Bruce Reznik, Executive Director
Michael Quill, Marine Programs Director
Arthur Pugsley, Senior Attorney
Melissa Kelly, Staff Attorney
Ian Jacobson, Dive Program Manager
Melissa von Mayrhauser, Watershed Programs Manager
Sharon Licht, Communications Manager
Rebecca Light, Office Manager
Geraldine Burrola, Development Manager
Denita Toneva, Events & Membership Coordinator
Bruce Reznik – Executive Director
Bruce Reznik took the helm of LA Waterkeeper (LAW) in September 2015, where he directs the organization’s advocacy and programmatic work. Reznik previously spent eleven years running San Diego Coastkeeper, where- under his direction- the organization grew into the region’s most effective voice for clean water and helped dramatically reduce sewage, stormwater and industrial pollution of area waterways and educated and engaged tens of thousands of San Diegans in clean water efforts.
Immediately prior to joining LAW, Bruce served as Executive Director for San Diego Housing Federation, where he promoted affordable housing and sustainable community development to ensure all San Diegans could afford a safe and stable place to call home. He also has led the Sacramento-based Planning Conservation League, where he directed the organization’s efforts to promote sustainable water, land-use and transportation policies for California, as well as the Sustainable San Diego collaborative dedicated to ensuring the long-term vitality of the San Diego/Tijuana region’s communities, environment, and economy by strengthening and integrating regional planning. Bruce also worked to promote sustainable land-use and transportation planning for the LA based consulting firm Gladstein, Neandross & Associates.
A California-licensed attorney, Reznik holds an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and his law degree from the University of San Diego.
Reznik has served as an Alternate on the California Coastal Commission, and has sat on numerous local, state and national boards and commissions, including the international Waterkeeper Alliance for six years. After too many years away from Los Angeles, Bruce is thrilled to be back home with his rescue dogs, Sasha and Bandit.
Michael Quill – Marine Programs Director
Michael Quill is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute where he holds a MA in the field with a focus in Community, Liberation and Ecopsychology. He also holds a BA in Urban Community Environment & Psychology from Antioch University.
Michael is leading the expansion of LA Waterkeeper’s Community Programs, which are focused on building bridges of dialogue between diverse community stakeholders through various outreach, education and interactive, environmental advocacy activities in, on, and around the waters of Los Angeles County.
Michael began as a LA Waterkeeper volunteer diver in 2008, and later joined the staff in 2012 both as Marine Protected Areas Watch Program Manager, and as a Dive Team Leader for the world renowned Kelp Restoration Project.
Arthur Pugsley – Senior Attorney
A long-time California transplant from Boston, Arthur Pugsley comes to LAW with extensive experience with environmental issues as both an attorney and as a government environmental administrator. Prior to law school, Arthur worked in both local and state environmental agencies in Massachusetts, including several years as Executive Secretary of the agency charged with implementing wetlands, tidelands, and water quality laws in Boston. After being admitted to the California bar, Arthur worked in private practice representing and litigating on behalf of plaintiffs/petitioners under various federal and state laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and the California Coastal Act. Immediately Prior to joining LAW, Arthur served as Staff Counsel to the California Coastal Commission for the South Central and Central Coastal Districts. His work included advising the Commission on emerging water quality, water supply, and water rights issues, including several novel legal issues given short term urgency by California’s historic drought and long term importance because of climate change.
Arthur holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and Environmental Science from Harvard University; a Master of Science Degree in Oceanography from the University of Massachusetts; a Juris Doctor from UCLA with a specialization in Public Interest Law; and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law (LL.M.) from UC Berkeley.
Arthur has published several peer reviewed articles on environmental topics including CEQA, the federal Clean Water Act, and the federal Clean Air Act, as well as an article exploring environmental issues facing California winegrowers. Arthur is an avid hiker and also enjoys exploring the many off-the-beaten-track attractions afforded by living in Los Angeles.
Melissa Kelly – Staff Attorney
Prior to joining LAW, Melissa served as the Environmental and Land Use Fellow for the University of California, Irvine School of Law’s Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (CLEANR). As the CLEANR fellow, Melissa conducted policy-relevant legal research and writing on emerging environmental issues to develop CLEANR’s research and public engagement programming. She co-authored publications on habitat conservation planning under federal and state endangered species law and permitting for endangered species and aquatic resources under environmental statutes, including the federal Clean Water Act.
Melissa earned her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Irvine in 2014, graduating cum laude with multiple Faculty Awards. During law school, Melissa completed an externship with Orange County Coastkeeper, where she was first introduced to the Waterkeeper movement.
Prior to law school, Melissa earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. Having grown up in Los Angeles, Melissa is thrilled to be working to protect the waterways in the place she calls home.
Ian Jacobson – Dive Program Manager
Born and raised in San Pedro, he spent his youth exploring the tide pools along the Palos Verdes Coastline and volunteering as a docent for the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. He earned his B.A. in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz where he tracked Sea Otters in Big Sur as a volunteer and spent three months working with a team of divers surveying seagrass beds in the Philippines. Ian also had the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia where he spent time at the Heron Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef.
Before joining LAW, Ian worked as an observer for the National Marine Fisheries Service aboard commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea.
Upon moving back to Southern California, he had been a passionate volunteer for the Kelp Project restoring kelp forests along the same coastline where he grew up. He is dedicated to providing volunteers with the unique opportunity and experience to give back to the community by enhancing nearshore ecosystem health and protecting Southern California’s marine resources.
Melissa von Mayrhauser – Watershed Programs Manager
Melissa is a strong believer in the importance of increasing access to healthier waterways and she is an avid water mapper and monitor. Melissa previously worked at an environmental design firm in Brooklyn, New York as a water education project manager and at Columbia University’s Earth Institute as a communications intern. During college, she enthusiastically served as the President of the Aquanauts, the student water club, bringing together a diverse group of students to research water challenges.
Melissa previously conducted hydrological fieldwork in Jordan, Morocco and India. Most recently in India, she researched the interconnections between saline intrusion and mangrove reforestation, canoeing around the Ashtamudi Lake to test water quality. She also previously volunteered as a Hudson Riverkeeper ambassador, leading coastal clean-ups and taking water samples under the Manhattan Bridge. She is excited to continue as part of the Keeper family in Los Angeles and to work with a new group of volunteers!
Sharon Licht – Communications Manager
Raised in Huntington Beach, Sharon is a lifelong ocean lover and passionate conservationist. Her interest in environmental communication developed over a long academic voyage into science and policy, and a subsequent resolve to improve public access to—and understanding of—environmental policy. Prior to joining LA Waterkeeper, Sharon worked on communications and event planning at a nonprofit organization that advocates for organic and sustainable family farmers throughout California. She is a big fan of composting, permaculture and vegan baked goods.
Sharon holds a B.S. in Conservation & Resource Studies from UC Berkeley, where she focused on agricultural ecology and conducted her thesis research on the bioremediation of soils contaminated with heavy metals. She is humbled to contribute to an organization that carries out such vital work to conserve and protect our waterways.
Rebecca Light – Office Manager
Rebecca joins LAW with nearly a decade of experience in non-profit administration, beginning at the administrative offices of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. She has worked for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Foundation in operations and donor services, and is a company member of Theatre of NOTE where she served as Co-president of the Artistic & Management Committee and now volunteers as chair of the Marketing Committee spearheading their social media campaigns. Most recently Rebecca worked as Program Administrator and eventually Operations Manager for The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company. In her time there she focused on strengthening the organization’s best practices in areas of human resources and finance, aiding a 100% growth of the organization over a five year period.
She holds a BFA in Acting from Boston University and can occasionally be seen performing in theatre throughout Los Angeles. Rebecca grew up in Sacramento, travelling west to visit the sea as often as possible. As a newly-certified diver with a passion for the California coastline, Rebecca is honored to support the pivotal work of LAW.
Geraldine Burrola – Development Manager
Originally raised in California’s Central Valley, Geraldine has always been well aware of water resource politics within the state. Her passions for environmental justice and representation stem from her studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she obtained both a BS and BA in Society & Environment and Geography. While at Berkeley, her research centered on natural resource valuation in developing regions as well as political economic theory. She spent much of her time volunteering at environmental organizations, working with human trafficking survivors, and teaching community-based environmental justice courses in the surrounding area.
Prior to working with LA Waterkeeper, Geraldine worked in operations for a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the foster care system for youth throughout the United States. As a result of her experiences in the nonprofit sector, she has become passionate about fundraising, grant writing, and colorful spreadsheets. In her down time she enjoys eco-friendly beach bonfires and sampling any sort of dish containing avocado.
Geraldine has always dreamed of residing near, and advocating for, California waterways and is extremely excited to be a part of the LA Waterkeeper team.
Denita Toneva – Events & Membership Coordinator
Denita is a long-time resident of Los Angeles and avid outdoor enthusiast when it comes to playing volleyball and soccer. She got her first taste of the water world through an internship at Heal the Bay, where she worked as the watershed education intern to help educate students about urban waterways. After her internship, Denita went on to teach a seminar class at UCLA focused on water in Los Angeles. This coincided with her undergraduate senior project, where she partnered with the Bay Foundation to conduct tidepool restoration research in Palos Verdes. Before joining the team, Denita worked with LA Waterkeeper on the EPA-funded Urban Waterways Civic Action Project, aimed at developing curriculum to bring environmental education to under-served high schools in LA County.
Denita holds a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Conservation Biology from UCLA. She is thrilled to work at LAW and coordinate the organization’s major events and outreach campaigns!