PAUL MEEHAN, President joined the VHC Board of Trustees in January of 2014. Originally from Michigan, Paul arrived in California in 1984 and attended UCSB where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies. Paul’s diverse professional career has ranged from being a Naturalist on the Channel Islands, to a Boat Captain for Island Packers, to serving as a Law Enforcement Ranger for the National Park Service on Anacapa Island & St John's Island in the Virgin Islands and a back country Ranger in Lassen Volcanic National Park. He currently works for FedEx as an IT Advisor. In his spare time, Paul devotes his energies to environmental and animal causes. After Hurricane Katrina, Paul volunteered for the HSUS helping to search through flooded homes for lost and injured pets. In Ventura, Paul promotes the protection of open space and frequently patrols VHC wilderness preserves to keep them safe and clean. Paul lives in Ventura with wife Kellie and their two young children and enjoys camping, boating and snowboarding.
RICHARD FRANCIS, Vice President, has been a community activist for all of his 30+ years in Ventura. Richard co-founded and authored the SOAR initiatives which protect agriculture and open-space, putting him at the forefront of environmental protection issues throughout the county. As the former Mayor of the City of Ventura, and the owner/director of his own multi-attorney law firm, he brings a unique skill set to the Board. Richard enjoys being with his wife, Nancy, a Planning Commissioner for the City of Ventura, traveling and being “empty nesters,” having raised their twins Hannah and Dillon, each currently attending different UC campuses.
JOHN HANKINS, Secretary, is a lifelong reporter and editor, writing extensively about the political process, environment and grassroots action. He owned the Santa Barbara County News Service and companion News Clipping Service, distributing his original news stories and features to a dozen newspapers throughout the tri-counties. Now semi-retired, he is editor of Condor Call, the Sierra Club’s newsletter covering Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Known as Condor John (“I’m an endangered species!”) he serves on the board and as a speaker for the club’s Wilderness Basics Course. Born and bred on the East Coast, he joined the Navy and adopted California during dry dock, reveling in its progressive attitude and expansive outdoor opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and ocean sports. He met and married Suz Montgomery in Ventura and both are enamored of each other and working in the political realm to ensure a quality of life for all.
KAREN BEDNORZ is the Art Buyer, and loyal employee for over 31 years, for Patagonia Works. Her volunteer work with the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy started even before our inception. She coordinated and managed a media team for the Ventura Hillsides Music Festival, as well as the backstage talent compound managing team. Karen was essential in bringing the Wild & Scenic Film Festival to Ventura (recognized in 2013 by Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Earth Day), now going into its 9th year. She and her husband Gary are key members of the Conservancy's Film Festival volunteer committee, traveling and viewing films at the national Festival, and selecting licensed films to bring back to our committee for review and vote. She loves family and friends, being outside, yoga, gardening, bicycling, animals (especially dogs), films, music, reading, blogging, travel, and creatively decorating as a home interior design consultant.
DAVID COMDEN is the publisher of the Ventura County Reporter newsweekly and Ventana Monthly magazine and V.P. of Southland Publishing. David is involved in the local business community and is the former Vice President & Board Member of the Downtown Ventura Organization (2010 - 2016), former Board member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (2000 - 2008) and serves as an informal advisor to non-profit organizations throughout Ventura County. He and his wife Tina moved to Ventura in 1998 with their two sons because of the unique quality of life that the area offers. David is an active outdoorsman and wants to help foster a healthy environment in this region for future generations.
STEVE DOLL is passionate about the community and the causes he serves. He was born and grew up in Glendale, graduated from San Diego State University, moved to Ventura in 1989 with wife Caroline and two children. Being self-employed in commercial real estate has allowed Steve the flexibility necessary for involvement with many organizations. Entrepreneurial in spirit, he is a principal in a startup company making the Raticator, an ecofriendly, and humane rodent control using cutting edged infrared technology. He has served as Chairman of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce and the Ventura YMCA, Commissioner for the Ventura Port District, and President of the Ventura Downtown Rotary and Lions Clubs. Currently he serves on the boards of Ventura Fair Foundation, Pier Into the Future Foundation, and Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau. Through his involvement with Kirwin International Relief Foundation, and with donations from Ventura’s Rotary and Lions Clubs, he traveled to provide disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Nepal earthquake, and flooding in Baton Rouge. Locally he led the committee to pass the first SOAR vote that allowed creation of the successful Ventura Community Park. Co-Founder of the Ventura Marathon as well as the Ventura Turkey Trot (9th year), has raised awareness and funding for local charities. Steve enjoys ocean swimming, skiing, hiking, and cars! He is a long-time endurance event competitor, including participating in the New Zealand Ironman with wife Caroline in 2009.
DENNIS KULZER, was born in Southern California and grew up participating in Boy Scouts, camping and visiting national parks with his family. He has had varied professional and volunteer careers that have taken him across the Pacific Northwest and around the world. During the 1970’s – 1990’s, he worked for the City of Los Angeles as a mechanic/supervisor, served as a volunteer Orange County firefighter and, in 1990, with his wife, Jayne, joined the Peace Corps and served in the Kingdom of Tonga as an Industrial Arts teacher and vocational training program developer. In 1993, Dennis and Jayne moved back to the U.S, where he worked as a mechanic/fleet services supervisor for the University of Washington and later, City of Bellevue, Washington. It was here that his two daughters were born. In 1995, Dennis took a leave and spent 14 months working in the Rwandan Refugee Camps in Western Tanzania. He began his service with the International Rescue Committee as Head Mechanic/Logistian and eventually ended up coordinating all programs in support of 400K refugees in the region. Dennis moved to Ventura in 2003, and for 13 years served as Fleet Services Supervisor for City of Ventura. Recently retired from the City, Dennis currently keeps busy volunteering with Channel Islands Restoration, local homeless programs, Channel Islands National Park and, of course, the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy! Dennis and his wife Jayne, who is a program manager of HIV Intervention and Research programs in Western Kenya, for UC San Francisco, enjoy hiking, bicycling, paddle boarding, sailing, running, camping and backpacking and their two college-age daughters.
SUSAN LEFEVRE, is an adjunct professor at CSUCI and an independent education consultant. Prior to this she served as the Program Manager for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy/STEM Initiative, Executive Director of the Ventura County Leadership Academy, and Curator of Education for the Carnegie Art Museum. She has a long history of involvement with non-profit institutions and currently serves on the Oxnard College Foundation Board. Susan’s love for the outdoors comes from being raised in Monterey County by parents who were avid campers. Her parents instilled in her a sense of adventure and awe for the ‘wild country.’ She appreciates the opportunity to foster support and widen public appreciation of the Ventura County’s beautiful natural spaces. Susan, her late husband, Stephen, and son, Aaron (who lives in Asia), enjoyed countless wonderful trips exploring, camping, kayaking, hiking, and sailing together. When she is not engaged in educational endeavors or with family, you will find Susan hiking in the mountains of California.
ED WEHAN, joined the Board of Trustees of the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy in 2017 after serving for 16 years on the City of Ventura Parks and Recreation Commission and on the Board of the Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau. In addition to being a VHC Board member, he also currently serves as Chair of the Ventura Community Partnership Foundation. Ed graduated from UCSB and USC with an MBA. Having been brought up as a child in the wild and woolly 1950's San Fernando Valley, he acquired a taste for the outdoors and adventure by exploring the mostly uninhabited Santa Monica Mountains. Having watched the Valley change in to what we see today, he wonders how the lack of open space inhibits the appreciation for the natural world in today's youth. Because of that, his passion for VHC is evident. Although retired from the Deckers Outdoor Corporation, Ed stays active in the community as a parks, recreation and open space advocate. He is a regular runner, still competing in races of all distances (including many ultras in his past). Summers are spent backpacking and fishing. Ed's wife, Val, is a 4th grade teacher and his daughter, Mallory, attends George Washington University in DC.
SCOTT WEISS, has lived in Ventura for more than 50 years and joined the Board of Trustees in July, 2017. He spent his childhood exploring the Ventura hills which led to his interest in the VHC. Scott has been involved in environmental issues for most of his life. In 1990 he was involved in the slow growth movement in Oxnard and was one of only four candidates endorsed by Patagonia in his bid for Oxnard City Council and has been active with the Sierra Club and the Board of Directors of the Environmental Defense Center in Santa Barbara. Professionally, Scott is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant and a Real Estate Broker. He is the managing partner of the CPA firm; Weiss, Bowens, and Magson, LLP, held a Series 7 securities license for 10 years, served as a mediator to the Ventura County Courts and currently serves as an arbitrator for the Ventura County Bar Association. Scott’s passion is music. He is a semi-professional trumpet player, musical conductor, founder and conductor of the Ojai Pops Orchestra, and has studied and played with some of the top musicians in the world. Scott has produced over 10 videos on world class trumpet players and is the founder and Executive Director of Music 4 Kids. Scott and his wife, who enjoy hiking, biking and traveling, have lived in the Ojai Valley for almost 30 years.
DON WOOD, joined the Board of Trustees in July, 2017. Born in Western Pennsylvania, Don spent his “wonder years” hiking and biking the hills, waterways and countryside of Ventura County. A graduate of Occidental College, Don recently completed a 34-year career in the telecommunications industry. He and his wife, Stacy, have lived in Ventura for 27+ years, where they have raised their daughter, Paige. Don has been actively engaged in the community throughout that time, as a member and past President of the Ventura Education Partnership, a candidate for VUSD Board of Education, long-time MC of VEP’s Festival of Talent and the “Voice of Relay” for dozens of ACS Relay For Life events throughout West Ventura County, in addition to hosting events for other worthwhile causes. Don believes our quality of life is inextricably tied to the environment – our hillsides, waterways and countryside.