We have an active and engaged board of directors who represent a vast range of experience and interest. Our board members have two things in common: a love of the outdoors, and a desire to protect the Inyo region and help others explore the area and give back. In 2009, the FOI board contributed over 1600 volunteer hours!
Sam Roberts, President, Mammoth Lakes
Sam has been coming to the Eastern Sierra since before he could walk. When he was three his family moved to Cartago for two years to be closer to the mountains and his father’s work. Sam’s family loved the outdoors and summer vacations were always spent camping out. Camping trips led to backpacking, then on to rock climbing and mountaineering. His climbing adventures have taken him from the granite walls of Yosemite Valley to the summit of 24,580-foot Noshaq in Afghanistan. It was while working as a rock climbing guide in Joshua Tree National Park that he found another passion: photography. He has been a professional photographer for 25 years, first shooting outdoor adventures, then doing commercial and corporate work, and now mainly landscapes with his wife, Karen, a fine photographer in her own right. Sam has been active in several other conservation groups including the Friends of Joshua Tree, the LeConte Memorial Lodge and the National Parks and Monuments committees of the Sierra Club, and the California Wilderness Coalition. “I’m looking forward to give back to a region that has given me so much in my life.”
Chris Lizza, Treasurer, Lee Vining
Chris is a lifelong resident of the Eastern Sierra who relishes the untrampled public spaces as much as the small social circles locals enjoy. He graduated from Mammoth High School in 1979, where he was elected Student Body President, and went on to receive a BA in Political Science at the University of Vermont, a Master’s from the American Graduate School of International Management in Arizona, and a JD from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Although he does not currently practice law, he remains an active member of the California Bar Association. Since 1999, he has been owner and operator of the Mono Market, a community grocery store in Lee Vining, and works seasonally full time on the Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol. He is a graduate of the Sierra Leadership Institute of the Sierra Business Council and has chaired the Mono Basin Regional Planning Commission from 2003 until he was appointed to the Mono County Planning Commission in 2011. Chris was chosen to serve as Foreman of the Mono County Grand Jury from 2008-9, is Captain, Training Officer, and Senior EMT on the Lee Vining Volunteer Fire Department and Treasurer of the Mono Basin Historical Society. As a longtime contributor to numerous environmental groups, Chris was invited by the Wilderness Society to lobby representatives in Washington D.C. in support of the Wilderness Bill sponsored by Representative “Buck” McKeon and Senators Feinstein and Boxer in a successful 2008 bipartisan effort. Friends of the Inyo welcomed him as a board member in early 2011. “As a conservationist and a business person, I believe I can bring many diverse interests together to achieve sustainable and sensible solutions to land use issues.”
Mike Prather, Secretary, Lone Pine
Mike has lived in Inyo County since 1972, starting in Death Valley National Park (then Death Valley National Monument) in the 1970s, and later in Lone Pine in 1980. “My focus has been on the desert, as well as the Sierra, with particular interests in water and wildlife issues. For many years, I worked on passage of the California Desert Protection Act and the Inyo/Los Angeles Water Agreement with its Lower Owens River Project. Currently much of my energy is directed toward the massive wildlife return associated with the Los Angeles Owens Lake Dust Project, and also possible increased protection of the Alabama Hills through a federal designation within the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System. My interests within Friends of the Inyo are seeking sustainability, increasing diversity and spreading FOI’s good works into the southern Owens Valley.”
Sydney Quinn, Big Pine
Sydney Quinn migrated from the desert of Phoenix, AZ to the San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff at the age of 17. Fortune had it that she learned to ski in a physical education program at Northern Arizona Univ. in 1968, which led to a passion for skiing. Moving to Mammoth in 1970 and an 18-year career of ski teaching began a lifestyle and reverence for the mountains through years of backcountry exploration in winter and summer. “Andrea Lawrence, one of my beloved mentors, was the impetus for my involvement in environmental activism beginning in the ’70s. She appointed me to the Mono County Planning Commission in the 1980s. That experience was a valuable education in non-partisanship and commitment to community. The benefits of living in the Sierra far outweighed any monetary gain or professional life—for a while anyway. A bit of panic set in at 40, and I decided to finish my masters in psychology and take a real job.” After 17 years at Mono County Mental Health as a psychotherapist, she retired and settled near Big Pine with her husband, Dennis, a magic dog, two crazy cats and a flock of chickens. With knees sacrificed to skiing and backpacking, she is settling more into a rural lifestyle with a garden of greens at the foot of the East Side of the Sierra Nevada. “Preserving our wondrous backcountry through the opportunities provided by Friends of the Inyo is an honor and commitment that I take seriously.”
Tom Boo, Bishop
Tom Boo is a physician at Northern Inyo Hospital. He fell in love with the Eastern Sierra region in 1996 when he moved to Bishop from Ventura with his wife Helene. Six years later, he took a hiatus to work in public health, mostly in South Sudan and Kenya, and returned to Bishop in 2009. He is a volunteer medical director and a board member of Hospice of the Owens Valley and recently joined the Starlite Community Service District. Dr. Boo believes that working with Friends of the Inyo is a great opportunity to try to live by the maxim to “think globally, act locally.” He has a passion for natural places and has been deeply concerned about global and local environmental issues since his days as an undergraduate biology major.
Barbara Kelley, Bishop
Barbara has lived the Eastern Sierra since graduating from UCLA, loading her belongings in her VW bug, and moving to Mammoth Lakes in 1971. A recently retired teacher, she lives in Bishop with her husband Derrick. Her career spanned 35 years, starting in Mammoth, migrating to Benton, ending in Bishop, and including several grade levels and subjects. Although involved in teaching students from kindergarten through college-level composition and special education, her best memories involve being outside with her two daughters, teaching outdoor science, and instructing English in a remote village in Eastern Tibet. She taught many classes for the Valentine Reserve Outdoor Education Program and outdoor science programs in Death Valley National Park as well as in the Owens Valley and Mono County. Her involvement with students in Tibet continues through volunteer work with Machik, a non-profit organization that works to strengthen communities on the Tibetan Plateau. She was instrumental in the establishment of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge east of Death Valley. She’s a former secretary of the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society and can often be found with binoculars studying birds large and small. She struggles with the balance between covering some ground while hiking and seeing every bird and flower, and can be stopped in her tracks by pupfish. “There is no choice for me but to be passionate about the Eastern Sierra. I view the open space here as an international treasure, a place with immeasurable value for everyone. It’s an honor to help give back to the land that has done so much for me.”
John Louth, Bishop
John Louth and his family have lived in the Bishop area for 25 years. John recently finished a 37-year career with the Forest Service managing the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and the visitor information operation at the White Mountain Ranger Station. John is active in several civic and volunteer organizations and is a co-owner of the Mountain Rambler Brewery. John recently participated in the Bishop futuring event and sees Bishop as a wonderful place to live, incorporating the best of the past and striving for the best of what the future holds for our community.
Martin Powell, Lone Pine