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Robin Smith, President, graduated from The Ohio State University in 1976, and promptly embarked upon a five-week bicycle trip across Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah that developed into a love affair with the Western landscape. The following summers found him sharing his love for wildlife and wild places as a naturalist and resource specialist at Carlsbad Caverns, Denali, Grand Canyon, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, and Yellowstone National Parks. Upon receiving a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science in 1988, Robin worked as an Environmental Scientist for the Ohio EPA. Moving into the non-profit sector, he was the Executive Director of In Defense of Endangered Species and later a Regional Director of the Native Forest Council. Robin has also served six years on the Board of Directors of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, where he shared responsibility for overseeing an organization with a staff of twenty-five and an annual operating budget of $2.4 million. Recently retired, Robin lives in western Colorado, where he is building a new home and striving to live a sustainable lifestyle by growing his own food and generating his own electricity and heat from renewable, non-polluting energy sources.
Peter Schoenburg, Vice President, is a partner in the Albuquerque law offices of Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom, Schoenburg & Bienvenu, LLP. He has practiced criminal defense law in New Mexico since 1978. He received his undergraduate degree at Yale College and his law degree at Rutgers School of Law. A former Federal and State Public Defender, as well as an Assistant Attorney General, since 1993 Peter has worked in private practice defending complex criminal cases in both Federal and State courts. He also regularly represents Native Americans charged with illegal possession of feathers in connection with their religious practices. He has been continuously listed in The Best Lawyers in America - Criminal Defense since 1994. Peter’s love of the wilderness and commitment to its preservation began in his child-hood years in upstate New York. Beginning in law school he worked as an instructor at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Maine and the, now defunct, Southwest Outward Bound School based in Santa Fe. He is an avid rafter, hiker, skier and cyclist.
Todd Ringler, Secretary, is a scientist who develops advanced computer models to better understand the impacts of global climate change. He received his Ph.D from Cornell University in 1996 in Atmospheric Sciences, then joined the Research Faculty in the Atmospheric Sciences department at Colorado State University from 1996 to 2006. Since 2006 he has been a member of the Climate, Ocean and Sea-Ice Modeling team at Los Alamos National Laboratory helping to improve the global climate system models used to predict the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. He is currently involved in a wide range of projects intended to better understand the impacts of climate change in the western United States, including a project analyzing climate-change impacts on the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed. Todd's first connection to nature came through endless hours of hiking, hunting and fishing in the Appalachian Mountains as a boy. While at Cornell University he became a Senior Instructor in the Outdoor Education program teaching Outdoor Leadership and Natural History courses. He continued his work in outdoor education at Colorado State University teaching rock climbing, ice climbing and mountaineering courses. Since moving to Santa Fe he has somehow found time to take up the pastime of ultra-distance trail running in between being a dad, husband and scientist. He is continually inspired by the opportunities that we have to protect, restore and, ultimately, learn from the vast landscapes and ecosystems of the western United States. He joined the Board in 2010.
Shannon Larsen, Treasurer, is an independent consultant based in California's Bay Area. She is the former Vice-President for Development and Corporate Relations directing SFI's fund development efforts and the Business Network, a corporate-affiliates program of 55 major corporations. She also directed the Institute’s International Program, an outreach and advocacy program to support cutting-edge science in developing countries. Prior to SFI she worked in Asia for nine years in refugee and environmental planning roles. She received her BA from Lewis and Clark College and her Masters and PhD from Cornell in Environmental Planning. While a student at Cornell, she interned at the Environmental Strategies and Economics Group in the EPA Office of Air Quality Practice and Standards. Her academic interests focused on the secondary effects of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act in fostering economic growth through a clean environment. She is a member the Advisory Boards of the Center for Advanced Studies in Biodiversity, Santiago Chile, Instituto de Sistemas Complejos de Valparaiso, Chile and CeiBa Institute for Complex Systems in Colombia.
Jess Alford has been a board member since 1998 and served as Vice President 1999-2008. Raised in Paris, Texas, and a graduate of the University of Texas, Jess was a pilot in the Air Force for three years before beginning his career as an advertising photographer in Dallas. He received numerous awards including the CLIO award for creative excellence. Jess served on the board for the Texas Committee on Natural Resources in the 1980s and also on the board of the Natural Area Preservation Association. Jess coauthored, as photographer, Realms of Beauty: The Wilderness Areas of East Texas. He remains an avid photographer, now of birds in the wild, and is a major contributor to WildEarth Guardians’ publications.
Cathy Bailey works with young people to connect them with wild places. She is an outdoor and environmental educator of distinction. Cathy has her BA from the University of Texas at Austin, her MA from the University of Texas El Paso, and environmental educator training from the National Outdoor Leadership School. For over 25 years she has been a classroom teacher. Presently, as a science teacher at Albuquerque’s Bosque School, she has built and implemented curriculum based on the landscape at hand. Her students participate in citizen science programs where their research informs habitat management. Each year she spends weeks leading students into wilderness. Cathy has also worked extensively as a lay leader within the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande with youth programs, capital fundraising, and social justice and inclusivity issues. For Cathy, the inseparable goals of a healthy environment and healthy human community are central to her life’s calling. At home in Albuquerque, Cathy’s family, her pair of running dogs, a flock of chickens, a much loved garden, the Sandia Wilderness and the Rio Grande keep her connected to that which matters.
Nat Cobb grew up outdoors in New Mexico, Colorado, and Pakistan. In the 1970’s he worked for five different Outward Bound schools in diverse environments, including three years directing programs in the Gila Wilderness. He also worked as a river guide on the Grand Canyon and in Dinosaur National Monument. A graduate of Fort Lewis College and Harvard Medical School, he recently retired from the US Public Health Service, where his work included Family Practice, Emergency Medicine, Research and Epidemiology. He now does some research in chronic disease epidemiology and teaches part-time at UNM in the Masters in Public Health (MPH) program. He still loves to explore mountains, rivers and deserts by boat, ski, foot, and bicycle. At home on the bank of the Rio Grande in Los Ranchos, NM, he dabbles in native plant landscaping and tries to co-exist with the coyote, geese, beaver, and sandhill cranes who live in his back yard.
Marion Hourdequin is an associate professor of philosophy and director of the Environmental Program at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She specializes in environmental philosophy, ethics, and the philosophy of biology, and has worked on conservation and environmental issues for many years. After college, Marion worked for Wildlands CPR, then for the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, in Missoula, MT before moving to North Carolina, where she earned her Ph.D. at Duke University. Marion has served as a board member for Wildlands CPR and the International Society for Environmental Ethics, and is currently a trustee for Palmer Land Trust in Colorado Springs, CO. She is married with two children, and in her spare time, enjoys gardening, hiking, playing soccer, and spending time with her family.
Janet McHard is founding partner of McHard Accounting Consulting LLC, a firm devoted to forensic and investigative accounting. She is a CPA, and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), a certification bestowed upon examination by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). As a faculty member of the ACFE, Janet travels nationally and internationally teaching to fraud prevention and investigation specialists. Janet holds an MBA from UNM’s Robert O. Anderson Graduate School of Management in addition to a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Mexico. She currently serves on the Board of Commissioners for the Albuquerque Housing Authority and is a past President of the Board of Directors of Keshet Dance Company. Janet’s concern for the environment started early in conversations at the family dinner table - her father, Dale McHard conducted Oklahoma’s first air pollution study in 1961, wrote Oklahoma’s first air quality regulations and spent his entire career working to improve environmental quality. Janet enjoys outdoor photography and is a sailing enthusiast.
Mimsi Milton spent three glorious summers as a teenager at a camp in Estes Park and became hooked on the West. Years later, after many western vacations, she and her husband moved their family to Denver, where they didn't know a soul, and were “home” from day one. Mimsi has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin. As a journalist, she worked with Wolf Blitzer on a national, Middle East newsletter and with Martin Agronsky on his nightly, live PBS show. She was a staff writer for Parent and Child Magazine and The Baltimore Jewish Times and a freelancer for The Washington Post and other publications. Mimsi was Associate Director of Development for the D.C. Sidwell Friends School and Associate Director of Development and Alumni Affairs for the Kent Denver School in Englewood, Colorado. Following that she owned and operated a gallery of international crafts. Mimsi spends summers in Frisco hiking, biking, gardening, painting and expanding her repertoire of vegan recipes. She serves on the board of CO-Force (Coloradans for Fair Rates and Clean Energy), a non-profit that promotes renewable energy and works to end the use of fossil fuels.
Brett Paben is currently a visiting professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law, where he teaches environmental classes. Brett has been a practicing public interest environmental attorney since graduating from the University of Oregon School of Law in 2000, with his J.D. and a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Brett also holds bachelors’ degrees in International Affairs and Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. Brett enjoys hiking, sea kayaking, and fly-fishing when geographic and time constraints allow.
Jon Spar completed his education at University of New Mexico School of Medicine in 1984 and completed postgraduate training also at UNM in 1991. Jon has had an unbending interest in the environ-ment and the outdoors since childhood, earning the name of “nature boy.” This epithet was usually said a derogatory manner and occasionally led to confrontations. Over the years, he has only strengthened resolve to do all he can for the environment and those life forms that are getting continuously trampled by man’s selfish, greedy actions. Currently, Jon works halftime at Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque and halftime doing private contracting work in places where the bicycling is good. He enjoys bike racing and previously did triathlons. He attempts to use fossil fuels as little as possible in his daily life, and tries to convince others to minimize their impact on the environment. Solar installations in his home have significantly reduced his use of fossil sources of energy in the past two years. He is committed to promoting and investing in companies and industries that support alternative forms of energy. He lived over seas for a few years and is committed to living simply and less wastefully.
Bill Syme joined the board in 2009. He is the only board member who is a native New Mexican and brings this unique perspective to the deliberations of the board. His love of nature began early in his life with frequent trips to New Mexico and southern Colorado forests and streams, backpacking and fly-fishing with his family. Voyages to the Gila and Pecos made a lasting impression on young Bill leading to the desire to preserve wilderness areas in as pristine a state as possible. He went to college at Stanford university, majoring in biology and chemistry. While there he became involved in outdoor biological research. One summer was spent just outside Yosemite studying chipmunks. The next year he was involved in the student lead Mono Lake study evaluating the effects of water diversions by Los Angeles on the ecology of the lake. The results of this study are still in evidence today with the maintenance of water levels in the lake high enough to preserve the breeding islands of gulls. Currently he works as a general surgeon in Albuquerque, in private practice since 1990 but also involved in teaching residents and medical students from UNM. He continues to have a love for the outdoors and spends time outside hiking, cycling, backpacking, bird watching,skiing,gardening and fly-fishing.
David Will was born and raised in the rural Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York. Prior to attending college, David spent summers traveling the United States to study the geology of National Parks during summer field study trips led by his father, an adjunct professor of geology for a local college. His passion for protected spaces and wilderness led him to earn a B.S. in Natural Resources and a M.P.A with an emphasis in public lands protection from Cornell University. During summers between college semesters, David worked as a Park Ranger Naturalist at Rocky Mountain and Grand Teton National Parks, where he shared his passion for natural history with countless visitors exploring Rocky Mountain landscapes. After completing graduate school, David worked for the National Parks Conservation Association and The Wilderness Society before becoming a partner in an education consulting firm. David lives in Durango, Colorado where he finds peace in the mountains and forests of the San Juan Mountains.