To Our Ojai Community:

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »

Board of Directors

Roger Essick, President
Avocado and Citrus Farmer

The Board of Directors is pleased to welcome Roger as board president. An Ojai resident and avocado and citrus farmer for 46 years, Roger has enjoyed raising his family of two grown children and four grandchildren in the Ojai Valley. He lives in the east end of Ojai on a large avocado ranch with his wife Pat, a retired Topa Topa school teacher, who shares his love of the Ojai Valley. Roger has a long history with the OVLC after having served several times on the board since it was founded in 1987, including as a past-president. He looks forward to helping to preserve Ojai’s natural places for generations to come.

Meredy Benson Rice
Director of Teaching & Learning, Oak Grove School

Originally hailing from Canada and the U.K., and drawn by her interest in Krishnamurti and his unique vision for education, Meredy moved to Ojai in 1993 with her three children so they could attend Oak Grove School. She has worked in many capacities for the school over the last 23 years, including residential counselor, HS English teacher, Director of High School, and Head of School. Meredy has served on the boards of Oak Grove School, Krishnamurti Foundation of America, Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation, California Association of Independent Schools, and Ojai Art Center. Now part of a blended family, she and her husband Dennis feel tremendous gratitude to have been able to raise their five, now grown, children and young granddaughter amongst the natural beauty of the Ojai Valley. An avid hiker, and lover of all things outdoors, as well as a long time supporter of the OVLC, she is delighted and honored to be able to serve on the board and do everything possible to conserve, preserve, and protect the special gift of this beautiful valley.

Bret Bradigan, Secretary
Editor and Owner of the Ojai Quarterly and Ojai Monthly

Bradigan’s first job was gathering medicinal herbs — ginseng and goldenseal — in the hardwood forests of western New York. His first writing job was as a reporter for the Kern Valley Sun, in the southern Sierras, where he worked 10 years, the last 7 of those years as editor and publisher.

He’s also been reporter, editor and publisher of the Eastern Arizona Courier, Copper Era, Douglas Daily Dispatch, Sierra Vista Herald and the Ojai Valley News. As a journalist, Bradigan has won 7 national awards and 30-plus statewide awards for features, columns, investigative journalism, general excellence and sports writing.

As publisher of the Ojai Quarterly, Bret has encouraged his team of writers and photographers to explore every aspect of Ojai culture and its connections to the world, from the Blacklist era, Ojai in the 1960s, the Ojai railroad, Wheeler Hot Springs, the founding of AARP, Edward Libbey’s architectural masterpieces and many more. Bradigan is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast — hiking and fishing foremost among those pursuits.

Before becoming a journalist, Bradigan was a 6-year Air Force veteran, stationed at RAF Mildenhall, England. He is the past president of the Rotary Club of Ojai, past-president of the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce, secretary and trustee of the Ojai Museum, and a co-founder of Ojai Wordfest. He is the father of Andrew (Andy) and Elizabeth (Betsy) Bradigan.

Bill Brothers

Bill Brothers
Retired Businessman  

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
Business Intelligence Manager, Patagonia, Inc.

Sandy has spent the last 36 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. An Ojai resident since 1964, many summers spent in Jackson Hole and the Grand Teton National Park and daily life with the natural beauty of the Ojai Valley led to a deep appreciation for the mountains and the outdoors.   Sandy’s years with Patagonia and her work on the Board of Directors of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy have been expressions of her desire to help preserve our beautiful natural environment and facilitate recreational opportunities in the outdoors. Sandy, with her late husband, George, shared a deep appreciation for the work of the OVLC and she has been a friend and supporter for over fifteen years. While her children were young, Sandy managed the business office for Monica Ros School and later played a key role in establishing, building and managing the Ojai Valley Racquet Club (now known as the Ojai Valley Athletic Club).  


Stefanie Coeler, Vice President
Retired Business Executive, Equestrian

Having been interested in the protection of environmental resources all her life, and an active OVLC member and volunteer, it was natural for Stefanie to re-join the board after 2 years away. If you have been at OVLC events, you have likely enjoyed some of Stefanie’s creativity and dedication. Born and raised in Germany, she came to Ojai to be with her sweetheart Willi, an airline pilot, now her husband. Stefanie brings two valuable assets to the OVLC, a degree and career in business and a passion for the outdoors. She especially loves riding her horse and hiking on the Ventura River Preserve which she is lucky enough to call her backyard. She has been instrumental in watching over the VRP on our behalf.


Martha Groszewski, Treasurer
Management Consulting

Martha has held senior management positions in manufacturing and retail organizations for the last 30 years, most recently as CEO of Griplock Systems. She previously served as CFO of Patagonia, Chief Accounting Officer of Lucky Brand Dungarees, Director of Finance and Administration of Rampage Clothing Co/Rampage Retailing, and Senior Auditor with Price Waterhouse Coopers. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Accounting from Cal State University, Northridge. She has held Board positions with the Outdoor Industry Association and the Womens Leadership Council, and was a former advisor to the Marketing Committee for the City of Ojai. She has lived in Ojai for the last decade, where she is an avid hiker.

Wyatt Harris
Retired Dentist

Wyatt’s family moved to Ojai in the early 1950’s, and he has spent his entire life here except for a few years living in Ventura, attending college, and serving in the military. He attended Monica Ros School, San Antonio School, Matilija Junior High and Nordhoff High School.  He graduated from Whittier College in 1969 with a BA in Biology, and from USC Dental School in 1973. After graduating from dental school he began active duty in the US Air Force and was stationed in Karamursel, Turkey where he and his wife lived for 2 ½ years before returning to Ojai to practice dentistry. He recently retired after 42 years of practice. He has been married to his wife Claudia for 44 years and they have 3 grown daughters and 2 grandchildren. All are proud tree huggers.

Wyatt developed a love of nature as a young child on yearly family vacations to Tuolumne Meadows and later from many adventures as a Boy Scout in Andy Bisaccia’s Troop. Some of the best times of his life were spent hiking, backpacking, fishing and searching for Native American rock art sites in the Los Padres National Forest. He currently serves as president of Ventura County Wildlife Trackers.

Phil Moncharsh

Mr. Moncharsh has been an Ojai resident since 1980, was one of the very first OVLC Board members ( 1987-2000), and served as President of the OVLC from 1987 through 1994, leading it from inception through infancy to take-off. Mr. Moncharsh has been a practicing attorney for some 45 years now, in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara. He is a longtime member of the American, California, Southern California, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County and Los Angeles County Trial Lawyers Associations and Bar Associations, and has served as a Judge Pro Tem, Arbitrator, Mediator, and Settlement Master for the Superior Courts in Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Phil is a 1970 graduate of Yale University and received his J.D. from The Columbia University School of Law in 1973. He is a past President of the Yale Club of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties, and has in the past served in an advisory capacity with the Sierra Club, Committee for Environmental Eduction, Ventura County Agricultural Land Trust, Citizens for Responsible Government, Ojai Music Festival and Ojai City Council, among other organizations.

After taking time to raise his two now-adult daughters, and to begin winding down his legal career, it is Phil’s honor and privilege to re-join the OVLC Board of Directors.


Sarah Sheshunoff
Attorney/Event Planner

Though originally from San Diego, Sarah lived in Alaska for twelve years before moving to Ojai. An attorney by training, Sarah has clerked for both the Superior and Appellate Courts of Alaska and has practiced criminal defense for seven years. She, her husband, and two boys moved to Ojai so they could be in a small mountainous town yet also be closer to family. Sarah has been involved in her childrens’ school, many local non-profits, and helped start and organize the Telluride Mountainfilm festival in Ojai as a fundraiser for OVLC. In her free time, she loves to hike, run, camp, and be outdoors as much as possible.

Roger Wachtell

Roger Wachtell
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.