Board of Directors

Jim McKenna, Board President
I am excited to serve on the board of this boots on the ground organization. Too often, important conservation issues get studied to death and never get installed. Whether it be properly draining roads, wildlands fuel reduction, or endangered species enhancement, the RCD tackles both small and large projects with a collaborative and science based approach that benefits the fragile natural resources that define our unique community.
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Jim earned a BS from the Environmental Horticulture Department at University of California at Davis, and worked for the Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. He returned to UC Davis a year and a half later to earn his Agriculture teaching credentials. He then taught for 10 years at Soquel High School vocational agriculture classes in landscape horticulture and natural resources and forestry.

For the past 15 years, Jim has owned his own Landscape construction company, James McKenna Landscapes. He specializes in erosion control, water management, and construction of stone and concrete outdoor living areas. He also owns and operates a 12 acre apple orchard in Aptos. Jim is a Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Specialist, and has served on the RCD board for over 20 years. Jim enjoys traveling, camping and photography with his wife and daughter when vacationing.

Mike Manfre, Board Vice President
I have always had an interest in soil and water conservation and habitat restoration. I think it is my duty to work with groups who can impact the quality of life in my local environment.
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After attending Cabrillo College and Cal Poly SLO, Mike spent the next fifty years working in the family farming business following in the footsteps of his grandfather, father and uncle. His responsibilities included overseeing farming operations in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Riverside, and Imperial Counties in California and Sonora and Baja California states in Mexico. In his role as production manager for the company, he oversaw the growing of more than twenty crops. Over the years Mike, through family and company operations, has worked with Ducks Unlimited, RCD of Santa Cruz County, and other conservation groups on local projects. He also was on the California Lettuce Research Board, Monterey County Agricultural Policy Committee and the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau. Currently, Mike oversees an organic raspberry growing operation in Baja California and manages a ranch in Santa Cruz County. He is on the Board of Directors for Frank Capurro & Son, Vice President of the RCD of Santa Cruz County, and Santa Cruz County Agricultural Policy Committee. He is a member of Ducks Unlimited, California Water Fowl, Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation and Mule Deer Foundation, all of which are involved in Habitat Restoration and water projects for improving habitat. He is married to Kimarie and they have a son, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Kelley K. Bell, Director
After years of collaboration with the RCD staff on water issues, I joined the board, drawn by their unique combination of technical expertise and ability to command respect and trust through their work. This organization meets and protects the needs of farmers, landowners, the environment, and the general public in a way that no one else can. I am proud to say that I sleep better at night knowing that I have a small part in supporting this amazing collection of people.
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Kelley worked with Driscoll’s for fourteen years and created the vision for Driscoll’s sustainability efforts and community level impact, leading the company’s charitable, labor standards and collaborative environmental efforts. She founded the Pajaro Valley Community Water Dialogue (a multi-stakeholder group working to balance the local aquifer in a constrained environment). Kelley also created multiple functions at the company and served as Global Interim HR Lead. She was the first women to join Driscoll’s Executive Team in 2008 and served on the Global Leadership Team for 10 years. Kelley is a graduate from Santa Clara University. She has lived in Ben Lomond in the San Lorenzo Valley for over 20 Years with her husband and two girls.
Mike Eaton, Director
I chose to serve on the RCD board because I am passionate about soil health, effective management of water resources, and maintaining ecosystem services as a buffer against the expected effects of climate change - issues areas in which the Santa Cruz County RCD is playing a leadership role.
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Mike earned a BA from UCSC and pursued a career in environmental policy and conservation until retirement a few years ago. He has worked for the Sierra Club, the State of California Natural Resources Agency, The Nature Conservancy, and Resources Legacy Fund, where he served as Executive Director from 2007 - 2011. From 2005 - 2018 Mike developed and managed a small farm in southern Sacramento County. Mike was appointed to the RCD board in 2021. He and his wife live in Davenport.

Robert Ketley, Director
I joined the Board because the district has an exemplary track record of getting conservation projects done, regardless of their scope or complexity. One can use all kinds of fancy terms and phrases to describe an organization. For me, the RCD can be summed up with just two simple words - trusted and effective. Who wouldn't want to be associated with an organization like that?
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Robert was born in London, but despite being a city kid, he has always had a passion for nature. As a child, he found nature in all kinds of urban settings. old bomb craters, abandoned (often haunted) buildings and muddy drainage ditches were all fertile ground.

Following school, Robert's career path turned out to be all his teachers most feared. Auto mechanic, pharmaceutical sales, oyster farming, marine bioassays, sewage treatment, garbage collection, urban runoff, renewable energy, toxic lakes and, most recently, columnist. Apparently, he's easily distracted and not particularly good at planning.

Perhaps these life experiences explain why Robert enjoys resource conservation. Every project involves nature, novelty and fascinating people.

These days, Robert gets his nature fix in the surf, forests, lakes and creeks of Santa Cruz County. He hasn’t seen a ghost in a very long time.

Santa Cruz RCD is where smart people get conservation done. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

Howard Liebenberg, Director
I am proud to serve on the board because the RCD gets things done. It is a great organization; with outstanding personnel and has been a great place to help all types of landowners. I am able to share my expertise in permit streamlining, fire safety, private roads, drainage and manure management.
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Howard is a general engineering contractor and a lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County. He has more than 40 years of experience in complete custom home site development and landslide and slope stability in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After the 100-year storms in 1982, he developed debris aligning locator pins for culvert inlets. He also designed and developed multiple inlet culverts which allow smaller sized culverts to carry larger volumes of water. Howard likes building trails with his mini excavator he calls ‘Bambino’. He also likes doing fire-safe projects pulling excess fire-fuels and brush with another excavator he calls ‘33’, which is set up with a special anvil that allows him to pull brush and trees, like using a giant pair of pliers.

Howard lives in Brookdale.

John Ricker, Director

I am a Director with the RCD to support the district’s critical role in bringing together property owners, agencies and other stakeholders to promote and implement a wide range of resource protection and habitat restoration measures in the county.

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John has been a Director with the Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District since 2000. Prior to his retirement in 2020, he worked for Santa Cruz County for 35 years in watershed planning, water quality protection, and water resources management. He has served on various state and regional advisory groups dealing with beach water quality, groundwater management, stormwater management, water planning, onsite sewage disposal systems, wells, and watershed protection. He has been a partner in an organic apple and pear orchard and a horse boarding and riding facility. He has a degree from UCSC in Environmental Studies and Biology and is a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control.

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