Meet Our Leadership Team

Our Board of Directors, Advisory Council and staff have many years of experience in managing programs and shaping policies that advance sustainability. Click on each name to learn more.

SSMC Board of Directors

John Crowell is a Program Manager for Redwood City 2020 working to reduce poverty, improve the academic success of students, increase community engagement, promote health and wellness, and enhance safety in the Redwood City and North Fair Oaks community. Previously, John had a long and successful career working for innovative high technology companies, including Sun Microsystems and a startup, OnLive, where he gained an extensive background in finance, people and project management, relationship development and delivering successful project results.

John is currently a Healthy Cities tutor for three elementary students in the Redwood City School District, a meal preparer for Meals on Wheels and a regular participant at the Fair Oaks Community Center Family Harvest events. He has previously volunteered as a project manager for a Taproot pro bono team, a little league baseball and PAL basketball coach, a fruit picker for Village Harvest and a tree planter for City Trees.  John is a certified California naturalist and an ever-aspiring amateur photographer.

Verónica Escámez

Verónica Escámez is founder and executive director of Casa Círculo Cultural in Redwood City, a grassroots, tax-exempt organization that works with immigrant families. The organization offers a wide range of free classes and cultural activities in Spanish and English, including student presentations at the San Francisco Symphony, the annual Children’s Business Fair and the annual Día de Los Muertos festival in Redwood City, which draws more than 10,000 participants.

Verónica is originally from México City, where she worked as an educator, youth theater director, social worker and school principal. She was inspired to do community work after volunteering to help keep streets clean and beautify the city. After she arrived in the U.S. in 1989, she worked at an immigration law office in San Francisco. When it closed, she started a support group in her home that evolved into Casa Círculo Cultural. Verónica and her family were the recipients of the 2017 La Familia Award given by The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.

Valerie Fox Carlos

Valerie Fox Carlos has a strong background in marketing, branding and teaching. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a Master’s degree from Florida International University. She taught psychology classes, led leadership and interpersonal workshops, developed the Peer Counseling Center and consulted in the development of the Women’s Change Center at the College of Miami Dade.

After moving to California, she worked for a major portion of her career with the direction of visionaries Peter Stocker and Peter Palmisano at Pacific Union Development Company. They were transforming real estate development while innovating and creating community landmarks. Projects in which she was involved included Meadowood in St. Helena; Opera Plaza, San Francisco’s first mixed-use development; the country’s first military base conversion at Hamilton Airfield in Marin County; and The Peninsula Regent, a not-for-profit premier retirement community in San Mateo. Valerie joined the Peninsula Regent Team in 2009 as Broker and Director of Marketing, where she created the marketing and membership experience and helped build a deep-rooted community.

On a personal note, she has three beautiful, happy, kindhearted children who make her proud every day. Valerie trained for and completed the Avon 39 Walk for the Cure.

Kirsten Keith photo

Kirsten Keith is the former Mayor of Menlo Park, where she served on the City Council for eight years. As an elected leader she championed a carbon-free future by supporting the Paris Climate Accord, adopting 100 percent carbon-free zoning standards, setting aggressive GHG emission targets, approving Menlo Park’s participation in Peninsula Clean Energy (a countywide Community Choice Energy initiative to create a carbon-free grid at no additional cost), and supporting Menlo Spark and Grid Alternatives solar installations on Belle Haven homes.

On her watch, Menlo Park expanded its tree investment by partnering with Canopy to plant new trees in Belle Haven and co-hosted a community-wide tree planting event. Additionally, Kirsten promoted expanded energy assistance programs for low-income families. Kirsten also championed increasing public EV charging stations, prioritizing safe routes to school and public transit to reduce solo-auto trips.

Kirsten has a law practice in Redwood City, and in her free time she enjoys hiking, backpacking, traveling and walking her dogs

Georgi

Georgi LaBerge was born and raised in Colorado, and she has lived in Redwood City for 60 years. Her professional career includes serving as executive director of the San Mateo County Community College Foundation and the Redwood City Library Foundation. She was elected to the Redwood City Council in 1986, where she served for three terms, including two years as mayor. A longtime volunteer, she currently serves on the Board of CityTrees (Redwood City) and on the Social Action Committee of her church. She enjoys gardening, hiking, travel and competing in senior games in the sport of power walking.

Lori Low photo

Lori Low is Manager of Government and Community Affairs for Caltrain, overseeing community engagement and legislative and policy activities for the agency.

Since 2017, she has played instrumental roles in Caltrain’s transformative Electrification Project; the building of the San Mateo grade separation project; securing major bicycle improvements at Caltrain stations; and developing the San Mateo County Transportation Authority’s Alternative Congestion Relief and Transportation Demand Management Plan.

Lori began her career as a teacher and transitioned to the nonprofit sector, where she successfully led policy campaigns and education and outreach efforts to reduce air pollution, toxics and GHG emissions. During her time at a multiculture publisher, she built partnerships with local businesses and institutions.

A Bay Area native, Lori lives in San Carlos with her husband and two children. She is a master composter, their home has a gray water system and their cars are EVs. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with family, playing sports and finding good eats. She has a Master’s degree in Education and a B.A. in American Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Barbara McHugh

Barbara McHugh has served as Treasurer of Sustainable San Mateo County since 2016. From 2006 to 2018 she was Revenue Manager for Mellon Capital Management in San Francisco, where she oversaw 1,000 accounts held by more than 400 clients totaling $200 million. From 2001 to 2006 she was President and Treasurer of the San Carlos (Calif.) Education Foundation and served as Treasurer of the San Carlos School District 2008 Measure S Parcel Tax Campaign.

Russell Miller photograph

Russ Miller is the Managing Partner of Miller & Olson, LLP, a law firm with offices in Burlingame and Sacramento that specializes in political, campaign, election and nonprofit law. During four decades of practicing law, he has represented major Silicon Valley tech companies, candidates running for public office at all government levels, ballot measure campaigns and advocacy groups. His firm also represents several community foundations and aids in the formation of nonprofit organizations.  Working with these foundations and nonprofits, Russ has seen in practice that increasing sustainability and addressing environmental dangers is an indispensable part of eliminating inequality between racial, economic and cultural communities.

Russ graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with the highest honors, then received a J.D. from U.C.’s Hastings College of Law and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies in law and sociology from Stanford University.

Terry Nagel is a veteran journalist who was elected to the Burlingame City Council in 2003 and served 12 years, including three terms as mayor. During her first term as mayor, she appointed a Green Ribbon Task Force that created the city’s first Climate Action Plan. After the plan was adopted in 2009, she helped form the Citizens Environmental Council of Burlingame, and she continues to serve on its Board.

She also serves on the Board of the Burlingame Neighborhood Network, a community resilience organization that she founded in 2006. She started the Burlingame Pet Parade in 2003 and continues to help manage it. Terry worked as a writer and editor at the San Mateo Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and Forbes magazine, and she managed  communications for various nonprofits, the Skoll Foundation, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and Stanford Law School. She has been a Burlingame homeowner and active community volunteer since 1978.

Headshot of Mark Olbert

Mark Olbert is a former biotech CFO who was an elected official in San Carlos for nearly two decades. He was elected three times to the school board and twice to the City Council. During his council tenure, he strove to balance commercial and residential development to reduce long-distance commutes (a major source of greenhouse gases), promote sustainability and mitigate the challenges facing people trying to establish homes in San Mateo County.

Mark enjoys outdoor activities and is an avid motorcyclist who delights in exploring the remote parts of our beautiful state. When not pursuing a lifelong passion for computer programming, he works on political efforts at the local, regional, state and national levels, seeking to level playing fields and ensuring everyone has a chance to pursue happiness. He is a frequent contributor of locally published op-eds and co-hosts a podcast with his friend and former school board colleague, Seth Rosenblatt, at TheBoilingFrog.net. The podcast explores connections between economics, history, politics, psychology and science.

Sarah Prescott

Sarah Prescott was born and raised on the peninsula. In 2012, she graduated from the San Mateo Area Chamber Leadership Program.  The following years she Co-Chaired the Environment Day and Co-Chaired the curriculum committee.  In addition, Sarah has spent many years volunteering on the Sustainable San Mateo County Awards Committee along with volunteering at local shelters, food kitchens, and participating in local beach/bayside and neighborhood clean-ups.

She has been working in the waste and recovery industry for the last 16 years, focusing on local jurisdictions and commercial customers to increase diversion efforts and comply with state mandates. Her passion is to educate about recycling, sustainability; to help improve our environment.

Bill Schulte devoted 29 years to the California Public Utilities Commission, retiring in 2000 after heading its Consumer Services Division. Since retiring, he has been engaged as a regulatory and consumer affairs consultant for a number of public agencies and private industry. In addition to his own practice, he was a partner in Regulatory Partners LLC, which provided consumer affairs and call center training to governmental agencies here and abroad.

Bill has also conducted a number of poverty-reduction missions for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Western and Southern Africa. He serves on the Board of Self-Help for the Elderly and is the former Board Chair of the Institute of Environmental Entrepreneurs (which created the Green MBA program at Dominican University). He chairs the Board of Autumn Glow, an Alzheimer’s facility, and also chairs the Board of a low-income senior housing facility, Pine View LLC, in San Francisco. Bill also volunteers delivering meals to homebound seniors.

Bill earned a B.S. in Management Engineering from the University of the Pacific and an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Stanford. He is a registered Civil Engineer in California. He served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for SSMC from 2009 to 2015.

SSMC Staff

Mollie is a mission driven communications and marketing expert with a clear focus: driving sustainability. Having been raised in an educator family, Mollie has always focused on helping people reach their highest potential and live their best lives. With a background honed at technology giants like PayPal and Upwork, she spent the last six years in leadership roles building education services for K-12 students and older adults.

In recent years, Mollie has committed herself to helping solve climate change. She is an active volunteer at several climate nonprofits and serves on the Steering Committee of Cititzens’ Climate Lobby San Mateo. She also volunteers at local nonprofits including Life Moves and There with Care through her participation in the National Charity League.

Mollie’s expertise in leveraging the tools of communications in fostering successful businesses, promoting fair wages, advancing education and championing climate action has led her to a pivotal role at SSMC. A 20-year resident of San Mateo County, and a parent of two teenagers, she is resolute in creating a sustainable community. Her work at SSMC aims to make a lasting impact on both local and global progress in sustainability.

Sarah is a sustainability and social justice advocate, with a career and personal life centered around making a positive impact. She began her journey as a small business volunteer for the Peace Corps in Uruguay, where she worked on projects aimed at improving the quality of life for local communities. This experience set her on a career path focused on having a positive impact on the world.

Since returning from the Peace Corps, Sarah has continued to work and volunteer in fields related to sustainability, social justice, and education. She served as a community education coordinator for a senior advocacy nonprofit that focused on legal assistance and health insurance education. Her subsequent roles at publishing companies involved content development related to the environment, health, safety, and welfare. As a project manager for a commercial design firm, Sarah underscored the importance of working with clients to develop sustainable design solutions and sourcing environmentally responsible materials.

Sarah’s dedication to sustainability and social justice is evident in her work history, and she continues to look for ways to make a positive impact. She has been involved in local chapters of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, San Mateo Climate Action Team, and SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), where she actively promotes their missions.

Sarah holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Design from the University of California, Davis. In addition to her professional and volunteer pursuits, Sarah is a devoted mother of two and an avid organic gardener. She enjoys discussing books and movies and spending time with her beloved cat and dog, Athena and Bear.

Photo of Jill Reed

Jill is a native of San Mateo and also raised her own family there. She carries a deep love for the community as a result. After working throughout the Bay Area with a design company, a real estate news media outlet and a global venture investment firm, she returned to San Mateo County with her mind set on helping local communities become more sustainable. With SSMC, she believes that we can set our county on a better, more sustainable path to secure our future.

Simona Vallone photo

Simona is a sustainability scientist with a background in food and agricultural science. She has research and management experience in both academia and food technology startups in the Bay Area. Her work has focused on improving sustainability of the food system by addressing a broad range of issues, from understanding how plants tolerate heat and drought stress, to reducing food waste and loss and improving plant-based nutrition through market and policy interventions. She has extensive experience in project management and producing content for multiple audiences.

Simona was born and educated in Italy. After completing her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Davis, she moved to Redwood City where she has lived with her husband since 2013. She enjoys hiking, gardening and spending time with friends and family. Simona has a Ph.D. in the Science and Technology of Food Production from the University of Naples, Italy, and a master’s degree in Social Policies and Strategic Direction for Sustainable Development from the University of Bologna, Italy.

SSMC Advisory Council

Bryan Beck photo

Bryan Beck is a veteran statistical programmer with extensive experience in clinical trial data. He earned a B.A. degree in architecture from U.C. Berkeley, then transitioned to computer programming. He has worked in the research divisions of pharmaceutical and biotech companies for the majority of his career.

Bryan grew up in the Bay Area and New York and is an avid environmentalist who enjoys nature photography, bicycling and traveling. He’s been the family’s unofficial photographer for decades. The Cargill proposal led to his involvement with Redwood City Neighbors United and Committee for Green Foothills. He’s also a Sequoia Art Guild member.

Kaia Eakin is a Major Gift Officer and Grant Writer in the fundraising field working locally in San Mateo County. She worked for 18 years as trial counsel representing employers and in workers compensation litigation. A native of the Bay Area, Kaia believes that climate change is the greatest threat facing her generation. She supports immediate local community action to address the issue.

Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is founder and Beer Chieftain of Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company in San Carlos. Founded in 2001, it has grown from a small private label into a regional brewery producing more than 15,000 barrels per year for Devil’s Canyon and 14 other companies under contract. Chris operates a large tasting room and event center that, prior to COVID-19, typically hosted 4,000 people per week.

Chris is known for his sustainability practices. He built much of his 50,000-square-foot facility himself from recycled goods and equipment. He designs, builds and frequently tests alternative green systems. He installed and tested a massive anerobic digester in his brewery to capture grain waste and to generate methane. He frequently shares his expertise on anaerobic digestors, CO2 capture and recovery, water recovery and reuse, material reuse and supply chain management.

Chris sees the world as a circular economy in which reuse of materials and landfill diversion are critical to the future of our planet.  He believes there is no greater time than now to embrace the changes needed to improve communities by balancing social equity, the environment and our financial systems.

George Kreitem photo

George Kreitem has called San Mateo County his home since his family immigrated in 1967 from the Middle East. He attended Bayside Middle School, Aragon High School and the College of San Mateo, then received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at San Jose State University and his California Professional Engineer registration.

Over the last 30 years, George has held various Corporate Real Estate leadership roles at Salesforce, Yahoo!, Intuit, Nortel, Bay Networks and Raychem. His most recent notable accomplishments have been within his 10-year tenure at Salesforce where he was instrumental in building, leading and transforming the CRE organization from 90 people to over 400 full-time employees. During this time, Salesforce’s global campus grew from 1.5 million sq. ft. to 8 million sq. ft to support an increase of Salesforce employees from 8,000 in 2012 to more than 77,000 in 2022. George led the teams responsible for the global delivery of all real estate projects. Delivering over 6 million square feet across major cities including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Indianapolis, Dublin, London, Amsterdam, Hyderabad, Singapore and Tokyo. George was instrumental in the leasing and delivery of named Salesforce Towers in San Francisco, New York, Indianapolis, Atlanta, London and Tokyo.

Recently retired from Salesforce, George is now focusing on mentoring young real estate leaders and advising innovative firms as they adjust to the new trends in Corporate Real Estate and Workplace. George also enjoys volunteering with local non-profits and spending time with his family, including his two granddaughters Alessandra and Camille.

Ricki McGlashan

Ricki McGlashan has lived in San Mateo County since kindergarten. She graduated from San Mateo High School and Connecticut College. She served as a founding member of the Board of Sustainable San Mateo County and on its Awards, Management and Program Committees. On an ongoing basis she provides graphic design services pro bono for many of SSMC’s materials, including the Awards Program and Indicators Report. She also has volunteered extensively for local schools, Beyond War, the Foundation for Global Community, the San Mateo City Bikeways Committee, Western Wheelers Bicycle Club, the Hulihia Women Prisoners Writers Project and Swing Left Peninsula.

Mark Moulton

Mark Moulton worked in sales, package engineering and residential design/build for 20 years. After being appointed as Executive Director at Peninsula Habitat for Humanity in 1993, Mark assembled a team that built 75 homes in San Mateo County and raised more than $20 million in 10 years. Mark has been advising business clients in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors since 2006. From 2011 to 2015, he became Executive Director of both the Housing Leadership Council and the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust. Currently, Mark is co-owner and Board Chair of Acqualogic, Inc., and he continues to practice as an organizational and fund development consultant.

Mark earned a B.A. from Stanford University. He lives in Redwood City with his wife, Lisa Moulton, who is a landscape architect.

Kan Parthiban photo

Kan Parthiban has a global background in a plethora of environmental sciences, including permaculture, landscape architecture and urban planning. She has worked on and researched various sustainability practices around the world, including agricultural cooperatives in Cuba, eutrophication in the Gulf of Mexico, farm enterprises in Italy and closed-loop composting systems in France. Kan’s graduate research at Harvard included implementing Target 2.4.1 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Southern Asian countries. With her extensive knowledge in the circular economy, life cycle assessment and climate change mitigation, she is an advocate and an educator for all things sustainable and organic. She has a passion for connecting grand environmental ideas and concepts with practical and feasible applications in our built environment. Kan is the Sustainability Coordinator for Lyngso Garden Materials.

SSMC Early Leaders

Marsha Pagels photo

Marcia Pagels, founder of SSMC in 1992, was instrumental in launching the green movement in San Mateo County. She was inspired by the United Nations Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992 to focus on thinking globally and acting locally, holding informational meetings with local leaders, recruiting “Energy Ambassadors” and starting a “Biggest User” contest to encourage homeowners to make their homes energy efficient. She began tracking progress on the county’s economy, environmental and social equity, and issued SSMC’s annual Indicators Reports beginning in 1997.

Marcia was an expert gardener who was ahead of her time in planting an organic, bio-intensive vegetable garden and drought-resistant California native plants. She also was an accomplished artist who had many solo exhibitions and won widespread recognition for her paintings of California landscapes and wildflowers.

Marcia earned a B.A. degree in Art from Stanford University, a Diplome d’Etude from the Sorbonne in Paris and a full scholarship to the San Francisco Academy of Art. After completing a secondary teaching credential, she taught art in the San Mateo Union High School District, then worked as a Library Specialist at Stanford for 12 years. Memorial galleries of her art may be seen here and here.

Ruth Peterson’s leadership, passion and energy transformed SSMC into a nonprofit that helped bring sustainability issues to the forefront of local policy and planning efforts. For more than 12 years, she was an integral part of SSMC, holding numerous positions within the organization and leading the effort for SSMC to become a stand-alone nonprofit. She served as Chair of the Board from 2002 to 2009 and remained a Board Member until her death in 2012.

Ruth attended the University of Southern California and then San Francisco State, where she graduated with an M.A. in English Literature and a teaching credential. After discovering she had an affinity for business, she started Bovet Professional Center, an executive suite for attorneys.

In addition to her work with SSMC, Ruth served on the Board of Directors for Shelter Network for six years. In 2002 she was inducted into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame, and in March 2012 she was recognized with the David D. Bohannon Memorial Award by the San Mateo County Economic Development Agency (SAMCEDA). In recognition of her contributions, SSMC’s board established the Ruth Peterson Award in 2013. It is the organization’s highest honor and is awarded by the Board to an individual who has contributed significantly to SSMC’s mission.