Staff and Council
Nature in the City is nonprofit that stewards San Francisco’s local nature.
Together, we're committed to building community to share our love for nature in San Francisco.
Amber Hasselbring, Executive Director
Amber Hasselbring provides direction for projects, staff, advisory council and strategy. With Nature in the City as an advisory council member since 2006, she has helped to shepherd projects such as the Green Hairstreak Corridor, the Green Connections Plan, and spearheaded the SF Plant Finder.
Amber is also an artist, naturalist, educator, and garden designer. As founder of Wild SF Gardening, Hasselbring designs and maintains gardens for private Bay Area clients. Amber’s artwork includes Art on BART, the Angel Island Art & Ecology Festival, the Mission Greenbelt Project, Tigers on Market Street, and she has exhibited her work in San Francisco, Chicago, and Kansas City. In 2017, Sierra Club’s The People’s Power List featured Amber and other activists across the US.
Bette McDonnell, Development Director
Bette grew up in Ireland, then headed to Tokyo to pursue adventure and tips on living in small spaces. As writer/editor in the financial securities industry, she worked with international firms including Citicorp. Upon moving to the U.S., her desire to bring value to community life led her to human services and the environment when she began her career in non-profits. She’s raised funds and written for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Women’s Recovery Association, RSF Social Finance, and Kids in Parks. Bette believes nature in our cities is crucial to the well-being of all species (human and animal) and brings that energy to grant writing and relationship building in all her work with Nature in the City. Aside from grant proposals, she writes poetry and short stories.
Ariel Wang, Media & Partnerships Manager
Ariel is an environmental educator who loves sharing Nature in the City’s story through digital media and public programming. Currently, she leads Nature in the City’s communications strategy. Recently, Ariel directed the rebranding of Nature in the City across our digital platforms: website, newsletter, and social media. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Ariel organized ecological restoration and park design programs at the Presidio Trust. Previously, she led epic field science expeditions in Yosemite National Park and Olympic National Park with NatureBridge. As an activist for racial equity in environmentalism, Ariel has facilitated workshops at PGM ONE and EEOC. Ariel joined Nature in the City in 2015 to brainstorm ideas to design the new map!
Sarah Gomes, Habitat Restoration Intern
Sarah will be graduating from San Francisco State University in the fall, with a B.S. in Environmental Science. She grew up in the East Bay and works at her family's third generation plant nursery, Gomes Nursery, and as a dance teacher at DC Dance Center. She has previously worked along the coast of Half Moon Bay as a community crew leader with the SCA. She is now working with Nature in the City as their first habitat restoration intern and is excited to begin research on the Green Hairstreak butterfly with Dr. Baguskas, a professor at SFSU.
Laura Castellini, Advisory Council Chair
Laura is the Sustainability Coordinator at the National Park Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area. She has been involved with Nature in the City since its beginning in 2005. She has a background in aquatic and wetland ecology and is slowly learning her dune plants by participating in the Backyard Natives Nursery Network.
Bill Brick, Strategy & Corporate Sponsorship
Bill brings a childlike enchantment with nature, and is committed to advancing community-based solutions to the biodiversity and climate change crises. He has worked in business development, corporate finance and start-up leadership roles for over 25 years. He currently helps commercial and industrial businesses access and adopt solar energy. Bill earned a BS in Managerial Economics from UC Davis and an MBA from UC Irvine, and is a Certified California Naturalist. He served as a Kiva Fellow in Uganda and today conducts shoreline habitat surveys with Beach Watch, a citizen science program of NOAA.
Marcus Griswold, Science Advisory & Fundraising
Marcus is a Climate Resilience Specialist at the County of San Mateo, supporting climate adaptation policies and programs that help communities and ecosystems prepare for a changing climate. He received a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering Sciences, where he has since utilized his background in, and love of nature, to manage climate change and environmental education programs and to develop advocacy messages for non-profits. His two children, Leif and Kai go to school within the Green Hairstreak corridor, making this work close to his heart.
Fritha Knudsen, Corporate Sponsorship & Events
Executive Producer and Creative Director. Fritha is a creative force in corporate events production, and her clients include: Virgin Galactic Spaceport America, salesforce.com, Cisco, and the Olympic Games of 1996 and 2010. She lives in San Francisco and loves preserving its natural magic.
Paisley Schade, Membership, Marketing & Events
Paisley Schade is a freelance Creative Director/Writer. She built her career at large branding and advertising agencies, including Landor and Ogilvy. A sixth-generation Bay Area native, she has a lot of heart for all flora and fauna that have also been here for generations. She sees nature as a vital part of San Francisco and hopes to help preserve, expand and appreciate what we have all around us.
Kirstin Weeks, Corporate Sponsorship & Sustainability
Senior Building Ecology Specialist at Arup. Kirstin works with architectural teams to produce projects that are sustainable and net positive for energy, water, health, and ecosystems. Kirstin joined Nature in the City’s Board in 2015, and acts as design community liaison, helping to raise awareness of the opportunities for biophilic design and integration of ecological function in the built environment.
Zahra Kelley, Advocacy & Projects
As Founder and Director of Zero-FoodWaste.org (ZFW), Zahra leads community engagement and public outreach, as well as planning and execution of projects to reduce waste. As a zero waste professional, Zahra works towards reducing GHG emissions by implementing the best waste reduction practices. As a member of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Advisory Committee, she engages in more in-depth conversation about open space preservation and accessibility of wild lands and watersheds in San Francisco. As former Advocacy and Project Manager for NTC, Zahra is fully committed to the conservation of our natural resources and enhancing native habitat. Zahra has a diverse and broad background in environmental management, economics, policy, and public advocacy. She lives in San Francisco and loves to share the magic of nature in the city with all walks of life.
Join our Council! We are currently seeking new Advisory Council members. We value diversity and seek to create a strong board reflective of San Francisco's multicultural and economically diverse communities. If you are interested, please email us at info[at]natureinthecity.org.