top of page

 Board of Directors 

DSC_0777 (1).jpg

Cliff Rodrigues


Cliff has a BA in Education from San José State University and M. A. from USC in Education Administration. Cliff was the Director of Bilingual Education and Technology for Ventura County Office of Education for many years, ​now retired, and lives​ in Ventura, California​. He has​ served on the Ventura Unified School Board for 12 years. He is currently working on a part-time basis for Loyola Marymount University teaching Spanish for Ventura teachers. ​He is also a certified volunteer naturalist for the Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. 


David Lantrip, Ph.D.

Vice President

David B. Lantrip is a serial entrepreneur and adviser to startup companies, providing executive coaching and expertise in strategic planning, business development, technology development, financing, and marketing. His interdisciplinary, 40-year career has spanned academic, technical, and business domains, including professional certification in Mechanical Engineering with applications in aerospace research, development and testing, as well as graduate research and professional practice in space & terrestrial architecture and enterprise software development. David holds five technology patents and is an author of over a dozen published technical papers. He has co-founded two successful Venture-backed analytics platform startups focused on text mining & visualization (Cartia, acquired by in 1999) and mixed data analytics & predictive modeling (Intelligent Results, acquired by First Data Corp in 2007), as well as more recently a private social networking company, Life Event Networks, Inc. 


Linda Chilton


Linda is one of the most accomplished, committed, and experienced marine science educators in California and the U.S. Currently, she is the USC Sea Grant Education Programs Manager responsible for developing, implementing, and coordinating a wide range of educational programs focusing on both students and teachers. Ms. Chilton has helped develop and organize countless marine education projects such as the harmful algal bloom watch program with 12 informal science centers in the Southern California area. 

Adam Vega_edited.jpg

Adam Vega


Adam Vega is a lifelong resident of Ventura County and holds a B.A. in Political Science from California State University Channel Islands. He currently serves as the Community Outreach Specialist with The Port of Hueneme, Oxnard Harbor District. Adam has an extensive background in spearheading environmental outreach initiatives, projects, and programs to achieve optimal health outcomes by recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. While coordinator of the Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety (VC-CAPS), Adam was responsible for banning the use of glyphosate in several school districts throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara County. In 2019, as a community organizer with Californians for Pesticide Reform, Adam was instrumental in the banning of Chlorpyrifos across the state of California. Adam has also worked with CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy) to activate local residents, organic farmers, plant protection professionals, authors, and artists to organize and reduce the threat of pesticide exposure in frontline communities. His mission is to help grow a healthy Ventura County through putting into motion environmental efforts via land, air, and ocean.

CsAdGa_UAAAUOFB.jpg large.jpg

Judy Willens

Member at Large

Judy has assisted with MERITO programs as a field scientist and educator for about 10 years and joined the Board in 2016. Judy has been a member of Channel Islands Naturalist Corps. for the past 18 years. In 2017, Judy received certification of interpretative guide from the National Association of Interpreters.  Judy holds a Bachelors in Environmental Science and an MBA in Organizational Development. Recently retired from a career including many aspects of environmental study, Judy has experience in air, water, and waste monitoring, analyses & regulation, environmental assessment, transportation demand management, training & outreach, and legislative analysis & public policy.  She is concerned for the future of science education and environmental protection and enjoys working with the students in the MERITO programs to convey her lifetime love of the outdoors. Judy is also an alternate on the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.  A SoCal native, her interests include SCUBA diving, flying, playing flute, and traveling; mostly to places with an ocean.


Andrea Mills

Member at Large

Andrea has a B.S. in Aquatic Biology from UCSB and Ms in Marine Biology, and a teacher credential. She has developed a number of educational programs and curricula focused on the marine and coastal resources of the Santa Barbara Channel Region and inspires over 10,000 visitors to the Channel Islands per year to protect the ocean. An avid diver, surfer and committed environmentalist. Inspiring a passion for the ocean in all those she meets.


Alejandra Belalcázar

Advisory Board Member

Alejandra brings a wealth of experience and passion for environmental education to Merito Foundation. With a background in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development, she advocates for the crucial link between our environment and human well-being. Having worked in various regions including Colombia, Brazil, Laos, and Thailand, Alejandra champions initiatives in education, conservation, and sustainable development, emphasizing youth empowerment and environmental stewardship. Fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, she is dedicated to engaging diverse communities. As a lifelong surfer, Alejandra is deeply committed to marine conservation. Inspired by Merito Foundation's mission, she is eager to continue making a positive impact as a Board Advisor, facilitating education and conservation efforts.

bottom of page