Environmental activists Richard Beban of Playa del Rey and Lisa Fimiani of Culver City have been named co-executive directors of the environmental group Friends of Ballona Wetlands.

Beban, who has a 40-year history in the environmental movement, and Fimiani, who has worked at Ballona Wetlands for 20 years, were selected after a months-long search, said Jacob Lipa, president of the nonprofit organization’s board of directors.

“We were looking for a new executive director who could cover a lot of bases, from public education, to fundraising, to day-to-day administration, and whose core passion was our mission of saving and restoring this irreplaceable local resource,” said Lipa. “When the board realized we had two top candidates who both loved the wetlands and whose skills were complementary, we asked if they’d share the job, and they agreed.”

Friends of Ballona Wetlands works to monitor the restoration of the threatened ecosystem, which is now managed by the California Department of Fish and Game.

Beban has been a California environmental activist since he was in college in 1969, when he fought to save Corte Madera Creek in Marin County from plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to turn the creek and its tributary streams into a concrete ditch.

He has worked, often on a pro-bono basis, for such groups as Friends of the Earth, Marin Alternative (with now-Sen. Barbara Boxer), Friends of the Everglades, Coalition for Clean Air, and TreePeople. He also served on the boards of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, the media workers group Media Alliance, PEN West, and the Board of Visitors of Antioch University, Los Angeles.

He received his B.A. and MFA degrees from Antioch University in Los Angeles, and has worked for local environmental policy and public relations firms.

“When I see the variety of species now inhabiting the freshwater marsh, or using the freshwater marsh on their migratory path, I know the Friends have been on the right track for years, and I trust their integrity and stewardship to complete the task of making sure the saltwater marsh is equally viable habitat,” he said.

Fimiani has been associated with the Ballona Wetlands for more than 20 years and has been actively involved with Friends of Ballona Wetlands for more than a decade.

“I was hooked the first time I pulled non-native ice plant from the dunes,” she said. “To see it now, covered in native lupine, you would never know what the dunes once looked like. It is all due to volunteers’ successful restoration efforts led by the Friends.”

Her contributions to Friends of Ballona Wetlands include starting the migration celebration event; speaking on behalf of the Friends at Fish and Game Commission hearings; organizing Christmas bird counts and Great Backyard Bird Count programs in the wetlands; and serving as a docent at the freshwater marsh since 2003.

In 2005, Fimiani became a member of the group’s board of directors.

For more information, www.ballonafriends.org/.

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