A Force for Nature
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Born and raised in the foothills and arroyos of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Leia is thrilled to bring her love and deep reverence for the high desert country of the Southwest to the Greater Gila campaign. Leia graduated summa cum laude from the University of New Mexico’s cultural anthropology program, where she focused on the ways the more-than-human world can be reimagined through anthropological theory and practice. When she’s not endeavoring to understand the complexities of a successful conservation campaign, Leia can be found mountain-side or river-side, praising the feathered and four-legged ones, and planning her next epic snack.
Luciana Nino grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico where she became passionate about government and criminal justice. She spent 2 years studying Criminal Justice and another 4 working on her Bachelors in Government. When she’s not learning, Luciana spends most of her time working to elect progressive candidates around southern New Mexico. Luciana developed a passion for the environment and native wildlife while living near the peaks of the Organ Mountains. As an Organizer for WildEarth Guardians, Luciana works with residents in southern New Mexico who care about protecting wildlife, conserving water, and the threats posed by the border wall. Currently she lives on a half acre land where she has chickens, rabbits, goats, and her fur babies.
Nadine joined WildEarth Guardians in 2019 as the Colorado Policy Advocate for the Energy and Wildlife Programs. She has dedicated her career to promoting environmental law and policy initiatives and works passionately to protect wild places. She spent the last few years between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She received her J.D. from Vermont Law School and her B.A. from University of Vermont. Nadine loves spending time with her family, husband and adventure dog, playing in the mountains, deserts, and in the beautiful landscapes between.
Jennifer Schwartz joined WildEarth Guardians in 2019 as a Staff Attorney with a focus on protecting the American West’s wondrous, yet imperiled native species. A long-standing biodiversity advocate and lover of wild places, Jennifer has worked with numerous environmental groups for over two decades. Though her social justice and civil litigation interests are varied, she has spent most of her career as a litigator defending the Pacific Northwest’s grasslands, forests, river canyons, and sagebrush steppe ecosystems from destructive logging, livestock grazing, road-building, and motorized recreational abuse.
Jennifer holds a J.D. from Lewis & Clark law school and a B.A. in Politics from U.C. Santa Cruz. After becoming a mother in 2012, Jennifer started her own solo practice representing non-profits and neighborhood groups in their quests to protect Oregon’s invaluable natural resources.
Jennifer enjoys traveling, learning about natural and cultural history, and teaching her young son to be a respectful inhabitant of planet Earth.
Reid Whittlesey grew up in rural Northern California in a Blue Oak woodland near a perennial stream called Dry Creek. As a young adult, he began noticing the negative impacts of invasive species on the health of the riparian ecosystem and began several studies on his family’s property analyzing the effects of different treatments on greater ecosystem health. In his early twenties, after leaving UC Berkeley to see first-hand the landscapes and natural processes he was learning about in class, he discovered that restoration was a career. At that moment he became certain it was the career he wanted to pursue. Reid has worked in the restoration ecology field since 2009 on over 30 riparian and upland restoration projects in the Southwest and California. He has extensive experience in managing large-scale riparian restoration projects specializing in native vegetation recovery and post-fire restoration. He is also a qualified heavy equipment operator with over 1,000 operating hours.
Reid holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and Ecological Restoration from Humboldt State University and has cumulatively spent years of his life studying in the Ansel Adams and David Brower School of Wilderness Appreciation also known as the High Sierra. Outside of restoration, his passions include rock climbing, trail running and skiing with his (very) charismatic dog Bear, and appreciating the wildness that remains in the west.
Photo Credit: WildEarth Guardians
We believe in nature’s right to exist—and thrive. Driven by passion, we’ve tackled some of the West’s most difficult and pressing conservation challenges over the past three decades. Our work is organized around four programs—Wildlife, Public Lands, Rivers and Climate +Energy—bringing people, science, and the law together in defense of the American West.
For far too long our federal government has used our hard-earned tax dollars to slaughter native wildlife on our public lands. Wildlife Services also endangers people and companion animals, exposing them to poisons, traps and snares. Tell your representatives this all-out war on wildlife and public safety must stop today. Help us End the War on Wildlife.
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WildEarth Guardians Mar 30, 2020
Indigenous, Environmental, and Community Groups and Representatives Call on Agency to Stop Sacrificing Public Lands for Fracking, Join Americans in Putting Health First
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A new paradigm is within reach, but only if we stop desperately clinging to a world that no longer exists. Wildlife benefits everyone — our ecosystems, our economies, and our enjoyment are connected to the natural world and the native species that make it function.
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The state agency that is writing and approving rules to carry out an overhaul of how oil and gas are regulated in Colorado is pausing the work while in-person hearings are off the table because of the coronavirus outbreak.
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Eleni Ho-On hails from the suburbs of Chicago and thanks her lucky stars that she was able to escape city life by spending summers at her grandmother’s home on the lake in northern Michigan. Searching for Petoskey stones, swimming through the clear waters of the lake, rescuing turtles and frogs from the road and getting lost in the stars of the dark night sky fueled her appreciation and respect for nature.
Her past working experiences have included a farm to table inspired bakery, Italian vineyards and the wine making process and most recently some time at the Chicago Patagonia store in Lincoln Park where she first learned of WildEarth Guardians. Within the last few years, Eleni had spent summers in Santa Fe with her partner and was immediately drawn to the juxtaposition of the deeply forested mountains and vast desert landscapes. Never tiring of the southwestern sky, she is thrilled to be a part of Guardians’ commitment to defend the wild places she loves.
Melissa Hailey is a lawyer practicing at the firm of Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C., in Denver, where she represents plaintiffs in civil cases involving personal injury, insurance, and environmental matters. Prior to moving into private practice, Melissa worked as a staff attorney for WildEarth Guardians from 2006 – 2010. Since then, she served for six years on the board of directors for the Southern Plains Land Trust. Melissa’s love of the West began when her family moved to Denver from Memphis, TN in 1991. She is a wildlife enthusiast and all around animal lover. In addition to her work with WildEarth Guardians, Melissa is an active member of the Colorado Women’s Bar, the Colorado Trial Lawyer’s Association, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. She also serves as pro bono counsel for the board of directors of High Country News.
Rebecca Vitale Mandich of Palo Alto, CA and Tesuque, NM, was called early to the environmental movement to give voice to the voiceless. An advocate since the 70s, she received her degree in Environmental Studies taught by some of the big thinkers of the time such as Paul Ehrlich, Stewart Brand, Dr. Richard Leakey, Alan Chadwick, and Dr. Donald Aitken, who founded the program at SJSUC as one of first in the nation.
Utilizing that education, coupled with commitment and inspiration, Rebecca started taking actions from working in one of the first solar energy homes to working on ballot measures for better public transportation systems in the Bay Area. She assisted in opening the first Spanish-speaking office for Clinton/Gore campaign in 1992 and registered many in the local Hispanic community, hosting then candidate VP Gore to discuss the environment and community issues.
In the meantime, she married Mitch Mandich and has two grown children, Matthew and Madeleine, and various dogs and cats have graced their lives. Having traveled extensively, her favorite escape is camping in our national parks and on public monuments and lands, where she has experienced all manner of wildlife and wild places.
She became acquainted with WildEarth Guardians about six years ago when she read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about their lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife services regarding wolves. She sent them a letter and a fast friendship formed over their mutual love of all things wild.
Rebecca sees much hope in the future of the environmental movement that began with “Save the Whales” to now promoting a food and energy paradigm for the sustainability of natural resources. A deep political will and an openness to examine new ideas dictate her thinking. She feels that embracing environmental changes through engagement, both politically and through grassroots efforts, are paramount for the evolution of a responsible species to continue the ride on, what she affectionately refers to as, Spaceship Earth.
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