Women’s History Month Celebration

March is Women’s History Month! CURes wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the efforts of some wonderful local women working to promote urban ecological awareness and conservation.

Karen Dial

Dial serves as the managing director of the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation, through which she has overseen the donation of nearly $2 million to local organizations. This list includes the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, Westchester Family YMCA, and the LA Police Department Pacific Area Boosters Association. In 2011, the LA Business Journal named Dial its Philanthropist of the Year at its Women Making a Difference Awards.

Dial also serves on several Westchester community boards including the Westchester Vitalization Corporation and the Women’s Leadership Council of LMU.




Ruth Galanter

In 1973, Galanter was the first California resident to file an appeal under the Coastal Preservation Act against a Santa Monica housing development. She also served as a staff and board member for the California League of Conservation Voters and later helped started the LA League, and worked as a consultant for the State Coastal Conservancy and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Galanter served on the Los Angeles City Council for 16 years beginning in 1987, where she was known for supporting “smart growth” policies across the Westside that limited major developments. This included restoration of the Venice canals and pier, as well as other water and energy conservation, recycling, and affordable housing initiatives. Galanter also worked to preserve 270 acres of the Ballona Wetlands as part of the Playa Vista development deal in 1993. Additionally, she briefly taught at LMU. Galanter continues to be active in the Wetlands preservation efforts.


Suzanne Goode

Goode has served as the Natural Resource Program Manager for the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Angeles District for 26 years. She oversees land across the LA area, including current restoration projects in the Santa Monica Mountains such as Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Canyon, Topanga Canyon, Arroyo Sequit, and La Jolla Valley. Through her efforts, the Malibu Lagoon project has been highly successful, as noted in a recent report by the Bay Foundation. Goode also serves on the La Kretz Center Science Advisory Committee and the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program Trustee Council.


Susan Gottlieb

Originally from Quebec, Gottlieb came to LA to work as a registered nurse, which she did for 25 years before shifting to philanthropic efforts. She is on the President’s Council for National Wildlife Federation, and on the Board of Directors for Audubon California and Friends of Ballona Wetlands. Gottlieb created an award-winning native garden in the backyard of her Beverly Hills home that has been featured in The New York Times and countless garden tours. The garden is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat and by the Xerces Society as a Pollinator Habitat. Gottlieb uses her garden to educate others about the value of native plants and actively works to promote conservation across LA. She continuously engages with groups such as the Theodore Payne Foundation, Earth Justice, Conservation International, and CURes.


Ruth Lansford 

Lansford is a founder of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands (FBW) nonprofit, which officially began in 1978. Coming from New York, she moved into an apartment in Playa del Rey with her family, where she realized that the fields surrounding the community were actually the Ballona Wetlands. Concerned that development would occur upon Howard Hughes death, as he owned the land, Lansford got together with nine other scientists and environmentalists to create FBW. Thus began a 30-year struggle to preserve LA’s last remaining coastal wetland. In 2003 the State purchased the last remaining Ballona acres west of Lincoln from Playa Vista.

In 2006, Lansford won the National Citizen Planner of the Year Award from the American Planning Association for her efforts.


Margery Nicolson

A committed environmentalist and supporter of a range of environmental organizations, Nicolson had a special interest in the Audubon Rowe Sanctuary in Nebraska, and particularly for the Sandhill crane migration. Upon her husband’s death, Nicolson helped fund and create the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at the Sanctuary on the Platte River. She now spends three to four weeks at the Center annually to teach the 15,000-18,000 visitors who come to see the Sandhill cranes. The Center is also instrumental for protecting the habitat of 300 other bird species. Nicolson also serves on the National Audubon Board of Directors, as well as the boards of both California and Alaska Audubon.


Mary Thomson

Thomson was the volunteer director of restoration for the Friends of Ballona Wetlands (FBW) in the 1980s and 90s and worked extensively to restore the area. She was known as the Mother of Restoration, and a plaque is on the Trestle trail in the Saltmarsh acknowledging her success in starting the 8 acre Dunes Restoration project that now is home to a growing population of federally endangered El Segundo blue butterflies. She also created a painting, called Wiyot’s Children, depicting the Tongva First Americans, or Gabrielinos, who lived in the Ballona Wetlands beginning somewhere between 9,000-2,500 BPE, which is used by historians and history buffs interested in what is considered to be an accurate portrayal of the people’s daily life during that time period. Thomson conducted extensive research on the Tongva to complete her work, and received numerous acknowledgements and praise right up until her death in 2004 for her dedication.


Maxine Waters

Currently in her thirteenth term, Waters serves as a US House of Representatives Congresswoman for California’s 43rd Congressional District, representing a large portion of South Central Los Angeles. Prior to her election in the House, Waters served in the California State Assembly where she led legislation for divestment from state pension funds in South Africa, a statewide Child Abuse Prevention Training Program, and introduced the nation’s first plant closure law. Following the 1992 civil unrest in LA, she advocated for more resources in South Central LA. Additionally, Waters is a co-founder of: the Black Women’s Forum, a LA nonprofit; Project Build, which works wit young people in LA to find job training and placement; and the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.

Waters also worked to prevent an environmentally damaging LAX extension and continues to protect the Ballona Wetlands and surrounding bluff habitats. In terms of other environmental topics, she opposes proposed offshore drilling, advocates for zero-emission transportation, and actively works for emergency preparedness in the case of floods in the LA area.