2023 Spring Conference

Let’s get to work. Together. 
May 9–12, 2023
Online, In Person, and On The Land 

2023 Spring Conference

Want to meet the people who are meeting the moment? Join us!

Everyone who works for climate resilience and social equity is encouraged to attend and participate! This year’s conference is for folks who want to get things done. Who want to get their hands dirty. Who walk in with questions and want to walk out (or dance out!) with answers.

Three big topics are on the agenda. From the main stage and in small groups, we will work together on how to: 


Access public funding for crises like flooding and fires, for land conservation efforts like 30×30, for land stewardship and restoration, and for environmental justice and equitable access to the outdoors.


Increase and diversify the workforce for nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, and build meaningful career pathways within our organizations.


Be an ally to and build alliances with Native American tribes and communities for healthy lands, people, and communities. 


Conference registration opens on March 21! Purchase by April 21 for $10 off. Your conference ticket includes access to the virtual kickoff online, the in-person conference at the Craneway Pavilion, and one field trip on the land (on either May 11 or 12). 

TOGETHER Bay Area members

Early Bird Ticket Pricing: $169

Regular Ticket Pricing: $179

General Admission

Early Bird Ticket Pricing: $189

Regular Ticket Pricing: $199

Registration is a two-step process:

Step 1

  • Purchase your tickets through EventBrite.
  • Got a group from your organization planning to attend? Great! For group tickets, please use the following codes at checkout:
    • 5–11 tickets from one organization, receive a 10% discount: SPRING10
    • 12 or more tickets from one organization receive a 15% discount: SPRING15

Step 2:

  • Once you purchase tickets, you’ll receive a link to the Attend & Participate Form to complete the second part of your registration. All attendees must complete this form. This is where you’ll sign up for a field trip, indicate which workshop(s) you’re interested in attending, and share other essential information for attending! Priority deadline for the Attend & Participate Form is Thursday, May 4.

We invite everyone to the conference who wants to attend, regardless of ability to contribute financially. If cost is a barrier to attend, please reach out to us at [email protected]! Discounts are available and we’d love to hear from you.


Tuesday, May 9 | Virtual kickoff online from 9:00–10:30 am

Wednesday, May 10 | All-day, in-person conference at the Craneway Pavilion, Richmond

Thursday and Friday, May 11–12 | Field trips on the land co-hosted by TOGETHER Bay Area members

Tuesday, May 9 | Virtual (Zoom)

9:00–10:30 am

Conversation with California State Parks Director Armando Quintero and TOGETHER Bay Area’s executive director, Annie Burke

Wednesday, May 10 | Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA

8:00 am

Doors open, visit the exhibitors, enjoy some coffee, and delicious breakfast foods await you.

9:00 am

Program begins with opening remarks from Melanie Parker, TOGETHER’s Board Vice President, plus stories about food and land by Crystal Wahpepah of Wahpepah’s Kitchen.

10:00 am

“Fast Friends” – North, South, East, West, Issues and Ideas.

11:00 am

Live Q&A with Dr. Daniel Swain about weather, climate change, and what it all means on the ground. Moderated by Tom Robinson.

12:00 pm

Lunch catered by Wahpepah’s Kitchen. Lunchtime activities include:

  • A birding walk with Golden Gate Audubon
  • A mini bioblitz around the Craneway (there’s a low tide!) guided by California Academy of Sciences
  • The Create with Nature zone hosted by Patricia Weber in collaboration with a network of Bay Area children & nature programs
  • Free bike rentals courtesy of REI
  • A visit to the Rosie the Riveter visitor center will be available.
1:15 pm

Sing your way back to the main stage with Megan Nguyen, then listen to stories of Meeting the Moment with Misti Arias, Ana Ruiz, Chris Lehnertz, Lily Verdone, and Andrea Mackenzie.

2:30 pm

Concurrent Workshops: Accessing Public Funding, Workforce Development, and Allies and Alliances with Native American Tribes and Communities. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get work done together! See who you’ll meet and what you’ll learn in the workshops here.

3:30 pm

Closing plenary with Annie Burke about relationships, resilience, and transformation. And we’ll close the program with special guests, The Round Valley Feather Dancers

4:45 pm

Reception! Drinks, bites, celebration.

6:30 pm

Homeward bound

Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 | Field trips on the land

Varying times

TOGETHER Bay Area members will host 9 incredible field trips over the two days. Click here to learn more about the field trips

Tuesday, May 9 | Virtual (Zoom)

9:00–10:30 am

Conversation with California State Parks Director Armando Quintero and TOGETHER Bay Area’s executive director, Annie Burke

Wednesday, May 10 | Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA

8:00 am
Doors open, exhibitors, coffee, and breakfast foods await you
9:00 am
Program begins with opening remarks from Andrea Mackenzie, TOGETHER’s Board President, stories about food and land by Crystal Wahpepah, and other speakers to be announced
10:00 am
Fast Friends” structured networking
11:00 am
Live Q&A with Dr. Daniel Swain about weather, climate change, and what it all means on the ground
12:00 pm

Lunch catered by Wahpepah’s Kitchen. Lunchtime activities including a birding walk, a mini bioblitz around the Craneway (there’s a low tide!), Create with Nature zone, and a visit to the Rosie the Riveter center next to the Craneway will be available.

1:15 pm
Stories of Meeting the Moment, speakers to be announced

2:30 pm

Concurrent Workshops: Accessing Public Funding, Workforce Development, Allies and Alliances. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get work done together! See who you’ll meet and what you’ll learn in the workshops here.
3:30 pm
Closing plenary with special guests to be announced
4:30 pm
6:00 pm
Homeward bound

Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 | Field trips on the land

Varying times
TOGETHER Bay Area members will host 9 incredible field trips over the two days. Click here to learn more about the field trips


Blanca Hernández, Yakuta Poonawalla, and Annie Burke will serve as this year’s Emcees!

Special Guests

The Round Valley Feather Dancers

The Round Valley Feather Dancers represents every tribe within the Round Valley Indian Reservation – Pomo, Wailacki, Yuki, Pitriver, Little Lake, Nomlaki, and Concow.

Speakers and storytellers

Armando Quintero headshot

Armando Quintero has served as director for the California Department of Parks and Recreation since September 1, 2020. An experienced parks professional with expertise in park operations, outdoor education, equity and access, and diversity and inclusion in hiring and retention, Quintero is an environmental scientist by training. Since 2015, he was the executive director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at the University of California, Merced, where he was also director of development from 2008 to 2014. He also served as a member and Chairman of the California Water Commission from 2014 to 2020.

Watch a recording of Director Quintero’s talk here

Chef Crystal Wahpepah is an enrolled member of the Kickapoo nation of Oklahoma. She was born and raised in Oakland, California, on Ohlone land, surrounded by a multi-tribal, tight-knit, urban Native community. She received the Indigenous Artist Activist Award and has been inducted into the Native American Almanac for being one of the first Native American women to own a catering business. She has traveled all over the country attending food summits and building networks with other Native American and Indigenous farmers, land stewards and chefs.

Wahpepah’s Kitchen will be catering the event at the Craneway, and Crystal will speak on where her food comes from and honors its roots, its Indigenous cultivators and stewards, and its place within the seasons.

Melanie Parker conference headshot

Melanie Parker is the deputy director at Sonoma County Regional Parks and the vice president of the board of Together Bay Area. She has worked at the nexus of community and conservation for over two decades, including co-chairing the Crown of the Continent Forest Collaborative near Glacier National Park, leading the Montana Legacy Project to invest in restoration and protect land across 110,000 acres in the Northern Rockies, and serving as the executive director of Northwest Connections, a non-profit engaging tribes, public agencies, land trusts, university students and rural community members in field-based conservation initiatives.

Headshot of Dr. Daniel Swain

Dr. Daniel Swain is a climate scientist focused on the dynamics and impacts of extreme events—including droughts, floods, storms, and wildfires—on a warming planet. Daniel holds joint appointments as a research scientist within UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, a research fellow in the Capacity Center for Climate and Weather Extremes at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and as the California Climate Fellow at The Nature Conservancy. He also authors the Weather West blog, which provides real-time perspectives on California and western North American weather and climate, and can be found on Twitter.

Tom Robinson is Principal of Tom Robinson Consulting. Tom directs the Conservation Lands Network project for TOGETHER Bay Area and assists non-profits and municipalities plan for landscape health and climate adaptation. Tom is passionate about increasing the pace and scale of solutions to environmental and societal challenges. He led Sonoma Veg Map and Conservation Lands Network 2.0, and team-developed the Bay Area Greenprint. He holds a bachelor’s degree in ecology from U.C. San Diego, a master’s degree in geographic information science from San Francisco State University, and is a Switzer Environmental Leadership Fellow.

Hello! My name is Megan Nguyen. I am the Asian American daughter of Vietnamese refugee parents. Growing up in Sacramento, CA, I wasn’t exposed to nature until I attended a white water rafting field trip in college that sparked my outdoor journey. This experience inspired me to become a science communicator and rafting guide to teach people about rivers and nature.

In my current role as Community Events Manager at the Peninsula Open Space Trust, I organize events that bring people to nature and nature to people. I envision creating inclusive spaces that bring together diverse groups and allow people of all backgrounds to engage with nature. I use my voice, creativity, and passion to fight for social, racial, and climate justice while building people and community power. My latest event was an LGBTQ+ affinity group birding event called Queers of a Feather. 

Meeting the Moment Panel

Ana Ruiz headshot

Ana María Ruiz is Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s general manager, overseeing the successful implementation of the organization’s mission by more than 180 staff.

Preservation and stewardship of open space are lifelong passions for Ruiz, who began her career with Midpen as a planning technician in 1998. During two decades of ensuing hard work, she took on greater responsibilities and leadership roles within the organization. Rising through the ranks of planners, Ruiz became Midpen’s planning department manager in 2009. She began honing her executive leadership skills as assistant general manager in 2013, and was appointed general manager by the board in June, 2018.

Misti Arias headshot

Misti Arias is the General Manager of Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District (Ag + Open Space). As General Manager, Misti Arias is leading Sonoma County Ag + Open Space as they put into action the Vital Lands Initiative – a multi-year plan to conserve more land in the highest priority areas, to develop tools that make land ownership possible for a diversity of farmers and ranchers, to conserve lands that will help us all adapt to a rapidly changing climate, and to better connect our communities with Sonoma County’s natural and working lands. Misti has worked at Ag + Open Space since 1996, with much of her time spent guiding the conservation of over 75,000 acres of land – for agriculture, greenbelts, recreation, water quality, and plants and wildlife.

Lily Verdone headshot

Lily Verdone joined MALT as Executive Director in August of 2022, the first woman to officially lead the organization since its founding. Prior to joining MALT, Lily was senior director of Coastal Quest, an Oakland-based nonprofit building climate resilience for vulnerable coastal communities. In her more than 20-year career, she has led many initiatives to protect agricultural land, open space and fresh water — working within global organizations such as The Nature Conservancy as well as small, community-based land trusts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a masters of science in biology from Sonoma State University.

Andrea Mackenzie headshot

Andrea Mackenzie is the General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority. Over her career, Andrea has worked for multiple public land conservation agencies to preserve open space, farmland, and biodiversity around the San Francisco Bay Region. In 2016, Andrea was named a Local Conservation Hero by Bay Nature Magazine in the San Francisco Bay Area and in 2020 was named one of the 100 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Andrea is a past fellow of the National Conservation Leadership Institute, is the President of the Board of Directors for Together Bay Area, and serves on the Leadership Advisory Team for the Santa Clara County Climate Collaborative.

Chris Lehnertz headshot

Chris Lehnertz is President & CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. She has worked at the Parks Conservancy since 2019, and treasures the opportunity to help provide transformative experiences to connect people and parks – whether at Muir Woods National Monument, Fort Point National Historic Site, Alcatraz Island, or any of 34 other special places in the national parks of the Bay Area Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy | Parks for all Forever. Before she joined the nonprofit sector, she worked for the National Park Service, an agency of the federal government’s Department of the Interior, that preserves more than 400 national park sites, and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she focused on tribal grant making, environmental justice and community-based environmental protection.


In addition to speakers, exhibits, networking, and food, a portion of the in-person experience on May 10 will be dedicated to concurrent workshops. These are not your typical conference workshops: Think expos with a purpose. These “roll up your sleeves” sessions are about matchmaking, sharing ideas and information, and getting work done together. Visit one, two, or all three workshops and get your work done together.


You will find public funding agencies who can share their funding guidelines, resourceful partners who can share funding opportunities. Meet with:

  • CA Natural Resources Agency
  • State Coastal Conservancy
  • Wildlife Conservation Board
  • California State Parks, grants and local Services
  • San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, federal funding opportunities 


You will find workforce-providing organizations who want to meet workforce-needing organizations. You can talk about seasonal staff, training programs, restoration and stewardship crews, career pathways, and funding opportunities to support all of this work. Meet with: 

  • The Student Conservation Association
  • Merritt College
  • Ecological Workforce Initiative
  • Grassroots Ecology
  • Civicorps
  • Conservation Corps North Bay
  • San Jose Conservation Corps


You will find mini-workshops by Redbud Resource Group, a Native American-led training nonprofit. You will also find TOGETHER Bay Area members telling short stories about being an ally and building alliances. Rotate around the workshop to get inspired, learn, and get tools you can use. Meet with: 

  • Redbud Resource Group
  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) about their partnership with the Muwekma Ohlone
  • California Academy of Sciences about their Indigenous solidarity committee
  • Sonoma County Regional Parks about co-management with Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

Participants brought examples of projects or programs that would benefit from public funding, workforce development, and/or alliances with local Native American communities. They came prepared to meet people, learn a lot, and get work done!


TOGETHER Bay Area member organizations hosted engaging, welcoming field trips for the 2023 conference on May 11 & 12. All Spring Conference tickets included access to a field trip. 

Field Trips are a great opportunity to visit regional landscapes and learn about project details, successes and lessons learned from the folks involved! It’s also an opportunity to spend a day outside, and who doesn’t want that?

Thursday, May 11

Friday, May 12

Presidio Tunnel Tops: Creating a Park for All
10:00 am – 12:00 am

Join Presidio Trust for a walking tour and stories of partnership, public engagement and sustainable design for San Francisco’s new innovative, freeway-top parklands.

India Basin Waterfront Park Project:
Fulfilling a Promise

10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Join San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to learn of plans and partners for transforming a significant 64-acre network of waterfront parkland in an historically underserved community.

Ride Marin’s North-South Greenway and Bay Trail
10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Marin County Bicycle Coalition will lead a modest 9-mile bicycle tour of some of its greatest hits along segments of the North-South Greenway and Bay Trail.

A Visit to The Field Semester:
Creating Place-Based Education 

10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Join the Field Semester for coffee, cornbread, conversation and a tour of their unique educational site in the hills of Port Costa. We’ll share the program’s vision, talk about where we are today, and where we’re heading.

Sonoma Developmental Center Park and Open Space Walking Tour
11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Enjoy a walking tour with Sonoma Land Trust of a unique historic re-use project, open space and wildlife corridor habitat near Jack London State Park.

San Vicente Redwoods:
A Visionary Conservation Project

11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Explore this Santa Cruz County forest with co-hosts Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Save the Redwoods League, and Sempervirens Fund to learn about its conservation, restoration, resilience, and access efforts.

A Rendezvous at Ravenswood Open Space Preserve
1:00 – 3:00 pm

Join Midpeninsula Open Space District on a walking tour of the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve located near East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. The tour will highlight the recent Bay Trail project, which closed a critical gap and included trail construction and wetland restoration.

Richmond Wellness Trail
1:00 – 3:00 pm

Join The Trust for Public Land to walk or bike a recently-completed portion of the Richmond Wellness Trail in the Iron Triangle neighborhood. The street improvements were designed with community and connect residents to Shoreline access.

Sibley Creek Restoration Project
1:00 – 3:00 pm

Set in a deep canyon and rolling grassland hills, tour the East Bay Regional Park District’s largest creek restoration project and the largest creek daylighting project in the East Bay!


What to Bring

This will be an active conference at which you are invited to participate. You are invited to meet new people and build on existing relationships. You are invited to find funding for projects and programs, meet current or potential partners, advance work, make connections, deepen understanding, and more. 

We invite each of you to come to participate, not just attend! 

  • Examples of projects or programs that would benefit from public funding, workforce development, and/or alliances with local Native American communities. Come prepared to talk about the projects or programs.
  • Issues you’re dealing with at work. What issues, topics, and challenges are you struggling with? What is taking a lot of your time these days? 
  • Ideas you’re playing around with. What do you wish you or your organization could do? What are you wondering about?

Getting to the Craneway

Craneway Pavilion
1414 Harbour Way South
Richmond CA 94804

By car

Set your navigation to The Craneway Pavilion. There will be plentiful free parking at the venue. Use this form to make carpool arrangements!


By ferry

The Richmond Ferry Route from San Francisco will drop you off right next to the Craneway. See the ferry schedule here.


Take the Richmond BART line to the last stop. To get from the Richmond BART station to the Craneway, either take Bus 74 to Harbour Way S: Ford Point (10 min, 10 stops) or use Richmond Moves micro-transit service (first 10 rides free when you download the app).


Thank you to our 2023 Spring Conference sponsors, who are leading the way in supporting regional collaboration.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Regional Sponsors

Ecosystem Sponsors

Watershed Sponsors

Park Sponsors


  • You! You and your involvement are what will make the Spring Conference what it is. Will it be meaningful and special? That’s up to you!
  • Annie Burke, TOGETHER’s executive director, leads the planning team to develop a conference vision and agenda that meets your needs!
  • Jen Isacoff is our people organizer and is leading the Ambassador program including field trips, activators, activity leaders, and volunteers. Contact her at [email protected].
  • Laura Rosenthal is our Membership & Communications Coordinator. Reach out to her with any & all questions about sponsorship and tickets! Contact her at [email protected].
  • Meg Loughran and Stanley Bahorek are our strategy and communications leads, and they’re also professional actors and theater producers. Learn more.
  • Alex Roa from TOPO Collective is helping out with registration, customer service, and a fun surprise activity on May 10.
  • Jessica Little and Tom Robinson are contributing to the planning team in fun and thoughtful ways.


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