Our Talented Team


P-CREW Youth Corps Coordinator

Ama joined the Sierra Institute in fall of 2022 as the P-CREW Coordinator.  Growing up in Michigan, she could be found playing in creeks, lakes, forests and sand dunes and working in corn fields.  Her love of the outdoors, teamwork, and tangible results led her to a career in trails and conservation. Since 2005, Ama has served as a volunteer, crew member, crew leader, project manager, founder of a conservation corps, program director, and educator in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors across 18 different states throughout the country.  Ama enjoys building teams and sharing her passion for inclusivity and accessibility as it relates to sustainable recreation.  Outside of work, Ama can be found exploring our public lands by foot, wheels, or raft.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1008; Email:



Financial Manager & Youth Recreation Coordinator

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:

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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:



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:

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Landscape Restoration/Wood Utilization Apprentice

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.



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:

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Finance Assistant

Harrison joined the Sierra Institute in August of 2022 as a Finance Assistant. Harrison grew up in the Bay Area and went to school at both University of California Santa Cruz and University of Oregon, majoring in Economics and Philosophy. He has worked in the construction industry as a Jr. Inspector of Record and the real estate industry both as a Realtor and a Mortgage Loan Officer, helping people with one of their biggest financial purchases of their lives. Outside of work, Harrison enjoys golfing, backpacking, going to the gym and hanging out with his cat and amazing wife.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1010; Email:

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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:

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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:

Jonathan Kusel 2021 Photo


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:



Finance Manager Assistant/ Human Resources

Kristie joined the Sierra Institute in October 2019 as the Finance Manager Assistant/ Human Resources.  Kristie grew up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in our neighboring town of Quincy, CA. She spent 10 years in upstate New York, in the Adirondack Mountains but returned to the area in 2010. Kristie has a variety of work experience in Billing, State and Federal Program Case Management and Human Services. When not at work she enjoys spending time with her boys and enjoying the abundant outdoor activities provided in Plumas County, including kayaking on the local lakes and rivers.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022 x 1203; Email:



Operations Manager

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:

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Rural Communtiy Development Project Specialist

Mikayla joined the Sierra Institute’s Rural Community Development Program in the fall of 2022. Born in Montana and raised in Alaska, Mikayla has a deep personal connection to small towns and big mountains. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Montana with a double major in Economics and Ecology. She spent the summer of 2021-2022 working in Lassen and Modoc counties as an ecologist and was inspired to return to economics because of the generosity and resilience of the people she encountered during her work in this rural corner of California. In her free time Mikayla enjoys exploring new places, with a particular interest in alpine lakes, lookout towers, waterfalls, rock shops, and local restaurants.

Contact Information: (530) 284-1022; Email:



Water Resources Project Coordinator

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:

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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:

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Resource Specialist

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:

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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 x 1011; Email:

Board of Directors


Jonathan Kusel


Executive Director

Taylorsville, CA


Robert Doty

Vice President

Partner at Cox, Castle & Nicholson, LLP

San Francisco, CA

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Sheri Elliott


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

Nevada City, CA


Beth Rose Middleton


Associate Professor, University of California, Davis

Davis, CA


Gerry Gray

Board Member

Forest Policy Consultant for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, & State Lands

Salt Lake City, UT


Terry Collins

Board Member

Collins Pine Company

Chester, CA

Les Hall

Les Hall

Board Member

Public Administration

Meadow Valley, CA


Mac Cloyes

Board Member

Policy Director, Blue Forest Conservation

Burlington, VT

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Jim Branham

Board Member

Retired Executive Officer,
Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Auburn, CA

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Mary Davidge

Board Member

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

Los Gatos, CA