|Home / About Us / Meet our Staff|
Signup for our emails
Bryan Bird | Madeleine Carey | Lori Colt | Bethany Cotton | Greg Dyson | Kevin Gaither-Banchoff | John Horning | Taylor Jones | Jim Matison | Sarah McMillan | Erik Molvar | Kevin Mueller | Marla Nelson | Jeremy Nichols | Claire Nickel | Kelly Nokes | Carol Norton | Jen Pelz | Tim Ream | Ronnie Rael | Samantha Ruscavage-Barz | Stephanie Sample | Jodie Wheeler | Marlies Wierenga | Ashley Wilmes
Bryan Bird, M.S., Wild Places Program Director, Santa Fe, NM
Bryan Bird is WildEarth Guardians’ Wild Places Program Director. Bryan received his Masters in conservation biology from New Mexico State University in 1995 and holds an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1990. He has undertaken conservation research, planning, and protection projects in Central America, Mexico, and the Southwestern United States. Since first working for Guardians in 1996, Bryan has focused on restoration of national forestlands and their critical ecological processes, as well as monitoring, reviewing, and challenging Forest Service proposals and land management plans. He currently serves as a volunteer on the New Mexico Collaborative Forest Restoration Program Federal Advisory Committee. Bryan lives with his family in the Santa Fe River watershed and in his spare time enjoys skiing, mountain biking, traveling and on occasion surfing. Bryan also leads our Clean Waters, Wild Forests and Grazing Retirement priority campaigns. Read Bryan's Staff Origin Story "How "Never Cry Wolf" Made Me a Wolf Advocate". email Bryan at: "bbird 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.699.4719. You can also follow Bryan Bird on Twitter @WGWildPlaces.
Madeleine Carey is the WildEarth Guardians’ Gila Campaign Fellow. Born and raised in Albuquerque, Madeleine spent her childhood exploring the Rio Grande and its bosque on foot and on horseback. In May 2014, she graduated from Tufts University in Medford, MA with a degree in Biology and Urban Studies. While at Tufts, she was a four-year member of the Track and Cross Country teams and a trip leader for the Tufts Wilderness Orientation program. During college, Madeleine spent her summers working for the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, researching American Pika in the Valles Caldera National Preserve and working with NM State Forestry to create a post-wildfire assistance guide. An avid runner and pie baker, Madeleine is always looking for ways to combine adventures with brunch. Read Madeleine's Staff Origin Story "My Birthday Wolf". email Madeleine at: "mcarey 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.660.0161.
Lori Colt has been with WildEarth Guardians since 2007 and is our Communications Specialist. Lori received her B.A. in European History from San Diego State University. After 20 years in "Corporate America" she decided to shift career paths and use her skills and passion for improving the lives of animals and wild places. Lori lives near San Diego and enjoys writing, travel, yoga, cycling and spending time with her family. Read Lori's Staff Origin Story "Wake Up to Wildlife". email Lori at: "lcolt 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 760.405.5898.
Bethany Cotton's environmental ethic was born in and nurtured by her childhood stomping grounds in the mountains outside of Ashland, Oregon. She holds a J.D. and certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource Law with an emphasis in Animal Law from Lewis & Clark Law School, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies, Political Science and Latin American Studies. She joined Guardians as Wildlife Program Director in spring 2013. Her advocacy background includes working for Greenpeace fighting coal export proposals in the western U.S, as a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, and as a litigation fellow at the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (now EarthRise Law Center). Her community involvement and pro bono work includes sitting on the boards of Friends of Living Oregon Waters (FLOW) where she focuses on fighting liquified natural gas export proposals, and EarthTeach Forest Park. In her spare time, Bethany loves to be on her bike, look for rare critters and plants, grow things, practice yoga, hike, swim and experiment in her vegan kitchen. Read Bethany's Staff Origin Story "Welcoming Wolves Home". email Bethany at: "bcotton 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 503.327.4923.
Greg joined WildEarth Guardians staff in 2014 to focus largely on our Rewilding Campaign. He got his start as an environmental advocate in Portland, Oregon, where he founded the group BARK after witnessing old-growth clearcuts along the Pacific Crest Trail on Mt. Hood. Drawn to the beauty of Hells Canyon and the Wallowas in NE Oregon, he later worked for and then ran Hells Canyon Preservation Council. More recently, he was Executive Director at High Country Conservation Advocates in Crested Butte, Colorado. He has a J.D. from the University of Cincinnati, and in the distant past worked as a criminal defense attorney in Portland. He is a member of the Oregon bar. Read Greg's Staff Origin Story "The Accidental Activist". email Greg at: “gdyson ‘at’ wildearthguardians ‘dot’ org” or call: 503.730.9242.
Kevin Gaither-Banchoff joined WildEarth Guardians in 2010 as our Development Director. Kevin moved to the southwest in late 1994 and has worked ever since to protect its biodiversity and wild nature. He has served as Development Director for both Native Seeds/Search and The Wildlands Project, worked as a fundraising and organizational development consultant for numerous local and regional conservation non-profits, and spent four years working as Executive Director for the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. Kevin enjoys sharing his vision for a healthy and vibrant western landscape with his family and friends, and the many wild critters that make this same land their home. Kevin lives in Tucson with his wife Kelli and two girls Abby and Allie, loves to camp, hike, garden and just be outdoors. Kevin has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals since 1996. email Kevin at: "kevin 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 520.869.4673.
John Horning was born and raised in Washington, DC and grew up on a street that bordered Rock Creek Park, one of the wildest urban parks in our country, where he cultivated an appreciation for the solace of wild spaces. He fondly recalls a childhood searching for salamanders, hearing Pileated wood peckers and watching fire flies light up summer evenings. Mr. Horning graduated in1989 from Colorado College, where he not only played football for four years (becoming the offense’s MVP his senior year) but also first developed a life-long appreciation for Wallace Stegner, the writer and the man. After biking around the country and then working for a variety of environmental education and advocacy groups he moved to New Mexico in 1994 to join the staff of what would later become WildEarth Guardians. He is grateful to live in New Mexico and feels privileged to be a voice for the voiceless. Read John's Staff Origin Story "Saving Spotted Owls and Ancient Forests". email John at: "jhorning 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.988.9126 x1153.
Taylor Jones joined WildEarth Guardians in 2010 as our Endangered Species Advocate. She received an M. Sc. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010, where she was a member of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab. Before entering graduate school, she did a variety of conservation work in New Mexico and Colorado, including prairie dog relocation and riparian area surveys. She has been fascinated by animals great and small her whole life, from a childhood spent watching ants to a Master's thesis on the Andean bear. She intends to apply one of the Bodhisattva vows to her work with endangered species: "Beings are numberless; I vow to save them all." She also holds an undergraduate degree in visual arts from Brown University, where she originally decided to dedicate herself to preserving the natural world that continues to inspire her paintings. Taylor leads WildEarth Guardians' Protecting the Prairie Dog Empire priority campaign. Read Taylor's Staff Origin Story "The Strange, the Small, and the Ugly". email Taylor at: "tjones 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 720.443.2615. You can also follow Taylor Jones on Twitter @pdogs4ever.
Jim Matison joined WildEarth Guardians in 2002 and is the Restoration Director. Jim leads efforts to restore riparian/wetland ecosystems with hands-on habitat restoration projects on private, public, and state school trust lands. He also directs the organization’s restoration projects on national forests, which entail closing roads as a means to restore forest ecosystems. Jim holds a degree from the University of Arizona. Read Jim's Staff Origin Story "The Power of Trees". email Jim at: "jmatison 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.795.1131.
Sarah McMillan grew up reading Ed Abbey by kerosene lamp at night and exploring the woods, rivers, and mountains of Montana and western Washington by day. She received her B.A. from Williams College and her J.D. from the University of Montana. Sarah is an avid hiker, locavore wannabe (notable downfalls include olive oil, licorice, Marmite, and black tea), and life-long environmentalist. She has worked in private practice and with Western Environmental Law Center to protect the natural world. Her litigation background is broad - from the ESA, CWA, NEPA, NFMA, etc. to protecting Montanans right to a clean and healthful environment, to defending a citizen's initiative that effectively stopped game farm "hunting" in Montana, and she is thrilled to join WildEarth Guardians as Senior Attorney. Read Sarah's Staff Origin Story "The Wild Heals". email Sarah at: "smcmillan 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 406.549.3895.
Erik Molvar joined WildEarth Guardians in 2013 as our Sagebrush Sea Campaign Director. He received a M. Sc. in Wildlife Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he authored a number of scientific studies on the evolutionary biology, population dynamics, and ecology of Alaskan moose. He went on to become a professional writer and photographer, authoring 16 guidebooks to national parks and wilderness areas across the West. Molvar spent 13 years as Wildlife Biologist and later Executive Director for Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Wyoming, where he specialized in sage grouse conservation and oil and gas issues. He served four years on the Laramie City Council, where he initiated a curbside recycling program, established a historic district protection area, and moved a national resolution on hydraulic fracking through the National League of Cities. Erik lives in Laramie, Wyoming with his three children. He is an avid fan of the outdoors, and enjoys hiking, flyfishing, skiing, and renovating historic homes. Read Erik's Staff Origin Story "How the West Was Won". email Erik at: "emolvar 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 307.399.7910.
Kevin joined WildEarth Guardians as Utah-Southern Rockies Conservation Manager, with the merger of Utah Environmental Congress (UEC) in 2013. A founding UEC board member, Kevin ran UEC’s state-wide inventory of roadless areas on National Forests in Utah from 1999 -2004. With 80,000 geo-referenced photo-points Kevin led the crafting of UEC’s statewide National Forest Wilderness Proposal. From 2004 through 2013 Kevin served variously as UEC’s Executive Director and Program Director, where he ran a state-wide Forest Monitoring Program, which Guardians expanded into the Southern Rocky Mountains. Kevin has a BA from Hobart College in island biogeography and the American environmental movement. At work and play Kevin is always with his lucky three-legged German Shepherd Zuni, who is among the 3% who beat canine bone cancer. Kevin and his girlfriend Colyn love to garden and explore our public lands whenever they can. Read Kevin's Staff Origin Story "How I Became a Forest Activist". email Kevin at: "kmueller 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 801.466.4055.
Marla Nelson joined WildEarth Guardians in 2015 as the Rewilding Attorney. Her work focuses on developing strategic legal advocacy to reclaim places for the wild and reconnect wildlife habitat and waterways across the American West. Originally from Minnesota, Marla spent her informative years swimming and fishing at the lake up north. She received her B.A. in Spanish and Biology from St. Olaf College in 2006 and her J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in 2012. Marla worked as a legal intern with Earthjustice’s California office and Earthrise Law Center. Before joining Guardians, she got her legal feet wet as Legal Fellow (and later Staff Attorney) for the Northwest Environmental Defense Center. Marla likes to spend her free time exploring the west on backpacking trips, running, and gardening. Email Marla at: “mnelson ‘at’ wildearthguardians ‘dot’ org’” or call 651.434.7737.
Jeremy Nichols joined WildEarth Guardians in 2008 as the Director of the Climate and Energy Program, taking action to fight fossil fuels, promote clean energy, slash greenhouse gases, and develop innovative strategies to safeguard the climate and the American West. Jeremy has been active in conservation advocacy since 2000, when he first started working with Biodiversity Conservation Alliance to protect forests, grasslands, and imperiled species in Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota. In 2006, he founded and led Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action, a nonprofit that successfully held polluters, states, and the Environmental Protection Agency accountable to our clean air laws throughout the Rocky Mountain region. A native Idahoan, Jeremy made his way to the Rocky Mountain west to study geology at the University of Wyoming. He now lives in Golden with his family. Read Jeremy's Staff Origin Story "My Call to Action". email Jeremy at: "jnichols 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 303.437.7663. You can also follow Jeremy on Twitter at @ClimateWest.
Claire Nickel joined WildEarth Guardians in 2013 as our Office and Events Manager. A native New Mexican, Claire grew up spending summers on the Rio Grande, hiking, volunteering with her sister and father at the Bosque del Apache and wandering the mesa looking for lizards, snakes and frogs. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, gardening, reading, writing and spending time with family. email Claire at: "cnickel 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.988.9126 x0.
Kelly Nokes joined WildEarth Guardians as Carnivore Advocate in June 2015. She holds a J.D. and Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and a B.S. in Environmental Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Leadership & Management from Northern Michigan University. Kelly has played an active role in advocating on behalf of wild creatures and wild places throughout her career and has a sincere passion for working in the public interest. Kelly served as a legal intern with WildEarth Guardians, Western Environmental Law Center, and Trustees for Alaska. She came to the Guardians with a strong background in environmental education and program administration from her previous work with Columbia Riverkeeper and the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute. Kelly strives to be an active member of her local community by volunteering her time teaching snowboarding to underprivileged youth with the Burton Chill Program and through her service as a Board of Directors Fellow for the Friends of the Mad River. An avid mountain biker and trail runner, Kelly can often be found on the trails exploring Montana's beautiful mountain landscape when not in the office. email Kelly at: "knokes 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 406.209.9545.
Carol Norton is WildEarth Guardians’ Associate Director. Before coming to work at the Guardians, she spent over eight years working at Intel Corporation in Rio Rancho, NM in the information technology group as both a people and project manager. While there, she earned a Project Management Professional certification from Project Management International (PMI). Carol’s other positions have included running a family software business with her father, doing sales support for Apple Computer, and project management for the National Indian Business Association. Carol graduated from Brown University with a degree in Biology. Then she worked for the National Park Service for a year before starting a career in the technology field. She gladly returns to conservation--her true calling. Carol has lived in the Southwest since 1989 and has worked on a variety of issues here including land use and wilderness designation. Carol is an avid backpacker, hiker, and runner, which she does with her dog Paz whenever possible. Read Carol's Staff Origin Story "Why I Am A Guardian". email Carol at: "cnorton 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.440.7158.
Jen Pelz joined Guardians in March 2013 as the Wild Rivers Program Director where she strives to breath new life into the endangered rivers of the West. Jen grew up in New Mexico exploring the mesas of Albuquerque, fishing and camping along the Pecos River and wearing her father’s waders to fish the Conejos River near Platoro every summer. She received her B.A. in Field Biology from the University of Northern Colorado in 1998 and her J.D. and Certificate of Environmental and Natural Resource Law from the University of Oregon School of Law in 2002. Jen was a co-director for the 2001 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference and was a clinic student for the Western Environmental Law Center. Jen practiced law for seven years at a small private firm in Denver, litigating land use, public lands and water law cases. She loves spending time with her husband and two little girls, tending her organic garden, and (slowly) remodeling her 1964 ranch home. Jen lives with her family in Colorado. Read Jen's Staff Origin Story "Fighting for the Rio Grande". email Jen at: "jpelz 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 303.884.2702. You can also follow Jen Pelz on Twitter at @Jen_Pelz
Ronnie Rael joined WildEarth Guardians in February of 2015 as the Administrative and Bookkeeping Assistant. A native Santa Fean, Ronnie spent his youth immersed in the city's vibrant culture and developed a lifelong passion for the desert. Always drawn to nonprofit work, Ronnie visited Thailand while still in high school and upon returning to New Mexico, he helped to coordinate Global AIDs Awareness Week in Santa Fe and raised funds to be sent to families affected by AIDs in Thailand. After attending Berklee College of Music and spending a few years on both the East and West Coasts, he is excited to be back in Santa Fe. Ronnie enjoys music, traveling, and taking time to appreciate the beauty of the Southwest. email Ronnie at: "rrael 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org"
Tim comes to Guardians with more than 20 years of experience as an environmental activist. Most recently he was an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Endangered Species Program. Previously, Tim campaigned extensively and successfully to protect public forests on the West Coast and worked as an Environmental Protection Specialist with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. He also served in the U.S. Peace Corps as a high school science teacher in Lesotho, Africa and clerked for the Honorable Alfred T. Goodwin of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Tim is admitted to practice law before the California bar. Read Tim's Staff Origin Story "A Leap into the Forest". email Tim at: "tream 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 541.531.8541. You can also follow Tim Ream on Twitter at @ourcarbon.
Samantha Ruscavage-Barz is a staff attorney for WildEarth Guardians. She received her juris doctorate from University of New Mexico School of Law in 2008, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washington State University in 1999. Samantha joined WildEarth Guardians in 2010 after working as a staff attorney for Advocates for the West and a stint as a solo practitioner specializing in public interest environmental law. She focuses on curtailing fossil fuel development on public lands and protecting air quality. Samantha spent 17 years as an archaeologist in the public and private sectors before attending law school which led to her interest in advocating for and effecting protection of natural and cultural resources. Read Samantha's Staff Origin Story "A Voice for the Voiceless". email Samantha at: "sruscavagebarz 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.401.4180.
Stephanie is WildEarth Guardians' Development Associate and promotes growth in the organization’s financial resources by working to attract and retain support from members, donors and foundations. She oversees online and direct mail giving programs, writes proposals and grant reports and writes and edits communications. A native of Maine, she graduated with a B.A. from the University of Southern Maine and a M.A. from the University of New Mexico. She discovered her love for the nonprofit world early on through volunteering and serving on boards of directors. Prior to joining Guardians Stephanie worked in education nationally and internationally. She has worked in the field of development since 2011. email Stephanie at: "ssample 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.359.8244.
Jodie Wheeler is WildEarth Guardians’ Finance Director. Jodie is a Santa Fe native and started her accounting career while still in high school. She earned her Diploma in Accounting from Albuquerque TVI and brings 27 years of progressive accounting skills with her to WildEarth Guardians. Jodie enjoys camping with her family on the Conejos River, baking, reading, cross stitching, and volunteers regularly with the Santa Fe Public Schools. email Jodie at: "jwheeler 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 505.988.9126 x1102.
Marlies Wierenga is the Pacific Northwest Conservation Manager for WildEarth Guardians, serves under the Wild Places Program Director, and formerly served as WA/OR Coordinator for Wildlands CPR until their merger with WildEarth Guardians in 2013. Marlies has over a decade of experience using her technical, policy and public involvement skills to address watershed and water quality challenges throughout the Pacific Northwest. She has analyzed environmental conditions and developed numerous shoreline, watershed and water quality plans for local and state jurisdictions. Marlies has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Arizona and a Master’s in Environmental Studies from the Evergreen State College, where her thesis analyzed the dual mandate of National Parks in Alaska to meet conservation goals and support the subsistence practices of local people (focus was Wrangell-St. Elias National Park). email Marlies at: "mwierenga 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 503.278.0669.
Ashley Wilmes is a staff attorney for WildEarth Guardians where she focuses on fighting polluters and holding our federal agencies accountable for protecting wildlife and wild places of the West. Ashley comes to WildEarth Guardians after working as a project attorney at the University of Denver’s Environmental Law Clinic and as a private public interest attorney. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Oregon School of Law in 2002, with a specialty certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. During law school, Ashley helped organize the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference and was a student attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where she enjoyed blowing glass and spent semesters abroad in London and the Central African Republic. Ashley lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband, Tom, and their two sons, and enjoys hiking and all that the natural landscape has to offer. email Ashley at: "awilmes 'at' wildearthguardians 'dot' org" or call: 859.312.4162.