Board of Directors
Mary Bergen, Director
Retired Marine Biologist
Mary first came to Ojai in 1957 when her parents bought a ranch on Creek Road. She learned to love the land by exploring the hills and canyons on horse and on foot. After graduating from high school, she became a marine biologist. She worked as a consultant and researcher and staff biologist for the California State Lands Commission and the Department of Fish and Game, studying the effects of man’s activities on the ocean. In 2000, Mary moved back to the ranch in Ojai and permanently set down roots. She is very happy managing the avocado orchard and continuing to explore the beauty of the valley with her two horses and two dogs.
Bill Brothers, Director
A recent resident of Ojai, Bill has been coming to the Valley for over thirty years. When he sold his business in Boulder, he had the opportunity to finally move to Ojai. After a forty year career in animal welfare, Bill still supplies custom vehicles of all types to organizations who work on behalf of animals. Bill maintains a summer home in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York (on Cayuga Lake) and a cabin in Colorado. Bill is an avid hiker and trail volunteer for both OVLC and USFS and is committed to preserving as much open space and recreational areas as possible.
Sandy Buechley, Vice President
Business Intelligence Manager, Patagonia, Inc.
Sandy moved to her home in Ojai in 1964, raising her two now grown sons who attended local schools including Monica Ros, San Antonio, and Nordhoff. They and their families remain frequent visitors to the Ojai home of their childhood and they all have a passion for the outdoors, the mountains, trails and beauty of the Ojai Valley and for their current homes in the mountains of Colorado and Utah. Sandy and her late husband, George, shared a deep appreciation for the work of the OVLC and have been friends and supporters for nearly ten years. While her children were young, Sandy managed the business office for Monica Ros School and later assisted in establishing, building and managing the Ojai Valley Racquet Club (now known as the Ojai Valley Athletic Club). Sandy has spent the last 30 years as a manager in both Finance and Information Technology at Patagonia, where there is a strong shared commitment to environmental, community and social responsibility.
Roger Essick, Director
Avocado Grower and Orchard Manager
Roger Essick, an Ojai resident and avocado and citrus farmer for 36 years, returned to the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Board of Directors after a year off. Roger served as board President during his previous term and has a long history with the OVLC after having served several times on the board since the beginning days. Roger has enjoyed raising his family of two grown children and four grandchildren in the Ojai Valley and looks forward to helping to preserve Ojai’s natural places for generations to come. He lives on the east end of Ojai on a large avocado ranch with his wife Pat, a Topa Topa school teacher, who shares his love for the Ojai Valley.
Margot Griswold, Director
Senior Restoration Ecologist, NewFields Agricultural & Environmental Resources
Margot is a resident of the Upper Ojai Valley since 2003. She has a background in farming from the Central Valley of California, and currently works as a plant ecologist specializing in native habitat restoration. She is past president for SERCAL (California Society for Ecological Restoration) and currently serves on the board of Los Angeles Audubon where she directs local science education projects. She is also a member of the Los Angeles County Environmental Review Board. She is dedicated to ecological education and land conservation and loves playing outdoors with friends.
Brian Holly, Director
Vice President & Senior Ecologist, BioResource Consultants, Inc.
Brian is a principal ecologist with BioResource Consultants, an environmental consulting firm based in Ojai. He brings extensive experience in restoration ecology, wildlife biology, ecosystem management, environmental policy and natural resource planning. For over thirteen years, Brian has been working and managing ecological restoration projects or biological studies in Ojai, and other southern California watersheds. He recently wrote several grant applications (lead or co-author) to various natural resource protection agencies, and has been awarded over $800K in funds to restore degraded streams in the Ventura River Watershed. He also serves as an active member of the Ventura County Search and Rescue Team-Upper Ojai. Brian and his wife Camille live in Ojai with their daughter, and enjoy spending their free time backpacking, biking, sauntering, and traveling. Brian has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science-Conservation Biology from the UC Santa Cruz and a Master’s in Ecosystem Science and Conservation from Duke University.
Allan Jacobs, Director
CPA and Attorney
A past OVLC board member, CPA and Attorney is returning to our board. We are pleased to welcome him back as he is such an asset to the OVLC. Allan and his wife Janet have lived in Ojai for 10 years though his family settled here in the 1930’s. Allan attended Monica Ros, San Antonio School, and Nordhoff. He and Janet have 3 grown children. Allan is an avid hiker and fisherman, Peace Corps volunteer, Eagle Scout, and dedicated Ojai Rotarian.
Ann Oppenheimer, Director
Retired Corporate Meeting Planner and Publisher of Resource Guides for Special Events
Ann first came to Ojai in the 1940’s when her grandparents moved to the valley and began ranching. She’s thrilled to be a part of protecting the “views, trails, water & wildlife” that her grandparents fought so fervently to preserve. Now HER grandchildren are discovering the many treasures the Ojai Valley holds. She and her husband Harry, split their time between their home in Ojai and their farm outside of Chicago. Together they enjoy tennis, swimming and hiking the many gorgeous trails surrounding Ojai.
Don Reed, President
Retired Teacher and Headmaster
Don initially taught in New England but moved to Ojai with his family in 1970 to The Thacher School. At Thacher he taught physics and astronomy, served in several administrative positions, coached gymkhana, and lead backpacking trips in the Sespe backcountry. Don left Thacher in 1985 and became headmaster at four independent schools during the next twenty-one years, one each in Illinois, California, Colorado and Virginia. In 2008 he and his wife Susan fulfilled a life-long dream to return to Ojai for their retirement. Don maintains his interest in education and board governance by serving as treasurer of the Monica Ros School and chair of the scholarship committee of the Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Ojai Educational Foundation.
Larry Rose, Director
Both Larry and his wife Lisa Larramendy are from fouth generation Ojai families. Larry’s affinity for the natural surroundings of Ojai Valley began with exploring Sulfur Mountain where his family lived. Larry has been active in conservation in Ventura County for 30 years as a leader on a number of County Supervisor committee’s on conservation policy development. Larry is recognized internationally for his expertise in avocado and citrus where he spent his career. Larry, Lisa and son Peter are all active volunteers supporting the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.
Cricket Twichell, Secretary
Retired School Administrator
Cricket Twichell, born in New York’s Hudson River Valley, has lived in the Ojai Valley since 1969, having moved here from the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, when her husband was hired to be head of the Mathematics Department at the Thacher School. A full-time Mom until 1977, she then became an administrator, working in Thacher’s Admissions and the Development offices as well as teaching Study Skills, until retiring in 1996. Often found wandering around the Ojai hills, she has become interested in wildflowers and native plants and enjoys giving nature hikes. She’s also become hooked on Ojai history, giving talks about the colorful characters and events which have influenced Ojai’s past and leading Museum-sponsored historical walking tours of downtown Ojai.
Roger Wachtell, Director
Owner Artistry in Motion, Inc.
Roger has lived in the Ojai Valley for the past 20 years, moving here from Los Angeles with his wife, Kathy. All three of their children have been locally grown and educated in the Ojai Valley. Roger’s background is in business administration and investing. In his free time, Roger enjoys hiking, freediving, surfing, and spearfishing. In addition to serving on the Board at OVLC, Roger also serves as a Trustee for Monica Ros School.
Nathan Wallace, Treasurer
Owner, GreyFox Investors LLC
Nathan moved to Ojai in 1992 and has lived here since, with the exception of a short stint in San Antonio and San Diego. He owns and runs a wealth and investment advisory firm based out of Ojai. Nathan is an avid hiker, skier, camper and enjoys anything in the outdoors. He spends the majority of his time with his wife Rebecca and young son and daughter. He also makes sure to spend time with family including his mother, aunt and uncle, and his little sister who all live in Ojai.