AEP Podcast

Episode 42: Riding the Winds of Change, ft. Jenny Vick, HDR

Co-host Corinne Lytle Bonine joins the podcast as we feature Jenny Vick, West Coast Offshore Wind Lead for HDR. As an established environmental consultant, Jenny has over 18 years of environmental and project management experience preparing CEQA and NEPA documents for a wide range of marine and coastal projects, including renewable energy, substations, transmission, and ports. Jenny discusses the exciting opportunities and challenges in developing offshore wind in the Pacific Ocean – and keeping on the cutting edge of this rapidly evolving industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master’s degree in Marine Biology from James Cook University in Australia.

Episode 41: CEQA Series: Considerations for Commercial Development, ft. Andrew Saba, Stockdale Capital Partners

This episode is a feature in our CEQA Series where I'm joined by co-host, Corinne Lytle Bonine and we feature Andrew Saba, Managing Director at Stockdale Capital Partners. Andrew is responsible for asset management with a focus on healthcare real estate at Stockdale Capital Partners – a real estate investment firm based in Los Angeles. Andrew discusses how commercial developers approach CEQA in project planning, and considerations for streamlining development for healthcare and housing needs.  

Episode 40: CEQA Series: VMT Mitigation in California, ft. Tim Haile, Contra Costa Transportation Authority and Meghan Macias, EPD Solutions

This episode is a feature in our CEQA Series; our host Konnie Dobreva speaks with guests Tim Haile, Executive Director at Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and Meghan Macias, Director of Technical Services at EPD Solutions. Konnie, Meghan, and Tim discuss the impacts of SB 743 on VMT mitigation and TDM programs designed to reduce emissions, urban sprawl and promote use of alternative transportation. Tim Haile, an award-winning transportation expert, emphasizes the importance of innovative transit programs and the need for sustainable, equitable, and accessible transportation solutions. He discusses his leadership in connected and autonomous vehicles, including the deployment of shared autonomous vehicles in the Bay Area.

Meghan Macias brings over two decades of experience in transportation planning to the conversation. She leads a team focused on comprehensive technical analyses for land development projects across California. Meghan's expertise includes traffic engineering and a deep understanding of CEQA. Join Tim, Meghan, and Konnie as they discuss challenges and strategies surrounding VMT mitigation and its impact on transportation planning and development in California. 

Episode 39: Planning for a Sustainable Future, ft. Pedro Peterson, Ph.D., California Air Resources Board (CARB)

In this episode, co-hosts Corinne and Jessa feature Pedro Peterson, Ph.D. - who manages the Local Planning Section at the California Air Resources Board (known as CARB). CARB provides resources and guidance to local governments on how to align land use and mobility policies with the State’s climate, air quality, and equity commitments. He has previously led teams at CARB overseeing investments from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund on affordable housing and transportation. Before joining CARB, he was a Senior Planner with the City of San Francisco, and independent consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, and completed a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley.

Episode 38: Integrating Generative AI in the Workplace, ft. Gayani R. Weerasinghe, Esq. & Hobson Lane

In this episode, we delve into the world of Generative AI with Gayani Weerasinghe, an intellectual property attorney and Hobson Lane, an AI developer, professor, and social impact entrepreneur. As generative AI continues to evolve and become more integrated into our lives, we wanted to launch a miniseries on the practical applications and limitations of AI to frame discussions on how we can use it within the environmental industry. We discuss the legal considerations of using this powerful tool, as well as the opportunities it presents – including greater accessibility. Disclaimer: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed are the speaker’s own and do not represent the views, thoughts, and opinions of the California Association of Environmental Professionals.

Episode 37: Reimagining Transportation, ft. Cheryl Croshere, Ph.D., Sacramento TMA and 50 Corridor TMA

In this episode. we feature an interview with our guest Dr. Cheryl Croshere. Join us as we dive into the world of sustainable transportation with Cheryl, an advocate, researcher, and consultant. With a diverse academic background spanning women’s study, transportation planning, and cultural anthropology, Cheryl brings a unique perspective to the table. Cheryl discusses her lifelong passion for sustainable transportation. Discover how she combines the power of data, storytelling, and genuine human connections to inspire individuals to envision a future with alternative modes of transportation. As the Executive Director of the non-profit Sacramento and 50 Corridor Transportation Management Associations (TMA), Cheryl's current focus is on creating a groundbreaking travel behavior change program. Tune in to hear her vision of helping 100,000 Sacramentans drive a little less and experience a whole lot more joy and wellbeing.

Episode 36: Advocating for Mentorship, ft. Jenny Delumo, San Francisco Planning Department

In this episode, I am joined by a guest co-host, Konnie Dobreva and we feature Jenny Delumo. Jenny is a Senior Planner and Transportation Review Team lead at the San Francisco Planning Department where she reviews complex transportation projects for environmental impacts and works on transportation policy. In addition to transportation and environmental planning, she has experience in sustainable development, redevelopment, and inter-agency collaboration. Jenny discusses the importance of finding a mentor, being a mentor, and being a champion for others' success. Join us as we learn about Jenny’s approach to leadership as an environmental professional.

Episode 35: Navigating Your Career Path, ft. Kevin Cunningham, Riverside County Flood Control & Water Conservation District

In this episode, I am joined by a guest co-host, Corinne Lytle Bonine and we feature Kevin Cunningham. Kevin is an environmental practitioner with a strong background in managing the preparation of various CEQA compliant documents for public infrastructure and land development projects. He also has expertise in navigating the regulatory landscape through developing and overseeing the permitting process for projects involving jurisdictional waters. Kevin is actively engaged in mitigation negotiation where he focuses his efforts on looking for opportunities to strike a balance between project goals and environmental preservation.

Kevin holds the position of Environmental Project Manager at the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. He and his team of Assistant and Associate Planners are responsible for providing comprehensive CEQA compliance and permitting services required to deliver stormwater infrastructure projects in accordance with legal requirements and environmental best practices to support implementationof the District’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Episode 34: Inspiring Leadership for a Sustainable Future, ft. Audrey Zagazeta, Circlepoint

In this episode, I am again joined by co-host, Konnie Dobreva and we feature Audrey Zagazeta, President & CEO of Circlepoint. Audrey has decades of experience in environmental planning, working in both the public and private sectors. She has managed multi-disciplinary projects for local municipalities and private developers, providing innovative and sustainable solutions to a variety of environmental challenges.

Under her leadership, Circlepoint has a renewed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and within the communities they serve. She understands the importance of fostering an inclusive environment that embraces diverse perspectives and experiences, allowing for more comprehensive and impactful solutions. Join us as we learn about Audrey's journey to becoming a CEO and her approach to leadership.

Episode 33: Embracing Synchronicity in Your Career, ft. Michael Brandman, Ph.D.

In this episode, we feature Michael Brandman, former President & CEO of Michael Brandman Associates. Michael is a pioneer in the environmental industry; in 1974, Michael was one of the original founders of the Association of Environmental Professionals and served as the California AEP State President in 1983. His journey closely aligned with the environmental movement, witnessing the establishment of crucial policies such as CEQA, NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act.

In 1982, Michael started Michael Brandman Associates, a consulting firm that provided expertise in environmental compliance at the local, state, and federal level. Over the course of 30 years in business, they successfully completed over 8,000 projects and employed a team of 65 individuals. In 2012, Michael Brandman Associates was acquired by First Carbon Solutions, cementing their impact in the industry.

During this conversation, Michael shares his insights on the opportunities AEP provides for leadership, training, and mentorship, as well as the driving force behind the establishment of AEP's Code of Ethics. While he has retired, Michael remains engaged with AEP, continuing to contribute his wisdom and expertise to the field he helped shape.

Episode 32: Leading the Way in Environmental Stewardship, ft. Julie Regan, Tahoe Regional Planning

Agency In this episode, we feature Julie Regan, Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA). We recorded this episode onsite at the 2023 AEP State Conference, just a few minutes after Julie stepped off the stage from giving her keynote address. Julie is a seasoned leader in communications, government affairs, and environmental conservation, with decades of experience in both the public and private sectors. In 2022, she was appointed Executive Director of TRPA - the first environmental interstate compact agency of its kind in the United States. TRPA is charged with protecting the breathtaking Lake Tahoe – the second deepest lake in the United States and the ancestral home of the native Washoe people. Julie has been instrumental in finding a balance between environmental preservation and sustaining a thriving $5-billion-dollar tourist-based economy at Lake Tahoe.

Julie earned her master's degree in journalism from Temple University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in environmental science at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she is focusing her research around the intersection of science and public policy.

She is also a past Co-Chair of the nationally focused Network for Landscape Conservation and has contributed to the global discussion on over-tourism through her writings on destination stewardship.

Episode 31: 2023 AEP Conference Chronicles: Attendee Wrap Up

In this episode, we hear from attendees at the 2023 AEP Conference: Mountain Vibes & Lake Blues in Lake Tahoe.

We've compiled a series of short clips from a variety of conference-goers sharing their experience. Over the course of the conference, we had the opportunity to speak with a variety of attendees, including environmental scientists, policy experts, planners, and many others. Each person had their own unique perspective and experiences to share, shedding light on the pressing issues, innovative approaches, and inspiring stories from the world of environmental professionals.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy these firsthand accounts of the AEP conference. And who knows, maybe you'll be inspired to attend the next one yourself!

Episode 30: AEP Mentoring Program ft. Corinne Lytle Bonine and Konnie Dobreva

In this episode, Corinne Lytle Bonine and Konnie Dobreva join the podcast to discuss the launch of the new AEP Mentorship Program. The AEP Mentorship Program offers an opportunity to be both mentee and mentor at the same time and has been designed to provide maximum flexibility and opportunities for our members. The AEP Mentorship Program consists of both programmed and at-will opportunities. The at-will option will allow mentors to search our member database for potential mentors who have designated themselves to be interested in mentoring. The programmed option will guide either 1-1 Mentor/Mentee pairs or peer groups on a 9-session curriculum together. AEP know that business is better with diverse teams and strongly believes that mentoring can be too.

Episode 29: Advocating for Change Using Policy, ft. Mikey Knab, Climate Action Campaign

In this episode, we feature Mikey Knab, Director of Policy at Climate Action Campaign. Mikey is a values-driven professional with over 15 years of leadership level experience in both non-profit organizations and for-profit companies. He’s skilled at building teams, program and operation management, policy advocacy, strategic communication, and fundraising. He started working as a dishwasher when he was 15 years old. He worked his way up through all positions in restaurants, eventually working as Director of Operations for the Meza Family Restaurant Group, which he helped expand from one small unit in the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego to three units. Under Mikey's leadership, these units became certified Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurants, California State Senate Small Business of the Year award recipients, plastic-free and zero-waste champions, and San Diego Workforce Partnership Employer of the Year winners. Mikey believes in an equitable and just world where all can thrive, and that is not possible without bold action to address the climate crisis as you’ll hear from him in this episode.

Episode 28: Balancing Landscape Design with Ecological Function, ft. Julie Johnstone, Great Ecology

In this episode, Corinne Lytle Bonine joins as a guest co-host and we feature Julie Johnstone, Associate Director of Design with Great Ecology.

Julie is an accomplished landscape designer with 10 years of experience with a dual Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from Cornell University. Julie’s project experience includes master plans, feasibility studies, K-12/Higher Ed campuses and site design, park and trail planning/design, and commercial campus landscapes. Her current focus is on developing landscape designs and master plans which simultaneously address diverse community needs while promoting ecological balance and restoration. She has designed and implemented public participation strategies for comprehensive plans, waterfront master plans, and recreation feasibility studies. Julie uses her background in psychology, planning, and landscape design to promote cohesive and collaborative teams. While the practical elements of design and planning are at the forefront of her mind, Julie has a keen eye for design and enjoys conceptual design iterations – which she discusses in this episode.

Episode 27: CEQA Series: Legislative Review Committee ft. William Halligan, Matt Klopfenstein, and Kristin Blackson

This episode is a panel featuring Bill Halligan, Matt Klopfenstein, and Kristin Blackson discussing their work with the AEP Legislative Review Committee.

Bill Halligan is Senior Director and Senior Environmental Counsel with Harris + Associates. Bill has prepared hundreds of environmental documents for a diverse range of projects throughout California. As a member (and former chair) of AEP’s Legislative Review Committee, Bill works directly with the State Legislature and AEP’s lobbyist on proposed legislation related to CEQA. Matt Klopfenstein is a partner at CalAdvisors and represents clients in legislative and regulatory arenas. He specializes in technology, energy, environment, water, transportation, and local government policymaking. Matt serves as the Legislative Policy Director and Lobbyist for AEP. We welcome back Kristin Blackson, Vice President of Environmental Planning with WSP and co-chair of the AEP Legislative Committee. Kristin has successfully advocated for revising and creating CEQA legislation that benefits practitioners—and the public—throughout California. She shares her expertise as a professor for the UCSD Extension CEQA Certificate Program. The Legislative Committee provides analysis, prepares comment letters, and conducts direct lobbying on legislative bills relating to CEQA. Bill, Matt, and Kristin discuss CEQA policy related to topics such as housing, noise ordinance, and sports.

Episode 26: Educating & Influencing Future Generations, ft. Shane Coopersmith aka Sustainable Shane

In this episode, Corinne Lytle-Bonine joins as a guest co-host as we feature Shane Coopersmith, an environmental influencer known as Sustainable Shane.   Shane grew up surfing in Carlsbad, California where his love for everything sustainable started at a very young age. Everything from beach cleanups to volunteering at local environmental organizations to just planting his own garden were his passions & purpose to protect our planet. Shane wanted to be part of something bigger and he went on to study Sustainable Design at UC Berkeley. At Berkley, he had some serious brain blasts and Sustainable Shane began to evolve.  Today, Shane spends his days in San Diego as a Sustainability Guru. He is a high school Horticulture teacher where he is able to share his love of our planet with the future generation. He created Sustainable Shane to help spread awareness about sustainability and share tips on how to live a happier, healthier, eco-friendly lifestyle!

Connect with Shane:

Episode 25: Using Data to Drive Change, ft. Dr. Cindy J. Lin, Hey Social Good

In this episode, we feature Dr. Cindy J. Lin, the CEO and Co-Founder of Hey Social Good, a social impact tech company working to revolutionize social good for people, planet, and profit.

Dr. Lin is an ecologist, environmental engineer, environmental and data scientist, and expert on the environmental impacts of land use and human activities on ecological habitats. She previously worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she designed national environmental standards, worked on cutting edge research, implemented policy to address environmental pollution and sustainability, and managed multiple government and private entities to meet environmental standards. She was the US Regional Expert on the Clean Water Act, Expert Scientist with the U.S. Applied Climate Change National Work Group, Water Adviser at the U.S. Embassy, Beijing, and US EPA's Top Science and Policy Advisor on the US-China Team.

Hey Social Good’s Social Good SaaS platform uses data analytics and machine learning to rapidly verify environmental and social practices adopted by private and public companies. The company makes it easy for businesses to meet company goals and new policy directives to credibly and transparently demonstrate their social impact footprint.

Hey Social Good verifies the environmental and social practices of public and private companies, and award medal rankings to sustainable and ethical companies. The platform’s 200+ decision points data model considers a company's social and environmental impact and how they link to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. The data-driven information on social good companies help businesses adopt social good practices and consumers shop with purpose.  

A quick note: our co-host, Laurel, is on family leave and returning to the podcast next year. We will have guest co-hosts joining the podcast over the next few months.

Episode 24: Decarbonizing the Built Environment, ft. David Hodgins, Sustento Group

In this episode, we feature David Hodgins, the founder and CEO of Sustento Group and Executive Director of the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge. With more than a decade of experience in project development, program delivery and policy implementation, David Hodgins is a recognized leader in the sustainable real estate field. He began his career with the Clinton Climate Initiative, where he led private sector project development for three years. Building on the perspective he gained through that work, he founded sustainability services company Sustento Group in 2011, which serves as program manager for the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge.

David has worked with a diverse set of clients, from federal, state and local governments to global lenders, investors and asset managers, utilities, advocates, national labs and affordable housing developers. He has contributed to the development of a range of industry standards and resources, including the Department of Energy’s Asset Score Audit Template, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Energy Performance Contracting Toolkit and several ASHRAE standards.

Episode 23: AEP Climate Change Committee: Volunteering for Change ft. Michael Hendrix, Jennifer Reed & Rich Walter

In this episode, we host a panel with members from AEP’s Climate Change Committee – Michael Hendrix, Jennifer Reed, and Rich Walter. The Committee consists of leaders of climate action planning practices from consulting firms and agencies that have lead many of the local GHG reduction planning efforts across California. The Committee focuses on advancing the professional practice of local climate action planning through periodic publication of white papers and conference presentations, as well as interaction with state, regional and local agencies. The panel discusses why they joined the climate change committee, the contributions they have made and how the committee has impacted their careers and lives.

Michael Hendrix a leading California climate change scientist and climate action planner with over 26 years of experience. He has authored or provided technical oversight of 72 climate action plans throughout the United States. He is the recent recipient of the AEP "Professional Achievement Award – and is current Chairperson for the AEP Climate Change Committee where he provides leadership within AEP on the issues of climate change risks, adaptation, resiliency, and analysis of greenhouse gas emissions.

Jennifer Reed leads Dudek’s air quality services team and has over 15 years’ experience. Jennifer specializes in air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, health risk assessment, and energy technical analyses. In addition, Jennifer teaches an air quality and GHG emissions course for UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education, is an active member in AEP’s Climate Change Committee, and has demonstrated success in relaying technical analyses in a way that is easy to understand.

Rich Walter has 30 years of experience in environmental planning, compliance, permitting, and mitigation. Rich leads the ICF Climate Action Planning practice which has developed climate action plans, GHG inventories for hundreds of communities across the U.S., general plans, and studies of adaptation to sea level rise. He is key author for the AEP white papers on climate action planning and the California Air Pollution Control Officer’s Association white papers on CEQA and Climate Change and on Climate Change and General Plans.

Episode 22: Leading an Environmental Consulting Firm, ft. Tania Treis and Susanne Heim, Panorama Environmental

In this episode, we feature Tania Treis and Susanne Heim, Co-Owners and Principals of Panorama Environmental, to discuss their leadership approach to running an environmental consulting firm.

Tania is the Founding Principal of Panorama and specializes in CEQA, NEPA, and permitting compliance. She leads Panorama’s services in solar energy, fire and fuels, and water utility sectors. She is recognized for her strategic insight and creativity in finding solutions for complex projects and programs. Tania’s vision for Panorama has been to create a company that serves clients with a highly focused and intelligent team of professionals who care deeply about their work and bring success to every project, while also being a great place to work. As an owner of Panorama, she oversees the company’s overall business strategy, finances, and information technology.

Susanne is a Principal and co-owner of Panorama with 20 years of project and program management experience in the environmental field. Susanne has led CEQA, NEPA, and permitting efforts for electric utility, solar, geothermal, water utility, and watershed restoration projects throughout California, Nevada, and internationally. Susanne is recognized for her team leadership and ability to motivate teams to achieve goals. Susanne currently leads Panorama’s services in the geothermal, electric utility, and water resource sectors. Susanne’s role as an owner includes leading company operations and staff development.

Episode 21: CEQA Series: CEQA Reform to Advance Climate Action, ft. Ethan Elkind, UC Berkeley

This episode is a feature in our CEQA Series featuring Ethan Elkind. Ethan is the Director of the Climate Program at the UC Berkeley School of Law, with a joint appointment at the UCLA School of Law. He researches and writes on law and policies that address climate change. He previously taught at the UCLA law school‘s Frank Wells Environmental Law Clinic and served as an environmental law research fellow.

His book, Railtown, on the history of the modern Los Angeles Metro Rail system was published by University of California Press in January 2014. He is also a co-host of the weekly call-in radio show State of the Bay on the San Francisco NPR affiliate KALW 91.7 FM, airing Monday nights at 6pm, and a frequent guest host on KALW‘s Your Call morning call-in show.

He received his B.A. with honors from Brown University and graduated Order of the Coif from the UCLA School of Law.

Episode 20: Intergenerational Series: Leading by Example ft. Corinne Lytle Bonine, Chambers Group and Nancy Lytle

This episode is the first in our Intergenerational Series featuring Corinne Lytle-Bonine and her mother, Nancy Lytle.

Corinne is a Vice President and the Director of Environmental Planning at Chambers Group, and a Senior Project Manager with over 16 years of experience. She has managed an array of NEPA, CEQA and State Environmental Policy Act projects. Her passion and focus have been on environmental permitting and compliance for utility-scale renewable and low-carbon energy and transmission projects. She served on the Technical Advisory Committee for the County of San Diego’s Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan and currently sits on both the AEP State-level and San Diego Chapter’s Board of Directors.

Nancy Lytle has over 35 years of experience as a city planner and a community development manager. In November 2014, she retired as Assistant Vice President of Civic San Diego, a nonprofit agency established by the City of San Diego to perform economic and community development in targeted areas throughout the City. Prior to retiring, she worked as a Vice President at the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation, Assistant Director of Planning and Building for the City of Chula Vista, Planning Manager at the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, and Chief Planning Official for the City of Palo Alto. From 2000 to 2004, she was elected to and served on the Palo Alto City Council.

And a fun fact: both Corinne and Nancy graduated from UC Santa Barbara!

Episode 19: Addressing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Environmental Profession ft. La Mikia Castillo, Castillo Consulting Partners

La Mikia has over two decades of experience in leadership development, strategic planning, design thinking, grassroots community organizing, youth engagement, policy advocacy and systems change. A commitment to social justice and racial equity permeates each aspect of her personal and professional life.

La Mikia supports organizations with developing, implementing, and assessing data-driven strategies, she designs and facilitates leadership development trainings, conducts equity assessments, and moderates important conversations around race, bias, and equity. Her expertise lies in helping companies effectively embed equity, inclusion, diversity, access and anti-racism into their leadership, policies, and procedures so they can best support and retain their people.

An Afro-Latina who was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, La Mikia is a first-generation alumna who has committed her life and career to developing leaders, investing in communities, and promoting equity. She holds Bachelors’ degrees in Ethnic Studies and Urban Studies & Planning from UCSD, dual Master's degrees in Public Policy and Urban Planning, and Certificates in Public Management, Political Management, and the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate from USC, where she serves as an adjunct faculty member at the Sol Price School of Public Policy. La Mikia also teaches Black, Latino and Latin American Relations courses in the Pan African Studies Department at Cal State Los Angeles.

Episode 18: Mentoring the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders ft. Carey Fernandes, Dudek

Carey Fernandes is a Principal at Dudek with almost 30 years of professional planning-related experience specializing in the planning, environmental, and development industries. Her diverse background of education and experience includes permit processing with local jurisdictions, coordination with public agency staff, preparation of CEQA and NEPA documents, project management, due diligence, and feasibility analysis.

She has also served as project manager and primary author of many environmental review documents throughout San Diego and Imperial counties, including the San Diego County wind ordinance. She also works with several Native American tribes in the western United States in the preparation of tribal environmental documents. Through this experience, she has developed a broad understanding of policy, planning, and environmental issues which she discusses in this episode.

Episode 17: Creating Sustainable Communities, ft. Jose Bodipo-Memba and Christopher Mundhenk

In this episode, we feature Jose Bodipo-Memba and Christopher Mundhenk. Jose is the Interim Chief Diversity Officer at SMUD, and responsible for company-wide programs and services such as human resources, workforce development, diversity and inclusion, and sustainable communities. His focus is to advocate for diversity, inspire an inclusive culture based on trust and respect, and to create belonging and connection among SMUD’s employees, customers, and communities, ultimately resulting in equitable outcomes for all.

Chris is the Environmental Practice Group Leader and a Principal at Ascent Environmental. Over the past 22 years, Chris has been managing and preparing environmental analysis documents for a wide variety of projects pursuant to CEQA. His career has been spent in the environmental consulting industry, in addition to serving as in-house staff for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California between 2002 and 2005. Chris serves the curriculum committees for AEP’s CEQA Essentials and Advanced CEQA workshops, assisting environmental professionals throughout California to learn and refresh on best practices and emerging trends in the world of environmental planning and analysis.

Sustainable Communities Resource Priorities Map -

AEP is collecting feedback via survey on its DEI Initiative. We you to share your experiences with diversity, equity and inclusion at AEP to help us better understand our current statewide membership and how we can strengthen DEI within our organization and throughout the environmental profession. June 6 is the final day to complete the survey, we appreciate your valuable feedback to help us move forward. To show our appreciation, the AEP chapter with the highest rate of submissions will receive funds to be used towards a membership appreciation event!

Survey link:

Episode 16: CEQA Series: UC Berkeley Housing Ruling, ft. Andrew Keatts, Howard Blackson, and Kristin Blackson

This is the second episode in a series focusing on current events related to the California Environmental Quality Act – known as CEQA - which is intended to inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage.

In this episode, we have a panel featuring Andrew Keatts, Howard Blackson, Kristin Blackson - moderated by Laurel Glass Lees. The panel offers diversity in perspectives on CEQA as it relates to the California Supreme Court ruling regarding the UC Berkeley housing case.

Andrew is the Managing Editor of Voice of San Diego – he sees land use coverage as a way to make sense of the complex land-use decisions governments make while explaining how those decisions affect the daily lives of San Diegans.

Howard is an urban designer, author, lecturer, and educator with over 30 years of experience. He works with AVRP Studios in San Diego managing the design and entitlement of mixed-use projects and codes for public and private clients across North America.

We welcome Kristin back to join the panel - She is a Senior CEQA Project manager with Harris + Associates, a member of the California AEP State board and co-chair of the legislative committee.

Episode 15: CEQA Series: A World Without CEQA ft. Kristin Blackson, Harris & Associates

This is the first episode in a multi-part series focusing on the California Environmental Quality Act – known as CEQA - which is intended to inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage.

To kick off the series, we feature Kristin Blackson, a Senior CEQA Project Manager with Harris + Associates, where she manages projects with the goal of making CEQA compliance an efficient part of the process rather than a roadblock. As an expert in the ever-changing world of CEQA, Kristin is constantly researching and reviewing regulations to make the process of disclosing environmental impacts seamless for agencies. 

She shares her expertise as a professor for the UCSD Extension CEQA Certificate Program, teaching introductory and advanced courses. She is also co-chair of the AEP Legislative Committee, where she has successfully advocated for revising and creating CEQA legislation that benefits practitioners—and the public—throughout California. These roles combine to keep Kristin on the leading edge of CEQA, uniquely positioning her to solve challenging problems.

Episode 14: Planning for the Future of California Transportation, ft. Toks Omishakin, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA)

In this episode, we have a special guest co-host Neil Peacock, who interviews a key leadership figure in the transportation industry. Neil is President of the Superior California Chapter of AEP and serves as a Senior Environmental Planner with California Department of Transportation (CalTrans).

Our featured guest is Toks Omishakin, who currently serves as Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency and recently served as Director of Caltrans, where he oversaw a $17 billion transportation budget and supported nearly 22,000 employees across 12 Districts that serve the entire State Highway System and its partnering networks.

Secretary Omishakin‘s leadership vision for the State‘s transportation system focuses on providing a safe, equitable, sustainable, and multimodal transportation system that builds on strong local partnerships and advances the foundational principles of safety, equity, and climate action.

Toks champions an organizational culture of transformative innovation and intelligent risk-taking that will be needed to achieve zero traffic deaths and reduce Green House Emissions from the transportation sector by 40% by 2030.

Before coming to California, Toks served with Tennessee Department of Transportation where he successfully established a number of environmental and transportation planning policies across a number of Divisions. Prior to that, he served as Director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Mayor‘s Office for the City of Nashville, Tennessee where he helped establish a more balanced approach to transportation planning and roadway design.

In addition to these leadership roles, Mr. Omishakin is Chair of the Council on Active Transportation for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and serves on the Board of several non-profit and academic institutions.

Episode 13: Environmental Planning for Rural Jurisdictions ft. Bob Brown, SNH Engineers & Geologists

In this episode, we speak with Bob Brown, Principal Planner with SHN Engineers and Geologists. Bob has been in the ‘far north’ coastal part of California for 40 years – where he has spent a majority of his career as a contract municipal planner and CEQA practitioner. Bob has a passion for rural issues, and currently leads the five rural SHN offices providing municipal planning services to rural jurisdictions, permitting for private clients and environmental impact assessments to everyone in between. Bob recently was part of a team that prepared the EIR for the removal of the Klamath Dams in California and was responsible for analyzing many of the associated construction-related impacts. He is currently working on port-side development associated with off-shore wind. He is a Board Member with the AEP San Francisco Chapter and has taught the CEQA/NEPA course at Humboldt State University (now Cal Poly Humboldt) for 14 years where he has the opportunity to influence his future regulators.

Episode 12: Establishing Creditability for Environmental Professionals ft. Betty Dehoney, Dehoney Consulting

In this episode, we speak with Betty Dehoney, with Dehoney Consulting. Betty has more than 40 years of experience conducting environmental studies for regulatory compliance and impact assessments throughout the United States. She specializes in managing complex, controversial projects, while maintaining sensitivity to the potential for litigation, and approaches each project with an eye to preventing a viable challenge under the environmental process. While focusing on infrastructure, she has delivered projects across sectors including Water (supply and resources), Transportation (roads, rail, ports, airports), Resources (energy, mining, solid waste) and Federal government. Betty has served as Past President of the National Association of Environmental Professionals and is on the Legislative Review Committee for the California Association of Environmental Professionals. You‘ll hear more from Betty about her career path and experience - we hope you enjoy this episode!

Episode 11: Building Relationships to Make A Difference ft. Shona Ganguly, The Nature Conservancy

In this episode, we speak with Shona Ganguly, External Affairs Advisor at The Nature Conservancy in California. Shona maneuvers through the terrain of environmental policy in southern California - managing relationships with local, state, and federal legislators, officials, partner organizations, and supporting conservation programs in southern California. Shona is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley (BA in Development Studies and South Asian Studies), Claremont Graduate University (MA in Cultural Studies), and the Peter Drucker and Masatoshi Ito School of Management (MBA). She lives in Los Angeles with her son, husband, and two Husky-Malamute-Shepherds. In her spare time, she supports her family‘s Indian apparel boutique, Pia Ka Ghar and serves as the President of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. We hope you enjoy this episode!

Episode 10: Using a Private Sector Approach to Public Sector Leadership, ft. Adam Rush, City of Banning

In this episode, we speak with Adam Rush, Community Development Director, for the City of Banning. In his role, Adam’s mission is to provide effective and efficient municipal services with a friendly and business-forward attitude. Adam’s approach to treating government services like one would treat customers in the private sector is critical to ensure a city succeeds in growing new and vibrant communities. He spent ten years with County of Riverside Planning Department where he developed a strong background in Community Planning and Environmental Compliance and gained experience in transportation and planning activities as well as long-range strategic plans. We hope you enjoy hearing from Adam and his approach to leadership.

Episode 9: Leadership in the Public Sector ft. Mindy Fogg, County of Ventura

In this episode, we speak with Mindy Fogg, the Executive Vice President for AEP. She has over 20 years professional experience as a Land Use/Environmental Planner and CEQA Practitioner in both the private and public sectors. She is currently serving as a Planning Manager for the County of Ventura where she leads the Commercial and Industrial Permitting Section. She has managed numerous public and private projects, such as General Plan Amendments, Specific Plans, Subdivisions, Habitat Conservation Plans, Ordinance Amendments, Cannabis Permits, Mining Projects, Oil and Gas Projects, and Renewable Energy Permits. Mindy has been actively involved with AEP since 2008.

Episode 8: Building Community Through Planning ft. Meredith Reynolds, City of Long Beach

In this episode, we feature Meredith Reynolds, the Special Deputy City Manager for Recovery for the City of Long Beach. Meredith has worked on critical efforts in community services, parks and open space, sustainability, and innovation in Long Beach and in Irvine. She has served as the Long Beach Park Planning and Partnerships Manager and Park Development Officer – where she created a strong focus on equitable and inclusive community engagement and partnerships and developed park and open space projects. During the pandemic, Meredith was reassigned to the Long Beach Health Department and was responsible for setting up COVID-19 testing sites across the city of Long Beach. Meredith also oversees the Long Beach Management Assistant Program – a local government management fellowship program – currently accepting applications through January 17, 2022 at We hope you enjoy hearing from Meredith!

Episode 7: Leading through Law, Business and Policy ft. Amy Steinfeld

In this episode, we feature Amy Steinfeld, Santa Barbara Office Managing Partner with Brownstein. Amy is a land use and water lawyer with a broad understanding of environmental issues and a passion for the cannabis industry. Operating in one of the most heavily regulated industries and states, her passion and genuine concern for her clients is critical to her success. Amy is co-founder and co-chair of the California H2O Women Conference, which provides an opportunity to collaborate, educate and support women leaders in the water industry – check out their upcoming conference January 2022 at We hope you enjoy hearing from Amy!

Episode 6: Becoming a Cultural Resource Manager ft. Annemarie Cox, PanGIS, Inc.

In this episode, we feature Annemarie Cox - Marketing Manager and Cultural Resource Specialist with PanGIS, Inc. She provides geodatabase development for cultural and historical resources, data analysis and report writing, environmental compliance services, artifact curation, marketing, public outreach and advocacy. She has served as California Archaeology Month coordinator for the Society for California Archaeology and is a California Project Archaeology Facilitator and California Site Steward for CASSP. Annemarie has close to 30 years of experience in the cultural resource management field including conducting archaeological field surveys, archaeological site recording, testing, construction monitoring; and laboratory work, including prehistoric and historic artifact identification, cataloging, and analysis. We hope you enjoy hearing from Annemarie.

Episode 5: Becoming an Expert Environmental Planner ft. Terry Rivasplata, ICF

The Environmental Leadership Chronicles podcast is brought to you by the California Association of Environmental Professionals. In this episode, we feature Terry Rivasplata, an expert consultant with ICF. Terry has 40 years of experience in land use planning and CEQA analysis. At ICF, a full service CEQA and NEPA consulting firm, Terry has prepared NEPA and CEQA documents for projects ranging in size and complexity from school expansions to California‘s high speed rail project. He currently provides strategic advice to project staff and clients on NEPA and CEQA compliance. Terry is a popular instructor for the U.C. Davis Continuing and Professional Education program teaching several courses on NEPA and CEQA. He writes the AEP Environmental Assessor that summarizes current CEQA case law. He is a co-author of the CEQA tutorial Practical CEQA. We hope you enjoy hearing from Terry!

Episode 4: Finding your Purpose ft. Brian Mooney, RICK Engineering Company

In this episode, we feature Brian Mooney. Brian serves as the managing principal of the Community Planning and Sustainable Development Division at RICK Engineering Company. He has more than 40 years‘ experience in planning, public outreach, environmental analysis, research, and development of public policy. He is highly respected in public and private planning arenas and is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is also chairman of the Urban Land Institute‘s (ULI) San Diego-Tijuana District Council - which promotes responsible land use and sustainable communities in the Cali Baja megaregion.

Episode 3: Environmental Planning for Environmental Justice ft. Claudia Garcia, ICF

Claudia serves on the State Executive Board for the California Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP), and is an environmental planner with ICF. Her career path was challenging as an immigrant and the first person in her family to receive both an undergraduate and a graduate degree. She has worked on projects that include environmental justice, community outreach, and environmental analyses and CEQA documents.

Episode 2: The Importance of Mentorship ft. Marie Campbell, Sapphos Environmental

Marie Campbell is an elected, at-large board member for the California Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP). She has also served as former president of National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), and is the sole-owner and President of Sapphos Environmental - an environmental consulting business. Marie discusses the importance of making Investments to achieve long-term goals by choosing to make investments that benefit the greatest number of people. Marie has a breadth of knowledge and experience to share, we hope you enjoy this episode.

Episode 1: Path to Environmental Leadership ft. Katie Laybourn, Harris & Associates

Katie Laybourn is the President of the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP). She is a biologist, aquatic resources specialist, and drone pilot at Harris & Associates. Katie shares her journey to becoming an environmental professional, including her educational path, career path, getting involved with AEP as a university student, internships and how her involvement with AEP led to her first professional environmental job.