Debbie Sharpton, Executive Director
Debbie Sharpton, a Los Angeles native, has over 35 years of experience in the real estate industry ranging from acquisition for master planned developments to natural resource protection, financing and appraisal, and construction. She joined MRT January, 2001, and has been executive director since 2008. Deeply inquisitive about stream and river systems, she spends her free time fly fishing, volunteering on fisheries-related conservation work. Passionate about her work, she enjoys working with the community towards a more sustainable future.
Jo Kitz, Restoration Program Director
Working with MRT since 1989, Ms. Kitz manages and protects resources within the Cold Creek Preserves and oversees Commemorative Oaks, a long-term restoration project conducted in Malibu Creek State Park. She has 25 years of naturalist experience within the Santa Monica Mountains. She assisted the Sierra Club group that worked for the establishment of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in 1978, and reactivated the Los Angeles / Santa Monica Mountains Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. She has been active with the Santa Monica Mountains Task Force, and served as chairperson of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Advisory Committee and as secretary of the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council. She received a Sierra Club Conservation Award in 1990 and was named "Woman of the Year" in 2004 by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley.
Rachel Burnap is a country gal from Kansas who recently moved to southern California. Her husband hiked the Cold Creek area years ago as a high schooler; they moved here and immediately started hiking in the Cold Creek area. Rachel fell in love with the Santa Monica Mountains and the mediterranean climate here. In the winter of 2010 she volunteered for MRT and became employed in April. She learned how to plant, remove non-native plants, and promote healthily habitat while working on many restoration projects. Helping in the SHRUB (Students Helping Restore Unique Biomes) program is a joyful experience for her as kids learn how to restore habitat. Rachel enjoys her job tremendously and looks forward to learning more about the Santa Monica Mountains.
Tom Hayduk has been working with native plants for over three decades, as the plant propagator at Ranch Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Weber Nursery, in landscape design and construction, biological monitoring and Arborist services. He began working for MRT in August 2009, collecting native seed part time for a Cold Creek Valley Preserve mitigation project. He joined full time in December 2009, and has been busy with seed collection and processing, plant propagation, transplanting and nursery maintenance, restoration planning and reporting, non-native plant control and installation of restoration plantings. Tom has managed the development of a nursery that is supplying native plants for restoration projects using site-collected seed and cuttings. The starter nursery is located at Headwaters Corner, and transplants are stored at a State Park owned greenhouse and shadehouse. Native plants grown from Santa Monica Mountain sources will be available for native plant restoration sites.
Emmanuel Gomez, Restoration Technician
Since Manny joined MRT in early 2011, he has worked on plant restoration projects, and assisted with maintenance tasks in MRT`s Cold Creek Preserve and other MRT managed properties. Manny has brought a rich variety of work experiences to MRT. He has held construction and retail jobs and worked with kids from pre-school to first grade at Sylvan Park Early Education Center. His longest held position was working in his father`s landscape business from the time he was young boy. For seventeen years he gained experience in landscape planting, plant maintenance and irrigation repair, as well as an excellent work ethic.
Betsey Scheets, a Pittsburgh native with a landscape architecture degree from West Virginia University, has lived in Southern California for over 30 years. Much of her career has been spent doing planting and irrigation design for commercial, industrial and residential projects. For a few years, she worked for the City of Camarillo as an assistant planner. In 2010, she began volunteering / interning with the National Park Service in Rancho Sierra Vista, assisting in their native plant nursery and working with their fifth grade SHRUB program doing native plant restoration. This experience got her more connected to the value of the natural landscape. Betsey has worked for MRT since January 2012, where she often goes out in the field to plant and water nursery grown natives, and to weed invasive plant species. In the office, she drafts restoration plans, sends projects through the proper government approval channels and writes grants.