...more about our 

Board of Directors

Marion "Friski" Soloway

Co-Founder

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Marion “Friski” Soloway, Co-Founder

Marion “Friski” Soloway is the Co-founder and President of the Board for the Pony Barnes Foundation. Marion earned her teaching credential from San Diego State University and Master of Science in Kinesiology from University of California, Los Angeles. She taught elementary education in Los Angeles private and public schools for 12 years, and continued her career teaching middle school science in the Cajon Valley School District of San Diego. Here, Marion inspired over 500 elementary and middle school students to participate in the after school club, Roots&Shoots, Dr. Jane Goodall’s global youth leadership program. Marion’s Roots&Shoots club members received national media attention for their service projects, as well as two personal visits from Dr. Goodall. In 2008, Marion earned a nomination for Cajon Valley’s Teacher of the Year award, and she was recognized as the San Diego County Environmental Educator of the Year.

 

Marion’s friendship with Dr. Virginia “Pony” Barnes began in 1975 when Dr. Barnes employed Marion as a horseback riding instructor and camp counselor at Montecito Sequoia Girls Camp in the High Sierras. It was during this first summer that Marion fully realized her desire to become a teacher. Marion credits Dr. Barnes with not only inspiring her career in education, but also providing a firm foundation for her unique classroom culture, teaching philosophy, and instructional techniques. 

Marion spent many summers with Dr. Barnes working at Montecito Sequoia Girls Camp. It was during this time that Marion and Dr. Barnes envisioned and developed one the nation’s most successful summer vacation camps for families – Montecito Sequoia Family Camp. Marion would continue creating and implementing staff development programs for Montecito Sequoia Family Camp for the next 20 years. 

 

Marion retired from teaching in 2015. Now as President of the Board for the Pony Barnes Foundation, Marion is responsible for carrying out the legacy of Dr. Barnes’s life’s work. She coordinates outreach, curriculum development, and serves as the Foundation’s lead instructor.

Dr. Debra “Doodles” Banks, President

Dr. Debra Banks has been working with community, non-profit, corporate and education leaders from the schoolhouse to the statehouse for over twenty years. In 1999 she completed her Ph.D. in Leadership and Innovation from the University of Colorado with particular focus on the capacity-building strategies of non-profit organizations as they strive to bring their organization to scale. She has written and published work(s) on school reform, strategies for replicating and implementing K-12 reform efforts, charter schools, and teacher quality.

 

Dr. Banks also consulted with urban school districts to implement strategies to raise student achievement; managed a national teacher quality initiative; and facilitated strategic planning processes with non-profits, and foundations to support making their schools top-notch. Additionally, she taught 2-week experiential education courses for teachers with Outward Bound.

Currently Dr. Banks is the Executive Director of Operations for the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates and is the Vice President of the Randonneurs USA Board, a national organization of ultra-distance cyclists. In addition, she owns and runs Rivet Cycle Works, a small business offering quality bicycle components for long distance cyclists.

Dr. Banks attended Montecito Sequoia Camp for Girls every summer during her childhood, and served in various leadership roles as a staff member. She currently serves as Vice President of the Pony Barnes Foundation.

Jennifer Wildman, Secretary

Jennifer Wildman was the Children’s Program Coordinator at Montecito-Sequoia for about 10 years beginning in 1985, the final year of girls’ camp and the very early years of family camp. Through her camp adventures, she learned to love the forest, horses, canoeing, art and playing the guitar. She also gained many amazing friends who have remained with her for life. She has spent thousands of hours singing by the campfire which has provided her with a lifetime of happy memories. 

After being a counselor for many years, Jennifer also worked in the main office of Montecito-Sequoia in Los Altos, in Sales and Promotions where she developed advertising, brochures, group sales and the very first electronic reservation system for the year-round lodge. After years of experience working with children at Montecito Sequoia she began her formal career in education working as an elementary teacher, and principal for 30 years. Recently, Jennifer fulfilled a lifelong goal of obtaining a doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership and currently serves as the Superintendent of Mammoth Lakes Unified School District.

Jennifer has two amazing kids: Lindsey who is 21 years old and is about to become a music teacher in Oregon, and Caleb who is 24 and is a theater lighting designer. Jennifer lives in Mammoth with her partner Steph, a yellow lab named Bodhi and a little terrier named Ziggy. She looks forward to being on the board of the Pony Barnes Foundation to share the experiences which positively influenced so much of her life.

Wendy Zinn, Treasurer

Wendy Zinn graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in business. For over 30 years she created and managed numerous businesses before entering education.

 

Wendy was employed by the San Bernardino Community College District, and California State University- San Bernardino to bring STEM-focused programming to students of all ages in Southern California’s Inland Empire for 10 years. During that time she co-founded Camp Summit for the Gifted, Talented and Creative. Camp Summit provides residential camping experiences in California and Maryland that support the unique needs of gifted youth ages 9-17.

 

Ms. Zinn is the Executive Producer and co-founder of Curiosity Quest Problem Solvers in which youth are challenged to create solutions to real-world issues presented by business and community partners. The process is filmed and edited to create interstitials for Public Broadcasting Stations and aired across the country.

 

Wendy serves as Executive Director of The Science Experience, Inc., a 501(c)3 whose mission is to provide science, technology, engineering, and math programs to K-12 students in California Inland Empire. It sponsors the regional SeaPerch competition, a remotely operated underwater robotics program developed by MIT and the Office of Naval Research.

 

Ms. Zinn serves as the Project Director for Global Trade and Technology, Inc. (GT2), a 501(c)3 corporation.   GT2 brings experts into the classroom virtually or in person for students K–12 for career exploration and understanding the role of math and engineering outside the classroom.  She now serves as the treasurer of the Pony Barnes Foundation.

Grace "Aerial" Clark, Member-at-Large