Board of Directors
Shiloh Ballard, Chair
Shiloh Ballard is the Vice President of Housing and Community Development for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), a public policy trade group founded in 1978 that represents the business community. In her role with the Leadership Group, Shiloh helps direct the activities of SVLG's Land Use & Housing committee and works with industry, civic, and community leaders to develop innovative solutions to the region's housing, land use and transportation challenges. Shiloh works at the state, regional and local level to promote polices that create a more sustainable built environment. An avid cyclist, Shiloh rides her bike to and from work almost daily and serves as Chair of the Board for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. In 2008, Shiloh was selected as one of Silicon Valley's 40 under 40 up-and-comers. In 2010, she was a YWCA Twin Award Recipient honoring executive women and in 2011, Shiloh was selected by the San Jose Business Journal as a Women of Influence. Shiloh holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz.
Rod Diridon, Sr., Immediate Past Chair
Rod Diridon is the Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute. He is best known as the “father” of modern transit service in Silicon Valley and has chaired more than 100 international, national, state and local programs most related to transit and the environment. Rod has chaired the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters Board since 1995 and is a Life Member of the Sierra Club. He has driven electric cars since 1996 and his home’s photovoltaic array is a net contributor to the grid. Rod received a B.S. in Accounting and a MSBA in Statistics from San Jose State University. He served two combat tours as a naval officer in Vietnam, has 2 successful children, 4 grandchildren and is married to Dr. Gloria Duffy, the current President and CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California. His political career began in 1971 where he served as the youngest person ever elected to the Saratoga City Council. He completed 6 terms as Chair of both the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Transit Board and has chaired 9 successful rail system development project boards including CalTrain, Guadalupe Light Rail, Fremont/ South Bay BART. Rod was appointed in 2001 and 2005 by then Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger to the California High Speed Rail Authority Board. He helped found and is chair emeritus of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) High Speed and Intercity Rail Committee and National High Speed Rail Corridors´ Coalition and is frequently asked to provide legislative testimony on sustainable transportation issues.
Terry Trumbull, Vice-Chair
Terry Trumbull is Co-Founder of the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters. He has served as its Endorsement Chair since 1992. Terry has been an environmental attorney since 1971 and served on a number of public service appointments. Most notably, Terry served as the full-time Chair of the California Waste Management Board. He was also instrumental in the development of the nation’s first air and water pollution control regulations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C. Terry teaches Environmental Law and Policy at San Jose State University and currently serves on 3 government commissions. Terry has an Economics degree from UC Davis and a J.D. from Georgetown.
Chris C. Elias, Treasurer
Chris Elias is the Treasurer and Board member of the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters. Chris has more than 20 years experience working both in private and public sectors. He joined the Santa Clara Valley Water District in 2000 and has served in various capacities. Before joining the District, Chris was the Director of Environmental and Energy Programs for the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, a public policy trade association, where he worked closely with more than 195 large high-tech firms and their 275,000 employees. Previous to that, Chris spent approximately10 years working at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the California Environmental Protection Agency. Active in the community, Chris also serves as a member of VTA Citizens Advisory Committee. Chris holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Metropolitan State College of Denver, Colorado and a M.S. in Project & Systems Management from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California. Chris is also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Institute, a leading program of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.
Ruth Merino, Secretary
Ruth Merino retired in 2010 from the City of San Jose's Office of the City Auditor where she was a Senior Program Performance Auditor. As a performance auditor she performed economy, efficiency and effectiveness audits of City departments and programs including many related to public safety. Ruth's primary environmental interest is in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by using more renewable energy, electric/hybrid vehicles and electric home appliances. In 2012, Ruth attended training given by Al Gore at the Climate Reality Leadership Corp Training Conference on how to present an updated slideshow similar to that shown in the documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth". In 2013, she completed with distinction an online course, Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations. She is the Chair of San Jose Community Energy Advocates, which successfully advocated for the San Jose City Council to establish the San Jose Clean Energy program in May 2016. Ruth holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley and has been a member of the Sierra Club since 1992. Ruth drives a 2017 Volt!
Marc serves as the External Affairs Manager at the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and in that role, leads their Community Engagement Team. He has worked in the land conservation field for over 14 years, including three years at the Trust for Public Land and seven years at Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). As Director of External Affairs at POST, Marc built a broad range of traditional and nontraditional partnerships and also played a strong leadership role in the passing of Measure AA and Measure Q. Prior to working in conservation, Marc was a design engineering manager at Intel Corporation. Marc loves spending time with his family outdoors – hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. He is also an opera fan.
Otto is the founder and managing partner of IPLG - Intellectual Property Law Group LLP specializing in patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets related matters. Otto served on the Sunnyvale Planning Commission from 1997 to 2003 and served as Sunnyvale City Council Member and Mayor from 2003 to 2011. He has been a strong advocate of our environment and was formerly known as the “Green Mayor” of Sunnyvale, in which he created a greater awareness of community and environmental issues affecting his constituents’ daily lives.Growing up in Berkeley helped to shape Otto’s strong interest in community and social services.
Otto has served in the U.S. Navy for 25 years and has been deployed in Baghdad, Iraq. He received his B.S. in chemical and nuclear engineering from U.C. Berkeley, J.D. from UC Hastings, and LL.M. from University of Leiden, The Netherlands.
Bob Levy served as the founding president of the Santa Clara League of Conservation Voters.
Bob is a life-long environmentalist. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from UCSB and a Masters in Urban Planning from SJSU. Bob has a long history of community engagement. Most recently as a candidate for San Jose City Council. He currently serves as the chair of San Jose's District 1 Leadership Group, co-chair of the the Steven's Creek Advisory Group,and is a member of the Water District’s Water and Resources Advisory Committee. Previously he served on and chaired the San Jose Planning Commission, Santa Clara County Park and Recreation Commission, and San Jose Parks Commission. Professionally, Bob is a PMP certified project manager and senior business analyst utilizing his IT and parks experience as a project manager for the Santa Clara County's Parks Department.
As Director of Labor & Government Relations for the Santa Clara & San Benito Building & Construction Trades Council, Joseph helps lead the organization in representing 23 construction trades and over 30 thousand members. In his role, Joseph is instrumental in negotiating and managing all construction agreements in conjunction with government agencies, contractors, and developers increasing the organization’s market share within the South Bay. Joseph has helped position the Building Trades Council as a leader in improving the health, jobs safety and economic conditions of all working men and women in the construction industry. Additionally, Joseph spearheads local and state legislation pertinent to the construction industry and is an advocate for smart and sustainable urban development. Previously, Joseph worked as the Land Use Policy Analyst for a San Jose councilman where he examined and initiated policies of land use, housing, transportation, and economic development.
Joseph is a graduate of Santa Clara University and holds a degree in Political Science with an emphasis in local government and economy.
Elizabeth Sarmiento is a native Spanish-speaker with a commitment to social justice, economic empowering, community building, and resource conservation. Spending her formative years in the country of Honduras provided her with a multi-layered understanding of the cultural roots of Latin Americans in the U.S., as well as an appreciation of diversity and inclusion.
As a child, her experience of living close to the land, healthy streams and rivers, abundant wildlife, and the rich tropical forests, gave Elizabeth a deep love for nature and its innate value in our lives. Her life has been a story of social justice and environmental activism ever since. As a student at San Jose State University, Elizabeth was hired as Director of SJSU’s Environmental Resource Center, and she worked as a Community Organizer for Service Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), where she founded the first Immigrants for the Environment project in 2009.
In November 2009, Elizabeth joined Acterra as Outreach Coordinator for the Green@Home program. In this capacity, she initiated the conservation workshop program to engage Silicon Valley’s Latino community in education about energy conservation and climate change. This resulted in her receiving a Together Green Fellowship from the National Audubon Society in 2012. Since 2012, she’s been on the Board of Directors of the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters and served five years as Board President for San Jose’s Human Agenda organization. In January of 2014, she was appointed to serve on the Environmental Advisory Committee of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
In 2015, Elizabeth launched Smart Yards: A Sustainable Landscaping Worker-Own Cooperative with the goal of fostering urban biodiversity and conservation while creating beautiful gardens. In 2016 she started the Outdoor Living Spaces and Education non-profit organization with the mission to working with gardeners, residents and organization on teaching Permaculture Design and Building Techniques: greywater installations, storm rain catchment, rain gardens, ecological landscaping, and the benefits of worker own cooperative type of businesses.
Nathan is the Policy and Communications Manager of Eden Housing, California's second oldest nonprofit affordable housing developer, owner, and manager. He leads Eden’s efforts in advocacy, policy research, internal and external communications, and strategic messaging. Nathan is a member of the 2016 cohort of Leadership San Jose ( San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce) and was a member and later Alumni Board member of the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership (Suffolk University).
Previously, Nathan was the director of the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance based in Boston, a new nonprofit health coalition with the mission of forging a common ground policy agenda with a diversity of key stakeholders. He concurrently served as a program director with the DentaQuest Foundation. Prior, Nathan worked with Elderhostel (dba Road Scholar) in nonprofit administration and fund development. Nathan received a graduate certificate in conflict/dispute resolution from the University of Massachusetts Boston and received his B.A. in communication studies and history from UCLA.
Chris Lepe is the Silicon Valley Senior Community Planner for TransForm, a nonprofit organization working to promote walkable communities with excellent transportation choices to connect people of all incomes to opportunity, keep California affordable and help solve our climate crisis. He is a co-chair of the Traffic Safe Communities Network (TSCN) Steering Committee, a member of the Grand Boulevard Initiative (GBI) Community Leader Roundtable, and on the leadership team for the Silicon Valley Climate Action Alliance. Chris has taught courses in the Environmental Studies, Health Science, and Intercultural Studies Departments at De Anza College and San Jose State University (SJSU). He received his BA in Environmental Studies with a minor in Latin American/Latino Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his Masters in Urban Planning at San Jose State University.
Melissa Hippard is a well-regarded and innovative conservation leader who has worked in the Bay Area for over a decade to ensure our natural resources are protected for current and future generations. Melissa led the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club for 6 years contributing to important conservation outcomes such as the protection of Coyote Valley, mobilizing Cool Cities Teams to address municipal GHG emissions, and stopping the high speed rail project from destroying habitat in the Mount Hamilton range. As Program Director for Greenbelt Alliance Melissa focused her attention on passing urban growth boundaries, creating new funding sources for open space protection, and building connections between environmentalists and housing advocates. In 2015 Melissa became the Strategic Partnership Manager for Santa Clara County Parks where her job is to create a resilient community of support for the county's regional park system. She feels blessed to have grown up in the Bay Area and have the opportunity to express her passion for solving environmental and social challenges with creativity and compassion.
Matthew currently works as the Senior Associate for Housing, Transportation and Community Development. In his role, Matthew works with the Directors of Housing and Transportation to shape decision-making related to transportation infrastructure and community development. Matthew also leads our Student Leaders Council which was created during the successful 2016 Measure B traffic relief campaign.
Before the Leadership Group, Matthew worked for many local campaigns such as the Santa Clara County Yes on Measure B campaign and led an effort as the Field Director for Mayor Liccardo’s Mayoral campaign. Beyond working on campaigns, Matthew was a part of the Human Rights Commission (Now Human Services Commission) of San Jose, worked for the Santa Clara Valley Water District and for the City of San Jose for former Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen.
Matthew holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from San Jose State University. He is currently studying for a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from San Jose State. Matthew with his wife A’Dreana, enjoy spending time with their young son James and exploring the many happenings of the South Bay.