Staff

Brian Sybert is CLF’s Executive Director. Brian has an extensive background in working with local advocates having been the executive director of the Montana Wilderness Association from fall of 2010 to spring of 2017. Prior to that, he was the Wyoming Director of the Greater Yellowstone.

Brian has twenty years of experience in nonprofit conservation advocacy. Brian takes great pride in developing diverse partnerships and advancing conservation strategies that leverage public lands conservation with the well-being of local communities. He has taken great strides to diversify the conservation movement by ensuring it has strong representation from veterans, women, youth, tribal members, business owners, and sportsmen and women.

He has a B.A. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin. Brian has a deep love for the landscapes and communities of the American West and enjoys camping, fly fishing, hiking, hunting, kayaking and mountain biking with his wife Vanessa their their two Labrador retrievers Marley and Harley.
bsybert@conservationlands.org


Jennifer Bassignani joined CLF in 2010 and is the Associate Director of Operations. Jennifer has over a decade of experience running the finances and administrative coordination of medical offices in Durango, Colorado. Jennifer is proficient in over a dozen computer software systems and has an extensive understanding of business operations, records management, project planning, accounting, and bookkeeping.

As an office manager, Jennifer led campaigns to “green” office practices, including moving from a traditional to a paperless office. Jen B. has lived in Durango for over 20 years and enjoys running, fishing and exploring the Four Corners. jen@conservationlands.org


Ryan Bidwell

Ryan Bidwell is CLF’s Senior Director of Conservation. Ryan previously spent several years working with The Wilderness Society where he was a key partner in advancing national monument designation. Ryan has worked to help local community leaders and the conservation community advance placed-based designation campaigns, defend the Antiquities Act from Congressional attack, and support the Obama Administration through the designation of nine national monuments to date.

Prior to joining The Wilderness Society, Ryan spent six years as the executive director of Colorado Wild, and lead the group’s evolution from a purely defensive organization to one advancing a proactive vision for conserving forests in the Southern Rocky Mountains including permanent protection, ecological restoration, and community adaptation to wildfire. Before joining Colorado Wild, Ryan worked for the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks in Seattle. Ryan received a M.S. in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Washington, and a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from Oregon State University. Ryan has lived in Durango, Colorado since 2005, where he and his wife Marcie enjoy rock climbing, river running, and exploring the desert Southwest. ryan@conservationlands.org


Suzanne Connors is CLF’s Senior Director of Development. Prior to joining CLF, Suzanne has served as a philanthropic leader as Director of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving at the Fort Lewis College Foundation and Director of Development at Graland Country Day School in Denver. Suzanne also established her own independent nonprofit consulting firm, Avid Nonprofit Strategy, after working for her family’s boutique fundraising consulting firm (The Robert B. Sharp Company of Colorado, RBSCo) for nearly a decade. She started her career as a fellow at El Pomar Foundation’s two-year Leadership and Nonprofit Management program. Suzanne obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washington & Lee University in Virginia and her MBA from the University of Colorado, Denver.
Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, raised in Orange County, California and schooled in Virginia, Suzanne has found her home and love of community in Colorado. She fervently enjoys living in Durango with her husband, ten-year-old son, six-year old daughter and their pound puppy. Suzanne loves to mountain bike, trail run, ski, camp, read good books, float down rivers, Stand Up Paddle board, drink wine (good or not) and eat guacamole. suzanne@conservationlands.org


Betsy Buffington

Betsy Buffington is CLF’s Director of Training and Mentoring. Betsy is a veteran community organizer with more than 20 years of experience helping non-traditional, local citizens maximize their collective power to protect the cultural, historic and natural resources of the West. She cut her teeth helping conservationists, local ranchers and retired Air Force staff stop a bombing range in the Owyhee desert of southern Idaho (now a recent addition to the National Conservation Lands).

She went on to work on campaigns that included helping a local ORV club advocate for Wilderness expansion in northern Wyoming, and concerned citizens secure the designation of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and continue their advocacy through the creation of the Friends of the Missouri Breaks. Betsy is based in Bozeman, Montana but spends more than half her time working in the field, the other half of her time is spent wandering the wild places of the Northern Rockies. betsy@conservationlands.org


David Feinman is CLF’s Director of Government Affairs. Prior to joining CLF, David served as Washington Representative for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), establishing a public policy presence in Washington for both organizations in support of their work on behalf of Holocaust victims in 47 countries. Prior to that, he served as Senior Legislative Associate and Project Director for The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). David began his government affairs career on Capitol Hill as a congressional aide for former Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida and former Congresswoman Shelley Berkley of Nevada.

David is an alum of the University of Florida, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, and of the University of Central Florida, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Political Analysis and Public Policy. Born in Queens, New York and raised in South Florida, David has lived in the Washington, DC area for more than a decade. He enjoys traveling, playing and watching sports, spending time with family and friends, searching for the best buffalo wings, and exploring the outdoors. davidf@conservationlands.org
davidf@conservationlands.org


Sam Goldman, Director of Strategic Engagement, joined the Foundation in 2011 and served as California Program Director for five years. Previously, Sam coordinated California wilderness campaigns for the Wilderness Society for four years. He worked to help pass the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which protected 2.2 million acres of wilderness across the country. Prior to working on wilderness designation campaigns, Sam worked as a consultant in Washington, D.C. where he directed field operations and online advocacy campaigns for national environmental groups. Sam also has extensive experience on electoral campaigns and with training volunteers, conservationists, and organizers.

Sam is active in the Jewish community and serves on the board of Wilderness Torah and is a volunteer with the San Francisco Jewish Federation. A graduate of Bates College and Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing, Sam is an avid skier, hiker, and loves exploring remote regions of California and the West. Sam@conservationlands.org


Meghan Kissell

Meghan Kissell is CLF’s National Monuments Campaign Communications Director. Before joining CLF in 2011, she worked for Spitfire Strategies helping non-profit organizations develop clear messaging on a range of issues including health care and conservation. As the person in charge of grassroots at the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of University Women, she’s worked to demystify the process of making one’s voice heard on legislative issues.

She’s also been the ringmaster for several three-ring circuses – including national monument designations and lobby days. Meghan holds a Masters of Social Work from Howard University and political science degree from Allegheny College. Meghan lives in Virginia where she plays far too much soccer for her own good. meghan@conservationlands.org


Maguire headshot-300x370Mariana Maguire is CLF’s Southern California Associate Director for Conservation. She previously spent seven years in Washington, D.C., as a policy advisor in the House of Representatives. She spearheaded legislation to create a national recreation area in the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles, and worked closely with the Obama Administration and a diverse coalition of stakeholders to establish a national monument there. Mariana also worked to advance climate change and climate resiliency policies, balanced approaches to renewable energy development and outreach to non-traditional allies.

She has a Bachelors degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Masters degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University. A California native, she has a strong appreciation for the state’s conservation legacy, and the benefits of public lands. She enjoys hiking, cycling, paddle boarding, skiing, and a host of other hobbies. She also loves playing tour guide and sharing the outdoors with others, especially her pup Lucie. mariana@conservationlands.org


Danielle Murray

Danielle Murray, CLF’s Senior Director of Programs, joined CLF in 2008. Danielle graduated from Vermont Law School in 2007, earning her J.D. and a specialized Masters Degree in Environmental Law. While at VLS, Danielle was a member of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law and a Dean’s Fellow. Prior to joining CLF, Danielle worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Mary M. Johnston in the Superior Court of Delaware and as a student clinician for the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic in South Royalton, Vermont.

She graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Conservation and Minor in Biology in 2002. Danielle lives in Durango, Colorado where she enjoys skiing, hiking, rafting and drinking local beer with her family and friends. danielle@conservationlands.org


Charlotte Overby

Charlotte Overby is CLF’s Rivers and Restoration Director. Before joining CLF, she was Communications Director and Acting Executive Director of the Nevada Wilderness Project. She had the opportunity to step up the organization’s outreach, including co-producing “Walking the Line: New Energy in the Old West,” a film that aired on Nevada PBS stations and toured with the Wild & Scenic Film Festival to help advance the concept of “smart from the start” renewable energy development. For three years prior, she worked in Patagonia’s creative services department in Ventura, California.

She has an MA in journalism from the University of Missouri and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of publications, including field guides, Wildlife Conservation magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the online edition of the New York Times Magazine, and others, usually covering conservation and science issues. She was co-founder and director of Missouri River Relief, an organization that continues to measure its “results by the tons” of trash hauled from the river and by the thousands of kids who take river field trips.  She lives in Durango, Colorado.  char@conservationlands.org


Angel Peña is CLF’s Rio Bravo Regional Director (S. Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas), having joined the Foundation in 2014. Angel’s passion for public lands and wide-open spaces took root in his home state of New Mexico. As the cultural resources specialist for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA), Angel had the opportunity to work on the permanent protection of the nearly half-million acres that make up the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Angel’s education in anthropology/archaeology allows him to emphasize our nation’s historic, prehistoric and cultural assets–bringing cultural resources to the forefront of conservation.

With a commitment to preserving the history, culture and spirit of the American West for future generations and communities around the nation, Angel works to connect local youth and minority communities to environmental and cultural heritage studies—ultimately leading to the expansion of the National Conservation Lands. “I know with the proper protection of our nation’s amazing places we will be able to keep the true spirit of the West—the dream of wide open space to live and play in—alive.” angel@conservationlands.org


beth_staffBeth Poole is Associate Director of Development. Before joining CLF, Beth spent the previous decade working for non-profits in Alaska, most recently as Marketing Director for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association where she managed a national marketing campaign to raise awareness and advocate for the world’s largest wild salmon fishery and the threat it faces from the proposed Pebble Mine. Prior to Bristol Bay, Beth was the founding Executive Director for the Copper River Marketing Association.

Beth earned a Bachelors degree in English Literature from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. in 2001. She’s thrilled to trade 300 days of rain in Alaska for 300 days of sun in Durango and loves getting outdoors with family and friends in any weather. beth@conservationlands.org


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Elyane Stefanick is CLF’s California Program Director. Prior to joining CLF, she worked at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation where she administered grant portfolios aimed to conserve the ecological integrity of the western U.S. and Canada and to mitigate climate change by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. While at Hewlett, Elyane played a lead role in the Foundation’s efforts to expand diversity and inclusion in the conservation field, spearheaded the Foundation’s sustainability practices and facilitated projects aimed at improving the organization’s environmental footprint.

Earlier in her career, Elyane was a project manager for a program that provided alternatives to incarceration through community and habitat restoration. Prior to that, she served as a vegetation management consultant to the utility provider, Pacific Gas and Electric. Through her love of the outdoors, Elyane has completed ecological research in California, Belize and New Zealand. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. elyane@conservationlands.org


Julie Thibodeau is CLF’s Senior Director of Finance and Operations. Julie joined CLF in 2008 and helped establish the office and internal operations. During her tenure, CLF has had consistently clean audits, and she has kept the organization in good financial standing.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Julie worked as the SW Colorado Regional Emergency Preparedness Planner for Public Health. Julie earned an MS in Environmental Education from the Lesley College/Audubon Expedition Institute in 1999, and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science/Wildlife Biology in 1995 from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Julie enjoys spending time with her husband Dave and their daughter McCartney. She is an avid runner and enjoys mountain biking. julie@conservationlands.org


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Jocelyn Torres is CLFs Nevada Program Director. After graduating from the University of Southern California in 2011 with a degree in public relations and political science, Jocelyn returned to Las Vegas making it a point to do something positive in her community no matter how small. Before joining CLF, she was the Deputy Director at Battle Born Progress (formerly ProgressNow Nevada) where she worked to advance progressive issues in the state of Nevada. She also worked with Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores assisting constituents in the neighborhood where she grew up and lives now with her husband and four-year-old daughter. Outside of her day-to-day duties, Jocelyn sits on the Sunrise Manor Town Board and the Las Vegas Metro Multicultural Advisory Council. jocelyn@conservationlands.org


Jeremy VesbachJeremy Vesbach is CLF’s Sportsmen Outreach Director. Before joining CLF in 2014, Jeremy was Executive Director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation where he worked to build a strong voice for hunters and anglers for public land conservation and equitable access to hunting and fishing opportunity.

Jeremy was born in Alaska and grew up in Eastern Montana. He earned a degree in conservation biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and worked as a business journalist and construction magazine editor in Oregon.

Jeremy lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife Tina and two girls Josie and Caitlin. jeremy@conservationlands.org


JohnWallinJohn Wallin joined the Foundation in 2011 as our Senior Vice President for Programs. John previously worked in the private and the non-profit sectors. As founding director of the Nevada Wilderness Project, he helped change the conservation landscape in that state by spearheading campaigns for wilderness and national conservation area protection for more than 3 million acres. He also helped transform that organization into a national leader on the challenges and opportunities of renewable energy development on public lands.

John previously worked at Patagonia and the Earth Conservation Corps in Washington, D.C. He has a BA from American University and an MA from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He frolics even when people are watching and lives in Durango with his wife Carrie and their daughter Meja. john@conservationlands.org


Dave WelzDave Welz is CLF’s Associate Director of Communications. Dave has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications, and has worked both in-house and as a consultant helping organizations refine and communicate their message and brand.

Dave graduated from Colorado College and has lived in Durango, Colorado since 1995. He served for 11 years on the board of Conservation Legacy, a national non-profit organization that operates conservation corps and individual placement programs, as it grew annual revenues by 36 times and, more importantly, saw proportionate growth in the number of youth served by its programs. He enjoys fly fishing, river trips and backcountry skiing–and never tires of exploring the deserts and mountains of the Four Corners region.  dave@conservationlands.org


Erika Winton

Erika Winton joined CLF in 2012, and is Director of Foundation and Corporate Giving. Erika started her career in fundraising in 2001 by helping to launch the public phase of a $25 million capital campaign to restore the Conservatory of Flowers, a historic greenhouse in Golden Gate Park. Erika then worked with development teams at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and Save the Redwoods League in San Francisco. In her four years at Save the Redwoods League, she raised nearly $10 million in foundation and corporate funding.

Erika graduated from Reed College with a BA in English in 1995. She enjoys riding her bike, hiking, and exploring urban places and open spaces with her husband Jeremy and their two children. erika@conservationlands.org

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