Chair: Phil Francis
On April 1, 2013, Phil retired after serving as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway since 2005. Phil began his career in 1972 at Kings Mountain National Military Park, where he served as a seasonal park ranger and later as a permanent administrative employee. He was selected as an intake trainee in 1977 and worked in the National Capital Region. Upon completing his intake assignment, Phil served as Administrative Officer of Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP, Shenandoah NP, and Yosemite NP. In 1991, he was selected to be the Associate Regional Director, Administration, for the Southwest Region. In 1994 Phil moved to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where he served as Deputy Superintendent until 2005. For three of those eleven years, Phil served as acting Superintendent. He completed the Department’s Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program and received the Department’s Superior Service Award.
Michael Allen spent over 37 years with the National Park Service, serving as a Park Ranger, Education Specialist, and Community Partnership Specialist for The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor/Fort Sumter National Monument and Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. He worked as a lead team member on the NPS Special Resource Landmark Study, exploring the history and legacy of the Reconstruction Era in American history, which led to the establishment of the Reconstruction Era National Monument in 2017. In recognition of his achievements in promoting racial and ethnic diversity in the management of North America’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage, Michael received the Robert G. Stanton Award. He was also given the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor to be given to citizens of South Carolina. In 2021, he was selected as a Martin Luther King, Jr. Portrait Award winner. Michael lives in South Carolina with his family and remains active in preserving the life, legacy, contributions, and heritage of African Americans in South Carolina and the United States.
Sarah G. Allen
After 26 years, Sarah G. Allen retired from the National Park Service in 2019. Her positions included Inventory and Monitoring Program Lead for the Pacific West Region (PWR), wildlife biologist and then senior science advisor at Point Reyes National Seashore, Oceans and Coastal Resources Program lead for PWR and finally, as Science Program Lead for PWR and Research Coordinator for the Californian Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit. She is broadly experienced in marine and terrestrial ecology and wildlife management. Past employment included Point Reyes Bird Observatory, now called Point Blue Conservation Science, for about 15 years, and California State Lands Commission. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and has authored and co-authored numerous publications, including the UC Press, Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast: Baja, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia. Sarah lives with her husband in Inverness, California.
Brenda Barrett served the National Park and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for over three decades in various conservation and historic preservation positions. She began her park service career in the National Register of Historic Places and later was the coordinator of the National Heritage Areas program in Washington. In Pennsylvania, she served as the Director of Recreation and Conservation at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Earlier in her career, she was the Director of the Bureau for Historic Preservation at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. In retirement, she is the editor of the Living Landscape Observer, an online site that provides information and commentary on the emerging field of landscape-scale conservation, historic preservation, and sustainable communities. She is a board member of US/ICOMOS and an expert member of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes.
Sarah Bransom began her career with the Environmental Protection Agency while completing her Master’s degree in regional planning at the University of Colorado in 1980. Before moving to Colorado, Sarah worked with numerous conservation groups and spent her free time caving, and is still a member of the National Speleological Society. Sarah served nearly ten years as a natural resource specialist with the Office of Surface Mining in Denver. Most notably, Sarah spent five years working with the Hopi and Navajo Tribes resolving highly complex resource issues associated with Peabody Coal Company’s Black Mesa-Kayenta mines in Arizona.
Sarah served a brief stint with the Bureau of Reclamation, where she provided senior technical oversight during the development of the Glen Canyon Dam Water Flow Management Plan/EIS. This assignment was where Sarah worked closely with the National Park Service, Washington Office, advocating for the incorporation of adequate scientific research to determine the impacts of various water flow alternatives on Grand Canyon National Park.
Sarah was encouraged by the NPS Washington Office (WASO), Environmental Quality Division (EQD), to consider serving the NPS at the Denver Service Center (DSC). She became a Compliance Supervisor for DSC’s Western Team. During this time, she served as DSC’s Project Manager to remove the Elwha Dams in Olympic National Park. Following a DSC reorganization, Sarah was reassigned to the WASO EQD and asked to build a Denver staff. Sarah relocated to Yellowstone National Park to serve as Project Manager for the Park’s Bison Management Plan/EIS. Sarah took a reassignment to Annapolis, Maryland, and initiated the development of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Water Trail Comprehensive Plan. Her last NPS assignment was with the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Sarah retired in 2011 and is an active volunteer for several conservation groups.
Maria earned her BA in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1973 and began her career with the National Park Service at Independence National Historical Park. She started as a GS-3 temporary interpreter and retired from the Senior Executive Service 39 years later as the first Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor. In between, she had assignments at Golden Gate NRA (district ranger), Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP (superintendent), the NPS Office of the Director (special assistant, Vail Agenda), and Cape Cod NS (superintendent). She received the Department of the Interior’s Special Achievement, Meritorious Service, and Distinguished Service Awards. She had several short-term international assignments in the Russian Republic and Georgia and has continued her work in international consultation in retirement. She lives in Wellfleet, MA, and is co-chair of her town’s historical commission. She also serves on several NGO boards involved in such varied activities as local and international conservation and quality of life issues for seniors in her community.
Russell began his career with the National Park Service as a seasonal park technician in 1978 and retired in 2018 as the Superintendent, Channel Islands National Park. His career brought him to work in seven of our nation’s national parks from the tip of Florida (Everglades NP) to the largest park (Wrangell-St. Elias NP/P) to one of the most iconic parks (Yosemite NP). Russell is a graduate of the second Natural Resources Trainee Program. He has been honored with the NPCA Stephen Tyng Mather Award, California State University-Channel Islands Robert Lagomarsino Award, NPS Director’s Award for Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resources Management, USFWS Endangered Species Recovery Champion, DOI Honor Award, and George Wright Society Outstanding Natural Resources Management Award.
Russell currently serves on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Expert Assessment Group for the Green List (EAGL). Their task is to determine if and how California’s Marine Protected Areas Network meets the IUCN Green List Standard. He also serves on the Ventura Land Trust Land Committee.
Rebecca retired from NPS in 2016 after 38 years of service. Served as superintendent of Harpers Ferry NHP and Booker T. Washington National Monument. She came up through the ranger ranks in interpretation, visitor protection, and resources management at Fort Necessity/Friendship Hill NHS, George W. Carver NM, and Cape Lookout NS.
Rebecca also served in several detail positions, including Acting Deputy Superintendent at Independence NHP, the Chesapeake Bay office, and WASO.
Rebecca is a Life Member of ANPR, serving on the Board of Directors for 3 years. She also served on the program committee for the 8th World Ranger Congress in 2016.
Since retiring, she and her husband have been hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Don Hellmann is the former Assistant Director for Legislative and Congressional Affairs for the National Park Service. Don ended his 40-year career working with Congress at the beginning of 2017, which included the last 22 years with the National Park Service. Don joined the National Park Service in 1994 and was responsible for the development, coordination, and implementation of its legislative affairs program.
Prior to his position with the National Park Service, Don was Vice President for Conservation at The Wilderness Society, where he directed the conservation advocacy program before Congress and coordinated the litigation agenda of the organization. Before assuming this position, Don served as Legislative Counsel for the society. Don joined The Wilderness Society’s staff in 1988.
Don also worked on Capitol Hill for Senator Walter D. Huddleston (D-KY), from his home state of Kentucky, from 1977 to 1985. He subsequently worked for Rep. Tony Coelho (D-CA) from 1985 to 1988. He has a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.
Mike worked for the National Park Service for 34 years. The first half of his career, Mike served as a law enforcement/ emergency services ranger in various parks, including Yellowstone, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, New River Gorge, and the Everglades. The latter half of his career was spent in management positions, including serving as Deputy Superintendent of Cape Cod National Seashore and a detail assignment as Associate to the Deputy Director in the Washington Office. Mike concluded his NPS career as Superintendent of the Outer Banks Group, where he was tasked with the challenge of developing an off-road vehicle (ORV) management plan and special regulation to manage beach driving at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Mike received numerous awards during his career, including the 2010 Director’s Award as Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resource Stewardship and Southeast Region Superintendent of the Year in 2012. Mike resides with his family in Brunswick, Maine.
Recently retired, Don Neubacher recently completed a 36-year career in the National Park Service (NPS) that has included appointments at Point Reyes National Seashore (Superintendent), Glacier Bay National Park, Denver Service Center, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Yosemite National Park (Superintendent) and serving as the Deputy General Manager and Planning Director for the Presidio of San Francisco. Formerly, he was a lecturer at California’s Humboldt State University in Northern California. His expertise includes park management, climate change, resource protection and restoration, youth programs, relevancy, international sister parks, and resource planning. He has the following degrees: University of California, B.S. Degree in Environmental Planning and Management, 1976: and Humboldt State University, M.S. Degree in Resource Management, 1983.
Jim served for over 36 years in the National Park Service, retiring in 2017 as the superintendent of Shenandoah National Park. Over the course of his career, Jim worked as a field ranger, resource management specialist, fire management officer, chief ranger, and superintendent. He worked in Big Bend, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Teton and Shenandoah National Parks, Cape Hatteras and Fire Island National Seashores, the Buffalo National River, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. He also contributed to international conservation work in Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Georgia, and China.
Dick retired after 36 years of federal service, 32 of which were with the NPS. While with the NPS, he served in numerous positions, including; 19 years as park superintendent at Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Everglades & Dry Tortugas National Parks. Dick also served for four years in Washington as an Associate Director of NPS. Since retirement, he has worked with the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science & Policy at the University of Miami, served on the Board of the Florida National Parks Association, and has done consulting work in management and ecosystem policy. He is also a member of the IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management and its World Council on Protected Areas. Dick currently works as Park Projects Director at the National Park Trust.
Chris worked for the Department of the Interior for 40 years, beginning in 1978. Starting in Washington, DC, he worked for the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service as an Outdoor Recreation Planner working on grant programs, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He was also involved in studies including the National Urban Recreation Study and Coastal Barrier Resources Study. In 1982 he joined the NPS and, in 1983, transferred to Fire Island National Seashore as Management Assistant overseeing park planning and coordinating with Fire Island’s many community organizations and outside constituent groups. He returned to Washington in 1988 and worked in NPS’ Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance program for 4 years again as a planner. In 1992 he moved to NPS Legislative and Congressional Affairs, where for 8 years as a legislative affairs specialist, he was responsible for legislative issues for the Northeast as well as numerous Service-wide programs. In 2000 he transferred to New York and worked initially on National Parks of New York Harbor and then for 3 years served as Jamaica Bay Unit Superintendent at Gateway National Recreation Area. In 2005 he returned to DC and worked in the NPS Partnership Office. In 2008 he returned to Fire Island National Seashore as Superintendent, where he served for the last ten years of his career, retiring in 2018. During his career, he served on 2 NPS International teams and worked on the General Management Plan for Colonial NHP’s Jamestown Project, the precursor to the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown.
He splits his time between his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, and Arlington, Virginia.
Sheridan Steele retired as the Superintendent of Acadia National Park & St. Croix Island International Historic Site in 2015 after 38 years with National Park Service. He previously worked at Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area as a Management Assistant and attended the DOI Management Training Program. In addition to his work at Acadia, Sheridan served as the Deputy Superintendent at Rocky Mountain National Park and as the Superintendent at Fort Scott National Historic Site and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park & Curecanti National Recreation Area. He has also worked in the private sector as the Executive Director of the Cuyahoga Valley Park Federation and continues to have a strong interest in building partnerships and engaging kids in the outdoors.
Amy Gilbert Fehir: Executive Director
Amy oversees the day-to-day operations of the Coalition. In her role, she leads the planning and execution of our membership, fundraising, and communications activities. She works closely with our board and members to highlight and amplify our issue and advocacy work. Before joining CPANP, Amy served as the Senior Officer, Communications Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation (UNF). In this position, she managed key strategic communications relationships on behalf of the organization, including partnerships with major brands, marketing partners, and individual supporters. In addition, Amy also helped secure and maintain relationships with corporate partners and the entertainment industry on behalf of various UNF campaigns and initiatives as a member of UNF’s Global Partnerships team. From 2005-2011, Amy worked as a seasonal National Park Service (NPS) Ranger at Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial. During her time with the NPS, she worked at the Interior Department on projects related to the 2016 NPS Centennial, as well as served on the board of the Association of National Park Rangers. Additional professional experience includes two years overseeing environmental grants for Conversation International as part of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. In 2008, Amy worked at the World Health Organization on World Health Day, which was focused on climate change’s impact on health. Amy received her B.A. from Boston University in Political Science and Public Health and an M.P.S. in Political Management from George Washington University.
Teresa Ford: Business Manager
Teresa’s career has spanned more than 30 years in newspaper and magazine journalism and in communications for schools, other public agencies, and nonprofit groups. For nearly 25 years, she was editor, designer, and publisher of Ranger magazine and website coordinator for the Association of National Park Rangers. During her last eight years at ANPR, she also handled business management using standard accounting procedures in QuickBooks software.
She then edited, designed, and published her son Ryan’s book, “Parkour Strength Training,” popular in niche audiences worldwide. She has handled website work and social media sites for various clients. Teresa also edits manuscripts for prospective book authors, edits copy for a customer communications group in Denver, and edits/proofreads documents for several public agencies.
Her volunteering has included work for AfricAid, a Denver-based nonprofit that supports education for girls in Tanzania, and treasurer for Colorado Press Women for 10 years handling accounting and budgeting. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. A native of Grand Junction, Colorado, she resides in Denver.
Donald Baur: Legal Counsel and Environment, Energy and Resources Partner at Perkins Coie LLP
Donald Baur is a partner in the Washington, D.C. Office of Perkins Coie, where he practices environmental, natural resources, and Native American law. He has served as legal counsel to the Coalition since its inception and was the recipient of the 1872 Award in 2008. Don began his legal career as an attorney for the National Park Service in the Solicitor’s Office of the Department of the Interior, and later, he served as General Counsel of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission.
Don currently serves on the Boards of Trustees for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Shenandoah National Park Trust, as well as on the Environmental Leadership Council of the Environmental Law Institute. He is the lead editor and author of the American Bar Association’s books on The Endangered Species Act: Law, Policy, and Perspectives and Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy, and the author of over 40 law review articles on environmental law topics. He has served as an adjunct professor in environmental law at the Vermont Law School since 1998. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and Trinity College, where he graduated with a BA in History, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
Emily Weisner Thompson: Communications and Advocacy Coordinator
Emily is a writer and historian who has been involved in communications and publications for over a decade. Despite a general aversion to bugs and camping, Emily worked as a National Park Ranger for six years, developing a skill set focused on interpretation, communications, public affairs, and strategic planning. During her time with the NPS, Emily worked at numerous park units across the country. Special project work included developing a funding distribution plan for twelve border parks in the southwest and an assignment as the NPS Inaugural Assistant during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Emily also served as a board member for the Association of National Park Rangers and was an editorial advisor for Ranger magazine. Following her work with the NPS, Emily joined the non-profit world as the Executive Director of the Santa Claus Museum & Village in Santa Claus, Indiana. After spending years wrangling Elf volunteers and coordinating festive holiday activities (in addition to building a thriving membership program, working with the media, conducting community outreach, writing grants, fundraising, and overseeing daily operations and special events), Emily has happily transitioned to a full-time writing career. She received her B.A. in American Studies and Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. in Public History from American University. Emily is the author of three books (including two silver medal winners in the Independent Publisher Books Awards) and works as a freelance writer and book reviewer. Emily has a passion for reading and storytelling, drawing on her diverse career experiences in both the federal and non-profit worlds. She currently lives in Dayton, Ohio, with her Park Ranger husband, kids, and adoring Labrador.
Steve Pittleman: Web Administration
Steve oversees the management and operation of the Coalition website. Steve started his career with the National Park Service in June 1979 as a Seasonal Park Technician at the C&O Canal and retired over 35 years later as a Supervisory Information Technology Specialist. In the first half of his career, Steve served as a supervisory park ranger for law enforcement and emergency services in various parks, including the C&O Canal, Great Falls Park, Virginia, and Gettysburg. The latter half of his career was spent in management positions, including serving as the Briefing Coordinator for Director Kennedy, a founding member of the nps.gov Web development and operations team, I.T. Division Chief at the Harpers Ferry Center, and WASO Program Manager for the NPS Wide Area Network operation. Steve retired in 2014.