Our Team

Meet the staff & board of directors

Park Staff

Executive Director

Martin Lowenstein

As the first executive director of Friends of China Camp, Martin has successfully raised the profile and grown community involvement and commitment to the park. Prior to joining the organization, Martin had been consulting with nonprofits, sharing his expertise in resource development and governance.

Martin also volunteers on the board of trustees for Brandeis Marin, a K-8 private school. From 2010 to 2013, Martin was board chair of the Jerusalem American International School, where he oversaw a doubling of enrollment (from 65 to 149 students), as well as significantly increasing the size of the facility.

Martin received his MBA from Georgetown University and his BS in Civil Engineering from Tufts University. He and his wife, Inbar, have three children: Tamara, Ben, and Maya. In his spare time, Martin enjoys running at China Camp, reading spy novels and spiritual books, going to farmers’ markets with Inbar, and making his children laugh.

Program Director

Sheila Coll

As China Camp’s first Program Director, Sheila takes great pride in managing the park’s programming and events. She also coordinates the park’s enthusiastic team of volunteers and supports park operations and visitor services. Sheila has been working with California State Parks since 2007, and during that time her work has focused on expanding park accessibility among local underserved youth and families within the Bay Area. Sheila holds two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in Environmental Studies and Art. Sheila has a special place in her heart for the wilderness and in her spare time, she likes to paint, play her ukulele, and go for long hikes along the coast.

Park Manager Ian Nelson by Harriot Manley
Park Manager

Ian Nelson

Ian is thrilled to be the first park manager hired by Friends of China Camp. Having worked at AutoDesk for 13 years, Ian brings a skill set that includes process and systems improvement and effective resource management. Ian has been busy putting these skills to good use, implementing helpful changes in how campers buy firewood, overseeing an extensive website refresh, and simplifying the steps for renewing China Camp’s annual passes.

“My intention is for FOCC to continually step up its game,” notes Ian, who will continue to focus on streamlining our operational processes. When he’s not making the park run more efficiently, he’s busy running around in his silver truck, taking care of fallen trees, rehabbing trails, weed-whipping picnic areas, and doing whatever else comes up. In his spare time, Ian helps coordinate his son Max’s Little League series, and enjoys visiting his rustic cabin in the Gold Country town of Arnold.

Board of Directors

Board Chair

Arlin Weinberger

Arlin grew up in San Francisco and moved to Marin in 2004. She served on the board of Friends of Mt Tam for nine years, with six pf those years as president, ushering in the new name and membership changes. She also served on the board of Tamalpais Conservation Club for eight years, producing its newsletter. She is now in her tenth year as chair of the California Alpine Club Foundation. Arlin has also served on the board of Marin Conservation League since 2015 and is a member of MCL’s Parks and Open Space Committee. Recently, she has become a community “ambassador” for One Tam.

Arlin has been hiking in Marin for over 25 years with her weekly Wednesday group. She is a strong supporter of China Camp State Park, because “I love this park–full of trails, birds, wildflowers, even a beach. I’m so lucky to live close by.” Her professional background is in corporate communications.

Vice Chair

Steve Deering

Steve retired from the Federal government after 35 years of service. He held executive positions with several agencies, including that of Chief Operating Officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regional office in San Francisco. He was also a senior program director for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ San Francisco office. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in political science from Seattle University and a J.D. from the University of California, Davis, he holds a Masters degree in Asian Studies from the Dominican University of California.  Steve and his wife Sheila are longtime residents of San Rafael and love traveling and spending time with their four grandchildren.

Treasurer

Ed Lai

Ed is a retired Industrial Engineer with experience in both the commercial and defense industries. He also serves on the board of the Marin Chinese Cultural Association. He is an active volunteer at the Marin Mammal Center where he helps care for seals and sea lions. He has B.S. and M.S degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese which helps in his docent tours with Chinese visitors.  Ed and his wife, Janet, moved from Los Angeles to Marin in 2008 and are fascinated by the rich cultural history and natural beauty of China Camp.

Joyce Abrams with tools on a volunteer workday by Harriot Manley
Director

Joyce Abrams

Joyce retired in 2010 after a career in intensive care and emergency nursing, followed by a career in medical software development.  She has a BSN from Columbia University, and a BS in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley.  She has volunteered for research projects in Australia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Spain, France, Mexico, Thailand, and Costa Rica, studying everything from spotted hyenas to Burgundian prisons.  When Friends of China camp began operating the park, Joyce became involved organizing volunteer teams building and maintaining trails, and later as a board member.  A longtime San Rafael resident, she enjoys birding, hiking, and travel.

Director

John Muir

John has an MA in Cultural Resources Management from Sonoma State University, and was a Board Member of the Museum Small Craft Association for 16 years. He has worked for the National Park Service for 25 years at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, where he is the Curator of Small Craft. John restores, maintains, and interprets the park’s collection of historic boats, and also researches, designs, builds, and sails replicas of extinct historic Bay Area watercraft.

John designed and built the Grace Quan, China Camp’s flagship replica shrimping junk, which now resides at the maritime museum. John also leads a group of expert volunteers who maintain China Camp’s historic village and pier.

FOCC board member Ed Westbrook headshot
Director

Ed Westbrook

Ed is an entrepreneur whose career has ranged from training the Hamm’s Beer bear and Hartford Insurance elk, to creating stonework for Alcatraz. Ed has over 33 years in the construction industry under his belt, including landscape design, stone design, and stone detailing. He has collaborated with the architect Lawrence Halprin on the Agave Trail at Alcatraz Island, a permanent amphitheater for Stern Grove’s summer concert series, and the restoration of Yosemite’s Lower Falls.

For more than two decades, Ed has traveled extensively in China to develop profitable stone quarries in small, underdeveloped villages in the Shandong Province, and to reclaim antique stone in the Yangtze River Valley. Ed is now using his construction expertise as a FOCC volunteer, working with the California Conservation Corps as well as our own volunteers, overseeing China Camp’s trail improvement projects. On his rare days off, he can be found on his mountain bike, somewhere on the park’s 15 miles of trails.

Director

Helen Sitchler

Helen moved to San Anselmo at the age of one year, attended local schools and graduated from Dominican University.  She worked at the Emporium/Capwell Department store and Macy’s at Northgate San Rafael while her children were in school.  She was active in Girls Scouts of America on the Heritage Committee, and held positions of troop leader and national delegate. She began to volunteer in China Camp museum in 1996, and became Head Docent in 2005.  She was Board Secretary from 1998 until 2015.  She remains an active board member and chair of our annual Heritage Day event.

Director

Jason Lau

Jason traveled from Hong Kong to the United States to be the first member of his family to receive a college education. Currently, he serves as Executive Director for the School of Extended and International Education at Sonoma State University (SSU). Prior to SSU, he served as Director of Community Education, Lifelong Learning and International Education at College of Marin (COM). While at COM, he successfully developed and offered a new history course called the “China Camp State Park: A Unique Cultural and Natural Resource” in partnership with FOCC. Dr. Lau holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy & Leadership Studies from The University of Iowa. He is also a Certified Park & Recreational Professional. He received his BA and MA in Leisure, Youth and Human Services Administration from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). In 2011, the UNI Alumni Association honored him with the prestigious Heritage Honours Young Alumnus Award. In 2016, he was inducted into the UNI’s Elinor A. Crawford & William R. Thrall Hall of Excellence.

Secretary

Andy Kives

Andy retired in 2009 from a 35-year career in emergency medicine and medical administration. He grew up in Michigan, received his MD at the University of Michigan, and served as a medical officer in the Navy for three years in the SF Bay Area. He practiced at the trauma center at Muir Medical Center, as assistant director of the emergency department and as Medical Advisor for California Shock Trauma Air Rescue. He served on the executive compensation and pension committees for CEP America Medical Group, and as board member and president of Muir Medical Group IPA. He has served on the board of the Marin AIDS Project, as a tutor in the AVID program at San Rafael High School, and as a board member of the San Rafael High School Scholarship Foundation. He enjoys hiking, birding, music, art, and travel.

Emeritus and In Memoriam

Director Emeritus

Ernie Stanton

Even before he joined the board in October 2011, Ernie was already making a difference: Earlier that spring, he volunteered to help set up an outreach table by the campground kiosk to promote membership in Friends of China Camp. Once on the board, Ernie learned that FOCC needed a new treasurer, and he recalls that he “eventually raised my hand because it was pretty clear no one else wanted to do it.”

As treasurer, Ernie did everything—collected cash, created an accounting system, and set up a membership database. At first, there were only about 30 names on our database spreadsheet. But after a couple of kiosk outreach tables that fall, Ernie remembers being “completely psyched” to announce that FOCC had more than 100 members. (That number now stands at nearly 4,000.)

Ernie remained treasurer until Ed Lai took over in late 2017. Ernie has been a long-time visitor of the Village beach and has supported the operations of the China Camp Village cafe since the passing of the former owner, Frank Quan, in 2016.

In his FOCC board “retirement,” Ernie continues to manage the China Camp Village Cafe, selling beverages and snacks at the cafe on weekends to park visitors. That is, after he finishes his trail run and a swim in the bay.

Director Emeritus

Yvonne Brown

Yvonne joined China Camp as a Historical Docent in 1995 and subsequently served for 3 years as a Board member, involved in fundraising and political work.  She took delight in being a part of the process of gathering support that resulted in saving the Park from closing.

Yvonne has always liked to work with children and families and teach art; both interests were put to work at China Camp and Terra Linda Nursery School. She earned an MA from Sonoma State University in June of 1980. Yvonne owned and directed Terra Linda  Nursery School and Day Care for twenty-two years until 2000. For the last 15 years. Yvonne has substituted at the Jewish Community Center in San Rafael as a pre-school teacher, and is currently the Director of an Art Class at the San Rafael Recreation Center. She was President of Marin Society of Artists in 2013. She now specializes in watercolor painting, especially “plein-air”-style landscapes, and is a member of the Marin County Watercolor Society.

Yvonne and her husband Bud made their home in Peacock Gap for 55 years, raising 3 daughters.  They have seen many changes take place from 1963 to the present time.

Director- In Memoriam

Frank Quan (1925-2016)

Frank was a shrimp fisherman and life-long resident of China Camp Village, a tenure interrupted only by his service in the US Navy during WWII. He saw the Village transition from a thriving fishing operation to a state park. He was the chief ambassador for China Camp State Park and specialist on its cultural and marine history, and was a board member of the Marin State Parks Association.

As a board member of Friends of China Camp, Frank kept us all aware of the natural and cultural treasure we are working to protect, and the community we serve.

Director- In Memoriam

Carl Holmes (1935-2018)

Carl graduated from SF State with a degree in marketing. He worked for McCormick Spice Company at the corporate offices in Baltimore, Md. as Regional Sales Manager.  After returning to the bay area he worked for a steamship company in San Francisco.  Upon retirement, he joined Friends of China Camp and was its board president for many years. Carl loved being a docent and was active in our cultural history program since it began in 1996/7. He shared the history with visitors and he particularly enjoyed children and school
tours.

ADVISORY: San Pedro Road will be closed from Main Drive to the Back Ranch Meadows kiosk on October 30 & 31 from 7:30am to 1pm due to the Marin County Triathalon and 1/2 Marathon. The north entrance of the park and Back Ranch Meadows kiosk and campground will remain open. Check our events calendar for more information.