Core Faculty

Pam Fischer, RH (AHG)

Executive Director

Pam is the Ohlone’s Founder and Head Instructor.

Pam has been working with herbs since 1986. She completed her studies at the California School of Herbal Studies in 1989. She has been teaching classes in medicine making, plant identification, wildcrafting, theory and practice of herbalism since 1991. Pam began the BACHA (Bay Area Clinical Herbalist Association) organization in 1991. In 1997 she became one of the first Western Herbalists on staff at Charlotte Maxwell Complimentary Clinic in Oakland. Charlotte Maxwell clinic provides free access to alternative and complimentary medicine for low income women with cancer. Pam is a fourth generation Bay Area resident and has developed a deep love for native plants.

Lainie Baker

Director of Operations

Lainie graduated from Ohlone Center in 2005, and stayed on for several years as teacher, medicine maker, and clinician. She was President of BACHA (Bay Area Clinical Herbalists Association) from 2005 to 2007. Lainie also has a background in marketing in the health and wellness sector. She now runs the administrative, marketing, and business aspects of the Center. She also helps to ensure that the staff, clinicians, and students have the tools and information they need to succeed both at the school and beyond.

Francisca Santibanez

Student Services

Francisca is an herbalist, visual artist, and educator. In addition to her training in Western Clinical Herbalism, she has spent more than a decade integrating cross-cultural healing modalities that include Amazonian Vegetalista Practice, Ayurveda, Tantra, and Holistic Nutrition, among others. Raised in Brazil and Chile, Francisca has been deeply connected with medicinal plant practices since early childhood, participating in a long family tradition of Chilean folk kitchen medicine, passed down through the inspirations of her mother and grandmother.

Francisca is currently a lecturer on a wide variety of plant-based wisdom and healing programs at the Ohlone Center, where she also did her training. Her artistic endeavors, including photography, mixed media and jewelry making, reinforce her direct work with the plants, invoking the cosmology that we are all an integral expression of the earth and her creative intelligence.

 For more information on Francisca you can visit

Mariah McDonald

Medicine Maker

Mariah has spent an extensive part of her life exploring earth’s healing bionetworks. Her passion sprouts from a deep respect of earth’s elegant systems and the power of using a holistic approach to health and vitality. To expand her understanding of these systems and to develop a multifaceted approach to the healing of the earth and her community, Mariah received her Bachelors of Science from the Evergreen State College studying mycology (mushroom science), botany and biology. Realizing the power of this information and honoring a desire to work in a more ethnobotanical healer’s format, Mariah furthered her herbal education at the Ohlone Herbal Center.

Whitney Staeb

Assistant Medicine Maker

Whitney delved into the study of herbal medicine on her own and with various teachers for many years before receiving her Foundations, Therapeutics, and Clinic certificates from the Ohlone Herbal Center where she is currently a Medicine Maker. She also teaches on subjects focusing on women’s health and medicine making. Apart from Ohlone Center, Whitney is a birth and postpartum doula.

Rylan Sían

Clinic Advisor

Rylan grew up in the rural Carolina swamp land surrounded by strong Southern women. He went to school for communication, psychology, and medicine in both Virginia and California, always searching for ways he could best serve his community. He spent a decade working in patient advocacy and healthcare management, a skillset he carries into his practice today alongside an ancestral gift for medicine. He has ongoing commitment to creating safe spaces and bringing healing to LGBTQ gamer communities, which he has done for most of his adult life. Rylan is also a lifelong practitioner of indigenous Celtic spirituality, and finds great balance linking this more esoteric lens with his well-rooted scientific background. He is always seeking to create relationships between people and the deep healing that can be found in nature while navigating the complex and conventional world we live in.

Tina Simeon


As a Mexican-American, Tina’s cultural roots in the use of medicinal plants run deep. She grew up with the smell of Yerba Buena steeping in the kitchen, and other medicinal plants in the garden like comfrey, corn silk, and horsetail (cola de caballo). Tina was born and raised in Oakland, California, and recognized a need for social support in the Latino community. She worked for many years as a bilingual social worker and clinic administrator at a community health center in the Fruitvale district of Oakland. After retiring in 2010, she returned to her herbal roots and began studying herbal medicine in earnest.

Sarah Bearden


Sarah Bearden has been a practicing nutritionist since 1996. She is the Director of Roots To Health, a center specializing in Nutrition Consultation and Nutrition Education. She received a diploma in Nutritional Medicine in London and practices both in Marin County and England.

Robin Pickard-Richardson


Robin came to the study of herbal medicine from her passion for spending time in the wilderness, from a fascination with the plants themselves. She completed the Foundations, Therapeutics, and Clinical certificates through the Ohlone Center in 2010 and since, has focused her studies directly with the plants, primarily through cultivation. She has worked as a gardener, landscaper at nurseries, and as a grower of medicinal (and other) plants for the last decade. Since 2015 she has been tending the garden and teaching medicinal herb gardening for the Ohlone Center.

Visiting Teachers

Karen Aguiar

Karen is our medicinal mushroom instructor. She has been making botanical and mushroom medicines since 1995 and feels fortunate to have found her tribe.  She is also the organizer of the Fall Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium. Her website is:

Terri Jensen

Terri has been working with botanical medicines in a variety of capacities for over 20 years. She is an owner and medicine maker for The Herbal Apothecary, a full-line herbal pharmacy. She is also an organizer of the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium. Her website is:

Autumn Summers

Autumn Summers is a plant geek. Inspired by the plants since childhood she has studied herbalism and ethnobotany for the last 20 years with a kinship for the plants, seaweeds and mushrooms of Northern California. She has guest hosted KPFA’s Herbal Highway, co-organized free community herb festivals, and worked at various herbal businesses including Rosemary’s Garden, Simplers Botanical and KW Botanicals. Currently she teaches edible and medicinal plant classes at the California School of Herbal Studies ( and throughout the Bay Area, and manages Bayer Farm Community Garden for the non-profit LandPaths (

Guest Speakers

Hua Anwa, Native Elder

Nishanga Bliss

Ruby Blume

Antonio Candelario

Candis Cantin

Lynda Deschambault

Denise Goitia

The Money Witch, Jessie Susannah Karnatz-Lazarus

Kathi Keville

Leslie Susan Ko

Kami McBride

William Morris

Karyn Sanders

Riyana Rebecca Sang

Peg Schafer

Cyn Rivera, Kumeyaay

Francisca Santibanez

Dr. Marcey Shapiro

Christa Sinadinos

Sweet Medicine Nation

Yeye Lusiah Teish

Roy Upton

David Winston

Amber Woods

Consider Donating

Ohlone Herbal Center is a 501(c)(3) organization, so all donations are tax deductible. Tax ID #14-1975183

If you would like to donate by check or cash, please send an envelope addressed to:

Ohlone Herbal Center
1250 Addison St. #113
Berkeley, CA 94702