Mark Gold was executive director and, later, president of Heal the Bay,… (Heal the Bay )
Mark Gold, the president and public face of Heal the Bay -- one of California’s leading environmental advocacy groups -- is stepping down after 23 years with the Santa Monica-based nonprofit, the group announced Tuesday.
Gold is leaving to accept a position as associate director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, where he has taught as an adjunct professor and serves on its board.
Heal the Bay is best known for its Beach Report Card that gives letter grades to hundreds of beaches in California, Oregon and Washington based on water quality.
The group also advocates against water pollution and marine debris, for environmental education and marine habitat conservation, and operates the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.
Gold, 48, joined Heal the Bay as a volunteer in 1986 and was hired as its first employee, a staff scientist, in 1988. He went on to become the group's executive director in 1994, was named its president in 2006, and has been the public face of the group, an outspoken environmental watchdog who often appears at public hearings and pushes for state and local coastal protection laws.
Gold, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and his doctorate in environmental science and engineering at UCLA, said he was excited by the opportunity to return to his alma mater and try something new and different: building up its environmental program.
Gold has spent his entire adult life building the group into what it is today and said its hard work has helped make a huge difference in quality of life for Southern Californians and aquatic creatures alike.
"Think about where Santa Monica Bay is today versus where we were when I first started," he said. "We don’t have a dead zone in the bay, we don’t have fish with tumors ... the beaches are so much cleaner. We don’t have these sewage spills that were commonplace in the 1980s. We have marine protected areas."
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