Steering Committee Members and Staff

Ruben Arizmendi
Ruben ArizmendiChair, Steering Committee
Ruben Arizmendi is an attorney who has been in a civil practice, which includes business litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy and business set ups. The business transactions include forming corporations, LLC’s, Family Limited Partnerships, in addition to many business lawsuits wherein he represented plaintiffs and defendants. His estate planning experience includes the preparation of hundreds of living trust documents and probate.

Ruben received his Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State University and his Juris Doctorate degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Ruben is a member of the California State Bar Association, San Diego County Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, California La Raza Lawyers Association, San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Alumni Association, and the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Ruben’s interests in the Sierra Club arise out of his desire to see the world as environmentally strong and healthy, not only now but for generations to come. This is only going to happen when we all work in harmony to preserve the precious few environmental gems that seem to be sifting rapidly through our hands.

Peter A. Andersen
Peter A. AndersenSteering Committee Member
Peter A. Andersen (PhD, Florida State University, 1975) is professor emeritus in the School of Communication at San Diego State University. He has been a member of the Sierra Club for over 40 years. In the 1990’s he served three terms as chair of the San Diego Chapter Political Committee. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s he served two terms on the San Diego Chapter Executive Committee. He was the head of the committee and lead plaintiff in the fight against the Jackson Drive extension that would have bisected Mission Trails Park. He successfully stopped the Jamul Quarry in California, prevented the flooding of Canaan Valley in West Virginia, and led the fight to preserve the Volo Bog in Illinois. In this time of political turmoil it is more important than ever that activists resists the destruction of the local and global environment. He is willing to serve to restore this wonderful chapter to full status and facilitate the important work we need to do.
George Courser
George CourserSteering Committee Member
George Courser is a 4th generation San Diegan, with his children and grand-kids living in the County. His 45-year working career was in the supermarket industry, employed by Safeway and Ralphs in all capacities from clerks’ helper to Store Director in both chains. George currently serves as the Chair of the Chapter’s Conservation Committee.

Over the years George has been involved in major projects in the Southland including the recently resolved Gregory Canyon Landfill, the Sunrise Powerlink, ballot Measures A & B and innumerable smaller projects. His preference is assist residents who are facing major general plan amendments to be successful in protecting their homes and communities.

His career brought him familiarity with all of Southern California and an appreciation of our natural resources and amazing biological diversity. His interests and activism were spurred by San Diego County’s failure to exert the California Environmental Quality Act standards or regulatory control over several projects in the North County.

Brian Elliott
Brian ElliottSteering Committee Member
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest laid the foundation for Brian’s two passions in life, protecting nature and spending as much time outdoors as possible. To be a successful advocate, Brian recognized early on the critical role science must play in decision-making. This led him to study biology, chemistry and political science at the University of Portland. The thrill of Washington, DC brought him out to the East Coast and eventually up to Philadelphia where he received a Masters in Environmental Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.

Since arriving in San Diego, Brian has been an active member with Sierra Club and the greater environmental community as a volunteer and professionally, focusing on energy, water and climate policy matters.

Brian and his wife Sheila, a biomedical researcher, are avid trail runners that spend their weekends exploring everywhere from the desert floor to top of Cuyamaca Peak.

Karenlee Robinson
Karenlee RobinsonSteering Committee Member 619-572-8451
During her career, Ms. Robinson has served as Hospital Administrator/CEO of several psychiatric hospitals. Karenlee has Masters Degrees in both Psychiatric Social Work and Healthcare Administration. She has facilitated significant organizational change with several hospital startups and turnarounds.

As a leader in large hospital organizations with multi-disciplinary staff, she has learned to work collaboratively and successfully with many stakeholders, including patients, families, physicians and staff, all having varied interests. Over the years, she received numerous awards and recognitions for her leadership. She has been active with many mental health and community organizations including serving on the Board of San Diego Mental Health America for 14 years and as Board President from 2007 to 2009.

From 2012 to the present, she has been the Program Coordinator for the San Diego Sierra Club Wilderness Basics Course. Karenlee is an active COL II leader. She has been a leader for both local and national outings. Her organizational leadership and expertise, her enthusiasm for exploring and conserving the outdoors and her availability since retirement will be of value to help lead the Club at this critical transition point.

Fred Rogers
Fred RogersSteering Committee Member
A native San Diegan, Fred is a graduate of UCSD with degrees in both Political Science and History. Since graduating from college he has worked for several technology companies as a Technical Writer and Technical Documentation Specialist for the past 17 years.

Fred has been active with the county Democratic Party for over the past 12 years and has held various Executive Board positions including serving as Vice Chair of the party from 2009 to 2012. Currently he is serving his fourth term as the elected
representative for the 78th Assembly District to the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party. He is the cofounder of the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action which is the only Democratic Club in Southern California dedicated to advancing environmental issues.

An active Sierra Club member since 2002, Fred has been serving on the Political
Committee for the chapter since 2013. He is a strong believer in building strong
coalitions among like-minded allies in achieving environmental goals. He welcomes the current challenges the chapter is facing at this time, and looks forward assisting the chapter during this critical time.

Paul WebbSteering Committee Member
Paul has recently retired after spending 35 years as a local environmental professional. Over those years, he served as a coastal program analyst at the California Coastal Commission, a land officer at California State Parks, and Airport Planner for the SD Airport Authority. He has a BA in Zoology and a MA in urban planning and is highly experienced with land use and water entitlements including CEQA/NEPA, Coastal Act, Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act, and is a former certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives. A longtime member of the Sierra Club, Paul is an elected member of his local Point Loma Peninsula planning group. Paul has extensive leadership experience of teams from different agencies under scrutiny from public perception. His administrative law and land use background is weighted with team leadership experience to help lead the club forward.
Richard Miller
Richard MillerDevelopment & Communications Coordinator
Mr. Miller has been the Development and Communications Coordinator for Sierra Club San Diego since 2009 developing and implementing the Chapter fundraising programs. He holds Certificates in Fund Raising for Small Nonprofits and Fund Raising Management from The Fund Raising School at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Mr. Miller is often the first point of contact for the Chapter, responsible for membership relations and office administration. Mr. Miller’s previous volunteer experience includes service on the Executive Committee’s for Sierra Club San Diego and Sierra Club California where he served as Chair for both organizations. Mr. Miller has also served on National Sierra Club committees, including as Chair of the National Nominating Committee for the Sierra Club Board of Directors.

Steering Committee Goals

The Sierra Club Board of Directors on February 21, 2014 established the following goals for the Sierra Club San Diego Steering Committee and other Club leaders working with members of the Chapter:

  1. Rebuild Sierra Club functions in San Diego and Imperial counties and transition to a well-functioning, effective member-elected San Diego Chapter volunteer leadership. This will include establishing new group norms to build trust among volunteer leaders, maintaining intellectual honesty and respectful dialogue, addressing disagreements constructively, and establishing a governance structure that engages people in work that advances the Club’s mission.
  1. Provide support to improve Chapter volunteer leadership and management capacity to engage in addressing potential problems before they evolve into conflicts and constructively resolve disagreements.
  1. Build the capacity of the San Diego groups, sections and committees to engage members and supporters in meaningful ways to advance Club goals.
  1. Build a mutually beneficial relationship with the national Sierra Club.
  1. Maintain the core functions of the Chapter: advancing the Club’s mission (conservation, litigation, and political), providing service to members, supporters and the public, building local resources, and complying with policies and standards.
  1. Ensure compliance with applicable Club policies and requirements.

San Diego Steering Committee Appointed

On April 11th, 2014, the national Sierra Club Board Executive Committee unanimously approved the San Diego Search Team’s recommendation appointing seven Steering Committee members and two alternates (to fill vacancies). Named to the Committee were Kerry Siekmann, Dr Alan Creutz, Nick Ervin, Karenlee Robinson, Debbie Hecht, Paul Webb, and Davin Widgerow. Alternates were Joe Zechman and Diane Nygaard. Subsequently, Kerry Siekman and Alan Creutz resigned, and Joe Zechman and Diane Nygaard were appointed to fill the vacancies.

In making the announcement, Sierra Club President Dave Scott expressed the Boards appreciation to the local Sierra Club members who served as the Search Team: Lynn Baker, Starla Rivers, Larry Klaasen, Micah Mitrosky and Martin Stevens. “They did outstanding work in recruiting 26 candidates, thoroughly vetting them, and identifying a well-qualified leadership team for San Diego.” said Scott.

“We also want to express our gratitude to all of the members who offered to serve on the Steering Committee. We encourage those of you who were not chosen for the Steering Committee to consider stepping into other leadership roles to help us build the strongest, most effective San Diego Sierra Club possible.” added Scott.

The Steering Committee has been charged with rebuilding Sierra Club capacities and managing Sierra Club functions in San Diego and Imperial counties, rebuilding trust among volunteer leaders and with the national Board and staff, and preparing for a transition to a well-functioning, member-elected San Diego Chapter leadership.

History of Chapter Chairs
  1. Ivy Foster 1948-1949
  2. Jerry Zagorites 1950-1951
  3. Lucius W. “Skip” Johnson 1952-1953
  4. Virginia Gilloon 1954
  5. Glen Conklin 1955
  6. Welton Grosdidier 1956
  7. Lucille Peterson 1957-1958
  8. Bill Thomas 1959
  9. Aubrey Wendling 1960-1961
  10. Gilbert Parker 1962
  11. Harriet Allen 1963
  12. Carl Swedelius 1964
  13. Howard Allen 1965-1966
  14. Nicholas Keough 1967
  15. William Phillips, jr 1968
  16. Carl Swedelius (repeat) 1969
  17. Dick Rypinski 1970
  18. Fred Axe 1971-1972
  19. Peter Nelson 1973-1974
  20. Susan Turnbach 1975
  21. Jim Harrison 1976
  22. Cam Murray 1977
  23. Elizabeth Meyer 1978-1979
  24. Lyndelle Fairlie 1980
  25. Walter Konopka 1981
  26. Bob Hartman 1982-1983
  27. Emily Durbin 1984-1985
  28. Ruth Duemler 1986
  29. Linda Michael 1987
  30. Geoffrey Smith 1988-1989
  31. Rob Langsdorf 1989-1991
  32. Julie Hocking 1991-1992
  33. Rosemary Leigh 1993
  34. Barry Hite 1994-1995
  35. Lori Saldana 1996-1997
  36. Larry Klaasen 1997
  37. Carolyn Chase 1998
  38. Eric Bowlby 1999-2000
  39. Brad Buffett 2000
  40. Ellen Shively 2001-2002
  41. Richard Miller 2003-2005
  42. Joe Zechman 2005-2007
  43. Richard Miller (repeat) 2008-2009
  44. Joe Zechman (repeat) 2009
  45. Carolyn Chase (repeat) 2010-2011
  46. John Stump 2012
  47. Lori Saldaña 2013
  48. Kara Liederman 2013
  49. Dave Grubb 2014
  50. Debbie Hecht 2014-2015
  51. Davin Widgerow 2016
  52. Ruben Arizmendi 2016-Present