Founded in 1904

Affiliated with the National Audubon Society

Our Mission: To bring the excitement of birds to our community through birding, education and the conservation of bird habitats

Board Bios

Laura Garrett (President)

Laura Garrett is a lifelong environmentalist who fell in love with birding when it captured her young son's interest in 2001. Her love for nature led her to serve the City of Pasadena as a member of the Environmental Advisory Commission and to sit on the Board of Directors for the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy. After teaching English at the university level for over 20 years, she has started her own business as a writing consultant. Besides birding and spending time in nature, she also loves her family and friends, traveling, and singing.

Darren Dowell (Vice President)

Darren Dowell currently serves as Vice President of PAS. He lives in Pasadena with family and works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a research scientist specializing in instruments, astrophysics, and cosmology at infrared and microwave wavelengths. Darren’s long-term enjoyment of the outdoors has focused into avid birding within the last decade, with other past hobbies now set aside. He leads field trips for PAS and contributes to eBird (including regular surveys of Hahamongna Watershed Park), Christmas Bird Counts, Great Backyard Bird Count, USGS Breeding Bird Survey, and Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey.

Ira Blitz (Secretary)

Ira Blitz has degrees from UCLA in Zoology (B.A.) and Medicine (M.D). He has been with Pasadena Audubon 10 years and on the Board 3 years. Ira practiced medicine 46 years specializing in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility and served with the US Air Force. Ira is also a member of LA County Arboretum, Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens as well as the American Museum of Natural History.

Eileen Burton (Treasurer)

Eileen Burton is a retired Actuary, with a career that spanned over 35 years in the life insurance industry. She obtained a BA in Spanish Literature from Pomona College, in Claremont, CA, in 1978. She attained the designation of Fellow in the Society of Actuaries in 1991. Eileen joined the Pasadena Audubon Society in 1993, serving on the board as Treasurer for seven years, then as a Member-at-Large for five years. She stepped off of the Board to become the chapter’s financial auditor for nine years, and is currently serving as Treasurer. Eileen has also served as Treasurer for two other non-profit organizations, chaired the Actuarial Opportunities Committee and served as Recording Secretary for the Los Angeles Actuarial Club, and has served three terms as Corresponding Secretary for the Pasadena Opera Guild.

Deni Sinnott (Publicity)

Deni Sinnott joined the board in 2010 and is currently serving as President. Deni has previously served as Publicity Chair for PAS. Her volunteer involvement with other local non-profit organizations includes The Tournament of Roses, Five Acres, and The Red Cross. Deni is an Internet Professional specializing in yield and video monetization. She holds an B.S. from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University.

Mark Hunter (Conservation)

Mark Hunter has edited the Pasadena Audubon newsletter for 11 years and also serves as a trip leader. He has a lifelong interest in nature, but didn't get into birding until his fifties. His gray hair causes new acquaintances to presume that his birding skills are lifelong, too, which can be embarrassing. He is now working on increasing both his knowledge of local conservation challenges and opportunities, and those birding skills.

Chris Dean (Development)

Chris Dean is an enthusiastic full-time birder and she joined the board in 2017. She has 20 years of fundraising leadership experience with a broad range of fundraising specialties including annual, online, major and planned giving, as well as, foundation and corporate relations and special events. Chris earned a master’s degree at Dartmouth College, a teaching credential at San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree at Occidental College.

Ron Cyger (Education)

Ron has been an active birder for almost 30 years. During that time he has served as President, program chair, and education chair for the Pasadena Audubon Society. He also was a "Blockhead" for the Los Angeles County Breeding Bird Atlas and was editor for the Birding Guide to the Pasadena Area published by Pasadena Audubon. He currently teaches Birding classes, is a field trip leader, is a surveyor for the USGS Breeding Bird Survey, and plays a little jazz when time permits.

Mark Scheel (Field Trip Chair)

Mark Scheel is a Research Professor at the California Institute of Technology, and specializes in general relativity, black holes, and gravitational waves. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics in 1996 at Cornell University, where the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the active birding community ignited his interest in birds.

Mark is the field trip chair for Pasadena Audubon and is a field trip leader. Together with Ron Cyger, he has taught Pasadena Audubon's Birding 101 course for the last 10 years. He is active in eBird and participates in Christmas Bird Counts. He also has been known to pursue crazy 24-hour Birdathons.

Luke Tiller (Programs)

Originally from London, England, Luke transplanted to the United States in 2003. As a professional hawkwatcher he has traveled the world to witness raptor migration and has experience counting raptors in North America, Europe and the Middle East. He has written about birds and birding for publications here in the US and in Europe including Audubon Magazine, Birdwatch Magazine and ABA’s Birding Magazine. Since 2012 Luke has sat on the Hawk Migration Association of North America Board and chairs their Tours Committee. Luke is currently based in Altadena California and employed as a professional tour guide by High Lonesome BirdTours and Wildside Nature Tours. You will find him at most birding festivals working on the ZEISS Sports Optics booth.

Doug Farr (Hospitality Chair)

Doug has been an outdoorsy person since he was a child. Upon graduation in 1970 from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin he has been a member and a leader in the Sierra Club, first in the Chicago area then in Angeles Chapter. In the Sierra Club and as a member of the Mule Pack Section he led trips with up to fifteen people in the Sierras. He currently leads private mule pack trips into the Sierras with friends for fly fishing and birding. He is a member of PAS, California Audubon as well as National Audubon, Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy, Sierra Club, California Trout, Nature Conservancy and Life Member of Trout Unlimited. Doug started his own pension consulting company, Douglas M. Farr & Co., Inc. in 1977 and two of his children currently run the business.

Lois Fulmer (Membership Chair)

Lois Fulmer is a retired newsletter editor and administrative assistant. A Presbyterian Church Elder, she currently sings in the church choir and plays handbells. Lois has been birding for 45 years, and she has served Pasadena Audubon as Membership Chair for the last 15 years. She and her husband, Will, a past PAS President, enjoy traveling locally and around the world.

Lois Brunet (Program Manager)

Lois Brunet has been birding for about six years, ever since she was stopped in her tracks by the flute-like song of a Wood Thrush, back east. Lois has worked in a variety of fields, most recently in International Education, while raising her four children, first in France, then in Massachusetts. Lois earned a B.A. in Philosophy from SUNY Stony Brook and a M.A. in International Relations from Sciences Po in Paris. Now that she and her husband have relocated to SoCal, and are quasi-empty nesters, they are keen on seeing all the birds they can, both here and abroad.

Kathy Degner (Outreach)

Kathy spent 20 years as a Speech & Language Specialist and used every opportunity as teachable moments to foster a love of wildlife and conservation within her students. For over 10 years she was an educational docent at a zoo in Northern California, where she helped develop and present Wildlife Theater programs using live animals. Kathy has been actively involved with PAS for about 7 years and on the board for 2 years. She has primarily been responsible for creating and developing our outreach materials and programs to fulfill our mission of bringing the excitement of birds to our community. In her spare time she combines her love of birding with her passion for wildlife photography at many of our wonderful local birding hotspots and beyond.

Carolyn Murphy (Member-at-Large)

Carolyn Murphy has a JD from Stanford Law School and practiced law in San Diego for 35 years. She has been involved in many social justice causes, has served as Director of the Women’s Legal Center of San Diego and as Chairman of California Cause. She has most recently volunteered for four years in the legal department of Homeboy Industries, a ministry dedicated to assisting former gang members redirect their lives.

Carolyn has also traveled extensively to Africa, Asia and Mexico assisting national churches in developing leadership principles and has written three books on this subject.

She has been a member of the Pasadena Audubon Society since 2013 and joined the board in 2017.

Lance Benner (Member-at-Large)

Lance Benner is a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, where he specializes in radar observations of near-Earth asteroids. He received an A.B. in Physics at Cornell University in 1987 and a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis in 1994. He has been at JPL since 1995.

Lance leads birding trips for the Pasadena Audubon Society, serves on its board as a member-at-large, and has given talks at southern California Audubon chapter meetings on owls of southern California, red crossbills, birds of Puerto Rico, birds of Guatemala, and birds of Chile. Lance regularly contributes to the online databases eBird.org (observations, photos, and audio recordings) and Xeno-Canto.org (audio recordings). Lance conducts an annual USGS Breeding Bird Survey in the San Gabriel Mountains and participates in the Pasadena and Malibu Christmas Bird Counts.

Mickey Long (Member-at-Large)

Mickey Long retired as Administrator over 19 L.A. Co. Natural Areas after 39 years in the system. He obtained a Zoology degree, California State University Los Angeles, taught college environmental biology courses, currently docent training classes for the Nature Centers. Mickey has publications in ornithology, herpetology and botany, has prepared or reviewed many environmental documents; continues to perform biological assessments. He served on the County Regional Planning Significant Ecological Areas Tech. Advisory Committee; was founding member of the local Calif. Native Plant Soc., Biology Advisor for the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy, and Vice Pres. of the Pasadena Audubon Society, serving on the board twice (past Pres., Conservation Chair) over a 40 year period.

Katy Mann (Member-at-Large)

Kathryn Mann has worked in the insurance industry for thirty years. She is also a Docent Naturalist at Eaton Canyon Nature Center and a Docent at the Huntington Library and Gardens, where she enjoys including discussions of birds in her tours and nature walks.

Susan Gilliland (Member-at-Large, Young Birders)

Susan Gilliland has been interested in the natural world most of her life. In the past decade she "discovered" the world of birds. Susan loves working with young people and providing them with amazing opportunities to experience and learn about birds through fun activities and special field trips. Along with her husband, Frank, they have become interested in birding outside the US. They love spending time on birding adventures. Susan enjoys photographing birds.