Board & Staff2018-06-28T09:38:46+00:00

Board Members

Our board meets monthly to discuss and decide on policy issues affecting our organization (or via email/remotely as needed for time-sensitive items). The board operating committee, which consists of  Treasurer Andy Fusso and Secretary lydia hobbs, directs the day-to-day work of staff and consultants. We are currently seeking new board members interested in serving our mission. Board meetings are generally open to our supporters; please contact us to learn more.

Richard Lucas
Richard LucasPresident
Richard joined the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center in 1989, shortly after its founding. He has been a Board member since 1993 and served as its President since 2009. His passion for nature is experienced through hiking, skiing, diving, river rafting, personal forestry, gardening, immersive travel to wild places, dancing in the woods and working with the amazing folks associated with MSBEC.

He has owned a local business, Shasta Visions and played music with SoundFarm Band and many others since 1987. His son grew up running in the wilderness around Mount Shasta.

lydia hobbs
lydia hobbsSecretary
lydia hobbs grew up in Santa Barbara, where she enjoyed engaging with nature on camping trips to the beach or hikes in the surrounding hills. The aftermath of the 1969 Chevron oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara was a formative experience for her as a teenager and from that point on she became an environmentalist.

Lydia began visiting Mount Shasta in the mid-1980s and moved here in 1991. She has been involved with MSBEC since the late 1990s and became a board member in 2001. Since 2012 she has been a co-owner of Directions, a local boutique.

Looking at Mount Shasta and its beautiful surrounding landscapes inspires her on a daily basis to work towards protecting these natural wonders for future generations.

John Sanguinetti
John SanguinettiBoard Member
John grew up running wild in the orchards, fields and foothills of San Jose, California. His family camped every summer for at least four weeks, and he was involved in scouting and its many outings and camps. His mother interested him in birds and his dad in trout fishing.  He started river rafting on the Stanislaus in 1970 and has run most California rivers plus the Grand Canyon and part of the Zambezi in Africa.

John has spent a lot of time traveling and reading, still his favorite things to do. He is a fiscal and environmental conservative and a political progressive, and doesn’t think population growth solves anything. An electrician and contractor for 44 years. John has two daughters and 5 grandsons. The Mount Shasta area inspired John to live here for 26 years and he is wary of unplanned growth which is unlikely to make things better.

Andy Fusso
Andy FussoTreasurer
Andy advises organizations and people who make the world a better place. His strategic and financial management experience encompasses entrepreneurial, corporate, nonprofit and public organizations.

Starting a public career with the California Legislature and the University of California, he later moved to the private sector, and was part of a team which accomplished Dolby Laboratories’ 2005 initial public offering.  From 2003 to 2011, he owned the Jellyfish Gallery art and performance space in San Francisco’s SOMA area.

He continues to serve as CFO for Earthdance’s global network of peace and music events, and recently as an investor in an innovative permaculture-based community subdivision development in Costa Rica.

Andy holds an M.P.A. (Master of Public Administration) degree from the University of Southern California.

Fred Lewis
Fred LewisBoard Member
At the age of 21 Fred began managing a clothing store in Miami, and by age 29 he launched “London Britches” which grew to 19 stores within a year and 29 stores in two years, eventually manufacturing his own clothing as well. After selling that business he remodeled a 1902 Victorian hotel, “Healing Waters”.

He also became active in helping Navajo tribes from the Big Mountain area of Arizona preserve their land and rights from exploitation. In 1988 he purchased the Stoney Brook Inn in McCloud, and in 1990 founded Klamath Blue Green Algae Company.  In recent years, he developed a destination resort, “Astanga Yoga Centers” in Sri Lanka. In 2007 he was one of the initiators of Mount Shasta’s Community Garden in Shastice Park.

Our Founder

Michelle Berditschevsky
Michelle BerditschevskySenior Conservation Consultant
Ms. Berditschevsky, M.A., founded the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center (Ecology Center) in 1988 and served as its Executive Director for 23 years. She used her knowledge of environmental and cultural preservation policy and grassroots organizing to successfully lead the Save Mount Shasta campaign, and also worked on forest and watershed issues.

During her tenure the Center’s programs expanded to include the H.O.M.E. (Honor Our Mountain Environment) Stewardship Project, the Mount Shasta Community Garden, many educational events and celebrations, and other projects fostering a culture in harmony with nature. She was instrumental in gaining Historic District designations for Mount Shasta and the Medicine Lake Highlands and developed strong working relationships with Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, agencies at the local and federal levels, environmental groups and Native American Tribes.

She worked as Environmental Director for the Pit River Tribe for ten years, and as Executive Secretary of the Native Coalition for over a decade. She is now serving the Ecology Center as Senior Conservation Consultant, leading our work to save Medicine Lake Highlands and advising on the creation of a Regional Conservation Strategy.

Please take a moment to read Michelle’s life story, “Listening to the Mountain” here.


Dr. Arielle Halpern
Dr. Arielle HalpernSenior Program Director
Dr. Halpern earned her Ph.D. in Plant Ecology, Fire Ecology and Ethnobotany from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016. Her doctoral research brought her to western Siskiyou County, where she completed her dissertation on prescribed fire and tanoak-associated cultural plant resources of the Karuk and Yurok Peoples of California.

She later served as coordinator for the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership, a 1.2 million acre, multi-stakeholder demonstration project in the Klamath River watershed dedicated to restoring resilient ecosystems, economies and communities.

Arielle has on-the-ground experience as a NWCG certified Type 2 Firefighter (FFT2) and Fire Effects Monitor Trainee (FEMOt), and continues to collaborate with the organizations, tribes and individuals with whom she completed her dissertation research.

She currently is an adjunct faculty member at the College of the Siskiyous Department of Biology, where she has developed and taught environmental science and introductory biology courses.

Natalie Ortiz
Natalie OrtizAdministrative Director
Natalie supports essential administrative tasks of our organization, coordinating projects, monitoring grants and fiscal sponsorships, fielding emails and phone calls and ensuring the fine details of our work are handled smoothly and efficiently.

She has also taken on bookkeeping, payroll and human resources tasks, and serves as our volunteer coordinator. With previous experience in retail and continuing as an entrepreneur, she is currently enrolled in the accounting program at the College of the Siskiyous.

Bianca Garza
Bianca GarzaDevelopment and Communications Director
Bianca holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of South Florida, and previously served as a Regional Organizer, and then as Director of Communications & External Affairs for the United for Care PAC, which led a successful Florida statewide ballot campaign in 2016 that passed with over 71% approval.

With primary responsibility for donor and supporter relations, she also organizes and coordinates special events and develops fundraising strategies. Bianca edits and produces our monthly email newsletter, keeps our website and social media communications up to date, and is the key contact for the press and public relations.