Board of Directors & Advisors

Sacred Groves Board of Directors

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David Katz, Board President

Over the past three decades David has been extensively involved in natural resource management as an entrepreneur, consultant, and land management professional with wide experience in the conservation and agricultural sectors.

He has extensive experience in managing complex real estate transactions.  He is well versed in regulatory and management issues related to ranching, food production and processing, timberland management, carbon projects, wetlands, and conservation easements.

David played a pivotal role in the creation of the organic food movement. He was one of the first sustainable farming visionaries to introduce certified organic products to the California market in the early 1970s. He co-founded California Certified Organic Farmers, and was a founding board member of the Organic Farming Research Foundation in 1992.

He served as Executive Director of the Sonoma Land Trust, and as California Director of Trout Unlimited. Earlier, he founded Ag Access Corporation, an agricultural book publisher and leading provider of agricultural information servicesHe served (Governor’s appointment) as President of the California Reclamation Board, and testified to Congress on numerous occasions. David's consulting work includes ecosystem-scale land conservation, farm planning and food systems, business advising for forest and agricultural landowners, and managing complex land transactions.

He has long been active as an advisor, consultant, and participant in many types of conservation and land related real estate projects. He specializes in conservation transactions that can help landowners protect land resources and also earn income or tax benefits form the conservation efforts.  He holds a B.S. in agriculture from UC Davis and a Masters Degree from the Yale School of Forestry. He holds CA Real Estate License 01739519.

Brian Mistler

Brian Mistler, CFO and Board Treasurer

Brian Mistler is the principal consultant for Mistler & Associates, working with family-owned businesses, hospitals, non-profits, and Founders/CEOs to support sustainable, ethical enterprise and multi-generational transition/exit planning. A retired healthcare executive for private, public, and non-profit organizations, including COO, CFO, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Senior Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Former Executive Director of the Student Health Center at Cal Poly Humboldt, and President of palliative-care-focused ResolutionCare.
B.S./B.A. Philosophy, Computer Science, and Humanities from Stetson University, M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford, Postgrad Cert. in Financial Management from Cornell, Lean Six Sigma Cert. from McGill, and a PhD from the University of Florida focused on Higher Order Change for Individuals and Organizations.

Dr. Mistler serves as Sacred Grove's CFO and Board Treasurer.

Nikki

Nikki Chambers

Nikki Chambers is a biology educator and part-time researcher in Southern California. After retiring from a career as a K-12 classroom teacher, master teacher, and teacher ambassador for various academic and research institutions, which included recognition as one of California’s Teachers of the Year, she now focuses on informal education and outreach for all ages in a variety of conservation biology settings and ecosystem reserves.

Her ongoing research focuses on the effect of climate change on invertebrates, and she connects her research to a wider audience by developing curriculum that bridges the K-12 and post-secondary worlds. Strengths she brings to the Board include effective interpersonal and written communication, organizing and streamlining processes, and applying an analytical view to multi-level projects and processes.

As a woman of science, she has an enduring passion for understanding ecosystem dynamics and multi-tiered biological networks. She has an abiding sense of wonder at the interconnectedness of all parts of the natural world. She and her family share a commitment to green conservation burial as an integral part of that interconnectedness.

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Denise Newman

Denise Newman is a Projects Coordinator with Redwood Community Action Agency’s Natural Resources Service division. For the past two decades she has managed and implemented natural and cultural interpretive sign designs for regional trail systems and watershed-based K-12 environmental education programming.

Denise received her masters in Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation from Cal Poly Humboldt and has lectured Outdoor Education and Environmental Interpretation courses. She works collaboratively with project partners from government agencies, Tribes, and non-profit land-managing organizations to deliver natural resource messaging to the public.

She most recently received training as a Climate Stewards Instructor through UC Agriculture and Natural Resources department. She also trained as a Death Doula with Final Passages, institute of conscious dying, home funeral and green burial education. Her committed passions for eco-conscious end of life decisions and burial led her to Sacred Groves.

 

Joyce

Joyce King

I'm a mother, grandmother, and lover of nature, family, friends, art, truth, cultural diversity, and environmental advocacy.

Educated in life sciences and occupational therapy, and a board member of McKinleyville Land Trust since 2009, preservation of native ecosystems is a top priority, and reason for my interest in conservation burial.

If I had a motto, it would probably be my hope to leave this earth with little trace of my material presence and only the better parts of my spiritual one.

 

Rebecca

Rebecca Stauffer, MD

he Rebecca grew up and graduated from medical school in Canada, completed a residency in pediatrics at Stanford, and practiced medicine in Humboldt County from 1985 - 2011, initially in pediatric private practice, followed by Public Health, and ending as HSU Student Health and Counseling Director.

Her interest in green burial was sparked when she heard a lecture by Michael Furniss and she has been enthusiastically encouraging him since then to seriously pursue the idea locally.

Her other current interests include food growing, fruit tree grafting, and nativizing their small acreage, permaculture style. A section of the space is dedicated to a private dog park for reactive dogs to come and play off leash. She enjoys artistic dalliances with encaustic and fibre.

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Tim Colbourne

Tim Colbourne is a policy analyst and strategic adviser with 25 years' experience working across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Originally from the UK, he started his career working in the prison system, before joining the Howard League, the world's oldest prison reform charity.

He advised the UK Liberal Democrat Party on law and order issues from 2001-2006, and served as a senior government adviser in 10 Downing Street from 2010-15 with a diverse portfolio including national security, civil liberties and welfare. He relocated to California in 2019 and currently advises the President of Global Affairs at Meta (formerly Facebook) on policy and communications.

He holds a degree in Social and Political Science from Cambridge University and a Masters in Social Policy from the London School of Economics. He is passionate about nature, and about restoring the connections between humans, our communities and our natural environment.

Michelle

Michelle Best

Michelle Best is a social impact strategic advisor and operating partner with over 20 years experience building teams and global programs at the intersection of technology, nonprofits, and philanthropy.

Most recently Michelle led Social Impact Partnerships for Meta where she helped launch their nonprofit sector capacity building program and the nonprofit business vertical serving nonprofit organizations globally.

She has also held executive leadership positions with The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Salesforce.org. Michelle has consulted with a myriad of organizations across the social impact, education technology, and nonprofit sector

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Nancy Finkle

As a lifelong educator and community-builder, Nancy began studying human end-of-life needs and healing from loss in 2012. Her own experiences with death, bereavement, and soul-mending propelled her to seek a new career after working as an Academic Adviser, and later Assistant Director for Academic Advising, at UC Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science for 21 years. By 2019, Nancy completed trainings in Life-Cycle Celebrancy (co-creating and officiating ceremonies), Home Funeral Guidance and Green Burial, became an End-of-Life (EOL) Doula, founded her own business, and joined a network of EOL Doulas in the Oakland-Berkeley/ SF Bay Area. Presently, she works with EOL clients, their communities of care, hospice and palliative care groups in direct EOL support; she also created and maintains a 100+ member EOL Learning Community that strives to connect EOL professionals with each other and with resources to continually learn about death/dying and grief, inclusive and healing practices to ease fear of death, medical aid in dying, a range of disposition methods, legal and policy aspects of EOL care, and more.

Nancy grew up in the SF Bay Area, is fluent in Spanish (learned as a Rural Health Education Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, 1986-88), has a BA in Psychology (UC Berkeley, 1985) and an MA in International Education (The American University, Washington, DC, 1990). Outside of work, her interests include hiking, biking, botany, promoting social justice, travel, keeping abreast of news and politics, and, as time permits, staying in touch with old friends and former students. Nancy lives in Oakland (CA), is married, and has no children.

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Kerryanna Reynolds, Board Secretary

Kerryanna Reynolds is a dedicated environmental educator and community facilitator based in Arcata, CA. For the past five years, Kerryanna has been instrumental in promoting and advancing grassroots environmental stewardship and fire resilience projects at Trees Foundation.

With a profound commitment to supporting Indigenous cultural revitalization, Kerryanna has assisted the advancement of inspiring Indigenous-led land stewardship projects. Drawing from her academic background, Kerryanna merges storytelling and communication skills with environmental expertise to advance tangible and meaningful change. Kerryanna holds a bachelor’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in environmental education from the Audubon Expedition Institute of Lesley University.

Gretchen

Gretchen Ziegler

I spent the first 28 years of my life in Topeka Kansas, where I developed a love of animals and nature, and a yearning for the Pacific Northwest where my family vacationed occasionally. After receiving a degree in Biology from Kansas State University, I worked at the Topeka Zoo for 6 years before heading to my dream locale working at the Wildlife Safari in southern Oregon. I moved to Eureka in 1995 for a job at Sequoia Park Zoo, and spent the bulk of my professional career there helping guide the small zoo into an award-winning educational facility.

I retired during the pandemic and enjoy volunteering for various organizations. I also served on the board of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Humboldt for many years and helped advocate for green burials and home death care. My grandfather was a funeral director in a small town in western Kansas, so perhaps it runs in the family. I believe that a natural burial is the best way to give a final thank you to this incredible planet that created us all. I am grateful for the opportunity to help bring awareness of natural dying and burial options to Humboldt County.

Managers

Furniss

Michael Furniss, Executive Director

Michael is a wildland soil scientist who recently retired from the research branch of the Forest Service. He teaches and consults on climate change and ecological approaches to forest management, both regionally, nationally, and internationally, in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Jamaica, and Israel.
He is an expert in the climate vulnerability of infrastructure and has conducted large-scale infrastructure vulnerability assessments on public lands in 11 western states and internationally. Michael is an expert in natural and green cemetery development and cemetery forestry.
He is obsessed with cultivating communities of practice and effective communication to make a better world. He is a longtime member of Arcata’s Forest Management Advisory Committee, which governs Arcata’s Community Forest, and a longtime board member of the Smith River Alliance. He holds a B.S. in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.S. in Soil Science with a Forest Watershed Management Emphasis from the University of California at Berkeley.
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Eric Almquist, Landowner

California born and raised, lived most my life along the coast, and now 54 yrs in Humboldt. Never a "good" student, I did manage to achieve an Associates of Arts degree from Cabrillo College, in ceramics. Arrived in Humboldt attracted by the rural environment, kept busy as a self-taught carpenter, woodworker, to home builder which evolved into lumber sales, and developing properties to accommodate those interests.
Founder and owner of Prowood Inc/Almquist Lumber Co, ERA Forest LLC, and our Kneeland property Black Dog Woodlands. Married to Mary, this our 50th anniversary, and one son Soren. 16 gallon blood donor. Supporter, contributor, and host (Karuna Rescue Humboldt) to a variety of mostly local, some national animal welfare, conservation, wildlife, and environmental groups. Activities and recreation centers on ranch work, forestry, modest carpentry projects, and home life.

Board of Advisors

Andy Alm
Marie Antoine
Bill Atkinson
Bodhi Be
Candice Bell
Steen Christiansen
Michael Fratkin, MD
Tracy Jordan French

Anna Furniss
Kristina Hellum
Rus Krause
Rick Littlefield
Steve Sillett
Therese Scott
Dan Tagney
Jennifer Wheeler
Georgianna Wood

Our Memberships