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Board Members


Patty Donald


Great-granddaughter of the original family

Coming to visit my great Aunt Emelita at the house was always a special occasion. It was not until my 20s to realize that this place was truly unique, not just the home my grandfather was raised in. The house deserves to be preserved for the future. My background is in interpretation; I've worked teaching and training teachers, students and docents  for the City of Berkeley  for 38 years. Teaching about  San Francisco Bay increased knowledge and my appreciation of this area and its history. I've been on these boards: Save S.F. Bay, Aquatic Outreach Institute, Citizens for Eastshore State Park, Rotary Nature Center Friends and Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland/Cohen Bray House since its inception.

 My interest here is the house is to preserve it as a study center, create workshops to revitalize the lost crafts of restoration and to reach out to benefit the neighborhood.  This is a place where everyone can teach each other and learn the best practices to preserve it. I love to learn and everyday is a new experience here at the house. Join us.


We have created an advisory committee. See their bios here!

Nancy Donald
vice president
house & Collections manager

Nancy Donald is also a great-granddaughter of the house and is Patty's sister. Nancy retired from teaching in 2014 and has dedicated her time and energy to the house. She has been managing the collections, volunteers, administrative duties and so much more.


Julie Lee

I discovered the Cohen Bray House when I volunteered to help with cataloging the collection.

I learned how to use new software programs, PastPerfect and then Catalogit (much easier).  Then, I started  helping out in the garden, becoming the “Rose Queen” of Cohen Bray garden.

Eventually, the Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland (VPCO) needed a new board member.

Having kept the books at a law firm for 14 years, I volunteered to act as treasurer. Having also taught science to 9th graders for 5 years, I've offered to help with the school programs when classes return.

I visit the Cohen Bray House once or twice a week. There’s always a great variety of things that need to be done. It keeps my visits fun and interesting for me. I have also met some new friends along the way.


Alice La Pierre
energy advisor

New Board Member

Alice currently works for the City of Berkeley. Using her background in architecture and building science, she has designed scopes of work for multiple city buildings, including 70+ energy upgrades and weatherization projects, improving energy consumption, reducing operating costs and improving indoor air quality, while safeguarding occupant health. Currently she is working on making buildings safer for people to occupy during pandemics and wildfire season.


She volunteers extensively, and from 2009-2020  served as a leader on the board for the Rebuilding Together- East Bay North, providing free home repairs and weatherization services. From 2001-2005, she was outreach and education co-chair for Architects/ Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility.


Alice has come to our board full of energy to save energy and make the Cohen Bray house more efficient. She joined the board because of her love of old buildings and her desire to preserve them while making them more sustainable and resistant to both seismic and climatic changes.  She also sees potential in making the Cohen Bray House a learning and training center for people interested in preserving and improving existing buildings.

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