of the board of the Coastal Watershed Council and Plantronics’ representative, Stuart is eager to help revitalize the nearby San Lorenzo River in an effort to increase its use for recreation and public education, as well as improve the quality of the main water source for the city of Santa Cruz. Stuart is a California licensed Certified Public Accounting and holds a Master in Professional Accounting from University of Texas-Austin and Bachelor’s Degree from Rice University. Stuart lives in the Happy Valley area of Santa Cruz with his wife and two children. One of his favorite ways to take a break from work is to go for a run along the levee to the coast and back to the office.

Drew Meyer
Drew Meyer

Drew leads cloud storage product marketing for Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of Amazon.com that makes cloud computing services. An Idaho native and former professional whitewater guide in the US, Central and South America, Drew has lived firsthand the impacts of ecotourism, resource extraction and seen the delicate balance between use and abuse of river communities. He was appointed to two terms on the Santa Cruz Historic Preservation Commission, where he advised on the controversial La Bahia project, numerous private development projects and advocated the City adopt a Mills Act ordinance.

Drew holds a BA in Political Science with minors in French and English from the University of Puget Sound, and lives in a historic house with his wife (wedding confection artist Edith Meyer) and their twin boys in Santa Cruz, California.

Crystal Birns
Crystal Birns
Vice Chair

Crystal was born in the Rio Grande watershed and spent her formative years a few blocks shy of the Hudson River. Her career has included working as Executive Director of a nonprofit dance studio and managing volunteers at a Nature Center in Cleveland. While working as Arts Program Manager for the City of Santa Cruz, Crystal participated in development of the Activating the Riverway report and implemented public art on the river’s bridges in collaboration with Mission Hill Middle School students and teachers. As a Digital Strategy consultant for the City, she learned more about drinking water supply, water policy and potential implications for the San Lorenzo River. She has served on the Santa Cruz NEXT and Arts Council Santa Cruz County board of directors and is currently Grants and Technical Assistance Manager at the Arts Council and a freelance photographer. Crystal loves places where urban life meets and mingles with the natural world. You might find her in one of her favorite 15 places along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk biking or with sketchpad or camera in hand.

Hilary Bryant
Hilary Bryant

Hilary is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Calliope Waterworks, a local tech company that is working to optimize the way we all use water. As a former Mayor and Santa Cruz City Councilmember, Hilary has taken a leadership role in many initiatives and projects to strengthen the local economy, protect our environment and improve public safety, including the activation and management of the Santa Cruz Riverwalk. In addition to CWC, she serves on the board of the Digital NEST, Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce and is a member of Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary. Hilary and her husband, local veterinarian, David Shuman, own Westside Animal Hospital. As a CWC Board Member, Hilary strives to make the Riverwalk a place where we all feel connected to nature and to instill in her children the value and importance of our watersheds.

Mike Rotkin
Mike Rotkin

Mike, a former five-time mayor of the City of Santa Cruz, works part-time as an organizer for the University Council of the American Federation of Teachers He played a major role in the creation of the greenbelt around the City of Santa Cruz and other environmental legislation and City programs during his six terms of City Council service between 1979 and 2010. Mike recently retired from both the City Council and his 42-year teaching career in Community Studies at UCSC, where he served as Director of the Field Studies Program, supervising student interns working on social and environmental issues in Santa Cruz and around the globe. Mike, an avid ocean kayaker, has decided to dedicate his retirement to protecting and enhancing the Santa Cruz environment and has a particular passion for the CWC’s San Lorenzo River project.

Tim Carson
Tim Carson
Secretary

Tim is the Program Director at the Regional Water Management Foundation, a subsidiary of the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, where he supports integrated regional water management planning and projects. His background is in environmental science and water resources management and prior work includes environmental consulting and environmental/outdoor education in the Santa Cruz mountains and elsewhere. He was inspired to join the Board to support CWC’s efforts to improve the condition of local watersheds, in particular, CWC’s alliance with local agencies, organizations, and community members to revitalize the San Lorenzo River.

Randy Widera
Gail Evans

Gail Evans received a B.S. degree from San José State University, M.S. and Ph.D. from Washington State University, all in Physical Education, with her doctoral specialization in Biomechanics. She spent her 40-year career in higher education as a varsity gymnastics coach at the State University of New York, Brockport; a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies at San José State University; and culminating as the Dean of Undergraduate Studies at San Francisco State University. She has been an invited speaker for many national meetings/conference, and served as President for the California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, as well as for The Western Society for Physical Education of College Women. Gail joined the CWC Board because of her love for the San Lorenzo River, which is ½ block from her home. She is on the Riverwalk on almost a daily basis, and believes in the potential of the San Lorenzo River to become a vibrant point of pride for the City of Santa Cruz.

Randy Widera
Randy Widera

A lifelong resident of Santa Cruz, Randy has worked for 30 years connecting people to its rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage. Each year thousands of school children live and learn at the Web of Life Field (WOLF) School, which he founded in 1989. Under his leadership the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks grew to be recognized locally and nationally for excellence in Interpretation and education. Currently Randy works with state parks, non-profit organizations, and schools helping to build capacity, raise funds and design educational programs. His passion for the work of CWC stems from his commitment to helping to make our community and environment healthy and vibrant for his three young sons Zephyr, Denali and Ryder and future generations.

Greg Larson
Greg Larson
Chair

Bio coming soon.

Crystal Birns
Crystal Birns
Vice Chair

Crystal was born in the Rio Grande watershed and spent her formative years a few blocks shy of the Hudson River. Her career has included working as Executive Director of a nonprofit dance studio and managing volunteers at a Nature Center in Cleveland. While working as Arts Program Manager for the City of Santa Cruz, Crystal participated in development of the Activating the Riverway report and implemented public art on the river’s bridges in collaboration with Mission Hill Middle School students and teachers. As a Digital Strategy consultant for the City, she learned more about drinking water supply, water policy and potential implications for the San Lorenzo River. She has served on the Santa Cruz NEXT and Arts Council Santa Cruz County board of directors and is currently Grants and Technical Assistance Manager at the Arts Council and a freelance photographer. Crystal loves places where urban life meets and mingles with the natural world. You might find her in one of her favorite 15 places along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk biking or with sketchpad or camera in hand.

Tim Carson
Tim Carson
Secretary

Tim is the Program Director at the Regional Water Management Foundation, a subsidiary of the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, where he supports integrated regional water management planning and projects. His background is in environmental science and water resources management and prior work includes environmental consulting and environmental/outdoor education in the Santa Cruz mountains and elsewhere. He was inspired to join the Board to support CWC’s efforts to improve the condition of local watersheds, in particular, CWC’s alliance with local agencies, organizations, and community members to revitalize the San Lorenzo River.

Stuart White
Stuart White
Treasurer

Stuart White is Sr. Director of Tax, Treasury & Trade at Plantronics, a pioneer in intelligent headset technology. Santa Cruz County has been home to Plantronics for over five decades, and we consider the coastline and surrounding waters our neighbors. As members of this coastal community, the company is deeply committed to promoting environmental health, reducing its environmental footprint, and being a socially responsible corporate citizen and community partner. As a member of the board of the Coastal Watershed Council and Plantronics’ representative, Stuart is eager to help revitalize the nearby San Lorenzo River in an effort to increase its use for recreation and public education, as well as improve the quality of the main water source for the city of Santa Cruz. Stuart is a California licensed Certified Public Accounting and holds a Master in Professional Accounting from University of Texas-Austin and Bachelor’s Degree from Rice University. Stuart lives in the Happy Valley area of Santa Cruz with his wife and two children. One of his favorite ways to take a break from work is to go for a run along the levee to the coast and back to the office.

J.M. Brown
J.M. Brown

J.M. Brown is a communications strategist for Santa Cruz-based Miller Maxfield, Inc. and previously worked seven years as a reporter for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. As a journalist, he wrote extensively on regional water issues, including the San Lorenzo River, North Coast streams, groundwater resources, seawater desalination and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. A native of Indianapolis and graduate of Indiana University’s journalism program, J.M. relocated to Northern California in 2002 and eventually found his home in Santa Cruz County, where he lives with his husband, Watsonville native Brian Arao. He frequently runs half marathons and volunteers on the board of Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes. J.M. joined the CWC board because he fully believes in the potential of the San Lorenzo River to be a centering and galvanizing force in the environmental, economic and recreational vitality on Santa Cruz and our regional community. We owe it to both our history and our future to protect, enliven and utilize this irreplaceable resource.

Hilary Bryant
Hilary Bryant

Hilary is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Calliope Waterworks, a local tech company that is working to optimize the way we all use water. As a former Mayor and Santa Cruz City Councilmember, Hilary has taken a leadership role in many initiatives and projects to strengthen the local economy, protect our environment and improve public safety, including the activation and management of the Santa Cruz Riverwalk. In addition to CWC, she serves on the board of the Digital NEST, Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce and is a member of Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary. Hilary and her husband, local veterinarian, David Shuman, own Westside Animal Hospital. As a CWC Board Member, Hilary strives to make the Riverwalk a place where we all feel connected to nature and to instill in her children the value and importance of our watersheds.

Susan O’Hara

Susie’s career in water resource management began at the City of San Diego where she planned and executed a city-wide water infrastructure capital improvements program. In Santa Cruz, Susie’s work as a registered Civil Engineer for the City of Santa Cruz Water Department focused on similar policy challenges, including long-term water supply. Susie’s leadership and expertise brought her to spearhead projects beyond water, including in her current role developing a lasting partnership between City, County and State agencies to better manage crime and public safety concerns in our community. Susie’s work with CWC is driven by her desire to catalyze a new understanding of the importance and vulnerability of the San Lorenzo River and its precious banks.

Drew Meyer
Drew Meyer

Drew leads cloud storage product marketing for Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of Amazon.com that makes cloud computing services. An Idaho native and former professional whitewater guide in the US, Central and South America, Drew has lived firsthand the impacts of ecotourism, resource extraction and seen the delicate balance between use and abuse of river communities. He was appointed to two terms on the Santa Cruz Historic Preservation Commission, where he advised on the controversial La Bahia project, numerous private development projects and advocated the City adopt a Mills Act ordinance.

Drew holds a BA in Political Science with minors in French and English from the University of Puget Sound, and lives in a historic house with his wife (wedding confection artist Edith Meyer) and their twin boys in Santa Cruz, California.

Mike Rotkin
Mike Rotkin

Mike, a former five-time mayor of the City of Santa Cruz, works part-time as an organizer for the University Council of the American Federation of Teachers He played a major role in the creation of the greenbelt around the City of Santa Cruz and other environmental legislation and City programs during his six terms of City Council service between 1979 and 2010. Mike recently retired from both the City Council and his 42-year teaching career in Community Studies at UCSC, where he served as Director of the Field Studies Program, supervising student interns working on social and environmental issues in Santa Cruz and around the globe. Mike, an avid ocean kayaker, has decided to dedicate his retirement to protecting and enhancing the Santa Cruz environment and has a particular passion for the CWC’s San Lorenzo River project.

Randy Widera
Randy Widera

A lifelong resident of Santa Cruz, Randy has worked for 30 years connecting people to its rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage. Each year thousands of school children live and learn at the Web of Life Field (WOLF) School, which he founded in 1989. Under his leadership the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks grew to be recognized locally and nationally for excellence in Interpretation and education. Currently Randy works with state parks, non-profit organizations, and schools helping to build capacity, raise funds and design educational programs. His passion for the work of CWC stems from his commitment to helping to make our community and environment healthy and vibrant for his three young sons Zephyr, Denali and Ryder and future generations.

Volunteers

Jula Pethes

Jula Pethes

2015 Volunteer of the Year

“Having finished high school in Germany, I joined my family on a half year visit to Santa Cruz to get experience and try out different things before deciding what to study in college. With CWC I had the chance to get to pursue a variety of projects related to protecting our environment and bringing the community’s attention to critical natural resources. I participated in events ranging from the collection and analysis of water samples from local creeks to a poetry reading by the San Lorenzo River. This experience showed me that we can really change our relationship with the environment for the better, step by step!”

Sean Crawford

Sean Crawford

2014 Volunteer of the Year

“I started volunteering at events with CWC to help promote watershed stewardship and to share news about the San Lorenzo River Alliance. I also worked with CWC to remove invasive species along the San Lorenzo River. My work with CWC helped me get a job with the Santa Cruz City Parks and Recreation Department where I now work to clean up and protect habitat along the San Lorenzo River and Branciforte creek. My goal is to become a Park Ranger and do more work to help protect and serve our natural world and help the public enjoy it as much as I do.”

Mariah Roberts

Mariah Roberts

“I discovered the beauty of the San Lorenzo River many years ago, walking its banks with my newborn son wrapped against my chest. Today, I am honored to help with CWC’s Watershed Ranger program. These youth leaders are growing into river stewards through hikes, science projects and art reflection. CWC is strengthening all of our relationships with this vital public resource and I am proud to be involved with such a dynamic team.”