WSCC Board of Directors

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Jay Simon, Co-Chair

Jay has always been drawn to the beauty of our wilderness areas since he was a child in the Pacific Northwest. He moved to the North Fork Valley with the goal of living a more sustainable lifestyle. He and his partners own 24 acres of land adjacent to the Smith Fork of the Gunnison, where they have a large veggie market garden and about 5 acres of hemp production. Jay’s major areas of interest are in watershed protection, water conservation, and the restoration of wetland and riparian areas.

Term end date: 2024

Photo of board member Julie Sapena

Julie Sapena, Co-Chair

I have called the North Fork Valley home since the fall of 2016. Gratitude and appreciation for this valley grows each day. Enjoying the outdoors and public lands has always been an integral part of my life through hiking, camping, backpacking, rock climbing, rafting, biking and strolling through forests and meadows. Protecting land, water and wildlife has always been an important issue for me and I enjoy working on the restoration projects WSCC promotes. The land gives so much to me. I want to give back and make sure future generations have the same opportunities I have had. In my past life (before retirement), I was an elementary educator for 30 years. Educating people about the environment and the importance of conservation continues to be a passion for me.
Term end date: 2025

Mike Burkley, Treasurer

Mike has lived in Paonia for six years. Originally from Ohio, he moved 23-years ago to southwest Utah, where he explored much of southwest Utah and the Grand Canyon. While in Utah he volunteered for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Arizona Site Stewards and the Grand Canyon Trust – mostly with work involving wilderness and energy development issues.  Mike also served on the board of The Friends of Snow Canyon State Park (UT).

After moving to the North Fork Valley in 2017, he started WSCC’s Mike’s Hikes program. These group hikes lead participants into areas around the North Fork Valley that are in some ways impacted by oil/gas development and public land management issues – as well as lands with natural, geological and archaeological wonders. He also spent a year as Chairman of the WSCC Public Lands Committee.

Some of Mike’s many interests are hiking, backpacking in wilderness, and winter sports – and to explore every possible place in Western Colorado.

Term end date: 2024

Megan Randall headshot

Megan Randall, Board Member

Megan has called the North Fork home for the last seven years and teaches in the Delta County School District. She has designed curriculum and after school programming that promotes science education and environmental stewardship on school and district-wide levels. In 2017 Megan received the National Citizenship Education Award for inspiring youth to be engaged citizens in their classroom community and beyond.

Megan received her MS in Environmental Studies in 2019 from Green Mountain College, where she was afforded the opportunity to study the North Fork watershed through a conservation lens. Her passion for protecting life on our “pale blue dot” fuels her energy for advocacy work. In her spare time Megan enjoys gardening, hiking, singing, and hoop dance.

Term end date: 2025

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Cobun Zweifel-Keegan, Secretary

Cobun grew up in between Hotchkiss and Paonia and spent many weekends of his younger years volunteering with North Fork River Improvement Association. He is currently a lawyer in Washington, DC, but hopes to eventually return to the place he considers his true home. In between now and then he has joined the Western Slope Conservation Center Board to ensure that all the things he values about the lands and waters that formed him will be there whenever he comes home again.

Term end date: 2025


Lauren Hall Ruddell, Board Member

Lauren grew up around exotic and domestic animals which instilled a tremendous love of nature and wildlife. The child of a San Diego Zoo family, she herself became a keeper while pursuing a degree in Zoology and Outdoor Recreation Administration from San Diego State University. After being in a wilderness Explorer Post troop as a teen, Lauren’s interest in conservation propelled her toward an M.A. in Conservation of Environmental Quality. Then came a decade of work as an environmental analyst and endangered species biologist and riparian restorationist.

Ultimately sick of urban life, she moved to Paonia in 1995. She pursued sustainable farming and ranching on the Western Slope, while shoehorning in environmental education activities for youth, serving on the board of the Ouray Farmer’s Market, volunteering as a cartographer for the High Country Citizens Alliance, and working as a seasonal zoologist for the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.

Lauren left her beloved Colorado home to pursue a PhD in Natural Resource Management through the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah. Upon retirement from teaching at that institution, she finally got to move back to the Western Slope with her pack goats in tow. Lauren can be reached online at

Term end date: 2025

Allison Elliot, Board Member

The beauty of this planet is what makes life possible. For me, science and beauty cannot be separated. My appreciation and understanding of natural systems deepens as I learn more about this place we call home. I am fascinated by the human and “natural world” interface. It is a relationship we too easily take for granted. I believe that the more we closely observe and learn, the better we can take care of our home, so that it can take care of us.

My degree in Environmental Planning and Design permeates my life. From rafting guide, leading Sierra Club backpacking trips, landscaping, and park and home design. For many years I worked in the world-renowned science museum, The Exploratorium: Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. It is dedicated to being a hands on museum designed to encourage self directed exploration and experimentation as a way of learning. That really sums up the way I like to engage with this wild and wonderful world.

Term end date: Shortly