Board of Directors

We are lucky to live in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and our Board of Directors and volunteers are a wonderful representation of this diversity.

We are comprised of amateurs, enthusiasts, students and professionals with interests in all aspects of mycology including culinary, cultivation, identification, photography, ecology, art and more.

We are eager to bring our love of mycology to the masses so please do not hesitate to reach-out to us with any questions, thoughts or concerns.

Board of Directors

President: Michelle Jachimowicz

I joined the San Diego Mycological Society in 2011. I have been attending meetings and helping with events ever since. This is my second year as the President of the club. My fascination with mushrooms peaked in 2008 as I was trekking through the jungles of Costa Rica while working as a manager of a biological station. During this time I became interested in the role fungi played in the environment. I joined the club to continue to expand my knowledge about mushrooms and how they can be utilized in all aspects of life. As President, I am so excited to be able to to expand my passion for fungi while promoting our local mycelial network.


Vice President: Tony Lieras

I have been a member for two years and this is my first year as a member of the board. I have many years of experience in leading large and small teams in many fields of the tech industry. I have grown shiitake and pearl oyster mushrooms in my own backyard and am very excited to learn how to identify and how to proliferate the beautiful life of mushrooms within my own community.


Treasurer: Cassandra Ablola

Member since October 2014.
Treasurer since November 2017.
There is so much more than the common button or magic mushroom in terms of varieties of fungi. Bioluminescent species glow in the night forest and rich hues of caps and stems can be found throughout the globe, like an artist’s color palette whose inspiration is found directly in nature. I hope to illuminate this subject and share my passion of these forms.
I love finding mushrooms in their natural habitat and so far I have seen many in the western U.S., several countries in Europe and the Philippines! Looking forward to many fruitful forays in the future!


Secretary: Kelly Otto

I am very excited to be not only a new member of the San Diego Mycological Society this year, but to get the chance to be hands-on and learn from all of my awesome peers as the new secretary. I moved to San Diego in July of 2019 from Colorado for a job at an environmental consulting company and can’t wait to learn more about all things fungi. I love mushrooms and am so excited to start broadening my knowledge base about them!


Membership Manager: Mathew Meyer

I have been with the San Diego Mycological Society for nearly two years and have served as the Membership Director for one year. I am a budding research mycologist and currently work as a Microscopy Specialist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA in 2017 and am currently applying to mycology Ph.D. programs all around the world. I hope to investigate fungal chemical ecology with an emphasis on fungal-insect interactions.

Twitter: @0mgem0
ResearchGate: Matthew_Meyer6
Instagram: @gooey_cology


Communications + Marketing Manager: Sarah Minarik

I have been a member of the society for 3 years and a member of the board for 1. My love of mushrooms began as a youth roaming off the beaten path in Northern California. Through the years I have become fascinated by their aesthetic beauty and find myself most at peace while crawling through the forest seeking commune with the little beauties. My current mycelial pursuits include photography and foraging for dye species for fiber projects. My goal this year is to up my identification game and become more familiar with our Southern California species.

Instagram: @petrichordreamtime


Newsletter Manager: Eduardo Astudillo

I am a new member of the San Diego Mycological Society. I am a Visual UI/UX Designer at Pacific Science & Engineering and actively working towards a Master’s degree in Industrial design. I am passionate about designing and developing products and interested in incorporating mycelium into my development process and create sustainable products.



Education Manager: Siena McKim

I am brand new to the club and happier than a cup mushroom in the rain to be working with this fungitastic group of people. As the Education Manager, I will be helping to spread the wonders of fungi and lichens to the world through public outreach and art! Mycology makes me feel more connected to the earth and happy to be alive experiencing such beautiful and mysterious creatures. When I am not illustrating or volunteering at the Birch Aquarium I am studying lichens, recently more of the algal side of the symbiosis.


Instagram: @imlichentoday


Foray Manager: Chris Thomson

I have been myceliating with SDMYCO for one year and this is my first year serving as Foray Manager. I am captivated by all disciplines of fungi; I particularly love how fungi are intelligent, how they can help to heal and grow our mind, body, and spirit, and how they can save the planet!




Volunteer Manager: Tomas Avalos

This is my first year as a member of SDMYCO and the first year being on it’s board. I’m a husband and father of 5 with an extensive history in coaching, management, and leadership. I came to SDMYCO while starting the Decriminalize CA campaign and was moved by the diversity and welcoming atmosphere of the group. I look forward to using my past experiences to help in any way I can.



Citizen Science Manager: Mary Ann Hawke

As one of the scientists in SDMYCO, I’ve been working on citizen science projects like DNA barcoding the mushrooms of San Diego and research projects like studying fungal spores at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I love the way that mycology brings together such a diverse group of people, who all have their own reasons for being interested in fungi, whether it is through science, cultivation, food, human health, ecological health, travel, or art.


Club Chef: Sarah Restivo

I have been with the club for a year now. I have learned so much about mushrooms since joining. I have even grown a bunch of my own mushrooms which is super fun! I have been interested in cooking ever since I can remember. It has always been my passion. I especially love cooking with mushrooms because of how creative you can be with them! There are so many different kinds and ways to prepare. Please come join us at one of our mushroom dinners!



Board Adviser: Pat Nolan

I’ve been with the club from nearly the start. I’m a plant pathologist so I see a lot of microfungi, but wasn’t very familiar with the macrofungi and the club is a great way to learn about them and meet great people.






Board Advisor: Michelle Innis

My husband and I joined the club in 2012 and I have been secretary for the past four years. I initially took a master gardeners class with a focus on mushrooms taught by one of our members, Sam Andrasko of Creekside Mushroom Farms. I was interested from a medicinal point because of my son’s illness. We have been growing shiitake at home for five or six years. Mushrooms are a natural fit in my life as we love to hike and photographing them out in the wild has become one of my greatest joys


Board Advisor: Bonni Thoresen

SDMYCO was being founded at the time I first encountered the mushrooms that got me hooked on studying mycology, Amanita muscaria. Luckily, I was soon directed to the club and have been involved ever since helping with the board, mushroom fairs and forays. SDMYCO has been a haven of like-minded people, educating, inspiring and becoming friends. 



Founding Member: Elio Schaechter

Elio, co-founder of SDMYCO, has been a great source of inspiration and teacher to many over the years. Elio maintains teaching positions at both SDSU and UCSD. Elio loves writing and besides authoring dozens of scientific papers and classic microbiology books, in 1997 his delightful book, In the Company of Mushrooms, was published by the Harvard University Press. In 2006, he helped originate the popular blog Small Things Considered, published by the American Society for Microbiology, with which Elio and co-bloggers continue to share appreciation of Earth’s microbes which of course, sometimes feature fungi!

About 20 years ago, Elio and a few like-minded folks joined efforts and started compiling an online collection of mostly European classical artworks depicting mushrooms. A few years ago NAMA adopted and incorporated the Registry of Mushrooms in Works of Art


Additional Board Members: Andrew Gottlieb (A/V Manager –
Additional Board Advisers: Les Braund, Sam Andrasko, Darcy Salzl

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