September 28 – San Diego Coastkeeper promotes staff, announces new board changes

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 6, 2011 – On Saturday, September 17, around 10,000 volunteers will visit 90 coastal and inland cleanup sites for a one-day attack on marine debris and inland pollution. This year, Coastal Cleanup Day coordinators I Love A Clean San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper highlight on their website several green “in need” cleanup sites, where data from the annual event show a higher demand for volunteers. To reduce the event’s carbon footprint and individual waste, organizers also ask volunteers to select local sites in their own communities and to bring reusable buckets, bags, work gloves and water bottles.
“Trash travels from inland communities into storm drains which empty into our canyons, creek beds and eventually the ocean,” said Pauline Martinson, Executive Director for I Love A Clean San Diego. “That’s why it’s especially important for volunteers to lend a hand in their local neighborhood—our entire county needs a cleaning.”
To encourage participation in areas that need extra hands, San Diego’s Coastal Cleanup Day website, features “in need” sites labeled in green in areas such as Clairemont, Normal Heights, City Heights, La Mesa, Tijuana River Valley and more. These sites were identified based on data from previous cleanups, indicating that some inland sites recover more debris as well as larger items such as tires, couches, and more.
“A recent statewide survey shows that this event significantly increases knowledge about the causes of marine debris—and that’s the first step in stopping the problem,” said Alicia Glassco, Education and Marine Debris Manager at Coastkeeper. “We see Coastal Cleanup Day as a hands-on educational event that connects residents to their neighborhood while removing harmful debris.”
I Love A Clean San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper also ask volunteers to reduce their carbon footprint while participating in the event. Instead of traveling long distance to a site, volunteers should stay at their local cleanup locations and remember to bring their own reusable bag or bucket, work gloves and water bottle.
Last year in San Diego County, volunteer involvement rose to approximately 9,000 participants, with another 3,000 volunteers lending their support across the border in the U.S./Mexico-shared Tijuana Watershed. Volunteers removed close to 100 tons of debris from more than 80 cleanup sites along the coastline and in canyons, creek beds, lagoons, estuaries and open spaces.
This year, volunteers should register on the San Diego County event website at The website includes an interactive Google Map with all cleanup sites in the region, including a handful of green “in need” sites. Sites where registration is at capacity are denoted in red. Information for children, scouts, and groups are also available on the website.

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 28, 2011- The region’s leading environmental nonprofit protecting inland and coastal waters, San Diego Coastkeeper, announces changes in staff and board of directors. The organization promoted two Environmental Law & Policy Clinic staff, Gabriel Solmer to advocacy director and Jill Witkowski to legal clinic director. Megan Baehrens moves to development director. Coastkeeper’s board of directors announces a new leader, David Welborn as president. Board members Jenny Goodman and JP McNeill accepted roles as vice presidents and Jo Brooks will serve as secretary.

Gabriel Solmer joined Coastkeeper in January 2004, working on litigation, legislation and policy issues. She worked as the legal director at the Law & Policy Clinic and also filled in as interim executive director for Coastkeeper for eight months. As advocacy director, Solmer will bring cohesive policy and strategy to Coastkeeper based on a focused, outcome-driven approach.

Jill Witkowski joined Coastkeeper in January 2010 as staff attorney. As legal clinic director, Witkowski will bring a renewed capacity for environmental enforcement by spearheading an expanded student attorney program. Prior to Coastkeeper, she served as deputy director of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.

In April 2009, Megan Baehrens joined San Diego Coastkeeper as a development coordinator. In her new role as development director, she will continue connecting Coastkeeper with the community it serves through corporate and foundation relations, grant proposal and report writing, individual and major gifts and Coastkeeper’s annual Ocean Gala.

Coastkeeper’s board of directors will also change. After six years on the board, David Welborn now serves as its president. A life-long environmentalist, he supports private land conservation in Mexico and South America. David Welborn also helped better San Diego’s environment through his work on The San Diego Foundation’s Environment Working Group, where he and his wife have a donor advised fund.

Additionally, current board members Jenny Goodman, associate at Sullivan Hill Lewin Rez & Engel, and JP McNeill, CEO and co-founder of Renovate America, accepted positions as vice presidents on the board. Jo Brooks, a retired attorney for the Department of State, will serve as secretary.

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Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s bays, beaches, watersheds and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them.  We balance community outreach, education, and advocacy to promote stewardship of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem.