Celebrating Climate Champions Awardees

  • Posted on 30 April 2019
  • By lfleming

Annual Angeles Chapter Awards Banquet

Sunday May 5, 2019


The Angeles Chapter is proud to present the Annual Chapter Awards to these Climate Champions:




Special Public Policy Award



Chester Versteeg Award



Elna Bakker Nature Interpretation Award



Lori and Robin Ives Excellence in Media Award



Lifelong Service Award



Phil Bernays Service Award



Political Service Award



Special Conservation Award





Extraordinary Achievement Certificate Award

Charles Geller


Certificates for Membership and Fundraising Service

Steve Wicke


Certificates for Conservation Service

Emmy Goldknopf, Kathy Knight, Michael Beck, Hoiyin Ip, Morey Wolfson, Susan Rothrock Deo


Certificates for Outings Service

Homer Tom, Kathy Faulds, Monica Suua, Regge Bulman, Sridhar Gullapalli, Robert Baldwin, Ronald Rosien, Sandy (Sperling) Lara, Patrick McKusky


Certificates for Special Service

Dorothy Gutierrez, Eric Teplitz, Frank Gruber, Grazia Caroselli, Mike and Stephanie Adams, Rachel Glegg, Barbara Hensleigh, Dave Comerzan, Rima Zobayan




Senator Henry I. Stern was elected to the California State Senate   in November of 2016. Since then he has not wavered once in his commitment to his constituents and the environment. He represents the 27th District , encompassing parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and is a champion to remedy one of the most tragic gas leaks in SoCal history, Aliso Canyon. It was widely reported to have been the worst single natural gas leak in U.S. history in terms of its environmental impact. Henry’s SB54 was introduced to the legislators, but failed to get the 2/3 vote. He is still working to have the facility closed. Prior to being elected to the State Senate, he was a senior advisor to Senator Fran Pavley, and an environmental attorney. Henry is the first millennial elected to the California State Senate, and is immensely popular among the youth vote.CERTIFICATES OF ACHIEVEMENT AND SERVICE


William E. “Bill” Simpson has completed the 281- peak list 9 times, but more importantly, he has led an official Sierra Club outing to every peak on the list an eye-popping five times. Bill is also one of the calmest and most knowledgeable leaders you will find on the trail. Further, he has been committed for many years to training new leaders, some of whom today are among HPS’s most active outings leaders. In addition to his outings accomplishments, Bill served as Chairman of the HPS Management Committee in 2013 and 2014. Finally, Bill has given great service to the Chapter, serving on its Executive Committee and in other positions.


Nadia V. Wilson is a 4th grade student at Vintage STEM Magnet Elementary, a Title 1 School in Los Angeles Unified School District. Guided by Grades of Green Youth Eco Leadership, she built a sustainable garden the size of a classroom, now called the “Hope Garden.” This garden is a sustainable, drought resistant green space. Done by Nadia and her family as a Grades of Green Eco Leadership project, the Hope Garden is more than a garden. It is a place that encourages kids to wonder and learn about nature. It is changing the area from a place kids walk by to a place where kids stop and observe nature. Best of all it is a great example of water conservation and the preservation of a small ecosystem at its best. As part of Grades of Green, Nadia has done presentations at Earth Festivals about Plastic Pollution in the ocean. She has also done presentations about Sustainable Gardens. This year, she led her team of 4 5th graders as they took on the Waste Campaign. With a goal to reduce the waste from Breakfast in the Classroom by 40 %, her team educated the school students and staff on recycling and helped get recycling bins for all classrooms. She connected her school with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for the Citizen Scientist program in studying the migration of Monarch Butterflies, raises and tags Monarchs in the Butterfly Garden she worked on.


Ann Zumwinkle and Doug Bland are part of the Angeles Chapter web team. This duo is now in the midst of a redesign/redevelopment of angeles.sierraclub.org. They have been involved since 2002/2003 when Will McWhinney first put out the call for a web committee! They have been managing angeles.sierraclub.org and littlehikers.org; additionally they are in the midst of redevelopment for Angelesico.org, continuing work on the Central Group’s site, and helped quite a few folks move into the Angeles Chapter Drupal Organic Groups. Ann is a volunteer who has made it possible for ICO to have a new website that will better meet our needs. She has taken on this enormous task, which involved meeting with ICO leaders to understand better what we need. She has shown us many prototypes, given generously her knowledge about website design, and demonstrated repeatedly her immense creativity in sharing the ICO mission. Ann was great friends with Lori Ives and kept in contact with her till the very end. It is really fitting for Ann and Doug to receive the award bearing their friend’s name.


Frances “Sparky” Sotcher is a ball of energy, a true inspiration! For over thirty years she has been guiding Los Angeles children into the outdoors with the Inspiring Connections Outdoors program, seeding in them the desire to explore, enjoy and protect the natural world. One of most active leaders for ICO, she has recently decided to retire! She led multiple elementary school trips during the week ranging from K-5th to places like Griffth Park, Will Rogers, Kenneth Hahn, Monrovia, Palos Verdes, Abalone Cove and others. She shares that vast knowledge with all the youth that she leads on outings, showing her passion for creating the next generation of nature lovers. She brings water bottles for kids that don’t have it. At a birthday, she collected backpacks, and she brings those backpacks on the outings to loan to kids. Sparky is the face of the Angeles ICO in their recent promotional video.


George Denny has shown outstanding commitment to the Angeles Chapter over decades of service. George has been an active member of the Sierra Club since 1982. He graduated from the Basic Mountaineering Training Course in 1986 (the precursor to WTC) and earned his “O” Rating in August of 1990. He went on to get his “I” leader rating in 1991. George has led and co-led numerous hikes, backpacks and other trips for HPS, DPS, OCSS, the Wilderness Adventures Section and others. He was a leader and mentor with the Wilderness Travel Course for 20 years. He has been active with the Wilderness Adventures Section for nearly 30 years, and is currently their treasurer. George was first elected to the Chapter’s Executive Committee in 2002 and again in 2004. During that time, he served as Chapter Treasurer and was a member of the Finance Committee. As treasurer he implemented a new accounting system that for the first time provided the ExComm with easily produced accurate and timely financial reports. He helped the Chapter out of a tight spot when the Chapter Director and the Chapter Coordinator both resigned within two weeks of each other. George assumed both positions as Acting Chapter Director and Chapter Coordinator until suitable replacements for each could be found. After leaving the office staff, he was, for the third time, elected to the Executive Committee, and then re-elected to the ExComm in 2014, serving his fourth term. George remains active at the chapter level as the Bylaws Committee Chair.


Sandra Cattell continues to be a political powerhouse for the Angeles Chapter in North Los Angeles County. She is a hard-working member of the Angeles Chapter Political Committee and active on the California State Political Committee. Sandra  also works on federal legislation as a member of the National Wildlands and Wilderness Team. She is always well-informed about the issues and the Sierra Club’s positions and she educates others. Regarding internal matters with the Angeles Political Committee, Sandra is working with two subcommittees, one to update committee membership rules and another to refine protocols for endorsements, which she leads.

To build political support for the environment and to engage the community, Sandra leads hikes with officials. Recently, these have included Supervisor Kathryn Barger, L.A. Councilmember Paul Koretz, SCV then-Mayor Cameron Smyth, and Assemblywoman Luz Rivas. Sandra has organized and led numerous endorsement teams in northern Los Angeles County, from the northern San Fernando Valley to Santa Clarita Valley and up into the Antelope Valley. This year she focused on recruiting and developing new leaders. Through her “Sierra Club in the Parks” project, she has promoted our endorsed candidates by producing flyers that were distributed by members at local parks on game days.


Joe Galliani, through his extraordinary leadership and vision, has brought 100% clean energy to Southern California. A leader with South Bay 350, Joe formed South Bay Clean Power and created awareness of and enthusiasm for the process known as Community Choice Aggregation. He was successful in bringing a number of cities to work together. This effort eventually led to the formation of the Los Angeles County Clean Power Alliance. As a result, at least 8 entities, thousands of businesses, and hundreds of thousands of residents in LA and Ventura Counties will be receiving 100% clean energy beginning in 2019, decades ahead of the State of California, which has set a goal of 2045.



Charles Geller came to Orange County Sierrans Section in 2009, with an idea to expand 20s30s to 20s30s40s to accommodate a broader range of participants and use the new beginnings of Meetup to promote an updated platform for younger Sierra Club members. The Meetup site now has nearly 7,000 members. Charles recruits, trains and mentors new leaders, often attending the Leadership Training Seminar to support his candidates. Charles is an O-2 leader and has served on the OCSS Management Committee for the past 10 years in various capacities as Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, 20s30s40s Chair and Leadership Training Liaison. Charles works to bring in younger members to the Sierra Club and that is an extraordinary achievement.


Steve Wicke went to a meeting for Citizen’s Climate Lobby and met George Shea, the playwright of Dr. Keeling’s Curve. They talked about the play and Steve went to see a performance in Long Beach and enjoyed it. Then he started thinking... ‘‘It’s great! It’s about the scientist who discovered and proved that global warming is real and happening. What if the Chapter put on the play as a fundraiser- sell tickets and everything? All of Sierra Club would turn out to see it and the Chapter will make some money.” Steve made the Dr Keeling’s Curve a Chapter fundraiser, with the approval and assistance of George Watland, our Senior Director.


Susan Deo originated the column “Along the Path: A Young Person’s Guide to Exploring Nature” for the Palos Verdes-South Bay Group’s newsletter, The Foggy View, in May of 2017. Since then, she has never failed to write a lively account of a plant or animal that makes its home in our Group’s region for each bimonthly issue. Did you know owls can rotate their heads 270 degrees? That coyotes can smell food up to a mile away? These are a few of the fascinating facts readers of all ages have learned from Susan’s column. Susan Deo holds a master’s degree in environmental education and has taught that subject, as well as life science and marine biology, at every level from pre-school to college.


Emmy Goldknopt attends the Griffith Park Advisory Board meetings representing the Sierra Club, keeping our Section abreast of what’s going on with the GPAB. Emmy has been active in the campaign opposed to locking the Beachwood Canyon Gate—in favor of free access to the Park for all. She has led the opposition to both the Dixon Report and the Warner Bros. proposals to put an aerial tram in the Park to access the Hollywood Sign. She also was the Griffith Park Section liaison  to the Central Group and the Verdugo Hills Group on getting the resolution written and presented to the Conservation Committee and the Executive Committee of the Chapter. Over the years Emmy has been at the forefront to conserve Griffith Park.


Kathy Knight is a well known advocate for nature and the Ballona Wetlands. Her actions are well known to the Los Angeles Sierra Club area. She also supports native rights and works closely with Johntommy Rosas, Tongva Nation Member . Kathy has served as Airport Marina Group Chair, has taken care of buying and putting out snacks for every month’s meetings for years, announces current events at meetings, proofs meeting notices and contributes to the support of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. She also reminds us frequently that we are the voice of the animals, birds, insects plants and and trees that inhabit the earth, particularly the wetlands and uplands at Ballona.


Michael Beck joined his high school astronomy club and on a star- gazing trip to the desert, Michael was mesmerized by the wonders of the night sky. He decided to build his life around the beauty of nature. He joined the Sierra Club in 1982, becoming active in the Angeles Chapter Sustainable Population Committee. A resident of Glendale, Michael learned that the municipal utility was committed to rebuilding and greatly expanding its old fossil fuel power plant, Grayson, with as little public input as possible. He joined the steering committee of the Glendale Environmental Coalition. Together with the Verdugo Hills Group and activists from the National Sierra Club, they persuaded the Glendale City Council to force Glendale Water and Power to begin looking at renewable alternatives. Michael was a founding member of the Verdugo Hills Group’s Conservation Round Table. One of the Round Table’s projects has been to adopt a stairway in Silver Lake. Corralitas stairway leads up to an old Red Car right-of- way. Michael has taken the lead in coordinating Verdugo Hills’ work on this project with the Chapter’s Central Group. Meanwhile, he oversees the creation and tending of a garden at the foot of the staircase.


Morey Wolfson moved to Pasadena after retiring as energy advisor to Colorado governors, and has taken the lead in advocating for clean renewable energy and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, both in the city of Pasadena and in the Southern California region. Locally, he has served as a member of the stakeholder committees that have provided public input to major updates to the City of Pasadena Energy and Water Integrated Resources Plans. He has also been an active member of the Chapter’s Climate Change Committee. He is also an active member of Citizens Climate Lobby.


Hoiyin Ip. Over the last 18 months, Hoiyin has made huge strides for the Angeles Chapter in bringing awareness of the Zero Waste movement to Orange County Cities and regional agencies. As chair of the Orange County Conservation Committee Zero Waste Subcommittee she organized Sierra Club members and other NGOs to develop educational materials, speak at agency meetings and attend community events. Over this period, Hoiyin has grown to become a recognized leader in the Zero Waste movement.


Homer Tom graduated from the Wilderness Travel Course in 2003 and joined the staff in 2009. He got his I rating and started working as a navigation examiner in 2010. Over the past decade, Homer has continued to grow as a leader with WTC and the Sierra Club. You can always count on Homer to pitch in with an assignment or volunteer role! For the past few years he has served as the map coordinator for the San Gabriel Valley  WTC. He takes his time with students in class and as an examiner on Navigation Noodles, to explain the principles of navigation, and ensure everyone stays “safe and found” in the backcountry. Homer is a project manager with Warner Bros. Entertainment. To recognize his volunteer work with the Angeles Chapter, Warner Bros. recently made a donation to WTC which will help Homer continue to lead people safely on outings, and train new leaders.


Kathy Faulds leads Griffith Park Section level 3 conditioning night hikes. There are nights she’ll have 35-50 hikers. Kathy (along with her assigned sweep) does an amazing job keeping her large group together. Kathy had an incident on a hike last year. A motorized bike came from nowhere and went through a stop sign as her hikers were crossing Crystal Springs returning to the parking lot. Kathy kept calm, got the group back to the parking lot, including the injured hiker. She followed up several times with the injured hiker, who was bruised. Kathy helps keep the Griffith Park Conditioning night hikes going, year after year, always with a kind word and a smile on her face.


Monica Suua took the Wilderness Travel Course in 2007 and joined West Los Angeles staff in 2009. As an M-Rock rated leader, Monica doesn’t hesitate to help Wilderness Travel Course students with their struggles on rock. An accomplished rock climber and outings leader, she helps new climbers succeed. Always willing to help where she can, she has been an essential source of support for WTC as its treasurer since 2016. More than just an outing entity, WTC is basically a business with several complicated transactions that occur before, during and after the course each year. As a financial professional, she is immensely qualified to keep our books in order. From her experience as a past Chapter treasurer, she knows how to supply timely records to the Chapter for its annual reporting.


Regge Bulman is an M-rated leader since 2011 who loves to get out on the rock and the mountains, Regge has been an instructor with the Wilderness Travel Course’s West LA area since 2008, helping students conquer their fears and climb to new heights. He co-leads summer backpacking experience trips with his wife Monica Suua for each year’s crop of students. As our latest newsletter editor, Regge has shown us his talents in a series of fun and creative newsletters that showcase the course and inspire students. As a professional graphic designer, he also goes above and beyond by finishing our WTC handbook each year and delivering it to print.


Sridhar Gullapalli has been a Sierra Club leader since 2004 but has been hiking with various sections since 1994. Since becoming an outings leader, he has encouraged and developed and evaluated over 15 new leaders at the O and I level. He has led many backpacks for the Backpacking Committee, including the popular July 4th Weekend Yosemite backpacks) since 2009, and has assisted on Hawaii trips to Maui and the Big Island. He served on the Chapter Executive Committee from 2016-18. As part of his continuing service to the Chapter and “giving back” he has been an active, regular leader for the 20s & 30s, Backpacking Committee, Hundred Peaks Section and has been an instructor for the Wilderness Training Course since 2007.


Patrick McKusky is the longtime Leadership Training Committee Rock Chair. He has elevated the Chapter’s rock climbing practices for the M and E ratings to modern standards. He also co-founded the Advanced Mountaineering Program, teaching safe modern rock-climbing techniques to hundreds of students. His passion for excellence is such that he earned a Single Pitch Instructor rating from the American Mountain Guides Association as well as the Chapter’s M rating along with an E rating in rock. In addition, Patrick is a veteran group leader in the Wilderness Travel Course.


Bob Baldwin joined the Sierra Club in 1989 and has partnered with his fellow hiking buddy, Ron Rosien, to introduce hundreds of people to the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains. Bob and Ron led a monthly hike series in those mountains for over 10 years. Bob still leads outings in the Santa Monica Mountains on Saturdays and also with the SMMTF Tuesday Moderate Hiker group. In addition to day hikes with the ICO, he has assisted on overnights at Leo Carrillo State Beach and Harwood Lodge, as well as Memorial Day weekend camps/excursions at Emerald Bay in Catalina. Bob has been an inspiration to all his fellow hikers.


Ron Rosien started hiking with the Sierra Club in 1959. He has  been a hike leader with the Santa Monica Mountains Task Force, the Hundred Peaks Section, and the Local Hikes in the San Gabriels. He has partnered with Bob Baldwin on a series of monthly outings exploring trails in the Santa Monica Mountains for over 10 years. He has also been a co-leader with Bob on trips with Inner City Outings (now Inspiring Connections Outdoors) since 2010 as well as being a financial supporter. He has helped lead the John Muir Birthday hike for the SMMTF and the Mt. Waterman reunion hikes for the Local Hikes and HPS groups. He still leads Saturday hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains and Wednesday Local Hikes.


Sandy (Sperling) Lara is an M-rated leader, and has led outings for the Hundred Peaks Section, Mule Pack Section, Sierra Peaks Section, and Desert Peaks Section. She is also an assistant group leader in the Long Beach-South Bay Wilderness Travel Course and the Vice Chair of the Leadership Training Committee. While she has led numerous outings, we especially wish to recognize Sandy for her role as the Outings Chair of the Desert Peaks Section, role she assumed after the DPS elections in May 2017. Since then she has revitalized the moribund outings program of the DPS, leading many outings herself with her husband, Peter. She actively looks for new leaders, encouraging their involvement in the section. Without Sandy the DPS would be continuing its downward slide as an activities section; she has definitely brought new life to the section through the robust slate of outings we now offer. The DPS is very grateful to Sandy for her hard work!


Dave Comerzan has a history of outings and other service to multiple Sierra Club entities that reaches back more than 15 years. In addition to completing the Lower Peaks Committee list four times (the only person to have accomplished this) and the Hundred Peaks Section 281- peak list five times, Dave has led countless official hikes to these and many other peaks. In 2014, Dave became only the 9th person to lead the entire HPS list for a second time. In 2007, Dave also served as HPS Chair and has been in the LPC Executive Committee. His calm and collected leadership style reflects his wry personality and has been an encouraging presence in the Sierra Club for 15 years.


Dorothy Gutierrez was the Chair for Orange County ICO for many years. She single-handedly managed the merger with Angeles ICO. She worked with her current leaders, teachers, and Angeles ICO leaders and ICO National to make this happen. Without Dorothy, there would not have been a successful merger.


Eric Teplitz has supported the Angeles Chapter Awards Banquet for five years in a row by sharing his wonderful talent of singing and playing the guitar during the Awards Banquet reception. He and his wife Samantha Stewart recently worked at the Will Call table at the Dr. Keeling’s Curve Event to help attendees find their tickets.


Frank Gruber has done an outstanding job as the Chair of the Angeles Chapter Political Committee covering Los Angeles County. Chairing the Political Committee is extremely time consuming and difficult and Frank has done an excellent job. In order to be Chair of this committee, you must be very patient so that members of the committee are able to contribute, yet be able to move the agenda along so the meetings doesn’t stretch into the late night. His grasp of parliamentary rules and Sierra Club policies has made him a knowledgeable and effective Chair. He spent hours researching Club policies so that he became an expert in the Sierra Club rules regarding political activity and became able,in most cases,to cite them when necessary. His grasp of parliamentary rules has also proved to be a big help in chairing the meetings, which can be very contentious at times.


Grazia Caroselli is a volunteer for ICO. The promotional film she created about ICO is used to show to students, donors, and teachers. Check it out on the ICO website!. She captured perfectly the emotional, psychological, physical, and community significance of an ICO hike. She needed to attend many hikes, taking video after video; then editing, adding sound, finding the right storyline. The film is now integral to our organization, thanks to Grazia. It will be added to the National ICO page as well, thanks to Grazia.


Mike and Stephanie Adams are the new Chair and Treasurer of the Keller Ski Hut Committee. The ski hut was in disrepair and under the guidance and financial acumen of Mike and Stephanie the ski hut is back on track to being a crown jewel of the Angeles Chapter. The finances are close to being totally in order, and the repairs on the facility are nearly a year ahead of schedule. Keller Ski Hut is celebrating an 80 year Legacy.


Rachel Glegg inquired about doing trail work with the Santa Monica Mountains Task Force trail crew in 2015, and has become the driving force for keeping our trail crew successfully functioning for the past couple of years. There is a joke we crew members share with each other (based on fact) that only about 10% of first-time volunteers return to work with us again. Rachel broke these odds, becoming a consistent weekend volunteer on our projects Her support of the SMMTF trail crew came at a critical time as she assumed leadership for organizing our weekly projects following the illness of our long-time crew leader Ron Webster. For the past two years Rachel has hiked to scout trails for potential work, scheduled weekly projects for the crew, systematized crew notification via email, and maintained work logs for each crew member to report hours worked to state parks on an annual basis. She has also done much to market the trail crew to a broader audience, organizing trail projects to specifically attract WTC participants. This effort is critical to ensuring the future of the crew. Her official position is “Trails Coordinator” and she has earned this title by working tirelessly over the past two years leading the SMMTF trail crew.


Rima Zobayan, was Chair of the 20s & 30s Section in 2013- 2014, then Vice Chair in 2015. Rimastartedoursection’s online newsletter in 2011 and still writes it. She curates our social media presence. Rima maintains our Facebook page and Twitter feeds. She posts regularly, featuring upcoming events, retweeting Sierra Club tweets, highlights environmental efforts by various groups, and posts photos from past events. Rima is always there for us when we actually ask for help: In 2017, our MC chairperson quit suddenly and Rima was there. She shared her experience as chair, described the tasks performed by the chair, and listed the key events that had yet to be accomplished. Finally, Rimahelpsuswithelections each year. For our section she posts the candidate statements, helps David Hyman set up the online balloting, and serves on our nominating committee. Our section is grateful for years of service by Rima.


Barbara Hensleigh first joined the Sierra Club when she took the Basic Mountain Training Course (BMTC). Her husband, Joe Andrews, was an assistant leader with Bill Oliver. After the 2016 election Barbara contacted the Angeles Chapter Office to inquire how she could make a difference, and was informed that her local group was inactive. She dedicated herself to reorganizing it.

Since then, Barbara has participated in probably over 50 official SC meetings, and perhaps four times that many personal meetings, as well as many meetings with other organizations on the group’s behalf. She attended outings leadership training and has led newcomer hikes. She has been a tireless cheerleader for the Central Group and the Sierra Club.

As Chair of the Central Group Reorganization Committee and later its Executive Committee, she has been the backstop for all the other roles that have had to be filled, including Treasurer and Conservation Chair. She has tabled for the Sierra Club at numerous events across the region. She helped organize three fundraising events, generating thousands of dollars in donations.


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