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Parks California Grows, Fills Key Leadership Positions

New statewide parks support organization expands, welcomes four new key team members

 

SACRAMENTO, CA — Parks California, a new statewide nonprofit organization working to protect and improve parks for all visitors, announced today that it has filled four key leadership positions. These new team members will help to guide the organization as it continues to grow. Parks California welcomed Heana Chung as Vice President of Operations and Finance, Geoff Kish as Vice President of Programs, Natalie Schaefer as Vice President of Partnerships and Development, and Myrian Solis Coronel as Director of Community Engagement.

These new leaders bring to the team diverse professional backgrounds including nonprofit management, higher education, and the private sector. Coming from geographies ranging from Chula Vista, to the Central Coast, to Sacramento, and beyond, Parks California’s leadership is committed to improving parks for communities throughout California. 

“We are excited to welcome our new leadership on board as we grow our team,” said Kindley Walsh Lawlor, Parks California’s President and CEO. “This is an important step as we build towards broader action and impact. Our team is eager to work collaboratively to help make California parks more welcoming, accessible, and relevant to all visitors.”

The Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation joined in celebrating this significant growth. “We are thrilled to see the momentum at Parks California as they grow their leadership team,” said Director Lisa Mangat. “Everybody in the state of California should have the opportunity to enjoy our open spaces. We look forward to working with the Parks California team in pursuit of that shared goal.” 

Parks California welcomes the following new team members:

Heana Chung, as Vice President of Operations and Finance, will establish and implement the infrastructure needed to grow and support Parks California. Chung held several executive positions during her 16 years at the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), including Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Chung led the national expansion of the organization from one to 18 chapters, in addition to day-to-day management of the national office and overall management of the organization’s operations and finances. Prior to joining PCA, Chung spent more than 15 years in executive management positions at information technology companies such as Reliant Integration Services, the Masters Institute, Ciber, Inc., and One World Software Solutions.

Geoff Kish, as Vice President of Programs, will lead strategic and operational efforts in all program areas, actively working with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to identify and develop priority projects across the state. Throughout his career, Kish has led partnerships to enhance park conservation across all levels of government, from national park management to the revitalization of community parks. His work has advanced public and private stewardship of parks and has broadened public involvement in conservation efforts. He was most recently the Principal of Ridgeline Management Consulting, where he helped nonprofit organizations create capacity-building strategies. Previously, he served as the Assistant Director of the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, the Deputy Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, a Director at the Center for Park Management at the National Parks Conservation Association, and as a Senior Consultant at IBM Global Business Services.

Natalie Schaefer, as the Vice President of Partnerships and Development, will be responsible for raising the funds needed to achieve the organization’s vision and for developing innovative public-private partnerships that support California’s parks. Schaefer has been fundraising for over 20 years, helping to raise millions to fund career technical education programs and facilities, service-learning opportunities, and environmental education for K-12 schools. Most recently, she comes from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, where she was the Executive Director for Strategic Development Initiatives. Her duties included fundraising for campus-wide diversity initiatives, and maintaining strategic corporate and foundation partnerships. Prior to this role, Natalie was the lead executive for two nonprofit organizations in San Luis Obispo County, and served as an interpretive park ranger in several parks throughout California.

Myrian Solis Coronel, as Director of Community Engagement, will drive Parks California’s work with communities and community organizations throughout the state. Myrian’s experience in community engagement and marketing means she will be vital to gathering and sharing the stories of the great work being done in our parks. She has held multiple positions at REI where most recently she led REI’s Next Gen Marketing program. Prior to joining REI, Solis Coronel worked at KPBS, a local PBS and NPR affiliate, where she managed special events and developed media and outreach campaigns. She has been a board member for several organizations including I Love a Clean San Diego and MANA de San Diego. She is also the co-creator of the Latina Giving Circle. From 2018-2019, she was Chair of the California State Park and Recreation Commission, serving as the Commission’s first Latina Chair.

 

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About Parks California 

Parks California is a statewide nonprofit working to ensure our state, regional, and local parks thrive. We work shoulder to shoulder with State Parks and other partners to help our parks better serve every Californian. We bring new resources and expertise and leverage public funding to tackle projects that make parks more welcoming, accessible, and relevant to all visitors. Learn more at parkscalifornia.org.

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