Rebecca K. O’Connor
Co-Executive Director (Development/Administration)
Joined RLC in 2017
"I am a Riverside native, a falconer of 25 years, and have watched large swathes of land dear to me disappear. I want the economy of Southern California to thrive, while native species in peril are protected, and also to leave a legacy of open space to future explorers and advocates of wild adventures. There is no better place for me to help make this happen than RLC."
Rebecca has a BA and an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. She has 7 years of experience working in conservation education and 18 years working in fundraising. Most of her career has involved working for organizations advocating for the protection of lands and native animals.
Co-Executive Director (Conservation Programs)
Joined RLC in 2013
"I developed my love for open space during childhood camping trips. Ask anyone who supports conservation and they will tell you the value of open space was learned young. That is why RLC seeks to not only protect open space permanently, but also to provide various opportunities for young people to build their own personal connection to the land."
Nicole has over 7 years’ experience planning and leading volunteer-based habitat restoration projects on RLC lands. Nicole holds a M.S. degree in Biology and a B.S. in Environmental Biology from Cal Poly Pomona. Nicole joined the RLC team as a Land Steward; she was promoted to Stewardship Director in 2017. Her duties include overseeing the stewardship and restoration of RLC’s growing number of nature preserves and conservation easements, which currently consist of 50 properties comprising over 2,400 acres.
Joined RLC in 2006
"Sometimes I just want to stop and smell the roses."
Julie brings over 25 years of experience with office management, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, financial reporting, and record keeping. As RLC’s Office Manager and bookkeeper, she tracks finances, reconciles our various accounts, and prepares a variety of monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports. She maintains our records and archives and ensures that our day-to-day office activities function smoothly and efficiently. With over 15 years at RLC, Julie has been an employee longer than any other current staff member and has a great depth of institutional knowledge of RLC’s operations.
Community Programs Manager
Joined RLC in 2014
"I love sharing the wonders of the natural world with others! I believe that with knowing comes caring, and through my work with RLC I hope to connect the community with the natural world around us and encourage a sense of caring for the environment so that our wild and beautiful open spaces are protected for generations to come."
After starting her professional career as a naturalist in the Cayman Islands, Rachael has been working in the local environmental nonprofit sector on projects that engage the community in hands-on environmental stewardship and outdoor education programs since 2009. Rachael began work with RLC in 2014 by overseeing the Santa Ana River Trust program. In addition to managing RLC's community outreach and education programs, she also raises programmatic funds through grant writing and is the lead planner for RLC’s Annual Fundraising Gala. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara, and a M.A. in Environmental Education from CSU San Bernardino.
Joined RLC in 2019
Maria is enthusiastically dedicated to contributing to the land conservation mission of the Rivers & Lands Conservancy by applying 20 years of experience with southern California natural resource assessments, protected status species surveys, environmental compliance, mitigation, technical writing, and project management.
Maria is responsible for working with various community partners to plan for the acceptance of open space properties that are to be conserved per requirements of regulatory permitting processes. Maria holds a Bachelor's Degree in Biology and a Master's Degree in Rangeland Management.
Joined RLC in 2017
"I grew up without being able to spend much time in the great outdoors, but always took every chance I got to explore California’s wild landscapes."
Michael has 7 years of experience leading volunteer-based habitat restoration projects in California. Michael went to San Jose State University to obtain his B.S. in Environmental Studies, with a concentration in natural resource management. Before starting his work at RLC, he worked at several environmental non-profits where he developed his passion for learning about California native plants. He joined the RLC team in 2017 and currently assists with the stewardship and restoration of 2,400 acres of lands managed by the Rivers & Lands Conservancy.
Land Steward II
Joined RLC in 2019
"My passion for conservation stems from a lifelong love of wildlife, first developed as a child in Rialto's natural landscapes. I want everyone to learn and appreciate the beauty that Inland Southern California holds, and I strive to advocate for the importance of open space."
Denis holds B.A. degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography from CSU San Bernardino. A Rialto native, he has been volunteering with local environmental non-profits for over a decade before joining RLC as a land steward in 2019. His duties include overseeing the stewardship and restoration of RLC's varied habitats and leading volunteer-based restoration projects.
Joined RLC in 2018
“I spent much of my childhood crawling through gaps in chaparral, discovering the diverse species that make these spaces home, and wanting to make sure we always share California with them.”
Ryan has seven years of experience with providing support for monitoring and education programs in California. He graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.S. degree in Forestry. Ryan then worked at non-profits dedicated to environmental education and environmental management in the San Diego Area. In 2018, he joined RLC where his duties include monitoring conserved lands and overseeing restoration projects at Cienega Canyon Preserve.
Joined RLC in 2022
"Upon moving to California in 1997, the first thing I fell in love with was the desert landscape. The open horizons framed by mountains, the fields of wild creosote and cactus - all were a stark contrast to the rolling hills and ever present canopy of trees from my native Tennessee. To now work on helping preserve these environments and their native plant, insect, and animals species is an amazing opportunity that I couldn't turn down."
Jonathan brings a wide array of skills and experiences to the Development department at RLC. In his 25 years of Southern California desert living, he has worked in marketing, writing, and development for hospitality, real estate, event planning, and non-profit organizations. Jonathan holds a B.A. in English from San Diego State University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California Riverside.
Community Programs Coordinator
Joined RLC in 2022
"I have always been enamored by animals, plants, and the places they live. From the lyrical sound animals make to the fragrances and thorns plants create, I am excited to share and inspire intrinsic interest in our surroundings with others. With a sense of wonder and respect for the natural world around us comes a drive to protect, conserve, and care for our natural space. I am excited to join the Rivers & Lands Conservancy community as we work together to protect our natural areas."
Ayala Berger holds a B.A. in Music and a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology from University of California, Davis and is currently completing her PhD at the University of California, Riverside in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. She brings experience in teaching, outreach, conservation biology, restoration ecology, and animal behavior research. Ayala assists with the coordinating and implementation of RLC's outreach and education projects, including community volunteer events and the Acorns to Oaks environmental education program.
Dusty Williams - President
Civil Engineer, retired
Dusty recently retired as the General Manager-Chief Engineer of the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, a position he held for the last 13 years of his 41-year career with the District. Dusty holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly, Pomona and is a licensed Civil Engineer in California. In addition to his position on the Board of the RLC, he is also a Board member and the current Chair of the United Way of the Inland Valleys. Further he serves on the Board of the Riverside County Parks Foundation, sits on the Cal Baptist University Civil Engineering Industry Advisory Council and is a volunteer docent for San Bernardino County Public Works Department.
Karin Watts-Bazan - Vice President
Assistant County Counsel for County of Riverside (retired)
Karin Watts-Bazan joined the Office of County Counsel in April of 1988 as a Deputy County Counsel and retired in March 2018 after serving 30 years. For most of her career, Karin has practiced land use and environmental law with particular emphasis on federal and state Endangered Species Act compliance. She has provided legal advice and assistance in the development and implementation of several Habitat Conservation Plans including the Stephens’ kangaroo rat Habitat Conservation Plan, the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, and the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan
Al Javier - Treasurer
Alfred Javier has been employed at Eastern Municipal Water District since 1988 and currently serves as the Director of Environmental and Regulatory Compliance. Additionally, Mr. Javier is an associate faculty member at Mt. San Jacinto College specializing in water technology education, including classes for Introduction to Water and Wastewater and Laboratory Methods for Water and Wastewater. He has previously served as the chairperson for both the Santa Ana River Dischargers Association and the Southern California Association of Publicly Owned Treatment Works Water Section. Currently, Mr. Javier is the chairperson for the San Jacinto Coalition, an association of Agricultural Owners and Operators organized under the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board for compliance with the Conditional Waiver for Agricultural Dischargers. Mr. Javier has a B.S. in Biology and a Masters of Public Administration.
Stephen Osborn - Secretary
Dr. Stephen Osborn has conducted and published research throughout his career addressing fundamental questions of groundwater and solute migration in the environment. He grew up in Riverside California attending UC Riverside for degrees in Environmental Science (B.S.) and Soil Science (M.S.). Following this, he worked with the USDA as a physical Science technician and then Environmental Consulting for many years. While working as a consultant, he developed an interest in Hydrogeology and Geochemistry and decided to go back to school for degrees in Geology (M.S.) at Georgia State University and Hydrology (Ph.D.) at the University of Arizona. His dissertation work focused on an improved understanding of the source and migration of deep basinal fluids (groundwater and microbial/thermogenic methane) in the northern Appalachian Basin region. Following this, he started as a post-doctoral researcher at Duke University, where I investigated shallow groundwater quality in close proximity to oil/gas well production in Pennsylvania and New York (Marcellus Shale). Results from this work were published in PNAS (2011) and became highly cited as growing environmental concerns from energy production and hydraulic fracturing has developed. Currently, Dr. Osborn is a professor at Cal Poly Pomona and research faculty in the CSU Water Resources and Policy Initiatives. My on-going research program continues to investigate groundwater quality where there is intensive oil/gas production, expanding to areas in California.
Robert "Bob" Cullen retired in 2022 as Assistant Chief Engineer of the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. He is a registered Civil Engineer, a graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with an Environmental Emphasis. During his 36-year career, Bob worked throughout the Flood Control District gaining experience in long range planning, land-use, stormwater quality, project design, construction project management, budgeting and public agency administration. Bob’s love of the outdoors and years working with developers ignited a heightened awareness of the long-term consequences and opportunities created by land-use decisions.
Rail Design Engineer, HDR Engineering
Mr. Ryan holds a B.A. in civil engineering. At HDR Engineering, he is responsible for railroad track design utility coordination, construction observation, and safety.
George served as the Executive Officer of the Riverside Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for 29 years. LAFCO is a State-mandated agency tasked with regulating boundaries of local government agencies, including annexation to, and detachment of territory from, cities and special districts, incorporation of new cities, consolidation of special districts and other organizational matters affecting local agencies. During his tenure he was also active in the statewide association, CALAFCO, serving on its Legislative Committee for two decades.
Following retirement in 2018, George completed the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program. He has a special interest in California native plants and conducted a Zoom session for Master Gardeners on Incorporating Native Plants into Landscapes.
George has also been an active volunteer at the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens since 2014. Activities at the Gardens have included leading school and adult tours, working with a small team to maintain the Butterfly Garden and provide butterfly gardening information to visitors, as well as hosting/narrating a video series featuring California Native Plants at the Gardens. He especially enjoys providing tours to students with limited previous exposure to outdoor environments.
George also participates as a volunteer angler in the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program, a research effort involving several California universities to monitor fish populations and determine the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas.
George graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Social Ecology with coursework primarily in Environmental Analysis and Public Policy.
Community and Environmental Activist
Mrs. Block, a member of the RLC Board since 1989, was one of the organizers of groups that provided the citizen impetus to preserve natural areas including: The Box Springs Mountain Park, Sycamore Canyon Park, and, as one of the founders of the group Preserve Our Plateau, the addition in 1991 of 3800 acres to The Santa Rosa Plateau Preserve. She also was actively involved in the establishment of the County of Riverside’s Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. In 1995 Jane purchased property in downtown Riverside on Mission Inn Ave and created a non-profit center to house environmental groups including RLC.
"I am an Inland Empire local who enjoys hiking and photography as a means of practicing conservation and stewardship. I have a B.S. in Sustainability Studies at University of California, Riverside, where I also led recreational outdoor trips for students and the public for 3 years. After graduating in 2019, I served with the California Conservation Corps' and AmeriCorps' Watershed Stewards Program at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, where I helped conduct hydrologic surveys of many Northern California tributaries. Since my service term ended in 2020, I began working for Confluence Environmental Field Services as a sampling technician. I currently monitor and sample groundwater across California, helping clients manage sampling projects and collecting accurate data to inform clients of changing physical conditions. I came to Rivers and Lands Conservancy as a volunteer in 2018, and have since been picking up trash at the Delhi Sand Dunes , and planting//watering oaks at the Cienega Canyon Preserve." - Jordan
Sr. Account Manager with CityWorks
Ms. McKinney heads up the Riverside Regional Office for CityWorks People+Places. Her expertise is in community engagement, relationship-building, and marketing to the benefit of residents, stakeholders and her agency. She spent 15 years with a regional water agency, as well as the early portion of her career at The Press-Enterprise. She has numerous past affiliations with groups such as the Association of California Water Agencies, California Special Districts Association, Public Relations Society of America - Inland Empire Chapter, and Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce.
Mike Gardner serves as a Director of the Western Municipal Water District representing Division 1 and has held this position since 2020. Mike serves on the board of the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) and the Chino Basin Watermaster (CBWM). He was a Governor’s appointee to the State Seismic Safety Commission from 2010 through 2021 and served as chair of the Commission twice. Previously Mike served as the City of Riverside City Councilmember for Ward 1 from 2007 through 2019. While on the city council Mike served as Chair of the Redevelopment Agency and was a member of the Development, Utility Services and Land Use, Governmental Affairs and Mayor’s Nominating and Screening Committees.
Mike worked for Southern California Edison for 23 years beginning as an archaeologist and moving through positions in regulatory affairs, governmental affairs, public affairs, and customer service.
Mike has a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology and Geography from the University of California Riverside and completed the coursework for the Ph.D. in Anthropology, also at UCR. Mike has authored 17 professional papers in archaeology and cultural resource management.
Orion S. Goe
Marketing Manager, The Toro Company
Orion is a Riverside native and works as the Channel Marketing Manager for The Toro Company’s irrigation and lighting division, where he leads channel partner relationship management, demand generation programs, and customer acquisition strategies. In addition to serving on the RLC Board, Orion also serves on the Inland SoCal United Way’s Board of Directors, and on the Advisory Board for Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful. Orion holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Cal State Fullerton, an MBA from the University of Redlands, and a professional certificate in Project Management from the UCR Extension Center.
*Served as Officer
Fortino Morales III
Mary Lou Morales
Paul D. Jones II
Stephen G. Harding*
Rivers & Lands Conservancy is an accredited land trust under the nationwide accreditation program of the Land Trust Alliance. Accreditation is a mark of distinction and is awarded to land trusts that meet the highest national standards for excellence and conservation permanence. Accreditation provides assurance to our partners that they can invest in us.
"Like all members of the land trust community, Rivers & Lands Conservancy shoulders a profound responsibility - to steward our natural lands in perpetuity. Accreditation has strengthened our organization and provided a pathway to our sustainability.”
We are grateful to our many supporters and financial reports give us the opportunity demonstrate our fiscal responsibility. RLC's financial records are audited annually by an outside accounting firm to ensure our financial statements are fairly represented and in conformity with accounting principals.
Our most recent 990 filings are available below.
Our most recent Audited Financials are available below.