2021-2022 WGI Board
Mission statement: To support the City-owned Westwood Neighborhood Greenway in maintaining its native landscaping, modeling for visitors the benefits of sustainable practices and native plants, and providing an outdoor green space for purposes of hands-on education, increased biodiversity, and public benefit.
VP- Community Relations
Board Member Biographies
Areas of Expertise
Natural history and resource science, elementary school science curriculum, environmental planning, impact analysis of infrastructure, project management and organization.
As a native Angeleno and newly retired science educator, Annette Mercer offers the Westwood Greenway Inc. Board her generalist knowledge of natural resources, ecosystems, environmental interconnectivity, and science education. She is a member and former president of the homeowner’s association that surrounds the Westwood Neighborhood Greenway.
Career and Related History
As an Environmental Planner and Project Manager for 20 years, Annette wrote and edited Natural Resources Technical Reports, Environmental Impact Reports/Statements and other CEQA and NEPA documents for public infrastructure projects. She then worked for 12 years as the Science Coordinator for the local elementary school, including training faculty in the Next Generation Science Standards curriculum and teaching most of the K-5 science classes. Annette has also completed projects in landscape design and installation, organized a Family Math and Science Night for multiple years, co-led a Girl Scout Troop, mentored a FIRST Robotics team, and taught classroom gardening at all primary grade levels.
Education and Activities
Annette holds a Master of Science in Resource Management from the University of Washington and a BA in Biology (Physiology) from UC San Diego. She has completed field study courses and a wetland delineation certification class. Her hobbies include travel, especially to national parks and reserves, backyard gardening, and native plant landscaping.
What led me to the Greenway
In 1979, during my first quarter at UCLA, I was told that General Motors, Standard Oil, and Firestone Tire had conspired to tear out trolleys nationwide and replace them with GM buses, fueled by Standard Oil, and running on Firestone tires. I was intrigued. Growing up in a Detroit suburb in the 1960s and ‘70s, I had ridden “Detroit Street Railways” buses – but we had no “street railways.” I “hit the books” at UCLA’s Special Collections and Law libraries, submitting “The Demise of The Pacific Electric Railway: Big Business Takes L.A. for a Ride” for both my history and English classes. (Yes, both professors knew I used the same research paper for both.)
Nearly ten years later – around the time “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” was released, dramatizing the trolley’s demise along the lines of my paper* – I was flying in a helicopter when I spotted railroad tracks in a trench alongside the Santa Monica Freeway. As a Palms resident, I’d crossed the tracks many times, but I didn’t know where they went. I reached out to my city councilmember, suggesting they be reused for transit and found out that the rail was for sale. In the final months of 1989, I married, got my law license, and, along with my bride Amy, began advocating for the return of that transit line. The Expo (now “E”) Line was completed in 2016.
In the following decades, I started my own law practice, had a son, and moved from the Palms side of the tracks to Cheviot Hills, where I was elected to the board of the Cheviot Hills Homeowners’ Association, which had long fought against the train. I met many community members who actively supported the train – among them Sarah Hays (with whom Karen Leonard and I cofounded Light Rail for Cheviot) and Annette Mercer. In January 2007, when I came up with the idea of reviving a buried stream alongside the revived train, Sarah and Annette joined me in what would be a 13-year journey making a daydream a reality, as detailed in our Greenway history page.
Other interests and activities
At Southwestern University School of Law School (J.D., 1989), I originated what I then called the “Community Outreach Program,” an annual mock trial for Hoover Street Elementary School children. As of 2022, it continued under the auspices of Southwestern’s Latino Law Students Association.
Since 2014, I have been a board member of California Streets Initiative, Inc., the nonprofit publisher of “solutions journalism” websites – Streetsblog LA, Streetsblog SF, and Streetsblog CA – focusing on how transportation can make communities stronger, safer, cleaner, and more diverse places to live, work, and play.
From 2009 to 2016, I served as a board member of the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee. Separately, I continue to be associated with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Bike West LA Ambassadors Program. I bicycle for health, recreation, and simply running around. I also enjoy collecting and writing about local history, at my website CheviotHillsHistory.org.
*I later took a more nuanced view than my college paper (and Roger Rabbit). While GM, Standard Oil, and Firestone were part of the story, the public willingly went away from trolleys. In the early 20th century, the City had refused to elevate the trains Downtown – bottlenecking the interurban lines through congested streets and slowing the entire system. After World War II, freeways fed urban sprawl and buses – untethered from rails and overhead electric catenary – could follow. The public did not support higher fares and/or public subsidies/ownership to keep the trains running.
Sean McMillan has a well-deserved reputation as being respected as one of the most knowledgeable licensed real estate brokers in West Los Angeles. A third-generation native Angeleno raised on the Westside, he offers invaluable local expertise — including unique insights into its history, neighborhoods, schools, parks, and other amenities and resources — coupled with a deep understanding of market trends.
In all aspects of his life and work, Sean leads with compassion and integrity. He has received multiple awards from the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica for his numerous civic and charitable efforts, which include being a founding member and treasurer for Westwood Greenway, Inc., the founding chair and president of West LA Homeless, Member of the Westside Neighborhood Council, and co-founder of Santa Monica Chess Park.
He’s happily married to Jill McMillan, one of the genius chefs behind Mac & Ivy, and he’s a proud father of four. When he’s not spending time with his family or volunteering, Sean enjoys chess, gardening, hiking, biking, and all sorts of ocean-related activities, and now adds learning about native plants to that list!
President of Westwood Gardens Civic Assn., Inc., the HOA that surrounds the Greenway site. WGCA is comprised of over 625 single family homes. I have been a Westwood Greenway supporter from almost its first inception, and as the HOA President attended numerous meetings with City officials to move the project forward.
I have been a resident of Westwood Gardens for 55 years, and was WGCA Vice President and former President in the 1980’s. Past activities also include library volunteer chairwoman at Overland Avenue Elementary School, and Ways and Means Chairwoman for the Boy Scouts.
As President of WGCA, I communicate with our community through regular eblasts about activities in our area, including promoting the Greenway and its activities.
I enjoy traveling and spending time with my children and grandchildren.
Areas of Expertise
Communication, ideation, strategic analysis, and project and personnel management.
Born, raised, and corn-fed in Indiana, David brought his Midwestern sensibilities to Los Angeles thirty years ago and loves the city like a native son. He brings a keen sense of strategic analysis and strong people skills to the Westwood Greenway Board and is deeply invested in the long-term success of the Greenway because he also lives in the neighborhood surrounding it.
Career and Related History
A veteran TV and film executive with a tremendous passion for bringing great stories to life, David has more than two decades of experience creating award-winning entertainment for screens of all sizes all around the world. He currently leads the Premium Documentary Division at Unrealistic Ideas, overseeing the development and production of feature documentaries and documentary series with partners such as HBO, Amazon, and Netflix. With years of deep multi-platform producing experience, David brings a unique combination of creative expertise, production knowledge, and business savvy to projects.
Education and Activities
David is a proud graduate of Northwestern University, where he studied radio, television, and film. His hobbies include playing guitar, sports, cooking, and hanging out with his amazing wife, son, and daughter.
Cindy’s early exploration of Nature was of the woods, ponds and lakes of Minnesota. In 1967 she and her family moved to California and settled in Huntington Beach, next to what is now the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. A fascination with the ocean and all things coastal California soon ensued. As a child, the birthday gift she requested every year was a trip to the tidepools in Laguna Beach. While growing up, most of her free time was spent outdoors and on the beach. She even chose her college, UC Santa Barbara, largely because of its location on the bluffs of Goleta. Post-graduation Cindy continued a northward migration to San Francisco. This was the opportunity to learn about the Redwood Forests, rivers, wetlands and urban parks of the region. After 10 years in the city, the warmer climes of Southern California called her back home. In 1999 she had the good fortune to see a small ad in the LA Times, putting out a call for volunteer docents at the Ballona Wetlands. The program provides hands-on, site specific nature tours for the students of Los Angeles via a very popular field trip program. Within a few years she expanded her docent duties to Franklin Canyon, under the auspices of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. It became clear to Cindy that Environmental Education was the path for her, and in 2011 she joined the staff of the Los Angeles Audubon Society. She is now the Director of Outdoor Education for Nature Nexus Institute, and manages programs that provide student field trips to both Ballona and Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. The two programs provide a nature education experience for approximately 3,000 students annually. She also hosts a monthly Open Wetlands at Ballona, and is involved in a city project that has created native habitat and a daylighted stream along the “E” Line train tracks in Westwood, called the Westwood Greenway. In her spare time she can usually be found outdoors, and enjoys a daily dip, year round, in the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Cindy feels extremely fortunate to work in a field that allows her to be out in nature most of the time, and gets great joy in sharing it with others. Although her work as an Environmental Educator is a job, it never feels like work!
Charles Miller is a Climate Reality Project ambassador with two decades in environmental advocacy. He is a certified native plant landscaper by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, California Native Plant Society, Theodore Payne Foundation, and United States Green Building Council. His training includes professional waste management and zero waste planning from California Resource Recovery Association and a sustainability education at UCLA. He is a LEED Green Associate and currently is appointed to the board of directors at Westwood Greenway as well as being active with Los Angeles Community Forest Advisory Committee and LA Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance, and is a California Cool Block Leader for 2022. He created the advocacy organization, LA Native, which promotes biodiversity through native landscaping in public projects on behalf of over 30 stakeholder groups. His background includes an MA in Cinema Production from USC and work as a globally represented and exhibited fine art photographer.
Areas of Expertise
Sustainability education and consulting, ecologically-informed systems, social sustainability, business outreach, facilities inspections, green building strategies, sustainability in higher ed, and sustainability in the arts.
As a sustainability professional since 2003, and an on-and-off Rancho Park resident since 1971, Elektra Grant offers the Westwood Greenway Board her unique understanding of the relationship between environmentally beneficial projects, and quality of life in communities.
Career and Related History
Elektra has onboarded over 500 businesses and multifamily dwellings to the City of Los Angeles’ recycLA program, performed over 30 sustainability assessments for arts and cultural facilities including the Natural History Museum of LA County, LACMA and the Skirball Center, participated in over 20 sustainability projects on three college campuses, and taught or mentored several college-level sustainability courses.
Elektra’s evolving path in her sustainability commitment has led to the Transition movement. Originally conceived as grassroots groups “promot[ing] community-driven responses to peak oil that focus on cooperative effort and meet basic needs as sustainably and close to home as possible,” over 1100 Transition initiatives are now supported internationally and locally. Elektra is involved with a local Transition group, who serves as the community partner to the Sustainability minor course Elektra teaches at Otis College of Art and Design.
Elektra lived in a sustainability-focused intentional community. Modeled after the systems and teachings of the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona, the Regen Co-op provides community-friendly, environmentally-oriented shared housing; and develops and supports self-replenishing living systems which consider the intertwined roles of people, nature and technology.
Board Service, Honors, Special Skills and Education
Elektra’s previous service includes co-chairing Otis College of Art and Design’s Environmental Steering Committee, and serving on Otis’ Presidents Council. She was involved with USGBC-LA’s
Regional Partners Committee, was Program Manager for the Living Building Challenge – LA Collaborative, and was an abstract reviewer for the Municipal Green Building Conference & Expo. Elektra holds a Master of Science in Regenerative Studies (Sustainability) from Cal Poly Pomona. She also is a LEED Green Associate and Certified Sustainable Building Advisor.