Commissioner Biographies

RUE MAPP, Vallejo

Commission Chairperson

Candidly documenting her personal experiences while shifting and pioneering a new visual representation of Black people in the outdoors, Rue Mapp transformed her kitchen table blog into a national nature business and eventually a movement. Today, she’s the founder and CEO of where Black people and nature meet: Outdoor Afro. For more than a decade, the not-for-profit organization has continued to celebrate and inspire Black connections and leadership in nature across the United States. Although Mapp’s work in the outdoor industry may have started in her hometown of Oakland, California, her story and the creation of Outdoor Afro has since grown to inspire international headlines.

Mapp is also an avid hunter and published author. Her first national book titled “Nature Swagger: Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors” releases with American publisher Chronicle Books fall 2022. Mapp became a National Geographic 2019 Fellow, Heinz Awards Honoree, and National Wildlife Federation Communication Award recipient (received alongside President Bill Clinton), among many other recognitions. The White House also invited Mapp to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference, which led to her participation in the launch of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. Mapp’s conservation career, community impact with Outdoor Afro, and dedication to educational, environmental, and health policies continues to earn global media attention, including The New York Times, Good Morning America, NPR, NBC’s TODAY, Forbes, Oprah, Essence, and currently on Netflix’s popular series “MeatEater” with Steven Rinella.

Mapp was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014, has since served as Vice Chairperson of the Commission, and currently serves as Chairperson of the Commission.

PHIL GINSBURG, San Francisco

Commission Vice Chairperson

Phil Ginsburg is the general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. With more than 4,100 acres and over 220 parks under its jurisdiction, the Recreation and Park Department stewards some of the most spectacular public spaces in the world, including Golden Gate Park, Coit Tower and the Palace of Fine Arts. Under Phil’s leadership, San Francisco became the first City in the United States where 100% of its residents live within a ten-minute walk of a park. Phil has led his organization through transformational improvements to the public realm and he has made equity and increasing access to public recreation and to nature, the department’s primary objective.  Phil has built a financially sustainable model for San Francisco’s park system through ballot advocacy, the strategic use of public-private partnerships and philanthropy, creative revenue strategies, technology and administrative efficiencies. During his tenure, San Francisco has been consistently ranked one of the nation’s top five park systems. 

Ginsburg was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019 and currently serves as Vice Chairperson of the Commission.

DANNY J. BAKEWELL, SR., Bradbury

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. is a businessman, community leader, national civil rights activist, and philanthropist who possesses the unique ability to bring diverse bodies of people together for the common good of their communities, and the nation as a whole. His commitment to self-help, dignity, and respect for African Americans has earned him the reputation as “one of the most dynamic leaders in America today”, says the Los Angeles Times. Bakewell became President and CEO of The Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade in 1974 and now serves as Chairman of the Board. He has been recognized as one of California’s leading civil rights activists for over 30 years, and is also a very successful and well-known business leader. As Chairman of Bakewell Media (The Los Angeles Sentinel, The LA Watts Times), Bakewell is unapologetically the loudest voice in Los Angeles when it comes to the state of Black People and the Black Community. Bakewell is also the Creator/Founder/CEO of Taste of Soul, an annual “Food, Family and Fun” Festival which is the largest street festival of its kind with attendance over 3 Million people since it started in 2005. Bakewell is also the Chairman of the Bakewell Company, one of the largest African American privately-owned development companies in the United States. Bakewell brokers and heads multi-million-dollar revitalization efforts in cities throughout California and is well known for having African American, local, and women-owned businesses as part of his large development team which stands as a working model of inclusion and financial success in areas often considered by others as unprofitable, and impossible to develop. Politicians seek his advice because of his expertise and influence with both business and community groups. Bakewell played a significant role as an advisor to several Los Angeles Mayors from former Mayor Tom Bradley through the current Mayor Eric Garcetti, and in helping President Barack Obama win election in 2008 and re-election in 2012. Born in New Orleans, Bakewell now resides in Bradbury, California, with his wife, Aline Bakewell, Esq., and is the father of three children: Danny Jr., Brandi, and Sabriya (Deceased). He has four grandchildren.

Bakewell was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2021.

SARA BARTH, Pleasanton

Sara Barth has been Executive Director of Sempervirens Fund since 2016. Sempervirens Fund is California’s first land trust and has been working to protect and permanently preserve redwood forests, and make them available for the public to enjoy, since 1900. Sempervirens Fund was the driving force behind the creation of Big Basin, California’s first state park. The organization has continued to expand and enhance redwood parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains ever since and led in creating the new Robert C. Kirkwood entrance for Castle Rock State Park in 2019. Sara is also responsible for overseeing the restoration and stewardship of over 11,000 acres of redwood forests owned by Sempervirens Fund. Prior to this, Sara served for 13 years in senior leadership roles for The Wilderness Society, including as Vice President for Regional Conservation, where she directed efforts to add over 1 million acres of federal land in California to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Previously, Sara was an environmental advisor to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in Washington, D.C. Her other professional experience includes working for the National Wildlife Federation and the World Wildlife Fund on federal natural resource policy issues. Sara has been a board member of Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders, an organization that provides skills training, networking and mentorship to young professionals, since its creation in 2004. She served on the board of the California League of Conservation Voters for 9 years.

Barth was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020.

CHRISTINA JAROMAY, Elk Grove

Christina Jaromay received her Bachelor’s from California State University Sacramento, in Applied Ethics in Law with a minor in Business Management. She started her parks career 11 years ago at California State Parks where she most recently created and led the Partnership Division. She oversaw programs such as concessions, cooperating associations, corporate sponsorships, and volunteer programs, generating more than $100M collectively in revenue and in-kind services annually. Prior to the Partnerships Division, Christina worked in the Acquisition and Development Division, managing the division’s contracts unit, including public works and architectural and engineering services for major developments. Prior to state service, Christina was in the technology and marketing fields working internationally with North America, Asia-Pacific, and Japan and with clients in the General, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ markets. Christina is currently the director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department for the City of Lodi.

Jaromay was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2022.

ASMA MAHDI, Los Angeles

Asma Mahdi is a policy director at Better World Group leading the firm’s racial justice practice and advising clients on how to create inclusive, anti-racist environmental and climate policies. Most recently, she worked with the state of Oregon to develop a Climate Equity Blueprint to update the state's Climate Change Adaptation Framework. Prior to Better World Group, she led communications for the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge – a university-wide initiative focused on developing technologies, policies, and strategies to transition L.A. County to 100% renewable energy, 100% local water, and enhanced ecosystem health by 2050. From 2012 to 2016, Asma was the outreach coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program through I.M. Systems Group. She led national outreach efforts on marine debris working closely with National Estuarine Research Reserves as well as museums and aquariums across the United States. Asma also co-wrote the educational series “Trash Talk” that earned a Regional Emmy Award in 2015. From 2016 to 2017 she served as interim executive director of Green Muslims, a faith-based nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. In 2014, she joined the organization’s board and developed “Our Deen is Green,” an outdoor youth-education program. Asma earned her bachelor’s in geography and environmental studies at UCLA and her master’s in environmental science and management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara. 

Mahdi was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020.

FRANCESCA VIETOR, San Francisco

Francesca Vietor is Senior Advisor on the Environment at the San Francisco Foundation. Her work spans across the foundation, where she responds to general inquiries about the environment, manages the Youth Access to Nature Fund, provides environmental recommendations for donors, and engages community stakeholders on environmental issues. Francesca has worked in various staff positions at the foundation since 2011.

Previously and over the past three decades, Francesca held multiple leadership positions at environmental non-profits including Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace and the Chez Panisse Foundation. She has served as president of the Urban Forest Council, president of San Francisco’s Commission on the Environment and president of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, where she held the environmental justice and policy seat for twelve years. Francesca has served on many non-profit boards, including Environmental Working Group, Center for Environmental Health and SPUR, and she is currently on the boards of Trust for Public Land, Point Reyes National Seashore Association and the Socially Responsibility Network at her alma mater, Georgetown University.

Francesca is a third generation San Franciscan who was brought up in the Bay Area during a time when there was widespread access to opportunity and much less income disparity. San Francisco was known for diversity, inclusion, and natural beauty, which are now under threat. She is committed to helping reverse these trends, to create greater access to nature and to speak up for the green spaces and wild places.

Vietor was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2022.