The San Mateo County Parks Foundation is governed by a volunteer board of directors and has a small staff. Through grants and contributions from individuals, foundations and businesses, the Parks Foundation provides additional financial support for Park recreational, environmental and educational programs and projects.
Katy Coonan Rhoades, Chair
Ms. Rhoades has devoted herself to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities. Her work on behalf of disabled people includes serving on the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities, the Health Plan of San Mateo, the Meals on Wheels Coalition, New Beginning Coalition and the Second Harvest Food Bank. Katy has also worked with the California Children Services and the Far-West Wheelchair Sports Association.
Mary DeLong, Vice Chair
Ms. DeLong became active with San Mateo County Parks when she became a docent at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in 1995. She served on the board of Friends of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve for ten years including six as president. She came to the Foundation in 2012 after many years of volunteer service. She has been an advocate for ocean protection since 1988 working to stop any offshore drilling on the San Mateo coast and helping to ensure the Marine Life Protection Act was implemented. She has also been a Beach Watch volunteer for the Greater Farallones Marine Sanctuary since 2012. She and her husband live in Montara and enjoy hiking, gardening and photography.
Justin Knowles, Secretary
Mr. Knowles lives in Hillsborough and is a business executive at the Oracle Corporation. He enjoys mountaineering, hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking. He also serves as a board member of the Trail Center, a frequent San Mateo County Parks partner, where he regularly leads volunteer crews to build hiking trails.
Michael Turzanski, Treasurer
Mr. Turzanski has been involved in education technology for 30 years with Apple, Cisco, and EducationSuperHighway, working at a national level with universities, K–12 schools, state departments of education, and legislative policy committees. He has been an elected school board member in Massachusetts and served on the executive board of International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). He is an Eagle Scout and has spent many years camping and hiking during his youth in Pennsylvania. He enjoys running, riding his road bike and spending time with family.
Susan Eliot Briggs, Board Member
Ms. Briggs is a Bay Area native and an avid hiker. Her professional experience has included product management positions at Netscape, Yahoo, Realtor.com and VolunteerMatch and she currently works in business development for Benetech.org. Susan enjoys being involved in her community and has held several board positions on local education foundations.
Adriana Fernandez, Board Member
Ms. Fernandez has been living in San Mateo since she was three years old and grew up visiting Coyote Point. Coming from a mixed immigration status household, she pursued a career in environmental justice in order to bring to light the injustices communities like hers face. During her time in college, Adriana co-started a student organization named Environmental Justice for Underrepresented Communities and after graduating she started a Latina Mothers Hiking Group for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office CARON Program. She is now helping build Nuestra Casa’s new Environmental Justice Program as the Housing and Environmental Justice Coordinator. Adriana hopes to uplift and amplify the voices of our Spanish-speaking and immigrant community through authentic community engagement. She is an alumni of Green Foothill’ s Community Advocates Leadership Academy and the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley Latino Board Leadership Academy. Adriana graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management from University of California, Davis.
Amy Jensen, Board Member
Ms. Jensen works on the development team for the Peninsula Open Space Trust. As a somewhat new resident of the Bay Area, she loves taking advantage of the many local hiking and camping opportunities and loves connecting people with the outdoors. Amy has spent the last ten years working in nonprofit fundraising and holds a BA from the University of Central Florida and an MA from the George Washington University.
Jorge Laguna, Board Member
Mr. Laguna currently serves as the Head of Digital Analytics at Adobe Systems and has spent over 15 years working in the high tech space in Silicon Valley. A long time resident of San Mateo County, Jorge enjoys hiking and backpacking and is involved in San Mateo youth recreation as a coach and volunteer for local city sports leagues. Mr. Laguna holds an MBA in information technology management from the University of California, Irvine and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Laura Paton, Board Member
Ms. Paton is an avid horsewoman and skier who has volunteered in the San Mateo County Volunteer Horse Patrol for 5 years. She serves on the Equestrian Trail Rider’s management team and is a board member of Los Viajeros riding club. She loves the outdoors and traveling with her family.
Joe Pfeister, Board Member
Mr. Pfeister is an Executive at Salesforce and lives in San Mateo County. As a devoted outdoorsman and Eagle Scout he enjoys making our parks and open spaces accessible to others, with a particular focus on camping, hiking and skiing. He is also a leader within Cub Scouts and frequent visitor of the San Mateo County Parks.
Korrine Skinner, Board Member
Ms. Skinner is a Bay Area marketing executive, writer and keen outdoor explorer. She is Wilderness First Aid-certified and serves the parks as both a Devil’s Slide Trail Ambassador and as a volunteer naturalist for the Friends of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. She lives in Moss Beach, along the San Mateo County coast. In her day job, Kori serves as public affairs manager for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
Panah Stauffer, Board Member
When Ms. Stauffer moved to San Mateo County, she fell in love right away with the County Parks. She loves to take visitors to Wunderlich, Huddart, San Pedro Valley, and Sawyer Camp Trail. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Mathematics from Northwestern University and a Master of Environmental Management degree from Yale University. Separately from her Board service, she has over a decade of Federal experience working on environmental subjects ranging from toxics to air pollution.
Beverley Talbott, Board Member
Ms. Talbott hikes frequently and enthusiastically throughout the Bay Area and beyond. She prefers uphill to downhill, and is not at all averse to flat stretches. Before retiring in July 2019, she held principal technical editor positions at Apple, Microsoft, and VMware. Ms. Talbott’s artwork has appeared in juried shows at galleries in San Francisco and elsewhere. In addition to serving on the Parks Foundation’s board of directors, she volunteers as an academic mentor with SHE-CAN, transports dogs for Pound Puppy Rescue, and participates in voter canvassing and registration efforts for several organizations.
Michele Beasley, Executive Director
Ms. Beasley was born and raised in San Mateo County and has spent her career working to foster sustainable and equitable communities. Her love for the Bay Area’s natural beauty took shape as a fifth grader visiting Jones Gulch and was solidified during early morning rowing sessions out of the Redwood City port. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of the San Mateo County Parks Foundation in 2015, Michele was Greenbelt Alliance’s Regional Director in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Michele has also worked as an advocate for the homeless in Contra Costa County and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, West Africa supporting ecotourism efforts in the late nineties. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Saint Mary’s College of California.
Traci Loftis, Membership and Development Associate
Ms. Loftis is a Bay Area barefoot trail runner and kite-surfer. She loves anything outdoors and always looks for reasons to spend more time in nature. Traci is also a Realtor and a Fundraising Auctioneer, and is constantly looking for ways to serve her community. She has lived in San Mateo for over seven years, and runs the San Francisco Bay Trail almost daily. Traci received her Bachelor of Science from Kansas State University.