Our History: A Timeline

Major Events in the History of Environmental Forum of Marin 

Compiled by Kathy Lowery and Ann Thomas (1997), and Kathy Cuneo (2000–2002, 2007).



The Environmental Forum of Marin (EFM) was formed through the combined efforts of the San Francisco Junior League, represented by Barbara [Violich] Boucke and Pam Lloyd, and the Audubon Canyon Ranch, represented by Marty Griffin and Stan Pitcher. Instructors for the first year were Remmy Kingsley, Ray Peterson, Virginia (Gini) Havel, Dr. Marty Griffin, Nona Dennis, Clerin Zumwalt, Kathy Cuneo and Phyllis Faber. Polly Smith was president.


The year-long training program began this year and came in two parts. The first half focused on basic ecology: geology, water resource management, agriculture, coastal planning, solid waste management, land-use planning and energy conservation. The second half centered on political aspects of protecting the community’s environmental resources, with civic leaders giving lectures and directing field trips. This year the practice was begun of requiring that graduates give two years of volunteer service to an environmental organization or project. The same group of teachers, known as Natural Science Education Resources (NSER) were the instructors and The Training Program (Forum I) graduated 24 members. Barbara Violich was president May 1973–1974.


The EFM Education Committee initiated a five session series with the Senior Citizens Coordinating Council that included slide shows and field trips. They also hoped to start a program to train parents to lead small groups of children on environmental forays. NSER were the instructors with Barbara Violich as Trainer. The Training Program (Forum II) graduated 38 members. Karen Urquhart was president May 1974–1975.


The EFM became independent of Audubon Canyon Ranch and the Junior League grant. The 10 week course cost $25.00. MMWD and Marin County jointly sponsored a Water Conserving Garden designed by Kathy Cuneo which opened June 21st at the Marin Civic Center. The Coast Committee worked hard on SB1579. EFM formally endorsed John Burton’s bill, HR 8003, proposing the addition of 38,000 acres to Point Reyes. The Sonoma Forum, led by EFM member Marilyn Goode, became active. Ann Schmitt and Linda Henderson were Trainers and Nancy Wise was President 1975–1976. The Training Program (Forum III) graduated 22 members.


Phyllis Ellman led a group preserving the resources of Ring Mountain. EFM Members worked on the Countywide Plan. A slide show was created as an educational tool to acquaint the public with the Water Conserving Garden and plants needing little water during summer. A group met weekly to write letters and columns. Training included a class on planning for Hamilton Field’s future. The Training Program (Forum IV) graduated 26 members. Pat Kleps and Nancy Wise were Trainers and Gloria Duncan was President May 1976–1977.


EFM added a spring series of ranch visits led by Phyllis Faber and Ellen Straus. The Countywide Plan Committee was instrumental in getting the Board of Supervisors to add an Energy Element to the Countywide Plan. EFM Members worked to get a County Bottle Bill ordinance (10 cents deposit on beer and soft drink containers) passed. EFM was incorporated. Became tax-exempt but not tax-deductible because of political activities. The Training Program (Forum V) graduated 24 members. Ruth Solomon and Eleanor Siperstein were Trainers. Co-Founder Phyllis Faber was the President May 1977–1978.


The first Focus on Family Farms Day, co-sponsored by EFM and the County Farm Bureau, was held in West Marin. The Countywide Plan Committee, working with representatives of the County’s planning jurisdictions, focused on the following: 1) reviving a mechanism for City-County coordination of planning and implementation, and; 2) a task force to study shopping center proliferation. EFM had three slide shows: Water Conserving Gardens, Return to Returnables and Sweep Out the Broom. EFM cosponsored SUN DAY with Marin Citizens for Energy Planning. The Training Program (Forum VI) graduated 26 members. Mary Wilson and Peggy Fishman were Trainers. Judy Alstrom was President May 1978–1979.


New EFM Board positions were Legislative Analyst, Environmental Health, and Representative to the County’s Energy Conservation Advisory Committee. EFM overall emphasis and direction was under discussion. A Task Force on Retail Space, with representatives from EFM, Marin Conservation League (MCL) and League of Women Voters, looked at four plans for large shopping centers. Three members of the Committee-Judy Elias, Susan Stompe and Ester Taylor-were appointed by Supervisors to serve on the County’s Overall Economic Development Committee. APPLES program was presented in Sonoma. The Training Program (Forum VII) graduated 19 members. Rita Smith and Ann Baele were the Trainers. Ruth Solomon and Nancy Wise each served as President May 1979–1980.


In this “Year of the Coast”, EFM conducted a campaign to inform the public about our coastal resources and members took a trip to the Farallon Islands.

An EFM project started by Co-Founders Ellen Straus and Phyllis Faber was established to permanently preserve Marin County farmlands for agricultural use; their project would later become the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT).

EFM Training was expanded to include ten weeks in the Fall and ten weeks in the Spring. Cost was $50. EFM dues were $12.00. The Training Program (Forum VIII) graduated 18 members. The Trainers were Ann Baele and Hope McCrum. Gini Havel was President May 1980–1981.


Two new committees were formed: recruitment and internship. EFM staffed a booth at the Marin County Fair to inform the public about the hazards of nuclear war.

Three training sessions were open to the public. For the third year, programs for general membership were held every month. Training returned to a 12 week format, ending the second week of December. A new class on water, with a visit to the Las Gallinas Sanitary District Treatment Plant, was added.

EFM joined the League for Coastal Protection. EFM Members helped plan two conferences on energy: a wind energy conference which drew more than 500 people and the fourth annual SUN DAY at Indian Valley Colleges.

The Training Program (Forum IX) graduated 24 Members. The Trainers were Barbara Salzman and Shirley Bogardus. The President was Eleanor Siperstein May 1981–1982.


A Training Advisory Committee was established to evaluate expansion of the program’s length and content. EFM endorsed the Bilateral Nuclear Weapons Freeze Initiative. All graduates were placed either in an internship or on an EFM Committee. A retreat was held for all Members, to review committees, activities and EFM’s general direction. The Training Program (Forum X) graduated 18 members. Pam Lloyd and Elsa Gruber were Trainers. Polly Smith was President for the second time May 1982–1983.


Standing rules to maintain continuity and facilitate the Board’s functioning were developed. All Trainees participated in the internship program. The sixth annual Focus on Family Farms Day was held. We requested that the Mt. Tamalpais Air Force Base be returned to its natural state. The Training Program (Forum XI) graduated 21 members. Elsa Gruber and Arlene Evans were the Trainers. Barbara Salzman was President May 1983–1984.


Training for Class 12 was 19 weeks long. The slide show on nuclear issues continued to educate members and the public about nuclear problems. The first Holiday Party was held at Elsa Gruber’s. EFM took out an insurance policy to cover field trip liability. The Training Program (Forum XII) graduated 22 members. Kim Klein and Susan Nash were the Trainers. Shirley Bogardus was President May 1984–1985.


EFM joined other organizations in the Future of Marin programs and co-sponsored Bay Day with Marin Discoveries and Marin Conservation League. The Training was reviewed and a day of Advocacy and Public Speaking was added to the curriculum. The Environmental Health Committee cooperated with the County Hazardous Materials Advisory Committee to plan a collection day for hazardous household wastes. Dues were increased to $20 and Training fee to $75.

Honorary Lifetime Memberships were established.  Founder Phyllis Faber was the first honoree. The Training Program (Forum XIII) graduated 23 members. Trainers were Susan Nash and Kay Matan. Barbara Salzman was President for the second time May 1985–1986.

In February, EFM was recognized by the IRS as a non-profit organization exempt from Federal Income Tax as described in IRS code section 501(c)(3).


EFM became a sponsor of the Coast Mediation Project, a program designed to insure public participation in the offshore oil drilling issue. We received a $1,000 grant from the San Francisco Foundation to cover cost of art work and printing of a new logo and revised brochure. Special events for Coastweek 86 were planned in conjunction with Marin Conservation League, the League of Women Voters, and the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. The Board went through two sessions with “Building Better Boards”. The Training Program (Forum XIV) graduated 18 members. Kay Matan and Joan Corbett were Trainers. Virginia Souders-Mason was President May 1986–1987.


The number of Board positions was reduced to thirteen and issue chairs were combined into three categories: Health, Water, and Land Use.

EFM participated in the BAEER Fair, the Marin Garden Show, and the Marin Environmental Alliance.

Funds in the amount of $18,000 were received from Marin Community Foundation on behalf of the Coastal Mediation Project. These funds were used to distribute information on the pending Outer Continental Shelf Lease Sales.

The 18 training sessions were divided into four categories: Ecological Overview, Human Impacts, Environmental Actions, and Environmental Education. The Training Program (Forum XV) graduated 22 members. EFM joined with other groups to Save the Bay.

Gini Havel was named an Honorary Lifetime Member.

The Trainers were Joan Corbett and Roberta Downey. Virginia Souders-Mason was the President for a second term May 1987–1988.


EFM was one of 25 environmental groups participating in the Sausalito Humming Toad Festival. 

EFM joined Marin Conservation League and Marin Audubon Society in a Validation Action with the County of Sonoma lawsuit against the City of Novato regarding the proposed Hamilton Field development project.

The 15th Annual Meeting featured Barbara Boxer, a graduate of Class 2, speaking about “Our Coastal Environment”.  She was also named an Honorary Lifetime Member.

The Training Program (Forum XVI) graduated 20 members. Roberta Downey and Dorothy Walters were Trainers. Barbara Perlman-Whyman was President May 1988–1989.



Three major projects were undertaken this year: Bacich School upland restoration under the supervision of John Walters; assisting the new San Francisco Bay/Delta Preservation Baykeeper project in developing a handbook and training program; and an eight-week College of Marin course, “State of the World-89” developed by members John Shellenberger and Barbara Perlman-Whyman. The slide show “Healing Our Planet” was developed by Remmy Kingsley and Inka Benton.

Clerin Zumwalt and Founder Marty Griffin were made Honorary Lifetime Members.

The Training Program (Forum XVII) graduated 26 members. Trainers were Dorothy Walters and Leslie Reed. Barbara Perlman-Whyman was President for a second term May 1989–1990.


EFM was the major organizer of Marin’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 1990. The event, planned by Suzanne Cooper, Ginger Souders-Mason and Barbara Perlman-Whyman, grossed more than $22,000. These proceeds were the basis for the Earth Day Every Day Fund.

Farming on the Edge, written by John Hart, was published. The book was based on a project begun by members Virginia Davis, Phyllis Faber, Ellen Straus, and Joan Rosen in 1984.

The Training program was extended by two days to address energy and toxics.

Nona Dennis was selected to be an Honorary Lifetime Member.

The Training Program (Forum XVIII) graduated 23 members. Leslie Reed and Susan Stoddard were Trainers and Virginia Souders-Mason was President for the third time May 1990–91.


EFM celebrated Earth Day this year by organizing a parade of alternative energy vehicles on 4th Street in San Rafael. The “Healing Our Planet” slide show presentations were a joint project of Gatekeepers to the Future and EFM. The Planet Group, focused on the health of the planet rather than that of the individual, evolved out of the Environmental Health Committee. EFM Training was 20 weeks, with a full day now given to Marin Wildlife. Leslie LeBeau initiated a project to develop materials and information which could be used by a group wishing to establish an Environmental Forum in their own community. EFM participated with other environmental organizations in writing Community Marin, with recommendations for Countywide Plan revisions. Remmy Kingsley was selected as an Honorary Lifetime Member. The Training Program (Forum XIX) graduated 22 Members. Susan Stoddard and Karol Raymer were the Trainers and Dorothy Walters was President May 1991–92.


The Living Environmental Education Fund (LEEF) was established as a result of a bequest by Gail Hayne, who died this year, and who directed that donations in her memory be given to EFM. To honor her interest in education, LEEF supports direct educational outreach through mini-grants awarded annually to local teachers. A Junior Solar Model Car Race for 7th and 8th grade students was sponsored by EFM to help celebrate this year’s Earth Day. An Outreach Committee was formed to help other communities wishing to start their own Environmental Forum. Barbara Salzman was selected to become an Honorary Lifetime Member. The Training Program (Forum XX) graduated 24 Members. The Trainers were Karol Raymer and Julie Grantz and Kathy Lowery was President May 1992–93.


A new EFM Environmental Education Committee was formed to develop a pilot program for environmental education at the elementary school level. EFM had the opportunity of meeting with several persons who lead environmental agencies within their countries and share information. EFM joined with other groups to collect voter signatures to help qualify the California Parks and Wildlife Initiative for the June 1994 ballot; EFM’s contribution to this drive was 4,000 signatures collected during summer and fall. The Earth Day Every Day Fund was established with a contribution from the Earth Day 1990 committee. The Training Program (Forum XXI) graduated 23 Members. Trainers were Julie Grantz and Jane Bowen. Kathy Lowery was the President May 1993–94.


The Golden Acorn award was established, to go to an individual and/or business who or which has advanced environmental education through business practices—or who has shown a commitment to sustainability in Marin. This year’s award went to Excelsior Auto Body, Novato. The Environmental Education Committee developed a children’s program and took it into a 2nd/3rd grade class at Neil Cummins School in Corte Madera. Pam Lloyd was selected for Honorary Lifetime Membership. The Training Program added Environmental Philosophy Day. The Training Program (Forum XXII) graduated 24 Members. Trainers were Julie Grantz and Nancy McKean-Deaton and Karol Raymer was the President May 1994–95.


EFM endorsed the general goals and policies of Marin Baylands Advocates, a new group formed to seek permanent protection for the Marin baylands and restoration to their natural productive functions as tidal and seasonal wetlands. Sonoma Forum planned for seven classes. Ellen Straus was selected for Honorary Lifetime Membership. The Golden Acorn Award went to The Copy Shop in Mill Valley. The Training Program (Forum XXIII) graduated 25 Members. The Trainers were Nancy McKean-Deaton and Bill Atchley. Karol Raymer served again as President May 1995–96.


A Science Fair Award is established. EFM recognized an outstanding environmentally oriented project in the Marin County Science Fair. An effort was made to start a new environmental health group which would study one health issue at a time; its initial focus is on breast cancer—causes, treatment and relationship to environmental factors. EFM joined other environmental organizations to propose the addition of a fourth corridor, a Baylands Protection Corridor, to the Countywide Plan. EFM sponsored its first Waste Free Lunch Day as a way to mark Earth Day. A packet of materials was provided to local governmental jurisdictions, businesses and schools; school packets included suggestions for classroom activities, lunch waste facts and ways to pack a waste-free lunch. Sheila Molyneux, 22, established School Environmental Education Docents (SEED) to help with environmental education in Marin County Schools. Ellen Rony designed an EFM website. The Golden Acorn Award went to O’Donnell’s Fairfax Nursery. The Training Program (Forum XXIV) graduated 19 Members. Trainers were Bill Atchley and Richard Hinkel. President was Julie Grantz May 1996–97.


EFM Outreach Committee revised its mission statement and began its first task reviewing and updating the 1991 Training Program Guide so that it could be made available both in a printed form and electronically via the EFM website. EFM Program Committee presented a public education program on transportation in fall and a second in the spring on Water. EFM Board with a tied vote (broken by the President) did not endorse Transportation Measures A & B on the State ballot. The Training Program added Oceans Day for a total of 22 training days including Orientation and Graduation. John Walters was selected as Honorary Lifetime Member. The Golden Acorn Award went to The Film Company, Mill Valley. The Training Program (Forum XXV) graduated 16 Members. Trainers were Richard Hinkel and Katherine Martinez and Julie Grantz was President May 1997–98.


EFM Program Chair, Jean Fitzgerald, organized and presented a successful, well attended, three-part public education program on Sustainability at the College of Marin with help from a grant from MCF.  The Bylaws Committee began work on updating the EFM Bylaws. Dr. Martin Griffin published Saving the Sonoma-Marin Coast.  EFM’s Long Range Training Review Task Force worked all year on recommendations for changing the Training Program to ensure attracting and graduating more Trainees, none were made. The Golden Acorn Award went to Gardener’s Guild, Inc., San Rafael.  The Training Program (Forum XXVI) graduated 17 Members.  Kathy Martinez and Bruce Bowser were the Trainers and Julie Grantz was President May 1998–99.


EFM Membership voted to accept the revised Bylaws. The new EFM Training Review Committee worked all summer and fall on recommendations.. The Board voted to allow the Committee to attempt to create a 16 week program. EFM Program Committee has been working on Marin Environmental Alliance committees to organize the Earth Day 2000 celebration The Board voted to pay for the analysis of data to be collected by three EFM Trainees on our membership opinions on our training program and public education and advocacy stands. The Golden Acron Award went to Eco Express, Novato. The Training Program (Forum XXVII) graduated 34 Members. Trainee Soo-Hi Nayer designed and helped launch a beautiful new EFM website marinEFM.org. Trainees Ann & Mac Coffey and Kate Vogt received back approximately 50 percent of the 500+ surveys that they mailed out. The information is valid and will be indispensable to EFM strategic planning. Trainers were Bruce Bowser and Peter Kilkus and Kathy Cuneo was President May 1999–2000. Chair of CDC Angie Curtis and Programs Chair, Sally Barron used trainee Eliz. Scofield’s project to build a new exhibit to showcase EFM for events such as BAAER Fair and Earthday 2000.


EFM Standing Rules Committee worked on completing the Standing Rules revisions before the Annual Meeting. EFM Outreach Committee, with Joan Boessenecker as Chair, completed the revision and editing of the EFM Training Program Guide. EarthDay 2000 was a great success. EFM Land Use subcommittee headed by Scot Smith, working with MCL and Sierra Club, planned a public education program entitled “How to Influence Policies that Affect your own Backyard ? By participating in your community’s General Plan revision process.” A grant was received from the Fred Gellert Family Foundation and 139 persons attended the program held May 20th at Dominican College. Following the recommendation of the Training Review Committee, the Board voted to allow the Committee to create an 18 week Training Program for 2001-2002. The Training Program (Forum XXVIII) graduated 26 new EFM members for a total of 644 graduates since 1972. Gloria Duncan and Virginia Souders-Mason were selected as Honorary Lifetime Members. The Golden Acorn Award went to Tomales Bay Foods & Cowgirl Creamery, Pt. Reyes. Trainers were Peter Kilkus and Ellen Purcell, Kathy Cuneo was President May 2000–2001.


EFM Board voted to accept the Strategic Plan for 2000–2001, that resulted from a retreat held in July 2000. The Training Program (Forum XXIX) graduated 30 (2 from past classes) for a total of 674 Forum members. Julie Grantz and Polly Smith were selected as Honorary Lifetime Members. The Golden Acorn Award went to Van der Ryn Architects, Sausalito. Trainers were Ellen Purcell and Deborah Coburn, Joan Boessenecker was President May 2001–2002.


A retreat held in July of 2002 resulted in establishment of the Strategic Plan Committee. EFM representatives continued to work on the revision of “Community Marin: Our Future…Our Choice”, the joint policy statement of Marin Conservation League, Sierra Club Marin Group, Marin Audubon and EFM. The Community Development Committee held a very successful bus trip to Sacramento to visit SMUD solar voltaic generation sites. EFM invited staff and elected officials of several Cities and the County. The Training Program (Forum XXX) graduated 33 bringing the total to 707 Forum Members. Kathy Cuneo was selected as Honorary Lifetime Member and the Golden Acorn Award was given to Green Jeans, Mill Valley. Trainers were Kathy Cuneo and Sherry Stanton. Joan Boessenecker was President May 2002–2003.


In January 2003,EFM Board decided to embark on an extended Strategic Planning process and voted to hire a planning consultant and appointed a Strategic Planning Committee to help guide the process to completion. A Strategic Plan for 2003–2006 was accepted in October. The Training Program (Forum XXXI) graduated 31 bring the total to 738 Members. Karol Raymer was selected as Honorary Lifetime Member. The Golden Acorn Award was given to Worldwise, San Rafael. Sherry Stanton/ Solvig Palm-Nicholls and Dianne Fruin were Trainers and Susan Rusche was the President May 2003–2004.


New EFM Bylaws were adopted by the Board and the first Marin Environmental Film Festival was held. The Training Program (Forum XXXII) graduated 25 Members bringing the total to 763. Barbara Perlman-Wyman was selected as Honorary Lifetime Member. The Golden Acorn Award was given to Good Earth Natural Foods, Fairfax. The idea for The Workshop Series, targeting community leaders and decision makers to be held beginning in winter of 2005 was created by a committee led by Solvig Palm-Nicholls. The Ideas Development Committee under the leadership of David Weckler proposed a series of monthly membership meetings, where members would be encouraged to give a brief presentation and hold discussions about current issues. The meetings were titled “First Thursday. Dianne Fruin and Barbara O’Grady were Trainers and Susan Rusche was President May 2004–2005.


The Workshop Series (1A) called “Toward a Sustainable Marin” was started in the winter of 2005 with Mia Pelletier as Leader and graduated 27 Associate Members. Under the guidance and with the assistance of the Community Education Committee, a group from Class XXXII produced a public education event the evening of May 5 at the Marin Art & Garden Center called “Making Choices Make Change: Earth-Friendly Solutions for Every Day” which attracted 170 attendees. In June 2005 the Booklet “Inspiring Environmental Advocacy: a Community Model and Training Program Guide”, representing the efforts of a large number of members over many years, was dedicated to the global environmental community. The second Environmental Film Festival was held but it was decided not to hold the festival in 2006. The Training Program (Forum XXXIII) graduated 26 Members for a total of 789. Kathy Lowery was selected Honorary Lifetime Member and the Golden Acorn Award was given to Green Fusion, San Anselmo. Barbara O’Grady and Debra Jones were Trainers and the President was Solvig Palm-Nicholls May 2005–2006.


The Workshop Series (2A) was led in winter of 2006 by Donna Miller and graduated 24 Associate Members. The Film Festival was replaced by a less labor-intensive project, the Environmental Media Committee. Joan Boessenecker was selected as Honorary Lifetime Member. The Golden Acorn Award was given to Marin Recycling Center, San Rafael. The Training Program (Forum XXXIV) graduated 26 Members for a total of 815. The Trainers of Forum XXXIV were Debra Jones and Barbara Thornton and Solvig Palm-Nicholls was President May 2006–2007.


The Workshop Series (3A) was led by Donna Miller in 2007 and graduated 20 Associate Members for a total of 71 Associates. The Trainers of Forum XXXV are Barbara Thornton and Kim Sauve and the President is David McConnell from May 2007–2008. In the future the title of the “Training Program” will be “Sustainable Earth Forum” and the “Workshop Series” will be “Sustainable Communities Seminar”.


The President was David McConnell from May 2007–2008 succeeding Solvig Palm Nicholls. The year was marked by giving formal names to our two premier programs — the traditional 18 week training program is now formally the Sustainable Earth Forum, and was led by Barbara Thornton with great help from Kim Suave' and Dianne Fruin. What was known as the workshop series is now the Sustainable Communities Seminar and was led by Valerie Merrin. The Sustainable Earth Forum underwent a review of its content and objectives resulting in some changes to the order of presentation and additions to the materials themselves. These upgrades will spill over to the Sustainable Communities Seminar in the future. The Issues Development Committee (David Weckler, Chairperson) presented regular programs in its First Thursday series to an ever increasing audience and the Community Education committee (Bruce Ackerman, Chairperson) arranged two educational trips for EFM members.

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