Meet the Earth Team Staff 2018-19

Manuel Alonso

Executive Director

Born in Spain, Manuel is an anthropologist and archaeologist interested in the protection of cultural and biological diversity. He has been working with environmental non-profit organizations for more than 25 years in Europe, Central and South America and the United States.  Manuel has been with EarthTeam since  2013.

Little Known Fact: Manuel loves to hike in the wilderness with his two (or three!) big golden retrievers. He was the founder of the TUVA Foundation, (United Lands of Neighbors for the Environment) and acted as its Executive Director for 11 years, from 1990 to 2001.  As a local nonprofit, TUVA launched collaborative community-conservation initiatives in a highly conflictive area that in 1989 had the highest deforestation rate in the world,  finally saving over 5 million trees in a 20,000 acre buffer zone around Corcovado National Park.  TUVA's pioneering "working landscapes" approach built a coalition of local residents, land owners, goverment agencies, eco-tourism operators, illegal loggers and gold miners as well as a network of over 50 local, regional and international organizations. 

The 10- year effort resulted in groundbreaking agreements to successfuly protect cultural and biological diversity in an extensive "working" buffer zone around Corcovado National Park that provided new socio-economic alternatives to local residents.  According to National Geographic, Corcovado National Park's 150,000 acres contains the richest rainforests in the world and is the "most biologically intense place on Earth".  Today, TUVA's legacy continues and has expanded under a new organization, Osa Conservation,  that took over all operations in 2005.

Jenna Topper

Program Manager - Outdoor Explorers

Jenna graduated from Sonoma State majoring in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on conservation and restoration with a minor in Biology. She has been interested in wildlife from a young age and has worked along side a variety of animal rehabilitation and protection agencies. Throughout college her love for wildlife uncovered deeper intrinsic values she holds for nature and all it has to offer. She is inspired to use her background and experiences to promote environmental awareness throughout the community and to provide opportunities for youth to engage in environmental pursuits and sustainable actions. 


Joelle Alley

Program Manager - STEM Learning

Joelle graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Studies. She focused her studies on environmental policy, primarily in relation to agriculture and water resource management. While living in Santa Barbara, Joelle worked as an outdoor educator at a local sustainable agriculture nonprofit called Fairview Gardens. She also worked as the regional intern at the Ventura, CA office of California Trout. During her last year as a student, Joelle spent the majority of her time researching for and writing her thesis about the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in California. Joelle hopes to use her background as an educator and her passion for community engagement in environmental issues to make a difference in her childhood home, the wonderful East Bay.

Paul Wicks

Information Technology Consultant

Paul studied at the University of Michigan, before earning a degree in graphic design at the Center for Creative Studies. Paul called Colorado home for about a third of his life, living in the mountains where it was clear that nature wasn't just an academic abstraction; that it includes everyone, even people with too many frequent flier miles. After years working in large corporations, he spent the last 10 years working in start-ups and non-profits in the San Francisco Bay area. He currently works as a senior software engineer at RideCell in San Francisco. He began contributing to EarthTeam in December 2015.

Little known fact: As a young man, Paul landed a job as photographers' assistant to a blind photographer. The photographer directed everything from the lighting to the queue of students on picture day. The job offered lessons in responsibility and respect for people's capabilities.

Itzel Gomez

Program Associate - Antioch and Pinole Project Lead

Itzel graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Environmental Engineering. In college, she developed an interest for topics in hydrology and water resources as well as environmental justice issues related to water quality and conservation. During her time as a student she served as Outreach Chair for the UCSD Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where she was able to foster her passion for encouraging youth of color to pursue careers in STEM fields. Itzel was born and raised in San Pablo, CA and knows the East Bay to be her home. She is excited to be joining Earth Team this year and have the opportunity to work with young leaders of the next generation to give back to the communities she grew up in. She recognizes the severity of climate change effects within underrepresented communities, both locally and globally, and is passionate about educating others towards implementing more sustainable practices in their daily lives.

Ben McLaughlin

Program Associate - San Lorenzo and Richmond Project Lead

Ben has been interested in environmental justice since he was young when he became involved with the efforts to restore the Los Angeles River to its natural state. He studied Environmental Policy and Geography at UC Berkeley with a minor in Forestry. He is fascinated by the intersection of the natural world and our society and how the two can work in tandem to benefit both. 
He has worked with food justice and access organizations like the Berkeley Student Food Collective, where he helped teach and inspire the Berkeley community to eat healthily and understand where their food comes from. He has also worked in residential energy efficiency at Build It Green, where he planned and coordinated trainings for contractors and architects to teach them how to build and design energy efficient building. He is committed to reducing the environmental impact of our society in practical ways. 

Coco Gutman

Sorting network program assistant

My name is Coco. I have been in the Green Club at Oakland Tech for 2 years working with waste at Tech. I joined Earth Team because I love the Earth and I really want Oakland Tech to have compost and recycling. I am super excited about this year!

Mina Nada

Program Associate - Hercules and JFK Project Lead

A Southern Californian native, Mina was born in Egypt but considers Long Beach his home. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in Earth System Science. During the majority of his UCI career, he served 3 years in TEDxUCIrvine, a student-led TEDx chapter, and became Executive Producer in his 4th year. His additional involvement with UCI’s Office of Inclusive Excellence and racial healing initiatives paved the way for allowing him to see the intersection between environmental issues and underrepresented communities. Also an avid surfer, he saw one too many marine debris during his sessions and decided to devote his career on education and empowerment.

Little known facts: Mina is a stand-up comedy enthusiast and loves to make people laugh. He takes his jokes very seriously and also writes satirical pieces in his free time.