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Speakers for the Pre-March Rally
March for Science - Santa Cruz

Leslie Connor

Leslie Connor

Leslie Conner became executive director of the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center in 2011 and led the opening of the new East Cliff Family Health Center in Live Oak in 2014. Together, both clinics comprise the Santa Cruz Community Health Centers, a nonprofit providing comprehensive primary and behavioral health care, pediatrics, health education, outreach, enrollment, and other services to 10,000 Santa Cruz County residents, including nearly 700 individuals who are homeless. She is passionate about Systems Change as a means to improving health and promoting equity and social justice. Her prior experience includes the Health Improvement Partnership (HIP) of Santa Cruz County, where she directed the Healthy Kids program and co-Chaired the California Children’s Health Initiatives, a statewide coalition dedicated to universal health coverage for children-regardless of immigration status in California. Prior to joining HIP, Leslie was Development Director at Dientes Community Dental Care, served as a consultant to nonprofits on fundraising, governance, and communications, and worked as Assistant Editor at the Lawyers Committee for Humans Rights in New York. Leslie earned a degree in Journalism from Rutgers University and a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University. She serves on the board of the Central Coast Alliance for Health, the Medi-Cal Managed Care Plan serving Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Merced Counties.

Antonia O. Franco

Antonia O. Franco serves as the Executive Director of SACNAS; a national nonprofit organization devoted to increasing diversity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. She leads a community of 20,000 students, scientists, and educators including 115 chapters nationwide in the movement to build a critical mass of diverse scientists with advanced degrees and in positions of leadership in STEM. Dr. Franco’s career has spanned nearly two decades in higher education and philanthropy working on issues of educational access, equity, and college completion in underrepresented communities. She also has extensive experience in developing educational and community based partnerships. Dr. Franco earned her Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of Education at Arizona State University.

Antonia O. Franco
Gary Griggs

Gary Griggs

Gary Griggs is a Distinguished Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences and Director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz where he has been a faculty member for nearly half a century. His research, teaching and writing are focused on the coast of California. He has authored or co-authored 10 books and has written a biweekly column, Our Ocean Backyard, for the Santa Cruz Sentinel for the past nine years. Gary was honored the UCSC Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006, and the California Coastal Commission and Sunset Magazine named him one of California’s Coastal Heroes in 2009.

Dan Haifley

Dan Haifley has been Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey since 1999. Dan served as District Chief of Staff for the late California Senator Henry J. Mello from 1993 until 1996; Executive Director of Save Our Shores from 1986 to 1993; and Community Affairs Officer for PG&E in the Monterey Bay from 1997 to 1999. Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is past Chair of the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment, past Co-chair of the Dominican Hospital Community Advisors Committee, and currently serves on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council where he also previously served from 2001 to 2007. He is married to Rebecca Haifley and has two grown children, Aaron and Julia.

Dan Haifley
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz is a Professor and the Chair of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). He is also the Niels Bohr Professor at the University of Copenhagen. After studying at the University of Cambridge, he was the John Bahcall Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Since joining the UCSC faculty in 2007, Ramirez-Ruiz has won a number of national awards for his research, including a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Kavli Fellowship from the National Academy of Science and the Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard. In 2011, he was named among 40 young "rising stars" in Silicon Valley and was elected a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, where he remains the youngest scientist ever to be elected.

Marina Ramon

Marina Ramon is a molecular evolutionary biologist. As a research scientist she uses molecular approaches to investigate fundamental processes in molecular evolution and ecology such as gene expression, adaptive evolution, speciation, and population structure in marine fishes and fungal plant pathogens. Dr. Ramon is a lifetime member of SACNAS and former staff, where she developed and managed leadership and professional development programs for the society’s postdocs and professional scientists. Throughout her career she has been involved with several programs aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minorities and women in science and has mentored several students at different stages of their science careers. Dr. Ramon sits on the Board of Directors and is the Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee for the National Postdoctoral Association. She is a former NSF Minority Postdoctoral Fellow and received her MA in Marine Biology from Boston University, and BA and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Marina Ramon
Healey Skelton

Healey Skelton

Healey Skelton is a 4th grader at Westlake Elementary; she loves science, art and soccer. Her science fair project title this year was “Can we put brown and green algae into stasis?” The project idea was developed from the question of whether or not people or “life” could survive on Jupiter moons, Europa or Ganymede. She was a finalist in the 2017 Santa Cruz County Science Fair.

Mark Silberstein

Mark Silberstein is the Executive Director of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation. Trained as a marine zoologist, Mark has worked on the study and conservation of coastal wetlands for three decades. Working with a group of community volunteers, Mark developed the land trust function of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, which is aggressively working to conserve and restore the Elkhorn Slough, one of the last remaining estuarine wetlands on the central coast. Mark was on a team of conservationists that developed a watershed conservation plan for the Elkhorn watershed that led to significant funding for land acquisitions here. Mark is known for pursuing collaborative approaches to conservation and for a fondness for mud.

Mark Silberstein