Steve brings over 15 years of nonprofit leadership experience combined with a passion for the environment to I Love A Clean San Diego. He has worked for several dynamic nonprofit organizations successfully leading efforts in program growth, financial management, fundraising, staff development and building community relationships.
Most recently, Steve held the role of executive director at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente where he combined his love of surfing and nonprofit leadership experience. He also served for four years as Outdoor Education Program Director at YMCA Camp Surf and three years as Development Director for the entire YMCA Overnight Camping Branch.
Steve holds a Master’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management from the University of San Diego where he studied organizational leadership, financial management, program design/evaluation, and volunteer/board engagement. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in business economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
As an environmentalist, he has completed his master composter certificate from the Living Coast Discovery Center and loves to share his composting knowledge with others.
Steve lives in Carlsbad with his wife Desiree and two rescue dogs.
Emily Nelson, a San Diego native, oversees the organization’s programs and internal operations. She first joined I Love A Clean San Diego as an Environmental Educator in 2014. Emily has a diverse background in leadership, project management, teambuilding, and outdoor & informal education with organizations including Girls Scouts San Diego, the YMCA, and the National Archives and Records Administration of Washington, D.C.. Emily believes deeply in the power of small, simple, sustained actions towards collective impact and loves helping people recognize their personal power in protecting our natural world. Outside of work, Emily enjoys hiking, camping, jigsaw puzzles, and spending time with family.
Ann Hirsch leads I Love A Clean San Diego’s finance department. She has served the nonprofit for more than 20 years, and is the longest serving employee on staff. Ann prepares financial and managerial accounting reports for ILACSD’s leadership and its board of directors, including management of accounts payable and receivable. Her work has helped maintain the highest quality of financial responsibility and transparency, which is reflected in the organization’s platinum rating by Candid’s GuideStar and three-star rating with Charity Navigator. Her experience crosses over into human resources, as well as many important administrative and bookkeeping-related services. Her extensive background includes over 30 years of bookkeeping and administrative experience. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, working in the yard and walks around Point Loma.
Ryan studied marine biology at UC Santa Cruz and later received an M.S. degree in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University. Before joining I Love A Clean San Diego, his professional career took him to several parks in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving as a Park Interpreter. Ryan then worked as an educator for several environmental nonprofits before becoming an educator and director of programs at a southern California nonprofit focused on outdoor education and wilderness camping for all ages. His passion for the environment and youth education inspired him to become a volunteer for the California Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education. First serving as a board member at large, and now board president, Ryan is committed to environmental justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. His teaching and leadership experience has helped youth and adults alike to grow, learn and change their lifestyles to better care for this one Earth that we all call home. Ryan enjoys camping, taking his son on long hikes, beach time and making/eating sustainable sushi!
Ann Marie was born and raised in rural Iowa and graduated from Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, Australia where she studied photojournalism and interned with Keep Australia Beautiful. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management through the University of Denver. Ann Marie lived in Australia for five years, during which she fell in love with the ocean, became scuba certified, and got married. Outside of work, Ann Marie is often found with her nose in a book, at the beach, or sewing clothes from thrifted materials.
Edwin, a resident of North San Diego County, brings his passion for nonprofits and storytelling, as well as his experience in the local nonprofit space to I Love A Clean San Diego. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication from California State University San Marcos and serves on the Communications Committee for Encuentros Leadership, a nonprofit that supports young Latino men reach their full potential. Outside of work, Edwin enjoys camping, traveling, and spending time with friends, family, and his rescue dog.
Originally from Chicago, Meghan is excited to be in sunny San Diego and loves exploring the beautiful city. She studied Sociology at Iowa State University, where she took a course on Environmental Sociology that ignited her passion for environmental change. She learned about the ways climate change disproportionately affects disempowered communties, and began the change in her lifestyle to help make an impact. When Meghan isn’t working, she loves to try out new coffee spots, do puzzles, and make art!
Rowan graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Global Studies with a concentration in Law and Human Rights and Spanish. During her time at the University, she worked on the school’s Urban Farm where she learned the ins and outs of organic farming and sustainable living. Before joining ILACSD she worked as an Assistant Farm Educator at Coastal Roots Farm where she supported the education department with Farm Camp, programs, and events. Prior to moving to San Diego she lived in Portland, Oregon where she worked for The Multnomah Athletic Club as the Athletic Engagement Fitness and Wellness Lead. After college she lived and worked in Australia for a year!
Rowan loves swimming, traveling, going to concerts, educating kids and building relationships with others.
Ali was born and raised in upstate New York, right along the Appalachian Trail, where she grew her love for the environment and it’s protection. After graduating with a BS in Marine Science at the University of Delaware, she worked at several environmental conservation camps in New York and Michigan. She found great fulfillment in teaching outdoor education. This brought her to San Diego, where she worked for a nonprofit, and focused on curriculum development with an environmental focus. She also coordinated an outreach program to local schools in south San Diego empowering kids to make choices that positively impact their environment. When not at work, Ali enjoys hiking, beach days, and checking out local breweries.
Kristin Banks is a born and raised San Diegan who has pursued environmental stewardship throughout her work, education and personal life. She graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s in Environmental Sciences and has extensive experience promoting environmental education and conservation to people of all ages and backgrounds. She has worked within the water utility for Imperial Beach and Coronado promoting residential and commercial water-conscious practices. She then became a Park Ranger for the City of Poway educating about nature’s value while helping to maintain natural spaces. She has also worked in outdoor recreation as a canoe guide, caving guide, ropes course leader and zipline operator to help promote personal growth and environmental appreciation to inspire action. As an extension of her passion for the great outdoors, she loves scuba diving, canoeing, backpacking, white water rafting and now snowboarding!
Nik is a lifelong San Diegan with a strong connection to environmental stewardship. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara in 2009 and his Master of City Planning from San Diego State University in 2013. Nik’s background in regional planning and environmental policy compliment his experience in communications and public outreach. Nik has been part of the I Love A Clean San Diego team since 2017. When he’s not high-fiving volunteers, you can find him cooking, reading, and hiking with his dog.
Amy Unruh is originally from the Bay Area and went to school at Sonoma State where she studied conservation/restoration (Bachelors) and biology (minor). In college, she interned with the Sonoma Land Trust, leading walks that focus on native raptors and wildflowers, as well as leading invasive species removal efforts. After graduating, she spent 1.5 years living in Vietnam, where she taught English and volunteered doing beach cleanups, and teaching about animal welfare and conservation. After returning, Amy worked with San Diego Floating Lab, which focused on teaching grade school students about ocean life and conservation. She also worked (and continues to work) with Family Camp At Yosemite, leading nature walks, teaching about native plants and animals, creating programing, and leading the Guest Experience team. In her free time she loves doing anything outside – going to beach, hiking, reading, and studying plant taxonomy!
Priscilla is the Waste Recovery Coordinator for I Love A Clean San Diego. As a native San Diegan, she spent a lot of time as a kid at the beaches and parks in North County. After studying Earth Science in college, she had a long career working in IT. Priscilla began her zero waste journey in an astronomy class when the teacher challenged her students to “buy fewer things” as one action to help solve climate change. After becoming a mom, she decided to focus on her passion for the environment and began to lead a zero waste lifestyle, which brought her to I Love A Clean San Diego. When she’s not working the hotline answering questions about recycling and hazardous waste, or visiting used oil recycling sites, you can find Priscilla spending time with friends and family camping, hiking, reading, and trying new vegan recipes. She hopes to inspire others to see that less can be more.
Lance is proud to call San Diego home and serve his community’s environmental needs. Inspired by his love for the ocean and beautiful home beach, Coronado, he majored in Conservation and Resource Studies at UC Berkeley in 2022 to broaden his understanding of our environmental challenges and potential solutions. The mantra, think globally and act locally, led him to apply his emphasis in sustainable development on the most local level by helping plan and coordinate cleanup events throughout his favorite place in the world. With a background in competitive surfing and surf coaching, he is no stranger to fun weekend events with beaming groups of like-minded people! In his spare time, Lance is either out in the lineup, chilling in a cafe, or at a concert with his best friends.
Maren grew up in Chicago and made her way out to California to study at the University of San Diego, where she recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and minors in Political Science and Sociology. She loves traveling, and both prior to and during college took any chance she could get to study or volunteer abroad. Some of her favorite projects she has worked on include implementing invasive species control plans in New Zealand and Fiji, and increasing access to clean water for rural villages in Cambodia through building water filters out of natural materials. She is passionate about sustainable food systems, holistic wellness, and living a zero-waste lifestyle. Outside of work, she can often be found doing acro yoga and aerial arts, going camping, enjoying concerts, and cooking vegan meals for friends and family.
Norma is a San Diego native and San Diego State University alumni where she earned her degree in Public Health. She became passionate about preserving our environment during her time at SDSU. She enjoys helping others and uses her bilingual skills to reach Spanish-speaking communities. Outside of work, Norma loves spending time with family and friends, traveling and learning about different cultures, reading books, thrifting, and the great outdoors.
Caroline is originally from New Jersey, but has always wanted to live in California! She has pursued environmental stewardship and justice throughout her work, education, and personal life. Caroline graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and a minor in Energy Science and Policy. After graduating from college, Caroline went on to complete a year of AmeriCorps service in Reno, Nevada where she worked to expand access to outdoor spaces and programming to all people. She is particularly passionate about environmental and social justice and is excited to apply her skills and experience at I Love A Clean San Diego. Outside of work, Caroline can be found at the beach, listening to her favorite podcasts, or learning to roller skate!
Eric joins the I Love A Clean San Diego team from Houston, Texas. The west coast is a familiar home to him, having spent four years on Catalina Island working as a marine science instructor. Before his time on the island, he spent a year as an AmeriCorps/FEMA Corps volunteer traveling the country to assist in disaster relief and preparedness. After spending many years as a self-proclaimed “professional nomad,” Eric is happy to be in one of his favorite areas of the country. In his free time he enjoys any and all ocean activities, anything outdoors, and loves exploring San Diego for hidden (foodie) gems. Eric holds a BA in Environmental Geoscience from West Virginia University.
Carla Frias is a creative activist with a strong background in Marketing and Photography for cultural and environmental initiatives. Her interest in combining art and business led her to earn a double degree in Strategic and Corporate Communication and Religious Studies at Chapman University while actively participating as an Event Planner and Brand Marketer for her school’s first Sustainable Fashion Club: Thrifties, the Cross Cultural Center, and her own environmental radio show New Earth, broadcasted in Chapman Radio from 2018-2021. Carla is originally from Lima, Peru, and has had the opportunity to travel and work for non-profits dedicated to conserve the Amazon Jungle- one of her favorite places in the world. Her connection to the environment has and continues to inspire her to promote conservation through the work she is involved in.
Kelsey was born and raised in Texas where she attended Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. She received her BS in Environmental Science and began working in conservation and environmental education in Austin, TX. Then she moved to Denver, CO where she gained experience at a nonprofit which worked towards ending food insecurity and houselessness. Kelsey has always been interested and dedicated to environmental preservation and spreading awareness about what we can all do on an individual basis. After relocating to San Diego, Kelsey wanted to get involved with the local efforts of helping to improve the environment, and she is so excited to join the ILACSD team! Kelsey enjoys scuba diving, playing on the beach with her dog, and cooking up fun vegan dishes!
Middle and High School Youth Education Coordinator
Erin grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she spent most of her childhood exploring the outdoors. Erin attended Santa Clara University where she was able to spend a summer working in Bolivia at an organization focused on connecting Bolivians to their environment. Inspired by this experience, Erin completed two years of AmeriCorps as a Community Outreach Coordinator at an urban forestry nonprofit organization in San Jose where engaged community members in creating more green spaces by planting trees. Erin moved from the Bay Area to San Diego last fall, and is excited to be at ILACSD where she can work in community inspiring the youth to become environmentalists. Outside of work, Erin can be found at the beach surfing, boogie boarding, and reading books.
Born and raised in San Diego, Kit loves everything his city has to offer. From the beautiful beaches to the great places to eat, he is always up for an adventure. From his time at the San Diego Junior Theatre and the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park, Kit is passionate about encouraging and educating others. He believes everyone has the ability to make a difference no matter how big or small that may be. An avid outdoorsman, Kit is a Junior Ranger in all of California’s National Parks where he loves spending as much time as possible. He also enjoys training for Strongman events, hitting the beach and helping out his community any way he can.
Hailing from South Bay San Diego, Marina believes in the power of community organizing and education. She graduated San Diego State University with a BS in Environmental Sciences, where she was involved in student organizations surrounding sustainability and environmental justice. Marina had the opportunity of gaining experience in developing and planning community events that promoted sustainable living and the city’s ecological transition through an international internship. In her free time, Marina loves to sing, play music, make crafts, and spend time with her family and friends.
Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Gianna moved to San Diego in 2017 to study Environmental Studies at the University of San Diego. During their time at USD, Gianna was an involved student activist that advocated for sustainability and climate action initiatives. They learned the importance of having access to environmental education and experiences which has led to a love of connecting people to the environment via educational opportunities. In 2020, they served with Americorps as a Naturalist Educator in Reno, Nevada where they spent a lot of time exploring the Eastern Sierras. Gianna loves spending time exploring nature, cooking vegan food, and making art!
Born and raised in North County San Diego and a recent graduate from University of California, Santa Barbara, Daphne majored in Earth Science with an emphasis in climate and environment. During her time at UCSB, Daphne volunteered for Santa Barbara’s Sunrise Movement hub and interned with Clean Water Action. Since graduation, she is excited to get involved with her community and share her passion for environmentalism and climate change.
Linnea was born and raised in Santa Cruz, CA. Growing up near the ocean sparked her passion in sustainable living and ocean awareness. She recently graduated from the University of California, Davis with a BS in Marine and Coastal Science and moved to San Diego to embark on her professional career at ILACSD. In her spare time, Linnea loves to snorkel, surf and snowboard!
After spending most of her life in Los Angeles, Rachel moved to Davis where she graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity. It was there that she discovered the importance of conserving our ecosystems and the value in learning about the organisms that inhabit them. Rachel has worked with various non-profits focusing on environmental stewardship and education, as well as natural resources management projects with the National Park Service and environmental consulting firms. When she is now engaging community members about zero-waste and waste diversion, Rachel can be seen tide-pooling, reading and crafting!
Eleuterio Buquiran Jr. “El” is a long-time San Diego resident with a background in science and education, and fluency in both Tagalog and Spanish languages. His passion for education and protecting the environment led him to earn a Master’s degree in Natural Resources – Leadership in Global Sustainability, and a Doctor of Education degree with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. El has also served as an active volunteer and supporter of I Love A Clean San Diego for many years on the organization’s volunteer program committee, as well as the Creek to Bay Cleanup and Coastal Cleanup Day as a site captain. El joins the team after working with the City of San Diego conducting environmental chemistry work and teaching a variety of physical science courses at Rizal Technological University, Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College and Southwestern College. In his free time, he likes to travel and enjoys learning about environmental initiatives in different communities and countries.
Mary was born and raised in San Diego, CA. As someone who grew up near the ocean, her passion for environmental justice and zero-waste living has been important to her since a young age. This passion grew as she studied abroad in Uganda and learned more about sustainability while living rurally. These passions led her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in International Development at Point Loma Nazarene University. Mary has worked with various nonprofits focusing on refugee women empowerment and global health. In her spare time, Mary loves to surf, rock climb, and garden!