Board of Trustees

C. Diane Christensen (President)

Diane is the elder daughter of Christensen Fund’s founders and has been actively involved with the foundation since initially becoming a Trustee in the early 1970s, serving as its Executive Director (1989-2002) and as board chair till the early-mid 2000s. During the 1990s, she directed the foundation’s transformation from an operating foundation loaning extensive art collections to museums in the U.S. and Australia to a private foundation making grants. She oversaw the transfer of its extensive collections to a number of U.S. and overseas museums and universities in the 1990s and early 2000s, and transitioned the foundation to a self-governing board of trustees no longer controlled by the founder’s family. Diane did an undergrad degree at Stanford, grad study in African and Latin American History at Columbia., conducted dissertation research on 19th C Angolan history, and taught African history at Tufts while also serving as an Assistant Academic Dean.  Between 1981 and 1989 she served as co-founder and the first executive director of the Christensen Research Institute, a biological research facility in Papua New Guinea focused on conservation-related research. She currently lives in Palo Alto, CA and serves on several nonprofit boards including the Wildlife Conservation Society and the California College of Arts.

Bill Dempsey photo[1]Bill Dempsey

Bill Dempsey is the Chief Financial Officer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a U.S.-based labor organization of 2-million members, where he also Co-Chairs their $2 billion pension fund. He has 25 years of experience developing new strategies to empower under-served communities and advance sustainable economic and racial justice. Bill has served as the Chief Financial Officer and Program Director of the Nathan Cummings Foundation where he oversaw grants, managed their shareholder action program, started an impact investing program and supervised the investments of a $450 million endowment. He has led reform campaigns that changed the boardrooms, executive pay and/or governance policies at dozens of S&P 100 companies. Bill ran Capital Stewardship Programs at the United Food & Commercial Workers and SEIU, working with public and private sector pension funds with billions of dollars in assets. His career in investor activism began as a teenager in the 1980’s when he founded the Marquette University South Africa Coalition, questioning his campus endowment’s reliance on high-risk, apartheid-era investments, an effort opposed by a fellow student named Scott Walker, who went on to an interesting career of his own.

Peter Liu (Treasurer)

Peter Liu works to build companies and organizations that promote sustainable resources for economic growth. Peter is the co-founder of Clean Energy Advantage Partners, a firm that advises global corporations on investment in renewable energy projects. Clean Energy Advantage Partners’ clients include leading global brands that have achieved 100% renewable energy supply through new and additional projects. He also currently serves as strategic advisor to Cowgirl Creamery/Tomales Bay Foods, the iconic and pioneering artisanal cheese maker based in Petaluma, CA. Peter is the founder of New Resource Bank which is based in San Francisco and is the first green commercial bank in the U.S. He is also the co-founder and vice chairman of the China US Energy Efficiency Alliance which since 2004 has coordinated policy and technical collaboration to help China broaden energy efficiencyadoption. Peter currently also serves on the boards of directors for the East Bay Regional Parks Foundation, which funds the U.S.’s largest regional park system as well the boards of the Climate Action Reserve and the Bay Area Open Space Council. Previously, he was a founding board member for Ecologic Brands, an Oakland company which makes fully compostable and recyclable packaging for national consumer product brands. He also served on the clean technology advisory board for the California Public Employees Retirement Systems and the California Teacher’s Retirement Systems. Peter has degrees in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science from UC Berkeley and a graduate degree from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. Peter’s weekly goal is to cycle longer distances than he drives.

Christine Smith-Martin

Christine Smith-Martin is the First Nations Community Advisor for the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust, a regional initiative working to make the Skeena watershed in NW British Columbia — one of the last remaining wild salmon ecosystems in the world — a global model of ecological and economic sustainability. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society, a non-profit agency that provides outreach services to Aboriginal people within the Metro-Vancouver area. Christine has a rich Aboriginal lineage to both Tsimshian and Haida communities and grew up in a small North coast village called Lax kw’alaams. Her upbringing was focused on teaching her the “cultural ways” from both sides of her lineage, and she grew up salmon fishing with her dad. Carrying a jar of traditionally-preserved salmon, Christine recently crashed a media event of the Canadian government to bring the message of her people, challenging the government’s authority to approve a large natural gas project on the ancestral lands of her people without the consent of the traditional title holders of Lelu Island.

Tara Diann Stein

Tara Diann Stein did her undergraduate studies at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley, and also holds a Masters of Library Science degree from the University of Southern California and a Juris Doctor degree from what is now known as Santa Clara University. She worked as a librarian at the Medical-Dental Library at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. Subsequently she established a general law practice in Morgan Hill, California, and then worked in a small law firm which focuses on business law and civil litigation. In 1999 she accepted employment with Manzanita Management Corporation in Palo Alto, CA and retired in October 2018.  In past years she served on the boards of MidPeninsula High School and Viva La Garden.

Nicole Pierret

Nicole Pierret is the granddaughter of the founders of The Christensen Fund. She spent her early childhood in Papua New Guinea, attended an international high school in Arizona, and graduated from California College of the Arts, majoring in painting. She and her husband are artists and live in Berkeley, CA. Currently she works for local ceramic artist Bean Finneran.

Julia I. Lopez

A widely respected leader with broad and deep experience in philanthropy and government, Julia I. Lopez served as the president and CEO of College Futures Foundation (then known as College Access Foundation of California) from 2008 until her retirement in June 2017.

Before joining College Futures Foundation, Julia served as senior vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation. In that leadership role, she provided oversight, management and evaluation of the foundation’s strategic program grant making around the world. In her earlier work for Rockefeller, she served as director of the foundation’s Working Communities program, addressing urban poverty and education in the United States.

Julia currently serves as a board member of KQED, a Northern California public media outlet, and two organizations, California Competes and One Future Coachella Valley, dedicated to improving educational outcomes to meet state and regional economic development workforce needs.

She is a graduate of Newton College of the Sacred Heart (now Boston College) and holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. In June 2018, California State University, San Bernardino awarded her an honorary doctorate in humane letters in recognition of her work on student success in underserved communities, especially the Inland Empire.

Aletha Leong Coleman

Aletha Leong Coleman is a retired tax attorney and CPA who has spent the last 30 years specializing in board governance and bringing charitable organizations through transitions and into maturity.

She has served on the boards and executive committees of the Peninsula French-American School, Verde Valley School, Self-Help for the Elderly, Mid-Peninsula High School, and Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, helping to guide all of them through periods of significant growth. At Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, she helped the organization moved from being a small group of “friends” raising money for pet projects into a fully functioning board of 17 which has raised over $25 million. She has also served on the board of Avenidas, which coordinates and manages Palo Alto’s and other cities’ senior services on the Peninsula.

Additionally, Aletha has extensive fundraising experience, working on the French-American School’s Garden Party, with Avenidas’ on their yearly fundraising event, and with Mid-Peninsula High School on their multi-million-dollar Menlo Park campus and scholarship endowment campaigns.

A graduate of the University of Hawaii (1978, Medieval Studies) and Hastings College of the Law (University of California), Aletha and her husband reside on the Peninsula. They have three adult children and one grandchild.