Waterside Staff

The creation of Waterside Workshops served a two-fold purpose, addressing the need for alternative approaches to education as a part of a healthy community and revitalizing highly under-used buildings in an urban park. Our staff and board members are artisans, tradesmen, mechanics, and teachers from a variety of backgrounds whose lives have all been greatly influenced by their exposure to handcrafts and skills.

Amber Rich
Amber Rich Executive Director
Board Member

Our executive director believes that the only way to lead is from the ground-level. Born and raised in rural North Carolina by traditional artisans, she spent her young life getting her hands dirty working in a blacksmith’s shop and on the family farm. Upon going to college, she chose to study architecture, because it seemed to fuse her passion for preserving the environment, and inspiration as an artist, but quickly found it required too much time quietly working in an office. At Waterside, she oversees fundraising, budgeting projects, organizing staff and interns, and ensures the activities of the organization serve the community to the fullest extent possible. She is committed to going the extra mile for young people in need, even if that means walking most of the way.

Helder Parreira
Helder Parreira Boat Program Director
Board Member

Born and raised in the Azores Islands, Helder developed a love of traditional boats as a very young child. Helder is a UC Berkeley alumni holding a degree in Archeology. His academic studies took him around the world studying ancient cultures and often studying their watercraft. Tiring of academic pursuits, and craving working with his hands, Helder moved back to California to study traditional wooden boat building, but continued his connection with is homeland. Helder has worked in the Azores not only as an underwater archaeologist, but has also apprenticed with one of the last master Azorean whaleboat builders. His passion “for all things maritime Portuguese” has also taken him to mainland Portugal where he has worked with traditional bateira builders of the Aveiro region of northern Portugal. He hopes to educate people young and old, as well as further his own knowledge of the time-honored craft, and to establish a community of people who are passionate about wooden boats.

Jordan Ow
Jordan Ow Street Level Cycles Mechanic

Jordan started as an intern in the summer of 2013. From the beginning, his determination to get a job in our shop was clear. By the end of the summer, he had advanced so much we invited him to join our team as an entry-level mechanic. Over time, his interest in bikes grew into a passion and he is now a full-time mechanic in our shop. Jordan is known for his excellent customer service, and his commitment to being the most fashionable bike mechanic out there. In his spare time, he can be found riding around town on one of his top-of-the-line custom built bikes, or just relaxing with friends.

Marsalis Johnson
Marsalis Johnson Street Level Cycles Mechanic

Marsalis came to Waterside for a summer as a freshman in high school, then disappeared for a few years. When he came back, our staff barely recognized him, but that contagious smile gave him away. He is quickly advancing in his mechanic’s skills, and always greets our customers at the door. Marsalis is a revolutionary at heart, and has interests ranging from cultural history and civil rights to bird watching.

Danny McNaughton
Danny McNaughton Street Level Cycles Shop Manager

Danny has worked in the bicycle industry for 12 years. He enjoys bicycling of all kinds from commuting to cruising, but his passion is racing. Most Saturday’s he can be found in the far-reaches of California competing in mountain bike races. He is excited to be working in a shop that is built around re-use, education, and community.

Sergio Street Level Cycles Mechanic
Justin McFarren
Justin McFarren Waterside Cafe Barista

Justin started as a boat shop intern when he was just a youngin’, shortly before his 13th birthday. Over the years, he gravitated toward the cafe, and has become a very skilled third-wave barista. If you like your latte the perfect temperature with artfully poured latte art, you will be very happy with his creations. Justin’s coffee skills, witty sense of humor, and good conversation keep our regulars coming back week after week.

Grace Woods
Grace Woods Waterside Cafe Barista

Grace, Lead Cafe Barista

Henri Illien
Henri Illien Waterside Cafe Barista

For those of you who knew Henri as a boat shop intern a few years ago….. you probably won’t recognize him now! He’s grown at least 3 feet since coming to Waterside, and his skills have grown right along with him. He was trained by Justin, and now pours artful latte art of his on. If you are lucky you might catch him on a Sunday, but he usually busy rowing for the Oakland Strokes!

Dakota O’Conner
Dakota O’Conner Boat Shop Assistant
Chaco President of Security

Chaco is head of security at Waterside. He tirelessly patrols the perimeter and protects the ducks from passing dogs. He also assists with boat rentals, and is a good listener when someone is having a bad day. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with Cricket, going to the beach, and taking long walks.

Cricket Vice President of Security

Cricket is vice president of security at Waterside. She also helps keep all of the basketballs put away in the courtyard, and is happy to help if someone can’t quite finish what they brought for lunch. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with Chaco and her friend Hank. She doesn’t want money for her work at waterside, but instead prefers to be paid in “schnackey”.

The Ducks
The Ducks Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance

The Ducks joined our crew when we found them huddled under one of our dry-docked boats, scared, skinny, and thirsty. The “penguin duck” or “Indian runner” is a fresh-water, flightless, domestic duck bread for egg-production isn’t very happy in the brackish, salty water’s of Aquatic Park. Since their former owner didn’t research their needed habitat very well, we decided to invite them to join our crew. The are in charge of landscaping and grounds maintenance. They make sure the garden area is free of snails and other bugs in exchange for all the duck-food they can eat, and a kiddy-pool of fresh water that they can turn into a muddy mess in a matter of seconds!

Board Members

Erika Weissinger

PhD, UC Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy
Board Treasurer

Erika brings years of experience in Public Policy regarding Foster Care and Youth Services. Her professional experience includes extensive research and evaluation of outcomes from the Child Welfare System, and her personal life is reflective of her passion for making sure children of all backgrounds have access to their basic needs. Erika is also a successful fundraiser and has already helped Waterside procure many in-kind donations.

Kirk Athanasiou

Attorney, Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office
Board Member

Kirk has been an attorney with the Contra Costa County Public Defender for 9 years. As an attorney, he has represented adults and juveniles who have had criminal matters. His extensive experience with criminal procedure and litigation is a huge asset to Waterside Workshops.

Charles Hammond

PhD, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education
Board President

Both in his doctorate studies and at Waterside Workshops, Charles focuses on childhood education in alternative learning environments, specifically as it pertains to bicycle mechanics. Charles helps with structuring and planning the bicycle mechanics program and raising funds from private foundations and corporations.

S. Neil Larsen

Development Manager, Pacific Forest Trust

Neil brings four years of fundraising and nonprofit administration experience. Before moving to the Bay area, he was the Development Coordinator at Bike Works in Seattle, a similar youth development and community bicycle organization.
Neil believes that the bicycle is a vehicle of empowerment, an amazing tool for experiential education, and the key to building sustainable communities. He holds a a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a B.A. in history from Bates College. He currently oversees all charitable giving at Pacific Forest Trust.

Amber Rich

(see bio above)

Helder Parreira

(see bio above)

Cory Rich

(see bio above)