Who We Are

Who We Are

The Institute at the Golden Gate champions sustainable development and environmental stewardship. Our mission is to drive action and change on the critical issues of our time. Leveraging our expertise and networks—especially those in parks and protected areas—the Institute acts as a catalyst and leader, incubating and implementing new ideas, policies and practices where it can have a clear impact. The Institute is a program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in partnership with the National Park Service.


Lori Bruton, Administrative Coordinator, has a background in marketing and PR and experience with local park agencies. Lori serves as Institute at the Golden Gate’s first point of contact for the public, partners and colleagues, as well as acting social media maven. Born and raised in Marin County, Lori loves exploring the region’s hidden gems in her spare time as well as attending Bay Area sporting events, traveling and DIY projects. She holds a degree in International Business and a minor in Spanish from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.


Catherine Carlton, Program Manager at the Institute at the Golden Gate, comes to the Institute with interdisciplinary experience designing and implementing environmental programs for maximum social impact. She specializes in action-oriented strategic planning and partnership development. With the Institute, she is leading the development of our climate change, education, and urban work. Catherine holds a degree in History from Stanford University and a Master’s in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.


Donna Leong, Project Coordinator, has a background in health policy and governmental partnerships. She has worked in the Lt. Governor’s Office of Rhode Island to implement long term care policy using cross-sector engagement. She is working on the Healthy Parks, Healthy People: Bay Area collaborative to ensure continued success of the internationally renowned program. Donna holds degrees in Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and American Studies from Brown University.


Honoré Pedigo, Operations and Outreach Manager, ensures the smooth operation of the Institute offices and gives general support to its staff, as well as oversees our Emerging Leaders Fellowship program. Additionally, Honoré acts as a liaison to our partners Cavallo Point Lodge qualifying environmental groups and answering questions about the dynamic relationships at play at Fort Baker. Honoré, a Bay Area native, holds a degree in Anthropology from University of California, San Diego, and enjoys exploring in her free time.


Oksana Shcherba, Program Coordinator, has a background in public administration and policy, with an emphasis in environmental policy.  She has worked with local governments, including the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, as well as environmental advocacy groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund on initiatives ranging from outlining open space needs in underserved neighborhoods to promoting sustainable fishing practices. At the Institute, Oksana helps manage the Climate Change Education and Urban Programs. Oksana holds a Bachelor’s in Politics from the University of San Francisco and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.


Chris Spence, Director of the Institute at the Golden Gate, has 20 years’ experience working internationally and in the United States on sustainable development, conservation, climate change, and health policy. He has held leadership positions at non-profits in New York, New Zealand and California. He has also served as a political advisor and is an award-winning writer. Chris is the author or co-author of several books, including Global Warming: Personal Solutions for a Healthy Planet (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Chris has served on a number of boards and advisory groups over the years, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the George Wright Society and a member of IUCN’s World Protected Areas Commission.


Kristin Wheeler, Program Director at the Institute at the Golden Gate, has a background in environmental and social justice organizing and training. Kristin led the development of the Park Prescriptions pilot in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood in San Francisco and serves as the lead facilitator for the Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area collaborative and the National Park Prescriptions Initiative. Kristin serves on the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters of San Francisco and is a member of IUCN’s World Protected Areas Commission and the Healthy Parks Healthy People Global Task Force. Kristin holds degrees in Political Science, Geography, and Art History from Gustavus Adolphus College.


Fellowship for Emerging Leaders

We are currently hiring for our 2015 Fellows - to learn more about the open positions, please check out our Fellows page


Consultants + Interns

Graham Schnaars comes as a consultant to the Institute after years of experience working as a civil engineer and as a public policy advisor for numerous issues, including both environmental and conservation efforts. He enjoys working with a diverse team, finding common ground solutions that deliver efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective results. When he’s not poring over Venn Diagrams, Graham enjoys playing outdoors, getting his fair-skin sunburnt, finding himself lost in the woods, talking about training for triathlons, or spending a rainy afternoon whittling. He is currently assisting the Institute with their Interpretation and Education Business Plan.

Advisory Council

Mark Buell (Chair), Civic Leader, San Francisco

Suzanne Badenhoop, Civic Leader, San Francisco

Martha Ehmann Conte, Civic Leader, San Francisco

Randi Fisher, Pisces Foundation, San Francisco

Jessica Galloway, Civic Leader, San Francisco

John Gamble, Managing Partner, Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis, LLP, San Francisco

Patsy Ishiyama, Civic Leader, San Francisco

Jay Ku, Vice President, Partnerships, TakePart.com / Participant Media

John McCosker, Chair of Aquatic Biology, California Academy of Sciences

Amy McCombs, Civic Leader, San Francisco

Whitney Mortimer, Partner, Global Marketing Director, IDEO

Julie Parish, Landscape Designer, Liaison to the William Kent Society, San Francisco