Heal the Bay President Mark Gold announced Jan. 10 that he is stepping down from the Santa Monica-based environmental organization to serve as the associate director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Gold, a 23-year veteran of Heal the Bay, is returning to his alma mater effective Jan. 30 to provide leadership at the institute’s Coastal Center. As part of his management duties, he will also help spearhead efforts to build the institute’s education, research and public outreach programs.

“I have been lucky to be part of an environmental organization that has achieved so much to better Southern California,” said Gold. “I’ve had the privilege to work with many incredible leaders, staff members and volunteers that have shared a common vision of clean water and protected watersheds.

“I am confident that the senior management team we’ve spent years developing will continue to move the organization forward. Heal the Bay will always be an important part of me, but I look forward to new challenges at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment.”

Heal the Bay Executive Director Karin Hall and Associate Director Alix Hobbs will continue to provide day-to-day management and organizational and fiscal oversight for the environmental group. Gold will continue to serve on Heal the Bay’s board of directors following his resignation, but the board will soon meet to determine a new management structure for the non-profit.

“Everyone who lives in or visits Southern California has benefited from Mark Gold’s tireless efforts to keep our waters safe and clean,” said Matt Hart, chairman of Heal the Bay’s board of directors. “He has also built a great organization of smart, dedicated professionals that will sustain the legacy he and (founding president) Dorothy Green started over 25 years ago.”

While working on his doctorate in environmental science and engineering from UCLA, Gold joined Heal the Bay as staff scientist in 1988 and became the organization’s first employee. Guided by his mentor Green, Gold was named executive director of the organization in 1994 and president in 2006.

He has worked extensively over the last 25 years in the field of coastal protection and water pollution and is recognized as one of California’s leading environmental advocates. Gold has also authored or co-authored numerous California coastal protection, water quality and environmental education bills.