Foundation Board

The role of the Foundation Board is to assist in Chabot’s fundraising effort through personal contributions and in-kind resources, and to help promote and build support for Chabot in the community.

The Foundation Board may have a total of 33 Directors which may include up to 11 Public elected Directors of the JPA Board.

Directors serve for a term of three years and there is no limitation to the number of terms a Director may serve.


Jennifer Liebeler Michael, Chair
Land and Biodiversity Manager, Chevron


Jennifer, an oceanographer and environmental scientist, has worked on conservation issues throughout her career in the academic, nonprofit, and business sectors. She volunteers her time working on issues of equity access in education.

Prior to joining Chevron, Jennifer worked for environmental conservation and non-profit groups. She directed international marine programs for a coral reef conservation and education organization. At the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, she collaborated with exhibit designers and educators to develop exhibits and experiential learning programs on watershed, coastal zone, and ocean conservation issues. Moving to the private sector, Jennifer uses her skills and commitment to a healthy environment to help improve business practices affecting the environment and foster a constructive dialogue on energy development and environmental protection.

Jennifer has a M.S. in Oceanography from the University of Hawaii and was a Chancellor Fellow at UCLA. She has a B.A. in Biology from Pomona College.  Jennifer holds a holds a commercial pilot license and flight instructor ratings for single and multiengine aircraft.  Jennifer was a member of Leadership California (class of 2019).  She also sits on the Socioeconomic and Policy Advisory Board of the RAND Corporation and is a Aspen First Movers Fellow.

Chris Ellison, Vice Chair
Founding Partner, Ellison, Schneider & Harris


Chris is an environmental attorney specializing in energy law, with an emphasis on renewable electricity. He is a founding partner in the firm of Ellison, Schneider & Harris, a 17 attorney Sacramento firm focused on energy, water and related environmental matters. Chris has been a leading participant in the restructuring of the electric industry and the promotion of renewable energy, and has been a participant before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission and other agencies regarding a variety of energy and related environmental issues. He was selected by the California Bar Association to serve on its Committee on the Environment (1987-1990) and has been selected by other attorneys and clients for inclusion in “Best Lawyers in America” (2006 to present), “Northern California Super Lawyers” (2005 to present) and by Sacramento Magazine for “Best Lawyers in Sacramento” (2006 to present).

Chris grew up in the Bay Area (Belmont) and now lives in San Rafael. He has a B.A. in psychology from the University of California at Riverside and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He has been on the Board of the International Child Resource Institute (headquartered in Berkeley) for the past five years and now serves as Board secretary. While he has no formal scientific background he has long-time amateur interest in physics (relativity and quantum mechanics), astronomy and space exploration.

John Spees, Treasurer
Founder and Managing Partner, Granite Capital Management


John is a co-founder and a Managing Partner for Granite Capital Management, a Registered Investment Advisory and Wealth Management Firm located in the East Bay. The firm provides investment advisory services to individuals, families and small businesses.

Prior to starting Granite with a colleague in 2000, John spent 16 years trading fixed income securities and related derivatives for Bank of America and Security Pacific Bank, with his final five years a member of the Bank’s proprietary risk taking unit. John is also a manager of and investor in Granite Investors LLC, a leveraged fixed income investment partnership organized to participate in the Federal Reserve’s Term Asset Backed Loan Facility. He started his career as a consultant for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).

John is married to an Oakland Public School teacher and he and his wife have two children. He holds an MBA and BS from the HAAS School of Business Administration, University of California, Berkeley, with an emphasis in Finance.

Committee Chairs

Bill Bruner, Foundation Governance
NASA/Commercial Space Relationship Manager


Bill is the NASA/Commercial Space Relationship Manager for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Previously he was Director of Government and External Relations. Bill has 25 years of experience in strategic communications, government affairs, strategic planning, and national security policy.

Prior to joining LLNL, Bill was the Assistant Administrator for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at NASA during the Administration of President George W. Bush.

Before his NASA appointment, Bill had a distinguished career in the United States Air Force. He was awarded the Bronze Star for service in the First Gulf War. Bill served in several positions in Washington – as a space and airpower expert on the Secretary of the Air Force’s Staff Group; as a Military Fellow in the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; and as an Office Director within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he won the Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze Award for Excellence in International Security Affairs.

Bill is a graduate of the National War College, the Air Force Fighter Weapons School, and the Air Force’s School of Advanced Air and Space Power Studies. He has earned master’s degrees in National Security Strategy and Airpower Arts and Sciences. His bachelor’s degree in Physical Science (Astronomy) is from San Francisco State University.

John Spees, Finance
Founder and Managing Partner, Granite Capital Management


John is a co-founder and a Managing Partner for Granite Capital Management, a Registered Investment Advisory and Wealth Management Firm located in the East Bay. The firm provides investment advisory services to individuals, families and small businesses.

Prior to starting Granite with a colleague in 2000, John spent 16 years trading fixed income securities and related derivatives for Bank of America and Security Pacific Bank, with his final five years a member of the Bank’s proprietary risk taking unit. John is also a manager of and investor in Granite Investors LLC, a leveraged fixed income investment partnership organized to participate in the Federal Reserve’s Term Asset Backed Loan Facility. He started his career as a consultant for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).

John is married to an Oakland Public School teacher and he and his wife have two children. He holds an MBA and BS from the HAAS School of Business Administration, University of California, Berkeley, with an emphasis in Finance.


Rajiv Bhatia
VP of Product, Lyft

Raj is a product + technology leader with 20+ years of experience in creating and scaling products in both early-stage and mature organizations. He has built and led multidisciplinary technology teams, created and curated product development processes, sustainably incorporated long-term vision and customer needs into product planning, and successfully driven several products to strong product-market fit and P&L positions.
He has spent his career developing + growing next-generation products in the transportation, education, games, and computer systems industries. In his current role as VP of Product at Lyft, he leads the Driver + Supply product teams to ensure drivers have a compelling earnings experience and to power the marketplace with quality supply. Before Lyft, Rajserved in various product, engineering, and leadership roles at Zynga, AltSchool, and IBM.
Raj grew up in Texas and now lives with his wife and two daughters in the East Bay. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois, an M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas, and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jan M. Chabala, Ph.D.
Retired Physicist


Jan has a long career in experimental physics, industrial research, and design. Areas of specialization include development of charged particle, vacuum, and mass spectrometry systems. Early in his career as a physics postdoctoral researcher, Jan analyzed the microscopic properties of many interdisciplinary materials, including ceramics, alloys, semiconductor devices and biological tissues.
In 1998, Jan moved to the Bay Area with his wife to work at Etec Systems (acquired by Applied Materials), where he was a system design engineer working on the development of electron-beam photomask pattern generation products.  In the mid-2000s, Jan moved to Schafer Laboratories as a Consulting Engineer/Scientist, where he developed instruments for the precise characterization of nuclear and other materials.

Jan was on the board of Carden West, a private school in Pleasanton. A father of three children, Jan and his family have traveled extensively and lived for a period in Singapore. Observing cultures and education around the world has been, in part, an impetus to join the Chabot board.
Jan received his physics Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he was awarded the Marc Perry Galler Prize for single most outstanding Ph.D. thesis in the Physical Sciences. He also received the Burton Medal, awarded annually to one young scientist deemed to have made important contributions to the field of microscopy in the past five years (presented by the Microscopy Society of America). Jan retired in 2014. He has been a classroom volunteer at Chabot Space and Science Center since 2015.

Vanita Chhabra
Vice President of Strategic Operations for AAA


Vanita and her team are responsible for building the strategy for Roadside Operations while delivering on the financial and tactical plans of technology deployment, fleet expansion, safety, analytics, fraud prevention and damages control.

Vanita recently served as Senior Director, Business Operations at Pacific Gas and Electric Company. In this role, Vanita and her team were responsible for developing the strategic and tactical multi-year plans for the Electric business and key regulatory filings, measuring work execution progress, and managing the Electric Advance office focused on performance improvement. Prior to this role, Vanita led work & resource management, portfolio management, contract management, performance improvement, compliance & quality assurance, and safety, work methods & procedures for the Electric Transmission business. She led large initiatives across the business including the development of a multi-year executable plan and contract strategy, as well as implemented key technology projects aimed at improving work management tools.

Vanita has held roles at PG&E including Business & Workforce Strategy, Chief of Staff role for Electric Operations and the Chief Operating Officer, as well as the Director of Enterprise Project Governance.

Before joining PG&E, Vanita worked at Alpha Capital Partners, a private equity firm and Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, an investment bank. She completed her BSBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and her MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.

Glen Dahlbacka Ph.D.
Senior Program Manager, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


As a founding member of the the new CSSC, Glen began his work on the Center in the 80’s when his wife, Rena Rickles, was approached by the East Bay Astronomical Society to work pro bono on a Joint Powers Agreement for a new astronomy center for the Chabot Observatory.  Glen was the CEO of a technology company focused on x-ray laser researchs.  He was a group leader at a technology company where they were the first to generate conditions that could lead to fusion implosions using high power electrical pulse generators.  That line of research continues at Sandia Labs, Albuquerque.

Harlan Kessel of the EBRPD Board appointed Glen to the new CSSC JPA Board.  Harlan knew Glen through Glen’s involvement in East Bay politics.  Glen was a Planning Commissioner in Livermore.  He was elected to the Livermore City Council in 1976.

Glen served as Treasurer during the Center’s construction project. During this time Glen became VP of Business Development at a technology company that built and equipped synchrotron x-ray sources for industrial uses. Glen then joined Berkeley Lab as a staff scientist to build the industrial programs of the new Advanced Light Source synchrotron. He spent the last years of his time at the Lab as a Senior Program Manager for a DOE non-proliferation program with Former Soviet Union scientists.
Glen is now retired from the Lab but is active as a board adviser to a renewable energy start-up and a start-up in Targeted Alpha Therapy for treatment resistant cancers.

Glen was born in Upper Michigan, attended the U of Illinois, earned a BS in Physics with a minor in anthropology, and earned a PhD in Astrophysics at the U of Minnesota.  He’s lived in Oakland with Rena since 1979 and has three children and four grandchildren.

Jerry Fiddler
Chairman, Solazyme; Principal, Zygote Ventures


Jerry is the Chairman of Solazyme, Principal of Zygote Ventures and Founder of Wind River. Jerry started Wind River in his Berkeley garage in 1981 along with fellow Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories software engineer David Wilner. Over the next 23 years, Fiddler steered the company to the global forefront of the embedded software industry. Wind River operating systems have guided each of NASA’s Mars rovers, and the company flourished with operating systems for products ranging from digital cameras and DVD players to medical equipment and anti-lock brakes. Fiddler retired as Wind River’s chairman in 2004.

“Technology and science is an exciting combination,” said Jerry . “That’s what makes Chabot so compelling – and so important. There’s not another institution that can lay claim to Northern California’s only full-dome digital planetarium, the only research-quality telescopes regularly open to the public in the Western U.S. and dozens of cutting-edge interactive exhibits… all located in one of the most stunning natural settings in California.”

Alex Filippenko, Ph.D.
Professor of Astronomy, Richard & Rhoda Goldman/Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences, UC Berkeley


Alex  joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1986, where he is a leading authority on exploding stars, active galaxies, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and the expansion of the Universe. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences and one of the world’s most highly cited astronomers, he is the recipient of numerous prizes for his research. UC Berkeley students have voted him the “Best Professor” on campus six times, and he was named the 2006 Carnegie/CASE National Professor of the Year among doctoral institutions. He has appeared in numerous television documentaries, produced introductory astronomy video courses with The Teaching Company, and coauthored an award-winning textbook.

Sheryl Gorchow-Stuart
Director of Institutional Advancement, Chabot Space & Science Center


Sheryl is the current Director of Institutional Advancement at Chabot Space & Science Center.  A non-profit philanthropy and communications professional, Sheryl previously served as Director of Caltech’s Corporate & Foundation Relations development team during the Institute’s successful $1.4 billion “There’s Only One” campaign, and supported projects within the Division of Physics, Math and Astronomy. She has worked at a range of educational institutions and museums, including Pitzer College, the Academy of Natural Sciences and The University of Pennsylvania’s Museum. She also served as administrator of the Weston Havens Foundation for medical and scientific research. Sheryl has taught fundraising in UCLA’s Development Professional Certification Program. An active volunteer, she has served as Vice Chair of the Berkeley-based Youth Musical Theater Company, President of the Claremont Educational Foundation and as a founding board member of the Oak Crest Institute of Science in Pasadena. She holds a masters in science journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia and a bachelors in philosophy from Haverford College.

Garrett Gruener
General Partner, Alta Partners


Garrett is a co-founder of Alta Partners, and was also a Partner at Burr, Egan, Deleage & Co., which he joined in 1992. Garrett has more than two decades of experience in the fields of software development, systems engineering and corporate development. In 1982, he founded Virtual Microsystems, a successful communications software company that was later merged with a larger corporation. Garrett also founded Ask Jeeves, now Ask.Com, a leading Internet search engine which is now part of IAC. Garrett specializes in information technology and is on the board of directors of Aegis Lightwave, Ellie Mae, Nanomix and nCircle Network Security. Gruener earned a Masters Degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, San Diego, both in Political Science with a focus on technology policy.

Daniel Kammen
Professor of Energy with parallel appointments in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering, UC Berkeley

Dan is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley, with parallel appointments in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. He was appointed the first Environment and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA) Fellow by Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton in April 2010.

Dan is the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL), Co-Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, and Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center. He has founded or is on the board of over 10 companies, and has served the State of California and US federal government in expert and advisory capacities.

Dan was educated in physics at Cornell and Harvard, and held postdoctoral positions at the California Institute of Technology and Harvard. He was Assistant Professor and Chair of the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Program at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University before moving to the University of California, Berkeley. Dan has served as a contributing or coordinating lead author on various reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1999. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He serves on the Advisory Committee for Energy & Environment for the X-Prize Foundation.

During 2010-2011 Dan served as the World Bank Group’s Chief Technical Specialist for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. He was appointed to this newly-created position in October 2010, in which he provided strategic leadership on policy, technical, and operational fronts. The aim is to enhance the operational impact of the Bank’s renewable energy and energy efficiency activities while expanding the institution’s role as an enabler of global dialogue on moving energy development to a cleaner and more sustainable pathway.

He has authored or co-authored 12 books, written more than 300 peer-reviewed journal publications, testified more than 40 times to U.S. state and federal congressional briefings, and has provided various governments with more than 50 technical reports. Dan also served for many years on the Technical Review Board of the Global Environment Facility. He is a frequent contributor to or commentator in international news media, including Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Financial Times. Dan has appeared on 60 Minutes (twice), Nova, Frontline, and hosted the six-part Discovery Channel series Ecopolis. Dan is a Permanent Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society. In the US, he serves on two National Academy of Sciences boards and panels.

Dr. James Jim Mittelberger
Executive Director, The Center for Elders Independence


Dr. James Mittelberger is the Executive Director of The Center for Elders Independence, a program for all-encompassing care for the elderly. Previously, Mittelberger, a nationally-known expert in the field of hospice and palliative care, was Chief Medical Officer of Hospice by the Bay. As Chief Medical Officer, he oversaw medical quality for Hospice by the Bay and helped design new clinical programs as the organization expands its services in the Bay Area.

Mittelberger served as Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer of Optum Center for Palliative and Supportive Care (Eden Prairie, MN). He has also served as Chief, Division of Geriatrics at Alameda County Medical Center (Oakland); President/Chair of the OakCare Medical Group (Oakland); and, Medical Director at the Over 60’s Health Center (Berkeley). He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF School of Medicine. A certified Hospice Medical Director and a certified Hospice and Palliative Care Physician, Mittelberger is the author of numerous professional publications and a member of numerous state and national committees formed to address hospice and palliative care. He is a fellow of the prestigious American College of Physicians as well as the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He received his medical degree at the University of California (San Diego) and his Masters of Public Health at the University of Washington (Seattle). He resides in Oakland with his wife and has two children.

Sandra Milan
Senior Group Director, Genentech


Sandra Milan is a drug development professional with 20+ years of industry experience, including two years of vaccine development and 18 years of developing oncology therapeutics in solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. In her current role as a Senior Group Director at Genentech, she leads five Project Team Leaders collectively leading 11 Oncology programs. She has helped shape drug development programs that have the potential to save millions of lives. Genentech has been at the forefront of the biotechnology industry for more than 40 years, using human genetic information to develop novel medicines for serious and life-threatening diseases. She has a B.A. in Molecular Biology from UC Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley. Originally from Mexico, she lives in Orinda with her family and two teenage children.

Bill Nye
Founder and CEO, Nye Labs, LLC


Bill, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.

Bill graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduation, he worked as an engineer at Boeing. It was in Seattle that Bill won the Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. Eventually, Bill quit his engineering day job and made the transition to a night job as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s home-grown ensemble comedy show “Almost Live.”

This is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. The show appeared before Saturday Night Live and later on Comedy Central, originating at KING-TV, Seattle’s NBC affiliate. With Jim McKenna and Erren Gottlieb, Bill made a number of award-winning shows, including the show he became so well known for, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

While working on the Science Guy show, Bill won seven Emmy Awards for writing, performing, and producing. The show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five kids’ books about science.

Bill’s association with Chabot began when he agreed to partner with them on the development of their climate exhibit, Bill Nye’s Climate Lab. Bill joined the Foundation Board in 2011.

Bill Nye holds three Honorary Doctorate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Goucher College, and Johns Hopkins.

Bill is currently the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, the world’s large space interest organization.

Heather Rock
Climate Resilience Chief,  Corporate Sustainability, at Pacific Gas and Electric


Heather works to help prepare PG&E and its assets, employees, customers, and the communities in which it serves for the growing risks of climate change. As an energy, climate and sustainability expert, she works with business leaders and team members to develop proactive policies and strategies to advance business interests in a time of energy transitions. Her specialties include climate change adaptation, carbon offsets, and energy and natural resources policy. Previously, she has worked at Chevron, Eurasia Group, the InterAmerican Development Bank, and the Government Accountability Office. She received a BA in International Affairs from the University of Pennsylvania and has an MPIA in International Affairs and Public Policy from UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy.

Eric Rudney, 
President, Rudney Associates


Eric is a registered investment advisor with over twenty eight years of experience in investment planning and asset management for high net worth and corporate clients. For the past three consecutive years, the East Bay Business Times ranked Rudney Associates among the top-10 largest wealth management firms in the East Bay. Additionally, in 2008 the Winners Circle named Eric the East Bay’s best independent wealth management advisor. Eric supports and has served on the board of a number of local organizations that give back to the community and contribute to social change including BUILD, where he was Chairman of the Advisory Board, the Diablo Regional Art Association (former President and on the Board of Trustees), Las Trampas Inc. (Chairman Fundraising) and the Wheelchair Foundation. Eric is a graduate of UC Berkeley and attended CSU Hayward studying for his MBA Business/Finance.

Dan Van Der Zanden
Retired, Energy Research and Technology, Chevron


Dan was raised in Oregon and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University. After graduation he began work with Chevron Research and Technology in Richmond, CA in 1981 where over a thirty-six year career he worked on all aspects of air pollution issues including air pollution control technology, air permitting, pollutant dispersion modeling, emissions estimating, regulatory compliance, greenhouse gas emissions, and use of sensors for air emissions measurements.
At the time of his retirement from Chevron in 2017, he was leader of the Air Team within the Health, Environment, and Safety Group for Chevron Energy Research and Technology Company in San Ramon. Under his leadership, the Team provided expertise on combustion and flare operation, air pollution control technology, emissions estimating and dispersion modeling, greenhouse gas emissions, permitting, sensing of air emissions (especially related to infrared technology) and ozone and particulate matter issues. He has participated on a number of American Petroleum Institute (API) and Gas Research Institute (GRI) committees concerned with research on air issues/technology or advocacy with regulatory agencies.
An avid amateur astronomer for 45 years, with a focus on astrophotography, he actively participates in the Mt. Diablo Astronomical Society, where he is membership coordinator and where visits local schools to provide students an opportunity to view telescopes. He is a volunteer at Chabot Space and Science Center providing outreach to the public who come to look through the three large telescopes.

Eugene Wong
Executive Director, Morgan Stanley


Eugene is a senior member of the Business Consulting team in San Francisco and oversees Best Practices Consulting for clients on the West Coast.  He has over 14 years of experience working closely with alternative investment clients of Morgan Stanley, specifically advising on real estate, office infrastructure, platform design, vendor selection and project management‪. Eugene was an integral part of the team that helped a Sovereign Wealth Fund in the Middle East build out their hedge fund platform. He has completed business process reviews for institutional hedge fund managers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Singapore.
Eugene graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.