Volunteer scuba diver swims in the Philippine Coral Reef exhibit among colorful fish
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Meet the senior leadership team, Trustees, and Academy Fellows whose vision and direction make the Academy's mission possible.

Management team

Scott Sampson, PhD

Scott D. Sampson, PhD
Executive Director and William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair

Dr. Sampson leads the institution’s world-class museum as well as its programs of scientific research, sustainability, and education. A renowned paleontologist, passionate science communicator, and seasoned museum leader, Sampson joined the Academy in September 2019.

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Shannon Bennett, Dean of Science and Research Collections

Shannon Bennett, PhD
Chief of Science and Harry W. and Diana V. Hind Dean of Science and Research Collections

Dr. Bennett is responsible for the Academy’s programs of scientific research and exploration, as well as overseeing the Academy’s priceless collection of nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world.

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Michael Costanzo, General Counsel and Chief of Staff at the Academy

Michael Costanzo
General Counsel and Chief of Staff

Costanzo is the senior leader who manages legal processes, security, safety, and enterprise risk management at the Academy.

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Green California Academy of Sciences logo

Ayat Elnoory
Chief People and Culture Officer

Elnoory leads all aspects of the employee experience to deeply connect staff to the Academy’s purpose of regenerating the natural world and to support a thriving culture in which all staff have opportunities for growth, connection, and advancement.

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Melissa Felder, Chief Experience Officer

Melissa Felder
​Chief Experience Officer

Felder is responsible for the Academy’s on-site and digital experiences, brand strategy, and earned revenue. She leads a dynamic Experience division that connects diverse communities to environmental science.

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Jim Gohary, Chief Financial Officer

Jim Gohary
Managing Director/Chief Financial Officer

Gohary is responsible for overseeing the financial stability of the Academy and central coordination of all business and talent operations, including facilities, government affairs, philanthropy, and experiences.

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Portrait of Estefanía Pihen González, Chief of Education and Learning at Cal Academy

Estefanía Pihen González, PhD
Chief of Education and Learning

Dr. Pihen González is responsible for leading the Academy’s extensive education and engagement programs, including a team of about 45 staff, 30 paid interns, and 400 volunteers.

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Amber Mace, Managing Director/Chief of Strategic Partnerships

Amber Mace, PhD
Managing Director/Chief of Strategic Partnerships

Dr. Mace leads the Academy’s regional, national, and international partnerships. Her responsibilities include aligning the Academy's work with its strategy as well as overseeing the Academy’s divisions dedicated to science and education.

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Leah Van der Mei, Chief Operating Officer

Leah Van der Mei
Chief Operating Officer and Head of Government Affairs

Van der Mei is responsible for infrastructure, guest and building operations, and technology for the Academy. She also oversees the institution’s relationships with local government and community organizations.

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Academy Fellows

A governing group of approximately 450 distinguished scientists, Academy Fellows have made notable contributions to one or more of the natural sciences and help further the reach of our research and education initiatives through individual and collaborative efforts with Academy researchers. Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the Board of Trustees, Academy Fellows remain members of the Fellowship for life.

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Board of Trustees

The strategic guidance and oversight provided by Academy Trustees, an exceptional group of leaders from the Bay Area and beyond, help shape the institution’s vision and strategic direction.

The Academy's Board of Trustees may have vacancies. If you wish to propose a nomination to the Board of Trustees, please contact us or you may do so at a public meeting of the Board of Trustees.

John Adams
Nicole Ardoin, PhD*
Kian Beyzavi, PhD
Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD,
  Vice President*
Nathan Brostrom
Chrissy Chen
Felicia Chiu
Amy Cordalis
John Dwyer
Marc Ebbin
Christopher Field, PhD*
Jack Forestell
Laura E. Furstenthal, PhD
Corey Garza, PhD*

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD*
John Goldman, Vice Chair
Gary Hall
Kevin Hartz
Tessa M. Hill, PhD*
Dan Janney, Chair
Alan Jones
Steve Kawa
Jeffrey Koseff, PhD*
Nicole Lacob
Rebecca Lin
Marie O'Gara Lipman
Charles Marshall, PhD,
  President*
Hydra Mendoza

Sandy Miller
Michael Millman
Derek S. Mitchell, PhD,
  Secretary
Melissa Nelson, PhD*
Carla Peterman, PhD
Kirsten Rhodes
Chris Schell, PhD*
Andrew J. Schwab
Mike Sweeney
Dennis Troper
John Warren
Lisa White, PhD*
Bill Younger

*Science Trustee

Trustees Emeriti

Bruce Alberts, PhD
James N. Alexander
Alissa J. Arp, PhD
John C. Atwater, Chair Emeritus
Peter Avenali**
Laurence M. Baer
Foster Bam
Matthew Barger
Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr.
Peter B. Bedford
W. Richard Bingham, Chair
  Emeritus**
Richard C. Blum**
Bruce Bolt, PhD, President
  Emeritus**
Roberta Borgonovo
Teresa Briggs
Mark Buell
Shawn Byers
Dan Carroll
Lyman H. Casey
Huifen Chan
Peter Y. Chung
William A. Clemens, PhD,
  President Emeritus**
Lewis W. Coleman
Joyce Mobley Corrigan
Penny Coulter
Gretchen Daily, PhD
Troy Daniels
Paul L. Davies, Jr., Chair
  Emeritus**
Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD
William F. Duhamel
Lynn G. Dunne**
Richard P. Emerson
John H.N. Fisher
Randi Fisher
Peter M. Folger
​Mark Gaumond
Edward A. Gilhuly​
Rosemary G. Gillespie, PhD
Diane B. Greene
John Hafernik, PhD, President
  Emeritus

Harry R. Hagey
William R. Hearst III
Glenn W. Holsclaw
David A. Hoyt
William J. Hume, Chair Emeritus**
Nelson Ishiyama
Oliver Jenkyn
Ann L. Johnson, MD
James C. Kelley, PhD, President
   Emeritus
David M. Kennedy, PhD
Jay Kahn
Salman Khan
William R. Kimball, Chair
  Emeritus**
Patrick V. Kirch, PhD
Thomas B. Klein
Steve Krognes
Martha W. Kropf
Roger Kuo
W. M. Laetsch, PhD
John W. Larson
John W. Larson**
Laura F.K. Lazarus
Sandra Linder
Sharon Long, PhD
Laura Davies Mateo
Lucia Matzger
Steve McCormick
Janet McKinley
Linda Meier
Lawrence Miao
​Hamid R. Moghadam
George G. Montgomery, Jr.**
Harold A. Mooney, PhD
Gladys Moore**
Craig Moritz, PhD
​Mervin G. Morris
David Morrison, PhD
Michael J. Murray
Joe O'Donnell
Susan Oberndorf
Emilie Munger Ogden
Arthur C. Patterson
Elizabeth R. Patterson, Chair
  Emeritus

William J. Patterson, Chair
   Emeritus**
John S. Pearse, PhD, President
   Emeritus**
Carrie W. Penner
Gary Pinkus
Carmen A. Policy
William S. Price III
Christine H. Russell
Marta Salas-Porras
​Adam Savage
Evert I. Schlinger, PhD**
Wendy Schmidt
​Fidela Z. Schneider
Russell Schweickart
Judy Siebel
Kurt Simon
Nicholas Simon
Leo Soong
Clare H. Springs
Tania Stepanian
Gary Steele**
Jill Tarter, PhD, President
  Emeritus
Richard T. Thieriot
Charles H. Townes, PhD**
Thomas W. Tusher
Virginia Goss Tusher, PhD
Robert D. Valdez
Jerome C. Vascellaro, Chair Emeritus
​Geerat Vermeij, PhD
​Marvalee H. Wake, PhD
Summer Tompkins Walker
Ward B. Watt, PhD, President
   Emeritus
Barry L. Williams
Geisha Williams
William Wilson, III**
Russell D. Woo, MD
Paul M. Wythes**
Richard Yorke
Ron Zeff
Adrienne Zihlman, PhD
Mary Zlot

** deceased