Board of Directors

Katie Poole, Board Chair

Katie Poole is a devoted member of the “Coffee Hikers,” and wants to work to protect open space in the San Gabriel Valley.  Katie is also the proud leader of 6 backpacking, Gold Award Girl Scouts. Katie joined the Descanso Gardens Guild Board after 15 years at Walt Disney Imagineering’s Research and Development, where she directed software prototyping teams, pre-ceded by 10 years in technology companies.  After years in planning and tech, Katie immersed herself into creating and applying Descanso’s long term plan over 9 years.  Now Katie joins the AFC board aiming to contribute her professional planning background and UCLA MBA to the conservancy effort.  When not hiking, Katie chairs the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors.

Don Hall, Treasurer

Don Hall has been a resident of Pasadena for over 30 years. He is on the Advisory Board for Pasadena Heritage and is Treasurer for Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy.  Each Sunday his hiking group ascends up a trail in the San Gabriel mountains to engage in nature.  Over the years he has served on several non-profit boards, including Pasadena Heritage.  Currently he is a financial advisor at Hall Capital, which he founded.

Olivia Garfield, Secretary

Born in Albany, NY, Olivia grew up in Boston.  She attended Williams College and Boston University, then married a Californian and has lived in Pasadena for thirty years.  She taught piano at PCM for ten years before devoting herself to raising three children and exploring the outdoors.  Hiking has always been her preferred activity, especially here in the San Gabriel Valley.  Olivia volunteers in a reading program at Hillsides Education Center and serves on the Board of Trustees at Hiram College in Ohio.  She also gives garden tours at the Huntington focusing on the history of the Huntington family and, of course, the incredible botanical diversity there.  She looks forward to helping steward the land that has brought her such enjoyment.

Janice DaVolio

Janice DaVolio, MD, is a Dermatologist in Pasadena, and has been a voluntary faculty at LAC/USC Department of Dermatology since 1993. Janice is a 22-year volunteer for Young and Healthy and is on the board of the Phil Simon Clinic Tanzania Project participating in medical missions in Tanzania. She is an avid hiker of local trails and is a member of the Glendale Trail Safety Patrol. Janice is a former girl scout leader and wants to help preserve open spaces for wildlife as well as for hikers.

Matt DeVoll

Jane Herrmann

Ethan Lipsig

Ethan attended Pomona College, Oxford University, and UCLA Law School.  A partner for more than 30 years in the Los Angeles office of the international law firm, Paul Hastings LLP, he specialized in compensation and employment matters, representing many of the most prominent companies in the world.  He invented or pioneered numerous new concepts, such as the 401(k) plan, nonqualified savings plans for partnerships, and using convertible debentures for equity grants.  He also wrote a number of legal treatises, such as the leading treatise on workforce restructuring.  Ethan serves or has served on the boards of four other non-profits, most notably, The Huntington Library (where he chaired its Botanical Gardens Committee for six years) and Pasadena Heritage.  Ethan and his wife, Joanne, own an off-the-grid cabin near Kearsarge Pass in the Sierras. They are frequent hikers there, in the Alps, and the Canadian Rockies.  They live in Pasadena’s lower Arroyo Seco at a house frequented by bobcats.  

Joe Rohde

Joe is an Altadena resident and Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, the branch of the Disney Company that creates everything from cruise ships, to theme parks, to rides and attractions, to hotels and infrastructure systems. Joe has spent thirty seven years with the company, starting his career as a model designer on Epcot, and continuing with projects at Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World, Paris Disneyland Resort, and Hawai‘i. He is also a Fellow of the renowned Explorer’s Club. His personal adventures have taken him to many of the most remote corners of the world.

Laura Garrett Solomon

Born in Pasadena, Laura Garrett has been an environmentalist all of her life.  She currently serves as president of the Pasadena Audubon Society after ten years as their conservation chair, and she recently completed her second term on the City of Pasadena’s Environmental Advisory Commission. She is President of the Pasadena Chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood.   Professionally, she is a writing consultant after teaching Rhetoric and Composition at Cal State L.A. for over 20 years, and her pastimes include birding, camping, hiking, reading, singing, and gardening.

Phil Swan



George Abdo

George retired in 2011 as Vice President for Advancement for the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, upon completion of a campaign that raised $244 million. In his 9 years the Advancement office raised over $500 million. He previously served 24 years in the senior administration at USC, focusing on fundraising.  Earlier in his career he organized what is now known as the Southern California Grantmakers, and also worked on the staff of the Norton Simon Foundation. Holding a Ph.D. in religion and social ethics, he is a scholar in the field of philanthropy, with particular expertise about the responsibilities of nonprofit trustees.  He is also a Presbyterian minister. A 35-year resident of Pasadena, George grew up roaming the wilds of the Hollywood Hills, summering in the San Bernardino Mountains, and skiing and backpacking in the High Sierra.  In retirement George enjoys advising nonprofits on organizational strategy, board development and fundraising.

Denis Callet

Denis Callet, wildlife tracker and photographer, has over 10 years of experience photographing images of animals in the wild.  He utilizes custom made equipment to provide the lighting needed to capture detailed images.  He helps AFC gather data and provides beautiful images of animals on AFC properties.  Check out his photo gallery at:

Mark Duttweiler

Trained as a mechanical engineer (PhD, Caltech) Mark has developed an eclectic mix of skills in scientific research and analysis, machining and fabrication, information technologies, intellectual property management, business development, and graphic design.  Mark advises AFC on the collection and structured storage of field data, performs spatial analyses of the data, and produce maps communicating study results and guiding land acquisition and field activities.

Thomas Juhasz

Thomas is an endangered species biologist and environmental planner. His work on environmental issues has led him through California to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. He currently serves as an environmental project manager for AECOM, working as coordinator for the California High-Speed Rail project. In his spare time Thomas enjoys horseback riding, and is working to earn a falconry permit.

Roger Klemm

Roger Klemm is a software enginner at the Jet propulsion Laboratory, and has been involved with various community goups promoting conservation and environmentally sensible landscaping for over 20 years.  He has renovated community and school gardens, planted trees in local parks, and is introducing native plants on the campus where he works ("guerilla gardening").  He is involved with the eradication of invasive exotic plants in the Angeles National Forest and at the Rosemont Preseve, and is spearheading the renovation of a community entrance garden at Sunland Boulevard and the 210 freeway in Sunland.  Roger has a wealth of real-life knowledge of native plants, both where and how they grow in the wild, and how they can grace our cultivated landscapes.

Mickey Long

Mickey retired in 2011 from his position as natural areas administrator for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, having spent 39 years working in the county's Natural Areas Division. As administrator, Mickey operated the Eaton Canyon Nature Center in Altadena, along with 18 other natural areas. He has taught college environmental biology and human ecology courses, and currently teaches bird identification, botany and ecology classes for the county's nature centers. Mickey is vice president and rare plant chair for the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, as well as a past president of the Pasadena Audubon Society. He advises AFC in habitat evaluation and restoration and assists with public education.

John Lynch

John has worked as a consulting arborist and landscape manager in the Los Angeles area for the last 20 years specializing in urban forestry and restoration ecology. He managed the nursery and grounds at Treepeople’s center for community forestry where he studied arboriculture. He also served as the resident caretaker at the Theodore Payne Foundation where a deep appreciation of the California landscape was reinforced. He is currently spearheading the Altadena Community Garden revitalization project which will showcase local native and useful Mediterranean plants. He first fell in love with his wife and Millard canyon when they hiked to the waterfall there on their first date. They now live near the mouth of the canyon and have been committed to restoring and protecting it as an important watershed and wildlife corridor.

Barbara Nielsen

Barb grew up hiking in local woods and nature preserves near Chicago.  She is a CPA, MBT with a boutique tax practice, she volunteers for Girl Scouts and is a member of the Friends of Rosemont Preserve.  After hearing about the fund raising needed to buy the Rosemont Preserve, she and her husband helped their daughter and her nature club friends raise money for AFC at their elementary school.  Barb helped start the student education program at Rosemont and she enjoys teaching elementary school students about native plants, trees and more at Rosemont.  Her Girl Scout Troop was the first to earn a GS award at Rosemont.  The Troop’s Bronze project is a docent guide of native plants and trees with original photos and research including Latin and Tongva names with key assistance from Rich Toyon.  She helps Girl Scout Gold and Silver candidates with projects for AFC.

Lew Phelps

Lew has been a resident of Pasadena for three decades. He and his wife have been very active in historic preservation matters in the community, and he sees preservation of the natural environment and the built environment as equally important. He is semi-retired as a public relations consultant, having worked for more than 50 years in the fields of journalism (as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Rocky Mountain News and Estes Park (CO) Trail) and public relations, including heading the PR departments of Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern California Edison, as well as 20 years of crisis PR consulting. Lew grew up in Colorado and spent much time in remote parts of the Colorado Rockies, so his attachment to the rugged peaks, canyons and foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains comes naturally.

E.J. Remson

E. J. Remson, Senior Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy in California, supervises both the Santa Clara River Project and has worked on other projects in Southern California. He joined The Nature Conservancy in 2000 as director of the Santa Clara River & Coast Project after working in the fields of urban planning and commercial real estate development for 24 years. Mr. Remson’s planning career spanned 12 years, much of it as planning administrator for the City of Pasadena. He began his career in commercial real estate development, working on retail, industrial, office, and hotel projects throughout southern California. His interest in the preservation of natural lands led him to specialize in planning for growing communities without contributing to urban sprawl. With The Nature Conservancy he has acquired nearly 50,000 acres valued at over $100M and works with local government agencies to protect wildlife linkages, promote green infrastructure and implementation of the California Groundwater Sustainability Act. He has a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from California State Polytechnic University, and a master’s degree in real estate development from the University of Southern California. He holds a California Broker’s License and has served on the boards of nonprofit organizations.

Sharon Scull

Marc Stirdivant

Marc was a senior administrative analyst for the City of Glendale's Community Services and Parks Department, where he serves as grants administrator and supervises trails and open space programs for the city's 5,000-plus acres of open space. Marc represented Glendale on the advisory committee to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. He was chairman of VOICE (Volunteers Organized in Conserving the Environment), a Glendale-based open-space and environmental advocacy organization. He was a former board member of the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy and a tireless advocate for conservation.  Marc sadly passed on July 30th, 2019.  He will be missed and his life celebrated by all of us at AFC.

Rich Toyon

A 14th generation Native Californian and La Crescenta native, Rich Toyon is a cinematic production designer by profession, conservationist by heart.  He is active in Boy Scouts, local politics, and in representing the Tongva Nation for various environmental and public issues and serves on the board of directors for the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center.  Rich has been the guiding hand for many boy scout eagle projects on AFC properties.  He is the president of V.O.I.C.E., Volunteers Organized In Conserving the Environment and current member of the Friends of the Rosemont Preserve.

Johanna Turner

Johanna, wildlife photographer and tracker, has over 10 years of experience tracking and capturing images of wildlife.  She studied through the UC Davis Mountain lion study in Anza Borrego State Park and completed several tracking classes.  She gives public presentations about mountain lion behavior and coexisting with wild predators.  She works closely with the National Parks Service to document mountain lion movement patterns and health in advance of their plans to collar the cats.  Johanna shares the trail camera's view of animals on her Facebook page and and also helps document wildlife on AFC's website.

Tim Wendler

Tim is a professional environmental engineer, and is currently managing a national program of projects for an international petroleum client. He is the former chair of AFC as well as both the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee and the Pasadena Recreation and Parks Commission. He is also an Advisory Committee member for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. He lives in Pasadena.

John Wros

John is an M.S. and M.P.A candidate at the University of Washington where he studies spatial ecology and wild-lands management. Having earned a B.A. in geology from nearby Occidental College, John has since worked in environmental geology and conservation from California to Alaska. Principally using geospatial tools for habitat prioritization and monitoring, his contributions to conservation include identification and stewardship of single land owner conservation easements, agricultural easements, and private and public acquisitions in excess of 40,000 acres. Currently away from California, John uses mapping and cartography to help inform AFC's conservation strategy and to visually tell the story of our lands.

Amanda Zellmer

Amanda Zellmer is an Assistant Professor at Occidental College studying spatial computation ecology with an emphasis on applications for conservation biology. Her research utilizes species distribution modeling and landscape analyses to investigate how species populations shift in response to environmental change, including global climate change and habitat fragmentation. She is especially interested in how organisms utilize and move through urban environments and is particularly fond of amphibians, such as the slender salamanders of California.

Friends Groups

Friends of Cottonwood Canyon

Friends of Millard Canyon

Friends of Rosemont Preserve

Friends of Rubio Canyon


John Howell, Chief Executive and General Counsel

John became AFC's first Executive Director in July, 2010, having served before that on the board of directors. He is also a practicing attorney specializing in real estate, business, and contract law. John represented The Nature Conservancy in acquiring 14 open-space properties, and the Trust for Public Land in acquiring three. He was a founding member of Open Space Now, an advocacy group for natural open space in Pasadena, and is a member of the Arlington Garden Advisory Committee. John is a lifelong Pasadena resident.

Barbara Goto, Director of Operations

Barbara grew up hiking and skiing in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada.  An avid volunteer, Barbara joined forces with AFC when she discovered them raising funds to acquire the Rosemont Preserve, adjacent to her backyard.  A published author with degrees in Journalism and Law, Barbara writes and administers AFC’s grants and annual reports.   She works hard to facilitate new and stronger relations with local schools in the AFC service area and is a champion of our "Friends of" model of property management.

Tim Martinez, Land and Program Administrator

Tim Martinez graduated from Cal State University, Northridge with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies and Planning, with an emphasis on environmental planning and sustainability.  Tim works to help AFC more actively engage and connect its protected lands and conservation efforts with the communities we serve.  A lifelong Pasadena resident, Tim is passionate about preserving native habitat and creating a world free of plastic pollution.

Jennifer Taylor, Donor Administrator

Jennifer came to AFC following a 20 year career with a statewide non-profit organization, where she was responsible for fundraising for 50 different health charities. During that time she worked side by side with environmental groups and often spoke in the community to raise money for them, too. Working with AFC today is a natural expansion of that work. She is happy to be working with the local land conservancy in her backyard and to know the generous volunteers that keep AFC's heart beating.