Wiley Buck, Restoration Ecologist 651-665-9500 x15
(M.S., Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota)
Wiley has overseen restoration activities for Great River Greening for more than 10 years and spearheaded several hallmark projects. He also manages the organization’s participation within the Metro Conservation Corridors Partnership, a cooperative effort for protection and acquisition in priority areas of the Greater Twin Cities Metro Area. Wiley gained his restoration expertise through his experience with McHenry County Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy, and Chicago Wilderness in Illinois, and Minnesota DNR’s Scientific and Natural Areas Program (SNA). As Resource Management Supervisor with SNA, he developed and implemented SNA management policy, supervised crew and staff, and helped build budgets and funding priorities.

Karen Galles, Seven Mile Creek Watershed Coordinator
(M.S., Ecology, Colorado State University)
Karen coordinates Greening’s work in the Seven Mile Creek Watershed. She works with private landowners to implement conservation practices that improve water quality in Seven Mile Creek and convenes a Seven Mile Creek Watershed stakeholder partnership. Her work is based out of the Nicollet County Soil and Water Conservation District offices in St. Peter, MN. Prior to joining Greening she worked internationally to provide technical assistance on the compilation of agriculture and land use greenhouse gas inventories. She has also worked in environmental education, performed research on best management practices in beef cattle production systems, and coordinated Farm Bill policy and advocacy activities for a faith-based consortium. She enjoys cycling, vegetable gardening, and muddling through songs on the mandolin.

Deborah Karasov, Executive Director 651-665-9500 x14
(M.L.A., Landscape Architecture, Harvard University; Ph.D., Geography, University of Minnesota)
Deborah is senior officer for Great River Greening, with oversight for all program and fundraising activities. Previously, as assistant director for external relations, she helped with all project development, external relations, and legislative work. Deborah was a professor and director of the Landscape Studies Center, an outreach arm of the Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota. Previously, at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, she completed several research publications related to environmental impact assessment.

Todd Rexine, Director of Operations 651-665-9500 x28
(M.L.A., University of Minnesota)
As Director of Operations, Todd provides Great River Greening with ecologically sensitive and sustainable landscape designs and installation, including river and stream bank stabilization, shoreline restoration, urban stormwater retrofits, rain gardens, and site specific best management practices. He also oversees the day-to-day operations of the conservation staff, volunteer manager, and field crew. Todd is currently supervising the trails and interpretive plan for the Pilot Knob project (Mendota Heights) and plans for improving water quality within the St. Croix River. Prior to his work with Great River Greening, he was in the design-build field and brings significant installation, computer and budget experience to our projects.

Lisa Strauss, Grant Administration Assistant 651-665-9500 x19
Lisa comes to Great River Greening with a background in Environmental Studies (BA, Middlebury College, VT) and Forest and Natural Resource Management (MPS, School of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY-Syracuse). Her professional experience with environmental issues and information management includes Records Coordinator at Cornell University, Land Preservation Coordinator for Genesee Land Trust (Rochester, NY), Accreditation Consultant for the Finger Lakes Land Trust (Ithaca, NY), and volunteer for several conservation organizations in Vermont and upstate New York. Lisa recently relocated from Ithaca, NY to the Twin Cities area, and is excited to join the conservation community. In her free time she enjoys running, cross-country skiing, and making fused glass art.

Kelsey Simpkins, Development Assistant 651-665-9500 x13
(B.A., Art and Environmental Studies, Luther College)
Kelsey works closely on Great River Greening’s development efforts by assisting with the preparation and execution of various fundraising projects and events. She brings strong nonprofit experience in development and membership from her work at the Walker Art Center and NAMI Minnesota. She enjoys cycling, the Kingfield Farmer’s Market, and the Twin Cities local music scene.

William Smith, Director of Finance and Administration 651-665-9500 x17
(B.S.B.A., Accounting, University of Minnesota)
As Director of Finance and Administration, Bill is responsible for the organization’s financial and administrative operations, including budget planning; financial management; accounting and reporting; government grant and contract management; human resources, and information technology. Bill has served as CFO and COO for several companies including AppTec Laboratory Services, ViroMed Laboratories and Pace Laboratories. He has also served non-profits as a Board member and auditor.

Steve Thomforde, Ecologist 651-665-9500×16
(M.S., Restoration Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison)
As an Ecologist and Project Manager at Great River Greening, Steve is responsible for preliminary site assessments, fostering partnerships, assisting with development and design, supervising installation, and cultivating long-term relationships for each project. Steve has nearly 20 seasons experience in project design and installation totaling 200 sites and 2000 acres in four states. At UW-Madison, Steve conducted research in restoration on a variety of topics including: grazing, state transition models, invasive species theory, biotic controls, ecosystem services, and keystone species. His research provides a framework to implement innovative restoration management strategies that are both technically feasible and scientifically valid.

Mary Anne Welch, Communications Manager 651-665-9500×23
(B.A, Humanities & Journalism, U of MN)
Mary Anne manages communications for Great River Greening, including content for print and online venues, brand management and media relations. She has worked in related fields for 20+ years, as a writer, editor, media contact, content strategist, and website developer. Much of that work has been for non profits. Before coming to Great River Greening, she promoted wind energy to rural landowners and policy makers for a national nonprofit, and worked on social justice issues surround affordable housing, youth development, and adult employment. Mary Anne loves to camp, hike, walk the lakes, bike, spend time with her family, and read. She is interested in learning how new and old technologies can help communities realize shared visions.

Julia Wells, Financial Operations & HR Manager 651-665-9500×10
(M.A., Nonprofit Management, Hamline University; B.A., Economics & Psychology, University of Minnesota)
Julia works on accounting, database management, IT, human resources, and office management for Great River Greening. She serves as the Board Treasurer for Cycles for Change (formerly Sibley Bike Depot), providing financial leadership, managing financial procedures, and working to strengthen organizational financial policies. She is interested in alternative methods of transportation, and enjoys the challenge of reducing car dependency through commuting by bicycle.

Sean Wickhem, Field Coordinator 651-665-9500×12
(B.S., History, University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Sean manages Great River Greening’s field crew;  implements restoration strategies with volunteers and contract crews; maintains tools and equipment, and gets the community excited about interacting with their natural areas. He gained training and managing experience working with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota’s Youth Outdoors Program, and teaching environmental education to high school youth. Sean also spent a year installing solar panels with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance and obtained his Permaculture Design Certification through The Permaculture Project.