Board of Directors
Nancy Morton, MS, RN, Chair
Nancy is a nurse and recently retired from teaching and as the Undergraduate Program Director of the College of Nursing at the University of New Mexico. She’s been a volunteer wilderness activist for more than 40 years. She was a founding board member of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and has served as Secretary and part of the executive committee. Congratulations to New Mexico Wild board of directors chair Nancy Morton for receiving a 2017 “Nursing Legend Award” from the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence for a career where she “made significant contributions to the nursing profession.” Congrats Nancy! Nancy’s message: Our worst fears for the natural world after the recent election have proven true, even surpassed. The “review” to extinguish Organ Mountains Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte and other monuments across the West, the silencing and defunding of the EPA and other agencies, and the denial of climate change are just the most obvious of the local, national, and global threats our current government is to the world. As our Executive Director, Mark Allison, says, we’re a million-dollar organization with a priceless agenda. We have a talented, committed membership. One of my goals is to find more ways volunteers can meaningfully participate in meeting the challenges we face.
Todd Schulke, Vice Chair
Todd is a co-founder and senior staff member of the Center for Biological Diversity. He holds an environmental studies degree from the Evergreen State College. He has been working to protect and restore forests and rivers in the Southwest for over 20 years. He has been on the board of directors of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance since its inception and is also on the board of the Center for Biological Diversity, the Gila Conservation Coalition – dedicated to protecting the Gila River and Gila WoodNet, a community-based forestry group advocating ecologically sound forest restoration. He sits on the Western Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Committee and the Arizona Governor’s Forest Health Council. He also served on the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program federal advisory committee, the Western Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Committee, Senator Bingaman’s Collaborative Forest Restoration Program Advisory Panel, the New Mexico Forest & Watershed Health Planning Committee and the Arizona Governor’s Forest Health Council.
Joe Alcock, Secretary
Joe is the director of the emergency department at the VA in Albuquerque and is an associate professor of emergency medicine at the UNM Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Alcock received his MD from UCLA and moved to Albuquerque in 1997 to complete his residency at the University of New Mexico. Besides practicing medicine, Joe’s passions include exploring and protecting wildlands and teaching. He combines both in his role as co-director of the UNM School of Medicine’s Wilderness Medicine Program. Joe also is an adjunct professor of Biology and teaches undergraduates about evolution in health and disease.
Kenneth Cole, Immediate Past President and Current Treasurer
Ken is a retired International Official with extensive experience in negotiating financial and technical support for community based economic and social development undertakings. As a lawyer (Berkeley Law) and an avid bird watcher, Ken has traveled all over the world and observed the benefits of healthy habitats and the problems caused by the degradation of natural resources. Ken has been involved in protection of dryland habitat for 15 years and worked to get the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification ratified. Ken first joined the board in 2008 and served as chair of the board for six years during an important transitional phase. He is currently serving as treasurer.
Ernie Atencio, Member
Ernie Atencio is a cultural anthropologist, conservationist, and writer with deep Indo-Hispano roots in northern New Mexico. He is the Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association and works on other projects through his Land & Culture Consulting business from his home near Taos. He previously spent nine years as executive director of the Taos Land Trust, where he worked on the public acquisition of Ute Mountain, and returned a sacred site to the legal ownership of the Taos Pueblo Tribe. Ernie has also been executive director of a national association of cabin owners, coordinated the Valles Caldera Coalition, and worked for other environmental organizations. Growing up in inner-city Denver, he discovered the larger world—and the land—through an Outward Bound “hoods-in-the-woods” program, in what would later become the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area, and has worked throughout the West ever since as a wilderness instructor, national park ranger, environmental educator, journalist, and activist. Congratulations to New Mexico Wild board member Ernie Atencio for receiving the 2017 Outstanding Leadership in the Radical Center for Conservation award by the Quivira Coalition at their annual conference
Wendy Brown, Member
Wendy recently retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where she managed the endangered species recovery program for the Southwest Region. Her professional career spanned experiences from field research and project management for whooping cranes and Mexican wolves to briefing Congressional representatives on various government actions. She has held voluntary leadership positions in non-profits such as the North American Crane Working Group, the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, and the Southwest International Folk Dance Institute. Wendy has a deep commitment to New Mexico, and its varied landscapes that support so many inhabitants – plant, animal, and human.
Sam DesGeorges, Member
Sam is a recent federal agency retiree, having worked as a steward for public land resources with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for 36 years. Over this time he held several positions with the BLM, principally within the Range, Lands, Fire and Wildlife programs. For the last 11 years he was the BLM Taos Field Manager which included the recently designated Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the Sabinoso Wilderness and the Galisteo Basin Archaeological Sites Protection Act lands. As a former manager with responsibilities for managing designated wilderness, national monuments and wild and scenic rivers he brings an understanding of laws and policies that apply to wilderness, wild and scenic rivers and other specially designated areas.
Renee Frank, Member
Renee has a B.S. in Biology and MBA from Auburn University in Alabama. She began her career with the USDA Soil Conservation Service, and moved to Las Cruces 37 years ago, working at White Sands Missile Range and then in several local hospitals in human resources and general management. After seeing her two daughters off to college, she went into real estate and became the first certified EcoBroker in Las Cruces, deciding to dedicate her real estate practice to learning about and educating others in green, environmentally friendly homes, energy efficiency and sustainable living. Having learned to love the outdoors as a child, hiking, swimming, and horseback riding in beautiful, natural environments, it was only natural for her to become a staunch advocate for the protection of our public lands through wilderness and national monument designations.
Carol Johnson, Member
Nature and wild places have influenced Carol all her life. She has hiked and backpacked throughout the Southwest for 35+ years, developing a love of quiet, wild places, watersheds and wildlife. Carol’s relationship as a volunteer with NM Wild began in 2009, when we began working to further protect the Pecos Wilderness by incorporating adjacent Inventoried Roadless Acres. Her involvement includes outreach to county commissions in four counties, city governments, businesses, pueblos, equestrian groups, environmental groups, and many other stakeholders. Carol is also a board member of the Upper Pecos Watershed Association, and a member of the technical advisory panel of the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, a Federally funded program. She is a former co-leader of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness Sangre de Cristo group, and for three years was a member of the New Mexico OHV Advisory Board, representing hikers, equestrians and other quiet recreationists on public lands. As a community activist, Johnson worked extensively on the Santa Fe National Forest Travel Management Plan, fighting to limit motorized travel and protect the quiet forest.
Brian O'Donnell, Member
For more than two decades, Brian O'Donnell has been a leading land and wildlife conservationist. From 2007 through early 2017, Brian worked as the Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. Brian Led the foundation's efforts to protect, restore, and expand the Bureau of Land Management's National Conservation Lands. At CLF, Brian launched a campaign that protected millions of acres of land as National Monuments. Prior to joining CLF, Brian was the National Public Lands Director for Trout Unlimited (TU). He led TU's efforts to protect National Forest Roadless Areas, permanently protecting more than a million acres in the Wyoming Range, and Oregon's Copper-Salmon Wilderness. Brian also worked for The Wilderness Society where he led campaigns resulting in the congressional designation of the Black Rock Desert and Sloan Canyon National Conservation Areas and dozens of new legislated Wilderness areas throughout Nevada.
Sally A. Paez, Member
Sally is deeply committed to New Mexico, where she has lived for 28 years. She obtained a law degree from the University of New Mexico in 2009 and practices law in Santa Fe. In law school, Sally completed the Natural Resources Law Certificate Program and served as student editor-in-chief of the Natural Resources Journal. Prior to law school, Sally earned a B.S. in biology from the University of New Mexico, where she focused on biodiversity, conservation, and ecology. Sally spends her free time exploring the outdoors with her husband Danny. She loves to hike and backpack, and to observe and photograph the natural world. Sally believes wilderness conservation is critical for maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, and she is passionate about ensuring that current and future generations have the opportunity to experience the benefits of spending time in wild places.
David Soules, Member
David is a lifelong resident of southern New Mexico. He has been an active participant in numerous grassroots outdoor volunteer projects, including wildlife water catchments and livestock exclosures, various cleanup and tree planting initiatives, wildlife surveys, and trap and transplant efforts for desert bighorn sheep and wild turkeys. David enjoys hiking and camping, and has been a long-term advocate for the Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks national monument. He is an engineer and manager by trade, but his passion lies with protecting the outdoors.
Ann Watson, Member
Ann is employed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Zuni Agency as the Natural Resource Manager and oversees the operation of the natural resources, agriculture, and environmental management system programs. Ann’s ecological expertise is in the field of fishery biology, riparian and watershed management. Prior to the BIA, Ann was employed by the Santo Domingo Tribe , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Tucson and the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming. Ann has worked on a variety of range and wildlife issues on public lands and helped initiate the native Colorado River Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project and worked with the Middle Rio Grande Conservation Working Group to help manage for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. Ann has traveled extensively around the world. Ann enjoys skiing, cycling, hiking and camping all around the southwest. Ann is a native New Mexican and has a great deal of knowledge of the current issues in New Mexico that involve management on public lands. She enjoys working to help educate the public on the importance of protecting our valuable natural resources for future generations.
Ken Jones, Member
Ken Jones is a retired commercial banker and has lived in New Mexico since 1994. Ken is a past board member, treasurer and board president for Heading Home, an Albuquerque based non- profit organization providing services to thousands of persons experiencing homelessness in New Mexico. Ken’s passions have always included wild places. He is an avid hunter, fisherman, hiker, birder and cyclist. Ken currently serves at La Mesa Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque as finance chair and leads their Environmental Stewardship initiative. Ken believes that wild places must exist and be protected. One of his core beliefs is that access to diverse and pristine public lands are among our Nation’s most valuable freedoms.