2015 AEP Institute

Nancy Skinner – Featured Keynote Speaker

In November 2012, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) was re-elected to a third term, representing California’s 15th Assembly District. The East Bay district includes Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo and parts of Oakland.

During her first year in office, Assemblymember Skinner served as chair of the Natural Resources Committee. The Committee’s jurisdiction includes water and air quality, recycling, waste management, energy issues including efficiency, power plant siting, and energy development, oil spills, wild and scenic rivers, forestry, open space conservation, and oversight of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act. 

A nationally renowned leader in the fight against global warming, she founded ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, an organization dedicated to helping local governments around the world become environmental leaders. As Executive Director of ICLEI’s U.S. office, she launched the Cities for Climate Protection Program, the national movement of mayors and cities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that now involves over 500 cities and counties.

As a small business owner and prior to being elected to the State Assembly, Assemblymember Skinner served on the Board of the East Bay Regional Parks District. With 100,000 acres of parklands and open space, the District is the largest urban park system in the United States. There, she worked to protect open space, add acres of additional parks, and expand recreational opportunities for youth and schools.

Ken Alex, Featured Keynote Speaker

Ken Alex is a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Director of the Office of Planning and Research, focusing on energy, environment, and land use issues. As California moves towards a population of 50 million in a climate change constrained world, Ken and OPR work on issues and policies that protect and promote the State’s environment and economy. Before joining the Governor’s Office, Ken was the Senior Assistant Attorney General heading the environment section of the California Attorney General’s Office, and the co-head of the Office’s global warming unit. From 2000 to 2006, Ken led the California Attorney General’s energy task force, investigating price and supply issues related to California’s energy crisis. During his tenure at the Attorney General’s Office, Ken negotiated dozens of significant settlements, including agreements with San Bernardino County and ConocoPhillips for the first
required reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Larry Kennings

Larry Kennings with LAK Associates, is a practicing land use planning consultant with over 48 years of experience with environmental planning projects. He has participated in over 20 Specific Plan projects in California and Arizona. His professional experience includes both private and public sector land use planning for new communities, recreational facilities, commercial business parks and large scale environmental planning projects. His experience includes permit and entitlement assignments involving the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Coastal Commission, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and numerous local and regional jurisdictions. He currently serves as a member of the Marin County Parks and Open Space Commission, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative.

Ignacio “Nash” Gonzalez

Senior Associate, Land Logistics, Inc., Retired Planning and Development Director-Santa
Clara County. Previously Planning and Building Services Director-Mendocino County.
29 years in public and private sector planning
SMARA, CEQA, Williamson Act, Project Management, and Design Review
CSU, Sonoma – BA, Environmental Studies and Planning
American Institute of Certified Planners, Certified SMARA/mining field Inspector
Appointed by Governor to serve as Chair of the State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB) term; 2012 – 2015.
Steve Hackney

14-years as Director of Planning & Building for Colusa County
25 years’ work in the field of Land Use and Planning, both in the private sector and public sector
CEQA, SMARA, Land Use, Water
Willamette University – BA, History
Ohio University – MA, International Studies-Southeast Asia
CSU, Chico – MA, Geography & Planning
UC Davis Extension – Land Use & Environmental Planning;
American Institute of Certified Planners.

Sarah B. Jones




Environmental Review Officer and Director of Environmental Planning for the City and County of San Francisco Planning Department
20 years in land use planning, development review, and CEQA in public and private
CEQA, master planning
Stanford University, BA, Urban Studies
UC Berkeley, Master of City Planning
Cindy van Empel, Moderator


11 years as senior planner for City of Modesto
28 years in public and private sector planning
CEQA, transportation and bicycle planning, policy planning
UCLA, BA, Geography
CSU Northridge, Geography
American Institute of Certified Planners, CNU-Accredited
Education Project Award, California Chapter APA (Valley Futures Forum)

As one of the principal senior environmental planners for HDR, Betty is responsible for the delivery of complex environmental documents (including NEPA, CEQA, SEPA, ESA, CWA, 106, other state and local regulatory programs, etc.) for major infrastructure programs. She is responsible for the technical accuracy of environmental documents, strategic guidance to agencies to support the navigation of the projects through the regulatory process, and mentoring staff for their professional growth. Her projects have included large scale water delivery, water resources, habitat conservation programs, wetland
restorations programs, transportation, and energy development. With a master’s and bachelors in biology, much of Betty’s project experience has focused on creating sustainable solutions for challenges with natural resources. Although Betty has spent her professional career as a consultant working for environmental companies, she has contributed to the education of our future leaders teaching courses at the University of San Diego for over 10 years and teaching courses at University of California San Diego at their Extension program for professionals in the field.

Brian R. Smith, AICP

Brian R Smith has 38 years of experience as a land use and environmental planner in California, in both
public and private sectors. His areas of expertise include:
  • Urban and environmental planning and analysis;
  • The California Environmental Quality Act;
  • Large-scale project planning and implementation, including general plans and specific plans; and
  • Annexations and spheres of influence/LAFCo coordination
Brian Smith served as URS’s Project Manager for the preparation of the Program Environmental Impact Report for the comprehensive General Plan Update for San Bernardino County, the largest County in the United States. Mr. Smith's earlier public agency management positions (Vista Planning Director, Escondido Assistant Director, Santa Maria Advance Planning Manager) have provided him with a unique perspective to communicate effectively with agency decision makers, legal counsel and senior managers.

Mr. Smith’s strengths focus on project implementation and legal defensibility of large-scale, controversial planning projects. He is well known in the environmental planning profession as a strong advocate of CEQA streamlining in general and Master/Program EIRs in particular. In the early 90’s, Mr. Smith served on a joint AEP/APA Task Force, along with staff from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, to explore effective methods of CEQA streamlining. The results of this effort, in conjunction with other professional associations, led to the adoption of the Master EIR concept in 1993 (AB1888).

Brian D. Boxer, AICP

Brian D. Boxer, ESA Senior Vice President and Community Development Practice Leader, specializes in the management of planning and program-level environmental studies related to Comprehensive Plans, Master Plans, and Redevelopment Plans, and major development projects for educational institutions, private developers, and public agencies. He brings a creative problem-solving approach to his role as a liaison between the various participants in the planning and project development process, including the project sponsors, engineers, attorneys, lead and responsible agencies, and concerned community
groups. He is experienced with public involvement processes and is a skilled public presenter. 


Mr. Mooney has over 40 years of professional experience specializing in planning, public outreach, environmental analysis,
research, and development of public policy. His extensive experience includes preparation, coordination, and completion of
comprehensive urban and rural master plans for counties, cities, towns, special districts, and tribal governments. Mr. Mooney’s
experience also includes leading the preparation of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA) documents such as environmental impact reports (EIRs) and environmental impact statements (EISs),
preparing General Plans, Specific Plans and Master Plans and developing implementing codes and ordinances.

Nick Cammarota

Nick Cammarota received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California in 1984. In 1985 he joined a Sacramento based real estate development and management company where he was responsible for site acquisition and processing entitlements. In 1991 he graduated from McGeorge School of Law and practiced land use law from 1992 in the Sacramento area until joining the Building Industry Association of Southern California as General Counsel in 1995. In 1999, Nick joined the California Building Industry Association as its general counsel. His duties include conducting strategic litigation to benefit the industry, legislative advocacy and negotiation and providing legal analysis for CBIA’s other legislative advocates.

Michelle Ouellette

Michelle Ouellette is a Partner with Best, Best and Kreiger Law Firm. Michelle brings an in depth understanding of environmental laws and knowledge of state and federal regulations that help her clients' projects succeed in California. With 25 years of experience, she knows how to effectively and efficiently help cities, counties, special districts, developers and other clients in the private sector to navigate the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and state and federal endangered species laws. A trusted counselor and a successful litigator, Michelle works with her clients to reach their goals of building a project, developing a habitat conservation plan or defending environmental documents in court with a responsive and tenacious approach.


Terry Rivasplata is a CEQA and NEPA specialist at ICF International. He manages the preparation of CEQA EIRs and Negative Declarations for urban and rural projects, and provides CEQA advice on projects within the company. Terry is also a popular CEQA instructor with the University of California Davis Extension. Prior to joining ICF, Terry served as the deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. In this role, he managed the Planning and State Clearinghouse units, providing technical assistance to cities and counties regarding California planning laws and distributing environmental analysis documents for state agency review. Terry wrote various CEQA- related technical assistance publications for public use during that time. 

Curtis Alling, AICP

Curtis E. Alling, AICP, a CEQA and NEPA expert with over 35 years of experience, specializes in natural resources management, climate change issues, water supply, transportation, and park and recreation projects. He is a founding principal of Ascent Environmental, Inc., an environmental and natural resources consultancy established in 2010 and located in Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, San Diego and Oakland. Curtis is a leader in CEQA practice approaches for public agencies’ most complex or “first-time” situations. His projects include: City of Sacramento General Plan Master EIR, 2015 California State
Wildlife Action Plan, Lake Tahoe Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy EIR/EIS, Carmel Area State Parks General Plan and EIR, City of Sacramento Climate Action Plan, and the Air Resources Board’s CEQA-equivalent documents for regulations implementing AB 32 GHG emissions reduction programs. Curtis is also Co-Chair of the Enhanced CEQA Action Team (ECAT), a collaboration of the Association of Environmental Professionals and American Planning Association – California Chapter that helps promote beneficial CEQA amendments with state legislators. 

Susan Brandt-Hawley

Susan Brandt-Hawley is the principal attorney in the Brandt-Hawley Law Group in Glen Ellen, representing public-interest groups in environmental matters statewide. Her practice on a broad range of environmental issues focuses on historic and cultural resources. A graduate of King Hall at UC Davis, she has represented environmental petitioners in over 30 published CEQA cases to date in the Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court and is a member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Brandt-Hawley received a California Lawyer of the Year award in environmental law from California
Lawyer. She and her husband own Random Ridge winery in the Mt. Veeder Appellation.

Sarah Owsowitz

Sarah Owsowitz, BBK Law, represents both public and private clients in administrative proceedings and litigation involving CEQA, as well as state and local planning and zoning laws. In particular, she has substantial experience in obtaining entitlements and preparing and defending environmental impact reports for large-scale development projects, hospital retrofits and renewable energy projects. Sarah serves on the California Special District Association’s LAW Group advising on current case law, and its Public Works Coalition committee, as an advocate for CEQA reform. She is also a past member of the executive committee of the State Bar of California Real Property Section. Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine selected her as a “Northern California Super Lawyer” for Land Use Law in 2013 and 2014, as a “Northern California Rising Star” for Land Use Law from 2009 to 2012, and placed her on the “Top Women Attorneys in Northern California” list in 2013 and 2014. Prior to joining Best Best & Krieger, Sarah was with Cox Castle & Nicholson and Morrison & Foerster. Before that, for nearly seven years, she served as a deputy city attorney for the City and County of San Francisco.

Gary Jakobs, AICP

Gary Jakobs, AICP is a Principal with Ascent Environmental, Inc. Gary applies his education in economics, environmental studies, and business to infuse pragmatic insights into environmental analysis. With 30+ years of experience, he has a diverse background in environmental studies for projects throughout California and the western United States. He is a CEQA and NEPA expert who develops practice methods, leads emerging analysis and policy trends, and helps his clients understand applicable regulations and case law. His expertise encompasses the federal and California ESA and CWA and state requirements for regulation of wetlands and water quality regulations. Gary’s project management experience includes multitask, on-call environmental assignments for projects throughout California; large-scale development plans; in-fill urban development; wastewater treatment infrastructure; parks, open space and vegetation management programs; industrial and energy facilities; telecommunications installations; prisons; and airport expansions. As a way to give back to the profession, Gary has led the development of the AEP’s Advanced CEQA Workshop curriculum for several years.

Jason Brandman

As Executive Vice President in their Environmental Services practice at FirstCarbon Solutions, Jason is responsible for working with clients around North America to provide them solutions that meet their needs. Jason Brandman specializes in planning, environmental impact assessment, and public policy analysis, with an in-depth understanding of hillside residential development issues. He has almost 30 years of experience with the management of, and analyses for, Environmental Impact Reports, Environmental Impact Studies, Environmental Assessments, Mitigated Negative Declarations, Specific Plans, water
resource evaluations, and hazardous materials studies. He has worked on a wide range of projects: downtown revitalization plans, major mixed-use developments, large/small-scale residential developments, regional transportation corridor and utility transmission line studies, commercial developments, and industrial developments. 

Maggie Townsley

Maggie Townsley is vice president at ICF International overseeing environmental review for transportation and other infrastructure projects in Northern California for ICF International. She has helped deliver 100s OF CEQA/NEPA reviews and has coordinated extensively with numerous federal, state, and local agencies to streamline and secure related environmental
permits and approvals. Ms. Townsley is a regular instructor in environmental studies at the University of California Davis Extension and the University of California Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies Technology Transfer program, and has taught several classes on CEQA review, CEQA streamlining, and CEQA reform. She’s served on numerous non-profit boards
and currently is a Board member of Valley Vision, a non-profit social enterprise focused on economic, environmental and social issues. Ms. Townsley has an MS in Community and Regional Planning, a BS in Geological Sciences, and a BA in French from the University of Texas at Austin.

Ingrid Brostrom

Ingrid Brostrom, is a Senior Attorney for the Center for Race (CRPE), Poverty and the Environment. She is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law, joined CRPE in 2006 to develop a campaign to reduce the disproportionate impact of California’s waste disposal on low income communities and communities of color in the San Joaquin Valley. Her project, “Don’t Waste the Valley,” has focused on issues ranging from hazardous waste facility siting decisions to the application of biosolids on agricultural lands. Most recently Ms.Brostrom has coordinated a statewide collaborative called the People’s Senate and Leadership Institute which brings together residents impacted by hazardous waste and other toxic materials to develop
recommendations and advocate for implementing community-based reforms at the Department of Toxic Substances Control. Ms.Brostrom also leads CRPE’s legislative committee. Ms. Brostrom graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with degrees in environmental studies and politics prior to Hastings. She interned with the Jane Goodall Institute, the Center on Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club.

Morgan Wyenn

Morgan Wyenn is a Staff Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Ms. Wyenn’s work at NRDC is focused mostly on cleaning up Southern California’s infamous air pollution, particularly the toxic diesel emissions from the transportation of freight. She works in coalition with community and environmental justice organizations to utilize both the law and policy advocacy to fight for cleaner air for the communities facing dangerously high risks from air pollution from the “goods movement” industry. Ms. Wyenn graduated from the environmental studies program at UC Santa Cruz and went to Lewis and Clark Law School, where she was Editor in Chief of the Environmental Law Review.

Trevor Macenski

Trevor Macenski develops environmental compliance programs for controversial development activities to help communities, clients, and regulators, find a balanced approach to development. With experience in the power, community development, transportation, education, commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors, his background offers a wide range of experience on litigious projects. Mr. Macenski is a Principal at Stantec and also serves as adjunct faculty at UC Davis, teaching environmental impact assessment methodologies. As a seasoned impact assessment practitioner, educator, and strategist, he advises clients from concept all the way through construction. Mr. Macenski is the past Chapter Director for the Bay Area and Sacramento chapters of AEP and was Co-Chair of the Sacramento AEP Conference in 2012.

Mike Peroni

Mike Peroni is President of The Altum Group which he formed in 2009. A graduate of the School of Environmental Design, Cal Poly Pomona. Mr. Peroni has over 40 years of experience in municipal planning, environmental planning, and urban design. His first experience with CEQA focused on peripheral involvement with the City of Palm Springs 1974 General Plan EIR. Subsequent to CEQA being applied to private projects, he served as the City’s environmental planner where he was responsible for preparation of all CEQA and NEPA documents. Prior to forming The Altum Group, in 1979 he joined Simon Eisner and Dick Smith as a consultant and had been a partner or principal in a number of firms since. During this time period he has participated in the preparation of hundreds of environmental documents for public and private projects subject to CEQA. His documents cover a significant range of actions that were determined to have potential impact on the environment.

Nona B. Dennis

Nona Dennis is a retired environmental consultant and educator whose career in environmental impact assessment, wetlands ecology, habitat restoration, environmental management systems, and environmental non-profits spans more than 40 years. She co-founded Madrone Associates in Marin County in 1973 and was a vice president of Environmental Science Associates (ESA), San Francisco, from 1980 until retiring in 1998. She was state president of AEP in 1977-78 and received their Life
Achievement award in 1993. From 1989 to 1999, she served as adjunct faculty in the University of San Francisco graduate program in Environmental Management, teaching environmental philosophy and ethics, and environmental management. She has published articles relating environmental impact assessment to sustainability principles. . She is past-president and a director of Marin Conservation League and is a Life Member of Environmental Forum of Marin.

Terry Watt, AICP

Terrell “Terry” Watt, AICP, owns Terrell Watt Planning Consultants. Ms. Watt’s firm specializes in planning, regulatory compliance and implementation projects with a focus on regionally-significant land use, conservation and transportation projects that promote sustainable development patterns and practices. Prior to forming her own consulting group, she was the staff planning expert with the environmental and land use law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger. She is an expert in general and specific planning and zoning, open space and agricultural land conservation strategies and environmental compliance. Her skills also include facilitation and negotiation, public outreach, project management and negotiation. Terry is a frequent presenter at regional, national and statewide workshops and symposiums on general plans and sustainability best practices and case studies. She holds a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University.