P.O. Box 789, Santa Paula, CA 93061 contact@santaclarariver.org



Dr. Charles Lester
Executive Director 

Dr. Charles Lester has been working in the field of coastal and natural resource management for more than 25 years. In addition to serving as the Conservancy’s Executive Director, Charles recently joined the Marine Sciences Institute at UC Santa Barbara, where he conducts research, writing, teaching and advising about sea level rise, coastal resilience, and other aspects of California coastal law and policy. Previously, Charles worked many years for the California Coastal Commission, including serving as the agency’s fourth executive director from 2011 to 2016. Before coming back to California in 1997, Charles was an assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he taught environmental law and policy, with a focus on public lands governance and coastal zone management. He received his Ph.D. and J.D. from UC Berkeley, and a B.A. in Geochemistry from Columbia University. He lives in Ventura County with his wife and daughter, two dogs, and two cats.

Shawn Kelly

Shawn Kelly
Associate Director 

After graduating with a B.S. in Ocean Engineering from Texas A&M University, Shawn worked as a Coastal Engineer for the Gold Coast City Council in Queensland, Australia for a short time.  He subsequently moved to Ventura County and began a career as an Ocean Engineer for the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center’s Ocean Engineering Department. After 10 years working as an engineer, he returned to graduate school and obtained a Masters in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with an emphasis in marine resources. Following graduate school, he worked for a state initiative called the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (WRP) in a number of capacities.  The WRP is a partnership of 19 Federal and State public agencies working cooperatively to acquire, restore, and enhance coastal wetlands and watersheds between Point Conception and the border with Mexico. As well as working on a regional strategy for wetland recovery and the policy of wetland restoration project selection and prioritization, Shawn was the Program Manager for the Community Wetland Restoration Grant Program. Shawn’s professional interests broadly include coastal land use policy, coastal streams, rivers, and wetlands, physical oceanography, marine fisheries, ocean engineering, and climate change impacts, particularly sea level rise. Shawn is a passionate environmentalist and outdoor enthusiast, being a former competitive surfer as well as avid mountain biker and snowboarder. He is the father of two boys.


Laura Pavliscak
Restoration Manager

Laura has worked as a field biologist and land manager in the southwestern U.S. and abroad since 2001, specializing in ecological research, restoration, and biological mitigation.  She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Agroecology from the University of California Santa Cruz, and a M.S. in Aridland Ecology and Management from the University of Arizona.

Alans-SCRC-Profile-Picture.jpgAlan Espinoza
Restoration Technician

Alan is a recent graduate from San Jose State University, with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Environmental Restoration and Natural Resource Management. His passion for environmental awareness and conservation has led him to volunteer for SJSU’s Environmental Resource Center and work for UCSB’s Marine Science Institute as a Lab Assistant. Through his experience, he’s had the opportunity to work on his school’s Green Office program, assist on the restoration of the Santa Clara River, and improve his knowledge on the native flora and fauna. When he’s not worrying about the health of the earth, he enjoys spending his time playing basketball, going to the beach, and searching for the best milk tea Boba.

desirae_bragaDesirae Braga
Restoration Technician

Desirae is a recent graduate from Sonoma State University with a double major in Environmental science and Spanish and a minor in Biology. She spent a year abroad in Spain which not only helped her Spanish, but also fueled her urge to travel.  Before coming into the team, she has worked as a field Biologist with a variety of taxa around Sonoma county and recently started working with Ca Dept. of Fish and Wildlife in Ventura. In her free time Desirae enjoys kayaking, hiking, and other outdoor activities that keep her active and connected with nature. 


Leslie Magaña 
Education & Outreach Coordinator

Leslie is a graduate from California State University, Channel Islands where she received her B.S. in Environmental Science and Resource Management. Her admiration to educate and inspire younger generations led to her internship with the  Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. While working for the National Park Service, she led educational and interpretative programs for groups of various grade levels. Apart from teaching others on the importance of conservation and the health of the environment, Leslie enjoys visiting the beach, hiking, and exploring both National & International Parks. Leslie believes that educating others about the environment is key to achieving positive change in environmental attitudes.

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