Our Staff and Board of Directors
We owe the success of our chapter to our small staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors. Our large group of talented volunteers allow us to accomplish many of our goals with a small budget, putting more of our hard-earned donations to good use. Read about our current honorees in the volunteer spotlight.
Ralph Schardt, Executive Director, has been an Audubon member for nearly 20 years. He led bird watching trips for a variety of local businesses and nonprofits. As the only photographer covering the relocation of the California condor at Pinnacles National Monument, Ralph's work was widely published. He brings over 15 years of leadership and development in nonprofit business to SCVAS, including running a small private nonprofit foundation supporting environmental education for youth over the last nine years. He is passionate about nature, birds, and the outdoors. Contact Ralph at (408) 252-3748 or
Kelly Alfrey, Outreach Coordinator, graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Animal Science. Prior to joining SCVAS, Kelly worked on commercial crabbing vessels out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where she enjoyed Bald Eagles and Steller's Eiders while monitoring crabs and other marine life. She is happy to have migrated back to sunny California. Kelly is eager to promote conservation within the Bay area and expand our community presence to advance SCVAS's outreach programs! Contact her at
Ricardo Fernandez, Burrowing Owl Conservation Intern, is currently attending San Jose State University to obtain a B.Sc. in Environmental Studies with a restoration focus. He is currently working to help monitor and protect the western burrowing owl populations in Santa Clara County. During his free time, Ricardo loves to hike and mountain bike where he gets a chance to admire California's wildlife and native vegetation. At home Ricardo enjoys maintaining a sustainable vegetable garden as well as restoring his yard to a native garden. Contact him at (408) 252-3747.
Shani Kleinhaus, Environmental Advocate, works to protect and promote wildlife habitats and to include avian conservation in local development plans. She represents the Chapter before local governments and decision makers addressing issues of land use, birds, wildlife habitat, and environmental impacts. Shani (pronounced shaa-knee) works closely with our Environmental Action Committee and volunteers on a plethora of conservation issues throughout Santa Clara County and its Cities. Shani earned her Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis and has contributed to conservation research, advocacy and planning in a variety of ecosystems in the US and overseas. To join our group of advocates, or to alert us to ecological concerns and opportunities in your community, contact Shani at (650) 868-2114 or
Tracy Neher, Office Manager, was the Executive Assistant at Filoli, where she had the pleasure to meet and work with Ralph Schardt. She started volunteering for SCVAS and was delighted to hear of this position-opening. The Nature Shop is such a good fit for her skills. Along with her administrative experience, she worked for Nordstrom, Williams Sonoma, Talbots, and owned her own gift stores in Nevada City. She and her husband Bob lived in many spots on the West Coast and have two grown daughters. She currently resides in Los Altos with her two Siamese cats (bird watchers, not bird catchers). She has a lot to learn about birding, but she is very eager to learn. Contact her at (408) 252-3747 or
Kymberly Sugano, Educational Programs Specialist, graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. She has field experience working with several bird species: from owls to cavity-nesting birds to rails. Upon working with SCVAS, she turned her attention from conservation to teaching conservation. While education was something she never thought she would do, she is more than happy with this new direction! She is very excited to fly right in the Education Department and explore new avenues and expand programs. Contact her at (408) 252-3740 or
The SCVAS Board of Directors is always open to new ideas and suggestions from members. We work hard to uphold our bylaws, maintain fiscal responsibility, ensure that our programs support our mission, promote local conservation, and provide fun and exciting learning experiences for both children and adults.
The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society is seeking Board members and welcomes expressions of interest from anyone who supports our mission. While your enthusiastic contribution of time and energy is the major qualification, the Board particularly needs expertise and experience in fund-raising, environmental education, and social media. Contact us if you are interested in joining our Board.
The Board of Directors includes:
Bob Hirt (President),
Diane Hart (Vice President),
Joan Leighton (Secretary),
Marlene Macek (Treasurer),
Vivek Khanzode, and
Updated July 2016
Burrowing Owl © Tom Grey
Donating Benefits our Communities
Your tax-deductible donation allows SCVAS to increase the number of youngsters, many from low income families, that we reach with our local science education programs. Your donation dollars also support our many conservation efforts that make us one of the most effective conservation organizations in the Bay Area. We have many different ways that you can volunteer and donate.
How to Volunteer for SCVAS
Fill out our Volunteer Sign-up form or contact our Education and Outreach Director at (408) 252-3740 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our most pressing needs, plus our list of individual and committee opportunities.
Become a volunteer for conservation.
View our volunteer calendar.
Upcoming Events at SCVAS
Wednesday September 7, 7:30-9PM
Bay Area Bird Photographers Meeting
Annual "BYOP" (bring your own photos) Program
Wednesday October 5, 7:30-9:00 PM
The Bay Area Bird Photographers Meeting
"Brazil's Pantanal" with Doug Cheeseman