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Community Advisory Group

The Health in Nature Program Sustainability Vision

The Health in Nature program envisions its sustainability by considering the health of the land, facilitators, participants, and economic supporters for the next seven generations. The Health in Nature program is interconnected and interdependent on the care of Mount Sutro and its relations, the health of our indigenous communities, and the nurturance of our basic needs.

 

We acknowledge past harms that have been done to the land and indigenous communities, and do this work solely for the intention of healing. 

 

By acknowledging the right all beings have to clean air, water, education, rest, and right livelihood, we strive to put equity and the health of all beings first in the way we do our work on Mt. Sutro. May this work be committed to being anti-racist, and for the good health and wellness of all beings.

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Join us!

We are looking for two more Community Advisory Group members who can commit to meeting 4 times a year and 1-2 hours a month to support Health in Nature on Mt. Sutro.

Contact bridget@sutrostewards.org for more information!

Our Advisors

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Bridget Llanes

she/her, they/them

Bridget Llanes grew up in the Frontline Environmental Justice community of Hobbs, New Mexico where she took long walks in fields of oil pump jacks and rows of cotton. She wondered if the earth beneath her feet always felt so harsh and smelling of chemicals. In eighth grade, she made a wildflower collection of the plants that grew in the cracks of sidewalks and scrubby vacant lots. She also helped her teacher plant a garden at school for Earth Day. Gardening gave her the opportunity to be able to make a place beautiful and healthy, which gave her a sense of connection and purpose she never had. It was as if a light turned on in her mind and heart; recognizing plant life all around her made the world engaging, and less harsh. Since 2005, she has worked in the South Bronx, NY, Albuquerque, NM, and San Francisco, CA to connect plants with people in the community and school gardens. This connection continues to help her and the people she works alongside transform experiences of hardship and trauma into moments of healing and resilience.

She sees our (re)connection with nature as a deeply decolonizing act. This inspires her to work with plants and people as a way to address systemic inequities in intentionally underserved communities through growing food and native plants, taking walks, and making medicine. Nature connection helps us to reclaim knowledge of ourselves, and gain respect for our culture and community. When we see our own humanity as an intrinsic part of the environment and not something separate, we begin to understand that we are all stewards of the Earth. She brings to Sutro Stewards a commitment to rooting this work in inclusivity, anti-racism, complementarity, and equity of all people. She hopes that her decades of experience supporting and coordinating programs will connect, and uplift the Health in Nature program to bring more people to steward the mountain.

Dr. Hollis Pierce-Jenkins 

she/her

Dr. Hollis Pierce-Jenkins is the Executive Director for Literacy for Environmental Justice in San Francisco where she is responsible for the overall operation and sustainability of a social enterprise that promotes ecological restoration, health, community stewardship, service learning and youth development in Southeast San Francisco by providing environmental education (K-12). Under her leadership, pipelines are leveraged that provide safe and meaningful employment opportunities for teens and young adults. Prior to joining LEJ, Hollis was Executive Director for Super Stars Literacy, (2017-2020) a literacy and social-emotional intervention program for K-2 students. In 2020 it merged with a larger nonprofit, Safe Passages in Oakland. Prior to joining Super Stars Literacy, Hollis was President of St. Martin de Porres, a Catholic School in Oakland which was closed in 2017. 

She has held positions in elementary school administration, and teaching positions (grades 4-8) as well as Development positions in private and parochial elementary schools and a Social Enterprise/Non-Profit organization. She began her career in the corporate world of information management. 

Dr. Pierce holds a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley, M. Ed in Curriculum Development from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, an Ed.D in Education (Organization and Leadership) from University of San Francisco.

She is a Certified Leadership Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner. Dr. Pierce-Jenkins is a published author: “Personal Perceptions of Leadership Styles and Behaviors of Elementary School Principals in Urban Setting” (2010) VDM Publishing and a contributing author in: “Lessons in Leadership”:Tips for an Emerging P-20 Leader in the 20th Century. Chapter 4: Reflective Practice provides a practical guide to educators who want to improve their own professional development practices. Reflective practice can be used with teachers, students, and administrators. She is a devoted wife and mother. 

Gerali "Geri" Diaz

they/them, she/her

Geri Diaz joined Sutro Stewards as a Nursery Apprentice in November of 2021, there, their love for Mount Sutro and the native plants who call this mountain home blossomed. Geri grew up in the Mojave Desert, and they received their Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz. Their deep love for this Earth and their understanding that people’s relationship with nature profoundly influences their health and the health of the planet drives Geri to this work. Geri is excited to connect more people to the mountain, deepen the relationship between people and nature, and steward the land so that generations to come may also enjoy this ecological oasis in the middle of the city.

Gideon Surgue

he/him

Gideon native Californian born and raised in Santa Cruz county where he hiked, explored and worked on wildlife restoration projects since being part of the Harbor High School environmental club. This carried over into his interest in human health as he became a western medicine physician who encourages his patients to explore the therapeutic environment outdoors, and evolved into him pursuing my Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) at Five Branches University in San Jose. Gideon is also Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong instructor, where he also has had the privilege of being a volunteer instructor in the Sutro Stewards Health in Nature Program. Serving on the Health in Nature Community Advisory Board is one way Gideon can give back to the community at large.

Ildiko Polony

she/her

Ildiko grew up in apartment buildings in Oakland and did not have much access to nature as a child. Until discovering California native plants and habitat restoration, she focused her life on climate change activism and the pursuit of modern dance. 10 years ago, while a student at UC Berkeley, she planted a vegetable garden for the first time, and was overcome with how much life existed in her tiny San Francisco backyard. She asked herself what would happen if we tried to help this nature and how do you do it? This resulted in the epiphany that in order to foster local wildlife you must plant the plants that the wildlife evolved with, in other words, the plants native to your area. She became enamored with the flora of California. 

With this new found passion, she redirected her studies and received a Bachelor's of Science in Conservation and Resources Studies from UC Berkeley. Since then, she has worked at Larner Seeds as a seed amplifier, collector, and gardener, at Mission Blue Nursery as a Nursery Manager, at Literacy for Environmental Justice as a Nursery Manager, and now at Sutro Stewards as the Executive Director.

She is passionate about bringing the healing joy and satisfaction of participating in nature through habitat restoration to as many people as possible. Starting in our own backyards and moving outward to the greater community, she cherishes the opportunity to offer Mount Sutro as a place of engagement, healing, and community building through improving and maintaining access to the Mountain and working to enhance its biodiversity.

Karen Duderstadt

she/her

 

Karen Duderstadt has been involved in Health in Nature since its inception.

She is Clinical Professor Emerita at the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing and former Director of the Pediatric Advanced Practice Nursing Program. She completed her PhD at UCSF in Nursing & Health Policy in 2006, and her research focused on access to care for low-income children. Her clinical practice over the past 15 years was with the urban, low-income Spanish speaking population of children and families at the Children's Health Center at San Francisco General Hospital. Her work in the community over three decades focused on access to care for patients and their families. 

 

Karen was a founding member of the National Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) and is currently on the Steering Committee and the Policy and Advocacy Committee working on environmental policy. She has presented and published on a wide range of child health policy topics and environmental health issues nationally including the impact of chemical policy and climate change on children's health.

 

She has lived in the Inner Sunset community for many years and has been active in Inner Sunset Park Neighbors (ISPN) events.  She was a member of the UCSF Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Planning Committee in 2017-2018 and has continued to be involved in the neighborhood UCSF Community Relations meetings.  

 

In 2019, she began working with Craig Dawson on developing a children’s educational program for Sutro Stewards focused on increasing children’s engagement and connection with nature.  Research has shown that increasing children’s access to nature improves health and increases understanding the importance of protecting the natural environment.  She worked with Craig and Ildiko Polony to submit the Health & Nature Proposal to UCSF in June 2020.  The proposal has been approved by UCSF.

 

Karen is committed to supporting the work of Sutro Stewards, preserving and protecting Mt. Sutro, and to implementing the Health & Nature Program.

Melani Ramirez

she/her

 

Melani was born and raised in Mexico. She initially got into social justice work when Literacy for Environmental Justice gave her the opportunity to become an Eco-apprentice when she was in 10th grade. During her time at LEJ, Melani was introduced to climate change, how to take care of the land, and San Francisco’s history. One of the biggest things Melani learned about herself is that she enjoys the connectedness that comes from being in community and working alongside other people to have a positive impact on our environment. Melani is currently a rape crisis counselor at SFWAR and and the Health in Nature intern at Sutro Stewards. She is also in college actively working for a sociology major, and a certificate in Spanish interpretation in hopes that in the future she can do community organizing.

Najim Belilla

he/him

Najim grew up in the north of France where he obtained his master's in Business and Innovation management in 2019. Although he didn't have a strong connection with nature growing up, his studies led him to live in Taipei for 6 months, which proved to be a transformative experience.He pushed beyond his environment's realm of possibilities and was able to immerse himself in new ideas, travel, discover different cultures and most importantly witness the awe-inspiring beauty of nature firsthand.

With a new outlook on life and society as a global community, he worked in 3 different continents. Which brought him in 2020 to California where he worked as an Innovation Analyst for a global automotive company for 2 years, analysing start-ups, innovation trends and leading experimental projects that would inform on the business viability of such trends.

As of 2023 he decided to shift his career from Business to more meaningful missions, around social justice, environmental sustainability and potentially research. This translates into being a part-time student in environmental sciences at CCSF and pursuing hands-on experiences. Primarily by working as an eco-apprentice for LEJ (Literacy for Environmental Justice) and regularly volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center, Sutro Stewards, and Project Open Hand.

Tobin Stearns

he/him

Tobin has been outdoor focused for his entire life, enjoying backpacking, hiking, camping, swimming, surfing, as well as daily walks with his dog. Previously, he worked in product and operations for a successful B2B ecommerce startup in the foodservice industry, and currently coaches foot function & joint mobility.

 

His approach to understanding and teaching movement began during recovery from a life changing foot injury, and a successful outcome that surpassed all expectations. During this period, he had limited access to the outdoor settings he loves, and gained a deeper understanding for the benefits of nature in health and wellness. Following this experience, Tobin began teaching and coaching about the qualities which define a healthy joint, and how to begin creating changes which enable people to do more of the things they want to do most.

 

As part of the Health in Nature program on Mt. Sutro, Tobin seeks to share a perspective to help others spend more enjoyable time outdoors, as part of a group experience.

 

Tobin is also the founder of Articular Health, an educational community with structured assessments and programming to improve joint mobility and controlled movement, as a method for more capability and comfort in our biomechanics.

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