Joint Powers Authority Board

The JPA Board provides oversight to the general operations and governance of the Center, giving its approval to all major expenditures, appointments and strategic decisions.

The JPA Board may have a total of 23 Directors consisting of: 9 representatives appointed (3 each) by the three JPA Public Agency partners: City of OaklandOakland Unified School District, and East Bay Regional Park District; 2 appointees from the Eastbay Astronomical Society and 1 appointee from the Alameda County Office of Education. One seat on the board is also reserved for a representative of Chabot Space & Science Center Volunteers and the remaining seats are public.

Directors serve for a term of 3 years and there is no limitation to the number of terms a Director may serve.


Mary Ellen Tong (EBRPD), Chair
Business Consultant


Mary Ellen has been on numerous nonprofit boards and taken many community roles. Mary Ellen was a member of the Oakland Zoo Board and served as their president. At the Zoo, Mary Ellen helped initiate and fundraise for the zoo expansion and new veterinary hospital. She then served on their Foundation Board. Mary Ellen has also participated in other Oakland nonprofit boards including: Children’s Fairyland board, Elizabeth House board and as an appointed park commissioner for the City of Oakland.

Mary Ellen is a Certified Public Accountant with expertise in Finance and Management. She began her career working for Ernst and Ernst and Forbes CPA firms. After, she worked for 10 years at Wells Fargo Bank serving as Senior Vice President and divisional Chief Financial Officer for their commercial real estate lending, bank owned property, and leasing divisions and subsidiaries. Mary Ellen then worked in the business consulting industry with Robert Cliff and Associates and worked on numerous corporate projects throughout the bay area.

Mary Ellen lives with her husband Bryant in Oakland. She has two children. Mary Ellen enjoys playing golf with groups in Oakland, Santa Cruz and Berkeley.

Larry Langs, Vice Chair
Investor – Financial Operational and Legal Engineering of Technology Companies


Larry has split his work life between operations and advisory for leading edge technology companies for over 20 years. He has operations experience as a senior executive and board member of private and public technology companies, and advising companies as lawyer, investment banker, and corporate development consultant. He has extensive operations experience on the revenue side of small-cap to multi-billion dollar public growth companies and has substantially influenced revenue and balance sheet value prior to partial liquidation events such as financing, sales, public offerings, and sister listings on international public exchanges.

Internationally, Larry has worked in 49 countries. He also has been active in over 200 merger & acquisition deals and public offerings.

Larry has a broad background in operations and business management. Some public companies he was senior executive of include EVP at ACD Systems, EVP at Musician.com for Guitar Center, SVP of business development at MP3.com, and VP of business development for Sybase New Media and Telecom, Investment Banker for Chemical Bank in New York (now JP Morgan Chase), and Senior Consultant for Arthur D. Little in Boston.

He holds a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law, and a Master’s Degree in Finance and Management of Technology from the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. He is a member of the New York Bar.

Fred Patton, Treasurer
Retired CFO


Fred is a retired CFO with a long career of financial management in a variety of technology, software development,  manufacturing, distribution and service companies.

He has worked with companies that are local, national and multinational entities; from development stage to turn-around to mature and profitable, and with operational staffs ranging from 3 to over 125. Fred’s experience has included working with private, venture backed, and non-profit (501.c.3) organizations, some of which have never raised outside capital, as well organizations that have raised significant amounts through equity and/or debt whether from the venture community, lending institutions, and/or grantors.

Fred holds an MBA, an MS and BS from Stanford University. He is an Oakland resident and a long time supporter and volunteer at Chabot.

Committee Chairs

Fred Patton, Finance
Retired CFO


Fred is a retired CFO with a long career of financial management in a variety of technology, software development,  manufacturing, distribution and service companies.

He has worked with companies that are local, national and multinational entities; from development stage to turn-around to mature and profitable, and with operational staffs ranging from 3 to over 125. Fred’s experience has included working with private, venture backed, and non-profit (501.c.3) organizations, some of which have never raised outside capital, as well organizations that have raised significant amounts through equity and/or debt whether from the venture community, lending institutions, and/or grantors.

Fred holds an MBA, an MS and BS from Stanford University. He is an Oakland resident and a long time supporter and volunteer at Chabot.

Paul Chapman (EBRPD), Nominating
Executive Director, Inverness Associates


Paul is the executive director of Inverness Associates, an educational consulting group that supports schools in sustainability, global education, strategic planning, and leadership development. He is especially interested in promoting “green” schools that embrace environmental sustainability in their facilities, operations and program. Since 2010 he has served as a visiting scholar at Stanford and UC Berkeley and published two books, Greening America’s Schools and Greening America’s Schools 2.0 (NAIS 2012, 2013). He is the author of Growing Connections: California Private Schools and Informal Environmental Education (2013). He also published Schools as Sorters: Lewis M. Terman, Applied Psychology, and the Intelligence Testing Movement, 1890-1930 (New York: NYU Press, 1988).

Previously, he served as Head of School at the Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA, and before that as Assistant Head at San Francisco University High School and Associate Director of Admissions at Reed College in Portland, OR. Raised near Chicago, he received a B.A. in history from Yale and an M.A. in American history and a Ph.D. in the history of education from Stanford.

He has served on a number of boards and is a frequent speaker on topics ranging from environmental sustainability to strategic planning.  He lives in Berkeley and enjoys reading, fishing, traveling and hiking with his Golden Retriever.


Lewis Braxton III
Retired Deputy Director at NASA’s Ames Research Center

Lewis is the retired Deputy Director at NASA’s Ames Research Center. In that capacity, Lewis served as the government equivalent of a Chief Operating Officer with day-to-day management responsibility for a large organization with over 3,000 civil service employees and support service contractors and an annual operating budget approaching $800 million.
Lewis has 30 years of experience at NASA, starting as a co-op student accountant trainee at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and advancing up the management chain to become chief financial officer at Ames. Subsequently, he served as director of center operations. He was named deputy center director in 2008.

Lewis earned degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Business; Golden Gate University; the California State University, Fresno; and Merced Junior College. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award; NASA’s Exceptional Service Award; and a NASA Group Achievement Award for his involvement with the Dryden separation team. Lewis received the NASA Chief Financial Officer award for development and presentation of the agency’s ‘Financial Management Crosscutting Report.’ He has been recognized in numerous group achievement awards and for his contributions to the Ames African-American Advisory Group.
Lewis is married, with three daughters, one son and five grandchildren.

Amber Childress
Trustee, Alameda County Board of Education


Amber Childress was raised in Oakland and has spent the majority of her life in the East Bay, attending Oakland public schools and Mills College. From her school-age years through adulthood, Amber has benefited from programs like Upward Bound, A Better Chance, the Oakland Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program, and EmergeCA, all which fueled her desire to advocate for quality education for all students. The support that she received from childhood until now, has taught her to embrace the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Amber currently works at a nonprofit and is a longtime volunteer with Girls Inc. of Alameda County, having served in roles such as: classroom volunteer, event setup crew member, committee member, college essay adviser. Her dedication to Girls Inc. led to her being honored as a Jefferson Award Winner in 2017. She was also selected as the recipient of the 2016 Powerful Women of the Bay Innovator Award for her dedication to the community, tech education, and local small business owners. In 2016, Amber was elected to serve on the Alameda County Board of Education. She currently represents Area 2 which covers the city of Alameda and parts of Oakland, including the southern portion of West Oakland, all of Jack London and Chinatown, and a portion East Oakland. When she is not working or advocating for equity in education, Amber enjoys being a mother to her son and her dog, Maddox.


John Currie (EAS)
Retired Information Technology Specialist


John is a retired Information Technology specialist. He has 35 years of experience in computer systems management, networking systems, software development, back office server management and co-location facilities management.
Although he is originally from the East coast, John has lived in the Bay Area for more than 25 years. He has been a Chabot member since 2001 and Chabot volunteer since retiring in 2010. As a volunteer at Chabot, John has been trained on and operates all of the observatory deck telescopes. John is an avid amateur astronomer and is an active member of EAS. He participated with Chabot, EAS and Oakland Firefighters at the Random Acts of Science (RAS) events and, with his own telescope, he frequently participates in EAS Outreach events at local schools and organizations.

Michael Levi, Ph.D. (EBRPD)
Senior Lead Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Michael serves on the CSSC JPA board and on the CSSC board Executive Committee as the previous JPA Chair. Michael is a practicing experimental astrophysicist and elementary particle physicist. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1984 and his B.A. from Harvard College in 1977. Currently, he is a Senior Lead Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and a Senior Space Fellow at the University of California Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory. He is the director of the Department of Energy’s Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), a $56M experiment currently in fabrication to study the mystery and nature of dark energy.
Michael was awarded Fellow of the American Physical Society for his work on electronic instrumentation for particle physics experiments.
Michael has held positions in the past at Stanford University, CERN (the European accelerator laboratory), and the Naval Research Laboratory.
For relaxation, Michael is an avid skier, plays tennis, kayaks, and enjoys backpacking in the Sierras. He and his wife (also an astrophysicist) live in Oakland.

Janet Macher Sc. D. (Public)
Retired Public Health Researcher


Janet serves on the CSCC board as the Chabot volunteer representative. She retired from the California Department of Public Health in 2015, but continues to conduct research there as a volunteer.
Janet has a master ‘s degree from the University of California and doctorate from Harvard University with emphasis on environmental health, public health, and microbiology.
Janet is a fellow of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate. She has studied engineering measures to control airborne infectious and hypersensitivity diseases, evaluated methods to collect and identify airborne particles of biological origin, and participated in epidemiological studies of children’s health in the state of California. Originally from St. Louis, MO, Janet has lived in Oakland for over 30 years.  She was married to David A. Freedman until his death in 2008 and enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren.

Gerald McKeegan (EAS)
Space Systems Program Manager, Orcon Corporation


Gerald earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from California State University, Hayward, and he holds a Master of Science degree in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota. He has held management positions in the aerospace industry for more than 30 years, and is currently the Space Systems Program Manager for Orcon Corporation. During his career, Gerald has been involved with numerous spacecraft projects, including the Space Shuttle, Cassini, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Solar B, Juno and many others. He was awarded the NASA “Silver Snoopy” award by the Johnson Space Center Astronaut Office for his work in support of the Post-Challenger Space Shuttle Return to Flight program.

Gerald is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area. He has been an active Chabot volunteer since the year 2000, and a member of the Eastbay Astronomical Society since 2002. He is one of Chabot’s senior telescope operators, working every weekend to support the public observing program, as well as many Chabot special events.

Gerald also heads Chabot’s Asteroid Search Program, and has made more than a thousand asteroid observations using the 36-inch telescope. In addition, he serves as a Chabot contact for media inquiries, often doing broadcast interviews about space or astronomy events, especially those involving asteroids or meteors.

Annie Mudge
Partner,  Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP


Anne (“Annie”) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP and for the past 33 years has specialized in the  permitting of land use development and utility-scale energy projects. She has helped clients develop thousands of megawatts of renewable energy, housing projects, schools, hospitals, hotels, vineyards, master planned communities, public facilities, recycling centers and research parks all over California.    She co-chairs the firm’s Land Use Practice Group.  In 2019, she was named Lawyer of the Year for Natural Resources Law  (US News Best Lawyers)  and has been recognized as one of Daily Journal’s Top 100 Lawyers in California.  She has BA from Stanford University (1984) and a JD from Berkeley Law School (1987).

From 2003 to 2009, she served as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Oakland, supporting then-mayor Jerry Brown’s efforts to revitalize Oakland’s downtown, waterfront, and neighborhood shopping areas.  She has also served on the board of Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT), East Bay Rowing Club (EBRC) and the Oakland Strokes.

Annie has lived in Oakland with her husband Jim since 1988.  They have a daughter and a son and enjoy hiking, adventure travel and movies.

Hon. Jean Quan

Former Mayor, City of Oakland


Jean was the first Asian American woman to be elected to the Oakland City Council and the first female Mayor of Oakland. A champion of preserving and expanding education and after school programs, Jean was also one of the first Asian Americans to be elected to the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education where she served for 12 years and was a past President. She also serves on numerous boards and commissions including the California League of Cities, the Association of Bay Area Government, the Local Government Commission, and the Council of Urban Boards of Education of the National School Board Association. Jean was one of the founding members of Chabot Space & Science Center and currently serves as one of the City’s representatives.

Jean helped found Asian American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and studied Chinese at Yale University in China. She is a National Kellogg Foundation Fellow. She has been married to Dr. Floyd Huen for over 40 years and they have raised their family in Oakland for the last 30 years.

Hon. Dick Spees (Public)
Retired-Councilmember, City of Oakland


Hon. Dick Spees was elected six times and served nearly 24 years on Oakland’s City Council, representing the Montclair and Laurel districts, before retiring in January 2003. He earned a reputation as a consummate consensus builder, someone who could be relied upon to broker compromises. In the private sector, Dick was with Kaiser Aluminum for 32 years, retiring as vice president of public affairs. Since then, he has worked as a government relations consultant, representing clients on education, economic, and environmental issues. He is a former chairman of the Alameda County Republican Party. Dick was a driving force in the creation of the new Chabot Space & Science Center and one of its founding board members.

Sara Stone
Chief Academic Officer, AUSD


Sara grew up in Oakland, attended Oakland Unified Schools, and has worked in urban public schools throughout her career. She has dedicated her life to creating a safe place where students can be successful and productive learners, while promoting equitable access to curriculum has been her number one goal as an educator. She has worked as an educator for the past 20+ years, having taught in Redwood City, been the Design Team Leader and founding principal at RISE Community School in Oakland, the principal of Redwood Heights Elementary School, Network 1 Deputy Superintendent, the Network Superintendent for OUSD, and most recently, Chief Academic Officer for Alameda Unified School District. She has worked to influence the creation of an environment where students of all socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, and ability levels are empowered to make informed decisions, are able to develop their own particular learning style, and are able to meet challenging academic content and performance goals. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two sons, and their Chorkie, Oswald.


Hon. Sheng Thao (COO)
Councilmember, District 4

Sheng is Councilmember for District 4. Sheng has many years of experience on the Oakland City Council as a senior legislative staff member and as Council Chief of Staff. As Chief of Staff, she has managed multiple city budget cycles -focused on balancing a transparent and responsible budget.
Sheng also has extensive experience in staffing regional government Boards and Commissions where she has worked on ways to bring funding to Oakland for public safety, transit, and capital improvement projects. Sheng is also an active participant on the Alameda Labor Council’s Rapid Response working group, which aims to protect undocumented immigrants in Oakland and its neighboring cities. As a champion for the environment, Sheng has worked on policy solutions to provide cleaner air and water for Oakland residents.

Sheng is a lifelong public servant and currently serves as a board member on the Redwood Heights Association, she is also on the board for the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and serves as the Vice President for the Asian American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her son, biking through Joaquin Miller Park, and camping in the Stanislaus and El Dorado forests with her family. Sheng lives in District 4 with her 11-year-old son, Benedict, who is a Joaquin Miller Elementary alum.