Bruce Bekkar, MD
Dr. Bruce Bekkar’s local environmental efforts began in 1991, when he helped found the first local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation in San Diego. Since 2005, he has focused on the threats posed by climate change- specifically, risks to human health and our oceans. He left his medical practice in 2013 to work full-time on these issues, and currently serves as the public health representative to San Diego’s Climate Action Plan Implementation Group and the Executive Committees of TAG Indivisible and the North San Diego Chapter of Climate Reality.
Recently, he was Vice-Chair of Del Mar’s Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee, the spokesperson for Surfrider’s S.T.O.P. climate change initiative, and he has traveled to the State Capitol with the American Lung Association to lobby with the Doctors for Climate Health. As a 2015 graduate of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps program, he co-leads their Health Issues community and mentors at U.S. trainings. Bruce speaks frequently to community groups, university students, local city councils, and anyone who wants to learn what they can do about our climate crisis.
Mary M Yang, Ph.D.
In 2008, Mary M Yang served on the Steering Committee of the San Diego Foundation’s Regional Focus 2050 Study. This study included contributions from university researchers, government agencies and others to analyze climate change related impacts on the San Diego region in 2050 under a “business as usual” scenario. This regional wake-up call helped spur the development of climate action plans among the region's 19 municipalities. Today, Mary is Chair of the Climate Action Commission for the City of Solana Beach, a Director of the San Diego Natural History Museum, a Steering Committee member for the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD and active in other organizations that support education and conservation.
Previously, Mary was the co-founder and former President of an innovative biotech company that provided solutions to challenging problems in the pharmaceutical, biotech/diagnostics and chemical manufacturing industries. She received her training at UC Berkeley (B.S. Chemistry) and Princeton University (Ph.D. Geology) where she was a NSF Graduate Fellow. She is an inventor on twelve patents, author of numerous scientific publications and was nominated for NASA's Woman-Owned Subcontractor of the Year. Earlier, Mary also held positions at MIT, the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, California Institute of Technology, NASA’s Ames Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Lab. In addition to commercial contracts to the company, her work has been supported by NASA, DOE, NIH and the NSF.
Having lived and been educated in many countries, Mary has always marveled at the Earth’s natural environment, rejoiced in its wide-open spaces and cherished all of its life forms.
Don Mosier, MD, PhD
Donald Mosier served on the Del Mar City Council from 2008-2016. He worked with CAC to get Del Mar to adopt a Climate Action Plan in June 2016, which includes an important goal of 100% clean energy by 2035. Don also accompanied Nicole Capretz and other North County officials to the CPUC to lobby for their communities' freedom of clean energy choice and against the “independent marketing division” proposed by SDG&E/Sempra Energy.
Don’s current position with the City of Del Mar is Climate Action Plan Facilitator, a role that includes writing grants for energy efficiency upgrades to civic building and helping the city evaluate options for joining a regional Community Choice Energy consortium. He is a champion of fact-based policy decisions.
Don and his wife Ann Feeney have lived in Del Mar since 1985 and raised their 3 sons there. Don and Ann are both scientists at The Scripps Research Institute, and Don became Professor Emeritus last year after many years of HIV/AIDS research. He received his advanced degrees from the University of Chicago, and held positions at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, and the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA before moving to Del Mar. He also served on advisory board for the NIH, the World Health Organization, several biotechnology firms, and the University of California AIDS Task Force. Don currently serves on the boards of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, Del Mar Community Connections, and the Del Mar Village Association.
Cecilia Aguillon is the Director of Market Development for Kyocera Solar, Inc. Working with local, state, and federal governments, she designs solar energy programs and renewable portfolio standards for implementation across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. She develops these initiatives in cooperation with several trade associations throughout the United States and has been on board of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CalSEIA) since 2003. Cecilia is also a prominent figure in business development, marketing, advertising, and public relations in Latin America, where she advocates for the growth of renewable energies. She has been with Kyocera since 1998.
Carol Kim is the Political Director of the San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council.
Previously, Carol was Director of Unions United at United Way of San Diego County. She also worked as a Research Associate for WestEd, an education research, development, and service not-for-profit, where she worked with public schools throughout California to provide programs that support students’ health, safety, and well-being, as well as career development and technical education opportunities in partnership with community colleges.
Carol’s career began in the inner city of Los Angeles as a classroom teacher, the coordinator of a Fine Arts program, and the lead teacher of an after-school program for at-risk boys. She also worked in HIV prevention, serving high-risk groups and training nurses, community service providers, and teachers.
Carol is a UCLA graduate, the daughter of Korean immigrant parents, and the married mother of two children. She and her family live in San Diego where she is active in her local community by volunteering for her children’s school, engaging in local politics, serving on the boards of the Cesar Chavez Service Club and Run Women Run, and serving as a member of the San Diego Community College District Trustees Advisory Committee.
Rosa Olascoaga Vidal
Rosa Olascoaga Vidal was born and raised in City Heights, San Diego. Rosa first got involved in community organizing when she was twelve years old with Mid City CAN's Youth Council. After years of organizing, Rosa along with the youth council members successfully got City Heights a skatepark and plaza. Rosa graduated from the University of San Francisco with a B.A in Politics and minors in Legal Studies and Chicanx & Latinx studies.
During college, Rosa gained experience at USF's Office of Admission, National Education Association, United We Dream & College Springs. Rosa is a resident of Paradise Hills and a Community Organizer at Mid-City CAN. Rosa is organizing for transportation justice for San Diego's underserved communities, especially through youth investment with Youth Opportunity Passes. Currently, Rosa represents District 4 in San Diego's Mobility Board.
Originally from Colombia, Sebastian grew up in Florida, where he learned first hand the impact of hurricanes and climate change. This motivated him to learn about environmental policy and how to lessen the impacts of a changing world, especially on our most vulnerable populations. While living in Madrid for a few years, he also experienced and learned how increasing heatwaves were impacting the local communities there.
After returning to the US, he volunteered for several environmental organizations in San Diego, where he got to learn first-hand how to impact policy. As a previous staff member for Climate Action Campaign working on Community Choice Energy, he is thrilled to be back at CAC as a Board Member. Right now, he is interning for the City of San Diego's Sustainability Department and is helping lead the work on the city's Equity Indexing Project. Sebastian is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy in Energy and Environmental Policy at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy and holds a Bachelor of Political Science from the University of Central Florida.
Lester Machado, MD, DDS - Treasurer
A California native, Dr. Machado has had his own private practice in oral and maxillofacial surgery in San Diego since 1990. His office is near the Rady Children's Hospital where is he an active member of San Diego's Cleft Palate and Craniofacial teams. He has a very special interest in the care of children with facial deformities. He is fluent in Spanish and active with overseas cleft palate surgical teams, as well.
He completed his education at University of the Pacific, School of Dentistry and at the Hahnemann University School of Medicine. He completed his oral and maxillofacial surgical training at Louisiana State University at New Orleans, where he also earned his Master of Science in anatomy.
Lester has served on the boards of several business, professional and community organizations including: Bank of Southern California, San Diego County Dental Association, San Diego Dental Health Foundation, and The Coming Together Foundation. He is passionate about the grassroots effort to stop the climate crisis because of the severe health implications for humans and the potential devastation to the entire planet of continued carbon emissions.
Kara Ballester, Vice Chair
Kara Ballester is the President of The BQuest Foundation, a private foundation in San Diego primarily focused on the climate crisis and homelessness and housing affordability. Kara runs the foundation’s climate program and works with nonprofits, foundations, and other organizations devoted to preventing climate change, both locally and nationally. The BQuest Foundation supports the advocacy & policy groups such as Climate Action Campaign that are fighting for critical policy changes, and also invests in and builds projects that equitably increase the use of renewable energy.
Prior to running her family foundation, Kara worked as an educator in San Diego for more than 10 years. She holds a teaching credential and Master’s degree in Anthropology from San Diego State University and received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a teacher, mother of two young children, and lover of the natural world, science, and history, Kara is passionate about transitioning the world to clean energy and preventing the effects of climate change.
Patti Larchet, Board Chair
Throughout her more than 30 years in the Nutrition, Health and Wellness industry, Patti Larchet achieved an impressive record of leadership, management, marketing and sales accomplishments that served her well as Jenny Craig’s first female CEO.
A native of Chicago and graduate of the University of Illinois, Ms. Larchet first joined Jenny Craig in 1985. Over her 26 year career with the company she created significant growth in each position of increasing responsibility in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and France. Her final role with Jenny Craig, owned by Nestle at the time, was as the Global Head of Weight Management for Nestle Nutrition reporting to the Company’s headquarters in Switzerland.
Patti currently serves on the Boards of Atkins Nutritionals and Massage Envy. She is passionate about helping people attain greater health and wellbeing.
Sarah Thorwirth, Emeritus Board Member and Immediate Past Chair
Sarah Thorwirth is a Leadership Development Consultant for the Environmental Heath Coalition here in the San Diego region working primarily with community leaders from low-income communities of color. She received her BA in Sociology from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland and her MA in Conflict Transformation and Sustainable Development from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. Before completion of her graduate studies she became a Peace Corps Volunteer living in Guatemala, Central America for over two years. Sarah enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and son either in the nearby mountains and beaches or in far away lands.