Arias selected as general manager of Ag + Open Space

By Heather Bailey, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, May 5, 2021

misti arias

In choosing longtime Ag+Open Space employee Misti Arias, the board went with a known quantity - even after their national search. Arias is currently the interim General Manager of the organization. (Photo courtesy Ag + Open Space)

In a statement released May 3, the board of directors of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space) announced it will consider the appointment of Misti Arias as general manager during its May 11 meeting. Arias was selected following a national search and has served at Ag + Open Space in various roles since 1996, starting as an Open Space planning technician and most recently as interim assistant general manager.

“We’ve learned in recent years how vital the protection of our agricultural and open space is to disaster resiliency and long-term adaptability to a changing climate,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, in a statement. “Misti Arias has served at all levels at Ag + Open Space and understands the diverse needs of our communities. She is uniquely positioned to help lead the district’s next phase in alignment with the County’s Five-year Strategic Plan.”

“It is an honor to be considered for the position of Ag + Open Space general manager. I am inspired to further the community’s vision to protect natural and agricultural lands throughout our county,” Arias said in a statement. “These protected lands serve as a buffer in extreme events, will help communities be resilient to climate change, benefit people’s mental and physical health, ensure the survival of wildlife and balanced ecosystems, create and sustain the character of our communities, support and revitalize our economy, and provide the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.”

As acquisition manager at Ag + Open Space, Arias was involved in the protection of more than 50,000 acres of land including Jenner Headlands, Buckeye Forest and Cooley Ranch, among others. Her development of creative and strategic partnerships contributed to $75 million in taxpayer savings across more than 150 land conservation transactions. She earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and urban planning from Sonoma State University in 1995.

If appointed, Arias will oversee a staff of 29 people and an annual budget of roughly $55 million. Her annual salary will be $157,828. She succeeds Bill Keene who served in the position for 11 years. In November 2020, retired Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart was appointed interim general manager while the board of directors conducted its search for a permanent replacement.

For more information about Ag + Open Space, visit

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