Felicia Van Stolk, Executive Director
831-420-6115, ext. 11
Felicia was raised on the trails and beaches of Santa Cruz where she was born. 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 hails from the West Coast 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.
Kathleen Aston, Collections Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 20
As Collections Manager, Kathleen Aston is responsible for the physical and intellectual organization and preservation of the Museum’s collections. She joined the museum’s staff as collections specialist in 2017, and holds 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 collections and how they anchor people to an understanding of the natural world. Her other interests include coffee, stargazing, weird plants, animals that look like blobs, and the repair and reuse sections of the waste management cycle. Read more about Kathleen. Read more about Kathleen.
Liz Broughton, Visitor Experience Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 22
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 Experience Manager she oversees the public spaces of the Museum. Read more about Liz.
Kiersten Elzy-Loving, Development and Community Engagement Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 16
Born in Santa Barbara, Kiersten was 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.
Marisa Gomez, Community Education and Collaboration 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 and communications, she is committed to providing unique and engaging experiences that connect people with nature in a variety of ways and engage learners of all backgrounds. Marisa has a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Jose State University, is a Certified California Naturalist, and serves on the Boards of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden and the Santa Cruz Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. In her spare time, Marisa can be found biking around town or up mountains, gleefully crouching over a rock or a bug or a flower, or hunting for treasures at antique shops. She joined the Museum as a volunteer in 2013 and as staff in 2015. She oversees our community programs, partnerships, and digital content creation. Read more about Marisa.
Jenny Rieke, Education Manager
831-420-6115, ext. 17
Jenny grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, amongst the gurgling streams and sprawling deciduous forests of the Great Lakes region. She completed her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies at UCSC, where she was exposed to the wonder-full world of Natural History. There she discovered her passion for field-based learning and environmental education. Since graduating, she has worked for various environmental organizations as an educator and field biologist. Although she is a certified bird-nerd, her love and wonder for the natural world extends to all things, both living and nonliving. When she is not working, you can find Jenny swimming in mountain streams, riding her bike, or hiking with her adorable dog, Tule.
Emily Antonino, Education Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 19
Emily grew up in Santa Cruz and has enjoyed its natural beauty by going to the beach, hiking in the redwoods, and watching sunsets on the cliffs. She traveled to California’s Central Valley to run intercollegiate track and field and obtain her Bachelor of Arts degree in Plant Biology at University of California, Davis. She discovered her enthusiasm for outdoor science education at the UC Davis Student Farm. Emily strives to ignite curiosity and empathy for the natural world in every person she encounters. When not teaching science, she enjoys running, reading, and music. Emily joined the museum staff in 2021. Read more about Emily.
Rocio Sánchez-Nolasco, Public Programs Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 13
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.
Chris Soriano, Education Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 18
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.
Isabelle West, Collections Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 21
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.
Natalie Wollman, Communications Coordinator
831-420-6115, ext. 14
In Germany, Bavaria, Natalie grew up with the beautiful Alps mountain range in her backyard, and her parents took her hiking and exploring nature from an early age. Having the forest and river close by were her favorite playgrounds, and still today she loves spending time in nature and observing quietly. She chose a career that allowed her to travel and see the world—becoming a colorist working for the media industry on three continents in thirteen different countries fulfilled that wish. Before moving to Santa Cruz, she worked on campaigns for the SOS Children Village, which provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children in need and protects their interests and rights worldwide. In 2017 Natalie moved from Germany to Santa Cruz, where she fell in love with Redwoods of Henry Cowell, Big Sur, and the fantastic diversity of Santa Cruz nature. Joining the museum combines her passion for protecting the environment, education, and support for young people to discover a new perspective. Natalie joined the Museum in 2022.
Ellen Stone, Education Assistant
831-420-6115, ext. 23
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.
Hannah Caisse, Education Assistant
831-420-6115, ext. 23
Hannah Caisse was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, and she developed a love for nature at a very early age. As a child, she regularly visited the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and other local scientific institutions, and it was this exposure to nature and science that got her hooked on a lifelong love of biology. As an Education Assistant, Hannah finds so much gratification in teaching the next generation of young people all about science and the natural history of the Monterey Bay. When she is not showing kids around nature, you can find Hannah working at her local rock climbing gym, drawing detailed science illustrations at her desk, baking, reading, walking along the beach, drinking tea, or gossiping about the latest findings in paleontology.
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.
Shelly was born in Santa Cruz but grew up in Sonoma County, and came right back to SC the day she graduated high school. She went to UCSC for Sociology and has been working as a counselor for former foster youth since graduating. Shelly took time off to do a bunch of wwoofing (world wide opportunities on organic farms) in New Zealand, Oregon, Hawaii, and around Europe. She has a huge interest in growing food, and recently worked on a sustainable agriculture certificate through Shone Farm. Periodically, Shelly works for a few wineries in town helping out in the cellar when her friend winemakers need a hand. Read more about Shelly.