Meet Our Staff

Executive Director (currently recruiting)

Angela Ward, Interim Executive Director/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. Read more about Angela.

Felicia Van Stolk, Education Director
831-420-6115, ext. 17

Felicia is a Santa Cruz native, raised on its 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 in 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.

Kathleen Aston, Collections Manager

Kathleen Aston has worked as the Museum’s Collections Specialist since January of 2017. Her responsibilities include the day-to-day oversight, documentation, and conservation of the Museum Collections. She has a B.A. in Linguistics from Reed College and a Master’s of Library and Information Science from 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. Read more about Kathleen.

Brendan Bane, Communications and Marketing Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 16

Brendan’s interest in biology blossomed when he first laid his eyes upon a giant, hairy tarantula. Soon after, his bedroom bookshelves overflowed with natural history guides and web-filled terrariums. He later followed his passion to the cloud forests of Costa Rica, where he studied how tarantulas communicate their romantic intentions. Though he loved tromping through forests and spying on spiders in their roadside burrows, his greatest thrill did not come from the field or laboratory. Instead, he was happiest onstage, bringing audiences face to fang with spiders through visual storytelling. After earning a B.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology and certificate in science communication from UC Santa Cruz, Brendan began reporting news on local natural history and scientific advancements as a freelance science journalist. He enjoys hiking, herping, and teaching jiu jitsu in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He joined the Museum in July 2018 as Community Relations Manager, and is eager to immerse its guests in the lives of all flora and fauna, whether wondrous or weird. Read more about Brendan.

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 is an all-around museum nerd. She joined the Museum in 2010, and as the current Visitor Services Manager she manages the public spaces of the Museum. Read more about Liz.

Marisa Gomez, Public Programs Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 15

Marisa aims to infuse her life and work with tenants of curiosity, enthusiasm and community. As a steward of the Museum’s public programming, she is committed to providing unique and engaging experiences that connect people with nature in a variety of ways and engage learners of all levels. Marisa has a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Jose State University, is a Certified California Naturalist, serves on the Board of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden, and spends her free time collecting odd bits from here and there and hosting trivia events around town. Read more about Marisa.

Maura Connolly, Volunteer Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 13

Maura moved to Santa Cruz from Boston, pursuing a lifelong dream of living in California that has yet to disappoint. She started as a member of the AmeriCorps Volunteer Infrastructure Program (VIP), serving as Volunteer Coordinator at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. After a year of plants and volunteers she was happily hired by two local non-profits to continue her work in volunteer coordinating. She is excited to join the Museum’s team, where she looks forward to being surrounded by people with a similar love of nature and giving back to the community. As a transplant to California Maura has much to learn from the Museum and hopes to become more of an expert on this magical place we live in. When she is not coordinating volunteers Maura is often volunteering herself, including in her role as a member of the Board of the Arboretum. She also has a vast love of the ocean and spends as much time as she can by it: running, reading, swimming, or contemplating life. She is stoked to be working at a museum with a life size whale out front, and eats her lunch at the beach every day. Read more about Maura.

Chris Soriano, Education Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 17

Chris Soriano is a large omnivorous mammal that can be seen wandering the forests of the Pacific Northwest. He has been sighted in many states including Texas, Colorado, Montana and Washington, but the largest number of recorded encounters have occurred in California. He graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, with a B.S. in Zoology and Evolutionary Biology. Chris has taught people about nature from the day he could talk, and still rattles on about dinosaurs just like he did when he was three years old. He enjoys hiking, playing music, and rainy weather. Because of his strong resemblance to Enhydra lutris, Chris is also known as Otter. He joined the Museum in August 2018 and hopes to inspire every child in Santa Cruz County to spend some time outside.

Spencer Klinefelter, Education Assistant
831-420-6115, ext. 17

As a child, Spencer spent much of his time outside hiking, climbing, and playing in the open spaces around his home in the Sacramento Valley and foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Since then not much has changed, and he still divides his time between hiking, rock climbing, and “naturalizing” as much as possible. An avid birder and botanist and a lifelong student of environmental education, Spencer has been teaching children of all ages since high school, and upon graduating from University of California, Santa Cruz with degrees in Environmental Studies and Education, began working full time in the field. Spencer joined the Museum in the fall of 2017 as the education assistant for field programs, and continues to pursue his interests and passions alongside his work. Read more about Spencer.

Sally Iverson, Visitor Services Representative

Sally comes to the Museum from the great Midwest. Raised among the lakes, rolling hills and farmland near Rochester, Minnesota, she was always curious about and fond of the natural world in her backyard. She holds a BFA in Art/Film making from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After moving to Santa Cruz three years ago, Sally immersed herself in learning everything she could about the Santa Cruz area, and her first step was to become an enthusiastic volunteer and intern for events and special programs here at the Museum. Sally finds that educating patrons about our natural world, which is changing by the minute, is both enjoyable and incredibly rewarding. She holds a strong interest in art and enjoys pottery, drawing, painting, and any crafts that get her hands dirty. Thanks to one of our workshops, she holds a new-found fascination with traditional Ohlone basketry. Read more about Sally.

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 for being “married to music.”

Isabelle West, Collections Assistant

Isabelle began volunteering with the Museum in 2016, first as a docent leading school tours, and soon she came to help with administrative tasks, eventually finding her way to the Collections Department. Today, as Collections Assistant, she helps organize, tend to and record  the many artifacts, specimens and documents within our care. She holds a B.A. in anthropology with a focus in Native American studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In her spare time, she keeps her own collection of curious items found at antique faires, thrift stores and garage sales. Isabelle is eager to make museum access easy and organized for all. She enjoys visiting museums throughout California, attending local, do-it-yourself style concerts, and trying her hand at a host of ever-rotating creative pursuits. Read more about Isabelle.