Thrive E&S TAG - August 2019

Land & Water Policy: Backing our Coastside Neighbors

Supporting the Protection, Management and Access of Western County’s Amazing Natural Resources

Recap Details

Date - Wed August 28, 11.30a-1p (+30 min optional networking)

Location - Redwood Shores Branch Library, 399 Marine Pkwy, Redwood City (NEW)

Description - From four west county leaders, expect to gain a stronger appreciation for our Pacific Coasters’ land and water policy challenges and how they relate to our county-wide ecosystem. Open discussion will focus on cross-organization collaboration to advocate for and preserve valuable coastside resources.

Lunch - sponsored by Peninsula Clean Energy

Speakers/Experts (bios & pictures below)

  • Shay Barton - Pescadero HS student; leader of Heirs to Our Oceans - Pescadero chapter 
  • Aaron HébertWater Resources Specialist, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District 
  • Daniel Olstein, Director Land Programs & Stewardship, Peninsula Open Space Trust
  • Deborah Hirst, Legislative Aide, San Mateo County Supervisor Horsley's Office 
  • Kellyx Nelson, Executive Director, San Mateo Resource Conservation District 


  • Petra Silton, Policy & Advocacy Coordinator, Thrive Alliance
  • Christine Zaugg, Executive Director, Sustainable San Mateo County

Moderator - Doug Silverstein, Core Team Leader, Green County San Mateo

Format - roundtable ‘intros & info’ (15 min), expert updates (45 min), open discussion (30 min), optional networking (30 min)

Post Event Summary 

Attendees - 45 people representing 32 organizations; attendee mix = 56% nonprofit, 31% government, 7% business, 7% education

Presentation - download HERE

Key takeaways

  • Ongoing coastside challenges – The coast’s unique beauty and ecology make it a hot bed of agriculture and recreation. Constant new challenges require continuously balancing the resource needs of residents, farmers, and at-risk species.
  • Success through partnerships – Leveraging decades of experience, coastside leaders in government, nonprofit, and community are partnering successfully to identify challenges, locate funding, implement solutions, and realize results.
  • Community engagement – Success requires early community inclusion in master planning workshops and advisory committees.
  • Community advocacy and persistence… now - The community must show up and advocate for what we want. Our voices will be heard, but we must take action now.
  • Community inclusion and equity – Conversations must reach beyond privileged voices. Empathetic leaders need to engage the most affected and underserved communities.
  • K-12 education– Sustainability needs to be integrated in mainstream K-12 classrooms. 
  • Time to increase urgency – While some projects take years to complete, targeting 2030 and 2040 results is too late. We must move faster. Permitting and oversight proliferation is a strong area for streamlining.

Survey comments

  • “Great panel, eye opening discussion.”
  • “Wide range of organizations participating.”
  • “Appreciate the coastside focus and youth perspective.”
  • “Discussion of disadvantaged communities and youth – we need this”
  • “Many thanks for this terrify and informative TAG session!”

Speaker Biographies

Shay Barton - Octavia “Shay” Barton, age 15, leads the Pescadero chapter of Heirs to Our Oceans. Shay is committed to understanding the impacts of climate change on our planet, especially on the communities most at risk. Her research on these issues, coupled with outreach to local and national experts, have deepened her perspective on the crisis that ocean waters face. Shay has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally on the subjects of plastic pollution, climate change, and vulnerable communities. The Pescadero Heirs have been successful in phasing out single use plastic in district cafeterias and school events and have been working towards educating the local community about plastic pollution solutions.

Aaron Hébert - Aaron has 12 years of natural resources management with State Parks, Sempervirens Fund, and has spent the last 5 years working at Midpen, managing planning, construction, and natural resources projects. The focus of the water resources program at Midpen is on pond and stream habitat restoration, water rights, water quality, sustainable rural water supplies, and environmental permitting. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bennington College in Literature and Natural History and a Master of Science degree from University of San Francisco in Environmental Management with a concentration in ecology.

Daniel Olstein - Daniel previously served for two years as the executive director of the River Exchange, a non-profit that promotes healthy watersheds in the headwaters of the Sacramento River. Before that he spent a decade with The Nature Conservancy in Florida, North Carolina and here in California, where he was the project director of the Conservancy's 1.5 million-acre Mount Hamilton Project. He joined POST as Director of Land Stewardship in 2013 and has a Brown University Neuroscience Bachelor's degree and a Duke University Environmental Management Master's.

Deborah Hirst - Deborah has worked with state and local government on coastal resources for over 15 years, including seven years developing projects in Northern California with the State Coastal Conservancy and most recently representing Supervisor Don Horsley as a Senior Legislative Aide focusing on the South Coast of San Mateo and climate resiliency. Previously, she spent three years in nonprofit refugee resettlement work with the International Rescue Committee and two years teaching in Japan. She holds a Master's Degree in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor's Degree in Urban Studies from the College of Wooster.

Kellyx Nelson - Kellyx has spent 30 years in non-profits, government, and the private sector developing, implementing programs for environmental benefit and other public good. This work includes environmental education for underserved communities in NYC and SF, long-haul trucking, and local land trust conservation management. She's served as the RCD's ED since 2006 during which time it received the 2017 Silicon Valley Water Conservation Award, 2016 Sustainable San Mateo County Sustainability Award, and 2012 District of the Year from the California Association of RCDs. She has a Columbia University Political Science and Environmental Science bachelors degree and a UC Berkeley Public Policy Master’s. In 2015, Kellyx was inducted into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame in recognition of her contributions to the overall well-being of the County.


About Thrive Alliance

Thrive is a robust, trusted network of nonprofit organizations, businesses, government agencies, elected officials and civic leaders in San Mateo County. We help to build the capacity of nonprofits, large and small, to strengthen San Mateo County’s critical community organizations and connections. In an increasingly technology-driven world, Thrive is real people, meeting real challenges, with real collaboration – on the ground, face-to-face, 200 strong and counting. Thrive’s unique approach allows us to work across the social, public and private sectors, and facilitate and magnify outcomes through connections, collective voice, and person-to-person collaboration.

About the Environment & Sustainability Thrive Action Group

The Environmental & Sustainability (E&S) Thrive Action Group (TAG) targets leaders in the community to convene once a month to discover and discuss real-time challenges & solutions in the natural resource conservation landscape though the lens of equity and sustainability. Its goal is to identify areas and actions for members to collectively advocate for positive change by harnessing the group’s wisdom and power. Run in partnership with Sustainable San Mateo County (SSMC) and Green County San Mateo (GCSM).

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  • Doug Silverstein
    published this page in E&S TAG 2019-06-25 16:54:05 -0700
  • Doug Silverstein
    published this page in E&S TAG 2019-06-21 08:44:44 -0700