|Home / About Us / Meet our Staff|
Signup for our emails
Bryan Bird | Bob Brister | Madeleine Carey | Lori Colt | Bethany Cotton | Kevin Gaither-Banchoff | John Horning | Taylor Jones | Drew Kerr | Jim Matison | Sarah McMillan | Erik Molvar | Kevin Mueller | Jeremy Nichols | Claire Nickel | Carol Norton | Jen Pelz | Sarah Peters | Tim Ream | Samantha Ruscavage-Barz | Stephanie Sample | Susan Schwebke | Jodie Wheeler | Marlies Wierenga | Stuart Wilcox | 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. email@example.com or 505.699.4719.
Bob Brister is our Organizer and comes to WildEarth Guardians via our merger with the Utah Environmental Congress, where he served as membership coordinator for almost 5 years and conducted their campaign for wildlife protection and wolf recovery in Utah. A life-long organizer, Bob spent the first 15 years of his career working on international peace and human rights issues, including 12 years in Florida with the American Friends Service Committee. Since 1995, Bob has worked with a variety of Western conservation groups, including seven years doing slide show tours around the U.S. for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. He earned his Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan in 1978. A native of Memphis, TN, Bob has lived in Salt Lake City with his partner Whitney for the last 12 years and loves visiting the wilderness and seeing the wildlife that makes the Interior West such a great place to live. firstname.lastname@example.org or 801.466.4056.
Madeleine Carey is the WildEarth Guardians’ Gila Campaign Fellow. Born and raised in Albuquerque, Madeleine has a deep love of the New Mexican landscape and all its wild inhabitants, especially its wolves. She graduated from Tufts University in Medford, MA in May of 2014 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. Recently, she worked with NM State Forestry to create a post-wildfire assistance guide. A competitive athlete since age 6, she isn’t quite sure what she does on weekends yet, but it will probably involve running, skiing, riding, climbing, reading and baking. email@example.com or 505.660.0161.
Lori Colt has been with WildEarth Guardians since 2007 and is our Communications Director. Lori grew up in San Diego and 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 husband Mike and their crazy feline Billy. firstname.lastname@example.org or 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. email@example.com or 503.327.4923.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org or 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. email@example.com or 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. firstname.lastname@example.org or 720.443.2615.
Drew Kerr is WildEarth Guardians’ Carnivore Advocate. Born near the shore of Lake Michigan, and raised there and in northern New Jersey, his previous homes included Chicago, the Pacific Northwest, and the Bay Area. He now resides in Denver. Drew earned his JD with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource Law from Lewis and Clark Law School in 2009, and his BA in Environmental Studies with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Oregon in 2001. Before joining WildEarth Guardians in May of 2014, he practiced water, ocean and coastal, hazardous waste, and administrative law. Being a long-time conservation advocate, and lifelong outdoor adventure and education enthusiast, he is eager to expand his love of the American Wild to the interior West. When not safeguarding apex carnivores, Drew can be found road cycling, flat-water paddling, backpacking, trail running, surfing, home brewing, enjoying live music, and road tripping with his wife and dog. email@example.com or 312.375.6104.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org or 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. email@example.com or 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. firstname.lastname@example.org or 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. email@example.com or 801.466.4055.
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 to Idaho, Jeremy made his way to the Rocky Mountain west to study geology at the University of Wyoming. He lives in Denver with his son, Obsidian. Jeremy leads Guardians' Power Past Coal, and Wild Skies of the West Priority campaigns. firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.437.7663.
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@example.com or 505.988.9126 x0.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org or 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. email@example.com or 303.884.2702.
Sarah Peters is the Wild Places Program Attorney for WildEarth Guardians, and previously worked as the Legal Liaison/Staff Attorney for Wildlands CPR until their merger with WildEarth Guardians in July 2013. Sarah has a JD from the University of Oregon School of Law and a BS in Environmental Science from Indiana University. Sarah graduated from UO Law with certificates in Environmental and Natural Resources Law, Public Interest Law, and Pro Bono Work, and is a member of the State Bars of Colorado, Montana, and Oregon. Sarah is on the board of Cascadia Wildlands and Friends of Land Air Water, as well as a member of a Bureau of Land Management Eugene District Resource Advisory Council. She spends her free time wandering the woods and beaches of Oregon and northern California, and working on her house and garden. firstname.lastname@example.org or 541.345.0299
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 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 and Oregon bars. email@example.com or 541.531.8541.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org or 505.401.4180.
Stephanie Sample joined WildEarth Guardians in 2014 as our Development Associate. Stephanie migrated to the Southwest in 2011 with the intention to expanding her literal and metaphoric horizons. As a graduate student in Language, Culture & Society at the University of New Mexico, Stephanie organized grant distribution and connected fellow students with funding opportunities. Prior to, she developed a taste for business development by starting her own, in the Czech Republic, where she heard many Europeans testify to a fascination with the beauty of the American West. Since her youth spending time outdoors in the great state of Maine, Stephanie has thrived on connecting with wild places, wild rivers and wild people in local non-profits across the Eastern seaboard. Stephanie is deeply grateful to call New Mexico home and to work towards the rewilding of the West. email@example.com or 505.359.8244.
Susan Schwebke is WildEarth Guardians Jr. Accountant. Her 32 years of accounting experience began when she fell in love with number crunching at the ripe old age of 17. Susan is a native New Mexican, raised in the Pojoaque Valley. She enjoys amateur photography, gardening, all types of needlework, cooking/baking, the Pecos River, spending time with her partner James, her three children and two grandchildren. firstname.lastname@example.org or 505.819.5911.
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@example.com or 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). firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.278.0669.
Stuart Wilcox is an associate attorney with WildEarth Guardians. His passion for wild places began early, with his childhood family vacations to national parks throughout the country and the countless hours he spent exploring the woods and creeks around his home. Stuart attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and graduated with a B.A. and a B.F.A. in Film Studies as well as a minor in Philosophy. After he decided to dedicate his career to environmental work, Stuart left his Colorado home of the last 7 years and traveled back to his native Washington, D.C. where he earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Stuart has worked for numerous environmental organizations with a focus on public lands and wildlife issues. He now lives in Denver with his fiancé, Aly, and their two awesome goldendoodles, Hank and Otis. In his spare time Stuart enjoys cliff jumping, hiking, snowboarding, and riding his bike through the city. email@example.com or 720.331.0385.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org or 859.312.4162.