Directors, Officers & Staff

Tim Nafziger Tim Nafziger
Interim Executive Director   

Tim Nafziger was born in the lower Susquehanna River on the traditional lands of the Conestoga people. He is Mennonite and has long been involved in writing and organizing around social justice and ecological issues in that community.

He spent 6 years on staff with Christian Peacemaker Teams, a nonviolent social change organization, as outreach coordinator and then as assistant director and has been active as an organizer in the Carnival de Resistance, a traveling arts carnival and ceremonial theater dramatizing themes of ecological justice and radical theology. He also is a leader with Showing Up for Racial Justice Ventura County, a local chapter of a national group that does education and advocacy for racial justice.

Along with is work for the coalition, Tim runs a web design company called Congruity Works that helps nonprofits with their online engagement strategy including, email marketing, website development and database implimentation. He lives in Oak View with his wife Charletta Erb, a marriage and family therapist. They moved to the Ojai valley in 2012.

Severo LaraSevero Lara
President, Director, Executive Committee

Severo was born and raised in the Ojai Valley, the middle of five siblings. His parents were born in Mexico and he always remembers his father taking him and his brothers to work and teaching them discipline, hard work, and responsibility. He grew up deeply involved in church activities, and as a teenager he was one of the youth founders for the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation.

Severo received a BA for Crime, Law and Justice at Pennsylvania State University as well as a double minor in Spanish and Conflict Dispute Management, while also being involved in the Second Mile program which focused on helping at risk youth.

Coming back to Ojai after graduating, he took over the family landscape business. Since that time, he has worked on making the business stronger and more efficient working with a wide variety of clients and employees.

From 2012 to 2016 Severo was a, Ojai City Council member and sat as the Mayor of Ojai from 2014 to 2015. During that time, he also sat on local, county and regional boards and agencies.

Currently, Severo sits on the HELP of Ojai Board, Ojai Valley Hospital Foundation Board, Ojai Valley Green Coalition Board, and the Ojai Valley Democratic Board, as well as being the proud father of two daughters, Elise 7 and Chloe 10.

Betsy Vanleit Betsy Vanleit
Director

Betsy moved to Ojai in 2016 from New Mexico to be close to her parents. She has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Education, and also in occupational therapy, a master’s degree in public administration and a doctoral degree in Community Health Education. After graduating from high school, she did orchard work on a kibbutz in Israel and loved the experience of spending her days with fruit trees. Later she worked for US Forest Service in rural Oregon in the Silviculture Department – walking and mapping everything from topography to soils to plant communities in vast Douglas Fir forests. Here she gained a deep appreciation for the importance and complexity of ecosystem health. Gradually, she shifted her attention to the health of humans and worked with families and communities struggling with a wide range of health conditions. She has worked as a direct service provider, as a consultant, as a program manager, and as a university professor and administrator. Most of her employment in the last few decades has been in Oregon, California and New Mexico, but she has also spent time working in other countries including Cambodia and Rwanda.

Betsy has always been interested in ways of living that are resilient and interconnected. While doing orchard work she learned about relationships between people and trees. Spending time on the Willamette National Forest, she learned how challenging it could be to do sustainable logging. Assisting people with chronic illnesses to manage daily life, she gained insight into the complex interactions of physical and mental health, unemployment and poverty. Working on public health issues with rural communities throughout New Mexico, she realized how important it was to foster collaboration among those in the health, education, agricultural and business sectors. Serving on the board of one of the largest and oldest food cooperatives in the country, she learned about the complexity of creating a sustainable regional food hub. Living for many years in the desert southwest, she has a deep appreciation for permaculture principles, and the need to restore the health of our water, soil and ecosystems.

Betsy resonates with the mission of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition, and she is honored to serve on the board. She looks forward to collaborating with others to strengthen ways of living that foster resilience, relationships and health.

Noel DouglasNoel Douglas
Secretary, Director, Staff

Noel Douglas-Roth is a musician, minister, teacher and entrepreneur. During the '70s, Noel combined his stage talents of acting and singing with that of teaching, and became one of Silicon Valley's foremost instructors in the area of Stress Reduction. His years of experience qualified him for a California State Teaching Credential. Noel went on to become a trainer in the motivational industry with Sage Seminars, Inc. In his mid-twenties, Noel founded a non-profit community service agency that opened The Soupline Natural Foods Restaurant and Food Co-op. The Soupline Restaurant continued as The Peasant Chef for over 15 years.

Noel's purpose in life is to empower us all to be more our creative selves by sharing experiences which encourage productive thinking, open communication, close friendships, supportive environments and humanitarian services which can prosper everyone. Noel's years of entrepreneurial experience have given birth to The AIM Game (AIM: Advanced Idea Management) which he conducts as a productivity seminar or consultation for business teams and individuals. He is currently preparing a multi-media educational version of The AIM Game for publication.

Today Noel resides in Ojai, California, where he is a live-in property manager and caregiver. The birth of his first grandchild in 2009 has reinvigorated Noel's sense of community.

Laurie WaltersLaurie Walters
Director

Laurie attended Humboldt State University studying wildlife conservation but soon succumbed to the lure of their new Theater Department. She subsequently worked as a professional actress for over 30 years. However, a keen interest in the environment and the arts have continued to be her twin passions. She worked for the renowned Los Angeles non-profit TreePeople for 5 years, serving as Volunteer Director and later as Director of Campus and Citizen Forestry Training, founding a Speakers Bureau where she was able to use her public speaking skills to champion TreePeople’s mission. She also wrote grants for the educational non-profit Project H.E.L.P. based in Silicon Valley, California.

Laurie moved to Ojai from Los Angeles in 2001 with her husband, John Slade, who taught Drama and English at Nordhoff High School for 12 years. She has worked professionally in Ventura County at the Rubicon Theatre, Santa Barbara Theatre Ensemble and Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, as well as directing in local schools and community theatres. She is the facilitator of Ojai’s long-running Shakespeare Reading Salon and has volunteered for a number of years at the Green Coalition. In 2016 she became certified as a California Naturalist, and feels blessed to live in the beautiful Ventura River Watershed.

Renee RothRenee Roth
Non-voting Treasurer, Program Manager for "Save Our Water, Ojai!"

Renee has been a member of the Green Coalition since 2009, focusing primarily on various aspects of water policy in the Ventura River Watershed. She brings a rich background in project management, government consulting, horticulture, sustainability and watershed education and outreach to the Green Coalition. Renee has been successful in bringing diverse parts of the community together around sustainable water management practices that conserve water, protect our water supplies for the long term and promote community understanding and engagement on water policy. She is also Chair of Programs for the Ojai Valley Garden Club.

In 2014 Renee started her own landscape company, RainScape Designs. Her consulting portfolio includes successful projects for capturing and storing rainwater, greywater re-use, and in general helping clients create sustainable landscapes that use water more efficiently and support wildlife.

Renee has been a speaker and panelist on topics relating to removing turf, facing the drought together, greywater reuse and how to help your landscape survive the drought. She also leads training and hands-on workshops in Watershed wise Landscaping for the Green Gardens Group.

Renee holds a BS in Planning, Public Policy and Management from the University of Oregon, a background in Environmental Horticulture, a Permaculture Design Certificate, and a Certified Green Gardener and has an Irrigation Audit Certificate from EPA Water Sense program.

Since 2011, she’s served on the Ventura River Watershed Council, at first out of personal interest, and then as a representative of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition. In early 2016, the Green Coalition hired Renee to be the project coordinator for its Save our Water Ojai! Campaign.

Heather Mohan-GibbonsHeather Mohan-Gibbons
Director

Raised in Minnesota in the 70’s, homesteading was the way of life for Heather growing up on a farm with horses, hoof stock, poultry, and a massive garden. Since 1996, her experience includes veterinary clinics, universities, animal shelters, government, and founding a consulting business with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and a Master of Science in Zoology. She is also a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB).

Heather’s inspiration for teaching sparked when she was a Teacher’s Assistant and Biology tutor in graduate school. Since then she has taught over 100 workshops internationally and earned a teaching certificate from Global Learning Partners.  Heather regularly contributes to the profession by lecturing at national conferences and publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals. To learn more about her, visit her LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heathermohangibbons
 
What Heather most wants people to remember is their connection to the natural world, be inspired to grow sustainable food using water-wise methods, and live in ways that reduce their carbon footprint.  She manages the Coalition Community Garden that is currently exploring regenerative land use practices. Learn more here https://www.facebook.com/ojaigarden/.

Kit StolzKit Stolz
Director

Kit moved to Upper Ojai in 1991 with his family, after living in Los Angeles and working for many years for Paramount Pictures as a story analyst. In 2013 he helped organize a panel discussion on drought at the Ojai Retreat, and in 2014 he helped the Ojai Chautauqua organize panel discussions on fracking, immigration, and income inequality. When not working or visiting with friends, Stolz likes backpacking, and is currently about halfway through section-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which he hopes to finish this decade.

Kit has been reporting on science, the environment, health, and a variety of other topics in and around Ventura County for nearly twenty years. He has written hundreds of newspaper stories for the Ventura County Star, the Ventura County Reporter, the Santa Barbara Independent, and the Ojai Valley News, as well as for publications such as the California Health Report, Civil Eats, High Country Times, and essays, reviews, and profiles for the likes of the Los Angeles Times, Sierra, the Georgia Review, and Wild Earth. He won a Climate Action award in 2012 from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors for his reporting on climate issues, and a Best Investigative Reporting award, in 2015, 2nd place, from the California Newspapers Publishers Association for his story on, “The Hazardous Truth,” about the explosion in November 2014 at Santa Clara Waste Water in Santa Paula.

Michelle EllisonMichelle Ellison
Director

Michelle Ellison joined the Ojai Valley Green Coalition Board in January 2017. Ojai captured Michelle’s heart when she first visited many years ago while dating her husband Andrew, an Ojai native. She hoped someday to settle down here, and has been fortunate to call it home since 2012. Michelle and Andrew have two young children, Serena and Ethan.

Michelle’s involvement with the Ojai Valley Green Coalition is motivated by her desire to work together with the community on local solutions that can protect our shared environment. She believes that Ojai is uniquely positioned to become a model town for sustainable practices. The Valley, with all of its rich biodiversity and natural beauty, has a special draw for those who come here, and so environmental conservation needs to be an integral part of our ethos.

Combating climate change, the greatest existential threat of our time, is going to take commitment from everyone, everywhere. “We cannot abdicate all responsibility to national and international leadership, we must take personal responsibility within our homes and local communities, so that means each of us, right here in Ojai.”

Michelle is originally from Wisconsin. She credits her mother for having instilled a deep sense of awe and appreciation for nature throughout her childhood. Michelle received a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from Northwestern University, and has over ten years of professional nonprofit development experience in sectors including consulting, healthcare, higher education, and the arts.