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Parks California Expands Board of Directors and Advisory Council, Supporting More Equitable and Climate Resilient State Parks

  • San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg joins the Board of Directors
  • President of the Laural Foundation Lauren B. Dachs and Former National Park Service Superintendent Woody Smeck join the Advisory Council
  • New leadership brings critical expertise to build sustainable, equitable parks

April 1, 2022



Today, Parks California welcomed three long-time parks supporters to its Board of Directors and Advisory Council.

Joining the Board of Directors, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg will add her expertise to the organization around infrastructure and community engagement. The Board of Directors oversees the direction for the organization while lending guidance around how to best integrate shared priorities with California State Parks. 

President of the Laural Foundation Lauren B. Dachs joins the Parks California Advisory Council, adding key insights into education and sustainability expertise. Dachs is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a board member of Sustainable Conservation and the Water Foundation, and on the Advisory Council for Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center. 

Former National Park Service Superintendent Woody Smeck joins the Parks California Advisory Council. He was recently awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Secretary Deb Haaland for his outstanding contributions to the Department of the Interior. The Parks California Advisory Council is a group of individuals dedicated to lending their professional skills to further the organization’s programs and partnerships. 


  • Dawn Ortiz-Legg: Ortiz-Legg works as the District Supervisor for the County of San Luis Obispo on California’s Central Coast. Well known for implementing California’s renewable energy policy while developing the construction of multiple utility-scale solar projects, she has long-term experience with energy, infrastructure and economic development. 
  • Lauren B. Dachs: Dachs is president and founder of the Laural Foundation. Previously, she was president of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Since its founding in 1957, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation dedicated its philanthropy to advancing the prosperity and well-being of California and its citizens, with a focus on K–8 STEM education and conserving California’s natural resources. Lauren has also been an advisor or board member for many environment, education, and health organizations, including Stanford University, Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, and The Nature Conservancy of California.
  • Woody Smeck: Smeck is the former superintendent of several iconic Western National Parks, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Santa Monica Mountains. He also served as Deputy Regional Director for the Pacific West Region and oversaw national parks in California, Arizona and Nevada. 


As the statutory partner for California State Parks, Parks California was created to support building more welcoming, inclusive and climate resilient parks. 

As California’s State Park System faces increasing natural challenges including droughts, wildfires and the continued impacts of climate change – which have a greater impact on historically marginalized communities – it’s important to build a leadership team with experience in preserving parks for all people.


Kindley Walsh Lawlor, President & CEO of Parks California 

“We are working in partnership with California State Parks to ensure they are prepared for the many challenges ahead – such as barriers to equitable access, climate change, and wildfires. We are honored to be welcoming three people who have a diverse mix of talents, expertise, and dedication to their communities and parks.”

Dawn Ortiz-Legg, District 3 Supervisor in San Luis Obispo County

“I am honored to serve Parks California to ensure accessibility and viability of California’s beautiful state parks. The importance of maintaining these incredible assets for all Californians to enjoy may be more important now than any other time in history.”

Lauren B. Dachs, President and founder of Laural Foundation

“The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation was an initial supporter of Parks California, and I am proud to continue supporting it as an Advisory Council member. Park California’s commitment to resource stewardship, increasing access to parks, and community engagement is near to my heart because it ensures our parks will thrive and that we will all be able to enjoy them for generations to come.”

Woody Smeck, Former Superintendent for National Park Service

“I’m excited to give back to our extraordinary state park system. The parks represent places, people, and events that tell the story of California. Their long-term stewardship is essential to our health, economy, and identity. I’m looking forward to working with Parks California to ensure they remain vibrant and accessible for the inspiration and enjoyment of all people.”



Parks California is a statewide nonprofit working to ensure state, regional, and local parks thrive. As the statutory partner to California State Parks, Parks California has a simple mission – to help strengthen parks and inspire all to experience these extraordinary places. From redwood groves and desert springs to urban parks and lighthouses, the organization works with partners to steward these natural wonders and make California’s parks more welcoming, accessible and relevant to all visitors. For more information, please visit