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Board and Staff

Cassie Gilson is a registered lobbyist and lawyer with considerable political and legal experience, having served as an attorney and political advisor to a variety of clients on issues throughout California. Before founding Gilson Government Strategies, Cassie was a lobbyist at Sacramento's largest lobbying and public affairs firm, where she represented energy, alternative transportation, land development, consumer products, insurance, healthcare and other business interests. Cassie's government experience includes serving as Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Gray Davis and on the legal staff of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in The White House. Before she began lobbying full time, Cassie was an attorney at the law firms of Landels Ripley & Diamond and Farella Braun & Martel where she advised clients on air, water, hazardous waste and materials, and land use laws and regulations. Prior to that, Cassie was policy and program director for the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance. Cassie holds a bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University and a law degree from Stanford Law School. She is an active member of the State Bar of California.


Curtis Fossum retired in 2012 as the Executive Officer of the California State Lands Commission. In that position he served on a number of boards including the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, California Coastal Commission, Delta Protection Commission and San Joaquin River Conservancy. The State Lands Commission manages over 4.5 million acres of land including the state owned rivers, lakes and the lands within 3 miles of the coast in the Pacific Ocean. Curtis worked on issues involving projects in virtually all California's 58 counties focusing on land issues including: title, boundary, land use, leasing, exchanges and public access. Mr. Fossum is an attorney and served in a number of legal positions during his 35 years at the Commission including as it's Chief Counsel. He currently serves as a board member on the American River Parkway Volunteer Equestrian Trail Patrol.


Bob Slobe is the President of the North Sacramento Land Company. He is active in the community and has served as president of the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the B Street Theatre board and remains active with many other nonprofits in the community as well. Bob graduated from Stanford University, and has a Master's degree from The American Graduate School of International Management. Bob's love of the outdoors is reflected in his hobbies of tennis, running, skiing, hunting and travel and spending time restoring habitat on the family ranch in Colusa County.


Mike Deutsch is a senior vice president and loan team leader with the Wells Fargo Regional Commercial Banking Office (RCBO) in Sacramento. Mike leads a team of commercial banking professionals who develop and manage relationships with middle market companies that have annual revenues greater than $20 million. A commercial banker for more than 17 years, Mike's career has been focused on providing commercial banking services to middle-market and corporate companies located primarily in the California Central Valley. Mike started his career at Wells Fargo, and has held positions at Union Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and as Treasurer for Teichert prior to rejoining Wells Fargo in 2013.

Mike is a Wells Fargo CMTP graduate, and earned his MBA and B.S. in Finance from California State University, Sacramento. Mike lives in Gold River with his wife Patrice (a 20 year WFB employee) and daughter Ashleigh. Mike enjoys working as a whitewater river guide, golfing and working on home improvement projects.


Cydney G. Bender-Reents, MAI is principle in charge of the firm of Bender Rosenthal, Inc., (BRI) a Sacramento based real estate appraisal, right of way (ROW) acquisition, and relocation firm specializing in appraisal services, right of way management, and right of way planning for small and large government and private infrastructure projects. Ms. Bender Reents' professional experience in real estate appraisal began in 1991 and encompasses a broad range of land uses and property types. As a member of the Appraisal Institute, she earned the (MAI) designation, and is a Certified General Real Estate Appraiser, in the State of California. Prior to her career in real estate, Ms. Bender attended California Polytechnical State University in San Luis Obispo, majoring in Agricultural Business Management. Upon graduation, she entered the commercial construction field as a Project Manager for a Sacramento based general contractor. Her unique real estate background enables Ms. Bender Reents to grasp complicated construction issues as they relate to right of way projects and valuation matters.


Amanda Bohl is a conservation professional with experience in the non-profit, philanthropic, and government sectors and who has developed and implemented land protection plans, community relations initiatives, and collaborative, community-based efforts. Amanda currently serves as the Manager of Meeting of Services and Special Projects for the Delta Stewardship Council, the State's lead agency in achieving the co-equal goals of water reliability and habitat restoration. Prior to joining the Council, Amanda served as the Economic Development Lead for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, Program Director for the American Land Conservancy's Central Valley and Foothills Program, and as the Executive Director of the Mother Lode Land Trust. Amanda has a B.A. in International Studies from Southern Oregon University and an M.S. in Community Development from U.C. Davis. Amanda lives in Sacramento with her two children and enjoys traveling, running, swimming, and spending as much time outside as possible.


Rob Donlan is a partner with the Law Firm of Ellison, Schneider & Harris L.L.P. His practice focuses on groundwater and surface water rights, as well as counseling on matters involving state and federal Endangered Species Acts, the California Environmental Quality Act, and other state and federal statutory and regulatory requirements affecting water users and water managers. Rob represents public agencies and private parties before the California courts, the State Water Resources Control Board, and other administrative agencies, and advocates on behalf of water users on policy issues involving water rights and water management.


Kate Hart is an attorney with Abbott & Kindermann, LLP. Ms. Hart's primary area of practice is land use law. She represents the firm's clients in processing all types of land use entitlements, and has extensive experience with the Subdivision Map Act, Mitigation Fee Act, and the California Environmental Quality Act. She has worked for both local agencies and private developers processing subdivision maps, conditional use permits, rezoning and general plan amendments, and variances, as well as negotiated development agreements and various types of easements for residential, commercial and industrial properties. Ms. Hart is a member of the State Bar of California and the Real Property and Environmental Law Sections of the Sacramento County Bar Association. She also previously served as Chair of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. She earned a B.S. degree at Santa Clara University and a J.D. at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.


Natalie is an associate with Thomas Law Group, specializing in land use law and the California Environmental Quality Act. Prior to joining Thomas Law Group, Natalie clerked for Chief Judge Morrison C. England Jr. of the Eastern District of California, and interned with the Planning and Conservation League, the Governor's Office of Planning and Research, and the Hon. Consuelo Callahan of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Natalie became passionate about land use issues after growing up in the Central Valley and witnessing prime farm land lost to sprawling development patterns. After college, Natalie spent four years assisting homeless women and families at Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center (now Next Move) before deciding to attend law school in the evening while caring for her two young sons during the day. Natalie has a J.D. with a concentration in environmental law from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and a B.A. in Economics from New College of Florida.


Darryl currently is the Chief of Staff for Assembly Member Ridley-Thomas and has previously held positions with other Assembly Members as Policy Director, Interim Chief of Staff and Assembly Fellow. He has worked in policy and budget development, political navigation, strategic communications, event planning and fundraising and team building. His affiliations include Commissioner with the Sacramento Planning and Design Commission, Director of the Sacramento Friends of the Library, Sacramento Habitat for Humanity, Community Commission on Racial Profiling (Sacramento City) and the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce. Darryl attended San Bernardino Valley College, received his B.A. in Political Science at CSU Long Beach and attended an Assembly Fellowship Program at CSU Sacramento.


Don Rose is an independent business financial consultant, providing part-time CFO services for businesses and helping them optimize performance, plan for the future, and raise capital. He has served as Chief Financial Officer for several organizations in the Sacramento area, most recently for the Nehemiah Family of Companies, and previously for CPS Human Resource Services and Cal/West Seeds. He also served as Vice President/Treasurer of Valley Media, and Manager of Financial Services for Blue Diamond Growers. He began his career as an agricultural loan officer with the Farm Credit System. Don holds a BS degree in Agricultural Management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an MBA from CSU Sacramento. Don lives in Carmichael with his wife, Beth. He spends his free time in various trail related activities, including hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, and trail construction.


John wants to live in a world filled with majestic beauty, overachieving underachievers while Jimmy Buffet's classic "A Pirate Looks at 40" loops with purpose in the background. As a technology sales leader with more than 20 years of experience, he's worked for Hitachi, Oracle, Genuity, Veraction, HVR (and the like) successfully linking customers to proven software solutions while building winning teams with a smile. When he's not running sales playbooks or entertaining at customer lunches, you can find him cheering on his two boys, running twenty-minute miles, or telling the same jokes over and over to his wife, Nicole, who still laughs. John grew up making memories in the mountains and oceans of Southern California, where he developed his love and appreciation for the outdoors. It is this very passion for preserving open spaces for all to enjoy for years to come that drives his involvement with SVC.


Jay Ziegler is the Director of External Affairs and Policy for The Nature Conservancy, California. Previously, Jay was principal of a Sacramento-based public affairs consulting firm, Ziegler Associates. The firm was founded in 2003 and specializes in land use issues, regulatory concerns and political communications. After graduating from UC Davis in 1984, Jay worked in the California State Legislature and later served as Deputy Controller for the State of California from 1989-1992. Jay also served in the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt for intergovernmental affairs (1993-1996) and served as Assistant Trade Representative for Public Affairs (1996-1999). At the Department of the Interior Jay's portfolio included coordination of strategies to advance collaborative conservation efforts between public and private concerns. In this capacity, he addressed a series of volatile and complex regional natural resource issues including as endangered species and habitat conservation, expansion of natural parks and monuments. Prior to starting his own consulting firm, Jay was the California state director for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign (2000) and then managing director, California Public Affairs Practice, for Burson-Marsteller, an international public affairs firm. Jay resides in Davis, California with his wife Carri and two children.



Russell Austin is a partner with the business law firm of Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP. He has more than 30 years of experience in private practice, specializing in commercial real estate and business law. His work has included a number of large, complex conservation transactions for non-profit conversation organizations including the American Land Conservancy. He has served as an Adjunct and Visiting Professor at McGeorge School of Law and as a Lecturer at UC Davis School of Law. He holds a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara and a J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley.


Lynn Sadler is currently the Director of Government Affairs for the California Public Utility Commission. Previously, she was Executive Director of Science and Collaboration for Connected Wildlands, formerly known as South Coast Wildlands, and the Mountain Lion Foundation, a national wildlife protection organization. Other professional experience includes Natural Resources Director for the Planning and Conservation League, Assistant Director for Information and Policy Coordination at the California State Department of Personnel Administration, and Legislative Consultant for the California State Senate Joint Committee of Science and Technology. A twenty-five year veteran of advocacy campaigns across the nation, Lynn ran her own public affairs consulting firm, working for diverse efforts ranging from the President of the United States to city council candidates, and the Olympics to local charities. Lynn co-founded and performs with the Sacramento Choral Society and serves on several local, regional and statewide Boards of Directors. Lynn graduated University of Missouri and Pennsylvania State University with degrees in political science and journalism.


Dick Troy is former Deputy Director for Operations for California State Parks. He was responsible for overseeing the management and operation of more than 265 state parks, reserves, historic sites and recreation areas. Dick has a BA in Geography/Biology from San Diego State University. Dick also serves on the Board of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, the Anza Borrego Foundation and is the President of the California Recreational Trail Conference Foundation.


Chris Unkel currently works for American Rivers as Director of Conservation, Central Valley River Restoration on floodplain expansion and other issues. He was formerly Director of Public Policy for the Western Region of Ducks Unlimited and a Senior Field Representative for The Nature Conservancy, Cosumnes River/Delta Project. And, prior to that he directed the California Wildlands Program for the California Department of Fish & Game (a start up interpretive program for the state's major public wildlife areas). He also served as a consultant for the Assembly Resources, Land Use and Energy, and Water Parks and Wildlife Committees. He holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University and a B.S. from the University of Montana.


AIMEE B. RUTLEDGE, Executive Director

Aimee Rutledge has been Executive Director of the Sacramento Valley Conservancy since October 1996. Previously, Ms. Rutledge helped found the Friends of the Sacramento River Greenway, worked with the American Institute of Architects, California Council as Director of Governmental Relations, and ran her own consulting firm, ABR Services, serving as legislative advocate for the California Bicycle Coalition and performing outreach and advocacy services for various other clients. She holds a BA in History from Pomona College and is a graduate of Sacramento High School. She also currently serves as a board member on Reclamation District 1600, a commissioner on the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and as California Program Manager for The Wilderness Land Trust.

WENDY BATY, Administrative Director

Wendy has worked with the Sacramento Valley Conservancy since its Birth Event in 1991. She has also worked for the American River Parkway Foundation, Sacramento Open Space, and other environmental groups. She received a B.A. in Home Economics/Clothing & Textiles at CSU, Sacramento. She is proud to be able to assist in the protection of local lands as a preserve for wildlife habitat and recreation.

LUCIE ADAMS, Stewardship Director

Lucie joined SVC in November 2011. Lucie is a biologist whose love of plants and the outdoors resulted in a degree in environmental studies and biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She moved on to a career as a field biologist and botanist for various government agencies and environmental consulting firms. Lucie also works for the Sacramento Splash program where she shares her love of vernal pool ecosystems with children and their families. Lucie enjoys spending her free time traveling to new places to hike, bike and enjoy the outdoors.

KELLY HOPKINS, Communications and Marketing Director

Kelly is a Bay Area native who grew up camping, backpacking and sailing in the Sierras. With 7 years experience as a Girl Scout, Kelly has an enthusiastic and energetic attitude toward outdoor recreation, responsibility and education. Kelly is a Leave No Trace and PEAK (Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids) trainer with 5 years of experience, reaching hundreds of kids in the greater Sacramento area. Kelly has a B.S. in Organizational Communication Studies from California State University Sacramento. When she's not working, Kelly's favorite outdoor activities include cycling, hiking and photography.

EVAN GRIFFITHS, Stewardship Manager/Camp Pollock Manager

Evan is a recent graduate of California State University, Long Beach with a B.S. degree in Mathematics and is currently pursuing a certificate in Field Ecology from Sacramento City College. While relatively new to the environmental field, he comes to the Sacramento Valley Conservancy with experience managing volunteers in service learning environments. He also works for Sacramento Splash as a field guide, exploring the local vernal pool ecosystems with students and the public. As a recent transplant from southern California, he enjoys experiencing seasonal weather and all of the cycling and hiking that the Sacramento area has to offer.

FRED STRICKLAND, Program Assistant

Fred was born and raised in the Bay Area and has lived in Northern California all of his life. Retiring from the Federal Government after 37 years in 2015 where he spent a significant part of his career acquiring, managing and overseeing construction, restoration and environmental cleanup projects from Utah to California. He has been a Docent with SVC at Deer Creek Hills since 2011. Fred is also a hiking and mountain bike docent for Placer Land Trust. He is past president of Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition (FATRAC) the local International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) chapter (2013 to 2015). Fred enjoys cycling and hiking in the Sacramento area in his spare time. And recently has become interested in bike-packing.

FRED TRACY, Stewardship Manager

Fred is a native of Carmichael and grew up in the greater Sacramento area. He earned degrees in natural resource and watershed management from Humboldt State and Univ.of Ariz. and is fluent in Spanish. Fred came to SVC with experience in natural resource management and environmental education, garnered as a Peace Corps Volunteer, technical advisor, and project manager in Latin America. As an SVC team member, he enjoys maintaining, monitoring and exploring SVC's protected open space, and enabling visitors to discover the wonders of Deer Creek Hills.

PAULETTE BURGESS, Administrative Assistant

Born in New Jersey, raised in the Canal Zone, Paulette has lived in California since 1962. Along the way, she earned an A.S. Degree in Electronics from Mission College in the Bay Area. A late bloomer to outdoor activities, she enthusiastically has tried just about everything at least once to see what it's like. Currently she is semi-retired and when not working at SVC, she is out enjoying her favorite activities, travel/camping, hiking, climbing, birding, and cycling.

HARPREET GIDHA, Accounting/Administrative Assistant

Harpreet is a recent graduate of California State University, Sacramento with a B.S. degree in Accounting. Although born in India, she has lived in Sacramento for most of her life. Her love of travel has made her appreciate nature and its beauty. She enjoys outdoor activities like running, cycling and gardening. She is excited to be a part of SVC and its mission to preserve the beauty of the Sacramento Valley.

TIM FIOCK, Camp Pollock Caretaker

Tim is a recent graduate from California State University, Sonoma with a B.A. degree in Environmental Studies, as well as minors in Biology and Geography. Tim has experience as a veterinary technician's assistant and raising Guide Dogs for the Blind. Tim has done volunteer work with the Sonoma Land Trust and Leave no Trace and is very excited to be a part of the Sacramento Valley Conservancy team. In his spare time Tim enjoys backpacking, sailing and being in the great outdoors .

P.O. Box 163351
Sacramento, CA 95816