Ezekiel Schlais

Ezekiel Schlais

Executive Director
Ezekiel Schlais joined MRT in 2018 and is our Executive Director. Prior to joining the trust, he was the Head of Strategic Initiatives at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, participated as a published author on multiple ecological studies in Costa Rica and the Western US, and spent several years as the VP of Origination for a global operationally focused private equity firm. Ezekiel received his Masters in Business Administration as well as Bachelors in English/Writing Rhetoric from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. Ezekiel is passionate about connecting diverse communities to their natural environment through education, arts, stewardship and science at MRT. He believes in our mission because the land we protect and steward may be the most real, powerful and 5-sense opportunity for humanity to witness and better identify with the importance of a healthy planet. Outside his day job, you can find Ezekiel trail running, hiking, surfing, studying wildlife and hanging out with his boyfriend Julian and their dog Chance.
Tom Hayduk

Tom Hayduk

Restoration & Nursery Manager

Tom Hayduk joined MRT in 2009 and is our Restoration and Nursery Director. Prior to joining the Trust, he worked for 12 years at Envicom Corporation as a Restoration Site Manager, with over 8 of these years devoted to managing the Soka University Botanical Research Center and Nursery, and in total has over 31 years of experience growing California native plants and managing restoration sites. Tom received a degree in Applied Mechanics and Engineering Science from UC San Diego. He is passionate about native plant propagation and believes in our mission because it provides the best opportunity to grow native plants and work directly with wildland restoration. Outside his day job, you might find Tom resting comfortably on his $2,000 couch/recliner.

Betsey Sheets

Betsey Sheets

Nursery Assistant

Betsey Scheets joined MRT in 2011 and is our Nursery Assistant. She has also done a good deal of work at the Potrero project site in Newbury Park. Prior to joining MRT, she worked as a residential landscape designer and has a degree in Landscape Architecture. Betsey is passionate about propagating plants and returning native plants to the environment where they belong. She believes in our mission, feeling that if man cannot leave well enough (greatness really) alone in our mountains, we need to go out and try to restore the natural balance. Outside of MRT, Betsey is likely to be found in her backyard greenhouse.

Kevin Gaston

Kevin Gaston

Director of Planning & Strategy

Kevin Gaston joined MRT in 2015 and is our Director of Planning & Strategy. Prior to joining the trust, he worked in various roles for California State Parks and the National Park Service, and received his B.S. in Environmental Science & Resource Management from CSUCI. Kevin enjoys the mix of creativity and analytics involved with managing projects at MRT. He believes in our mission because true environmentalism requires local action and enthusiasm, and non-profit organizations are the best medium to harness that energy. Outside his work, you can find Kevin surfing, backpacking, and reading in his backyard.

Joseph Curti

Joseph Curti

Grants & Science Administrator

Joey Curti joined MRT in 2016 and is our Grants and Science Administrator. Prior to joining the trust, he worked as a lab manager for the Laboratory of Robert Wayne at UCLA and received a B.S. at UCLA in Environmental Science with a concentration in Conservation Biology and a minor in Musicology. Joey is passionate about the conservation of rare or endemic species to the Santa Monica Mountains at  MRT. He believes in our mission because MRT has a strong connection to the community and to the history of conservation in Los Angeles County. Outside his day job, you can find Joey hiking with his trusty animal companion Aldous.

Mark Fiege

Mark Fiege

Restoration Project Manager

Mark Fiege joined MRT in 2017 and is our Restoration Manager and Site Captain for the La Sierra cluster and Voiss sites. Prior to joining the trust, he was a paralegal and received a bachelor of arts in English from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He eventually found an internship with National Park Service Santa Monica Mts and began his career in restoration ecology in 2016. Mark enjoys many aspects of his job at MRT, specifically learning new species and being able to watch our sites grow and transform into native habitats. He believes in our mission because of the passion of our crew, our close ties with the community, and the drive of our leadership. Outside of his day job, you can find Mark gardening at his house, hiking with the dog, or playing drums in a progressive funk band.

Rebecca Kosugi

Rebecca Kosugi

Restoration Project Manager

Rebecca Kosugi joined MRT in summer of 2017 and is our Site Captain for the CSS Pepperdine mitigation project. Prior to joining the trust, she attended several of MRT’s weekend volunteer events at De Anza Park and Potrero as well as volunteered at the April Road Nursery on Thursdays. She discovered her affinity for field work while WWOOFing in Southern Oregon and developed an interest in plant science while attending Pierce Communtiy College. She is passionate about preserving this unique habitat by learning as much as she can about its residents. She believes in our mission because she believes that the most effective way to make people realize how sacred the Santa Monicas are is to introduce them to the species that live here. Outside her day job you can find her dropping in or wiping out on her surfboard and eating anything from anywhere. She is available to cat sit.

Adin Shy-Sobol

Adin Shy-Sobol

Restoration Project Manager

Adin Shy-Sobol joined MRT in 2017 and is our Restoration Tech and Site Captain for Calabasas Blue, Wild Walnut Park, and Headwaters Corner. Prior to joining the trust, he helped conduct several pieces of vertebrate, invertebrate, and botanical research. He also helped lead an outdoor education curriculum in Humboldt County. He received a Bachelors of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Management from Humboldt State University. Adin is most passionate about land management and studying wildlife diversity at  MRT. He believes in our mission because he believes in community-oriented land management that places an emphasis on long-term goals. Outside his day job, you can find Adin hiking, reading, birding, and exploring the greater Los Angeles area.

Rachel Burnap

Rachel Burnap

Restoration Project Manager

Manny Gomez

Manny Gomez

Restoration Tech & Equipment Manager

Emmanuel Gomez joined MRT in 2011 and is our Restoration Tech and equipment manager. Prior to joining the Trust, he had 22 years of experience in landscaping, and tree pruning, while also working part time doing construction in Downtown LA. Emmanuel is extremely passionate about the history that surrounds the Santa Monica Mountains, and considers his work field his second home. He believes in our mission because throughout the years he has witnessed the changes in vegetation growth and believes Mountains Restoration Trust has come a long way. Outside his day job you can find him talking about aliens with his wife and kids.

German Chuiz

German Chuiz

Restoration Tech & Equipment Manager

German joined MRT in 2018 and is our Restoration Tech and Equipment Manager. Prior to joining the the Trust he worked as auto mechanic/inspector for 8 years. His passion for cars gave him an opportunity to work with different makes and models. What excites German is how the native habitat life cycle works. He believes in our mission because working at MRT he has learned how important it is to restore the Santa Monica Mountains. Outside of his day job you can find him working on his 1958 ford pick up or taking his dogs for long walks.

Erik Sode

Erik Sode

Aquatics Program Manager

Erik Sode joined MRT in 2015 and is our Aquatics Program Manager. Prior to joining the trust, he worked at the Santa Monica Bay Foundation and received a BA in Environmental Policy and Management. Erik is most excited by the expanding public interest in crayfish removal in communities near creeks and streams at  MRT. He believes in our mission because native aquatic species are important to a healthy ecosystem. Outside his day job, you can find him surfing or woodworking.

Claire Hirashiki

Claire Hirashiki

Aquatic Biotechnician

Claire Hirashiki joined MRT in 2018 and is our Aquatic Biotechnician for the Las Virgenes and Medea projects. Prior to joining the trust, she worked as a project assistant at the City of Los Angeles and continues to work as a data analyst at UCLA.  She received her Bachelor of Science at UCLA in Environmental Science in 2015. Claire enjoys the hands-on experience of fieldwork and the educational outreach component at MRT. She believes in our mission because she feels that restoration efforts are absolutely crucial to improving ecological integrity when faced with anthropogenic impacts. Outside her day job, you can find Claire enjoying the outdoors, practicing yoga and making ceramics.

Gabino Rezendis

Gabino Rezendis

Volunteer Coordinator

Gabino Rezendis joined MRT in 2018 and is our Volunteer Coordinator and is a Site Captain of Potrero Creek. Prior to joining the trust, he started off as a SAMO Youth during the summer of 2016, then a biological science aid and a biological technician for the Santa Monica National Recreation and received and is currently enrolled in Ventura College’s Biological Sciences major and is going to transfer to Sacramento State or Channel Islands (CSUCI) . Gabino is passionate about protecting and restoring our natural landscapes at MRT. He believes in our mission on protecting the natural and cultural resources of the Santa Monica Mountains, because while Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area hired him, he would work with employees for MRT and understand the hard work that MRT would invest in protecting these natural landscapes. Outside his day job, you can find Gabino at Ventura or Moorpark College attending class, studying, or interacting with the clubs there to bring more volunteers to our volunteer dates. As well as staying up-to-date with current music, politics, and general investing his personal time learning something.

Sydney Liu

Sydney Liu

Accounting & Financial Specialist

Sydney joined MRT in 2018 and is our financial specialist. Prior to joining the trust, she completed a Master of Science – Applied Analytics at Pepperdine University. She believes in our mission because she dedicated to empowering organizational decision-making by developing planning and budgeting, predictive models, and analyzing business financial data. Outside her/his day job, you can find Sydney hugging and kissing her lovely dog – Mrs. Isla.

Isha Shah

Isha Shah

Development Coordinator

Isha joined MRT in 2018 and is our Development Coordinator. Prior to joining the trust, she worked as an Environmental Educator at TreePeople and in Development at Rays of Light Philanthropic. She received her degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Anthropology from UCSB in 2016. Isha enjoys connecting with MRT’s large body of passionate volunteers every single day. She believes in our mission because she understands the importance of community-centric, grassroots organizations in making powerful environmental change. Outside her day job, you can find Isha watching basketball and eating Thai takeout.

 

Chance

Chance

Executive Doggo

Chance joined MRT in 2018 and is our resident caffeine-loving Basenji. He is most excited about digging through bags, lounging in the sun, and glaring at cyclists.

Isla

Isla

Quality Assurance Officer - Napping Division

Isla joined MRT in 2018 and is our shy, sleepy pitbull mix. In her free time she enjoys playing with Al, taking long naps, and butt scratches.

Al

Al

Field Technician for Sticks & Twigs

Al joined MRT in 2017 and is our stream-loving Shepard Terrier Mix. Throw the stick. I dare you.