STAFF & BOARD

Our Talented Team
Staff photo 2023

Staff Photo Fall 2023

IMG_0967-1-e1580327192841

AMY HAFSRUD

Financial Manager & P-CREW Member Experience Specialist

For the past 30 years, Amy has led outdoor education and leadership training trips throughout the U.S., including the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. At the Sierra Institute, she co-coordinates the summer P-CREW internship program and was instrumental in the development of the Greenville Outdoor Adventure Learning and Friday Night for Teens programs. In addition to the diverse experience in outdoor leadership programming Amy brings to our youth programs, she has also served as the financial manager for the organization since 1998. In her spare time, you can find Amy hiking with her dogs, working diligently in her garden, and serving as the community mom to the youth of Indian Valley.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1003; Email: ahafsrud@sierrainstitute.us

A Wilson 2021

ANDREA WILSON

Executive Assistant & Office Manager

Andrea joined the Sierra Institute as the Office Manager & Executive Assistant in the Spring of 2021.  Andrea is deeply committed to our community and the unique opportunities living in the mountains offer.  She has spent most of her life in Plumas County and grew up in the Quincy area.  Her work has been community-based, including working as Branch Librarian for the Greenville Library, and General Manager of the local food cooperatives in Quincy and Portola.  Andrea enjoys spending her free time with her family and their two dogs, reading a good book, or getting out to enjoy all the beauty of our area.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1009; Email: admin@sierrainstitute.us

bio pic

ANGELA BOLTON-TOUT

Workforce Development Coordinator

Angela is excited to be a part of Sierra Institute Workforce team. She has a strong passion in developing Tribal Workforces to put the people back on the land being the original stewards of the land. Angela is a tribal member of Berry Creek Rancheria, Tyme Maidu Indians.  She is a Certified Tribal Naturalist. She studies the life cycle of plants, Restoration, Culture Burn, TEK, Reforestation, Land Management post Wild Fires and Medicinal purposes of the plants. She has been a full-time volunteer at local TEK restoration area for 2 years.  Angela's main goal is to be a part of building a Forestry Department for her tribe. In her free time, Angela loves to be in the mountains, hiking, camping, swimming, fishing. Just time with the plants is a fulfilling day for her. Angela is a mother of 3 young men and 3 beautiful grandchildren that are her world. Everything she does is for her family and 7 generations ahead.

Angela is grateful today to be in this space with everyone here at Sierra Institute.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022; Email: abolton-tout@sierrainstitute.us

BellaBPhoto

BELLA BLEDSOE

Watershed Coordinator
Bella Bledsoe joined  Sierra Institute as the Watershed Coordinator in May 2021.  Bella grew up in the San Juan Islands of Washington state, and as a child, she searched for newts along forest trails and boated in the Salish Sea.  Bella graduated with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She recently finished her master's degree in Environmental Justice and Geospatial Data Sciences at the University of Michigan.  In her free time, Bella enjoys walking, swimming, and painting. She is excited to explore the local mountains and forests and to get to know the surrounding community. 

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 ; Email: ibledsoe@sierrainstitute.us

Bo-Noel-1

BO NOEL

P-CREW Youth Corps Program Coordinator
Bo Noel joined the Sierra Institute as the P-CREW Program Coordinator in Spring of 2023.  Raised in the small town of Strawberry Valley, California, Bo spent the majority of his childhood out in the Plumas National Forest. It was here that his passion for the outdoors grew and was nurtured by the diverse flora and fauna, as well as the beautiful forests and landscapes of the area.  Bo has worked in the community of the indigenous peoples of this area for the majority of his career, serving many local Tribal community members and students.  Stewardship of the land comes naturally to Bo as Traditional Ecological Knowledge of these areas continues to be passed down to him by elders and peers in the community. This work is important to Bo and he is proud to help carry the knowledge as it has for generations.  Bo is an enrolled member of the Enterprise Rancheria Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe, and has family ties to other Maidu Tribes in the area including the Strawberry Valley Band of Maidu Indians. Bo enjoys spending time with his numerous nieces and nephews in his free time, as well as hunting, fishing, and hiking.  He is very excited to work with P-CREW and can't wait to start meeting the team and students.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1008; Email: bnoel@sierrainstitute.us

IMG-8534

CECILY SANCHEZ

Forest Ecologist

Cecily joined the Sierra Institute as a Forest Ecologist in the summer of 2023. She grew up on the central coast of California and graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management. She has a professional background in rare plant botany, wildlife biology, and ecological restoration. She traveled throughout the western states working in the private timber industry, on wildlife projects, and for the state before moving to Plumas County. An avid botanist and gardener, she has a passion for native plants and their communities. In her free time you can find her swimming at the lake with her dog, tinkering around the yard, or reading with her cat.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022; Email: csanchez@sierrainstitute.us
Che Web pic 2022

CHE RUBALCAVA-CUNAN

Wood Utilization Project Specialist

Che joined the Sierra Institute in the summer of 2022 as a Landscape Restoration and Wood Utilization Apprentice. Che grew up in Quincy and feels extra fulfillment that the impactful work he now contributes to serves the community that gave him so much as a child. Che earned a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies from UC Berkeley, which he is proud of, but he maintains that the foundation of his environmental education comes from the 6th grade watershed program he had the privilege of going through at Quincy Elementary, as well as the AP environmental science class at Quincy High School. He then fought fires with the Plumas Hotshots for two seasons after college and experienced first-hand the extreme difference in severity between the fire seasons of recent years, and those he observed as a child. With a deep connection to this community, and a thorough education on the environmental factors that affect it, Che is excited to expand his career with the Sierra Institute.

Colleen_Egan_SI_staffphoto

COLLEEN EGAN

Botany Specialist
Colleen joined Sierra Institute full-time as a Botany Specialist in March 2023 after working seasonally for us in 2022. Colleen was born in Seattle, WA and moved to Pittsburgh, PA as a child. She attended the University of Pittsburgh where she completed dynamic field courses in Costa Rica and Yellowstone National Park and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in Ecology. From there, she pursued federal work in vegetation management at places like the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Rocky Mountain National Park, and for the past three years, Lassen Volcanic National Park. Through partnership with Lassen, Colleen serves as the Botany Specialist inside the park. There, she is working to continue important vegetation projects, such as newly listed whitebark pine monitoring and genetic testing, in addition to consulting on various Sierra Institute vegetation project needs. Outside of work, Colleen enjoys road-tripping to new places, hiking, boating, paddle-boarding, kayaking, painting, and seeing live music.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022; Email: cegan@sierrainstitute.us
Daneille (1)

DANIELLE BERRY

Stewardship Project Manager

Danielle began working for the Sierra Institute in 2019 as the Stewardship Project Coordinator and is involved in both the collaborative forest stewardship and wood utilization initiatives. Prior to this, she served as the Sierra Institutes' Collaborative Landscape Stewardship Apprentice. She recieved a B.S. in Biology from CSU Bakersfield and an M.S. in Environmental Policy and Management from UC Davis. Born and raised in the southern San Joaquin Valley, she spent her free time in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where she revered the studies of John Muir and developed a passion for the outdoors. Throughout her time working within private, public, and NGOs sectors, Danielle has acquired a range of experiences and has come to recognize the importance of interdisciplinary communication in the implementation and effectiveness of environmental stewardship. As an advocate for the conservation of natural resources, she is interested in the application of environmental science to real-world environmental policy and management issues. When Danielle is not working you will likely find her partaking in the many adventures the Sierras have to offer.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1018; Email: dberry@sierrainstitute.us

Gwen_photo

GWEN EVANS

Collaborative Forestry Specialist

Gwen joined Sierra Institute as the Collaborative Forestry Specialist in March 2023. Born and raised in Minnesota, Gwen’s love of the outdoors was fueled by walks along the Minnesota River and summer trips up north to Lake of the Woods. She received her B.A. in Biology, Society, and Environment from the University of Minnesota and her M.S. in Natural Resources & Environment from the University of Michigan. Gwen served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, partnering with community-based organizations on a variety of agricultural projects, from beekeeping and rabbit-rearing to moringa tree nurseries and community gardens. Gwen is excited to work for an organization where her work can contribute to building the resiliency of both forests and communities. In her free time, Gwen enjoys birding, gardening, crocheting, puzzles, and long walks with her dog.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1011; Email: gevans@sierrainstitute.us

Heather JPEG 1

HEATHER REINEKING

Hydrology Project Specialist

I am the Hydrology Project Specialist at Sierra Institute, working on large scale watershed restoration projects. I was born and raised in Wisconsin with access to beautiful lakes and abundant forests. I moved to Gunnison, Colorado in 2017 to pursue a BA in Environment in Sustainability and MEM (Masters in Environmental Management) with an emphasis in Integrative Public Lands Management. I received my MEM in May of 2022 while presenting on the benefits of beaver dam analogs (BDA) to watershed management, especially in the arid west. I hope to bring all the experience I gained in watershed management and restoration from Gunnison to this beautiful part of the country. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, hammocking, paddle boarding, mountain biking, climbing, snowboarding, at the gym, and searching for the perfect adventure buddy in dog form.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022; Email: hreineking@sierrainstitute.us

Jacqueline Photo 2

JACQUELINE DALTON

Workforce Development Coordinator

Jacqui joined the Sierra Institute in Spring 2022 as the workforce Development Coordinator.
Her professional background includes supporting outdoor community programs within the Truckee Meadows, enhancing inclusion and diversity in outdoor spaces, and ecological restoration efforts within the Walker Basin. She takes pride in investing in the connection between community and environmental health and looks forward to doing just that with the Sierra Institute. Jacqui earned a B.S. from the University of Nevada, Reno, in Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Planning and an M.S. at the University of Denver in Environmental Policy and Management. Jacqui has become passionate about environmental justice issues throughout her studies and professional career and aims to make a true difference within her community. Growing up in Vermont and moving to the Sierras in 2009, Jacqui has always loved the outdoors. You can catch her biking, hiking, snowboarding, and gardening in her free time.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 ; Email: jdalton@sierrainstitute.us

Screen Shot 2023-11-30 at 10.02.14 AM

JADE ELHARDT

Communications Specialist

Jade Elhardt, our Communications Specialist, joined the Sierra Institute in the fall of 2023. A seasoned professional storyteller and community liaison, Jade's decade-long immersion in the wild landscapes and rural communities of Montana and Northern California, coupled with a background in conservation photography give her a unique skill set in her work for the Sierra Institute. Specializing in wildfire mitigation, restoration, and documenting people in wildland urban interface areas, Jade has also lived and worked across diverse terrains in Nevada, Utah, and Oregon, fostering a deep understanding of the environmental and cultural intricacies of the American West. With a passion for advocating indigenous reclamation of land stewarding practices and food sovereignty for greater economic empowerment, Jade aims to visually breathe life into these crucial initiatives aligned with the Sierra Institute's mission. Beyond her photography and drone work, Jade enjoys mountain biking, backcountry skiing, climbing, birding, and navigating the humbling whitewater of the Feather River.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 ; Email: jelhardt@sierrainstitute.us 

Jonathan Kusel 2021 Photo

JONATHAN KUSEL

Executive Director

Jonathan founded the Sierra Institute in 1993 and has directed the organization ever since. He received a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Sociology and Policy from U.C. Berkeley, where he was an instructor before launching Sierra Institute. His dissertation focused on how rural northern Sierra communities changed following the departure of their wood products anchor businesses. This work, at the intersection of community and forest and watershed health formed the basis for the Sierra Institute’s mission and approach. He also holds a Masters in Forest Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Jonathan lives in Indian Valley with his wife, Amy, and two dogs, Dobby and Sadie. In the rare occasion that he’s not working to promote rural well-being or advance opportunities for his organization, you can find him hiking around the valley or coaching the varsity boys basketball team at Greenville High School.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1001; Email: jkusel@sierrainstitute.us

IMG_3919

JUSTINE CORNWALL

Stewardship Specialist

Justine joined the Sierra Institute in August 2023 as a Stewardship Specialist. Justine grew up in southwestern Idaho, and looked forward to spending weekends up North in the mountains around Cascade, McCall, and Stanley. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s of Science in Conservation and Restoration Ecology at Utah State University. After college, she moved to Plumas County to work on fuels reduction, meadow restoration, and reforestation projects throughout Plumas National Forest for the Feather River Resource Conservation District. She then went on to work on a fuels reduction crew in Wyoming, then later guided kayak tours in Southeastern Alaska. In her free time, you can find Justine hiking, lounging creekside, or staying in and making food.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1001; Email: jcornwall@sierrainstitute.us

760166F4-661D-45E3-9AD4-A3FA0A5E1EEF

KYLE RODGERS

Assistant Director

At Sierra Institute, Kyle manages our work with a growing network of collaborative groups working on forest management issues across California, and rural development efforts focused on rebuilding capacity in forest communities across California. Kyle brings a diverse background to this work that includes surveying hemlock trees and monitoring bog turtles on the Blue Ridge Parkway, studying human dimensions of endangered species conservation planning across the Southeast, and prior work at the Sierra Institute on a range of projects from watershed coordination to youth programming. When he isn’t at the office, you might find him coaching youth soccer or hiking with his wife and dog. Kyle holds a BS in Conservation Biology from Clemson University and a MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Tennessee.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1013; Email: krodgers@sierrainstitute.us

Megan Bio pic

MEGAN FLETCHER

P-CREW Youth Corps: Assistant Coordinator

Megan Fletcher  grew up locally in Westwood. She started out as a member in the P-CREW program in 2018. After that, she knew conservation was something she wanted to do as a career. In 2020 she was a AAA for P-CREW, during this time she found her passion for youth stewardship. In the spring of 2021, she graduated from Feather River College with an A.S in Environmental Studies. The following summer, she returned to Sierra Institute as a part of the Wilderness Trails crew. In 2022, she worked part time as a P-CREW Coordination Assistant until the P-CREW program began, where she was a P-CREW leader for the summer of 2022. She returned in 2023 as the Assistant P-CREW Coordinator and is excited to continue in the position. Megan enjoys her time by hiking, exploring the beauty of the Lassen and Plumas county area, spending time with her cats and reading a good book.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022; Email: mfletcher@sierrainstitute.us

NoahRockCreek

NOAH ABRAMSON

Water Resources Project Manager and Hydrologist

Noah works with Sierra Institute’s team of specialists taking on complex land management issues, focusing his efforts on projects that help protect and improve water resources in forested watersheds. Noah specializes in watershed assessment, cumulative effects analyses, NEPA and CEQA environmental compliance, project permitting, and geospatial analyses for forest and watershed applications. Noah holds a BS and MS in Geology where he studied geomorphology and surficial processes, and also has experience working across a variety of earth science and natural resource related disciplines in northern California and the western United States. In his free time, Noah enjoys exploring the outdoors by mountain bike, raft, or snowboard.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022; Email: nabramson@sierrainstitute.us

Payton N. Bio Pic

PAYTON NARANCIC

Mass Timber Project Coordinator

Payton joined the Sierra Institute in the summer of 2022 as a Mass Timber Project Coordinator after completing her Master of Science in Architecture in Mass Timber Design at the University of Oregon. Her graduate project focused on utilizing timber from forest restoration projects in the Sierras to create a local mass timber industry that could be used to rebuild public lands’ structures that were burned in wildfires. She is interested in the dynamics between forestry and architecture and how they can be integrated to create nature-driven, climate-positive design that is both spiritually fulfilling and environmentally inclusive. Payton also holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon and is currently pursuing licensure as an architect in California. She looks forward to helping build resilient communities in the northern Sierras and promoting the use of mass timber to restore forests and combat climate change. Outside of work, Payton enjoys yoga, hiking, kombucha, cuddling with her cat, and spending time outdoors with her husband Harrison.

Contact Information: (530)284-1022 Ext. 1012 ; Email: pnarancic@sierrainstitute.us

DSC02023-Edit copy (1)

SOPHIE CASTLETON

Project Coordinator

Sophie works with Sierra Institute’s team of natural resource specialists to plan forest restoration projects and scale up these efforts within the South Lassen Watershed Group boundaries. Sophie holds a BA from UC Davis in International Relations: Global Health & Environment and minors in Environmental Policy and Spanish. She brings natural resource management and restoration experience to Sierra Institute from her time working for federal agencies, including the Tongass National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management in New Mexico, as well as experience working with an environmental consulting firm performing wetland restoration and invasive cordgrass control. Prior to Sierra Institute, Sophie spent her winters teaching skiing in various parts of the Sierra, Utah, and Japan and loves exploring the local mountains with her dog Lupin.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1006; Email: scastleton@sierrainstitute.us

Thea Lemberger

THEA LEMBERGER

Wood Utilization Coordinator

Thea joined the Sierra Institute in Fall 2023. Thea was born and raised in California, she connects deeply to the local ecosystems and feels responsibility to steward the land. Thea aspires to make an impact on the health and vitality of our world’s forests and in turn, the local communities that are intertwined. At Sierra Institute, Thea is a part of the Wood Utilization team, working toward bridging the gap between forest management, wildfire prevention, and emerging green markets for forest products. Thea is grounded in her belief of the intrinsic value of nature, but is balanced by a career in competitive sports where she learned that serviceability and extrinsic feedback loops are important drivers of success. Thea earned a B.A. in Communications from UCLA and a Master’s in Environmental Science, with a minor in Forestry from Oregon State University. When not at work, you’ll find Thea out and about, cross training, surfing, doing anything active or immersed in the arts.

Contact Information: Office Phone: (530) 284-1022 ; Email: tlemberger@sierrainstitute.us

IMG_1944

TONY CHARBONNIER

Collaborative Prep Forester

Tony joined Sierra Institute in September 2022 as a Collaborative Prep Forester. In this role, he collaborates with a diversity of partners to plan and prepare both large-scale forest health restoration projects on public lands and community wildfire protection projects on private lands within local communities. He deeply appreciates the opportunity to advance forest restoration efforts that will have meaningful impacts for generations to come. Tony was raised in Indian Valley and grew to love the tight-knit character of rural community, clean air and water, and being surrounded by forests, streams and lakes. He then went on to study Physical Geography and GIS at California State Chico while spending summers working for the US Forest Service as a wildland firefighter. He joined the Lassen National Forest-Almanor Ranger District Timber program in 2010 where he worked for 6 seasons and discovered his passion for forestry work. Outside of work, Tony enjoys exploring the rural Sierra, fishing, hunting, foraging, wood cutting, rock hounding, skiing, and at times finding a few old growth trees along the way!

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1007; Email: tcharbonnier@sierrainstitute.us

IMG-7751

ZACH BROWNING

Shared Stewardship Advisor

Zach joined the Sierra Institute in 2023 as the Shared Stewardship Advisor. Professionally, Zach has previously worked with the innovative home heating project Wood for Life in Northern Arizona, on forest restoration projects in Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona, and worked alongside disadvantaged communities towards community empowerment in both rural and urban settings. He has received a masters in forestry as well as art therapy, giving him a holistic approach to land stewardship, practices, and the people who are part of it. In his free time you can find him rambling and meandering through the outdoors via backpacking, running, biking, or paddling with a pen and brush in hand.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 ; Email: zbrowning@sierrainstitute.us

Zoe website

ZOE WATSON

Rural Community Development Program Manager

Zoe joined the Sierra Institute in the Spring of 2020 as the Rural Community Development Program Manager. At the Sierra Institute, she works to improve rural water systems, secure rural forestry jobs, and support rural health and well-being. Zoe earned a BA in Political Science at UC Santa Barbara and an MS in Community Health at MSU Bozeman where she investigated the effect of climate change on food systems and women’s health in fishing communities in Arctic Greenland. She is
currently working toward a Ph.D. in Community Health from the OHSU/PSU School of Public Health. Her research has focused on social and environmental drivers of health inequities. This includes research on housing instability, food security, and air quality. Zoe grew up in the southern Cascades and enjoys skiing, mountain biking, rafting, and kayaking throughout the Cascades and the Sierras.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 ; Email: zwatson@sierrainstitute.us

Board of Directors

IMG_5133

Robert Doty

President

Partner at Cox, Castle & Nicholson, LLP

San Francisco, CA

IMG-6787 Used (2) (1)

Mary Davidge

Vice President

Former Google Director of Global Design in REWS (Real Estate and Workplace Services)

Los Gatos, CA

sheri elliot picture

Sheri Elliott

Treasurer

Retired Budget Director for the US Forest Service, Washington Office.

Nevada City, CA

IMG_E6377-367×500

Beth Rose Middleton

Secretary

Associate Professor, University of California, Davis

Davis, CA

Les Hall

Les Hall

Board Member

Public Administration

Meadow Valley, CA

Cloyes_headshot

Mac Cloyes

Board Member

Policy Director, Blue Forest Conservation

Burlington, VT

JimBranham Board pic2

Jim Branham

Board Member

Retired Executive Officer,
Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Auburn, CA

VC-Trinity-County-Trinity-River-gty-874201126-RF-1280×640

Jeff Glover

Board Member

Owner, Glover Construction Company

Taylorsville, CA

Jk_head-2

Jonathan Kusel

Executive Director

Executive Director

Taylorsville, CA