Vida Verde Executive Board
Eric Ryan - President
Eric Ryan has dedicated his
professional life to service. He began his career as a teacher with
Teach for America, teaching physics and entrepreneurship in a rural
region of North Carolina. His efforts earned him Teacher of the Year
honors and were highlighted in The Wall Street Journal, Parade
Magazine, and a book titled Electric Dreams. Eric left the classroom
fourteen years ago and began working in the nonprofit sector. For
the last several years he’s provided guidance to small nonprofits
across the country. He now owns and operates
Nonprofits, a mission-driven business that specializes in
catalyzing the success of small nonprofits by helping leaders of
nonprofits create and execute strategic plans. A graduate of UC
Berkeley, Eric lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his
wonderful wife and two children. He leads a fortunate life, rich
with family, friends, and plenty of adventure.
Harn Soper - Treasurer
Harn has been an entrepreneur in the music and media industry in the
Bay Area for 30 years recording and producing music with artists
like George Winston & Will Ackerman, marketing broadcast news
production systems worldwide for Avid Technology, Internet video
piracy business development for Vobile, and currently is a partner
directing sales & marketing for nNovia, a video capture technology
company. In the background, Harn runs Soper Farms in Iowa,
implementing sustainable farming practices. Volunteering and song
writing are Harn’s passions. He is former president for the Friends
of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo Foundation. Harn's
latest venture is
Sustainable Farm Partners, a
group of private investors dedicated to investing in tangible
agricultural land assets that are sustainable for the economy,
environment and society.
With expertise in public interest law, foundation compliance and
philanthropic services, Kia combines broad experience with deep
commitment to the local and global community. Kia is the Founder of
SourcePoint Philanthropy Advisors, a boutique law firm specializing
in Foundation Law and charitable giving. She is also the Senior
Advisor of Strategic Giving and Compliance for The Hero Group, LLC,
a company dedicated to foundations, businesses, individuals and
families who seek to increase the impact of their charitable giving.
Prior to starting her firm in 2011, Kia was with the Silicon Valley
Community Foundation where she served as Donor Engagement Officer
and later joined the Leadership Team as the Senior Director of
Grants, Gifts and Compliance. Kia has been responsible for the
administration and compliance of over 10,000 grants, both
international and domestic. She has also been the Philanthropy
Manager to a large portfolio of donor advised funds and supporting
organizations, assisting new and seasoned philanthropists in
developing and implementing their unique charitable giving
strategies. She has been on the advisory committees of NGOsource and
Global Impact, and the Boards of Youth Science Institute and Santa
Clara County Legal Aid Society.
Early in her career, Kia founded a law partnership in Los Gatos, CA,
practicing family law and serving the needs of children and
low-income families. She also managed the financial operations of a
San Francisco mayor’s PAC and re-election committee, and the major
donor program for a state political party. She received her J.D. and
recognition as a Public Interest Law Scholar from Santa Clara
University School of Law and her Bachelor's degree in Communications
from University of California, San Diego.
Laura Kretschmar is the co-founder of the
Community Charter School in Oakland, California,
where she currently teaches 5th and 6th grade math and science.
Laura is a dedicated and long-time teacher. Before moving to
Oakland to start Lighthouse in 2003, she taught in Massachusetts at
the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, and before that in
the New Orleans public schools as a Teach For America (TFA) Corps
Member. Laura is also a part-time consultant for Math Solutions,
providing professional development in math instruction to teachers
around the country, and has advised and taught beginning teachers
for TFA at their summer institutes. She is currently working
with the Lighthouse Replication team to plan two more Lighthouse
Community Schools in Oakland to serve the school's current 700
student waiting list. Lighthouse’s exceptional success, and
Laura’s role in it, can be seen in the school's 95% graduation rate
of their first three classes, of which all were accepted to
four-year colleges and universities.
In 2011, Laura completed the National Board of Professional Teaching
Standards portfolio and became a National Board Certified Teacher.
In November of that year and in conjunction with this
accomplishment, she accepted an invitation to speak on a Whitehouse
panel about the teaching profession alongside U.S. Secretary of
Education Arne Duncan. In 2012 she received an Alumni Award
for Excellence in Teaching, an award presented to TFA alumni who are
“transforming students’ lives through extraordinary leadership and
an unwavering belief in the potential for all children to succeed.”
Laura holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Geology from Middlebury
College, a Masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of
Education, a California Single Subject Credential in Geosciences and
is California HOUSSE certified in both
Math and Science.
Shawn Sears - Vida Verde's Executive
See bio here.
Vida Verde Advisory Board
Scott credits his interest in agriculture and sustainability to his
upbringing in Montana and experiences at the Mountain School of
Milton Academy in Vermont. Scott is a financial consultant at RBC
Wealth Management where he focuses on sustainable investment
strategies for foundations, families and non-profit organizations.
He is also actively involved in advancing RBC's (Royal Bank of
Canada) global sustainable investment initiatives. A graduate of The
Colorado College, Scott holds a BA in Economics and minors in Latin
American Studies and Natural Resource Systems in the American West.
He is a member of Full Circle Fund's Environment Circle and co-chair
of New Voice of Business' San Francisco Chapter. Scott is also a
competitive cyclist and enjoys his precious moments in the mountains
either telemark skiing or fly fishing.
Karen Harwell is Director of Exploring a Sense of Place—which is “a
project, a course, and a guidebook” to help people reconnect to the
natural world where they live. Following scientific studies
resulting in a B.S. degree, she did graduate study in philosophy,
cosmology and consciousness at the California Institute of Integral
Studies in San Francisco, completed a six-week Earth Literacy
program at Genesis Farm in New Jersey, and became certified in the
study of permaculture at Occidental Arts and Ecology in Northern
California. Through these programs, she became interested in
bioregionalism and wanted to create the opportunity for people to
experience their lives as part of an Earth community.
Paul and Steph Pfluke
Stephanie Jennings and Paul Pfluke are currently the co-owners and
co-founders of Green Oaks Creek Farm and Retreat, which is an
organic, educational farm and retreat center that has been in
operation for 10 years. The farm offers a subscription program, an
apprenticeship program, farm tours, and Slow Food dinners. The
retreat center offers rental facilities for families, groups, and
weddings. Prior to starting Green Oaks, Stephanie and Paul earned
Masters degrees in Plant and Soil Science. In the five years between
college and graduate school, Stephanie and Paul taught environmental
education and worked as wildlife biology field technicians. Paul
also taught biology in the classroom for a year in Jamaica. In
college, Stephanie earned a B.S. in Biology/Geology and Paul earned
a B.S. in chemistry. Stephanie also taught environmental education
throughout high school and college.
lifelong outdoor enthusiast, is a Financial Representative at the
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.
He has been a long time
friend of the founders Shawn & Laura Sears. In his undergrad at
Colorado College, he was involved with Shawn in an after school
sports mentorship program for underserved youth.
He became involved with Vida
Verde during its inception and even had the opportunity to teach
programs in those early days. Andrew’s background in
community service, event production, and real estate bring a
diversity of expertise to the board.
Jerry is “semi-retired” now, but is still a principle
in Guardian Equity Growth, a Private Placement firm which focused on
commercial real estate investments in the Western United States. Guardian specializes in helping passive investors achieve the
highest cash returns possible in commercial real estate by “pooling”
either cash or equity from 1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges and using the
combined equity to purchase Institutional Grade commercial real
estate. The total value of this portfolio is currently ± $1 billion.
Jerry Moison earned his real estate license in 1970 and began
investing in commercial real estate as a Limited Partner in 1972.
After selling his share of Adapt Inc., a computer time sharing
company in San Francisco he co-founded in 1973, he began his full
time career in commercial real estate with Coldwell Banker in 1978
as a leasing agent for both office and R&D in Silicon Valley. In
1987 Jerry left Coldwell Banker and joined his twin brother,
William, in order to form Moison Investment Company (MIC) to
specialize in commercial real estate investments. Prior to retiring,
MIC did sales in excess of $10billion in the western United States.
Aside from commercial real estate, Jerry remains committed to
improving the quality of life for the less fortunate as well as
residents in his own community of Los Altos. He serves or has served
on several non-profit Boards, including City Team Ministries, Los
Altos United Methodist Church, Housing Industry Foundation (HIF),
and the Los Altos Rotary Club.
See bio here.
What’s the History of
Who works at Vida Verde?
Can I work at Vida Verde?
What are the trips all about?
Who are Vida Verde trips for?
How can I support Vida Verde?
Paul and Steph Pfluke