Staff and Board of Directors

Dave Matthews
Executive Director
Dave Matthews began working in the parks and recreation field in 1985, serving with the National Park Service for four seasons and worked as a ranger, supervisor and superintendent for the California State Parks for 27 years. Graduated from California State University, Chico with a BA in Recreation Administration, Parks and Resource Management.

Retiring in 2014 moved to Grass Valley and began working at the Placer Nature Center in January 2017.

Linda Chaiko-Lepley                                                                                                         Staff Naturalist                                                                                                             Linda has extensive experience working with children and adults of all ages having taught at the elementary, middle school, high school and community college level.  The outdoors has always been a major part of Linda’s life and is also one of the major reasons that she and her husband moved to Penn Valley from the S.F. Bay Area in 2015, so that they could be in the country, closer to nature, and enjoy the many outdoor activities offered in the area.  The move also allowed Linda the chance to work at the Placer Nature Center, an opportunity for which she is most appreciative because it allows her to combine her love of the outdoors with her love of teaching

Barbara Leak
Barbara is an experienced and outstanding bookkeeper who works with the Foothills Farmers Market and other clients. She brings her positive attitude and team spirit as well as her efficiency and attention to detail to her role as bookkeeper for Placer Nature Center.


                   2017 Placer Nature Center                 Board of Directors

 Richard Huntley, Board member since 2014 (President beginning 2015)                                                                                                                       Affiliations:  Richard is retired from Pacific Telephone and a former US Navy man. He currently resides in Auburn, CA where he has dedicated his time to give back to the community. He currently sits on the Board of Telephone Pioneers, Auburn Garden Club, and Clown Alley of Sacramento. He is also a Master Gardener with Placer County Master Gardeners where he is the current composting co-chair. His hobbies include: gardening, teaching, traveling, and repairing “Talking Books for the Blind”. He joined the Board to help facilitate connections with the local community.

Neeshant Desai, Board member since 2010 (Secretary beginning 2014)                                                                                                                 Affiliations:  Neeshant is a software engineer for Hewlett Packard in Roseville, CA.  He has a special interest in the outdoors being an avid fisherman but also on the Placer Nature Center because he has watched it grow into the community resource that it is since his youth.  He has interest in its continued growth and reach into the community.

Linda Desai, Board Member since August 2016, (Treasurer beginning March 2017)                                                                          Affiliations:  Linda is an instructor at Sierra College and the former Education Director of the Placer Nature Center and one of its founding members.

Josena Allieo, Board Member since 2016.                                  Affiliations: Josena is an instructor with Early Head Start program and was the staff naturalist for the Placer Nature Center over eight years. She has studied the natural sciences for many years and works to blend her love of the outdoors in her lesson plans in hopes of growing more earth stewards.

 Mary Weeks Board Member since Nov. 2017                                        Affiliations: Mary has worked in education for the past 35 years beginning at the pre-school level to high school. She retired in 2014 after working for 15 years as a high school secretary for Placer Union High School District. Mary began volunteering at the Placer Nature Center in September 2014.  Mary enjoys learning from the students encountered while visiting the PNC. Beside the PNC Mary volunteers for various organizations including Project Linus. Mary enjoys sewing, work on crafts and gardening.


Providing Environmental Education since 1991