San Francisco Bay Chapter Sierra Club

Chapter Elections and Group Elections 2013

Candidate Statements

The Sierra Club is a grassroots, democratic organization. Support this process at the local level by voting for candidates for the San Francisco Bay Chapter Executive Committee, and for one of its local group Executive Committees. On Friday, December 13th, at 2 pm, the election closes; all ballots must be submitted.

Note that the membership dates listed for each candidate are those listed in the Club membership database, but may not be completely accurate, especially for earlier time periods.

If you wish to skip the chapter executive committee candidate statements, you may also go directly to the groups' candidate statements.

San Francisco Bay Chapter Executive Committee

(There are 7 candidates. Vote for 5 or fewer.)

Eilzabeth Lam

Elizabeth Lam

Residence: Berkeley

Occupation: law student, City of Berkeley commissioner, intern for CA State Assembly and Bay Area Community Land Trust

Sierra Club member since 2013

Activities: Conservation Committee, Sierra Club Northern Alameda County Group; Energy-Climate Committee, Sierra Club Bay Chapter; Commissioner, Berkeley Planning Commission; Member, Berkeley Climate Action Coalition (BCAC)

Statement: Growing up in Hong Kong, which adjoins the Pearl River Delta, one of the world’s fastest industrializing regions, I witnessed environmental degradation and decided to commit to preserving the environment. In addition to earning a BS in Environmental Sciences from UC Berkeley, I have been actively involved in environmental protection with various for and non-profit organizations. Some of my experiences include locating an urban garden in Richmond, analyzing carbon footprints of food products, researching students’ food waste patterns at campus dining halls, conducting and implementing various environmental impact studies in Hong Kong, advocating for state bills in Washington state that would ban the use of harmful flame retardants in furniture and children’s products, and promoting sustainable living to cooperative housing in the Bay Area.

As a Sierra Club member, I represented Sierra Club in several BCAC activities such as promoting Berkeley’s climate action plan at the Juneteenth Festival, and creating a workshop on climate change in collaboration with BCAC members. Attending the Bay Chapter Executive Committee meetings since June as a guest member reinforced my admiration for Sierra Club’s successful track record in protecting our environment and inspired me to help bring a fresh viewpoint to the Executive Committee.

Despite having lived and worked in different places in the past ten years (Eureka, Santa Barbara, Berkeley, CA; Hong Kong; Geneva, Switzerland; and Seattle, WA), I am most excited about living in the Bay Area and getting involved in the progressive, environmentally-conscious San Francisco Bay Area community.

I would be honored to have you vote for me for the Executive Committee of the Bay Chapter so together we can continue protecting the wild places of the earth.

Pat Piras

Patrisha (Pat) Piras

Residence: San Lorenzo

Occupation: public transit/paratransit consultant

Sierra Club member since 1994

Activities: Chapter ExCom (since 2010), SAC Group ExCom (2009 - 2013); Chapter Conservation Committee (Vice-Chair 2007 - 2011); Transportation & Compact Growth Subcommittee; Chapter Political Committee (since 2009); Chapter Delegate to Council of Club Leaders (2012 - 2013); Delegate to California/Nevada Regional Conservation Committee (CNRCC).

Statement: The Sierra Club goals to “Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet” help us work toward better environments for both nature and humans. We need thought­ful, energetic, inclusive leaders to help us achieve our Chapter’s role as part of the nation’s premier environmental organization.

State legislations such as AB32 and SB375 provide a framework to improve our communities on behalf of ourselves and future generations. The Club is literally a “vehicle” to a better future for all life on this planet, to reduce greenhouse gases, and to control climate change.

For the past two years, I have coordinated the work of the three Chapters in our region regarding the development of the first “Sustainable Communities Strategy” by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). This unprecedented cooperation among the SF Bay, Redwood, and Loma Prieta Chapters is the first time that Sierra Club has been able to formally speak with “One Voice” on transportation and land use issues that affect us all. I hope to continue on our Chapter’s Executive Committee to guide the implementation of our coordinated work.

I enjoy, respect, and want to protect our open spaces, wildlife, and natural resources. I recognize that the human environment must also be addressed—we need clean air and water, equitable access to public services, pedestrian-friendly communities, and action to confront climate change. The Sierra Club is one of the best agents for constructive activism, and I respectfully request your vote so that I can continue to represent our members and help our Chapter at all levels.

Ellen Spitalnik

Ellen R. Spitalnik

Residence: El Cerrito

Occupation: environmental lawyer and consultant

Sierra Club member since 1992; continuous since 2006

Activities: Member, El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee, 2009 to present.

Member, Board of Directors, Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, 1980 to present.

Sierra Club ICO, leadership training in early 2000’s.

US EPA environmental prosecutor, 1980 - 1990.

Statement: This is a pivotal time in our planet’s history. We must collaborate to overcome incredible challenges and make the SF Bay Area a leader in addressing climate and energy issues. With your support, I want to join the Sierra Club’s team of activists and meet the challenge of climate change with proactive solutions, creativity, and community engagement.

I am an environmental lawyer, educator and consultant with decades of environmental experience at the local, federal and international levels. I enjoy the Sierra back­country. I want to contribute my skills and passion as I work with the nation's most effective grassroots organization to protect the environment of the beautiful Bay Area, which we are so privileged to call home.

During my service on the El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee, I worked with visionaries who obtained grant funding to develop a Climate Action Plan. Much of our carbon emissions are linked to transportation, so issues of high quality transportation alternatives to the car and regional smart growth are key issues facing the SF Bay Chapter.

My experience prosecuting corporations dumping hazardous waste will help our work on another key energy issue: fracking. We need to address concerns of groundwater and air pollution as well as the potential for earthquakes and water scarcity.

If given the opportunity to work on your behalf, I will also contribute my fundraising acumen. See you on the trail!

Vinnie Bacon

Vinnie Bacon

Residence: Fremont

Occupations: Save the Bay, salesforce specialist; City of Fremont, Council member

Sierra Club member since 2001

Activities: Chapter Executive Committee Member 2009 - present; Chapter Political Committee 2004 - 2008 and 2012 - present; Southern Alameda County Group Chair 2007 - present; Southern Alameda County Group Executive Committee 2004 - present; Southern Ala­meda County Group Outings Leader 2013 - present

Statement: I’ve been very active in the Sierra Club over the last 10 years and would like to continue to serve on the SF Bay Chapter Executive Committee.

I’ve been an environmentalist since I studied Zoology back in the 80’s. I started my career as an environmental engineer. I later went back to graduate school to study city planning and transportation engineering with an emphasis on public transportation. My time working on our Chapter’s Political Committee taught me the importance of having good environmentalists in office. Last year I fought hard to win a seat on the Fremont City Council. My day job is now at Save the Bay.

As a current Executive Committee member, I’ve worked to build bridges with other progressive organizations. I currently serve on the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee. I represented the Alameda Labor Council on the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board. I continue to be a very active community member wearing a number of different hats.

I try to live as an environmentalist. I’m an avid hiker and bird watcher. I’m a vegetarian who grows food in his own backyard. My wife and I are active with the Local Ecology and Agriculture Fremont (LEAF) group which works on creating and managing community gardens in Fremont.

I recently became a certified Club outings leader and look forward to developing a strong local outings program.

Matt Morrison

Matt Morrison

Residence: Pleasanton

Occupation: post bar doctor of jurisprudence

Sierra Club member since 2002; continuous since 2004

Activities: Vice Chair for Delta Issues, CNRCC Water Committee 2009; Member-At-Large, S.F. Bay Chapter Executive Committee 2009; Chair, Tri-Valley Executive Committee 2009; Member, Tri-Valley Executive Committee 2005 - 2009; Chair, SF Bay Chapter Water Committee 2008 - 2009; Chair, SF Bay Chapter Nominations Committee 2005, 2008, 2009; Sierra Club Representative to the Altamont Landfill Community Monitoring Committee 2003 - 2004.

Statement: Waiting for bar exam results seems the perfect time for me to renew action with Sierra Club and the San Francisco Bay Chapter after my law school hiatus. Thankfully, the wheels of government have turned moderately slow since I last served on the Chapter Executive Committee. I am prepared to work with Executive Committee members to promote: 1) Sustainable water policies with an emphasis on conservation and recycling that do not depend on damaging exports through or around the Delta and that protect and preserve environmental flows; 2) Regional transportation planning that reduces reliance on cars and trucks by increasing funding for reliable, accessible, and affordable public transportation; and 3) Preserving open space by concentrating residential development with infill of existing city areas oriented with transit while recognizing reasonable limits to the size of sustainable communities in relation to schools, stores, water, utilities, and other infrastructure and amenities.

I am a life-long resident of the Bay Area, born in San Francisco and raised in Oakland and Pleasanton. At present my family and I live in Pleasanton (eastern Alameda County). I earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2000 and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from San Francisco Law School in 2013. Upon being admitted to the State Bar, I plan to practice immigration law in the Bay Area.

Max Perrey

Max Perrey

Residence: Mill Valley

Occupation: student

Sierra Club member since 2009

Statement: Climate Change is the number one issue facing the planet right now. It affects our food system, our water systems, wildlife habitats and human health. We must do everything we can at the local level to guard against climate change, and to prepare for its effects on society and our environment.

The Bay Area has led the way but there is more to do. On the energy front alone, we must continue our region's leadership on the clean energy front, encouraging local renewable energy generation, while discouraging fossil fuel use. Step one is ensuring that the permitting process for residential rooftop solar is clear and easy to navigate, something I hope to work on this coming year in Marin County.

Over the past four years that I have served on a local group Executive Committee, I have volunteered many hours to support environmental champions for local office and environmental ballot measures, to oppose a local big box store and efforts to weaken salmon protection regulations, to support efforts to reduce waste through banning single-use plastic bags, and to raise awareness about national and international environmental issues including climate change, hydraulic fracturing and water conservation. As Co-Chair of my group’s Membership Outreach, I have created and administered facebook and twitter accounts, corresponded with our website administer to ensure the group site is up-to-date, recruited new members of the Executive Committee when vacancies have occurred, and Co-Chaired our 2011 Gala event.

I believe I have gained the skills and knowledge necessary to be an effective voice for Sierra Club members. I will always make an effort to reach out and listen to club members even when I disagree. I hope to take this consensus driven approach to the SF Bay Chapter Executive Committee.

Olga Bolotina

Olga Bolotina

Sierra Club member since 2000; continuous since 2013

Statement: My lifelong love for nature was nurtured from early on in my childhood and strengthened by many nature trips, as well as through work with numerous wildlife rehabilitation organizations like Marin Mammal Center, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Mont­clair Veterinary Hospital and The Ygg­drasil Urban Wildlife Rescue, to name a few. I sincerely believe that our Club will greatly benefit from what I have learned. On the subject of learning, my MBA degree in Sustainable Management is an asset that I am both proud of and offer to the Club, as well as my significant background in political organizing, participation in group leadership, as well as event facilitation.

I am particularly passionate about dedicating my time and efforts to broadening the Club’s outreach efforts, as well as advancing sustainable education. Even though issues that Sierra Club and other environmental organizations are dealing with seemingly should be of a great concern to all people, it is far from truth. I think we need to rethink how we communicate sustainability to society. Being well attuned, sensitive and compassionate to peoples’ issues and finding ways to connect protecting the environment with solving their issues are keys to success.



Group ExComms

In addition to voting for the Chapter Executive Committee, members may vote in one group election, the group to which they belong.

Groups are the smallest geographic units of Sierra Club organization. The group ExComms are vital to keeping the Sierra Club function­ing at the most local level. They also serve to give leaders experience at running an organization of volunteers, experience that they can carry to the Chapter level.

Click on the name of a group to be brought to the groups's candidate statements:

Delta Group
Southern Alameda County Group
Marin Group
San Francisco Group
West Contra Costa County Group
Northern Alameda County Group
Mt. Diablo Group
TriValley Group

Delta Group

(There are 2 candidates. Vote for 2 or fewer.)

Lidia Campos

Residence: Brentwood

Sierra Club member since 2003; continuous since 2008

No photograph or candidate statement submitted.

Mitch Schweickert

Residence: Pittsburg

Sierra Club member since 1987; continuous since 2013

No photograph or candidate statement submitted.


Southern Alameda County Group Executive Committee

(There are 3 candidates. Vote for 2 or fewer.)

Jewell Spalding

Jewell (Hargleroad) Spalding

Residence: unincorporated Fairview, Hayward/Castro Valley

Occupation: lawyer (Hargleroad)

Sierra Club member since 1995; continuous since 2013

Activities: Energy Climate Committee; EBRPD Trails Council; Citizens Against Pollution; Hayward Area Planning Association; Citizens for Alternative Transportation Systems.

Statement: Our local ExComs are important decision makers on what local candidates should be endorsed and what positions should be taken both locally and by the SF Chapter. The fact that Alameda County has serious environmental challenges with which it is presently burdened and which it faces, makes our ExComs important in what choices and decisions are made.

I have lived in the unincorporated Fairview District, in the Hayward/Castro Valley area, since 1989. As an attorney and former president of my homeowners association for 15 years facing the two largest housing developments in the area, 5 Canyons and Stonebrae (both bordering Measure D), I have reviewed substantial and numerous Environmental Impact Reports, participated and litigated land use referendums and initiatives, and litigated environmental issues under CEQA, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and Coastal Zone Management Act. As a member of the East Bay Regional Park Trails Council, I have sought to develop and connect trails to the Ridge Trail in Southern Alameda County.

Additionally, I was one of the founding members of CAP, Citizens Against Pollution, organized to address Russell City Energy Center, a 600 megawatt gas fired thermal power plant, the second dirtiest power plant in the 9 bay area counties, located along the shoreline north of Highway 92, in western Alameda County, which the Air District has identified as a disadvantaged community that was already “too polluted” before RCEC. Starting up this summer, RCEC will emit up to 2 million tons of CO2 annually, but so far not one off site mitigation has been implemented. This needs to be addressed.

As a member of our ExCom, I will work to ensure that SAC is effective in achieving our environmental goals and mission.

Amy McGonagle

Amy McGonagle

"Local Democrats are mourning the loss of Amy McGonagle, who was the Bay Area’s regional field director for the Obama campaign last year and most recently had been a community organizer and scheduling director for Ro Khanna’s congressional campaign.

Amy McGonagle, 35, of Fremont, died Monday [November 11, 2013].

'I was deeply saddened by the news that the life of a key campaign staffer was cut tragically short this week,' Khanna said by email Wednesday. 'Amy McGonagle was a bright and vibrant young person who regularly inspired and lifted the spirits of the entire Ro for Congress family. She was one of the first people to join my campaign, and we continue to benefit from her contributions first as a community organizer and later as director of scheduling every day. My thoughts and prayers are with Amy’s family and friends during this terrible time.'"


Residence: Fremont

Occupation: environmental policy advisor

Sierra Club member since 2005; continuous since 2013

Activities: Southern Alameda County Group member, 2013 Sierra Club Lobby Day, 2012 Bay Area Regional Field Director for Organizing for America, political activist

Statement: I’ve always loved the outdoors, and as I grew up I became increasingly interested in wilderness and wildlife preservation. Although I started my career in accounting, I’ve volunteered for wildlife conservation and animal welfare groups for over 20 years. In 2005, I took a trip to South Africa to volunteer on an avian conservation project, expecting to be there for a few weeks and then return to my desk job. Instead, the experience changed the course of my life. I quit the accounting firm and returned to South Africa, studying conservation biology at the University of Cape Town, and volunteering on wildlife projects. Since then, I’ve worked in politics—currently, I’m the environmental policy lead on a Congressional campaign. I’m focused on promoting progressive stances on local issues like reducing mercury emissions at the Lehigh Cement Plant, and on national concerns like the Keystone XL Pipeline.

I’ve been a Sierra Club member since 2003, and volunteered with the political committee from 2003 - 2005. As an Executive Board member, I will prioritize getting more young people involved and addressing several Bay Area-specific issues. One of the biggest challenges we face is combating urban growth. We absolutely need green spaces, but as our population increases they become increasingly difficult to protect. Something I admire about the Sierra Club is that members are encouraged to get outdoors and enjoy the areas we fight for—a critical strategy for recruiting new members. My 10 years of business management and finance experience, as well as my grassroots organizing skills, will also be helpful to the Board.

Aytug Karalar

Aytug Karalar

Residence: Fremont

Occupation: electrical engineer

Sierra Club member since 2013

Activities: Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers (IEEE)—Santa Clara Valley (SCV) Graduates Of Last Decade (GOLD) Chapter Treasurer (2012 - 2013), Tri-city Democratic Forum member (2012 - 2013), Alameda County Democratic Central Committee associate member (2013)

Statement: When I was a child in Turkey, my father told me that the conqueror Tamerlane was able to hide his elephants in forests that once covered the now bare Anatolian steppes. My sadness to hear about such depletion has transformed into energy for action. I want to help protect the environment because it is our home and I want future generations to be able to experience California’s beauty and nature as I am able to.

California is facing serious environmental threats from fracking and subsequent water contamination. Fracking needs to be regulated before it ruins land and water resources in our beautiful state. This is one of my main concerns. I also am passionate about moving commuters from cars to bikes and improving bicycling infrastructure in the Bay Area. I look forward to teaming up with Sierra Club members and working on protecting our California.


Marin Group Executive Committee

(There are 4 candidates. Vote for 4 or fewer.)

In this group there are fewer candidates than vacancies. To inquire about procedures to fill vacancies after the election, contact Group chair Michele Barni at (415)453-4162.

Max Perrey

Max Perrey

Residence: Mill Valley

Sierra Club member since 2009

Statement: Climate Change is the number one issue facing the planet right now. It affects our food system, our water systems, wildlife habitats and human health. We must do everything we can at the local level to guard against climate change, and to prepare for its effects on society and our environment.

Marin County has led the way with Marin Energy Authority, with the county passing a resolution urging the Governor to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, and with a plastic bag ban in unincorporated Marin. But there is more to do. On the energy front alone, we must continue our county’s leadership on the clean energy front, encouraging local renewable energy generation, while discouraging fossil fuel use. Step one is ensuring that the permitting process for residential rooftop solar is clear and easy to navigate at the County, something I hope to work on this coming year.

I have been proud of the Sierra Club's leadership on so many key land use and environmental issues over the past four years that I have served on the Executive Committee. The Sierra Club has endorsed environmental champions for local office, supported the countywide ballot measure to fund open space and agriculture preservation, opposed both the Target and airport soccer projects in San Rafael, opposed efforts to weaken salmon protection regulations at the County, supported effects to reduce waste through banning single-use plastic bags, and co-sponsored numerous community environmental events to raise awareness about national and international environmental issues. I believe I have gained the skills and knowledge necessary to be an effective voice for Sierra Club members locally and have made an effort to reach out and listen to club members even when I have disagreed. I hope to continue this consensus driven approach to representing environmentalists in Marin on the local Sierra Club Executive Committee.

Louis Nuyens

Louis Nuyens

Residence: Forest Knolls

Occupation: consultant, various topic areas

Sierra Club member since 2001

Activities: Sierra Club Marin Group member, January 2004 - present; Sierra Club Marin Group Chair, January 2011 - present; Founding President and Executive Director of Watershed Preservation Network, 2001 - present; Environmental Forum of Marin board member 1997 - 99; Co-director Black Point Forest Rescue Project, 1994 - 99.

Statement: I have been an active environmentalist and advocate for most of my life; I believe in the goals and mission of the Sierra Club. I am keenly interested in development of ongoing, pro-active programs to keep Sierra Club preservation activities vital, and in facilitating increased involvement by members.

My primary areas of interest are:

  • Preserve valuable ecological habitat, open space, and agricultural lands
  • Prevent sprawl and over-development
  • Strengthen local environmental regulations and enforcement of existing regulations
  • Support evolution of transit-oriented development approaches toward ‘relo­cali­zation’ models in planning and redevelopment
  • Educate the general public about fundamental limitations on growth, the merits of ‘relocalization,’ the importance of ‘piecewise sustainability,’ and the impacts of overpopulation
  • Improve Sierra Club facilitation of internet-based ‘social networking’ for Club members and others

My environmental experience includes: founder and Executive Director of Watershed Preservation Network; a five-year campaign to preserve old-growth oak woodlands and seasonal wetlands in Black Point, Novato; serving on the Environmental Forum of Marin board; researching and commenting on local and statewide legislation, regulations, enforcement, and public process; drafting successful statewide legislation; creating a graphical research presentation on pollutant sources into the Russian River watershed; volunteering technical support and campaign consultation to environmentally progressive campaigns and candidates; environmental education program development.

I look forward with enthusiasm to continuing being involved in Sierra Club activities and leadership.

Michele Barni

Michele Barni

Residence: San Quentin Village

Occupation: paralegal

Sierra Club member since 2001; continuous since 2013

Activities: Sierra Club Marin Group Executive Committee Member 2003 - 2011; Conservation Committee 2011 - 2013; Membership Committee 2011- 2013; SF Bay Chapter Water Committee; SF Bay Chapter Executive Committee (current).

Statement: I was born and raised in the Bay Area and have lived in Marin County for 35 years. Having served on the Sierra Club Marin Group Executive Committee for 10 years, I am keenly aware of the challenges that face the Marin and Bay Area environments and hope to continue to work towards their preservation.

Important issues facing Marin are: Water/desalination, public transit, update of the Marin Countywide Plan and Coastal Plan, housing and development, landfill use, parks and trails use, streamside and salmon protection, etc. We need to make certain the environmental community has a say in how these issues are resolved and to advocate for the respect of our boundaries that nature has provided and learn to live within our means in a sustainable manner.

I will continue to work for the preservation of valuable ecological habitat, baylands, open space and agricultural lands; the prevention of sprawl and over-development; promotion of renewable energy, clean air transportation, recycling; strengthening of local environmental regulations and enforcement of existing regulations; promotion of truly sustainable communities where people can walk, ride bikes or take clean air public transit to work; and facilitation of expanded outreach to our members.

I am an active volunteer in various environmental, social justice and political community groups in Marin County, including the Sierra Club Marin Group, Marin Women’s Political Action Committee, Democratic Central Committee of Marin and volunteering for environmentally progressive campaigns and candidates.

I look forward to serving you on the Marin Group Executive Committee and to once again being fully involved in Sierra Club activities and leadership.

Sue Lattanzio

Susan Lattanzio

Residence: Novato

Occupation: chemist/biologist, non profit director, teacher/educator, marketing & business development.

Sierra Club member since 2003; continuous since 2011


  • 2009 - 2013 Sierra Club Marin Group Executive Committee
  • 2001 to current, president/ founding Director, Friends of Novato Creek
  • 2001 - 2009, appointed member Marin County Citizen Advisory Committee
  • 2002 - 2013, (appointed member) North Bay Watershed Association Watershed Council.
  • 2003 - 2013 Hamilton Restoration Advisory Board (appointed member)

Statement: I have been a member of the Sierra Club for many years and member of the Marin County Executive Com­­mittee Board for the past four years. I am looking forward to continuing to support and contribute to furthering the goals of the Sierra Club.

I am a 30-year resident of Marin County, and a 25-year resident of Novato. I am heavily involved in the issues of the Northern Marin watersheds as an environmental and community leader.

I hold degrees and worked professionally in both Biology/ Chemistry and have over 25 years of experience in business development and marketing management for technology based companies. I volunteer as an environmental educator for both children and adults in the sciences and lead projects including water quality monitoring, physical habitat assessment and endangered species issues. I am the director of Friends of Novato Creek, a 501c3 watershed group created for the purposes of protection of the Novato Creek and promoting public awareness, education and watershed management planning.

Some of the most important issues facing the San Francisco Bay Area include the protection of water quality, reducing pollution from stormwater runoff and clean up of toxic sites, protecting open space and wetlands preservation/ restoration. Issues in Marin include strengthening protection of endangered species, CEQA, reducing waste, environmental energy sources, traffic/congestion management, flood control and sea level rise and development in line with infrastructure and resources. Taking a leadership role in the Sierra Club Marin Group is important and I hope to continue to contribute significantly to the Sierra Club’s future goals.


San Francisco Group Executive Committee election

(There are 6 candidates. Vote for 5 or fewer.)

Sue Vaughn

Sue Vaughan

Residence: San Francisco

Sierra Club member since 1998; continuous since 2001

Statement: I have been active in the SF Group since 2006. I am most concerned about climate change, and believe the best ways to address this locally are through bolstering mass transit, making bicycling and walking safer, launching CleanPowerSF, and preserving and building affordable housing.

The affordable housing shortage and the continued loss of rent-controlled units are environmental crises that drive middle- and low-income people into car-centric suburbs. But I do not believe that the construction of a forest of market-rate residential towers—the current trend—is the best way to fight climate change. These projects generate revenue for below-market rate housing, which I support, but club support would require a sacrifice of past support of the 1984 shadow ordinance and height limits, and 1986 Prop. M construction limits in exchange for inadequate gains in BMR housing. The SC should support shorter projects with higher percentages of BMR.

Also, the SC should support preservation of current affordable housing stock. In 2012, I was instrumental in leading the club to oppose the demolition of 1,538 rent-controlled units at Parkmerced. More recently, I also participated in club support for legislation removing incentives to convert rent-controlled buildings to tenancies-in-common, which can be sold as condominiums forever removed from rent-control.

I also participated in recent negotiations to prevent the gutting of local implementation of the California Environment Quality Act, a crucial legal tool in forcing the government and project sponsors to adequately assess environmental impacts. As a part of Plan Bay Area—a regional response to state law to combat climate change, some parts over which the club is suing—SF is expected to grow by 150,000 people. CEQA must be robust as developers and the City prepare to accommodate new residents.

On behalf of the club, I have also written comments in response to the draft environmental impact reports, focusing on impacts to transit.

Howard Strassner

Howard Strassner

Residence: San Francisco

Occupation: retired mechanical engineer

Sierra Club member since 1961

Statement: This is the umpteenth that I have asked for your support for election to the SF Group Excom and I am happy that I have played a part in the Group’s many innovative efforts to improve transit and reduce driving in SF, even before we were aware of the impact of driving on Climate Change.

More than thirty years ago the City instituted massive reductions in the parking allowed for downtown offices and established the parking tax, both of which have reduced driving. Your Group has successfully supported further reductions in driving with: small reductions in minimum parking requirements; the use of a major portion of a small sales tax increase for transit, pedestrian and bicycle improvements; opposition to a ballot measure which would have used parking meter fees to build more garages; revamping the SF Metropolitan Transportation Agency and support for Bus Rapid Transit for moderate cost transit improvements.

Unfortunately we lose more times than we win. Your Group unsuccessfully: opposed major projects that were too costly for the transit provided, i.e. the excessive parts of the BART extension to SFO which has resulted in much less BART service to SFO than promised and the Central Subway which will further strain Muni operating finds. We unsuccessfully proposed SFPark type parking fees (almost twenty years before SF) for surface parking near the de Young. This would have provided necessary Park funding rather than building an expensive garage which resulted in high parking fees. We were also unable to convince voters to increase the parking tax as a way to fund better Muni service.

So there is a lot more to do and I and the Group need your support.

Bruce Balshone

Bruce Balshone

Residence: San Francisco

Occupation: city planning/government relations consultant

Sierra Club member since 1999

Activities: Present Executive Committee member of the San Francisco Group Sierra Club Bay Chapter; Online columnist for on San Mateo County public policy; Chair of the San Francisco Successor Redevelopment Agency Transbay Terminal Citizens Advisory Committee; Board member and regional transportation policy chairperson for San Francisco Tomorrow; Founding member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Statement: Prior to 1995, I worked as the city planner in three municipalities in San Mateo County. In 1995 I became the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, Coalition for a One-Stop Terminal (COST) which formed with the express mission to improve public transit for the residents of San Francisco and San Mateo County. Through my affiliation with COST, I became involved with various environmental and transportation organizations in the Bay Area.

Around then, I also became a member of the Board of Directors for San Francisco Tomorrow, and a member of the Sierra Club, in which I participated with both the Loma Prieta and San Francisco Group Bay chapters. Locally, I have served with the S.F. Group Bay Chapter on the Joint Transportation and Political Action Committee’s election subcommittee.

My most recent involvement with the Sierra Club Group has been serving for three years as an Executive Committee member and a member of the Conservation Committee, and for the last 12 years as a member of the Political Action Committee in assisting the Club with their endorsement of municipal candidates. I would like to continue working with the San Francisco Group Sierra Club Bay Chapter to improve the environment and public transit in San Francisco and beyond.

I respectfully ask for your vote.

Manish Champsee

Manish Champsee

Residence: San Francisco

Sierra Club member since 2005; continuous since 2010

Statement: Manish Champsee has lived in San Francisco for almost 15 years. Manish has spent the better part of the past 10 years volunteering at Walk San Francisco and turning it into a force at City Hall for safer and more pleasant streets for pedestrians and other sustainable modes of transportation. Manish looks forward to working on broader environmental issues with the Sierra Club.

Lotus Fong

Lotus Yee Fong

Residence: San Francisco

Sierra Club member since 2013

Statement: I got involved with Sierra Club by taking local hikes in the Bay Area and later volunteering with Michele Perrault, a past president, to host young interns from China and Taiwan and introducing them to many environmental and conservation organizations and activities in the Bay Area as well as Central Valley. My son was an environmental studies major at UC Berkeley, then went on to a public policy degree in international development at UCLA, and he runs a website with a climate change section. I grew up with an immigrant mother who practiced an ecological lifestyle and taught me the values of living simply. For over 30 years in San Francisco, I’ve been involved in all kinds of local, regional and national issues from the environment to the changing economy, from education and housing to planning and community organizing. I am current with issues such as TPP, TEP, Central Subway, high-speed rail, oil and mining industries, biotech and bioengineering, and the newly signed agreement between China and California for clean energy collaboration and all the political players and factors involved, including diversity and demographic factors. I’d like to contribute to Sierra Club’s historic and contemporary role in transforming society and serving people and nature. Thanks for your consideration.

John Rizzo

John Rizzo

Residence: San Francisco

Occupation: technology writer, college board member

Sierra Club member since 1982

Activities: Chapter Political Chair 2007 - present; Chapter Executive Committee Chair, 2005 - 2006, Vice Chair 2002 - 2004; San Francisco Group Executive Committee Member since 1998; Group Chair 2001 - 2004; Chapter Management Committee, 2005 - present. Previous committees: Cochair, Presidio Committee; Water Committee; Communications Committee

Statement: The environmental movement needs committed activists to answer the challenges of climate change and protecting the natural world. As a Sierra Club leader, I work with elected officials, groups, labor, and other non-profits to enact effective solutions.

I am the Sierra Club’s lead activist for CleanPower SF, a program that would build large amounts solar and wind and retrofit buildings for energy efficiency. I also helped pass the city’s successful GoSolarSF program that has created 6.5 MW of solar energy in the city, and am working to strengthen the program.

As the Chapter’s Political Chair, I lead the Club’s effort to elect candidates who will make the environmental a priority. Elected officials with the best environmental voting records are usually those that the Sierra Club helped elect to office.

I helped form Take Back Our Parks, a coalition fighting to protect our parks from commercialization and to preserve the bits of nature that exist in city parks.

I have also brought my environmental activism into public service. As a member of the Board of the SF Community College District, I led the effort to create the first District’s first sustainability plan, establish green jobs training, and pushed to make new buildings LEED certified.

I am an avid hiker and backpacker, and like to follow John Muir’s advice, to “keep close to Nature’s heart . . . and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

I ask for your vote so that I may continue to help lead the Sierra Club’s efforts in San Francisco.


West Contra Costa County Group

(There are 2 candidates. Vote for 2 or fewer.)

Gabriel Quinto

Gabriel Quinto

Residence: El Cerrito

Occupation: retired, human relations/recruiter, international law firm

Sierra Club member since 2013

Activities: AD15 Delegate 2013 - Present, California Democratic Party Delegate-At-Large 2012, Democratic National Convention Board Member, League of Women Voter’s West Contra Costa County Board Member, East Bay Stonewall Demo­cratic Club Board Mem­­ber, Vice President of Programs, El Cerrito Democratic Club Executive Board Member, West Contra Costa Commission on Aging Chairman, City of El Cerrito Human Relations Commission Member, City of El Cerrito Committee On Aging Former Board Member, Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center

Statement: I’m an El Cerrito resident and activist in West Contra Costa County, serving on local, county and regional boards and commissions. I strongly support the ongoing development, support and implementation of all alternative energy sources and modes of transportation. I support restoration of the Delta waterways, and a ban on fracking on Federal and State lands. I am proud to support the League of Conservation Voters and my hometown of El Cerrito on their program to end the use of plastic bags and styrofoam.

I was chosen as a Delegate-At-Large for the Democratic Party and attended the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC where I supported President Obama. As an elected California Democratic Party Delegate for Assembly District 15 (which includes North Alameda and West Contra Costa counties) I currently also serve as a member of the state’s Democratic Progressive and Environmental Caucuses.

I actively promote and support education on environmental issue. As a Board Member in charge of programs for the El Cerrito Democratic Club I have personally invited environmentalists such as EBMUD President Andy Katz to speak on clean water issues and California environmental bills such as SB375 and AB32. Through the League of Women Voters of West Contra Costa County, our Board hosted an event on climate change and the impact of rising waters due to global warming.

Eduardo Martinez

Eduardo Martinez

Residence: Richmond

Sierra Club member since 2013

Statement: I have helped to distribute over 10,000 fruit trees (a program taken over by the city of Richmond) to lower income Richmond residents and create several urban farms. I have worked with Local environmental groups to put pressure on Chevron to run a safer and cleaner refinery, and recently, helped to organize the August 3rd march and demonstration at the Richmond Chevron refinery. I currently am on board with the Richmond environmental Justice Committee and the Labor Occupational Health Program. I advocate endlessly at the Richmond city council on environmental issues from maintaining open spaces to protecting the air, water and soil.

My specific interest is in the preservation of open spaces within the city of Richmond. I am also concerned about the environmental impact that will be made by the Berkeley Lawrence National Lab when they move to the Richmond Field Station and that will be made by the future actions of Chevron. In general, I want to insure that the Bay Area has a unified plan to upgrade the quality of the environment and to preserve the open spaces that are shrinking much too quickly. I hope to bring my skills of analyzing and synthesizing various points of view to continue the great work of the Sierra Club.


Northern Alameda County Group Executive Committee

(There are 5 candidates. Vote for 5 or fewer.)

Igor Tregub

Igor Tregub

Residence: Berkeley

Occupation: engineer, Berkeley commissioner

Sierra Club member since 2008

Activities: Conservation Chair, Northern Alameda County (NAC) Group; Treasurer, SF Bay Chapter; CNRCC Delegate; Commissioner, Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission and Zoning Adjustment Board; Delegate/Legislation Committee, California Democratic Party; Membership VP, California Young Democrats; Member, Berkeley Climate Action Coalition

Statement: Preserving the environment has always been at the forefront of my work as a legislator and environmental advocate. As an elected and appointed Berkeley commissioner, I fought to expand recycling services initiatives in multifamily buildings and access to energy upgrade financing for home­owners and am campaigning to introduce a third (composting) bin to Oakland’s apartments.

Through the Sierra Club and Berkeley and Oakland Climate Action Coalitions, I’ve focused on building a blue-green alliance around issues like protecting the CEQA process locally and statewide, housing and transportation justice so that Bay Area residents can live close to where they work, and the creation of a Countywide clean energy joint powers authority (Community Choice Aggregation). I’ve been a strong advocate for the preservation of open space and water quality at our County’s public jewels like Berkeley’s Aquatic Park, Alameda’s Neptune Point, and the Eastshore State Park.

Through our work together, we successfully fended off significant attacks on the environment throughout Alameda County – all while elevating the stature of the Sierra Club and NAC as a knowledgeable and powerful ally in “protecting the wild places of the Earth.” I humbly ask for your vote to continue our joint efforts and, above all, to ensure that the NAC is strong, well-regarded, and always responsive to you—the Sierra Club member. I would welcome any thoughts and ideas you might have; please contact me at

Thank you for your consideration and vote!

Andy Katz

Andy Katz

Residence: Berkeley

Occupation: public-interest attorney

Sierra Club member since 2002

Statement: I joined the Sierra Club after working on the San Francisco Bay Chapter’s successful campaign to establish an urban limit line for Alameda County in 2000.  The challenges of curbing sprawl, cutting greenhouse gases, and protecting our natural resources will continue to persist.  Sierra Club must maintain a strong advocacy effort and build our grassroots so members can be a part of the process. 

My Sierra Club experience includes service as Chair of Sierra Club California, past Chair of the Northern Alameda County Group Executive Committee, past Co-Chair of the Bay Area Transportation Committee, and a member of the California Legislative Committee. 

My areas of conservation expertise include transportation, air quality and global warming, renewable energy, growth management, and water supply.  Professionally, I am a clean air attorney for Breathe California and am trained as a transportation and environmental planner.  I have served on the city of Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board, and am currently Board President of the East Bay Municipal Utility District.  I fought hard to defeat the proposal to expand Pardee Reservior because of the impacts on miles of the Mokelumne River, a wild and scenic habitat, and worked to double water conservation programs. 

In my role on the California Legislative Committee, I have worked closely with other state activists and staff to help advise our legislative program.  As Chair of the Sierra Club California, I worked to support ways in which Sierra Club California can maintain its strong legislative advocacy program, but also build strength through improved coordination and involvement of chapter-level grassroots capacity.  Our membership needs to grow to reflect the diversity of California, and more members need to get actively involved with our mission.  I expect to contribute my experience in policy and community organizing in continuing service on the Northern Alameda County Executive Committee. 

Andy Kelley

Andy Kelley

Residence: Berkeley

Occupation: online programs deputy, Democracy for America

Sierra Club member since 2013

Activities: Berkeley Public Works Commissioner, East Bay Young Democrats President, Alameda County Democratic Party Corresponding Secretary, California Democratic Party Environmental Caucus member, former staffer California League of Conservation Voters, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland member.

Statement: Protecting the environment and preserving our natural resources has always been important to me, both personally and professionally. One of my proudest professional accomplishments was our victory banning BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups while on staff at CLCV. As a new uncle I want to ensure I’m leaving behind a cleaner, safer California for my nephew to grow up in and enjoy.

As a long time environmental advocate and supporter of the national Sierra Club I look forward to the opportunity to bring my activism closer to home to advocate for our East Bay community. I know that we can make a difference for the environment through our advocacy work at the Sierra Club, because we helped elect Loni Hancock and she has been a wonderful champion for the environment, from working to impose real fines on dangerous polluters to defending AB 32. Having spent several months working from the Sierra Club offices during that campaign, working alongside members and volunteers, I know how powerful our voices can be together. I look forward to the opportunity to help empower Sierra Club members towards effective advocacy in the future.

I ask for your support of my candidacy and am honored by the opportunity to serve. If elected I will work to bring in a new generation of young people into the Sierra Club to continue the fight to protect our environment. Together we can build a stronger Sierra Club. Thank you for your consideration!

Kent Lewandowski

Kent Lewandowski

Residence: Oakland

Occupation: data analyst, health care industry

Sierra Club member since 1998

Activities: NAC Group Executive Committee, 2005 - 2013; NAC Group Chair, 2006 - 2010, 2012; SF Bay Chapter Executive Committee, 2010 - 2011; Sierra Club Hike Leader, 2009 - 2013

Statement: I am running for the NAC Group again to ensure that the group has the continuity it needs to develop and thrive in the future. I believe in the mission of the Sierra Club and recognize that the Club has an important role to play in the Bay Area and nationwide in framing the environmental debate. I believe that taking action on climate change is the challenge of our time. However, in order to truly change things the way that is needed, we have to convince the general population of the importance of this issue and not just take action ourselves. That is where a large and well respected organization like the Sierra Club has a role to play. I want to support efforts by the Chapter and by staff to engage with community groups and non profit organizations to raise awareness and take action on climate change. Our efforts to support local renewable energy plans is an example of taking action locally.

I have been a member of NACG since 2006, and am familiar to almost all the staff and members of the various Chapter leadership committees. I am a resident of Oakland who is engaged with local activist groups in my community. I appreciate your support, and thank you for your vote.

Sophie Hanh

Sophie Hahn

Residence: Berkeley

Occupation: community activist; retired attorney

Sierra Club member since 1994; continuous since 2007

Activities: (Current) SC NAC Group Executive Committee; SC NAC Conservation Committee; Berkeley Climate Action Coalition Community Choice Energy Working Group; Founder, Berkeley Edible Gardens Initiative & Shattuck Gar­dens Urban CSA; Member, Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board; Board, Berkeley Public Library Foundation. (Past) Chair, Berkeley Commission on the Status of Women; Board, Planned Parenthood Shasta Diablo; President, King Middle School PTA; (Member/Supporter) International Rivers, Earth Justice, NRDC, Earth Island Institute, The Story of Stuff, City Slicker Farms, Ecology Center.

Statement: Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda County Group (“NAC Group”) covers a region deeply committed to the environment and climate change. A multitude of local organizations promote environmental and social justice causes that align with Sierra Club priorities, presenting myriad opportunities to collaborate.

At the same time, the municipalities within our boundaries wrestle with the need to create housing, transportation and economic growth that is sustainable and includes meaningful access to parks and open space. Our natural environment and local species, including human beings, are threatened by toxins, emissions, waste and other practices which strain local and global ecosystems. All of these call for our participation and response.

As volunteers with limited infrastructure to support our work, the NAC Group is challenged to respond to the many important and often complex issues which come before us, and to initiate and lead on our own identified priorities.

My focus as a member of the Executive Committee is to build the organization’s capacity on every front. Build diversity, membership and participation. Build partnerships with activists and organizations in our local communities. Build initiatives that have maximum relevance and impact. Build organizational capacity, and capacity for fund­raising and outreach. With deep experience in law, policy, governance, community organizing, advocacy, fundraising and management, I respectfully ask for your vote, and look forward to continuing to serve you.


Mount Diablo Group Executive Committee

(There are 3 candidates. Vote for 3 or fewer.)

Mike Daley

Residence: San Pablo

Sierra Club member since 1988; continuous since 1994

No photograph or candidate statement submitted.

Jim Gibbon

Residence: Castro Valley

Sierra Club member since 2003; continuous since 2011

No photograph or candidate statement submitted.

Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen

Residence: Lafayette

Occupation: finance

Sierra Club member since 2007; continuous since 2013

Activities: Bank of America Global Environmental Council, U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance, Advisory Committee on two Renewable Energy Private Equity Funds, Director on 13 Private Corporate Boards. Contributor to The Nature Conservancy, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Redwood Forest Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Audubon Society and numerous other environmental and wildlife organizations.

I may not be the typical Sierra Club nominee but I have a deep appreciation for the environment we impact and have become involved in various environmental initiatives in recent years. I believe that my combination of business, finance and environmental knowledge and passion will bring a practical and pragmatic viewpoint to the Sierra Club Diablo Group Executive Committee. My professional role at Bank of America involved deploying capital towards redwood forests, wind, solar, fuel cells, etc., and I had several leadership positions which included being a member of the BofA Global Environmental Council. This council was comprised of senior management from across the institution and was the central group where the bank’s environmental policies were discussed and implemented.

My family and I are very active outdoors­men and women. We are hikers, bikers, equestrians, and serious nature and wildlife photographers. At this juncture in my career I want to give more back to the community in areas I strongly believe in. I am able to devote the necessary time to the Sierra Club Group Executive Committee.

The most effective path towards achieving the Sierra Club’s goals is to bring together individuals, governments, and private enterprise to find common ground and practical solutions to the enormous issues before us.

I respectfully ask for your support for the Sierra Club Diablo Group Executive Committee.


Tri-Valley Group Executive Committee

(There are 2 candidates. Vote for 2 or fewer.)

In this group there are fewer candidates than vacancies. To inquire about procedures to fill vacancies after the election, contact Group chair Janis Kate Turner at (925)344-6150.

Donna Cabanne

Donna Cabanne

Residence: Livermore

Occupation: high school teacher

Sierra Club member since 1988; continuous since 2012

Activities: Tri-Valley Ex. Com. Member from 1999 to 2013, Sierra Club representative for Alta­mont Environmental Education Board, Sierra Club representative for Community Monitor Committee, worked on Measure D and helped defeat Par­dee Initiative

Statement: Complete urban growth boundaries around Livermore and Pleasanton protect many unique parks, agricultural resources and open space areas. Unfortunately, Dublin does not have a completed urban growth boundary and remains at risk for runaway development.

We need to work together to achieve a completed UGB for the Dublin area. Other critical issues and concerns that need our attention and support include preserving open space in and around Tesla Park, improving green building codes, improving air/water quality, and increasing recycling efforts in the Tri-Valley area. As an executive committee member, I will continue to work for a better valley environment for our families and our future.

Janis Turner

Janis Kate Turner

Residence: Livermore

Occupation: retired public school teacher

Sierra Club member since 1986; continuous since 2013

Activities: Tri-Valley Executive Committee, Sierra Club Representative to Friends of Tesla Park

Statement: I was active is getting an Urban Growth Boundary for Livermore (Measure D) and remain actively involved in protecting the boundary from attempted infringements. I regularly campaign for Sierra Club endorsed candidates in state legislative elections and each year participate in Sierra Club Lobby Days in Sacramento.

Currently, I am the Sierra Club representative to “Friends of Tesla”, working to keep this 3,400-acre preserve from becoming an off-road motorized vehicle park.

I am running for re-election because it is my passion to preserve the environmental integrity of our Tri-Valley.