Richard Rojas, Sr., Chair
After completing a 32-year career with California State Parks — raising from the ranks of journey-level Ranger to District Superintendent, Rojas believes that public service doesn’t end at retirement. Since retiring in 2008, Rojas has become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer assisting kids in foster care, has served as Goleta City Parks & Recreation Commissioner, and continues to serve on a variety of historic preservation, parks, open-space and youth oriented community organizations. He and his wife Ophelia live in La Habra, CA.
Carol Olson is the founder and principal of Basecamp Strategies, partnering with non-profit organizations, foundations, and other collaborators to engage young people in the outdoors and advance environmental stewardship. She brings her 20-year background in non-profit and foundation management to find collaborative solutions to complex problems. Previously, Carol was the Director of Environment & Stewardship Programs with the Morgan Family Foundation where she spearheaded major collaborative initiatives, including the Northern Sierra Partnership, the California Stewardship Network, and the Environmental Education Funders Collaborative. Carol served for ten years as the President/CEO of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, where her cooperative approach engaged the business, government and non-profit sectors to better serve the community at large.
Midy Aponte is an accomplished communication strategist whose collective work experience spans the public, private, and government sector.
She is currently a vice president at Spitfire Strategies, a campaign planning and training firm serving foundations and non-profits based in Washington, D.C. She reports into the agency’s San Francisco office.
Between 2011 and 2014, Midy served as the Founding Executive Director of the American Latino Heritage Fund (ALHF) of the National Park Foundation. A position created by the Former Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ken Salazar. Her charge was to build a national non-profit fund, ALHF, and inspire awareness of historic preservation, outdoor recreation, and conservation and stewardship of national parks among American Latino audiences.
In 2009, she founded her own consultancy, The Sánchez Ricardo Agency, aimed at building strategies for reaching Hispanic audiences through social media.
Midy’s career began in 1999 at Golin where she worked for more than six years in public health communications. She joined the reputation management firm, Walker Marchant in 2006 and gained valuable experience in corporate communications, litigation and reputation management, public affairs, and diversity and inclusion counsel.
When not on a plane, train or automobile, Midy can be found at the gym, or hosting brunches and dinner parties. She is a graduate of Florida International University and is an alumna of the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Executive Leadership Program Class of 2011 and the Hispanic Leaders Program with the U.S. Spain Council’s Class of 2014.
A native of Miami, FL, Midy relocated to Denver, Colorado after a decade in Washington.
José González, Founder, Ex Officio
José González is an experienced educator in formal and informal education in the arts, education, conservation, and the environment. He has broad experience as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University Of Michigan School Of Natural Resources & Environment. He is the Founder of Latino Outdoors, a founding member of the Latino Conservation Alliance, a Board Member for California Releaf, and serves on the Urban Committee of the National Park Service Advisory Board, among other steering committee appointments.
John Griffith, Program Advisor
John Griffith attributes his love for the outdoors to his mom and grandma who since his earliest memories encouraged him to garden, and took him on “creek walks” to catch and release fish, frogs, salamanders, and turtles. Since then John has been a firefighter, field biologist, farmer, commercial fishermen, trail crew member, and environmental educator. He created his own Bachelor’s Degree at Chico State combining the disciplines of plant science and Latin American Studies.
Today he is a crew supervisor for the California Conservation Corps where he mentors youth toward becoming productive stewards of the state’s human and wild communities. John is known to use unconventional means, such as dance, theater, and humor to get all kinds of youth to feel included in the conservation movement. He is author of the kids’ book Totem Magic: Going MAD and creator of the BioBlitz Dance.
Annie Burke is Deputy Director at the Bay Area Open Space Council, a regional network of organizations and agencies protecting and stewarding parks, open spaces, and farmlands. She leads three key aspects of the Open Space Council’s work: the ‘Communications and Outreach’ program area including the Outdoor Voice program and diversity and inclusion efforts; ‘Convening and Community Building’ program area which includes Gatherings and the Open Space Conference; the organization’s fundraising department.
In 2015 she produced a film Here and Now which tells four stories of partnerships between Native Americans and land conservation organizations. The film has been accepted into film festivals and has been shown at a variety of conferences and events.
Prior to the Open Space Council, Annie held a variety of roles in small and large nonprofits in the Bay Area. She was Director of Development at Rubicon Programs for 5 years, and there she more than tripled the unrestricted revenue for the $15m nonprofit. In consulting roles at the Women’s Earth Alliance and the Business Council for Climate Change, Annie learned about the power of convening people around shared values and goals while she worked on fundraising from diverse sources. She spent 4 years in the national offices at Kaiser Permanente deeply involved with change management, organization development, and process redesign. Annie started Outside Kids which makes it easier for families to get outside together. Annie has a B.A. in Psychology from Denison University and a Masters in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco.