Staff Spotlight | Meet Jessica Castelli

Jessica Castelli
Jessica is Save The Bay’s Communications Director.

Meet Jessica Castelli, Save The Bay’s Communications Director originally from Topton, Pennsylvania. (A very small town outside of Philadelphia with a population of about 2,000, only one traffic light and surrounded by farmland)

Job Description:
As the Communications Director I oversee all of the communications activities for Save The Bay including public relations, branding, messaging, the website and online marketing. Essentially, I make sure that as many people as possible know about Save The Bay’s innovative work to protect and restore San Francisco Bay for people and wildlife.

How long have you worked for Save The Bay?
Almost 7 years

How did you hear about Save The Bay and what motivated you to work for the organization?
I had just returned to the Bay Area after traveling in Southeast Asia for 6 months. Prior to my trip I was the Communications Manager at the San Francisco Food Bank. I knew that I wanted to work for another local nonprofit and my travels in developing countries made me realize even more the importance of conservation. Plus, I have always been a big fan of Save The Bay’s work.

What is the best thing about working with Save The Bay?
I love working with an organization that is doing impactful and innovative work that makes a difference in the community. Save The Bay’s efforts to protect and restore the Bay help improve the quality of life and economy in the entire Bay Area.

What other activities or hobbies do you enjoy?
I love to go on urban hikes in San Francisco as well as hikes in the Redwoods outside of the city. I am an avid Yoga practitioner and a mama to a very active toddler.

If you could be one Bay plant or animal, what would it be and why?
I would be a porpoise because I absolutely love to swim in open water.

What is your favorite thing about the San Francisco Bay Area?
The natural beauty and diversity that surrounds us.

Anything else you want to tell us?
I recently made the bittersweet decision to leave my job as the Communications Director at Save The Bay, where I’ve worked for nearly 7 years. I’m going to help my husband with his growing architecture business and spend more time with my son.

The Communications Director job at Save The Bay is posted on our website.

Sandy… Can it Happen Here? Healthy Tidal Marsh Can Protect Bay Area Communities from Extreme Weather

Sandy flooding
Healthy tidal marsh can protect Bay Area communities from flooding during extreme storms like Sandy. Photo of taxis in Hoboken, New Jersey via

One year after Sandy, New York continues to rebuild while planning for the future. City planners are weighing strategies to protect their shores from future storms and sea level rise; natural solutions such as wetland restoration may figure prominently into their plans. While wetland restoration holds promise, the New York shoreline is so developed that there are currently few large expanses of wetlands to buffer storms.

The Bay Area too is at risk of flooding from sea level rise, yet we are lucky to live in a place with tens of thousands of acres of restorable wetlands around the Bay shoreline. We’re working hard to restore 100,000 acres of wetlands to protect our communities from sea level rise. As we reflect on the anniversary of Sandy, let’s also recognize how lucky we are as a region to have solutions within our grasp. Please share this post with a friend or leave a comment with your reflections on Sandy.

All of us at Save The Bay are sending our thoughts to the millions of people on the East Coast who are impacted by the devastating and unprecedented superstorm Sandy.

Here in the Bay Area, we have experienced the devastation of earthquakes.  And severe flooding during the rainy season impacts some communities around the Bay.  But as the climate change warming trends continue, many scientists are saying that extreme weather events are here to stay. Unfortunately, it is probably not a matter of if, but when the Bay Area will be faced with widespread and severe flooding from an event like Sandy or Hurricane Katrina.

The good news is that by investing today in restoring more natural wetlands and repairing damaged levees, the Bay Area can reduce the risk of severe flooding, save money, and help keep our communities safe.

Over generations, unchecked bay fill destroyed 90 percent of San Francisco Bay’s original wetlands, or tidal marsh.   Studies have shown that healthy tidal marshes can keep pace with modest sea level rise – they build up sediment and establish vegetation, creating buffers against rising seas. They act as natural barriers to storm surge and extreme high tides, protecting wildlife and shoreline communities.  Bay wetlands also filter toxic runoff pollution to improve water quality, prevent shoreline erosion, and provide food and shelter to 500 species of wildlife including seals, sea lions and pelicans.

Today, our Bay shoreline is low-lying and heavily developed.  More than $100 billion in California homes, businesses, and crucial infrastructure is at risk from flooding: ports, airports, bridges, freeways, even entire communities are at or below sea level. And two-thirds of that risk is here in the Bay Area.

Sea level rise will worsen the impact from storms. Scientists and the State of California estimate that the sea level could rise 16 inches in the next 40 years and 55 inches by 2100.

Significant sea rise would overwhelm levees that surround San Francisco Bay. Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other major Silicon Valley corporations could be flooded, along with thousands of homes around the Bay Area. Portions of major freeways could be underwater.

Scientists recommend that at least 100,000 acres tidal marsh be re-established to support a healthy, sustainable Bay into the future.  However, only about half of that habitat exists. The Bay’s restorable wetlands will not return to tidal marsh in our lifetime without money, manpower, and political support.  Climate change makes this goal even more relevant and urgent.

Save The Bay Founder Honored with State Park Naming

Sylvia planting
Sylvia McLaughlin plants Save The Bay’s 100,000th native seedling. photo credit:

I know that I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that Sylvia McLaughlin is one of my heroes. Sylvia founded Save The Bay in 1961 with her friends Kay Kerr and Esther Gulick and has been a tireless advocate on behalf of San Francisco Bay since then. Now Sylvia will have a fitting tribute when she becomes one of two women to have a California State Park named after her. After a unanimous vote by the California State Park and Recreation Commission, Eastshore State Park – which Sylvia helped to create – will be re-named McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.

Clearly stated, the Bay wouldn’t be the thriving natural treasure it is today without the tireless work of Sylvia and her friends. The “tea ladies” as they were initially called, stopped rampant fill and dumping and prevented the Bay from becoming a narrow, polluted river. What makes Sylvia even more impressive is that she saved the Bay during a time when woman weren’t respected as leaders as they are today, when filling in the Bay was considered progress and the word “environmentalism” didn’t even exist. But Sylvia saw her beautiful Bay disappearing before her eyes and decided to do something about it. And she didn’t give up when it became hard and when powerful men told her she would fail. And she has hardly slowed down since then. Just a few years ago, Sylvia helped two students plant Save The Bay’s 100,000th native wetland seedling along the Oakland shoreline. And she recently attended one of our restoration projects reminding volunteers, “the Bay is never saved – it is always in the process of being saved.”

I encourage you to leave a note of congrats for Sylvia in the comments section of this blog and we will share your notes with her. I’ll get that started by saying, “Sylvia, congratulations. And thank you for saving the Bay.”

San Francisco Bay: Home to leopard sharks and toxic trash

hot spot or not
Vote on the trashiest waterway in the Bay. We’ll adopt the winner for cleanup.

San Francisco Bay is a thriving natural treasure encircled by vibrant wetlands and home to many critters like seals, pelicans and leopard sharks.  Unfortunately, it is also home to trash – and a lot of it.  In fact, some parts of the Bay are so trashy that they violate the Federal Clean Water Act.

Luckily, Save The Bay is giving the community a chance to do something about this trash problem….What’s more is that you can do this from your computer and it only takes 5 minutes!  Visit the Bay Trash Hot Spots website and vote “Hot Spot” or “Not.”  Save The Bay will harness volunteers to adopt and clean up the top-voted spot!

I know that you, like me, do not purposely litter.  So, you are probably wondering where all this trash is coming from.  I helped clean up the San Jose shoreline on Coastal Cleanup Day a few weekends ago and was disgusted by the amount of tiny pieces of Styrofoam, plastic bags, cigarette butts and more we cleared from the environment.

Sure, some of this trash was purposely littered (like the cigarette butts), but a lot of it likely blew out of overflowing trash cans and into storm drains and creeks where it flowed to the Bay.  Plastic trash is especially dangerous to animals that mistake it for food, eat it and then are poisoned or starve.

In addition to hosting cleanups, Save The Bay is focused on stopping trash at its source.  That’s why we are working with cities all over the Bay to pass strong bans on plastic bags and Styrofoam.   We are proud that currently 50% of Bay Area residents live in communities that have banned single-use plastic bags, and 30 cities or counties have banned Styrofoam food packaging. And five years after passing the first bag ban in the country, San Francisco’s expanded plastic bag ban goes into effect October 1st.

All of us working together have the power to reduce Bay pollution to keep our water clean and protect our quality of life.  Please remember to bring your reusable bags when shopping.  And simply take just 5 minutes right now to vote for the hottest hot spot.  And then join Save The Bay as a volunteer to help clean it up. The critters in the Bay will thank you!


One Couple’s Fight to Save the Bay and Why They Need Your Help

One Couples Fight to Save The Bay
WATCH: One Couple’s Fight to Save The Bay

What would you do if your most cherished childhood place was at risk of being destroyed forever by a multi-billion dollar company?  Would you stand up to those high-powered execs and their slick PR flacks or would you shy away from a fight?

If you were Gail Raabe or her husband Matt Leddy you would stand up, rally your neighbors and make your voice heard.  You would keep fighting through all the ups and downs. You wouldn’t give up.

I am inspired by Gail and Matt’s story, which they recently shared in this powerful video. I bet if you watch it, you’ll be inspired too.

“When you pick a path, you follow that path until it ends.  You don’t just stop because it becomes scary or hard,” said Matt.

Gail and Matt are currently leading the charge to stop agribusiness giant Cargill’s continued efforts to develop as many as 1,436 acres of salt ponds in Redwood City with thousands of houses. This project would plop a new city on open space that should be restored to natural wetlands to benefit people and wildlife.  It would clog local freeways and put thousands of families in the path of rising sea levels.

After meeting in grad school, Gail and Matt settled down in Gail’s hometown of Redwood City.  They’ve been fighting to protect their Bay shoreline from deep pocketed developers ever since.

[quote float=”right”]“San Francisco Bay is just this theme that is woven throughout our lives,” said Gail. [/quote]

Because of the efforts of Gail and Matt to protect the Bay over the last few decades, the Bay is healthier. Local gems like Bair Island, which they helped save from development in the 80s, are vibrant natural places where birds and seals thrive and families visit to bike, kayak and enjoy the outdoors.

Cargill is relentless in its efforts to pave the Bay for profit.  Despite widespread opposition and a rejection of its development plan by Redwood City, the company continues to plan a massive bay fill project. 

Now Gail and Matt need your help in their fight to stop Cargill.  Please watch Gail and Matt’s powerful 3-minute story, share it with your friends via email and Facebook, and then tell Cargill, “Don’t Pave My Bay” by signing the petition.

Together, we can all take responsibility for our place, our natural treasure, so that it can be cherished by our children and our children’s children.

Don’t miss out on the chance to be inspired like I was. Watch “One Couple’s Fight to Save the Bay” today.