Board of Directors | Sustainable San Mateo County

Board of Directors

Board Table Wind Power Man in Field Kid 'n tree rings

Founders: Marcia Pagels & Ruth Peterson

Current Board
Board Chair: Terry Nagel
Vice Chair: Georgi LaBerge
Secretary: Seamus Murphy
Treasurer: Barbara McHugh
Board Members: Bryan Chen, Kirsten Keith, William Schulte, Robert Whitehair


Terry Nagel, Chair
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, which champions a more environmentally and economically sustainable community. Terry worked as a writer and editor at the San Mateo Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and Forbes magazine. After her election to the council, she served in communications roles for various nonprofits, the Skoll Foundation, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and Stanford Law School. She has been a Burlingame homeowner and active community volunteer since 1978.

Georgi LaBerge, Vice Chair
Georgi was born and raised in Colorado, and 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, serving for three terms, two years as mayor. A long-time volunteer, she currently serves on the boards of CityTrees (Redwood City) and League of Women Voters, north and central San Mateo County. She enjoys gardening, hiking, travel, and competing in senior games in the sport of power walking.

Seamus Murphy, Secretary
Seamus Murphy is the Director of Government and Community Affairs for SamTrans, Caltrain and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. Murphy has been recognized as a leader and rising star in the California transit industry. Recognized widely for his passionate advocacy on behalf of an industry that has been the victim of unprecedented state budget cuts, Murphy shows a savvy ability to weave through the legislative thicket of state and federal governments and to convert elected officials and the public into transit advocates.

Murphy’s primary responsibility is legislative advocacy on behalf of the three local agencies he serves, but he has become a key player on the California Transit Association Executive and Legislative Committees and a crucial strategist in the efforts of the San Francisco region and the state to go forward with plans to build a statewide high-speed rail network that has as its centerpiece the Caltrain right-of-way. In 2009, Murphy was named one of the industry’s “Top 40 Under 40” by Mass Transit Magazine.

At a time when public support for transit is more critical than ever and when the issues of land use and transit funding and public perception of the industry are inextricably interwoven, Murphy brings a broad range of political and policy-related experience that is ideal for the circumstances the industry faces. Murphy serves on the Board of Directors for several local non-profit organizations including the Service League of San Mateo County and the San Mateo County Union Community Alliance.

Barbara McHugh, Treasurer

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.

Bryan Chen, Board Member
Bryan Chen has spent his professional career focused on air quality and human health issues. Bryan is currently the air quality and greenhouse gas lead in Northern California at ARCADIS, a multinational engineering company. Prior to that, he was the Director of air quality programs at the environmental planning firm Christopher A. Joseph and Associates. He has been a regular contributor to SSMC’s Annual Indicator Report since 2010 and currently serves as SSMC’s city and county survey coordinator. He joined the board in Summer 2014 and became Chair in Fall 2017.

Bryan graduated with a B.A. at Pomona College and a M.S. in environmental engineering at Johns Hopkins University. His interest in sustainability has led him to pursue and receive a sustainability professional certificate from the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate credential, and Environmental Sustainability Professional accreditation from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI).

Kirsten Keith, Board Member
Kirsten Keith is the Former Mayor of Menlo Park, where she served on City Council for eight years. As an elected leader she championed a carbon-free future by supporting the Paris Climate Accord, adopting 100% carbon-free zoning standards, setting aggressive GHG emission targets, approving Menlo Park’s participation in the Peninsula Clean Energy program (a county wide 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 practices in Redwood City and in her free time she enjoys hiking, backpacking, traveling and walking her dogs.

William Schulte, Board Member
Bill Schulte devoted 29 years to the California Public Utilities Commission, retiring in 2000 after heading its Consumer Services Division. After “retirement” 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 is a partner in Regulatory Partners LLC, which provides 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 is a former member of the Board of Self Help for the Elderly and 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 in San Francisco. Bill also volunteers delivering meals to homebound seniors. He holds a BS in Management Engineering from UOP and a MS in Civil Engineering from Stanford. Bill is a registered Civil Engineer in California. Bill served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for SSMC from 2009-2015.

Robert Whitehair, Board Member
Robert Whitehair received a degree in Political Science in 1971 and a Master’s in public administration in 1973, both from UC Riverside. He spent his working career managing infrastructure, including as an Airport Manager, Public Works Director and 2+ decades as a Facilities Director for large companies.  He taught Facilities Management in the UC Extension program for 12 years.  He was a Little League coach for 13 years, a volunteer for the Queens County Farm Museum in New York as well as a member of its Board of Directors, and a charter member of Queens Quiet Skies, an airport noise group. He now volunteers for Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, is a facilitator for Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, and is an advisor to Sustainable San Mateo County. 

Marcia Pagels, Founder
Marcia was Editor-in-Chief of the 2002 edition of the Indicators for a Sustainable San Mateo County; A Yearly Report of Our County’s Quality of Life. Marcia was a graduate of Stanford University and worked there as a Library Specialist for many years. Marcia also volunteered with the Foundation for Global Community. She was a bio-intensive gardener and landscape painter who donated many works to SSMC auctions. She passed away in 2010; a memorial gallery of her art may be seen here.

Ruth M. Peterson, Founder
Ruth was the owner and manager of Bovet Professional Center, a business that she started in 1981. The business is an executive suite designed primarily for attorneys and other professionals. She was involved with SSMC for 12 years and was Chair of the Business Task Force prior to becoming Chair of the Steering committee. She led the effort for SSMC to become a stand-alone nonprofit in the fall of 2002 and was the Chair of the Board until 2012. She has been recognized on many occasions for her community involvement which included six years on the Board of Shelter Network. In 2002 she was inducted into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame. Ruth attended USC for 3 years, moved to San Francisco and graduated from San Francisco State with a secondary teaching major. She decided to forego teaching when she decided she had an affinity for the business world.

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