Meet our staff:
Mark Pearson is a long-time advocate for Colorado’s wilderness, rivers and public lands, and recently returned to the role of executive director in 2017. He first got involved with San Juan Citizens Alliance in 1993 as a volunteer working on forest management and wilderness, leading the effort to craft SJCA’s Citizens Plan for the Wild San Juans that was finalized in 1999. Mark’s volunteer involvement with the Alliance led to a decade-long stint as executive director until departing in 2009. Mark’s heart lies in local, home-grown conservation advocacy and he is excited to tackle the challenges facing the San Juan basin. He has a B.S. in engineering physics from the University of Colorado and a M.S. in natural resource management from Colorado State University.
Mike joined SJCA in 2006 following ten years as an environmental consultant in the Four Corners region. Mike works on energy issues including coal, oil/gas, air quality and public lands. He specializes in the National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Land Policy & Management Act, and Endangered Species Act compliance. Mike has a B.A. from Bates College and a M.A. in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver.
Gary joined SJCA in April 2020 and was an SJCA board member for several years prior to that. Gary Skiba worked for the Colorado Division of Wildlife for 23 years. Throughout his professional career, Gary focused on threatened and endangered species management and spearheaded the agency’s efforts on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management. He has also worked for Great Old Broads for Wilderness and as an environmental consultant and monitoring conservation easements for La Plata Open Space Conservancy. Gary has a B.S. in wildlife management from the University of New Hampshire and a M.S. in wildlife biology from Colorado State University. He enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities and lives near Aztec, NM with his wife, Kate Pickford, and three dogs.
Rane joined SJCA in May of 2021. Rane was born and raised just over the mountains in Ridgway and has a vast love and appreciation for this corner of Colorado. She majored in Strategic Communication with an emphasis in design at University of Colorado Boulder. Rane's professional experience lies in custom branding encompassing everything from design to strategy to copywriting. Outside of work, you can find her running, hiking, and rafting in the summer and skiing in the winter. She also loves painting, drawing, and cuddling with her cat & dog.
Emelie joined SJCA in June of 2021. Born in Southern California, she earned a degree in Environmental Policy from Colorado College and a Juris Doctorate from Lewis & Clark Law School, completing a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource Law and specializing in Federal Indian Law. Prior to joining SJCA, Emelie worked as a legal extern for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Coalition and the Earthrise Law Center focusing on ecosystem resilience and dam operation in the Columbia River basin. In her free time, Emelie enjoys whitewater kayaking, canyoneering, rock climbing, rockhounding and working in Durango’s lapidary and silversmithing studio.
John joined SJCA in August of 2022. Born and raised in North Carolina, he studied sustainable development at Appalachian State University, nestled in the misty Blue Ridge mountains. John worked summers as a National Outdoor Leadership School instructor in Alaska while obtaining a Masters in Political Science from the University of Wyoming, where he researched the impacts of megadam projects in Chilean Patagonia. He later attended law school at the University of Colorado where he helped to research and draft the Bears Ears National Monument proposal. After school, John served as a staff attorney for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, working to protect crucial wildlife habitat like ungulate migration corridors and large intact landscapes with rich Indigenous cultural resources like Wyoming’s Red Desert. You can find John outside exploring the lands he advocates for - climbing and skiing in the hills and basins.
Sara joined SJCA in September, 2022. Sara’s love for rivers began at an early age while exploring the mountain streams nearby her home along Colorado’s Front Range. While studying geosciences at Fort Lewis College in Durango, she worked summers as a guide on rivers throughout Colorado. After completion of her degree at Fort Lewis, she pursued an MS at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ with an emphasis hydrogeology. Prior to joining SJCA, Sara performed research on groundwater dependent ecosystems in Grand Canyon National Park focusing on ecosystem resilience to stress and disturbance. In her free time, you can usually find Sara on her raft, mountain bike, or snowboard. She also enjoys exploring the nearby mountain and high desert landscapes with her dogs.
Brian became a part of SJCA in October 2023. He pursued studies in economics, finance, and sustainable resource management at Bentley University. Before joining our team, he gained valuable experience at an investment management firm, where he closely monitored macroeconomic trends to make informed investment decisions.His love for the mountains blossomed during his two-year tenure as a Peace Corps volunteer in a substance farming community in Tanzania. Following this adventure, he made his way to Durango, driven by the desire to become a wilderness therapy guide. Over 300 backcountry days later, he had become a seasoned guide, connecting people with the healing power of nature. The breathtaking natural beauty of the Four Corners region captivated Brian's heart and compelled him to stay. He felt an unwavering commitment to protect this unique place and the remarkable diversity of life it harbors.In his free time, Brian thrives in the great outdoors, engaging in activities such as rock climbing and skiing. However, he also values the simple pleasure of adventuring around, just observing and listening to the world.
Help us protect this area we all love
Meet our Board of Directors:
A Colorado native, Michael is a professor of Sociology and Political Science at Fort Lewis College, with a focus on waste policy and the informal recycling sector. Prior to teaching, Michael worked 5 ½ years as the Coordinator of the Fort Lewis College Environmental Center focusing on community outreach and campus sustainability. He was the first male Executive Director of Sexual Assault Services Organization providing advocacy and support for victims of sexual assault, and worked as the Environmental Stewards Program Director for Conservation Legacy, partnering with several bureaus under the Department of the Interior. Additionally, Michael served as the Mayor of Durango, and has been past President of La Plata Electric Association. In his free time, Michael can be spotted hiking and camping above timberline, harvesting eggs from his chickens, or playing violin in his gypsy folk band, Carute Roma.
Ryan is the co-founder of PineSpire, a company whose mission is to decarbonize the transportation sector and help businesses access the financial benefits of fleet electrification. She has a degree in Environmental Science from Wesleyan University and professional experience in environmental consulting, hydrology, energy development, and carbon markets. Ryan has worked deep in the weeds in a range of areas including NEPA processes, Renewable Energy Structured Finance, and Water Rights in southwest Colorado. The San Juan region has been home to Ryan for decades, where she has taken every opportunity to backpack, hunt, bike, ski, and otherwise be outside.
Steve grew up in the mile-high city of Denver after his parents ran out of money on their way to Seattle from Kansas. After spending the sixties in Boulder and graduating from the University of Colorado with a B.S. in Business, he went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. He worked for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and survived many Wyoming blizzards before moving to the Four Corners, where he’s lived for 33 years. Steve worked in the City of Farmington’s Finance Department and held positions on several local boards, including the Farmington Inter-Tribal Indian Organization and the Four Winds Treatment Center. He’s been strongly influenced by the book “Yellow Dirt” by Judy Pasternak, which documents the history of uranium mining and its’ consequences on the Navajo Nation.
Rose is a staff attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center, where she works primarily on oil and gas litigation and economic diversification issues in the Four Corners region. She earned a J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 2019, where she specialized in critical race studies and public interest law and policy. During law school, Rose was president of the Native American Law Students Association and editor-in-chief of the Indigenous People’s Journal of Law, Culture, and Resistance. After law school, Rose worked at DNA-People’s Legal Services in Farmington, New Mexico, as the director of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) project, providing assistance to victims of domestic violence. Rose is based in Farmington, New Mexico.
Kobe is originally from the Northwest and grew up spending his summers exploring the Four Corners region. Kobe received a Master’s degree in Recreation Administration from Aurora University and a Master’s in Education from Northern Arizona University. Kobe currently serves as the Director of Sustainability and Higher Education Programs at Pacific Pathways. Kobe has a Ph.D. in Sustainability Education through Prescott College, where his dissertation focused on applying regenerative development and design principles to place-informed educational design. Kobe currently studies with globally recognized regenerative development and design professionals at the Regenesis Institute in Santa Fe, NM. He recently founded the Western Slope Institute in Durango to further his research through the design of young adult education programs that contribute to multi-scale regeneration in La Plata County. Kobe enjoys living in Durango and exploring the region with his wife and two children.
Jenny is a professional bookkeeper serving area businesses. She is the fiscal manager for several southwestern Colorado non-profits and has previously served as the director of finance for both an international leadership consulting firm and a national conservation corps. She is also a beekeeper, rock nerd, lover of wide-open spaces, and student of the natural world wild and free. She has had the privilege of calling the mountains, deserts and rivers of the Four Corners area home for 30 years and is honored to serve the mission of San Juan Citizens Alliance.