Staff

Kayla Browne
Desert and Renewable Energy Policy Director

When she experienced the beauty of the Eastern Sierra for the first time thru-hiking, Kayla knew she needed to make this area her home. After moving to Lone Pine from her home state of Michigan in 2017, she became involved with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, still volunteers with the Bureau of Land Management caring for the Alabama Hills, and spent the summer of 2021 working as a Trail Ambassador with FOI. She is excited to connect people and communities to the untouched landscapes that make this area so exceptional, focusing on Conglomerate Mesa and southern Inyo County. Kayla enjoys all the recreation the east side offers, including mountain biking, trail running, rock and ice climbing, hiking, and skiing.

Lindsay Butcher
Stewardship Director

Transitioning from working with Friends of the Inyo as a seasonal Trail Ambassador in 2020, into Stewardship Programs Manager in 2021 through 2022, Lindsay assumed the mantle of Stewardship Director in January 2023. Originally hailing from San Diego, Lindsay grew up spending summers in the Sierra on family camping trips. After graduating from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Nutrition, she dove into a career in enology and wine making. However, after working multiple vintages in California and Australia, she discovered her hobby of rock climbing was becoming an obsession. So she ran away from real life to work and play in Yosemite National Park. She found the gravitational pull of the Eastside too alluring to resist and permanently relocated in 2019. As Stewardship Director, she is excited to share the joy of getting her hands dirty while working on the trails and lands she now calls home.

Lauren Kelly

Lauren Kelly
Water Justice Organizer

Lauren has loved history and nature for as long as she can remember. She earned a B.A. in American History from UC Berkeley in 2018, and went on to get an M.A. in history of the U.S. West. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at USC, studying the history of water extraction in Payahuunadü. Motivated by her experience growing up and living in Los Angeles, she dedicated herself to learning everything she could about L.A.’s environmental and social impacts in Payahuunadü. Beyond her research, she helped organize graduate students at USC to create their first union. She also developed a passion for serving her community as president of her department’s graduate student association. After building this organizing experience, leadership ability, and historical expertise, Lauren wanted to apply these skills to the cause she cares the most about: helping to protect the Eastern Sierra. Lauren also loves to bake, hike, and camp.

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Jaime Lopez Wolters
Desert Lands Organizer

Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and having grown up in the mountains of Guatemala, Jaime developed a love of nature at an early age. He studied Environmental Science at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and worked with subsistence farmers in the Guatemalan highlands, encouraging the adoption of agro-forestry techniques. In the early 2000s he moved to Los Angeles to be with his partner, Sarah, and started working with Metabolic Studio on environmental art projects. That work first brought him to the Eastern Sierra and exposed him to the area’s majestic beauty as well as its environmental challenges. As Desert Lands Organizer at Friends of the Inyo, Jaime strives to protect the land and encourage people’s connection to nature and the web of life.

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Joseph Miller
Indigenous Community Relations Coordinator

Joseph is a lifelong resident of Payahuunadü and a Tribal member of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley. Joseph developed a love of environmental service through his early work with the Big Pine Tribe focusing on permaculture techniques, community agriculture initiatives and health initiatives. His fondness for maintaining the connection to water and land was further realized through working in water quality monitoring and data collection with his home Tribe. Most recently Joseph has served in management roles for both Tribal enterprise and in environmental protection. Joseph enjoys quality time with his family, caring for plants, gardening, environmental stewardship, serving Tribal communities and exploring the high deserts of California and Nevada. In his role as Indigenous Community Relations Coordinator, Joseph hopes to foster meaningful dialogue and cultivate lasting relationships between Friends of the Inyo and the Native Tribes of the Eastern Sierra.

Wendy Schneider
Executive Director

A native of East Tennessee, Wendy began her political work in Washington, D.C. where she participated in campaigns and lobbying efforts on behalf of Al Gore, Handgun Control and U.S. PIRG.  Environment California recruited her to run their Los Angeles fundraising office, so she moved out West, became a lawyer, founded and ran a nonprofit benefiting street children in India, and discovered the Eastern Sierra. As Executive Director of Friends of the Inyo, Wendy is excited to use her political, fundraising and legal expertise to continue increasing the organization’s ability to protect the Eastern Sierra’s public lands.

Allison Weber
Policy Associate, Water and Forest Campaign Manager

Allison moved to Mammoth Lakes when she was 13 and found her passion for the environment in the Inyo National Forest. She left the Eastern Sierra to study Conservation and Resource Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she managed an urban farm and got involved in public health research. Ultimately, her love for nature brought her back. When she is not working, she is a rock climber, telemark skier, and long-distance trail runner. Allison has always wanted to work for Friends of the Inyo and got her wish when she started as the Keep Long Valley Green Coalition Organizer in December 2021. She is excited to do even more for the land and its denizens in her new position.

2024 trail ambassadors

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Brian Bosak – Trail Ambassador
Mammoth/High Sierra Ranger District
Inyo National Forest

Brian moved west as a teenager. He discovered Bishop while on a bouldering trip from Southern California in 2008. He had never camped, hiked, nor climbed, but these new experiences in the Eastern Sierra imprinted a lasting positive association with this place. He moved to the Eastern Sierra in 2019. His first Friends of the Inyo volunteer event was the annual Rock Creek Lake cleanup where he embraced his love for finding micro-trash and discovered a new love for raffles. During volunteer backcountry work weeks in summer 2022, Brian felt so at home in the work Friends of the Inyo was doing to preserve wilderness that he thought he would enjoy a whole summer of stewardship. His summers are usually a time for trail running, bike riding, and cooling off in creeks. 

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Bella Gleeson – Trail Ambassador
Mt. Whitney Ranger District
Inyo National Forest

Bella grew up in the Wasatch Mountain Range of Utah. She brought her love for the mountains to the Sierra Nevada, and has spent two seasons working in Tuolumne Meadows and now lives in Lone Pine. She enjoys rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, and birding in the Eastern Sierra. Bella bolstered her love of wilderness with an education in Environmental Studies, International Studies, and Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.

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Jordan Marbury – Trail Ambassador
Bridgeport Ranger District
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Realizing the mountaineering opportunities in Georgia weren’t plentiful, Jordan fled west for snowier peaks, and more dramatic rock. His first destination? The Eastern Sierra. His next destination? More Eastern Sierra (it’s just that good). Now with over two years of extensively exploring his new backyard, he has developed a resolve to improve the condition of these areas and help others do the same. When he’s not in uniform, expect to see him wearing something gray on some remote granite peak deep in the mountains. In other words, expect to not see him.

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Ellie Neifeld – Trail Ambassador
Mono Basin Ranger District
Inyo National Forest

Ellie is a naturalist with a passion for the birds, rocks, and plants of the Eastern Sierra. Ellie grew up backpacking and rock climbing with her family on frequent excursions to the Sierra from her home in Oakland, CA. After earning her BA in Earth and Oceanographic Science in Maine, she immediately migrated back to the Eastern Sierra for a summer interning with the Mono Lake Committee. Since then, she has moved around the West studying tree-rings, painting birds, and rock climbing. Landing back on the eastside, she worked as the Lead Naturalist with the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association. She now lives in Lee Vining with her fiancé and is excited to spend lots of time working outside as the Mono Basin Trail Ambassador this summer.

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Jean Redle – Lead Trail Ambassador
White Mountain Ranger District
Inyo National Forest

Jean’s passion for the mountains and rock climbing drove her west from Kentucky to Yosemite, where she worked for Yosemite Search and Rescue, Yosemite Mountaineering School and, for a decade, as an Interpretive Park Ranger in Tuolumne Meadows. This is her third summer working as a Trail Ambassador and will be covering the White Mountain Ranger District. She loves the ever changing mountainscapes and will be leading an Interpretive Walk, “Fire and Ice,” about Glaciers, Volcanoes and Wildfires. Also, check out her Interpretive Nature-based Yoga Program offered throughout the summer. While not at work, you’ll find her rock climbing, gardening, hiking or practicing/teaching yoga.

board of directors

From left to right: Ellen Wehr, Sam Roberts, Jeff Dozier, Gregg Vane, Sydney Quinn, Chris I. Lizza, Tom Boo, Kyle Hamada.

Tom Boo, President, 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.

Jeff Dozier, Vice-President, Mammoth Lakes

I am a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I have taught since 1974. I founded the Bren School in 1994 and served as its first dean for six years. In my research, I study snow hydrology, Earth system science, remote sensing, and information systems. My current work focuses on snow, water, and ice in the Sierra Nevada and High Mountain Asia, where more than a billion people depend on snowmelt for their water resources, and where the austere surface infrastructure requires that most of the analyses come from remotely sensed data. My study of the optical properties of snow let me help Disney Animation Studios win a 2014 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, Frozen. A long-time backcountry skier, mountaineer, and rock climber, I led six expeditions to the Hindu Kush range in Afghanistan and have a dozen first ascents there, hence my interest in the world’s mountains. I am a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geophysical Union.

Chris I. 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.”

Ellen Wehr, Secretary, Sacramento

Ellen grew up in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and ventured west for college, graduating from the Evergreen State College in Washington State with a degree in environmental science. Following her passion for the environment, she graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School in Oregon with a focus in water law. After working on water and land-use issues for a decade in private practice law firms in Sacramento, Ellen now serves as General Counsel for the Grassland Water District, helping to deliver water to the 75,000-acre Grassland Resource Conservation District that includes private, state, and federal wildlife refuges in the San Joaquin Valley. Ellen’s interest in serving on the Board of Directors stems from her love of the Eastern Sierra and a desire to contribute to the organization’s work on matters of environmental and water policy, growing our membership base, and helping with programs and campaigns. She volunteers with campaigns led by the Access Fund and has served as a board member for a local non-profit rock climbing group. Her work in California connects her to many others in the water and environmental communities in Sacramento and throughout the state. Ellen lives on fertile ground in midtown Sacramento where she cultivates an urban garden and orchard with her husband Kevin and rescued German Shepherd, Emmylou.

Sam Roberts, 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.”

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.”

Kyle Hamada, Torrance

Born in the Los Angeles area, Kyle grew up visiting the Eastern Sierra every winter and summer. He studied Environmental Science and Policy at Cal State University Long Beach, with a focus on issues affecting the California Desert. During his time in school, Kyle grew a deep appreciation for the lands in and surrounding the Eastern Sierra. He worked as an intern with the Barstow and Ridgecrest BLM field offices as a wilderness surveyor and as a route surveyor in the western Mojave Desert. Meanwhile, his years of experience in photography, videography, and digital media led him to work as a Producer in the advertising industry. He later moved to Bishop where he held the position of Communications Director at Friends of the Inyo from 2018 to 2021. Kyle has since returned to the Los Angeles area where he works as a Producer. He aims to leverage his range of experience and knowledge to help FOI achieve its mission. Kyle and his wife often visit the Eastern Sierra to climb, hike, and enjoy their favorite places.

Gregg Vane, Mammoth Lakes

I came to California in August 1971 to attend graduate school at the UCLA Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. The first weekend at UCLA my new friends took me to the summit of Mt. Whitney. Later they took me cross-country skiing in the Lake Mary Basin. I was hooked by the Eastern Sierra and the Inyo National Forest in those first few months. I remain so today after having lived in Antarctica, Chile, and Argentina, and having traveled to mountainous regions in Asia and Europe. The time spent elsewhere has convinced me that there are many unique aspects of the Eastern Sierra region that make it worthy of our efforts to protect it. After UCLA I was hired by the Jet Propulsion Lab where I met my future wife. She was already a backpacker and cross-country skier in the Sierra. It was natural that when we started our family, the frequent summer backpacking trips into the Sierra continued even after we had twins three years after our son was born. No surprise that our adult kids are passionate about the Eastern Sierra region, too. We all helped build our home in Mammoth where most of us vote.

Nancee Murray, Sacramento

Nancee Murray is enjoying retirement after 28 years of service with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of the General Counsel, where her career focused mostly on water rights and water quality. She has a Business Economics  degree from UC Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctor degree from UC Davis. Nancee spent several years in private practice focusing on environmental law, and was also an Assistant Attorney General for the Federated States of Micronesia in the early 1990s, as that group of islands became a new nation. She and her sons have spent many summer vacations hiking, fishing and recreating in the Mammoth, Bishop and Mono Basin areas. A native Californian, Nancee now lives in Sacramento and enjoys hiking, backpacking, bird watching, and planting native plants.

Robin Bolser, Bishop

Robin has lived in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina, and she has found a forever home in the Eastern Sierra. Educated as a philosopher and marine biologist, she moved to Santa Barbara in 1997 and discovered Mammoth Lakes in 1998. After visiting the area repeatedly to recreate, she decided to leave her career (and Santa Barbara) behind to start a family and a small business in Bishop: the Great Basin Bakery. Having lived here for over two decades and having married a Bishop-born guy, she is committed to the wellbeing of communities and landscapes of the Eastern Sierra. She brings a passion for the outdoors, for environmental issues (particularly climate change) and a pragmatic approach to community partnerships that usually involves baked goods.

Advisory Council

Friends of the Inyo’s Board of Directors and Leadership Staff benefit from the knowledge and expertise of an Advisory Council made up of trusted Eastern Sierra community leaders:

  • Lynn Boulton, retired IT professional and educator, local conservation advocate
  • Chris Bubser, Town of Mammoth Lakes Council Member
  • Stacy Corless, former FOI Executive Director, former Mono county Supervisor, Sierra Business Council
  • Linda Emerson*, educator and retired attorney
  • Jora Fogg, former FOI Policy Director, Conservation Lands Foundation
  • Jose Garcia, English/Spanish professional translator, Bishop City Mayor
  • Bob Harrington, former Inyo County Water Dept. Director
  • Dave Herbst*, Herbst Lab aquatic researcher, former scientist with Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL)
  • Marty Hornick, former USFWS Trail Program Coordinator, INYO 350 Member
  • Maria Jesus, conservation botanist
  • Matt Kemp, local rancher
  • Paul McFarland, first FOI Executive Director, DeChambeau Creek Foundation Program Officer, elected as Mono County District 3 Supervisor in 2024 Primary Election
  • Bill Mitchel*, retired HR Director, Lockheed Corporation
  • Martin (Desert) Powell*, retired hotelier in Lone Pine
  • Mike Prather*, former educator and past Chair of the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, Eastern Sierra Audubon, Inyo County Water Commission, and Owens Valley Committee
  • Sara Steck*, retired ESL educator
  • Frank Stewart*
  • Todd Vogel*, Eastside Sports proprietor

* Former Friends of the Inyo Board Member

Consultants

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Will Young
Bookkeeping Consultant

Will moved to the Eastern Sierra in late 2019 in pursuit of climbing and purpose. The Owens Valley holds a lifetime of opportunities for the former, and generations have found a calling in caring for this region since time immemorial. Finding small ways to contribute with his skillset, Will first served as a Trail Ambassador for FOI in the summer of 2022, and he now works for the organization as a bookkeeper.