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Board of Directors
The Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of conservationists, community and civic leaders, and scientists. Each serves a 2-year term. Federal liaisons may also be appointed to the board for renewable one-year terms to provide advice and counsel regarding implemented activities.
- Shannon Breslin, Manager of Land Resources - Tucson Electric Power
- Kim Franklin, Conservation Scientist – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Jim Kiser, Independent Journalist and Southern Arizona Leadership Council
- Stuart Marsh, Director and Professor of the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Professor and Chair of the Arid Lands Resource Sciences Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program, Professor in the School of Geography and Development – The University of Arizona
- Sarah Smallhouse President, Thomas R. Brown Foundations
- Claire Zucker, Program Director for the Water Sustainability Program - The University of Arizona
Federal Liaisons to the Board
- Claire Crow, Manager – Ironwood Forest National Monument
- Jennifer Ruyle, Coronado National Forest
- Scott Stonum, Chief of Science and Resource Management - Saguaro National Park
With 25 years of experience, Shannon Breslin is passionate about a balanced approach to utility development and resource management. In her position as Manager of Land Resources for Tucson Electric Power, Shannon is responsible for administering the company’s land rights and related environmental permits, providing technical guidance on local, state and federal regulations, and fostering constructive relationships with agency, jurisdictional and regulatory leads. Prior to joining TEP, she also worked for the Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and Espey, Huston, and Associates in Texas. Shannon holds a senior professional status in the International Right-of-Way Association, has a Bachelor of Arts in in Geography (Resource Management) and a Master of Applied Geography in Environmental Planning, Land Use and Development.
Marilyn Hanson has been involved with the Sonoran Desert Weedwackers since 2000 and has worked as the group’s volunteer coordinator since 2003. She has been involved with the Buffelgrass Working Group since its inception in 2007. She is trained as a Buffelgrass Educator by the Pima County Environmental Education staff and gives presentations to neighborhood groups. Active in the Arizona Native Plant Society since 2001, she is currently the Program Chair of the local chapter and Web Editor for the state organization. She retired from thirty-three years of biology education in 1999 from Madison, Wisconsin.
Chuck Huckelberry has had an impressive career in the public sector after his initial experience with Shell Oil Company and private consultants after earning his Master’s of Science in Civil Engineering form the University of Arizona. His public service career spans 35 years with Pima County government, including the last 15 years as chief executive officer of Pima County under the title of Count Administrator. During his tenure with Pima County, Mr. Huckelberry has guided the community’s growth and development as the population increased from 400,000 to over 1 million people and overseen a range of public services including public health, criminal justice and law enforcement, community services and public works. He has emphasized assuring that County elected officials are given sound and reasonable policy positions such as the highly regarded Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, conceptualized by Chuck in the late 1990’s. This innovative plan that was developed with significant scientific input assures that the community’s population and employment growth can be accommodated while preserving and protecting our sensitive environment. Prior to his current position, he served as the Assistant County Manager for Public Works and the Chief Engineer for the Flood Control District.
Sarah Brown Smallhouse is a native Tucsonan, and received her MBA at the UA Eller College. Her undergraduate degree is in Economics from the University of Washington. The Brown Foundations are focused in the following primary areas: higher education, economic education, policy analysis, innovation and technology transfer, and special strategic initiatives. Sarah serves on the Board of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO), the University of Arizona Foundation Board, the National Advisory Board of the Critical Path Institute, and is an active member in the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. She is a member of two gubernatorial initiatives: the CANAMEX Commission, which focuses on the international transportation corridor from Mexico to Canada through the western United States; and the STEM Advisory Council, organized to advance education in science, technology, engineering and math in AZ. Most recently she has become Chairperson for the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center organized to control the exponential spread of buffelgrass that threatens the viability of the Sonoran Desert and significantly increases fire hazard in southern Arizona. Sarah was the 2009 Woman of the Year.
Claire Zucker is the Program Director for the Water Sustainability Program (WSP), and as such, co-administers the Water Environmental Energy Solutions (WEES) initiative with its partner organizations, the Institute for the Environment and the Renewable Energy Network at the University of Arizona. The WSP and WEES programs manage Technology and Research Initiative Funds (TRIF) to strengthen research, education and outreach and to support interdisciplinary collaborations.
Julio Betancourt is a Senior Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Arizona. He investigates climatic influences on ecosystem dynamics to inform risk and resource management and is a leading expert on the vegetation histories of the North and South American deserts. In 2009, he received the Presidential Rank Service Award from the White House and was also elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He has also received prestigious awards from the Ecological Society of America, the American Water Resources Association and the Department of Interior. He has provided leadership in both national and regional initiatives as co-founder of both the USA-National Phenological Network (www.usanpn.org) and the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center.
Darla Sidles has served as the Superintendent of Saguaro National Park since June 2009. Prior to Saguaro, she was the Deputy Superintendent of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, PA for 3.5 years. From 2001-2006, she served as the Assistant Manager and Superintendent of the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument in northwest Arizona. During that period, she also served several months in Washington DC as Associate to the NPS Director. Darla began her career as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) volunteer in 1986 with the U.S. Forest Service in the North Cascades. From 1986 to 1990, she worked there seasonally as a wilderness ranger, trail crew member, and head ranger for the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area. She also worked several other seasonal jobs in NPS, including SCA interpretive ranger at Arches National Park (1987), dispatcher at Denali National Park (1990) and trail crew member at Big Bend National Park (1991-’92). In 1992, she became a seasonal biological technician at Zion National Park. She became a permanent employee soon after and served nine years at Zion in several posts, including vegetation and wilderness management. She was chief of planning when she left Zion in 2001. During her Zion years, Sidles also worked a detail as a legislative fellow to Sen. Daniel Akaka (HI) in Washington, DC.
Lindy Brigham is trained as a Plant Pathologist. At the University of Arizona she directed the Professional Science Masters in Applied Biosciences program. Her focus was the application of academic research to economic and workforce development in Southern Arizona. In addition to her academic career, Lindy has 9 years of experience eradicating the invasive grass (cheatgrass, Bromus tectorum) in the Santa Catalina Mountains. As chair of the Board of Directors of Trees for Mt. Lemmon, she has worked with the all volunteer Board to develop a comprehensive mapping system and eradication strategy that engages the property owners and governmental agencies in mitigation of this extreme fire hazard on private and public lands. As a long time inhabitant of the Sonoran Desert, Lindy has been active in promoting the importance and joys of native habitat. At SABCC she uses her skills in translating scientific research into practice, coordinating public and private efforts for buffelgrass mapping and eradication, and securing funding for joint projects in research, mitigation, and education.