Felicia Van Stolk, Executive Director
831-420-6115, ext. 11
Felicia is a Santa Cruz native, raised on its trails and beaches. At UCLA she pursued degrees in marine biology and conservation ecology. 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 Museum. She first joined the Museum team as the Education Director in 2016, and has overseen the growth of school and public programming. Felicia was appointed to the role of Executive Director in the fall of 2019. 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, Director of Operations
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 15 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.
Kiersten Elzy-Loving, Development and Community Partnerships Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 16
Kiersten is a Santa Barbara native raised traveling and exploring California’s coast, canyons, and deserts. Backpacking, sailing, and exploring the deserts have informed and inspired her life-long dedication to stewardship of the natural world. Passionate about education and greater accessibility for all, she majored in education and child development. Kiersten spent nearly three decades as a resident of lower Seabright and is passionate about the history of this area and the ecology of the Monterey Bay region. When not at the museum, she is at our beaches, hillsides, and creeks with her family, kayaking, visiting nurseries and galleries or seeing live music. As an enthusiastic appreciator of museums wherever she travels, Kiersten is committed to fostering a deeper connection between people and the natural history around them. She believes that it is a privilege to work in the service of a seminal and vital Santa Cruz organization so rich in history with an even-brighter future. Read more about Kiersten.
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.
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 Museum of Pop Culture. 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. She joined the Museum as a volunteer in 2013 and as staff in the fall of 2015. Read more about Marisa.
Rocio Sánchez-Nolasco, Public Programs Coordinator
Rocio grew up in Santa Cruz County and has cultivated her life-long appreciation for nature through gardening and by exploring local wetlands, beaches, and forests. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a B.A. in Art History and a minor in Digital Humanities. While at UCLA, Rocio learned about the importance of museum education and public programming in helping bridge a sense of community among people of all walks of life and cultivating knowledge through different perspectives. She aims to share her passion for local ecology and museums by helping others learn and connect to nature. In her spare time, Rocio can be found at the beach, watching horror films, or making art. Read more about Rocio.
Spencer Klinefelter, Education Coordinator
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 and continues to pursue his interests and passions alongside his work. Read more about Spencer.
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. Read more about Chris.
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.” Read more about Mary.
Selena Stein, Visitor Services Representative
Selena has always loved spending time outside. She grew up swimming in the San Lorenzo River and Pacific Ocean and particularly enjoys the fauna of this region. As a teen, she volunteered here at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History leading tours and sharing her passion for this land we are lucky to call home. College in the stunning Pacific Northwest took her away from Santa Cruz, but not for long. Since she returned in 2011 she has worked with children and found nonprofits to be a perfect outlet for serving her community. She is thrilled to be back at the museum and delights in conversations with visitors of all ages. You can find her playing in nature with her husband, daughter, and puppy when she’s not behind the desk.
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.
Ellen Stone, Education Assistant
Ellen spent her childhood peering into creeks, hiking in the mountains, and visiting the Natural History Museum in her hometown of Santa Barbara. She made her way up to the land of the redwoods to attend UC Santa Cruz, obtaining her B.S. in Environmental Studies. Since graduating, she has had the wonderful experience of being able to spend her time outdoors helping children make connections with the natural world. In her free time she enjoys making art, taking friends on interpretive hikes, and visiting museums of all kinds whenever she travels. She joined the museum staff as an Education Assistant in September 2019. Read more about Ellen.