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Our Team

CWH employs professionals with expertise and experience in watershed resource planning using GIS, green infrastructure, environmental assessment and community engagement. 

Eileen Alduenda
Executive Director

Eileen Alduenda is responsible for management of the Elmer Paseo construction and maintenance. She also provides support for projects seeking to integrate LID principles and practices into site design. Eileen has an MLA with a focus on urban ecological systems from the University of Washington where she also completed research for Seattle Public Utilities on Natural Drainage Systems – SPU’s approach to Low Impact Development. 

Prior to joining the Council, she was the Watershed Coordinator for the Arroyo Seco Foundation where she facilitated restoration education programs and projects. Previously, Eileen worked for the Tucson Institute for Sustainable Communities developing and managing community initiatives on green building, energy and water conservation education, and rainwater harvesting projects. She also worked for Conservation Services Group as a Business Development Specialist for energy and water utility demand-side management programs. 

Eileen graduated from Boston University with an MA in Energy and Environmental Studies, and from California State University at Fullerton with a BA in Political Science.  She is currently working on redesigning her home landscape to capture rain water. When not in the garden, she is on the lookout for school landscapes designed to engage students with natural processes.

Contact: eileen at watershedhealth dot org

Rumi Yanakiev
Director, Finance & Operations

Rumi was the first employee of the Council. She has taken on various responsibilities throughout the years of the organization’s existence, contributing tremendously to the organization’s growth. She is currently managing the business and financial affairs of the Council, including nonprofit auditing,  and providing technical assistance to projects. Prior to joining the Council she was an Assistant Researcher at USC where she completed her Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering. Rumi also received a M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of
Sophia, Bulgaria.

Contact: rumi at watershedhealth dot org

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Drew Ready 
Senior Project Manager

Mr. Ready is a Certified Arborist, Water Conservation Specialist, and Watershed Coordinator with over twenty years of experience in the fields of arboriculture, urban forestry, horticulture, ecological restoration and landscape design. He served as the Department of Conservation funded Watershed Coordinator (Los Angeles/San Gabriel Watersheds) at CWH for 11 years where he led innovative initiatives including the Sustainable Landscape Seminars, the Landscaping Lightly calendar series, the Weed Watch invasive plant education program, and the PlantProfiler
native/water-efficient plant app. Mr. Ready helped co-develop LAUSD’s Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools (DROPS) that was successfully awarded five million dollars for stormwater improvements at six elementary schools. Most recently, Drew was the Conservation Programs Manager
at Chino Basin Water Conservation District in Montclair before returning to CWH in July 2019.

Contact: drew at watershedhealth dot org

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Carlos Moran 
Sr. Program Manager | SCWP Watershed Coordinator

With advanced degrees in social work, Carlos Moran’s experience includes designing and implementing high impact strategies that intersect mental health, public health and environmental justice. He regularly engages diverse stakeholders to advance placed based solutions that drive large scale, multi-benefit investments in LA’s most economically, environmentally and health stressed communities. 

 

His macro social work experience includes environmental justice planning, environmental justice, community organizing, mental health, public health, program and budget design, needs assessments & evaluation, social and environmental policy, management, project development and financing.  

 

He regularly engages local Cities, County, and State agencies and elected officials to address global climate change at the local level through policy change, policy implementation, and placed based solutions that drive large scale infrastructure investments in urban areas.

 

Carlos has played a role in advancing large scale multi-benefit projects throughout the LA Region. In addition to environmental justice planning he has also led teams that engaged tens of thousands of Angelenos and especially those from the most environmentally and economically stressed communities to plant thousands of trees, capture stormwater, and become stewards of their environment. Previously he led a partnership of community-based organizations that empowered children, youth and families to transform an abandoned bread factory in South Los Angeles into a multi-service social service center serving over 3,000 beneficiaries per year.

 

Carlos also serves as adjunct faculty in the USC  Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. He teaches graduate courses on policy, research and program evaluation, and human behavior. He integrates real-world knowledge into the classroom environment through his depth of skills in environmental justice planning, public policy, management, research and evaluation, children & youth, leadership, and mental health. 

 

To balance life he enjoys anything outdoors especially hiking, backpacking and snowboarding.

Contact: carlos at watershedhealth dot org

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Amanda Zeidner
Project Manager for Community Planning

Amanda is the project manager for community planning. She supports CWH’s community based organization capacity building program, ReDesignLA. Amanda supports community based organizations, schools, and small municipalitiies across Los Angeles County in developing multi-benefit, community-centered green infrastructure projects. Additionally, she supports the watershed coordination team to implement engagement and outreach activities for the Safe, Clean Water Program, and has assisted with the Disadvantaged Community Involvement Program (DACIP). She graduated from UCLA with a Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) and Occidental College with a B.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy and Education. With a background in community organizing, popular education, and design, she is often thinking about creating and leveraging community power for environmental, economic, and racial justice.

 

Amanda completed her Master’s thesis on popular education tools used for street vendor education in New York, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica. At Occidental, she completed a Senior thesis with honors on the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics and displacement. Previous to CWH Amanda has worked on several community campaigns and issues including but not limited to the legalization of street vending in Los Angeles and California, Measure WW in Long Beach, and the cost of eviction in Los Angeles.

 

She enjoys working on art and knitting projects, exploring the food scene in Los Angeles, and hiking her way through state and national parks.

Contact: azeidner at watershedhealth dot org

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Alonso Garcia 
Community Communications Coordinator

Alonso supports online and in-person education, engagement and outreach. He graduated from UCSB with a BA in Film and Media studies. He has a background in environmental education, wildland restoration, community engagement, marketing & communications, and providing technical support to small businesses within his community.  

 

Alonso has been able to bridge his passion of photography and video to support grassroots efforts, community based organizations and nonprofits in his home town located in LA’s North East San Fernando Valley. He has worked alongside parent leaders to plant trees and native plants in schools and provide culturally relevant E-STEAM focused programming to third graders and their families. He also helped guide restoration efforts in fire scarred areas of the Angeles National Forest.

 

Alonso enjoys listening to music (anything from cumbias to hip hop), eating ice cream and watching Angels baseball.

Contact: agarcia at watershedhealth dot org

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Kathy O'Connell
Assistant Operations Manager

Kathy O’Connell comes to the Council from the entertainment industry, where she worked for over 20 years in post-production, supervising teams for 15 television series. She's thrilled to be able to use her project management skills to help the Council work more efficiently and do more good work.

 

Kathy’s passion for sustainable living and zero waste inspired her to help oversee the DVD screener recycling program for the Producers Guild of America. She's also an active volunteer for Burbank’s “Waste Warriors,” a citizen sustainability program.

Kathy received a B.A. in Communications from California State University, Fullerton.  In her free time, she enjoys home design and senior dogs.

 

Contact: koconnell at watershedhealth dot org

Jason Casanova
Director, Planning &
Information Design | SCWP Watershed Coord.

As the Director of Planning and Informational Design at the Council, Cas currently oversees the Council's habitat restoration, green infrastructure, and technical assistance programs. Along with Carlos, Cas currently serves as one of the Council's two Upper Los Angeles River Watershed Coordinators under the Safe Clean Water Program. In addition, Cas's work has focused on Arundo eradication implementation locally and across the State for the past 15 years. Lastly, his core work continues around expanding ReDesign LA, a large-scale technical assistance and capacity building program that empowers community-based organizations in under-resourced communities to partner on and develop multi-benefit green infrastructure projects.

Jason has a background in physical geography with an emphasis in cartography and visualization. He received his B.A. in Geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999. Previous to working at the Council, he was a Research Associate at the Geographic Modeling Systems Lab where he was involved in various GIS related projects tied to quality assurance/ quality control measures, historic aerial photo restoration, urban growth series mapping, watershed management, and 3D hydrologic modeling. In his spare time, Jason served on the California Invasive Plant Council (a statewide 501(c)3 non-profit) for 11 years and he is a long-standing member of NACIS, SCGIS, and AAG. He has an interest in Polynesian art, mid-century design, and loud music. Aloha!

Contact: cas at watershedhealth dot org

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Yareli Sanchez
Senior Scientist

Yareli Sanchez is the technical lead on CWH's applied research projects. She provides technical expertise on stream monitoring and on measuring the performance of green infrastructure projects. She has a well-rounded and multidisciplinary understanding of environmental issues and has honed her expertise in science communication and community engagement while at CWH. Yareli  manages the Los Angeles River Watershed Monitoring Program and the monitoring, outreach, and educational components of the Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools (DROPS). She also played a critical role in materializing CWH's 2018 State of the Watershed symposia. 

 

Yareli's academic research has focused on nutrient cycling, urban ecology, riparian ecology, and plant ecophysiology. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Environmental Science and Engineering Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation is focused on: the use of citizen science data to understand habitat requirements for riparian bird species, quantifying the habitat value of green infrastructure projects in the urban core, and understanding recreational uses along the Los Angeles River using social media data. Yareli's previous research has focused on trace gas fluxes in mangrove forest, sediment augmentation as a sea level rise mitigation strategy, and the ecophysiological stress response of salt marsh plants to inundation.  

 

Yareli was previously a NOAA Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in the U.S. Senate where she had the opportunity to gain hands on experience crafting policy solutions to water resource challenges, engaging constituents and federal agencies on environmental issues, and in elevating state priorities through the federal appropriations process. 

 

She received her M.S. in ecology from San Diego State University and a B.S. in Biology from California State University, Fullerton. Yareli is looking forward to completing her dissertation. 

 

Contact: yareli at watershedhealth dot org

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Andrea Dell'Apa, Ph.D.
Project Manager

Andrea Dell’Apa is the Project Manager for the Los Angeles River Fish Passage and Habitat Structures Design (LAR FPHS) Project. Originally from Italy (Rome), he earned a MS in Marine Biology from Universita’ Politecnica delle Marche (Italy), a Ph.D. in Coastal Resources Management from East Carolina University, and a graduate certificate in GIS from the University of South Florida.

Andrea has over 14 years of experience in environmental science, management, policy and education, and particularly in regard to estuarine, coastal and marine habitats and ecosystems, and fish biology/ecology, restoration and management. He is an interdisciplinary scientist and manager with a focus on enhancing sustainable management of natural resources, primarily fish and their habitats. His research interest is in socio-environmental dynamics of natural resources and conservation planning, for which he published the results of his studies in several prestigious international journals. Prior to joining CWH, Andrea was a consultant at Florida Wildlife Federation for a project aimed to guide the development of a fishery ecosystem plan for the Gulf of Mexico. Previously, he worked as Marine Restoration Specialist in the Gulf Restoration Program at Ocean Conservancy to lead the development of science-based marine and fisheries restoration projects for consideration by the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Trustee. He also worked as contractor at the NMFS’s Office of Habitat Conservation to support the work of the NRDA’s team for the restoration of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Andrea was also a Knauss Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellow (2014) at the NMFS’s Office of Management and Budget, where he supported work aimed to document the status of ecosystem-based management (EBM) across federal agencies, and advance federal efforts on coastal and marine EBM.

He enjoys outdoor activities (better if in the water), live music, watching European soccer, and to keep abreast of shark-related scientific discoveries and conservation planning.

Contact: adellapa at watershedhealth dot org

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Clarasophia Gust
Watershed Coordinator

Clarasophia Gust provides support towards the Council for Watershed Health’s monitoring projects, community events, and technical assistance for green infrastructure. She recently graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Biology with an Environmental Science emphasis and a minor in Philosophy. 

 

During her undergraduate studies, she conducted ecological ethics research driven by her interest in how ecologists can cultivate meaningful connections between nature and communities, and how scientific research can be better communicated to implicated communities. She also studied mangrove crabs in Tanzania, lichen communities in Joshua Tree National Park, and native bees in Southern California. Clarasophia interned with the Society for Ecological Restoration where she expanded their database of global restoration projects, compiled resources for practitioners, and provided support to their practitioner certification program. In the future, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D in Urban Ecology. 

 

In her free time, Clarasophia enjoys camping and playing Ultimate Frisbee. 

Contact: cgust at watershedhealth dot org

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Elise Eberhard 
GIS Analyst & Digital Communication

At the Council, Elise’s work is at the intersection of science, technology and communication and engagement. For three years, she has led CWH public relations and outreach activities lending to her skills in graphic design, marketing, communications and event planning while also supporting a variety of projects utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Through her undergraduate degree and strengthened by her work experience, Elise is trained equally in physical geography, GIS and principles of sustainability and has refined her knowledge with CWH in key areas of watershed science, social science and landscape water use efficiency for schools.
 

From historic wetland mapping of the Bay Area, invasive weed and irrigation system mapping, to the geographic study of complex environmental relationships on biodiversity and groundwater pollution risk, Elise has built her expertise to address a host of environmental problems using ArcGIS. She regularly digitizes geographic information for CWH projects and practices principles of graphic design through digital cartography.

 

In 2019, as part of the CWH Campus Water Connections (CWC) Program, Elise created a unique K-12 school dataset composed of several school layers and government-sponsored school records including campus pollution burden and economic need. Through CWC, Elise is researching best practices for landscape water conservation programs for schools, engaging stakeholders, and administering surveys to provide targeted technical assistance to school districts in pursuit of landscape and stormwater projects.

 

Elise is passionate about urban sustainability, equity and  community resilience and enjoys traveling, camping, cats and good vegan food!

Contact: eeberhard at watershedhealth dot org

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Belle Zheng 
Staff Scientist

Belle Zheng provides technical support towards CWH’s applied research, watershed monitoring projects, data analysis, and scientific study design. She received her M.S. In Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology and B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California Santa Cruz. Go Banana Slugs!

 

Her academic research has focused on the chemistry and environmental toxicology of heavy metals with an emphasis on environmental mercury cycling. She completed her Master’s thesis on analyzing lichen as a low-cost bioindicator for atmospheric mercury deposition at abandoned mercury mines in the San Jose, CA. The project used an interdisciplinary approach that combined historical records, large environmental chemistry data sets, GIS models, and analytical chemistry methods. Her undergraduate research examined the contribution of marine fog on methylmercury (MMHg) bioaccumulation on a coastal terrestrial food web where she focused on using lichen as a bioindicator of atmospheric MMHg.

 

Outside the office she enjoys travelling, painting, sewing, and learning new craft skills.

Contact: bzheng at watershedhealth dot org

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