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.
Liz Broughton, Visitor Services Manager
Liz grew up in the redwoods of 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 Museum of Vertebrate Zoology 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 and studied all things museum-related. 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 a true museum nerd and is passionate about public understanding and engagement in science. 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, Volunteer Program Manager
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.
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, Visitor Services Representative
Mary A.V. has been with the Natural History Museum 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.
Selena Heck, Visitor Services Representative
Selena grew up playing in the dirt and making friends with every little creature around. Growing up in central California, she was blessed to be only a stones throw away from the Sierra’s and the Pacific Ocean, which propelled her complete infatuation for nature and the outdoors! She received a degree in Environmental Studies from UCSC, where natural history and scientific illustration sparked her interest. She believes that education does not stop at a certain age, but is a life-long journey filled with wonder and amazement! Selena’s other passions include drawing, mastering the art of cooking, singing in the shower, rock climbing, and observing the world around her. She is ecstatic to be a part of the dedicated staff here at the Natural History Museum and is looking forward to sharing her passions with the community!
Marisa Gomez, Education Assistant
Marisa grew up in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, where she was lucky enough to easily vacillate between the ocean and the mountains, with winters spent in the snow of the Sierras and summers hiking among the redwoods and swimming in the Pacific. While at San Jose State University, where she received a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, she found herself uniquely inspired by the cultural and natural history of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a subject that she has explored greatly in her fiction. Marisa is passionate about sharing knowledge with all people, no matter what the venue (for instance, she also hosts a weekly trivia night in town) and is delighted to be able to connect the people of Santa Cruz and visitors alike with nature as an educator at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Marisa’s interests are ever changing, but will always include coffee, photography, and trivia (A.K.A. everything).