Board and Staff Biographies
Kim Rago, Executive Director, Environmental Forum of Marin
Kim grew up in the East Coast and received a biology degree from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine. She was inspired by her father, an environmental steward and author of the book, Stepping Stones across New Hampshire. After relocating to the West Coast, Kim owned a retail business in San Francisco called Trellis and later worked for Smith & Hawken. Kim became a Marin Master Gardener in 2003, earned a Sustainable Practices Certificate from Dominican University in 2012 and was accepted into Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Training in 2017 as well as being appointed to Marin’s Flood Control Advisory Board. Since 2010 she has held several Board positions for Environmental Forum including Secretary, Membership Director, and Events Director before becoming the Executive Director in June 2016.
Susan is a native of Berkeley, CA, but has lived in Marin since 1972. During the past twenty years she has worked as an interior designer, specializing in residential remodeling, after going back to school to get a degree in Interior Design. Prior to that Susan had a twenty year career in trust banking, bank management and systems management (she also has a master’s in Organization Development). Susan has a heartfelt interest in wildlife protection and was a Wildcare Board member for eleven years (and also past President). Susan has held many positions with the Forum including Secretary, Vice President, President, Membership Director, and Development Director. Susan's husband Conn is a retired computer consultant and they have a daughter and four grand children. Susan is a strong believer in advocacy through the political process.
Karen Mendelow Nelson’s professional background is a synthesis of science education and educational administration, with experience primarily with The Exploratorium in San Francisco and University of California Berkeley. A long time environmental educator and advocate, she has also served as a program manager, science educator, and curriculum developer. Currently she is a full-time Research Administrator and Grants Analyst, managing the sponsored project portfolios for 8 Principal Investigators. Her skills cover a range of administrative management and program services including leadership in program scoping, teaching, grants and contracts, fiscal management, event production, and building and maintaining collaborative working relationships with academics, staff and community.
Kirsten has more than ten years of professional experience in environmental non-profits including program management, communications, and outreach with focuses on green business, land use advocacy and community education. She earned her B.A. in Environmental Planning, and was accepted into the Bioneers’ Cultivating Women’s Leadership Program. She is a lifelong resident of the west coast having lived in Sacramento, Spokane, Seattle, San Francisco, and more, making Marin became her permanent home in 2014. In Kirsten’s free time, you can find her exploring California’s wild places with her two children who inspire her daily.
Barbara Ball’s professional life was one of an accountant. She worked for the Administrative Office of the Courts which allowed her to have a financial part in many state programs. She also wrote and administered the financial aspects of the annual $40 million Child Support Grant which ensured enforcement of child support payments. In addition, Barbara wrote and administered the statewide Court Interpreters program. Subsequently she worked at Marin Community Clinics during a period when they grew from one small clinic providing only medical care to three large clinics providing medical, dental and mental health care to all. Her study of the environment began when she became aware of the environmental issues faced by their patients which had adversely affected their health. She has two Bachelor degrees and may go for a third, inspired by the Environmental Forum of Marin, in environmental science.
Anne-Christine Strugnell has spent her professional life as a marketing writer for high tech companies, translating complex details into clear "here's why you should care and what you should do" messages. But as she became more aware of the implications of climate change, she made a transition to the nonprofit world with a commitment to fundraising and other tasks to support Marin-based Resilient Neighborhoods and EFM.
Norma Fragoso has an MA in Community Planning and Environmental Design. Her passion for social activism, combined with her background in urban planning and design, resulted in a 28 year career with city government. As housing and community development manager for the City of South San Francisco she facilitated new construction of affordable housing projects; public spaces and public facility developments. Norma held a leadership role in San Mateo County regional efforts addressing issues of housing and homelessness. Since retiring from city government her interests have turned toward the planet and the environment. She believes the Marin EFM provided her with grounding in the environment of her local community and watershed; and a clear understanding of the political and economic aspects of environmental preservation policy. She is interested in how climate change impacts can be managed on a regional basis with a blending of new urbanist community development and effective environmental advocacy
Marty Blum grew up in Marin exploring much of what makes our County special and hearing about the environmental battles being fought in the seventies. In her professional life she directed the development programs at non-profit organizations in the health, education, and social service areas over a 30+ year career, at Children's Hospital Oakland, Mills College, and Marin Education Fund among others. Mid-career, she earned her M.A. in English Literature and taught composition and literature at San Francisco State for a few years. Her B.A. in English is from UC Berkeley. In semi-retirement she worked for the Marin Transcendental Medication program for a bit and now wishes to turn her development experience to the environmental cause. She will be a member of the EFM 47 class.
Susan Holloway grew up in San Francisco and spent many weekends as a child hiking in Marin with her family and many summers backpacking in the Sierras. Her parents were lifelong environmental activists, working on wilderness preservation issues in Northern California as well as supporting affordable housing and environmentally sound urban development in San Francisco. Susan earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and a PhD from Stanford in 1983, and then took a teaching position in the College of Education at the University of Maryland. After 13 years in Washington DC and Massachusetts, she happily returned to the Bay Area, and began teaching and conducting research in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley. She retired from UCB in 2019, became a member of MC 46 that fall, and joined the EFM board in May of 2020. She brings lifelong experience and commitment as a writer, teacher, and researcher to her position at EFM.
Maggie Fillmore, DPT (retired physical therapist), graduated from the University of Washington, BA in Forest Resources 1971; Stanford University MA in Physical Therapy 1984; DPT Creighton University. Hobbies include road/mountain biking, XC skiing, sculling, a bit of running and volunteering for professional healthcare organizations.
Off Board Positions
Born in Ecuador and growing up in Latin America, Jonny comes to EFM with an interest in supporting communities' engagement in environmental issues. Jonny got a degree in Environmental Science and Economics, and has worked in fields ranging from agriculture to education. Outside of his administrative role at EFM, he currently works in construction, off-grid living systems, and as an outdoor guide. Though he's not sure how to solve climate change (yet), he enjoys spending his free time outside and in amazement of the environment, be it hanging from a wall in Yosemite or kayaking the bay.
Arlin Benavides, Advocacy Coach
Arlin holds a BA in Urban Studies from UC Berkeley. He has worked on transportation and data analytics research and assisted in the development of grassroots community projects. He recently retired from the position of Equity Planning and Outreach Manager at the Multicultural Center of Marin. A fluent Spanish speaker, he has been involved with EFM’s Advocacy Series in the Canal as the Advocacy Coach since 2021.
Leah is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Education Policy at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, where she looks at the intersections of education; home and family; and popular culture. Her dissertation–which will be finished soon–focuses on homeschooling. She holds a BA in Political Science from Reed College in Portland, OR, (and she actually misses the Pacific Northwest rain sometimes!). After college, She was an art educator at the Portland Children’s Museum and the Director of Education at the Oregon Jewish Museum.
When she is not working on graduate schoolwork, she is usually tending to her large garden and worm bin, working on craft and sewing projects, or starting another pickling and fermentation project.
Gayle grew up in rural Nebraska, but considers herself lucky to have moved to San Francisco as an adult. She spent 26 years in graphic design as a Print Production Artist and Manager. Her last position was in the Brand Design department of a toy company in San Francisco. During her time there she became concerned how the waste created by her employer’s decisions, and the endless plastic toys they created, was impacting the natural world. This prompted her to enroll and graduate from the Sustainable Practices certificate program at Dominican University. Eventually she was introduced to the Environmental Forum where she graduated from the Master Class in 2012. She served as the Forum’s Web and Print Media Director from February 2012 - May 2014.
Terri Thomas is a natural resources manager, ecologist, and planner with 36 years of national park experience in management, science, monitoring, operations, policy, and regulation in the full breadth of natural resource disciplines. Her has worked in Crater Lake, Yosemite, and Everglades national parks and from 1984 to 2016 she held the positions of Chief of Natural Resources Management and Science at Golden Gate National Recreation Area followed by the Director of Conservation, Science and Research at the Presidio Trust. She has received both the National Park Service Director’s award for the best natural resources manager and the Regional Director’s award for the best natural resources manager. She has 26 publications, 31 achievement awards and has given 32 formal presentations to professional or public audiences.
Environmental Forum of Marin is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and a United Way of the Bay Area Certified Agency.
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