March is International Women’s History Month!

Written by Corey Chan

As a woman-founded organization, KIDS for the BAY is excited to highlight our women staff and the strong, inspiring women who helped us develop into the educators, environmentalists, and change makers that we are!

A special thank you to Shefali Shah (pictured bottom left), a long-time Advisory Board Member, past staff member and inspirational educator to all KIDS for the BAY staff.

Mandi Billinge
Founder/Executive Director

I met Cam Wolff many years ago when I was first starting out in Environmental Education work here in the Bay Area. Cam was a truly engaging Naturalist at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, who loved nature and teaching children. She was very inspirational, kind and encouraging to me in my work. We still enjoy getting together, and Cam and her husband Dennis are long-time supporters and donors to KIDS for the BAY!

Corey Chan
Education and Outreach Manager

From a young age I can remember time outside with my mother’s mom, whom I affectionately called Bubba. When I would visit her in Miami, Florida, she would take me to local parks, the beach, and botanical gardens. I loved taking swimming breaks to eat delicious slices of frozen mango that came from her tree and then jumping back in the ocean to wipe off the sticky juice. A strong advocate for human rights and very involved in her community, volunteering at the public library and an abused children’s home into her 90’s, she encouraged me to devote my time and energy to causes that are important to me. I also greatly admired how Bubba was a world explorer, always planning her next vacation to see exotic animals and locations, like the lemurs in Madagascar and penguins in Antarctica, which inspired my love for travel and wildlife conservation as well.

Yvette Diaz Samayoa
Program Coordinator/Environmental Educator

I met Danielle during my senior year of college when I volunteered for Napa RCD over the summer of 2020. She was always kind and very knowledgeable about the environment, including the different plants we were surrounded by, which I always admired. We would also do lots of restoration projects together and because I had previously participated in the Napa Youth Stewardship Council (NYSC), she helped create an internship position for me to help lead the NYSC the following school year. In this role I was able to create events for local high school students and even worked to create a discussion panel with some amazing environmentalist women. Thanks so much, Danielle, for believing in me and giving me the chance to give back to the community!

Alix Martin
Program Coordinator/Environmental Educator

My whole life I’ve known I’ve wanted to help the environment in some way or another, but the question of how has not always been clear to me. Jolie, my college mentor, showed me the power of using environmental education as a way to create a generation of environmentally literate eco-warriors armed to protect the planet. Not only that, but she also showed me the power that a woman has when she sets her mind to something. She wow-ed me every day with stories of her Fulbright scholar project in the reefs of Indonesia, the primate sanctuary she founded in Panama, her collaboration with Jane Goodall, and the way she was juggling taking care of a newborn & toddler while writing a dissertation and all the other projects she was working on. She truly did it all, and has inspired me to never put a cap on my dreams and aspirations.

Sakshi Srivastava
Program Coordinator/Environmental Educator

I first came across adrienne maree brown’s work as a graduate student studying to become an educator. She is an activist, poet, writer, and so much more. She makes powerful connections between colonization and capitalism and how they are inseparable from environmental racism. She emphasizes the importance of community care through mutual aid and the redistribution of resources as means to fight for climate justice. As someone who can feel overwhelmed by the climate crisis, I am continually inspired by adrienne maree brown’s ability to center hope throughout her praxis.

Grace Bedecarre
Program Coordinator/Environmental Educator

A woman who has inspired my environmental work is my friend and past coworker, Sarah! Working together at our college’s student farm she helped me to become a better naturalist and steward of the earth. I was introduced to a collaborative and curious type of leadership based around trying to learn more about your surroundings. Sarah pushed me to ask questions constantly, and to always be present and appreciative of the outdoors. My love for nature is at the basis of my journey to protect it through environmental work and action.

We would also like to highlight the connector and supporter of everything, Mother Earth, for the sunlight, water, food, and nutrients that sustain all life.

KIDS for the BAY