Cindy Montañez

Cindy Montañez

Executive Director

Cindy was appointed executive director of MRT in February 2020.

As a lifelong Angeleno raised in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, she began volunteering with local community organizations at the age of 12. Her parents ignited a passion for the environment in Cindy at an early age when they pointed out environmental injustices in their neighborhood. As a family, her parents participated in tree plantings and encouraged the kids to pursue careers in social justice.

At the age of 25, Cindy was elected as the youngest mayor and council member of her hometown of San Fernando. At 28 years old, she made history by becoming the youngest woman elected to the California State Legislature, where she became a champion for the environment, sustainable urban planning and social justice.

Cindy then moved on to serve as Assistant General Manager at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where she was a core part of the team transitioning the nation’s largest publicly-owned utility to cleaner energy and a more sustainable local water supply.

Cindy is currently a Board Member for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and a Legislator In-Residence at the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. She also serves as chief executive officer of TreePeople.

Some of Cindy’s favorite things to do are to hike our local mountains, explore California and give back to Los Angeles. She is inspired by the magic of California’s ancient 2,000-year-old giant sequoia trees, the delectable taste of the fruit from her mother’s trees and the ability to live and work inside oak woodlands within a major metropolis.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.