About Our Staff
Brian grew up in Southern California, but spent many summers of his youth on his grandparents’ cattle ranch in northwest Nebraska. Through ranch living, he learned a lot about ranching, farming, and caring for the land. When not helping out with chores he spent time fishing for trout in the ranch streams, hiking in the sandstone bluffs, and spending time with university paleontologists studying fossils on the ranch. He was also the first boy scout in the Los Angeles region to earn the farm mechanics merit badge. These experiences led to a lifelong interest in and love of the outdoors.
Brian started at the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo as a volunteer in 1994 and stayed with the organization for 16 years, serving 5 years as Executive Director. Brian’s passion is in conservation, specializing in watershed protection and habitat restoration. Over the years, Brian has managed over 40 habitat restoration and conservation projects along waterways and trail routes. Brian migrated south in 2009 to join his new wife and stepdaughters, and joined the OVLC as Conservation Director in 2010. Brian’s duties have multiplied in the years since joining the OVLC, leading to his ultimate selection to serve as Executive Director in 2014. When not in the office, you might find Brian biking, fishing, or playing bass in a local country band.
After serving as Preserve Manager for several years, Rick’s duties have been expanded under the position of Stewardship Director in order to oversee all preserve issues and concerns, maintaining trails, designing projects, rallying volunteers to expand what gets done, leading preserve nature hikes, and to take a more active, executive role in helping OVLC function at a continuing high level. Rick has done many eclectic things in his life which have given him the skills to accomplish the broad-based tasks managing the preserves. He has worked as a college teacher, U.S. Navy journalist and general contractor, volunteering in between as an assistant scoutmaster, and member of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Team. He is a California Certified Naturalist and Wilderness First Responder.
Director of Advancement
Tania grew up in the Ojai Valley and after graduating from Thacher School, she obtained her degree in Forestry and Natural Resources Management Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She then later went on to earn a certificate in graphic design from UCSB. In her role with the OVLC, she connects local and regional supporters with land conservation efforts in Ojai. She came to nature in childhood through the Ojai Valley’s abundant open lands where hidden swimming holes and rocky caves were treated like secret mining claims; each special and worthy of protection. Tania’s path to land conservation was along the scenic route. Starting with her degree in Forestry and Natural Resources Management she passed through jobs in sales, backcountry horseback guiding, personal training, and graphic design. Tania combines her experiences among local people and land with an eye of a graphic artist to interpret both the physical and cultural landscapes of the Ojai Valley in ways that create strong bonds with donors and the community. In her free time, Tania and her husband Tobias can often be found hiking or climbing on the OVLC trails and preserves with their dog Topa, or exploring other favorite outdoor destinations throughout the western states.
Marti joined the OVLC staff as our bookkeeper in November 2009 and in February of 2010 she was promoted to Office Manager full time. She comes us with a diverse background of 30 years in the restaurant business including 7 as the general manager at Carrows in Ojai. She has also worked for more than 7 years at local non-profits including most recently the Ojai Youth Foundation and the Valley Oak Charter School. Marti is capable, confident, experienced, and lovely to work with. Marti and her husband have 2 daughters and have lived in Ojai since 1997.
Restoration Program Manager
Born and raised in Ojai, Jill grew up exploring the mountains and streams surrounding the valley. She moved on to study biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, but readily escaped the frigid east coast back to Ojai upon completion. Since then, she has spent eight years conducting work related to the endangered southern steelhead and the equally as endangered streams and habitats they depend upon. With the California Conservation Corps’ Salmonid Restoration Program she has conducted scientific studies and designed, funded, and implemented dozens of steelhead restoration projects in coastal streams of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties.
When Jill isn’t at work, she can usually be found hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, and spending time with her family. She is thrilled to be a part of the team at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy to help protect open spaces for current and future generations to enjoy.
Xena grew up on the East Coast but after one too many snowstorms she and her husband decided it was time to follow their dream and move to Southern California. During her three years in Ojai she has explored many local trails with her dog and young daughter, forming strong connections to the land. Prior to coming to the OVLC, Xena worked as a project manager in clinical research. She is excited to transfer these skills to help further advancement at the OVLC.
Xena has traveled extensively, both in the US and internationally, including a two year stint in Paraguay as an agroforestry Peace Corps volunteer. She is looking forward to the day when her young daughter can carry a pack so they can go on their next adventure.
Ron, a lifetime New Yorker, was dragged kicking and screaming to Ojai by his lovely wife Elisa in 2007. He has been hiking every day with Luke the Aussie ever since. His favorite native plants are Wooly Blue-curls and Humboldt lilies. When he isn’t lurking in the nursery he enjoys crossword puzzles, the music of Frank Zappa and agonizing over the New York Jets.
Restoration Field Crew
A graduate of Nordhoff High School, Kimo Ellison is a busy guy. Besides working part time on the field crew, he bar tends, works for a masonry contractor and does other odd jobs around Ojai.
Restoration Field Crew
A native of Ojai, Nathan spends his time hiking, photographing prehistoric archaeological sites, swimming in creeks, and taking in the pink moment at the end of the day. When Nathan is not working, he volunteers for the NPS Cultural Resources program in the Santa Monica Mountains archiving at the park’s museum collections and surveying out in the field with the Archaeology team.
Nathan graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Film Studies, and while he no longer wishes to pursue a career in film, he still utilizes his craft to preserve and promote the beauty of California’s open spaces and cultural heritage.
It’s probably no accident that Kevin finds himself working outside on the field crew. In his youth he was an enthusiastic Boy Scout who loved backpacking and going on trips in the summer with his family in search of Sasquatch. Today he enjoys hiking, surfing, camping, rock climbing and mountain biking. Kevin works part time as an electrician. He and his wife Jillian live in Santa Paula.