Executive Director & Film Festival Director, Yuba Riverkeeper
After six years working for SYRCL as the Festival Director for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Melinda was promoted to Executive Director. Before her passion for environmental conservation brought her to the festival, she focused her career on saving iconic species like bears, wolves, and salmon in the American West. Starting her career at Defenders of Wildlife, she led campaigns to keep bears alive and wild in the Tahoe basin and helped with the reintroduction of the California condor into the wild. As Development Manager at the California Wolf Center, Melinda led education, conservation, and research efforts around the North American gray wolf, and specifically the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves to the Southwest. Her passion for wildlife drew her next to the Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation where she served as Development Director, securing millions of dollars for their red panda habitat and an award-winning Native Predator exhibit featuring river otters, bald eagles, and salmon. Melinda holds an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, where she studied human-bear interactions in the wildland-urban interface. On a personal note, the Yuba River is central to Melinda’s everyday life. She and her husband purchased land overlooking the South Yuba. Not only is she professionally motivated to protect and restore the Yuba River watershed, she is personally invested as a Yuba River homeowner to do all she can as well.