Ventura Land Trust Announces Community Leaders as New Trustees

The Board of Trustees of Ventura Land Trust has experienced a major shift, with the recent addition of five new members and the departure of two, bringing the current total number of trustees to 13.

The new trustees include Kate Larramendy, past Director of Design & Sustainability at outdoor company Toad&Co and current board member of The Conservation Alliance; John Krist, who retired in 2022 as CEO of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County; The Trade Desk Assistant Corporate Controller Meridith Thompson; Thousand Oaks City Manager Andrew Powers; and retired Ventura City Fire Marshal Brian Clark.

Each new trustee brings great depth of experience and a drive to protect open spaces in Ventura County.

“VLT has proven itself to be the most effective, trusted and visionary force working to protect Ventura’s considerable natural resources,” says Trustee Kate Larramendy. “I’m honored to serve on the board to bring my passion for open spaces, wild places and access for all to outdoor recreation to further build on VLT’s mission and accomplishments. This is exciting work.”

Andrew Powers describes joining the Board of Trustees in this period of VLT’s evolution as an “exciting moment.”

“After two decades of commitment, I am convinced that some of the most important conservation, stewardship, and public access work in California is happening right here with the Ventura Land Trust,” says Powers. “For me, this opportunity blends a career in public service with a passion for the great outdoors. I look forward to contributing towards VLT’s essential mission.”

The makeup of the Board of Trustees is further shifting due to the departure of Don Wood and Dennis Kulzer, both of whom served two three-year terms on the board. Wood and Kulzer joined VLT in 2017; during their tenures, VLT completed the acquisition and opening of the 2,123-acre Harmon Canyon Preserve, as well as the acquisition of 1,645-acre Mariano Rancho in the hills north of Ventura.

Wood was active in the organization’s financial management, governance, and community outreach efforts; Kulzer focused on VLT’s stewardship efforts, especially as the organization worked to get Harmon Canyon Preserve open to the public and expand its trail network. Both men supported the integration of outdoor education program Ventura Wild under the VLT umbrella. Wood and Kulzer will continue their service as members of the organization’s Advisory Council.

VLT Executive Director Melissa Baffa expressed a sense of poignant gratitude for the change in board composition she has seen. “When I joined VLT two years ago, we had nine strong, dedicated board members who had helped to guide VLT through a period of tremendous growth and achievement. Now, through the natural process of policy-defined attrition, we have seen nearly half those members term off the board, and added new Trustees as well.”

“These are some of the brightest and most dedicated members of our community, volunteering their time, treasure and talent to Ventura Land Trust. On behalf of the VLT staff, we are very thankful for their leadership and support, and deeply appreciate their partnership as we continue on the path of growth and development they set.”

Full bios for all trustees are available at Community members interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at VLT should visit and those interested in learning more about joining a VLT committee or the Board of Trustees should contact Executive Director Melissa Baffa at [email protected].

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