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 and has two big white golden retrievers. He was the founder of TUVA, (United Lands of Neighbors for the Environment) and acted as its Executive Director for 11 years, until 2001.  TUVA was a non profit organization that helped saving 1 million trees in the rainforests around Corcovado National Park, working with a coalition of local residents, land owners, loggers gold miners and a network of over 50 local, regional and international organizations.  According to National Geographic, Corcovado National Park 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 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.

Natalie Escue

Urban Forestry Program Consultant

Natalie graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a degree in Forestry and Natural Resources and spends much of her time in nature. She previously worked for the Lawrence Hall of Science teaching environmental science and justice. She has also worked in outdoor education and utility vegetation management. As time has passed, she has become increasingly concerned about climate change and the state of our environment and is passionate about securing the earth as a place where humans and all animals can live healthy and sustainable lives. Born and raised in the East Bay, Natalie is excited to get to work in and with her community. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and spending time with her two dogs.

Little Known Fact: Natalie is an enthusiastic crafter and most recently took up wood carving and forest craft. She creates an assortment of projects ranging from wooden spoons and chopsticks to pine needle baskets.  



Emma Gjullin


 Emma moved to the East Bay from New Mexico, and is enjoying California’s renowned natural beauty. She studied Mathematics at Lewis & Clark College, and developed her enthusiasm for environmental education while working in humane education. Emma is thrilled to be collaborating with young people to tackle environmental issues as member of Earth Team.

Little known fact: Emma is a voracious reader. She enjoys a large selection of genres: fiction, science, ethics, social science and reform, agribusiness, health, global studies, graphic novels, anthologies, fantasy… the list goes on. A couple of her favorites are Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka and The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar.

Manuel A. Smythe

Logistics Coordinator

Manuel joined Earth Team in 2017 as Logistics Coordinator.  He is in charge of coordinating student transportation to all our outdoor weekly and weekend events.  He also makes sure that all supplies and tools are always prepared for these events.  He provides tech support to Earth Team staff and maintains the network and information systems.  He also does our video editing.

Manuel is part of the Bay Area Green Corps, helping The Watershed Project with local green infrastrcuture projects.  Before joining Earth Team he was running his own business, and prior to that he worked with Dobl, a software technology company and with La Peña Cultural Center as an assistant to Oscar Autie (Warm Audio), a top sound engineer and Latin Grammy winner.

Little known facts:  Manuel is an avid reader since he was very young.  He is also an excellent car mechanic and makes the best grilled burgers.

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.

Devin Cormia

Program Consultant

Devin graduated in 2012 from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Community Studies, focusing on social movements in the agricultural & food systems. e has been an environmental educator working in Santa Cruz, Portland, Point Reyes, the SF Bay Area, and now in Grass Valley, CA.  He has worked as an EarthTeam Campus Coordinator for two school years leading after-school internships with American High School, Alameda High School, Helms Middle School, Pinole Valley High School and Skyline High School. As a Program Consultant for Earthteam, Devin will be advising the Executive Director and the program, staff to ensure the highest quality programs are designed and implemented for our students.  He also will maintain regular contact with program partners as needed.

Little Known FactLittle known fact: In his free time Devin can be found exploring his local watersheds by foot, bicycle, ski, snowshoe, kayak & canoe.

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.