Our dedicated staff carries out the Conservancy's mission to protect and enhance the reserve.

Doug Gibson, Executive Director | Principal Scientist
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Doug is a wetland ecologist. For 20 years, he has directed the science-based and community conservation programs for San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. He completed the first experimental phase of the inlet opening at San Elijo Lagoon in the mid 1990s. At that time, the lagoon’s water quality was so poor that few fishes and invertebrates could survive. Proposed developments adjacent to the lagoon further threatened the vitality of one of San Diego’s largest coastal wetlands.

Securing funding for an endowment, and building member and donor support to carry on the mission of the Conservancy became key priorities. Gibson blends his extensive knowledge of Southern California coastal wetlands policy with scientific literacy, and fundraising outreach experience to his role as executive director and principal scientist. Continue...

Jennifer Bright, Development Director
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Jennifer joined the team in summer 2014 and works closely with the board of directors and staff on fundraising and stewardship campaigns. She coordinates major donor events, including the biennial Birds of a Feather gala that supports community and nature

She worked for several nonprofit agencies within San Diego County where she wrote grants, coordinated events, and developed an environmental education program for under-served populations. Prior to nonprofit, Jennifer led the corporate responsibility program at Neiman Marcus San Diego and brings 20 years of sales and management experience.

Jennifer grew up in Maine and fondly recalls her summers hiking, camping, and boating in the wilderness.  An avid hiker and backpacker, she recently completed a 30-day solo hike on the John Muir Trail. 

Tara Fuad, Education Director
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Tara develops scientific curriculum-based conservation education programs that meet California Academic Content standards for schools. She is also responsible for public programs, and for recruiting and training naturalists

Tara began her career in the environmental field as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1980s, where she spent three years working on reforestation projects in Niger, West Africa. Upon returning to the states, Tara settled in Washington, D.C. where she was involved in environmental research and education while working for Ecological Society of America, National Park Service, and Audubon Naturalist Society. 

After moving to San Diego in 2003, Tara served as a docent for the Conservancy, and also worked for Solana Center for Environmental Innovation as Program Manager for school recycling. Tara has a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MS in Biology from George Mason University, with an emphasis on nutrient cycling in Virginia wetland soils.

Chris Lewis, Finance & Administration Director
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Chris joined the Conservancy in January 2015. He graduated from California State University San Marcos with a B.S. in Business Administration - Accounting in 2013 and has been working with small business and nonprofit organizations for over 5 years. He is currently studying for the CPA exam and expects to finish the exams later this year. Chris grew up in San Diego and enjoys surfing, hiking, and being outdoors.

Bradley Nussbaum, Habitat Management Director
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Bradley has been with the Conservancy since 2013. He oversees the water quality monitoring program, manages different habitat restoration projects, assists with the community volunteer habitat program, maintains the water quality and avian databases, and is the mentor for multiple interns. 

Bradley has a B.S. in Optical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and a Masters of Divinity from Claremont School of Theology. When he is not at the conservancy, you may find Bradley practicing yoga, hiking, backpacking or gardening.

Tim Stillinger, Scientific Program Director
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Tim rejoined the Conservancy in early 2017 to help with the scientific workload of the Reviving Your Wetlands San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project . In addition to Reviving Your Wetlands work, Tim will be improving access to the scientific data collected by the Conservancy and its partners in the Lagoon and the surrounding watershed, and expanding the scientific databases curated by the Conservancy.


Tim has a B.S. in Molecular Environmental Biology from UC Berkeley, a Masters of Environmental Science and Management with a specialization in Water Resources Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara, and is working on finishing his PhD from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara.


Alys Arenas, Associate Biologist | GIS Specialist
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Alys joined the Conservancy in 2017 to coordinate and execute mapping and database needs to support the Habitat Management Team’s enhancement and restoration projects. She manages the Invasive Species Control, Habitat Restoration Program and the Land Stewardship and Community Habitat Restoration Program databases.

Alys’ academic experience enabled her to develop a passion for riparian and estuarine ecosystems, which was fostered working with the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, Friends of the Colorado Lagoon, and Los Cerritos Wetlands all the while dipping her toes in the Huntington Beach wetlands. She earned her master’s in Geographical Information Sciences from California State University, Long Beach, where she also earned her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science & Policy. When she’s not drafting maps to protect our wetlands, you can find her climbing mountains, practicing yoga, volunteering or gardening. 

Jamie Consolo, Development Associate
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Jamie joined the conservancy in December of 2015 as a Development Associate. After graduating from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Art and a minor in film and television, she began work as a freelance designer and continued pursing other opportunities gaining valuable experience in fields such as customer relations and data entry. 

In her free time Jamie volunteers for a local animal shelter and a cat rescue in Los Angeles. She believes that the best way to find inspiration, lift your mood, and feel connected is to spend time outdoors enjoying nature and appreciating all it has to offer. She looks forward to growing with the conservancy.

Joe DeWolf, Associate Biologist | Community Restoration Program
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Joe joined the Conservancy in 2015. He oversees Lagoon Platoon our volunteer community habitat restoration program and is developing our a native plant propagation program at the San Elijo Native Plant Nursery and is currently attending Wild Willow Farm's School for Sustainable Farming classes. Before pursuing a career in habitat restoration and ecology, Joe was a park ranger for various agencies, including City of San Diego and Yellowstone National Park.  He gained extensive experience working with native plants at San Diego Botanic Garden, where he conducted experiments and research, including native plant seeds’ response to fire, smoke, charred wood, and other treatments.

Growing up in Encinitas, Joe spent countless hours exploring San Elijo Lagoon, and continues to be passionate about enhancing the health and beauty of this ecological reserve. Joe has a B.A. in Anthropology from San Diego State University and is completing a Horticulture Certification at MiraCosta College. He keeps busy with his 2-year old son, and when there’s free time, he enjoys surfing, playing basketball, and hiking throughout San Diego County.

Elayna Flanders, Education Manager
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Elayna joined the Conservancy in 2013. She ensures that Our Living Watershed program runs smoothly by communicating regularly with naturalists, teachers, and transportation services. She stewards naturalists through our weekly newsletter (Naturalist News), passing along research articles on topics of interest, sharing student thank-you letters, and highlighting the contributions naturalists make to the program. She also assists in designing and implementing naturalist training.

Elayna has a B.S. degree in biology from California State University, San Marcos with an emphasis in ecology and a M.S. in Biological Sciences from Cal State San Marcos. She also has a Wildland Management Certification from the California Invasive Plant Council and was a recent co-presenter at the North American Association for Environmental Education's Annual Meeting in 2015.

As a graduate student and founder/president of her school’s Ecology Club, Elayna worked closely with conservation biologist, Dr. William Kristan, looking at knowledge gaps in conservation information in the Birds of North America reference series, managed the ecology labs and was responsible for preparing lessons plans and reviewing assignments. Prior to joining the Conservancy Elayna served as an intern for the San Diego Zoological Society’s education department and for the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.  

Emma Havstad, Associate Biologist | Project Coordinator
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Emma joined the Conservancy’s Habitat Management Program in spring 2017 as an Associate Biologist | Project Coordinator. She previously spent 6 years working as a botanist on San Clemente Island, managing native plant restoration, invasive species control, and rare plant monitoring projects for the SDSU Research Foundation’s Soil Ecology and Restoration Group. Emma received a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Biological Sciences and has worked on restoration projects for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy in Oregon, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. She grew up in Davis, CA, spending summers backpacking in the Sierra Nevada, and now devotes her free time to cycling and exploring our national parks, especially in the desert southwest.

Kristen Hoffman, School Program Coordinator
kristen [at] sanelijo [dot] org

Kristen loves helping teachers at our elementary partner schools make learning in nature a more integral part of their curriculum. She grew up in New England exploring her backyard woods and taking trips to islands and coastline with her family, fascinated by interactions between humans and wild inhabitants. She holds a bachelor's in journalism from Boston University, a master's in science education from the University of Washington, and her Massachusetts teaching credential in middle school science. She has spent the past nine years teaching in both outdoor and classroom settings, including an island in the Puget Sound, the Boston Harbor Islands national park area, and at an Expeditionary Learning school in Massachusetts. Her latest adventure is exploring the natural places of San Diego through the eyes of her baby boy and loving life as a newly initiated West Coaster.

Shirley Innecken, Lead Ecologist
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Shirley joined the Conservancy in 2015 to oversee the Habitat Management Program. She is a biologist with more than 17 years experience in conducting special-status plant and wildlife surveys, wetland delineations, biological resource assessments, and restoration site management, maintenance and monitoring activities. Shirley has worked as a biologist in Hawaii, Northern California and San Diego County. She is also proficient in providing technical and executive support to cooperative projects involving private, government, and nonprofit entities. Shirley is a board of the California Society for Ecological Restoration (SERCAL). She has a B.S. in Ethnobotanical Ecology from California State University, Chico.

Shirley grew up in south San Diego County and fondly remembers driving to see the lagoons with her parents. These coastal wetlands are what inspired her to continue her career in Southern California.

Amara Schaffer, Office Manager
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Amara joined the Conservancy in February 2016 after spending three months as an intern at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii learning about native plant conservation and restoration. She has a master's degree in library and information science and a strong interest in conservation. During her free time, she spends time outside enjoying the natural beauty of Southern California.



(760) 436-3944
info [at] sanelijo [dot] org
Fax: (760) 944-9606

Mailing Address
San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
PO 230634
Encinitas, CA 92023-0634

777 So Highway 101, Suite 112
Solana Beach, CA 92075

*Please note that the Conservancy offices are not located at the nature center.


There are currently no availble positions, please check back often.