Heather Moffat, Executive Director
Heather grew up dreaming of becoming a kindergarten teacher but a college course in dinosaurs changed her career path. She pursued her fascination of paleontology, earning a B.S. in geology from Smith College and two M.S. degrees from University of Southern California and University of Rochester. While in graduate school, she rediscovered her love of teaching and realized she could combine her two passions of education and the natural world through museum education. She became the first Director of Education for the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, designing their science education programs to inspire appreciation of the natural world. Following her six years at the Alf Museum, Heather became the Director of Education and Exhibits for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and its Sea Center. During her eight-year tenure in Santa Barbara, she realigned the Museum’s guiding principles to focus on anchoring their educational programs in nature and led the effort to create experiential learning spaces in their indoor and outdoor areas. In mid-February 2015, Heather joined our Museum as our new Executive Director. She is thrilled to lead the Museum at this exciting time in its history.
Elizabeth Evans, Museum Program Manager
Elizabeth fell in love with nature as a child on family backpacking trips in the High Sierra. A native of California’s San Joaquin Valley, and graduate of College of the Sequoias (A.A. Fine Art) and UC Santa Cruz (B.S. Earth Science), she joined the Museum staff in 2014. Elizabeth worked as an interpretive park ranger in five of California’s national parks, as an environmental education ranger for the San Francisco District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and taught Science and Art as a middle school teacher in rural Tulare County. She spent the last four years managing programs for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ Division of Interpretation, Education, and Outreach. Elizabeth is excited about engaging people of all ages with the rich natural history of the Santa Cruz area.
Liz Broughton, Visitor Services Manager
Liz grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley before heading off to UC Berkeley to pursue a degree in anthropology and Celtic studies. While there she conducted research on baboon teeth morphology for the Integrative Biology Department and interned with the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. She continued her education at the University of Washington in Seattle where she earned an MA in the little known field of Museology. She gained a broad understanding of museums through coursework and internships at the Burke Museum of Natural History, the Woodland Park Zoo, and the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. Liz is passionate about public understanding and engagement in science and as the current Visitor Services Manager, she manages the public spaces of the Museum.
Peter Wampler, Field Program Coordinator
Peter was raised in the outskirts of Rochester, New York. It was here in the surrounding forests, that he began his lifelong love of the outdoors. While attending Calvin College as a history and archaeology student, this curiosity took greater shape as he began taking notice of environmental issues and the ideas of stewardship. This interest spring-boarded a career in environmental education that has meandered through two outdoor schools in central California. Professionally, Peter has also worked with adults and children with varying disabilities. Peter coordinates the Neary Lagoon and Pogonip Programs and assists with education programs at the Museum. While his passions lie in education and environment, you may also see Peter around town riding his bike, out hiking, or checking out local music.
Chris Sulots, Museum Program Assistant
Chris Sulots grew up surrounded by Joshua Trees within the Antelope Valley in Southern California. He moved north to study Archaeology first at Cabrillo College, where he performed excavations at Año Nuevo State Park, and then at UC Berkeley, where he earned his bachelors degree in Anthropology. He worked as an Archaeologist in Japan and in the Northern Sierra mountains of California. He served the public as a Librarian for the Cities of Berkeley and Santa Cruz. He loved teaching about the environment in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Aquarium of the Bay and in the East Bay Regional Park District (Fremont, Richmond, and Alameda). Here in Santa Cruz he continued this path as a Naturalist at the Web of Life Field School and as a Park Ranger with the City of Santa Cruz at the Loch Lomond Recreation Area. When not at the museum you may find Chris riding a bicycle along the coast, playing a stringed instrument, reading a book, or taking photographs of nature.
Matthew Chaney, Field Program Assistant
Matthew is a fifth generation Santa Cruz resident who spent his childhood in the Soquel mountains. He recently graduated from CSUMB with a degree in Environmental Studies. He emphasized watershed science in his time as an undergraduate and worked for the CSUMB Geology Watershed Lab for over a year. He has teaching experience as an oceanography lab assistant and as a biology tutor. Matthew is also a musician who often performs locally.
Angela Ward, Administrative Coordinator
Angela is a West Coast native and has enjoyed exploring the outdoors since childhood. Her past employment includes work with the United Indian of All Tribes Foundation, the National Park Service, Youth Conservation Corps, and local non-profit ETR Associates. She holds degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. Angela was an early participant in national service through the AmeriCorps program and completed her term of service in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. She spent many years living and working in Yosemite –as a trailworker, backcountry cook, and school secretary at a one-room school- before moving to Santa Cruz over 10 years ago. Angela joined the museum in January 2015 bringing with her years of non-profit administrative experience. She is excited about supporting the mission of the museum and helping to expand our reach in the community. Her interests include a passion for cooking, gardening & travel.
Mary A. Verutti, Museum Attendant
Mary A.V. has been with the Natural History Musuem since 2006 and seen so many changes here through the years and continues to be amazed at the contribution the museum makes to the fine city of Santa Cruz with such a small staff. She has an English/Writing degree from Chico State but has always had a passion for history – especially of Santa Cruz. She has learned so much about natural history from working here and is excited when all who enter feel the same. Mary loves all things Italian, New Orleanian, rainy days, moonlit nights, and is teased by friends and family to be “married to music!” She is very honored and happy to be a part of the dedicated staff and mainstay of the Natural History Museum.