POST board names new member and chair

Press release

By on Fri, February 13, 2009

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced the addition of Donna Dubinsky to its Board of Directors and the appointment of Board member Mark Wan as Chair of the private, non-profit land trust.

High-tech entrepreneur Dubinsky is regarded as one of the driving forces behind the rise of PDA (personal digital assistant) and "smartphone" technology in Silicon Valley. After stints at Apple and Claris, she co-founded Palm, Inc., with computer-design visionary Jeff Hawkins, and served as CEO.  In 1996, Dubinsky and Hawkins introduced their new invention, the popular PalmPilot. Their association led to the founding of Handspring, which in 1999 introduced the next-generation PDA the Visor and, later, the successful smartphone Treo.  Subsequently Handspring merged into Palm, where until recently Dubinsky served on the board of directors.

Venture capitalist Mark Wan joined POST’s Board in 2003. As Board Chair he succeeds Karie Thomson, who joined the Board in 1996 and served as Chair from 2006 to 2008.  Thomson is now Vice Chair.

Formerly a general partner at Brentwood Associates, Wan helped fund and found companies such as General Surgical Innovations, Odyssey Healthcare and Perclose Medical. In 1993, he launched the investment fund Three Arch Partners, in Portola Valley, where he continues to seek out new healthcare firms, often assuming temporary operating responsibility and managing key functions during a company’s early years.

Dubinsky now serves as CEO of Numenta, a Menlo Park company she co-founded in 2005 to create computer software based on algorithms of the human brain. She lives in Portola Valley and Pescadero and is a Michigan native. She sits on the board of her undergraduate alma mater, Yale University, and of the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, founded by her husband, Len Shustek. An experienced hiker in rugged outdoor environments from Mt. Kilimanjaro to Patagonia, she has long been a supporter of local land conservation and of POST.

"Donna brings enormous energy and good humor to the Board along with her well-tested business savvy," said POST President Audrey Rust. "She exudes enthusiasm and interest in our mission and will be invaluable in helping us seek new ways to reach out to supporters in Silicon Valley and beyond."

Said Dubinsky, "I feel honored to be invited to join a board of an organization whose accomplishments and methods I thoroughly admire."        

An avid sports competitor with a passion for the outdoors, Wan enjoys running the trails on POST-protected Windy Hill and riding his bike in the Tunitas Creek area.  A resident of Woodside, he grew up in southern California at a time when there was no local organization like POST to acquire and protect land for conservation and agriculture. The strawberry fields and orange groves of his youth, he says, vanished beneath housing tracts and strip malls. Getting involved with POST gave him a chance to prevent similar conversions of open land from happening here.

"It is an interesting time to be in a leadership position, given the impact of the current economy on fund raising," said Wan of his new role at POST. "I’m concerned that our public partners are going to have more limited resources to acquire properties from POST.  It means POST will have to hold and manage properties even longer now, and ongoing support from our donors will be more important than ever. It may be that more open space properties may now become available, not only along the coast, but in south Santa Clara County, where POST is the most experienced private organization capable of protecting large, undeveloped properties."

"Mark clearly understands the impact our work has on the future sustainability of our region, and he knows what could happen if we let the moment pass," said Rust. "At this critical time, I am heartened to know we have such an effective voice for the land guiding POST."