818-597-8627 info@rcdsmm.org

Staff

Our Administrative Staff

Clark Stevens Headshot

Clark Stevens, Executive Officer & Architect

Clark is a teacher, conservationist, and architect specializing in design for culturally and ecologically critical places. Ecological restoration to create recreational, educational, economic and spiritual value is at the core of his design practice.  He is the architect of the recently completed Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project and the recently released Liberty Canyon Wildlife Overpass, which will be the largest of its kind in the world.  In addition to leading his architectural and land planning practice, New West Land Company, Inc., Clark serves as Executive Officer of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains.  A lifelong naturalist, Clark serves on the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Board of Governors, is an instructor for and “Friend” of the Arid Lands Institute, a past advisory board member of Montana Audubon and a Life Member of Trout Unlimited.

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Lisa Rand, Office & Human Resource Manager

Bio coming soon…

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Dan Cooper, Dep. Exec. Officer & Prin. Conservation Biologist

Dan is a lifelong resident of southern California, and is regarded as an expert on the birds and natural history in southern California. Through research and independent consulting, he has spent more than 20 years conducting surveys and drafting reports in the region, and co-authored a landmark conservation analysis for the Santa Monica Mountains Coastal Zone for L.A. Co. Department of Regional Planning in 2014. Prior to being an independent consultant, Dan was the Conservation Director for Audubon California in the early 2000s, where he helped develop the Audubon Center at Debs Park, and wrote Important Bird Areas of California. Dan has published several dozen peer-reviewed papers on biodiversity patterns and local plant and wildlife species, and was named a Research Associate in the Department of Ornithology at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum in 2020. Since 2012, he and his family have made their home in Oak Park.

Rebeka Ruiz_Staff Headshots

Erin Sweeney, Accounting Specialist

Bio coming soon…

Our Education Staff

Marilyn Brody French Headshot

Marilyn Brody French, Director of Education & Engagement

Marilyn Brody French joined the RCD in 2020 as a Conservation Biologist, and in 2021 decided to further serve the RCD’s mission by taking on the role of Education Coordinator.

She began youth program development in 2017 while simultaneously achieving a masters from Cornell University in Conservation and Community Development, bringing real-world perspectives on earth stewardship and sustainability to youth programs. Throughout her 10 years of conservation research, her passion has always centered on sharing with young hearts the wonder of nature.

“Through my experience, I’ve learned that children, with their extraordinary curiosity, are the natural adventurers and scientists of our world and therefore the solutionists of our future. The RCD’s unique ability to weave local research into environmental education encourages kids to be just that – solutionists and caretakers of our land. And that’s why I’ve chosen to be here.”

Jelly Kahler Headshot

Jelly Kahler, Education & Engagement Supervisor

Angelica Kahler (pronouns: she, her, hers), better known as Jelly around the office, is the RCD’s Education and Communications Specialist. Jelly started with the RCD in October of 2018 as a Watershed Stewards Program (or WSP) Member. She graduated from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA in 2016 with Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology. As the Education and Communications Specialist, Jelly will lead environmental education field programs as well as classroom science programs, develop education and outreach materials, expand upon current education programs and develop new opportunities for environmental education, develop and coordinate community-based science programs, and coordinate RCD outreach through social media, newsletters, blog posts, virtual fundraising campaigns and annual reports. Jelly will also be charged with coordinating volunteer events.

Our Land Evaluation & Planning Staff

Bella Isles

Bella Isles, Environmental Designer

Isabella is an environmental designer skilled in analyzing and developing place-based solutions within the wildland-urban interface. She joined the RCD in 2022 shortly after graduating with high honors from UC Berkeley. She utilizes her degree in Environmental Design and minor in History of the Built Environment everyday, using geographic information systems, 3D modeling, and site specific storytelling.

Fun Fact: Isabella loves nature, snowboarding and especially beekeeping.

Our Research & Restoration Staff

Rosi Dagit Headshot

Rosi Dagit, Principal Conservation Biologist

Rosi has been working at the RCDSMM since she moved to Los Angeles in 1987. She has initiated and coordinated numerous research, restoration and monitoring projects throughout the Santa Monica Mountains, starting with studies of Malibu Lagoon, Leo Carrillo State Beach and moving inland to watershed level analysis and sensitive species monitoring. She has published numerous technical papers, as well as a children’s book, Grandmother Oak. Currently Rosi serves as a member of the Los Angeles County Environmental Review Board and leader of the Topanga Creek Stream Team and is a certified Arborist. Rosi is also a member of the Los Angeles County Beach Commission, technical advisor for the CA Oak Foundation and former member of the City of Malibu Environmental Review Board.

Jamie King Headshot

Jamie King, Senior Conservation Biologist

Jamie joins the RCDSMM with over 20 years of professional experience in resource conservation, restoration, environmental planning, and land management in Southern California. Jamie enjoys working with public, private and non-profit partners to problem solve local environmental issues and facilitate community involvement. She recently had the pleasure of supporting such projects as the Malibu Lagoon restoration, removal of barriers to steelhead migration along Arroyo Sequit Creek and planning for the removal of Rindge Dam, among others.  Her favorite days are spent tromping along local creeks surveying for special-status species and reconnecting to the land.

Alyssa Morgan

Alyssa Morgan, Conservation Biologist Project Manager

Bio coming soon…

Isaac Yelchin

Isaac Yelchin, Biology Field Technician

Isaac is a Biological Field Technician with the RCD and a Topanga local. He first began with the RCD as an Environmental Educator and a part of the Stream Team. After three years honing his trout monitoring skills with Fish and Wildlife he returned to the RCD to study the creeks that raised him. Isaac loves all animals but gets extra doey-eyed when he encounters a reptile or amphibian. Aside from a desire to conserve the creeks and their inhabitants Isaac also wants to understand the burning question, what is it like to be an animal?

Luke Benson in stream

Luke Benson, Watershed Stewards Member

Bio coming soon…

Our Community Resilience Staff

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Shelly Backlar, Community Resilience Director

Bio coming soon…

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Pauline Allen, Community Resilience Project Manager

Pauline joined the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains as their first GrizzlyCorps Fellow, an Americorps program dedicated to increasing wildfire resilience and regenerative agriculture. She has a background in education, having worked for her family’s solar education nonprofit, The Rahus Institute in Northern California and taught preschool in Oregon. Pauline holds a B.S. in ecology from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and a certificate of fine art from Rønnongen Folkehøgskole in Oslo, Norway. She plans to combine her skills in ecology, education, and art to work in science communication and social justice. Pauline is concerned about the inequalities of climate change and disaster response/preparedness. At RCDSMM she’ll be working on community resiliency and helping people in the wildland-urban interface prepare their homes for wildfire. In her free time Pauline likes to bike, hike, and play music in community street bands.

Danielle Picciano

Danielle Picciano, Community Resilience Specialist

Danielle Picciano began her journey at RCD as an education docent and after completing her degree in environmental science, took on a full-time position as the RCD’s official Team Lead. Danielle now works under our four main departments – Environmental Education, Research & Restoration, Environmental Services, and Community Resilience. Danielle has enjoyed working on a variety of different restoration projects and has been a part of many biological surveys within the Santa’s Monica Mountains. She has also found joy working with the community through education programs and teaching district members about wildfire safety. With many roles to fill she is always learning new skills and truly lives up to her belief that variety is the spice of life!

Arezo Sarwary

Arezo Sarwary, Community Resilience Specialist

Arezo has always loved observing plants, animals and insects. She went to UCLA to study Geography & Environmental studies with a minor in conservation biology. After graduation, she interned at the Council for Watershed health doing outreach, GIS mapping, and water monitoring to study and protect the Los Angeles watersheds. She then joined the RCD team as an Environmental Educator while also completing the NFPA wildfire preparedness training. She has been working the last year in the Wildland Urban Interface as a wildfire home evaluator and coordinating community resilience projects concerning wildfire preparedness, home hardening, and defensible space landscaping.

Fun Fact: When Arezo is not working, she loves gardening and hanging out in nature taking pictures of all the wonderful creatures. 

Directory

To reach a staff member, dial 818-597-8627 plus the extension below.

Staff Member Position Extension Email address
Clark Stevens Executive Officer x 105 Send an email to Clark
Dan Cooper Deputy Executive Officer & Principal Conservation Biologist x 101 Send an email to Dan
Lisa Rand Office & HR Manager x 102 Send an email to Lisa
Erin Sweeney Accounting Specialist x 101 Send an email to Erin
Marilyn Brody French Director of Education & Engagement x 103 Send an email to Marilyn
Jelly Kahler Education & Engagement Supervisor x 103 Send an email to Jelly
Shelly Backlar Community Resilience Director x 104 Send an email to Shelly
Pauline Allen Community Resilience Project Manager x 104 Send an email to Pauline
Danielle Picciano Community Resilience Specialist x 104 Send an email to Danielle
Arezo Sarwary Community Resilience Specialist x 104 Send an email to Arezo
Isabella Isles Environmental Designer x 101 Send an email to Isabella
Rosi Dagit Principal Conservation Biologist x 106 Send an email to Rosi
Jamie King Senior Conservation Biologist x 106 Send an email to Jamie
Alyssa Morgan Conservation Biologist Project Manager x 106 Send an email to Alyssa
Brandon Osorio Biology Field Technician x 106 Send an email to Brandon
Isaac Yelchin Biology Field Technician x 106 Send an email to Isaac
Luke Benson WSP Member x 106 Send an email Luke