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NEWS: Sempervirens Fund Welcomes Michael Watkins and Peter Staple to its Board of Directors

Former Board President Fred Keeley Retires After 10 Years of Service

Los Altos, Calif. (January 5, 2021) — Sempervirens Fund welcomes Michael Watkins and Peter Staple to its board of directors and honors former Board President Fred Keeley for 10 years of service.

“We are delighted that Michael Watkins and Peter Staple are joining our board,” said Sara Barth, Sempervirens Fund’s executive director. “They each bring a wealth of professional expertise that will advance our goals to protect the most critical redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, deepen our relationship with regional experts, expand access to nature for all, and strengthen our operational efficiencies, especially as we emerge from a pandemic and an economic downturn.”

Michael Watkins brings to Sempervirens Fund decades of public service in the field of education at the local, County of Santa Cruz, and California state level, including most recently as Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools. He also served as President of California’s 58 County Superintendents Association and of the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators. He also served on the Task Force that created California’s “Blueprint for Environmental Literacy: Educating Every Student In, About, and For the Environment.”

“As a staunch advocate for environmental protections I am honored to have been selected to serve on the Sempervirens Board,” said Michael Watkins. “Growing up in the Bay Area and having lived in Santa Cruz for the past forty years has given me a great appreciation for the redwood forests, and now I can work to share this beauty with others.”

Peter Staple is an advisor and board member for both for-profit and non-profit organizations, and brings to Sempervirens Fund over 30 years of experience developing and implementing growth strategies while working in senior management roles in biotechnology companies, including as chief executive officer of Corium, Inc. and executive vice president of ALZA Corporation. His board experience includes serving on audit, compensation and nominating and governance committees as well as board chair. Mr. Staple has also worked on advisory boards for Stanford University and currently serves on the governing boards of Campaign Legal Center and Issue One, two leading non-profit organizations based in Washington D.C. that focus on voting rights, campaign finance, and political reform.

“Sempervirens Fund has a historic role, and a strong track record of success, in the preservation of our coast redwood forests,” said Peter Staple. “Having explored these awesome forest habitats over many years, I am excited to join the board and support the mission of preserving and protecting them for the future.”

Former California State Assemblymember and Speaker pro Tempore Fred Keeley retired from the Sempervirens Fund board at the end of 2020. He served as board president from 2014-2016.

“Fred Keeley has been a lifelong advocate for environmental and conservation causes across California. He has been a tireless champion of the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains and played a crucial role in the designation of the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument. We are grateful for his 10 years serving on Sempervirens Fund’s Board including serving as our Board President,” said Pamela Koch, current Board President. “We are a smarter, stronger, and more impactful organization thanks to Fred.”


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