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About Our Board


Golden Gate Audubon’s Board of Directors meets the fourth Tuesday of January, March, May, June, September and November. Meetings are held at Golden Gate Audubon’s main office or a location in San Francisco.

Officers

Laura Gobbi (President) is the Senior Director of Alumnae Relations at Mills College, where she is responsible for overseeing all aspects of volunteer outreach and engagement.  After spending ten years as an art history instructor and museum scientist at U.C. Berkeley, she transitioned to advancement in 2003, when she was appointed Executive Director of the Alumni Association at Oberlin College.  A huge fan of life-long learning, Laura is currently enrolled in GGAS’ San Francisco Bay Area Master Birder Program, and has taken numerous classes through GGAS, including Cornell’s Home Study Course in Bird Biology. She enjoys volunteering with GGAS as a field trip leader and docent for the Birding the Bay Trail and Lake Merritt Programs. Laura received a B.A. in art history and flute performance from Oberlin College and Master’s in medieval art from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.

Alan Harper (Vice president and Treasurer) is a biologist and photographer with a passion for plants and animals of “the Californias.” He is a founder of Terra Peninsular, AC, a Mexican land conservation organization based in Ensenada, which is working to protect the peninsula of Baja California. Currently working on a book about the natural history of Baja, Alan has published scientific papers on that region and featured it in a portfolio of large-format landscape images. He is a founding board member of the California Institute for Biodiversity. Alan received a Bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a PhD in zoology from the University of Washington, studying mathematical models of evolution

Linda Vallee (Secretary) is an IT Specialist for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. She serves as co-chair of Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Reserve, a committee of Golden Gate Audubon, and as a California Least Tern “watcher and protector” for both the Alameda and Hayward tern colonies.  Linda volunteers for a variety of local bird-related organizations, including the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, International Bird Rescue Center, Ohlone Wildlife Hospital and Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. She has a B.A. in biology from Radcliffe College and a Master’s in basic medical research from New York University.

Directors and Committee Chairs

Karim Al-Khafaji is a manager for the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit advisor for mission-driven leaders and organizations. His clients have primarily been focused on the environment, including California Water Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund, Energy Foundation, Natural Capital Project, Yellowstone Park Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Previously, Karim worked as an environmental engineer and scientist with the Parsons Corporation, a global engineering and construction firm, and in a research lab of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Karim holds a B.S. in biology and a B.S.E. in civil engineering from the University of Nevada, and a PhD in ecology from Stanford University, where he focused on population dynamics and demography.

Sarah Peterman Bell is a partner at Farella Braun + Martel, where she specializes in environmental and natural resources litigation and counseling, including representation of manufacturers, distributors and property owners in environmental enforcement actions, cost recovery litigation, citizen suits, complex toxic tort litigation and administrative proceedings. Sarah was a judicial extern for the Honorable Maxine Chesney of the Northern District of California and a legal intern for Waterkeepers, where she assisted with Clean Water Act litigation. She received a B.A. from Princeton University and a J.D. from Hastings College of the Law.

Whitney Dotson is a Director of the East Bay Regional Parks District representing communities that include Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, El Cerrito, El Sobrante and part of Oakland. A longtime Richmond community activist, Whitney is former Associate Director of the Neighborhood House of North Richmond, a nonprofit service agency. He serves as vice chair of the Community Advisory Group monitoring the cleanup of Campus Bay and the U.C. Berkeley Richmond Field Station. Whitney holds a Master’s degree in Public Health Planning, Administration, and Education from UC Berkeley.

John Philip “Jack” Dumbacher Jr. (chair of San Francisco Conservation Committee) is Assistant Curator and Chair of the Ornithology and Mammalogy Department at the California Academy of Sciences, and a professor of biology at San Francisco State University.  A frequent presenter at the American Ornithologists’ Union and other conferences, Jack is an author of more than two dozen scholarly articles on birds. He has organized and co-led ornithological collecting trips to Papua New Guinea, the Gaoligonshan Mountains of China, Baviaanskloof region of South Africa, Namibia, and various locations in North America. Jack has also served as a leader and guide for family travel programs to destinations including the Galapagos, Western China and Tibet, and Greenland.

Carey Knecht serves as the Associate Director for ClimatePlan, a coalition of thirty organizations working at the intersection of California’s land use, transportation, and climate change policies to make development throughout California more sustainable, equitable, and healthy. Carey works to increase the size and strength of ClimatePlan’s statewide network and its support coalitions in key regions. Previously, Carey served as Policy Director at the Greenbelt Alliance, where she led its Grow Smart Bay Area research and provided policy support for campaigns. She has researched and/or written six reports on city planning and land use. Carey received a Bachelor’s degree in environmental biology from Yale University and a Masters in city planning from U.C. Berkeley.

Robert Lewis (chair of Adult Education Committee) spent 33 years at Chevron Corp. as a scientist and manager,  overseeing a 60-person staff and $15 million budget. He is one of the Bay Area’s leading birding instructors, teaching classes on Bay Area Birds, Bird Migration, and Birds of the Sierra.  Bob serves on the board of the Farallon Foundation and is a coordinator of the Oakland Christmas Bird Count, in which he has been a participant for over 25 years. A GGAS field trip leader, he has taken part in several county breeding bird surveys and is an expert bird and wildlife photographer. Bob received a B.S. in chemistry from Carnegie Institute of Technology and a Master’s and PhD in organic chemistry from Princeton University.

Jay Pierrepont (Chair of Development Committee) is a former senior member of the management team of Pantheon Ventures, where he was responsible for coordination of the firm’s global secondary activities including marketing, generating investment opportunities, determining bidding strategies, evaluating deals, and the Pantheon Global Secondary Fund 4. Jay was part of the buy-out team that purchased the business from GT Management in 1988. Prior to that, he was a commercial banker at the Northern Trust Company in Chicago. Jay received a B.S. in agricultural economics from Cornell University and a Master’s from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Phil Price (Chair of East Bay Conservation Committee and Communications Committee) is an environmental statistician at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His current work focuses on improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings; he has also developed methods for mapping air pollution, and on quantifying human health impacts from chemical accidents. Phil has Bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from Oberlin College and a PhD in physics from the University of Kentucky. Before joining the GGAS board, Phil served on the Berkeley Creeks Task Force and on the Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission.

Diane Ross-Leech is Director of Environmental Policy for PG&E. She created PG&E’s Environmental Stewardship Program, which is responsible for developing multi-species habitat conservation plans, migratory bird protection plans and land conservation projects. Diane chairs the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture management board and serves on the San Francisco Bay Trail board. She holds a B.A. in landscape architecture from U.C. Berkeley and a Certificate in Land Use and Environmental Planning from U.C. Davis.