Photo: Jude Stalker


Ariel Rubissow Okamoto lives in San Francisco with her husband Paul Okamoto, a green architect, and her two daughters.  She has worked as a freelance editor since she graduated from Wesleyan University, Connecticut in 1981, where one of her teachers was Annie Dillard.

Noteworthy Projects

AcclimateWest, 2017
A pilot, online platform for multi-media storytelling from the point of view of communities at risk from rising sea levels around San Francisco Bay.

Natural History of San Francisco Bay, UC Press, 2011
The first definitive guide to the hydrology, ecology and restoration of the Bay (see The Bay Book).

Raising the Bar on Regional Resilience, Bay Area Regional Collaborative, 2017
A regional, multi-agency report and four case studies on how to prepare for earthquakes and sea level rise.

Climate Change Dispatches: Bay Nature Magazine, 2012-2105
Four feature stories: Taking the Measure of Corte Madera Marsh, Making the Most of Mud, Nowhere to Go But Up, Flood Control 2.0 and more.

San Francisco Chronicle 2016-2018
Occasional opinion essays in INSIGHT section including The Last Bench, My Mixed Race Daughters are the Face of the New America, and Wine Country Community Fused by Fire. (Editor Lois Kazakoff)

UC Research News & Profiles, 2011-2013
Writer of articles and interviews for new University of California web page. The page describes projects and findings of university researchers statewide, with a special emphasis on relevance to the real world.

ESTUARY Newsletter 1992-2001 & 2011-Present
Managing editor for a bimonthly, 20-page magazine on environmental issues related to California water.

State of the Estuary Reports 1996-2002 & 2015
Researcher, writer and editor for four major scientific reports (print products) on the status of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary (wetlands, wildlife, waters, ecosystem).

One Water Plan, Santa Clara Valley Water District
Editor for 2017 countywide one water plan, and associated Coyote Creek Watershed Plan for major Bay Area water district. Final plans pending.

Science Action Briefs 2001-2007
Writer and editor of seven 8-24-page publications designed to update decision-makers and stakeholders statewide concerning the latest results of the CALFED Bay-Delta program's scientific research.  Interviewed leading regional scientists and summarized their work. 

Guide to the Parks 1992 & 2004
Researched, wrote and selected photos for 140-page guidebook to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. 

Oral History Project, 2008-2009
Interviewed nine watershed keepers in charge of maintaining San Francisco's water supply in the wildest lands remaining in the Bay Area. Recorded, transcribed and edited their histories and memories.

Delta Conservation Framework, 2018
Edited and organized text and graphics, and managed layout of a 200-page plan describing conservation opportunities and partnerships in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Recent Contracts

Bay Area Regional Collaborative
California Department of Fish & Wildlife
Delta Stewardship Council
San Francisco Estuary Partnership
Santa Clara Valley Water District

Past Projects

American Farmland Trust
Bay Area Ridge Trail Council
CALFED Bay-Delta Program, Science Program
Golden Gate Parks Conservancy
Greenbelt Alliance
Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
National Park Service
San Francisco Municipal Railway, MUNI
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Sierra Club
Southwest Parks & Monuments Association
Trust for Public Land
Urban Ecology
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Geological Survey
University of California, Office of the President


Ariel is a reliable, talented and versatile writer who can delve into a science topic and construct a sharp story or keen analysis. For the University of California Research website, I’ve assigned to her several stories that require her own research and interviews with some of the top professors and scientists in their fields. She has a great knack for not only culling and writing relevant information for the lay reader, but also capturing the personalities of UC professors and the passion that they have for their work.

Andy Evangelista,
Research Coordinator, Strategic Communications
University of California, Office of the President

Ariel Rubissow-Okamoto was the lead technical writer for the CALFED Bay-Delta Authority for several years. She was in charge of the four "Science-in-Action" fact sheets that have been, in my view, spectacular successes. That success is largely due to her skill at taking a science story, and the scientists involved, and turning it into something living and exciting, while still holding on to the substance. I have known Ariel for years, and there is no one better.

Samuel N. Luoma
Senior Research Hydrologist
US Geological Survey, Menlo Park
W. J. Fulbright Distinguished Scholar

In my years of experience working on natural resource issues in the Central Valley and San Francisco Estuary, I have found Ariel to be the premier environmental science writer in the Bay Area, She has the unique ability to synthesize complex technical research surrounding specific policy issues, and then to present this information in a manner that is accessible to policymakers, scientists and the general public. In addition to her writing skills, Ariel's sense of humor, patience, and thoughtful approach to her writing only add to her value as a professional and as a person. I recommend her without hesitation.

Tim Ramirez
Former Assistant Secretary for Water Policy & Science
California Resources Agency currently with SFPUC

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto worked with me as an editor and project coordinator for our special 16-page publication on the South Bay salt pond restoration project, which appeared in the October-December 2004 issue of Bay Nature. I found her very skilled and diplomatic as an editor; extremely knowledgeable about the Bay Area environment and the major players in the field; quite efficient as a manager; and a fine writer, with a great command of the facts and a distinctive, clear voice for getting them across to readers.

David Loeb
Publisher/Editor in Chief, Bay Nature Magazine

There are people you work with because their creativity inspires you, and there are others you work with because they're organized and depend-able, and because they can see every part of the editorial process, foresee and forestall problems, and make your life easier. These are almost never the same people. Ariel is the exception. When she calls, I say yes. It's as simple as that. Anything she undertakes becomes an object of beauty, whether it's an essay on a small and very rare fish or a book that conveys the character of an entire region.

Susan Zakin
Author, Coyotes & Town Dogs, Penguin Journalist (New York Times, LA Times, LA Weekly, Vogue, Mother Jones, Sierra)

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto is probably the most critical—yet one of the most helpful—editors I have worked with. She has a sixth sense for diagnosing the problem in a problematic piece of writing—including redundancies like that one!—and almost always comes up with clever, more creative wording. She has a way of finding and shaping story ideas—particularly those that are quirky and off-beat—and helps writers make technical topics understandable and interesting to the layperson. Her talents as an editor extend to her ability to envision how complicated graphics can be simplified and used to enhance an article. Ariel has been invaluable to my development as a writer.

Lisa Owens Viani
Managing Editor, ESTUARY Senior Editor, Terrain Freelance Journalist

© Copyright 2019, Ariel Rubissow Okamoto, all rights reserved. Design: Darren Campeau



Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
San Francisco, CA
415 922-1130

Photo: Afsoon Razavi