About Us

Mission

Wild Tree Foundation (Wild Tree) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to protection of our environment, climate, and wildlife.  Wild Tree advocates for transparency, public participation, and compliance with the Rule of Law in government decision-making and against corruption by government agencies and officials and regulated entities.

People

April Rose Maurath Sommer

Executive & Legal Director

April Rose Maurath Sommer brings expertise in energy regulation, environmental law, and experience in non-profit governance and environmental advocacy to Wild Tree Foundation.  Prior to joining Wild Tree Foundation, April was the Executive Director and Lead Counsel of the Protect Our Communities Foundation (POC) and Staff Attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).  As POC Lead Counsel, April successfully advocated before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California courts for the denial of approval for a new natural gas pipeline, denial of $379 million rate increase for SD&E for the cost of a series of fires the utility caused in 2007, and development of a strong statewide electricity sector greenhouse gas reduction target and integrated resources plan.   At CBD, she challenged development of dirty utilities infrastructure, advocated for sustainable energy and protection of wildlife in practice before the CPUC, CEC, air districts, state and federal agencies, and appellate courts.

As a new attorney, April opened and ran Sommer Public Interest Law, specializing in energy, non-profit, and public forum litigation and appeals.  She fought against state and federal approvals of new fossil-fueled power plants, ill-conceived development of natural places, and government corruption.  She holds a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a J.D. from Emory University.

Christoph Maurath Sommer

Board President

Christoph brings technical engineering expertise, a safety-oriented perspective, and board governance experience to Wild Tree Foundation.  He works as a Scientist for Livermore Software Technology Corporation improving automobile safety by creating and supporting computer models of crash test dummies.  Christoph is passionate about animals and the environment.  He served as the Vice President of Rancho Compasion, a farmed animal sanctuary, and is actively involved as a volunteer for a variety of animal welfare organizations.  Christoph studied Mechanical Engineering at Stuttgart University and holds an M.S. and Doctor of Science in Transportation Safety Engineering from the George Washington University.

Nicholas Whipps

Board Treasurer

Nicholas brings experience as a passionate lawyer who has devoted his life to protecting the environment to the Wild Tree Foundation. Nicholas works to protect California’s treasured natural resources as a petitioner’s side environmental lawyer with the firm Wittwer Parkin.  Nicholas previously served as a Lawyers for America Fellow at the Center for Biological Diversity where he fought to protect oceans and California wildlife from infringing development. Nicholas started his environmental law career clerking at Earthjustice, where he challenged dirty power and toxic, destructive mountaintop removal mining.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, Nicholas served as Environmental Education Volunteer in the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, and worked with a team of Arizona State University scientists researching the Tibetan plateau pika in Qinghai, China.  Nicholas believes strongly that California must set a global example by rapidly transitioning to power that is clean, safe, and equitable for people, wildlife, and the environment at large.  He holds a B.S. summa cum laude, in Conservation Biology with a minor in Chinese from Arizona State University and a J.D., magna cum laude, from University of California, Hastings College of Law.

Peggy Ludington

Board Secretary

Peggy Ludington comes to Wild Tree Foundation as a foot solider experienced in the battle against corruption and regulatory capture in the regulation of California utilities.  As a citizen activist, she rallied her Ventura County community to wage a 9 year battle against a Southern California Edison transmission line project through neighborhoods, parkland, and critical habitat for endangered species. Peggy spearheaded the fight against the transmission line at the CPUC and challenged the project as failing to comply with CEQA all the way to the California Supreme Court.  Although the transmission line was ultimately built, Peggy’s efforts led to a much more robust process for transmission line project review at the CPUC.  Through this experience, Peggy gained insight into the policies, politics and shortcomings of the CPUC and is particularly concerned about improving transparency and public participation and decreasing “coziness” between the regulators and regulated utilities.  Peggy practiced transactional and civil law for 16 years, reformed the Ventura County Resource Conservation District as a Board Director, and is actively involved in a number of environmental, philanthropic and civic endeavors.  She is an acclaimed oil painter, with work in collections across the country.  Peggy holds a B.A. from Pepperdine University and a J.D. from UCLA Law School.