For nearly the last decade, Tanja has devoted herself to helping build the infrastructure and award-winning programs at the Hilton Bialek Habitat, a 10-acre environmental education center at the mouth of Carmel Valley, California. Originally hired as an 11-hr/week intern on the property in 2003, Tanja quickly became an integral part of the overall visioning and development of the project. In 2008, she co-founded MEarth (pronounced ME-Earth), as a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of environmental leaders in Monterey County through environmental stewardship.
Following her personal passions of organic gardening and sustainable food choices, Tanja has had the unique opportunity to built a ‘seed-to-table’ culinary program from the ground up, including a 1-acre organic garden, an heirloom fruit orchard, vermicompost/compost systems, a greenhouse, outdoor kitchen + wood-fired pizza oven and recently opened LEED-certified multi-use classroom.
Tanja has been recognized by the Monterey County Weekly as a “mover and shaker” in their 25 people to watch for the next 25 years list. Additionally Tanja was given the ‘Visionary Leadership’ award by the Democratic Women of Monterey County (2012) & honored by Congressman Sam Farr and Assemblyman Bill Monning for her exemplary work in the community.
Tanja grew up in Carmel, attended Santa Catalina and Stevenson Schools and went on to UC Berkeley, where she graduated with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Sustainable Development, with a focus on community connections to the natural environment. Tanja is also noted as one of the co-founders of the California Student Sustainability Coalition and played a key role, as an undergraduate, in supporting the successful adoption of a University of California-wide Sustainability Policy by the UC Regents, in 2002. Tanja recently completed her Masters Degree in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco’s School of Management (2013).
While Tanja has deep roots on the Central Coast, she was raised traveling to far-flung places across the planet (35 countries and counting) and developed a unique sense of personal identity, feeling at ease immersed in diverse ecosystems and cultures across the globe. These transformative childhood experiences cultivated a deep sense of interconnectedness and catalyzed her life’s journey: to seek a balance between being an active participant in meaningful work locally, while staying connected and taking part in the greater global movement towards a more sustainable future.
Tanja is a Wilderness First Responder, a backpacking trip leader, an international eco-adventure guide, a world traveler, a certified open water SCUBA Diver, a Master Gardener, a floral designer, an avid hiker/biker/hot spring hunter, a yogini, a Burner )'(, a natural foods enthusiast, a Reverend (wedding officiant), and sometimes moonlights as a food writer/photographer.