Board of Trustees


Richard Peers , Chair
Rich Peers is counsel in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in their Silicon Valley office.  Before joining McDermott, Rich practiced corporate law at an international law firm for almost 30 years.  Rich was introduced to Hidden Villa when he began hiking its beautiful trails while growing up in Los Altos Hills.  He became a Board member at Hidden Villa in 2009, and currently he is chair of the Board's Governance Committee. Rich is inspired by Hidden Villa's mission of sustainability and social justice because of the growing importance that sustainable living and full civic participation by all citizens has on our communities today and in the future.

Martin Neiman, Treasurer
Martin Neiman has been on the Board at Hidden Villa since 2008 currently serving on the finance committee. He also serves on the Board of the Foothill-DeAnza Foundation which supports the local community colleges. Professionally, Martin is a retired high tech executive who spent much of his career developing computer systems that do things we all appreciate, like bringing electricity to our homes and managing data on the Internet. Martin is drawn to Hidden Villa by the dual missions of promoting social justice and building a sustainable future. He also appreciates having such a beautiful piece of land being maintained and dedicated to public uses and enjoyment for the community.

Bob Sator, Secretary
Bob is a long time Finance Executive who has held senior leadership positions in technology companies as well as in Finance and Corporate Governance consulting. He has been a member of the Board at Hidden Villa since 2008 and also serves as Treasurer. Bob believes that everyone, especially children, greatly benefits from experiencing nature and all it has to offer. Hidden Villa's unique ability to provide both access to and education about our environment is a wonderful asset to our community.

Rita Whitney, Vice Chair - Mission Fulfillment
Rita joined the Board in June 2010 and serves on the Mission Fulfillment Committee. She is CEO of Ravivant LLC, a Board member of United States Fencing Association (Central California Division) and Executive Director of the Stanford Fencing Association.  Having grown up in New York City, Rita observed many situations where people did not have a voice, and she often tried to help be that voice.  As an advocate who is concerned about cultural and economic limitations of people and groups, she is happy to be associated with Hidden Villa, a place that is sensitive to others and the environment. Rita loves the outdoors and how the Duveneck family has shared Hidden Villa with the community; she is proud to be part of a Board that works together to keep the vision of the Duvenecks alive.

Jerry Elkind, Vice Chair - Board Governance
Jerry first experienced Hidden Villa in 1971, shortly after his family arrived in Palo Alto from the East Coast, when a friend took him to meet Josephine and Frank and to hike their trails.  He believes Hidden Villa was and is, an amazing example of California landscape, and was also deeply moved by the contributions the Duveneck's had made to their surrounding communities.  He and his wife Linda, and their kids have had a continued affection for Hidden Villa ever since.  Linda has served on the Board, starting shortly after the Hidden Villa Trust was founded and their children attended summer camp and participated in environmental education programs while in school.  Jerry has been on the Board for the last 3 years., Vice Chair - Board Governance

Sally Falkenhagen, Co-Vice Chair-Development
A Hidden Villa trustee from 2005-2012, Sally rejoined the board in the fall of 2013. Sally grew up at Zephyr Cove, Nevada, on Lake Tahoe, a place that instilled in her a deep, abiding love for nature and wild places. She earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford University in Human Biology in 1975, then moved to Los Angeles, where she began a career in investment sales.  She managed the Fed funds account for the Investment Department of a Texas bank, then moved to London, England, with her husband, where she worked for Bank of America and Banker’s Trust selling bonds to institutional accounts. After returning to the US, she became a ‘professional’ volunteer and stay-at-home mom.  Sally’s volunteer career includes fund raising for Stanford University, for the Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula, and for the Rosalie Rendu Center in East Palo Alto.  Sally also serves on the National Advisory Board of The Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford. 

Sumbul Ali-Karamali
Sumbul earned her BA in English from Stanford University, her JD from the University of California at Davis, and her LLM in Islamic law from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. A former corporate lawyer, she is now a regular blogger, writer, speaker, and author of two books:The Muslim Next Door: the Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing (White Cloud Press) andGrowing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam (Delacorte/Random House). She is a member of the Global Muslim Women's Shura Council and Women in Islamic Spirituality and Equality, both of which strive to promote women's rights and human rights from an Islamic perspective. She is on the Advisory Boards of Acterra and Silicon Valley FACES. Sumbul has been on the Board of Hidden Villa since 2005 (with a few years off), and finds continually uplifting the remarkable mission of this quietly influential place, one that has inspired generations of youth to be leaders in social justice, multicultural understanding, and environmental education.

Jocelyn Burton
Jocelyn Burton is the principal of Burton Employment Law in Oakland, California.   Jocelyn joined the Board of Hidden Villa in 2012 and she currently serves on the Board’s Mission Fulfillment Committee. In addition to Hidden Villa, Jocelyn serves on the Boards of Wake Forest University and Saint Vincent’s Day Home.  Jocelyn hopes to assist the Board in furthering its commitment to social justice and sustainability through education.

Eric Chang
Eric Chang started volunteering at Hidden Villa in the blacksmith shop in 2007 after discovering during an evening hike that it was unoccupied.  He joined the Board in 2008.  Eric is a R&D engineer working at Synopsys, an electronic design automation tools company.  His field is in modeling, simulating and optimizing physical processes using scientific computing.  At Hidden Villa, there are many opportunities for him to help spread the important values of education, sustainability and social justice via his commitment to empowerment through learning.

Edgar Chavez
Edgar Chavez joined Hidden Villa’s Board of Directors in 2011 and currently serves at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University as the Director of Stanford College Prep (formerly Stanford Upward Bound), a college access program with a 30-year history at Stanford. Edgar is deeply committed to education access and equity and is honored to serve an organization that works to improve the lives of our young people.

Mai Dam
Mai joined the Board of Hidden Villa in 2009. Social justice and sustainability have been her compass and mission in life. She is passionate about serving the community, advocating for battered women and youth at risk, conserving and preserving the environment for present and future generations and she believes that Hidden Villa's mission embraces those causes and more. Mai is a Program Coordinator at De Anza College, working with underserved, special needs populations, offering  life skills coaching, career guidance, development of programs with emphasis on internships and employment opportunities.

David Duveneck
David Duveneck has a very long history with the organization, as his grandparents, Josephine and Frank Duveneck, founded Hidden Villa. David joined the Board of Directors in 2005 and enjoys his role in representing the Duveneck family. He deeply believes in the mission of Hidden Villa and is proud to carry on the legacy of the Duveneck family of promoting social justice and environmental education. David is a Landscape Contractor and former certified Nurseryman and has been in this field for the past 35 years.

Ken Ebbitt
Ken Ebbitt is the Director of Enterprise Product Management at oDesk and has been a Trustee at Hidden Villa since 2013. Ken is an experienced entrepreneur and investor with a history of leading product development, business strategy and investing in successful consumer and enterprise start-ups. He brings both his business acumen as well as his passion for charitable organizations to the Board. Ken is also co-founder nad CEO of The Foundation for Giving Hope, a non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of children with chronic and life threatening illnesses. Ken was drawn to Hidden Villa becasue of its community outreach programs and working with children.

Jeremy Eddy

Jeremy comes to us from a background in biology, classroom teaching, and energy efficiency consulting.  He has been connected with Hidden Villa in multiple ways over the years, as a camper (5 years), counselor (4 years), and now Board member.  In his role as an Energy Consultant with Itron, Inc., Jeremy evaluates utility-scale energy efficiency programs to determine the energy savings that can be claimed by each program.  Jeremy is also passionate about hands-on, minds-on science education and brings 8 years of experience as a classroom teacher of Biology, Physics, and Biomimicry to his perspective on structuring effective learning experiences.  Jeremy lives in Oakland with his wife and 2 sons.

Shehzad Merchant
Shehzad Merchant is the Vice President of Technology and Strategy at Extreme Networks. Outside of his high technology pursuits, Shehzad has been a frequent visitor to Hidden Villa over the past 10 years, enjoying all that it has to offer from nature trails to organic farming. He passionately shares the mission of Hidden Villa to support sustainability, environmental education and multiculturalism. Shehzad is an avid nature lover and can be frequently spotted walking the trails of Hidden Villa. He joined the Board of Hidden Villa in 2010 and keenly looks forward to furthering it mission.

Azieb Nicodimos
Azieb Nicodimos joined the Board of Hidden Villa in 2013. A native of Ethiopia who has made the Bay Area her home for over 30  years, Azieb is passionate about reaching out to and building bridges to the African immigrant communities of Silicon Valley. Her mission is to create awareness and include these communities in the sustainability and educational programs offered by Hidden Villa. She is also a board member of Mid-Peninsula Media Center, a community cable TV network. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she lives in Palo Alto with her husband and two daughters.

Duffy Ross
As a Hidden Villa sumer camper herself, Duffy Ross remembers fondly her first golden-back fern "dusting." Decades later, she is delighted and honored to serve on Hidden Villa's Board of Trustees. Duffy works as an Elementary Science Specialist for the re-introduction of a rigorous hands-on science and literacy curriculum. Prior to joining the District, Duffy worked for almost fifteen years in the nonprofit environmental science education arena, serving organizations such as Aim High, Outward Bound, Slide Ranch, and Yosemite National Institutes. She served as the Director of Education for the Headlands Institute for six years, leading organizational change initiatives around diversity, multicultural environmental education, and inquiry-based science. Duffy holds a Masters of Non-profit Administration from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors in French & Italian from Dartmouth College. She lives in Berkeley with her husband, Carlos, and her daughters, Maya Lucia and Camila Sol.

Nobuko Saito Cleary

Nobuko is President of Cross Cultural Communications, an international business consulting firm that specializing in US-Japan business relationships. Nobuko became Board member at Hidden Villa in 2010. Her community work includes being a member of the Board of Directors for the Japan Society of Northern California, and Community School of Music and Arts. She is a Trustee for the Northeastern University in Boston and founder of NU’s Asian American Center. She is heavily involved in helping Glaucoma Research Foundation in SF. Nobuko’s passion is to help cultural exchange programs between Japan and America. She has received numerous awards for her community work including: Santa Clara County’s Asian American Hero Award, John Gardner Community Building Award, Mayor’s Award from the Nagoya City Government, Nagoya Japan and the Outstanding Volunteer award from Los Altos-Los Altos Hills.

Beth Smith
Beth is the Director of Financial Planning at Abbot Downing in San Francisco and specializes in overseeing tax, wealth transfer and asset protection planning for ultra high net worth clients. Beth fell in love with Hidden Villa while hiking the trails with her children. Beth is passionate about educating kids about where food comes from, and encouraging them to make healthy choices. She wants children to understand how their choices impact themselves and the environment through Hidden Villa's environmental and food education programs. She has served on the Board since 2013.

Leah Sutton

Richard Thornton

Dick works full time as VP of Fab Operations for one of the few companies still producing silicon chips in Silicon Valley, T.H.A.T Corporation.  Before starting his own family, Dick volunteered as a tutor for children at “Concern for the Poor” shelter in San Jose.  More recently he was expedition leader with his two daughters at the “YMCA Adventure Guides”.  Dick believes that the root cause of many of today’s social and environmental problems stem from a lack of understanding and hopes to help Hidden Villa with their mission “to inspire a just and sustainable future.”

Peter Thurston
A retired Marketing Programs Director at IBM Storage Systems, Peter joined the  Hidden Villa Board in 2009 and currently serves on the Governance and Mission Fulfillment Committees. Other volunteer activities include Hidden Villa Farm and Wilderness Exploration (HVEEP) Guide and Filoli Nature Education Docent. He is a long time Los Altos Hills resident whose children all attended Hidden Villa Summer Camp. He has seen how Hidden Villa’s experienced-based Summer Camp and Environmental Education touches the lives of so many children from diverse cultural backgrounds and is helping build future leaders who are committed to creating a more just and sustainable future.