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Our Advisory Council provides us with guidance and expertise on how to best accomplish our mission.

WILDCOAST Advisory Council

Homero Aridjis

Homero Aridjis is a Mexican poet, novelist, journalist, and one of the world's most renowned and effective conservationists. In 1985, he organized the Group of 100 - a group of prominent artists and writers, including Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Rufino Tamayo - to defend biodiversity in Mexico and Latin America. In Mexico he played a leading role in the conservation of sea turtles, gray whales, and monarch butterflies and in advocating for the defense of tropical forests and coastal and marine ecosystems such as Laguna San Ignacio, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A prolific writer, he has published 43 books of poetry and prose. His seminal work is 1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castile, which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In addition to his writing career, Aridjis has been a visiting professor at Indiana University, New York University, and Columbia University, and he held the Nichols Chair in Humanities and the Public Sphere at the University of California, Irvine. He has also served as Mexico's ambassador to the Netherlands and Switzerland and to UNESCO in Paris. In recognition of his conservation achievements, he has received many awards, including the John Hay Award from the Orion Society and the Millennial Prize from Mikhail Gorbachev and Global Green.


Lawrence Herzog, Ph.D.

Lawrence A. Herzog (Ph.D.) is Professor of City Planning, School of Public Affairs, San Diego State University, San Diego, California. He is also a consultant and writer specializing in planning and urban design, both in the United States, and in Mexico and Latin America. 

Herzog has served as urban/regional planning consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development (in Peru and Bolivia), the American Institute of Architects, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Embassy to Mexico, the U.S. Consulate, Tijuana, the California Department of Transportation, the Robert Wood Foundation, the Price Foundation/City Heights Education Pilot, and San Diego Dialogue. He has authored more than twenty technical reports for these agencies. 

Herzog has been appointed to the Mayor of San Diego’s Task Force/Strategic Framework on the Future of San Diego, the Board of Directors of Citizen’s Coordinate for Century 3, the Border Advisory Group for the American Institute of Architects San Diego office, the Advisory Board to the Baja Land Trust, the San Diego Dialogue’s Research Advisory Board, and the Advisory Committee to IMPlan - City of Tijuana.


Ron Forster

Ron Forster has a background in marketing, having worked with Hewlett-Packard for over twenty years.  His passion is saving natural habitats and helping to assure that our next generation has the opportunity to experience and love the outdoors. A former Board member of WILDCOAST, Ron currently serves on the board of the Escondido Creek Conservancy and the Thin Hanh Foundation.


Robert Kanter, Ph.D.

Dr. Kanter received his Ph.D. in biology, with a focus on marine ecology, from the University of Southern California. He retired in 2013 from his role as the Managing Director of Environmental Affairs and Planning for the Port of Long Beach, California. As Managing Director he oversaw the Environmental Affairs and Planning Bureau, which included three divisions: Environmental Planning, Master Planning, and Transportation Planning. Dr. Kanter also served as the California ports' representative on federal, state, and local advisory committees and has served on numerous environmental committees, including the National Academy of Sciences Advisory Committee on Coastal Science Policy, the National Research Council Advisory Committee on Ecosystem Health and Research, the South Coast Air Quality Management District AQMP Advisory Committee, the Restoration Advisory Board for the Long Beach Naval Complex, national and state Invasive Species Advisory Committees, and the California Advisory Committee on Enclosed Bays and Estuaries and Inland Surface Waters.  


Mike McCoy, D.V.M.

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, Mike McCoy got an ideal start on a life compatible with the natural world around him. His studies led him to a degree in veterinary medicine. He worked with bighorn sheep in Anza Borrego for the San Diego Zoological Society, and later with the Society's California condor recovery program. When he moved to Imperial Beach, California, Dr. McCoy helped to initiate the effort to establish the Tijuana Estuary and South San Diego Bay as federal preserves. As a member of the California Marine Life Protection Act South Coast Commission, he helped to establish a new system of marine protected areas for Southern California.

Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D.

Dr. Nichols is a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and co-founder of WILDCOAST. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blue Mind. He has authored and co-authored more than 50 scientific papers and reports, and his work has been broadcast on NPR, BBC, PBS, National Geographic, and Animal Planet, and featured in TimeNewsweekGQOutside MagazineFast CompanyScientific American, and New Scientist, among others. Nichols earned his Bachelor's degree in Biology and Spanish from DePauw University, a Master's of Environmental Management in Environmental Policy and Economics from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, and his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Arizona's School of Renewable Natural Resources where he received both a Marshall Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship. In May 2014 he received the University of Arizona's Global Achievement Award.


Jeff Opdycke

Jeff is the Associate Director of Conservation Programs at the San Diego Institute for Conservation Research. A native San Diegan, Jeff grew up at the desert, beaches, and lagoons of San Diego County and developed a strong interest in marine biology. As a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist, he helped manage Southern sea otter populations and California condor recovery in Ventura. In 1994, Jeff was hired by the Zoological Society of San Diego to help expand the San Diego Zoo's wildlife and habitat conservation efforts here and abroad. That role has taken Jeff from condors, clapper rails, and least terns to San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike, Caribbean iguana, and the Chinese Guizhou snub-nosed monkey conservation programs. Jeff has served in the role of advisor or board member of several conservation NGOs, including nine years on the WILDCOAST Board of Directors and is currently on the board of the Sonoran Joint Venture, a U.S./Mexico avian conservation partnership program.


Jess Ponting, Ph.D.

Jess Ponting, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at San Diego State University. Dr. Ponting specializes in the use of sustainable tourism for community development. He has been particularly active as a researcher/consultant in equatorial Asia-Pacific, most recently as a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas, and as a consultant for Fiji's Tourism Master Plan. His areas of interest include sustainable tourism, surfing tourism, cross cultural interactions in tourism, and volunteer tourism.


Michael Sutton

Michael Sutton is a social entrepreneur and conservation leader who currently works as Vice President, Pacific Flyway with the National Audubon Society. He serves as a member of Audubon's National Leadership Team and oversees Audubon's conservation programs, including a $20 million budget and more than 100 professional staff in California, Washington, and Alaska. Previously, he founded the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2004 and served as program officer for the conservation and science program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation from 1999 to 2004. Prior to that, Sutton worked at the World Wildlife Fund from 1990 to 1999. He also served as special agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1984 to 1990. Sutton worked for the National Park Service as a park ranger from 1980 to 1984.


Lorraine Yglesias

Lorraine is the Director of Marketing Programs for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Prior to working for the aquarium, she worked for 20 years in the communications and entertainment industry in Los Angeles and San Jose. During her tenure in Los Angeles, Lorraine worked for independent television production and distribution companies, including Lorimar-Telepictures (later acquired by Warner Bros. TV) and the Hollywood Reporter (an entertainment industry publication). Her duties included developing the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets for her employers.