2024 WIP Summit Speakers

Angela Avery

Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Angela Avery is the Executive Officer for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), a department of the California Natural Resources Agency that works to improve the environmental, economic, and social well-being of California’s Sierra Nevada-Cascade region. Avery has been with the SNC since 2007 and, in this time, she has developed and led teams in policy, legislative, science, research, GIS programs, public information and communications operations, and grant program development and implementation.

Wade Crowfoot

California Natural Resources Agency

Wade Crowfoot became California’s Natural Resources Secretary in January 2019, appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Secretary Crowfoot oversees the California Natural Resources Agency, which includes stewarding the state’s forests and natural lands, rivers and waterways, and coastal ocean, as well as protecting fish and wildlife, and overseeing energy development. As a member of the Governor’s cabinet, he advises Governor Newsom on natural resources and environmental issues.

Senator John Laird

California State Senate

John Laird was sworn in as the State Senator for Senate District 17 Dec. 7, 2020. Laird served as California Secretary for Natural Resources under Governor Jerry Brown from Jan. 5, 2011 until Jan. 7, 2019. Previously, Laird was elected Assemblymember for the 27th District three times and authored 82 bills that were signed into law, including the legislation creating the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

Steve Frisch

Sierra Business Council

Steve Frisch is President of the Sierra Business Council (SBC) and one of its founding members. Over the last 20 years, the SBC has leveraged more than $100 million of investment in the Sierra Nevada through community and public-private partnerships. The SBC also manages the Sierra Small Business Development Center focusing on advancing sustainable business practices and linking new and expanding businesses to climate mitigation and adaptation funding. Frisch serves on the board of the California Stewardship Network, the Large Landscape Practitioners Network, the National Geographic Geo-tourism Council, Capital Public Radio, and Leadership For Jobs and a New Economy. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Political Science.

Andrew Fecko

Placer County Water Agency

Andrew Fecko has served as the General Manager for Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) since 2020. He has worked in the water and energy field for 27 years, with a particular interest in water supply infrastructure and hydro-electric energy. In his 18 years at PCWA, Fecko has focused on managing the Middle Fork American River Project and marketing the project’s hydro-electric energy output, state and federal legislative and regulatory affairs, securing tPCWA’s water rights and entitlements, and developing PCWA’s watershed and forest-management program. He graduated from U.C. Davis with a background in science and engineering.

Calli-Jane West

Butte Fire Safe Council

Calli-Jane West is the Executive Advisor of the Butte County Fire Safe Council (BCFSC) and formerly served the organization for 18 years as executive director. She has been working with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy since its inception, and the BCFSC received its first grant funding from the SNC in 2008. During her time at the BCFSC, the community experienced dozens of catastrophic wildfires, including the Camp Fire of 2018, North Complex of 2020, and Dixie of 2021. In response to these disasters, the BCFSC has been able to increase capacity for wildfire mitigation and recovery by: growing staff from 4 to 46, expanding Firewise USA, enhancing evacuation preparedness, undertaking forest health and watershed protection on a holistic landscape level, and many other programs.

Doug Teeter

Butte County, California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force

Supervisor Doug Teeter represents the 5th District within the Butte County Board of Supervisors districts. Teeter first took office in 2013 and is now in his third term. He also is a member of California's Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force. Teeter and his family lost their home in the 2018 Camp Fire and are currently rebuilding their home like so many in the area. . As a county supervisor, Teeter is helping many other residents with wildfire recovery support in the unincorporated areas of Butte County. Teeter has been a long-time resident of Paradise, CA. He worked as a seasonal firefighter while earning a B.S. degree from San Diego State University.

Chairman Robert Gomez

Tubatulabal Tribe

Robert Gomez has been the Chairman of the Tubatulabal Tribe of the Kern River Valley since 2013. Gomez has long served as an independent consultant and prominent voice for Indian people in the Kern County area helping to preserve and protect sacred and cultural sites. In the 1990s, he began devoting his time and efforts to the Tubatulabal Tribe and has helped to guide the creation of a Native American Cultural Center, developed a Tubatulabal tribal language program for the Kern Valley, and a yearly commemoration of the ancestors of an 1863 massacre. Gomez has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Bakersfield.

Kay Ogden

Eastern Sierra Land Trust, 30×30 Partnership Coordinating Committee

Kay Ogden is the Executive Director and CEO of Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT). For a decade, Ogden has championed ESLT's conservation efforts and community engagement, resulting in the permanent protection of over 22,000 acres. Her commitment also extends statewide as she holds the position of vice chair for the California Council of Land Trusts and is a second-year member of CNRA’s Partnership Coordinating Committee for California's ambitious 30x30 initiative. Ogden also founded the 40 Acres Fire Safe Council to help protect her small community from the threat of fire.

Brittany Covich

Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Brittany Covich serves as the Policy & Outreach Division Chief at the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC). Covich began working for the SNC in 2007 after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Geography at Chico State University. She has worked as a grant manager and field representative, legislative and policy analyst, and communications manager. She now leads the SNC’s policy, communications, science, and community support work.

Blake Milton

40-Acre Conservation League

Blake Milton serves as the Board Secretary/Treasurer for the 40-Acre Conservation League, a Black-led, nonprofit land conservancy with the mission to empower deeper, more diverse connections to the land and sustainable participation in the outdoor economy. He is a financial analyst at Sanli Pastore & Hill and brings more than a decade of financial and construction-sector expertise. Milton comes from a family of entrepreneurs providing a range of services in the construction sector, including architectural and engineering services. Milton is a graduate of California State Unitiversity, Sacramento with a Bachelor’s degree in Business.

Geneva E.B. Thompson

California Natural Resources Agency

Geneva E. B. Thompson is the Deputy Secretary for Tribal Affairs at the California Natural Resources Agency where she cultivates and ensures the participation and inclusion of tribal governments and communities within CNRA’s work. Thompson has served as Associate General Counsel for the Yurok Tribe and Staff Attorney for the Wishtoyo Foundation, and she has clerked with the Department of Justice Indian Resource Section, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, and the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. Thompson graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. She has published several law review articles and has served in leadership positions across multiple bar associations. Thompson is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Luis Vidal

American Forests

Luis Vidal supports and manages landscape-level restoration projects in Northern California through managing grant-funded forest restoration projects, monitoring forest restoration areas, climate-smart planning, and project implementation. Vidal also supports regional reforestation capacity-building initiatives. Before joining American Forests, Vidal spent two years working in reforestation and forest restoration in the Eldorado National Forest and spent time working in hydrology in the Plumas National Forest. Vidals was a Sierra Corps Foresty Fellow in Sierra Nevada Alliance’s workforce development program.

Zach Knight

Blue Forest Conservation

Zach Knight is a co-founder and the CEO of Blue Forest. Prior to founding Blue Forest, Knight started his career in finance at Merrill Lynch where he specialized in structured finance. Knight also served as a high-yield and distressed corporate bond trader before leaving Wall Street to pursue an MBA at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business with a focus on sustainability and environmental investing. Knight holds an MBA with honors from UC Berkeley and a BA in economics from Cornell.