2014 Annual Report


25 Years Strong, Shaping Our West

For over 25 years, Sonoran Institute has been a pioneer in efforts to unite and celebrate the best of Western culture, history, nature and urban spaces by making connections, seeking practical solutions and promoting long-term sustainability. View and download our 2014 Annual Report to see all that we've done up through 2014 and what we plan on doing as we move forward.

2040 Vision

  Stategic Framework Cover

Strategic Framework

For the last 25 years, we have been successfully helping people in the West build the communities they want to live in while preserving the West that brought them here. Discover our vision for our next 25 years. 

Our Letter to You

Read our 2040 Vision 

Contacts - Board Members

Katie Shields
Chief Finance and Administrative Officer

520-290-0828, ext. 1114

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Sonoran Institute Board of Directors

The Sonoran Institute is a non-profit 501c(3) organization governed by a Board of Directors with members who serve four-year terms and are allowed to serve two consecutive terms. The Board meets three times annually – in November, March and June – and elects its own leadership. The Institute operates on a July 1 – June 30 fiscal year.

Board Leadership:


Henri Bisson PhotoHenri Bisson - Chairman.  Henri recently retired after more than 34 years of service with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  He began his BLM career in 1974, a tenure that involved positions in Colorado, Arizona, California, Alaska (as BLM State Director) and Washington, DC. Henri served as the BLM’s Deputy Director for Operations in Washington, DC from 2006 until retirement. During this time, he also served as Acting Senior Advisor for Alaska Affairs for Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. Bisson received numerous leadership awards throughout his career, including two Meritorious Presidential Rank awards and several Secretarial Executive Leadership Awards. He is the President of the Public Lands Foundation; a nonprofit dominated by retired BLM employees. Henri has a BS in Forest Resources from the University of New Hampshire and an MS in Watershed Management from the University of Arizona. Henri’s passion is making things happen!


joe kalt photoJoe Kalt - Vice-Chair. Joe is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.He is a principal author of the Project's latest book, The State of the Native Nations. Prof. Kalt holds PhD and Master's degrees in economics from UCLA, and a Bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford University. He specializes in the economics of natural resources, economic development, antitrust, and regulation, and serves as senior economist with Lexecon, an FTI Consulting company. He serves on the boards of trustees/directors of Montana State University's Big Sky Institute, The Communications Institute, and the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Fort Apache Heritage Foundation.


Nyda Jones-Church - Treasurer. Nyda is a San Diego native and graduate of Stanford University, Nyda Jones-Church is the former CEO and COO of Prudential California Realty in Southern California, for years one of the largest real estate brokerages in the United States and the largest in the Prudential network. Nyda and her partner grew the company from five people in one office in 1985 to over 6,000 people in four affiliated companies with over one hundred offices in Southern California by 2006. Since retiring from Prudential California in 2007, she has focused on consulting to brokerages across the country, developing a major residential project in Baja California and her work with the Sonoran Institute. Her civic commitments in San Diego have included the Junior League, the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, the Magdalena Ecke YMCA and the Scripps Hospital Foundation.


andrew downs photoAndrew Downs - Secretary.  Andrew is a third generation Colorado native who currently splits his time between a home in Colorado Springs and a career with Prudential Capital Partners in Chicago. At Prudential, he serves as Chief Administrative Officer for the mezzanine investing business within Prudential Capital Group. PCG manages the largest portfolio of traditional private placements globally, including significant investments in renewable energy. Prior to taking that role, he led a business within Prudential that supported mergers and acquisitions activity in the residential real estate sector. He has been with Prudential since 1997, and prior to that was involved in commercial and corporate lending with Wells Fargo, Security Pacific and United Bank of Denver. Andrew has served on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Claremont McKenna College. His senior thesis there was on the economics of water law in California, and his B.A. degree in economics was awarded Magna cum Laude.


Board Members: 

baierMaria Baier is the former Chief Executive Officer for the Sonoran Institute. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs for the NBA Phoenix Suns. Maria has also served as Commissioner of the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD). At ASLD, Baier has been responsible for managing millions of acres of Arizona state trust lands. Baier also served as a Phoenix City Councilwoman, where she chaired the Economy, Commerce and Sustainability Subcommittee. Baier has also held several executive positions, including president of MBC, Inc., a sustainability consulting firm specializing in sustainable land-use and natural resource management practice; president and CEO of Valley Partnership; and director of the Trust for Public Land, Arizona Field Office. She spent 10 years on the Executive Staff of the Office of the Governor, serving two administrations. Baier is a member of the Arizona State Bar and volunteers on numerous state boards and commissions. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University and her Juris Doctor from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in Tucson.


Patsy Batchelder photoPatsy Batchelder is from the San Francisco Bay Area and Yosemite, and a graduate from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in psychology. She spent 15 years in Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho where she worked for Sun Valley Magazine and was actively involved in the Idaho Conservation League, Snake River Alliance and numerous outdoor recreational pursuits. In 1993 she moved to Vail, Colorado, where she helped lead a successful campaign to create a county open space fund. Ten years later, she relocated to Old Snowmass where she worked for the Sopris Foundation, a local nonprofit that deals with land-use and sustainability issues. She also worked for EcoFlight, a nonprofit that advocates for protection of remaining wilderness and wildlife habitat by providing overflights for concerned citizens and decision makers. She serves on the board of the Snowmass Capitol Creek Caucus, a land-use advisory arm of the Pitkin County commissioners. She is a board member of Aspen T.R.E.E, a nonprofit that has classes for young people at their community farmyard and works on issues of practical sustainability and a healthy foodshed. She also serves as a volunteer advocate for RESPONSE, an organization that helps survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She travels extensively around the west and is passionate about its wide open spaces.


john case photoJohn Case was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, beginning his career as a high school history teacher and coach. He then became president and later chairman of the various Longyear companies (founded in 1874), which manage his family's forest lands and mining properties in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada. John and his wife Patricia are longtime supporters of the National Parks through the National Park Foundation, as well as having served as trustees of the Glacier National Park Fund (1999-2011) and members of the National Park Conservation Association's Northern Rockies Regional Council (2003-2012). 


louise glasser photoLouise Glasser is a dedicated conservation advocate, who with her husband Jim splits her time between the Chicago area and Tucson, Arizona. She served as the President of the Women's Board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for several years and she continues to serve that organization as a Director. She served as the Chair of the Lake Forest Library Board from 1995 to 2000. She is currently a member of the Women's Board of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the Co-Chair and Founder of the Cultural Collections Committee at the Field Museum of Natural History, where she also serves on the Women's Board. She serves as a Trustee for the Newberry Library, is a Board member for Know Your Chicago, a continuing education program, and is a member and former officer of the Lake Forest Garden Club (Garden Club of America). Louise was also the Co-Chair of the Capital Campaign for the Merit School of Music in Chicago, which raised more than nineteen million dollars.

Dan-Kimball-WEB-2Dan Kimball recently retired after a 30-year career with the National Park Service (NPS). From 2004 to 2014, Dan served as Superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks. In that position, Dan led Everglades National Park's involvement in restoration of the Everglades, the largest ecosystem restoration project in the history of the planet. His work in Everglades restoration focused on water quantity and quality; endangered species; non-native species; assuring compatibility with South Florida's built environment; and building a coalition to sustain Everglades restoration. Dan previously served as Chief of NPS's Water Resources Division. Dan also held positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Surface Mining, and environmental consulting firms. He also served for 10 years on the Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Committee in Colorado. Dan is a recipient of a number of awards, including the Presidential Rank Award and the National Parks Conservation Association's Stephen Tyng Mather Award. Dan is a graduate of Denison University and the University of Arizona.

jane lerner photoJane Lerner retired from Fulbright & Jaworski in 2000 where she was a Partner practicing in the trusts & estates and tax areas.  She received her MBA and JD from the University of Houston.  After retirement, she and her husband moved from Houston, Texas to Bozeman, Montana and live in Bridger Canyon.  Since moving to Bozeman, she has been active in the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter and the Yellowstone Park Foundation.  During her tenure at Heart of the Valley, she oversaw the merger of two animal sheltering organizations and the building of a new state of the art animal shelter. She was President of the Yellowstone Park Foundation when funds were raised for a new Visitor Education Center at Old Faithful.


Susanne LewisSuzanne Lewis.  Suzanne retired from a 32-year career with the National Park Service in 2011. From 2002 until 2011, Suzanne was the Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park where she managed a $36 million  operating budget, provided leadership for more than 800 park staff and administered 2.2 million acres of park lands, visited by more than 4.5 million people annually. While with the NPS, Suzanne also served as the Superintendent for many other public treasures including Glacier National Park (Montana), Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Georgia) and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (Florida). Suzanne has traveled internationally to assist other nations with preservation and park programs including Haiti, Costa Rica, Africa and Sweden. Suzanne is a faculty member at the University of West Florida and serves on the Board of Directors for the St. Augustine, Florida Designated Support Organization. In her free time, Suzanne can be found combing the beaches of Florida or producing pottery in the art studio she shares with her husband, a stained glass artist.


Bill MitchellBill Mitchell. Bill works primarily with non-profit groups focused on energy and natural resource development that threaten endangered but intact ecosystems, working ranchlands and communities in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Traveling regularly throughout the region, he helps to link groups together, encourages strategic thinking about their work and advocates for their financial support. Over the years, Bill has worked on both sides of the foundation desk, seeking to leverage support for grassroots and regional groups working on environmental stewardship, social and economic justice, reproductive rights and justice and nuclear safety. Since its inception in 1991, he has been a senior advisor to the Alki Fund, a donor advised fund now residing at Rockefeller Family Fund. Bill was born and raised in the Rocky Mountain West and educated as a wildlife biologist. An avid bird hunter and watcher, Bill spends much of his free time each fall in Montana, North Dakota and Alberta wandering the back roads with his Flat-coated Retrievers. During the rest of the year, he is an avid retriever trainer, participating with his dogs in regular AKC and HRC hunt tests. Bill and his wife, Mia, moved to rural Vashon Island in Puget Sound in 2004.


alan nicholson photoAlan Nicholson. Alan received his undergraduate degree at MSU and attended graduate school at Northwestern University. He taught for several years and worked for the Office of Public Instruction in Helena, before getting into property management and real estate development in the 1970s. His current project is the Great Northern Town Center which is a mixed use, high-density development in the former Great Northern station in Helena. He is the former chair of the Montana Board of Public Education, past president of the Helena Chamber of Commerce, and past president of the Montana Ambassadors.


laurinda oswald photoLaurinda Oswald was born in Tucson, Arizona, but grew up in Italy, living in Florence for three years and Rome for nine. Her parents purchased the ranch in Amado, Arizona which she has now managed for 25 years. For the past ten years, she has raised cattle on an eight-pasture grazing rotation system enjoying the wonderful benefits of the watershed along four miles of the Santa Cruz River. Laurinda has two children, and when not at her ranch, she enjoys visiting her family both in New York City and Italy.



chris perez photoChris Perez is President of The Perez Group, a highly successful team of agents specializing in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and the Northeast Valley luxury home market.






lolly plank photoLouise (Lollie) Plank divides her time between her Lek Ranch near Sheridan, Wyoming, family and business obligations in Minnesota, and her home in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to the Sonoran Institute, her board interests include the Wyoming Community Foundation, the Center for a Vital Community at Sheridan College in Wyoming, and the Wyoming Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Past board tenures include the Animal Human Society of Hennepin County (MN), the Science Museum of Minnesota, Pheasants Forever, the National Wildflower Research Center, the Yellowstone Art Center and the Yellowstone Association.


kara teising photo

Kara Teising is a Partner at ThinkingAhead Executive Search where she is the Practice Lead for the Nonprofit division . She joined ThinkingAhead in 2004 and has built an impressive cadre of clients with a specialization in partnering with national conservation and environmental organizations. Prior to joining ThinkingAhead, Kara spent six award-winning years as a sales person and sales manager with ThinkingAhead's parent company, Southwestern Advantage. She is an honors graduate from James Madison University with a B.S. in Speech Communication with a concentration in Conflict Resolution. Kara is a member of the American Society of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and is also a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and Certified Employee Retention Specialist (CERS) through the National Association of Personnel Services. When she’s not blissfully busy serving the nonprofit sector, she’s spending time with her husband and two young children, planning their next adventure together.  Other favorite pastimes include quality time with friends, visiting iconic places in the Interior West, and immersing herself in a page-turning novel.


buzz thompson photoBarton (Buzz) Thompson is the Perry L. McCarty Director and Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, and the Robert E. Paradise Professor in Natural Resources Law at Stanford Law School. He holds J.D., M.B.A., and B.A. (Economics & Political Science) degrees from Stanford University.  His scholarship and teaching focus on natural resource management, with a particular focus on western water.  He is a California trustee of The Nature Conservancy and serves on the boards of the Santa Lucia Conservancy as SI's official representative, The American Farmland Trust, Resources Legacy Fund, and Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.


Ann croppedAnn Hunter-Welborn started her career in teaching, then joined the family business (Hunter Industries), and is now acting as Chair of the Board. Hunter Industries is made up of about 1000 employees and manufactures irrigation equipment which is sold all over the world.As the innovation leaders, Hunter holds more than 250 product patents and 40 trademarks, starting with the Hunter PGP® in 1983 – the pop-up gear-driven rotor that revolutionized the irrigation industry. Since then, Hunter has developed more than 100 innovative products that meet the needs of professional installers worldwide, including the new ACC Controller that was voted the most significant new product at the 2005 International Irrigation Association Show. She is somewhat of a perpetual student, having a BA in Political Science, an MA in Special Education, and a PhD in Mythological Studies.


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Ivan Aguirre
María Elena Barajas - Hermosillo, Sonora
Fred Borcherdt
Kathy Borgen - Colorado
Donald Brackenbush
Walt Coward
Amy Slaven Crown
Donald Diamond - Tucson, Arizona
Chris Duerksen
Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra - La Mesa, California
John Fendenheim
Janet Gingold
Andrew Gordon - Tucson, Arizona
Susan Heyneman - Wyoming
Martha Hunter - Phoenix, Arizona
Jim Kaple - Tucson, Arizona
Robert Keiter - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nancy Laney
Darlene Lavender
Gil Lusk
Bryan Morgan - Boulder, Colorado
Dennis Minano - Tucson, Arizona
Carlos Nagel - Tucson, Arizona
David Parsons
Anna Hill Price - Tucson, Arizona
Jane Ragle - Tucson, Arizona
Donald Shropshire
Richard Thweatt - Helena, Montana
Karen Wade - Montana
Nan Stockholm Walden, Sahuarita, Arizona
In Memoriam

Fred Bosselman, Chicago, Illionois
Frank Gregg, Tucson, Arizona
Bill Jack
Jake Kittle - Patagonia, Arizona
Emily Stevens - Wilson, Wyoming
Ervin H. Zube - Tucson, Arizona