Board Members

Rita Bell
President

Rita Bell is the Director of Education Programs at Monterey Bay Aquarium where her efforts focus on providing professional development programs for pre-service and in-service teachers, designing and implementing leadership development programs for teens, providing quality field trip experiences for over 80,000 students annually and partnering with community groups to enhance conservation education and advocacy. Before joining the aquarium staff in 1997, she taught middle school math and science, served as school vice-principal, and was a member of the school board. Rita earned her BA at UC Santa Cruz and MA at University of San Francisco. Rita also served as a board member and president of the National Marine Educators Association.

Anne Stephens
Vice President

Anne Stephens got her start in environmental education while working as a Naturalist on the San Mateo Coast and Donner Summit with Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School in the early 1980s. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Science Education at California State University Chico and Co-Director of the Inland Northern California Science Project. She earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences and Ph.D. in Science Education from UC Davis and her M.A. in Science Teaching from CSU Chico. Prior to joining the faculty at CSUC she spent five years as a consultant in the STEM Office at the California Department of Education where she served as the statewide coordinator for the California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network. A secondary science teacher for 23 years, Anne has been recognized with several awards including Region 2 Outstanding Teacher of the Year by the California League of Middle Schools and Non-profit Leader of the Year by the California Institute for Biodiversity. In addition to her service with CEEF, she serves on the advisory boards for the Gateway Science Museum, California Project WET and Project Learning Tree. Most recently she was a member of California’s State Environmental Literacy Task Force and the U.S. EPA's National Environmental Education Advisory Council. She lives in Chico with her husband Paul and enjoys recreating outdoors with her two sons.

Ray Ng
Treasurer

Ray retired in December 2010 from Sandia National Laboratories/California after 42 years. While he is a mechanical engineer by education and experience, Ray was also the manager of technical departments from 2001 to 2009 and the STEM Education Outreach department in 2010. He has a background in, and passion for, K-12 education outreach on both a professional and voluntary basis. From 1989 to 1994 Ray was a technical staff member of the Education Outreach department involved with activities such as Science Carnivals, Science Bowls, various teacher professional development workshops, and CEEEF (California Energy and Environmental Education Forum, the predecessor to CEEF). While Ray’s participation as a member of the CEEEF Board of Directors began in 1990 while he was a part of Sandia’s Education Outreach department, he continued as a Board member (even after the department was dissolved in 1995) until 2001, serving as its President from 1999 to 2001. CEEEF highlights include US EPA funding of environmental education activities and special environmental awards at the California State Science Fair.

Daryl Ramos-Young
Secretary

Darryl is the Education Coordinator for the West Basin Municipal Water District, the local government agency that provides water to over one million people in its coastal Los Angeles service area. He earned his BS degree in Environmental Education from Humboldt State University and has over 30 years of education program development and fundraising experience with local, state and national organizations. He helped found and served on the board of the Hawaii Environmental Education Association, served as a steering committee member for the Golden State Environmental Education Consortium, and is the current Diversity and Equity eePro Group moderator for the North American Association for Environmental Education. Darryl’s passion is strengthening the communication networks and available resources for civic ecology efforts that empower more urban community members to create positive social and environmental changes in their neighborhoods.

John Zavalney
Board Member

John Zavalney is the consummate environmental educator. He participates as a teacher, trainer, facilitator, or representative for leading global, national, and local EE programs including Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots; GLOBE; Project Learning Tree; Project Wild; and Project Wet and served as the Assistant District Manager for The Climate Project. John is currently ranked as the #3 Climate Change presenter in the world for Climate Reality project. After meeting with Dr. Goodall in 1996, John was personally selected by her to spend three months in Tanzania as a volunteer educator for the Roots & Shoots humanitarian youth program. During his stay, John negotiated a bi-lateral agreement between the Minister of Education in Tanzania and the U.S, making Tanzania part of the GLOBE Program. John’s contributions to the education and advancement of young people are recognized with a host of prestigious educational awards. He received the Disney’s American Teacher Award; the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Education; the President’s Council on Environmental Quality’s Teacher Professional Development Award; the South Coast Air Quality Management District Clean Air Award in Education; and the Jane Goodall Institute Global leadership Award in Education. John earned his BA in Secondary Education from West Liberty State, West Virginia with a major in biology and general science.

Walter Zeisl
Board Member

Walter Zeisl, Manager of Educational Outreach, Programming and Graphic Services, Communications Division at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), has been leading educational partnership programs for more than 28 years. He has served on the CEEF Board for many years including as president.  Under his tenure, LADWP has received many accolades nationally, regionally and locally for the quality and/or longevity of its education programs from such organizations as the U.S. Department of Energy, the California State Senate, the Los Angeles City Council, the Los Angeles County Board of Education, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Public Relations Society of America.  He currently manages several education outreach programs including a multi-year model curriculum on renewable energy with LAUSD, regional sponsorship of the National Science Bowl high school competition, employee involvement with 18 adopted schools and provides electric safety information to upper elementary classrooms.  He also served as the host and LADWP as co-sponsor of the CEEF Teacher Institute on “Best Practices of Environmental Education and Stewardship,” held during the Spring 2015. In 2008, he was awarded a local Emmy for an instructional video entitled, “Outdoor Electric Safety,” distributed annually to about 700 elementary teachers and about 25,000 students.  He also manages a group of six staff members in Creative Services including graphic supervisors, graphic designers and a photographer.  Walter joined LADWP in 1977 moving up the ranks and into management as Supervisor of Educational Services in 1988.  He was promoted to the manager level in 1999.  He holds an MS degree in Public Relations Administration from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and a BA degree, graduating cum laude, in Political Science from UCLA.

Jeanne Knapp
Board Member

Jeanne is a lifelong resident of California’s Central Valley. Currently working across Merced County and CREEC Region 7, she is focused on relationship building that expands environmental education among public and private entities. Her efforts highlight and nurture valued and overlapping interests among partners with an existing interest and capacity for engagement. Grateful for California’s Blueprint for Environmental Literacy as a tool, Jeanne shares this timely document through the foundational process of partner development and shaping collective impact projects. Her activities include introductions and information sharing, access, trainings, and facilitation. Jeanne has both formal and non-formal educational experience previously serving as a guidance counselor, in administration at both school and county office of education levels, and adjunct community college professor and counselor. As a non-formal educator, Jeanne has decades of experience serving as a wilderness and interpretive program specialist educating the public through the National Forest Service, facilitation of trainings across the Project WILD/WET/Growing Up WILD resources, and ongoing delivery of educational activities among communities. Jeanne created a small consulting business, Just Knowledge, LLC. It is a structure recognized as useful in strengthening partnership development. Her education includes an A.A. from Merced College, B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Education: Student Support Services from CSU Fresno, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Francisco State University.

Jerry Valadez
Board Member

Jerry D. Valadez is an Advocate for underserved youth, a Maker, President of the Community Science Workshop Network and founder and CEO of the SAM (Science Art Music) Academy and the Mobile Science Workshop – all non-profits that provide underserved youth in isolated rural communities with access to quality out-of-school E-STEM and Arts experiences. He has an earned doctorate in STEM education and is an experienced environmental scientist, microbiologist, middle school science teacher, K-12 Science Coordinator, school administrator, and Director of major federal and state supported STEM initiatives, including the Central Valley MSP and Central Valley Science Project. He was also Principle Investigator on NSF and DOE formal and informal STEM education programs, and co-creator and PI of a unique congressional award that created the Fresno Mobile Science Workshop. He is involved with state and national issues related to formal and informal STEM, Environmental and Maker education including appointments to commissions and national advisory boards. Boards and Panels include the 2012 California Science Expert Panel for NGSS, 2011 National Academy Successful STEM Schools Advisory Committee, the Committee On Science Education, 2004 Congressional Commission on STEM Education for the 21st Century, California Science Project founding advisory board, and AAAS Project 2061 Phase II Panel. He served as President of NSELA and the NSTA Board as Director of the Multicultural/Equity Division, along with several NSTA task forces and committees including Chair of the 2011 National Conference on Science Education in San Francisco. Jerry received the 2017 Distinguished Informal Educator of the Year Award by NSTA in March 2017.

Henry Ortiz
Board Member

Henry Ortiz works for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as a subject matter expert. He has held multiple positions with LAUSD including STEAM Coordinator, Secondary Science Instructional Specialist, Science Adviser, and Science Teacher (Chemistry, Biology and Marine Biology). He has spent most of his career developing programs for students in partnership with universities, for profit and non-profit organizations, providing professional development programs for teachers and other educators locally, nationally and internationally. He has served as a Science Master Trainer for the GLOBE program and as a guest lecturer in the visiting speakers program for the State Department. With 20 years experience as a science educator and an advocate for second language learners and underserved communities, Mr. Ortiz brings a wide variety of experience to the board, including his role as director for NatureBridge’s Southern California campus, director of the JBNSTS Science Camp in Calcutta, India where he developed curriculum and trained university professionals to deliver inquiry-based science programs to students and his experience on many other boards for science and environmental education.

Celeste Royer
Board Administrator

Celeste Royer is the Director of Environmental Education at the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education where she directs the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School and CREEC Network Region 8. Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School provides environmental and outdoor education programs to 8,000 students annually in its one-day field and classroom programs and in the residential outdoor science school program. Celeste’s career in environmental and outdoor education spans nearly 30 years. She served as the Statewide Director of the CREEC Network, served on the EE Advisory Committee to the CA Department of Education, and was Chairperson of the California Outdoor School Association. Celeste chaired the NAAEE international conference held in Oakland in 2012, was Project Co-Leader for California’s EECapacity project, and served as a Co-Committee Chairperson on California’s Blueprint for Environmental Literacy (BEL). Celeste received degrees from UCLA, San Francisco State University, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and family.

Bill Andrews
Ex-Officio Advisor

Bill is a retired science and environmental education (EE) consultant having worked for 19 years in the California Department of Education (CDE) and 11 years as a high school science and mathematics teacher. While at CDE, he founded CEEF in 2003 and joined the CEEF Board in 2005. From 2007 to June 2015, he volunteered as part-time Executive Director. In 2011, 2013, and 2015 Bill directed CEEF’s teacher institute on “Best Practices of Environmental Education and Stewardship.” At the state level, Bill provided leadership on the development of a California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy (BEL) and served on the State Superintendent’s BEL Task Force from 2013 through 2015. Bill was honored by the Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (AEOE) with the Howard Bell Award in 2015. For enjoyment, Bill sings with an acapella choral group, plays with his grandchildren, and now serves as Ex-Officio Advisor to the CEEF Board.