About

Our Staff

Meet the team

Marcos Trinidad, Audubon Center at Debs Park Center Director

Marcos has been at the Audubon Center at Debs Park for nearly two years, and during that time has nurtured a growing community of volunteers, youth, and community organizations; implemented a facility and grounds improvement plan; and partnered with the National Parks Service to establish the only native plant nursery in northeast Los Angeles.

Born and raised in Northeast LA, Marcos has deep roots in the community. Prior to coming to Debs, he served as Director of Audubon Youth Environmental Stewards (a program of the Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society), where he engaged and inspired community members to connect to nature and their community through restoration and volunteer science projects. He has also spent time as a Biology Technician for the U.S. Forest Service and an Urban Forester for organizations such as Northeast Trees and TreePeople. Marcos’ formal education is in geology and anthropology.

Marcos is an avid birder, and frequently he leads trips to the LA River, Owens Lake, and the Salton Sea. He lives in Eagle Rock with his wife and two children.

Estefania Palacio, Communications and Development Associate

A newcomer to Los Angeles, Estefania fell in love with the Audubon Center at Debs Park as soon as she saw it, quickly fostered a growing interest in urban environmental justice movements and issues around park accessibility. While she grew up in cities, Estefania’s fondest memories include rescuing small animals and going on hikes at Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens and Georgia’s Amicalola Falls with her dad and younger brother. 

Having served as a temp in 2017, Estefania is happy to return to the Audubon Center at Debs Park as the Communications & Development Associate.  Her responsibilities include updating our newsletter with cool and exciting updates, working with local partners, and the Center’s social media.  She’s also the point of contact for room reservations and operations questions about the Center.

Working at the front office of the Center, Estefania is lucky to spend her free time playing with our snakes Fluffy and Rex, as well as catching great views of our native bird species.  She invites you to stop by, say hello, and watch the snakes swim in our pond (it’s awesome)!

Lauren Hill, Volunteer Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA

Though new in her position as Volunteer Coordinator at Debs Park, Lauren is no stranger to the Audubon Center. A volunteer since early 2016, Lauren has been deeply involved in habitat restoration projects, the redevelopment of environmental youth education programs, and building partnerships for projects like the Debs Park raptor survey and MAPS bird banding station.

In her position as the Volunteer Coordinator, she will be serving through the AmeriCorps VISTA program- a program designed to alleviate poverty through volunteer mobilization and capacity building with community-driven organizations. She plans to continue to provide the local neighborhood with environmental literacy opportunities by redeveloping volunteer-led nature education and training programs.

Lauren is originally from New England, spending most of her early life in both Maine and New Hampshire. Growing up in wild spaces gave her an innate appreciation and respect for the outdoors that eventually led to an avid curiosity of birds. Currently, she is carving out a path for herself in the conservation field as a volunteer field biologist and community naturalist, contributing to various bird surveys and banding research. In her spare time you can catch her birding and backpacking all over the place! Lauren is excited to be fighting for bird conservation at a community level, and helping the Audubon Center at Debs Park grow and reconnect its neighborhood with its urban wild spaces.

Lauren invites you to stop by to nerd out and bird out! 

Cindy Castaneda, Conservation Program Coordinator

Cindy’s passion to identify and provide protection for species and their habitat led her to pursue a master’s degree in Biology at California State University of Los Angeles (CSULA).   As a graduate student she studied the relationship between gene flow and landscape variables in amphibian species of special concern in coast redwood forest. 

As a former Ecology Teaching Associate at CSULA, she explored the interaction of organisms with their environment at the individual, population, and ecosystem scales.   

In the past couple years, Cindy’s fervor for conservation made her a dedicated volunteer on restoration projects at the Audubon Center. 

Her devotion to conservation continues as the newest addition to the Audubon Center at Debs Park Team in her role as Conservation Program Coordinator.  She hopes to use her skills and knowledge to help the wilderness areas of Debs Park continue to provide an invaluable outdoor recreational opportunity for the community and habitat for native species. 

 

Natasha Khanna, Field Organizer

Natasha is Audubon California’s new field organizer for Southern California. While she will be serving as the liaison to Southern California chapters, Natasha will be helping to build local advocacy on a variety of issues, with climate at the top of the list.
 
In the past, Natasha has volunteered here in the Los Nogales nursery and interned with the Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society’s YES program. She comes to us from the Special Service for Groups Alliance, where she served as case manager, connecting clients to mental health services. She was also a program coordinator and outreach consultant for the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council in Los Angeles. In her free time, Natasha likes to play soccer and practice yoga and mindfulness.  

 

Plus our partner organization staff members

 

Justin Yee, Urban Waters Ambassador and Nursery Co-Manager

Justin began working for the National Park Service in 2014 conducting vegetation monitoring and invasive plant removal in the Santa Monica Mountains. In 2015, Justin began re-activating Los Nogales Nursery with the help of NPS and Audubon staff, growing several thousand plants, training volunteers, and transforming degraded parkland into native habitat. Through his work at the NPS, Justin hopes to cultivate public appreciation for our natural landscapes as well as LA’s urban ecology. 

Currently, Justin coordinates the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a coalition of federal agencies, state and municipal agencies, NGO’s, and community organizations whose common goal is to revitalize and restore the Los Angeles River. Justin’s ‘enabling’ role is to connect needs, resources, and partnerships to the group of 40+ stakeholder institutions. 

 

How you can help, right now