Kelin Backman, Chair
Kelin Castleberry Backman is co-owner of Clementine EcoEvents and is one of the founders and the director of Rivertown Revival. After teaching English for several years, Kelin left the education world to open an event business. Clementine has grown over the years and is contracted by Bike Monkey, the producers of Levi Leipheimer’s GranFondo, to organize this event’s festival FondoSonoma and kick off gala, Festa del Fondo; Clementine was contracted by the City of Santa Rosa to organize the kick off gala for the Amgen Tour of California; and is currently the Northern California’s fundraising team for Jared Huffman for Congress. Kelin lives in Petaluma with her husband, two daughters, three dogs and nine chickens.
Elizabeth Howland, Vice Chair
Elizabeth is Managing Director of Development at the McKesson Foundation and is also a proprietor of Clementine EcoEvents, a company that is committed to saving the planet, one event at a time. She is also a principal in andHow, a marketing consulting firm. Earlier in her career, Elizabeth was Vice President of Marketing at Athleta, the premier women’s sports apparel retailer, where she oversaw all marketing functions and spearheaded the design and production of the Athleta catalog and web store. Prior to Athleta, Elizabeth spent several years in executive positions for multi-channel retail firms including Triplex, Gymboree and Bio Bottoms. Elizabeth is a founding member of Friends of the Petaluma River. She has lived in Petaluma for 25 years and is an active outdoor enthusiast and musician.
Eric Backman, Secretary
Eric Backman is a seventeen year resident of Petaluma, where he lives with his family. He is married and has two daughters, who are 20 and 12. Eric has been an educator for nearly two decades, teaching social studies and ethics at both St. Vincent High School and Casa Grande High School. He became an assistant principal at Casa in 2008, where he currently serves as the school’s Small Learning Community project director. Eric has a master’s degree in History and Gender Studies from San Francisco State University and holds credentials in teaching and Education Leadership from Sonoma State. Eric enjoys running, fly-fishing, playing the drums, backpacking in the high Sierras, and spending time with his great family and friends. He kayaks often on the Petaluma River and on Tomales Bay. He is a volunteer staff member for Petaluma’s Rivertown Revival and joined the Friends of the Petaluma River Board in 2011.
Michael Woolsey, Interim Treasurer
Michael is a Development Associate for the Marin Agricultural Land Trust where he is responsible for coordination of development projects since 2010. He has more than a decade of non-profit fundraising experience. Prior to joining MALT he served in the Development Department at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California for 10 years, five of which was as the Campaign Associate for its $25 million Campaign for the Future. Michael holds a bachelor’s in Business and Humanities with a minor in Marketing from Golden Gate University with an emphasis in nonprofit management. He lives in Petaluma with his wife and two young sons.
For the past ten years, several times a week, I have done my kayak training on, and occasionally in, the Petaluma River. The River has been good to me, and it’s time to give back. I’m particularly interested in encouraging human-powered boat use and discouraging wetlands development on the River. Patrick has been involved in the wine business in Sonoma County since 1974; although he recently sold his Sonoma Mountain winery, he continues making wine from his vineyards in Argentina and Lodi. During much of this time, he has had leadership roles in national wine industry organizations and been actively involved with local land use issues. Patrick has a BA in English literature from Pomona College and a MA in philosophy from Harvard University. He lives happily with Gina Cloud, a fellow kayaker, in Bloomfield; he has three grown daughters.
New Zealand born landscape architect David Hansen retired from a successful career working for three Bay Area open space districts. His work over 33 years was with the Marin County Open Space District (Planner and Acquisition Manager), the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Land Manager) and the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (General Manager). He was a founder and first chair of the Bay Area Open Space Council. David was responsible for the acquisition and management of over 70,000 acres of protected open space and farm land in four counties of the Bay Area. Aside from FOPR he is a co-founder and/or current Board member of several environmental non-profit organizations including the Bay Area Ridge Trail, The Trail Center, Whole Access, Sonoma Land Watch, Marin Open Space Trust and LandPaths. Among numerous avocations David enjoys singing with Sonoma Chanson, gardening, backpacking, running and kayaking. David has an art degree from Willamette University and studied for his Masters in Landscape Architecture at U.C. Berkeley. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil for three years in the ‘60s, served as Director of the Oakland Zoo Society in 1974 and was a planning commissioner in the town of Fairfax in the late ‘70s. David lives in Santa Rosa with his wife Marjorie and has two adult children Alexander and Miranda.
As a consulting geologist, Andy has been in the environmental management profession since 1986. Andy founded ECON (Environment, Community & Opportunity Network) in 1999 – a for-profit cooperative network of local independent professionals and specialists.
Important to Andy is giving back to the community in which he lives and works. In addition to being a board member for FOPR, Andy is involved with the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation; the Petaluma River Cleanup Committee , California Coastal Cleanup, Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce and the North Bay Watershed Association.
Andy is married with two daughters and lives on a small farm located in the Liberty Creek subwatershed.
Babs Kavanaugh brings a wealth of experience in education, health care, and community development to the Friends of the Petaluma River Board, including more than 15 years experience as a governance trainer with the California School Boards Association, 25 years as a consultant in health care, and expertise in organizational development and community health.
A committed environmentalist, hiker, and cyclist; Babs is a great believer in getting kids outside– she and her family spend annual vacations at Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp near Yosemite. As a regular volunteer, she has seen the impact Friends of the Petaluma River has made on the community and is pleased to contribute her knowledge and connections in the community to help sustain and expand the important work being done. Her membership on the board is informed by her passion for the environment and community development.
Paul is the Executive Director of Literacyworks, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting educators and learners in the fields of adult and family literacy. He is also the director of the federal Department of Education’s LINCS Region 4 Regional Professional Development Center serving adult education and literacy programs in 16 states throughout the West, Pacific Northwest, and Hawaii. He is also a Sonoma County Library Commissioner. He believes in lifelong learning as a path towards opportunity and fulfillment.
Paul grew up on lakes and rivers in Michigan. He loves to scuba dive, kayak, raise bees, read, talk space stuff, and, to the dismay of many, pun.
Tyler is owner and creator of Young Nomad Brand where he works as a graphic designer. With an artist’s eye and a strategist’s brain Tyler is a natural born multi-disciplinarian (if that’s even a word). Having seen the advantages of working outside the traditional agency structure early on, he’s also a living testament to the fact that smaller groups can have a big impact. His extensive work in the social and environmental sustainability space has been praised not only for its creativity but its significant contribution to the common good. Tyler and his wife Kellee have two young sons and live in Petaluma.
Brian Swedberg has 40 years of boating experience beginning the age of 12, spending summers working for the San Francisco Maritime Museum on the square rigger Balclutha and aboard the Eppleton Hall steam tug. Receiving his first Coast Guard license at age 20 he taught sailing on San Francisco Bay before becoming a charter captain in the British Virgin Islands. At Steve Colgate’s sailing school, Brian taught offshore sailing in New York, Newport, Florida, and the Virgin Islands including both on-the-water and classroom instruction with a focus on advanced sailing, live aboard cruising, and passage making between the East coast and the Caribbean.
Brian has managed Port Sonoma, a 285 slip commercial and recreational marina and 525 acre Petaluma River Farm since 1987. The 2008 recipient of the NOAA Environmental Stewardship award acknowledged his work monitoring fish entrainment in a first of its kind dredging system. A life spent alongside water, Brian and his wife, Ellen have raised two boys spending their summers on the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Delta on a boat they built as a family.
Dr. John Shribbs
Jaimey Walking Bear