Heather’s role as the leader of Yellowstone Forever is to achieve the organization’s mission of connecting people to Yellowstone through outstanding visitor experiences and educational programs, and translating those experiences into lifelong support and philanthropic investment. She oversees an annual budget of $20 million and a staff of 65 year-round and 75 seasonal employees, in two offices and 11 educational Park Stores. Previously, Heather was the executive director of Environmental Working Group (EWG), director of education advocacy for National Wildlife Federation, and counsel to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold. She first visited Yellowstone when she was 11 as part of a cross-country national park tour with her dad, sparking a deep, lifelong commitment to conservation. She is an avid hiker and backpacker. Read full bio here >>
President & CEO
Chief Development Officer
Kelly is responsible for the strategic direction, development, promotion, implementation, expansion and assessment of all philanthropic avenues to increase revenue, support and organizational awareness for Yellowstone Forever. She has worked in fundraising as a nonprofit executive, volunteer leader, and consultant for more than a decade, and before her nonprofit career she worked in banking, international finance, mergers, and acquisitions. A Fresno, California native, Kelly earned a B.A. in Public Relations and Business Marketing from Pepperdine University. When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, 5-year-old daughter, and her grown stepchildren and their families. Kelly is also an avid yogi and frequent hiker. Her favorite part of being in Yellowstone is experiencing the magic and wonder of the park through her daughter’s eyes.
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Megan leads editorial, social media, digital, and media initiatives, and oversees the development of content that promotes Yellowstone Forever’s mission. She has more than a decade of experience in marketing and communications for nonprofits. Previously, she was executive director of university marketing and communications at Pepperdine University, and also served as editorial director for the Environmental Working Group. A native of Los Angeles, Megan earned a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Edinburgh and a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University. She hopes that through the work of Yellowstone Forever, her grandchildren will be able to experience the same Yellowstone beauty and resources she has been privileged to enjoy. She likes to spend her free time in the outdoors with her husband and two children.
Chief Marketing Officer
Wendie oversees strategic marketing and communication initiatives, including external affairs. She has nearly a decade of nonprofit experience working on behalf of Yellowstone National Park. Prior to joining Yellowstone Forever in 2009, she spent nine years as a publicity director in the book publishing industry in Boston and New York. Wendie, who grew up near Chicago, earned a M.A. in Irish Literature from Queens University Belfast and a B.A. in English and Gender Studies from Coe College. She works on behalf of Yellowstone so that future generations are able to have the same life-changing experiences in Yellowstone as her father did, she did, and her own children are now able to have. Wendie enjoys hiking and backpacking in the park, as well as trail running, skiing, and spending time outdoors with her husband and two young daughters.
Thomas serves as chief legal advisor to the staff and board of Yellowstone Forever on a range of topics pertaining to operations, management, governance, employment, fundraising, and nonprofit tax. Previously, he was general counsel for Environmental Working Group, a national environmental health organization, where he oversaw all of its legal affairs and represented the organization before lawmakers and government bodies. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Thomas earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He loves working in support of Yellowstone, which makes breathtakingly beautiful lands accessible to people from all walks of life. Thomas is an avid backpacker, nature photographer, and guitarist.
Chief of Staff
Leslie plays a critical role in Yellowstone Forever’s administration, working with the President & CEO, Board of Directors, and other leadership to support the organization’s strategic direction. She joined Yellowstone Forever after a 21-year career at Bank of America as an Administrative Support Associate and as a Marketing Officer. She received a B.S. from the University of Central Florida. Leslie fell in love with Yellowstone during her first visit in 2012, inspiring her to move west and help preserve the park’s iconic landscape and delicate ecosystem for future generations. Her favorite things to do in the park are walking the Canyon rim trails, hiking Mount Washburn, wildlife watching in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys, and exploring the endless wonders of Yellowstone with her husband of 26 years, James.
Terry “J.R.” Hunt
Vice President of Technology
J.R. oversees Yellowstone Forever’s technology initiatives, and establishes and executes strategy for the organization’s information systems. With more than 15 years of IT-related experience, two of his past positions include VP and CTO of Product Development and Senior Director of IT. Hailing from Atlanta, J.R. received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Georgia Southern University. He is grateful for the opportunity to serve the world’s first national park by leveraging technology for its staff, donors, and volunteers. In his free time he enjoys camping, kayaking, hiking, fishing, wildlife-watching, and skiing. When in Yellowstone you can find him hiking backcountry trails and fishing the Madison, as well as frequently stopping by Grand Prismatic Spring and Firehole Canyon.
Roger W. Keaton
Chief Financial Officer
As Chief Financial Officer, Roger is the chief steward of Yellowstone Forever’s financial resources. Roger is responsible for advising the President & CEO on strategic planning and financial decisions as well as overseeing the organization’s internal controls and financial processes. Roger graduated from Union College and earned a Master of Financial Services from Southern Adventist University. He is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner. A native of Bellevue, Nebraska, Roger grew up reading and dreaming about the West, and is proud to now help preserve this iconic western park. In his free time he roots for his native Nebraska Cornhuskers football team and travels the world with his wife, Julie. He is fascinated by Yellowstone’s geography and history, and enjoys visiting some of the park’s lesser-known spots.
Vice President, Development
Shelly is responsible for stewarding Yellowstone Society supporters and providing them with opportunities to match their philanthropic interests to park priority projects. Previously, she was in marketing and communications roles for a global office furniture manufacturer. A native of Chicago, Shelly holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is gratified that her position allows her to connect with people from diverse backgrounds who share a common passion and cause: to preserve this irreplaceable landscape and wildlife for all to enjoy. She loves doing just about anything in Yellowstone, especially visiting Old Faithful in winter via snowcoach, to ski the thermal basins and photograph her favorite park animal, bison. In her free time, Shelly also enjoys fishing, hiking, and bird hunting with her husband and German short-haired pointer.
Stephen supports Yellowstone Forever’s Field Seminars, and the art and photography center programs at Old Faithful. He has worked in environmental education for 10 years, the last six with NatureBridge—Yosemite’s partner in education—as a field instructor and summer programs coordinator. Originally from Rutland, Vermont, Stephen earned a B.A. in Radio-Television Journalism from the University of Montana. He believes strongly that the public lands ideal needs to be constantly tended and renewed. He is proud to support quality educational programs for Yellowstone visitors, helping them connect to nature and public lands. When in the park, Stephen enjoys backcountry skiing, fly fishing, and Field Seminars. A scotch and board-game enthusiast, he also volunteers as U.S. Committee President for the Vietnam Friendship Village.
Gifts & Records Associate
Kristina is responsible for the accurate entry and updating of data for individual donor records. Previously, she was a Human Resource Assistant with Yellowstone National Park Lodges, and an associate for a printing company in Michigan. Kristina was also a volunteer at Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana, where she worked with visitor tours and assisted researchers with data collection. It was there that she developed a passion for wildlife conservation, which she brought with her to Yellowstone. Originally from Rossville, Indiana, she graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Art and Design with a minor in Art History. Kristina likes to spend her time in Yellowstone hiking its trails and watching wildlife. She also enjoys painting and sketching in a field journal.
Director, Young Patrons Society
Kara works to build Yellowstone Forever’s network of young professionals through events and fundraising. Previously, she held positions as Director of Stewardship at the University of Montana Foundation and Senior Director of Leadership Development and Volunteer Engagement at the humanitarian aid organization CARE USA. A native of Oregon, Kara graduated from Oregon State University and earned an MBA from Georgia State University. She feels great satisfaction in knowing her work provides an opportunity for young professionals nationwide to experience, connect, and contribute to the world’s first national park. When in Yellowstone she likes to simply savor the peace, serenity, and magic the park offers. She also enjoys spending free time with her family, watching her two young daughters experience the joys of life.
Senior Director of Park Projects
Jeff’s role is to establish and support strategic partnerships between Yellowstone Forever and the larger community, including the National Park Service, corporate partners, and other non-profits and groups. He was in the financial services industry, wholesaling mutual funds and annuities for Jackson National Life, before becoming the Director of Finance for the Yellowstone Park Foundation. Originally from Denver, Jeff earned a BS in Finance and Administration from the University of Colorado. He has a deep love of wild places, and most of all Yellowstone, which he feels honored to help protect so other people can enjoy it. In his free time he enjoys fishing and hunting, and his favorite things to do in Yellowstone are fly fishing and hiking in the park’s backcountry.
Senior Manager of Foundation Relations
Justin connects private foundations with priority Yellowstone projects requiring non-federal funding. Previously, he was Director of Education for the Glacier Institute—Glacier National Park’s educational partner—and Personnel Director for the Outdoor Recreation program at Pacific Lutheran University. A native of Kalispell, Montana, Justin majored in Biology and Environmental Studies at Pacific Lutheran University before earning an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Fund Development from the University of Notre Dame. He is proud to raise funds for programs that promote the ecological stability and integrity of Yellowstone’s landscape. His favorite thing to do in the park is spend time above treeline “where the mountain goats roam.” At home in Bozeman, he enjoys trail running, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing, before heading home for a game of Scrabble and an IPA.
Alison organizes Yellowstone Forever’s accounting processes across receivables and payables, and assists the department with general ledger and other accounting functions. Previously, she worked in Group & Tour Services at Aspen Skiing Company and was a station manager at Yellowstone Park Service Stations. Alison grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and attended the University of Minnesota as a Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Studies major, with a Spanish Studies minor. Through her work with Yellowstone, she hopes to help preserve the park for current and future generations to experience. During her free time she enjoys hiking Yellowstone’s trails.
Park Store Associate
Mikayla assists customers with purchases in Yellowstone Forever Park Stores, and helps them join or renew the Yellowstone Supporter program. A native of Olympia, Washington, she originally came to the park to work for Yellowstone National Park Lodges at Old Faithful. She currently attends Eastern Gateway Community College online as she works toward an associate degree in art. She plans to later earn a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management. Mikayla is passionate about preserving the natural ecosystem and helping others learn about conservation and local history. When in Yellowstone, she loves backcountry hiking, watching wildlife, and walking the thermal basins to watch geysers erupt. In her free time she also enjoys kayaking, photography, road trips, overseas travel, and spending time with her family and pets.
Lauren works with the marketing team to create brand assets for print and digital projects, and photograph programs and wildlife in the park. Previously, she was a freelance designer specializing in custom lettering and brand identity. Most recently, she branched out into iMessage app design, UI/ UX design, and typeface design. A native of New York, Lauren earned a B.S. in Graphic Design from Drexel University, and a Certificate in Typeface Design from The Cooper Union. She is delighted to help preserve the park that filled her with awe when she first visited as a child. Lauren likes to hike in Yellowstone while sketching and photographing the details she sees. She also enjoys reading, soaking in hot springs, and doodling in her sketchbook on the couch with her partner.
IT Support Specialist
As IT Support Specialist, Landon manages incoming IT support requests, documents solutions, and maximizes use of hardware and software by training users. Previously, he was a Network Technician for Granite Technology Solutions and a Network Administrator for Stonebridge Companies. Originally from Ogden, Utah, Landon earned a B.A. in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science from the University of Montana. He is gratified that his work on behalf of Yellowstone helps to preserve its landscape and wildlife. Landon’s favorite things to do in the park are fishing, camping, and visiting Old Faithful. In his free time he also enjoys golfing, hunting, and taking road trips to new places.
Director of Gateway Partnerships
Daniel fosters partnerships on behalf of Yellowstone Forever within the park’s gateway communities. Previously, he served in a variety of roles with Sales and Marketing for the Yellowstone Association, and was GM of e-commerce for Goodwill/Easter Seals of Minnesota. Born in Austin, Texas, Daniel graduated from Appalachian State with a double major in Computer Information Systems and Business Management, before earning an M.A. in Organizational Management from Concordia University. Daniel values his work on behalf of Yellowstone because it is the heartbeat of one of the largest intact ecosystems in North America. When he’s in the park he likes to watch wildlife and backpack into areas off the beaten path. He also enjoys exploring the region’s mountains and waterways, hiking, fishing, and making music with friends.
Maria’s role includes brand management, photography, and art direction of components representing Yellowstone Forever across all platforms. Previously, she worked in the graphic design department of The Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Born and raised in Georgia, Maria considers herself a “Southern New Yorker.” She earned her B.S. in Communication Arts with an emphasis in Public Relations at Georgia Southern University, and later graduated from The Portfolio Center in Atlanta, where she studied graphic design. Maria continues to follow her passions for the natural world and the arts, hoping her creative contributions foster opportunities for people to enjoy, understand, and steward Yellowstone’s natural treasures. In her free time, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, photography, travel, and singing. As for skiing, she is still in the “attempting” phase.
Director of Finance
Senior Director of Operations
Rob provides day-to-day supervision of all organizational, cross-departmental, operational initiatives, ensuring their alignment with the President/CEO’s vision, organizational mission, and core values, in pursuit of Yellowstone Forever’s strategic objectives. He is a former United States Marine Sergeant Major with more than three decades of experience as a leader, planner, trainer, mentor, and advisor. Originally from Georgia, he earned a Bachelor of Arts at Northern Arizona University. Rob believes that Yellowstone represents one of our best ideas as a species and that Yellowstone Forever’s mission provides an opportunity for him to apply his experience in a unique way, in an effort he is passionate about. His favorite Yellowstone activities are hiking and camping in the backcountry. In his free time he also enjoys fishing and hunting.
Owen develops programs for youth, and teaches youth and other Yellowstone Forever courses. He has worked in public land stewardship and environmental education for several nonprofits and agencies, most recently as a snowcoach guide for TSS Wildlife Expeditions. Owen grew up in Salt Lake City and earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Utah, before completing the Teton Science School’s Graduate Program. He hopes to contribute to the park’s preservation by sharing it with a variety of visitors. He especially enjoys bringing people into Yellowstone who may not have had a chance to experience it were not for YF’s programs. Owen’s favorite things to do in Yellowstone are hiking, fishing, and backcountry skiing. He also loves boating and camping, and is a voracious reader.
Assistant Director of Stewardship
Tara helps facilitate communication, recognition, and outreach to Yellowstone Forever’s generous donors. Previously, she worked in digital communications for the University of Montana Foundation, with an emphasis on stewardship functions. A native of Ashland, Ohio, Tara graduated from Ohio University, where she majored in Communications with minors in English and Psychology. After a life-changing experience working in Glacier National Park for a summer after college, she is thrilled to return to working on behalf of a national park. Tara loves to explore Yellowstone on foot, hiking with her camera and watching for wildlife and wildflowers. In her free time she also enjoys traveling, dining on local cuisine, cooking, dancing, listening to podcasts, wine tasting, and meeting new friends.
As Yellowstone Forever’s Controller, Erica manages the day-to-day accounting of the organization. Prior to coming to Yellowstone, she was the Office Manager for Schedulicity, Inc. in Bozeman, Montana. Erica, who is originally from Helena, Montana, holds a BS degree in Business, Marketing & Accounting from Montana State University. Her favorite thing to do in Yellowstone is to find waterfalls.
Deborah is responsible for selecting and developing products, and overseeing purchasing for Yellowstone Forever’s 11 Park Stores. Over the past several years, she held progressively more responsible positions within retail operations. Previously, Deborah was a Senior Account Manager for a nationwide distributor of computer software and hardware. She hails from Los Angeles and attended California State University Northridge, where she majored in sociology. Deborah is proud to have the opportunity to share Yellowstone with others and hopes they, too, will feel the connection to the outdoors and all of our parks. When in the park, you might find her looking at the mudpots and other thermal features, or sitting in a secluded spot on Yellowstone Lake. In her free time she also enjoys hiking and camping.
North District Park Stores Manager
James manages Yellowstone Forever’s retail stores at Mammoth Hot Springs, Gardiner, Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport, and Quake Lake. Formerly, he was a location Manager for Xanterra Parks & Resorts at Yellowstone. Originally from St. Louis, he holds an Associate of Science degree in Film and Video Production. James is grateful for the opportunity to combine his love for Yellowstone with his career. His favorite thing to do in the park is explore the backcountry in search of wildlife. In his free time, he most enjoys taking photographs in and around Yellowstone.
Senior Director, Campaign/Special Projects
J.D. manages special fundraising campaigns and the bequest program for Yellowstone Forever. Previously, he was Director of Philanthropy for the Nature Conservancy of Montana, and Executive Director of Utah Wildlife In Need. J.D. was born in Southern California and lived for 35 years in Utah, where he earned a BS in Communication and Marketing from the University of Utah. His work at Yellowstone Forever is important to him because the park is the center of the most complete ecosystem in the lower 48 states, and J.D. is passionate about keeping it that way. His favorite thing to do in Yellowstone is watch visitors experience the park and its wildlife for the first time. He also loves to fish throughout Montana and Yellowstone with his wife and two goofy Labrador retrievers.
Gifts & Records Associate
As Gifts & Records Associate, Dorothy organizes donations and other data for Yellowstone Forever. Previously, she was a sign language interpreter in public schools, and her most recent position was as a paraprofessional at the Gardiner School, right outside of Yellowstone. Originally from Vermont, Dorothy earned a degree in Human Service/Educational Interpreting from the University of Tennessee. She loves working at Yellowstone Forever because it helps to protect a very special place. When in the park, Dorothy likes to discover places she has never seen before and find the trail less traveled. She also enjoys baking, reading, and hiking with her family and friends.
Assistant Director of Employee and Volunteer Engagement
Meg supports and engages Yellowstone Forever staff by managing programs such as benefits, retirement, and compensation. Previously, she worked for Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone for 15 years, first in Hospitality Management and later in payroll and HR. Most recently, she was the Onboarding Manager responsible for welcoming 3,000+ seasonal employees annually. Originally from Crown Point, Indiana, Meg graduated from Indiana University with a degree in anthropology and history. She believes Yellowstone has a profound effect on people, changing them for the better. In her free time, she loves hiking, skiing, or boating in the park’s backcountry, and exploring the area with her husband and two crazy dogs. Meg is also passionate about food and enjoys obsessing about what she is going to eat next.
Park Store Operations Manager
Lori oversees the operations of Yellowstone Forever’s 11 educational Park Stores, and manages a team of 50 year-round and seasonal employees. Previously, she was the Reservations Trainer & Senior Supervisor for Yellowstone National Park Lodges for 14 years. Lori grew up in Boise, Idaho, and attended the University of Idaho. She has been exploring Yellowstone since she was eight years old, and it was always her dream work in the park. Now that her dream is a reality, she is committed to helping people connect to the park and truly experience the area while they are here. Lori’s favorite things to do in Yellowstone are hiking, skiing, camping, backpacking, wildlife-watching, geyser-gazing, and sketching. She also enjoys running and trying out new recipes.
Gifts & Records Associate
Stilyana processes gifts made to Yellowstone Forever, responds to supporters’ questions and requests, and provides acknowledgement of donations. Previously, she was an assistant retail manager. Originally from Bulgaria, Stilyana earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Computers from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria. When she first came to the U.S. in 2011 and visited Yellowstone, she thought she had never seen such a unique and magical place—it was as if out of a movie. She loves to know her work now goes toward the park’s preservation. Stilyana’s favorite activities in Yellowstone are hiking and photography. She also likes to spend her free time traveling around the U.S., playing pool, cooking, sipping espresso with friends, and enjoying the outdoors and breathtaking views of Montana.
Facilities Maintenance Manager
James is responsible for managing the maintenance and upkeep of all of Yellowstone Forever’s facilities in Gardiner, Bozeman, and Yellowstone National Park. Previously, he was a Battalion Chief/Paramedic for the Orange City, Florida Fire Department and served on the Volusia County Interagency Training and Operations Committee. Prior to his career with the fire service, he owned and operated a small construction business. Originally from Orange City, James majored in Fire Science at the College of Central Florida and attended Florida State Fire College. He is proud to work for an organization dedicated to preserving Yellowstone’s iconic landscape, wildlife, and wonders. In his free time, James likes to hike and watch wildlife in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys, and spend time with his wife, Leslie, and their dog, Ace.
As an Information Specialist in Yellowstone’s Forever’s Contact Center, Debbie’s job is to assist callers with their requests and get people excited about coming to Yellowstone. She has worked in the park in various capacities for more than 35 years, and wants to share her enthusiasm for it with others because Yellowstone is like no place else on earth. Debbie grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, and earned a BA in Sociology from Sonoma State College. When in Yellowstone, she most enjoys hiking and simply sitting and enjoying the peace and quiet. In her free time she also attends music festivals, walks half marathons, and visits other national parks.
Mary L. Fisher
Board Liaison/Office Manager
Mary serves as a liaison between Yellowstone Forever’s staff and Board of Directors. She is a Bozeman native and attended Montana State University. After working as an Office Manager for 20 years in the Skilled Nursing Home business, Mary returned to Bozeman and pursued a new career in the nonprofit sector. She wishes to help preserve Yellowstone so that it can be enjoyed by all, whether through the lens of a camera, a video, a personal visit, or a virtual classroom. Her greatest joy is spending time with her four grandchildren, and she also enjoys walking and sewing quilts. In Yellowstone, you might find Mary sitting near the bank of a river, eyes closed, just listening to the surrounding sounds.
Gifts & Records Associate
Kimberley enters donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations into Yellowstone Forever’s database. Previously, she was Leisure Groups Coordinator and Manager of Training and Standards for Campgrounds with Yellowstone National Park Lodges. A native of Georgia, Kimberley attended the Art Institute of Atlanta, and was a licensed Real Estate agent in Georgia for 12 years. She is currently working toward a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with concentrations in anthropology and art history, at Arizona State University Online. Kimberley hopes her work contributes to educating people on everything Yellowstone represents: beauty, nature, animals, ecosystems, and wild places that need to be preserved. Her favorite activities in Yellowstone are photography, showing visiting friends around the park, and finding new places to sit and experience nature. She also enjoys exploring Montana and reading.
Brian performs daily and seasonal maintenance of Yellowstone Forever buildings, along with grounds-keeping, construction projects, painting and staining, recycling, and composting. A native of Detroit, he participated in the former Young Adult Conservation Corps in Yellowstone in the 1980s, performing a variety of jobs in the park. He believes strongly that national parks never seem to have enough funding, and working for Yellowstone Forever gives him the opportunity to help meet that need. Being a Michigander, Brian’s favorite part of Yellowstone is the Lake area, and simply taking a walk down by the shoreline is his preferred activity. He also enjoys watching hockey, playing music, and riding his bike, and soon hopes to raise a beautiful golden retriever puppy.
Gifts & Records Manager
Jessi oversees data entry to maintain quality data, track gift giving, and ensure Yellowstone Forever donors are properly acknowledged. Previously, she was a Yellowstone National Park Librarian for 12 years. Originally from Northwest Indiana, Jessi earned a B.A. in English, Master of Information Science, and Master of Library Science from Indiana University. Working in the Park Library helped her see behind the scenes of projects funded by Yellowstone Forever, and how important donors are to the park. When she’s in Yellowstone, Jessi likes to get ice cream from as many general stores as possible and see who gives the biggest scoops (usually Tower).
Director of Stewardship & Events
Marisa coordinates donor events that give Yellowstone Forever’s supporters the opportunity to learn more about the organization’s mission and connect more deeply with Yellowstone. A native of central Montana, Marisa earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Montana. College internships helped her develop a range of skills related to writing, customer relations, research, and more. She believes that working to connect people to such a unique place is a powerful and rewarding mission. Marisa’s favorite thing to do in Yellowstone is hiking, and she enjoys anything involving the outdoors, such as camping, skiing, and trail running.
Nicole supports the organization in a variety of ways, particularly by responding to inquiries about Yellowstone Forever’s programs and projects, registering people for Institute programs, and directing them to answers they seek about the park. Previously, she was a Yellowstone Field Instructor for Ecology Project International and a Naturalist Guide for Adventure Yellowstone, Inc. A native of Vermont, she holds a B.A. degree in Conservation Ecology from Sterling College in Vermont. When Nicole first experienced Yellowstone—a long-time dream destination—she knew she needed to be involved in sharing it with the public and supporting its preservation. She spends her free time skiing and hiking in Yellowstone, identifying native flora and fauna, gardening, enjoying local food and music, and participating in environmental stewardship activities.
As Warehouse Manager, John oversees Yellowstone Forever’s retail inventory supply chain and e-commerce fulfillment. Previously, he was a seasonal instructor and Operations Manager for the Yellowstone Forever Institute. A native of Texas, John graduated from Texas A&M University. He appreciates that his position allows him to live and recreate in such a beautiful landscape. While in Yellowstone, John most enjoys skiing in the backcountry. He also likes to spend his free time outside with his partner and their pup, either hiking, skiing, or camping.
Supporter Engagement Manager
Carolyn’s job is to integrate philanthropy and education by enhancing our supporters’ connection to Yellowstone. A Grand Rapids, Michigan native, Carolyn graduated with a B.S. in Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management from Northern Michigan University. While in college, she undertook a variety of volunteer experiences in the outdoor leadership field, and spent summers working in Yellowstone for park concessionaires. She believes that wild places such as Yellowstone are critical to our spiritual health and in helping each of us determine how we as humans relate to the natural world. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and watching wildlife in the park.
Prospect Research Manager
Viola’s role is to research potential supporters for Yellowstone Forever. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 15 years, most recently as Prospect Researcher for Marywood University. She grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania and earned a B.S. in Psychological Biology from Long Island University, followed by a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Marywood University. Preservation is a cause that is near to her heart, and Viola is excited to put her research skills to use helping to preserve an amazing national treasure. Her favorite thing to do in Yellowstone is viewing wildlife. In her free time, she enjoys reading blogs, making things with essential oils, zumba, nia, yoga, and volunteering at her local cultural center.
Major Gifts Officer
As Major Gifts Officer, Olesja establishes new funding partnerships and helps support donors’ passion for Yellowstone. Previously, she was Director of Annual Giving for the Yellowstone Park Foundation following three years managing the Yellowstone Association’s membership program. Originally from Estonia, she earned a BS in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Tartu in Estonia. Olesja is passionate about Yellowstone’s wide-open landscape, wildlife, and incredible thermal features, and her life goal is to contribute to the park’s preservation—now and for future generations. Her favorite things to do in Yellowstone are wildlife watching, geyser gazing, hiking, and taking in the view of Old Faithful from the Old Faithful Inn deck. In her free time, she also enjoys fly fishing and spending time with her husband and three fabulous children.
Contact Center Manager
As the Contact Center Manager, Laura oversees Yellowstone Forever’s team of information specialists. She and her team provide all aspects of customer service support including trip planning information, registering students for programs, and recruiting new supporters. Previously, she worked for Xanterra Parks & Resorts as the Front Desk Manager at their Old Faithful Lodge and Snow Lodge properties, and most recently as the Individual Reservations Manager at Central Reservations in Mammoth. A native of Florida, Laura earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University. Laura has a deep love for Yellowstone, where she enjoys hiking, fishing, and spending time in the outdoors with her husband and two dogs.
Social Media and Digital Content Manager
Matt manages strategic direction and content for Yellowstone Forever’s social media channels and other digital media areas. Originally from Orange, California, he worked as a middle- and high-school teacher and helped underserved students get practical work experience in their communities. Transitioning to a career in nonprofit organizations, Matt gained experience in nonprofit outreach and management. He holds a B.S. in Sociology from Northern Arizona University. Matt wanted to work in Yellowstone since he first visited the park at age nine, believing its extraordinary natural features and wildlife to be unmatched. His favorite things to do in Yellowstone are hike and take photographs in all seasons, particularly in winter. He also loves to spend time exploring the outdoors with his wife and three children.
Director of Employee & Volunteer Engagement
Erin develops and implements programs and services to enhance the employee and volunteer experience at Yellowstone Forever. Since joining Yellowstone Forever in 2012, she has been committed to instilling Yellowstone Forever’s mission, values, and culture through key organizational objectives and programs including talent management, performance management, and employee and volunteer engagement. Previously, Erin worked in Colorado at the High Country Conservation Center to support conservation and waste reduction efforts. The best part about her job is working with others that share a passion for something outside themselves. She is proud to work on behalf of Yellowstone and play a part in preserving the wild and iconic place she gets to call home.
Director of Sustainability and Facilities
Dennis is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing Yellowstone Forever’s properties, as well as guiding the organization’s sustainability initiative in its role as a responsible steward of Yellowstone. Previously, he was with the nonprofit Appalachian Mountain Club for 29 years, most recently as Construction Manager. Dennis designed, built, and supported their backcountry, off-grid hut system and roadside facilities from Maine to New Jersey. Dennis spent his middle school and high school years living in Yellowstone and Gardiner, and he hopes that his grandkids’ grandkids are able to appreciate the same (if not better) Yellowstone that he has experienced in his lifetime. Dennis’s preferred season is winter and his favorite activity in and around the park is backcountry skiing. He also enjoys spending free time with his friends and grandchildren.
Director of Corporate Relations
Meredith is responsible for the ongoing relationship management with Yellowstone Forever’s corporate partners. Originally from Laguna Beach, California, she holds a BFA from Loyola Marymount University, an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, an MS in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California, and a Certificate in Fundraising from Boston University. She feels a great sense of honor and responsibility as part of the long tradition of citizens engaged in preserving Yellowstone. She believes that part of the park’s magic is that you will never have the same experience twice, and she makes sure to try something new each time she visits. She also enjoys hiking, cooking, and adventuring with her husband, son, and two dogs.
Cindy is responsible for purchasing retail inventory for Yellowstone Forever’s 11 Park Stores. Previously, she oversaw warehouse inventory distribution for a major souvenir supplier in Gettysburg, near her hometown of Littlestown, Pennsylvania. Most recently, she was the Mails and Files Clerk for Yellowstone National Park. Cindy believes strongly that Yellowstone is worth taking care of, and it is essential that the park is preserved and shared with future generations. Her favorite thing to do in the park is cross-country skiing in the sparkling white snow and crisp air, under bright blue skies. She also enjoys spending time with her grandbabies as well as sewing, knitting, decorating cakes, camping, four-wheeling, hunting, cutting firewood, and shopping.
Virginia teaches Yellowstone Forever Institute programs in the field, and provides office support for Institute program logistics. Previously, she was an Outdoor Science School instructor for Inside the Outdoors, and an intern for World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts at Our Chalet World Centre in Switzerland. She hails from Apple Valley, California, and earned a B.A. in Theater from Occidental College. Virginia, who is a Certified Interpretive Guide through NAI, loves helping visitors fall in love with Yellowstone and enjoys seeing the park through fresh eyes every day. On her days off, she likes to explore Yellowstone’s backcountry, hike, ski, watch wildlife, and generally experience the area with other people who call Yellowstone home.
Major Gifts Officer
As a Major Gifts Officer, Steve seeks to fully engage Yellowstone Forever supporters in the life of Yellowstone National Park. Previously, he served as Director of Philanthropy for Drayton Hall—a National Trust for Historic Preservation site—following a decade in higher education at Cornell and William & Mary. Originally from Ithaca, New York, Steve earned a degree in history from University of Georgia. He believes Yellowstone is essential, where a culture of conservation and respect for the natural environment is combined with outstanding education programs, cutting-edge technology, and the stewardship of loyal supporters. He is excited about introducing his children to Yellowstone, taking the #YellowstonePledge together, and exploring the park. He enjoys spending free time with his twin boys and working on his 1870s home near Charleston, SC.
Joshua works in Yellowstone Forever’s Accounts Receivable department, receiving and accounting for all donations and other income to the organization. Previously, he was Operations Assistant for Yellowstone Park Service Stations. He grew up in New Mexico and earned a Bachelor of Arts from Furman University. Joshua wanted to work on behalf of Yellowstone because he feels strongly that it is important to be a good steward of the environment. He enjoys fly fishing in Yellowstone and spending time in the outdoors with his wife and dog.
Assistant Director, Institute Operations
Zachary’s role is to develop exceptional educational programs in Yellowstone, and provide field staff the guidance and support needed to deliver them. He has more than 18 years experience as an outdoor skills educator in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and for a decade was the Program Director for the Yellowstone Co-Op Employee Recreation Program. After growing up in Oklahoma and Northern California, he earned a B.S. in Tourism Management from California Polytechnic University. Zachary feels fortunate to call Yellowstone country his home, and wants to give back by doing what he can to assure the park’s wild and mysterious character is preserved for generations to come. He enjoys doing just about anything outdoors in Yellowstone, and sharing this special place with his children, family, and friends.
Senior Director of Education
Robert leads Yellowstone Forever’s team of program managers and field instructors, who provide educational experiences for our guests. He worked for the National Audubon Society for 18 years in various roles, most recently as the Director of Bird-Friendly Communities, in which he provided leadership in designing and implementing a national strategy for urban habitat conservation programs. Robert grew up in Indiana, but has lived in Montana for more than 30 years. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design & Illustration from Washington University and an MFA in painting from the University of Montana. In Yellowstone, you will find him exploring with binoculars and skis or hiking boots. In his free time he also enjoys woodworking, birdwatching, canoeing, and spending time with his family.
Development & Stewardship Coordinator
Jessica facilitates custom acknowledgments for major gifts and provides other donor stewardship support. Previously, she was a News Editor for CBS NEWS, a Digital Media Editor for Discovery Communications, and a Producer of Florida Statements at PBS Tallahassee. Originally from Miami, Jessica majored in Communications at Florida State University and is currently in the MFA film program at Montana State University. A child of Cuban immigrants, Jessica had struggled to find her cultural identity, but connecting to the landscapes within the western national parks gave her a greater sense of pride and belonging. Working on behalf of Yellowstone lets her give back to a place that has given her so much. Her favorite park activity is taking a dip in the Firehole swimming area after a day of hiking.
Gifts & Records Coordinator
Désirée manages the Yellowstone Guardian monthly giving program. Previously, she was the Office Manager at Arrowhead School in Pray, Montana, and worked in Yellowstone’s NPS Maintenance Division. She lives in Pray, not far from Yellowstone National Park, and earned a B.A. from Clark University. Désirée believes that preserving public lands for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren is essential, and that our need for space, solitude, and the expanse of nature enlarges our souls and our spirits. When Désirée is in the park, her favorite activity is exploring off-trail, backcountry areas. She also enjoys gardening, traveling, and spending time with her grandchildren.
Accounts Payable Associate
Paula plays a critical role in Yellowstone Forever’s operations, working with staff and vendors to ensure that all bills are paid for the organization. Previously, she was a Juvenile Probation/Parole Officer in Texas and Kotzebue, Alaska. Originally from Longview, Texas, Paula earned a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Texas – Pan American. She treasures Yellowstone because it enables her to explore a vast wilderness as well as view wildlife in its natural state. In her free time, she enjoys photographing wildlife and landscapes. You can usually find her in Yellowstone searching for the next great photo opportunity.
Employee Engagement Administrator
Melissa administers the onboarding and exit processes and the payroll for Yellowstone Forever employees. Previously, she worked for Polk County Conservation for 18 years as a Human Resources Specialist. Originally from Des Moines, Melissa earned an Administrative Assistant degree from Des Moines Area Community College, and is currently completing a B.S. in Public Administration at Upper Iowa University. Melissa believes that Yellowstone is a wonder that everyone can connect with in their own way, and that offering education about the park is necessary to keep it protected forever. While in Yellowstone, she likes to camp in the backcountry and explore its hot springs and waterfalls. In her free time she also enjoys skiing, paddling, rock climbing, fishing, biking, photography, homebrewing with her partner, and drinking what they have fermented.
Field Campus Manager
Katie works with staff and volunteers to support Institute programs at Yellowstone Forever’s two field campuses: the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone and the Overlook Campus. She most recently comes from the North Cascades where she served for ten years in a similar role of program and campus management for North Cascades Institute. Katie has an M.S. in Education with a certificate in nonprofit administration, and undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, Theology and Psychology. In her free time, Katie enjoys hiking, biking, outdoor exploration, and creating art. Knowing how her own time spent learning about the natural world has impacted her sense of land and stewardship ethics, she hopes that her work in Yellowstone will help encourage others to care for our public lands.
Mike provides educational programs to Yellowstone Forever participants, and develops curriculum for our growing youth program. Previously, he was a Science Educator at Denali National Park and an Interpretive Ranger at North Cascades National Park. Originally from Wisconsin Rapids, Mike attended Winona State University before earning a M.Ed. from Western Washington University/North Cascades Institute. Mike believes he is in a unique position to instill wonder, provide knowledge, and give the next generation the tools they need to ensure that our public lands remain America’s most valued treasures. He spends his free time traveling Yellowstone’s backcountry, hiking, biking, running, backpacking, skiing, reading, journaling, wildlife-viewing, and naturalizing.
Information Technology Infrastructure Manager
Charlie plans, organizes, and manages overall IT operations to ensure the stability of Yellowstone Forever’s IT infrastructure. He has held positions in the retail, software as a service, and home automation industries. Charlie grew up in Cincinnati and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems from Ohio University. While he enjoys both hardware and software, he feels that his experiences working with people are the most enjoyable and valuable. Charlie relishes the opportunity to share his passion for the great outdoors with others, and be a part of an organization that promotes conservation. He spends his free time skiing, fishing, biking, hiking, and off-roading. When in Yellowstone, he enjoys swimming in the Firehole or Boiling River and backpacking deep into the wilderness.
Annual Fund and Society Coordinator
Kasey engages in donor relations, digital strategy, and direct mail strategy for Yellowstone Forever. Previously, she was part of the marketing team for the University of North Dakota athletics department, and later was the UND men’s hockey lead. Originally from Minot, North Dakota, she majored in Financial Investments and Marketing at UND. Yellowstone had always felt like a second home to Kasey, and being in a position to support the park and help ensure it is valued forever is her “dream job” and the cornerstone of both her career and lifestyle. Her favorite Yellowstone activity is driving around with her father and her dog while scoping out wildlife, finding new photo spots, and hiking. She also enjoys reading, snowboarding, backpacking, sewing, brewery hopping, and gardening.
Fleet and Logistics Manager
Cody maintains Yellowstone Forever’s fleet of 29 vehicles and provides support for Institute programs. Previously, he worked for Yellowstone National Park Lodges, driving snowcoaches in the winter and historic Yellow Buses in the summer, and giving tours on wildlife, cultural, and natural history. Most recently, he was a seasonal instructor for Yellowstone Forever Institute, specializing in family programs. Originally from Missoula, Montana, Cody received a B.S. in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management from the University of Montana. He hopes that his work contributes to keeping the park as it is for future generations to enjoy. His favorite Yellowstone activities are backpacking and exploring the park.
Volunteer Engagement Manager
Aaron partners with volunteer supervisors to support the recruitment, training, and recognition of Yellowstone Forever’s 100+ volunteers, and also provides assistance in recruiting employees. Raised in central New York, he graduated from Lynchburg College and is currently completing an MBA at Norwich University. Previously, he was a field director for the Boy Scouts of America, leading a team of eight employees and 1,500 volunteers. Through his role in Yellowstone, Aaron works to support an inspiring environment in which to work and live. In his free time he enjoys sharing Yellowstone’s unique ecosystem with family and friends, paddling and hiking with his two hound dogs, traveling to other public lands in the west, and striving to be a steward of the places he explores.
Citizen Science Program Manager
Joshua teaches Yellowstone Forever Institute programs on natural history, develops college programs, and coordinates citizen science projects. His past work focused on ecological field research, especially avian ecology, throughout the western U.S. He grew up in Spearfish, South Dakota, and earned undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and Wildlife Biology & Management from the University of Wyoming, before completing a Masters in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. Joshua believes that Yellowstone affords us an incredible teaching tool for cultivating ecological literacy by creating a meaningful connection to the park through art and science. He tries to spend as much time as possible backcountry skiing and wildlife-watching in Yellowstone. He also enjoys rock climbing, hiking, reading, painting, music, and eating in the company of good friends.
Senior Director of Annual Giving
Karen oversees Yellowstone Forever’s annual giving programs and the Gifts and Records Department. She has more than 20 years’ experience in fundraising and nonprofit management and consulting, working for a variety of nonprofits including Make-A-Wish America, Mercy Housing, and Childhelp. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she later moved to Phoenix and earned a B.A. in History and Women’s Studies from Southwestern University. As a history enthusiast, Karen loves the rich history of Yellowstone and its model-setting impact as the world’s first national park, and is proud to help preserve that legacy. In her free time she enjoys exploring trails and admiring wildlife in Yellowstone, traveling, cooking, gardening, reading, attending concerts, and visiting museums and parks with her husband and two young children.
Chelsea Van Roekel
Chelsea develops and manages a cohesive merchandising strategy for Yellowstone Forever’s Park Store retail products, including promotional planning and product performance analysis. In the past, she was a manager at Mall of America’s Abercrombie and Fitch, and a Wrangler at Canyon Corral in Yellowstone. Chelsea grew up in Cincinnati and graduated from the University of Minnesota, where she majored in Animal Science with a minor in Business Management. Her first trip to Yellowstone, at eight years old, had a huge impact on her, and her family returned to visit year after year. She wants to help preserve the park so many other families can have that same experience. Chelsea loves hiking in the park, especially in the Lamar Valley and Roosevelt area. She also enjoys horseback riding, camping, and skiing.
Lead Park Store Associate
Vanessa provides visitors with park information, assists in training new employees, and encourages guests to help Yellowstone Forever support the park. After eight years as a paramedic, she worked for two summers with the Forest Service at Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Montana, followed by a season as a Safety/Security Officer with Yellowstone National Park Lodges. Originally from South Florida, Vanessa holds an associate degree in emergency medical services and is pursuing a Bachelor of Anthropology with a concentration in environmental sustainability. Vanessa hopes to pass along to others the awe and appreciation she feels for Yellowstone. Her favorite things to do in the park are watching wildlife in the Lamar Valley and touring the Lower Geyser Basin. She also enjoys hiking, camping, photography, and painting.
Park Stores District Manager
Bill manages Yellowstone Forever’s Park Stores in the park’s South District, which includes the popular Old Faithful location. Before moving to Yellowstone, he had careers in information technology and RV sales. He grew up in Rhode Island and earned a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems from Bryant University. Bill gets satisfaction from helping Yellowstone Forever support the park. His favorite things to do in the park are fishing, hiking, and taking photographs of its wildlife and landscapes. He also enjoys camping in the greater Yellowstone area.
Senior Manager of Annual Fund & Society
Elle connects with 73,000 active supporters through Yellowstone Forever’s direct mail and online fundraising programs. Previously, she was the Annual Fund Manager and Prospect Research Coordinator for the Yellowstone Park Foundation. A native of Etna, Maine, Elle earned a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literatures and a Master of Public Administration from Montana State University. She loves interacting daily with people worldwide and helping to link their passions to real-life projects and programs in Yellowstone. Her favorite park activities include cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with friends, and sitting in front of the big fireplace at the Old Faithful Inn. In her free time she also enjoys volunteering with her local Rotaract Club, hiking and adventuring with her husband, and spending time with her cat, Milton-Bradley.