Who We Are

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for Board, Trail Leaders Council, and staff

STAFFTRAIL LEADERS COUNCIL
Staff
Courtney Lyons-Garcia (she/her), Executive Director

Courtney Lyons-Garcia began her role as Executive Director for the Partnership in September of 2023. She is a nonprofit professional with more than twenty-five years of experience in public lands. Prior to joining PNTS, she served as the Executive Director of Big Bend Conservancy, the nonprofit fundraising partner of Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River, in the Development Department at National Parks Conservation Association, and most recently as the Executive Director of Public Lands Foundation, a partner of the Bureau of Land Management in the responsible use of America’s public lands.

Throughout her career, Lyons-Garcia has worked extensively on issues related to public land stewardship, trail development, coalition building, federal partnership, advocacy, fundraising and communications. She works to build and protect trails in her own community through the Great Springs Project and Comal Trails Alliance.

Contact Courtney at courtney@pnts.org

Cristobal Slobodzian (He/Him), Development Manager

Cristobal Slobodzian began his role as Development Manager for the Partnership in October of 2023.  He is a nonprofit professional with more than fifteen years of experience in the public lands, trails, and conservation sector.  Prior to joining PNTS, he served as the Executive Director of R3, Ride/Run, Raise, Renovate, and has served in a senior role for such organizations as Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation, Westchester Parks Foundation, Gateway Mountain Center, and for the State of Nevada running their Grant Matching Program (not to mention, a handful of others).  He is excited to return to the public land and trail development sector after some brief time focusing on economic development and human and health services.  When he’s not busy overseeing the Partnership’s fundraising efforts, you can find him trail running and climbing mountains with his two dogs Riley and Nutmeg and his wife Caroline.

Contact Cristobal at cristobal@pnts.org

Cara Yendrzeski (she/her), Program Manager

Cara Yendrzeski joined the Partnership for the National Trails System as a Program Coordinator in February of 2021 and then transitioned to Program Manager in February 2024 where she coordinates training and educational opportunities for the national trails community and manages PNTS’s Next Generation programming. Cara is a passionate environmental advocate who has worked with Citizens Climate Lobby and Chesapeake Climate Action Network to advance climate policy. Cara has also worked with Capital Nature as a Program Research Volunteer, finding new and exciting nature events to promote in the Washington D.C. metro area and researching health and environmental benefits of urban green spaces. Cara holds a BS in Environmental Studies from Le Moyne College and a Master’s degree in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School.

Contact Cara at cara@pnts.org

Nora Kline (she/her), Education Coordinator

Nora Kline, a recent graduate of Indiana University with a degree in Law and Public Policy and current resident of Washington, DC, brings valuable experience from the nonprofit sector. She’s worked for a domestic violence shelter and an organization dedicated to preserving indigenous languages. Nora’s adaptability and commitment to diverse communities are evident in her work. With a strong passion for the outdoors, she’s eager to bring her skills to the role of Education Coordinator at PNTS.

Contact Nora at nora@pnts.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Board of Directors
Andrea Ketchmark (she/her/hers) — President

Andrea is the Executive Director of the North Country Trail Association. She has a degree in Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism from Colorado State University, where she fell in love with trails and connecting people to outdoor spaces. Prior to joining the NCTA, she managed the Volunteer Vacations program for the American Hiking Society, which allowed her to travel the country to lead volunteer projects across America’s vast network of public lands. Andrea has engaged in building countless partnering relationships at state, national, and local levels, and represents the NCTA in the larger trails and recreation community.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

The National Trails System provides endless ways for Americans to explore our public lands, our history, and to connect with each other. It’s a wonderful cause and there is no better community of advocates for the outdoors and trails than the members of PNTS.

What are you most proud of?

Being part of the passage of the John Dingell Act and succeeding with permanent and full funding of LWCF.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Good books, bonsai, and my new ukelele.

RG Absher (he/him/his) – Trail Leaders Council Chair

RG graduated from NC State University in 1978 with a degree in Natural Resource Management. After retiring as a Park Manager in 2010 with the US Army Corps, he continued working in trails as Executive Director of the Yadkin River Greenway and a volunteer with the Overmountain Victory Trail Association.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

Love advancing national trails!

What are you most proud of?

Being a trail advocate and supporting the work of PNTS.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Interpretation of the Trail and its story!


Bill Dahnke (he/him/his) — Treasurer

A native San Diegan, Bill Dahnke is a retired Qualcomm Vice President and a trail advocate.  He currently serves on the Land Protection Advisory Council of PCTA and the Land Protection Committee of the San Diego River Park Foundation.  He served on the Board of the San Diego River Park Foundation, including serving as Chair and has served on a multi-agency development committee for the Trans-County Trail in San Diego.  Bill started his involvement with PNTS when he joined the Finance Committee in 2021.

Bill is enthused about the Partnership’s nationwide reach to support and advance the National Scenic and Historic trails. Bill believes that in protecting and promoting National Trails and their cultural resources, we do much for the outdoors and the world generally, from mitigating climate change, to protecting species habitat, preserving heritage, expanding individual access, and for mental wellbeing in these challenging times.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?  

I want to help the trail organizations grow and thrive!

What are you most proud of?  

My professional career and 33 years of marriage to my wife, Ann.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “Talk to me about…” what would it say?

 Alaska (my favorite place on earth) and of course, hiking.

Liz “Snorkel” Thomas (she/her/hers) — Secretary

Liz Thomas is a professional hiker, speaker, and outdoor writer who held the women’s self-supported speed record on the 2,181-mile long Appalachian Trail. Called a “thru-hiking legend” by Outside Magazine for her innovative urban thru-hikes, Liz has also hiked 20+ long-distance trails, including the Triple Crown of Hiking (AT, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail) and first known traverses of the Wasatch Range and Chinook Trail. Liz is a former staff writer for the New York Times/Wirecutter and current Editor-in-Chief for the outdoor web magazine Treeline Review, as well as contributing editor and columnist of “Ask a Thru-hiker” for Backpacker Magazine. She’s the author of Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-hike, which received the 2017 National Outdoor Book Award for Best Instructional Book with judges calling it destined to become the “Bible of the Sport.” She holds a Master of Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry (now Yale School of the Environment), where she received a Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship for her work on distance trails and trail town communities.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

As a hiker, I know how important corridor conservation is to complete long trails. The long-distance trails are stronger together as they share best practices and do advocacy. As someone who has been fortunate enough to hike multiple trails in the system, volunteering with the system allows me to give back to not just one, but many trails.

What are you most proud of?

This one is hard, but giving a talk at my alma mater about hiking is high on that list.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Yoga, books, exploring cities by foot


Luke Kloberdanz (he/him/his) – Vice President of Governance

After thru-hiking the Ice Age Trail in 2003 and volunteering for more than a decade, Luke decided to put his educational psychology degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to work and join the Ice Age Trail Alliance staff in 2013. Since then he has held several positions ranging from Outreach and Education to resident grill operator to his current role as Director of Philanthropy. He has since been demoted to secondary grill operator.

 

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

I volunteer with PNTS because I believe in the power of trails to connect people, improve communities, and provide a medium for personal growth for all.

What are you most proud of?

Professionally, I am most proud of helping the Alliance and PNTS grow as organizations. Personally, I am proud of raising two boys with my wife.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Widespread Panic, trail-side cookoffs, Wisconsin beers, stonework on trails.

 

Barney Mann (he/him/his)

Barney “Scout” Mann is a trail advocate, retired attorney, long-distance hiker, and author. His most recent book, Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail, was a 2020 Banff Book Festival Adventure Travel finalist. Mann had a 25-year career as a real estate and business lawyer. He served on the Board of the Pacific Crest Trail Association from 2008 to 2017 (Board Chair for three years). He serves on the Board of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and served as its President. Mann thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with his wife in 2007, thru-hiked the Continental Divide Trail in 2015, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2017 and the Arizona Trail in 2021. Mann resides with his wife Sandy in San Diego, CA.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

I get to actually assist and support our 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails.

What are you most proud of?

Can’t choose only one: Being married 43 years, my latest book, our grandsons or kids.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Talk to me about this great nonprofit called The Partnership for the National Trails System, being married for 43 years, our two grandsons, or my latest book.

Ron Tipton (he/him/his)

Ron’s public and personal life has centered on visiting and protecting National Parks, Wilderness Areas, and National Trails. The most important event which set his career direction was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1978.

 

 

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

To use my knowledge, experience, and passion for hiking and the outdoors to enhance the stature and the level of investment in the National Trails System.

What are you most proud of?

Besides hiking the Appalachian Trail, my deeply rewarding 42 years of marriage to Rita and our son, Will.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

National Parks and hiking experience and college basketball

 

Steve Gonzales (he/him/his) — National Historic Trails Representative

A native of Texas, Steven Gonzales obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Geography with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. His studies focused on Spanish missions and presidios on the Northern Frontier of New Spain. Steven later earned a Master of Applied Geography degree from Texas State University at San Marcos. His research focused on case studies of national scenic and historic trails from across the country and the measures they took to get their trails on the ground. Steve has always felt that people can better appreciate the place they find themselves in by understanding its cultural and natural history. In addition to being executive director of El Camino Real de los Tejas NHT Association, Steve has also served as an advisor for the Texas Historical Commission’s Hispanic Heritage Guide of Texas and also volunteers with Pug Rescue Austin.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

I volunteer with the PNTS because of my love for trails and what they can do to bring communities together! Whether learning about the history of a route’s effect on an area or gazing upon the natural beauty of a scenic trail in the wilds of America, our National Trails System offers something for everyone and it is an unparalleled resource that allows us to share our country’s story with the world!

What are you most proud of?

Professionally, I am most proud of my work in protecting and developing the Lobanillo Swales along El Camino Real de los Tejas NHT. Set to be sold off at auction in 2014, the site contains the most dramatic remnants of the physical that we are aware of. And the project fully demonstrated the intent of public-private partnerships mandated in the National Trails System Act.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Talk to me about trails, rivers, and the landscapes of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico.

Oforiwaa Pee Agyei-Boakye (she/her/hers)

Oforiwaa Pee Agyei-Boakyeis a Ph.D. student studying Geography at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She is also a GIS and data analytics consultant at Gonigs Inc. Brought up in Ghana, she developed a deep interest in sustainability, environmental, and conservation issues in her formative years. She was a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) Youth Perspectives on Climate Change Work Group. She has been involved in trail activities through these issues in her academic work, volunteering, and leadership positions in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is a former member of the Appalachian Trails Conservancy NextGen Advisory Council, an American Trails Association Hulet Hornbeck Emerging Trails Leader, and was part of the 2017 World Trails Network Trail Visionaries Expedition Team to Tottori, Japan. She coordinated the 2021 Appalachian Trails Conservancy Emerging Leaders’ Summit equity map sessions.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

As a hiker who uses trails around the world, volunteering for the Partnership for the National Trail Systems allows me to utilize my skill set, resources, and connections to make the national trails system vibrant and more efficient.

What are you most proud of?

My contribution to trail work around the world.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Trails and Urban Planning

Heather Crozier (sheher/hers)

Heather Crozier is the Director of Development for the Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife & Environment.   She is responsible for day-to-day operations, alumni and stakeholder relations, and planning, development and execution of the college’s major fundraising initiatives.  She is a member of various volunteer and professional organizations within the natural resources and conservation communities.   A native of Little Texas, Alabama, she graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Public Administration.  Outside of her professional career, she spends the majority of her free time outdoors exploring with her three dogs and husband, John.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

I am excited to be a part of an organization that is influential in enhancing our trails system and inspiring people across diverse backgrounds to get outside and hike.

What are you most proud of?

As a fundraiser in higher education, I am most proud that I get to be the conduit in helping others find the joy in charitable giving and to see the impact of those gifts continuing to transform lives and support critical research.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

My dogs, SEC football, gardening and wildlife


Justin Fisch (he/him/his)

Justin is an environmental and energy attorney with Stoel Rives LLP. Prior to joining the firm, Justin served as term professor at the University of Ottawa, teaching introduction to environmental law. Prior to law school, he worked for the National Geographic Society. Justin is a professional guide. Justin’s pro bono interests in law lie in conservation and protected area establishment.

 

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

The PNTS is the backbone that holds together the National Trails System. It is an honor and a privilege to work to strengthen the organization, and by doing so, the trails, communities, and people it serves.

What are you most proud of?

Joining the PNTS Board!

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Talk to me about peakbagging, polar regions, law and politics, and being outside.

Jamie Loucky (he/him/his)

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Jaime discovered an early love of the outdoors by hiking in and around the North Cascades. He studied Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and had various careers in international development, management consulting and nonprofit leadership. He is now thrilled to be a part of the Washington Trails Association, the nation’s largest trail-based nonprofit.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

I’m passionate about the work PNTS does to protect our national trail system and to represent the full range of people who love and benefit from trails. I’m excited to help connect everyone who loves the outdoors with opportunities to support and speak out on behalf of trails.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the work I’m doing with the Washington Trails Association to develop new, innovative approaches to trail stewardship and to bring more equitable practices and programs to outdoor recreation and conservation.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

Talk to me about hikes in the North Cascades, urban gardening tips and approaches to building equity in the outdoors.

Kristin Murphy (she/her/hers)

Kristin Murphy is currently a Senior Consultant for Guidehouse based in Chicago, IL. Before that, she was the Government Affairs Associate for Audubon Great Lakes, a regional office of the National Audubon Society. Murphy has also worked in Washington D.C. as the Campaign Coordinator for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Coalition and was an inaugural member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Next Generation Advisory Council. She holds a Master of Environmental Management with a focus on Environmental Economics and Policy from Duke University, and a Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems, the Environment, and Society from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

I didn’t learn about our National Scenic and Historic Trails until my early 20’s and, not only do I feel like I need to make up for lost time and help protect these iconic public lands, but I also know that I’m not the only one who spent much of their life unaware of the beauty of our National Trails. I feel very passionate about access and inclusion in the outdoors, and I want everyone to know about and be able to enjoy the mental and physical health benefits that our trails can offer. I volunteer in order to bring a new perspective and challenge the status quo of both the internal and external work that PNTS does.

What are you most proud of?

Working with the LWCF Coalition to pass the Great American Outdoors Act with full and permanent funding for LWCF!

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

The Chicago Cubs, book recommendations, and knitting.

Bob Ratcliffe (he/him/his)

For the last dozen years, Bob was the Division Chief for the National Park Service’s Conservation, Recreation and Community Assistance Programs, retiring after 36 years of public service in January 2023. His former role included oversight of the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program, National Trails System (NTS) and National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (WSRS) among other programs. Previously, Bob served 24 years with the Bureau of Land Management in a variety of field and national leadership roles including over a dozen years as Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Division Chief for Recreation and Visitor Services. A longtime supporter of National Trails and the Partnership for the National Trails System, Bob has spent much of the last four decades promoting sustainable trails, responsible recreation and increased investment in recreation management and infrastructure in parks and on public lands. Bob has graduate and undergraduate degrees in conservation, outdoor recreation and resource management from Prescott College in Arizona and the University of Idaho. He enjoys whitewater sports, hiking, biking and skiing – especially with family and friends.

Why do you volunteer with PNTS?

I believe in the power of collaboration and alliances of trail organizations not only to collectively elevate understanding of the value and benefits of trails for all but also to influence national, state and regional policy and encourage investment in trails for the future and access for all to healthy, outdoor activities.

What are you most proud of?

Over the last decade I was lucky to have the opportunity to guide a few accomplishments regarding the outdoors at the national level. I helped establish and lead the Federal Interagency Council for Outdoor Recreation which did a couple of things that positively influenced progressive policies that benefitted national trails, spurred increased investment in conservation and enhanced acess to the outdoors. The first was working to define and measure the nation’s outdoor recreation economy which led directly to influncing decision makers to increase investment in parks and public lands conservation and recreation infrastructure like trails, at the national, state and local levels. Secondly, I am particularly proud of the role I had in helping create the national Every Kid Outdoors park pass program that has provided free passes to tens of thousands of kids and their families to get out and enjoy their parks and public lands and waters.

If you were wearing a name tag saying “talk to me about…” what would it say?

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE ADVENTURES OUTDOORS!

  • Ray (RG) Absher — Overmountain Victory Trail Association  *TLC Chair
  • Troy Ainsworth — El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
  • Ron Anderson — Morman Pioneer Trail Association
  • Travis Boley — Oregon-California Trails Association
  • Judy Bittner — Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance
  • Lynn Brittner — Old Spanish Trail Association
  • Clare Cain — Connecticut Forest & Park Association
  • Sarah Cawley — Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation
  • Liam Cregan — Appalachian Mountain Club
  • Marcie Davis — E Mau Na Ala Hele (Ala Kahakai)
  • Joel Dunn — Chesapeake Conservancy
  • Ric “FB” Francke — Potomac Heritage Trail Association
  • Royce Gibson — Florida Trail Association
  • Steven Gonzales — El Camino Real de los Tejas NHT Association
  • Patrick Hearty — National Pony Express Association
  • Leanna Joyner — Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Andrea Ketchmark — North Country Trail Association
  • Jeff Kish — Pacific Northwest Trail Association
  • Justin Kooyman — Pacific Crest Trail Association
  • Matt Mallinson — Oregon-California Trails Association
  • James L. Mallory — Lewis & Clark Trust, Inc.
  • Barney Mann — PNTS Board President
  • Ross Marshall — Santa Fe Trail Association
  • Teresa Martinez — Continental Divide Trail Coalition
  • Paula Mitchell — Old Spanish Trail Association
  • Brendan Mysliwiec — Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Matthew Nelson — Arizona Trail Association
  • Bill Niedringhaus — Potomac Heritage Trail Association
  • Matt Nowak — Nez Perce Trail Foundation
  • Melissa Pierick — Ice Age Trail Alliance
  • Kaleo Paik — Ala Kahakai Trail Association
  • Troy Wayne Poteete — Trail of Tears Association
  • Leslie Sabin — Pacific Crest Trail Association
  • Barbara SchaeferE Mau Na Ala Hele (Ala Kahakai)
  • Larry Short — Santa Fe Trail Association
  • Elizabeth Stewart — Anza Trail Foundation
  • Kevin Thusius — Ice Age Trail Alliance
  • Tony Turnbow — Natchez Trace Parkway Association
  • Joanne VanCoevern — Santa Fe Trail Association
  • Ellen von Karajan — Washington Rochambeau NHT Association
  • Melissa Pierick — Ice Age Trail Alliance
  • Deloris Gray Wood — Trail of Tears Association