Berkeley FireSafe Council Leadership

Name HAB Board BFSC Leader Committees

Henry DeNero President President Finance, Forest Restoration, Public Advocacy, Fire Departments & Councils

Marcus von Engel Vice President Vice President Finance, Development, Technology

Cynthia Chen Treasurer Treasurer Finance, Development

Benay Dara-Abrams Secretary Member Forest Restoration, Development, Public Advocacy

Kathleen Kelly Member Member Development, Community Relations, Public Advocacy

Nancy Rader Member Public Advocacy, Fire Departments & Councils

Nancy Gillette Member Member Forest Restoration, Development, Public Advocacy, Fire Departments & Councils

Alec Dara-Abrams Member Development, Public Advocacy, Fire Departments & Councils

Annie Johnson Member Member Forest Restoration, Community Relations, Education & Preparedness

Andy Johnson Member Forest Restoration, Public Advocacy

Holly Singh Member Forest Restoration, Education & Preparedness

Brice McPherson Member Forest Restoration

Chris Cullander Member Education & Preparedness

Emeritus Board Members

Allan Gatzke

Pam Gleason

Peter Lydon

Marty Lorber

Leadership Bios

Henry DeNero

A native of New York, Henry has been a California resident for over 50 years. He has held senior executive positions at Dayton-Hudson Corporation (now Target Corporation) and First Data Corporation, and was a senior partner at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. He also has served on the board of directors of a number of public companies and nonprofit organizations, and is currently serving as a board member of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. His board work has focused on strategy and enterprise risk management. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Amherst College and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He served in the United States Navy as an officer.

Marcus von Engel

A partner with PWC Consulting, Marcus has over 30 years of experience working with organizations around the world to develop business and technology strategies, execute major transformation initiatives, and deploy and manage large projects involving complex solutions and change management challenges.  Marcus grew up on a small ranch in California and appreciates the need for proactive initiatives to mitigate wildfire risk, and the importance of coordinating multiple stakeholders.  He lives with his family in Berkeley. He completed his B.S. engineering degree and minors at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, with additional course work at Eberhard Karl University in Tübingen, Germany.

Cynthia Chen

Cynthia has over 15 years of experience as an independent accounting consultant, working with small and start-up businesses.  Cynthia has been a volunteer most of her adult life, first at her children’s schools, and then with a number of community organizations.  She has served in various capacities with the League of Women Voters and is currently the treasurer of LWV Berkeley Albany Emeryville. As treasurer of the Hillside Association of Berkeley, Cynthia maintains financial records, manages payments, and participates in development and fuel reduction efforts. 

Benay Dara-Abrams

Benay and her husband, Alec, moved to Berkeley in 2013. As BFSC's Development Co-Chair, Benay applies for grants for hazardous fuel reduction and habitat restoration.  She has held high-tech management positions in Silicon Valley startups and established companies, receiving NIH grants to develop technology to support older adults and their caregivers. She co-founded and served as Silicon Valley Public Access Link (SV-PAL) VP Engineering, providing Internet access to civic organizations and residents. Married for 52 years, Benay and Alec have two adult children and two sweet grandchildren.  Benay received her degrees in Computer Science from the University of Michigan (B.S., M.S.) and UC Santa Cruz and Union Institute (Ph.D.).

Chris Cullander

Chris was a faculty member in the UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences.. Following his retirement in 2014, Chris became a CERT trainer and speaker on preparing for wildfire evacuation, served as a Board member of the Berkeley Path Wanderers, and was an active member of NALCO, an amateur radio group that does fire patrols of the Berkeley Hills during times of high fire danger.   Growing up, Chris was the youngest trail supervisor ever for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.  He and his wife Helen have lived in the same Berkeley home for the last 40 years.  Chris has a BS in Medical Physics and a PhD in Biophysics, both from UC Berkeley.

Alec Dara-Abrams

Alec has more than 30 years of experience in research and development in measurement systems, software engineering, distributed systems, Internet-based software systems, and applied computer science research at Hewlett-Packard Research Labs and Sony Research Lab. Moving from Silicon Valley to Berkeley, Alec became aware of the overabundance of extremely hazardous vegetation, and is applying his digital tool background to mapping HFSG's hazardous vegetation survey data. He looks forward to understanding and applying state-of-the-art risk assessment and fire models to the East Bay Hills.

Nancy Gillette

Nancy  is an East Bay native and 5th generation Californian.  She enjoyed a 40 year career in the research branch of the U.S. Forest Service. She has published more than 90 scholarly papers in scientific journals, primarily on development of insect pheromones for forest protection. Her career included many international collaborations, including post-doctoral work in France and many technical advisory visits in China and Mexico. She also served as interagency liaison between the U.S. Forest Service and the biopesticides division of the EPA. Nancy currently chairs BFSC’s Forest Restoration Committee.  She received a B.A. and a Ph.D. in Forest Entomology  from U.C. Berkeley.

Andy Johnson

Andy came to Berkeley in 1985 to study History and Economics and, after stops in Virginia for Law School and Germany for a Bosch Fellowship, returned to the Bay Area in 1996 (and to Berkeley in 2008), to practice law and make a home with his wife Annie and their three children.  Andy was an Associate and then a Partner in the Corporate and Real Estate practices at Orrick in San Francisco and most recently has enjoyed 10 years in-house handling acquisitions, imports and real estate matters for E. & J. Gallo Winery.  On weekends, he enjoys tinkering with old cars and gardening at home when he’s not clearing Eucalyptus debris with Cal students in the Berkeley Hills.

Annie Johnson

Annie is a UC Berkeley Extension certified editor and proud mom of three Berkeley High graduates. She has lived in Berkeley off and on since 1991, but she has been a permanent resident since 2008. She has been a member of the BFSC for three years and a member of the HAB for over five years. She serves as the Chair for the Community Engagement committee and serves on the forest restoration and education and outreach committees. Helping the Cal students remove hazardous Eucalyptus understory on Sunday mornings is her “new church.”

Kathleen Kelly

Kathleen is a journalist who has worked in print, television, online media and has produced business stories for the Wall Street Journal and others. In the 1980s she formed her own production company, California Media Connection. Her work has appeared on the BBC, Channel 4 in London, WDR in Germany, Swedish TV and Kansai TV in Japan. She served on the board of the World Affairs Council of Northern California for almost  two decades, during which time she produced their international journalism awards. Kathleen holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Southern California. 

Brice McPherson

An Ohio native, Brice earned a BS in chemistry from Antioch College, a MS in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia, and a PhD in Entomology from UC Berkeley. His research has included the impacts of sudden oak death on coast live oaks at individual tree and landscape scales. Restoration of native forests that have been affected by lax management practices and introduced pests is a primary interest. This research has found evidence that as many as 25% of mature coast live oaks may express resistance to the pathogen that causes sudden oak death, an indication that these forests may persist under the multiple impacts of exogenous threats.

Nancy Rader

A Berkeley native, Nancy has been a renewable energy advocate for over 30 years, now serving as the executive director of the California Wind Energy Association since 2000.  As an active Berkeley citizen, Nancy coordinates her neighborhood Community Emergency Response Team, served on the City of Berkeley’s Disaster and Fire Safety Commission from 2021 to 2022, and now enjoys working to make Berkeley more fire safe as a member of the BFSC’s Leadership Team.  She received a B.A. in Political Science/Public Service from the University of California at Davis, and an M.A. degree in Energy and Resources from the University of California at Berkeley.  

Holly Singh

Holly is a proud 4th generation Berkeley resident. She holds a BA in Education from Western Washington University and a MA  in Special Education from Notre Dame de Namur University and has taught middle school students with special needs for several years.  In addition to serving on the Board of the Hillside Association of Berkeley, she serves on the Board of Ala Costa Centers.