Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Heal the Bay to get a new president? Mark Gold stepping down

Mark Gold (in navy windbreaker at far right) got Dodgers to clean up beaches.
Mark Gold (in navy windbreaker at far right) got Dodgers to clean up beaches.
Tara Crow/Heal the Bay

Woah. Mark Gold was Heal the Bay’s first employee in the late 19-eighties, a staff scientist who went on to take an engineering doctorate from UCLA. He became executive director for 12 years, then president of the group for more than 5. Under his leadership, Heal the Bay has acted as an aggressive watchdog at regulatory hearings, pushing for lower impact coastal development, limits on how coastal power plants can use sea water, and improved water quality in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers watersheds. Gold has lobbied lawmakers aggressively too, criticizing legislators recently for failing to pass a statewide plastic bag ban. Gold will now run a coastal center at UCLA’s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability. Heal the Bay’s executive director Karen Hall and assistant director Alix Hobbs will run the place while the group’s board of directors considers the next president. 

[CORRECTION, 12:03: HtB spokesman Matt King says they might not get a new president. Stay tuned. Bottom line, Hall & Hobbs are running the place.]

Here's some of the release: 

“Everyone who lives in or visits Southern California has benefited from Mark Gold’s tireless efforts to keep our waters safe and clean,” said Matt Hart, chairman of Heal the Bay’s board of directors.  “He has also built a great organization of smart, dedicated professionals that will sustain the legacy he and Dorothy Green started over 25 years ago.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors, our Board of Governors and the thousands of Heal the Bay volunteers, I want to thank Mark Gold for his leadership and service to Heal the Bay and wish him the best of luck in his new career at UCLA.”

While working on his doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA, Gold joined Heal the Bay as staff scientist in 1988, making him the organization’s first employee. Guided by his mentor and Heal the Bay founding president Dorothy Green, Gold was named executive director of the organization in 1994 and president in 2006.

He has worked extensively over the last 25 years in the field of coastal protection and water pollution and is recognized as one of California’s leading environmental advocates. He has authored or co-authored numerous California coastal protection, water quality and environmental education bills.

 “I have been lucky to be part of an environmental organization that has achieved so much to better Southern California,” said Gold. “I’ve had the privilege to work with many incredible leaders, staff members and volunteers that have shared a common vision of clean water and protected watersheds. I am confident that the senior management team we’ve spent years developing will continue to move the organization forward. Heal the Bay will always be an important part of me, but I look forward to new challenges at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment.”

As for what Hall and Hobbs and folks still at Heal the Bay will be paying attention to? More of the same, they say. Marine protected areas, bag bans (city by city, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, now, it would seem). Leave your comments for us below...and anything you might want to ask Mark Gold.