The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park was built as a community-designed initiative. It integrated the voices of hundreds of community members over the course of a decade of planning to make the EcoCenter a resource for the communities of Southeast San Francisco within the environmental education field. In keeping with the original spirit of the EcoCenter, the EcoCenter Advisory Committee was formed in 2014. Consisting of members of the Bayview Hunters Point community and partner organizations, the EcoCenter Advisory Committee provides guidance to staff to enhance EcoCenter programs and community engagement.


Carrie Chen, Committee Co-Chair

Director of Education & Conservation

As a leader within the rapidly expanding organization, Carrie Chen brings 20+ years of experience working with aquatic and informal science education organizations around the country and a passion for connecting all audiences with the wonders of nature. Chen joined Aquarium of the Bay in 2004, and as Director of Education and Conservation, she currently provides leadership for all of’s interpretive programs, K-12 student and teacher programs, fee-based youth programs, and sustainability initiatives – along with supporting fundraising efforts, staff training, professional development, evaluation, and other related projects. This includes providing leadership for educational staff and programs at Aquarium of the Bay, the Sea Lion Center, and the EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park. She is also very active within the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) as the former chair of the Conservation Education Committee, leading the Association’s professional development course for Conservation Education Effective Program Design, and as a current member of the Association’s Annual Conference Program Committee. Prior to joining Aquarium of the Bay, Chen graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder with a degree in Biology and spent many years “island hopping” and developing her skills and passion in marine science education before relocating the Bay Area in 1999 to pursue her Master’s Degree in Environmental Education from California State University at Hayward. Carrie has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee Member since 2014.

Jacklyn Flin, Committee Co-Chair

Ms. Flin began her career in union labor with the Service International Employees Union, Local 790 (now Local 1021), in 2000 as an administrative assistant supporting union activities within the local. In 2009, Ms. Flin received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Cellular Biology from the University of California, Davis. She has been serving as the Executive Director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute San Francisco since 2011, furthering the mission of the organization and executing the directives of the Executive Board. Ms. Flin has developed and executed successful educational, workforce development, and recreational programs that prepare job seekers with employment skills for sustainable careers in the San Francisco Bay Area region. Jacklyn has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee Member since 2014.

Sara Brissenden-Smith

Director of Neighborhood Revitalization
Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco

Sara Brissenden-Smith is the Director of Neighborhood Revitalization for Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, working specifically on repair and improvement projects in Bayview and East Palo Alto since 2013. Brissenden-Smith grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a graduate of Phillip and Sala Burton in Bayview, and has 18 years of experience working with Bay Area non-profits–primarily in youth development, media education, and most recently affordable housing. She has a BA from Santa Clara University (sociology major/ethnic studies minor). Brissenden-Smith brings to her work a strong passion for supporting Bay Area neighborhoods, specifically long-time residents and communities of color. Sara has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee Member since 2016.

Brenda Cartagena

Youth Services Manager, Volunteer Division
San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department

Brenda Cartagena is a Bay Area native, a proud daughter of two former Salvadoran Political refugees’ now American citizens. She has enjoyed growing up with the duality of her two cultures and overcoming the various obstacles attributed to a monolithic education system. Cartagena has seen the need to increase diversity amongst youth leaders whom could comprehend the complexities and nuances that cultural and socio-economically diverse youth face on a day-to-day basis. As a student of in the Urban Pioneer Program, Brenda discovered her love of Nature. She then focused her unbridled passion of working with youth to help them foster connections with nature as a powerful vehicle for change, which has been a cornerstone in her leadership style. Cartagena earned her AA from City College of San Francisco in 2007 and in 2011 graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Geography. Cartagena has been an integral part of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Volunteer Division ever since. She oversees the Youth Stewardship and Greenager Programs as the Youth Services Manager under the Volunteer Division. Cartagena is happy to be part of the EcoCenter Advisory Committee, and plans to build on the volunteer workdays she has been leading with Greenagers since 2011. Now working together with and the Port San Francisco, their shared goals are to increase volunteerism, park stewardship, and more importantly, provide enriching and meaningful community and environmentally focused experiences to local youth, families, and the greater community. Brenda has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee Member since 2016.

Anastasia Fiandaca

M.S., Counselor and Sustainability Committee Co-Chair
City College of San Francisco

Ms. Fiandaca has a background in psychology and counseling, and a strong commitment to social and environmental justice, which she expresses through her work as an academic counselor and co-chair of sustainability committee at CCSF. While on sabbatical in 2013-14, Ms. Fiandaca studied environmental science and worked as an EcoCenter intern, and continues to focus on building bridges between the EcoCenter and CCSF’s environmental science students and faculty. She lives and bikes in San Francisco with her partner and two sons. Check out CCSF’s great classes at Anastasia has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee Member since 2015.

Kurt Grimes attained staff management and administrative skills during a ten-year career with West Legal Publishing as a Law Librarian and Customer Service Manager. Prior to coming to APRISF, Grimes was employed as an administrative paralegal with the San Francisco District Attorney’s (SFDA) Office for twelve years. At the SFDA’s Office, Grimes managed the Youth Internship program and coordinated SWAP program for four years. Grimes graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in European History with a minor in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Kurt has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee member since its inception in 2014.

Kimberley Keifer

Program Director, Volunteer Division
San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department

SF Recreation and Parks’ Volunteer Division is led by Program Director, Kimberly Kiefer leads the SF Recreation and Parks’ Volunteer Division. She oversees and supports the implementation of various projects alongside her core team. As a direct result of her leadership and community building efforts, the amazing community she serves provides more than 180,000 hours of volunteer service, an in-kind donation of about 4.9 million dollars that goes back to our parks and recreation centers. Keifer has been in this role with the Department since 2011 and has been working in Bay Area volunteer management since 2006. Keifer received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a focus in Immigration and Racial Theory, and a Minor in Women Culture and Development from the University of California, Santa Barbara. With over 23 years of experience working in various capacities within the non-profit, private, and public sectors, she strives in enhancing and providing quality program development, park project implementation, environmental education, service learning, and team building opportunities. The Greenagers Program was created from her vision of a similar teen leadership program that she had experienced as a teen herself, in Yosemite National Park with the Youth Conservation Corps. This allowed her career development in the park industry and provided tangible life skills that greatly benefitted her well into adulthood, around the power of healthy risk taking. Kimberly has been on the EAC since its inception in 2014, and wants to continue to bridge one of her favorite 94941 communities with Heron’s Head Park and the entire blue greenway of the southeast.

Lyslynn Lacoste is the Director of Bayview Mobilization for Adolescent Growth in our Communities (BMAGIC), a position she has held since 2011. BMAGIC was co-founded by the San Francisco Office of the Public Defender and Bayview Hunters Point community based organizations to develop collaborative community building efforts that improve the quality of life of BVHP children, youth, and their families. Lacoste continues strengthening the BMAGIC community network; supporting more than 75 community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations, and city agencies that serve within Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. She has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee member since 2014 where she supports community engagement efforts and program developments.

Maya Rodgers

Born and raised in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point, Maya Rodgers, a Social Worker by trade, holds a Masters in Social Work. She has 20 years’ experience working with San Francisco’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised populations. Her passions are in community development and engagement focused on the valuing and recognition of input from those populations that are most significantly marginalized. Rogers is a Bayview Parks Advocate and is committed to raising the quality of parks and open spaces throughout the Bayview Hunters Point community. She believes that community building and the acknowledgment of culture is the key to harmonious symbiosis. Maya has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee Member since 2016.

Mike Yoshioka

Mike Yoshioka is the Programs Director at City of Dreams, a nonprofit helping youth to build brighter futures through mentorship and youth development. Mike has over 9 years of youth development, program development, and delivery experience in the Bay Area and is an advocate for its youth and public lands. Mike has been an EcoCenter Advisory Committee member since 2014.