California LCC Staff

A full time staff supports efforts to achieve the CA LCP goals. A CA LCP Steering Committee directs staff activities and reports LCP information to a larger audience of CA LCP affiliates made up of research and conservation partners, interested parties, and associated organizations.

Debra Schlafmann - California Landscape Coordinator

Deb has 30 years of experience mostly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service serving in numerous technical and leadership positions that required skills in developing partnerships and seeking common goals for natural resources. Deb holds a bachelor of science degree in forestry from Michigan Technological University and a master of science degree in wildlife management from Humboldt State University. 



Claudia Mengelt - California Science Coordinator

Claudia started with us on October 3, 2016.  Prior to joining the CA LCC Claudia was a Senior Program Officer with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Claudia was the NAS lead for the review of the LCC Network in 2015/16 and has exceptional skills in integrating and applying science in inter-organizational partnerships.  While with the NAS, Claudia worked on a broad range of studies including summarizing lessons learned from global change assessments, developing guidance to adapt to the impacts of climate change, providing strategic guidance for a range of federal research programs, and reviewing best practices for monitoring and evaluating restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.

Her scientific expertise is in ecology of coastal and marine systems and climate science.  Claudia completed a B.S. in aquatic biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a M.S. in biological oceanography from Oregon State University. She obtained her Ph.D. in marine sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she conducted research on the ecology and photo-physiology of harmful algal species in the California Current System. Combining her science background with over 10 years of experience in building consensus and partnerships at the science-policy interface, she is highly motivated to work with the CA LCC to maximizing synergies among scientists, conservation practitioners, resource managers, and the private sector. 


Kat Powelson - Science Support Coordinator

Kat Powelson joined the CA LCC team in August 2016. She supports the CA LCC climate-smart conservation priorities through facilitating and coordinating science communication internally and with partners. Kat also collaborates with other LCC communications professionals to maintain connections between LCCs and to the National LCC hearquarters.

Prior to joining the CA LCC Kat worked with the USGS Coastal Ecosystem Response to Climate Change program. She discovered her passion for science communication while developing a series of science delivery and needs assessment workshops for coastal managers. Kat received her B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology and Masters in Geography with an emphasis in methods, models, and GIS  from the University of California, Davis. Her Master's thesis focused on climate change adaptation planning at Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge.


Zhahai Stewart - Data Manager

Zhahai Stewart has served as Data Manager for the California LCC since July 2012, in teamwork with Deanne DiPietro.   In this position Zhahai works with LCC staff, project leaders, partner organizations and other LCCs, to assist with professional management and dissemination of data products, and to facilitate communication between contributors and users of data and documents. He also works with partners at Point Blue Conservation Science and the UC Davis Information Center for the Environment on the California Climate Commons, a website dedicated to making it easy to find and understand the latest climate change science for use in land management decisions and planning.

Zhahai has been working in the areas of computer software development, systems design and architecture, protocols, database management, and geospatial analysis for 30 years.  His education was originally in mathematics at the University of Florida and University of Colorado, but has since specialized in computer science and practical applications.

Most recently he served for 5 years with the Sonoma Ecology Center, creating and supporting websites, databases, geographic information system projects, and knowledge bases.  While he has worked in many areas of information technology, he particularly enjoys working with scientists and users of scientific data.  Zhahai enjoys exploring California by hiking and camping.


Amber Pairis - Climate Science Alliance- South Coast

Dr. Amber Pairis is the Lead for the Climate Science Alliance - South Coast and Strategic Conservation Planning for the South Coast Region of California and Baja.

Her current work focuses on building a science focused network of leaders, scientists, and managers focused on sharing ecosystem-based resiliency approaches to safeguard our communities and natural resources from climate change. Pairis leads several initiatives related to climate change adaptation and innovative community engagement. 

She helped create the National Adaptation Forum in 2013 & 2015 and the California Adaptation Forum in 2014. In 2013, Pairis was appointed by Governor Brown as the Assistant Secretary for Climate Change-California Natural Resources Agency and worked collaboratively to coordinate the State's activities related to climate change adaptation. Preceding the appointment, Pairis served as the Climate Change Advisor for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and created the Department's Climate Science Program. In 2006 Pairis worked for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Washington D.C. where she was the Science Liaison coordinating between the state and federal natural resource agencies on energy and climate change. Pairis is a scientist by training and completed her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies Antioch University New England. Pairis is a fellow of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.