Stephen stepped into the role of Executive Director of VRFSC in March 2023. He joined the VRFSC team in 2021 as Director of Operations, eager to restructure and reorganize the grant management, financial, and administrative aspects of the Fire Safe Council.
Stephen started his career in the nonprofit world while getting his Masters in Psychology and Counseling. After working as a therapist for many years, Stephen went on to manage a therapy center for troubled teens. He even aided in the creation of a new nonprofit community mental health center that provided low-cost therapy for teens and families who couldn’t otherwise afford it. He had served as the Secretary and Treasurer at this nonprofit for over two years. It was during this time that Stephen realized he had a passion for working in nonprofits and serving those in need.
The VRFSC Board of Directors takes great pride in Stephen's leadership, recognizing his deep-rooted understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the nonprofit landscape. Under his guidance, the Fire Safe Council has witnessed significant growth, as Stephen spearheaded the restructuring of key operational areas, including grant management and financial administration. His unwavering dedication, strategic vision, and profound empathy have fostered a culture of collaboration, innovation, and community engagement within the organization.
Pepper joined the Fire Safe Council in February 2022 and is thrilled to participate in the project of making Ventura County a safer place to live with wildfire. Pepper holds a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.A. in Education from the University of Colorado-Denver. Pepper brings a diverse range of skills to the council, including experience as a public school teacher, mountain guide, and community organizer. Pepper has a passion for empowering communities to effect positive change and appreciates the balance between conservation and sustainability.
Sarah joined the Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council team in February of 2022. She has lived in Ventura County her whole life and in 2020 she received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Resource Management from CSU Channel Islands, emphasizing Resource Management. Working with VRFSC has given Sarah a deep understanding and appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve knowledge and awareness throughout our communities. As the Finance and Administration Manager, Sarah is responsible for all accounting, financial and fiscal management aspects of VRFSC’s operations, and she provides leadership and coordination to our partners and our community.
Max came to the Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council in February of 2022 wanting to combine the passions developed as a Consulting Utility Forester, working in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties as a Southern California Edison contractor, and as a Conservationist 1 at the Camarillo Fire Center for the California Conservation Corps. There he became certified through CAL FIRE to work wildfires locally, and throughout the state, on a Type 1 Handcrew. The experience led him towards wanting to help develop community resiliency to wildfires and educating the public on how we can and need to adapt to living with them.
He has a passion for resource conservation, and land management and studied Environmental Science within the College of Agriculture at the University of Nevada, Reno. A native Californian, Max has lived, worked, and studied in many different areas of the State, but holds a special relationship with Ventura and its many wonderful communities. You may see Max running on Ventura’s trails on the weekends, or surfing its many breaks.
Mayra joined VRFSC in February of 2022 after having completed her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Communications from California State University Channel Islands.
Prior to her degree, Mayra worked in nonprofits for over a decade helping provide educational programming throughout her career. With the Ventura Family YMCA, she started an English as a Second Language program for migrant families. At the Santa Barbara-Ventura County Dental Society, Mayra facilitated continuing education programs for dentists and their staff. While pursuing her degree, Mayra worked for the Santa Rosa Island Research Station and led their SRIRS Speaker Series program for students pursuing environmental careers.
Born and raised in Ventura County, Mayra cares deeply about contributing back to the communities she grew up in and making education as accessible and inclusive as possible. She hopes to make an impact in her community by encouraging people to learn and teach others about the impacts of our changing climate. She believes it is necessary for VRFSC, as a wildfire-focused organization, to break down scientific and cultural knowledge in ways the community can understand in order to learn to live with wildfire rather than fear it.
Natasha joined the Fire Safe Council in July 2022 as our third Wildfire Safety Liaison. She enjoys connecting with members of her community and being able to make a positive impact on people and the planet. Natasha studied Environmental Communications and minored in Environmental Science and Resource Management at CSU Channel Islands. With her experience implementing sustainability initiatives and climate action planning at her University, she cultivated a love for the environmental field. She has worked with certified B corporations and nonprofits and brings skills in marketing, facilitation, and event planning. Aside from work, Natasha enjoys solo traveling and spending quality time with friends.