Board of Trustees
John Swartley, President
"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.
Richard Strom, Vice 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 is currently involved in sales and marketing for the Skunk Train, the most popular attraction in Mendocino County. Prior to that, he was the Director of Tourism Development for Visit Mendocino County for 10 years, specializing in sales. He has been active in tourism in Mendocino since 2002, when he and his wife Susan purchased a bed-and-breakfast. Originally from a journalism and legal background, Richard enjoys the tranquility of Mendocino village. In addition to his work with Mendocino Land Trust, Richard has served on the Board of Leadership Mendocino and is active in community affairs.
Barbara Weiss, Treasurer
"I work for MLT because I believe that our mission of wildlife habitat preservation, protection of open space, and public access is essential to human health and well-being. The outdoors is our common heritage; we cannot live successfully without it."
Barbara moved to California in 1982 and became involved with the Land Trust to work on the Big River project, soon after coming to Little River in 1999. She earned a PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology at UC San Diego in 1990 and a DVM from UC Davis in 2002. She now practices veterinary medicine in Fort Bragg at Detrick’s Veterinary Hospital and in Mendocino at Village Veterinary. She is honored by her service with MLT and proud of our work in Mendocino County.
Lorrie Lagasse, Secretary
"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.
"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 and has been an officer since 2003. 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.
"For me it was all about "public access" to our beautiful coastline. I was drawn to working with the Mendocino Land Trust because of its exceptional track record of keeping the Mendocino Coast accessible to all--through outright purchases, through easements, through stewardship and trail building. By working with the Land Trust I feel I am part of a movement that understands the urgency and value of protecting our shoreline and making it accessible to all of us, for now and for generations to come."
Terry is a land use and municipal lawyer in private practice on the Mendocino Coast. She is currently the City Attorney for the City of Point Arena and advises both local districts and individuals.
She spent seven years advising the Mendocino County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors on land use issues and is well-versed in the California Coastal Act and the California Environmental Quality Act as well as the local planning and building codes. She successfully defended the County's land use decisions in trial and appellate courts. Prior to moving to Mendocino County in 2006, she spent 18 years in private practice in Oakland, Calif., preparing complex litigation for trial and working in the judicial system. Terry grew up in New York City, and the beaches of Long Island were her first experience of "open space." She came to the Land Trust Board directly from Leadership Mendocino in 2014, because of her interest in coastal access and land conservation.
"As someone who has worked and recreated outdoors most of their 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, Ukiah Councilmember 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.