Rocio Lozano-Knowlton and Leanne Schlinger Join Board of Environmental Defense Center

Rocio Lozano-Knowlton and Leanne Schlinger Join Board of Environmental Defense Center
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Source: Environmental Defense Center

The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) is proud to announce that both Rocio Lozano-Knowlton and Leanne Schlinger have joined the organization’s board of directors. Ms. Lozano-Knowlton is the Executive Director of the Ventura-based MERITO Foundation which focuses on marine and science education for multicultural youth and Ms. Schlinger is the president of Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals, working with ranches, estates, and homes in the Valley. Both have a long history of using their considerable skills and expertise to benefit our local environment and together they make a powerful addition to EDC’s leadership.

Rocio Lozano-Knowlton directs the MERITO (Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans) Foundation, which provides programs that build ocean and environmental stewardship, help increase understanding of ocean-related threats, and motivate culturally diverse students to pursue careers in ocean science or resource protection. She founded the organization after almost a decade with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Prior to her work in California, Ms. Lozano-Knowlton worked as a marine resource protection consultant for various marine conservation organizations in Mexico while she co-owned and directed an ecotourism and SCUBA diving business. In addition to her current work with the MERITO Foundation, Ms. Lozano-Knowlton also serves as a Marine Protected Area specialist for the United Nations and NOAA in international collaborative projects in Asia.

“As someone who has spent her life and career in ocean conservation and education, I am very excited to help lead this storied organization,” said Ms. Lozano-Knowlton. “EDC has a proven track record on marine policy and advocacy and is engaging on some of the most critical issues facing our region today.”

Leanne Schlinger graduated cum laude from UCSB with a bachelor’s degree in law and society. Shortly thereafter she founded Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals which she has run since 2006. A recent “40 under 40” award recipient from Pacific Coast Business Times, Ms. Schlinger has served on numerous nonprofit boards in addition to serving as the Executive Director of the Schlinger Family Foundation.

“I have always appreciated the critical role EDC plays on the protection of our climate and local environment,” said Ms. Schlinger. “As a business leader, as a parent, and as an advocate for conservation issues, I am proud to join EDC’s leadership team at this critical time.”

“Both Rocio and Leanne bring tremendous skills and experiences to EDC,” said Owen Bailey, EDC’s Executive Director. “Both these impressive leaders will help strengthen our program work and advance environmental protection throughout our region.”

Ms. Lozano-Knowlton and Ms. Schlinger will be joining the following members of the EDC Board of Directors: Judy Pirkowitsch (President), Dave Davis (Vice-President), Diane Wondolowski (Treasurer), Katy Allen (Secretary), Dennis Allen, Daniel Emmett, Richard Francis, Jim Hammock, Gary Hill, Gail Osherenko, Jim Salzman, Sally Semegen, and Rob Tadlock.


The Environmental Defense Center protects and enhances the local environment through education, advocacy, and legal action and works primarily within Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. Since 1977, EDC has empowered community-based organizations to advance environmental protection. EDC’s focus areas include protection of the Santa Barbara Channel, ensuring clean water, preserving open space and wildlife, and addressing climate and energy.

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