Board of Directors

Rona Zollinger, Ph.D. (President)

Rona Zollinger, NLC’s co-founding board member and Empowering Educators Program Manager, finds inspiration in the process of imagining and designing educational environments that nurture connections between teachers, students, communities and the earth.  As part of New Leaf Collaborative, she hopes to inspire communities to work together toward a more sustainable and joyful future. (



Wendy Ke

I’ve always preferred being outdoors to indoors, where I feel most at “OM.” Connecting with nature is an essential part of my day that inspires and rejuvenates me and creates balance in my life. As a result, I’ve sought work and volunteer paths related to the natural environment including: working for local governments overseeing municipal environmental programs; guiding public and school naturalist programs as a National Park Service Ranger; leading active travel vacations internationally for Backroads; and volunteering in my daughter’s schools with hands on, science based programs/activities. During the time I devote to NLC’s experiential learning programs, I hope to instill in others a passion, curiosity, respect and appreciation for the natural world, as well as a desire to preserve and protect it. (

Alestra Menendez

Alestra Menendez grew up in Martinez and graduated from Alhambra High School in 1991. Alestra is a veteran teacher and has taught elementary school in Martinez, San Francisco, Hawaii, and Brazil. Alestra also teaches college English at UC Berkeley and San Quentin prison. In 2013, Alestra joined UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science to develop elementary and middle school science units for Amplify Science. Currently, Alestra supports professional learning nationwide in science and English and Spanish Language Arts. She serves on the board of New Leaf Collaborative, the Bay Area Girls Club, and the Center for Critical, Environmental, and Global Literacy. Alestra believes that providing an education grounded in ecological literacy will build a better future for all. (


Tom Murray

Tom Murray is a retired Chicago Fire Department paramedic and a second career retired Alhambra High School English teacher. Having participated in the introduction of technology into the classroom during his tenure and observing its impact on student learning, Tom sees the New Leaf Collaborative as the cutting edge of innovative and transformative strategies designed to meet the needs and challenges students are facing in the 21st century. Tom participated in the Empowering Educators Program, and he is excited to be part of a team with a global vision. Tom believes that humanity is about to make an evolutionary jump and that the New Leaf Collaborative can impact the paths our students will take, ensuring humanity’s survival. (

Jeanne Jones


Kelli Coffman


Ellen Concepcion – Executive Director

Ellen is the co-founder and Executive Director of New Leaf Collaborative and oversees the Community Science Workshop Program, she also teaches 8th grade science at Carquinez Middle School. Through New Leaf Collaborative’s programs, Ellen hopes to inspire youth to learn, act and think creatively, confidently and responsibly and to introduce them to career options that lead to sustainable prosperity.  (


Mary Peeff – Secretary (