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Farewell, John Dummer!

Twelve years ago, there was a lot of talk about development near Harmony Grove. The chatter led Jon Dummer to the board room of The Escondido Creek Conservancy.

“I was looking for a place where I could help preserve the natural space we have out there,” Dummer said. “I had a personal interest in keeping the watershed clean and undeveloped.”

Up and down the watershed, the Conservancy’s land holdings have grown during his tenure. In the office, a professional staff now runs the education, engagement, and financial programs.

“TECC has put on its big-boy pants,” he said.

As Dummer prepares to step down from the board, he plays down his own his contributions. So we’ll play them up.

Jon Dummer has been our go-to man on all things financial. As the CEO of Surface Optics Corp. – an engineering company that supplied products to NASA for its Mars lander – Dummer helped us think and act more like a business. A numbers guy, Dummer served as one of our early treasurers and guided fellow board and staff members through obscure financial discussions.

“I hope I made a difference,” he said. “When I came, we had a small budget and things were a lot tighter. If I did anything, it was to make sure we spent no more than we brought in.”

Beneath that analytical bandwidth is a wicked sense of humor. During those rare meetings when a discussion got a little tense, it was Dummer who would drop a one-liner that left the other board members in stitches and changed the tone and direction of the discussion.

Dummer feels comfortable leaving the board now, he said, because the Conservancy now has financial experts on its board and staff.

“The organization, thankfully, has outgrown what I can contribute in that area,” he said.

He said he is especially proud of having raised funds to build and open the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Interpretive Center—a place he likes to see when he goes up there to hike. But the most rewarding data he sees (again with the data) are the great numbers of students the education program has served. When he first joined the board, he never thought the Conservancy would become an educational organization, he said.

“The thing that’s really going to be our future is educating young folks on how to preserve the watershed,” Dummer said.

What’s next for Jon Dummer?

He plans to travel with his wife, Debbie O’Neill, when it’s safe to do so, run his business, stay connected with his two grown daughters – one is the marketing director of his company, the other is an attorney for the state of Nevada – and continue to make himself available to the Conservancy.

“The Conservancy is in my heart,” Dummer said. “As long as I’m around, I plan on participating.”