OUR TEAM

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MIKE

CIPRA

Executive Director

Acting Restoration Manager

Mike was honored to join Friends of the Dunes as Executive Director in 2019. He brings a passion for
community conservation and years of experience working in the National Park Service--as both an
environmental educator working directly with youth and as an environmental protection specialist,
developing restoration and land management plans. Mike is inspired by the native coastal dune
environment of the North Coast and has established roots in Humboldt County, previously contributing to our community as the Service Learning Liaison for Humboldt State University and as Executive Director of the Northcoast Regional Land Trust. In his spare time, Mike and his wife Jane can usually be found hiking and botanizing in the diverse habitats of the North Coast.

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SUZIE FORTNER

Programs & Operations Director

Suzie has been a nature lover her entire life. Growing up in San Diego, she spent a lot of time camping, hiking, and swimming in the ocean. This love of nature inspired her to pursue a B.S. degree in Marine Biology at UC Santa Cruz, where she became infatuated with redwood forests. So she came to Humboldt County and earned a M.A. degree through the Environment and Community Program at Humboldt State University in 2010. Suzie has been working in the field of Environmental Education since 2004, and her Master’s Project focused on place-based environmental education. She started volunteering with Friends of the Dunes in 2007, and has been involved with Friends of the Dunes education programs ever since.

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ASHLEY HANSEN

Webmaster

Ashley moved to Humboldt County from San Diego where she gained experience rehabilitating native species through volunteer work at a Wildlife Center. She was immediately drawn to our bay and beaches and is passionate about protecting them through education & restoration. She was hired as a non-profit intern in 2015 and graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology in the Spring of 2018. She looks forward to earning her master's degree and in her spare time, she can be found hiking with her dog, Akela and her cat, Osiris.

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DANTE RYMAN

Restoration Coordinator

Dante graduated from HSU in the Environmental Science and Management major. He has worked at various non-profits and businesses, honing his communication and leadership skills. Dante has been involved with Friends of the Dunes over the last two years, completing the California Naturalist program and two internships. Dante coordinates restoration activities on Friends of the Dunes property as well as for the Bureau of Land Management's Ma-le'l South. He also leads the Share the Beach outreach program. When not in the dunes or in the forge at Blue Ox Millworks, he enjoys being outdoors and on the water or anywhere his family is.

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GINEVRA

RYMAN

GIS Specialist

Ginevra holds a B.S. in Molecular Environmental Biology from UC Berkeley and a M.E.M. with emphasis in Ecosystem Science and Conservation from Duke University. She has over 15 years of experience working for a variety of non-profits, governmental entities, and educational institutions. She has been involved with Friends of the Dunes since 2017, initially as a participant in the Master Naturalist Course, then as a restoration intern, and most recently as GIS Specialist. She loves spending time outside gardening, hiking, and camping with her family.

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DAISY

AMBRIZ

Education Coordinator

Daisy is from the buzzing city of Las Vegas, Nevada. She moved to Humboldt County in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the quietness, the Redwoods and our local marshes. She graduated in the Spring of 2019 with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology. Daisy is interested in joining her passion for wildlife conservation and education. In her spare time, she can be found bird banding for Humboldt Bay Bird Observatory and at our local yoga studios.

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BLAKE

RAMIREZ

Nonprofit Intern

Blake Ramirez is a Ventura County native who spent much of his time exploring the nature of Southern California from surfing to hiking the Los Padres National Forest. He was drawn to Humboldt County’s emphasis on conservation and Humboldt State University’s Environmental Science program. Currently, he is pursuing his B.S. in Environmental Science at Humboldt State University. At Friends of the Dunes, Blake hopes to build strong connections and friendships within Humboldt’s community in order to carry those relationships to his future career.

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SOPHIE

HAMANN

Outreach & Operations Manager

Raised in Yosemite National Park, Sophie feels most at home when surrounded by nature. So naturally, she gravitated to Humboldt to earn her degree in Environmental Science at Humboldt State University. There, she fell in love with the old growth forests, the sandy coastal dunes, and the sense of community. Upon graduating in 2017, Sophie worked as an interpreter for California State Parks, a Park Ranger for the Bureau of Land Management, and finally, as the Outreach and Operations Manager for Friends of the Dunes.  In her spare time, you can find Sophie reading a book, cozying up with her cats, traveling the world, or going on adventures with her husband and three dogs. 

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BRENDA PEASE

Bookkeeper

Brenda has been the Bookkeeper since June of 2015. She moved to Humboldt County in 1989 and has since earned her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from Humboldt State University. She is an independent contract bookkeeper for several local nonprofit organizations focused on environmental conservation and restoration. In her spare time she can be found hiking and exploring the trails in Humboldt with her husband, George.

VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHTS

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CAROL VANDER MEER

Board President

When Carol arrived in Humboldt County from Nebraska in 1994, she was immediately drawn to the coastal dunes. They were curiously reminiscent of the Nebraska sandhills where she did her Master’s work on the ecology of the Niobrara River valley. Carol’s experience includes being a high school biology teacher, a nature center director, and naturalist. She started with Friends of the Dunes as a volunteer docent while she worked as a park ranger at Redwood National Park. She served as Executive Director of Friends of the Dunes from 2004 to 2015. Carol lives in Manila along the shores of Humboldt Bay with her husband Steven. When the tide is high, they enjoy paddling the waters of the bay and up into the Mad River Slough. Though Carol no longer serves as our Executive Director, we are still very grateful to have her on our side as a volunteer. Thank you so much for your continued support, we are lucky to have you!

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JOHN ST. MARIE

Facilities Manager

John has been involved with Friends of the Dunes since 1988. He was the Director of the organization in the beginning and helped play a key role in helping Friends of the Dunes become an official 501(c)3 nonprofit. John has served on the Land Trust Committee, helping secure the 115 acres that are part of the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center. John is also the caretaker of the Nature Center, helping maintain the building, native landscaping, and helping manage public use on the property.

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STEVEN VANDER MEER

Technical Support Volunteer

Steven created our original website from scratch, managed it for years, and helped us transition into creating our new one! On top of being a self-taught hand-coder of HTML and CSS, he is also an artist, animator and home brewer with an awesome studio in Manila, near the dunes. He also owns and operates Meer Image, an art rubber stamp business. Many of the shirts found in our Gift Shop are designed by him, along with our logo! To check out some of his work, visit the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center or his website.