CCST Annual Report 2023

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Vision from the Board Chair

A graphic with a left hand black and white column with a photo of the California State Capitol and flags waving, a blue column with text that says Vision from the Board Chair, and a white column with a quote and image of Board Chair Peter Cowley: "CCST’s 35 years of success prepares us for the exciting developments and unforeseen challenges of the future, including the rapid development of artificial intelligence tools."


As we look back on 35 years of making California’s policies stronger with science and technology, it’s clear that CCST has thrived because of the far-reaching support of our partners and their researchers.

Through relationships with world-class experts, policymakers, philanthropic partners, and State government, we have responded to California’s ever-changing needs and challenges. As these relationships have deepened over the decades, CCST has steadily increased our impact, addressing urgent issues like California’s energy resources and clean energy future, oil and gas production, sustainable statewide water use, COVID-19, and wildfire.

In 2023, CCST organized and delivered expert-crafted insights on a wide range of disaster resilience challenges facing our state. Through the renowned CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows program and our expanding suite of Science Services, CCST provided policymakers with timely expertise on climate change and the drive toward carbon neutrality, energy and land use efficiency, the human health impacts of wildfire smoke, and more.

With CCST stronger and more stable than ever, we can accomplish even more with our partners, not only to confront the challenges of today head-on, but to proactively shape a healthier future for all.

We are honored to have the trust of partners like you who are committed to a shared vision of California – a vision that places science and technology, equity, resilience, and innovation at the forefront. Complex problems require collaborative solutions, and when we work together across sectors, institutions, and disciplines, we show what’s possible not only for California, but for the world.

Peter Cowhey, PhD, is Chair of the CCST Board of Directors and is the Dean and Qualcomm Professor Emeritus at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy.



A Message from the Interim CEO

A graphic with a big blue circle background on the left with text that says a Message from the Interim CEO, an overhead photo of Tower Bridge in Sacramento, and a white column with a quote and image of Interim CEO Sarah Brady: "After 35 years, CCST is making more progress than ever, growing and innovating on our promise to make California’s policies stronger with science and technology."


After earning my PhD in chemistry, I began my policy career as a CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellow a decade ago, before joining the CCST staff in 2016. In that time, CCST has grown and changed in remarkable ways. Through strategic planning, fundraising, and State budget asks, we secured the support necessary to grow our team and expand our Science Services. As CCST strengthened its reputation as a trusted source of independent, evidence-based advice, we expanded our network of world-class experts and deepened our relationships with California policy leaders.

In my various roles at CCST, I’ve had the privilege of launching new projects, programs, and initiatives that are still going strong today, including CCST’s annual Science & Technology Week, our Expert Briefing series, Disaster Resilience Initiative, and the expansion of the fellowship program into the Executive Branch. In 2023, after leading the long-term strategy to secure state funding for the fellowship, I saw the fulfillment of CCST’s $30 million endowment fund, ensuring that the state has access to science and technology advice in perpetuity

As we look toward the next 35 years of bridging the gap between science and policy, CCST is more committed than ever to the integrity of our work as we address crucial science, technology, and equity issues affecting California. In the process, we’ll continue advancing diversity and inclusivity across all of our work, amplifying the work of our Partner Institutions, and innovating on how to best serve the needs of policymakers.

I’m so grateful for your continued support and partnership. Thank you for being a critical part of what we do!

Sarah Brady, PhD, is Interim CEO at CCST, bringing years of experience in California State Policy, energy, and scientific research.



Our Partners


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We work across institutions, partnering with academic, research, governmental, philanthropic, and other communities to leverage their collective expertise and diverse perspectives to fulfill our mission. This includes formal partnerships with California’s major post-secondary institutions and federal labs and research centers.



Our Story

A graphic with a blue background on the left side and a column of text about CCST's story, and a right column with a gray background featuring a quote and photo of Brie Lindsey about our science services: "Our core values of service, independence, and partnership are foundational to our science services and guide all of our work."

California has seen great advances and new challenges since our founding, and CCST has been invited as a voice of counsel at each turn. Over the past 35 years, our approach to partnering and facilitating dialogue across institutions—including our renowned Partner Institutions—and disciplines has allowed us to create a collective impact that exceeds what any single institution could accomplish on its own.

The pillars of our organizational identity—our core values of service, independence, and partnership—are anchored in our foundational commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“With a team passionate about fulfilling our mission, we actively pursue experts from a broad range of disciplines and lived experiences to ensure we’re incorporating a range of perspectives to get the best science toward enduring solutions,” said Director of Science Services Brie Lindsey, PhD.


Science Services


A graphic featuring a background image of a wildfire, the cover of CCST's wildfire study, and a quote from CCST Program Associate Garbhita Shah with a picture of her on a green background: "Collaboration makes us better. Teaming up with Blue Forest allowed us to deliver even more robust recommendations for State policymakers, using our networks and respective expertise to identify the key issues and bring together forest managers, the health sector, and wildfire experts."

The Human Health Benefits of Improving Forest Health in California

CCST and Blue Forest Study Investigates the Links Between Forest Management, Wildfire Smoke, and the Health Sector.

This joint study by CCST and Blue Forest evaluates and offers findings, conclusions, and recommendations to address the far-reaching impacts of wildfire smoke on human health and the health sector and explores the human health benefits of promoting forest health. 

Follow-up on the report has included an expert briefing and outreach meetings with the California Air Resources Board, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the American Lung Association. The report also informed legislation introduced by California State Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (SB 945) to allow state agencies to track and monitor air pollution, population exposure, and cases of adverse health outcomes due to wildfire smoke.


A quote graphic with an image of wildfire on the left column and a quote in large green font on the right from Jennifer Montgomery, Steering Committee Chair The Human Health Benefits of Improving Forest Health in California: "We have an opportunity we shouldn’t squander to lay the foundation for greater collaboration between the health sector and governmental air and land managers. Steps taken now on wildfire smoke impacts will pay future dividends in our responses to, and preparation for, other natural disasters. Our shared focus should explicitly include vulnerable populations including Tribal communities, agricultural workers, pregnant people and many others."


Wildland Fire Policy Accelerator

Collaborating for fast action on wildland fire policy

CCST partnered with the Federation of American Scientists, COMPASS, and Conservation X Labs to develop policy memos for the Federal Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission, charged with providing wildfire policy recommendations to Congress. The policy accelerator recruited experts and trained them to develop their ideas into actionable policy memos. As a result of ongoing outreach with congressional offices, several report recommendations were included in a congressional letter to federal agencies urging them to take action to improve smoke data.



A large image of the Federal Labs Impact Report cover on the left column with a light green background, and a quote on the right column with an image of John Thompson: "Federal labs are advancing crucial technologies like artificial intelligence and remote sensing. With nearly 20 years of partnership between CCST and our Federal Laboratory Affiliates, I’m excited to showcase the critical and cutting-edge research conducted by our partners to address climate change, manage wildfire risk, and so much more."

Read the 2023 Federal Labs Impact Report



A graphic featuring a background grid of photos with transmission lines, an EV charger, and wind turbines, as well as a photo of the steering committee and lead author sitting at a Committee dais, with text overlaid and a list of the 8 key challenges identified: Electrification and Grid Development, Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Development, Reliability and the Need for Clean, Firm Power, Decentralizing the Grid, Carbon Capture and Storage, The Future of the Natural Gas System, Decarbonizing Transportation, and Cap-and-Trade.

CCST Develops Energy Primer to Meet the Needs of Policymakers

Key Challenges for California’s Energy Future explores eight high-level issues identified by the study team as top priorities.

In light of California’s SB 100 goals toward 100% clean energy by 2045 and at the request of the State Legislature, CCST published “Key Challenges for California’s Energy Future” to help current and incoming policymakers quickly get up to speed on key energy issues. 

In order to identify priority issues for California’s clean energy future, CCST consulted with policymakers and more than 30 experts across California’s preeminent academic and research institutions. The resulting peer-reviewed energy primer offers an overview of California’s energy transition prepared by the Steering Committee, followed by background on eight high-level key challenges, including environmental justice and equity considerations, key policies, and resources for more information.

They’ve held presentations for the Capitol community, partnering with the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee, as well as the California Latino Capitol Association Foundation, Asian Pacific Islander Capitol Association, and California Legislative Black Staff Association for briefings; participated in the joint SB 100 kickoff workshop hosted by the California Energy Commission, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Public Utilities Commission during a panel evaluating California’s transition to 100% clean energy; and more.

A quote graphic with a large quote in the first 2/3 of the graphic on a gray background with a black and white image in of a transmission line on the right column: "Low-income and communities of color disproportionately experience the negative impacts of our current energy system. Motivated by the dire and mounting risks of climate change and opportunities for a more prosperous, just, and healthy California, we are in the midst of a rapid transition of our energy system and other aspects of our economy that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Strong, rapid action guided by careful, evidence-based, and inclusive planning can help minimize the impact of climate change while securing a safe, prosperous, and equitable future for all Californians."



A photo of an auditorium full of people with Amber Mace on stage and a presentation screen showing panelists, overlaid with a quote from Lyia Jalap and her image on a blue background: "Science Day exemplifies what makes CCST special: partnering, convening, and having some fun while discussing ideas that shape our future. Working to make this happen was a thrill and a key opportunity for building relationships on the path toward resilience."

Inaugural “Science Day” at CNRA Kicks Off Science & Technology Week

CCST partnered with Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot to usher in Science Day, while celebrating S&T Week 2023.

Facing an ever-growing set of natural resource challenges, California has set ambitious goals to invest in climate resilience, protect its biodiversity, and ensure equitable access for all Californians to its natural resources. At Science Day, we invited researchers from California’s many world-class educational and research institutions to leverage their expertise to complement the State’s efforts.

Kicking off CCST’s Science & Technology Week 2023, Science Day featured two panel discussions with leaders, “Successful Science-Based Partnerships,” and “A Cross-Sectoral Call to Action: Meeting California’s Climate Goals While Building Resilience.” Both are available to watch online.

A photo collage of four photos in a grid, showing groups of people and activities from Science Day and S&T Week.

Following Science Day, CCST hosted it’s 35th Anniversary Reception and Leadership Awards Ceremony, where it recognized California Air Resources Board Chair Liane Randolph and California State Senator John Laird as recipients of the 2023 CCST Leadership Awards for Science in Public Service.

Throughout her career, Chair Randolph has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to promoting policies that advance science and technology in the state — especially in her roles as a California Public Utilities Commissioner, her time at the California Natural Resources Agency, and now as Chair of the California Air Resources Board.

Senator Laird’s deep commitment to promoting policies that advance science and technology in California is evident throughout his career, from his time as a California Assemblymember, to his work as Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, and now as a California Senator.



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Experts Engage California’s Challenges to Find Solutions

CCST Expert Briefings Address Energy, Public Health, Cybersecurity, and More

CCST Expert Briefings, often held in partnership with State leaders of peer organizations, convene leading experts from CCST’s Partner Institutions and beyond to address pressing scientific and technical questions facing California policymakers. The one-hour briefings provide insights into long-term, equitable solutions for challenges ranging from climate change and extreme weather events to microgrids and salinity.

“They allow us to explore critical issues to California’s environment and economy, keeping pace with the latest challenges,” said Senior Science Officer Rhianna Hohbein, PhD. “They lead to exciting new connections and ideas. In my work on California’s energy future — and as we look toward the rapidly changing artificial intelligence environment — these briefings will be essential to sharing ideas and making progress.”

In 2023, CCST held a series of six briefings, focused on identifying and addressing the key issues on the California policy landscape critical to ensuring long-term disaster resilience.


A visual timeline spanning 35 years, with a blue bar spanning across the center and thing lines with years and descriptive text, titles, and images for each event.

View the timeline (PDF).



A large group photo of the 2023 Fellows with some overlaid text and stats indicating there are 14 Fellows from 14 PhD institutions in the 14th year of the program.

CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship:
Placing PhD Scientists into Policy Careers

The 2023 class of Fellows marked our 14th year of placing PhD-level scientists, engineers, and social scientists directly into legislative offices, policy committees, State Agencies, and Offices of the Governor. These 14 Fellows applied their diverse technical research backgrounds to their work with the State of California’s leading and priority-setting policy institutions.

Working in placements that included the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, California Natural Resources Agency, Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee, California Department of Insurance, Senate Environmental Quality Committee, California Air Resources Board, Assembly Transportation Committee, and more, CCST S&T Policy Fellows made an impact across a range of policy and regulatory fields.

A graphic with a quote and image from Puneet Bhullar on the left and a group photo of the Fellows on the right during a water and energy tour: "CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows continue to set a high bar for impact. They bring passion, curiosity, and expertise to their roles as policy advisors. I am continually in awe of their ability to quickly learn entirely new skills and apply them for the benefit of California."

The 2023 class arrived for training at CCST’s Sacramento headquarters on November 1, 2022. During their training, the Fellows dove into California’s rich political history and learned how California’s policymaking process works, from idea to implementation. 

Altogether, CCST S&T Policy Fellows have worked on over 1,400 bills, briefings, hearings, and bill analyses. There are now 158 alumni of the program, many of whom serve in positions in legislative offices and agencies. With the arrival of the 2024 class in November, 172 Fellows have now been trained to work directly with policymakers as trusted staff.

A grid roster of the 2023 Fellows and their placements along with a listing of their blog posts and a photo/quote of Fellow Ope Oyewole: "With the CCST fellowship, community was alive and well and available to me every step of the way."

Learn more about the 2023 Fellows and read the Fellows blog.



Meet Our Board


A roster of the Board of Directors with circular cropped headshots, names, institutions, and titles as well as two quotes from Bernadette Glenn and Eugene Tu, and a highlight calling out outgoing members Bruce Darling and Charles Harper for their 20+ years of service. Bernadette Glenn: "Serving as a member of the CCST Board of Directors has been a rewarding journey. Working in collaboration with CCST’s wide network of policy leaders, philanthropic supporters, and S&T experts, the Board is able to truly effect change toward a better, more equitable California." Eugene Tu: "California’s Federal Laboratories are global leaders in innovation, helping to create a resilient future and a prosperous economy. Partnering with CCST opens up pathways of collaboration to further our shared goals for California."

Learn more about our CCST Board of Directors.



Audited Financials (2023)


Tables for revenues, expenses, Fellows endowment, and assets along with a graph column bar graph for assets since 2018.



Thank you!

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Read the full report:

Pages of the 2023 Annual Report laid out as magazine.

Download a PDF of the full report to read all about our progress toward a disaster resilient California.



2023 Annual Report
Design & Production: Mikel Shybut, PhD; Authors (by last name): Keleigh Friedrich, Mikel Shybut, PhD; Financial Data: Lisa Poon, CPA; Photography: Capitol photos and S&T Week by Will Bucquoy; Fellows class photos by Gurleen Roberts. Cover: Palm Springs, Calif. Adobe Stock. Acknowledgments: Grateful for the work of 2008 Annual Report author Steve Olson for CCST history and quotes.

About the California Council on Science and Technology
The California Council on Science and Technology is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature — making California’s policies stronger with science since 1988. We engage leading experts in science and technology to advise State policymakers — ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation.

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