Chair, Bill Eckert
A native Californian who, after earning a BS in Chemistry at Stanford, immediately switched to software development. He founded two high tech companies, the most recent of which develops customer service call center software. Bill is now retired and is an avid hiker and backpacker. He attributes his love of the outdoors to his parents who, very much out of character for them, took their young family on a 2-week backcountry burro trip in the Sierra. Bill lives in Carmel Valley with his wife, Priscilla, who is a long-term guide, mentor and animal care volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They have two daughters, a school teacher and a nurse midwife. Bill is a past board member and secretary of the Point Lobos Foundation and continues to volunteer with that organization.
Vice-Chair, Abel Valdez
Abel Valdez lives, works, and actively participates in the community of the Salinas Valley. Immigrating to Salinas with his parents in 1986 from Mexico, he attended Salinas public schools, Hartnell community college, and works in agriculture. His parents, both educators, instilled in him the responsibility of being part of the community. He has been involved with multiple associations, volunteer groups, committees, and the Salinas public libraries. He recently stepped up to the challenge of helping the SCESD configure and deploy 2500 hot spots for students. He has 23 years of experience in agriculture technology working for Tanimura & Antle, currently serving as IT Director of Special Projects and pursuing his MBA at Golden Gate University. For recreation, he plays golf at Salinas Fairways, rides his motorcycle, and hangs out with his dog Finn.
Treasurer, Cynthia Garfield
Cynthia has served on numerous boards including the Flandreau Planetarium Advisory Board, the Pacific Grove Library Foundation, Point Lobos Foundation, and mental health organizations. As the President of the Library Foundation, she led the Foundation in transitioning to professional investment management and forging a collaborative legal agreement among the Friends of the Library, the Foundation, and the City of Pacific Grove for funding an extensive Library Renovation Project. In 2016 she was elected to a 4-year term on City Council. As part of her duties, she represented Pacific Grove on the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA). Originally trained as a medical social worker, Cynthia also has an MBA with foci in Entrepreneurship and Finance and was as an instructor at the University of Texas Business School, teaching Organizational Behavior, Leadership, Team Performance and Strategy. Cynthia and her husband Mark enjoy volunteering for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, hiking, golfing, gardening, and generally being outdoors.
Secretary, Amanda Sharp Freedman
A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine practicing in Pacific Grove California. Amanda earned her degree at UC Davis. Amanda is passionate about animals, wildlife conservation, and youth education for underserved communities. With a background in science, experience in fundraising, and enthusiasm for serving her local community, Amanda also serves on the board of Youth Music Monterey County, and has worked on the Carmel Unified School District Strategic Planning Committee and Community Advisory Committee. Amanda currently volunteers helping provide COVID vaccinations. In her free time, Amanda loves hiking, running, gardening, and playing flute in the Pacific Grove Pops Orchestra. Amanda and her husband Gordon live in Carmel Valley, where they raised their three sons. All three boys spent many happy summers participating in the VWS summer camps.
Dr. Rebeca Andrade has 25 years of public school experience, ranging from classroom teaching to central office administration and currently the Superintendent of Salinas City Elementary School District. Her service also includes leading early education and expanded learning, two systems that provide a human developmental and social emotional focus in Pre K - 8th grades. Dr. Andrade has presented at various state educational conferences and her academic research focuses on STEM practices, policies, and implementation in all learning ecosystems. She has served on the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA) Board, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 15 Board, USC Alumni Board (San Gabriel Valley Chapter), and on the state's Expanded Learning Division sustainability workgroup. She currently serves on the ACSA Region 10 Board. She mentors a first-generation student at CSUMB through the “Pay It Forward” program, and has served as mentor for doctoral students at USC and educational leaders through the CALSA mentoring program. Dr. Andrade received her bachelor of arts from the University of Southern California, her master of arts from Loyola Marymount University, and her doctorate of education in educational leadership from USC.
A Monterey based attorney specializing in land use and real estate law. From 2001 to 2017 he served as the District Director for Congressman Sam Farr and briefly as a Special Assistant to Rep Jimmy Panetta. Prior to 2001, Alec also held legislative staff positions for Congressman Farr and Senator Barbara Boxer in Washington DC. In his Congressional staff work, Alec frequently touched on natural resources and wildlife conservation policy. He even had the opportunity to regularly interface with VWS leadership to support Condor Recovery. Alec lives in Salinas. His son is a High School student and his daughter is studying Marine Biology at UCLA.
A recent retiree of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with 35 years of experience in wildlife conservation work. As the former Condor coordinator and Manager of the Migratory Birds Program for USFWS, Pacific Southwest Region, Amedee brings a vast wealth of knowledge to the condor recovery efforts here on the central coast. Her experience in conservation science, public relations, strategic planning and insight into the workings of the government sector, are an invaluable asset to the recovery, conservation and educational goals of Ventana Wildlife Society. Amedee lives and works in Fair Oaks, CA where she enjoys making jewelry and spending time in the outdoors with her family hiking, bird watching and kayaking.
Growing up on his family’s fourth generation cattle ranch in southern Monterey County, is where Mason's love of the outdoors was deeply embedded in his daily life. In 2012, Mason completed his bachelor's degree from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. He currently works for Farm Credit West in Templeton, CA as a Chattel Evaluator. Mason also manages his family’s rotational cow-calf operation and serves as Vice President of the Monterey County Cattlemen’s Association. Mason presently lives in Monterey County with his wife, Haley. In his free time, Mason enjoys camping, fishing and spending as much time as he can in the outdoors.
A 45 year veteran of farming in Imperial Valley, CA, Since the founding of Osterkamp farms in 1946, Mark and his family have supported land preservation, water conservation and wildlife protection in Southern California. Mark brings a wealth of knowledge in land management, finance and real estate to the Ventana Wildlife Society board. He has previously volunteered as the Chairman of Farm Water Conservation Advisory for the Imperial County Farm Bureau and worked on the audit committee in a directorship position for Farm Credit West Bank. Mark lives and works in Imperial Valley with his wife Marcy. In his spare time Mark enjoys being in the outdoors hiking, golfing, fishing, flying and scuba diving.
Provided the Monterey Peninsula above and beyond with his career as a CPA. Jay has served as President of the Monterey Museum of Art, Vice President of Arts Habitat, tax preparer for low-income seniors at Alliance on Aging, and Treasurer and Board member of the Point Lobos Foundation. In addition to his role on our board, he is a docent at Point Sur Light Station, a volunteer for VNA Hospice, and a 23-year volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He is a Mississippi native who fell in love with the central coast during basic training at Fort Ord in 1962. He now enjoys hiking and photography here on the coast with his wife Pat. Together, they enjoy traveling and spending time with their son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren in Oregon.
A Monterey Peninsula local who originally grew up in Soledad to farm working parents. Working in the celery fields throughout Monterey County gave him the motivation to pursue a college degree. He is now the Director of TRIO Upward Bound Programs at Hartnell College. Cesar is deeply connected to Spanish speaking communities in Monterey County and has had the privilege of working with low income and first-generation youth for the past 23 years. His expertise in cultural awareness education, youth empowerment and student development skills are invaluable to the educational efforts of the Ventana Wildlife Society youth outreach programs. In his free time, Cesar shares his knowledge with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County where he presents workshops about college awareness. Cesar also enjoys history, arts and culture of indigenous people of the Americas, Dia de los Muertos art, golfing, and playing guitar.
William R Hearst III
Venture Capital and Philanthropy
DVM, Carmel Valley
Fenton & Keller Attorneys at Law
FMunger, Tolles & Olson Attorneys at Law
ventana wildlife society
9699 Blue Larkspur Lane, Ste 105
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 455-9514 | fax (831) 455-2846
Ventana Wildlife Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization | Federal EIN 94-2795935