Bennett Smith

Director of Philanthropy

As Director of Philanthropy my role is to advance the organization to insure its sustainability through fundraising with individuals and family foundations, and to expand recognition and support of our mission and compelling work, from Alaska to Antarctica and the Sierra to the sea.

Having grown up in New England, the daughter of a birder, a gardener, and a hiker, and spending my summers on the Atlantic Ocean, I attended a small start-up middle school, an all-female high school that my mother had also attended, and Connecticut College where I studied Art History and Education. When I moved to California in the early 70’s, I stumbled on PRBO on my way to the Palomarin Trail head at Point Reyes. My first job in California was at a start-up in Berkeley, The Nature Company, where I immersed myself in a crash course in California history and ecology, and met my first “naturalist”. I spent nearly every weekend exploring Point Reyes. Later I studied textiles and did weaving apprenticeships on Vancouver Island, in Guatemala, and in California, and ended up a serial business development entrepreneur in start-ups in the Bay Area, primarily in the fashion industry, and later in the dotcom boom. Twenty years later, on a school field trip with my young children, I actually visited Point Blue’s Palomarin field station and experienced mist netting first hand. I was hooked!

I moved to Petaluma from San Francisco in 1988 and in 2006 transitioned from the enterprise world to the non-profit world, becoming the Director of Advancement in another start-up, Sonoma Academy, where I spent twelve years. On a walk at Shollenberger Park in 2014 I noticed a building with the moniker PB on it. Could it possibly be related to PRBO? I had achieved the goal of getting Sonoma Academy established and I wanted to apply myself to a more global goal, climate action. After spending a few years researching the climate action “space” it was clear I had found my new spot.

In short, I have been headed to Point Blue for many, many years, and am thrilled to finally be here! Now you can find me at the Point Blue Headquarters, or visiting multiple field sites absorbing our science and our incredible work, or in the garden, doing yoga, swimming, hiking, and visiting my two grown daughters who live in New York and London.