• Bee on flower in pollinator garden

    Staff and Board

    Carolina Corona, Project/Marketing Coordinator

    Carolina Corona

    Project/Marketing Coordinator

    Carolina Corona is a fine art painter and instructor whose work reflects the beauty of nature and the need to preserve and conserve it. She is passionate about protecting special places like the Gateway Nature Preserve and other local nature sanctuaries. She runs her art business Corona Fine Art and enjoys volunteering with various local organizations which focus on environmentalism, mental health, the Hispanic Community, and the arts.

    Grace Patiño, Co-Chair

    Grace Patiño


    Grace is originally from South Bend, IN, but now calls Winston Salem home since moving in 2006. She found her passion for the environment at an early age as she explored the beach and bayou surrounding her grandmother’s home in Pensacola, FL. This led her to pursue an environmental curriculum at Rice University, where she received a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary biology with a focus in Marine Science. She followed up with a Masters in Environmental Management in Coastal Environmental Management from the Nicholas School at Duke University. She is excited to bring her management expertise to the Operations Committee for Gateway Nature Preserve, and has stepped into the Co-Chair role with her husband Salvador Patiño. They hope to advance Gateway’s mission, and help guide it forward with new, interesting projects and educational opportunities.

    Salvador Patiño, Co-Chair

    Salvador Patiño


    Despite growing up in the middle of urban Mexico City, Salvador has always found a calling to nature. Whether it be wandering alone through the desert highlands of Southern Arizona or trekking through the crowds of the Appalachian Trail, he has found a never ending feeling of amazement in the outdoors. He has masters degree in Architecture from Arizona State University and currently runs his own architectural design practice in Winston-Salem, with a focus on creating designs that are sustainable and long lasting, regardless of their size.

    Saubhagya Silwal, Vice-Chair

    Saubhagya Silwal


    Sau Silwal is an environmental lecturer, naturalist, environmental educator, and researcher with experience in natural resource management. Her natural resource management skills include the restoration ecology of the Longleaf pine ecosystem, upland/bottomland hardwood forest, wildland hydrology and recreation resource management. After moving to the US, she worked as an environmental educator facilitating numerous public outreach programs and place-based formal and informal environmental education classes for people of all ages. Her most recent work focused on optimizing urban green space to maximize its ecosystem services. She currently teaches biology, environmental-related courses at Salem College.

    Rebekah Lassiter, Secretary

    Rebekah Lassiter


    Rebekah is a first-year student at Wake Forest University. At Wake Forest, Rebekah is a Sustainability leader, through the Office of Sustainability, for her residence hall and a member of the Community Outreach Committee for the Sustainability Leadership Group. In this capacity, she has collaborated with the Piedmont Environmental Alliance to provide a virtual community platform for elementary students to educate and encourage one another through environmental and sustainable practices. I hope to harness both my passion and experience to contribute to the meaningful work of the Gateway Nature Preserve! I am particularly interested in providing support for the education, community engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts of the Board.

    Cameron Goodman


    I was born and raised in Winston-Salem and have always had a passion for recreation and the outdoors, especially in the local area. I grew up playing sports and as I’ve gotten older I’ve found other ways to stay active in walking, hiking, golfing & playing disc golf. I studied both Sport Management and Business Management in college at Elon University so finding a position in the Forsyth County Parks & Recreation Department in the accounting office was a natural fit and a nice blend of both fields.

    Clara Estrella

    Clara Estrella

    I am from the Dominican Republic and moved to Winston Salem in 2015. I have had a passion for nature and art since I can remember. I grew up in a rural area and the older I get the more I enjoy it. I have a college degree in both Publicitary Arts and Business Management. After working for WSFCS for two years as a Bilingual Assistant, I began a new journey in Corporate America and since then I work as a Procurement Specialist for Novant Health Inc. I love being outside in my garden with a cup of coffee and as a Caribbean, a white sand, blue water beach is also one of my favorite places to be.

    Paula J. McCoy

    Paula J. McCoy

    Paula has spent a large part of her career as a personal and professional trainer, program and community developer.  She has over 30 years of experience training groups, developing programs, engaging community and leading five local and state nonprofit organizations. Locally, Paula is most recently known for her work in Asset-based Community Development. She is an energetic, motivated and committed individual dedicated to helping communities, organizations and individuals realize their potential for success.  She considers this as her “life work”. Paula’s philosophy is “look at life through the wind-shield, not the rear view mirror.”

    Dave Meyer

    Dave is a retired professional with 35 years in the electrical components manufacturing industry.  With a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Oakland University and a Master’s in Business Administration degree from UNC-Greensboro, his professional experience spans across Process Engineering, Quality Engineering, Operations Management, and Quality Management in the automotive and consumer goods industries. He currently resides in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with his wife Judy and has interests in horticulture, reading, traveling, hiking, photography, and the natural sciences.

    Cheyanne Murdock

    Cheyanne Murdock

    Cheyanne grew up in a small country town in what was referred to as “upstate” New York by all the visiting city folk but is very much downstate bordering Pennsylvania right on the Delaware River. She was often found outside walking through the woods of her family’s property, biking, or swimming in the river. She was encouraged to play outside as much as possible and thanks her mom for encouraging her to explore. She came to Gateway as a fairly new resident of Winston-Salem after living abroad serving in the Peace Corps where she rediscovered her love of nature and exploration. Winston-Salem is the largest city she has lived in and is grateful for the opportunities that Gateway provides for the community in an urban setting.

    Jessed Villalba

    Jessed is from Miami FL, and didn’t discover his love for the outdoors until his mid’ 20’s. His first time camping was two years ago, thanks to his fiancé Lacy, and all the camping gear she provided. Now he’s an avid hiker, skier, and doer of all things outside. He recognizes how beneficial green spaces are and promotes the importance of nature and its conservation. Jessed moved to Winston-Salem three years ago and works in Interventional Radiology at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. His dream is to one day visit all of the National Parks.

    Leslie Wakeford

    Leslie Wakeford

    Leslie grew up in the “wilds” of the western Chicago suburbs, camping and fishing along the shores of Lake Michigan. After moving to Winston-Salem, she co-founded the Winston-Salem Family Nature Club in 2011 to encourage kids and families to play, explore and enjoy nature together. Leslie is a librarian at Wake Forest University’s Professional Center Library. Her favorite places for camping and hiking excursions with her husband and twins are Hanging Rock and Stone Mountain State Parks.