A Field Guide to Staff

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Sky Island Alliance has a skilled and passionate team, dedicated to getting great things done in the region. We welcome you to join us in the field, meet us at the office, attend our special events, and get to know us in person!

Louise Misztal

Executive Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

“It’s been my great privilege to work with Sky Island Alliance for more than fifteen years to develop collaborative conservation initiatives. As we celebrate our 30th anniversary and look ahead to the next thirty years, I hope to see our cross-border corridors reconnected as we remove harmful border wall and restore transboundary ecosystems. The Sky Islands are such a special place in the world and deserve recognition and reverence. I look forward to ensuring the Sky Island region is sustained by effective transboundary conservation initiatives and by contributing to our global need to protect 30% of our natural environment to sustain the diversity of life that surrounds us.”

Louise Misztal has worked at Sky Island Alliance for the past fifteen years in various positions ranging from volunteering to serving as Conservation Director. She now serves as our Executive Director and is committed to crafting creative solutions to pressing conservation issues and building collaboration among diverse partners.

Previously, Louise was the principal architect of a regional climate change adaptation workshop series designed for resource managers to advance understanding of impacts on ecosystems and wildlife. This led to critical new work to survey, protect, and restore fragile spring ecosystems. She was also principal investigator on a project to collaboratively develop a climate-smart landscape conservation design for the Sky Island region, focused on springs, streams, and grasslands.

Louise holds a B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, a B.S. in Microbiology, and an M.S. in Geographic Information Systems, all from the University of Arizona. For her master’s work, she mapped bi-national conservation priorities for wildlife corridor and habitat protection in the Sky Island region.

In 2015, Louise conducted sabbatical work in Australia, where she met with natural resource colleagues to share methodologies for assessing vulnerability of biodiversity, water sources, and human communities to climate change, and developing responsive science, policy, and adaptation strategies. Revisit Louise’s sabbatical on her blog, Springs Down Under.

When Louise isn’t leading the team at Sky Island Alliance, she loves exploring the Sky Islands: hiking desert and mountain creeks, looking for birds and swimming holes, and seeking out quiet camping spots where she can snooze in her hammock.

Learn more about Louise and her favorite Sky Island wildlife in this fun staff highlight.

Phone: 520-624-7080 x 19
Email: louise@skyislandalliance.org

Emily Burns

Program Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

Emily Burns is our Program Director and leads the team running all of our programs, including the Border Wildlife Study, the Trinational Internship Program, Sky Island FotoFauna, Spring Seeker, our stewardship projects, and our communications.

Emily joined Sky Island Alliance in 2019 after practicing conservation science and restoration for nearly a decade in the redwood forests of California at Save the Redwoods League. Emily received her doctorate in 2009 from the University of California, Berkeley in Integrative Biology and conducted postdoctoral research on drought tolerance in ferns at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Emily loves the distinct five seasons in the Sky Island region and the multitude of plants, animals, and people that call this landscape home. Her hope for the Sky Islands in the next 30 years is that communities make choices that keep water flowing, native plants thriving, and wildlife safely on the move between the U.S. and Mexico. She hopes people will stand up for the unique biodiversity of the region and tear down the border wall.

Emily lives in Tucson with her family which includes three rescue tortoises that have been in the family for more than 30 years. When she isn’t hiking around in hopes of witnessing reptiles like desert tortoises and gila monsters in the wild, she enjoys doing modern botanical embroidery.

Learn more about Emily and her favorite Sky Island wildlife in this fun staff highlight.

Phone: (520) 624-7080 ext. 14
Email: emily@skyislandalliance.org

Amy Amoroso

Development Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

Amy Amoroso, our Development Director, joined us in November 2021. She manages our cultivated giving program, stewardship of donors, legacy giving, and fund development. She works closely with organizational leadership to innovate giving practices and to ensure the sustainability of Sky Island Alliance into the future.

Amy brings a very broad skillset from her experience as Tribal Lands Program Manager with the National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Director for the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe, and most recently as Donor Engagement Manger for a Tucson-based nonprofit. She has served on the board of the Southwest Folklife Alliance and currently volunteers for KXCI Community Radio as a music curator and host.

Amy loves taking evening walks near the loop in Tucson, where she reflects on the present and the future. In 30 years, she envisions the Sky Islands as a region that fully nurtures those that depend on it and a place of gathering that demonstrates conservation successes.

Amy finds deep fulfillment in the collaborative work at Sky Island Alliance. She also enjoys the vibrant arts and music scene in Tucson, watching and discussing science fiction movies with her teenage son and husband, and experimenting with acrylic painting and folk arts. She can often be found curled up with a good book or listening to a new album.

Learn more about Amy and her favorite wildlife experience in this fun staff highlight.

Phone: 520-624-7080 ext. 77
Email: amy@skyislandalliance.org

Rick Mick

Rick Mick Communications Coordinator

Pronouns: He/Him

Rick joined our team in April 2022 after years of volunteering with Sky Island Alliance on weekend camping trips and springs assessments. He coordinates our emails, actions alerts, website, and social media.

Prior to joining us, he worked as a writer/editor with the Center for Biological Diversity and the University of Arizona’s Office of Sustainability. He holds bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and Spanish from Butler University, as well as a master’s in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

His vision for the Sky Islands in the next 30 years is to defend the wildlife and plants that call this region home and to pass on to the next generation all the beautiful things we’ve been able to experience here. Some of his most memorable moments in the Sky Islands include camping, hiking, and swimming with friends.

Email: rick@skyislandalliance.org

Zach Palma

Mexico Projects Manager

Pronouns: He/Him/Él 

Zach, our Mexico Projects Manager, started at Sky Island Alliance in January 2022 to continue and extend our mission into the Sky Islands of Sonora, Mexico. Zach manages projects in Mexico, stewards and fosters a cultural understand between people who live in Sonora’s unique and biodiverse ecosystems, and helps support our Sonoran staff.

Zach has an educational background rooted in the sciences. In Minnesota, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology along the Mississippi River before taking on the role of educator and focusing on rural agricultural lifestyles and environmental conservation. Zach spent half a year training in social justice and permaculture in Ecuador, and later joined the Peace Corps as an Agricultural Extensionist in rural Paraguay. Zach then returned stateside wearing the “green and grey” as an educator working for the National Park Service — first on Lake Superior and then in the borderlands of the Madrean Sky Islands.

Over the next 30 years, Zach hopes the Sky Island region will be seen and valued for its true richness in diversity, both ecologically and culturally. This means not only the “crazy biologists” exploring the rugged mountains on either side of the border — but also a community-wide appreciation, understanding, and value of the great ecological community we are all a part of.

Zach lives on a growing homestead with his family just outside of Bisbee, Arizona. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, camping, downhill skateboarding, traveling to Latin America, and focusing on permaculture education.

Learn more about Zach and his favorite wildlife experience in this fun staff highlight.

Email: zach@skyislandalliance.org

Sergio Müller

Sergio Muller Sonora Conservation Coordinator

Pronouns: He/Him/Él 

Sergio comes to Sky Island Alliance to support the organization’s objectives in Mexico while creating connections among stakeholders and decision-makers.

He’s a computer engineer by trade but has been involved for the past 5 years doing grassroots actions in and around Hermosillo, Sonora, that have had a direct impact on local environmental public policies.

His hope for the next 30 years is that the U.S. and Mexican Sky Islands will again be connected for the benefit of wildlife and people. He’s passionate about exploring and photographing the Sonoran Desert, especially in the context of its beautiful night sky.

Email: sergio@skyislandalliance.org

Sarah Truebe

Habitat Conservation Manager

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

Sarah Truebe, our Habitat Conservation Manager, joined Sky Island Alliance in 2021 to lead our water programs. She is focused primarily on our community science Spring Seeker program and is also responsible for habitat restoration and for enhancing water sources for wildlife and other uses across the Sky Island region.

Sarah has almost two decades of fieldwork and research experience spanning various disciplines. Previously, she has worked in natural resource management at Kartchner Caverns State Park in Arizona and in environmental sustainability in the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, where her major research interests included monsoons, fire, drought, caves, climate variability, hydrology, using climate information for resource management, and science and society.

Well before these scholastic endeavors, Sarah was born in Tucson, AZ and grew up watching monsoon cumulonimbus clouds form over saguaros and prickly pear, listening to curve-billed thrashers and cactus wrens chatter every morning, and playing in the dirt under the mesquite trees in her backyard. When not exploring our Sky Islands (above or below ground), Sarah volunteers with the Southern Arizona Rescue Association and trains with the National Cave Rescue Commission.

Sarah hopes that in the coming decades, our Sky Islands will resiliently weather climate change until we can come together globally to halt catastrophic impacts to these iconic and striking habitats. She also hopes the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico comes down in her lifetime, restoring migration pathways for the animals and people that rely on this land.

Learn more about Sarah and her favorite Sky Island wildlife in this fun staff highlight.

Phone: 520-624-7080
Email: struebe@skyislandalliance.org

Eamon Harrity

Wildlife Project Manager

Pronouns: He/Him/Él

Eamon Harrity, our Wildlife Project Manager, joined Sky Island Alliance in November 2021. Eamon works closely with our Program Director and Wildlife Specialist to implement our wildlife programs, including the Border Wildlife Study and Sky Island FotoFauna.

Eamon came to us from the University of Idaho, where he worked first as a graduate student and then as a research biologist for nearly six years. While at the University of Idaho, Eamon studied the migratory behaviors and habitat needs of an endangered marsh bird in southwestern Arizona and southeastern California. It was through this work that Eamon was first introduced to the Sky Island region, and he was soon captivated by this unique and fascinating ecosystem.

Prior to working for the University of Idaho, Eamon received his B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Vermont. He spent several years as a wildlife field technician for research projects from Vermont to the Channel Islands in California. Before that, he also led active travel trips for an international travel company in Europe and Central America.

Over the next 30 years, Eamon hopes to see increased connectivity for both wildlife and people throughout the Sky Island region — and outside of work, he loves riding bikes, looking for the perfect street taco, and birding.

Phone: 520-624-7080 x 16
Email: eamon@skyislandalliance.org

Meagan Bethel

Wildlife Specialist

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

Meagan is our Wildlife Specialist and manages the camera data for our wildlife programs, including the Border Wildlife Study and Sky Island FotoFauna. She helps teach the public about wildlife and their identification through communications and graphic design.

Meagan was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Her interest in wildlife conservation started in fourth grade when a Sky Island Alliance employee came to teach her class about the ocelot — and she was hooked. Meagan has volunteered with Sky Island Alliance since 2011 and now works with us as a full-time employee. In 2019, she graduated with a B.S. from the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources with an emphasis on wildlife conservation and management.

Meagan’s favorite part of the Sky Island region are the native grasslands that are found nestled between the Sky Islands and Desert Seas. Her hopes for the next thirty years of the organization and the region is to continue protect these fragile ecosystems from harmful human impacts, and to learn more about the unique biodiversity and life history of the species adapted to this region.

Learn more about Meagan and her favorite Sky Island wildlife in this fun staff highlight.

Phone: (520) 624-7080 ext. 28
Email: meagan@skyislandalliance.org

Miguel Francisco Enriquez Galaz

Wildlife Specialist

Pronouns: He/Him/Él

Miguel Enriquez has spent the last three years working with Sky Island Alliance as an intern (2019-2020) and a Sky Island Fellow (2021) before finally joining our team full-time in 2022 as our Sonoran Wildlife Specialist. Miguel focuses on analyzing data from Sky Island FotoFauna and the Border Wildlife Study.

In April 2021, Miguel graduated with a degree in biology from the Universidad de la Sierra (read his thesis here). As a student, his favorite classes were botany and GIS, where he gained experience in ecological and biological applications. Outside of class time, he participated in birding workshops—and is now an avid birder!

Miguel loves to visit family properties near Agua Prieta, Sonora to explore, observe birds, and take photographs. His favorite Sky Island is the Sierra de Mesa Tres Ríos, which is the first place he saw a pine forest.

Email: miguel@skyislandalliance.org

Bryon Lichtenhan

Stewardship Specialist

Pronouns: He/Him/Él

Bryon, our Stewardship Specialist, is involved with most of our program work. Whether he’s installing loose rock structures to help control erosion around a spring, planting native flora for the benefit of local ecosystems, or checking trail cameras in the borderlands, Bryon’s work has taken him to some of the furthest reaches of our region.

Bryon was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and the deserts and mountains of the Sky Island Archipelago have always been his source of inspiration, beauty, and solace. Bryon’s background as a homesteader and permaculturalist, ancestral skills instructor, tree service technician, and nature guide and educator — as well as his studies of biology, ecology, and anthropology at institutions such as Carleton College in Northfield, MN and Prescott College in Tucson — have made him keenly aware of our connection to, and dependence upon, the natural world for our lives and livelihoods.

His favorite thing about the Sky Islands is the amazing diversity of this place. From the wonderful mix of cultures in the region, to the mountains, deserts, grasslands, and riparian corridors, there is never a shortage of things to learn about or experience. In his free time, he might be found birding in our borderlands, partaking in a backcountry deer hunt, or sleeping next to a fire made by friction, under a rock shelter up some hidden Sky Island canyon.

As we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, Bryon hopes we will see an increase in connectivity throughout the region, in coming years, with crossing structures along our highways to allow for movement of wildlife and protected habitat corridors linking our wild spaces. In addition, he hopes for rising groundwater levels as rainwater harvesting and broad-scale erosion control measures become more common. Finally, he wishes to see a future where the people living in the Sky Island region recognize how special and unique this place is, feel a deep connection to the land and our wild neighbors, and are committed to their protection.

Learn more about Bryon and his favorite Sky Island wildlife in this fun staff highlight.

Phone: 520-624-7080 x 27
Email: bryon@skyislandalliance.org

Jimmy Gribbin

Jimmy Gribbin Field Coordinator

Pronouns: He/Him/Él

Jimmy Gribbin, our Field Coordinator, started with Sky Island Alliance in September 2022 to recruit and organize volunteers for our conservation programs. He also helps handle field equipment and coordinate logistics/schedules with fellow staff, volunteers, and partners.

He first became involved with SIA earlier this year, volunteering with the Spring Seeker project. He majored in History at the University of Arizona and has previously worked for a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the All Stars Project, as well as at Shepp Ranch in Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

His hopes for the Sky Island region are that it continues to be a wild place on both sides of the border and that the border wall be removed. Also that we build a bright future for jaguars (a native species) and a more environmentally conscious population as Arizona continues to grow. His interests include hiking, very amateur photography, documentaries, and planning roadtrips.

Learn more about Jimmy and his favorite Sky Island wildlife in this fun staff highlight.

Email: jimmy@skyislandalliance.org

Patty Varela

Development Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

Patty joined our team in April 2022 as our Development Coordinator and she works closely with Development Director, Amy Amoroso. Patty is the person that receives your mail when you send us a donation or note, works with our recurring donors and is the force behind the rewarding work of sending out all our thank you letters!

Prior to joining us, she worked for 20 years at nonprofits, including Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona and the Tucson International Mariachi Conference.

More than anything else, she loves spending time with her family. She also loves to travel, especially in the Sky Islands.

Email: patty@skyislandalliance.org

Mónica Montaño Montaño

Monica Montaño Sky Island Fellow

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

Monica joined Sky Island Alliance in 2021 as a summer intern and has worked with us on our wildlife-camera projects. In her current role, she joins us as a Sky Island fellow, helping with various conservation projects in Sonora.

In February 2022, she graduated from Universidad de la Sierra with a degree in Biology. During her time in school, she really enjoyed all the classes that had to do with conservation, ecosystem management, population, and community studies. She has also participated in courses on management of snakes and monitoring wildlife with remote cameras.

Over the next 30 years, she hopes that the organization will continue to grow in Sonora as it is today. And she hopes that conservation projects continue to be strengthened for the benefit of all. Her interests outside work are quite connected to her work. She really likes going on picnics with her dad, horseback riding, and discovering new places in nature.

Learn more about Mónica and her favorite parts of the Sky Islands in this fun staff highlight.

Email: monica@skyislandalliance.org

Ángel Octavio Garcia Godinez

Springs Advisor

Pronouns: He/Him/Él

Ángel Garcia has worked with Sky Island Alliance in a number of roles. First as an intern (2020) and Sky Island Fellow (2021), then as our full-time Sonoran Springs Specialist (early 2022). In that role he helped expand our Spring Seeker program in Sonora and built relationships with ranchers in the area. He also helped run our Spanish communications channels.

He now serves as an advisor, continuing to help protect Sky Island springs, while attending school for ballet folklórico in Mexicali. He’s fascinated by nature, and his favorite Sky Island to visit is the Sierra del Tigre in Sonora, which he first visited as a young child.

Email: angel@skyislandalliance.org

McKenna Carter

McKenna Carter Sky Island Intern

Pronouns: She/Her

My name is McKenna Carter. I’m 23 years old and a recent graduate from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments within the College of Architecture. I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, and so the mountains, animals, and outdoors have always had a special place in my heart. I’ve spent the last five years in Tucson and fell in love with the desert landscape and the complexity of life and connectivity within. Traveling and adventuring is a huge part of my life and will certainly continue to be as I push to explore as much of the world as I can. It’s also been an inspiration. Currently I seek to know more about how to create sustainable urban landscapes through adaptation and conservation projects, so we can transform our cities and buildings to be less harmful and more self-sufficient. Finding ways to get nature to work alongside us will be key in the future. My internship with the FotoFauna project at Sky Island Alliance has helped me better understand native species and how to conduct research and data collection to show cohesive trends to the public.

Rosalyn Jackson

Ros Sky Island Intern

My name is Rosalyn Jackson and I am Laguna Pueblo and (Fort-Yuma) Kwatsan. I’m also of Middle Eastern-Iraqi (Arabic) descent, from my father’s side of the family. I was born in Shiprock, NM, and have lived and gone to school most of my life in New Mexico and Arizona. I currently reside in Chandler, AZ near the Gila River reservation. I am a Spring 2022 Sky Island Intern. 

Currently, I am pursuing my Associates of Science in Life Sciences at Tohono O’ohdam Community College. My goal is to obtain a career in either Physical Therapy or Sports Medicine so that I can aid in human and/or animal rehabilitation. I’ve always had a passion for wildlife and the natural environment in which we live – and am thrilled for this opportunity to work on such an interesting native study!  

I do have experience in identifying different animal and plant species of this region and have actually competed based on my knowledge of this subject through FFA (Future Farmers of America) in high school. I’m sure there is so much more I can learn about these topics through this study and I definitely want to acknowledge how sacred it is to come in contact with many of these animals and plant species in our area. I look forward to sharing what I learn through this internship with my family and my indigenous communities back home.