Directors & Liaisons


Executive Committee:

Chair Justin Preisendorfer  developed his wilderness relationship through adolescent fishing adventures, teenage backpacking trips and adult excursions to climb, snowboard, and hunt. He entered the wilderness stewardship community as an Americorps volunteer at 18 working with the US Forest Service in New Hampshire and Maine.  While earning his undergraduate degree from Unity College in Maine, Justin spent his summers leading crews of volunteer trail workers for the Appalachian Mountain Club. He then paired trail stewardship with work as an international climbing guide, leading trips from New England to the Andes. Justin began working full-time for the Forest Service as a wilderness manager with wintertime duties avalanche forecasting and coordinating search and rescue operations. During this time he became involved with the USFS Chief's Wilderness Advisory Group, a collection of field-based wilderness staff that advise the Agency's leader on all things wilderness. After serving as a regional representative to the group Justin became the group's vice chair and then chair, working on projects related to the 10-Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge, effective partnerships, and the hurdles associated with the USFS wilderness management career ladder. For this work, and his work on the White Mountain National Forest, he was given the 2013 Bob Marshall Award for Internal Champion of Wilderness Stewardship. Justin continues to live, work and play in the mountains where he cut his teeth but he also takes every opportunity he can to travel and learn about the other wild areas of our planet.  

Agency Liaison Nancy Taylor is currently the Wilderness, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and Congressionally
Designated Areas Program Manager for the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service, based in Portland,
Oregon. She has been in this job since July of 2019, moving there from the Eastern Region of the Forest Service
where she was in a similar position as the regional wilderness program manager. She has worked as the
Recreation and Wilderness lead for the Yellowstone Ranger District of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, and the
Ruby Mountains, Jarbidge, and Mountain City Ranger Districts on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in
northeastern Nevada. She has had the privilege of stewardship for four Nevada wilderness areas: Ruby Mountains,
Jarbidge, East Humboldts, and Santa Rosa-Paradise Peak; and the Absaroka- Beartooth Wilderness in Montana. 
She lived in Nevada for 13 years, and enjoyed managing diverse challenges related to recreation, trails, wilderness,
and natural resources. During the summer of 2015 she worked on Colorado’s Rio Grande National Forest and spent
time in the South San Juan, Weminuche, La Garita, and Sangre de Cristo Wilderness areas. Nevada, Colorado,
Montana and the Eastern Region have been wonderful experiences, and she looks forward to her work and new
adventures in the Pacific Northwest. 
She has been a ski patroller and search dog handler, an EMT and Wilderness First Responder.  She has always
enjoyed the mountains in all seasons, beginning with hikes following her dad in the White Mountains of New Hampshire as a kid.  Those early adventures in the outdoors inspired her passion for wilderness, and she now travels with her Service Dog, Kasha, hiking, backpacking, skiing, and snowshoeing in wild places at every opportunity.   She has BS and MS degrees from Montana and Utah State Universities, and completed a graduate certificate in wilderness management through the University of Montana’s Wilderness Management Distance Education Program.

Treasurer Matthew Kirby grew up in Wisconsin but every summer his family would take a weeks-long camping trip through the West. It was these trips that made him fall in love with wild places. After obtaining his undergraduate degree from Carleton College in Minnesota, he moved to Washington, DC to work for the Environmental Protection Agency. He quickly found himself drawn to the world of advocacy and took a position with the Sierra Club where he has been for the past seven years. For much of that time he was in DC working on wilderness, forests and endangered species federal policy and legislation.

His continued longing for the West, however, drew him away from DC in 2014 when he moved to Denver, Colorado. He currently leads the Permanent Protections Initiative at the Sierra Club, working to secure new administrative and legislative protections for special public lands across the country. He is now trying to make up for lost time and spending all his free moments hiking, skiing, backpacking, and running through the Colorado mountains.


Board of Directors:

Nicole Briggs grew up in the West, and is fortunate to have visited wilderness areas throughout the West and beyond.  She is deeply committed to social and environmental justice.  She has had the privilege and honor of working with nonprofits and tribes on issues including conservation and restoration of natural resources.  Nicole earned a J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School and holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University.  When she is not working, she enjoys spending as much time as possible hiking, backpacking, and appreciating the amazing wilderness of the Northwest.




Kristy Caron grew up in New England and studied Political Science at the University of Connecticut.  She received her J.D. from Vermont Law School and her LL.M. in Tax from the University of Denver School of Law’s Graduate Tax Program.  Following judicial clerkships with a trial court in Connecticut and the Colorado Court of Appeals, Kristy practiced law in Colorado primarily in the areas of land use and conservation, tax and estate planning, and nonprofit and general business law.

In 2006 Kristy relocated to Georgia and has since specialized in land preservation and natural resources.  Since 2017, Kristy has worked as in-house legal counsel for a land and natural resources consulting company. 

Kristy is admitted to the state bars of Georgia and Colorado.  She writes for the Land Grant University Tax Education Foundation, has published in the Colorado Lawyer, and previously worked as a legal writer and editor for a legal publishing company, focusing in the areas of environmental, real estate and tax law. 



Ian Davidson is a Foreman for the Seeley Lake Trail Crew, working out of the Scapegoat Wilderness and surrounding areas. He has spent the last six months working with the Missoula Fire Science Lab, providing research assistance regarding tree growth and fire behavior. He graduated with a degree in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management from the University of Montana. His degree led him to work as the Communications Intern for the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Ian finds value in land conservation and empowerment through knowledge of our environments, which inspired him to join the Montana Conservation Corp as a Field Crew Leader out of Kalispell, Montana. This position fueled his passion for trails construction and land management. Ian got accepted into the Backcountry Trails Program with the California Conservation Corps, where he worked and lived for six months in the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Ian spends his free time exploring Montana and Idaho through backpacking, hunting, and snowshoeing. 

John Hausdoerffer is the Dean of the School of Environment and Sustainability at Western Colorado University, where he also serves as Professor of Environmental Sustainability & Philosophy and Director of the Master in Environmental Management program.  An expert on the history and ethics of the wilderness idea, he is author of Catlin's Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny and the Ethics of Nature as well as co-author and co-editor of Wildness: Relations of People and Place.  Hausdoerffer also serves a Fellow and Senior Scholar for the Center for Humans and Nature.



Dave Jacobs is currently working in Horticulture at public garden in the Puget Sound comes to the board with a passion for wilderness stewardship and a desire to support the efforts of wilderness managers and fellow young professionals and sees the society as a great organization that allows for a fusion of these efforts.  
Dave cut his teeth in wilderness in college leading adolescents on backpacking trips in the wilderness' of New England. following a rather passion filled but circuitous path Dave found his way to western Washington to explore the many wilderness' of the Pacific Northwest.
In his free time Dave spends a great deal of time recreating on public lands across western Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest. His first formal exposure to wilderness management was as a wilderness fellow on the Carson National Forest aiding in completing four wilderness character assessments. He aims to bring this perspective along with pragmatic and objective approaches to the SWS board to further allow for all wilderness' to be kept wild.

Steve Kimball is the Payette National Forest staff officer for natural resources programs which include fisheries, wildlife, watershed, soils, range, botany, silviculture, and timber.  Steve is the staff lead for the Payette Forest Coalition, a local collaborative group working with the Forest Service on projects in the Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Area.

Steve's previous positions include Wilderness-Rivers Program Manager in the Northern and Alaska Regions, Idaho National Fire Plan Coordinator, and District Ranger on the Salmon-Challis NF, Green Mountain NF, and Tongass NF.  Steve worked as silviculturist and forester at Mount St. Helens, Washington and other location sin the Pacific Northwest.  He has a degree in Forest Management from the University of Minnesota.




Dr. Steven R. Martin holds a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Principia College in Illinois., an M.S. in Wildland Recreation Management from the University of Montana in Missoula., and a Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of Montana in Missoula.  His teaching, research and professional interests focus on visitor use of wildland recreation settings and managing recreational use of natural resource areas, particularly parks, wilderness areas and similar public lands.

His personal interests and hobbies include whitewater rafting, hiking and backpacking, cross-country skiing, and visiting our great public lands. His favorite landscapes to visit are the Colorado Plateau deserts of southern Utah and the high mountain lakes and forests of western Montana and the high Sierra. He's worked for the U.S. Forest Service on five national forests – as a recreation technician, wilderness ranger, wilderness trail crew, and helitak firefighter. He's worked for the National Park Service in Glacier National Park, Montana as a Park Ranger (backcountry) and as an Outdoor Recreation Planner/Social Scientist. He's consulted with and done research for the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California State Parks, and the State of Montana. He worked as a research specialist at the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, at the University of Montana.

Dr. Martin is the 2015 recipient of the national award for Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Research, awarded by the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

Alex Nelson is an attorney in Lakewood, Colorado.  He studied literature and journalism at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and completed his juris doctor at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2008.  He has a long-standing commitment to social and environmental justice and enjoys long-distance trail running, skiing, and rock climbing.  Alex joined the SWS Board to help protect and learn more about wilderness and public lands, which are important to him personally and are vital to the health of this planet.  When he’s not running, skiing, or climbing, Alex is most often at home cooking, working around the house, or reading a book.





Bre Powers grew up in the western part of the states and has lived and explored many wilderness areas in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, a M.S. in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Auckland where she studied land-use and ecosystem services in multifunctional landscapes in New Zealand. Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher at Boise State University working on understanding climate change effects on migratory birds and their conservation on federal lands. She has worked with and/or for the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and US Environmental Protection Agency, and Manaaki Whenua-Land care Research on land management, wildlife conservation, resource sustainably issues. Wilderness areas are a national treasure that provide intrinsic and extrinsic value. Stewardship and protection of wilderness areas is a priority to Bre and she hopes to continue to promote effective wilderness stewardship. Not only an advocate for wilderness and public land, she spends as much time possible outside backpacking, rafting, climbing, mountain biking, trail running, snowshoeing, snowboarding, exploring and appreciating.

Zachary Lee Pratt, Ph.D., has 30-years of experience in the fields of recreation, tourism, and land management. Retired from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Barstow Field Office, as a Recreation Branch Chief his career path in government, academia, and the private sector has taken him from one end of the United States to the other with side trips to Slovakia, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Receiving a doctorate from Michigan State University in Park, Recreation, and Tourism Resources. Zachary taught courses in recreation, business, and human services at Lyndon State College, the Community College of Vermont, and Springfield College in the undergraduate and graduate programs. As an international consultant volunteering for ACDI/VOCA in conjunction with the Peace Corps; he led agritourism and ecotourism seminars across Slovakia, led in the development of a business plan for Pasochoa Forest Reserve in Ecuador, and helped redesign a rural tourism program at the Bolivian Catholic University's Carmen Pampa campus.

One of Zachary’s passions is getting other federal, state and local public land agencies, private organizations, and friends’ groups to collaborate in providing responsible outdoor recreation with an emphasis on educational activities and care for the land. Working with a diverse group of partners, allowed him to better manage for multiple-use and sustainable yield on 11 million acres of public lands in Elko and the Desert Districts of the BLM. Zachary’s stewardship responsibilities included ten wilderness areas, eighteen wilderness study areas, a National Monument as well as many developed and dispersed outdoor recreation areas and facilities. He hired AmeriCorps, American Conservation Experience, and The Student Conservation Association interns to work and learn about resource management at the BLM. Zachary will usually have a camera in hand or close by and has thousands of photos of all sorts but mostly landscapes. He grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont being surrounded everyday by beautiful landscapes and was captivated by the wildlife that lives in the swamps, streams, lakes, meadows, and pastures of the Green Mountain State.

Ann Schwaller is currently the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Program Manager on the Superior National Forest in Duluth, Minnesota and serves as Vice-Chair on the Wilderness Advisory Group. She began her career in resource conservation working in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness in Washington state as a volunteer with the Student Conservation Association in 1992. Ann eventually moved up in the Forest Service by way of the Weminuche and La Garita Wilderness areas in Colorado, Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness in Montana, and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho. She also worked for the Park Service in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Her jobs with these organizations included wilderness ranger, trail crew, firefighter, visitor center manager and wilderness/recreation planner. Life before the government included jobs as a freelance photographer for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, University of Florida and Florida State Parks.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Photojournalism with a minor in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida-Gainesville, and a Master’s degree in Recreation and Wilderness Management from the University of Montana-Missoula. Ann grew up on the Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River next to a Johnathan Dickinson State Park in southeast Florida where most weekends were spent on the river, in the woods, or in the ocean. Ann spends her free time traveling, hiking the Superior Trail, kayaking Lake Superior and of course paddling in the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park.

Sarah Smith was introduced to wilderness when her college offered a weekend camping trip for orientation. She got her first pair of hiking boots six months later. Now, she, her husband, and their dog are in the Uintas every chance they get and in the desert every other time. They find their favorite places by talking to folks in ranger cabins, map booths and on the trail with anecdotal directions and endless pictures.

Sarah was the Operations Manager for the company keeping Society for Wilderness Stewardship’s books, where she trained bookkeepers and advised firms on how to achieve their financial goals. Currently, she is the Operations Manager at an architectural firm. She has her Masters in Accounting from Western Governors University. She loves seeing an organization's life through the numbers on reports and increasing their efficiency and organization.

Nicole Wooten is Natural Resources Manager at the Hudson Highlands Land Trust in New York.  She works in the wilderness - urban edge in the federally-designated Highlands region, coordinating the NY Highlands Network, conserving lands and promoting National Scenic Trails.  Raised in NC, she earned a BA in Environmental Studies at UNC - Chapel Hill before serving as an Environmental Education volunteer in the Peace Corps in El Salvador.  Then, deeply inspired by a long walk along the Pacific Crest Trail,  Nicole managed the land stewardship program for the Mid-Atlantic office of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy before returning to academia to earn a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry.  During that time, she practiced crafting policy for land protection with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.  

Nicole currently also serves on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Stewardship Council and Landscape Partnership Steering Committee.  Both her career and volunteer work focus on the intersection of protected areas management and parks-people balance.  She believes that connecting wilderness areas through wildlife connectivity corridors is the next step in ensuring the quality of wildlands in the US.
Leah Zamesnik is the Partnership Coordinator with the National Forest Foundation based in Missoula, Montana where she is implementing partnership strategies in forest and regions across the country in order to help build agency capacity and resources. Previously, she worked for conservation and Wilderness advocacy organizations in Jackson, Wyoming where she partnered closely with the Forest Service on multiple collaborative projects, including Wilderness inventories, educational outings, a new direction for Big Horn Sheep management, and multiple NEPA projects. It was in Jackson that her love of Wilderness grew as she spent countless hours finding Solitude in the Gros Ventre, skiing in the Jedidiah Smith, and standing in breathless awe of the beauty of the Bridger. Leah graduated from Colorado State University with a Master's of Science in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the College of William and Mary. In her spare time, you can find her in a hammock reading, chasing her dog in Wilderness throughout the country, failing at self-taught craft projects, and video-chatting with her nieces.



Agency Liaisons:

Sandy Skrien works as the National Program Manager for Wilderness for the Forest Service in Washington DC. Sandy chairs the Interagency Wilderness Steering Committee composed of Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, USGS agency wilderness leads and members from the Arthur Carhart Interagency Wilderness Training Center and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute.    Sandy works with Forest Service Washington office staff and Regional Program Managers to provide a program of work to each of the 448 wilderness areas the Forest Service manages.  High priority work includes the Wilderness Stewardship Performance and Wilderness Character Monitoring programs.  Sandy is member of the Wilderness Advisory Group (WAG) which advises the Chief of the Forest Service on wilderness issues and brings solutions to field related challenges.  

Sandy grew up near the BWCAW near the Canadian border in Minnesota and began her career there on the Superior National Forest writing wilderness permits, working as a wilderness ranger, winter and summer trails crews and YCC crew leader.  She spent 20 years on the Tongass National Forest with half of the time in two large visitor centers and half the time on two districts as recreation, wilderness, land and minerals staff officer.   She returned to the Superior to be the Public Service Team Leader in 2008 and in 2016 moved to DC to work at headquarters.  

Sandy’s husband Wayne St. John lives in Minnesota with their two yellow labs Cedar and Juniper. They have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in various states.  Sandy and her husband enjoy boating, fishing, gardening and wood carving. 

Roger Semler currently serves as Chief of the Wilderness Stewardship Division for the National Parks Service.  Prior to this appointment, he worked as the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks deputy parks director. He has more than 26 years of federal service in the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, during which time he specialized in wilderness management and stewardship.  During his career he has worked in seven different areas that were designated Wilderness or proposed for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.  During his tenure with the National Park Service, Roger was recognized at the national level as a leader in progressive wilderness management.

Roger has a passion for wilderness preservation and stewardship that was fostered during his career of federal service where he specialized in wilderness management.  He retired from the National Park Service in 2003 and has a strong desire to continuing sharing his time, energy, and expertise to foster professional excellence in wilderness management, inspire progressive agency actions and practices, preserve wilderness resources, and promote citizen understanding and appreciation of Wilderness values.

Nancy Roeper is the National Wilderness Coordinator for the Department of Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. She holds a Master’s of Science in Zoology from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. For 2.5 years, Nancy worked for the World Wildlife Fund on international wildlife trade issues before joining the US Fish and Wildlife Service. For nearly 10 years for the Division of Law Enforcement as an Intelligence Research Specialist working on international trade issues and assisting on Special Operations cases; as a Biologist working on Sikes Act and LAPS issues; for the National Wildlife Refuge System on biodiversity and Ecosystem Approach issues until 1999 when Nancy became the national wilderness coordinator. Nancy’s professional interests include Wilderness; Leave No Trace and her personal interests include gardening, bicycling, Invasive plants removal, canoeing and birding.



James Sippel’s first experience with wilderness was at age 12 on a backpacking trip with his older brother and sister in the John Muir Wilderness in eastern California.  He was poorly prepared and so cold at night that he didn't sleep much.  “Despite the discomfort, the experience captivated me,” he later recalled, “to see and experience land in a pristine state was like finding a treasure, and I couldn’t wait to come back.”  Coming back has been a lifelong pursuit: logging in several hundred overnight trips in wilderness areas throughout the west, encouraging friends to come along, and introducing his two sons to wilderness at a young age. James earned a BA from Prescott College (AZ), and a MA from Oregon State University in natural resource management, emphasizing wilderness management.  He’s worked in a variety of natural resource management roles for the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and with the Peace Corps at a National Park in Ecuador.  Starting with BLM in 1991 as a seasonal ranger in the Wilderness Study Area and Wild and Scenic River programs, he continued his federal natural resources career in Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada, and now is the lead wilderness specialist for BLM in New Mexico.  His professional focus of interest is in wilderness monitoring and restoration.  He values collaborative efforts with other agencies, and working on restoration efforts with Friends and Youth groups.



Ken Straley is the SWS liaison for the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and serves on the SWS Professional Development Committee.  As the Forest Service Representative at the Carhart Center, Ken is dedicated to the professional stewardship of the National Wilderness Preservation System and is engaged with all four land management agencies, the University of Montana, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, and other partners in the development and delivery of wilderness training, information, and education programs nationwide.  Since joining the Forest Service as a Wilderness Ranger in 1993, Ken has worked as a Recreation Planner, Recreation Specialist, Wilderness Staff Officer, Recreation Staff Officer, and Wilderness Specialist for both the Forest Service and BLM in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and Montana.  Ken has acquired extensive professional experience in all aspects of public lands recreation management, but he specializes in wilderness, trails, visitor use management, and natural resource restoration.  Ken holds B.S. degrees in Marketing and Natural Resources Recreation Planning and Management from the University of Utah.   Ken is in constant search of wilderness and is an intrepid hiker, spending most of his free time exploring the wildlands of the West and occasionally elsewhere around the world.


Ralph Swain is the Rocky Mountain Region (R2) Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers program manager.  Ralph has a BS degree in Marketing and a MS degree in Natural Resource Management.  He has worked in wilderness management from all levels; as a seasonal wilderness ranger, wilderness trails, district wilderness manager, forest wilderness specialist and, for the last 10 years, in his current position.  Ralph was the Forest Service's first national program manager for the Leave No Trace wilderness education program.  Additionally, Ralph has been involved in international protected areas and has worked on international assignments in Belize, South Africa and Kamchatka, Russia.  As the regional program manager, Ralph works with a variety of partners and wilderness friends groups to foster wilderness stewardship.  He is also involved in wilderness training and annually conducts a wilderness ranger exchange program with South African rangers.

Carol Miller is a Research Ecologist in Wilderness Fire at the Aldo Leopold Research Institute. Carol holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from Colorado State University, and Master’s of Science in Forest Sciences, also from Colorado State University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University. After a brief career as an engineer, Carol has found much more satisfaction in the field of ecology. As a graduate student, she developed and used a simulation model to study the interactions among climate, fire, and forest pattern in the Sierra Nevada of California. After a postdoctoral appointment at the Leopold Institute and The University of Montana School of Forestry, she became the fire ecologist at the Aldo Leopold Research Institute. Her program of research seeks to help land managers understand how to include wildland fire as an ecological process to landscapes. Carol’s research interests include: Agents of landscape pattern formation; Interactions among fire regimes, climate, and vegetation pattern; Implications of fire suppression and our ability to restore fire as an ecosystem process; Effects of global climatic change on disturbance regimes.


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