Since the earliest days of the East Bay Regional Park District, women have been a contributing force to its creation and success. Learn more about the women (listed below in alphabetical order by last name) who have played an important role in our history of protecting open space and connecting people with nature in the East Bay.
Mary Lee Jefferds, Board Director 1972-1991
Mary Lee Jefferds, who served on the Park District Board of Directors for 18 years (1972-1991), was the first woman to run her own election to the board and the first woman to serve as board president, doing so for four terms. Quoted as saying “land is like time; when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Mary Lee strongly led the Park District in prioritizing the conservation of natural resources through parklands and making them accessible to all people. In her lifelong career as an environmental education and preservation champion, she was involved in many organizations, including work with the national and local Audubon Society chapters. She was frequently recognized for her achievements in environmental preservation, affirmative action, master planning, and land acquisition
Sabrina B. Landreth, General Manager
Sabrina B. Landreth was appointed General Manager by the Board of Directors on March 2, 2021. Sabrina is the first female general manager appointed in the Park District’s history. She was selected for her impressive record of public service, fiscal responsibility, and experience in state and local governments. As a fifth generation East Bay native, Sabrina has deep ties to the Park District’s local communities. She holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from U.C. Berkeley and bachelor of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Sabrina has pledged that, as general manager, she will build upon the great work the Park District has done to improve the quality of life for our East Bay community, while adhering to its social and environmental responsibilities.
Georgette Morton, EBRPD Office Administrator
In 1931, Georgette Morton joined the campaign for the vote to establish an East Bay Regional Park District. Knowing her way around an office, her stellar clerical work landed her one of the first jobs at the Park District in 1934. Georgette was the sole office administrator for the Park District in its early founding years and worked at the main office that was located at Temescal Regional Recreation Area’s historic Beach House.
Traci Parent, Supervising Naturalist
Traci retired in 2008, and celebrated 35 years of working at EBRPD, many of the years were at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. In her role as Supervising Naturalist, Traci was instrumental in transforming Black Diamond into a historic parkland, including the establishment of the first EBRPD archives repository and the historic restoration of the Rose Hill Cemetery. In 2011, Traci authored an invaluable book called “Rose Hill: A Comprehensive History of a Pioneer Cemetery” for descendants of the park’s former towns of Stewartville and Nortonville, and the families who lived there.
Aurelia Reinhardt, Board Director 1934-1945
Among the many prominent leaders, both men and women, few compared to the stature of Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, President of Oakland’s Mills College from 1916 to 1943. Her clear vision and indomitable advocacy led to the founding of a Regional Park District in the East Bay. Serving on the first EBRPD Board, Dr. Reinhardt was recognized by her fellow Board members as “a valuable aid…that extended in the acquisition and development of the East Bay Regional Park District.” In addition to her inspirational lectures on social welfare, women’s rights, and international peace relations, she also avidly encouraged young women to pursue higher education She was equally passionate in protecting natural spaces for “the betterment of the human soul”. In 2019, the Redwood Regional Park was renamed in honor of Dr. Reinhardt. » Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
Photo credit: Special Collections, F.W. Olin Library, Mills College
Carol Severin, Board Director 1994-2017
In receipt of the prestigious American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration Pugsley Award, Carol Severin was recognized as “one of the most inspirational and visionary benefactors of Parks and Recreation in the State of California.” Having a wide and successful career in parks and recreation, Board Director Severin led the Park District into establishing a full-service recreation department that has enriched the lives of the East Bay communities, including children and families, seniors, and disabled individuals. She was a promoter of being active and having healthy activities in the Regional Parks for all abilities – and instigated a public information campaign on “short loop” trails in the parks. The Jordan Pond Trail in Garin Regional Park was re-named the Carol Severin Short Loop Trail in her honor in 2018. Photo credit: Rubiolo Photography
Jean Siri, Board Director 1992-2006
An environmentalist and civic leader, Jean Siri achieved a long and varied career in public advocacy. She was instrumental in her support for the founding of Save the San Francisco Bay. On the EBRPD Board, she was known for her sense of humor and forceful, yet effective, approach to issues. A strong advocate of the underserved communities, she championed access for all to the parks. Jean Siri was a driving force behind the development of two regional shoreline parks at Point Pinole and Point Isabel.
Aileen Theile, Fire Chief
Chief Theile began her career at the Park District as a park ranger and joined the Fire Department in 1995 as an Industrial Firefighter. She was promoted to Fire Captain in 2012, and in 2018 she was the first woman to become Fire Chief at the Park District. She works alongside male firefighters as well as several female firefighters who have long worked in fuels management and fighting fires. During the 1991 Oakland Firestorm, Anne Scheer, Anne Rockwell, Annie Kenny, Britt Thorsnes and Bea Soria, as well as Park Supervisor Frances Heath - all longtime Park District employees - fought alongside their male counterparts with equal dedication, courage, and heroic urgency.
Nancy Wenninger, Land Acquisition Manager and AGM
As Land Acquisition Manager, beginning in 2000, Nancy Wenninger played a vital role in record acreage growth District-wide. She oversaw many large land acquisitions that equaled more than 21,500 acres, including Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, Vasco Hills and Byron Vernal Pools. During her tenure, Nancy brought the Park District into the East Contra Costa Habitat Conservancy Plan, resulting in 7,800 acres of open space preserved forever. In 2010, Nancy was promoted to Assistant General Manager of Land Acquisition. She retired in 2012.