Jim Becker

Jim Becker

Chair, Board of Directors
Bolton, MA

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Jim is an experienced high tech entrepreneur having started and grown several companies in fields as diverse as pharmaceutical clinical trials and airline data communications. He is currently consulting to several start-up companies in the clean energy and health technology sectors. Jim’s outdoor passions include hiking and rock-climbing the White Mountains, sailing along the Maine coast and off-shore, scuba diving, as well as cross country skiing as often as the weather will allow. He has held a pilot’s license for almost 50 years. He spent eight years flying C-130s for the USAF with a tour in Vietnam and then in the Reserves. Jim taught flying at Lebanon, NH Regional Airport while going back to graduate school and for many years owned a series of twin-engined Piper Aztecs. Jim received his AB from Dartmouth, his BE and ME from Thayer School of Engineering and his MBA from Amos Tuck School of Business. Jim often says that other than spending time with his family, he is happiest when he is in the mountains, in the air, on or under the sea.

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Kimberly Eckert

Kimberly Eckert

Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Denver, CO

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Kimberly was raised in rural Montana and, after graduating from The University of Montana, spent 10 years in New York City working in investment banking and investment management, with a brief hiatus to New Hampshire to earn her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She moved to Denver in 2011 to be closer to the mountains where she continued her career in the natural resources industry. She officially stepped off the corporate ladder in 2017 to pursue her own ventures. She stepped out of her finance comfort zone to launch her own natural foods company, Eva’s Energy, a with a goal to get people back into their kitchens by “making homemade easy”. While working to grow the food brand, she spent a year applying nearly two decades of experience in finance as the Chief Financial Officer of a geothermal energy start up converting existing oil and gas assets into low-temperature power generation facilities, before transitioning to other opportunities. From food to energy and everything in between, she is passionate about evolving the way we extract and utilize the earth’s resources. In addition to her entrepreneurial pursuits, she believes strongly in giving back to the local community. In addition to serving on the Board of LightHawk, she volunteers with the International Rescue Committee – Denver Chapter as a Family Mentor, coordinates the Tuck Alumni Chapter of Colorado, and is the Treasurer of the Junior League of Denver Foundation.

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Norissa Giangola

Norissa Giangola

Member, Board of Directors
Washington, DC

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Norissa Giangola is the president of Coqui Marketing – a full service strategy, marketing, and communications firm based in Washington, DC. Coqui helps some of the world’s most successful consumer brands and nonprofits to capitalize on new opportunities in healthcare, FDA-regulated industries, and sustainability markets – with a focus on making the world a better place to live and work. Norissa has over 18 years of corporate strategy, marketing, and public affairs expertise. Norissa began her career counting rats on a tropical island in Mexico, and then became an entrepreneur in organic agriculture in Ecuador, growing one of the largest organic consumer foods companies in the Andean region. After selling her company and returning to the U.S., she went on to lead New Ventures, at the World Resources Institute, where her work focused on supporting innovation, investment, and growth at the nexus of environment and business in global markets. She founded Coqui in 2005. Norissa is fluent in English and Spanish and has a working knowledge of Portuguese and Italian. Norissa received a BA from Duke University and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University and has additional advanced studies in Microbiology and Anatomy from Johns Hopkins University. In addition to working with LightHawk, she serves on the Board of The Green Cell, a biotechnology company dedicated to developing smart therapeutic approaches for the developing world in the area of plant manufactured pharmaceuticals.

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Steve Kent

Steve Kent

Member, Board of Directors
Warwick, NY

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Steve has been involved with the outdoors and aviation from early childhood. He started with Cessna Aircraft Company as an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic with Inspection Authorization. This led to a variety of positions with increasing responsibilities that have included Propeller, Caravan and Citation Sales. A highly experienced demonstration pilot, he loves sharing amazing aircraft with prospective owners. Currently the Regional Sales Director for Textron Aviation Propeller Products for the Northeast US and Eastern Canada. As an avid seaplane owner and pilot he looks forward to leveraging the unique airborne perspective to advance conservation issues around various watersheds as a volunteer pilot and board member for LightHawk. Steve and Kristine reside in southern New York.

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David Kunkel

David Kunkel

Treasurer, Board of Directors
Boulder, CO

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David has an extensive and successful background as an entrepreneur. He has lived in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and California, co-founding what is now Johnson, Kunkel and Associates, a civil engineering firm in Eagle, Colorado. He later founded a software and services company which catered to the needs of local governments. After selling the company to Tyler Technologies, he continued to work for Tyler as a division head until 2004. During this time he sat on Tyler’s Executive Committee and the Technology Committee. During the early 1980s he served on the Eagle County Airport (now called the Vail Eagle airport) Commission. David also has served on architectural control committees and a cooperative irrigation company board, and was named to the board of Metcalf Archaeology. He has been a LightHawk Volunteer Pilot since 2002 and flies a number of different aircraft.

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Josh Marvil

Josh Marvil

Secretary, Board of Directors
Yarmouth, ME

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Josh worked in environmental consulting and finance in a variety of executive and management positions for national and international companies. He currently lives in Maine and works as managing partner for a private investment partnership. Josh is a Director of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, former Chairman of LightHawk, and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees at the Chewonki Foundation, a non-profit environmental education institution. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, M.S. from the University of Colorado, and MBA/MAFM from the University of Chicago. He is an instrument-rated commercial pilot and flies a Cirrus SR22.

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Erin Manzitto-Tripp

Erin Manzitto-Tripp

Member, Board of Directors
Denver, CO

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Erin is a research scientist (and educator) whose work has emphasized plant and lichen biodiversity and its conservation, both throughout the United States as well as around the world, particularly the Neotropics and Africa. At the University of Colorado-Boulder, she is an Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology as well as Curator of Botany in the Museum of Natural History. Her research products/publications include descriptions of hundreds of species new to science, checklists of what plants grow where (and why), and popular color regional field guides. She brings with her ample board and administrative experience as well as community outreach from her academic career, as well as a passion for flying. Erin is a Commercial Pilot who, for fun, flies her Cessna Cardinal across the USA exploring, camping, scoping out new airstrips, traversing new wildlands, and collecting plants and lichens in effort to document biodiversity and promote conservation of Earth’s most remarkable biota.

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Phil Walker

Phil Walker

Member, Board of Directors
Bethesda, MD

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Phil Walker is a multidisciplinary attorney with 40 years telecommunications industry experience, including service as head of legal, regulatory and business development functions with a variety of telecommunications service providers in domestic U.S. and international markets. He now operates an international telecom consulting practice focused on strategic planning and mergers and acquisitions, and serves as chairman of UNIFI Communications, Inc. He is an Instrument-rated Commercial pilot, with 2,000+ hours of flight time. Owner/operator of a Mooney 231 aircraft, he serves as a volunteer pilot for LightHawk and Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, and is a search and rescue/disaster recovery mission pilot with the Civil Air Patrol. With the CAP, he also serves as Legal Officer (general counsel) for the Maryland Wing.

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Will Worthington

Will Worthington

Member, Board of Directors
Carefree, Arizona

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Will is the founder and president of Pipetech International, an engineering firm that specializes in testing and failure analysis of water and petroleum pipelines worldwide. He graduated from West Point and was a commissioned officer in the regular Army and Arizona Army National Guard for 30 years. He was an officer with the Army Corps of Engineers with many challenging assignments all over the world, including two years in Vietnam. He supervised the design of a $4.5 billion water project for the Bureau of Reclamation and holds three U.S. patents for pipeline diagnostic test inventions. He has over 4,800 hours as pilot in command and holds commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates. Will is a registered professional engineer in Arizona and California. He is a LightHawk volunteer pilot and received the Spirit of LightHawk award in 2012.

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Dr. Barry Baker, Ph.D.

Dr. Barry Baker, Ph.D.

Member, Advisory Group
Fort Collins, Colorado

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Barry is senior research scientist at the Conservation Biology Institute, we previously served as director of The Nature Conservancy’s Canyonlands Research Center in Moab, Utah. He also serves as adjunct assistant professor, Department of Environment and Society, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University. His research interests include bioclimatology, response of terrestrial ecosystems (grassland and alpine) to climate change, and ecosystem modeling of grassland ecosystems. Barry has previously collaborated with LightHawk as a conservation partner.

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Brent Blue

Brent Blue

Member, Advisory Group
Jackson, Wyoming

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Brent attended Vanderbilt University and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He received his post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Blue practices medicine in Jackson Hole and is a recognized expert in aviation medicine. He also has been on several nonprofit boards, including the Teton Science School, Dancer’s Workshop of Jackson, and the Board of Health of Teton County. Dr. Blue made multiple environmental flight missions for the Vanderbilt Student Health Coalition/Save Our Cumberland Mountains in the early 1970s to document the environmental destruction, cultural devastation, and health impacts caused by open pit strip mining in Appalachia. Those flights made lasting impressions and fostered his commitment to environmental protection.

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Russ Cowart

Russ Cowart

Member, Advisory Group
Fort Collins, Colorado

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Russ Cowart is the founder of i-cubed, a remote sensing and GIS solutions company recognized as one of the world’s most respected geospatial technology firms. He has also worked as a field geologist. He completed a BS in Geology from Colorado College, graduate studies in Natural Resource Economics with CU Boulder, and Management of Technology with MIT.

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Rick Durden

Rick Durden

Member, Advisory Group
Conifer, CO

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Rick Durden has been a volunteer pilot for LightHawk since 1990 and has served on its Board of Directors and as executive director. He holds CFII and ATP ratings, is type-rated in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation. He has written extensively on public benefit flying safety. He currently splits his time between practicing aviation law and editing two aviation magazines. In 2015 he was one of three volunteer pilots who received the Endeavor Award a prestigious honor recognizing service to public benefit flying.

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Rudy Engholm

Rudy Engholm

Member, Advisory Group
Cumberland Foreside, ME and Lake Wales, FL

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Rudy Engholm served as LightHawk’s executive director from 2007-2014. He founded Northern Wings, an environmental flying organization that merged into LightHawk in 2003. He joined LightHawk’s board at that time and served as board president from 2005-2007. Rudy holds a commercial pilot certificate and has also been active in a number of environmental issues, including the campaign to create a new Maine Woods National Park. He has a B.S. in computer engineering and a law degree from the University of Michigan. He practiced law in the late 1970s with a Connecticut law firm, then served for ten years as vice president and general counsel of Creative Solutions, Inc., a Michigan-based tax and accounting software company. Rudy spent his childhood in Japan and speaks a modest amount of Japanese.

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Tom McMurray

Tom McMurray

Member, Advisory Group
Jackson, Wyoming

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Tom is currently the Chairman and President of Marine Ventures Foundation which he created a decade ago with the mission to improve and protect critical marine, coastal and river habitats in North America, South America and the Caribbean. He first flew a Lighthawk mission in 2009 to photo baseline the Henrys Fork of the Snake River and has since flown several other Lighthawk missions. In addition, Tom is the Chairman of the Ocean Foundation, a global community foundation for ocean preservation, board member of the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, Tag a Giant Fund and Lateral Line Fund and also an active investor on conservation causes. Previously Tom was a partner at Sequoia Capital, a venture capital company that invested in Apple, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Yahoo and Google. Tom holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University and received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Duke in 1980.

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Sally Ranney

Sally Ranney

Member, Advisory Group
Colorado and Patagonia

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Sally has a thirty-year career in the public and private sectors dedicated to environmental, public land and water policy. She is an internationally recognized wildland conservation specialist and activist. Ms. Ranney was a founding LightHawk Board member and has been a long-time advocate of LightHawk. Ms. Ranney is CEO of Stillwater Preservation, LLC, a wetlands mitigation banking company and President of Rising Wolf International, Inc., a natural resource consulting group. She founded and served as President of American Wildlands, an NGO dedicated to protecting wildlands and wildlife through legislative and legal strategies and

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Michael Sutton

Michael Sutton

Member, Advisory Group
Carmel Valley, California

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Mike currently serves as Executive Director of Audubon California and Vice President of the Pacific Flyway for the National Audubon Society. He served as Vice President and Director of the Center for the Future of the Oceans for the Monterey Bay Aquarium for eight years, and prior to that he headed the Ocean Conservation Program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in northern California. Mike founded and directed World Wildlife Fund’s Endangered Seas Campaign and before joining the WWF staff, he served as a park ranger with the National Park Service and as a special agent with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Mike has served as a senior advisor on ocean issues to the Departments of Commerce and State and has lectured at graduate seminars nationally. He pursued graduate studies in marine biology at the University of Sydney, Australia, and received a natural resources law degree from George Washington University. Mike is an instrument-rated private pilot and Cessna T210 owner, and enjoys scuba diving, wildlife and underwater photography, and skiing.

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Terri Watson

Terri Watson

Member, Advisory Group
Lander, WY

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Terri Watson has a long history with LightHawk beginning as a volunteer pilot in 1997. Terri served as LightHawk’s executive director twice (2014-2020 and 2001-2003) and flight services director (2000-2001). Terri is a former EMS pilot and U.S. Army aviator in fixed and rotary wing service. Terri is a 7000+ hour commercial pilot with airplane single / multi-engine land and sea, helicopter, instrument-airplane and helicopter ratings, and flight instructor ratings for each of these. She has flown throughout the world in military and civilian applications, many of them remote area operations. She is currently the Executive Director of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) based in Lander, Wyoming.

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Stephanie Wells

Stephanie Wells

Member, Advisory Group
Arvada, CO

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Stephanie Wells is a retired professional pilot now living in Arvada, Colorado. During her 10 years in the active Air Force, she began as a weather forecaster, and after pilot training, instructed in the T-37, T-38 and C-130. This was followed by 10 more years in the Reserves flying C-5s. Stephanie worked for NASA at the Johnson Space Center for 17 years as a staff pilot supporting the manned space program. She finished her government career with the FAA in the Denver FSDO as an operations inspector. She has always been active in general aviation, and now owns an RV-7 and a 1/4 share in a Cessna 182 which she flies donated missions for LightHawk. She has a strong training and safety background, as well as education in meteorology and climatology. Combining flying and her passion for the environment brought her to LightHawk.

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Brian Williams

Brian Williams

Member, Advisory Group
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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Brian is a director at a global consulting firm specializing in the application of information technology. He holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from Northwest University in South Africa and an MBA from Pace University in New York. Brian earned his pilot’s license in South Africa in 1989 and has flown throughout the region for recreation and business. Early in his flying career, Brian flew to locate a fugitive and endangered black rhinoceros before it crossed the border from South Africa into neighboring Botswana where it was in danger from poachers. The rhino was captured and returned, saving its life. Ever since that experience, Brian has had a keen interest in habitat conservation and environmental policy. In 1998, he emigrated to the USA and in 2007 started volunteering for LightHawk’s Mesoamerica and Eastern region programs. He was Lighthawk’s 2007 “Rookie of the Year” and in 2008 was the “Rockwell Award” recipient. He also volunteers for Southwings concentrating on Appalachian mountain top removal mining. Brian owns a Cessna Cardinal Turbo RG and is a 2800hr commercial pilot with instrument- and multi-engine ratings.

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Chelsea Baird

Chelsea Baird

Development and Administrative Associate
Fort Collins, Colorado

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Chelsea Baird comes to LightHawk with an extensive background in development, administration and finance. The conservation work LightHawk does means a great deal to her and she is looking forward to supporting LightHawk’s mission with her knowledge and experience. She also enjoys the aviation side of LightHawk’s work as her husband Andy is a pilot. She enjoys being outdoors and loves to backpack, hike, fish and cooking.

Email: [email protected]
Phone:  970-797-9355 ext. 3

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Ryan Boggs

Ryan Boggs

Chief Program Officer
Fort Collins, Colorado

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Ryan brings a wealth of land conservation experience to LightHawk. He served as Executive Director of Legacy Land Trust from 2009 to 2013 helping preserve farm, ranch and natural lands in northern Colorado. His conservation work also includes nine years with The Nature Conservancy starting at Phantom Canyon Preserve in the Laramie Foothills area and later serving as a project director for the Aiken Canyonlands, Chico Basin, and Upper Purgatoire areas. As an experienced wildland firefighter, he has worked on forest and fire restoration as well as land protection issues. Ryan received his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University and is a native of Fort Collins where he enjoys woodworking, climbing and running.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (970) 481-9050

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Clint Burson

Clint Burson

Strategic Communications Manager
Stevensville, Montana

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Clint Burson comes to LightHawk with more than 15 years experience in the communications field. Clint served as Director of Government Relations and Communications for the Missoula, Montana Chamber of Commerce prior to joining LightHawk. In this role, his work ranged from overseeing chamber communications efforts to fostering relationships with elected officials, agency leadership and economic development leaders. He also spent nearly a decade working in media for a daily newspaper in Hamilton, MT. Growing up in the passenger seat of a Mooney, with his dad as pilot, Clint is enthusiastic about aviation. He volunteers as a board member for EAA 517 and creates the chapter’s monthly newsletter. His bucket list includes learning to fly himself. In his spare time, Clint enjoys hiking, skiing, fishing, photography and spending time with his wife (Jessica) and son (Jaxson).

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (970) 797-9355 ext. 5

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Esther Duke

Esther Duke

Western Program Director
Fort Collins, Colorado

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Esther is passionate about building capacity for collaborative and performance-based conservation. Before joining the LightHawk team she was Director of Special Projects and Programs for the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources (HDNR) Department at Colorado State University (CSU). Esther has experience directing conservation social science trainings and conferences throughout the United States as well as in Kenya and Italy and managing research networks in China, Central America, and Europe. Esther also has experience in environmental market design. She worked as a consultant for The Wyoming Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the University of Wyoming to lead a habitat exchange feasibility study. Esther received her M.S. from the HDNR at CSU in 2010. Her research was conducted in Panama and focused on design strategies and trade-offs for payment for ecosystem services programs. She received her B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 970-797-9355 ext. 8

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Audrey Ek-Psomas

Audrey Ek-Psomas

Eastern Program Coordinator
Fort Collins, Colorado

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Audrey Ek-Psomas has spent much of her youth living and studying abroad in Europe and South America, which has spurred a love for travel and nature. Before joining the LightHawk team, she was the Training/Project Coordinator for the Center for Protected Area Management (CPAM) in Colorado State University’s Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department. Audrey graduated from Colorado State University with a Master’s of Science in Conservation Leadership, an interdisciplinary social science degree. With an undergraduate degree in political science, Audrey is passionate about interacting with people from diverse cultures and problem-solving to create innovative solutions for the betterment of community and environment. Her professional interests include collaborative conservation, project evaluation, behavior change, leadership, gender and equity, and promoting community benefits from payment for ecosystem service projects.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 970-797-9355 ext. 7

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Cynthia Hartmann

Cynthia Hartmann

Chief Financial Officer
North Topsail Beach, North Carolina

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As chief financial officer (CFO), Cynthia Hartmann is responsible for the company’s financial functions, including accounting, audit, treasury, finance and investment. She also oversees human resource operations. Her career spans more than 30 years of varied experience in financial management, business leadership and corporate strategy. Prior to joining LightHawk in 2021, Cynthia served in leadership roles at University of North Carolina Wilmington, Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Regis Corporation and The Bakken Library and Museum. Educated at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Cynthia combines her passion for aviation, finance, and nature into her work at LightHawk. In her free time, Cynthia enjoys spending time spotting wildlife on the barrier islands of North Carolina, exploring new destinations and visiting with family and friends.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (970) 797-9355 ext. 4

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Suzanne Langley

Suzanne Langley

Chief Advancement Officer
Rogers, Arkansas

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Facilitating the work of conservation professionals has guided the past 15 years of Suzanne Langley’s career. Working as a consultant and in leadership positions with National Audubon Society, Suzanne has contributed management, communications, and fundraising skills to the benefit of conservation programs and projects in Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi. Suzanne most recently led the Audubon Texas field office which included three urban nature centers, two sanctuaries and a coastal program of 177 coastal islands stewarded by regional wardens and a network of volunteers. Her previous management experiences in higher education, healthcare, and strategic communications served as the foundation for her professional and personal work in conservation.

Email: [email protected]
(970) 797-9355 ext. 12

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Jonathan Milne

Jonathan Milne

Eastern Program Director
Sidney, Maine

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Jonathan has been surrounded by pilots his entire life. His father flew the PBY Catalina and Martin PBM Mariner and his younger brother flew for the USMC for 20+ years as an AH-1 Super Cobra helicopter pilot. Jonathan brings a diverse conservation background to LightHawk: he was a park ranger in Oregon for the BLM and in Maine for almost ten years at Baxter State Park. He has worked on a variety of conservation projects including ecological assessments for superfund sites, baseline ecological surveys for conservation easements, forestry management surveys, vernal pool surveys and wetland analysis for many clients throughout New England. Jonathan has a B.S. in Recreation and Park Management from the University of Maine and a M.S.c. in Environmental Science/Conservation Biology from Green Mountain College in Vermont.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (970) 797-9355 ext. 9

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Lee Pagni

Lee Pagni

Foundation Relations Manager
Tucson, Arizona

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Lee started working with LightHawk as a partner, organizing over-flights for community leaders in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve of Central Mexico. Currently Lee works assisting with programs in Mesoamerica and the Pacific regions. In addition to his work with LightHawk, Lee works with other non-profit organizations to advance conservation via outreach and education. His work focuses on projects in the Caribbean and Latin America. One of his main projects is working with communities in the Caribbean to improve rock iguana conservation. He has an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Arizona, Tucson and a B.S. in Ecology from the University of California, San Diego. When he isn’t working, Lee enjoys being in the Sierra Nevada backcountry, something he has done since he was 3 months old.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (970) 797-9355 ext. 2

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Michele Rutledge

Michele Rutledge

CEO
Melbourne, Florida

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Born in Dayton, Ohio (the birthplace of aviation) to parents who loved the outdoors, Michele spent long summers camping, backpacking and hiking in most of the National Parks and wilderness areas of the United States. Her professional background includes overtwo decades of both non- and for-profit executive management, including executive leadership of Wings of Hope, an international humanitarian aviation NGO based in Missouri. She has assisted in ferry flights of donated aircraft in the US, South America and Africa, and someday hopes to get her private pilot’s license. Michele has a BA and MA in History, and is “all but dissertation” for her PhD. She spends her free time bluewater sailing, trekking, and being with family. 

Email:  [email protected]
(970) 797-9355 ext. 6

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Christine Steele

Christine Steele

Western Program Coordinator
Portland, Oregon

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Before joining LightHawk, Christine worked for the Johnson Creek Watershed Council in Portland, Oregon, coordinating their outreach and advocacy efforts. Trained as a wildlife biologist, Christine has studied birds in habitats as diverse as arctic tundra, Costa Rican swamp-forest, and the forests of the Pacific Northwest. She spent time rehabilitating seabirds and raptors in California, and worked with non-releasable raptors as education birds. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Biology from UC Santa Barbara, and a Masters in Natural Resources, Wildlife from Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, where her thesis focused on avian disease ecology. Christine also volunteers locally, conducting bird and amphibian surveys as part of a monitoring project through Metro, Portland’s regional government.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (970) 797-9355 ext. 10

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