From her bicycle atop Mt. Tamalpais or along Oakland’s Skyline Boulevard, Jovita Pajarillo experiences San Francisco Bay in her favorite way: taking in the expansive views from afar. The Baykeeper Board member also likes to get up close and observe wildlife, especially small shorebirds.
“San Francisco Bay is very personal for me. It’s home,” she says. She’s lived in the Bay Area for 55 years. Her decades-long career as a Water Division manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) involved a lot of travel, “and as the plane flew over the Bay before landing at the Oakland or San Francisco airports, I always felt welcomed home.”
During her three years on the Baykeeper Board of Directors, Jovita has been the co-organizer of two Baykeeper Water Forums. Both events featured policy leaders discussing how broad issues around California water—such as drought, river flows, and cutbacks in federal protections—impact San Francisco Bay.
She’s also made connections between Baykeeper and other nonprofits and agencies concerned with California water, including inviting Baykeeper’s legal and science staff to serve on panels at the California Water Policy Conference, which she helps organize annually.
Jovita joined the Baykeeper Board shortly after her retirement from the EPA. She was looking for meaningful volunteer work that was local, after her years of travel. “I was very aware of all the threats to San Francisco Bay, including runoff from streets, and pollution from sewage treatment and oil and coal transport, and I wanted to put my regulatory experience to good use.”
“And that’s when I became drawn to this determined and scrappy nonprofit, Baykeeper, the champions who protect the Bay. It’s an effective organization with a boat on the water to do surveillance.”
Another Board member, Diane Livia, introduced Jovita to Baykeeper, and was part of the decision-making committee to invite her to join us. She was happy to say yes. “Being on the Board is a good fit for my interests, experiences, and aspirations. And it’s a fun group of people, too.”
Photo by Robb Most