Central Coast Community Based Water Quality Grants Program Funding Board

Mike Antos is a social scientist who focuses on helping people and institutions navigate place, time, and culture to achieve equitable and sustainable outcomes. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of the California Water Data Consortium and is an environmental fellow of the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation. Mike is an established thought leader on how water policy and planning can be opened to members of overburdened and marginalized communities yielding empowerment and justice. He supports clients with watershed governance and management, integrated water resources planning and project development, climate adaptation, facilitation, and policy development. Mike has a proven track record of coordinating complex multi-jurisdictional and publicly engaged water resources efforts. 

Lee Knudston has extensive experience implementing long-term groundwater monitoring projects for agricultural stakeholders and groundwater agencies across the United States, particularly in California in support of compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Lee is also knowledgeable about well design, well testing, aquifer characterization, calculating water budgets, aquifer storage and recovery projects, groundwater modeling, geophysics, remote sensing, and groundwater policy. 

Natalie LaVan is the Senior Program Manager at the Regional Water Management Foundation where she manages the Disadvantaged Community and Tribal Involvement grant from the California Department of Water Resources. Natalie coordinated with agency partners from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz to increase the understanding of the water management needs of Disadvantaged Communities and to assist in developing strategies and long-term solutions. Natalie has focused her career on the restoration and preservation of this glorious planet of ours. Whether working for a local creek group, a national non-profit, or a global IGO, every position has expanded LaVan’s knowledge and improved her capacity as a conservationist. Natalie brings twenty years of experience in local and international grants management, communications, and stakeholder engagement. Natalie’s previous professional experiences include Program Manager for the Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York; Stakeholder Engagement Program Consultant for the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, New York; Program Fellow for Lehigh University’s Sustainable Development Program in Sierra Leone and Uganda; and Community Engagement Manager for Save the Bay in Oakland. 

Heather Lukacs is a seasoned leader and consultant in the field of environmental justice, with a strong background in community-based approaches to water management and safe drinking water initiatives. Currently serving as Principal at Clear Current Consulting, LLC in Santa Cruz, CA, she provides strategic guidance to non-profit organizations, businesses, and government agencies on a wide range of environmental justice issues, including watershed management, water treatment, policy development, and research. With previous roles as Director of Community Solutions and Project Director at the Community Water Center (CWC) in California, and as Central Coast Program Director at the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW), she has demonstrated a deep commitment to connecting small, disadvantaged communities with the resources and support needed to address persistent water contamination issues. Her expertise spans across academia, research, and fieldwork, with contributions to numerous journal papers and awards recognizing her dedication to environmental leadership. Through her ongoing advocacy for innovative, equitable solutions for a sustainable future, as demonstrated by her service on the board of directors at Ecology Action (current) and Wild Gift, she proves to be a valuable asset to the funding board for the Rose Foundation’s new grant program in the Central Coast. 

Andria Ventura left a corporate career in publishing in 1995 to work for Clean Water Action’s New Jersey chapter. There she served as an organizer working on a wide array of issues, including drinking water, pollution prevention, and source water protection.  She supplemented this work by serving on her town’s environmental commission. Andria joined the California Clean Water staff in May 2003, after a two-year hiatus in Hawaii volunteering with the Waikiki Zoo’s elephant program and working at Hawaii’s Oceanic Institute. She has served on the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water’s Program Advisory Committee and now represents Clean Water Action as a member of Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (the CHANGE coalition), and on the BizNGO Policy Work Group.  She staff’s her organization’s TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load), drinking water contaminants, and chemical policy programs and has been a stakeholder involved with the development of the Green Chemistry program, the state Division of Drinking Water’s Direct Potable Reuse Advisory Group, and various county pharmaceutical waste policy initiatives. Andria has a B.A. in history from U.C. Santa Barbara and did graduate work on immigration history at Utah State University. 

Cameron Yee is the Operations and Research Director at Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE). Cameron’s job as researcher for CAUSE entails breaking down equity issues in the Central Coast region with a race, income and gender lens, using analysis tools such as GIS mapping. Cameron’s research both supports ongoing organizing efforts and also provides the impetus for CAUSE’s other advocacy outreach. Prior to his work with CAUSE, Cameron’s work history includes serving up research and policy analysis on transportation justice and social equity issues in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving customers a fine meal in Key West, Fla. and serving the land by farming in Cottonwood, CA, this diversity of service demonstrates his commitment to social justice. 

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