Board of Trustees

Richard Strom

President

“I think we are put on this earth to contribute something of value. The amazingly high quality work of the MLT in preservation, stewardship, recreation and habitat restoration is of inestimable value to all and I am proud to be able to do my small part to further these goals.”

Richard describes himself as a recovering attorney. In his career he worked for county, state and the federal government as well as large and small law firms. His longest job was as a corporate attorney in the telecommunications field. As part of this job, he was responsible for land use and environmental issues nationally. His interest in environmental and land use goes back even further to when he co-authored an agricultural preservation law in Maryland that buffered against extreme development pressures.

After “retiring” from law to move to Mendocino by purchasing a bed and breakfast, Richard became active in the tourism industry. He worked for Visit Mendocino County and the North Coast Tourism Council for over ten years, promoting the entire northern coast both domestically and internationally. 

Richard is passionate about the healing power of nature and is proud to be associated with an organization which pulls way beyond its weight in preserving, conserving, protecting and enhancing our natural environment.

Richard Shoemaker

Vice President

“As someone who has worked and recreated outdoors most of my life, the Land Trust’s work is very close to my heart.  Developing hiking trails, habitat restoration, preserving natural places while creating access to them for people to enjoy are all part of MLT’s land stewardship for future generations. I am honored to be part of this organization and take seriously that we are ‘working with you to conserve the land while there’s still time.’ “

Richard is a SoCal native who visited Mendocino County in 1979 and never went back. He lives in Fort Bragg with his life partner, Linda. They have five children, all in their twenties and two grandchildren. Richard is City Manager of Point Arena and serves on the Mendocino County Retirement Board.  His professional experience includes accounting, construction management, graphic design, education and facilitation.  He operated a landscape contracting business for 27 years and has worked as a political campaign organizer. For eight years, he was the Executive Director of the Alex Rorabaugh Recreation Center where he was instrumental in establishing the financial cooperation of the City, School District, County to complete the ARRC, his proudest professional achievement. He served as a Mendocino County Supervisor and Ukiah City Council member and has served on numerous local, regional and statewide policy boards. For recreation he enjoys hiking, sailing, kayaking, biking, camping, skiing and Ultimate Frisbee. He loves the ocean, a good debate and spending time with his family.

John Swartley

Secretary

“When I first saw the California coast in 1971, I figured there couldn’t be a more beautiful place on Earth.  That opinion hasn’t changed after all these years. I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to help the Land Trust preserve the shore, forests and rivers for generations to come.”

Born and raised in Michigan, John moved to California in 1983.  He retired in 2014 after spending more than 40 years in journalism, including 30 years as an editor at the San Jose Mercury News.  John has volunteered with the Midpeninsula Open Space District in the Bay Area, the Point Lobos Foundation in Carmel and Save Our Shores in Santa Cruz, as well as the Mendocino Land Trust.  He, his wife Debbie, and their three sons vacationed near Fort Bragg for many summers beginning in 1991; John and Debbie purchased a home there in the spring of 2015.  John enjoys hiking, jazz, soccer, doing beach cleanups and spending time with his family.

Lorrie Lagasse

“It brings me great joy to be part of an organization that is conserving local lands for the betterment of all living things.  I hope to use my experience as a teacher and ranger to encourage others to become involved in the land trust.”

Lorrie Lagasse has been spending time in the woods since she was a child in New York state.  After receiving a degree in forestry from Virginia Tech she moved to California to work for the forest service.  She went back to school at Cal Poly to learn how to teach which landed her jobs in the elementary school and also environmental education camps. Summers were spent working for national parks like Sequoia and Lassen as a ranger.  Here on the Mendocino Coast she docents for the state parks, particularly MacKerricher State Park.

Chet Anderson

Sherri and I continue to support MLT because we want our eight grandchildren and their children (currently three ‘greats’) to be able to enjoy the special places and landscapes of Mendocino County as we do.”

Chet has been a member and volunteer with MLT since moving to Mendocino in 1996. He served as President of the Board from 2003-2005. He is retired from a 50+ year career as a Professional Civil Engineer specializing in drinking water quality with the State of CA Health Department; MWDSC, the largest public drinking water agency in the U.S.; his own consulting engineering firm and as Senior Editor of an international online Safe Drinking Water newsletter. He currently serves as Chair of the Safe Drinking Water committee for the Association of California Water Agencies and is a member of several other national professional engineering and water associations. He has been a Director of the Mendocino Coast Habitat for Humanity for 16 years and chairs their annual Kite Festival. He is part of the Mendocino County Water Safety Coalition, and in his spare time, he also manages his community water system in his subdivision in Mendocino.

Megan Smithyman

“As an avid hiker and long distance runner, I love to explore and discover beautiful landscapes. In my travels I have hiked across the Grand Canyon, run marathons around Pacific islands, and walked among the Giant Sequoias. And yet, I can think of no other place with the same rugged beauty as Mendocino. This land is truly special and the work of the Mendocino Land Trust helps ensure that everyone has access to these places for many more generations to come.”

Born and raised on a farm in New Jersey, Megan has had a love of the outdoors all her life. After living her dream of working in animation, Megan was ready to leave Los Angeles to find a small town in California to call home. She joined the staff of the Land Trust as the Communications Manager for several years before taking on a new role as a board member. Megan feels honored to support the legacy of the Land Trust and hopes to contribute to the mission of preserving Mendocino County as a place of pristine natural beauty.

Tom Herman

Tom moved to Mendocino County with his wife and two young children in 1970 to take a job in the engineering department of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The District Headquarters was in Willits and Tom made his home there. His job responsibilities resulted in incredible experiences traveling all over Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity Counties building new facilities for the railroad. Tom  particularly enjoyed the wilderness of the Eel River Canyon from Dos Rios to Scotia. In 1980, Tom received his license as a Land Surveyor, a goal resulting from his love of the outdoors and the terrain of Mendocino County, and opened his own consulting firm. For the next twenty plus years he surveyed properties all over Mendocino County and became intimately familiar with the incredible landforms along the coast and the inland valleys. In 2003, he merged his company into a larger regional surveying, engineering and geology company and devoted more time to management and project development. With the start of 2021, he retired from full time consulting and now devotes his time to the Boards of the Little Lake Fire District, the Mendocino College Foundation, the Frank R. Howard Hospital Foundation and the Mendocino Land Trust.

Terry Surles

Terry Surles joined the Mendocino Land Trust board in November 2021. Terry really enjoys the area as it is somewhat similar to where he grew up on the Atlantic Coast. For MLT, Terry’s particular focus is on land conservation that provides public access to places in Mendocino County. Ensuring proper stewardship of lands in a changing climate is critical to our area’s future. Terry’s expertise is in energy systems analysis and deployment, including carbon sequestration. He consults with Stanford University to evaluate California’s ability to meet its carbon neutrality goals. He is actively working with the California and Hawaii Public Utility Commissions in evaluating how reaching 100% carbon neutrality can be done effectively. Terry received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Michigan State and has more than 360 publications, technical reports, and presentations. Before joining the MLT board he served on the Albion-Little River Fire District Board and remains active with the Coast Youth Soccer League in helping to train referees.

Tina Batt

Tina began her conservation career as a founder and volunteer Board member of the Martinez Regional Land Trust. She became the full time Executive Director, and worked with the Board to change the land trust geographical scope and name to the Muir Heritage Land Trust. Her degree in creative writing and real estate license helped support both her grant writing and real estate negotiations.

She transitioned from the land trust to a second career in organizational and fund development consulting after attending Harvard Kennedy School’s Mid-Career Masters of Public Administration Program.  Tina consulted with a number of organizations, including the University of California’s Natural Reserve System. She also served for three years as the Land Program Officer at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Tina is the former Board President of the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy, and currently serves on RCLC’s Advisory Board.

Ken Flannell

Ken moved to Mendocino in 2005 with his wife Denise. They were drawn to the natural beauty of the area after living in San Diego and Cambria, CA. He is happiest when outdoors and loves to hike, mountain bike, surf, kayak, ski, golf and play softball.  Ken started backpacking with his Dad at a young age, taking many week-long trips in the California Sierras. Their adventures culminated in an 8-day hike below the rim in the Grand Canyon when the Senior Mr. Flannell was 85.  Ken considers land preservation to be the most important responsibility each generation owes the next and the Mendocino Land Trust plays an important role in meeting that mission.

Ken worked as a computer programmer, developing systems for the U.S. Navy for ten years. In 1994 he founded an investment advisory, managing stock and bond portfolios for clients until retiring in 2020.  Since moving to Mendocino, Ken has helped manage the non-profit water company in his neighborhood, serving as vice president, president and currently, treasurer.  He looks forward to bringing his energy and diversity of experience and interests in support of the many missions of the Mendocino Land Trust.

Tony Sorace

Born and raised in New York City, Tony developed a love of nature while working summer jobs in the Catskill Mountains during his college years. He moved to Mendocino County in 1977 and has lived in the hills and mountains ever since. Tony’s conservation work began when he initiated the Forsythe Creek Restoration Project at Ridgewood Ranch with Golden Rule Church, restoring over five miles of stream. Since then, Tony has worked on many other conservation projects, protecting thousands of acres. His career as a land and ranch broker allowed him to see most of Mendocino and Humboldt Counties as he helped others fulfill their dreams of rural life. Tony is a Certified Financial Planner with advanced studies in real estate investments and portfolio management.  He and his wife Melodie raised four children and now have five grandchildren. Tony says “My time in Mendocino County has allowed me to embrace the beauty that surrounds us. I see the benefit of preserving wild spaces for future generations.”