Skip to Main Content


Home Schedule  Speakers Registration


Wade Crowfoot

California’s Natural Resources Agency

Wade Crowfoot became California’s Natural Resources Secretary in January 2019, appointed by
Governor Gavin Newsom.

Secretary Crowfoot oversees an agency of 21,000 employees who protect and manage California’s
natural environment. This includes stewarding the state’s forests and natural lands, rivers and waterways,
and coast and ocean, protecting fish and wildlife, and overseeing energy development. As a member of
the Governor’s cabinet, he advises Governor Newsom on natural resources and environmental issues.

Secretary Crowfoot firmly believes that good natural resources management helps natural places thrive
and allows communities and our economy to prosper. His key priorities include:

• Building California’s resilience to climate change-driven threats, including wildfire, drought,
extreme heat, flooding and sea-level rise. 
• Expanding equitable access to parks, natural places and outdoor recreation for all Californians. 
• Preserving California’s world-renowned biodiversity of plants and animals.

Prior to serving as Secretary, Crowfoot led the Water Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropy that builds
shared water solutions across the American West. Before that Crowfoot served in Governor Jerry Brown’s
Administration as deputy cabinet secretary and senior advisor to the Governor. He also previously served
as West Coast regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund and a senior environmental advisor
to then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Secretary Crowfoot received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-
Madison in 1996 and earned a master’s degree in public policy from the London School of Economics in
2004, graduating with honors.

A native of Michigan, Crowfoot grew up spending his summers outdoors at a YMCA camp and at his
family’s remote cabin in Northern Ontario. When he moved to California in the mid-1990s, he became an
avid hiker and backpacker. Crowfoot marks his first time in the redwoods at Big Basin State Park as one
of his defining California moments. Now he spends his time outside of work exploring, hiking and camping
with his wife, Lisa, and their young daughter.

Keren DillAnchor
Chief, Grants and Loans
Department of Parks and Recreation
Division of Boating and Waterways
P.O. Box 942896, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 94296

Keren Dill is the Chief of the Grants and Loans Unit at California State Parks, Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). She has worked at DBW since 2008 and in 2013 became Chief of the unit.  Since then, nearly all the Divisions grant programs were moved under her leadership and continue to undergo continuous improvement and greater transparency.  Prior to her work with DBW, Ms. Dill worked for 10 years as a project manager in commercial construction and two years in commercial real estate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology and later in life earned a master’s degree in business administration. Ms. Dill resides in Sacramento, California and during her limited free time enjoys being with friends and family, travel, photography, gardening, playing pickleball, hiking, and dinghy sailing with the Lake Washington Sail Club. She can be contacted at

Ramona M. Fernandez
Acting Deputy Director
Department of Parks and Recreation

Division of Boating and Waterways

P.O. Box 942896

Sacramento, CA 94296-0001


A native Californian who grew up camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, and immediately started working as a civil servant.

She has worked in several state agencies with over 30 years of state service. Desiring to return to the outdoors, in 2006, she secured a position at the Department of Parks and Recreation. In 2013, she joined the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW), where she was instrumental in providing stability, guidance and conformity to the operation of DBW as a Division within State Parks.  As the Boating Operations Chief, she managed the boating operations unit. She has served as second in command for DBW, providing leadership, oversight, accountability, stability and management of day-to-day operations for the Deputy Director.

In November 2017, she was ask to serve as DBW’s Acting Deputy Director, which she is still fulfilling.

She is California’s Boating Law Administrator, (BLA) and represents California on a national level with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), an organization comprised of all 50 states and the U.S. territories.  She served on the board of the Western Boating Administrator Association (WSBAA) comprised of 15 states and 6 territories.  She was a subject matter expert and participant in the Department’s first Leadership Development Program.

She was the recipient of the 2016 Boating Professional of the Year award on a national level and in 2014 received the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her personal leadership in the significant improvement of the AWAF and VTIP programs from the California Association of Harbor Masters and Port Captains. She continues to seek opportunities or work towards better business practices to ensure boating programs and services are enhanced and relevant.

Tasha Boerner Horvath
California State Assembly Member

Tasha Boerner Horvath was elected to the California State Assembly in November of 2018 and re-elected in November of 2020. She represents the 76th District, which encompasses Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, and Encinitas.

Tasha is the newly appointed Chair for the Assembly Committee onArts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, & Internet Media. She serves on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and the following policy committees: Local Government, Communications & Conveyance, Aging & Long-Term Care, and Veterans Affairs.In addition, she chairs the Select Committee on Sea Level Rise & the California Economy.Before serving in the State Assembly, Tasha served as a local City Councilmember, businesswoman, and former PTA leader. A third-generation North County resident, she served as a member of the city’s Planning Commission prior to her election to the Encinitas City Council in 2016.

Professionally, Tasha has worked for global Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, and higher-education institutions. In response to her daughter’s struggle with sensory processing disorder, Tasha started a business designing sensory-friendly clothing for little girls.

Tasha earned an M.A. in International Studies from Claremont Graduate University Institute of Politics and Policy. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. Tasha is the proud Mom of two children.

Brian Jones
California State Senator, 38th District

Brian W. Jones was born on a military base in Austin, TX, and his family moved from Colorado to San Diego County when he was ten years old. He attended Grossmont College and earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at San Diego State University. Brian has pursued many opportunities including general manager at a local pizza franchise, car salesman, associate pastor, and a commercial real estate agent. Brian and Heather met while working at the local pizza franchise. They have been married for 28 years and currently live in Santee. They enjoy spending time with their three adult children Christopher, Matthew, Melina, and her husband, Justin. In his free time, Brian loves anything outdoors; he is an avid mountain biker, adventure motorcyclist, occasional hunter/angler, and is always trying to find time to explore every state park in California.

As an avid constitutionalist, Brian cares deeply about freedom and liberty. Driven by his commitment to improving the quality of life in his community, Brian first found his passion for public service as a Santee City Council Member from 2002-2010 and then again from 2017-2018.

Brian took this passion for his community to the state level when he was elected to represent California’s 77st Assembly District from 2010-2012 and California’s 71st Assembly District from 2012-2016. While in the Assembly, he focused on creating a better economic environment for small businesses and supporting our Armed Forces members and veterans. He sponsored several notable legislative measures including his “Made in America” legislation, which makes it easier for manufacturers to do business in California, and legislation supporting the expansion of the craft beverage industry.
In 2018, Brian was elected to represent California’s 38th Senate District. Brian is proud to serve as the co-Chair of the Senate Outdoor Sporting Caucus. In the Senate, he has sponsored legislation that supports Second Amendment rights, saves court resources, and removes bureaucratic barriers for businesses and Californians. Brian is known for his Are You Kidding Me? videos that shine a light on the nonsensical policy often coming out of Sacramento.

In 2020, Brian was appointed to the California Commission on Disability Access. Brian proudly serves as the Vice-Chair of three Senate Committees: Human Services, Insurance, and Natural Resources and Water. He also sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee; the Senate Governmental Organization Committee; the Senate Judiciary Committee; and the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee. Brian sits on five Select Committees: Select Committee on California, Armenia, and Arskah Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange; Select Committee on California-Mexico Cooperation; Select Committee on Hydrogen Energy; Select Committee on Ports and Goods Movement; and Select Committee on Preparing California’s Future Workforce. Brian serves as the Outdoor Sporting Caucus Co-Chair and Republican Caucus Whip. He also sits on the Flood Protection Caucus and the Rural Caucus.

The 38th Senate District encompasses a large portion of San Diego County including Alpine, Bonsall, Borrego Springs, Crest, Descanso, El Cajon, Escondido, Fallbrook, Julian, La Mesa, Lakeside, Lemon Grove, Mount Laguna, Pine Valley, Poway, Rainbow, Ramona, Rancho San Diego, Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Spring Valley, and Valley Center.

Mike McGuire
California State Senator

Mike is a lifelong Californian.

His family farmed the Golden State’s rich soils for decades and he was raised by two incredibly strong women, his mom and grandma.

Mike and his mom struggled growing up. He’s been working full-time since he was 16, helping put himself through college.

Mike is the third highest ranking member of the Senate and the youngest Assistant Majority Leader in decades.

He’s been a champion for our kids and public schools. He went to the mat and won against President Trump on offshore oil drilling, led the charge in the legislature on wildfires, and is a leading voice in holding PG&E accountable. And no one has been more successful at securing resources to combat homelessness and build affordable housing in rural California.

Mike and his wife Erika, an elementary school principal, call Sonoma County home with their lazy pug, Gertrude.

Marko Mlikotin
River City Communications

Marko Mlikotin ,president of River City Communications, is a seasoned political and public affairs strategist with more than 25 years of experience in elections and public policy, having served California Governors and a Member of Congress.

As a public relations practitioner, Marko embraces the philosophy that California’s business and political environment can be difficult to navigate.When failure is not an option, River City Communications develops winning strategies and tactics that remove political barriers and deliver measurable results that define the client’s business interests as public interests.

Mlikotin has extensive experience on advocacy issues associated with recreational fishing and state regulations impacting the commercial passenger sportfishing industry.

River City Communications is a full-service public affairs firm that specializes in media relations, advocacy, issue management and grassroots organization. Its clients include a broad spectrum of business interests, including, but not limited to:commercial, housing and retail development,technology, natural resources, outdoor recreation, non-profits and political action committees.

Marko served as chief of staff for a former Sacramento area Member of Congress, who served on the House Agriculture, Finance and Government Reform Committees. In this capacity, Marko was responsible for developing and managing policy, appropriation, political and communications plans for the Congressman’s personal office and Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs. He also served as campaign manager.

Prior to his service in Washington D.C., Marko served two California governors, advising them on political appointments to state agencies, boards and commissions, and served as a deputy political director when they sought public office.

Marko has been active in his community, serving in volunteer positions that included the board of directors for the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce and Region Business, a business organization. He served on the Cal-Expo and State Fair Board of Directors, and the Folsom Parks Commission,as well as the city’s Redevelopment Advisory Committee.

Mlikotin received a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.


Jim Nielsen
California State Senator

A successful farmer and rancher, Senator Jim Nielsen grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley and graduated from Fresno State with a Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business. After college, Jim worked as a ranch foreman and operated the family cattle, field and row-crop ranch. He later founded a company that utilized rice hulls and rice straw for fuel.

Elected to the State Senate in January 2013, Senator Nielsen proudly represents the citizens of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba counties. Senator Nielsen serves on the following committees: Budget and Fiscal Review (Vice Chair); Elections and Constitutional Amendments (Vice Chair); Governance and Finance (Vice Chair); and Governmental Organization (Vice Chair). Sub-Committee: No. 4 on State Administration and General Government. Select Committees: 2020 United States Census; and Mental Health and Addiction. Joint Committees: Fairs Allocation and Classification; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Rules; Legislative Audit (JLAC); and Budget.

Given his extensive experience, Senator Nielsen is a Commissioner on the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency whose mission is to investigate state government operations and policy.

Senator Nielsen was originally elected to the State Senate in 1978 and served as Republican Leader from 1983 to 1987. In 1992, he was appointed Chairman of the California Board of Prison Terms, where he served until 2007. He was elected in November 2008 to represent the North State's Second Assembly District in the State Legislature.

A strong fiscal conservative and expert on fiscal policy, Senator Nielsen was named the lead Republican on state budget issues. Senator Nielsen helped write Proposition 2 to create a Rainy Day Fund for fiscal emergencies. He spearheaded the opposition to tax increases, and rallied conservatives in favor of fiscal responsibility, smaller government and an improved business climate to provide good jobs for the people of California.

The Senator’s extensive record of leadership and public service makes him one of California's most recognized advocates for reducing the size and scope of government. Senator Nielsen has proposed hundreds of specific policies to reform state government regulations and reduce out-of-control state spending. He authored legislation to reform California's welfare system and reduce welfare fraud and co-authored California's landmark Victims Bill of Rights and Marsy's Law.

Senator Nielsen is also a leader when it comes to protecting and strengthening private property rights in California. He is the Founder of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights that is at the forefront of the effort to limit governments' ability to seize private property through eminent domain. The Senator is also working side-by-side with farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin to fight efforts by overzealous government bureaucrats to steal their historic water rights and authored a law to protect 'area-of-origin' water rights in California. He helped secure funding for Proposition 1 that provides funding for Sites Reservoir in Colusa County.

Senator Nielsen has been a tireless advocate for the North State as it recovers from a series of deadly and catastrophic wildfires, including the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive, fire in state history and the aftermath of the Oroville Spillway failure. Senator Nielsen created the Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission, a public forum to discuss matters relating to the Dam and the continued operations of the State Water Project.

From meeting with evacuees in area shelters to pointed one-on-one meetings with local, state, and federal leaders, Senator Nielsen has been front and center representing constituents. He sponsored legislation and advocated for resources to help the Town of Paradise remove debris and rebuild.

The Senator has written and spoken extensively on California public policy, his commentaries have appeared in major newspapers across California. He is also a frequent guest on local and national radio and television programs. Taxpayer organizations and small business advocates have honored Senator Nielsen for his leadership on state budget issues and for his unrelenting fight against profligate government spending.

Jim and Marilyn Nielsen live in Red Bluff, California. He has two daughters, three sons and three grandchildren.

Armando Quintero
California Department of Parks and Recreation

Armando Quintero was named director for the California Department of Parks and Recreation on Aug. 18, 2020. An experienced parks professional with expertise in park operations, outdoor education, equity and access, and diversity and inclusion in hiring and retention, Quintero is an environmental scientist by training. Since 2015, he has been executive director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at the University of California, Merced, where he was also director of development from 2008 to 2014. He has also served as a member of the California Water Commission since 2014.

Quintero held multiple positions at the National Park Service from 1976 to 1998, including chief of the Special Park Uses Group and district ranger at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, personnel staffing specialist for the National Park Service, park ranger and supervisory park ranger at the Point Reyes National Seashore and park ranger at the Sequoia National Park and at the John Muir National Historic Site.

Following his career at the National Park Service, he was an independent environmental educator for a decade, from 1998 to 2008. He has also served as member of the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors since 2009.

David Quiros, M.S., D.Env.
Manager, Freight Technology Section
Transportation and Toxics Division
California Air Resources Board (CARB)
1001 I Street,
Sacramento, CA 95814

David Quiros is the manager of the Freight Technology Section, which oversees the Commercial
Harbor Craft Regulation at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). David holds a doctoral
degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in Environmental Science & Engineering, and
has worked at CARB for the past ten years on several mobile source technical and regulatory

He currently oversees the Commercial Harbor Craft (CHC) Regulation, which was originally adopted
in 2008, and its initial requirements will be fully implemented by the end of 2022. The Board
approved amendments to the CHC Regulation that will take effect in 2023 and phase-in through the
end of 2034.

CHC includes approximately 3,200 vessels that operate in California waters, such as ferries,
tugboats, excursion vessels, fishing vessels, barges, dredges, and a variety of other vessels that are
not strictly recreational or meet the definition of an ocean-going vessel (OGV). Newly adopted
amendments to the CHC regulation will:

• Require short-run ferries to be fully zero-emission by the end of 2025;
• Require new build excursion vessels to be zero-emission capable by the end of 2024;
• Establish cleaner combustion standards for all other vessel categories, which generally is
equivalent to the control achieved by a Tier 4 marine engine in conjunction with a diesel
particulate filter (DPF);
• Mandate the use of 99 percent or higher blends of renewable diesel, which has a lower
carbon intensity than conventional diesel and results in lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen
(NOx) and particulate matter (PM); and,
• Require enhanced reporting, inspection and maintenance, vessel labeling, and other
administrative requirements to achieve emission reductions from this source category.


Mark Smith
Principle Smith Policy Group
1001 K Street, 6th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Mark Smith specializes in helping clients strategically design legislative, budget, and regulatory strategies to meet their programmatic goals and policy priorities.Using his policy and political expertise, Mark guides clients through the state and federal legislative process and helps them develop policy positions, establish relationships with key legislative offices and agencies, establish and access funding programs, and build and manage coalitions.

Prior to founding SPG, Mark was a Senior Policy Advisor at Environmental and Energy Consulting and Conservation Strategy Group. Before that, Mark was the Western Region Directorof Public Policy for Ducks Unlimited, where he directed local, state, and federal policy and strategy for nine western states.He previously worked as a in-house lobbyist for one of the state’s largest investor owned utilities, and represented ACEC California for 6 years as their in-house lobbyist.He has also worked as a Legislative Director in both the California Senate and Assembly.

Mark most recently served on the California Water Commission’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee for Proposition 1 to guide its implementation.Mark has also used his deep policy expertise in his work on Propositions 84 and 1E and served in a leadership capacity on the Proposition 68 campaign, focused on securing a successful vote on this $4.1B bond. Mark has successfully raised millions of dollars for client priorities and helped manage and win campaigns generating billions for water, natural resources, and infrastructure.

Mark graduated with an MBA from University of California, Davis’ Graduate School of Management, and a BS in Microbiology from University of California, Davis.

Carlos Villapudua
California State Assembly Member

Born and raised in Stockton, Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua is a lifelong Democrat. Carlos served on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors from 2008-2016. As the Supervisor for a District that rests entirely within the 13th Assembly District, he was able to work with his fellow supervisors in fighting for his district and the county as a whole to turn around the County General Hospital, saving healthcare in San Joaquin County, and attracting employers and creating good paying jobs for local working families by expanding both the Stockton Metropolitan Airport and the Port of Stockton.

Advocacy on behalf of his constituents and San Joaquin County has been a top priority for Assemblymember Villapudua. After his term on the Board of Supervisors, he served as the CEO of the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, advocating for minority-owned small businesses locally and in Sacramento. Before election to the State Assembly, Assemblymember Villapudua served as the Governmental Relations Manager for Western Pacific Truck School, where he advocates on both a state and local level for increase funding for vocational education and well paying jobs and benefits that can support a household without having to take a 2nd and 3rd job like so many are forced to do these days.

Assemblymember Villapudua is married to his wife Edith, and their blended family of four daughters. From his youngest who just started Pre-K to his oldest who just began her college journey at San Diego State University.