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
Cindy von Ofenheim
Cindy von Ofenheim, Office Manager, manages our Nature Shop, office, and operations. Cindy recently arrived here from Oregon, where she gained extensive experience as a small business owner, as a master gardener, and with Portland Audubon. You can contact Cindy at (408) 252-3747 or
Toby Goldberg, Education and Outreach Director, is responsible for SCVAS' Education and Volunteer Programs. She sits on the Education Committee and works closely with volunteers, educators, community organizations, and other individuals interested in receiving our various services. Toby has a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University and an M.A. in Ecology from UCSB. She has worked in conservation research in several countries and has been involved with education programs in a wide variety of settings. Ella habla Español. If you would like to learn more about SCVAS' Education Programs and Volunteer opportunities, contact Toby at (408) 252-3740 or .
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
Joshua McCluskey, Burrowing Owl Conservation Project Manager, has a B.Sc. in Environmental Studies with a focus on restoration and resource management with a minor in Urban Studies from San Jose State University, in addition to Associates degrees in Environmental Stewardship and Biodiversity Specialist from De Anza College. He has worked locally to protect Coyote Valley and contributed to wildlife connectivity research in the South Bay Area. If you are interested in working with Josh on the Western Burrowing Owl issues, contact him at (408) 252-3747 or
Kymberly Sugano, Educational Programs Coordinator, graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. During college, she was a supervisor for the Putah Creek Nestbox Highway, and a technician in the Meyer Hall Avian Research Facility working with cockatiels, parrots, chicken and quail. She has field work experience with Northern Spotted Owls, and Black and Virginia Rails. If she's not birding, she is creating either knitted or crocheted creations. Contact her at (408) 252-3740 or
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.
Katherine Ackerman, Education and Outreach Intern, is a recent graduate of Colby College in Maine where she received her B.A. in Biology and Creative Writing. Her background as a program manager for an outdoor adventure organization, and her natural passion for the environment, make her a perfect fit with the SCVAS Education team.
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 Board of Directors includes:
Bob Hirt (President),
Diane Hart (Vice President),
Joan Leighton (Secretary),
Vivek Khanzode, and
Updated September 2015
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 email@example.com.
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
Saturday February 6, 8:00 AM (Half day)
A trip designed for beginning birders but all are encouraged to attend.
Sunday February 7, 8:30 AM (Full day)
Merced & San Luis Wildlife Refuges
Meet at the parking area near the first Observation Platform in Merced National Wildlife Refuge.
Tuesday February 9, 10:00am
Eve Case Bird Discussion Group
NOTE: The group will meet on the 1st Tuesday in January, only; we'll return to our normal 2nd Tuesday schedule in February.