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Our People

Terri Watson

Chief Executive Officer
Kailua, Hawaii
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Terri has a long history with LightHawk beginning as a volunteer pilot in 1997, and later becoming a board member. She served a previous term as executive director from 2001-2003, and flight services director from 2000-2001. Terri was executive director of the Pearl Harbor Institute of Pacific Historic Parks in Honolulu, HI. She also served as the executive director of Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association and a branch director and senior field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School. In addition to her extensive nonprofit leadership experience, Terri is a 30-year career professional pilot and aviation business owner. She has worked in many roles as a Search and Rescue/EMS pilot; a fire recon and suppression pilot; a State Department support and training pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan; a former US Army Aviator in Europe, Greenland and Korea; and an aviation consultant for air safety litigation and business operations. She is a 11,000+ hour Airline Transport 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.

Email: terriwatson@lighthawk.orgPhone: 208-569-1108

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: rboggs@lighthawk.orgPhone: (970) 481-9050

Bob Francella

Chief Advancement Officer
Fort Collins, Colorado
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Bob has a long history of fundraising and leadership success, serving as both CEO and director of development and communications for large and small nonprofit organizations. He has earned recognition as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Bob works to create relationships that keep donors informed about their gifts at work and the outcomes they help create. He is keenly interested in conservation issues, and has spent many years assisting wildlife organizations. Bob is excited to advance LightHawk’s worldwide impact, which is propelled by caring and generous donors who are committed to accelerating conservation success. Bob enjoys cycling, walking, reading, guitar playing, exploring new music, and spending time with family and friends.

Email: bfrancella@lighthawk.orgPhone: 970-449-3949

Emilie Ryan

Chief Financial Officer
Loveland, Colorado
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Emilie has spent most of her 27+ year career in non-profit financial management. Her background includes 17 years at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), an international outdoor educational nonprofit organization based in Lander, WY.  Ryan began her association with LightHawk part-time in 2001, and joined May of 2005 as CFO, overseeing the organization’s finances, budgeting, and human resources. Emilie spends the majority of her free time recreating in the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado and loves being able to use her financial experience to contribute to their protection through LightHawk.

Email: eryan@lighthawk.orgPhone: (970) 744-1208

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: jmilne@lighthawk.orgPhone: (207) 620-2252

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 Esther was Director of Special Projects and Programs for the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources (HDNR) Department at Colorado State University (CSU). At CSU she directed seven conference/training programs and taught courses focused on human-wildlife conflict mitigation, conservation social science, and nature-based tourism. She has published two edited books titledWildlife and Society: The Science of Human Dimensions (Winner of The Wildlife Society's 2009 Wildlife Publication Award for outstanding edited book) and Understanding Society and Natural Resources: Forging New Strands of Integration Across the Social Sciences. Esther has experience working cross-culturally as director of conferences in Kenya and Italy and managing research networks in China, Central America, and Europe.  

Esther also has experience in the area of environmental market design. Esther worked as a consultant for The Wyoming Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the University of Wyoming, to lead a habitat exchange feasibility study for what is now the Wyoming Conservation Exchange. She continues research in this area as co-principal investigator on a research project exploring the role of conservation evidence in decision making and other factors influencing beneficiary participation in forest stewardship for source water protection in the Intermountain West.  
 
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: eduke@lighthawk.orgPhone: (970) 988-4661

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: csteele@lighthawk.orgPhone: (503) 703-4843

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: lpagni@lighthawk.orgPhone: (209) 677-7454
Brian Smith photo

Brian Smith

Marketing & Communications Manager
Fort Collins, Colorado
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Brian Smith's passion is uniting others around life-changing ideas. His methods include storytelling, branding, marketing, social media, videography, photography and graphic design. He was raised on Colorado's Front Range and recieved his degree in mass communications from Colorado Mesa University.

Brian's interest in environmental conservation was ignited by exploring the wilderness of Colorado with his Boy Scout troop. He later came to understand the importance of wildlife conservation during two summers working as a commercial fisherman in Alaska.

As a professional journalist, he found his niche reporting on land use, oil and gas, wildlife, natural resources, endangered species and wildfires. He has worked at small daily newspapers in Colorado, Alaska and Idaho winning awards for his investigative reporting on the oil industry, changes in Colorado's energy economy and Idaho's wolf population, among others. He joins LightHawk after several years working in non-profit storytelling.

He is a proud catch-and-release fly fisherman, and is often seen exploring one of America's National Parks with a camera in hand.

Email: bsmith@lighthawk.orgPhone: 720-290-4543

Michael Kontos

Aviation & Pilot Manager
Ponte Vedra, Florida
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Michael Kontos brings to LightHawk a very diverse aviation career that spans eighteen years. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics, along with a minor in Aviation Management. Michael is a 5000+ hour Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) with extensive experience in flight management and aviation operations. He has earned type ratings in the Gulfstream V, Gulfstream IV, and Embraer 135/145. Michael also holds current Certified Flight Instructor certificates. During his professional career, he has served as captain during extensive global operations reaching every corner of the world. Michael also has over a decade of experience in aviation management positions, including CEO and President of an aircraft management and consultation firm. Aside from the business aviation and airline arena, Michael has flown over twenty makes and models of general aviation aircraft ranging from the full line of Cessna and Piper single engine and multi-engine airplanes to the Cirrus SR-20/22, Cessna Corvalis, Piper Navajo, Cessna Caravan, Cessna 421, and King Air 90, 200, and 350. Over the course of his career, he has served as a volunteer pilot and disaster relief pilot during times of devastation. Mr. Kontos is delighted and honored to be able to bring his multi-faceted aviation experience to help propagate the conservation efforts LightHawk performs alongside their dedicated partners.

Email: mkontos@lighthawk.orgPhone: 561-235-9892

Dr. Barry Baker, Ph.D.

Member, Board of Directors
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.

Russ Cowart

Member, Board of Directors
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.

 

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.

Hal Hayden

Member, Board of Directors
Prescott, AZ
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Hal Hayden is a partner at Trinity Capital Investment and the founding CEO of Agility Ventures. Hal has over 30 years of experience lending and leasing to emerging growth technology companies. He has served as vice president of the software finance division at First Sierra Financial and founded Heritage Software Finance and Priority Leasing Corporation. Hal has a B.S. in business administration from the University of Arizona. He is a commercial instrumented-rated pilot and is a LightHawk volunteer pilot donating missions in the Southwest and Mesoamerica. He splits his time between Prescott, AZ and Taos, NM.

 

David Kunkel

Treasurer, Board of Directors
Boulder, Colorado
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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.

Josh Marvil

Chairman, Board of Directors
Yarmouth, Maine
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Josh worked in the environmental consulting industry in a variety of executive and management positions for national and international companies and has experience in the development of financial and non-financial management systems, mergers and acquisitions, risk management, and insurance products. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees at the Chewonki Foundation, a non-profit environmental education institution and a center for leading-edge conservation and sustainable energy curriculum. He holds single-engine and instrument ratings.

Lawrence A. "Bud" Sittig

Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors
Centennial, Colorado
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Bud brings a long history in the airline industry to LightHawk. He is currently founding partner at Flight Guidance, LLC advancing wireless/paperless airline cockpit environments. Bud previously served as president and COO of California Pacific Airways, was also VP of Operations at Skybus Airlines and director of Flight Safety at Delta Airlines. He has served in the United States Air Force and Colorado Air National Guard. He is an active member of the Board for the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, OH. Bud is a LightHawk volunteer pilot and flies a Beech 35 Bonanza based at Front Range Colorado KFTG.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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 

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.

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.

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.