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EPIC Changes Ahead

EPIC things are in store for us in 2017. (Pun intended.) This year EPIC celebrates its 40th anniversary—and as with any mark of a new era, big changes are to come! All year long we will be celebrating our work to protect and restore North Coast forests and waters, and connect more people with nature by highlighting our successes and how they inspire us as we plan for the future.

At the end of February, we will say goodbye to Natalynne DeLapp-Hinton, EPIC’s Executive Director since 2014. We are pleased to introduce a new face, Briana Villalobos as the Director of Communications and Development, and welcome current Program Director Tom Wheeler J.D. as EPIC’s new Executive Director.

While Natalynne will be leaving us this year, her impact on the community and all things EPIC will stay with us. During her time as the Executive Director, Natalynne built upon EPIC’s strong brand as California’s North Coast forest protection organization, all while centralizing EPIC’S strengths as an operationally and strategically focused powerhouse. Her unconventional and bold strategies have introduced a collaborative and principled standard of communication that sought to build bridges and work within the community to find pragmatic yet idealistic solutions.

Natalynne worked her way up from the bottom, starting first with EPIC as a volunteer in 2008, then upon graduation from Humboldt State University in 2009, she was hired as a Policy Advocate traveling to and from Board of Forestry meetings in Sacramento. In 2011 she took on the role of Development Director, and in 2014 moved into Executive Director. Throughout her career at EPIC, Natalynne’s work held true to EPIC’s vision: maintaining healthy, connected forest ecosystems with sustainable and regenerative forest management practices. Among the work Natalynne will be remembered for, Natalynne built bridges will unconventional partners and long-time “adversaries,” recognizing that we can go further together. She worked with cannabis advocacy groups, other environmental organizations, and community leaders and elected officials in the growing industry throughout the development of the Humboldt Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance. After Humboldt’s ordinance passed, Natalynne developed organized the 2016 Cannabis Farmer’s Compliance Workshop series and the Farmer’s Compliance Handbook.

From everyone on the staff and Board of Directors, we wish Natalynne happy trails.

To take Natalynne’s place, Tom Wheeler is moving up to Executive Director.

Since Tom joined EPIC in 2014, he has brought a keen legal eye to EPIC’s work. Tom graduated from the University of Washington School of Law with a concentration in Environmental Law. Tom was President of the Environmental Law Society, served as Articles Editor of the Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, and defended old-growth and endangered species at the Washington Forest Law Center. Tom was drawn to EPIC for its predominant “history of fighting and winning the fights no one thought possible.” Tom is excited to continue to bring his legal skills to work on protecting our wild places.

Briana Villalobos officially joined the EPIC staff in January as the Director of Communications and Development. So if you see a new face around, let Briana know you are excited about her joining the team!  Briana is responsible for energizing and engaging with the EPIC community. Her role is to work collaboratively with members and volunteers to organize events and provide resources and materials for membership development and enhancement.

Briana attended Humboldt State University where she earned her degree in sociology with an emphasis on human ecology. Her passion for environmental and social justice is exemplified by her time and research dedicated throughout her undergrad career, and as an intern for EPIC. She is fresh out of academia and is excited to further ignite her burning love for social activism and the environment.

We are pleased to enter this celebratory year with new faces, and exciting changes! However, as we carry on forward we must first acknowledge the tall tasks ahead of us. From climate change to the Trump administration, our North Coast ecosystems have never needed a vigorous advocate more than now. This year we will be on high alert, and continue to advocate for the sustainable management of public forests. The faces of EPIC are changing, but our heart remains the same. We have an exceptional staff of experts and support from a community of people who dare to think the world can be a better place. Together, we are powerful and together we will ensure California remains wild.


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