2015 Board of Directors
Maggie Mathias Chair
Following a smart friend’s advice, Maggie moved to Santa Cruz 12 years ago and has never looked back. She is an environmental science consultant for locally-owned 2NDNATURE LLC, and spends her days monitoring water quality and developing better ways for natural resource managers to track the ecosystem benefits of their projects. Maggie grew up in the open spaces of rural central Pennsylvania, appreciating the freedom that comes with being out in nature. She studied the environmental and economic issues surrounding community development in college and graduated with a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.
As Friends’ Vice Chair and Chair of the Mission Adobe committee, Maggie brings her interdisciplinary understanding of the pressures on our state’s cultural and natural resources, her strong project management & problem solving skills, and her inclination to volunteer for anything. In a previous life, Maggie was a champion ultimate frisbee player and now spends her time at Twin Lakes State Beach learning beach volleyball.
Curt Simmons, Vice Chair
Curt is a fourth-generation Californian, raised in Riverside. He graduated from UC Riverside with a degree in biology, and from UC Berkeley, attaining the degree of Doctor of Optometry. Curt has been practicing in downtown Santa Cruz since 1987, emphasizing family vision care, prevention and treatment of eye disease, and contact lens management. An active volunteer, Curt currently coordinates vision care services for the Project Homeless Connect Santa Cruz and works with the Santa Cruz Lions Club, Western Service Workers Association and the Homeless Persons Health Project. Curt has served on the boards of the Santa Cruz Kiwanis Club, the Monterey Bay Optometric Society, the Downtown Association, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz.
Curt says that state and national parks are his favorite places to hang out. Having grown up camping and backpacking in the Sierra, he learned to love the beauty and solitude that the parks provide. Curt and his wife, Karen, live across the street from Henry Cowell State Park, and are in there nearly every day taking long walks amongst the redwoods. In his spare time, Curt enjoys reading, bicycling, snowboarding, playing guitar and, of course, hiking.
Georgann Scally, Treasurer & Finance Chair
Georgann is a recently retired financial services executive who specializes in alliance management, high-tech innovation planning, project management, and strategic planning. Her career began in Santa Cruz at County Bank and Trust, and progressed with other financial services companies, until her retirement from Visa International. On behalf of Visa International, Georgann served on the Boards of Directors of several high-tech start-up companies, representing Visa’s interests and assisting the companies during their growth periods. Georgann graduated from San Jose State with a BA degree in Elementary Education and has a Certificate from Wharton School of Business in Alliance Management. She was active in the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, Alliance of Technology and Women, and the Alliance Professional Group.
Georgann is passionate about the environment and our parks. She worked with the Sierra Club to maintain and improve parks in Northern California, and fought to bring spraying of the Light Brown Apple Moth to a halt. She has been Friends’ Board Chair since 2011. You can find Georgann working on our Mission Adobe committee, Board Development committee and Finance Committee – or out on various hiking trails in Santa Cruz state parks.
Don Nielsen, Secretary
Don is a third generation Californian raised in Santa Cruz, educated in local schools and at Cabrillo Community College. Growing up in our beautiful part of the world fostered his deep passion for the outdoors and concern for the environment. He provided cliff and surf rescue, firefighting and emergency medical services as a volunteer for Santa Cruz County for 33 years. Don was involved early on in many of Santa Cruz County’s preservation efforts, including those for Wilder Ranch, Pogonip, Coast Dairies and Moore Creek Uplands. He served on the North Coast Beaches Advisory Committee, and has been a Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks board member for the last 14 years. Currently on the Nisene Marks, Castro Adobe and Audit committees, Don has also served as board Vice Chair. An accomplished photographer, you can find Don at Friends events recording the activities and people of the moment, or hiking, biking, kayaking and soaking in the beauty of our parks and open spaces.
Mike McMenamy, State Park Liaison
Ann Lauten Fay
Charlie (Castro) Kieffer
Charlie became a docent at Wilder Ranch State Park in 1989 and fell in love with state parks. Charlie is the Chair of Friends’ Castro Adobe committee and serves on our Mission Adobe committee – perfect fits since he is a direct descendant of the Castro family that came to California 1775 with the Anza Expedition out of Mexico, and whose family was also one of the 15 founding families of San Jose in 1777.
Charlie has been an active volunteer in Santa Cruz County for many years. The long list of organizations that have benefitted from Charlie’s participation include the Museum of Art and History, Friends of Longs Marine Lab, the Optimist Club, SCOPE, and the Boy Scouts of America. Charlie is a proud member of “Los Californianos”, an organization whose members must be of Hispanic heritage and whose family must have arrived in “Alta California” prior to 1848. Charlie is a retired businessman and former owner of Santa Cruz Mattress and Upholstery Co., and served three years in the Army as a member of the 101st Airborne Paratroopers Division.
Phil is a retired professional contracts manager with over 35 years of experience in acquisition, procurement, and contract administration. Phil brings all that experience to Friends in his role as our Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair. Phil also has working knowledge of federal, commercial, and educational contracting processes acquired during his career working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Bechtel, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems. He served in the US Air Force, attaining the rank of Lt. Colonel – Command Pilot.
Phil is a hands-on contributor to Friends, and you can find him pounding nails, painting, and working on various projects with the Castro Adobe committee. Phil has a BA in Industrial Arts and Aerospace Studies from Fresno State University, and an MS in Procurement and Contract Management from St. Mary’s College of California.
A native of San Jose, California, Stuart has lived in Watsonville since 1991 heading up his family’s “Kitayama Brothers” flower production business. While attending the University of Colorado, he participated in the “Semester at Sea” program, an around-the-world ocean voyage for college credit, and promptly fell in love with the sea and travel. Stuart subsequently worked in San Diego and Taiwan for a sailboat builder, a powerboat and motor yachts designer – and even moved to Rio de Janiero, Brazil to work with a Brazilian yacht builder. Along with his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Stuart brings his love of the outdoors to Friends, serving on the Nisene Marks committee. Stuart also serves on the board of directors of the Kee Kitayama Research Foundation, the Greenhouse Services Foundation, and his family’s companies – Kitayama Bros and Greenleaf Wholesale Florists. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Watsonville.
Barney B. Levy, Jr.
Barney has served on the Friends board longer than anyone else, and has served in many capacities during that time, including Chair. Barney moved to Santa Cruz from San Jose in 1972 and quickly became a fixture on many of the groups that were first pioneering the stewardship of our environmental and historical treasures. A member of the original Adobe Coalition, Barney was an enthusiastic supporter of the “Mission Fiesta” annual celebration. Barney has a keen interest in all our local state parks but has been especially active in supporting the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park through participation in the Living History Program. Barney enjoyed a 30-year teaching career at a continuation school for at-risk students in Watsonville, sharing his appreciation for natural history with his students and faculty over these years. Barney has said, “I really enjoy the caring and supportive Friends Board, its dedicated staff, and the cooperative relationship with the Dept of Parks and Recreation”.
Edward Newman has been a Friend’s board member since 2008, and a resident of Santa Cruz County since 1973 where he opened a law office in Capitola and never left. Ed was the first tenant in the newly restored Hihn Building and six years later developed his own office in the Trestle Building in Capitola Village. He served on the Mobile Home Rent Review Board, eight years as a Capitola Planning Commissioner, and currently chairs the Capitola General Plan Advisory Commission. He built three commercial buildings in Capitola, 60 homes in the city and the surrounding area, rehabilitated the Bayview Hotel in Aptos in the 1990s, led the restoration of the Pasatiempo golf course to its original design eight years ago and most recently took on the historic Leonard Building in Santa Cruz. Ed has served as Friends Board Chair, and brings his wealth of expertise to bear at Friends’ Board Development committee.
Adam Steckley is a graduate of Stetson University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and Environmental Studies. Born and raised in South Florida, Adam’s path into environmental education began at an early age while teaching about the Biscayne Bay ecosystem and instructing sailing lessons during high school and college. He spent three years as the Program Manager of the MSD Biscayne Nature Center prior to relocating to Santa Cruz in 2004. The following year, Adam began instructing marine ecology and navigation for O’Neill Sea Odyssey where he continues today as the Operations Coordinator.
Exploring the Florida Everglades is where Adam developed his passion for “wild” areas and the park’s system. As urban sprawl and invasive species encroached further into this natural landscape, he was motivated to help preserve what remained. Through volunteering with local habitat restorations, organizing community outreach and coordinating fundraising events, Adam found a natural fit with Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. He has also worked closely with the City of Santa Cruz as a member of the Tree Trust.