Meet Sky Island Alliance’s Board of Directors!
Board Membership is a volunteer position, and members meet four times a year. You can frequently see them at our public events, volunteer trips, making thank-you calls, and around the office. We appreciate all of the time and commitment that our amazing Board Members dedicate to ensuring our organization stays strong, and our mission endures.
Larry FisherBoard of Directors Co-Chair
I’m a Research Professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona. My teaching and research interests focus on large landscape conservation, climate change adaptation, public lands policy, and international conservation and sustainable development, and I remain actively involved in a range of field projects related to public lands management, both in the U.S. and internationally. I grew up in California (which actually wasn’t that bad), but have always loved the desert Southwest, and was lucky enough to marry a third generation Arizonan, Tahnee Robertson, and become part of the landscape here.
Adriana ZunigaBoard of Directors Co-Chair
I am a Staff Scientist at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and a Senior Lecturer at the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the University of Arizona. My background is in Architecture and I worked as an Architectural Designer in Mexico for several years before coming to the University of Arizona to do my Master’s in Design and Energy Conservation and later my PhD in Arid Lands Resource Sciences. For my research I study green spaces in cities and how they allow the functioning of both social and ecological systems, and are key spaces for resilience and human wellbeing. I am originally from Monterrey, Mexico, but I grew up in Mexico City and lived in Sonora for many years. I moved to Tucson in 2017 and since then, I fell in love with the desert landscape. I enjoy hiking in Sabino Canyon and other recreational areas near Tucson. Because I raised my children here and found great friends, I consider Tucson and the Sonoran Desert my home.
Michael Van AlsburgBoard Treasurer
I am a Tucson attorney with a wide variety of clients including those with land use, natural resources, environmental, and water law issues. Having grown up in Southern Arizona, I have been hiking, camping, mountain biking, fishing, and enjoying nature as long as I can remember. I spend most of my free time with my family exploring the Sky Islands, with a particular fondness for Santa Cruz County. The Sky Islands are a unique treasure, unprecedented in both beauty and biodiversity. I was drawn to serving as part of the Sky Island Alliance Board because of the important work this organization does in serving the community and preserving this resource for future generations. I am an advocate for conservation efforts designed to encourage sustainable practices balanced by the obligations we all share to protect the wildlife, plants, and fragile ecosystem vital to this region.
Guadalupe (Lupe) Sotelo
I am a bilingual-Latinx plant enthusiast currently working as a biological science technician under the Resource Management Department at Saguaro National Park. Prior to working at Saguaro, I attended the University of Arizona and studied biology with an emphasis in medicine. I now combine my passion for botany with my interest in medicine to explore ethnobotany in the Sonoran Desert. I am a member of Lideres del Sendero, a Latinx young adult hiking club, co-founder of Latinos for Park, and the Ambassador/Outings Leader for Latino Outdoors which is an organization meant to connect the Latinx community to the outdoors. In my spare time I enjoy botanizing, gardening, hiking, camping, reading, volunteering at the UA Herbarium, and exploring new places. My love and devotion for the outdoors has left me with the intent to share my knowledge with the community about the importance of natural spaces and conservation. Moving forward, I hope to continue to connect people of color to the outdoors with the help of Sky Island Alliance.
I am a retired clinical social worker with over forty years of working in medical and behavioral health settings. My boyhood playground was the woods and fields of southern Michigan. The sense of the freedom and beauty I felt there was renewed when I came to southern Arizona. Donating and volunteering with Sky Island Alliance has been a way to give back to the land, and thanks to the staff, a way to learn and appreciate the environment on a deeper level. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue giving back by serving on the Board. I especially look forward to supporting the binational work that Sky Island does with our partners in Mexico to protect, restore, and preserve our magnificent shared home in the Madrean Archipelago.
Soy un trabajador social ya jubilado con mas que cuarenta años trabajando en entornos de salud y salud mental. De niño jugué en los bosques y campos del sureste de Michigan. La sensación de libertad y belleza que sentí ahí fue renovado al llegar al sur de Arizona. Donar y ser voluntario para el Sky Island Alliance ha sido una manera de devolver a la tierra, y gracias al personal, una manera de aprender y apreciar mas a la ecosistema de las islas serranas. Agradezco la oportunidad de continuarla devolviendo por servir en la junta directiva. Espero especialmente apoyar el trabajo binacional que hace Sky Island Alliance con nuestros socios Mexicanos para proteger, restaurar, y preservar nuestro magnifico paisaje compartido en las Islas Serranas.
Although I grew up scurrying around the green woods of eastern Tennessee, travels in the West, and eventual moves to other regions (Santa Barbara for graduate school and then to Tucson in 1992), deepened my connection to the wonderful diversity of semi-arid natural landscapes and to the Sky Island region, in particular. My professional life has followed suit. With a Master’s in geological sciences, I began my career as hydrologist in California and then spent 23 years as a watershed planner and ultimately as the Director of the Sustainable Environment Program at Pima Association of Governments in Tucson, Arizona. I currently work at University of Arizona as the Program Director for the Water, Environmental, and Energy Solutions Initiative, where I work closely with the UA Water Resources Research Center. Thinking, researching, and communicating about water and the environment has been the mainstay of my professional career. I am particularly concerned about issues related to utilization of stormwater, the importance of groundwater and springs to desert ecosystems, the threat of buffelgrass, and relationship between people, animals, water, and habitat in the West. Beyond these environmental and career interests, my life circles around family and my love of music and dance. I play traditional Irish and American Old-time music in sessions, jams, and in various bands, and for 25 years I have built community and connected people to music and dance by calling and organizing contradances.
I am the host of the climate change podcast, America Adapts, where I interview experts, policymakers, journalists and thought leaders in this emerging field of climate adaptation. I’m also the host of a new streaming TV climate adaptation channel at Cimpatico Studios, where I interview academics, policy makers, journalists, researchers, and climate adaptation professionals. My background: I first started doing adaptation in Queensland, Australia, focusing on the impacts of climate change on the agriculture sector. Upon returning to the United States, I joined the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and quickly assumed the duties of their first Climate Change Coordinator. My interests increasingly turned national, so I took a position as Climate Change Liaison with the National Park Service’s Climate Change Response program. In that role, I had the privilege of contributing to some of the earliest federal policy discussions around adaptation. I then took the role as North America Policy Director at the Society for Conservation Biology, working on climate change adaptation, endangered species and science communication issues. I’m married to Lindsey and have two sons, 16 and 11, and I love taking my boys out hiking in the Catalina Mountains. Nothing brings me greater joy than in monsoon season when a tarantula decides to come up to the back door and say hi.
Dr. America N. Lutz Ley
America is a research professor at El Colegio de Sonora, in Hermosillo, Mexico, where she teaches the graduate course “Sustainability and Development”. Her most recent funded projects are two: the first one focused on the gendered socio-ecological effects of gold mining in the upper San Miguel Watershed in Sonora (funded by the NGO Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers) (2017-2018), and the second is on the combined impacts of mining and global climate change on local water security in the same region of the Sonoran River Basin (funded by the Mexican Program for the Professional Development of Professors, PRODEP) (2018-2020). America has a master degree in social sciences with concentration in public affairs from El Colegio de Sonora (2008-2010), and a bachelor degree in psychology from the Universidad de Sonora (2002-2007) both in Mexico. In 2012 she received a Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholarship, as well as a fellowship from the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), to study her Ph.D. program in Arid Lands Resource Sciences with a minor in Global Change at the University of Arizona (2012-2016). Her research interests, published articles, and science communication range from topics of policy and organized civil society (NGOs) around environmental issues, to social and institutional factors contributing to global change adaptation in critical aspects of human development, such as water security, rural sustainable livelihoods, and gendered environmental impacts of change.
Elia M. Tapia Villaseñor
I´m a professor at Universidad de Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico, and I hold a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Science in Geology from the same University. I spent the past nine years working for the Mexican and United States efforts on the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program for Universidad de Sonora and the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center. In 2014, I was accepted at the University of Arizona Arid Lands Resource Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program. I defended my Ph.D. dissertation on November 1, 2019, with a thesis entitled “Water Resources in the Borderlands of the Colorado River Basin: Climate Uncertainties, Anthropogenic Impacts, and Binational Agreements.” I´m interested in hydrology, remote sensing, and groundwater management. I advocate for stakeholder engagement, knowledge improvement, and the sustainable use of water resources in the desert watersheds of the U.S. and Mexico.
Em Martin Brott
I came to the Sonoran Desert a decade and a half ago to pursue master’s research with local groups in the binational San Pedro River Basin. I knew I’d stay for good, as the US-Mexico border and its people, wildlife, and rich cultural history took hold. The next 13 years found me working at Sonoran Institute, with partners throughout Tucson and Mexicali, to help secure fresh water for the Santa Cruz River and the Colorado River Delta, respectively. What an adventure! Through it all, Sky Island Alliance staff were by my side, asking the tough questions and taking critical leadership positions. I was so impressed. I earned my MBA and am now in the social justice sector at the Tucson nonprofit Our Family Services. I am deeply honored and humbled to now be part of the Alliance’s board. Sky Island Alliance has always meant so much to me – for its unwavering commitment to the border and binational work; for its leadership on watersheds and especially seeps and springs; for its tremendous volunteer force; and for its focus on science and large-landscape restoration. Thank you Sky Island Alliance staff and volunteers!
Juan Carlos Bravo
I am the Director of the Mexico Program for Wildlands Network, a partner group of SIA for many years, and I’ve been living in the Sonoran Desert since late 2005, working on projects like the Northern Jaguar Reserve, the recovery of prairie dogs in the Mexican portion of the San Pedro River and the first Mexican wolf reintroduction into Sonora. My work revolves around fostering connectivity between distant landscapes and different people; promoting conditions necessary for large carnivores to thrive; and effecting strategic changes that add up to a continental-scale vision of conservation. I’m a native of Mexico City and could not be happier to have left that huge city behind as I enjoy immensely the wide empty spaces of northwestern Mexico.
Soy Director del Programa México de Wildlands Network, un grupo socio de SIA desde hace muchos años, y he vivido en el Desierto Sonorense desde finales del 2005, trabajando en proyectos como la Reserva Jaguar del Norte , la recuperación de los perritos llaneros en la porción mexicana de la Cuenca del Río San Pedro y la primera reintroducción de lobos mexicanos a Sonora. Mi trabajo gira alrededor de fomentar conectividad entre paisajes distantes y personas distintas; promover las condiciones necesarias para que los grandes carnívoros prosperen; y efectuar cambios estratégicos que contribuyan a una visión de conservación a escala continental. Soy originario de la Ciudad de México y no podría estar más feliz de haber dejado atrás esa enorme ciudad pues disfruto inmensamente los vastos espacios abiertos del noroeste mexicano.
When I was growing up, spending time outside was my refuge and sanctuary. I carried this love of the outdoors into adulthood with my graduate degrees and early work experiences focused on the conservation of native species and landscape continuity. These principles guide me and influence every decision I make in my current role as Manager for Land Resources with Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services. I have lived in Tucson since 2007, and I quickly developed a connection and enduring affinity for the Sky Island Region. My wife and I are avid campers and hikers, and our greatest joy has been introducing our 6-year-old daughter to the incredible beauty and biodiversity of this region. I appreciate Sky Island Alliance’s work and collaboration with agencies, jurisdictions, and the public to inform and influence policies and actions that encourage sustainable development and sound, science-based decisions on landscape planning. It is an honor to be part of the board and have a role in contributing to this important work.
I have been a member, supporter, and active volunteer with Sky Island Alliance for years, and I also support numerous environmental, social, economic, racial justice and arts organizations. I’ve led 80+ Sierra Club Outings, including domestic service and rafting excursions, and international trips in Latin America and Asia. I previously served on the Board of Directors of the Tucson Center for Women & Children (domestic violence prevention and survivor support) and the YWCA of Southern Arizona (one of the first males on a local YWCA board in the USA). Today, I’m mostly retired, but continue to serve as a gender equity educator and diversity trainer in Arizona. My wife Carolyn and I have two adult children and four grandchildren.