We help define environmental problems, advance public debate about them through sound science, and support consensus-based solutions that improve environmental planning, management, and policy development.
We provide impartial scientific interpretations and neither take sides on environmental issues nor have any political or financial interest in the outcomes of research and monitoring data.
A precursor to SFEI, known as the Aquatic Habitat Institute, was formed in 1986, after several years of discussion among organizations interested in pollutants and pollutant effects in the Estuary. Substantial contention existed at that time among water quality regulatory agencies, dischargers, and environmental advocates over the condition of the Estuary and the importance of contamination in the decline of aquatic resources. Representatives of these interests believed that management of the Estuary would be enhanced if all sides in debates over water quality policy had access to sound, objective scientific information about pollutants and pollutant effects in the Estuary. AHI was created with a broadly representative board of directors, and charged with developing scientific information valuable to water quality managers, but was prohibited from recommending water quality policies. AHI was instrumental in synthesizing existing information about pollution and pollution effects for the State Water Resources Control Board D.1485 Bay Delta Hearings and for the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, (SFEP) established through the Clean Water Act.
AHI was transformed into the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) in 1993, responding, in part, to the call in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) developed by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership for a comprehensive, coordinated Regional Monitoring and Research Strategy to assess the chemical, physical and biological health of the Estuary. The other motivating force was a realization by AHI’s staff and Board of Directors of changes needed in order for the Institute to recognize its potential. These changes included adopting a more holistic approach to “health of the Estuary” beyond pollutant stressors on aquatic resources and creating a different organizational structure to enable the Institute to actually conduct monitoring and research programs, rather than deal entirely with compiling and synthesizing existing information. A new governance structure was formed, and the new name of the organization, San Francisco Estuary Institute, signified an anticipation of a close working relationship with the San Francisco Estuary Partnership.
While dedicated funding for implementing a comprehensive monitoring and research strategy for the Estuary has not yet materialized, over time, the Institute has strengthened its ties to the Estuary Partnership. SFEI has continued to develop programs that fit within the framework of a comprehensive monitoring and research program as envisioned by the CCMP, but has done so through obtaining grants and contracts from a broad array of federal, state, local and private sources.
Board of Directors
James Fiedler is the Chief Operating Officer for the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Water Utility Enterprise. He has served in this capacity since 2007. A member of the district staff since 1982, he has over 29 years of leadership and engineering experience in the area of water supply, flood control and watershed stewardship. His management and technical experience includes regional water resources, flood and environmental planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance of water supply and flood protection infrastructure.
Mr. Fiedler is a registered civil engineer in California. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, and graduate of Stanford University with a Master's degree in Civil Engineering.
Barbara Salzman has lived in California since 1968 with her periodontist husband, Jay. One son, Noah, is a Veterinarian in San Jose. She received her BA from Rosemont College and Master of Social Work from University of Pennsylvania. Prior to moving to California, Barbara was employed as a Psychiatric Social Worker in a state psychiatric hospital in Pennsylvania and at a private Child Guidance Clinic and school for disturbed children, Devereaux. She began conservation work in 1974 with Marin Audubon’s Conservation Committee which advocates for the protection of birds, wetlands and other habitats. For more than 20 years, Marin Audubon Society has been a sponsor of habitat restoration and habitat acquisition projects, and Ms. Salzman has managed most of these projects.
David W. Tucker is a Program Manager with the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Department, leading the department’s South Bay Water Recycling Program. Mr. Tucker possesses over 20 years of environmental experience developing environmental policy and programs; implementing water quality attainment strategies; managing environmental research initiatives; and leading legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts.
Phil Stevens is the executive director of the Urban Creeks Council where he leads operations and the implementation of the organization's vision to create healthy urban streams that are assets to both people and other living things. He joined the organization in 2007 and has managed the completion of multiple significant restoration projects. He is currently leading the development of one of the largest restoration projects ever undertaken in the Bay Area. He is especially interested in using hard science, metrics and measures to improve the practice of urban habitat restoration. Stevens has more than two decades of non-profit management experience. Prior to joining UCC, he spent seven years at The Nature Conservancy's California and Alaska chapters, where he initiated the development of the Conservancy’s range-wide Pacific salmon program, and secured more than $13 million from private funding sources. He holds an undergraduate degree from Williams College and a graduate degree from Columbia University. He is a member of the advisory committee of the Center for Urban Environmental Law at Golden Gate University.
Adam Olivieri, Ph.D.
Adam Olivieri has over 30 years of experience in the technical and regulatory aspects of water
recycling, groundwater contamination by hazardous materials, water quality and public health
risk assessments, water quality planning, wastewater facility planning, urban runoff management,
and on-site waste treatment systems. He acts as project manager, principal engineer, and technical advisor on a wide variety of environmental projects. He is a Registered Civil Engineer and a Registered Environmental Assessor with the State of California. He gained this experience
working as a staff engineer with the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (San
Francisco Bay Region), as a post doc and staff specialist with the School of Public Health at the
University of California, Berkeley, and as a consulting engineer.
He is currently the Vice president of EOA, Inc., where he manages a variety of projects, including
serving as Santa Clara County Urban Runoff Program’s Manager. Adam formed EOA, Inc. in
1985 with his business partner Don Eisenberg and has successfully managed the company for the past 25 years. Adam’s educational background is in civil/sanitary engineering and public health. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering and his M.S. in Civil/Environmental engineering from the University of Connecticut. In addition, he received his M.P.H. and Doctor of Public Health (Dr.PH) in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley as well as a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the School of Public Health.
Alan Ramo is a Professor of Law at Golden Gate University. He received his BA from Stanford University; JD from Boalt Hall School of Law; and MJ from University California, Berkeley. Areas of interest include Environmental Law, clinical legal education, and toxics in the urban environment.
Bruce Wolfe, ex officio (non-voting)
Bruce Wolfe has been the Executive Officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board since 2003. He oversees the 120 staff of the Water Board in carrying out the Board’s mission of understanding, protecting, enhancing, and restoring the Bay and the Region’s waters. Prior to his appointment, Bruce had been the Board’s division chief for implementing watershed management programs, including control and restoration of impacts to wetlands and streams, stormwater pollution control, nonpoint source control, implementation of wastewater reuse, and control of discharges of waste to land.
Bruce started with the Water Board in 1977, and, in addition to his watershed management oversight, has overseen the Board’s drinking water well investigation program and its Superfund and fuel leak cleanup programs, has had direct responsibility for permitting wastewater treatment plants and landfills, and developed the Board’s initial program to oversee wastewater treatment plant operations and maintenance. Bruce is a registered professional engineer in California, and holds a B.S in Civil Engineering and an M.S. in Civil/Environmental Engineering from Stanford University.
John Callaway, Ph.D.
Dr. Callaway is a Professor at the University of San Francisco in the Department of Environmental Science. Dr. Callaway's research focuses on wetland plant and soil ecology, restoration ecology, exotic species invasions, sediment processes, and potential impacts of sea-level rise. His recent work has focused on wetland restoration in San Francisco Bay and the Tijuana Estuary on the border of Mexico and California.
Mitch Avalon is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. He joined Contra Costa County Public Works Department in 1979. Mr. Avalon has worked in many areas of Public Works, including transportation engineering, development engineering, design, and construction.
Currently Mr. Avalon is Deputy Public Works Director and Deputy Chief Engineer for the Flood Control and Water Conservation District, where he oversees the development of regional management plans for flood protection and enhancement of the environmental resource in the District’s 72 miles of creeks. He is also responsible for overseeing the County's Clean Water Program. Mr. Avalon spent one year as Acting Deputy Director at the Community Development Department, managing their current planning program. Mitch has been chair of the Alhambra Watershed Council since 1997. The Council produced a Watershed Management Plan in 2004 through a community based planning process and is now working on implementation projects. Mitch is also on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary, first Chair of the Bay Area Flood Protection Agencies Association, and Chair of the Flood Control and Water Resources Policy Committee for the County Engineers Association of California.
Tim Vendlinski currently serves as EPA’s Bay Delta Program Manager; and from 1989-1995, worked under the auspices of the San Francisco Estuary Project to establish the scientific basis for the ‘X2’ salinity standards that underpinned the Bay Delta Accord. In 2007, EPA sent Tim on a unique four-year detail to the non-profit Sustainable Conservation where he directed their Restoration on Private Lands Program. Previously, he spent seven years supervising the Wetlands Regulatory Program for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region; and before that, he collaborated with agencies, landowners, and NGOs under the Interagency Vernal Pool Stewardship Initiative to protect rangelands, untilled landscapes, and oak woodlands across California (1995-2000). Tim was raised in Sacramento, attended American River College, graduated from UC Davis, and resides with his wife and daughter in Oakland.
SFEI-ASC Strategic Plan
In September 2010, the Boards of Directors of the Aquatic Science Center (ASC) and the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) decided to undertake review and planning processes that would culminate in a strategic plan for each organization. Both Boards recognized that funding and environmental challenges posed some risks to each organization that new strategic directions might be able to avert or alleviate. Also, new opportunities have arisen, unique and common to each organization that could advance protection and restoration decisions. Each planning effort initially occurred on its own track, but they were merged in 2011 when it became apparent that the values, vision, mission, goals, objectives and underlying strategic priorities of both organizations were very similar.
Download the 2011 SFEI-ASC Strategic Plan.
About Employment at SFEI
SFEI is an Equal Opportunity Employer, offering a relaxed semi-academic work setting with a diverse group of environmental scientists, designers, and administrative support staff. The Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created in 1994, with the mission to foster development of the scientific understanding needed to protect and enhance the San Francisco Estuary through research, monitoring, and communication.
SFEI conducts major programs in Conservation Biology, Contaminants, Historical Ecology, Informatics, Information Technology, Wetlands, Watersheds, and Biological Invasions. As a component of the Contaminants program, the RMP is SFEI's largest program. SFEI is currently located in Richmond, near the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline. Benefits include health insurance for the employee and dependents, life insurance, 403(b) plan with employer match, section 125 plan, paid vacation and paid sick leave.
SFEI offers a benefits package including:
- Health insurance including medical, dental, and vision
- A 403(b) deferred compensation plan (SFEI matches up to 5% of your contribution)
- A term life insurance policy equal to one year's salary
- Twelve paid holidays per year
- Sick leave accrual at the rate of 4 hours per pay period
- Paid vacation
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