The Dunes Center Board of Directors


2018 Board Members

Karen Evangelista, President

Karen Evangelista has been a member of the Dunes Center’s Board of Directors since 2015 and was appointed to Board President in 2017. Karen was born in Guadalupe to Joe and Margie Talaugon and has worked closely with the community for many years as the Executive Director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts and Education Center. She is proud to be a part of the Dunes Center and its exciting projects aimed at promoting the conservation of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex. Aside from volunteering to make a difference in the community, Karen enjoys spending time with her family here on the Central Coast.

Courtney Cox, Vice President

Courtney Cox became involved with the Dunes Center in 2017 and was appointed as the Board Vice President in 2018. Courtney was born in Tennessee and moved to the Santa Maria Valley in 2012 to work as a biologist for a local agricultural company. Courtney enjoys volunteering in the community and enjoys working with the Dunes Center to promote its mission.

Alyssa Berry, Treasurer

Alyssa Berry became involved with the Dunes Center in 2012 while collaborating on a research study to analyze the efficacy of landscape control methods for veldt grass.  She works as a biologist for the environmental engineering company, Padre Associates. One of her primary projects has been to restore coastal dunes and wetlands at the former Guadalupe Oil Field.  She enjoys volunteering with the Dunes Center to promote community exposure to and appreciation of the unique local dune system.

Brian Tetley, Secretary

Brian Tetley joined the Board in 2015. Brian is a senior land use planner with Urban Planning Concepts in Santa Maria. Brian has over 20 years of local agency experience addressing the unique land use issues of the Central Coast. Brian has substantial experience managing and/or preparing environmental review documents including Environmental Impact Reports. Brian holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Studies/Policy and Planning from Cal State Fullerton.

Jennifer Harrison

Jennifer Harrison is a current resident of Guadalupe and has spent most of her life in the Nipomo and Santa Maria Valley areas. Jennifer has been part of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce team since February, 2006. In her current role, she leads the Chamber’s Visitors Bureau activities, including tourism and group marketing programs for the community. Jennifer is responsible for establishing and promoting the Santa Maria Valley as a premier destination for leisure, recreation, and group events. Jennifer is also responsible for supporting group tour operators, meeting planners, and special event coordinators in ensuring their visits to the Santa Maria Valley are successful. She also helps direct the Santa Maria Valley Tourism Marketing District.

Donna Polizzi

Donna Polizzi is the founder of a media company that is promoted in travel and lifestyle columns throughout California. She has over 18 years of marketing; and media relations experience having worked with a diversity of individuals, businesses and organizations from a variety of established and emerging industries including real estate, nonprofit, technology, automotive, energy, and banking. When not traveling the world as an ambassador of the best places to wine, dine, and explore, Donna can be found home playing with her three Rottweilers; Onya; Snoopy; and Annie.

Rene Zavala



Advisors to the Board

Frances Romero

Frances is a Director with Forma Design, a planning and landscape architecture firm based in Costa Mesa.  Frances is the Team Leader for their Central Coast operations and provides planning and project management for a wide variety of projects throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.  Frances is on the SBCAG Board.   A graduate of the University of Redlands, Frances has lived in Guadalupe since 1997 and has been involved in the community as a Recreation Commissioner (1997), Interim City Clerk (1998), Fifth District Park Commissioner for Santa Barbara County (1999-2005), Dunes Center Steering Committee (2002-2004), Chair of the Guadalupe Planning Commission (2007-2009), and the Dunes Center Board of Directors since January 2010.

Christina Bird-Holenda

Christina moved to Nipomo in 1999 from Atlanta where she retired from a 30 year career in the Trust and Investment business with Sun Trust Banks. She was quite active in the Boards of several arts and native plant organizations in North Carolina and Atlanta and has pursued a lesser role in the same type of activities here in the Central Coast.