Celebrating and conserving the ecological richness of California's grasslands

2021 Board of Directors & Administration


PRESIDENT: JP Marié - Manager, UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve

VICE-PRESIDENT: Kendra Moseley - Certified Range Manager

SECRETARY: Michele Hammond - Botanist, East Bay Park District

TREASURER: Jodie Sheffield - Sod and Seed Specialist, Delta Bluegrass Company 

Committee Chairs

Emily Allen -  Workshop Committee Chair

Jodie Sheffield and Billy Krimmel - Outreach & Development Committee Co-Chairs

Chad AakreConservation Committee Chair

Kendra Moseley - Education & Information Committee Chair,

Sarah Gaffney - Research & Science Committee Chair

Michelle HalburGrasslands Committee Chair

Board Members-at-Large

Haven Kiers, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Dept. of Human Ecology, UC Davis

Richard King, Rancher, Poppy Hill Farm; USDA/NRCS, retired

Justin Luong, PhD Candidate, UC Santa Cruz

Leticia "TC" Morris, Ecologist, GEI

Patrick Reynolds, General Manager, Hedgerow Farms Inc. 


Diana Jeffery, Administrative Director

Grasslands Journal Editor

Whitney Brim-DeForest

Biographies and Photos

Alphabetical by last name. 
Chad Aakre, Member-at-Large, Member-at-Large

Senior Ecologist, Western Regional Office, Westervelt Ecological Services

Chad Aakre has been enjoying and working with native grasses since 1995 in both California and Minnesota, starting with tallgrass prairie restoration in Minnesota and extending into California’s central valley.  Chad has been involved in native grass restoration in California through his job as a restoration ecologist since 2006 and has developed a working knowledge of native grass identification, propagation, establishment, monitoring, and management.  Chad believes in conservation of native plant and animal species in order to sustain and bolster ecological health of natural landscapes and has worked both professionally and privately to facilitate that goal.  Chad grew up on a rural Minnesota farm, attained a bachelor’s degree from Winona State University, and then taught high school for 7 years prior to moving to California in 2005.  Chad served on the CNGA board for three years previously and [is pleased to] have the opportunity to serve again. (11/01/2019)


Emily Allen, Workshop Committee Chair

Emily has a deep appreciation for the native grasslands in California and the people who work preserving, restoring and managing them. She is a restoration and botanical consultant based out of Ukiah in Mendocino County and is gaining an appreciation for California natives found in the Coast Range. She is also a board member of the local California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Sanhedrin Chapter. Previously she worked almost 10 years for Hedgerow Farms working to ensure the availability of high quality, locally sourced native seed for revegetation and restoration projects of all sizes and scales.  She obtained her B.S. in Environmental Biology from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA and was previously on the CNGA board in 2014-2016 and served as treasurer in 2015 and 2016. She is the current Workshop Committee Chair. (3/2019)


Whitney Brim-DeForest, Grasslands Journal Editor .

Whitney Brim-DeForest is the County Director for University of California Cooperative Extension Sutter-Yuba, and the UCCE Rice and Wild Rice Advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer, and Sacramento counties. She holds a M.S. in International Agricultural Development and a PhD in Horticulture and Agronomy from the University of California, Davis. She also holds a dual BA in Biology and Music from Brown University. Whitney has been working in rice for more than 15 years, with her research and extension activities focusing primarily on the identification and management of weeds in rice and wild rice systems. She was also a Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, where she served three years.


 Sarah Gaffney, Member-at-Large

PhD Candidate, University of California, Davis

I am a Ph.D candidate in Ecology in Dr. Valerie Eviner’s lab at UC Davis. With a focus on native grassland restoration, I study the competitive dynamics between native perennial grasses, naturalized exotic annual grasses, and the noxious weeds medusahead and goatgrass. I am interested in the importance of temporal priority in determining community assemblage in the long term (i.e. persistence and resistance to invasion) and the extent of which priority effects are due to resource competition and/or plant-soil feedbacks. I am also collaborating with another graduate student and the Cache Creek Conservancy on a project to explore the optimal conditions for forb growth in an already restored native grassland. Additionally, I mentor with SLEWS (Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship) and greatly enjoy getting high school students excited about native plants and restoration. Before graduate school, I spent a year as an intern at a national monument in New Mexico, for which I assisted in the development of a vegetation management and restoration plan and created multiple educational resources on the topic for the public and other park staff.

California native grasslands are one of the most intriguing ecosystems that I have studied so far; and throughout the development of my research I have developed a commitment to protect and restore them that mirrors CNGA’s mission. I greatly enjoy working with these critically important grasslands and so I [look forward to being a] Board Member-at-Large to further contribute to their promotion, preservation, and restoration. (11/19/19)

 Michelle Halbur, Member-at-Large

Preserve Ecologist, Pepperwood Foundation, Santa Rosa

Michelle serves as Pepperwood’s Preserve Ecologist (Sonoma County) where she manages research projects that monitor long-term ecological responses to climate change and land management practices. In 2011, she developed Pepperwood’s annual grassland monitoring program to inform the adaptive management and restoration of over 900 acres of rich grassland communities.

She has a B.S. in Plant Biology (emphasis in ecology and evolution) from UC Davis and an M.S. in Plant Biology from Purdue University where she studied the impacts of wetland mitigation and assisted migration on the genetics and ecology of a rare California vernal pool plant, Sebastopol meadowfoam.

Michelle values building relationships between land managers, ranchers, and scientists through effective communication, education, and setting clear objectives to promote native grassland diversity and health. She has a deep passion for conserving California’s rich floristic diversity using science-based solutions and is thrilled to be working with CNGA to promote native grassland conservation.


Michele Hammond, Secretary

Botanist, East Bay Park District and Staff Research Associate, UC Berkeley

Michele is the Botanist for the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) and currently assesses rare plant communities and practices vegetation management for parkland in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. She maps and manages rare plants including the introduced Santa Cruz tarplant, Holocarpha macradenia, in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park as well as newly acquired parkland within the East Contra Costa Habitat Conservation Plan. Michele earned a B.A. and M.S. in Environmental Science from U.C. Berkeley. (10/2017)


Diana (Immel) Jeffery, Administrative Director

Diana served two terms on the CNGA Board of Directors as chairman of the Education & Information Committee before taking over as Administrative Director in July 2016. She has worked closely with USFW on reintroduction projects with the federally endangered grassland plant, showy Indian clover (Trifolium amoenum). She is co- author of the Sonoma Marin Coastal Grasslands Working Groups's “California’s Coastal Prairies” website.  She received a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Sonoma State University and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis.


 Haven Kiers, Member-at-Large

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Department of Human Ecology, UC Davis

Haven is an assistant professor of landscape architecture at UC Davis. She received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a Master of Landscape Architecture from UC Berkeley and has worked as a landscape architect, a city and environmental planner, a project manager, and a consultant. Haven’s research investigates the intersection of ecology, aesthetics, and health & well-being through studies examining the environmental benefits, technological progress, and cultural acceptance of green infrastructure and multi-functional landscapes. Her research program addresses the question: how can science, design, and practice converge to inform the creation of accessible, multi-functional greenspaces that maximize cultural and environmental values? She is especially interested in testing CA native grassland species on green roofs to determine their suitability for use in urban landscapes. (11/16/2021)

Richard King, Member-at-Large

I have 36 years of experience in USDA-NRCS as a rangeland management specialist (and biologist) assisting landowners before retiring. I worked in Flagstaff, Arizona, for eight years and subsequently throughout northern California since 1982.

I am a member of the Society for Range Management and strive to help the range profession shed its old paradigms because I know that rangeland health in California’s “annual” grasslands can be greatly improved. I believe: (1) that we underestimate how “native” perennial species on “annual” grasslands can be increased by mimicking the natural processes in which the perennial species evolved, (2) our “invasive species” are typically a symptom of biodiversity loss from past or current management,  (3) planning livestock use based on perennial species vigor and reproduction remains the most misunderstood and underutilized tool for grassland management and “restoration”.

Since 1991, I have enjoyed raising grass-fattened beef, building biodiversity above and below ground, and watching “native” perennial grassland species increase on 40 acres that were part of my great-grandparents’ farm.  I’m excited that genuine shifts in long-held paradigms are steadily occurring in California as people become better observers of what’s happening on the land and how livestock can be used to improve soils, land health, and wildlife productivity.

I’m a Certified Rangeland Manager with the California State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Society for Range Management.  I’m also a Certified Holistic Management Educator with both Holistic Management International and the Savory Institute.  My passion is helping others learn this new framework for decision-making that will simultaneously address the complexity of managing land, people, and money successfully, both short-term and long-term. (10/2017)

   Billy Krimmel, Member-at-Large

Founder and President, Miridae Landscape Architecture and Construction

Billy studied plant-insect ecology while completing his undergraduate degree at Brown University, his PhD at UC Davis and post-doctoral research at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on ecological and evolutionary interactions between plants and insects, particularly as they relate to plant defense and plant trait evolution.

During his PhD Billy became increasingly interested in science outreach and native species restoration, and started a landscaping company with the goal of restoring urban and suburban areas while telling the intriguing stories about native plants and animals that share millions of years of evolution. Billy quit his post-doctoral position at the University of Arizona in May 2015 to run the company full-time. The company, Restoration Landscaping Company, is based in Sacramento with a wide range from the foothills to the Bay, and currently employs about 10 full-time ecologically-minded landscapers.

As cities and suburbs continue to grow, the front for native species conservation may be in human-dominated ecosystems, which account for the vast majority of land use in the lower 48 states. The movement to push people to reimagine the front yard aesthetic – which CNGA has been a key regional player in – is a critical piece of this new conservation movement. Plants can be more than decorations, and people’s yards are part of urban ecosystems that need help.

Billy’s experience explaining the value of native species to clients and companies has provided him insight into how to make the case for natives, and how to explain to people from outside of science why they are so special and worth investing in. He also brings on-the-ground experience after more than two years of running his landscaping business and is excited to be a part of CNGA’s efforts to broaden its impact on pushing native landscaping that create habitat, through workshop series and other outreach efforts. Billy is thrilled to serve on the board of directors. (11/16/17)

   Justin Luong, Director at Large

I’m a Ph.D. researcher in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz working with Dr. Michael Loik and Dr. Karen Holl. I currently focus on grassland restoration in California, specifically how future extreme droughts may impact newly planted natives and how that drought may affect and interact with competition from non-native species. I am also exploring the mid-to-long-term outcomes grassland restoration projects ranging from 3 to 30 years post-restoration ranging from Santa Barbara to Humboldt counties. I am collaborating with and interviewing restoration practitioners in order to gain a more complete view of how grassland restoration projects develop through time. I have also run an internship program from 2017 to present, first out of UC Santa Barbara and now UC Santa Cruz to help provide mentorship and opportunities for interested students. I previously worked as a field coordinator for the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) at UCSB overseeing grassland and vernal pool restoration.

I love California grasslands because they are unique, and they host a wide diversity of flora and fauna. For the past 10 years most I have thought a lot about how to develop inclusive and equitable methods how to conserve and restore our grasslands. (January 29, 2021)

 JP Marié, President

Manager, UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve

JP is the Manager of the U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve where he is in charge of the day-to-day management and operations of the Reserve. With 20 years of experience in land restoration, land management, erosion control, native grassland implementation and invasive plant control, he has an extensive knowledge of native grassland restoration techniques and vegetation management. JP is the Chair of the CNGA Workshop Committee and has been serving on the CNGA Board for seven years. 


 Leticia Morris, Member-at-Large

Ecologist, GEI

Leticia sees grasslands in shades of yellow, green, blue and brown -from sprouting grasses, leafy forbs, senescing wildflowers and crumbling sun-kissed soils to grazing cows and tiny amphibians foraging in murky ponds and meandering waterways.  She began working in grassland and riparian ecosystems in college with grassland monitoring projects. Later, as an intern with the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, she assisted in multi-agency levee restoration projects along the Sacramento and American Rivers.  After earning a B.S. in Environmental Studies (emphasis on Wetlands) from CSU, Sacramento (2014), Leticia helped conduct baseline stream ecological condition assessments throughout California as a seasonal aid. As a consulting biologist (since 2015), Leticia has acquired considerable experience with grassland monitoring, special status species surveys, environmental constraints analysis, vegetation mapping, mitigation permitting, and wetland delineations throughout California and in much of Oregon. Her approach to natural resource protection is grounded in two things: Love and Curiosity. She believes that love requires a desire to understand what it is we want to preserve. Curiosity fuels us not only to seek new ways of learning from those willing to share, but curiosity also empowers us to ask the uncomfortable questions that help translate understanding and appreciation into beneficial actions for all involved stakeholders-and it helps us to laugh a lot along the way! (10/04/2019)


Kendra Moseley, Vice President, Education & Information Committee Chair

Kendra is a Certified Range Manager (CRM) #120 on California forested rangelands and an ecologist working on soil-site relationships, nonequilibrium dynamics and resistance and resilience concepts throughout the West.  She has over 15 years of experience working with native plants, native plant ecology, and adaptive management, conservation, and restoration.  She got her B.S. in Rangeland Ecology and Management (RE&M) with minors in Botany and Biology, and her and M.S. in RE&M with an emphasis on Restoration Ecology both from University of Idaho.  Her M.S. project focused on developing a training module for Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) employees on the value and practice of using multiple functional groups of native plants and soil amendments to improve roadside revegetation across the State, as well as finishing the ITD Roadside Revegetation Handbook, continuing their research on using nurse crops to assist native plant establishment in roadside seedings, and native plant germination trials to identify best/cost-effective species for seeding success on roadsides.  After graduating, she got a job as Research Faculty at University of Nevada-Reno in the Plant Ecology Department working on a 4-state native plant restoration project in cheatgrass-infested sagebrush grasslands. 

Kendra has dedicated most of her career to this ecological work because she believes that having a better understanding of the patterns and relationships that exist between soil and site characteristics and how they drive vegetation expression and their ecological dynamics is crucial to the success of all land management objectives, including the conservation and preservation of important and continuously threatened ecosystems like California native grasslands.  (10/7/20)


Patrick  Reynolds, MS, Member-at-Large

Sacramento Valley Regional Director, River Partners

I am a restoration ecologist with more than 30 years of professional experience in the design, implementation and monitoring of restoration projects including the effective use of native seed.  I am the Sacramento Valley Regional Director of River Partners, the former General Manager of Hedgerow Farms and a past Associate Restoration Ecologist at H.T. Harvey & Associates.   I sit on the Yolo County Planning Commission and am the restoration ecologist on the Science and Technical Advisory Committee for the Yolo County Habitat Agency. I also lead a community-based habitat enhancement project in my south Davis neighborhood.  I have been a member of the California Native Grassland Association (CNGA) Board of Directors since 2017 where I often serve as an instructor for CNGA restoration workshops and events and periodically contribute to the CNGA’s Grasslands journal. (11/1/2021)


 Jodie Sheffield, Treasurer

Sod and Seed Specialist, Delta Bluegrass Company

Jodie Sheffield is the Sod & Seed Specialist in charge of Research and Development for Delta Bluegrass Company located in Stockton, California.  With over 25 years of experience in the Turfgrass Industry, Jodie has worked with Plant Breeders, Seed Producers and Research Facilities throughout California and the Pacific North West developing premium quality turfgrass Sod.  

With a huge emphasis placed on water conservation and creating awareness of the vital importance of climate appropriate landscaping, Jodie has pioneered the development of California Native Grasses in Sod form. Her research has developed key information on maintenance and cultural practices that focus on the benefits landscaping with CA. Native Grasses.  

Jodie served on the CNGA Board as Secretary for three years and as Treasurer since  2020. (01/29/2020)

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