Our Executive Team

Robin Kobaly
Executive Director

Robin Kobaly is the Executive Director of the SummerTree Institute. Robin Kobaly has served as both United States Bureau of Land Management District Botanist for the California Desert District and Preserve Manager at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. A professional biologist with over twenty years of experience as an interpretive specialist Robin designs and presents award winning events and programs for adults and children.

After receiving her Master’s Degree in Biology from the University of California Riverside, Robin traveled the world continuing her lifelong fascination with plants, birds and wildlife. She worked as the Curator of Botany at the Riverside Municipal Museum and then began a twenty-year career with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as a botanist, wildlife biologist and natural history interpreter. Robin also served as Acting Chief of Public Affairs for BLM and has prepared and presented programs for television and radio broadcast as well as appearing as spokesperson for many different programs focused on natural history. Robin co-founded and helped to develop The Wildlands Conservancy, one of the largest non-profit land conservancies in the United States.

Over the years, Robin has studied the indigenous native people in many areas and has researched, tested and taught the use of plants for food, medicine, tools, clothing and art.

“...Robin, I look forward to years of collaboration.”

Jane Goodall
UN Messenger of Peace

“ Don’t leave California without going on a tour with Robin Kobaly. She’s one of the best….”

Bruce Babbitt, Former Secretary of the Interior
Washington, D.C.

“The template you’ve designed for Big Morongo is what BLM needs on a national level.”

Tom Fry, Former Director
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Washington, D.C.

“You are a legend in your own time. What an incredible touch and spirit you bring to everything near you...”

Kit Kimball, Director
External & Intergovernmental Affairs
United States Dept of the Interior
Washington D.C.

“I just wish we could ‘clone’ you to other parts of the State and the Bureau. Keep up the great work...”

Mike Pool, California State Director
Bureau of Land Management
United States Dept of the Interior

“Thank you, once again, for sharing your vast knowledge of natural history and your contagious enthusiasm in training our staff. We look forward to your sessions every year...”

Joshua Tree National Park

“...what a great morning we spent with you and what a treat to share your passion for nature.”

California Archaeological
Site Stewardship Program

“Robin Kobaly’s environmental education program at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve received the highest public approval rating of any Bureau of Land Management site in the Nation….”

Results of Year 2000 Visitor Use Survey
U.S. Department of the Interior
Washington D. C.

Robin leading an interpretive natural history tour for the National BLM Science Coordination Committee.
Robin is President and co-founder of The Power of Plants, which conducts ongoing classes, workshops, lectures, and natural history experiences about native plants across the western United States.
Co-founder with her husband Doug Thompson, a marine naturalist, DolphinWorks conducts ongoing natural history experiences, lectures, wildlife and marine expedition’s throughout the world.


Doug Thompson
Director, Program Development

Doug is an accomplished writer, ecologist, internationally recognized naturalist, expedition leader, lecturer, award-winning filmmaker, photo-journalist and above all, a man at peace with the planet – dedicated to keeping our Earth the best it can be. Doug’s refreshing viewpoint and inspiring lectures are welcomed time and again by universities, corporations, world-class resorts and retreats.

Doug has organized and led over one hundred long-range natural history expeditions, from Mexico to New Zealand, hosting some of the world’s most influential leaders and decision makers. As a marine naturalist, he has enjoyed worldwide credibility as a leader in experiential research with whales, dolphins, and other marine life.

Doug has developed hundreds of hours of natural history programming with national award-winning producers and celebrities including Shari Lewis and the National Emmy-winning James Deckard.

In addition to his profound understanding of our place on this planet and a deep, rich history of our connection to the sea, Doug brings to SummerTree a strong history of project and production management. His ability to imagine, manage and inspire drives virtually every effort at the Institute.

“ ... a wealth of experience and knowledge.”

The Cousteau Society

“ ... environmentalist extraordinaire.”

The Los Angeles Times

“ ... exceptionally knowledgeable and motivating speaker.”

Director of Research Sponsored Projects
California State University at Los Angeles

“ ... Doug Thompson not only has superb documentary footage of wildlife, but he also provides outstanding narration.”

Point Reyes National Seashore Park, CA

“ ... Ecologist Supreme, credentialed naturalist, writer, award-winning documentary film-maker, photojournalist, lecturer, hot storyteller…above all, a man at peace with the planet.”

The Orange County Register


Ongoing natural history experiences, lectures, wildlife and marine expeditions throughout the world.
A TV series exploring great unsolved mysteries of our oceans: unexplained sea lore, supernatural experiences, sea monsters, legendary ship wrecks, sunken treasure, and cutting edge ocean research.
Doug Thompson and Shari Lewis explore the surprising similarities between human and animal babies caught in the act of “growing up.”


David Miller
Director, Media & Communications

Dave has been a pioneer throughout the development of multimedia, interactive communications and television programming. His writing, design, directing and production expertise in media became an important factor as he co-designed and created the first worldwide children's television series, The Big Blue Marble.

This National Emmy Award winning series led Dave’s multimedia educational productions to receive the highest form of recognition, The Peabody Award. As part of the project, Dave designed educational multimedia and cross-cultural supplemental learning kits for the series which have been credited as major contributors to the earliest movement toward a global culture.1 The show went on to produce 151 half-hour episodes.

This same understanding has served Dave well in the corporate arena. He has developed, installed and supported worldwide media communications networks integrating videotape, publications, and satellite telecommunications systems. More recently he has contributed to Intranets, Extranets and VPNs utilizing the Internet.

In addition to establishing communications networks, he has designed and executed extensive organizational campaigns ranging from high-tech international product releases to global interventions for problem-solving and positive development of corporate cultures (Children’s Television: The Art, the Business, and How It Works. Schneider, Cy., Chicago: NTC Business Books, 1987. ISBN: 0844231460)

With over forty years in the entertainment and communications fields Dave is an expert in building and supporting communications environments which invite profound discovery while motivating, training, educating, entertaining and generating targeted results.

This broad experience base in media has given Dave a deep understanding of the fundamentals behind the way we all perceive, react to, and interact with media.

Programs created by Dave Miller have won the following awards:

  • The George Foster Peabody Award
  • National & International Emmy Awards
  • The New York International Film Festival Grand Prize






José Ángel Sánchez Pacheco
Director, Instituto SummerTree

José is Director of Instituto SummerTree, our sister NGO in Mexico which is dedicated to bringing environmental education and conservation programs to Baja Sur. José has over 20 years of experience as a professional marine biologist. After graduating from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, José served as a Professor at the Center for Technologic Studies of the Sea in Guerrero Negro.

José spent four years researching and promoting the creation of El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve. He then served as Research and Management Coordinator in El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve for nine years. During this period, José was in charge of reviewing research requests and Environmental Impact Assessments, as well as directing research on gray whales, seabirds, and wildlife, and supporting environmental education and management regulations. José was the founder and first director of Grupo de Ecologia y Conservacion de Islas A.C., a non-government organization dedicated to protecting island ecosystems, endangered species and seabird colonies throughout Western Mexico. José promoted and provided consultation for the creation of several natural protected areas in Northwestern Mexico, including Islas del Golfo de California, Islas del Pacifico, Isla Guadalupe and Islas Revillagigedo.

As a founding Director of Instituto SummerTree A.C., José actively promotes the development and expansion of environmentally compatible economic alternatives for the local people of El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve that includes the last pristine birthing lagoon for the California Gray Whale. José is also instrumental in developing bilingual environmental education materials and programs for this region and surrounding communities.





All content copyright © 2005 The SummerTree Institute. All rights reserved.