Heather Moffat, Executive Director
831-420-6115, ext. 11
Heather grew up dreaming of becoming a kindergarten teacher but a college course in dinosaurs changed her career path. She pursued her fascination of paleontology, earning a B.S. in geology from Smith College and two M.S. degrees from University of Southern California and University of Rochester. While in graduate school, she rediscovered her love of teaching and realized she could combine her two passions of education and the natural world through museum education. She became the first Director of Education for the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, designing their science education programs to inspire appreciation of the natural world. Following her six years at the Alf Museum, Heather became the Director of Education and Exhibits for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and its Sea Center. During her eight-year tenure in Santa Barbara, she realigned the Museum’s guiding principles to focus on anchoring their educational programs in nature and led the effort to create experiential learning spaces in their indoor and outdoor areas. In mid-February 2015, Heather joined our Museum as our new Executive Director. She is thrilled to lead the Museum at this exciting time in its history. Read more about Heather.
Liz Broughton, Visitor Services Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 10
Liz grew up in the redwoods of the San Lorenzo Valley before heading off to UC Berkeley to pursue a degree in anthropology and Celtic studies. While there she conducted research on baboon teeth morphology for the Integrative Biology Department and interned with the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. She continued her education at the University of Washington in Seattle where she earned an MA in the little known field of Museology. She gained a broad understanding of museums through coursework and internships at the Burke Museum of Natural History, the Woodland Park Zoo, the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. Liz is passionate about public understanding and engagement in science and as the current Visitor Services Manager, she manages the public spaces of the Museum. Read more about Liz.
Felicia Van Stolk, Education Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 17
Felicia is a Santa Cruz native, raised on trails and beaches. At UCLA she pursued degrees in marine biology and conservation ecology, completing research in Costa Rica and at Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory. While focusing on her studies, she also discovered her passion for education and was involved in a student non-profit focused on teaching underserved communities in Los Angeles. This background in science, conservation, and education informs an experiential, inquiry-driven style of teaching that promotes critical thinking, problem solving, and achieving depth of understanding. She is passionate about environmental education and facilitating experiences for all people in nature, and brings this enthusiasm to the school and public programs that she oversees for the Museum. When not at the Museum, Felicia can be found with her dog at the same trails and beaches that she grew up on, or SCUBA diving in her favorite kelp forests. Read more about Felicia.
Angela Ward, Operations Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 12
Angela is a West Coast native and has enjoyed exploring the outdoors since childhood. Her past employment includes work with the United Indian of All Tribes Foundation, the National Park Service, Youth Conservation Corps, and local non-profit ETR Associates. She holds degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. Angela was an early participant in national service through the AmeriCorps program and completed her term of service in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. She spent many years living and working in Yosemite –as a trailworker, backcountry cook, and school secretary at a one-room school- before moving to Santa Cruz over 10 years ago. Angela joined the museum in January 2015 bringing with her years of non-profit administrative experience. She is excited about supporting the mission of the museum and helping to expand our reach in the community. Her interests include a passion for cooking, gardening and travel.
Chris Sulots, Volunteer Program Manager
Chris Sulots grew up surrounded by Joshua Trees within the Antelope Valley in Southern California. He moved north to study Archaeology first at Cabrillo College, where he performed excavations at Año Nuevo State Park, and then at UC Berkeley, where he earned his bachelors degree in Anthropology. He worked as an Archaeologist in Japan and in the Northern Sierra mountains of California. He served the public as a Librarian for the Cities of Berkeley and Santa Cruz. He loved teaching about the environment in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Aquarium of the Bay and in the East Bay Regional Park District (Fremont, Richmond, and Alameda). Here in Santa Cruz he continued this path as a Naturalist at the Web of Life Field School and as a Park Ranger with the City of Santa Cruz at the Loch Lomond Recreation Area. When not at the museum you may find Chris riding a bicycle along the coast, playing a stringed instrument, reading a book, or taking photographs of nature.
Ami Davis, Development Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 14
Ami has been committed to making history and art relevant to everyone since her museum career began in Santa Cruz in 1998. She has been with the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History since January 2017, and is responsible for grants, donor stewardship, and membership. She holds an M.A. in Art History from California State University, San Jose, and a B.A in Art History from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has served institutions such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Monterey Museum of Art, the Orange County Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Art, and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. She has also served as an instructor for courses in contemporary art at UCLA Extension and has been a panelist and presenter at numerous national museum conferences. Ami finds great joy in connecting our museum’s patrons and supporters to Santa Cruz’s natural splendor, rich history, and diverse culture.
J.M. Brown, Community Relations Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 16
A former journalist who reported on the environment among other topics, J.M. joined the Museum in October 2016. J.M. grew up in Indianapolis, where he received his B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University. He worked as a reporter for the Santa Cruz Sentinel for many years before working as a communications strategist for Santa Cruz-based Miller Maxfield, Inc. As Community Relations Manager, J.M. handles the Museum’s media relations, general public outreach, event planning, and sponsorships. J.M. serves as a member of the City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Commission and chair of the Arts Council Santa Cruz County Board of Directors. In his free time, J.M. runs half-marathons, and his favorite training routes are in Wilder Ranch State Park and along West Cliff and East Cliff drives.
Marisa Gomez, Museum Program Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 15
Marisa started working at the Museum as a volunteer in 2013 and became an Education Assistant in 2015 before being promoted to be Museum Program Coordinator in July 2016. Marisa is committed to providing unique and engaging experiences at the Museum and throughout the community that connect people with nature through the Museum’s school programs, public programs, and even virtually. Marisa schedules all school programs and group visits, leads the Museum’s onsite school programs, helps put on our public programs, and handles the Museum’s social media accounts. Marisa has a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Jose State University and spends her free time writing, crafting, hiking, and hosting a local trivia night.
Ariel Hunter, Field Program Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 15
Ariel grew up in the San Fernando Valley but every summer took trips to Carpinteria Beach in Santa Barbara County, where she’d spend dawn to dusk tumbling around in the waves. This sparked her interest in the ocean and ultimately drove her to attend UC Santa Cruz, where she majored in marine biology. After several internships with Save Our Shores and PISCO, she taught outdoor science as an entry-level naturalist at Camp Sea Lab in Monterey and Elkhorn Slough Reserve. She joined the Museum in August 2016. Ariel runs K-12 programs that take students out into local habitats and foster their connection to the natural history of this area. Outside the museum, Ariel can be paddling around the harbor in a kayak or investigating the local tide pools for interesting new seaweeds.
Meredith Jacobson, Education Assistant
831-420-6115, ext. 15
Meredith moved to California from Maryland, and immediately fell in love with the landscapes of the west. While studying Forestry and Natural Resources at UC Berkeley, she learned as much as she could about the diverse and magnificent ecosystems of California. After graduating, she moved to Santa Cruz to work for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, where she helped manage the Soquel Demonstration State Forest. It was there that Meredith realized she wanted to dedicate herself to environmental education, and is now very excited to be working with the education programs at the Museum. Meredith joined the Museum in November 2016. She spends her free time taking long walks in the woods, playing folk music and getting involved in community activism.
Kathleen Aston, Collections Specialist
Kathleen became the Collections Specialist in January 2017 after serving a year as a collections volunteer. She supports the Museum’s Collections through various activities including cataloging, maintenance and processing gifts and inquiries. Her professional experience is rooted primarily in libraries, with a dash of farming and retail. She brings her zest for organization and sense of public service to bear in the Museum’s collections. Kathleen grew up near the home of naturalist John Muir in Martinez, California and moved to Santa Cruz by way of Portland, Oregon where she obtained a B.A. in Linguistics from Reed College. Currently pursuing a Master’s of Library and Information Science through the University of Washington, Kathleen is fascinated by the informational life of objects and how they anchor people to an understanding of the natural world. Her interests include coffee and tea, stargazing, weird plants, and whatever is on Freecycle.
Mary A. Verutti, Visitor Services Representative
Mary has been with the Museum since 2006 and has seen so many changes through the years. She continues to be amazed at the contribution the Museum makes to the City of Santa Cruz with such a small staff. She has an English/Writing degree from Chico State but has always had a passion for history, especially of Santa Cruz. She has learned so much about natural history from working at the Museum and is excited when all who enter feel the same. Mary loves all things Italian, New Orleanian, rainy days, moonlit nights and is teased by friends and family to be “married to music.”
Charlotte Rose, Visitor Services Representative
Charlotte joined the Museum in October 2016. She graduated with a degree in education from Northeastern University before migrating to Canada to live a “back to the land” lifestyle. Having studied indigenous people for years, she lived in a tipi during summers before moving to the Queen Charlotte Islands, where she taught school. Once back in the U.S., she continued her career as a teacher for 15 years, teaching units on Ohlone, geology and ecosystems. A grandmother of four, Charlotte also tutors students privately and enjoys yoga, tango, hiking, traveling and gardening. She says the natural world has always been her teacher, a way to mindfulness.