Santa Barbara Channelkeeper has a highly skilled staff with strong scientific expertise and a deep commitment to our organization and mission.

Kira Redmond

Executive Director

Kira Redmond has served as Channelkeeper’s leader since 2004. Kira has more than 25 years of experience in the environmental policy arena and has succeeded in securing significant improvements in water quality and marine habitat protection policies at the local and state levels. Prior to taking up residence as the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, she worked with Bluewater Network in San Francisco managing an advocacy campaign to combat pollution from commercial vessels, particularly cruise ships, and succeeded in getting legislation passed to prohibit cruise ship dumping in California waters. She also worked as a consultant for Energy Independence Now on alternative vehicles and fuels, for Redefining Progress on environmental tax reform, and for the Earth Island Institute on transportation and global warming policies, including California’s landmark legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles. She spent three years writing and editing for the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s “Earth Negotiations Bulletin,” reporting on United Nations environmental treaty negotiations around the world. She also worked as a research associate for the Worldwatch Institute. Kira holds a Masters in International Affairs and Environmental Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Management from the University of California Berkeley.

Ben Pitterle

Science & Policy Director

Ben joined Channelkeeper as an intern managing our Stream Walk program in 2005, and became our Director of Watershed Programs in January 2006. Before that he worked as a staff scientist for GeoSyntec Consultants, a Stream Team field technician for Heal the Bay’s Malibu Stream Team, and an environmental instructor for the Community Environmental Council. He has a Masters in Environmental Science and Management from UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School and a BS in Environmental Science from UC Riverside. Ben has extensive experience with water quality monitoring, stream surveying, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, and environmental education.

Penny Owens

Education and Community Outreach Director

Penny joined Santa Barbara Channelkeeper in 2004 as our Education Coordinator and Assistant Biologist. After receiving a Bachelor’s in Biology and Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz, she assisted with several sub-tidal and inter-tidal monitoring projects, including work as a research diver in the kelp forests from Santa Cruz to the southern limit of giant kelp in Baja Sur, Mexico. Prior to joining the Channelkeeper staff to coordinate and implement our marine education program and assist with field work, she spent two years on Catalina Island as a science instructor with Catalina Island Marine Institute. She also volunteers for the National Wildlife Federation every summer as faculty for their Conservation and Family Summit Program, educating teens from across the nation to be environmental stewards. Penny’s knowledge of marine and coastal ecosystems is a natural complement to her diverse field experiences in environmental education.

Debra McCarty

Development Director

Debra brings a wealth of experience from her prior posts as Development Director of the Carpinteria Education Foundation and Executive Officer of the California Avocado Festival and her background in ocean science with a BS in Marine Biology from San Diego State University. Debra lives in Goleta with her husband and two sons and is an avid runner and surfer.

Molly Troup

Science & Policy Associate

Molly Troup, Science & Policy Associate, joined the Channelkeeper crew in 2018. She assists with the development and implementation of Channelkeeper’s advocacy, monitoring, and public education and outreach activities. Prior to joining our team, Molly worked for several years for the California Coastal Commission as a coastal planner and enforcement analyst and on a consulting team that assisted coastal municipalities develop sea level rise planning documents. Molly has a Master’s in Environmental Science and Management from UCSB’s Bren School and a BA in Biology from Wheaton College. Inspired to pursue a career in coastal management by her own volunteer experiences conducting coastal beach clean-ups and leading tide pool classes for school groups on the rocky coastline of New Hampshire, Molly is excited to inspire new environmental stewards through her work at Channelkeeper.

Laura Sanchez

Communications Manager

Laura Sanchez is an accomplished communications and marketing professional who recently led a global marketing team in the renewable energy sector. As the former editor of Water Efficiency and Distributed Energy magazines, she has written extensively about water quality and resource conservation issues. She brings an abundance of strategic leadership, content development expertise, and digital marketing and public relations skills to support our communications initiatives.
Laura earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish Literature and Linguistics at Middlebury College in Vermont. She began her editorial career reviewing UN documents at the Center for Peace and Conflict Research in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has worked in publishing and digital media for more than fifteen years. She taught middle school Spanish and led marine biology trips to Baja California and Santa Cruz Island.

A multi-generation Carpinterian, Laura grew up hopping rocks in Rincon Creek and playing in the waves at Padaro Beach. When she’s not working, you can find her hiking in the backcountry, stand up paddle boarding, planning her next outdoor adventure, or creating meals with produce from her garden. Laura is pleased to use her communications expertise to advocate for clean water and to benefit our local community.