Mike Balok is a Relationship Manager in American AgCredit’s Capital Markets Group where he focuses on lending to the forest products industry.Prior to joining American AgCredit in 2012, Mike was a Managing Director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch where he managed its forest products group for over 20 years, closing over $100 billion of financial transactions including dozens of timberland financings.He was instrumental in structuring the long-term financing provided by Bank of America for the 2007 acquisition of the USAL Redwood Forest.Mike received a BS-Chemistry from Old Dominion University and an MBA from the University of Virginia.He lives in Marin County and joined the RFFI board in 2012.
Richard is a long-time restoration practitioner and forest/watershed advocate. In 1971 he started homesteading in the Mattole Valley and Northwest Mendocino County, helping to raise three children through their formative ages with their mother. Since the mid 1970s he has been deeply involved in actual watershed restoration, and positive engagement in improving forest practices – with an emphasis on the integration of restoration in the regulatory process. This has been done in conjunction with private, non-profit, and government organizations and individuals too numerous to list here. One special focus for many years is to achieve needed reforms through comprehensive examinations of real forested Planning Watersheds by a real range of disciplines and stakeholders – making findings and recommendations that will implement those reforms.
His formal education education includes engineering and architecture. In 1993 Richard received, jointly with Leo Cronin, the Nat Bingham Restoration Achievement award from the California Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF). In 2000 he received a Community Builder Award from the California Assembly, and in 2003 was honored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Hero Award for efforts to protect and recover healthy Coho Salmon populations. He continues to serve, representing the Sierra Club, on the California Coho Recovery Team. He has been a RFFI Board member since 2008 and has chaired the Restoration Committee for several years.
Kathleen Moxon has been involved in economic and community development in rural northwestern California for the past 30 years. She currently runs Redwood Coast Rural Action (RCRA), a four/five county community leadership network focused on work best addressed by the collective region (www.redwoodcoastruralaction.org ). Current projects include deploying broadband across all communities in the region, building regional alliances for industry cluster development, gathering the regional priorities for state policy development and facilitating a working group focused on determining the feasibility of a regional investment fund.
She has been a speaker or panelist presenting on rural economic and community development for many groups across the nation including Economic Development Administration, Rural Development Initiatives, Northwest Area Foundation, California Association for MicroEnterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), W.K. Kellogg’s Rural People Rural Policy initiative and the National Rural Funders’ Collaborative.
She began her career with 15 years as a commercial credit officer for Bank of Loleta, a community bank on California’s north coast. She then moved to the Executive Director of Arcata Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) where she built and managed their high risk credit pool and developed a microloan program as well as managed Foodworks, a 20,000 sq. ft. food processing incubator. In 1996, she left AEDC to join Humboldt Area Foundation, the regional community foundation, with the job description ‘do something to fix the economy’. The region has since become known statewide and nationally for its collaborative economic development efforts entitled Prosperity: the North Coast Strategy which has, for the last 10 years, focused on growing rural industry clusters (www.northcoastprosperity.com).
Retired from Bank of America as Senior Vice President Public Policy in 2004 after twenty years with the bank.While at the bank, she had responsibility for the Bank of America Environmental Program and was responsible for strategic planning, initiating, communicating and sustaining environmental initiatives.She reported to senior managementbut worked closely with bank management, other businesses and non-profit groups and bank associates on various initiatives and collaborations on climate change, recycled paper, forestry issues and urban sprawl. Providing input on other socially responsible issues with the policy team at the bank including sustainability, health insurance and executive pay was another function she preformed.
Prior to taking on the environmental policy role, Candy was a division finance officer in charge of all financial analysis and accounting functions forvarious division business units.She reported to the division CEO.
Candy came to the bank from Deloitte Haskins and Sells as a CPA .
Bachelor of Science – Accounting
California State University Sacramento
While enjoying retirement, she lives and is involved in the community of Elk,on the Mendocino coast
Kendall Smith is a 39 year resident of the Mendocino coast. She recently served two terms as Mendocino’s 4th District Supervisor. She has been a RFFI Board member since 2008. Kendall has served on a number of regional, state and national committees focusing on environmental policy.As a county supervisor, Kendall served two terms on BLM’s Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) for Northwest California. She also served two terms on the California Coastal Salmonid Restoration Grants Peer Review Committee (PRC), evaluating grant proposals in an advisory capacity to the California Director of Fish and Game. Kendall believes passionately in RFFI’s future success for both the vitality of the county and the Redwood Region as a whole.
Jeff Romm has served on the faculty of the University of California’s College of Natural Resources for 37 years, with a focus on natural resource policy. His research has been on forest policy, resource governance, and on the interactions between racial and resource policy in the U.S. and Asia. Prior to Jeff’s time as a faculty member, he worked for about fifteen years in South and Southeast Asia on issues of water, land and forest management, and governance, and their roles in rural development. This period included service as an afforestation officer in the Nepal Forest Department and ten years as Ford Foundation staff with broad responsibilities in Asia for programs in water and river basin governance, urban environmental planning, community management of forests, watersheds and irrigation systems, and university programs for incorporation of ecological thought in economic development strategies. Jeff looks forward his new role to as a member of the RFFI board.
Jeff received his B.S. in Forestry at UC Berkeley and graduate degrees in resource economics at Cornell. Although working elsewhere, he has strong ties to Mendocino County, as his home base has been Covelo, California for the past 45 years.
Bill retired as Deputy Director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) in 2013.Prior to his service with Cal Fire, Bill worked as a forester for twenty-five years in the private sector
Bill and his Wife, Wendy, reside in Santa Rosa, CA and had enjoyed the opportunity of the time retirement provides to fish, spend time in the garage woodworking, golf, travel and spend time with family.
Bill has stayed active in the forestry profession and currently serves as Chair of the Northern California Society of American Foresters and Chair of the California Tree Farm Committee.
Greg Giusti (Ex Officio)
Greg Giusti, a founding member of RFFI, he the University of California’s Forest Advisor for Mendocino County. Greg has been with UC for nearly 31 years. During his tenure he has produced over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications and more than 100 popular articles on forest management, forest ecology, freshwater ecology and community forestry. Greg’s work has evaluated the structure and composition of old growth coastal redwood forests; the relationship between various redwood wildlife species and their habits and habitats; and the management of redwood has a renewable resource. He has been involved with a number of communities during his time with UC attempting to reconcile the inherent tension that persists today addressing the management of coast redwood forests.
Heidi Knott Gundling
For 40 years Heidi Knott worked as an independent film-maker and radio program author. She directed the Ecomedia Institute in Freiburg, Germany, which organized an International Environmental Film Festival and reached out to the countries of the former Soviet Union with film packages for environmental education. Since 1999 she has been living in Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, where she has continued with documentary filmmaking, some of it for RFFI, and is involved in community issues. Heidi is familiar and well-informed about with RFFI’s development as an organization. She served on the RFFI Advisory Committee, was recognized as one of RFFI’s first “Outstanding Volunteers” in 2009. She has played a key role in helping RFFI to secure grants and other funding, while helping to hone RFFI’s message in print and digital media. Heidi has been a Board member since 2010.
His early career, starting in 1974, was spent as a forestry technician/marking crew foreman at the U.S. Forest Service’s Mad River Ranger Station on the Six Rivers National Forest. In 1986, he transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Hoopa as a forester. When the Hupa Tribe took over its own management from the BIA after 1989, Bill worked as their Tribal Timber Sales Officer for ten years. Bill has written or helped write numerous forest management plans for Indian lands and reservations, mostly in California, but also in Utah, Arizona, and Michigan.
In 2000 Bill joined the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC-US) as Senior Forester. He worked in the Washington, D.C. office and opened the western FSC office in Arcata. Bill’s primary duty with FSC-US was to coordinate the development of regional certification standards specific to the U.S., to supplement the FSC Global Principles and Criteria. Through this process he observed some of the best forestry operations across the country and abroad, as well as the challenges associated with improving forest practices while maintaining economic viability and social engagement.
In the early 2000s Bill helped start the consulting company Baldwin, Blomstrom, Wilkinson & Associates (BBW). From 2013-14 Bill worked full time for Pacific Forest Trust as the Senior Forester, returning to BBW in 2015, where he still works part time. Bill’s primary forestry interests are silviculture, community forestry, forest restoration, Native American forestry, and strategies to promote long-term sustainable management of forests, such as certification and conservation easements. His favorite job in forestry is marking timber, preferably under a single tree selection prescription Bill has always had a strong interest in managing California’s hardwood resource, and he worked with the CA Hardwood Task Force in the 1990s. His thesis was on Non-Chemical Control of Tanoak Sprouts. He is particularly interested in the RFFI biochar program, which provides an alternative to chemical control of tanoak.
With his colleagues at BBW, Bill helped create two of the five approved California Program Timber Environmental Impact Reports (PTEIRs), for Weaverville and the Mattole River basin. In addition, Bill collaborated with his partners at BBW in preparing the California Vegetation Management Program EIR, the successor to CalFire’s Vegetation Treatment Program and Chaparral Management Programs (which is currently out for public comment) and which covers over 50 million acres in California. While with PFT, Bill was in charge of operations on the van Van Eck Foundation’s California and Oregon forests. Bill brings a wealth of non-profit and professional Board experience, both as a founder and a member, to his new role with RFFI. He is a founding member of the Forest Steward’s Guild and long-time Society of American Foresters (SAF) member. Bill served 10 years as a board member in the Social and Economic Chambers of FSC-US, ending in 2016. He also served as a board member at the Institute for Sustainable Forestry, and is excited to now be serving on the RFFI board.
Art Harwood and Steve Smith introduced Bill to RFFI during the early days of its founding. He has stayed in touch through Usal Redwood Forest field trips and watching his colleagues at BBW help RFFI plan for Usal’s future. Bill tells us, “I am enthused about the purity of the notion of creating a community forest out of formerly overcut industry lands, daunted by the challenge of doing so, but believe it may represent the best hope of forestry in northwest California.”
Bill lives with his wife Jamie in Burnt Ranch, Trinity County. His personal interests include overseas travel, homesteading, swimming and snorkeling in the Trinity River, archaeology, reading about science and science fiction, and grandparenting.
Steve Pearson recently retired from AECOM (formerly URS Corporation) where he had worked for 30 years as a scientist, engineer, manager and executive. His last assignment was as Executive Chairman of the company’s Asia Pacific operations overseeing 11,000 employees in 10 countries. Previously, Steve was the Senior Vice President responsible for the North American Operations that covered most of the United States and Canada, with 14,000 employees and approximately $4 billion in revenue. Steve started his professional career with the City of San Diego Water Utilities department, where he developed the metropolitan area’s first industrial wastewater control program, including its enabling legislation. He then developed and researched a wastewater to drinking water system that included aquaculture, biological reactors, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and various disinfection techniques. Steve led these developments from small scale to full- size reclamation systems after getting them implemented through the public process.
Following a successful 14-year career with the City of San Diego, Steve joined Woodward-Clyde Consultants to help them develop a process engineering practice. He eventually became a managing partner and was instrumental in selling the partnership to URS Corporation in 1997. Steve then became the URS Corporations Operations Manager for Southern California. In the years that followed, Steve took on increasing executive responsibilities, first for the West Coast Operations, then Western United States and finally North America. In 2014 Steve worked closely with the Board of Directors in the sale of URS Corporation to AECOM, creating a $25 billion engineering and architecture powerhouse. After assisting with the stabilization of the company’s Asia Pacific operations, Steve retired in July 2015. Steve graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University and later received a credential from the Leadership Institute at the University of California at San Diego.
Steve’s extensive experience is already proving valuable to RFFI, especially in his role as Chair of the Biochar Committee. Steve is pleased to join the RFFI Board of Directors and tells us he, “relishes the opportunity to assist the RFFI Board, which is a perfect match for my background and interests in retirement. The furtherance of RFFI’s Biochar Project is a particular passion of mine and an area where I can provide some assistance based upon my process engineering background.” Steve currently spends time with his wife Jan, two sons, Erik and Jason, and four grandchildren, Grace, Ethan, and twins Draya and Arya. Steve and Jan love traveling, motor-homing, off-roading, boating, hiking and kayaking while splitting their time with their home in Arizona. Steve now has time for his hobbies of high-power rocketry, and car and wine collecting.