Rear Admiral Leendert “Len” Hering Sr. USN, a native of Portsmouth, Va., retired from the Navy in 2009 after more than 32 years of service as a Surface Warfare Officer. As one of the Navy’s top experts in base operations and facility support, Hering built a team recognized as the best in environmental protection and sustainable innovation throughout the Department of Defense, and he received the Presidential Award for Leadership in Federal Energy Management from President George W. Bush. In 2009, Hering joined the University of San Diego, where as Vice President for Business Services and Administration he initiated numerous sustainable measures on the campus including the installation of the largest solar system of any private campus in the country. Hering comes to ILACSD from the Center for Sustainable Energy having served as the President and Executive Director for five years. As Executive Director, Len leads the organization toward its vision of a zero waste, litter-free, and environmentally engaged San Diego region.
Hering currently serves on several nonprofit boards and is the Chairman of the Board for the Charter Schools of San Diego. Over the past 20 years, he has proudly served in various capacities on more than 13 different boards. Hering holds a B.S. in Meteorology and Oceanography from S.U.N.Y. Maritime College, an M.S in International Relations and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and an M.B.M from Salve Regina University.
With Sharon, his wife of 39 years, Hering has three sons and five grandchildren who he credits for his work in sustainability and commitment to bettering the environment saying, “They are my inspiration for getting this right and doing what I do daily.”
Natalie Roberts-DeCarli oversees all ILACSD program implementation, giving input and strategy for program and organizational goals, partnerships, and fundraising. Ms. Roberts-DeCarli works with the development team on efforts to fund ILACSD events and programs, working with businesses, community groups, schools, and government agencies. Ms. Roberts-DeCarli serves on the Keep America Beautiful National Cigarette Litter Prevention Program Advisory Committee as well as their National Great American Cleanup Advisory Committee, where she lends her expertise about pollution prevention infrastructure and volunteerism to a network of non-profits across the country. Natalie received her degree from UC Irvine, majoring in Environmental Health Science and Policy with a minor in Education. Her longstanding tenure on the ILACSD team, professionalism, and her dedication to cooperation, teamwork, and partnerships made her a perfect fit for her new role as Senior Director of Operations.
Ann Hirsch leads ILACSD’s finance department. She prepares financial and managerial accounting reports for ILACSD, including accounts payable and receivable, serves as our human resource representative and completes important administrative and bookkeeping-related services. Ann has been at ILACSD for more than 10 years. Her extensive background includes nearly 20 years of bookkeeping and administrative experience.
Emily Nelson, a graduate of Brigham Young University, first joined ILACSD as an Environmental Educator and now oversees the Education department as the Education Manager. Emily has a diverse background with experience teaching youth of all ages through outdoor and informal education with such organizations as Girls Scouts San Diego, the YMCA, and the National Archives and Records Administration of Washington, D.C.. Under Emily’s leadership, the education department engages K-Adult students in hands-on activities that connect them to nature and inspire them to protect our environment. Emily believes deeply in the power of small, simple, sustained actions towards a greater good. In her spare time, Emily enjoys hiking, camping, jigsaw puzzles, and spending time with family.
Lauren, a native New Yorker, moved out to San Diego after a lifelong dream of living in California. She has always valued resource conservation and living a minimalistic lifestyle. Lauren deeply respects and values nature, animals, and the connection of all living things. She enjoys working closely with San Diegan’s every day, giving them the knowledge, power, and ability to make impactful choices in their own and others’ lives. When she is not in the office, you can find her outside hiking, collecting houseplants, and traveling to as many National Parks as possible.
Carly Keen is the Community Programs Coordinator for I Love A Clean San Diego. Carly first joined the ILACSD team as Administrative Assistant. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, serving in Panama as a Sustainable Agriculture Systems volunteer from 2012-2014, and is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Prior to her role at ILACSD, Carly was the Membership and Communications Coordinator for the Industrial Environmental Association, where she learned the efforts manufacturers make to comply with the rigorous environmental standards here in California. An avid beach cleaner and volunteer, she is excited to support the organization’s mission inside and outside the office.
Nik is a lifelong San Diegan with a strong connection to environmental stewardship. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara, he spent years working with organizations like the San Diego Oceans Foundation and the San Diego Canyonlands while earning his Master in City Planning from San Diego State University. Nik’s background in regional planning and environmental policy compliment his experience in communications and public outreach. After working for a few years with local government agencies, the City of San Diego’s Water Conservation Department, and SANDAG, he is excited to be back working with his first love, environmental activism. When he’s not organizing volunteer events, you can find him experimenting with food, exploring the craft beer scene, and running.
Michelle came to San Diego after graduating from the University of Virginia in 2014 and embarking on a four-month long journey across the United States through a program called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). Since arriving, she has actively engaged in San Diego’s environmental organizations, and worked as general manager for a marketplace of 70 local artisans. She is passionate about environmentalism, social justice, and creating art. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, thrifting, and poking around on the 8th floor of the San Diego Central Library.
Jackie Blumenthal is the Community Partnership Coordinator for I Love A Clean San Diego. She is a San Diego native and developed a profound love for surfing and her connection to the ocean as she traveled the world post college. She created “Sunrise Sweep” – a cleanup in Ocean Beach dedicated to cleaning the city in hopes to limit trash that reaches our ocean, inspire locals to contribute less waste and build genuine connections in the community. With her past experience in building a powerful community with Lululemon, she is eager and excited to bring her passion and dedication to building sustainable lifestyles and minimizing waste in our environment and communities. She is inspired by a simple lifestyle that incorporates conscious awareness of what we choose to consume and how our choices affect the world around us. When Jackie is not leading clean ups, you can find her surfing, doing yoga, camping, traveling or doing any activity that will get her outdoors and into nature.
Layah is the Administrative Assistant for I Love A Clean San Diego. Layah first joined the ILACSD team as an Outreach Assistant. As a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University, Layah earned her degree in Management and Global Business. She is passionate about the environment and believes in doing her part to live a zero-waste lifestyle. Layah advocates for ILACSD programs around San Diego County and serves as a member on the Young Adult Advisory Board for the environmental non-profit Plant With Purpose. In her free time, Layah enjoys trying new recipes, rock-climbing, traveling, and playing classical guitar.
Alaine Ibarreche is a San Diego native and ILACSD’s Middle and High School Education Specialist. Alaine assists with the development, planning, and delivery of about 500 environmentally focused programs and events annually. She also builds relationships with teachers and schools around the county to grow ILACSD’s presence. Alaine received her degree in Marine Science from the University of San Diego and comes to ILACSD with a background in marine research and education through work with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Disney Animal Programs, and the San Diego Zoo. She hopes to encourage San Diegans, particularly Spanish speakers, to make mindful choices and understand the impact they have on our environment and oceans. In her spare time, Alaine enjoys traveling locally and globally, outdoor yoga, hiking, and scuba diving.
Shawn Fettel is a native Californian. She is passionate about teaching young people the importance of ocean health and conservation by encouraging everyone to act as good stewards to the planet. Before working at ILACSD, Shawn was a Senior Instructor at SeaWorld where she educated students and the public about marine animals, conservancy and how positive daily actions – like picking up trash and recycling – can impact our oceans and the animals that live there. Shawn developed and taught the Ocean Link Lab Science Class incorporating observation, discovery, and inquiry-based learning. She also hosted instructional presentations at Killer Whale, Sea Lion, and Dolphin amphitheaters. With over 20 years of teaching experience, Shawn will continue to develop curriculum and teach environmental education programs for schools, youth groups and scouts. Shawn loves to encourage kids to connect and care for animals and our environment. She volunteers with several organizations and believes that happiness comes from giving back to your community.
Brenna is from the Hudson Valley of NY and joined ILACSD this spring as an Elementary School Education Specialist. She has a background in volunteering with non-profits in the areas of immigration reform, food insecurity, and elementary education. She graduated from James Madison University with a B.B.A. in Marketing and a Spanish minor in 2016. After college, she taught English at a multilingual elementary school in Spain and worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry at various capacities. Through witnessing the amount of food waste and trash produced by these industries, she became interested in environmental sustainability and how we can inspire change with education and simple changes. She believes that kids truly care about the environment and will take the steps necessary to make a difference with proper education. She’s excited to connect kids to their environment and empower them to develop sustainable habits at a young age. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, hiking, traveling, and finding local live music.
Tasha was born and raised in San Diego, and grew up spending as much time as possible at the beach, where her love of the natural world began. She graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a BA in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Marine Biology and Ecology. While in school, she worked for PowerSave Campus, creating educational programs in energy efficiency and water conservation, and volunteered as an exhibit interpreter at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum Sea Center. After graduating, Tasha returned to San Diego and began working at Ocean Beach People’s food co-op, where she served many roles and grew more passionate about community building and the importance of access to resources for living sustainably and healthily. She was accepted into Herb Pharm’s Herbaculture Internship Program for Spring 2019, where she was able to delve into the production side of large-scale organic farming while also learning about botany and herbal medicine. Tasha comes to ILACSD after spending the summer working on smaller sustainable and biodynamic farms in Oregon. She is excited to share her love of the environment and varied experiences with folks of all ages! In her spare time she enjoys open ocean swimming, hiking, camping, and dancing.
Molly hails from Carlsbad with a deep enthusiasm for inspiring change in others through environmental education; highlighting that small changes in everyday life can have big impacts. She graduated from the University of San Diego with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Business Administration. While in school, Molly held a variety of internships, including the San Diego Zoo Safari Park College Relations Program, City of San Diego Think Blue Program, and our very own Community Programs Department. Starting out as an Environmental Educator, she now works as one of our Education Coordinators where she markets and schedules our presentations with middle and high school students throughout San Diego County. Outside of work, Molly enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, exploring local bike paths and finding new breakfast spots.
Valerie is from Escondido, and grew up hiking and exploring San Diego County. She received her B.S. in Conservation Resource Studies from UC Berkeley, with a concentration in Oceanography and Marine Science. Her background is in non-profit work, and Valerie has worked with the Surfrider Foundation, the International Marine Mammal Project, and KIDS for the BAY. She loves working with students and teachers to help others become passionate about their environment! Outside of work, Valerie loves cooking, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.
Nicole Hutchins, a former intern for ILACSD in the Community Programs Department now works as the Recycling Programs Coordinator. Nicole graduated from UCSD with a B.S. in Environmental Systems and obtained a Spanish Associates Degree from the Universidad de Costa Rica. Nicole is a San Diego native and has a diverse background of experience working towards food security, habitat restoration and waste management with the San Diego River Park Foundation, The Audubon Society and various food and housing security initiatives in Tijuana, Mexico. As the Recycling Programs Coordinator, Nicole strives to live a zero-waste lifestyle and seeks to perpetuate environmental awareness and a waste free San Diego. Outside of work Nicole enjoys surfing, bike riding, scuba diving, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, or really doing anything outdoors.
Chris Rice-Starkey is a San Diego County native with a deep-seated passion for education and protecting our environment. He joins our team after five years of teaching science at Montgomery Middle School in El Cajon. At Montgomery, Chris started the Green Team, helping students recycle, compost, and properly dispose of e-waste. Chris holds a BA in Business Administration and Human Resources Management, and a Master’s in Classroom Management. Outside of work, Chris enjoys spending time with family and his dog Ghost, volunteering monthly at beach cleanups, camping, and as the Bingo caller at the family restaurant.
Vanessa is an Environmental Educator for I Love A Clean San Diego. She graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Environmental Science. After college, she served as an AmeriCorps member at Friends of the Dunes in Arcata, California. During her time at this non-profit organization, she developed a passion for educating the public about the importance of protecting the natural resources and living sustainably. Vanessa loves bringing the community closer to the environment and believes that through dedication, passion, and perseverance anything is possible. In her spare time, she can be found reading, hiking, or volunteering.
Sarah Caggiano is originally from the D.C. area but moved to Southern California to further her environmental education and have an adventure. She recently graduated from the University of San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Ocean Sciences, and minors in Spanish and Economics. When she’s not serving her community as an Outreach Assistant, Sarah works as an Environmental Planning Intern at the City of San Diego Storm Water Department and assists in environmental research programs at the University of San Diego’s Non-Profit Institute. She plans to develop a career in environmental law and policy making. Sarah is extremely passionate about wildlife conservation, improving air and water quality, integrating renewable energy and protecting biodiversity. In her free time she loves to hike, run and spend time at the beach.
Rachel Morales is an Outreach Assistant for I Love A Clean San Diego. She graduated from UC San Diego with a BS in Environmental Systems with a focus in Earth Science. Through her previous internship with ILACSD and experiences at school, she developed her interest in sustainability and preservation of the environment’s resources and natural beauty. Rachel believes in the importance of environmental education for all ages and hopes that this education will encourage each person to do their part to reduce their negative impacts on the environment. When she’s not at cleanups, Rachel loves to run, do puzzles, spend time with friends, and pet any dog that she meets.
Rachel Le is an Outreach Assistant for I Love A Clean San Diego. She graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity. After graduating, Rachel pursued opportunities in marine science and ecological education with the goal of engaging people of all backgrounds to learn about the rich biodiversity that the natural world has to offer. Rachel has experience in teaching at aquariums, libraries, and national parks. She is passionate about environmental stewardship and science education and hopes to provide these opportunities for underserved communities. During her past time, Rachel enjoys tidepooling, blogging about nature, and making homemade crafts.
Daniel is a recent graduate of SDSU. He received a Bachelors in Sustainability with an emphasis in Political Science. During his 4 years at college, he CoFounded an Honors Environmental Fraternity that focuses on preserving San Diego’s Biodiversity. Daniel’s passion for environmental outreach will continue as he begins law school to one day work for the EPA and assist the US in becoming a leader in the environmental movement.
Ioana Tcholakova is originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, but grew up in Indiana before moving to Southern California for college. She is currently in her final year at the University of San Diego studying Environmental Studies, and is interested in sustainable urban development, water and air quality improvement, and waste management. When not at I Love A Clean San Diego events, she interns at the Stormwater department within the City of San Diego to work towards initiatives to improve water quality in the watersheds throughout San Diego. At school, is also on the e-board for Model United Nations and the Folklorico and Mariachi Association. She loves to dance and take care of her plants!