Staff and Board


for Board, Trail Leaders Council, and other working documents


Karen Crossley, Interim Executive Director

Karen Crossley is serving as Interim Executive Director of the Partnership for the National Trails System, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Karen represents the Partnership in work with Federal agency staff and other nonprofit organizations to develop national trails policy initiatives. Under Karen’s guidance and as a member of national coalitions with a focus on trails, the Partnership works to influence public policy to provide better preservation, conservation, and stewardship of nationally significant cultural, historic, scenic, and recreational resources. These coalitions include the Conservation Lands Alliance, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition, and the Cultural Resources Preservation Coalition.

Karen’s professional career within the nonprofit and public sectors has focused upon natural areas conservation, higher education fundraising, support of arts, culture and local history, and civic engagement. Her volunteer community service has targeted the environment and sustainability, public education, youth leadership development, entrepreneurship, and social impact. Karen recently served in several interim staff leadership roles, including executive director for Sustain Dane and the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools and development team leader for the International Crane Foundation. She was thrilled to fulfill a lifelong dream and serve as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia in 2017-2018, supporting organizational capacity building with a local NGO. Karen has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Colby College, a master’s degree in Botany from the University of Washington, and an Executive MBA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Karen has sampled many of the nation’s scenic and historic trails throughout her life. She very much looks forward to seeing and experiencing more of them, learning about these extraordinary, precious resources, and meeting and working closely with trail enthusiasts of all kinds who help steward these national treasures. 

Karen was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has been a resident of Madison, Wisconsin since 1984, and married 35 years to Alan Crossley, a wildlife biologist, and now volunteer organic farmer and bicycle mechanic. They are proud parents of three adult children. Karen has travelled extensively through the United States, North America, and abroad. She enjoys athletic pursuits, outdoor adventures, and exploring new territory. Karen and Alan bicycled across the United States (Seattle, Washington to Bar Harbor, Maine) nearly 5,900 miles in 101 days (and 13 flats!) in 2014, and again (Madison to New York City) 1,500 miles in 27 days (only 1 flat) in 2019.

Contact Karen: (608) 249-7870 //  

Kathy DeCoster, Advocacy and Policy Director

Kathy DeCoster serves as a consultant to the Partnership for the National Trails System as its Advocacy and Policy Director. In that role, Kathy helps lead Hike the Hill meetings, keep the Partnership’s Board of Directors and Trail Leaders Council apprised of relevant Federal agency and congressional policies and issues, works with the Advocacy and Policy committees on key issues, and maintains the Partnership’s important agency and congressional relationships. 

Kathy retired from The Trust for Public Land (TPL) in June 2019 after 25 years, including the last 10 as Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs, where she directed TPL’s Federal program and represented the organization with the Administration, Congress, NGOs, and other partner organizations. Prior to joining TPL, Kathy served on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant on environmental issues for both Sen. William S. Cohen from 1983 to 1994 and Rep. David F. Emery from 1980 to 1983.

Kathy received an M.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and graduated from Kenyon College (Ohio) cum laude with honors in History.  She lives in Washington, D.C. A former member of the Partnership’s Board of Directors, Kathy is committed to the success of our scenic and historic trails. She loves hiking, travel, music, movies, finishing crossword puzzles, and – as of June 2019 – being the best Nana to her first grandchild, Riley.

Contact Kathy: (571) 245-1739 //

Samantha Haas, Communications Coordinator

Samantha Haas joined PNTS in 2017 as its communications coordinator. In her role, she connects with the partner organizations and agencies to compile the quarterly Pathways Across America magazine, monthly e-newsletter and contact lists.

Samantha studied English and art at St. Norbert College, and she started her career in the journalism field as a community reporter and photographer. She lives near the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Madison, Wisconsin, and she enjoys hiking, biking, birdwatching, and taking photos throughout the state.

She’d love to hear your stories from the trail!

Contact Samantha:

Don Owen, Consultant

Don Owen, of Round Hill, Virginia, is the senior executive of Lands Trails and Parks LLC, a consulting firm specializing in working with national scenic and historic trail organizations, non-profit land trusts, conservation groups, and parks.

He consults regularly for the Partnership for the National Trails System, the Maryland Environmental Trust, the West Virginia Land Trust, the Land Trust of Virginia, and a variety of other conservation organizations. He also serves as the Potomac River Watershed Circuit Rider for the Land Trust Alliance.

Don worked for the National Park Service from 1985 to 2008 in several different capacities: as a realty specialist for the Appalachian Trail Land Office, as the resource management coordinator for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy on special assignment, and as the environmental protection specialist with the Appalachian Trail Park Office.

He then served as executive director of the Land Trust of Virginia from 2008 until 2014. Don was a volunteer trail maintainer for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club from 1988 to 2013, and continues to serve as a volunteer corridor monitor.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, the Stewardship Council for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Advisory Council for the Mosby Heritage Area Association.

Liz Wessel, Consultant

Liz WesselLiz Wessel opened Green Concierge Travel in 2006. She has a strong interest in building the market for ecotourism and supplying the needs of ecotravelers either inbound or outbound to destinations in North America and beyond. By identifying and enhancing links between ecotourism destinations in North America and green tourism infrastructure such as lodging, transit, restaurants, indigenous sites and local natural areas and trails we can continue to strengthen the ecotourism market in North America.

In her consulting work for Partnership for the National Trails System, she has supported fundraising efforts, coordinated the 2013 Biennial conference in Tucson, and worked on the redesign of the Partnership website.

Contact Liz at: 608.204.2717 or

Officers and Executive Committee

  • Barney Mann – PNTS President
  • Ron Tipton – Vice President for Governance
  • John Hoffnagle – Vice President for Development
  • Luke Kloberdanz, Ice Age Trail Alliance – PNTS Secretary
  • Jim Muschett – Treasurer
  • Ray (RG) Absher, Overmountain Victory Trail Association – PNTS Trail Leaders Council Chair
  • James L. Mallory, Lewis and Clark, Trust, Inc. – National Historic Trails Representative
  • Mike Wollmer, Ice Age Trail Alliance – National Scenic Trails Representative
  • Kaleo Paik
  • Margaret Gorski
  • Sandi Marra, Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Teresa Martinez, Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Other Committees

Advocacy & Policy, Conferences & Workshops, Finance, Honors & Awards, Pathways & Website

Trail Leaders Council

  • Ray (RG) Absher, Overmountain Victory Trail Association – PNTS Trail Leaders Council Chair
  • James L. Mallory, Lewis and Clark, Trust, Inc. – National Historic Trails Representative
  • Mike Wollmer, Ice Age Trail Alliance – National Scenic Trails Representative
  • Kaleo Paik, Ala Kahakai Trail Association
  • Elizabeth Stewart, Anza Trail Foundation
  • Bridget Likely, Appalachian Mountain Club (NET)
  • Morgan Sommerville, Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Matt Nelson, Arizona Trail Association
  • Susan Shingledecker, Chesapeake Conservancy
  • Clare Cain, Connecticut Forest & Park Association (NET)
  • Teresa Martinez, Continental Divide Trail Coalition
  • Jim Wolf, Continental Divide Trail Society
  • Marcie Davis, E Mau Na Ala Hele (Ala Kahakai)
  • Steven Gonzales, El Camino Real de los Tejas NHT Association
  • Kelly Wiener, Florida Trail Association
  • Judy Bittner, Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance
  • Sarah Cawley, Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation
  • Ron Andersen, Mormon Pioneer Trail Association
  • Tony Turnbow, Natchez Trace Parkway Association
  • Pat Hearty, National Pony Express Association
  • Ellen von Karajan, National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route NHT Association, Inc. (W3R-US)
  • Jim Zimmerman, Nez Perce Trail Foundation
  • Andrea Ketchmark, North Country Trail Association
  • Reba Wells Grandrud, Old Spanish Trail Association
  • Bill Martin, Oregon-California Trails Association
  • Justin Kooyman, Pacific Crest Trail Association
  • Jeff Kish, Pacific Northwest Trail Association
  • Ric Francke, Potomac Heritage Trail Association
  • Marcia Will-Clifton, Santa Fe Trail Association
  • Deloris Gray Wood, Trail of Tears Association

Affiliate Members

  • Eric Seaborg, American Discovery Trail Society
  • Kate Van Waes, American Hiking Society
  • Alan Hill, Back Country Horsemen of America
  • Randy Rasmussen, Back Country Horsemen of America
  • Kerstin Wolle, Carson Valley Trail Association
  • Gary Hicks, Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association
  • Dave Aamodt, National Frontier Trails Museum
  • Mike Baughn, Smoky Hill Trail Association
  • Morgan Flesser, Tahoe Rim Trail Association