Directors & Liaisons

Executive Committee:

Chair Justin Preisendorfer  developed his wilderness relationship through adolescent fishing adventures, teenage backpacking trips and adult excursions to climb, snowboard, and hunt. He entered the wilderness stewardship community as an Americorps volunteer at 18 working with the US Forest Service in New Hampshire and Maine.  While earning his undergraduate degree from Unity College in Maine, Justin spent his summers leading crews of volunteer trail workers for the Appalachian Mountain Club. He then paired trail stewardship with work as an international climbing guide, leading trips from New England to the Andes. Justin began working full-time for the Forest Service as a wilderness manager with wintertime duties avalanche forecasting and coordinating search and rescue operations. During this time he became involved with the USFS Chief's Wilderness Advisory Group, a collection of field-based wilderness staff that advise the Agency's leader on all things wilderness. After serving as a regional representative to the group Justin became the group's vice chair and then chair, working on projects related to the 10-Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge, effective partnerships, and the hurdles associated with the USFS wilderness management career ladder. For this work, and his work on the White Mountain National Forest, he was given the 2013 Bob Marshall Award for Internal Champion of Wilderness Stewardship. Justin continues to live, work and play in the mountains where he cut his teeth but he also takes every opportunity he can to travel and learn about the other wild areas of our planet.  

Secretary Nancy Taylor is currently the Recreation and Wilderness lead for the Yellowstone Ranger District of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, but just accepted a new position as the Region 9 (Eastern Region) Wilderness, Wild & Scenic Rivers, and Congressionally Designated Areas Program Manager.  She has worked as Recreation and Wilderness Program Manager for the Ruby Mountains, Jarbidge, and Mountain City Ranger Districts on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in northeastern Nevada where she had stewardship responsibilities in four Nevada wilderness areas: Ruby Mountains, Jarbidge, East Humboldts, and Santa Rosa-Paradise Peak; and is working in the Absaroka- Beartooth Wilderness as part of her current position.  She lived in Nevada for 13 years, and enjoyed managing diverse challenges related to recreation, trails, wilderness, and natural resources. During the summer of 2015 she worked on Colorado’s Rio Grande National Forest and spent time in the South San Juan, Weminuche, La Garita, and Sangre de Cristo Wilderness areas. Nevada, Colorado, and Montana have been wonderful experiences, and she looks forward to her work and new adventures in the Eastern Region of the Forest Service. 

She has been a ski patroller and search dog handler, an EMT and Wilderness First Responder.  She has always enjoyed the mountains in all seasons, beginning with hikes following her dad in the White Mountains of New Hampshire as a kid.  These early adventures in the outdoors inspired her passion for wilderness, and she now travels with her Service Dog, Kasha, hiking, backpacking, skiing, and snowshoeing.   She has BS and MS degrees from Montana and Utah State Universities, and completed a graduate certificate in wilderness management through the University of Montana’s Wilderness Management Distance Education Program. 

Treasurer Matthew Kirby grew up in Wisconsin but every summer his family would take a weeks-long camping trip through the West. It was these trips that made him fall in love with wild places. After obtaining his undergraduate degree from Carleton College in Minnesota, he moved to Washington, DC to work for the Environmental Protection Agency. He quickly found himself drawn to the world of advocacy and took a position with the Sierra Club where he has been for the past seven years. For much of that time he was in DC working on wilderness, forests and endangered species federal policy and legislation.

His continued longing for the West, however, drew him away from DC in 2014 when he moved to Denver, Colorado. He currently leads the Permanent Protections Initiative at the Sierra Club, working to secure new administrative and legislative protections for special public lands across the country. He is now trying to make up for lost time and spending all his free moments hiking, skiing, backpacking, and running through the Colorado mountains.

Board of Directors:

John Hausdoerffer is the Dean of the School of Environment and Sustainability at Western Colorado University, where he also serves as Professor of Environmental Sustainability & Philosophy and Director of the Master in Environmental Management program.  An expert on the history and ethics of the wilderness idea, he is author of Catlin's Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny and the Ethics of Nature as well as co-author and co-editor of Wildness: Relations of People and Place.  Hausdoerffer also serves a Fellow and Senior Scholar for the Center for Humans and Nature.



Steve Kimball is the Payette National Forest staff officer for natural resources programs which include fisheries, wildlife, watershed, soils, range, botany, silviculture, and timber.  Steve is the staff lead for the Payette Forest Coalition, a local collaborative group working with the Forest Service on projects in the Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Area.

Steve's previous positions include Wilderness-Rivers Program Manager in the Northern and Alaska Regions, Idaho National Fire Plan Coordinator, and District Ranger on the Salmon-Challis NF, Green Mountain NF, and Tongass NF.  Steve worked as silviculturist and forester at Mount St. Helens, Washington and other location sin the Pacific Northwest.  He has a degree in Forest Management from the University of Minnesota.





Dr. Steven R. Martin holds a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Principia College in Illinois., an M.S. in Wildland Recreation Management from the University of Montana in Missoula., and a Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of Montana in Missoula.  His teaching, research and professional interests focus on visitor use of wildland recreation settings and managing recreational use of natural resource areas, particularly parks, wilderness areas and similar public lands.

His personal interests and hobbies include whitewater rafting, hiking and backpacking, cross-country skiing, and visiting our great public lands. His favorite landscapes to visit are the Colorado Plateau deserts of southern Utah and the high mountain lakes and forests of western Montana and the high Sierra. He's worked for the U.S. Forest Service on five national forests – as a recreation technician, wilderness ranger, wilderness trail crew, and helitak firefighter. He's worked for the National Park Service in Glacier National Park, Montana as a Park Ranger (backcountry) and as an Outdoor Recreation Planner/Social Scientist. He's consulted with and done research for the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California State Parks, and the State of Montana. He worked as a research specialist at the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, at the University of Montana.

Dr. Martin is the 2015 recipient of the national award for Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Research, awarded by the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

Ann Schwaller is currently the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Program Manager on the Superior National Forest in Duluth, Minnesota and serves as Vice-Chair on the Wilderness Advisory Group. She began her career in resource conservation working in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness in Washington state as a volunteer with the Student Conservation Association in 1992. Ann eventually moved up in the Forest Service by way of the Weminuche and La Garita Wilderness areas in Colorado, Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness in Montana, and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho. She also worked for the Park Service in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Her jobs with these organizations included wilderness ranger, trail crew, firefighter, visitor center manager and wilderness/recreation planner. Life before the government included jobs as a freelance photographer for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, University of Florida and Florida State Parks.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Photojournalism with a minor in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida-Gainesville, and a Master’s degree in Recreation and Wilderness Management from the University of Montana-Missoula. Ann grew up on the Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River next to a Johnathan Dickinson State Park in southeast Florida where most weekends were spent on the river, in the woods, or in the ocean. Ann spends her free time traveling, hiking the Superior Trail, kayaking Lake Superior and of course paddling in the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park.

Nicole Wooten is Natural Resources Manager at the Hudson Highlands Land Trust in New York.  She works in the wilderness - urban edge in the federally-designated Highlands region, coordinating the NY Highlands Network, conserving lands and promoting National Scenic Trails.  Raised in NC, she earned a BA in Environmental Studies at UNC - Chapel Hill before serving as an Environmental Education volunteer in the Peace Corps in El Salvador.  Then, deeply inspired by a long walk along the Pacific Crest Trail,  Nicole managed the land stewardship program for the Mid-Atlantic office of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy before returning to academia to earn a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry.  During that time, she practiced crafting policy for land protection with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.  

Nicole currently also serves on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Stewardship Council and Landscape Partnership Steering Committee.  Both her career and volunteer work focus on the intersection of protected areas management and parks-people balance.  She believes that connecting wilderness areas through wildlife connectivity corridors is the next step in ensuring the quality of wildlands in the US.


Agency Liaisons:

Sandy Skrien works as the National Program Manager for Wilderness for the Forest Service in Washington DC. Sandy chairs the Interagency Wilderness Steering Committee composed of Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, USGS agency wilderness leads and members from the Arthur Carhart Interagency Wilderness Training Center and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute.    Sandy works with Forest Service Washington office staff and Regional Program Managers to provide a program of work to each of the 448 wilderness areas the Forest Service manages.  High priority work includes the Wilderness Stewardship Performance and Wilderness Character Monitoring programs.  Sandy is member of the Wilderness Advisory Group (WAG) which advises the Chief of the Forest Service on wilderness issues and brings solutions to field related challenges.  

Sandy grew up near the BWCAW near the Canadian border in Minnesota and began her career there on the Superior National Forest writing wilderness permits, working as a wilderness ranger, winter and summer trails crews and YCC crew leader.  She spent 20 years on the Tongass National Forest with half of the time in two large visitor centers and half the time on two districts as recreation, wilderness, land and minerals staff officer.   She returned to the Superior to be the Public Service Team Leader in 2008 and in 2016 moved to DC to work at headquarters.  

Sandy’s husband Wayne St. John lives in Minnesota with their two yellow labs Cedar and Juniper. They have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in various states.  Sandy and her husband enjoy boating, fishing, gardening and wood carving. 

Roger Semler currently serves as Chief of the Wilderness Stewardship Division for the National Parks Service.  Prior to this appointment, he worked as the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks deputy parks director. He has more than 26 years of federal service in the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, during which time he specialized in wilderness management and stewardship.  During his career he has worked in seven different areas that were designated Wilderness or proposed for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.  During his tenure with the National Park Service, Roger was recognized at the national level as a leader in progressive wilderness management.

Roger has a passion for wilderness preservation and stewardship that was fostered during his career of federal service where he specialized in wilderness management.  He retired from the National Park Service in 2003 and has a strong desire to continuing sharing his time, energy, and expertise to foster professional excellence in wilderness management, inspire progressive agency actions and practices, preserve wilderness resources, and promote citizen understanding and appreciation of Wilderness values.

Nancy Roeper is the National Wilderness Coordinator for the Department of Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. She holds a Master’s of Science in Zoology from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. For 2.5 years, Nancy worked for the World Wildlife Fund on international wildlife trade issues before joining the US Fish and Wildlife Service. For nearly 10 years for the Division of Law Enforcement as an Intelligence Research Specialist working on international trade issues and assisting on Special Operations cases; as a Biologist working on Sikes Act and LAPS issues; for the National Wildlife Refuge System on biodiversity and Ecosystem Approach issues until 1999 when Nancy became the national wilderness coordinator. Nancy’s professional interests include Wilderness; Leave No Trace and her personal interests include gardening, bicycling, Invasive plants removal, canoeing and birding.



James Sippel’s first experience with wilderness was at age 12 on a backpacking trip with his older brother and sister in the John Muir Wilderness in eastern California.  He was poorly prepared and so cold at night that he didn't sleep much.  “Despite the discomfort, the experience captivated me,” he later recalled, “to see and experience land in a pristine state was like finding a treasure, and I couldn’t wait to come back.”  Coming back has been a lifelong pursuit: logging in several hundred overnight trips in wilderness areas throughout the west, encouraging friends to come along, and introducing his two sons to wilderness at a young age. James earned a BA from Prescott College (AZ), and a MA from Oregon State University in natural resource management, emphasizing wilderness management.  He’s worked in a variety of natural resource management roles for the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and with the Peace Corps at a National Park in Ecuador.  Starting with BLM in 1991 as a seasonal ranger in the Wilderness Study Area and Wild and Scenic River programs, he continued his federal natural resources career in Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada, and now is the lead wilderness specialist for BLM in New Mexico.  His professional focus of interest is in wilderness monitoring and restoration.  He values collaborative efforts with other agencies, and working on restoration efforts with Friends and Youth groups.



Ken Straley is the SWS liaison for the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and serves on the SWS Professional Development Committee.  As the Forest Service Representative at the Carhart Center, Ken is dedicated to the professional stewardship of the National Wilderness Preservation System and is engaged with all four land management agencies, the University of Montana, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, and other partners in the development and delivery of wilderness training, information, and education programs nationwide.  Since joining the Forest Service as a Wilderness Ranger in 1993, Ken has worked as a Recreation Planner, Recreation Specialist, Wilderness Staff Officer, Recreation Staff Officer, and Wilderness Specialist for both the Forest Service and BLM in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and Montana.  Ken has acquired extensive professional experience in all aspects of public lands recreation management, but he specializes in wilderness, trails, visitor use management, and natural resource restoration.  Ken holds B.S. degrees in Marketing and Natural Resources Recreation Planning and Management from the University of Utah.   Ken is in constant search of wilderness and is an intrepid hiker, spending most of his free time exploring the wildlands of the West and occasionally elsewhere around the world.


Ralph Swain is the Rocky Mountain Region (R2) Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers program manager.  Ralph has a BS degree in Marketing and a MS degree in Natural Resource Management.  He has worked in wilderness management from all levels; as a seasonal wilderness ranger, wilderness trails, district wilderness manager, forest wilderness specialist and, for the last 10 years, in his current position.  Ralph was the Forest Service's first national program manager for the Leave No Trace wilderness education program.  Additionally, Ralph has been involved in international protected areas and has worked on international assignments in Belize, South Africa and Kamchatka, Russia.  As the regional program manager, Ralph works with a variety of partners and wilderness friends groups to foster wilderness stewardship.  He is also involved in wilderness training and annually conducts a wilderness ranger exchange program with South African rangers.

Carol Miller is a Research Ecologist in Wilderness Fire at the Aldo Leopold Research Institute. Carol holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from Colorado State University, and Master’s of Science in Forest Sciences, also from Colorado State University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University. After a brief career as an engineer, Carol has found much more satisfaction in the field of ecology. As a graduate student, she developed and used a simulation model to study the interactions among climate, fire, and forest pattern in the Sierra Nevada of California. After a postdoctoral appointment at the Leopold Institute and The University of Montana School of Forestry, she became the fire ecologist at the Aldo Leopold Research Institute. Her program of research seeks to help land managers understand how to include wildland fire as an ecological process to landscapes. Carol’s research interests include: Agents of landscape pattern formation; Interactions among fire regimes, climate, and vegetation pattern; Implications of fire suppression and our ability to restore fire as an ecosystem process; Effects of global climatic change on disturbance regimes.


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