Alix Hobbs started at the Santa Monica nonprofit as a teenage volunteer
By Gary Walker
Alix Hobbs was a teenager when she began volunteering for Heal the Bay in the summer of 1993.
On Oct. 1, the Santa Monica nonprofit’s board of directors named her its new president and CEO.
Hobbs takes over the leadership reigns from Ruskin Harley, who is returning to the San Francisco Bay area to be closer to his family after about 13 months with Heal the Bay, a spokesman said.
Hobbs’ appointment also came a day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a statewide ban on the distribution of plastic grocery and carryout bags, an issue the water-quality group had campaigned for heavily.
“As we get closer to our 30th anniversary next year, we really have a unique opportunity to take a fresh look at our programs and see what works and where we can improve,” Hobbs said.
Three decades ago the bay was in crisis, with much of its water toxic to fish and wildlife. Since that time, water quality and sea life populations have drastically improved, but Hobbs said there’s more work to be done.
“We want to continue, as a water quality organization, to see where we can have an impact and to stay relevant,” she said. “We still have the issue of storm water runoff and urban runoff, and that continues to be a problem.”
Hobbs said keeping the Hermosa Beach moratorium on offshore oil drilling in place is also a top priority.
One of Hobbs’ early mentors was Heal the Bay founder Dorothy Green, making her appointment something of a full-circle moment. She was also mentored by Mark Gold, who from 1999 to 2012 served as executive director and then president of Heal the Bay before becoming associate director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
“This is a choice that Dorothy Green would be proud of,” Gold said in a statement. “I began working with Alix when she was a teenager, and to see her grow and now lead the region’s most effective coastal environmental group is really gratifying. She has tremendous passion for protecting the bay and is an expert at managing all the details that come with that work.”
Hobbs worked as director of environmental quality for Scenic Hudson, a New York land trust, from 2001 to 2006 before returning to Heal the Bay as an associate director.
“I have Heal the Bay in my blood,” she said.