Staff

Jennifer Bassignani joined CLF in 2010 as the Administrative and Programs Assistant. Jen B. has over a decade of experience running the finances and administrative coordination of medical offices in Durango, CO. Jen 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, Jen lead campaigns to “green” office practices, including moving from a traditional to a paperless office. Jen B. has lived in Durango for 18 years and enjoys running, fishing and exploring the four corners. jen@conservationlands.org

 


As a third generation Nevadan, Senior Development Associate Mackenzie Banta brings a homegrown passion for the West’s wildlands. She has degrees in art history, museum studies and festival & event management from the University of Oregon. Before coming to CLF, Mackenzie worked for six years at the Nevada Wilderness Project as their Development Director, helping to myth-bust and reinforce that Nevada is not a brown, barren wasteland.

Prior to working in conservation, she worked as an event planner with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and taught yoga. Mackenzie’s zeal for people and conservation also extends to kundalini yoga, cycling, skiing, paddleboarding, canning, knitting, and her husband Dean and dog Juno. mackenzie@conservationlands.org


Ryan Bidwell

Ryan Bidwell joins CLF as our National Monument Campaign Director after several years 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


DavidB_7669_cropDavid Bobzien is CLF’s High Desert Program and Digital Director. After a career in public and private sector digital communications, David opened CLF’s Reno office in support of efforts in the high desert region, and guides its online communications to build support for the National Conservation Lands. Avid fly angler, frustrated chukar hunter, marathon runner, backpacker, snowboarder, Eagle Scout, DJ… David enjoys life to the fullest in the Great Basin.

He holds a BA in Government & Politics from George Mason University, a Master of Public Administration in natural resources and public lands policy from Boise State University, and serves as an Assemblyman in the Nevada Legislature. David’s twin sons, Luca Carson and Finnegan Walker, are named after two of Nevada’s desert rivers. david@conservationlands.org


Betsy Buffington

Betsy Buffington is CLF’s Vice President for Programs. 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


SamGoldmanSam Goldman, California Program Director, joined the Foundation in 2011. 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 member of the Wexner Heritage Program. A graduate of Bates College and Green Corps, field school for environmental organizing, Sam is an avid backcountry skier, hiker, and loves exploring remote regions of California and the West. Sam@conservationlands.org


Meghan Kissell

Meghan Kissell is the National Monuments Campaign Communications Director. Before joining CLF, 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


Danielle Murray

Danielle Murray joined CLF in 2008 and is the current Policy Director. 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, CO where she enjoys skiing, hiking, rafting and drinking local beer with her family and friends. danielle@conservationlands.org


Brian O'Donnell

Brian O’Donnell joined CLF as Executive Director in 2007. Previously, Brian was the National Public Lands Director for Trout Unlimited (TU). Brian has also worked for The Wilderness Society where he led campaigns resulting in the congressional designation of the Black Rock Desert and Sloan Canyon National Conservation Areas, and dozens of new legislated Wilderness areas throughout Nevada.

Brian was the cofounder of the Nevada Wilderness Coalition, Wilderness Support Center, and West Virginia Wilderness Coalition and in the early 1990s Brian served as the Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League. Brian earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Rollins College in 1993. Brian lives in Durango with his wife Melyssa, daughter Kara and dog Paco. brian@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. For three years she worked in Patagonia’s creative services department where she honed branding and storytelling skills—skills she has found useful when advocating for wild places and conservation. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Missouri and worked as a freelance writer, editor and project manager for various publications and non-profits.

In 2001, she was co-founder and director of Missouri River Relief, an organization dedicated to stewardship and picking up trash from the Missouri River. She plays the double bass and likes bluegrass, klezmer, hardingfele, old timey, swing, and all forms of hillbilly music. char@conservationlands.org


beth_staffBeth is CLF’s Associate Director of Development. Before to 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, CT 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


Danielle Sandstedt

Danielle Sandstedt is Vice President for Development for CLF. Danielle began her career at Planned Parenthood in 2001 where she specialized in database management, direct response marketing, special events and major gifts. As the Annual Fund Director, she worked with team members to complete three annual fund campaigns ranging between $3-4 million and a $10 million capital campaign.

Danielle was a leader in Planned Parenthood’s national efforts as a member of the Development Officers Council’s Steering Committee, Membership Task Force and Young Development Officers Group. Danielle graduated from
the University of Nebraska in 2001 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health Education. Danielle enjoys a latte in the morning, wine in the evening, relaxing on the beach and recreating in the outdoors with her family, friends and pup, Bela. dsandstedt@conservationlands.org


Julie Thibadeau

Julie Thibodeau is CLF’s Finance and Special Events Director. Julie joined CLF in 2008 as the Administrative Assistant, and was promoted to Finance and Special Events Director in 2011. During her tenure, CLF has had five 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 where she developed emergency response plans through trainings and actual events. She also served as Chair for the SW Emergency Planning Committee. 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. She is currently pursuing an Accounting degree from Fort Lewis College as a part-time student. Julie enjoys spending time with her husband Dave and their daughter McCartney. She likes to mountain bike, run, and snowboard. julie@conservationlands.org


Jeremy VesbachJeremy Vesbach is the Sportsmen’s Outreach Director for the Conservation Lands Foundation. 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 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 WelzDavid Welz is CLF’s Associate Director for Communications. Dave has over 18 years of experience in marketing and communications, and has worked as a consultant helping organizations in the Durango area refine and communicate their message and brand. His clients included Ska Brewing Co., Four Corners Film Office and Fire Ready, Inc.

Dave graduated from Colorado College with a BA in English, and has lived in Durango, Colorado since 1995. He serves on the executive board for Conservation Legacy, a national non-profit organization that operates the Southwest Conservation Corps, Arizona Conservation Corps, Southeast Youth Corps, and Environmental Stewards programs. He enjoys fly fishing and backcountry skiing, and exploring the deserts and mountains of the Four Corners region. dave@conservationlands.org


Erika Winton

Erika Winton joined CLF as Associate Director for Foundation and Corporate Giving in 2012. 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 young son Wilder. erika@conservationlands.org