Project Management Team Biographies

Executive Project Manager

Dave Halsing

Executive Project Manager, CA Coastal Conservancy

[email protected], (650) 814-0588

Dave Halsing brings more than 11 years of experience in environmental consulting to the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. At firms including Environmental Science Associates, AECOM, and URS, he has worked on or managed environmental and infrastructure management, restoration, and enhancement projects in and around San Francisco Bay. In seven of those years, he worked on various aspects of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, including its Phase 2 alternatives development, design, environmental analysis documents, and permitting. In the last two years, he worked as a deputy to his predecessor, John Bourgeois, helping to keep all the Project’s pieces in motion while collaborating with the Project Management Team and project partners. Other project work relevant to the Restoration Project involved San Francisco Bay habitat restoration or enhancement, public infrastructure, regulatory processes, alternatives development, and stakeholder or public engagement.

Prior to his consulting career, Dave was a research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. His work focused on integrating economics, spatial data, and decision sciences into the natural and physical sciences that were the USGS’ primary focus. Dave has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Stanford University and a Master of Science in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. He brings a strong project management background and a multidisciplinary approach to this challenging, multi-objective, multi-stakeholder project.  

State Coastal Conservancy

Brenda Buxton

Deputy Program Manager, San Francisco Bay Area Conservancy Program

Brenda Buxton has over 26 years of experience working at the Conservancy on coastal trail and beach access, parkland acquisitions and planning, environmental education and wetland restoration projects. Currently, Ms. Buxton is the Conservancy’s lead for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project and the associated South Bay Shoreline Study – a partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Santa Clara Valley Water District to provide flood protection, wetland restoration, and public recreation along the Santa Clara County shoreline. Ms. Buxton has a B.A. in History from UC Berkeley.

Laura Cholodenko

Project Manager, San Francisco Bay Area Conservancy Program

Laura joined the Coastal Conservancy in 2015 where she works on planning, implementation, and monitoring of tidal wetland restoration projects along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay. She also administers grants to non-profit organizations and public agencies implementing urban greening and environmental education programs in communities around the Bay Area. Prior to coming to the Conservancy, she worked at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife where she participated in conservation and restoration planning efforts for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Chris Barr

Deputy Complex Manager, San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Chris Barr has more than 27 years of experience working on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges, with wide-ranging experiences working to recover threatened and endangered species within refuges and in partnership with others across a larger landscape. Chris devoted more than 10 years of his career to working on the California Condor Recovery Program and has helped to establish new national wildlife refuges. He values working on landscape-level restoration efforts in partnership with states and community organizations. Chris previously worked for the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex from 1997-2000 and returned to the Bay Area in 2015 because of his interest in being a part of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. Prior to 2015, Chris managed five national wildlife refuges within the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Matt Brown

Refuge Manager, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Matthew (Matt) Brown has served as Don Edwards Refuge Manager since 2019.  Prior to joining the Don Edwards team, Matt spent the majority of his career focused on conserving the natural and cultural resources of the Pacific while working for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.  Living and working on Guam, Midway Atoll, Maui and Oahu instilled Matt with a deep respect for the diversity of cultures, ecosystems and wildlife found throughout the world. Matt believes that strong partnerships and collaboration are the key to successful conservation, and strives to develop a multi-agency/organization approach to tackle most issues. 

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Greg Martinelli

Wildlife Program Manager, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Greg manages the entire DFW Wildlife and Lands Program in the Bay Delta region. He has been with DWF since 2001, working as a water conservation supervisor and on water, environmental review and streambed alteration programs. Previously, he worked for the United States Geological Survey, coordinating all phases of the Napa-Sonoma salt pond project. As district biologist for the Suisun Resource Conservation District in the 1990s, he developed a wetland management plan for 52,000 acres of the Suisun Marsh.

John Krause

Associate Wildlife Biologist, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

John Krause is the Department’s unit biologist for Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties. He is the manager of the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve and operates the salt pond complex according to the Initial Stewardship Plan. He performs various wildlife management activities for the Department including rare species and game species monitoring, managing other State-owned properties such as the on-going wetland restoration at the original 835-acre Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (also known as the Baumberg tract) and works in a trustee and regulatory role for the Department to ensure sensitive resources are conserved. He also serves as a technical advisor on federal, state, municipal and private wetland resource management projects. John’s background includes earning a Bachelor of Science degree at U.C. Davis in ecology and conservation, and prior to working for the Department, his positions included District Biologist for the Caltrans Oakland office, as well as working as a scientific aid with Department, as a crew leader for the Marin County Open Space District trails program and as an assistant to UC Davis researchers studying Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe Basin old growth forests.

Santa Clara Valley Water District

Rechelle Blank

Engineering Unit Manager, Santa Clara Valley Water District

Rechelle has been with the Water District since 1992 and has worked on numerous flood protection and restoration type projects that require close multi-agency coordination and regular interaction with various community groups. She has been involved with the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study since 2010 and is responsible for oversight of the Water District’s Shoreline Study efforts for the entire Santa Clara County shoreline area. Rechelle has a professional Civil Engineering license and graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.

Judy Nam

Senior Water Resources Specialist

Judy serves as the Valley Water liaison to the Restoration Project.  She also manages the Calabazas Creek and San Tomas Creek Realignment Project and other environmental restoration oriented projects.  She has over 20 years of private and public experience in environmental compliance, pipeline design, water supply planning and operations, and flood protection projects.  She is a licensed civil engineer with an undergraduate degree in civil engineering and a master’s in environmental engineering from UC Berkeley.  

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Jessica Ludy

Biologist

Lead Scientist

The Project welcomes Donna Ball as its new Lead Scientist.

Donna Ball

Senior Scientist, San Francisco Estuary Institute

[email protected], (510) 746-7346

Donna has worked as a restoration ecologist with more than 15 years of experience in restoring San Francisco Bay's marshes and estuaries.  As a strong conservation leader, scientist, collaborator, and mentor, she has been an important contributor to many important Bay Area projects, including the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, the Wetland Regional Monitoring Program, the Oro Loma Horizontal Levee Project, and others. She most recently served as the Habitat Restoration Director for Save The Bay, where she led a community-based restoration and education program engaged in wetland restoration, and led projects to respond to sea level rise and climate change.  During her time at H.T. Harvey & Associates, Donna helped develop the Restoration Project’s initial restoration plans and science program, as well as working on a wide range of restoration projects throughout California. She graduated with a M.S. degree in Environmental Science with a focus on marine and estuary systems from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.

Through a partnership between the Restoration Project and the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), Donna works half-time running the Restoration Project’s Science Program and half-time on other SFEI projects.

Consensus and Collaboration Program, CSU Sacramento

Ariel Ambruster

Lead Facilitator/Mediator

The Consensus and Collaboration Program (formerly the Center for Collaborative Policy) provides support to the Project on collaborative public outreach and engagement. Ariel has more than 13 years of experience in environmental policy and planning facilitation and communication, and 14 years of experience in print journalism. She has facilitated policy and scientific stakeholder processes for state, federal and local agencies, and developed and implemented outreach and stewardship plans. Ariel received a Master's Degree in City and Regional Planning, with a concentration in Environmental Planning, from the University of California at Berkeley. She also has specialized training in mediation, consensus-building, and interest-based negotiation.

Management Structure

Management Structure
Figure: Management Structure