Babs Kavanaugh, Chair
Babs Kavanaugh brings a wealth of experience in education, health care, and community development to the Friends of the Petaluma River Board, including more than 15 years experience as a governance trainer with the California School Boards Association, 25 years as a consultant in health care, and expertise in organizational development and community health.
A committed environmentalist, hiker, and cyclist; Babs is a great believer in getting kids outside– she and her family spend annual vacations at Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp near Yosemite. As a regular volunteer, she has seen the impact Friends of the Petaluma River has made on the community and is pleased to contribute her knowledge and connections in the community to help sustain and expand the important work being done. Her membership on the board is informed by her passion for the environment and community development.
Kallie Kull, Vice Chair
Kallie is a Senior Planner in Water Resources for Marin County, focusing on river restoration to improve habitat for endangered salmon. She works to implement projects that remove instream barriers to migration and spearheads a Landowner’s Assistance Program helping residents to install river enhancement projects on their properties. Prior to her work in Marin, Kallie served as the executive director of a multi-county effort to restore salmon and rivers on the Central Coast, which included Mendocino, Sonoma, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Kallie holds a graduate degree from UC Berkeley in environmental planning and watershed ecology, spending summers in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska as a fisheries biologist for NOAA. Today she lives on the Petaluma River and enjoys seeing kayakers and abundant bird life from her deck over-looking the river.
Andrew Packard, Secretary
Andrew is a public interest attorney specializing in representing citizen enforcement groups under state and federal environmental laws. His law firm, which also specializes in “right-to-know” laws promoting consumer product safety, recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary.
He served on the boards of the Russian RiverKeeper and Petaluma Community Access before serving as the founding chairman of the Friends of Petaluma River board in 2006. He was first inspired by the late David Yearsley to join the river community that has evolved into the Friends of Petaluma River. His family of five has enjoyed kayaking and boating on the river and the marsh ever since.
Elizabeth Howland, Treasurer
Elizabeth is the Event Fundraising Director for U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman who is the current Chair of the Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife. Elizabeth was formerly the Managing Director of Development at the McKesson Foundation and was a proprietor of Clementine EcoEvents, a company committed to saving the planet, one event at a time. Along with her Clementine partners, she founded the Rivertown Revival, a community festival and fundraiser for Friends of the Petaluma River. Earlier in her career, Elizabeth was Vice President of Marketing at Athleta, the premier women’s sports apparel retailer, where she oversaw all marketing functions and spearheaded the design and production of the Athleta catalog and web store. Prior to Athleta, Elizabeth spent several years in executive positions for multi-channel retail firms.
Along with her late husband, David Yearsley, Elizabeth is a founding member of Friends of the Petaluma River. She and David spent many happy hours together out on their boat on the River and at David’s cabin on the marsh. David’s passion for the Petaluma Estuary gave her many opportunities to interact with and appreciate the beautiful Petaluma marsh. She has lived in Petaluma for 40 years, raised her family here and now enjoys seeing two of her 8 grandchildren as the next Petaluma generation. She is an active outdoor enthusiast and musician.
Kelin Castleberry is the Director of Events and Partnerships for the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco. Previously, Kelin was the Managing Director for the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation which hosts the Sonoma County Wine Auction and Taste of Sonoma. Previous to that work, she was one of the owners of Clementine Eco Event Planning and worked for Jared Huffman for Congress. She is one of the founders of our annual fundraiser Rivertown Revival, and has been a longtime Board Member of Friends of the Petaluma River. She loves being a part of Petaluma’s community. When not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends in our beautiful watershed.
Sam Dobson is an Asset Manager and Financial Planner at Dobson Asset Management located in Petaluma, where he focuses on low cost management and ethical investing.
Sam has spent a lot of time on rivers and in marshes. He worked as a river rafting guide during and after college, leading overnight trips on whitewater rivers throughout the Sierra Mountains. One of his passions growing up, and currently, is waterfowl hunting, where he spends many hours and days cultivating healthy marshes for migratory and local birds. Theses activities have lead to a greater appreciation for the impact that a healthy and flourishing watershed can have on a community.
Sam and his family live in Petaluma and you can often find them messing about in boats.
Scott is a geomorphologist and senior scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, a regional science non-profit focused on improving the health of San Francisco Bay and the rivers and creeks that drain to it. His job takes him all over Sonoma County, working with a variety of federal, state, and local partners to develop land management approaches that meet the needs of both wildlife and people. He has been a member of the Friends of the Petaluma River Board since 2019 and looks forward to many years serving this great and important organization.
Scott moved to Petaluma with his wife Brianna in 2011. They live in the south part of town with their amazing son Jack (who joined the group in 2013).
Paul is the Executive Director of Literacyworks, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting educators and learners in the fields of adult and family literacy. He is also the director of the federal Department of Education’s LINCS Region 4 Regional Professional Development Center serving adult education and literacy programs in 16 states throughout the West, Pacific Northwest, and Hawaii. He is also a Sonoma County Library Commissioner. He believes in lifelong learning as a path towards opportunity and fulfillment.
Paul grew up on lakes and rivers in Michigan. He loves to scuba dive, kayak, raise bees, read, talk space stuff, and, to the dismay of many, pun.
As a consulting geologist, Andy has been in the water quality and water supply profession for over 30 years. Important to Andy is giving back to the community in which he lives and works and has steered his work and volunteerism to both closely tie with north bay watersheds. In addition to being a long-time board member for Friends of the Petaluma River, he currently serves on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, Petaluma Basin Zone 2A Flood Control District Advisory, Petaluma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency Advisory; and is Executive Director of the Russian River Watershed Association and Administrator for the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency.
Maxene, a committed and passionate environmentalist, retired to Petaluma eleven years ago after a long career in planning. A master’s degree in urban planning from San Diego State University, launched her career. Maxene joined the State Coastal Conservancy, after working on San Diego County’s Local Coastal Program and reviewing Housing Elements at the State Department of Housing and Community Development. At the Conservancy she was the Sonoma County coordinator under the San Francisco Bay Area Program. Maxene collaborated with the County of Sonoma, County cities, Sonoma Land Trust, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District as well as several nonprofit organizations, including Friends of the Petaluma River, on grants for acquisition, restoration and public access projects. Since moving to Petaluma she served on the Board of the Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Parks Association and more recently ran the effort to pass Measure M for Parks. She is happy to be able now to serve on the FOPR Board to contribute to its goals, especially focusing on enhanced access and restoration of the Petaluma River Watershed.
David Hansen (Advisory Council Liaison)
New Zealand born landscape architect David Hansen retired from a successful career working for three Bay Area open space districts. His work over 33 years was with the Marin County Open Space District (Planner and Acquisition Manager), the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Land Manager) and the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (General Manager). He was a founder and first chair of the Bay Area Open Space Council. David was responsible for the acquisition and management of over 70,000 acres of protected open space and farm land in four counties of the Bay Area. Aside from FOPR he is a co-founder and/or current Board member of several environmental non-profit organizations including the Bay Area Ridge Trail, The Trail Center, Whole Access, Sonoma Land Watch, Marin Open Space Trust and LandPaths. Among numerous avocations David enjoys singing with Sonoma Chanson, gardening, backpacking, running and kayaking. David has an art degree from Willamette University and studied for his Masters in Landscape Architecture at U.C. Berkeley. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil for three years in the ‘60s, served as Director of the Oakland Zoo Society in 1974 and was a planning commissioner in the town of Fairfax in the late ‘70s. David lives in Santa Rosa with his wife Marjorie and has two adult children Alexander and Miranda.
Executive Director – Stephanie Bastianon
Serving as Executive Director since 2013, Stephanie came to Friends in 2011 after working for Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey as both a Congressional staffer and Campaign Coordinator. She is an alumnus of Sonoma State University and UC San Diego where she received a Masters Degree in International Politics and Non-Profit Management. She is mother to two youngsters that love to accompany her to the River Heritage Center and attend nature camps and barn dances. “I love to connect people with the outdoors and give them opportunities to support our local environment.”
Program Director – Michelle Sauceda
Michelle is a naturalist and mentor to youth of all ages in connection to nature, self, community and place. She connects youth of all ages deeply with nature through the sharing of stories, play, laughter, games, music, medicine making, wild edibles, all in balance with the rhythms of nature.
Michelle has been blessed to spend years being mentored by a number of indigenous elders, who have helped guide her into the facilitation of potent and loving ceremonies that provoke the deep introspection and vulnerability needed for powerful transformations to occur.
Environmental Educator – Kelsey Austin
ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS
Dr. John Shribbs
Jaimey Walking Bear