San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy elects new president and board member


The board of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) has elected Del Mar resident Jim Smith as its next president.

Jim Smith

As the new president, Smith hopes “to continue the great work of my predecessors by protecting the watershed and encouraging public enjoyment of the area.” His long list of actions includes closing gaps in the Coast to Crest Trail, seeking opportunities to partner with agencies to purchase and preserve pristine properties, and looking for ways to increase the board’s outreach with its partner, the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority.

Smith discovered the SDRVC while on one of his many outdoor adventures, became a volunteer on hikes and other events, and ultimately joined the Exploring Our Sense of Place (ESP) program and became an administrator of ESP with his wife Jane Lea. He also served on the Acquisitions and Trails subcommittee and was SDRVC’s vice president in 2020.

For the biggest part of his career, Smith developed inkjet printers for HP. Now retired (for the second time), with a friend he developed the first version of which introduced him to native plants. “That experience introduced me to the value of native plants to the insects and birds,” he said.

Ellie Haviland
Ellie Haviland

Additionally, Ellie Haviland of Del Mar was elected a new board member. Haviland has a long resumé of community service with Del Mar since 2014, serving on the Del Mar Planning Commission, until being elected mayor of Del Mar in 2020. She also was a member of the Clean Energy Alliance and served on the boards of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency. She is also a founding and current member of Take Action Group Indivisible Del Mar, and a member of the Del Mar Community Alliance.

Like Smith, Haviland was introduced to the SDRVC through the ESP program, gaining a greater appreciation for the San Dieguito watershed.

On the board, she is interested in community outreach and getting more San Diegans exploring and learning about the San Dieguito River Valley.

Haviland said, “I’m passionate about the preservation of open space and I’m grateful to the SDRVC for the tremendous work they have done. I look forward to working with my fellow board members to continue their success.”

Other SDRVC Officers include: Slader Buck of Encinitas, vice president; Peter DeFrancesca of Solana Beach, treasurer; Annu Chopra of Del Mar, secretary; Nate Northrup of Poway, past president.

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy preserves, protects and shares the natural and cultural resources of the San Dieguito River Valley through collaborative efforts to acquire lands, complete trails, restore habitats, establish educational programs, create interpretive centers, encourage recreation and mobilize public support. For more information, go to